Author's Note: When I originally wrote The Road Ahead as a submission to the U.S.S. Caryl's Music Lyric Drabble/Fanart challenged, I'd intended it as a oneshot. Then I wrote a smutty second chapter. Then the idea for this story would not leave me alone. I'm keeping the songfic submission up as a oneshot, but here is a story inspired by that one. The first chapter here is that same one, only without the song lyrics. The second chapter here was re-written without the smut. From the third chapter on is the rest of their journey.
Thank you so much to everybody who has followed, favorited, commented, or reviewed. I hope you like where this story goes.
He sat on the floor in his cell with his back against the wall. The sinking feeling that had settled in the pit of his stomach had spread throughout his body, and all he felt was empty.
No one came, but then again he didn't expect them to. In all honesty, he figured if they knew better, they wouldn't.
The hours stretched on into the night agonizingly slow, as he imagined the rest of the days would without her. Without her. The notion seemed unacceptable in his mind before, he knew that now. But either way, the choice had been taken away from him.
He stood abruptly, left the room and walked down the hall to the next cell. It still smelled like her. The sheets, the pile of folded cargo pants and cardigans sitting abandoned on the chair, the book resting on the table with a forgotten bookmark.
"Dammit!" He cursed out loud, kicking the legs out from under the folding chair and watching her things fall to the floor.
A second later he was picking them up, holding her favorite sweater up to his face and breathing deeply.
He slammed his fists into the table in one last desperate attempt to vent the anger, but the anger stayed. The regret stayed, the bitterness stayed, the hollow, empty feeling in his chest stayed too. Fuck this, he thought.
He was out the door in a matter of seconds, ignoring the pleas that followed him from behind and he tugged the fence closed before he turned around to mount his bike, never once looking back.
It was dark and crisp, and the road stretched on forever in front of him, but he didn't care. He rode eight miles south, his mouth twitching up slightly as he chose which direction to go from there. He could hear the low groaning of walkers on either side of him as he rode at a leisurely pace, but he didn't care. He didn't even pay attention to how many of them there were. It just didn't matter.
He dug around in his pocket for the unopened pack of cigarettes that he'd been keeping for a special occasion.
Six miles later, he was slowing down, the dim glow from his headlight casting out over the grass. It took him almost a full minute, but he got what he needed and headed on.
It was hours before he was swinging his leg to the ground and padding across the uneven pavement. She didn't even look up as he approached with his flashlight in hand and cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
"How on earth did you find me?" She asked, her voice cutting through the quiet darkness even though it was nearly a whisper.
He grinned, pulling the cigarette out of his mouth and offering it to her. "I'm a tracker, remember?"
She shook her head. "I'm not going back."
"What a coincidence. Neither am I."
He thought he saw a spark light in her eyes then, but it was so damn dark he wasn't sure. She shuffled her feet idly.
He nodded to the vehicle parked by the curb. "That your car?"
"Yeah," she replied.
"Good. Pull it up behind my bike. We can head north. I'll show you the way."
He looked up, not sure he'd heard her correctly. "'Scuse me?"
She tugged the keys out of her pocket and headed for the driver's side. "I'm kind of done with the whole following people thing. You either get in or you ride behind."
"Well, okay then." He nodded thoughtfully, not even hesitating before he slid into the passenger's seat.