Well, I am back guys and I must apologize. I was in a complete lack of inspiration and as the finale got closer, well, here it is. More talking after this chapter.
For now, just enjoy! Not my best but hey, there's room for improvement.
"Oh god! No!"
"Is he alright?!"
She remembered approaching Daryl, falling to her knees as Rick reached for his head and checking his wound. She then let herself fall back unto her behind in relief once he confirmed the injury was a graze. Shane and Rick had been quick to lift Daryl up on his feet, the latter muttering a few words before becoming quiet. She absently nodded when Rick asked her if she was fine before ordering Glenn to help her. He helped her up as they started making their way back until T-Dog spoke, holding in his hand the probable reason of why Daryl had come back in the state he did—Sophia's doll.
She still hadn't spoken a word, only nodding when being asked a simple yes or no question. Until she was sat down at the picnic table she had forgotten about her own injuries but it became clear when Glenn accidentally squeezed her arm, making him and the others around aware of her injuries. She waved the concern away but it wasn't enough for them to back off. She heard Carol call for Patricia and before JJ could try to convince the others that she could wait, Patricia was dragging her into the house.
Patricia brought her to her own room, room she previously shared with Otis. Ordering JJ to sit on the bed, she'd stated she'd be right back with supplies. Letting a sigh escape her lips, she became alert when steps, too heavy to be Patricia, approached the room. The person knocked and once said person spoke, a small smile appeared on her lips.
"What the hell happened to you out there?" Dale worried as he took two careful steps into the room.
Wincing, she answered, "Group of walkers were after me and I ended up being way off route. Not long after that, a horse scared the crap out of me and its saddle was empty. I figured something happened…I went the way it came from."
Dale nodded, pressing her to continue, "I got near a steep cliff, there was the creek right at the bottom of it. Stood to close to the edge and all I remember of the next few seconds is me falling down…" she paused, grunting as she held unto her elbow, "I'm pretty sure I fell exactly where he did too."
"He? You mean Daryl?"
She nodded, "Is he okay?"
"Let's take care of you first," Patricia said, storming inside the room as she placed the medical supplies on the bed before turning towards Dale, "you need to go now. She'll be fine." Dale quickly nodded and gave an encouraging smile before leaving, his steps becoming fainter and fainter until they disappeared.
"You're gonna have to take that shirt off." Patricia ordered as she helped JJ remove the dirty piece of clothing, leaving her with her jeans and bra on. She made a motion for JJ to turn around as she looked at her back.
"How does it look?" JJ asked after the silence started to worry her.
"Lots of cuts but none too deep. By tomorrow I wouldn't be surprised if your back was blue and purple with bruises." She informed her.
JJ chuckled, "So, I'll be sore as hell and in excruciating pain?"
Patricia gave her a small smile, "I say, sore as hell and in a lot of pain, maybe not excruciating."
"I guess I'll have to wait and see." JJ replied, making Patricia smile a bit more as she started looking at her elbow.
"I'm sure I'll hear all about it tomorrow." Patricia joked, making JJ laugh before wincing.
"You'll be the first to know." They fell silent as she slowly moved her arm around.
"Did you relocate it yourself?" Patricia questioned.
"I tried…" She paused when Patricia held her gaze, "please tell me it's fine." She begged.
"The job is halfway done…just need to push it some more." Patricia tried reassuring. "I'm gonna go and get someone to help." JJ nodded, watching as Patricia left the room once again. It didn't take long before she came back with Lori in tow, the latter closing the door behind her. Lori listened carefully as Patricia explained that she wanted her to hold JJ as still as possible while she would grab her shoulder and forearm. Before going through with it JJ asked to be given a piece of cloth or something to bite unto, seeing as when she tried relocating her elbow in the forest she had bitten her tongue to refrain herself from screaming. Patricia responded by telling Lori to take the pillowcase and not even a minute later JJ was biting down unto the pillowcase as hard as she could. She looked at Patricia and nodded, indicating to her she was ready.
"On three." JJ nodded.
Patricia looked at Lori and nodded, "One…" Lori started.
"Three!" The muffled and throaty scream that was able to escape JJ had been loud enough for someone to run to the room, asking if everything was all right. Question answered with an 'everything's fine' coming from Patricia. After a few seconds JJ removed the pillowcase from her mouth as she looked at Patricia, the latter holding an apologetic look.
"It's fine…you know what's worse?" Patricia shook her head and frowned when JJ laughed. "I knew you were gonna do that."
The women joined JJ in her laughter for a few seconds before growing calm again. Patricia, along with JJ, thanked Lori as she left the room, a small smile on her lips, "Let's clean you up and check you for bites or scratches."
While being checked for scratches and bites, Maggie came by with a new change of her own clothing. Thanking Maggie, JJ was left alone to put them on as Patricia exclaimed she'd be back with a sling for her arm. Although she struggled to put the clothes on, she'd achieved to do so just as Patricia came back, holding the sling in her hand.
JJ sighed, "I never liked those." Patricia only laughed as she approached her with the sling. "How long will I have to keep it?"
"I say for a week at best. After that we'll let you remove it to do some exercises and I say a few days after that you'll be just fine." Patricia explained to a nodding and relieved JJ. "In the meantime, you're stuck with it at all times during the day and during the night maybe you'll be able to take it off."
"That's a relief…" JJ admitted.
"You'll only be able to do that if you keep your arm elevated." Patricia explained as she cleaned up.
"I'll make sure of that. Thank you, Patricia." JJ thanked the woman in front of her.
She smiled, "Just don't make it worse."
"I'll—I'll try." She sputtered, her voice reaching a high pitch. Patricia chuckled, cleaning up the room before looking back at JJ.
"Do you need anything else?" Thinking for a few seconds she started shaking her head but stopped herself.
"He's fine. He'll need a few days of rest, no heavy liftin' and he'll be back on his feet in no time." Patricia reassured her with a slight smile, smile verging on the edge of a smirk. JJ cocked an eyebrow at her and then stared at the ground, shaking her head.
"Thank you." Patricia nodded and left the room, leaving JJ alone. She stared at the door before giving herself a boost to get off the bed. She walked around the room and stopped in front of a mirror.
She took in her appearance. She looked, and felt, burned out to no end. The dark circles under her eyes were much more noticeable than they were before, making her eyes look heavy. Bringing her good hand up she let her fingers slide under her eyes, hoping that in some sort of magical way it would wipe her dark circles away. And her exhaustion.
All the blood had been washed off of her face and arms but the cuts were still visible on her sun-kissed skin. It would leave small scabs all over her skin but soon enough those would disappear and maybe leave a small scar. Time would tell. The clothes Maggie had brought in were just the perfect size. The pair of black jeans she'd been given were too long but JJ simply rolled the ends. She still wore the same shoes, which had been given to her by Amy back at the quarry and the shirt she now wore was a white loose shirt with black horizontal stripes. The looseness of said shirt made her look like she floated in it.
Taking a few steps back she continued looking around the room before stopping again but this time in front of the window. Still light out, the remnants of bright orange glow were now disappearing behind the forest and were soon going to leave a dark blue sky, a dark sky infested with bright stars. Stars you wouldn't normally see in the city. As surreal as the walkers were, seeing this many stars was almost as surreal for JJ. It'd taken her an apocalypse to really notice the beauty of stars in the sky. The simplicity of it was just mind-blowing.
A small eight years old girl was rolling down a small hill with her brother, racing and hoping to get there before he could. Their father would probably reprimand them over rolling in the grass and then their mother would reprimand them for ruining their clothes. Their father would then answer by saying 'that's what washing is for.' The banter between their parents always made the children laugh and their parents would soon join their children in the laughter, realizing the childishness of their banter.
Reaching the bottom of the hill first, the small girl cheered and started teasing her brother about winning the race. Jealous brother simply pouted and told her to stop shoving the win in his face. She joined her brother by sitting next to him, apologizing for being mean. He simply shrugged and looked up at the sky. Lips in a thin line she simply nodded and looked around, seeing only darkness.
"Kids! Come back inside, we know what you've been doing!" Their dad yelled from the balcony as they looked over their shoulders.
"Five minutes, Daddy! Please!" A young JJ yelled out, pleading.
"Yeah, Dad, come on. Give us another five minutes!" Her brother pleaded along.
"Son, aren't you suppose to be sulking because she beat you? Again." Her brother looked at her and opened his mouth to give their father an answer but closed it a second after.
"Daddy, please!" She pleaded one more time as their father yelled out that they needed to be back in five minutes, giving in finally. She looked at her brother. "What does sulking mean?"
He put a hand on her head then ruffled her hair, "Don't ask. You won, be happy." She pouted but he jokingly glared, meaning he was serious about not asking but not serious about actually being mad.
Her brother and herself became quiet as they sat on the grass, enjoying the quietness and the night breeze. The summer was almost over and soon they would start school again, going back to their daily routine for another ten months. But now, they were kids content with sitting there alongside each other and enjoying the moment. To sit there and watch the stars.
Turning quickly as she was brought out of the memory she now faced Rick who stood in the doorway. A sigh escaped her lips and she gave a small smile.
"Hi." Was all she could say, "Something wrong?"
He chuckled, "Can't I just worry about some who nearly lost their life to find a little girl?"
She nodded, "Yeah, you can. Is Daryl okay?"
"He's good, grumpy but Hershel says he'll be fine." She gave him a look. "But you want to know about the shot?"
"The graze will leave a scar but he's good. He needs lots of rest."
"I doubt he'll be happy about the resting part." She noted and chuckled as Rick nodded and laughed along with her.
He took a few steps towards her, "He'll need it. So will you young lady." She rolled her eyes. "Don't even think I'll let you strain yourself even more. Both of you."
She opened her mouth to argue but closed it, "I'm not even gonna argue." She quickly ended up saying, raising one hand in defeat.
"Good." He paused as he started stepping out of the room before stopping, "Lori and Carol had the idea to cook supper for Hershel and his family. We'll be eating inside tonight."
JJ nodded, "Okay." Was all she said as she followed him out of the room, giving it one last look before going down the stairs.
Walking in front of her, Rick stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to her, "Dale told me you though you had maybe fallen where Daryl fell…where do you think that was?"
"The creek bed. There's a steep cliff…bad footing and I fell." She explained.
He frowned, "How did you end up there?"
She chuckled, "Long story short, I found a couple of walkers but there were too many so I ran. After finding a safe place I heard something and a horse just went by. I decided to follow it to see where it came from."
"That's when you found the creek bed." He stated.
"Exactly." She said, nodding to herself.
Rick lightly smiled then looked around before saying, "Well, I'm glad the both of you are fine. We'll continue the search tomorrow."
"Good." JJ said. "I'm gonna go outside for some fresh air."
"Alright, be careful." She nodded at Rick and slightly waved before making her way outside. She slowly limped to the camp and as she approached, Glenn got up and the others followed his move. She held a hand up and smiled.
"I'm fine, guys." Glenn took a few careful steps towards her and took her good arm, leading her to a chair near the small fire. "Thank you."
"What happened out there?" Glenn asked before continuing. "I mean, look at you…and Daryl!"
"We're both fine, Glenn." She tried reassuring.
Shane stepped up, "She's right, Glenn..." Shane turned to her, hands on his hip, "I mean…aside from the fact that two of our assets almost died out there, hey, they're fine…it was worth it." The sarcasm that flowed out in his words made JJ snarl at him, shaking her head. She bit the inside of her cheeks to restrain herself from talking back, knowing that what would come out would only make him angrier. After a few seconds of everyone being quiet Shane scoffed then turned his back to the group, taking a few steps towards the house.
"It was." JJ declared as Shane stopped and slowly turned around to look at her, eyebrow cocked. "Worth it." She smirked as he stood there for a few seconds before stomping his way to the house. She scoffed and muttered under her breath, "I know who I won't be looking for if someone else ever went missing."
Things with the group remained quiet afterwards, most of them going around finishing up whatever chore they had left. It took her under thirty minutes before getting bored and sick of staying put, but she knew no one would let her do anything. All she had to do was wait, wait until supper.
It was going to be a long evening.
She'd been quiet throughout the duration of the supper, only saying 'thank you' or 'can you pass me this or that' every so often. She'd removed her sling and had almost been reprimanded by Patricia for doing so but was able to reassure her by saying she was going to put it back after supper. Patricia had reluctantly agreed. She had proposed to help clean up but under Patricia's order, and more begging on JJ's part, she was only allowed to pass the women the dishes. She had just gone back into the kitchen with the two last plates and handed them to Patricia.
"Those were the last ones." She told her before leaning against the counter.
Patricia stopped cleaning and stared at the dishes before her, "No, there's one missing."
JJ immediately frowned, "What? I don't think I for—"
"Daryl…" Carol cut in, "I brought him some earlier."
"I'll go and get it." She told them as she walked out of the kitchen.
JJ slowly climbed the stairs to where Daryl was staying. She stood in front of the door for quite a while before actually knocking and letting herself in. There wasn't much light as she first set her eyes on the tray with the empty plate and glass before finally looking up, just slightly, and seeing Daryl under the covers. All she could see of him from where she stood was a little bit of his shoulder and his bandaged-covered head. She looked at his back for a little bit then simply reached for the tray, putting everything back into place before walking towards the door.
She bit her lip then looked back at his unwavering figure, "Daryl…?" She called out very quietly, scared she might wake him up. For a second she thought he was asleep and nodded to herself. At least I tried. She reached for the handle and opened the door.
"Wha'?" she swiftly turned around the moment she heard his voice. She saw him reach for his wound at his side as he grunted.
"I wanted to know if you needed anything before I left…since everyone is off to sleep or will be soon." She had closed the door again and watched as he turned around, as best as he could, to look at her. She could see him squinting as he looked at her. She looked like she hadn't slept in days, which was partially true. She had taken her sling off because of discomfort and her arm looked like it had been punched multiple times with the amount of bruises visible on it.
"I'm fine," he bit his lower lip, "What the hell happened to ya anyways?" he mumbled. She blinked a few times before looking down at her arm, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
She sighed, "Nothing…"
"Ain't nothin' from where I am." She couldn't believe it. Daryl Dixon was holding a slight discussion.
"Couple of walkers, too many to kill…so I just ran. Ended up in your grid…I saw a horse run by and got curious. Followed it until the creek bed and fell where you went down." She explained.
"Ya assumed I did...again." He said, his voice so low it could count as a whisper. She nodded.
"The squirrel," she paused and looked at his reaction, "I saw the squirrel and figured it was you."
He looked at her then gave her a nod, "The doll…"
"Carol has it…" He nodded again, biting down on his lower lip, "I should leave…you need to rest."
She was about to reach for the door handle again, "Hey…" she looked at him and there he was, squinting his eyes at her again, "Ya should have somethin' to support yer arm…it's gonna help."
She smiled slightly then nodded, "Yeah." She opened the door and looked at Daryl again, "Goodnight." She left with a small smile on her face.
She walked into the kitchen and handed the tray to Carol with a small smile. She then excused herself and took her sling before leaving the kitchen, waving it at Patricia with a small smile. She put the sling back on as she walked towards the door. When she opened it she came face to face with Rick and nearly jumped. She laughed and wished him goodnight, asking if everything was alright.
"Yeah, I just need to talk to Hershel about some things." Was the answer she'd gotten.
It was late that same night that Rick came out of Hershel's house, rubbing a hand over his face, the disbelief, exhaustion and worry invading his thoughts. His doubts had been half-confirmed. With no technology there was no way to confirm but if he'd guessed right from what Hershel had told him, the signs were going to become obvious in the upcoming months.
Hershel's apology as he laid his hand upon Rick's shoulder was sincere, the dread from news such as that even bothering him although it wasn't his fault.
"It can't be stopped. Even if we had wanted to, Rick, it just cannot."
Hershel's words were ringing a dreadful bell in his ears as he shook his head. It was frustrating to not be able to prevent events in this already rotting world. The only reassurance Rick could get was that Hershel would try to confirm said news. The thought of any sort of confirmation scared him to death because it became something else to think of. Another thing to worry about.
Thoughts in shambles, Rick stood there. He stood on the stairs leading to Hershel's house and stared up. At the dark navy sky. Rick stood there and stared.
Stared at the stars.
This was Chapter 11. I have written and erased so much during this chapter, it was horribly long to write. And let's not forget the lack of inspiration. Ugh, a nightmare. But here it is and I hoped you enjoyed it.
I apologize for my lacking English skills. I've been surrounded by a lot more French than usual and yeah, it's weird writing in English again.
I also want to thank everyone who follows, favorited and comments (on) this story! I love you all!
Hope you enjoyed! R&R! Constructive comments are very appreciated. If you don't like, well, it's simple...don't read.
Happy Easter everyone!