A/N: I do not own anything or anyone, other than Lizzy. Obviously, if you recognize something, it belongs to AMC.
So… It's been a while. I'm not going to bore you all with excuses, and I hope you're still with me. From this chapter on, I will not be sticking with the series exactly. Of course there will be some similarities, but it's too tedious to try to keep it all aligned exactly. Here we go!
Lizzy's feet were on the ground before Daryl's motorcycle had come to a complete stop. She hit the stairs at a run, pulled open the screen door, and was greeted with the sight of her two childhood friends.
"Maggie! Beth!" Lizzy yelled, throwing herself at them and pulling the two women into a hug.
The girls were stunned at first, but soon returned the hug with just as much fervor as Lizzy. "Lizzy! What are you doing here?" Maggie asked, pulling back to look at her friend. "Where's your dad?"
"Well, long story short, I met the group of the little boy who was in the shooting accident. What happened?" Lizzy avoided the second part of Maggie's question, and Maggie did not push. The three of them went out to the front porch so that Maggie and Beth could tell the story to the entirety of the group and not have to repeat themselves. Once Maggie finished the story by saying that Shane and Otis left minutes before to go to the high school for medical supplies, Lizzy started shaking her head fervently.
"Maggie, that place is a dead zone. There's no way that they'll get out of there alive. It's crawling with zombies."
The blonde woman, Andrea, spoke up and countered Lizzy's statement. "You don't know Shane. He can do this."
Lizzy scoffed quietly, but nodded her head. "Alright, we'll see. But I'm telling you, I went up there just a week ago to see if I could salvage some supplies but there's no way in or out without being bit. There must be hundreds. That's the problem with high population areas: shelters, cities, whatever. If one person gets sick, that's it. You're done for."
Andrea didn't have a response to that. Rick came out a few minutes later and told his group that Herschel would allow them to stay the night and he quickly dispatched instructions for the group to set up camp. He then turned his attention to Lizzy, who was standing beside Maggie while the two talked about what they'd been doing since the world went to hell.
Rick stepped toward Lizzy and said, "So you're the one who found Sophia? Thank you for that."
Lizzy smiled, held out her hand, and Rick returned the handshake. "Elizabeth Baker. And don't mention it; kids are my thing. Your son is in good hands. Herschel is a good man; he'll do his best for Carl."
Rick just nodded, his mind obviously on his son. He said goodbye to them and went back inside to wait with Lori at Carl's bedside.
"So, are you going to stay with us? You know you're welcome to. And the house still has running water, you know. Much better than living in the hunters' hole." Maggie told Lizzy, looking at her friend pleadingly. "We should stick together. I should've come looking for you when this all started…"
Lizzy shook her head. "There's a lot of would've, should've, could've, Maggie. We need to focus on now. I think I will come and stay with you guys, at least for a little while." Lizzy lowered her voice. "I don't think this group is a big threat, but I haven't met this Shane guy yet, and Daryl seems a bit like a loose cannon."
Maggie nodded, and responded in the same quiet voice. "Shane seemed like an okay man. He was very concerned for Carl, but who wouldn't be? He's just little kid."
"Yeah, I guess we'll see. I need to go back to the hole and get my stuff. I should probably stop by the house and get the rest of the stuff I have stashed there. It's time I emptied it out." Lizzy stated, her eyes scanning the sky. "Looks like I have a few more hours of daylight. Could I borrow one of the horses?"
"Absolutely. I'd go with you, but we don't know when Shane and Otis will be back, and daddy will need me and Beth to help with the procedure. You really should take someone with you though." Maggie said, just as Carol was walking up to the porch.
"Daryl could go with you." Carol said. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to eavesdrop. I just came to ask if we could get water out of the well… but Daryl should go with you. Maggie's right, you shouldn't be going anywhere alone."
Lizzy laughed and shook her head. "Really Carol, I'll be fine on my own. And I don't think Daryl would appreciate you volunteering him to do things."
Carol shrugged. "He's a bit rough, but he cares. I'll go ask him to go with you." And with that, Carol hurried off before Lizzy could refuse her again.
Lizzy looked at Maggie, and Maggie just shrugged. "You shouldn't go alone. And if he bothers you, you can always shoot him with an arrow. It won't kill him. And daddy can fix him up."
Lizzy and Daryl rode their horses silently through the woods. It was obvious that neither of them was happy that the other was there, but Carol wouldn't shut up until they agreed to go together.
"Where exactly are we goin'?" Daryl asked gruffly, looking over at Lizzy.
"Hunters' hole. My dad built it when I was little. Then we're going to my house and getting the supplies I have there." Lizzy said, scanning the woods around them and avoiding Daryl's gaze.
"Well are we close?" He asked.
Lizzy pulled her horse to a stop and dismounted. "Actually, we're here. You stay with the horses; I won't be long."
Daryl didn't look to happy to be told orders or at being left behind, but he didn't say anything. Lizzy uncovered the entrance to the hole and climbed through. She stood in the middle of the cavern and looked around at what had been her home for the past two months. She was leaving it behind; leaving it behind to go and stay with her childhood friends in a house that was basically her second home growing up. It wasn't a bad deal. She packed her food, weapons, and ammunition quickly. There wasn't much left to pack anyways. She made her way back out of the hole, covered the entrance, and then climbed back up on the horse.
"Now we go to the house. It's probably a five minute ride from here." Lizzy told Daryl, nudging her horse forward and taking the lead.
They traveled in silence again, on the sound of hooves on the ground to keep them company. Lizzy loved to ride; she, Maggie, and Beth would take the horses out for hours at a time when they were younger. They'd ride, stop by the creek and lay in the sun talking about boys, and then ride until the sun went down. Those memories were some of the best that Lizzy had from her childhood.
Her heart clenched as the two story blue house came into view. The house that made her who she was. The house that her mother died in when she was a child. The house that her father died in three months ago. She shuddered slightly, glaring at Daryl when he looked over at her.
"What?" She snapped, dismounting from the horse and leading him to the garage.
"Nuthin'." He replied, climbing off his horse as well.
Lizzy raised the garage door and led her horse inside, tethering him to a work bench. "We'll leave the horses in here. We won't be long, but if a zombie decides to pass by, he won't be able to get to the horses."
Daryl tethered his horse opposite hers, and helped her pull the garage door down. They each pulled their bows, prepared themselves, and walked to the front door. Lizzy unlocked it and pushed it open, entering cautiously. They went from room to room on both floors, making sure that they were alone. When they finished the upstairs, Lizzy wiped the sweat from her forehead.
"I didn't really expect anything. I was just here two weeks ago and it hadn't been touched." She said as she led the way back downstairs and into her father's study.
"If this place never has walkers in it, then why were you living in a hole in the ground?" Daryl asked gruffly, looking around the room.
It was one of the largest rooms in the house, filled with bookcases, a large desk, and two large gun safes.
Lizzy spun the dial on one of the gun safes and started loading weapons into a duffel bag. "I just didn't like being here alone. The hunters' hole felt safer." She opened the second gun safe and put what was left of the ammunition in her bag.
"Your dad sure had a lot of guns." Daryl observed, looking at the bag full of weapons on the floor.
Lizzy let out a small laugh. "Daddy was a bit of a survivalist nut. Not too out there, but he believed in being prepared." She grabbed a box that was on the top shelf in the second gun safe and opened it to reveal seven boxes of Marlboro Reds. Behind the box, she pulled out five half pints of Jack Daniels. "See? He'd tell me, 'Always be prepared, Lizzy. If the world goes to hell, you'll want a smoke and some good whiskey.'" She put the cigarettes and whiskey in her bag as well.
"I got a feelin' I woulda liked yer pop." Daryl said, smiling for the first time since she'd met him.
Lizzy looked up at him, a sad smile on her face. "Everyone liked my dad." She said simply, before hitching the bag up on her shoulder and heading to the kitchen. "There's not much food left, but we can take what there is. Herschel's going to run out of food pretty quickly with all of us there."
"I'll start hunting tomorrow. We have food for our group. We handle our own." Daryl said, going back to his gruff, defensive state.
Lizzy sighed as she put cans of food in one of the empty bags. "I wasn't implying that you didn't. Herschel is going to want to help feed you all. It's just who he is." She finished putting the food in the bag, zipped it up, and turned around to face Daryl. "That's it. Let's get out of here."
They headed back to the garage, Lizzy locking the front door behind them, and situated the bags on the horses. They mounted and headed back through the woods. Lizzy was just starting to believe her luck had changed when she heard three gunshots in quick succession. She looked over at Daryl who hitched his bow up onto his shoulder and looked around. Neither of them could see anything, but the walkers would be drawn to the shot.
"Do we go after the shooter, or do we head back to the farm?" Lizzy asked Daryl, looking for guidance. She wasn't sure what they should do.
Daryl was silent for a moment, scanning the area around them, and then he replied, "We go back to the farm. It's getting dark out here. Maybe it was just a stray person who took down a couple of walkers." He didn't sound very confident in his answer, however.
They kicked the horses into a gallop, racing towards the farm as fast as they could without tiring the animals out too fast. Yes, it could've just been a stray traveler or two. Or it could've been a large group that would be more than happy to relieve them of the isolated farmhouse.