In Another Life

"Carl, what the hell were you thinking?" Rick asked, as he clutched the boys arms, knowing that his fingers were digging in a little hard, but too worried and angry to think about doing anything about it. He shook Carl gently, "Do you know what could have happened to you?" He pulled his son into a tight hug and Carl hugged him back, blinking back tears that had appeared in the face of his fathers anger.

"I'm sorry, dad, I just wanted to come along." His excuse came out lamely, "I know mum said no, but I never get to do anything anymore. She's always telling me to stay at the RV and I'm not a kid anymore." Carl broke out of his fathers arms, standing with his chest pushed out and his shoulders back, clearly trying to beef himself up to look more threatening, the better to make his point. "I want to help."

Rick and Shane exchanged looks that bordered between impressed and amused and then Rick let a smile grace his features as he looked at Carl and he nodded, slowly. "OK. But not now. Your mother will be worried sick so we're gonna head back."

Carl's shoulders dropped in defeat and he heaved a great sigh but Shane put a hand on his shoulder, shaking it encouragingly. "Come on, soldier, you can come out next time. Maybe one day, we'll teach you to handle a weapon, eh? How's that sound?"

Carl immediately perked up, a sight that made Rick a little jealous of the relationship his best friend now had with his son, and nodded, "Sounds great, Shane!" Shane and Carl shared a smile, the former taking off his baseball hat and placing it onto Carl's head. It sloped down slightly over Carl's eyes, but he was grinning beneath the shadow it cast over his face.

"Come on, then." Rick said, taking the lead and ignoring the angry feelings of jealousy that rumbled inside of him. It was ridculous, he knew, to be jealous of his best friend, but at the same time, Rick knew he was the one who should be sharing those moments with his son. Instead, he was spending all of his time making sure the people he loved were safe, which meant sometimes he had to put his foot down and do things that Carl, and sometimes Lori, didn't like and those decisions, he knew, were slowly driving a wedge between him and his family. However much they all tried to deny it, even though this world had brought them closer in some ways, in others it was steadily breaking them up even more than their old lives had.

"Whoa." Rick heard Carl whisper and turned around to see him staring through the trees at something. As he slowly stepped back towards them, Shane and Carl began slowly moving forwards and when Rick saw his son inches away from touching the most beautiful doe he'd ever seen, he felt a surge of love for his child and a feeling of pride, pride that he had managed to maintain his childlike innocence and wonder.

The sound was the first thing Rick recognized, then the gut-wrenching feeling of please, no, as he watched Carl fall backwards, as if in slow motion, and the dear fell to the floor inches away from him. A moment of haunting silence followed the gunshot and then Rick and Shane were running to Carl. They fell to their knee's either side of him and Rick felt hot tears begin falling down his face.

"No, no, no, no.." He repeated the word over and over again, as if it was going to do any good. Of all the ways he'd pictured this moment, holding his son, saying goodbye, he hadn't pictured him with a bullet wound in his chest. He'd known Carl's days were delicately numbered, as theirs all were, but of all the ways to die in this world, being shot had never, ever, enterred Rick's mind.

He barely registered the noise as a man came crashing towards them from the direction the bullet had come and stopped dead as he took in the sight before him.

"Oh my-" Rick heard a voice and, if he wasn't so hysterical, would have wrestled the man to the ground. Thankfully, he had Shane with him.

"You!" His friends anger was paramount and Shane grabbed the mans collar, forcing him back against a tree, "You see what you did? That little boy's gonna be dead in a few minutes because of you! Do you see what you did?"

"I-I can help," The man gasped, desperately, "I know someone...someone who can save him."

Shanes hands slowly uncurled from the mans shirt and Rick was already hurling Carl up into his arms, tears still compromising his vision. Once he'd straightened up, he turned to the man who was massaging his throat.

"Show me the way." He said, in a dangerously low voice, "Now!"

"You have no idea where we're going, do you?" Lori's berating voice reached her from where the woman was standing, several yards behind her. Andrea closed her eyes, trying her best to keep her patience.

"Will you stop yelling, please?" She said, as quietly as she could so that she wouldn't attract any unwanted attention, but she would reach Lori. The woman crashed through the bushes between them and came to stand at Andrea's side as she looked around.

"Do you actually know what you're doing?" Lori demanded.

"Well, no, but I know the general direction in which they went." Andrea presented her counter argument, hearing how lame it sounded, and then shushed Lori as she continued to look around, listening intently for any sign of them but knowing at the same time that they'd were probably being so quiet, for fear of attracting Walkers, that any noise she might hear would be a geek.

"Should have brought Daryl." Lori muttered under her breath.

"OK, do you want to do back?" Andrea said, finally losing her patience.

"No I-whoa!" A high-pitched, squeal of a word escaped Lori's lips and she saw her eyes widen as she pointed behind Andrea. Knowing exactly what was behind her, Andrea pulled her knife out of her belt and turned, the blade sinking into the Walker's eye as it made contact. The corpse sank to the floor, really dead this time, and Andrea wiped her knife on her trousers, pulling a disgusted face as she did so. Andrea turned around and gave Lori a withering look; the brunette just swallowed, loudly, and shrugged slightly.

"After you?"

It was then that they heard a repetitive pounding and the rustling of many leaves. Something large was headed their way. Andrea and Lori stood side by side, though Andrea knew Lori probably wouldn't be much help, and she didn't know what good she'd be herself, but whatever was headed towards them definitely didn't sound dead, anyway. It wasn't. It was a women, younger than both Lori and herself, on a horse.

"You Lori?" She said, looking at Andrea, who shook her head and glanced at the woman beside her.

"I'm Lori, who are you?"

"Beth Greene." The girl said, clearly in a hurry. She held her hand out to Lori, "You're gonna wanna get on this horse. Your son's been shot." She turned to Andrea, "Tell your people to come to my family farm; third turn to the right, name's Greene. Y'can't miss it."

Lori stood in shock for a moment before Andrea shoved her slightly and then she was being hauled up onto the horse and they were off, leaving Andrea standing in the middle of the woods. It took her barely a second before she was turning, racing back towards the highway.

Figure I'll roll out a few chapters over this week, see if I can pick up some momentum again!:D