Authors note:

WE ARE SO SORRY FOR THE DELAY! This chapter DID NOT WANT TO BE BORN. It was horrible how much time and effort this took! Don't worry though! We plan to get back on track! We're currently working on the outline of Chapter 19, and plan to have that up within a week!

Again, we are SO SORRY this took so long!

Review please!

Scrunchies & Apologies,

Dino-SOAR & herUSMCdream

Victoria POV -

I can't contain the grin on my face as Hayley and I skip hand and hand out of 'Marrow's Firearms School.' Sophia and Carl are laughing as they go from between running in front of us to stopping until we catch up so that they too can be skipping with us. The sun is just starting to set and the atmosphere is light and cheery. When I quickly look back to make sure the rest of the group is following suit, I notice Morgan and Jenny are slightly smiling and standing up just a bit straighter, though I can still see the deep sadness embedded in their eyes.

I turn back to the front just in time to see my truck mere inches away from me and skid to a stop before I hit it, realizing that Hayley's hand is no longer holding mine. Bitch wanted me to crash into the F-150. I'm about to spin around and give her a piece of my mind when I hear two loud thumps, followed by giggles and I can't help but relax as I look down at Carl and Sophia all out of breath and red in the face, grinning from ear to ear.

"You're lucky that there are two kids here Maltzy or I would've so just punched you," I hiss to Hayley.

She laughs, but stops a second later and I notice a slight blush spread across her face before she looks down. Immediately I know who it is and I can't help the smug grin that spreads across my face. Payback is a bitch.

I turn and look up to see a not so amused Daryl and a little more off than usual Merle behind me.

"Well, well, Blondie. I thought for sure you were gonna ram right into this here truck" he bellows hitting his palm against the bed of the truck and then hooting out a loud laugh.

I roll my eyes at his comment and say in a deadpan voice "Yeah, yeah. I'm glad you're just oh so worried about my well being."

"Blondie, that shit would've been funny as hell. I wish you would've rammed into it."

I gape at him before my famous bitch face comes out and my hip juts to the side, my arms crossing over my black covered chest. "You're such an ass."

"Oh honey, I've been called a lot worse, you gotta do better than that." He says through a smirk, taking a stumbling step closer to me.

I lean in a bit to inhale the faint smell on his breath before I straighten and ask, "You holdin' out on me?"

"Darlin'?" I hear him question with a grin as I turn on my heel and start walking towards his sleek black Harley Davidson. It's times like these that I wish I had learnt how to drive one.

I don't respond as I open one of the saddle pockets and rummage around in it. A clammy hand wraps around my wrist just as I feel the glass object in my palm and I grasp it before the hand pulls my arm back. I grin as I hold up the vodka bottle and then mask my amusement as I feign hurt when I say "I'm wounded Merle, I thought we had a better relationship than you hiding the good stuff on me."

He chuckles at me, extending his arm out to take the clear bottle from my hand but almost falls when I pull it away from him quickly and take a small step back from him. "You wouldn't last a shot with this stuff."

"Wanna bet?" I say a moment later, not even thinking of the words as they leave my mouth. I immediately regret it with the next sentence I hear.

"More betting?" Comes a voice from behind me and I stiffen, quickly spinning and almost knocking into Shane as he bends towards me so that he can whisper in my ear. "And I thought I was the only one who could get you that riled up."

I scoff at him and lightly put my hand against his chest to push him back, already my face starting to heat up from just him being so close to me. "Yeah. Right."

I make a move to turn and walk away but he pushes my hand further into his chest to keep me put. "I don't like sharing. Remember that."

"Neither do I" I reply, turning my head in the direction I know Lori is standing and I see that she has a look of confusion and what I believe to be hurt from her spot next to Rick, before turning my attention back to Shane who is looking in the same direction. I wiggle my hand out from under his and step back trying to put some distance between us while he is distracted and I can't help but feel a twinge of annoyance and jealousy as he continues to stare at Lori with a look of sadness and adoration. "Maybe you should remember that."

He immediately turns his dark brown eyes back to mine and for once I can tell I've made him speechless. His jaw is clenched tightly shut and his eyes are burning into mine, making me feel uncomfortable. But I don't look away. He needed to know that it was going to take a lot more than sexual tension to get anywhere near my pants.

"Well isn't that cute. Our two lovebirds here are having a fight about who owns who!" Merle practically screams from behind us and I spin towards him slightly stunned that he was still there. My face turns an even darker shade of red as I glare at him as best I can through my embarrassment. I can feel the heat and anger radiating off of Shane in waves at the distraction as he as well takes a step closer to me again. I internally roll my eyes at him.

"I am definitely not his girl, and never will be." I snap at him, trying to keep as much anger in my voice that I previously used with Shane even though I wish a hole would appear so I could jump into it and just disappear.

"I see what you like in this girl. She got passion and tits. Maybe I should have a roll with ya." Merle turns his gaze towards me, continuing as if I haven't even spoken, giving me a wink before giving Shane a toothy, drunken grin.

I turn to Shane, smiling a bit at Merle's comment and immediately notice that his body has stiffened. His eyes are hard, but focused. "You shut your mouth." He says sternly.

"What you gonna' do Officah? Gonna cuff me?" Merle eggs him on a bit, standing straighter, broadening his chest more. I hear a deep breath come from Shane and I can tell he's trying to keep his cool.

"Shut up Merle." Daryl's voice comes from behind us, sitting on the bed of our truck, next to Hayley.

"C'mon baby brotha, you and I both know that Mr. Rough and Tough ova' here is just beatin' around the bush. If he won't take the pussy, then I will." Merle smiles largely at me before turning his drunken gaze to Daryl.

I'm about to say something when out of the corner of my eye I see Shane lunge at him, landing Merle a punch in the face. I hear Hayley yelp and immediately jump back from the fight. A blur of white, red, brown and blue whizzes past and I see Daryl suddenly on his feet, trying to pull Shane off of his brother with Rick hot on his heels. Shane shoves them both off his back and bends down so that he is practically straddling Merle, his fists making loud noise when they connect with Merle.

"Shane!" I yell after the shock wears off and start running towards the group of men. "Shane, stop it!"

I'm there in a matter of seconds and as Shane pulls his arm back I quickly grab onto his elbow and tug lightly. "Shane, stop! Please!" In his fit of rage, he goes to pull it roughly out of my grasp, but stops when he hears my voice. His head snaps up and he looks up at me from his place atop of Merle. In that instance our eyes connect and I see the fight and anger leave him before he looks back down at Merle, an intense and fierce look in his eyes again as he takes a clump of Merle's shirt and draws his almost limp body towards him so that they are nose to nose.

"Don't you ever talk to her like that again! Ya' hear me? If I even see you looking at her the wrong way I will kill you myself!"

"Shane-" I start but am cut off by Merle trying to laugh but it is cut shortly by him coughing and groaning.

"Whatever you say, pig." Merle eventually spits out. Shane drops him, and I hear Merle's head thump loudly against the concrete. I watch as Shane pushes himself up and away from Merle as Daryl bends down to help Merle up. Shane gives him one last glare before stomping away, Rick and Lori following after him.

"Are you okay?" Hayley inquires with a raise in her voice, her hand grasping my forearm as she looks me over.

"I'm fine." I say, turning my attention on her instead of the spot where I see Rick trying to calm down a pacing Shane, Lori by his side.

"What was that about?" She asks crossing her arms and jutting out her hip.

"Just boys being boys." I say cryptically not wanting to give anything away.

"Boys being boys, eh?" Her eyebrows dance up and down as she goes back to her playful ways. "Shane just straight up attacked Merle. That's not just 'boys being boys'."

"Shut it Maltzy. I'll talk about it with you later." I mumble as I see the three musketeers start walking towards us, each frowning.

"Okay." She replies in a singsong voice.

I fuckin' hate that voice with a burning passion but right before I'm about to snap at her, Shane's voice rings loud and clear from the far right of us. "Everyone, head to the cars. We're heading out. Fort Benning is probably a good place to start."

"What if its not there?" Hayley asks reluctantly.

"It will be. It's a military base. The military are armed. They can defend themselves against these things. Believe me." Shane says confidently.

Hayley sighs, but doesn't say anything more. She seems too afraid to fight the subject. Especially after what we all just witnessed what Shane was able to do to Merle in a matter of seconds.

"Fort Benning can't be any better off than the CDC!" Daryl says stepping towards the group from where he was previously standing, helping get Merle into their Chevy.

"Trust me on this." Shane says, not turning around to face him. I can tell he's starting to lose his cool again.

"Shane." Rick starts, a slight warning tone in his voice.

"What is there to talk about?! Does anyone else have a better idea?!" He screams.

"How about you make your way out of your ass!" Tyreese is yelling now too, and his face is turning the slightest shade of red with anger.

Shane starts walking over to Tyreese, most likely to give him a piece of his mind, when Rick firmly places a hand on Shane's chest, preventing him from going any further. Giving him a look that only a best friend would give. Silently telling him to stop and calm the fuck down. Shane grunts and storms off to my truck and I slightly cringe knowing I'm going to have to deal with him for the next couple of hours.

Fuck me.

Tyreese takes a deep breath and walks over towards Sasha. I watch Hayley walk over to Daryl and I can only assume she is asking about how his brother's doing.

Daryl grunts out a reply that I don't hear because seconds later Shane comes walking over to me and says in a gruff voice, "Get in." He walks around to the passenger side door and opens it gesturing for me to do as he says. This time I do roll my eyes at him but don't even bother to say anything because I know that our bickering is pointless.

"Hey Victoria?" Hayley's voice comes from right outside the door. I pop my head out of the rolled down window and give her a questioning look.

"Yeah?" I raise my eyebrow.

"Um… I think I'm gonna ride with Daryl and Merle." She mumbles, "Merle's kinda passed out in the back after what happened and the booze didn't help so I figured I'd be the one to give Daryl could some company." She finishes, clearing her throat awkwardly.

I smile loudly, if that's possible. "Maltzyyyyyy" I drag out her nickname in a singsong voice that could rival hers. "Gettin' the D." I can't help but tease her.

She snorts loudly and turns, not saying another word to me as she gets into the blue pick up. My little Maltzy is growing up.

I settle myself into the passenger seat quickly as Shane gets into the drivers seat, Rick, Lori and Carl in the backseat.

It seems like hours have gone by as I sigh for what seems like the millionth time hoping for the time to pass by quicker and lean my forehead against the window frame. Maybe Shane wouldn't be an asshole once we arrived in Fort Benning. Maybe my family would be there with TJ. Maybe in just a few short months the world would correct itself and all of this would be a distant memory someday.

"What are you thinking about?" I hear Rick's voice from behind me. I turn to look into the backseat to see both Lori and Carl fast asleep.

"The possibilities mostly. Or lack of." I try to explain. "How things changed so quickly. And how it probably won't go back to normal anytime soon. My family. Hayley's family."

He smiles gently. "We just got to keep on keepin' on."

"Hayley wants to leave and find her brother. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to convince her not to. If Fort Benning is a bust… " I trail off, not even knowing what could happen in that situation.

"She seems like a smart girl. She'll make the right choice. And when in situations like these, the will to survive is amazing. The shit people will do. She'll do what's best for her in the end."

I sigh again; hoping to God that the choice she chooses would be the one to benefit us both, and not just her. "I guess only time will tell."

He smiles and hugs Lori a little closer, looking down at her with so much love and adoration in his eyes as he says, "Don't give up just yet."

I turn back to the front in time to see Shane glancing at me from the corner of his eye, a smile on his face. I stick out my tongue at him, making him shake his head and snort before he takes my hand in his and says "Yeah, don't give up just yet."