You be the House and I'll be the Fire
Disclaimer: I don't own the Walking Dead. Or any of the characters from the comics or TV show.
Warnings: As of yet? Infrequent coarse language. Violence, dark themes that may upset some readers. May be some lovin' for our favourite redneck.
A/N: Thank you to all of you who have reviewed my story. SilverAdvenger12, FanFicGirl10, Candyluver2121, Emberka-2012 and jalenreedmua. Whether you're newcomers, or you were patient enough to stick around while I to-helled with this story for a few months, I say come one, come all!
The night was cold and dark. Alisha wrapped herself in layers of clothing; singlet, shirt, cardigan, jumper, overcoat. A scarf and two pairs of socks. She didn't fancy dying on the way to get inhalers. Daryl had given her a funny look, donned in his usual filthy attire, plus one poncho, but he'd said nothing.
Alisha covered her mouth to conceal a cough. Despite everything she was wearing, she still felt a chill. They crept through the streets avoiding the rusty cars and oblivious roamers. There weren't too many of them, which was a surprise; Alisha usually had to stop every five seconds as one passed. She gripped her knife tighter.
Rick had been kind enough to supply her with a handgun and a large hunting knife before they'd left. As long as they were careful, she wouldn't need to use either, and Daryl had a crossbow anyway. He trailed silently behind her, because he didn't know where to go.
They stopped at a corner, and Alisha ducked her head around to assess the situation. She swore.
"What?" Daryl hissed. He inched forward to get a look.
No less than seven men were heading towards them, armed to the teeth. Alisha glanced desperately around. They hadn't been spotted yet, but they were sitting ducks if they stayed here.
Tapping Daryl on the shoulder, Alisha took off, across the street. Daryl was right behind her as she slipped into a store. He flicked a torch on, scanning the room. There was a roamer in the far corner, coagulated blood and saliva dripping from its mouth as it stumbled toward them.
With a whistle, Daryl let an arrow loose, catching the roamer in the head. It collapsed with a thump. They walked over to it, Daryl crouching down to rip the arrow out. Alisha crouched beside it, inspecting its face. Daryl gave her a questioning glance.
"I knew him," Alisha explained.
Daryl nodded. "Good bloke?"
"He was an idiot." She went to say something else, but hushed voices cut her short. "Of all the places they could have gone," she hissed. Daryl reloaded his crossbow.
"There a way out back?"
Alisha scowled. "No. I picked this store specifically so we could get boxed in." She held back another cough as they made their way through the building, finally bursting out into an alley. Daryl checked both directions, but it was empty.
They ran through the alley, back into the street they'd just been in. Alisha stopped at the mouth of it. "There's the pharmacy," she told Daryl, pointing.
He frowned. "You think we'll make it?" he asked. The pharmacy was halfway down the street, squished in between a cafe and a cigar shop. "If they come out, they'll see us."
"Well I guess we should hope they don't come out," Alisha told him. She sprinted down the street, Daryl at her heels. They made it inside, only for Alisha to be tackled to the ground by a roamer. She yelled, grabbing its neck and thrusting the knife through its ear. It fell limp, and she rolled it off her, leaping to her feet. Daryl had taken down another two.
"If they hadn't noticed us before, they'll know we're here now," he said. They could already hear footsteps coming their way.
As Alisha searched the store, Daryl set about barricading the door. When it was secure, he motioned for Alisha to hand him her backpack. She did, and he went about shoving anything of use in it. Painkillers, antibiotics, bandaids. Anything he could find.
There was a band as someone tried to open the door. "Hey! Is someone in there?" a voice shouted.
Daryl glanced at Alisha who shook her head. She found the inhalers, and grabbed as many as she could. Seizing her backpack, she shoved them in, then struggled to zip it up as Daryl trained his crossbow on the door.
"We just wanna help! We won't hurt you!"
Alisha threw the bag on her back as there was a loud bang on the door. They were trying to kick it down. Daryl swore. "They're gunna bring them walkers this way," he snarled.
"Let's not be here when that happens," Alisha suggested. She headed through the back of the store, trying the back entrance. The door wouldn't budge. "Shit."
Daryl rammed his shoulder against it. "It ain't gunna open. What's up there?" he pointed at a set of stairs.
"No idea. Let's find out." They ran up the stairs just as the front door burst open, and the men poured in.
Upstairs was where the owners had lived. They ran up the hall to the bedroom at the end, the men at their heels.
"Hey!" one of them yelled, whipping out a gun. He let off a shot as Daryl pulled the door shut, and it blew a hole in the wood, missing Alisha's head by inches, smashing through the window next to her.
She gasped, stumbling back. Securing the door with a chair, Daryl inched away from it, crossbow aimed. "Now what?"
Alisha leaned over to glance out the window. "Could be worse." She pulled it open, grabbed the frame and threw her legs out. "See ya down there," she told him, letting go.
She landed with a thump, the impact jarring her ankle. Daryl, a few seconds behind, almost landed on top of her, but she scrambled out of the way. He held a hand out to pull her to her feet. "You alright?"
"Nothin' broken," she wheezed. "I'll live."
They made it back to Alisha's place with no problems. Her ankle hurt, her legs and back ached, and her head throbbed something chronic, but unless she coughed herself to death, she'd live. The inhalers had done the trick, but she still felt worse for wear, and the lack of sleep was taking its toll.
"Make yourselves at home," she'd told them all before curling up on the couch, basking in the warmth of the fire.
T-Dog wandered in a while later. "Man, you don't look too good," he said.
"Thank you for that one, Sherlock, I hadn't noticed."
"How do you feel?"
He waited as Alisha fought off a coughing fit. "As bad as I look, I'd wager."
T-Dog walked over to her, resting a hand on her forehead. She raised an eyebrow. "You're burning up," he said.
"So?" Alisha asked, genuinely confused. She sat up, groaning. "What's your point? It's a fever."
"You get bit?"
"Nope. What does any of that have to do with my fever?"
T-Dog blinked. Was she serious? No. No, she was just playing dumb. As he watched her, though, he couldn't but notice the look of pure bewilderment on her face. "Have you ever seen someone infected? Before they die, I mean?"
Alisha shook her head. "No; I've been here the whole time."
T-Dog sighed. Figures. He sat himself in the chair. "Fever kills most of 'em," he explained. "If it ain't blood loss, it's that."
Comprehension dawned on Alisha. "Y'all think I'm infected? I ain't bit or scratched. Y'all can check if you want." She stood up, ready to strip, but T-Dog waved her down.
"Hey, hey I believe you. I was just asking. But if it's not that, you should probably rug up or somethin'. Might be the flu. Which'll kill you just as fast as any bite." He stood up and left her there.
Alisha groaned. It'd be just her luck. The undead are roaming the streets, and she was coming down with the flu. It made sense. The headache, leg pains. The fever and coughing. The fatigue. It was all she needed.
The last time she'd come down with the flu, she was 9, and nearly didn't make it to 10. It had advanced into pneumonia and, coupled with her asthma, had sent her to hospital. That had been a rough time. Now, they didn't even have hospitals.
By the morning, Alisha's fever had broken, and her body didn't ache as much. She wandered into the kitchen, where Lori, Carl and Carol were sitting. "Morning," Carol greeted.
Alisha coughed in response. She grabbed a can of peaches, cut the top off, then leapt onto the counter and picked them out with her fingers. Daryl walked in, glancing around. "Where is everyone?" he asked.
"Outside," Carol told him.
Lori nodded. "Shane wanted to check the fences, make sure they were secure. Maggie and Glenn are still asleep."
Alisha's eyes narrowed at the mention of Shane, but she kept silent. Checking the fences? She let out a frustrated sigh. They were secure. Obviously they were, otherwise she would've been eaten months ago.
"I think he wants to check out that group in town," Lori added.
To her credit, Alisha didn't start screaming obscenities. And it was a credit, indeed, because the anger poured into her like water in a cup. "Is. He. Mad?" she hissed. "Or just deaf?"
They all turned to her. Lori shrugged. "He just wants to see how dangerous they are."
"So he's an idiot, then?" Alisha slammed the tinned peaches on the bench, sloshing juice everywhere, as she slid down and stalked out of the room.
"They're doing what they think is best," Lori defended.
Alisha paused at the door. "What's best," she began. "Is that those men in that town never find us. Y'all don't go looking for them. Y'all don't talk to them. Do you have any idea what happens if they find us?"
"You mentioned something about that," Carol muttered.
"Well let me mention it again, because it can't have all gotten through. You can say goodbye to your son. Your husband. And y'all spend the rest of your lives wishing you could join them. If y'all manage to escape, it'll be without food, water, vehicles, shelter or weapons. Those men ain't saints, and they sure as hell have nothing to lose."
"We know," Lori assured her. "We know exactly what you're saying, and we know what you mean."
Alisha scowled. "Yeah, but?"
"Shane ain't convinced," Daryl told her. "Wants to talk to them. He... he don't trust you."
Alisha let out a harsh laugh. "Good. Great. I let him into my house, and now he's going to be the death of me."
"He's not going to bring them here," Carol said.
"They're not idiots, they'll follow him and then..." Alisha cut herself off. She took a deep breath in, slowly letting it out. Don't think about that, she told herself. She put her hands together as if in prayer, resting her nose on them. "I never should have opened those gates," she said, more to herself than the others.
She left them sitting there as she stalked outside. Shane and Rick were standing by one of the cars, deep in conversation. Beth and Hershel were wandering around the yard. "Hey!"
Shane and Rick turned to her as she approached. "What?" Shane asked. She could practically feel hate radiating off him.
"I can't let you go to that group," she told him.
"Is that right? Well, see, that's gunna be a problem for us."
Rick held a hand up to silence Shane. "Look, we're not going to talk to them; we just want to see what it is we're dealing with here," he said.
"I've told you what you're dealing with," Alisha replied.
"They won't even know we're there," Rick assured her. "In and out. We see what they've got, then we get the hell out of there."
Alisha shook her head the whole time Rick spoke. "No," she told him. "I won't let you." The effect of her words were lost due to a coughing fit.
"Yeah, I can see you'll stop us," Shane said.
Hershel was over by now, his hand on Alisha's back as she doubled over coughing. Her breath caught in her throat as the airway constricted, and she gasped for breath. She scrambled around in her pockets for her inhaler, taking two deep puffs from it as she tried to regulate her breathing.
"Breath slowly," Hershel was telling her. "Deep one in, deep one out."
Shane scoffed. "Why don't you go and rest up in bed, let the men do the work?"
Alisha glared at him, but Hershel was already leading her back inside. "You shouldn't e out here in this cold," he said. "Especially not with your condition. Shane's right though; you should get some rest."
Breaking free from Hershel's grasp, she made her way towards the cellar. "I don't need rest; I need wine."