Hello dear readers! Here is an update for all of you. Special thanks to every new addition to the Richonne ship who has left a review. I feel very happy (this being one of the earliest Richonne fics) that I have managed to attract your attention. Hopefully, I shall keep it.
There was nothing.
"It's a trap." He whispers to her.
The light was vacillating sinisterly. Its source was a stray light bulb hanging on the low ceiling. It didn't seem to illuminate much of yet another corridor. It was even narrower, if that were possible. He felt like he was being forced forwards by the walls themselves, as if there could be a release from their confinement were they to just keep going.
Michonne is as calm as ever, leading the way with her weapon pointed to the front. She doesn't answer so he repeats: "It must be a trap."
"How? They could not have expected us from this entrance."
It's another whisper, perhaps quieter than his. He has to lean above her shoulder to hear it but also to reply. In the semi-darkness, her skin appears like pure ebony, her bare shoulder so smooth it seems to reflect the feeble light. He breathes in the smell of earth, blood and sweat and something else he isn't quite sure of; it was a feminine scent, something like womanhood should smell like except that neither Lori nor any other female of his acquaintance had smelled that way to him.
"Maybe they did. Maybe that patrol outside was meant to lead us here." He takes care not to be too close. The last thing he needs is to unsettle her; it would be bad for cooperation to work.
"It doesn't matter. This is the only way we got." She says this, her head turned to left, the words leaving her lips smoothly. She sounds unaffected, prepared for anything, especially the worst and it's entirely the opposite of how he feels.
But if she can keep her cool, he has no reason not to do the same.
They find Daryl locked in a room. Rick can see through the metal bars of the door's window that he is badly hurt. He wants to call out to him, to break through the door and haul him up on his back. From what they see, there is more of Daryl's blood outside of his system than in. His shirt is stained. His arms are bruised. The ground is covered with dark stains.
She can sense his panic. Michonne had made the conjectures a few days ago from her observations back in the prison. Nobody had bothered much to talk to her and she was too cautious to speak freely anyway. Her time was spent in watchfulness, picking up bits of conversation and hints of the dynamics of his people. It was obvious that Daryl was his right arm; the latter had shared the same distrust for her, as if Rick's opinions were automatically his own.
She can't say she likes Daryl very much. She doesn't even know what to think of Rick yet. This partnership of theirs doesn't mean more than what it is and she doesn't easily forget the way she was treated. Yet, the sight was a disturbing one nonetheless and suddenly, she wants to help him too.
"Daryl" Rick mutters through the window. It's loud and she winces from the fear of being heard. There is no reply from the injured man, not even a movement of any sort. Michonne thinks of the worst.
"Daryl! Can you hear me?" He tries again a little louder.
It's so desperate that she doesn't have the will to shush him. Daryl's form is so lifeless and the man before her is fighting the grim conclusion with all his might. She sees the spectrum of despair on him, the way his throat constricts and his chest heaves, the panic moving his eyes.
"He can't be." Michonne says softly because God knows why, she needs to reassure him. "They wouldn't have kept him if he were dead."
He looks at her and nods. He's trying to believe it but he can't.
"You're right. He's not dead." They hear a voice behind them.
It's him. Michonne would recognize his voice anywhere; it had no truth to it but a cold and bottomless ring. It's the voice of cruelty itself, a passive sort of cruelty; the kind you could recognize but never call him out on it.
He is not alone but with Milton, who looks distressed. The Governor is pointing his gun towards her and staring through his remaining eye. The vile power of his look makes her grit her teeth. She wants to stab it out again, to end him forever.
"I'd be damned if I said that I had expected this." He smiles to the both of them. It didn't reach his eye. It never did. "I was on my way to question this fellow. You see, he hasn't given me anything substantial yet." He pauses to lick his lower lip. "Naturally, I'll ask you to drop your weapons."
They don't move directly. Michonne guesses that Rick is thinking really hard. His arm brushes her lower back imperceptibly. He's hiding his gun, she realizes with panic. It won't work. Even with one eye, the Governor's scrutiny is inescapable.
"Now, now." He says condescendingly. "You're in no position to resist. Drop them."
If she bends over, Rick's attempt would be exposed. Her eyes dart to Milton who appears the stark opposite of the man next to him. His forehead glistens with nervous sweat and he looks apologetic.
Michonne needs to buy time so she drops the long gun that Rick had forced her to accept and kicks it towards the Governor. Behind her, Rick's fingers press gently her lower back in a silent appeal. They both know she's the Governor's main target. His only eye was glued on her with a hatred and disgust that reflected exactly what she felt for him.
"Let him go and I'll surrender." Michonne states, holding his gaze.
He laughs. "You're not in a position to make negotiations. I could shoot you dead right now but I have my own plans for you."
"Don't do this." Milton pleads. He is struggling to keep his voice even. "It's not worth it. Let them go and they won't come back." He gives her a nod like they're making an actual deal. "There's only going to be more bloodshed Phil."
Phil. So that was his name. It seemed strange to Michonne that he should have such a mundane title.
"Let me handle this." The Governor stated grimly.
"We're just here for our friend." Rick interjects.
"Our?" The Governor sneers. "That woman here is no part of your group pal. No, no, no." His eye returns to her as if Rick was a discarded fly on the side. "You're staying right here with us."
Rick doesn't know how to respond. He can very well strike a deal and leave. He sees the opportunity hanging like a golden apple. The man has been fixated on Michonne. He only cares about her. And all the while, Daryl's survival hangs on his mind, his blood printed on his eyelids.
His hand on the gun is heavy; to act or not to act. She hasn't moved but any sudden movement on his part would have the Governor shoot her dead. She's led him here despite her injury.
But Daryl... I can save him now.
"Drop that goddamn sword Michonne." The Governor hisses.
"Phil, don't do this." Milton interjects once more. "Let them go. Forget it."
He is completely ignored.
"I'm here for my friend." Rick says cautiously. "I came back for him. Now, I don't know what your problem with her is. She just led me here. You had two of my group with you and we wanted to see what was up…we thought they were in danger. We didn't know what this place was."
"Ah yes. You didn't know what it was but you decided to wreck havoc anyway?" He laughs, the sound reverberating in the narrow corridor. "My people are in complete terror. They are mourning friends and family members. In one evening, you have managed to destroy what I have built here… Yet, I can understand."
"You can?" Rick repeats, a little too hopeful.
"You have your own group to worry about. I understand that."
"I just want my friend back. Let him go with me. We'll never bother you again. But as long as he is here, my group won't give up."
"She stays here." The Governor says, pointing at Michonne with his gun.
Rick is close enough to feel her body get tense. He tries to remember her words. Had she been right? Was this the bad man she had described to him? What if all of this has been a misunderstanding? His mind browses a thousand thoughts a minute.
I don't know her, he thinks frantically. I don't. She can be in the wrong. She might be crazy.
And yet, he doesn't believe it either mainly because his whole self is averse to this Governor character. He feels an intense hatred, almost inhuman in its power.
He doesn't trust him. And somehow, along the way, he has learned to trust her.
"Have her then." Rick says. "I only care about Daryl."
"This is going nowhere until you drop your weapons. If you want this deal to work, that gun of yours, the one you think I can't see, must go on the floor."
"Okay." Rick says as he slowly lowers himself on the ground, both hands up in the air in surrender. He watches the Governor closely and for once, the latter's attention is momentarily focused on him. He hopes against all odds that she'll take the chance, that somehow, she might have telepathically understood his intentions.
"So much for partnership." He hears Michonne hiss without looking at him. Her next words, she addresses to the Governor. "Fuck. You."
None of them saw her attack coming, not even Rick, who has been wavering between uncertainty and helplessness. There is a gunshot, probably from the Governor, which makes him spring up to his feet.
Michonne plunges at the one eyed man, her katana ready to slit the throat. She feels the brush of the bullet against her hair but the adrenaline does not allow any time to fear. She seizes his wrist where the gun is and twists his hand. He's strong but she remembers their fight and the fact that he's lost an eye. He must be weaker.
He fights back, his hand grabbing her by her dreads and pulling her backwards. She doesn't think about Rick anymore; his help doesn't matter. It's between the two of them. She's no Daryl to him. She doesn't matter to anybody. Not even Andrea.
"Quit this Michonne." The Governor pants against her ear. "You're done this time. You hear me? You're nothing but a bitch and you'll die like one, I promise that."
She tries to kick him in the middle but he keeps her at a distance. He is fuelled by his scorn and she is weakened by her injury. Then, she remembers that her other arm is still free, the one holding her weapon.
She raises her sword, her eyes fixed on his eye. He feels her movement but he doesn't anticipate it very well. Her slash at his hip is clumsy but it hits it nonetheless. The blade sinks in through the fabric of his pants and the flesh gives way. It's a superficial wound but it's enough to make him stagger.
He stumbles backwards, his hand still holding her by the hair, dragging her along with him. He grunts like a mad dog and she sees spit at the corner of his mouth.
Rick has no idea what to do. The other man, Milton, watches the fight in fear but seems unwilling to make any move.
"Help us!" Rick says because he can see that Milton is averse to conflict. "He's tortured my friends and he'll torture her!"
"I…I can't." Milton replies. He is trembling and his skin glistens with sweat. "I can't."
"Then leave." Rick orders him. He can't stomach what would happen. Michonne is going for the kill.
They are both going for the kill.
"I can't allow you to…please don't kill him! This is not how this should be resolved."
No time for this, he realizes. He pushes past Milton and tries to interfere. It's too narrow to sneak up on the Governor from behind. He sees the blood on the floor and worries that it may be hers. Everything is a mess of scarlet, movements and grunts.
Michonne tackles him, taking advantage of the moment. The Governor falls against the wall and her head gets a sharp hit from following the motion. She lets out a cry and it makes the Governor laugh. Her hand on his wrist loosens and she feels it slip away in horror. The blade of her katana is stuck in an awkward position. The blood throbs on her forehead, pounding like an alarm clock. She tries to free her katana from underneath them but it's useless.
The sweat ultimately allows him to slip away from her grip. It's at that moment that Michonne fears truly. She has seen monsters in the world but none as bad as this man. To die and let him live was gut-wrenching.
She's still struggling because she would not die a helpless death. His eye is still watching her with the glint of victory.
Then, he screams.
It takes her by surprise so she instantaneously looks around. Rick has a foot on the Governor's hand, holding it to the ground.
"Don't need your help." She growls because he would have sold her out to him anyway. Things are just working to his advantage right now.
"I don't care." He replies. With his other leg, he kicks the Governor again.
"NO!" Milton screams. He is upon Rick, trying to push him away.
Michonne can't see anyone but the Governor. In the darkness of this corridor, her eyes seem to paint him a bloody halo, the target of her revenge. She feels heady with vengeance, the rage coursing through her veins. He must die. It's irrational but he must. In the moment, she is no better than him; she believes in murder like she hasn't believed in anything else.
It all happens quickly. The bite on his forearm, his loud curses, the crack of his knuckles underneath Rick's foot…Milton's screams in the background.
She raises her katana, one knee pressing his leg down. He tries to shove her aside but it doesn't change much. She stabs him somewhere near the heart.
He gargles, blood spurting out of his mouth in between dying insults. She's hot everywhere and he's still staring.
Milton's scream rings in the background. Rick is saying something but she's caught in the moment like she can't escape. Something in the Governor's eye tells her that she never would.
Woah, so I haven't uploaded in so long. So very sorry! If there are any Richonne shippers who still remember this fic, well I thank you from the bottom of my heart and would be extremely grateful for reviews!
(Thank you Collie for the very lovely reviews btw)