For right now, the governor is a good guy. How I'm playing it is kinda like Ultron 5, good idea, bad execution. For now he is good, but he'll be bad later.

The massive truck flew down the small back woods highway, flashing past a welcome sign. Merle glanced at the sign, but ignored it in favor of flooring the gas pedal. He needed to get to the small pharmacy in the distance, and quickly.

Merle looked over to the passenger seat where Beth was struggling. What had started as a cough a week ago had taken a drastic turn. Last night Merle had stayed awake the whole night, holding Beth as she shivered and gasped to breath. She needed help desperately, but since her attack, neither Beth or Merle had seen any other living persons. There was only one option left because Merle couldn't take it anymore.

Merle swore under his breath. He hated it, but he was going to have to leave Beth alone to break into the pharmacy. Merle felt a blast of nausea when he realized that for the first time in 6 months, he was going to have to be out of eyesight of Beth, away from home. Leaving her defenseless and sick was risky, but Merle was out of options. He had taken from the forest what he could, but antibiotics didn't grow on trees.

Merle pulled the truck up to the pharmacy and turned the key to off. Merle turned to where Beth was barely opening her eyes. She looked up at him, clearly worried.

"babe, what are we doing here?"

Merle sighed and pulled Beth close. "angel I runnin' to get something's for you. I'll be right back I swear."

Beth shook her head, almost in tears. "no, please don't leave me!"

Merle tightened his arms around Beth, rubbing his face in her hair. " I can't stand to see you like this. It's killing me. I gotta go sugar."

Beth let one tear slid as she softly nodded. "okay. I love you."

Merle kissed Beth on the forehead as he settled her in the seat. "I love you too angel."

Merle jumped out of the truck and glanced up and down the road. There were no walkers and no other movement, but that could change quickly. Merle checked his gun as he pushed open the door to the pharmacy.

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Martinez glanced at the sign as he drove back to Woodbury. The governor had him scouting, but nothing to report. No survivors, no groups. Martinez hated how long it kept him away fromKatiebut the governor ordered it, so off he went.

Martinez spotted a large truck up ahead. He crinkled his forehead, it was the exact same type of truck he used to have. But Martinez hadn't noticed it when he left that morning. This was new.

Martinez pulled over behind the truck and climbed out. Looking around for walkers, he approached the truck slowly. This was definitely a survivor's truck. The back was stocked with supplies, and there was basket of pieces of plants. Martinez recognized them as medicinal plants. Whoever it was knew how to use nature to their advantage.

Martinez looked in the window and saw someone inside. The windows were tinted, and he couldn't tell if the person inside was living or undead.

Martinez pulled his gun as he opened the door. Standing back, he saw a young female and for a moment thought she was dead. Her skin was pale and clammy, with a grey tint. But then the woman coughed, and Martinez quickly put away his gun. This was a living person in need of help. She didn't look like much of a survivor though.

Martinez suddenly felt something hard and cold on the back of his head and froze.

"back the fuck away from her."

Martinez held up his hands, still facing the truck. "easy now. I'm just trying to help."

Martinez was stunned a second later when he was thrown to the ground, several feet from the truck. As he rolled, Martinez looked up to see a furious man in front of him. And his question as to who the survivor was, was answered.

"I said back the fuck away from her." the man growled standing over Martinez.

"hey, hey calm down. I'm not going to hurt her." Martinez said as he looked the man over. Tall and burly, the man had a metal arm for a right hand, and a massive pistol in his left.

"get up nice and smooth and walk away." the man said as he moved protectively in front of the young woman.

Martinez stood up and raised his hands. "listen, I'm part of this town, Woodbury. We have a doctor, medications, and a safe wall. Come back with me, I can get her help."

the man shook his head. "no way in fuck am I handing her over. She stays with me."

Martinez nodded. "both of you. I'm serious, the governor needs good men like you. Honestly I'm one of the top guns and I have absolutely zero training. If you come back with me, I can get her help, and you a position with the governor."

the man scoffed. "the governor? What kind of jackass calls himself that?"

Martinez shrugged. "the townspeople started it a few months ago. It stuck. That doesn't matter, she needs help. Badly. We have oxygen tanks, iv systems, and surgical supplies. It's the closest thing to an emergency room left in this world. Please, for her sack, follow me to Woodbury."

the man stiffened as the woman behind him began coughing. He looked back and forth between the woman and Martinez.

Martinez stepped closer, the man kept his gun up and looked warily at Martinez.

"you coming?" Martinez asked.

The man swore under his breath and nodded. "fine, but if this shit goes south? I'm comin' for you."

Martinez relaxed and walked closer as the man holstered his gun. "name's Martinez."

the man glanced back before reaching over to wrap up the woman in her blanket. "Merle. This is Beth."

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Martinez looked up as the governor walked in the room.

"evening sir."

the governor walked over and leaned on the desk in front of Martinez. "evening. I heard you found some survivors."

Martinez nodded. "found them in town. There's two, a man and woman. The woman is young, and very sick. Milton think's its pneumonia. But the man is a different story. He has lost a hand, but this motherfucker was crazy enough to replace it with a knife. He's got military experience, and I have a feeling he's one hell of a fighter."

the governor nodded. "what all happened?"

"spotted the truck, checked it out. Found the girl inside, but before I could even check for a pulse, there was a gun to my head. He told me to back off, I didn't and the next second I was on the ground. He threw me a good couple feet one handed while holding a gun. I was able to convince him to bring the woman back to Woodbury. Told him in exchange for her treatment, I would talk to you about enlisting him."

the governor gave a sidelong glance at Martinez. "giving away jobs now? Thought I was supposed to do that."

Martinez nodded. " sir, he's the man for this job. He's tough, physically fit even with a missing hand, and has the attitude to match. Frankly governor, you want a right hand man? Merle's much more equipped for that position than me."

the governor nodded as he stood. "what's his relationship with the woman?"

Martinez shrugged. "by age he's old enough to be her father. But from what I saw, she's his wife."

the governor motioned for Martinez to follow him out of the room. "and his loyalties?"

Martinez smirked as he walked down the hallway to lead the governor to Merle. "the only thing I can say about that is I hope like hell his wife survives, or he's likely to burn us to the ground."

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Merle watched as the governor walked out of the room. There was something deeply off about that man, but Merle couldn't place it. But for now, if working for him meant getting Beth healthy, Merle would do it.

Merle turned around and sat in the chair next to the bed. Beth had been out for several hours, but the doctor said she would probably be out for a while. They had hooked up an IV in her arm, and had a face mask going with oxygen. Beth had finally stopped shivering a little bit ago, but had started again when Merle was talking with the governor.

Merle reached over and grabbed Beth's hand and raised it to his lips. For several moments Merle pressed her hand against his face, wishing desperately to feel her touch. But Beth failed to stir, so Merle pulled his chair close, and leaned onto the bed, wrapping his arms around Beth. She shivered, but seemed to press back against Merle as he pulled her onto his chest.

Merle kissed her cheek as he leaned back, then spoke softly in Beth's ear.

"come on Beth, I need you to fight this. Without you, I got nothin'. You're my world. I don't say it enough, but I love you angel."

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Milton quietly shut the door behind him, and walked towards his patient. What he found surprised him. The day before Merle had been difficult. He refused to leave Beth's side, and made it very clear what would happen if the treatment failed. Milton had been put off at the age difference in the pair, but now he was seriously doubting his previous feelings.

Merle was half in the bed half on the chair, with Beth tucked into his chest. She was smiling in her sleep and had one hand resting on Merle's arm piece.

Milton cleared his throat, and Merle awoke. He glared at Milton as he unwrapped himself from Beth.

"can I help you?" Merle growled.

Milton nodded. "I need to examine Beth. To see if this antibiotic is working, if not we'll switch to a different one."

Merle nodded as he sat back in the chair and Milton moved forward to examine his patient. As he touched her throat, Beth's eyes opened. For a moment she was still, but the instant she saw Milton, she pulled back, a terrified look on her face.

"don't touch me!"

Merle immediately grabbed her hand and Beth turned to look at Merle.

"babe what... where are we? What's going on?" she asked, while glancing worriedly at Milton.

"it's alright angel. Found us a town. This is Milton, he's the doc. He needs to check you out angel. It's okay I'm right here." Merle spook smoothly as he tried to calm Beth.

Milton was surprised at how gently Merle was handling Beth. He had assumed that because of the age difference, the two stuck together to survive. But what Milton was seeing in front of him was much more than survival, this was love.

Beth was almost off the bed in Merle's arms, her eyes tearing up. Merle wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips against her ear.

"angel we're safe. No one is gonna hurt you while I'm here." Merle said softly in Beth's ear. She turned in his arms to face him.

"a town?" she asked with a confused face.

Merle nodded. "some place called Woodbury. Fair number of people here, it's safe."

Beth looked over at Milton, fear clear on her face. "I don't want anyone touching me."

Milton held up his hands as he sat opposite Beth. "I promise, I'm not going to hurt you. I just need to see if the antibiotics I've been giving you are working. All I need to do is a basic examine, stethoscope and the like. Merle can stay right here if you want."

Beth's eyes shot up to Milton's. "Merle is staying right here. Where he goes I go."

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Milton sighed as he walked up to the governor.

"how's she doing?" the governor asked, looking over at the odd pair on the far bed. Merle was wearily eying the governor and Milton, while saying something to Beth before standing up and walking over to the men. Beth hunched down in her blankets, but never stopped looking at Merle.

"she's got a long way to go. The pneumonia has drastically weakened her system. I suggest she stay in the clinic for at least another few days. Then after we find them an apartment, I'd like her put on light duty for a few more weeks." Milton said to both the governor and Merle as he walked up.

"what's your definition of light duty?" Merle hissed.

The governor stepped up. "we need help around here desperately. I think that once Milton has cleared Beth, she can be posted to the day care, but starting in only 4 hour shifts versus the usual 8 to 12. this okay with you?"

Merle looked over to Beth, who slightly nodded. "fine by me. But she needs the time to get better, so it'll be at least a few weeks. You need people I'm here."

the governor nodded. "I will be calling on you soon. We need someone with gun training to go over safety with the new recruits. Most have never fired a gun in their life, and honestly it's only a matter of time before we have an accident."

Merle smirked. "fine by me. Taught her everything. I can teach some newbies how not to blow their own heads off."

the governor glanced over at Beth. "you trained Beth?"

Merle nodded. "hell yeah. Ain't leavin' my angel without the skills to defend herself. That's life or death in this world."

the governor nodded. "definitely. How good is she?"

Merle glowered at the governor. "good enough to defend herself. Against walkers and the living."

Milton frowned. "the living?"

Merle glanced over to where Beth was now lightly sleeping. "out there, the dead are the nicest enemy. Especially for Beth."

Milton glanced at the governor. "she was very afraid when she saw me. I assume you've had some issues."

Merle glared darkly at Milton, and Milton couldn't stop the wave of anxiety that went through him.

"since this world went to shit she's been thru two attempted rapes, both by kidnapping. She's been dragged thru the woods, knowing no one knows where she is, or that she's in danger. I'd say she has more than enough reason to be afraid."

the governor glanced at Milton. "and how were these issues...dealt with?"

Merle stared down the governor, pinning him with raging dark blue eyes. "they ain't up and walkin' I can tell ya that."

the governor smirked at Merle's response. "good riddance. I feel you'll fit in well in Woodbury Merle."

Merle snorted. "why? Cause I'm willin' ta kill?"

the governor shook his head. "because you're willing to kill to protect."