A/N: So this is hopefully going to be my first multi-chapter fanfic! I hope you all enjoy, and that it works out and actually ends up being finished ^^
Disclaimer: The Walking Dead and its characters belong to AMC/Robert Kirkman. Lana Fitzpatrick and Sheriff are my own fan characters and belong to me.
Quick light footsteps echoed off the linoleum floor, drawing nearer, disturbing Carol from her sleep. The sound of giggles accompanied the steady rhythm, before it faded away and disappeared down the corridor. Carol sat upright on the mattress, stretching her arms behind her head and propping herself up against the wall behind her.
It seemed like only yesterday that Judith was crawling around the floor, quick but not quick enough to escape the watchful eye of whoever had the misfortune of being on babysitting duty at the time. After she started walking it didn't take her long to figure out how to run.
Carol breathed a small laugh, wondering who was having to chase around the toddler, before reaching out a hand to the school desk being used as a bedside table and grabbing her watch. She'd found it on a run not too long ago, along with some batteries, and managed to get the thing running. It was a stylish watch, slim and white with a silver metal frame. One of her few possessions other than clothes and weapons.
There was still a little time before they had to be up. She slid herself back under the white sheets, curling up with one hand under the pillow and one by her face. A smile spread across her face as the she caught sight of the glinting rock attached to her finger with a thin golden band. She would never be able to forget the blur of emotions that had overcome her the day Daryl gave it to her, having finally decided he wanted to spend the rest of the numbered days they all had left as her husband.
He had proposed out beside what once was a high school football field, after coming back from a run where he happened upon a jewellery store that miraculously still had a few items that hadn't been looted yet.
It was then she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist. She tilted her head slightly as he nuzzled his face into her neck.
"Mornin'" Daryl said sleepily, his breath warm on her skin.
"Did I wake you?" Carol replied.
"Nah, Ass Kicker did. We gotta get up yet?"
"We've still got about 10 minutes"
"God. Don't think I'm ready to leave yet, 's too comfy" he said as he planted a kiss on her cheek, tightening his grip on her.
It was then the door burst open, right before a very exhausted looking Glenn stumbled into the room.
"That kid has more energy than any living being I've ever seen! I swear she could overtake a cheetah, maybe a Ferrari!"
Carol heard Daryl's hidden laughter, his face still buried in her neck. She escaped his hold and pushed herself up until she was sitting up towards the door.
"Do you need some help Glenn?" she asked, both eyebrows raised and a smile slowly emerging on her face.
"That would be pretty good, yeah" he replied, his voice full of relief.
Carol heard Daryl groan through the pillow before making a move to get up. She placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Get some more sleep, I've got it"
He looked at her for a moment, as if deciding whether or not to let her handle it herself but before he could react she had kicked off the sheets and was climbing off the mattress. She made a move to grab her clothes which were draped over a plastic chair when she froze, quickly retreating to the mattress.
"Somethin' wrong?" Daryl asked, now sitting up with a hand lightly brushing across her back.
"No, its just… I don't feel so good. Maybe dinner last night didn't agree with me" she replied.
"Stay here, I'll take care of Judith"
"You'll be alright with chasing her around everywhere?"
"'Course I will, I'm an expert toddler chaser. Can't get away from me"
Carol gave an appreciative smile as she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
"Okay then. Its probably nothing anyway, I'll be over it soon"
Daryl placed his hand to her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. He moved to grab a clean shirt and pair of ripped pants that were crumpled on the floor and pulled them on. After giving her a silent nod, he followed Glenn out the door and down the hallway.
Carol's hand moved to her stomach. She felt nauseated, like she was going to throw up. Wait, maybe she actually was going to throw up. Stumbling to her feet she rushed out the door and down the hallway, in the opposite direction that Daryl and Glenn had taken moments earlier. Her hand covered her mouth as she run, until she reached the bathrooms that were thankfully not too far from their room.
The contents of her stomach had been emptied in a matter of seconds, but the nausea remained. Even though there was barely anything left to throw up, Carol didn't feel confident to leave the bathrooms. But she knew she would have to get something to eat soon. Luckily, it wasn't her shift for breakfast this morning. She clutched her stomach. The thought of eating wasn't entirely appealing at the moment, but she couldn't starve herself.
After a few more minutes and nothing else coming up, she dragged herself to her feet and dawdled back into the classroom that was now their bedroom. The room was spacious, especially after all the desks had been moved out of the way, but other than that there wasn't much in terms of furnishing, which led to piles of clothes and other items strewn all over the place. They didn't even have a proper bed, just a mattress pushed up against the wall with some old pillows and some sheets. But at least it was better than a cramped cell, that was for sure.
Finding the school has been a god send. It seemed like the perfect place for them, away from any large cities or densely populated areas, but still near enough to stores and houses where they could scavenge supplies from. Tall iron gates surrounded the perimeter of the property, seemingly more sturdy even that the fence at the prison. There were enough classrooms for them to have their own space, as well as an armoury, an infirmary, and a cafeteria complete with a kitchen.
They could actually make a life here for themselves. They hadn't even had any run ins with un-neighbourly types that wanted what they had. The few months that they had been here had been the most peaceful Carol had ever experienced. Even before the turn.
Still feeling a little unwell, Carol took her time getting dressed, moving slowly and carefully as if a sudden movement would spark the sickness again. By the time she had meandered over to the cafeteria, mostly everyone was up and about, helping to prepare the food and set the tables for breakfast.
The smell of bacon filling the room fired up her queasiness again, and she nearly turned and left before she was stopped by a hand on her arm. She turned to see Lana, with Carl following close on her heels.
"Hey, Michonne's organising a run to that clothes store a few miles from here. Could I go? I'll be really careful, I swear!" she asked, looking at Carol with those bright green eyes of hers.
It had been during the winter following the downfall of the farm that Lana had been welcomed into their lives. Carl had found her hiding out in the bushes just outside of the area they had been using as a camp for a few nights. The poor girl was orphaned and alone, with the exception of Sheriff of course. If was as if the girl and her dog were attached at the hip. So they had taken her in, and she'd become like a daughter to Carol.
"I promise I'll take real good care of her Carol" Carl had added.
"Like I need to be taken care of, I'm perfectly capable myself" Lana retorted, folding her arms across her chest.
"Who else is going?" Carol managed to say, nearly gagging at the smell still hanging in the air.
"Glenn and Maggie I think, Daryl might be going too. Please Carol, I wanna help out" Lana pleaded, sticking out her bottom lip a little as she spoke, like she always did when she wanted something.
"Well, I suppose you can. But be careful. Always be on the lookout for danger, you can't rely on everyone else keeping you safe. And stay with the group at all times, no wandering off"
"Yes ma'am" she replied, rolling her eyes as a grin spread across her face.
Without another word she hurried off with Carl to find a place at one of the tables. Carol smiled fondly after them. She admired Lana's enthusiasm to help, and she knew she was capable of doing so, but couldn't help but worry about her going out there. Anything could happen, and she wouldn't be able to forgive herself if it did. She'd been down that road before.
A tap on her shoulder startled her out of her thoughts.
"Could you help us serve up the eggs?" Maggie asked as she offered Carol a bowl of scrambled eggs with a large spoon to serve them.
"Of course" Carol replied, taking the bowl in her left hand and the spoon in her right. The smell of the eggs wafting from the bowl drowned out the now sickening smell of sizzling bacon as she inhaled the delicious scent. She quickly made her way over to the counter to serve up the eggs, almost like a school lunch lady would have before the world went to hell.
"God, you're a natural. Did you have any kids before all this?" Glenn asked, leaning up against a door to catch his breath.
They had been chasing Judith around for only a few minutes before Daryl had caught up and managed to somehow settle down the child. Glenn was nearly in awe at his abilities. Judith wasn't wasn't settled.
"Kids? Nah" Daryl said from the ground where he sat playing with Judith. "But I knew people who did, got stuck babysittin' more than once"
Judith rolled the ball over to him with a giggle, thrown her hands up in the air.
"Again! Again!" she squealed as she clapped.
"Okay sweetheart" he replied, before rolling the ball between his legs over to where she sat in the same position with her legs spread apart.
"Most of my friends hadn't gotten to that stage yet. Only one or two actually had someone to have kids with, the rest were still out to find 'the one'" Glenn said, having finally caught his breath.
He pushed himself off the door and eased himself onto the ground beside the other two, crossing his legs in front of him and leaning back on his hands.
"Did you ever think of having any?"
"Dunno. I wasn't exactly hell bent on finding someone and settling down, but if it happened it happened, I guess. Hardly matters now though, now I've got one"
"Yeah, Lana took to you quickly didn't she?"
Daryl shrugged. "S'pose she did"
"Honestly, at first I thought having a kid in this world would be bad, that it would grow up living or horrible life or probably end up—" Glenn hesitated to say the word. "…Dead. But now after Judy, I'm thinking it might not be such a bad thing. Maybe it could work out after all"
"Are you and Maggie thinking about—"
"Not yet, but, I've been thinking it could be nice to start a family. The thing is, every time I start believing it could work — because I know now that it is possible to raise a kid in the apocalypse — I remember what happened to Lori. I'd like to have kids, but if it means risking Maggie's life than I'm definitely not for it"
"I guess you're right. Its possible but its still dangerous. If we had the resources everything would work out fine, and this place is safe enough not to worry about somethin' happenin' like back at the prison"
Glenn thought for a moment, eyes glancing down at the white linoleum floors as another giggle erupted from Judith's mouth. She picked up the ball and pushed herself up off the ground, before walking over to where Glenn sat and placing the ball in his lap.
"You play too?" she asked with a sweet smile.
"Sure kiddo" he replied with a small smile, bouncing the ball to her. She nearly missed but ended up catching it. She looked at Glenn with a triumphant look on her face before bouncing it back over to him. As he caught it, he turned back to Daryl.
"Maybe" he said.
The sound of approaching footsteps caught both man's attention, and they both quickly turned towards the source of the noise.
"Breakfast's ready. You better hurry before its all gone. They're like vultures in there" Tara said, throwing her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of the cafeteria.
"Come on Judy" Daryl said, picking her up as he and Glenn followed Tara back into the cafeteria, where they could smell the heavenly scent of cooked bacon and eggs was wafting through the air.
As soon as they walked through the set of double doors, Daryl was jumped by an excited Lana who was babbling something about a run. She spoke so fast he nearly couldn't comprehend what she was saying.
"Woah, woah, slow down kid. Whats this about a run?" he said, holding out his free hand in front of him.
"Michonne's organising a run to one of the department stores in town. Carol said I could go, and I wanted to know if you were going too" she said, her eagerness toning down only enough for her to speak normally. An excited expression still remained on her face.
"I guess so, can't have you goin' out there without me" he replied, shifting Judith's weight in her arms.
"I can take care of myself" she said with a smirk, hands on her hips.
"Never said you couldn't. But its dangerous out there, you know that"
"I've got Sheriff, and the group"
"You can't always rely on the others, including Sheriff. He's a dog after all"
"Then why do I have to rely on you?" she countered.
Daryl paused for a moment, taking in a breath. The thought of something happening to one of them, his family, without him around to help was almost too much to bear. They'd all lost so much already.
"Because I'd die before I'd let somethin' happen to you. Or Carol. As long as I'm around, nothin's ever gonna happen to either of you"
Lana nodded, breaking her eyes away from his. She turned and walked over to her table, pulling up a chair between Carl and Glenn.
With a small sigh, Daryl made his way over to where Carol was just finishing up with the eggs. Her blue eyes flickered up at his as he approached, and she offered a small smile.
"How'd you go with her?" she asked as he gathered up the utensils left on the bench to put in the sink.
"Glenn just about gave up, but I managed to get her settled"
Daryl sat Judith onto the counter in front of him. She had been getting a lot heavier as she grew, and a lot harder to hold because of that and her nearly constant squirming. He swore the kid was just a little ball of energy.
"Ya feelin' any better now?" he asked her.
"Not really, but I'm well enough to eat a bit at least"
He pressed his hands onto the bench and leaned over to her side, planting a kiss on her lips.
"Rest up and get better, okay?"
With that he picked up Judith and placed her on the floor, where she went running off towards where Rick was sitting. He hardly spent as much time with his daughter as the rest of them, but he still loved her dearly. She catapulted into her father's outspread arms and he sat her up on his lap before shoving another spoonful of eggs into his mouth.
Carol made her way around the long bench and joined him where he stood on the other side, a plate in each hand. One was packed with food, and the other with only piece of toast and some eggs on the side. She handed him the plate with the most food.
"Come on, lets eat" he said as he wrapped his arm around her waist and the pair strolled towards two empty seats.