All righty guy! I am sorry for the lack of updates. And I have to say that this will be the final installment of this story. Fear not though! I will be writing a sequel so fav me as an author to see when it comes up. Piper will be back with Daryl…and probably a lot more Merle because I love him!

I just want to say thank you to everyone! This has without a doubt been my most responded to story. Your enthusiasm has definitely been amazing and one of the reasons why I have kept it going for so long and the reason why there will be a sequel.

Favorite Line: "...That's definitely something."

Chapter 57:

"Come on guys. You have to be faster than that!" Piper called as she spun on the balls of her feet in the grass, narrowly avoiding Beth.

The game had started out simple. "Catch Piper" with Carl and Sophia. They had insisted on some kind of game now that the weather was tolerable and Piper knew as well as anyone that any kind of movement would be good on their motor skills when it came to hunting or fighting of the undead…or sometimes even the living. Carl and Sophia needed that if they were going to survive in this world, regardless of their mothers protest. This was a good way to do it without encouraging the wrath of the mothers. Not that Lori had been much of a problem over the last few days. Even Rick seemed a little happier with the lack of lip.

Gradually though Piper had gotten bored and decided that she would rather not let the tweens catch her. She twirled in the grass; side stepping out of their grasps and making them trip over themselves and each other. She laughed and climbed where they couldn't get at her.

Finally Beth and Maggie had taken pity on the two kids and come to their aid. Not that It really did much good. The rest of the group watched from the side lines, either laughing or with small smiles playing on their lips.

Daryl shook his head as he chewed on a piece of grass his one leg propped up on the short cement wall he was sitting on with his other planted on the ground. Rick sat next to him, cleaning his gun with an old, worn dish rag. The sheriff's deputy didn't bother to hide his amusement, laughing out right when one of the kids made a little fall or missed Piper. Daryl watched the way her feet pushed off the ground, giving her speed and maneuverability, watched her twist out of the others holds easily. Sometimes they grabbed a corner of her shirt but she was sure to never let enough of the group around her to let that really happen.

He couldn't help but give a little smirk to himself. He'd helped with that, but he couldn't take all the credit. If it had all been his teaching there would be no way she was that…graceful, appealing, beautiful.

"Dad!" Carl called out, laughing and breathing hard. "Come on! Help us."

Rick laughed and pushed himself up from next to Daryl, giving the hunters shoulder a pat. He walked slowly over as Piper walked in circles with him, her eyes taking in the direction that her new playmate was taking. Daryl watched the sure footsteps, rubbing his lips and smirking.

"What do you think Piper?" Rick asked with a smile. "Are you going to kill me if I catch you?"

Pipers eyes widened just a fraction in in silent challenge. "If you can catch me Rick. If." She nearly laughed.

Rick made a little lunging movement towards her and she side stepped, feet skimming the grass with her toes pointed just as she was trained. Rick pointed to his eyes and then at her, locking in her attention. She smiled at him, cheeks flushed. Rick loved it when Piper really smiled and played. It was like a window into the life that she had lost. She must have used to be an amazing girl…a smiling, happy, energetic beauty.

He made more of an actual lung at her and she jumped backward out of his way and right to where Daryl had sunk up behind her. She whirled around to him as her shoulders struck his chest. Daryl smirked and grabbed her, picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder easily.

"Cheaters!" Piper wailed, pounding half heartedly on Daryl's strong back with her little fists.

Daryl patted her on the ass proudly. "Good girl! 30 minutes of chasin' and nobody's dead." She smiled and went limp against him, tired from laughing so hard and playing.

"Well no one caught me." She reminded him, propping her elbows on his back.

Daryl shook his head and swung her off his shoulder. "I caught ya." He told her as her feet planted on the ground in front of him, hands on her hips and looking all kinds of playfully indignant.

"You cheated." She repeated.

Daryl narrowed his eyes at her, taking in the way her chest rose and fell under the white tank top. He could see a flush in her soft cheeks. Her pulse was moving tantalizingly in her long slender neck, calling out for him. Forgetting that anyone else was there, he leaned forward and took her flushed cheeks in his hands, pulling her face up and pressing his lips to her soft sweet ones. His tongue plunged into her mouth, causing her breathing to pick up again as her fingers gripped into the sides of his shirt, surprised that he was kissing her in front of everyone.

Rick grinned and glanced over at Glenn and T-dog who were chuckling to themselves on the side lines. Daryl broke away as he heard the children and Beth giggling. He took a deep breath and kept his focus on her softly closed eyes in front of him.

Piper smiled and opened her eyes, gripping into his shirt and pulling him back down close to her. "I love you." She whispered so that only they could hear.

Daryl gulped down and glanced at the others before touching his lips to hers again in answer. He pulled away from her grasp and glanced at the others. "Well come on! We got shit ta do!" He yelled at them, picking up his cross bow and moving to start his rounds.

He glanced behind him once more, her green eyes catching his blue ones and making his chest clench pleasurably.

Grunting he turned again and stalked back to her, pulling her tiny body to him forcefully with one hand while burying his other in her hair. He brought her lips to his again with force, burying his tongue inside of her and wishing that it could stay there forever. He broke the kiss but gripped her harder so she wouldn't move an inch from him. "And I love ya." He murmured, voice throaty and without regret.

Piper felt her heart beating in her throat, his warm breath still moving against her bruised lips. "I know."

"You don't think it's a bit weird?" Michonne asked Andrea as they watched the game from the watch tower.

Andrea shook her head. "You didn't see her Michonne. There wasn't a single place on her body that wasn't beaten or cut or mutilated." She closed her eyes as she thought about that first day Daryl had brought the half dead girl back. She could remember it vividly, even in the walker apocalypse it had been the most gruesome thing that she had ever seen. The tent floor had been so slick with blood by the time Piper was totally bandaged she had slipped in it and fallen, covering herself and her cloths in the morbid liquid. Andrea had never seen someone assaulted so brutally. She shook her head. "She trusts Daryl and as messed up as their…relationship is it works for them…for all of us."

Michonne shook her head. "It doesn't work for me." She told her friend. "Piper is strong, capable. She doesn't need some ass hole telling her what to do."

Andrea frowned. "He doesn't really…tell her what to do." She sighed and leaned against the window. "When she first came to us, she was wild. No one was allowed near her except Daryl…probably because he saved her. She could have killed a lot of people if he didn't step in. Believe it or not they have made each other a lot more…human I guess. Not just her but him too." She glanced over her shoulder to see the strange couple kissing in the grass. "He wouldn't have done that before…show affection."

Michonne glanced out the window. "That's not affection. That's desire." She muttered before shaking her head and walking off.

Andrea frowned and looked down at Daryl looking at his woman's face. "No…that's definitely something."