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It hadn't been a great couple of days for Sasha Williams.
It had all started with that damn herd that had shown up practically out of nowhere and chased them out of that forest. Donna had gotten bit, and there had been nothing they could go to help her. Donna had died. Sasha had hoped things might get better once they were in the prison. They had found Sam's sister, and she and her group had taken care of them. Sasha and her companions had found a day of peace and quiet within the prison, which had been much needed as they coped with the loss of Donna. They had allowed themselves to think that maybe they had found a permanent home amongst the friendly survivors that had taken them in.
But then that guy Rick had shown up and basically had a meltdown in front of them, and then they'd gotten kicked to the curb like yesterday's garbage. And just like that, they had found themselves back on the road, back to a life of uncertainty with nowhere to go and danger lurking around every corner.
As if all of that wasn't bad enough already, there was one more thing that had happened, which was just the icing on top of the shitty cake.
They had lost Sam.
Losing him had had much more of an impact than Sasha had been prepared for. Maybe he hadn't been with them for long, maybe they hadn't really even known him that well…but she had liked Sam. He was smart and strong, someone they knew would have their backs when things went south. Sure, he had been pretty guarded at first. But once he had finally started opening up to them, he had started to show that he could be friendly and funny, too. It had felt like he was one of them. She had hoped he was in it for the long haul.
But Sam had chosen to stay with his sister at the prison, and Sasha couldn't – wouldn't even attempt – to blame him for that. She knew for a fact that she would have done the same thing if it had been her and Ty in their shoes. Still…she would be lying if she said she wasn't disappointed.
So Sam had stayed back, and there had been nothing to do after that but say their goodbye's and go their own way. They had gone back into the wild, all of them still reeling from the difficult few days they'd had, their group feeling small and incomplete now that Donna and Sam were gone. That first night back out on the road, when they had made camp in the forest, nobody had even talked to one another. Between Allen and Ben mourning for Donna, Tyreese looking lost as to what they should do next, and Sasha missing Sam more than she had anticipated, it had just felt heavy and depressing. Sasha would go as far as to admit that it was probably the lowest she had felt in all the months since the world had gone to hell in a handbasket.
But today was different. Today it was looking like their luck might have changed. They had broken down camp that morning and moved on to try to find a place to stay, only to end up stumbling upon two strangers out in the woods. They had bumped into a man and a woman, both of which had looked exceptionally clean and well fed. The two had said that they lived in a town – an actual town with walls and people and all the things they would need to survive. Even better? The town actually took people in.
They hadn't even had to ask if they were allowed to go to the town, there hadn't even been a discussion about it. One minute they were watching the woman rig up some walker to use as a guard dog for whatever mission she was about to carry out, then the next thing they knew, the man – Milton was his name – was taking them to the town.
As they made their way through the forest, Sasha told her self not to get her hopes up. It was probably too good to be true – the town wasn't going to be all it was cracked up to be. But then they broke through the trees and they found themselves in front of a tall gate. Milton called to one of the guards on the wall and the gate opened, and when she followed the man inside and actually got a look at the place, all of her doubts came to a screeching halt.
Woodbury was legit. The town was clean, almost picturesque, practically untouched by all the horrors beyond its borders. She could see fresh crops being grown, solar panels for electricity, and there were people everywhere – men, women, kids, even dogs. Everyone looked happy and well taken care of, and a few of them even smiled and waved in greeting when they spotted Sasha and her friends being led through the town by Milton. It was so normal it was weird, but Sasha liked it anyway.
Milton took them directly to the infirmary to get checked out by the town doctor, which made a lot of sense. It was obvious the people here had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure the town and its inhabitants were protected – they couldn't risk bringing in someone that might be infected and put the entire town in danger. Once they were in the infirmary, Milton sent someone to collect the doctor and someone named the Governor, then he gave them water and told them to make themselves comfortable while they waited for the people in question to show up.
"How long has this place been standin'?" Tyreese asked curiously while they waited.
Milton had been writing something down in a journal, but looked up at the question. "We found it early on," he answered. "It had been abandoned and overrun, but we cleared it out and resettled. Over time, more people came. We built the walls, got power running through the town again, started planting crops for food. Now it has grown into what you see today," he explained with a small nod.
"Sounds like a dream," Sasha breathed with a small smile.
Milton looked at her, but didn't say anything to that, didn't even smile. It struck her as a bit odd, but then again, Milton himself seemed a little odd, judging by his mannerisms and the way he spoke. "Where did you come from?" he asked to change the subject, his eyes glancing around between the four of them with interest.
"We had a camp a couple months back. Big camp with at least two dozen survivors," Tyreese answered. "It fell," he revealed with a frown. "We've been on the road ever since, just…roughin' it. We thought we had finally found a place to make a go of it a couple days back, but…that didn't work out, either," he added with resigned shrug.
Sasha frowned at the mention of the prison, mostly because it made her think of Sam. Allen, on the other hand, snorted bitterly. "You can say that again," he muttered under his breath.
Milton glanced over at Allen briefly, then looked back to Tyreese. "I'm sorry to hear of your troubles," he offered.
"Thanks," Tyreese said with a grateful nod. "And thanks for bringin' us here. It ain't been easy the past couple days. It's nice to be someplace safe again."
Milton inclined his head. "Of course," he said, before turning his attention back down to his journal.
Nobody spoke for a few minutes. Sasha drank her water, eyes roaming the room curiously as Tyreese went over to talk to Allen in hushed tones. The infirmary was pretty well set up, Sasha noted. It was clean and stocked with plenty of medical supplies to be used for any number of ailments or emergencies. She couldn't help but think about how vastly different everything was from the prison, where it was dark and dirty and damn near uninhabitable, save for the one cell block that Jenna and her people had turned into their home. Sasha hadn't thought they were too bad off at the time, but now, looking at Woodbury, she felt bad for them for having to live in those conditions.
Finally, the door opened, which drew the attention of everyone in the room. A tall man walked in, good-looking and well put together. Sasha noticed his eyepatch straight away, which filled her head with questions as to what had happened to result in him needing to wear it. Whatever the cause of his injury, it didn't appear to be bothering him anymore – he had a friendly smile on his face and seemed like he was in good spirits as he looked them over.
"Hello there, I'm Philip," he introduced, and there was something about the way he carried himself that told Sasha he was definitely the man in charge. "Dr. Stevens is on his way. He should be here in a couple minutes to check you all over."
"Thank you," Tyreese said with a nod.
The Governor smiled and inclined his head. "It's my pleasure," he said. "Assuming you all check out fine, you're welcome to stay in Woodbury as long as ya like. We've got food, fresh clothing, hot water." Sasha tried not to salivate at the thought of a hot shower. "We can provide you accommodations as well, though we are a little limited on space, so you'll have to bunk up together, I'm afraid," the Governor explained with an apologetic expression.
"That's fine with us," Sasha said, making him look to her. "We're used to sleepin' in close quarters," she added with a nod.
The Governor smiled. "Great. I can have someone get a space set up once Dr. Stevens clears you."
Sasha felt herself start to relax at those words. The fear that they would get kicked back out onto the road had been lingering in the back of her mind since they'd stepped foot in Woodbury, but after everything she'd heard the Governor say, that fear was starting to slip away. "Thank you," she said sincerely. "Really. This is…more than we could have hoped for."
The Governor gave her a warm smile. "We're happy to help out in any way we can," he said, which made Sasha return his smile. "Of course, there's always the chance that you might decide to move on," he continued, looking around at all of them again. "I understand if you have people you're tryin' to connect with or places you're tryin' to go. If you decide to move on, that's fine," he added with an understanding nod. "We won't be able to help ya much there, though. Normally we'd provide a car and some weapons for your journey but…" The Governor shared a look with Milton. "We need all we have right now, I'm afraid."
"I noticed you guys seem to really be battening down the hatches," Allen interjected, his eyes trained on something that was happening outside. He turned a curious look on the Governor. "Did you guys get attacked or something?"
"Yeah, but not by biters," the Governor said. "There's some dangerous people out there." He frowned grimly. "They came at us a few days ago."
Sasha frowned at hearing that, though she supposed it wasn't too surprising to hear that someone had gone after Woodbury. It was a cutthroat world now, and she was sure that people would do just about anything to get their hands on what Woodbury had to offer. "Did anyone get hurt?" she asked.
The Governor looked down at the floor. Milton was the one to answer. "There were several fatalities," he revealed.
Sasha shared a look with Tyreese, who frowned deeply. "Damn," he said. "Sorry to hear that."
The Governor seemed to appreciate the condolence. He nodded, then looked to Sasha. "You can't be too careful these days," he said.
Sasha just nodded in agreement.
The Governor looked over all of them again, then lifted his head a little higher. "I don't want you all to worry about our troubles," he said, his tone easy and normal again. "We've got all that under control." After they nodded, he smiled. "Dr. Stevens shouldn't be too much longer. In the meantime, I've got other business to attend to." The Governor turned to head for the door. "As a word of advice, however, I suggest goin' west if ya do decide to leave Woodbury. Avoid anything to the north up 85," he said.
Sasha sighed. The prison was north up 85 – Sam was north up 85. "That's actually where we just came from," she said, frowning as she thought of their former companion.
"Yeah, ran into some whack job at a prison," Allen added in a sour tone.
The Governor had been leaving, but at those words he halted and then slowly turned back around to face them. Even Milton looked more alert now, and their reactions made Sasha frown even deeper and share a look with Tyreese, who had also noticed the swift change in their demeanor.
Why had they reacted to the mention of the prison like that?
The Governor looked at Allen for a moment, then slowly stepped closer. "You saw him?" he asked, his good eye narrowing some.
"Oh yeah," Allen said with a huff. "He was screaming like an idiot."
"He was a little unhinged," Tyreese interrupted, giving Allen a look that clearly said to shut up. "But I think he's just goin' through a rough time," he continued, looking back to the Governor now. "The rest of the people there were good people. Everything was…cool."
"Yeah, until that Rick guy came back and started waving a gun around," Allen huffed out, ignoring Tyreese's silent warning.
"The place you were at before this," Milton said, glancing back and forth between Tyreese and Allen. "That was the prison?"
"Yeah, we were there," Allen spoke up before anyone else could answer. "But then that psycho chased us out." The Governor and Milton looked at each other again, though it was hard to tell what the expressions on their faces meant. It was around then that Allen finally seemed to notice the way the two men had reacted to this revelation. "The people at the prison…they were the ones that attacked you, weren't they?" he suddenly asked.
The Governor nodded. "It was."
Allen nodded in understanding, his expression going hard. "They still giving you trouble?" he asked.
"They're a bit of a thorn in our sides, yes," the Governor confirmed slowly.
Sasha watched as Allen shared a look with his son. "We can help you take care of them," Allen suddenly offered.
"Yeah," Ben quickly agreed, his expression determined as he took a step forward. "If you need help getting rid of them, we're in," he said, motioning back and forth between him and his father.
Sasha shared another look with Tyreese, though this time it was one of alarm. She didn't like the turn this conversation had taken, nor did she like what Allen and Ben were saying. Maybe Rick had been a little…off. Maybe he hadn't been welcoming. But everyone else had been nice and friendly. They had helped them and given them shelter, had given them food when they didn't even have that much for themselves, had even been kind enough to let them bury Donna along with their own dead. There were children there, innocent people there. Sam was there.
And now Allen and Ben were talking about helping the Governor take all of them down? Had he lost his mind?
"No, no," The Governor finally said. "We couldn't ask you to join in our fight."
"You're not asking, we're offering," Allen countered. He looked at Tyreese, then looked at her. Though Sasha tried to tell him with her eyes to shut up, tried to ask just what the hell he thought he was doing, he either didn't get the message or just chose to completely ignore it. "We'll help you get rid of them," Allen said with finality, looking back to the Governor. "Anything to earn our place here."
Sasha caught her brother's eye again. She could tell that Tyreese wasn't crazy about what Allen was doing, either. When she looked back to the Governor to see what he thought of the offer, she stiffened when she realized he had been watching her. He had noticed her reaction to Allen's offer and seemed to find her reluctance to sell out Rick's group interesting.
"Were you inside the prison?" Milton asked, taking his journal in hand again and flipping to a new page. "Could you describe the layout?"
Allen shrugged. "I can try, yeah," he agreed.
Milton looked like he was going to start grilling Allen for information, but the Governor lifted a hand to stop him. "Why don't y'all get some rest?" he suggested, finally tearing his gave away from Sasha. "We can talk about all this tomorrow." He nodded to Milton, who understood the silent command and headed for the door. "As I said," the Governor continued, looking to them again. "You're free to stay here as long as ya like. But you take the night and…talk things over."
"Alright," Allen finally agreed.
The Governor nodded, then followed Milton to the door. "See you all tomorrow," he said, before leaving the room and shutting the door behind him.
The moment the door closed, Sasha stood from the table she'd been sitting on and frowned deeply at Allen. "What the hell are you doin'?" she demanded.
Allen gave her a sour look and stood a little straighter. "I'm doing what I have to for us to be safe."
"By sellin' out the people at the prison?" Sasha countered heatedly. "They helped us! They took us in!'
"Yeah, and then Rick pulled a gun on us and threw us to the dead!" Allen argued. He shook his head and scoffed. "You heard what they said. Those people attacked Woodbury! Clearly they're not what they seemed to be!"
"You saw them, Allen. You saw the way they were livin'," Tyreese interjected with a frown, crossing his muscled arms over his chest. "They didn't have the manpower to take on an entire town. Jenna even hinted they were havin' problems with another group, and their people were beat to hell when they came back." Tyreese shook his head. "Somethin' doesn't add up, man."
"You think the Governor's lying?" Ben asked unsurely.
"I think maybe there's more to the story," Tyreese countered pointedly.
Allen heaved and rubbed his face. "If we don't help, they might kick us out," he argued. "I'm not going back out there. I'm not taking my boy back out there," he insisted, pointing to Ben. "If the Governor wants our help, I'm givin' it to them. I don't give a shit about those people. We have no loyalty to them. The only thing that matters is us."
"What about Sam?" Sasha asked, her eyes narrowing into a glare. "He's one of us, isn't he?"
Allen gave her a look. "Maybe he could've been…but Sam made his choice. He chose to stay there, with them. He's one of them now."
Sasha shook her head with disgust. "How can you turn so quickly? How can you put innocent people in danger? They had kids, Allen," she reminded him. "They had a baby."
Allen didn't look affected by her argument. "Then they should have thought about that before they attacked Woodbury," he said bluntly.
Sasha looked at Tyreese, who was frowning deeply, clearly just as unhappy with Allen as she was. "Allen, this ain't right. We can't do this," he insisted with a shake of his head.
Allen glared at Tyreese through narrowed eyes. "Hate to break it to you, Tyreese, but you're not my boss. I'm free to do whatever the hell I want to," he said. He looked at Tyreese, then at Sasha. "I'm helping the Governor," he said with finality. "I'm making sure Ben and I are safe. If either of you have even half a brain in your heads, you'll do the same."
Before anything else could be said, the door opened and Dr. Stevens finally walked in. Their conversation ceased immediately, and though it was obvious they were all still thinking about what had been discussed, everyone tried to act normal as the doctor began asking them questions and looking them over.
But the conversation was far from over as far as Sasha was concerned, and she made sure to tell Allen that with her eyes whenever they made eye contact. She didn't know what had happened between Woodbury and the people at the prison, but she did know that Allen was on the verge of putting innocent people in very real danger.
And she was not about to just stand by and let that happen.
Time felt like it had come to a standstill.
Jenna stood in the common area with her gun in hand, eyes trained on the door. Carl stood to her left, while Chloe was to her right. Both kids were holding guns as well, and though Carl was calm and collected, Chloe was fidgeting anxiously as they all waited for something to happen. In the block behind them were Beth, Hershel, and the baby. Jenna had already informed them to be prepared to run if things went south outside, and they had taken the order seriously. Beth had Judith in her arms and Hershel had a bag full of the bare necessities hanging from his shoulder. If the Governor was attacking again, if the group didn't come back, the five of them were ready to split and make a run for it.
But so far, nothing had happened. She had not heard any gunshots outside, had not heard anything that would make her think that they were in danger. The only thing she could hear was the sound of their own breathing and the steady thump thump thump of her own heart pounding in her ears.
"What do you think is happening?" Chloe asked to break the tense silence.
Jenna spared Chloe a glance. "I don't know."
The answer didn't seem to make Chloe feel any more comfortable, because the girl fidgeted even more as she turned her eyes back to the door.
Jenna strained her ears, trying hard to listen to whatever was happening beyond the thick walls of their block.
She had known that Andrea had been at Woodbury because the others had told her so. Apparently Andrea had spent the winter travelling with none other than Michonne, the strange, quiet woman they had recently taken in. The two had eventually found their way to Woodbury, and though Michonne had been untrusting of the community and its leader – rightfully so – Andrea had taken to the place immediately. So much so that, by Merle's accounts, she had actually gotten romantically involved with the Governor and become somewhat of a partner to the man. Andrea, it seemed, was very comfortable in Woodbury.
Jenna wanted to trust Andrea. They might not have been close back on the farm, but she didn't think the woman was a bad person, nor did she believe that Andrea would stand by and just let someone try to murder the group she had once been loyal to. That being said, she couldn't help but wonder where Andrea had been while Glenn, Maggie, and, eventually, Daryl, had been held by the Governor and beaten for information. And where exactly had Andrea been when the Governor had attacked them the day before? Why had she done nothing to stop it?
They were disconcerting questions, but questions that had to be asked given the circumstances. Still, Jenna hoped Andrea wasn't a traitor, hoped that the woman had not turned against them and was not about to help the Governor launch another surprise attack on them.
The door she had been watching suddenly opened with a loud creak. In a flash, Jenna, Chloe, and Carl all lifted their guns and took aim, ready to start firing if the faces they saw were unfriendly ones. Thankfully it was Rick who came through the door, and when he held up a hand to signal not to fire, they all lowered their guns again.
"It's alright," he said. "She's alone."
Relief flooded through her. Relief that the group was okay, relief that they were not being attacked again. Relief that it seemed Andrea might still be on their side…so far, anyway.
Jenna returned her gun to its holster as the rest of the group began to file into the block, her eyes immediately drawn to the blonde walking just behind Rick. It had been a very long time since she had last seen Andrea, but the woman didn't really look much different. She seemed a little tense as she entered the common area, but otherwise looked healthy and clean. Clearly she had been well taken care of in Woodbury.
When Andrea spotted her, she looked thoroughly shocked. She stopped short, her jaw dropping a little as she blinked with surprise. "Jenna?" she asked with disbelief.
Jenna offered a small smile. "Long time no see."
Andrea finally showed a smile and moved forward to hug her. The gesture caught Jenna by surprise, but Andrea seemed so genuinely happy to see her that she couldn't help but return the embrace. They hugged for a moment, until Andrea finally pulled back to look at her with furrowed brows.
It seemed like there were a dozen things Andrea wanted to ask her, only she couldn't decide which question to ask first. "Did you find your brother?" she finally asked with hope.
Jenna smiled and nodded toward Sam, who now stood with Daryl just a few feet away from them. "That's him right there," she confirmed.
Andrea nodded, her eyes trained on Sam for a few seconds, before she let her gaze wander over the rest of the group. She looked over the people she had known, sharing a brief nod with T-Dog and a smile with Carol, then paused on Chloe, whom she obviously didn't know. She eyed the girl with interest for a second, before looking to Hershel as he and Beth finally joined them in the common area. When Andrea saw Hershel's missing foot, she gasped and moved toward him.
"Hershel, my God!" she said. "What happened?"
"Got bit, unfortunately," he answered with a wry smile. "Rick cut it off 'ta save me."
Andrea shook her head, her expression somewhere between sympathetic and horrified. "You're okay?" she asked.
Hershel smiled gently and nodded. "I'm fine."
Andrea nodded slowly, then glanced around again, looking rather overwhelmed. "I can't believe this," she said. When her eyes scanned the room again, Jenna began to get the distinct feeling that she was looking for someone specific. Sure enough, Andrea looked to Rick and asked, "Where's Shane?"
Even after all this time, the name made Jenna's spine stiffen. She couldn't help but look at Daryl, who quickly met her eyes. Jenna then looked down to the floor, crossing her arms over her chest as if to shield herself from the memory of the man in question. Of course Andrea would ask about Shane – she had been the only person that had really been friends with Shane back on the farm.
Rick answered Andrea's question by simply shaking his head, his jaw tightening at the mention of his former friend. Andrea didn't seem to know how to take the news of Shane's death and exhaled heavily, before quickly shaking her head. "And Lori?" she asked next.
Nobody seemed to have the heart to answer at first. Rick eyes turned down to the floor, the pain of his wife's death still too fresh, while the rest of the group looked elsewhere, their grief for their fallen friend just as palpable.
"She had a girl," Hershel finally spoke up. "Lori didn't survive."
Jenna lifted her gaze to look at Andrea, who pressed her lips together tightly at the news and looked as though she was fighting back tears. "I'm so sorry," she said with emotion, looking to anyone who would meet her gaze. When her eyes landed on Carl, her expression turn to one of sympathy. "Carl…"
The boy didn't say anything, just met Andrea's gaze with a stoic one of his own. After a moment, Andrea looked to Rick, who immediately turned his gaze away, silently signaling that pity was the last thing he wanted from her. Andrea glanced around again, as if struggling with what she should say, before apparently deciding to just change the subject altogether.
"You all…live here?" she asked. It was hard to tell what the tone of the woman's voice meant. Was she judging their choice of accommodations? Did she feel sorry for them for living in the prison?
"Here and the cell block," Glenn confirmed.
Andrea glanced at him, then pointed toward the other room, where their cells were. "There?" she asked. When Glenn nodded in confirmation, she started in that direction. "Can I go in?"
Rick immediately stepped into her path to stop her from going any further. "I can't allow that," he said.
Andrea gaped at him in surprise. "I'm not an enemy, Rick," she reminded him.
"We had that field, had that courtyard…until your boyfriend tore down the fence with a truck an' shot us up," Rick said in an accusatory tone.
Andrea seemed confused. "He said you shot first."
"Ain't how it happened," T-Dog said, making Andrea look at him. He frowned deeply as he stood next to Glenn with his arms crossed over his chest. "Him an' his guys showed up outta nowhere, started shootin' at us while we were tryin' to fortify our borders."
"They killed an inmate who survived in here," Hershel added next. "Sniper shot him in the head when he wasn't even armed."
"We liked him," Daryl said. "He was one of us."
Andrea pressed a hand to her mouth as she processed what everyone had said, looking confused and distressed all at the same time. "I didn't know anything about that," she said, shaking her head. "I didn't hear there had been a fight until today. Hell," she said, turning to look at Glenn and Maggie. "I had no idea you guys were even in Woodbury until after the shootout!"
"How could you not know?" Jenna had to ask, which made Andrea look to her now. "Aren't you the Governor's partner or something?"
"Just because we're together, that doesn't mean he tells me everything," Andrea said in defense.
"Well, what took you so long to come and talk to us once you did know?" Glenn demanded. "It's been days since the shootout."
Andrea turned and begged him with her eyes to understand. "I wasn't staying away on purpose. I came as soon as I could!"
Nobody said anything, and though Andrea looked around at all of them pleadingly, as if she was desperate for someone to be on her side, she did not find the support she was looking for. It was then that Andrea turned on Michonne, who had slowly moseyed her way closer so that she was only a few feet away from Andrea. Andrea gave the woman a hard look, but Michonne just met her stare with the same, indifferent expression she always wore.
"What did you tell them?" she demanded, her tone accusatory.
"Nothin'," Michonne answered casually.
Andrea scoffed, then looked around at the group again. "I don't get it. I left Atlanta with you people, and now I'm the odd man out?" she asked, sounding frustrated with the less than friendly reception she had received.
"You're with the Governor, Andrea," Maggie said, crossing her arms over her chest.
"And?" she asked with exasperation.
"He attacked the prison," Glenn said sharply. "He tried to kill Michonne, and he would have killed us," he added, gesturing between himself and Maggie.
"With his finger on the trigger!" Andrea countered, pointing at Merle, who had been lingering on the stairway that led up to the exit and watching everything play out in uncharacteristic silence. "Isn't he the one who kidnapped you?" she pointed out. "Isn't he the one who beat you?"
When nobody had a response to those questions, Andrea took a moment to rub her face and collect herself. "Look," she said in a much calmer tone. "I cannot excuse or explain what Philip has done. But I'm here to try to bring us all together. We have to work this out," she insisted.
"There's nothin' to work out," Rick said, taking a few steps closer to Andrea. "He hurt our people. He tried 'ta destroy our home." Rick's jaw tightened with determination. "We're gonna kill him," he said bluntly. "I don't know how or when…but we will."
Jenna pressed her lips together at those words. She wasn't naïve. She knew this situation with Woodbury was like a mound of dynamite about to explode, and the possibility of a war breaking out was looking more and more like a reality. But to hear Rick say what his intentions for the Governor were with so much finality, as if he would have happily killed the man right then and there if he could have, sent a shiver down her spine. It made all of this feel that much more real.
Andrea shook her head vehemently. "We can settle this, Rick," she said. Then she looked to the rest of the group. "There's room at Woodbury for all of you!"
Jenna shared an incredulous look with those closest to her. Was Andrea serious? She actually thought that they would be willing to live in the same place as the psychopath who had ordered their people to be tortured, attacked, and murdered? In what world could that possibly work out?
Merle was the one to chuckle disbelievingly and voice their doubts aloud. "You know better'n that," he drawled, giving Andrea a look. "It would never work out."
Andrea went quiet at those words, her eyes trained on Merle in a hard stare.
For a long few moments nobody said anything. Eventually, though, Hershel sighed and spoke up. "What makes ya think he wants to negotiate?" he asked calmly. "Did he say that he did?"
Andrea hesitated to answer, before heaving and crossing her arms over her chest. "No," she admitted.
"Then why did you come here?" Rick demanded.
Andrea turned her gaze to him. "Because Philip's gearing up for war," she revealed. "The people in Woodbury are terrified. They see all of you as killers. Philip's using that fear to his advantage. He's made them believe that you all have to be taken down. He's training them to attack, Rick," she said.
Daryl chose that moment to speak up. "Yeah? Well, I'll tell ya what," he said. "Next time ya see Philip, tell him I'm gonna take his other eye," he threatened, his expression dead serious.
Jenna quirked a brow at her boyfriend, who turned his gaze to her and met her stare with an unapologetic one of his own, as if silently daring her to say something about his threat. Jenna almost did, but decided that maybe it wasn't the right time to do so.
"We've taken too much shit for too long," Glenn said, drawing Jenna's attention away from Daryl. "If he wants a war, he's got one," he finished with a firm nod.
Andrea looked at Glenn for a long moment, then shifted her eyes back to Rick. She took a few steps closer, which made Rick lift his chin a little higher. "Rick, if you don't sit down with him and try to work this out…I don't know what's gonna happen," she said, shaking her head. "He has a whole town." Andrea turned to face the rest of the group, frowning deeply. "Look at you. You've lost so much already. You can't stand alone anymore."
"We're not alone," T-Dog rebutted. "We've got each other. The only people I need watchin' my back are the people standin' right here beside me," he said, nodding firmly.
A few others voiced their agreements, nodding adamantly. Andrea just sighed and shook her head. "It won't be enough, T. You won't win!"
"You really wanna help us, Andrea?" Rick asked, stepping around the woman so that they were face to face again. "You wanna make this right? Then get us inside," he said. "Get us behind Woodbury defenses so we can take him down."
"No," Andrea denied at once. "I can't do that."
Rick scoffed. "Then we've got nothin' to discuss," he said, before brushing past her and heading back into the block.
"There are innocent people!" Andrea called after him.
Rick ignored her and continued on, opening the door the block with a loud creak before slamming it shut behind him again, signaling that their conversation was over. Andrea heaved with resignation, her eyes turning to the ground as she shook her head. Everyone else glanced around at one another, unsure what to do or say now that Rick was gone.
"Well, this didn't exactly go how I hoped it would," Andrea said, laughing bitterly to herself.
"How did you think this was gonna go?" Maggie asked with a quirked brow.
"I thought you guys would at least listen to me," Andrea said, throwing a hand up with frustration. "But clearly you don't trust me anymore.'
"It's not that we don't trust you," Carol quickly said. "But after everything that's happened, surely you understand why we'd be a little….cautious."
"I didn't have anything to do with any of that," Andrea insisted. "I never would have done anything to hurt any of you," she said. But then she looked at Merle, and a dark look passed over her features. "Most of you, anyway," she added, giving him a dirty a look.
Merle answer was to chuckle and salute her with his knife attachment.
"We know that you wouldn't hurt us, Andrea," Hershel said, which made Andrea's expression soften a little. "But the fact of the matter is that this situation with the Governor has gone from bad to explosive. Now we have 'ta do what's best for us."
"And living in Woodbury isn't the answer," Jenna contributed, shaking her head firmly. "I'd never feel safe there. Not after what he's done to us. I'd always feel like there was a target on my back."
Several people voiced their agreement, which made Andrea frown. "So that's it then? You won't even think about it?"
"Ain't nothin' 'ta think about," Daryl grunted out. "We ain't goin'."
Andrea sighed as she looked at Daryl, before she slowly looked around the room, her eyes jumping from face to face. When everyone looked back at her with the same, unwavering resolve with which Daryl had spoken, she shook her head with defeat. "You won't beat him in a fight," she said. "You're outnumbered and outgunned."
"Maybe you shouldn't underestimate us," Glenn suggested icily.
Glenn seemed to have heard enough after that, because he gave Andrea one last look before heading back into the block, just as Rick had done. Maggie soon followed, as did T-Dog, Beth, and Carl. Andrea watched them all go, her expression looking more helpless and more hurt with every person who walked away.
Jenna couldn't help but feel kind of bad for the woman. Andrea had gone out of her way to come and talk to them, to try to help them, and she had more or less been treated as though she was just as guilty as the Governor. Under normal circumstances, Jenna didn't think the group would have received her so coldly. But these weren't normal circumstances, and unfortunately Andrea had gotten caught in the crossfire.
Andrea suddenly looked at her, and when their eyes met, Jenna offered a small, apologetic smile for the way things had gone. Andrea just sighed in response, before her gaze turned over to Michonne. The blonde straightened up as she eyed her former companion, her expression difficult to read, before she went marching toward Michonne.
"Can we talk outside?" Andrea asked, though it sounded more like a demand than anything else.
Michonne didn't move for a moment, but then she nodded once and started for the door. Jenna watched as Andrea followed her, noticing the fact that both women shot dirty looks at Merle as they went past him, before they disappeared outside.
"Well, glad that wasn't ass awkward or anything," Merle commented once they were gone. "How much y'all wanna bet them two were lovin' each other up while they were out in them woods all winter?" he then asked, jerking his thumb in the direction Andrea and Michonne had gone.
Those remaining in the common area gave Merle dry looks, before everyone else turned to start heading back into the block as well. Even Daryl rolled his eyes at his brother, before ushering Jenna in the direction of the cell block with a hand on her back. Merle just watched them go, holding out his arms questioningly.
"What?" Merle called after them in an unconvincingly innocent tone. "What'd I say?"
Nobody bothered to answer him.
It was quiet in the block while the group tried to find ways to keep themselves occupied. None of them knew how long Andrea planned to stay or whether or not she still had more to say on the subject of the Governor, so there wasn't much do but wait around to see what would happen once she and Michonne were finished hashing things out.
Jenna sat with Sam on the stairs that led up to the second level, watching as Chloe, Carl, and Beth whispered to each other outside the cell Beth normally shared with her father. Sam took a long drink from a water bottle, before giving Jenna a questioning look.
"So what's the story with the blonde?" he asked.
Jenna glanced over at her brother. "She was with the group before I even joined up with them. She was going through a rough time when I came along, but she seemed to be getting better by the time I went off on my own," Jenna explained. "From what I understand, Andrea got separated from the others the night Hershel's farm got overrun. Everyone thought she was dead until Rick and them saw her in Woodbury when they were rescuing Glenn and Maggie."
Sam made a sound of understanding. "You think she's trustworthy?" he asked, lifting a brow.
Though she had had her doubts about Andrea, after hearing what the woman had to say Jenna believed that she had good intentions. "I do. And I think Andrea really does wanna help," she said with a nod. But then Jenna frowned as she thought back to Andrea's pleas for them to try to negotiate with the Governor. "But she still doesn't see the Governor for what he really is. She's still on his side. And that's a problem."
Sam lifted a brow at her. "The guy tried to kill her friends and attacked the prison. If that isn't enough to make Andrea realize she's been shacking up with a psychopath, what will?"
Jenna frowned deeply at the question. If what the Governor had done already wasn't enough to make Andrea wake up, then it would take something even worse to make her open her eyes. And Jenna didn't really want to think about how much worse things could get, especially so when things were bad enough already.
"I don't know, Sam," she said, shaking her head. "I don't wanna know."
Sam just gave her a look that said he didn't really want to know, either.
Their conversation lulled and they both looked elsewhere, each of them lost in their own thoughts as they mulled the situation over. Jenna watched absentmindedly as Carol came walking out of Rick's cell with a freshly changed Judith in her arms. The older woman gently rocked the bundled up infant and patted her back, whispering words to her that Jenna couldn't hear from where she sat.
Normally the sight of Judith would have brought a smile to Jenna's face, because just the mere presence of the adorable, innocent little girl was enough to make her feel lighter and happier. But in that moment, with thoughts of war hanging over them like a dark, angry storm cloud, Jenna felt a jolt of fear in her belly. Judith was so fragile and helpless. The Governor had already proven that he didn't give two shits about anyone in the prison – why would he care that he was putting a baby's life in danger by continuing his vendetta against them?
The cold, hard truth was that he didn't care. Mercy was a word that she doubted was in the Governor's vocabulary.
"Do you think we can do it?" Jenna asked quietly, looking from Judith to her brother. "If it does come down to a war…do you think we can beat the Governor?"
Sam met her gaze, his expression serious. "We have to beat him," he said bluntly. "Because if we don't…"
Sam trailed off and shook his head, and though he didn't finish his statement, he didn't need to. Jenna knew what would happen if they couldn't find a way to beat the Governor. They would lose everything, their lives included.
It was a thought that made her stomach turn.
"We'll find a way," Jenna said with a nod, though she wasn't sure if she was trying to convince Sam, or convince herself.
Sam nodded slowly. "We will," he agreed.
Daryl, who had gone off to talk to Rick after they'd returned to the block, reappeared in the next moment. He started toward the common area, but when he spotted her and Sam sitting on the steps, he changed directions and came over to join them instead.
"Andrea still out there with Michonne?" he asked, nodding in the general direction that the women in question had gone.
Jenna nodded in confirmation. "They'll probably be out there for a while. I'm sure they've got a lot to talk about." Daryl grunted his agreement. "Did Rick say anything else about Andrea's proposal?" she asked curiously.
Daryl shrugged a shoulder. "He thinks she was spoutin' off a bunch'a bullshit," he said bluntly. "Doesn't think peace is possible. He's hellbent on takin' the Governor down."
Jenna wasn't at all surprised to hear that. "Figured as much," she said with a sigh.
Daryl glanced toward the common area, where they could now hear Merle whistling some odd tune to himself, then looked back at her. "Once Andrea splits, we're goin' on that run to look for weapons an' ammo," he said. "If the Governor's gearin' up, we gotta do the same."
In the momentary chaos of Andrea's surprise visit, Jenna had forgotten about the run that Daryl, Rick, and Merle had been planning to go on. She frowned a little, still not overly fond of the idea of Daryl being out in the open with the Governor on the loose. But she reminded herself that he was a capable man, and if he had to leave, then at least he was going with Rick and Merle, who were both more than qualified to watch Daryl's back.
"Okay," she said with a sigh. "Y'all aren't going anywhere near Woodbury, right?"
Daryl shook his head. "Nah. Goin' a couple miles east. Governor an' his men shouldn't even know we're out there."
Jenna nodded, mollified by the answer. "Good."
Daryl shifted his attention over to Sam, who had been listening on in silence. "There's room in the Tucson for you, if you're interested," he offered.
Sam pursed his lips, glanced toward the common area, then turned a look on Daryl. "Your brother still goin'?" he asked. Daryl nodded in confirmation. "I'll have to sit this one out, then," Sam refused.
His answer didn't come as a surprise, seeing as he had already refused Rick's offer the first time around due to his determination to stay as far away from Merle as possible. "Alright then," Daryl said, looking as though he knew it would be pointless to try to talk Sam into going. "I should start gettin' ready. Rick wants to get this done soon as we can."
Jenna nodded in understanding, then watched as Daryl headed to the supply cell to start putting together a bag for the run. Once he was gone, Jenna turned her eyes back over to Sam, who was looking toward the common area again. Merle was visible now, sitting at one of the tables as he checked over the gun that he had been equipped with when the group had rushed into the courtyard to meet Andrea. Sam's eyes narrowed and his jaw worked as he glared at the man from afar.
Jenna sighed quietly. Her brother's hatred for Merle was completely justified, but he couldn't let that hatred affect his contribution to the group on a day to day basis. Especially so now, when it was crucial that everyone worked together to make sure they kept this Governor situation under control.
"You can't avoid him forever, Sam. You're gonna have to work with him eventually," she told him gently.
Sam looked over at her. "I know. But I don't have to do it today," he said firmly.
Jenna didn't have anything to say to that, so she didn't say anything at all.
She left her perch on the stairs a few moments later, patting her brother on the arm in parting as she went to help Daryl get ready for the run. Together they packed two bags – one with weapons and ammo, and one with enough food and water to last them for at least a day just in case something went awry and they got stuck somewhere. When they were finished, Jenna offered to take the bags to the Tucson, which had Daryl arguing that he could do it himself. She wasn't sure if he just didn't want her outside or if he was trying to be chivalrous, but after going back and forth about it, he finally gave in and let her take the bags.
While Daryl went to update Merle on whatever plan he'd cooked up with Rick, Jenna headed for the exit with the bags in tow. She had just reached the door to the courtyard when it was pulled open, revealing Michonne on the other side. They both stopped and looked at each other for a moment. Seeing as Michonne was a master at keeping her emotions hidden, it was hard to tell by the expression on her face whether her talk with Andrea had gone well, or if it had gone terribly. Judging by the slight hint of tension in the other woman's shoulders, Jenna would guess it was the latter of the two.
Michonne finally stepped aside and gestured for Jenna to pass through. Jenna nodded once, then, with the supply bags hanging from either shoulder, she stepped outside. She made her way down the steps and into the courtyard, where she immediately found herself searching for Andrea. It didn't take long to find the woman – she was standing just a little ways away from the stairs to C-Block, and even though she had her back turned to Jenna, the fact that her face was in her hands indicated that she was upset. Jenna made her way over slowly, unable to help feeling a little sympathetic.
"Hey," she said to catch Andrea's attention.
Andrea whipped around, looking surprised at first, but then relaxed upon realizing it was only Jenna. She forced on a smile, but it looked halfhearted. "Hey, Jenna," she greeted. Andrea then noticed the bags on Jenna's shoulders, which made her furrow her brows curiously. "Going somewhere?"
Jenna shrugged. "Weapons run," she said simply. "If a war is coming, we need to be ready."
Andrea didn't say anything to that at first. For a moment, Jenna thought she might continue her speech from earlier and start listing off all the reasons why the group shouldn't try to fight back. Thankfully, however, she didn't. Instead, she just took a few steps closer and held out a hand in offering.
"Want some help carrying those?" she asked helpfully.
"Sure," Jenna accepted. "Thanks."
She handed one of the bags to Andrea, then they started off toward the Tucson. Along the way, they noticed T-Dog and Glenn, who had stationed themselves at the watch post to keep an eye on their surroundings. T-Dog nodded to them in acknowledgement, but Glenn did nothing. He just watched them go with a stony expression on his face.
"Glenn's different from how I remember him," Andrea commented with a frown.
Andrea certainly wasn't wrong. For a long time, Glenn had basically been the comic relief of the group. Ever the eternal optimist, he had often been the one to keep the morale of the group high and keep them laughing, even if it was just by doing something completely and utterly ridiculous. But life on the road had been hard, and that had taken a toll on him, just as it had taken a toll on all of them. Between that and everything that had happened over the past few days, Glenn was a far cry from the happy-go-lucky man he once had been.
"He's been through a lot," Jenna said. "We all have."
Andrea nodded somberly. "I know."
They reached the Tucson, where Jenna opened the trunk so they could stow the bags inside. Once the bags were settled, Andrea placed her hands on her hips and gave her a curious look.
"So how long have you been back?" she asked with interest. "And how did you even find the group?"
Jenna leaned against the Tucson. "A while now. Joined back up with them a little bit before Christmas," she answered. "And it was by pure damn luck I was able to find them. I was making my way back to the farm when I ran into Glenn and Maggie on the road. I was just…in the right place at the right time," she explained. "They told me what had happened to the farm, then took me back to where the group was holed up. That was that."
Andrea nodded in understanding. But then she frowned and gave Jenna a disapproving look. "You know, I was kinda pissed at you for leaving the way that you did," she confessed, lifting a brow.
Jenna sighed, unsurprised to hear it. "Yeah, you weren't the only one," she said, still able to clearly recall how angry some of her friends had been at her for leaving, and how long it had taken them to forgive her.
Andrea huffed. "Oh, I know. I was there to see the fallout when Rick told us what had happened," she said bluntly, which made Jenna look at her shoes in a moment of guilt. "Why did you leave, Jenna?" Andrea finally asked.
Jenna raised her gaze back to Andrea's. "Things were just…really complicated," she said with a sigh. "Sophia had just died, I was desperate to find Sam." Jenna shook her head. "Back then I was so afraid to let people in…but even though I tried to fight it, I still ended up caring about the group way more than I had intended to. And that scared the shit out of me. So I took the coward's way out and ran," she said with a shrug.
Andrea took a moment to process what she had said, then shook her head. "Deep down, I think I knew you were gonna leave," she admitted. "The day you left, when you and Rick said you were going to check the fences and you wouldn't let me come with you…it just felt like something was off." Andrea paused, then gave Jenna an accusing look. "You should've said something to us. It was wrong of you to leave the way that you did."
Jenna nodded. "I know. And I'm sorry. I really am," she said sincerely. "If I could go back and do things different, I would."
Andrea's expression eased at those words. Their conversation lulled for a few moments, and as Jenna thought about the farm and the things that had led to her leaving, the face that always made her blood run cold came rushing to the forefront of her mind again. Shane's face. As long as she was telling the truth, she decided she might as well tell the whole truth.
"Andrea…there was another reason why I left," Jenna said.
Andrea seemed uncertain. "And what was that?"
Jenna pressed her lips together, then decided to just come out with it. "Shane," she said. "He tried to kill me."
Andrea looked completely taken aback. For a moment she couldn't speak, just stared at Jenna with wide eyes and a slack jaw. Finally, she shook her head. "What? When?" she asked incredulously.
"During that supply run we all went on the day before I left. When Shane and I were alone in the hardware store," Jenna revealed.
Andrea blinked, then cursed under her breath. "I knew it," she said. "When you two came back to the car, I just knew something had happened." Jenna could indeed remember Andrea approaching her about Shane when they had gotten back to the farm and asking if something had happened, only Jenna had lied to her at the time because she had not yet had a chance to talk to Rick about it. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I told Rick, and I told Daryl," Jenna said. "But by that point I already knew I was gonna leave. There wasn't a chance in hell I was gonna stay after what he had done," she said with a firm shake of her head. "I guess I figured since I was leaving anyway, there wasn't a point in telling anyone else."
Andrea shook her head again, her expression stuck somewhere between confused and appalled. "I just don't get it. Why would he try to kill you?" she asked.
"He lied about what happened to Hershel's friend. Otis didn't die by accident when they went to get those medical supplies for Carl – Shane sacrificed him. Dale and I figured it out. Shane didn't even deny it when I confronted him," Jenna said with a shake of her head. "I could see that he was turning on Rick, too. I could see that he was losing it. In the end…I just knew too much. Shane saw me as a liability, and he wanted me gone," she concluded bitterly.
Andrea still looked like she was having a hard time wrapping her head around everything. "I just…I can't believe this," she said. "I knew Shane was intense, but…a killer?"
Jenna gave the woman a look. "I wasn't the only one he went after, either," she said. "He went after Rick, too."
Andrea looked shocked all over again. "But he loved Rick."
"Yeah…but he loved Lori more," Jenna countered. "He wanted what Rick had, and he was gonna get it, one way or another. The night the farm fell, he made up that story about that Randall kid escaping. It was all a ruse to get Rick alone, so he could try to take him out," she explained, relaying the story that she had been told after she had come back to the group. "Rick didn't have any choice but to kill Shane."
Andrea gaped at her for a moment, then finally released a shaky exhale and sat down heavily on the back bumper of the Tucson. She stared at the ground for a few moments as she processed everything Jenna had said, then slowly shook her head. "You leaving makes a lot of sense now," she admitted quietly. When Andrea finally looked up at her again, there was remorse in her eyes. "I'm sorry, Jenna," she said sincerely. "I'm so sorry for what Shane did to you. For what Shane did to everyone."
Jenna sighed as she sat down on the bumper next to Andrea. "You have nothing to apologize for."
"But Shane and I," Andrea started. "We were – " She cut herself off, shaking her head instead of finishing whatever she had been about to say. "I could have stopped him," she said firmly. "I could have helped."
"Shane wasn't your responsibility," Jenna reminded her. "It's not your fault that he ended being a dirt bag."
"Still," Andrea persisted. "I wish I could have done something."
Jenna just shrugged. "Well, there's no use beating yourself up over it now. Shane got what he deserved and we've all moved on. It's over and done with now. Besides…I think we've got more important things to be worrying about right now," she added with a frown.
Andrea went very quiet at those words, her expression becoming a little guarded. "I honestly didn't know what Philip was doing," she insisted with a shake of her head. "He told me that you guys were attacking unprovoked. He made it sound like you guys were the problem, not him."
"He was lying," Jenna said bluntly. "You know us, Andrea. We aren't the type to kill for sport. Hell, we didn't even know about Woodbury until Michonne showed up here to tell us that Merle had kidnapped Glenn and Maggie."
At the mention of Merle, Andrea's face darkened considerably. "Merle," she spat, her voice full of loathing. "I still can't believe he's here," she said disbelievingly. "How can you guys be around him after what he's done? How is anyone fine with that? In what world does that make sense?" she asked, sounding more incredulous with each question she posed.
"Trust me. Most of us aren't fine with it," Jenna told her. "But he promised to help us take down the Governor, so for now, we're just…dealing with it."
Andrea looked at her with skepticism. "And you think Merle is the guy you should be listening to?"
Jenna sighed heavily. "He may be an asshole, but he knows the Governor a hell of a lot better than any of us do," she said. "What choice do we really have?" she asked with resignation.
Before anything else could be said on the matter, Daryl suddenly came walking into view, his crossbow hanging from his shoulder and his brows furrowed with mild concern. It seemed that she had been outside for too long and he had decided to come looking for her – when he spotted her sitting with Andrea, he visibly relaxed and the crease of concern between his brows disappeared. Daryl did not come over to join them, though, just took a few steps closer and gave Jenna a questioning look.
"Everything okay?" he asked.
Jenna nodded. "Yep. Perfectly fine."
Daryl nodded, glanced at Andrea, then turned untrusting eyes toward the landscape beyond the prison, as if he expected the Governor to pop out from behind a bush at any given moment. When he seemed to see nothing to cause alarm, he turned his attention back to her and gave her a pointed look.
"Don't stay out here too much longer," he advised. "It ain't safe."
"I'll be inside soon. Promise," she said to appease him.
Daryl seemed like he might stay to keep an eye on things, but after Jenna gave him a look that said to go back inside, he nodded and turned to head back into the block. Jenna and Andrea both watched him go, until Andrea turned a look on Jenna. Feeling the woman's eyes on her, Jenna looked back at her with raised brows.
"The last time I saw you two together, you couldn't go five minutes without bitching at each other," Andrea reminded. She looked in the direction Daryl had gone again, before turning a knowing look on Jenna. "I take it you two don't hate each other anymore?"
Jenna shook her head. "Nope." Then she smiled and gave Andrea a meaningful look. "The exact opposite, in fact."
Andrea raised her brows, then smiled and even laughed a bit as she figured out what Jenna was hinting at. "Honestly, I'm not even surprised," she admitted. "I could see that one coming from a mile away."
Jenna quirked a brow. "That so?"
Andrea scoffed. "Are you kidding? The sexual tension between you two was so thick, I thought it would suffocate us all," she said. "Everyone knew you two liked each other…everyone except you and Daryl, anyway," she added with a slight roll of her eyes. "T-Dog and I even had a bet going about when you two would finally get together."
Well, that was certainly news to her. "And what, exactly, were the details of this bet?" she asked curiously.
"T thought you guys would be together by Thanksgiving. I thought it would take much longer," Andrea fessed up. "Winner would get a stash of candy bars delivered to them at the earliest convenience."
Jenna couldn't help it – she laughed. After a second, Andrea joined in, chuckling along with her. "Well, be sure to remind T that you won so you can get those candy bars," Jenna suggested, still grinning.
Andrea smirked with amusement. "Will do."
Another silence passed between them, only it was much lighter and much more comfortable this time around. Jenna sat there smiling to herself, forgetting for one small moment in time about the Governor and Woodbury and all of the many problems she and her friends had been dealing with. In that moment, she was just catching up with an old friend that she hadn't seen in a very long time. It felt normal, and it felt good.
Jenna looked over at Andrea, still smiling. "It's good to see you, Andrea," she said sincerely.
Andrea seemed happy to hear her say that at first, but soon sighed and let her smile fall into a frown. "You're the only one who seems to feel that way," she said. "Well…you and Carol, at least," she corrected.
Just like that, the good mood was gone. Jenna echoed the woman's sigh and looked at her with sympathy, one shoulder shrugging helplessly. "I'm sure the others are happy to see you, too," she said. Andrea scoffed, looking unconvinced. "Nobody blames you for what's happened. You had nothing to do with it. But it's been a really shitty couple of days. Everyone's stressed and paranoid." Jenna gave her a wry smile. "Hard to be warm and welcoming when we're constantly waiting for the bottom to drop out on us again."
Andrea gave her a serious look. "The bottom doesn't have to drop out on you again," she said. "If Rick sat down with Philip, if they just talked, I think they could work something out," Andrea insisted. "This doesn't have to end in a fight."
Jenna sighed heavily and crossed her arms over her chest, unsurprised that Andrea had resumed her previous pleas for peace. "And what makes you so sure the Governor even wants to work things out?" she asked with doubt.
"I know he wants to protect the people of his town. I know he doesn't want to lose what he's built," Andrea said. "He's only getting ready for war because he expects retaliation. But if him and Rick came to an agreement, if they came up with some kind of peace treaty…we could avoid all of this," she said with an adamant nod. "No more fighting. No bloodshed. No more deaths. We can all move on with our lives."
Jenna wouldn't deny it – the prospect of peace, the thought that she wouldn't have to watch the people she loved die or that they wouldn't have to get anymore blood on their hands, was definitely appealing. But that would only be obtainable if both parties were interested in negotiating, and thus far, neither man was keen on the idea. The Governor hadn't even been the one to propose the idea of a parlay – Andrea had. And when Rick had heard the proposal, he had flat out refused it.
"Rick seems like he's made up his mind already," Jenna told her. "And when he sets his mind to something, there's not much anyone can do to change that."
Andrea would not be deterred. "If something doesn't change, a lot of people are going to get hurt…or worse. I don't want that, Jenna. Do you?" she asked pointedly.
"Of course I don't," Jenna answered immediately.
"Then we need to do something," Andrea said determinedly.
Jenna looked at the blonde with furrowed brows. "Like what?"
Andrea titled her head and gave her an appraising look. "How much pull do you have with Rick?" she asked.
The answer, unfortunately, was that she seemed to have a lot of pull with Rick. When it came down to who he listened to the most, who he trusted to run things in his place the most, that person more often than not seemed to be her. Jenna sighed with resignation, already knowing where this was about to go. "He listens to me," she confirmed with a nod.
Andrea perked up at that. "If I can get Philip to agree to a meeting, do you think you could convince Rick to talk to him?"
Jenna shrugged unsurely. "I don't know," she said with doubt. "It wouldn't be an easy sell."
"Can you just try?" Andrea asked, practically pleading at this point. "If this works and we can get them to agree to just leave each other alone, we can save a lot of lives," she said with an adamant nod. "It's probably not gonna be easy, but we owe it to the people we care about to try, don't we?"
Jenna had to take a very long moment to think it over.
What Andrea was proposing sounded like a pipe dream. She also didn't think Andrea was right when she said the Governor was only preparing for war out of fear of retaliation. The way Jenna understood it, the Governor was a bloodthirsty monster that was determined to take them out just because he wanted to. And as for Rick, well…he was hell-bent on killing the Governor, and with good reason – the Governor certainly deserved to be taken out for what he had done to the group. Rick was out for blood, and as much as he respected her opinion, Jenna seriously doubted that anything she might have to say would change his mind.
But was war really the best choice? Jenna knew how capable the group was, knew how strong they were and how well they worked together. But even she had to admit that things didn't look very promising for them at the moment. Yes, they had strength and motivation on their side, and yes, they had Merle around to give them inside knowledge. But they didn't have as many people as the Governor did, nor as many weapons. As much as she believed in her friends, realistically, how good were their chances of winning if they did go to war?
At the moment, they seemed too slim for comfort.
Jenna sighed and looked at Andrea again, who looked cautiously optimistic. If the two of them did somehow manage to pull this whole peace treaty off, everyone would walk away from this clean. No one else would have to die. They wouldn't have to constantly be looking over their shoulders anymore. It might not be easy to get either man to see things from a different perspective, but if there was a chance that she and Andrea could make this all go away, then they had to go for it, didn't they?
The answer, Jenna finally decided, was yes.
"Okay. I'll talk to Rick," she finally agreed. When Andrea smiled with relief, Jenna pointed a finger at her. "But don't get your hopes up. I can't guarantee anything."
"Okay," Andrea said with a nod of understanding. She then reached over to squeeze Jenna's arm. "Thank you, Jenna."
Jenna smiled a bit and nodded. "You're welcome."
Andrea patted her arm, then glanced toward the prison. "I should probably be heading back to Woodbury soon. Philip will start to wonder where I am," she said with a sigh. "But before I do, I'd like to meet the baby," she added with a hopeful smile. "I'd like to meet your brother, too."
"Sure," Jenna agreed, before nodding her head toward the block. "Come on in. I'll make sure you get past the guards," she said with a smile.
Andrea nodded gratefully, then, together, they went back inside.
The rest of the group wasn't quite as hostile when Jenna returned to the block with Andrea in tow. Michonne kept her distance, but Hershel and Beth at least made the effort to share some friendlier words with their former companion, which seemed to make Andrea happy. Even Chloe came over to introduce herself and make small talk with the woman, and slowly but surely, Andrea began to relax.
Nobody tried to stop them when Jenna took Andrea into the cell block so she could formally meet Judith. While Andrea hung out on the second level with Carol and cradled Judith in her arms, Jenna leaned against the wall near the door, watching from afar as Andrea bounced Judith in her arms and cooed sweet words to her. She was thinking about the talk they'd just had and already trying to plan how she was going to approach Rick. It seemed all too likely that he would be angry at her for trying to talk him into meeting the man that had caused them so much grief, and though she wasn't looking forward to a potential argument, she had given Andrea her word that she would try to get through to him. Whatever his response was, she would just have to deal with it.
Jenna was pulled from her thoughts when Sam came to join her. He glanced up at Andrea, then raised his brows at her questioningly. "You look like you have something on your mind," he commented.
Jenna glanced at him from the corner of her eye. "Probably because I do."
Sam tilted his head curiously. "Care to fill me in?" he asked.
Jenna glanced around, noticed how many people were standing within hearing range, then decided it wasn't the right time. She didn't want word spreading that she was going to try to convince Rick to negotiate with the Governor before she'd even had a chance to talk to the man himself.
"I'll tell you later," Jenna said, giving her brother a look that said not to ask anymore questions.
Sam seemed to understand what she was saying, because he did not press the issue.
It was about another ten minutes before Andrea finally handed Judith back over to Carol and came walking back downstairs. Her expression seemed a little pensive at first, and though she were thinking very hard about something. When she saw Jenna and Sam standing there, however, she put on a small smile and came over to join them.
"You must be the famous Sam Matthews," Andrea greeted upon arrival.
Sam shrugged a humble shoulder. "I wouldn't say famous."
"After how much Jenna talked about you on the farm, you were pretty well known to us," Andrea countered. She smiled wider and extended a hand. "I'm Andrea. It's nice to finally meet you."
Sam nodded and shook her hand. "Likewise."
"Where did you find him?" Andrea asked curiously, looking to Jenna.
"Actually, he found me," Jenna said with a smirk. "Showed up here at the prison just a few days ago."
Andrea nodded in understanding, then gave Sam a questioning look. "What happened to Fort Benning?"
Sam frowned at the mention of his former base. "Got overrun by roamers pretty early on. I escaped with about a dozen other people, but…a lot of people didn't make it out of there," he explained.
Andrea gave him a look of sympathy. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"Thanks," Sam said with a small nod.
"At least you're here now," Andrea said with a bit more optimism. "At least you and Jenna are back together."
Sam nodded and flashed Jenna a brief smile. "You can say that again. I got damn lucky I even found her," he said. "I was running from a herd with my last group when we stumbled across the prison. We came in to hide, but got chased by all the roamers that had been locked away in here. Jen and her crew found us and got us to safety." Sam shook his head. "Thought I as hallucinating when I saw her after all this time."
"You weren't the only one," Jenna added with a huff.
Andrea smiled as she glanced back and forth between the two of them. "Well, I'm glad you two found each other. And I'm glad you and your friends are finally safe."
Sam's expression immediately fell at those words, the look in his eyes going a little flat. "Not sure how safe any of us really are right now," he pointed out, which made Andrea press her lips together awkwardly. "We're on the verge of war while my friends are out there facing the roamers again," he said with a frown. "Not exactly ideal."
Andrea's brows furrowed. "Your friends aren't here anymore?"
Jenna shared a look with her brother, and she could only assume that they were both thinking about the day that Rick had kicked his group out. "Things got a bit…weird. I tried to get them to stay but…they ended up going their own way," Sam explained.
Andrea nodded, then suddenly got this look on her face, as if she had just remembered something. "Out of curiosity, how many were there?" she asked.
Sam shared another look with Jenna, though this time it was one of uncertainty. "Four," he answered. "Two men, a woman, and a teenage boy. Why?"
Andrea looked surprised at first, then shook her head in bemusement. "I'll be damned," she said, which made both Jenna and Sam give her questioning looks. "I saw them," Andrea revealed, which made them both perk up. "When I was leaving to come here, I bumped into them."
"Were they okay?" Sam asked quickly. "Where were they going?"
"They were fine," Andrea nodded. "I had friend take them back to Woodbury," she said. "They're probably there now."
Any relief they might have felt at hearing Sam's friends were alright immediately disappeared at the mention of Woodbury. It was good that they were at least off the streets and away from the chompers, but them being with the Governor wasn't really much better. He was just as dangerous – if not more so – than the walkers, and to know that Sam's friends had now put themselves in the middle of an already precarious situation wasn't comforting.
"They'll be safe there," Andrea insisted when she saw the worry on their faces. "Philip won't do anything to them." When Sam didn't looked convinced, Andrea gave him a serious look. "I'll make sure your friends are alright," she said with a determined nod. "You have my word."
Sam looked at Jenna, his expression hinting that he was thinking very hard about something, before he gave Andrea a hopeful look. "I'd like to get into contact with them myself, if that's possible," he said.
"You better not be thinking about going to meet with them," Jenna interjected with a disapproving frown. "You're insane if you think I'm letting you go anywhere near Woodbury."
"I don't have to go anywhere," Sam said patiently. "I'm sure Woodbury has walkie-talkies, right?" he asked, which made Andrea nod in confirmation. "If we're in range, I can talk to them that way," he said with a nod.
"You could try, I suppose," Andrea said with a pensive expression.
Jenna, however, had some doubts about the whole thing. "I dunno, Sam. It seems a little risky. If the Governor finds out that they have connections to the prison, that could put them in danger."
"The Governor doesn't have to find out," Sam said. He turned a look on Andrea. "Can you keep this under wraps?" he asked of Andrea.
"You want me to lie to Philip?" she asked with raised eyebrows.
Sam shrugged a shoulder. "Not lie. Just…omit some information," he said. When Andrea still seemed skeptical, his expression turned to one of pleading. "Please, Andrea. They took me in when they didn't have to. They're my friends. I'm not trying to pull anything here. I just wanna make sure they're alright," he insisted. "Can you help me out?"
Andrea thought about it for a moment longer, glanced at Jenna, then finally sighed. "Alright," she agreed. "I'll get in touch with them when I get back and see what we can work out."
Sam relaxed with relief. "Thank you," he said gratefully. "Really. Thank you."
Andrea smiled a bit and nodded. "You're welcome. I can't make any guarantees," she made sure to add, as if to cover her bases. "But…I'll do my best," she assured him.
Sam just nodded gratefully, his eyes filled with hope at the prospect of talking to his friends again.
After that was settled, Andrea decided that it was time to start making her way back to Woodbury so that she could return before the sun went down. Everyone gathered outside to see Andrea off, and though Rick had been rude and unwelcoming to Andrea when she had first arrived, he seemed to have cooled off enough to realize that Andrea had not come with any bad intentions. His gruff demeanor from earlier was gone, and to the surprise of everyone – Andrea most of all – he had Glenn go and fetch one of the old patrol cars that had been left behind by the former prison guards so that Andrea could drive back to Woodbury, rather than walk back.
Once the car had been retrieved, Andrea let her eyes wander over the group, her gaze lingering on some longer than others. When her eyes met Jenna's, she gave her a look that clearly told her not to forget what they had talked about earlier. Jenna nodded in return, silently assuring her that she wouldn't. Andrea's eyes then turned to T-Dog, and she smiled at the man before lifting a brow.
"You owe me some candy bars," the woman reminded, nodding not-so-discreetly toward where Jenna and Daryl were standing.
Jenna smothered a smile, while everyone else instantly looked confused. T-Dog, on the other hand, immediately broke into a big grin. "I'll work on that," he said.
Andrea smirked at him and nodded her head. "Good."
The blonde finally fixed her bag of supplies over her shoulder and went to the car, her expression more serious now. Rick trailed behind her as she went, but everyone else stayed put. When Andrea was by the driver's side door, she turned a curious look on Rick.
"Can you spare it?" she asked unsurely.
Rick nodded once. "Yeah."
Andrea turned to look around at the group again, her eyes lingering on Michonne this time. She did not say anything to her former companion, though, merely gave a flicker of a smile as her eyes swept the group again. "Well…take care," she said.
Rick moved closer as she sat down in the driver's seat. "Andrea?" he said to catch her attention. When she looked at him, he gave her the gun and knife that he had taken from her when she had arrived. "Be careful," he said, sounding for the first time like he might actually be somewhat concerned for Andrea's safety.
"You, too," Andrea said in response.
And with that, she pulled the car forward, driving toward the gate that led into the field. Jenna and the others trailed after the car, watching in silence as Merle opened the gate for her to go through. Andrea pulled away, driving past the walkers in the field and then back out onto the main. And then she was gone.
It was back to business as usual after Andrea's departure.
Rick, Daryl, and Merle finally went on the weapons run, but, unfortunately, it proved fruitless. They returned just before sundown, empty handed and disappointed, but otherwise unscathed. Nobody left the block after that, and as night fell over the prison, they had dinner in the common area as usual. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the conversation revolved around Andrea and her visit.
After dinner, Sam joined Carl to keep watch while everyone but Merle returned to the block. A few lanterns were turned on for light as the group settled in to relax around the block, some sitting close to the light, others – like Michonne – choosing to sit off by themselves. Jenna stood with Daryl, T-Dog, and Hershel, leaning partly against the wall behind her, but also partly against Daryl. A few people were chatting quietly amongst themselves, but it was otherwise pretty quiet in the cell block.
"So…she told you about the bet?" T-Dog asked to break the silence, lifting a curious brow at Jenna.
Jenna smirked. "Yeah, she told me."
"What bet?" Daryl asked, giving them a questioning look.
"About when you and I would get together," Jenna said, which made Daryl snort. "T lost."
T-Dog crossed his arms and lifted his chin. "The only reason I lost was because you left the farm," he defended. If you had stayed, you two definitely would have been together by Thanksgiving," he insisted.
Jenna shared a look with Daryl, who shrugged. "If you say so, T," she said with a smirk.
They went quiet after that, each of them looking upward when Rick, who had been upstairs with Judith, came back down to join the group. He had just reached the bottom floor when, out of nowhere, Beth began to sing, drawing the attention of the room to her.
"They hung a sign up in our town, if you live it up, you won't live it down," she started. "So she left Monte Rio, son. Just like a bullet leaves a gun."
Jenna smiled at the girl's pretty voice, leaning further into Daryl as Beth sang. She always loved listening to Beth sing. Everyone had stopped what they were doing now to listen to her, and even Merle was drawn into the room by the sound of her voice – he stepped into the block but lingered by the door, his eyes trained on Beth as he leaned against the wall to listen a little better.
Rick, cradling Judith in his arms, came to stand on the other side of Hershel. At first nobody spoke, because they were all still listening to the song. But then Daryl finally looked at Rick and gave an upward nod of his head.
"Some reunion, huh?" he asked.
"She's in a jam," Rick said.
"We all are," Hershel said. "Andrea's persuasive, but…this fella's armed to the teeth. Bent on destruction. I don't know that she'll be able to talk him down."
Jenna frowned as she thought back to her conversation with Andrea earlier. "Andrea's determined to try to make peace between our groups," she said with a nod. "We shouldn't count her out yet."
"We can't count on her, either, though," Rick pointed out. "At the end of the day, she only has so much sway over the Governor."
There was a pause, then Daryl spoke again. "So what do we do?"
"We match it," Rick said with a nod. "I'll go on another run tomorrow, try lookin' for weapons again."
"I'll go with you," Daryl volunteered.
"No," Rick denied. "You stay here. Keep an eye on your brother an' make sure he doesn't cause any problems," he instructed, looking in Merle's direction. After Daryl nodded in agreement, Rick turned raised his brows at T. "You wanna come?"
T-Dog nodded. "I'm in," he said.
Rick nodded, looking pleased that he had agreed so quickly. "We'll take Michonne, too. And Carl," he said, which earned him four frowns in response.
"That a good idea?" Daryl asked doubtfully.
"Michonne needs to prove once and for all if she's with us," Rick said, casting a brief look toward the woman as she sat by herself in the corner. "And Carl's ready. He's been ready," he finally admitted.
"Alright, then," Daryl said, though he still looked a little skeptical.
With that decided, a brief silence fell over them. Rick looked down at Judith, who was making cute little noises as she rested in her father's arms, before he raised his gaze to Jenna.
"You got a minute to talk?" he asked.
Jenna raised her brows in surprise, but nodded. Rick motioned for her to follow him and then headed for his cell. After sharing a brief look with Daryl, Jenna trailed after Rick, unsure what he wanted to talk about, but also thinking that this might be the prime opportunity to try to start talking to him about the Governor. The sooner she got him considering peace negotiations, the better.
Once she and Rick were in his cell, she watched as the man eased Judith down into her little bed. After tucking her in and smoothing down the few hairs she had on top of her head, Rick turned back around to face her.
Jenna crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a questioning look. "What's up, Rick?"
Rick placed his hands on his hips. "There's somethin' I've been meanin' to talk to you about for a while now, somethin' important," he said. "With all this business with Woodbury hangin' over us, figure now's the time to finally do it."
Jenna's confusion grew. "What's going on?" she asked.
Rick took a step closer, his expression all business. "You know how much I respect you, Jenna," he started. "You've helped me in so many ways, whether it was by givin' advice or callin' me out on my bullshit, or just bein' there as a friend. You trusted me an' believed in me when a lot of people didn't. Your support means more than ya know, and I really can't thank you enough for all you've done. Not just for me, but for everyone else, too."
Jenna wasn't sure where this was going, but didn't get the chance to ask as Rick continued on. "When I took charge of the group, I thought I could do it all on my own. But I've come to realize that every leader needs a second-in-command. Someone they can turn to for advice, someone to keep them in check, someone to take over if need be." Rick paused and gave her a serious look. "I think that person should be you, Jenna."
Jenna's jaw dropped with shock. She had always had a good relationship with Rick – they almost always got along and had always worked well together. And while she knew that he trusted her enough to leave her in charge of the group and his family whenever he was gone, the fact that he actually wanted her to be his second-in-command was completely unexpected.
"What?" she asked in disbelief.
"You heard me," Rick said matter-of-factly. "I want you 'ta be my second-in-command."
"Because you're strong. You survived by yourself on the road for a month before we found you an' took on the road again when you went lookin' for Sam. You know what 'ta do to survive, an' you don't buckle under pressure," Rick listed off. "You can make the hard decisions, an' after what you had 'ta do in the wintertime when those men attacked you an' Chloe, well…" Rick nodded grimly. "You've proven that you'll do everything in your power 'ta make sure our people are protected." He gave her a resolute look. "There's no one better for the job, Jenna."
At first, Jenna stiffened at the mention of the men she had been forced to kill. But then she shook her head, still having a hard time grasping onto what Rick was proposing. "But…what about Hershel? Or Daryl? They're just as capable as me," she pointed out. "Hell, I'd say they're more capable."
Rick shrugged. "You're right. They are capable," he agreed. "But Daryl's also a hot-head, an' Hershel would be too…passive," he said. "I've given this a lot of thought, Jenna. If the day comes where I can't lead anymore, I want you to do it. I truly believe it's what would be best for everyone," Rick concluded with a firm nod.
Jenna blinked at him for a moment, then sighed heavily and ran a hand through her hair as she processed that information.
The thought of someday taking over for Rick was enough to make her stomach twist with nervousness. It was a huge responsibility to take on, and not one that she had ever really thought she would have to consider. If she looked at it from an outsider's perspective, she supposed his reasoning for wanting her to take over made sense…but she did not have nearly as much confidence in herself as Rick seemed to. Keeping an eye on things while he was gone was one thing, but taking over permanently? Jenna was suddenly, deathly afraid that she would not be up to the task.
"What are ya thinkin'?" Rick asked.
Jenna looked at him and raised her brows. "Honestly? All of this sounds scary as hell," she admitted. "It's a lot of responsibility to take on. A lot of responsibility I never thought I'd have to take on."
Rick gave her a look that verged on sympathetic. "I know how ya feel. But trust me on this, Jenna. You're the right one," he insisted. "Those people out there respect you. They listen to you. I know they would follow you." He gave her a little smile. "If the roles were reversed, I would follow you," Rick said with a nod.
Jenna shook her head in wonderment. "I knew you liked me. I didn't know you had this much confidence in me, though," she said with a small, self-deprecating laugh.
"I've thought you'd be a good leader for a very long time now, Jenna," he confessed, which only further proved how serious he was about all of this. Rick then raised his brows expectantly. "So whaddya say, Matthews? Can I count on you?"
Jenna pressed her lips together, the nervousness in her belly increasing. It was a big thing that Rick was asking of her, and certainly not something to be taken lightly. If she accepted, there would be no going back on her word. She had to make sure she was ready to make that kind of commitment first.
"Can I have a day to think about it?" Jenna finally asked.
Rick seemed a little disappointed that she hadn't outright accepted, but he still nodded in permission. "Of course."
Jenna flashed a small, grateful smile, relieved that he understood her need to think things through.
Rick started to turn away, as if he thought the conversation was over. With how shocked she still was over the things Rick had just brought to the table, even Jenna herself nearly forgot that she had intended to start talking to him about the Governor. She quickly remembered, though, and momentarily pushed any thoughts of leading the group to the back of her mind for the time being.
"Rick," she said, making him turn back to her. "There's something I wanted to talk to you about, too."
Rick's brows furrowed. "What?"
Jenna sucked in a breath, then decided to just be blunt. "The Governor," she said, which made him frown a little. "If there really is a chance to make peace with Woodbury, then I think we should take it."
Rick crossed his arms over his chest, looking unhappy in an instant. "Jenna, you know what he's done," he said pointedly. "You know what he's capable of."
"I do," Jenna agreed. "But I also know that he has a serious advantage over us. We're outnumbered, and there's no guarantee that we're gonna find even half the amount of weapons we'd need to stand a chance against him," she pointed out. "I hate him for what he's done. If we had more people and more weapons, I'd vote to go take that bastard out tonight," she said vehemently. Jenna paused, then shook her head. "But we have to think about what's best for us. We're the underdogs in this one, and we've got the kids to think about," she reminded, gesturing toward Judith. "Going to war isn't our best option."
Rick looked at Judith, then frowned at her again. "So we just roll over and surrender? We just…forget all he did an' give up?" he asked bitterly.
"That's not what I'm saying," Jenna said calmly. "This isn't about surrendering or giving up. This is about protecting our own and protecting what we've built here. This is about trying to settle this shit with Woodbury a different way. No more bloodshed, no more fighting. No more lives lost."
Rick thought about that for a second, then heaved and gave her a knowing look. "Andrea put you up to this?" he asked, though it came out more as a statement than a question.
There was no use denying it. "She made a convincing argument."
Rick nodded slowly, his eyes turning elsewhere for a moment, before he looked back to her with a raised eyebrows. "What's her plan then?"
"She's gonna talk to the Governor, try to convince him to stand down. If he agrees to negotiate, then we meet with him and try to iron out some terms we can all agree to," Jenna said with a nod. "If by some miracle it works out, we all walk away from this without losing any more people we care about or getting any more blood on our hands."
Rick quirked a brow. "And if it doesn't work out?"
Jenna pressed her lips together grimly. "Then we go to war," she said. "And at least we can do it knowing we did everything we could."
Rick made a sound of understanding, but he still didn't really look convinced. She could see the thirst for revenge still lingering in his gaze, could practically feel his hatred for the Governor in the air. "I don't know, Jenna," he finally said, voicing the doubt that was obvious in his expression.
"You trust me enough to want me to be your second-in-command?" she countered. "Then trust me when I say that this is something you need to consider as an option. You don't have to decide anything right now. Once we hear back from Andrea, once we know whether or not that bastard even wants to meet, then you can make your decision," she said with a nod. "In the meantime, just…think about it."
Rick stared at her for a very long moment, before he finally gave a single nod. "Alright."
Jenna smiled with relief. "Thank you."
Judith started to whimper after that, which made Rick turn to gently stroke the girl's head and making soothing shushing sounds. Sensing that their conversation was over, Jenna turned to leave Rick to his thoughts. Before she could make it out of the cell, Rick's voice stopped her.
"Jenna?" he said, which made her look back at him. "Everything you just said only further proves why you'd be the right one to lead," Rick stated, giving her a look. "Just in case you're still havin' doubts," he added meaningfully.
Jenna didn't know what to say to that, so she didn't say anything. She just silently nodded, held his gaze a moment longer, then left the cell.
She rejoined the group out in the block, and though a few people had retired to their cells while she had been talking to Rick, everyone else was still in the same place they had been when she had left. Jenna went back to where Daryl, Hershel, and T-Dog were standing and quietly rejoined them. The three men gave her questioning looks, clearly curious to know what she and Rick had been discussing in private, but Jenna ignored their silent questions.
She had fulfilled her promise to Andrea – she had spoken to Rick and gotten him to agree to consider sitting down with the Governor. It was up to him now whether or not a negotiation would happen. But while it should have been a relief to get that out of the way, Jenna's mind was far from settled. Because as her thoughts turned back to what Rick had proposed, she felt all of her nervousness and anxiety over the thought of being his second-in-command come rushing back.
Rick Grimes had an important choice to make, but he was not the only one. Jenna had an important decision of her own to make. And as her mind raced with indecision, she had a feeling she was going to be in very long, sleepless night.
Hope you liked it!