Chapter 8 - Look After You

"Keep pressure," Hershel told me as he pulled his hands away from the pad. I nodded keeping pressure to the wound as I looked down at Carl. There was sweat forming along his skin which was both a good and bad sign. I kept my gaze glued on Carl as Rick and Shane entered the room asking about Carl. I wanted to tell him he would be just fine...Carl was a tough kid just like his daddy.

"Why didn't mom and Shane come?" Carl asked as I handed him a small cooler that he could actually carry.

I reached into the back of the car for another bag trying not to answer his question. We were out here because your mom is an idiot, is what I wanted to tell him. Over the past few weeks the tension between Lori and Rick had reached a boiling point. She literally told him to take Carl for the weekend to give her time to think.

"Well," Rick's voice broke my concentration as he appeared next to me taking one of the bags from my hands. "Your mom had some errands to run and Shane-"

"Had to work," I cut Rick off looking down at Carl. "Are you telling me you'd rather be with your mom and Shane than with me and your awesome dad?"

Carl grinned shaking his head causing Rick to grin down at the young boy. "Then its settled. We're gonna have the best camping trip the world's ever seen," Rick nodded putting his hand on his young son's head.

Carl grinned nodding looking over at me before hiking up the cooler I had handed him before he started walking towards our campsite. I shook my head at the kid before making sure I had as many bags as I could carry before looking over at Rick. He was looking after Carl with a smile on his face before his light blue gaze turned to me.

"Let's start this adventure, shall we?" he asked a grin on his face.

"Wouldn't wanna prolong the best camping trip the world's ever seen," I grinned as I moved past Rick his arm nudged mine grinning at me before we began our trip to the campsite.

The last half of the day was spent trying to set up the tent. The laughter from the three of us echoed around the camp as we worked. Carl was trying his hardest to help while Rick and I bickered back at forth with eventually led to me tackling Rick then Carl jumping on both of us. The heat of the sun slowly faded as we managed to get the tent up and all our stuff set up inside.

Rick was kneeling down next to the fire pit doing his best to light the kindling having little success. Carl and I were sitting in some chairs watching him both of us had amused looks on our faces. I looked over at Carl winking at him before I stood up and walked over to Rick kneeling down next to him.

"Move over survivor man, I got this," I grinned as he scoffed before handing me some of the kindling. I shook my head pulling out a lighter.

"Now that's cheating."

"No, that's being prepared," I grinned looking over at Carl who gave me a thumbs up.

"Sorry dad, but she beat you on that one."

"You turned my own kid against me," Rick nudged me as I watched the fire slowly creep under the logs.

"All in a good day's work," I winked at him before pointing to Carl who pointed back an even bigger grin on his face.

"Melody, I need you focused," Hershel's severe voice snapped me out of the memory. I tore my gaze away from Carl's face. I looked over at where Rick was standing with Shane. Both men were staring down at me and Carl hollow looks on their faces. I knew they wanted to be happy they found me but with Carl like this I understood the horror. It would kill me if we couldn't save him. "I need you two to step out please."

Shane nodded taking a hold of Rick's arm slowly guiding the man out. His gaze was blank, but he was struggling. Lori didn't know and that's what was killing Rick. Those two may get at each other sometimes, but he really did love her. Shane nodded to me before he closed the door behind them blocking us. I turned my gaze back to Hershel nodding. We had to get the fragments out.

"Hold him down. As soon as I start digging into his skin he's gonna react," Hershel stated pointing to Carl's shoulders.

I closed my eyes briefly before nodding. I opened my brown eyes before slowly placing one hand on his chest and the other near his hip in case his feet started kicking. He would be in a lot of pain and he would be extremely scared. I just hoped when he woke up he would see a familiar face and not react as much. I put just enough pressure to keep him down as Hershel peeled away the bloody pad. I cringed away from the site focusing my eyes on Carl's young face as his cheeks began to twitch.

I listened to the shallow breathing coming from underneath me as the squishing of Hershel's tools met my ears. Almost like an instantaneous reaction Carl's eyes snapped open wide. They were full of fear and pain. He let out a gurgled groan as he began squirming more than I expected. I didn't want to have to put more pressure on him than necessary.

"Carl," I said softly bringing to boy's wild unfocused eyes to me. "Hey there handsome, look at me. Come on look at me, Carl." He cried out as the first tear dripped down from the corner of his eyes. I applied more pressure as he groaned, more tears falling down his face. It tore at my heart listening to him struggle like that. "Hershel!" I snapped looking back at the man whose tools were still in Carl's skin as he dug around for the fragments. "Hershel it's killing him!"

"Maggie, I need blood!" Hershel told his daughter not looking up from the wound. Maggie nodded before quickly leaving the room to go get Rick.

I kept pressure on the young boy as he squirmed beneath me. The sound of Rick's boots against the hardwood floor met my ears. I looked over my shoulder at him seeing the shocked look on his face as Maggie dragged him along after her. The horror crossed onto Rick's face as Carl squirmed and cried out. I was doing my best to keep him down.

"DAD!" Carl cried out as Shane came to my side. He put his hands on Carl's legs keeping the boy from kicking. Patricia grabbed a hold of Rick sitting him down in a chair to start the transfusion. Carl screamed out again causing me to close my eyes trying to keep the tears at bay.

"Shh, Carl it's gonna be okay, bub. I promise you it's gonna be okay. Carl look at me handsome," I tried calming him down but his screams grew louder as Hershel dug deeper into his skin.

"STOP! You're killin' him!" Rick screamed over Carl's cries.

"RICK! Do you want him to live?!" Hershel shouted back keeping his eyes glued to the wound.

"Rick!" I shouted drawing his attention from his son to me. "Rick, he needs blood!" Rick stared at me his gaze shifting between me and his son as Carl cried beneath me.

"RICK! DO IT NOW!" Shane raged at the man.

Rick clenched his jaw before nodding at me. Patricia quickly prepped Rick for the needle stick. I leaned back slightly as Shane moved up his hand resting on the side of Carl's face for a moment before he fell back again. I kept my hold firmly on his shoulders as he cried for me to let him go. I shook my head holding back the tears when he suddenly closed his eyes the crying and screaming gone. Shane's eyes widened as he looked between me and Hershel horror on his face.

"He just passed out," Hershel explained looking up at Shane before focusing back on the wound. As Shane and I loosened our hold on Carl, Hershel pulled out a tiny fragment of the bullet. "One down...Five to go." He dropped the shrapnel into a bowl Patricia had brought in earlier. I shook my head as I leaned back my knees on the floor as I sat next to the bed.

It had to be at least a good hour that had passed after Hershel had gotten the first fragment out. Carl passing out had made him nervous and he refused to get the rest out until the boy had a chance to come back from the shock. Rick had been slowly giving blood to his son; the blood pumping from his body into a jar then into Carl's body. I was resting against the wall watching Carl's chest slowly rise and fall.

"Pressure's stable," Hershel's voice broke the silence in the room.

"Lori needs to be here," Rick said looking between me and Shane. Shane was leaning against the fireplace in the room his head resting on the palm of his hand. "She doesn't even know what's going on. I gotta - I gotta go find her. Bring her back here."

"You can't do that," Hershel shook his head.

"She's his mother," Rick spat at the older man. "She needs to know what's happened. Her son's lying here shot!"

I closed my eyes hearing Rick say that. I knew Lori deserved to know, but how far away was she? I put my hands to my legs slowly running my hands from my thighs to me knees. Hershel explained the need for more blood bringing Shane into it. As much as I hated to admit it, Rick was right, Lori needed to be here and Hershel was right saying Rick couldn't go more than 50 feet from Carl's side. Someone was going to have to go out and get Lori and bring her back.

I watched as Rick slowly stood up out of his chair after Patricia had taken the IV out of his arm. He kept saying how Lori needed to know as he slowly made his way towards the door his arm tucked close to his body. He was stumbling which immediately alerted me. I was on my feet as Shane tried to help Rick only for him to push past and out the door. I sighed softly looking up at Shane who's gaze met mine. He nodded before walking out after Rick. The door closed softly behind them leaving me, Hershel, and Carl in the room alone as Patricia exited out another door.

"Anything you would like to tell me?" Hershel's voice drew my attention back to him. The man was sitting on the left side of Carl his eyes glued onto my form. The stethoscope hung around his neck his hand resting on his knees as he stared at me.

"I was there the day this kid was born," I said softly looking down at Carl. I sat down in the seat Rick had vacated moments ago as I gazed down at his pale skin. "And I hope I'm long gone the day he dies."

Hershel nodded. "Any children of your own?"

I shook my head the familiar empty feeling settling in my gut. "No, I missed my chance..."

Hershel nodded as he stood up. There was this look on his face like he knew what I was talking about. Like he knew the pain somehow. I let that idea go as he walked to the door and opened it. I knew Maggie, Otis, Shane, and Rick were out there, but I couldn't bring myself to move. My legs were beginning to feel numb as I sat there my gaze never leaving Carl's face. I had lost two kids already...I wasn't gonna lose a third.

Finally gaining my strength back I moved over to the side of the bed where the blood had been transfusing into his body. I rested my hand on the boy's arm feeling the clammy skin beneath my own. I pursed my lips tightly together as I closed my eyes trying to keep the tears at bay. There was internal bleeding, according to Hershel. Most of the time internal bleeding couldn't be stopped and in these circumstances it was even worse.

"Hey handsome," I said softly my eyes opening as I took in his calm face. "You are strongest kid I know. I mean look at you...Take a bullet to the stomach and you're still here. Somehow you're still here."

"Otis no!" Patricia's voice cut my thought process off. I looked over to the open door confused wondering what was going on. I leaned forward pressing my lips to the young boy's clammy forehead before moving to the door to see everyone in the living room.

"I ain't gonna sit here while this fella takes this on alone," Otis stated looking around. Otis was a big man, but he looked more like an oversized teddy bear than a hunter. "I'll be alright."

"Take what on alone?" I asked looking over at Shane noticing that was who Otis was shrugging to. The eyes in the room turned to look at me as I limped slightly into the room noticing no one was answering me. "Take what on alone?"

"We're going to get some medical supplies from a local high school," Shane answered turning to look at me. I stared at him a confounded look on my face before I glanced over at Rick. His eyes were red as he watched the situation carefully.

"I'm going with you-"

"That's not an option-"

"If I wanna go, you can't stop me, Shane," I cut him off after he cut me off.

"He's right," Hershel spoke up. "You're injured. If you pull the stitches in your leg you could bleed out. They aren't properly healed yet. You've been on your feet today more than you should have. Let them do this."

I looked back at Hershel a disagreeing look on my face before Rick stepped forward putting his hand on my shoulder. "I need you here," he said softly. "Until Lori gets here, you're the closest he has to an aunt. Please." I looked into Rick's eyes for a moment seeing nothing but the sincerity in them. I nodded taking a step back away from him as he turned to look at Otis. "I should thank you."

"Wait till that boy of yours is up and around," Otis responded turning his gaze away from Rick. His shoulders hung as he fiddled with something in his hands. "Then we'll talk...I'll go gather some things."

The room fell silent as Maggie approached Rick about where Lori was. My gaze went from Maggie and Rick over to Shane who was leaning against the wall near the window. He turned his gaze to meet mine before he motioned towards the door. Crossing my arms over my chest I slowly followed Shane as the two of us walked outside and onto the porch. The cool breeze hit my exposed arms causing me to shiver for a moment before coming to a stop. Shane walked over and leaned on one of the railings looking out over the land.

"We thought you were dead," Shane broke the silence. I grimaced in pain as I put more weight on my foot than I should have as I walked to the railing. I slowly leaned forward my elbows pressed against the wood, similar to Shane's stance.


His gaze turned from the grassy hills over to me. He had this stressed look of relief in his eyes. "Daryl and Rick found a body. They said they were sure it was you. Said you took down a walker then fell down a cliff side..."

I scoffed nodding. I pushed my hair back tucking it behind my ear. "And Sophia?" Shane looked over at me shaking his head as he lowered it slightly. I shook my own head before looking out towards the woods. "She was right there, Shane. I told her not to move. I took down a biter and when I came back she was just...she was just gone."

"None of this is your fault," Shane said firmly turning to face me. "You did what you could."

"Then why do I feel like I just killed that little girl?" I asked turning my tired stare to meet his.

"Get that out of your head," Shane snapped straightening up. "You put that in your head and you'll never let it go." He set his hand down on my shoulders. "You did not kill that little girl, Melody. She ran off. You didn't force her to. If anything you kept that girl alive longer than if she would have been out there on her own. If she's alive, it's because of you."

I stared up at him my head tilted slightly as I listened to what he said. It was too late to let it go. The guilt already weighed heavily on my mind, but he was right. Maybe I helped her live a little longer if she's still out there. Maybe in some way I gave her a fighting chance. His arms wrapped around my shoulders pulling me to him tightly. I closed my eyes as I wrapped me arms around his body hugging him tightly.

The front door opened behind us revealing Otis with a large bag of things they would need. Rick followed behind then Hershel came out in close third. All the men looked tired, Rick especially. I pulled away from Shane allowing him to walk down the steps with Rick. He turned back to face me nodding his head waiting for me to nod back before he reached the blue pickup truck. I watched as he and Rick talking to Hershel as Patricia hugged Otis crying. I watched the procession from the porch my arms once again crossed over my chest as a stinging sensation erupted on my thigh. Rick handed Otis something before he and Shane climbed into the truck.

The truck slowly took off leaving Patricia, Rick, and Hershel standing there. Patricia was the first to leave shaking her head before Hershel and Rick headed my way. I stood there silently on the porch as they made their way up the steps Hershel coming to a stop next to me.

"We're going to check on the boy, then we're gonna check on your wounds," Hershel nodded.

I sighed looking to the ground as Hershel moved away from me. A familiar pair of boots replaced where Hershel had been standing. My eyes slowly traveled up the pants to the blood stained sheriff's shirt before I met his eyes. They weren't as red as before, but they were still with pain. He reached out his arms wrapping around my shoulder pulling me to him. I wrapped one arm around his waist as we moved in sync into the house. The connection was immediately broken when we entered the room Carl was in. He was still laying there absolutely pale, his abdomen distended more than it had been earlier. Hershel was at his side checking his pulse and his blood pressure. Once he gave it the okay he moved to the side to allow Rick to sit next to his son.

"Let's check on your upper body first," Hershel nodded. His eyes slowly began to trace the scratches and bruises along my arms. My eyes looked over Hershel's shoulder to where Rick was sitting. He was watching the two of us closely while he kept a hand on his son's arm. "Let's see your ribs."

I winced as I slowly pulled the tank top up enough to show him my flat abdomen. There was one large bruise that covered most of my ribs on my right side. It was a miracle I hadn't broken or cracked any of them. As Hershel moved to the side the bruise was in Rick's view causing his eyes to widen as he took in the deep purple black color. I quickly pulled away from Hershel's touch as a pain shot through my ribs. I quickly put the shirt down trying to hide the wounds. Rick didn't need to see that. He blamed himself enough for everything, he didn't need to see how damaged I was.

"Let's check your legs..." Hershel nodded. He looked back over at Rick. "If you stay you need to give the lady some privacy. Keep your body turned to the wall."

Rick nodded as he tore his heartbroken eyes away from my tattered body. I slowly unbuttoned the jeans before pulling them down. I pulled my feet out of the jeans slowly trying not to cause more pain than I was already in. I took a deep shaky breath as I turned back to Hershel. He started with the stitches in my thigh asking how they felt, then asking how my ankle felt. It was all the same. It hurt. I looked away from Hershel and over to Rick. I shouldn't have been surprised to see he was carefully looking over his shoulder. His eyes glued to the ugly stitches along my thigh then dropping down to my bruise ankle. As his eyes traveled back up his gaze met mine and I could see it in his eyes. He blamed himself. He blamed himself for Carl, for my cuts and bruises, for Sophia still being out there.

I shook my head at him before he broke eye contact turning back around. Hershel gave me the okay to get dressed and I quickly did so. After I made sure my clothes were on I quickly walked out of the room putting my hand over my mouth coming to a stop only when I was outside. I grabbed onto one of the pillars that went from the railing to the roof as my shoulders shook. I was crying. Not for myself, but for them. For Sophia. For Carl. For Rick.

I sat there quietly my elbows resting on my thighs, careful not to be on the stitches. My head was in my hands as I let out a soft sigh. Shane and Otis had been gone longer than was anticipated. They should have been in and out with all the supplies. What if the school was overrun? What if they needed help and we were all sitting here unaware of what was going on? We might lose Carl and I didn't want the possibility of losing Shane on my conscious as well.

"They aren't back yet," Rick's voice broke the silence.

My gaze turned from the worn wood of the porch floor to the tall, lean man near the doorway. I lifted my head from my hands as I shook my head. I stay seated on the porch swing as I turned my dark gaze out to the dark night. Waiting was the worst part. I could hear his boots against the wood before I felt the swing shift as he sat down next to me.

"They'll make it back," Rick said his voice cracking. It sounded more like he was trying to convince himself than me.

"I hate waiting," I said softly my eyes narrowing on the darkness surrounding the farmhouse. "I just...I fucking hate it."

I could feel his gaze on me but I just couldn't meet it. Why couldn't I meet his gaze? My hands were on my thighs as they balled into fists before slowly unclenching and re-clenching repeatedly. My gaze stuck on the trees before I felt a hand on top of mine. My gaze immediately snapped over to see Rick's hand on mine causing my hand to immediately relax.

"When we found that body in the woods...I-" Rick cut himself off. I turned my eyes up to see that Rick's were glued to where his hand was on mine. "I felt a piece of my heart break. I kept thinking..." He shook his head. "I'd never get to hear your voice, see your smile." He turned his gaze so our eyes met. "I kept thinking it was my fault. I left you out there with nothing, no weapon. It tore at me that I left you and Sophia out there to die. I made a bad call and seeing that body..." he trailed off. I tilted my head seeing the tears gathering in his eyes as he turned his head away from me. "Then Carl got shot. I couldn't do anything right."

I shook my head moving my other hand over so it rested on top of his hand that was on my other one. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest as I took in a shaky breath. "I deserve to die."

Rick's head whipped around so fast it was shocking. His eyes were narrowed at me in response. "What are you talking about?"

I closed my eyes for a moment before letting go of his hands as I felt the tears forming in the corner of my eyes. "I did something back at the CDC...Something I-" I choked before quickly wiping the first tear away. "Something I wish I could take back." Rick's gaze softened to confusion, but his gaze never left my face. "I was pregnant."

Rick's blue gaze widened as he glanced down at my stomach his eyes lingering for a moment before they slowly made their way back up to my face. "Was?"

"I-" I put the back of my hand to my mouth shaking my head. "I couldn't keep it. I couldn't bring it into all of this...I couldn't."

The realization came over his face. He put his own hand to his mouth, running his hand along his jaw before letting it drop to his lap. He pulled away from me, standing up making the swing move, but I stayed seated. He walked over to the railing placing his hands against it leaning into it. His eyes stared into the dark his back to me. His shoulders tensed before he turned around his gaze tearing into my own. He had this look on his face that clearly showed he couldn't believe I had done that. I looked down feeling the tears escaping as my shoulders began shaking. I slowly stood up trying to brush the tears away fully intending to walk away.

"Was it Daryl's?" Rick's voice cut through the silence like a knife. I nodded crossing my arms over my chest. "Does he know?" I shook my head no watching as Rick slowly approached me. "He deserves to know."

"I know," I whispered. "How do you tell someone that you killed their child?"

Rick shook his head before closing the gap between us wrapping his arms tightly around me. I felt the sobs wracking my body as I wrapped my arms around him. I felt him press his cheek to the top of my head squeezing me gently in a comforting fashion. I let the tears roll down my cheeks the drops falling onto his already bloodied uniform.

"Rick," Lori's voice met my ears. The front screen door opened before slamming shut. I quickly pulled away from Rick wiping the tears from my eyes. I turned to see Lori staring at us accusation in her eyes. Rick took a step forward so he was next to me instead of behind me. "Hershel needs you."

Rick nodded looking down at me before walking over past Lori and into the house. Lori stood there her gaze on the door her husband had just gone through. I shifted on my feet uncomfortably before Lori's gaze snapped towards me. Her stare had gone from accusing to downright anger.

"What're you doin'?" she snapped at me.

"What?" I asked wiping the last tear away.

"Stay away from my husband...And stay away from my son," she snarled at me turning towards the door.

"You don't get to make that call," I growled.

"I just did."

She didn't give me the chance to retort as she whipped open the door and walked into the house. I turned my body towards the railing on the porch before slamming my hand down on the rail. I turned back towards the house when movement in the dark on the other side of the door caught my attention. My eyes narrowed at the spot until I realized who it was. Maggie was sitting there curled up on the chair her eyes judging. I shook my head realizing what she had heard before I briskly walked towards the door opening up and walking in. The sound of the door slamming against the frame echoed through the night.

I let my feet carry my into the house, past the room Carl was laying in and into the kitchen where Beth was standing there staring down into the sink. I stayed as quiet as I could as I watched the young girl's shoulders shake. Her hands pressed to the counter in front of her before one would reach up wiping at her face. I took another step into the kitchen area making my footsteps a little louder than before just to alert her I was there. She turned around looking at me her eyes red rimmed.

"You okay?" I asked softly coming to a stop next to the small table.

"Yeah," she sniffled wiping the tears away. "I'm fine."

"Beth...right?" I asked. She nodded. "Look Beth...I don't know why you're crying, but everything's gonna be alright."

"You don't know that," she shook her head her youthful face looking more stressed than it should.

"You're right, I don't, but you have more out there than most people have. Hershel, your sister, Patricia, Otis...That boy that's always following you around. You'll be okay Beth."

She nodded at me giving me a horrible attempt at a smile before her eyes were drawn to something behind me. I turned slowly expecting to see Hershel or Rick, but I could feel my jaw drop slightly seeing the two familiar faces standing there with Maggie. T-Dog looked worse for wear a bandage wrapped tightly around his arm, while Glenn stood there his baseball hat on his head a shocked look crossing both their features.

"Mel?" Glenn asked hesitantly. I didn't say anything instead I walked forward past Maggie and right up to Glenn. I wrapped my arms around him tightly relieved when he wrapped his arms around me. "We thought you were dead."

"Surprise," I smiled at him as I pulled away. I looked over at T-Dog my eyes taking in how sweaty and tired he looked before my gaze turned to his bandaged forearm. "What happened?"

"Cut myself," T-Dog shook. "When that horde was passing through."

"Sit down, let's get that stitched up," I ordered pointing to the table. "Beth could I have some sutures and some antibiotics?"

The young blond nodded before disappearing into the other room. Maggie looked between me and the guys slowly before she moved towards the pantry. T-Dog with his blanket around his shoulders sat down at the table setting his arm on top. Glenn carefully sat down across the table from us. I could tell by the look on his face that there was something weighing heavily on his mind. Before anyone could say anything, Beth came back into the room with everything I had asked for. I thanked her before she disappeared up the stairs towards where the other bedrooms were I assumed. After putting on some gloves, I then pulled the bandage off seeing the grizzly wound. He was lucky he got here when he did. He wouldn't have lasted much longer.

"I'm surprised you're still walking around..." I muttered. "What did you cut it on?"

"Metal on a car," T-Dog replied tiredly. I nodded as I began to disinfect the area around the wound.

"You got a pretty serious blood infection," I muttered gazing at the wound as I cleaned it. "We'd need some pretty yummy stuff to get this back in working order."

"Like Doxycycline?" T-Dog asked shakily pulling a pill bottle from his pocket before setting it down on the table between us.

"Yeah, that'll just about do it," I muttered looking at the label on the bottle. "Merle Dixon?" I asked looking from the label to T-Dog.

"Daryl gave them to us..." Glenn explained. "Said Merle used to get, umm, the clap..." I watched as Maggie looked over at Glenn slightly disgusted. "Um...Venereal disease," he corrected himself.

I scoffed, "Why is that not surprising?"

I set down the disinfectant wipes before picking up the sutures and needle. I glanced up at T-Dog seeing him preparing himself. I called out to Maggie pointing to T-Dog's arm and she nodded. She pressed down on his hand to keep him from moving before I carefully threaded his skin with the sutures. My eyes were glued on T-Dog's arm and the cut but I could see Glenn watching Maggie out of the corner of my eye. I wasn't sure why because this had to be their first time meeting. I finally finished the sutures before grabbing Merle's meds and pouring two of the pills into my hand. I grabbed T-Dog's good hand and set the pills in his hand before Maggie set a glass of water in front of him.

"Looks like Merle's clap just saved your life," I grinned at T-Dog as I pulled the slightly bloody gloves off my hands.

T-Dog grunted in pain, "I'm really trying not to think about that."

I smiled slightly before Glenn quickly walked out of the room. I wanted to get up and follow him, but Maggie beat me to it. I grabbed a fresh clean bandage before applying it carefully to T-Dog's arm as he grunted in pain. The sweat was dripping down his forehead as his eyes followed my hand, up my arm, and to my face.

"You should have -" he hissed in pain before I released his arm. "You should have seen Daryl when they told us you were dead."

I sighed looking up at T-Dog, "Let me guess. He got pissed off and destroyed some things."

T-Dog met my brown gaze with his own as he shook his head. "He was quiet. Dead silent. I've never seen him so quiet before. Even when Merle disappeared he was angry, but when he thought you were dead...Silence."

I stared at T-Dog a sad look on my face. Daryl had been hurt by my death. I knew Rick would be devastated, but I figured Daryl would have shrugged it off and moved on. He would have kept moving forward like he did with Merle. I parted my lips to say something back to him only to find that the words wouldn't come.

"MELODY!" Hershel's shout caused both of us to turn towards Carl's room.

I was on my feet quickly as rushing past T-Dog to get to the room. So what if Lori didn't want me near her son, but I had real nursing experience and if it saved her son's life then she'd be fucking grateful. I entered the room just as Rick, Lori, Patricia, and Hershel lifted Carl up onto a flat metal table. They were going to do the procedure without the respirator? I immediately took Patricia's place as she left to go get some lights.

"We're doing it?" I asked glancing up at Rick and Lori as she molded herself into her husband's side.

"We have no time left," Hershel answered pointing to the IVs near Rick and Lori. I quickly rushed over to them and brought them back to Carl's side. His abdomen was even more distended than it had been earlier meaning the blood was spilling into his abdomen faster than we could supply blood.

The roar of a truck coming close to the house broke through the silence drawing everyone's attention to the window. Rick was the first to look before he was quickly rushing out the door, Lori right after him. Hershel told me and Patricia to stay put as she set up some more lights. I nodded my heart beating rapidly knowing that meant Shane and Otis were back. I handed the bag full of the liquid to Patricia as I found a good spot for the IV before inserting the needle into his arm opposite of where the blood had been transfused into.

"Come on handsome boy," I whispered as Hershel came running into the room with some bags in his hands.

"Melody, I think you should tend to your brother, Patricia and I can handle this," Hershel stated firmly as he began rooting through the bags.

"I can do it-"

"This is not a time to argue," Hershel snapped. "Please leave."

I took a step back away from Carl confused as to why he would call me in there then force me to leave. Patricia motioned for me to go before she and Hershel turned to Carl and began to work. I moved to the door sending Carl one last desperate look before closing the door behind me. I closed my eyes as the door clicked meaning I was now completely separated from them. I breathed deeply before my eyes snapped open remembering Shane was outside.

With my limp not hindering me anymore it was much easier to move around in spite of the stitches. I pushed open the door seeing Lori, Rick, and Shane standing there next to the blue pickup truck but Otis was nowhere in sight. I made my way down the porch steps as they turned their gaze to me. I quickened my pace as a relieved look crossed Shane's face. As I made it to my brother I wrapped my arms around his neck pulling him into a tight hug. I felt his arms wrap around my waist as he hugged me just as tightly pressing a kiss to the side of my head.

"Where's Otis?" I asked pulling back looking around at them. I noticed Lori look down before putting her hand on Rick's chest. The two didn't say anything before slowly walking over towards the porch. I looked back up at Shane and noticed the guilt in his eyes, but there was something else. I tilted my head in confusion when I saw the guilt disappear briefly before it was there again. I knew what that meant.

"How's Carl?" Shane asked as he leaned against the truck favoring one leg more than the other. I shook my head.

"He's fightin'."

Shane slowly lowered himself to the ground in front of the truck. There was this blank look on his face that completely replaced the guilt I had seen before. I slowly lowered myself next to him in the grass being careful not to pull any of the stitches. I sat there next to him in silence, the four of us all out there waiting to hear something back about Carl. The time ticked away while my gaze was fixed on Shane the blank look on his face bothering me more and more as I thought about why Otis hadn't come back.

"What really happened out there, Shane?" I asked my voice low. I glanced over at Rick and Lori before focusing my gaze back on Shane.

"Nothing," he muttered as he put his hand on his head propping his elbow up on his knee. I tilted my head slightly watching as he put his thumb to his lips like he was gonna bite it but didn't. He chewed slightly on his lip before he dropped his head.

"I know you, Shane. Perks of being related, I know when you're lying to me," I watched as his head came up his gaze fixed on Lori and Rick. He shook his head like he was in denial of something. I sighed as I brought my hands together fiddling them nervously. "I did something," I muttered drawing his attention. My own blank stare was focused as the grass in front of me my hands dropping to the grass as I tore some blades out of the ground tossing them to the side. "Back at the CDC. Something I regret."

"What?" Shane asked after a moment of silence, both our voices low. I slowly looked up my eyes following the ground before they reached where Lori and Rick were sitting on the porch steps. Lori was leaning into him holding onto his arm while Rick stared over at me and Shane like he was trying to read what we were saying.

"I was pregnant," I muttered tossing some more grass to the side my gaze never leaving Rick's across the yard. "But I had an abortion."

"Whatchu tryin' to say?" His gaze cast down at me not acting as shocked as I thought he would.

"We all make mistakes," I broke my stare with Rick looking up at Shane. "But don't let 'em define who you are..."

"You made the right choice. Don't bring a baby into this shit," Shane muttered his gaze landing on Lori.

"I killed someone," I told him softly my voice even. "Have you killed anyone lately?"

Shane's gaze whipped in my direction before the sound of the screen door opening and closing met our ears. Both of us were immediately on our feet and focused on Hershel as he walked out. Shane and I stayed near the truck as Hershel announced that Carl was stable. I could feel the relief course through me as I heard Lori break out into a relieved cry. My hand unconsciously fell to my stomach as I watched the parents rejoice over their son's survival.

I looked over at Shane and could see the hope in his eyes as he stared openly at Lori. She was hugging herself a smile on her face before Hershel and Rick decided to tell Patricia about Otis. My gaze fell down to the ground in front of me as the sound of the screen door opening and closing met my ears.

"I had to do it," Shane whispered his gaze following Lori as she walked into the house. "It was me or him."

My gaze slowly looked up to see that Shane was limping towards the house. His shoulders tensed as he held tightly onto his shotgun. He carefully made his way up the porch steps glancing back at me nodding before disappearing into the house. I put my hand to my forehead before leaning against the truck.

How did things get so fucked up so fast?

I walked with Beth towards a small groove of trees. She was pushing a wheel barrel along as Shane, Jimmy, Maggie, T-Dog, and Glenn worked on piling up some rocks. As Beth as I reached them the two of us began piling some of the rocks into the wheel barrel. The atmosphere was tense as we all worked. No one spoke a word about what had happened in the previous days and maybe it was for the best. Emotions were still raw about Carl being shot and Otis' death.

The constant reminder was the fact that Shane was still limping around. Only today he was sporting a clean shaven head. I was surprised when I woke up this morning to see my brother in overalls, a plaid shirt, and a shaven head. That was confusing alone until the night before came rushing back. He admitted that it was either him or Otis, but he didn't outright say he killed him. He left him there that much was evident. So what happened out there?

Glenn came to a stop next to me handing me a rock to which I put it in the barrel. He tried giving me a smile but it failed horribly looking more like a grimace than anything. My gaze flickered over to where T-Dog was collecting some rocks. He looked much better today though his wound still was nasty. He seemed more alert and energetic than yesterday. The white bandage was wrapped tightly around his arm, no sign of blood. I then dragged my gaze over to where Shane was limping. He had this blank look on his face like he was deep in thought about something.

I parted my lips wanting to say something, but the words just wouldn't come out. I stood there for a moment staring down at the rock in my hand. I took in all the jutted grooves, the pale brown color before I tossed it carelessly into the barrel. I'm sure at one point it must have been beautiful, but circumstances have stripped it down. Sounds familiar. I bent down to pick up another rock when the sound of a familiar motorcycle filled the air.

Straightening up, I moved out past the trees my heart beating wildly in my chest as I watched his motorcycle come down the road, a new car, and the RV right behind him. I looked over at T-Dog who nodded before taking off towards the house. The group dropped what they were doing before they began following after T-Dog at a much slower pace. I stayed back with Shane as he limped slowly along. At one point I considered helping him but thought better of it.

"You know he thinks you're dead right?" Shane's deep voice said as the caravan slowed as it came closer to the house.

"Won't this be a shocker, then..." I responded as he and I came up to the group as they stopped in front of the porch. Instead of joining the group like Shane did I stayed back a little in their blind spot.

I watched as Daryl climbed off his motorcycle as Andrea got out of the car, and Carol and Dale came out of the RV, but still no Sophia. Their attention was drawn to Rick and Lori as they came out of the house to greet the group. The overwhelming silence covered the two groups, Hershel's and Rick's.

"How is he?" Dale asked breaking the awkward silence.

"He'll pull through, thanks to Hershel, and his people and..." Lori trailed off her eyes darting over to me.

"And Shane," Rick stated quickly noticing where Lori was looking. "We'd lost Carl if not for him."

"And Melody," Lori finished grabbing a hold of Rick's arm. Rick looked down to the ground before his gaze came up to rest on me. I watched as the rest of the group slowly turned to see what he was staring at.

I wasn't sure what was worse...the shocked looks on their faces or the horrified one on Daryl's. He hated surprises and this one wasn't any different. I could see him trying to process through it his face scrunched in confusion as his eyes darting between me and Rick. I was relieved when Dale walked towards me his arms open before he pulled me into a tight hug. I closed my eyes trying to hold back the tears as he pulled back.

"Good to see you're alive, kid," he smiled before walking over to Rick and Lori. Andrea followed Dale's example and walked towards me a relieved smile on her face. Instead of hugging me she held out her hand and we shook hands. Carol gave me a look that could kill before walking over to Lori and hugging her.

I stood there one hand on the back of my neck watching as they talked to Lori and Rick about what had happened. I looked over to see Daryl holding his crossbow his gaze glued to me. It almost look like he was still processing the situation before he started forward his fierce blue gaze never leaving my face. I took a deep breath as he reached me slinging his crossbow over his shoulder. He reached forward pulling me into his arms. He had one wrapped around my body while his hand resting on the back of my head holding me tightly to his body. My arms snaked around his waist as we stood there quietly holding onto one another.

"Don't ever pull that shit again," he whispered.

"I won't, I promise."

"Damn right you won't," he responded pulling back slightly so he was looking at me. "You ain't leaving my sight again, you hear?"

I nodded before pressing my forehead to his chest just enjoying the small moment because as soon as it ended reality was waiting.

So I hope you all enjoyed this. A huge thank you to hpx5, ILuvNormanReedus (I love your name), BellaSunshine (lol your pick of relationship is noted!), momoXvolturi, Auburn And Green (its always a pleasure to read your reviews), greenleafs, and of course honored guest! You guys really make my day when you review and it helps me get chapters out much much faster!

So I wanted to say there is a lot of relationship building for Melody in this chapter and I wanna hear your views on everything you can think of! Ideas, thoughts, praises, and instructive criticism (not mean!). Anyways thank you all who have liked this story it shall continue on!

Oh! And I've made some KILLER banners that you guys definitely need to check out as well as a story board! Please give me your thoughts on those as well! And let me know who y'all are shipping here! I'm DYING to know!