I do not own these characters. But I wish I did.

This takes off just a little after where episode 4.04 "Indifference" ends off.

Michonne knocked on the open door of the guard tower. Rick had heard her climbing the stairs and had waited silently, not knowing how he knew it was her. She looks down questioningly at him where he sits on the floor, his back against the wall and his elbows on his bent knees. He nods once and turns to look back out the large windows. Michonne walks through the doorway and sits down next to him, leaving a few feet of space between them.

He sighs and hangs his head.

They sit in silence for a few moments. So many things are swirling around Rick's mind that he doesn't even realize that the silence isn't awkward. It was late evening now and Rick had returned to the prison, without Carol, several hours ago. At the time Daryl, Michonne and the others hadn't yet returned from their run. Rick had sat for over an hour at the spot where the ashy remains of the pig pen were, just watching the walkers at the fence. The whole time he had spent questioning his decision of making Carol leave.

He felt a huge wave of relief when he heard their car driving up the road and stood as he watched the nearest people to the fence open the gate. This relief was drowned by dread when he saw Daryl step out of the passenger's seat of the van. Michonne, he saw, was fine. He felt a weight being lifted off his shoulders he didn't know was there.

The conversation with Daryl had not been great. Rick had told him right there what he had done, although waiting for Tyreese to head into the prison before telling him why. Daryl had glared at him through his greasy bangs, but said nothing. Michonne watched the conversation as she leaded against the hood of the van. Rick stepped forward, hoping to say something consoling to Daryl for what he had done, but Daryl walked off without a word. Rick saw that his grip was extremely tight around the strap of his cross bow.

Since then Rick had been sitting here, alone, in the guard tower. Had he done the right thing, kicking her out of the group? Carol had been with them longer than he had, even. He sighed and shook his head, bringing one of his hands to run through his hair.

"It was the right thing to do."

Rick looked immediately over at her, having not expected the softness in her voice. She was watching him too.

He shook his head again. "Maybe it wasn't my call to make."

This time it was her turn to sigh. "Maybe not."

They fell into silence again. Then, as though reading his thoughts she continued, "Daryl will understand, eventually."

"I doubt it."

"Then he'll get over it." Michonne catches his eye again. "This is the world we live in. He'll get that."

They both watch the still tree tops through the window. The sky is a soft grey-blue, just before dusk. Rick tears his mind away from the events of today.

"How was your run? Find what you were looking for?"

Michonne shrugged. "We found most of the stuff on Hershel's list, not all of it though. Hershel's just sorting through it all now." She doesn't ask how his run went.

"So I guess you're heading out again." It wasn't really a question.

Michonne blinks and looks down. "Actually, no. I think I'm going to stick around for a while." She throws a half glance at him, the corners of her mouth turning up in a little smile, "If you'll have me that is."

Rick might've laughed. Instead he returns her weak smile with his own and nods. "We're happy to have you."

A still moment passes where they just stare at each other, and Rick thinks he feels an understanding passing between them. They both understand that they need this place, and the people here. This makes his chest feel a little less tight.

She makes to get to her feet. As he watches her stand he says "So you wouldn't have done the same thing as Carol? Kill them, I mean."

This makes her pause. They look at each other for a long time. Finally she answers. "I hope that I wouldn't." With that she turns and leaves.

Xxx

The medicine seems to be helping. Only three people have died from this flu in the past week and the others seem to be gaining some of their color back. Daryl hasn't spoken much to Rick, though he hasn't been hostile towards him either. He thinks back to Michonne's words and starts to believe them. This is the world they live in.

Michonne has remained at the prison as she had said she would, though Rick hasn't really spoken with her since their conversation in the watch tower. He catches her eye every now and again while doing chores or during meals, and they nod to each other and carry on what they are doing. Rick notices that she and Daryl spend much of their time together. He can't say why this frustrates him.

He has walked by her cell several times, truthfully more times than was necessary. He told himself that he was allowed to be curious about her, this strong woman he knew so little about. She hadn't hung up a sheet or towel over her barred door like so many others, and several times he's caught sight of her doing sit-ups or push-ups. He walked quickly past without saying anything.

Rick noticed that Carl had taken to following her around during the day and this made him want to chuckle. She didn't seem to mind though.

Today Rick was in the field. He didn't hear her come up and started when she greeted him hello.

"Jesus," He almost laughed, "You scared me."

She shrugs and sits down on the grass near where he was working. "Sorry."

Rick straightens his back and leans against the hoe in his hands. He looks at her and waits, expectantly.

Michonne clears her throat. "So Carl's been asking about how I learned to use my sword. Seems pretty keen on learning it himself." She looks up at him, squinting through the afternoon sun.

"Oh." Was all Rick says.

She doesn't say anything.

"So, you've come here to ask if you can give my son sword-fighting lessons?"

She nods once.

He shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "I don't see a problem with it."

She nearly smiles. "Good, because I found him a sword last time I was near the city. Not as good as mine but it'll do." Michonne picks absentmindedly at the blade of grass under her hand. "I was thinking you could give it to him."

This surprises him. "Me, why me?"

She doesn't look at him and continues to pick at the grass. "My dad gave me mine. I guess…" She gives a great sigh, "I just think it would mean more, coming from you."

Rick watches her. He knows this makes her uncomfortable but he doesn't care. He is so used to the closed off, quietly brooding woman he has come to know that hearing her talk about her past startles him. Of all the people in the prison, she was the one who seemed born into this world. He had never stopped to think about her days before this had all happened. Rick felt guilty about that now.

Michonne looks awkwardly around and stands up. "I'll bring it by your room later then, once Carl's gone to sleep. You can give it to him tomorrow." Michonne turns and leaves him alone in the field once more.

Rick watches her go.

Xxx

It's after dinner and Rick has been waiting for Michonne to show up at the canteen to get hers, but she never did. In his mind he had planned out their conversation; he would thank her for the sword and for teaching Carl, and then they would get talking about how she learned. She would tell him something about her life before this, not something huge, but a small piece of the puzzle that was Michonne. When she didn't show up for dinner had to rework his plan.

Carrying two plates of canned food and some produce from the garden, Rick climbs the stairs to the guard tower and finds Michonne sitting there, in the exact same position that Rick had sat a week before.

She looks up and smiles half-heartedly as she sees him and the plates. "Room service?"

He nods and hands her the plate as he sits down, closer than he needs to. "Didn't see you at dinner, thought you might be hungry."

"Thanks." She waits as he pulls two forks out of his pocket and hands her one.

They eat in comfortable silence. He noticed that her foot inched closer to his as they chewed.

Xxx

Rick watches from the catwalk as Michonne and Carl practice on the lawn. It's been weeks since he'd given his son the katana, and he had to say Carl had really improved. Carl's eyes had lit up when Rick had first pulled out the sword and given it to him, his mouth falling open in awe. As though on cue Michonne had sidled up to the doorway and smiled as Carl took the sword into his hands to feel the weight of it. Rick and Michonne had shared a rare grin.

Since then they had been spending more and more time together. It had started as quick conversations between chores, then meal times. Soon she began to join him during his perimeter checks in the mornings. And nearly every evening they shared a meal in the watch tower, taking turns on who brought the food. Sometimes Carl joined them, but mostly it was just them two.

She wasn't much of a talker most of the time, which Rick didn't mind at all. Surprisingly, he valued their silences together almost as much as their conversations. Somehow they always avoided talking about their pasts. She never mentioned Andrea or her family, and he never brought up Lori.

Lori.

He felt guiltier as his- well… friendship- progressed with Michonne. He began to recognize feelings within himself that he hadn't felt in a very long time. In the more recent nights he had taken to falling asleep replaying his and Michonne's conversations, or remembering the way her dark dreadlocks fall across her shoulder when she turns her head. In these moments Lori's face would surface and he would very nearly cringe. He shouldn't be feeling this way towards another woman, his wife having not even been dead a year. But he couldn't help it. Grieving can't be done in the same way it was before this all happened. This is the world we live in.

"Hey!" A voice broke him out of his thoughts, "Hey dad, you okay up there?" Carl and Michonne were both looking up at him where he still stood in the catwalk. He shook his head hard.

"Yeah, I'm fine. Looking good down there!" He put on a grin, "Michonne could hardly keep up."

Carl laughs and Michonne pretends to scowl. "Let's not go crazy here." She says.

Carl runs on inside for lunch but Michonne waits for Rick in the courtyard. "He is getting pretty good, you know." Rick assures her as they walk inside together.

"He's a natural. Hell of a lot better than I was at his age." She says.

Rick turns and watches her for a second, before turning forward again. "You've been doing it that long?"

Her expression changes, almost as if she were closing herself off. She doesn't say anything, just nods. Rick understands that she has things in her past that she won't talk about, but he really wishes that she would.

Hershel comes walking towards them, his limp still present. He has a grave look on his face.

"What is it?" Rick asks.

Hershel sighs. "We lost two more today, Phil and Adam. Few of the others are looking in real bad shape."

Rick drags his hand roughly over his face and Michonne watches him, then he turns to Hershel and asks, "So the antibiotics, they're not working?"

He shakes his head. "There was some improvement, at first. But for the most part it just stalled the infection for a few days."

"Not the right stuff?" Michonne asks.

"Not enough of it. The pills aren't meant for treating such severe cases, at this stage they'd use intravenous."

Rick shifts his weight. "Injection, you mean."

Hershel nods.

There is silence between the three of them. Hershel breathes in as though steeling himself to say something. "There's more, Rick. It's Glenn. He's… he's not looking too good. He…" Hershel looks around, and Rick knows it's to make sure Maggie isn't near. "I reckon he doesn't have much time left."

Michonne's eyes dart from Hershel to Rick, whose face is stony but his eyes are glazed. She sees his lips quiver before he covers them with his hand and he strokes his beard. "And there's nothing you can do for him?" He tries so hard to keep his voice from shaking.

Hershel just stares at him sadly.

Michonne sees Rick's body slump slightly, like the breath had left him. "What about saline?" She asks.

Both men look at her. "Saline?" Hershel asks, "We'd never find any, and if we did it would long since have expired."

"But if it was unopened and in a cool and dry place, it might be okay to use. Right?" Michonne drums her fingers against her belt buckle. Hershel looks sceptical.

"I… I suppose. But again, where would we find perfectly preserved saline?"

Now Michonne turns directly to stare at Rick, "Weeks ago, when I was out looking for… I passed by a hospital. I found the blue print for it in the office, you know, to see if there was some hideout he might be holed up in." She glances quickly at her feet, as though ashamed at her thoroughness. "There was an underground store room that wasn't connected to the basement of the hospital. Some kind of shelter I guess." She looks to Hershel, "If there was a place with untouched saline in it, I'd guess it would be there."

Rick and Hershel stood, almost stunned. Rick didn't think he had ever heard her speak so much at once time. And best of all, she made sense. Hershel seems to think so too.

"How far away is this hospital?" He asks.

She thinks for a second, calculating in her mind. "I could make it there in a day if I rode through the night."

Rick blinked and shook his head. "Wait, wait a minute here. You're not going anywhere, not alone. I'll go with you."

"Like hell you will," She states matter of factly. "They need you here. Besides, I'd be faster on my own." She turns to Hershel, "I'll take one of the smaller cars, I can be back in a few days."

"Michonne, no!" Rick spits. The three fall silent again. Rick doesn't know why he was getting so upset; this could save Glenn's life, and dozens more. But why couldn't Michonne just tell someone else where the hospital was, Daryl maybe. She didn't have to go herself. That was an unnecessary risk for them to take.

Hershel clears his throat. "If you feel there could be saline in there, it's worth a shot." With that he leaves them and walks off to join the others eating lunch.

She stares at Rick intently. "You know I'd get it done quick."

"I know you would, just like I know someone else could if you told them where to go. You're more needed here, and..." He trails off. "You just got here."

Her eyes soften slightly. They stare at each other for a long time, longer than he can remember them doing before. Rick knows that she knows why he doesn't want her to go. That doesn't scare him, though.

"Rick…" She says, but she can't look at him as she says it.

This makes him feel bolder. He turns from her and stares out the dirty, barred windows that overlook the courtyard. "You know I really hate hospitals. Didn't really mind them before all this, but now…" He almost laughs, and then turns to look at her. "You know I was in a coma when all this started?"

She inhales sharply and shakes her head.

"Well, I was. Woke up in a hospital bed, and you could tell things weren't right... It feels kind of like a dream now, remembering it." He leans against the wall propped on one arm, the other hand hanging off his belt. "It's a goddamn miracle I found Carl and… and Lori." The irony struck him here, "Wouldn't have done if not for Glenn, he saved my ass."

Michonne remains silent. He kind of appreciates that.

"Seems like a lifetime ago, now." He laughs out loud, "Still wore my badge, like it fucking meant something."

Out of the corner of his eye he sees her give the tiniest cringe. "What?" He asks.

"Nothing," She shakes her head, "it's just…if you chose to wear it, it must have meant something."

He sneers. She doesn't know what she's talking about. "Yeah, right." Images of the past few years flash over his eyes. Riding into the city in his uniform on the horse, finding Lori and Carl. The center for disease control, the farmhouse. Shooting Shane. The prison, Woodbury. "I'm not that man anymore." He says this more to himself then to her.

Silence falls and she doesn't break it.

He turns to her. "So, we leave tomorrow. Sunrise?" He wasn't going to let her go alone.

She sighs heavily, blinks at him, then walks off.

Xxx

His alarm goes off. Its 4 o'clock in the morning and the sun hasn't risen yet. He had gotten his pack ready the night before, and he half expected Michonne to be waiting outside his cell for him by now. Rick gave her five more minutes, and then walked the short distance to her cell. He knew immediately that she had not slept there that night. What was more, her own pack was gone, as well as her katana. A sharp feeling stabs his stomach. Worry, anger, anxiety.

He runs to the courtyard where they keep the cars. Sure enough, the smallest one is gone. She had snuck out in the night and left him. Rick wasn't even surprised.