New chapter! It's short, but 'them's be the breaks.' I still hope you enjoy this! :) Please review with your thoughts and criticisms (I am working on a few short stories and I'd love some critique on my writing style/etc. So whatever you offer me is greatly appreciated!) THANK YOU FOR READING! ENJOY!

Chapter 7: Hounded

The last fifty yards took no time after the mysterious woman took Lori. We were all worried. We were all confused. We all wanted to get back to the highway and figure out what to do next. Clementine didn't leave my side for that time in the forest. She must've known I was worried. Carl had been shot. Shot. Not bitten. Not lost. Not a twisted ankle. Shot. How did that even happen? That must've been what was going through everyone else's heads too. How does a kid get shot? And someone was trying to save him? It was all a lot to take in.

Dale didn't have anymore luck than the rest of us. The first words out of his mouth were my thoughts exactly, "Shot? What do you mean shot?"

Glenn spoke to him as the rest of us climbed over the rail and onto the road once more, "I don't know Dale, I wasn't there. All I know is this chick rode out of nowhere like Zorro on a horse and took Lori."

Dale leered at Daryl, "You let her?"

He came back at him, "Climb down out of my ass, old man. Rick sent her. She knew Lori's name and Carl's."

Next Dale turned to Andrea, "I heard screams. Was that you?"

Glenn kindly fielded the question for her, "She got attacked by a walker. It was a close call."

"Andrea, are you alright?"

Andrea, who had already walked past him and was almost to the RV, looked back, and with an undeniably pissed off expression shook her head.

After a few minutes everyone went about setting their supplies back where they once came. Clem and I were sitting on the back of one of the abandoned cars, eating our energy bars. I don't know what I said it aloud, but for whatever reason I voiced my straggling thought to no one in particular, "Why's everyone so dead set on her not having a gun?"

"Back at the CDC," I jumped slightly at the sound of Daryl's voice. I hadn't expected anyone to answer, let alone him. Clem and I both looked towards him as he continued, "Was gonna opt out."

"Oh," I didn't know what to say so curiosity got the better of me, "Was she the only one?"

"No." I was a bit surprised by his answer.

I raised my eyebrow, "You?"

"Hell no."

"There was another woman in our group," Glenn came over to us and leaned against the car by Clementine, "Jacqui."

"Why would anyone do that?" Clem's innocence shown through.

Daryl shrugged, "Figured the world was so fucked up, no fixing it, I guess."

Glenn continued for him, "That this kind of life wasn't worth living."

My eyebrows furrowed, "That's stupid." I looked to Clementine, and a part of me worried that maybe one day she'd have that same thought, the one I had a couple times before I ran into her. I patted her shoulder, "There's always hope."

She nodded and ate the last bite of her bar before hopping down to the asphalt, "I'm going to go see if Dale can show me how to keep watch."

"Okay," I smiled at her, "You be nice to him."

After she was safe on top of the RV with Dale, Daryl turned to me, "That what you think?"

"What?" I popped the rest of my food in my mouth and chewed it down.

"That there's hope? Or you just saying that for her?" He nodded to the RV.

I stared at Clementine, perched beside Dale, gazing intently into her new binoculars. "Before I found her I might've thought different," I smiled slightly, "But then I found her; she's living proof that there's hope out here."

Glenn was next to question me, "How long was it before you found her?"

"Couple months," I shrugged, "She had been with people almost the whole time before."

"They die?" I saw Glenn wince at Daryl's words. He was part of Clementine's old group at one point, after all.

"Yeah, most of them at least," I glanced from Glenn to Daryl as I spoke, "She told me about it. They were good people, really cared for her."

"Yeah they were," Glenn's voice was sullen as he looked to the ground, I hadn't heard him sound like that yet, it made my heart heavy for a second. He looked back up to me, "What about you?"

I couldn't hide the offense in my voice, "Of course I care about her."

Daryl shook his head and rephrased Glenn's question, "Who were you with?"

I opened my mouth to answer, but Glenn beat me to it, "Didn't Lori say you were married to Rick's brother?"

"No," my tone was angrier than I'd been in weeks, "We were engaged, for a few years, but he never set a date." I looked to the both of them, "But to answer your question, I was alone from the start," I nodded to the RV, "until I found her."

Glenn's face contorted, "Shit."

"Yeah," I brushed off the tone of concern in his exclamation, "I started to really lose it when I finally found my parents. They were…" I shuddered at the thought of my mom and dad, bodies decaying, walking around and snapping at me through the glass. I shook the thought away, "Lucky we teamed up a few days later, or I might've just opted out myself."