Disclaimer: I don't own AMC's "The Walking Dead," wishful thinking aside.

Authors Note #1: This exists purely because I was challenged to write something of this ilk. And I think I broke my soul in the process, just saying.

Warnings: Contains spoilers for all three seasons of the Walking Dead, adult language, canon appropriate violence, gore, suicide, canon character death and mature content.


Chapter Seven

"You sure you want to do this?" He asked, sickly and just a little bit desperate as the rest of the world greyed out, fading. His tongue felt thick in his mouth, oily and wrong, as he ran it across his teeth, tasting fresh blood and grit.

Her Glock was loose in her holster, the snaps ripped clean off – a fresh break. He couldn't help but stare. It didn't seem right that she would be the one to do it. It felt wrong, cruel. Like fate was mocking her somehow. He didn't like it.

But she had the good sense to ignore him, shaking her head - priorities. She'd always known just what to say, what would soothe or calm, incite or encourage, even when she didn't feel it herself. It was probably a woman thing – or maybe he was more far gone than he thought, either way he doubted anything could have prepared him for finally hearing it out loud.

"I love you," she whispered, gentle but devastating as his vision tunneled. He breathed, ragged and broken as his chest fluttered in time. His fingers tightened around hers on reflex, buying time.

Her smile was tremulous, all red-bitten lips and muted desperation as she waited. He struggled between the truth and what would make it easier. Christ. If he were a better man, he'd look her in the face and lie. He'd tell her that he didn't love her, that he never had, that she was his mother, his sister, his best friend. He'd lie so she could move on; live, live without his ghost dogging her steps. But he wasn't that man. He was a greedy, possessive bastard that was just weak enough to make her life hell.

"I know…" He managed, a fit of coughs racking his frame, jarring his injured side until he was almost clawing at it, pressing down on the torn flesh with his free hand, instinctively trying to dull the pain.

She made a wounded noise in the back of her throat, unscrewing her canteen as his coughs lessened. But he waved her away. He had to get this out. He had to tell her-

"I'm sorry…" He murmured, lucidity streaming through him like water through a sieve, struggling to hold onto the words he figured he'd never find it in him to say.

"Why? Why would you be sorry?" She prompted. He wanted to believe there was eagerness behind her words. He wanted to believe that, in spite of everything, she'd wanted this as much as he did - them, together. But now, looking up at her, he doubted anyone could match it. What he felt was too raw, too powerful, too unique for him to believe that anyone could feel the same way in return – for him, especially for him.

Or maybe Merle has been right after all; maybe he'd always been a bit touched in the head.

"Cause I lo-"

He stuttered, the words grinding to a halt like a thousand year old engine - faulty, run-down, failing. Christ, he was pathetic. He couldn't even tell her that he-

"You don't have to say it." She assured, her fingers soft as she brushed blood-stiffened bangs off his forehead. Her expression was sad and kind all at once as she rubbed circles into his aching temples. Soothing.

The terrible thing was that he knew she was sincere. That even now, at the end of things, she'd let him get away with it, with not saying it if he wanted too. It was just who she was. They were both damaged goods, but she'd always been better – more open to change. Whereas he'd always stalled, stuttering on the precipice, seconds before the fall.

Just like now.

"Don't I?" he replied, irritated now. "I only get to say it once," he growled, wincing when the words came out sounding angry - cruel and bitter.

His pulse grew sluggish, thickening.

But suddenly he laughed, the world tilting on its axis as he tipped back and took in the wispy blue of high Georgian summer. Getting distracted by the memory as her expression turned uncomprehending, missing the irony he could see as plain as fuckin' day.

"I told Merle that he'd left. Before he went off and faced off the governor. I told him that he'd always been the one that had left. In Atlanta, when we were kids," he chuckled, dark and unsteady. Refusing to meet her eyes when she tried to shush him, her hands curling around his shoulders as she came around behind him, propping him up until his head was cradled in her lap - protective.

"Now I'm the one that's leavin', ain't that a bitch," he nearly choked, his heart thudding in his ears as he forced himself to finish. It seemed important somehow, to finish what he'd started.

The wind shifted, and the sound of muffled sobbing rose up in the distance. Fuck.

The silence went stale, crumbling into dust on his tongue as he swallowed thickly.

"You know though-don'tcha?" He finally hummed, all country brogue and lisping vowels. The words slurred together as he tried to bring her into focus. He wanted to see her, he wanted to see her face when he-

"You know…you know that I-I love you too…"

The words came out rushed and breathless, more like a whimper or a mewl than anything else. But to him, to her, it was perfect. It had be, it was all they had left. It was the only thing he had left to give her.

He felt the pressure of her lips against his as the world faded away. A kiss. He returned it clumsily, ravenous and weak all at the same time as he tried to make it last. She was unsteady when she finally pulled away, muscles trembling just underneath the skin as she brought the gun out of her holster.

For the first time in his life, the forest went silent.

Distantly he heard the cock, the weight of her finger against the trigger. And in spite of himself he opened his eyes. He let them trail up her skin, it was better than watching her fall apart, wiping the tears that had splattered across his cheek, smearing the blood spatter as his last breath rasped out into the hush.

Her pulse was strange underneath his head, shallow, slow – too slow. Or maybe that was him. He couldn't tell anymore. He was drowning, alive and dead at the same time.

Her sleeve caught on the knob of her wrist as the gun lowered, delicate and tapering as the cold steel pressed against his temple.

He'd always had a thing for women's wrists. He'd never really been sure why, there was something about the delicacy of the bones and the slimness of the joints that had always fascinated him. It was old fashioned, he knew that much, like the flash of an ankle or the glimpse of a throat, ivory and pale in the moonlight. He'd told Merle the same when he'd asked, peeking over his shoulder as his brother had flipped through the pages of a stolen Hustler.

He'd said it honestly, knowing it was the wrong answer; the answer Merle wasn't looking for. But he did it anyway, innocently. Merle had laughed so hard he'd woken up their mama out of a dead sleep, still smelling of wine and stale cigarettes as she'd padded out of the bedroom to see what all the fuss was about.

It wasn't until he turned his head that he saw it, vision hazing out into static as the edge of her sleeve rippled upwards. There was a small set of teeth marks sunk deep into her forearm, crusted around the edges and still pearling with red. The bite was small, too small, with a missing front tooth and a set of nail marks that had bruised, angry and dark across her freckle-flecked skin.

She shuddered underneath him. Her mouth was moving, making sounds that could have been his name as a ringing, high pitched and terrible, echoed in his ears.

Awareness crashed down the same second her finger tightened around the trigger. He never heard the shot.

A/N #2: This is my first attempt at such a genre, so please let me know what you think! Reviews and constructive critiquing are love! – This story is now complete, I hope you all...um...enjoyed?

"Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight. Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." ― Dylan Thomas, (from Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night)