Part 1: The Death of Rick Grimes

He smiled as his eyes slowly opened. He always smiled when he saw his wife and kids.

It had been two days since the accident and frankly, even he was surprised he was still alive.

He knew that he should've been more careful but it was his granddaughter's life on the line and he was in a full panic. Rick closed his eyes and thought back to that day.

Two days ago

As Rick traveled with his six-year-old granddaughter, Lori, Daryl, Aaron and Gracie to Hilltop, walkers came up behind the carriage Lori was in and surrounded it. Daryl thankfully was in the wagon with her and was keeping her safe.

But that's when he saw the second hoard coming behind them. It wasn't huge, maybe ten but it still was a huge danger. Not thinking, he jumped off his own horse and ran between Lori's wagon and the oncoming hoard.

As Daryl finished off the final one near them, he had only a moment to see Rick get swallowed up by the hoard and then he heard the gut-punching scream.

Shaking off the shock, keeping his body between his grandbaby and the sight in from of them, Daryl started to pick them off one by one.

By the time he and the others in their caravan had finished the dead off, they were sure Rick was a goner.

Jumping out of the back of the wagon, Daryl immediately pulled an unconscious Rick out from under the pile of blood and the dead and before anyone could say or do anything, he had Rick in front of him on his bike that had been in the wagon just moments before, and heading back to Alexandria.

The present

Rick opened his eyes and looked at the man standing in the back of the room. The man who saved his life many times and the life of his kids, Daryl Dixon and smiled. Daryl smiled back and gave him a nod pulling Aaron close to him.

Rick thought back to Daryl telling him when he first woke up that Siddiq checked him before they even entered the gates and found no bites or scratches. It was a miracle, to say the least.

"Dad, you should be resting," Carl said from off to his right side. Rick looked over at his now-adult son. Carl just turned twenty-seven. His wife Sophia stood next to him with their two-year-old son Shane and their ten year old son Abraham.

Rick smiled and said " I am alright Carl". He then looked over at his now twenty two-year-old daughter Judith and her wife Gracie and their six-year-old daughter, Lori. " I really am fine," he said seeing the doubt in Judith's eyes. Judith nodded but the doubt didn't leave her eyes.

Rick reached out putting his hand on hers and saw his now eighteen-year-old son, RJ watching behind her. Rick patted Judith's hand and then reached out to RJ and pulled him forward. Of course his fiance Hershel came with him.

"Dad, please get better soon," RJ said holding back the tears he didn't want to show his dad. "I will be just fine son," Rick said squeezing his teenage son's hand. RJ smiled at him and Rick felt a kiss brush the back of his neck and looked back to see his beautiful wife, Michonne.

"We are the ones who live," Michonne said reciting the mantra they had lived by for all these years. Rick laughed causing himself to have a small coughing fit. Michonne rubbed his chest and then kissed his lips softly. "You always know how to make me feel better," Rick said softly. Michonne smiled and said softly with a laugh "now get some rest the amazing Rick Grimes".

Rick scowled at Michonne but gave her a soft kiss again nodding in agreement. Closing his eyes, Rick felt this sense of peace wash over him. He had found everything he had ever wanted. He had found his family and they were all with him.

Shane was wrong. He said that none of them would make it this far but they had. Carl, Sophia, Judith, RJ, Hershel and all the grandkids were still there.

His beautiful wife Michonne was still here and his extended family: Daryl, Maggie, Aaron, Carol, Ezekiel, and yes even Negan even though a lot of that was the fact he married Maggie so it was by default.

Even Rick had to agree though that Negan had become a better man since those days and he had always taken great care of Judith, RJ and Carl. He also was a great dad to Hershel and his ten year old daughter, Lucy, so he was more than happy to call him family.

Taking a deep breath, Rick allowed his body to relax for what he believed would be the very last time.

Part 2: Shane

What if the people you saw or met in just one afternoon turned out to be more important then just passerby's in the wind?

Remember: no one can survive alone.

Atlanta, Georgia Municipal Courthouse

He watched as she was brought into the courthouse. He wasn't going to go but he was already in town for another case.

He had nabbed a guy named Ed Peletier while he, his wife Carol and their daughter Sophia were staying in Kings County.

A domestic abuse call came in and he got to the hotel they were at first. Ed had blackened Carol's eye by the time he had gotten there for not setting the bathwater at just the right temperature for him.

Sophia had dialed 911 the minute they started fighting and hid outside in the car. Since he was the first officer on the scene they wanted him to come and testify at Ed's trial.

He wouldn't ever forget the relieved look on both mom and daughters face when the judge sentenced Ed to ten years in prison with no parole.

The bailiff calling out "All Rise" brought him back to his current situation. He watched as the woman in the orange jumpsuit stood up, turned around and gave him a cheeky smile.

He grimaced and sat back down once the judge had taken his place on at the bench.

"the case of the state of Georgia vs. Lori Grimes will come to order," the judge said. "Ms. Grimes you have been charged with the attempted murder of your husband, Rick Grimes, who is currently in Harrison Memorial Hospital in Kings County fighting for his life. How do you plead"?

Before her lawyer could say a word, Lori stood up, smiled and said "guilty as charged. I had to get rid of him before he took us all with him. But now you will all see. You will see what Rick Grimes being alive will do".

The courtroom remained silent as she sat back down. They didn't know what to do or say. Her lawyer looked even more lost and confused.

Finally, the judge cleared his throat and stated "then Ms. Grimes with your confession I've got no choice but to sentence you to the mandatory twenty-five years in prison with the possibility of parole after ten" and with that, he hit his gavel and got up leaving the courtroom.

As the police officers led Lori out of the courtroom she looked at the man and said "Shane you have to believe me, Rick will bring the end of the world. Please protect Carl with your life. '' Shane said nothing as they continued to lead her out of the courtroom.

Waiting for the courtroom to empty out, Shane finally stood up and headed out himself. As he walked down the hall he saw two men in handcuffs being taken to another courtroom. He knew one of them, Merle Dixon, a known felon to all the cops in the local area. He didn't know the other one though.

"Hey Officer Walsh, can you do me a favor and get my little brother out of here. He did nothing wrong but hang around me" Merle said trying to hide the pleading undertone.

"What's his name, Merle?" Shane asked glad for anything to keep his mind off of what just happened. "Daryl, Daryl Dixon" Merle replied still trying his best not to plead. "I will get Daryl released as soon as I get back to Kings Country, I promise Merle," Shane said and continued walking.

As he reached the exit sign he heard "Mr. Walsh please wait up". He turned and saw six-year-old, Sophia running towards him and stopped. She ran straight to him and gave him a huge hug.

"Thank you again for helping my mommy," Sophia said hugging him again. "Anytime darling" Shane said with a smile.

Carol came over and took the clinging child and laughed. "Sophia is just excited, we are going to DC to stay with my sister and to visit the local zoo. We heard there is an amazing tiger that lives there" Carol said the smile never leaving her eyes.

"I'm glad to hear that. You, two ladies, have a wonderful time and let me know if you ever need anything else" Shane said returning the smile. With one last hug, they said their goodbyes and Shane headed out the door.

As Shane headed for his patrol car he felt the world trying to fall on him and that's when someone bumped right into him. Shane looked over and saw a broad man with long hair and a beard. Running up to them was a smaller man with a soft and loving face.

"Officer I'm so sorry about Paul, he never watches where he's going," the other man said sounding a little out of breath. "My name is Aaron by the way".

"Nice to meet you, Aaron, and I was the one not paying attention. You two have a good day now" Shane said not really in the mood for talking.

As he walked, he couldn't help but see a man and women holding each other and overhear the man say "my dearest Lucille, you have defeated cancer and now we will celebrate".

Shane smiled. Seeing people happy made him happy. He noticed Aaron and Paul were also sharing a quick kiss.

Taking a deep breath he finished the stride to the patrol car. Sitting behind the wheel Shane fought off the urge to scream at the universe for the shitty hand it dealt him.

Finally, after some calming breathes he started the car and began the long trek back to Kings County where more shit awaited him.

Part 3: Is This Real

Beep. Beep. Beep, was the first thing that rang through his ears but it was the "Please wake up soon Rick" said by a familiar voice that prompted Rick to open his eyes. First thing he noticed was that he wasn't in Alexandria anymore.

The lights were dim but still seemed bright to him. Trying to get away from the burning light he looked to his left and saw a vase of his favorite flowers. He noticed almost immediately that he was in a hospital gown with wires in his nose and arm. It hit him that he was definitely in a fully working hospital and there was tv since it was on without the sound.

Beep, beep, beep went the damn machine again. Rick wanted to shoot it at that point. He tried to sit-up but couldn't get the strength and that's when he felt a pair of strong hands he hadn't felt in many years.

He looked over and saw the face of a man who was dead. He had the deep eyes, the beautiful brown hair, and his uniform. Wait, he had his uniform on Rick thought to himself.

"Oh my god Rick your finally awake" Shane said as tears started to stain his cheeks holding his hand out trying to decide to take Rick's hand in his or not. Rick took his hand but didn't say anything because he was genuinely confused.

"Daddy" Carl said running in and launching himself onto his fathers bed. He couldn't be no older than six. Now Rick was beyond confused. Was this some sort of weird heaven or middle ground that he went to because he passed away.

Carl kissed Rick's nose wrapping his small hands around Rick's neck. Rick tried to hug him back but the wires wouldn't allow for it. "I love you so much my precious little boy" Rick said with a cough.

"I love you too daddy" Carl said kissing Rick's nose again. Rick smiled taking in every inch of his sons face.

Shane picked up Carl and handed him to the women who just walked through the door. "Michonne" Rick said softly because it hurt his throat to talk. The woman stared at him. "How did you know my name?" Michonne asked confused.

Holding back the tears that were forming he said "I must've heard Shane here mention you". It must've passed as a reasonable response since she smiled and nodded.

"Daddy, Ms. Hawthorn here has been watching me while Shane works" Carl said as he gave Michonne a huge hug. "That's great Carl, but where's your mother" Rick asked, quickly regretting it after the room went scary silent.

He watched as Carl's face went solemn. Michonne rubbed Carl's back and said with a half mastered smile, "Lets go to the cafeteria and let your dad and Shane talk why don't we" as she

slid out of the room with Carl. With that Shane sat back down on the chair next to him and took Ricks hand in his.

"Do you remember why your in here buddy?" Shane asked slowly. "I was shot trying to stop what we thought were two suspects but ended up being three" Rick answered not to sure it was the right answer.

Shane looked at him severely confused. "Lori shot you Rick. She tried to kill you saying you were going to be the death of all of us or something like that. She's lost it and now is serving twenty five years with a possibility of parole in ten." Shane explained quietly not looking directly at Rick.

Rick just laid there. He couldn't move or say anything. He still remembered getting shot by a third gunmen no one knew was there. That was when Carl was about ten though, he's about six right now. What the hell was going on? He had never been shot before that day and no way in hell Lori would have shot him, at least the Lori he knew in his head.

Was that whole thing a dream? Was there an apocalypse? Did the dead come back to life? Or is this a dream or a nightmare or maybe some sort of terrible after world. Rick just didn't know anymore.

Closing his eyes he unconsciously took Shane's hand in his and feeling that same loving feeling he felt when he took Michonne's hand, he fell back into a calming sleep.

Shane watched as Rick slipped back into sleep and smiled. It was going to be a long road but he knew the man laying on the bed in front of him was strong. Squeezing Ricks hand softly he just sat there and awaited Michonne and Carl's return from the cafeteria.

Part 4: The Tiger and The King

Meanwhile:

Carol checked the flight number again. She hadn't flown since she was a young girl and she wanted to make sure everything was correct.

She looked over at Sophia who was patiently sitting on the chair next to her watching the people hurry by. Carol smiled and thought about how much calmer she was than her.

"Flight 766 to Washington DC now boarding" came a ladies voice over the loud speaker. "Parents with small children and the disabled board first" the lady called out again.

"That's us mama" Sophia said and got up making sure her backpack was closed tightly. Carol nodded, grabbed her small luggage bag and they both walked to the gate hand in hand.

The flight itself wasn't as bad as she thought it would be. It was nice watching Atlanta disappear behind them. This was the new start her and Sophia needed.

When they landed, they were greeted by Carol's younger sister, Tanya. She was a member of Homeland. She was proud of her sister and everything she had accomplished. She was accompanied by her fiancé Dinah, who was also a member of Homeland.

Carol thought back to when Tanya had called and said she was marrying another woman. She was shocked at first but much to Tanya's surprise, she was super supportive and happy for her.

"Auntie Tanya, Auntie Dinah, it's so good to see you" Sophia said as she ran up and put her arms around Tanya. "Hey My little guiding light, is that all you and your mama brought?" Tanya asked quickly regretting the question after seeing Carols face.

"Why don't Dinah and I take you and your mama shopping tomorrow?" Tanya asked trying to make up for her question. "No Auntie Tanya, tomorrow we are going to the zoo remember" Sophia asked, her little eyes wide like she had just seen a ghost. "How could I forget something big like that" Tanya said and picked Sophia up.

"How does grabbing some fast food and heading home sound squirmy bug" Tanya asked tickling sophia's tummy. Sophia giggles and nodded. The four of them headed out of the airport to Tanya's car.

"Are you alright Carol?" Dinah asked worriedly on the way there. "Just imagining a life where Sophia is always smiling like that" Carol said holding back the tears that were threatening to flow. Dinah put her arm around Carol and said "that world can and will exist Carol you will see". Carol smiled and hugged her. "Thank you and I'm so glad Tanya met someone as kind and awesome as you" Carol said and the two women caught up with the others.

The Next Day

The sun had come out bright with no clouds in sight. Sophia was super excited as they made their way through the front gates. She knew where she wanted to go and no one was going to stop her.

They passed by monkeys, giraffes and even some exotic birds but she didn't care to stop. She wanted to get to the tigers.

"Welcome to the tiger enclosure" came a loud but gentle voice as they approached the tiger area. Sophia smiled but went straight to the barrier to look at the tigers.

Carol though stopped in her tracks. The man in front of her was beyond handsome. He had a soft face with a big smile. The midday sun made the light from his soul shine brighter than it already was in his beautiful dark eyes.

"My name is Ezekiel" the man said reaching out a callused hand. "I'm Carol" Carol said shaking his hand. the two just stood and stared at each other for minutes until they heard Sophia scream.

Carol looked over and noticed Sophia wasn't at the barrier and her heart went into her stomach. Both her and Ezekiel ran over to where she was and saw that Sophia had crossed the barrier and was now down with a gigantic tiger.

The tiger though was nuzzling Sophia. "Your alright child, that's Shiva, she won't hurt you" Ezekiel said heading down to where Sophia and Shiva were. "Can I live with her?" Sophia asked excitedly as she petted Shiva's nose. "I'm not sure that's a good idea little one but she would like the visitations" Ezekiel said as he picked Sophia up and carried her back to Carol.

Ezekiel handed Sophia to Carol who thanked him over and over. "Mama, can we visit Shiva everyday?" Sophia asked her eyes lighting up like it was Christmas. "We will see" Carol said softly running her hand through Sophia's hair thankful she was alive.

Sophia finally was able to squirm her way out of her mothers arms and went over to Ezekiel giving him a big hug and then she went over to tell Tanya and Dinah all about her adventure.

"Here my lady, this will allow you and your family free entry into the zoo whenever you want" Ezekiel said with a grin. Carol blushed and thanked him.

As the group was leaving the zoo Tanya got close to Carol and said with a laugh "I'm sure we will be coming to see the tigress everyday won't we". Carol blushed again and nodded like a school girl whose crush just asked her out.

As they drove back to her sisters, Carol could see a happy future for herself and Sophia for the first time in six long years.

Part 5: The Jailbird Sings

Back in Atlanta

Aaron held onto Jesus's arm as they strolled down the street. Jesus had just passed the bar and was looking to have a peaceful night out. That of course is why his phone rang just as they found the perfect restaurant.

"I will just be a minute Aaron" Jesus said planting a kiss on his cheek. Aaron grinned and sat on a bench across from his husband. He watched as Jesus's face went from no emotion to extremely happy in a matter of minutes.

"So, what they say darling?" Aaron said as Jesus put the phone away. "I have my first clientele" Jesus said with a big grin. Aaron went over and gave him a huge hug. "Congrats babe. So what now?" Aaron asked cuddling against him.

"Now we have dinner then after we will head over and speak to the young men" Jesus said as he kissed Aaron deeply and then proceeded to lead him to the restaurant.

The doorman looked at them and didn't move. "Can't we go in?" Jesus asked strengthening his grip on Aaron's hand. "Your kind aren't welcome in this establishment" the man said coldly.

"Our kind? Our kind?" Jesus said over and over getting louder and louder each time. "Shall I get security" the man said again with no emotion at all. "No, it's alright we will go" Aaron said trying to pull Jesus but to not avail,

"Is there a problem?" Asked a voice behind the stoic gentleman in front of them. Suddenly the man had an emotion on his face, an emotion of "oh shit I'm in trouble". "No sir, these two were trying to enter and I let them know that they aren't part of our clientele" the man said looking more and more nervous.

"Is that so?" Asked the voice again. They were finally able to put a face to the voice as a man who was about 6' 2 and had a nicely trimmed beard appeared, He also had the most stunning woman on his arm.

"We are Lucille and Negan Black and we own Sanctuary Diner" the beautiful lady said. "Now, Simon, why aren't these two lovely gentleman not apart of our clientele?" Lucille asked with a smile doused with venom.

Simon looked between the man and woman obviously searching for the words to say.

"Please excuse Simon, he's new and used to working for assholes it would seem. We allow anyone in who has the money to pay" Negan said with a laugh.

"Thank you Negan, I'm Aaron and this is Paul orJesus to his friends" Aaron said smiling. Aaron couldn't help but notice the lapel pin shaped like a bat with barbed wire on it as they sat at the couples private booth.

"I see your admiring my Lucille. That's the symbol of my charity, The Saviors. We have a huge mansion that used to be a factory and we take in orphaned children as well as abused wives or husbands and their children and protect them from their abusive spouse while they're going through court proceedings or just need a place to live" Negan said pulling his wife close. "The bats named after Lucille because it represents the strength my wife had to kick her cancers ass" Negan continued before anyone could say anything.

"That's amazing" Aaron said just as their food arrived. For the next couple of hours the four of the ate and had quite a chat about everything from food and wine to what it sounds like when a persons skull cracked.

Finally it was time for Aaron and Jesus to go. Negan and Lucille got up and followed them. "Let us come. We will pay for the young man's legal fees" Lucille said with her warm smile glowing again. Jesus nodded and the all headed to the prison.

After checking in the four of them were shown to a room where they would have a meeting with the client. Finally the guards brought in a young man in his late 40's and sat him down.

"You must be Daryl Dixon?" Jesus asked extending his hand. The man nodded and shook his hand. "I have been asked to seek your release" Jesus continued. "What about Merle?" Daryl asked quietly. "Merle as well" Jesus said softly.

None of them noticed but while they were talking Negan was doing a lot of typing on his phone. "All done, we can take the Dixon brothers with us when we leave" Negan said obviously very proud of his work.

They all looked at him and tried not to laugh. After collecting Merle and the brothers things, Negan made another announcement. "As part of your parole you guys will be helping at The savior house. We need people to move beds and help watch the kids and you seem like a good duo for that.

Merle and Daryl looked at each other but didn't say anything, just nodded. "Jesus and I would love to help as well" Aaron said excitedly. "Glad to have you on board as well" Negan said and the group of unexpected friends headed back to Negan's place for a celebratory drink.

Part 6: New Beginnings

One year later

Gazebo in Kings County Park

The place was packed with family and friends as Kings County held three weddings that they had never held before, a multiracial, a Gay, and a three person wedding.

They were worried they wouldn't find priests that would do it but luckily Father Tomas and Father Marcus from Chicago were willing to fly out and officiate.

Rick looked between Shane who looked stunning in his suit and Michonne who was beyond beautiful in her flowing white gown as the preachers went through the ceremony and the other couples did their vows. He looked over at Carl who looked handsome in his suit and his hand locked in Sophia's.

Guilt started overwhelming him as he heard that they would be next. He had always wanted a ceremony like this with his Michonne but a zombie apocalypse really didn't allow for one and when they finally found peace all of a sudden he ended up here.

He was still recovering from the gun shot and Lori's betrayal. When he finally did get to see her she went on and on about how he would bring destruction. Was she talking about the walkers? That couldn't have been his fault could it?

"Mr. Grimes are you alright?" Father Tomas asked softly. Rick blinked away the thoughts and nodded. "Just a bit nervous, Father" Rick said calmly and allowed his attention to focus on the now. He would figure out what Lori was going on about and how to get home later. Even better, they did the basic vows so he didn't need to speak, unlike Paul who would've gone on for hours if Aaron hadn't stopped him. Ezekiel and Carol also chose to do basic "I Do" vows so it didn't matter if Paul had a lot to say.

The rest of the ceremony went smoothly. Finally, Father Marcus said "I now introducer to you Mr. and Mrs. Payton, Mr. and Mr. Monroe and Mr., Mr. and Mrs. Walsh.

Everyone clapped except for Shiva, Ezekiel's tiger friend who gave a loud roar making everyone jump a little.

That night there was dancing, cake and a lot of gifts. As day turned into night, Rick laid back against Shane and said while Shane softly ran his fingers through Ricks hair, "this has been one of the best days of my life". Shane bent and kissed Rick on the forehead and said "me too".

They watched as Michonne and Carl had a mother/son dance and Sophia and Ezekiel had a father/daughter dance. Aaron and Paul just looked like they were the only two people there the way they were dancing and holding one another.

"Shane, go dance with our beautiful wife. Just because this bullet wound is still keeping me down after a year which is pissing me off doesn't mean you and Michonne can't enjoy the night" Rick said softly rubbing the top of Shane's hand. He didn't want him to go but it was only right.

"You sure baby? Shane asked worried about leaving Rick alone. He still wasn't sure about the stories Rick tells sometimes but they said the emotional pain could cause psychological damage. "I'm sure now go and twirl her once for me" Rick said laughing.

Shane hesitantly planted a kiss on Ricks lips and headed over to Michonne. Tapping Carl on the shoulder and asking to cut in, Shane took Michonne in his arms and the two of them started blending together as they made their way around the dance floor.

He watched as Negan and his wife Lucille danced cheek to cheek. He liked them and was glad they were friends as well as the Dixon brothers that Shane helped get out of jail. Daryl was off to the side just minding his own business with his beautiful girlfriend Connie who was helping him with his sign language so he could talk to her easier since she was deaf and all the while Merle and his lover, Theodore scoped out a quiet place in the back forest.

Rick half smiled. He really was trying to enjoy the day but it was hard knowing that his family was somewhere else. Everyone keeps telling him it was a dream while he was comatose but he knew better. His heart knew better and one day he would prove it.

Closing his eyes he tried to relax his mind. That's when he heard the rustling of the grass which made him open his eyes quickly. He swore as he reached for his gun so he could take out the threat but didn't feel it. That's when he remembered he wasn't allowed to carry yet.

Finding a big stick he sat silently and watched the leaves closest to him start to rustle and three people emerged. Not just any three people, two children. Not any three children, his granddaughter Lori and Grandsons Shane and Abraham.

"Grandpa we've finally found you. We have been searching for you and we need you to come now, we need your help" Abraham, the eldest of the three said.

"But how?" Rick asked. "No time, come now please grandpa" Lori said almost in tears. Rick got up and using the stick as a cane went over and picked up Lori and nodded. Looking back at the happy scene in front of him he realized just how much he didn't belong there and followed the kids into the leaves.

What he didn't know was that Shane, Michonne, Negan, Lucille, Aaron, Jesus, Ezekiel, Carol and the Dixon brothers all followed behind quietly.

Back in Alexandria

Rick woke up with a startle and looked around. He was back home but something bad and befallen the group as most were bandaged and bruised.

"Thank god the children found a way to break your coma Rick, it's been a week and we are under a savage attack by an unknown enemy" Michonne said, her face bloody and tears forming at the edges.

Pulling her close rick whispered, "I'm here now baby and I won't let anyone hurt you ever again" and with that he got up, pulled on his pants even though he was on insufferable pain and put on his jacket better known as Murder Jacket and attached his gun to one side and his axe to the other.

"Let's get these assholes" Rick said forgetting that his grandchildren had just traveled into his mind and that he was only gone for a week.

The war for time has began….