Hey guys! I'm sorry it took soooo long for me to update, I was battling some more of the dreaded writer's block, along with my busy schedule. On that note, now that fall soccer season is over, my schedule is clearing up. That means I'll be able to write more! Yay!

Thank you so much to those of you who favorited/followed/reviewed! You guys are awesome! It means so much to me to know that you guys are enjoying this story - I have a lot of fun writing it for you.

Also, this new season...it's too much. I spent my Sunday night crying like a little baby. ): I'm still upset about it.

Anyway, here's Chapter Seven!


Chapter Seven: Compete for the Greatest


Adrianne laid on the couch, her legs perched on the arm of the couch and her fingers laced together on her stomach. The lamp on the end table illuminated a yellow glow on the silence was broken up by the sound of several sets of footsteps sounding on the wood floor, approaching Adrianne's spot hurriedly.

"Adrianne, have you seen Lori?" someone asked her urgently.

Her eyes drifted down from the ceiling and fell on Andrea; Carl was on one side of her, Shane on the other, and the rest of the group gathered behind them. "Nope," Adrianne answered, looking back at the ceiling as she clicked her tongue.

"You better not be lyin'," Shane threatened. Adrianne glanced at Shane, who was shooting a blazing stare at her.

"I'm not her damn babysitter," Adrianne hissed, propping herself up on her elbow. "And stay out of this house," she added as she plopped back on the couch, lacing her fingers behind her head.

"Where—"

"Are you deaf?" Adrianne snapped, bolting up to a sitting position, "I said get out!"

"Adrianne!" Maggie's voice yelled harshly and Adrianne looked back at her, a little surprised from hearing her voice so suddenly.. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" Her face hardened and she whirled around, heading back into the kitchen. Adrianne turned back to the group and locked eyes with Shane.

"I wasn't kiddin'. Stay out of this house and away from me and my kids," Adrianne hissed as she swung her legs to the front of the couch, pushed herself up from the couch and made her way to the kitchen.

Maggie stood on the side of the kitchen island, her face twisted in frustration as she chewed her fingernails. "What's your problem?" She demanded, dropping her hand from her mouth and to her side.

"What's my problem?" Adrianne demanded, crossing her arms over her chest as she narrowed her eyes, "Maggie, do you know what they just did? They just-"

"Get the fuck over it!" Maggie shouted, in no attempt to keep her voice low. Adrianne flinched. "Will and Nick are lookin' for you. They need you and you're completely ignorin' them! You're pushin' them away, and you know what'll happen when you do that? They will die." Maggie waved her arms in frustration along with her words, her face was pink in boiling anger and her wide eyes glued on Adrianne. "They need you, Adrianne! They just lost their dad, they don't want to lose you, too! I am sick of actin' like their mother when you're off bein' a lazy ass and smokin' every cigarette you get your hands on!"

"I do not-" Adrianne began with a look of passive defensiveness.

"Yes you do," Maggie hissed, not allowing Adrianne to finish. "Who do they come to for help now?" she paused, but didn't give Adrianne a chance to answer, "me. Who do they come to when they're scared? Me. No offence, Adrianne, but you're a shit mother. Get your head out of your ass and go be their mom for a day." Adrianne didn't say anything. She stood there and swallowed hard, absorbing every stinging word that Maggie had just said as she hung her head. "Oh, and quit bein' a bitch to Rick's group. Go tell them the truth. Now," Maggie added, her tone just as rough and then stormed into the living room.

Adrianne lifted her gaze up blinking back tears that were slowly working their way onto her cheeks - she quickly wiped them away and took a deep breath, then made her way back into the living room.

Maggie wasn't the yelling type; it wasn't very often that Adrianne would hear her cuss someone out. Knowing this bothered Adrianne even more.. She knew that if Maggie ever did yell, it was because she was truly upset and she couldn't just hold it in any longer.

"She asked me for directions into town," she said quietly as she made her way up to the group, who had obviously listened to Maggie's rant since the looks on their faces were of sorrow and perplexity. Adrianne passively looked around the room, her gaze falling to the floor as she shoved her hands into her pockets. She didn't wait for a response - she turned to bolt up the stairs and strolled into the bathroom, locking the door behind her.

She pushed her palms against the edge of the vanity, sighing heavily and staring at herself in the mirror. "She's right," Adrianne whispered, lowering her face into palms. "I'm terrible to 'em. I gave up on both of them when Will gave up on me," she continued, rubbing her face profusely before stepping over to the bathtub and tearing off her clothes. She turned on the water so it was almost scalding hot, then stepped inside, sinking down into the tub and allowing the water to pour over her head. She didn't care how hot the water was, how it felt like it was burning off her flesh - she didn't want to feel anything. Maybe if she stayed in there long enough, all of her bad parenting would be washed off and would go down the drain. And if that wasn't enough, maybe the water would burn it off.

She brought her knees up to her chest and put her forehead on her knees, allowing the tears that were welling up to slide down her cheeks along with the water. They deserve better than me, Adrianne thought. Adam was a better parent than I ever was. And he knew that, her mind continued.

Those thoughts kept echoing through her mind, flashing back to when Adam was still drawing breath; she never realized how much more Adam was involved with Will and Nick than her. She was always caught up in work, constantly being called back in the middle of the night. Those sleepless nights when the apocalypse first began - when she was never home due to the frantic search for a cure. She remembered them begging her to stay home out of fear; they had told her how scared they were for her several times. They were scared she would get the disease and die, leaving them motherless.

Regret flooded into her thoughts. She wished she had stayed home for at least a day to comfort them and tell them that she was going to be just fine. Her and her sons had drifted apart during the time she was gone.

Sharp knocks on the wooden door made Adrianne jump, snapping her back into reality. By now the water had turned from scalding hot to cool and the steam had begun fading from the shower door and the mirror.

"Adrianne?" Andrea's voice called from outside the door. Adrianne quickly got to her feet and turned off the water, grabbing a towel as she stepped out. She wrapped the towel around her and stepped up to the door, the floor cold against her bare feet. Twisting the doorknob, she brushed the stands of wet hair out of her face with her free hand and opened the door just enough for her to peek through.

"What?" Adrianne asked in a clipped tone, her urge to be alone evident in her voice.

"Lori's back," Andrea answered after a pause, a sympathetic look on her face as she spoke to her. Adrianne knew that sympathy was toward her because of what Andrea just heard from Maggie. "She was in an accident. Could you take a look at her?" Adrianne sighed and rubbed the water off her brow.

"Gimme a minute," she finally replied.

Andrea nodded in understanding and turned on her heel, walking back down the stairs to the group. Adrianne stepped out of the bathroom and strolled to her room, closing the door behind her before gathering up a clean pair of jeans and a tanktop to slip into. She sat down at her desk and picked up the brush, running it through her hair as she stared at her gloomy reflection in the mirror. After tearing through all the knots in her hair with the brush, she brought her hair into a french braid.

She got up from the chair of her desk and slipped into her socks and boots, then made her way downstairs in search of Lori. Hushed voices in the living room made her halt in her tracks, creeping closer to the doorway and inching towards the wall.

"Like you did with Otis?" Lori's voice said in a somewhat hushed tone. Adrianne's eyebrows stitched together, curious as to who she was talking to. "What happened that night? You haven't been the same since."

"You wanna know what happened with Otis?" Shane's voice replied in the same quieted tone as Lori's; Adrianne closed her eyes in revelation for a moment and hung her head. "What happened with Otis happened because I love you," he continued. Adrianne jumped in shock, jerking her gaze up from the floor. "I love you, and I love Carl." There was a pause.

"I told Rick," Lori finally responded, which was followed by an even longer pause.

"You-you told him what?" Shane stammered. "Did you tell him that you thought you were a widow and that your were grieving? That the world was comin' to an end? That you needed comfort? Did ya tell 'em it was a mistake?" Shane rambled. Adrianne's interest peeked some more as she began listening more intently, still confused by the whole situation. What did she tell Rick? Better yet, why and when did Lori think Rick was dead? Questions were racing through Adrianne's mind like they were spilling out of Shane's mouth. Everything that was being said in that living room sounding like it was a soap opera plot; Adrianne didn't know if she was interested or if she couldn't care less.

"You know that ain't true," Shane continued, "What we had...it was real." So Lori cheated on Rick with Shane? Adrianne thought, what the hell?

"It was not," Lori chastised.

"It was a long time comin', it was real, Lori," Shane pushed.

"It was not!" Lori repeated.

"It was you and it was me and Carl and it was real. It was right, and don't say it wasn't," Shane argued.

"It wasn't," Lori said again.

"Just think about what you felt. Just for a second. What you felt. Everything fallin' apart all around us. But it," he paused with a soft chuckle, "it was the one good thing." There was a silence from Lori - it made Adrianne want to see their faces to know what was going on, but all she could perceive was their hushed voices. "Think 'bout that," Shane added, and after a few moments, there were footsteps approaching the doorway where Adrianne was hiding.

Her heart sank as she quickly raced to the dining back down the hallway, looking for somewhere to hide from Shane before she would get caught. She ran on her tiptoes into the kitchen, where she ducked down behind the kitchen island, listening to the footsteps that were getting closer to her. She crept to the edge and peeked out from behind the island when his footsteps continued past the kitchen, then snuck out after Shane made a turn to the dining room. After he was out of sight she straightened up, let out the breath she was holding, then made her way down the hallway to the living room.

"Hey, Lori," Adrianne greeted as she strolled to the couch, trying to keep her tone nonchalant and sank down onto the couch next to Rick's wife. Lori glanced over to Adrianne with a bit of hatred etching onto her face. Adrianne swallowed. "Listen. I'm sorry," she began then chuckled, "...again." She paused, waiting for Lori to say something; she stayed completely silent. "I was wrong to blame you for what happened," she added after a hard swallow. If there was anything she was worse at than lying, it was apologies - that was why she didn't say them very often.

"That's a start," Lori responded with a quiet chuckle - Adrianne did the same and looked down at her hands on her lap.

"So, uh, do you feel okay?" Adrianne asked, gazing at Lori's busted lip.

"Just a little sore," Lori replied, a hint of forgiveness in her voice as she glanced at Adrianne. Adrianne gave her a tightlipped smile and got to her feet, taking a giant step to the endtable, then opened the drawer to pull out a small pocket flashlight. She sat back down facing Lori on the couch and twisted the head of the flashlight to turn it on.

"Okay. Look straight ahead at my nose," Adrianne instructed and held Lori's chin up with her hand, shining the flashlight into her eyes briefly. Her pupils dilated normally. "Good, no concussion," Adrianne commented, setting the flashlight down on the endtable behind her and then turning back to Lori. "Where do you hurt?" She inquired.

"My shoulder hurts pretty bad," Lori replied, rubbing her right shoulder.

"What'd you do?" Adrianne asked, reaching out to her shoulder - she squeezed it starting from the base of her neck.

"When the car flipped over, this is the shoulder I landed on," Lori explained with a scoff. Adrianne smiled and continued squeezing her shoulder, studying her face for a reaction. When she got right to the joint, Lori flinched and made an uncomfortable sound. Adrianne then picked up Lori's arm and moved it up and down and side to side, watching Lori squirm when she would extend her arm too far.

"It just seems like you pulled a ligament. It'll be sore for a few days, but its nothin' serious," Adrianne briefed, backing away from Lori and dropping her hands to her sides. "Anything else?"

"Nothin' that hurts worse than that," Lori responded, shaking her head.

"Alright, cool," Adrianne said, getting to her feet after a sigh. "It's late. I'm gonna get some sleep."

"Thanks, Adrianne," Lori said before Adrianne left the room - Adrianne turned her head to Lori from the doorway and smiled.

"Don't mention it," she replied and turned back to watch where she was going. She walked up the stairs and stood at the top for a moment before she slowly made her way to her sons' room and knocked on the door.

"Hey, guys," she greeted as she opened the door and stepped inside, silently closing the door behind her. Nick laid under the covers of the bottom bunk with the lamp on the nightstand illuminating the room. Will was sitting on the top bunk, his back leaning against the wall, reading The Call of The Wild. He peeked over the book as Adrianne looked up at him.

"Hey, mom," Will said, turning his attention back to the book. He sounded weary and didn't seem genuine at all. Nick glanced up from under the covers, then plopped back down on the bed, pulling the blankets back up to his nose.

Adrianne shoved her hands in her pockets and walked to the bed, gazing up at Will, who was completely disregarding her.

"Will," Adrianne said, trying to get his attention. He didn't look at her. "William," she tried again but couldn't get his attention.

"Leave me alone," he stated flatly, not tearing his eyes from the book.

"No," Adrianne scoffed in hurt. Will put the book down next to him and threw a glare at Adrianne.

"Don't you know what 'leave me alone' means, mom?" he demanded, his voice harsh. "If I don't wanna talk to you, then I won't." He brought the book back to his face. "Oh," he added, glancing back to Adrianne, "and it's your fault dad is dead."

"William!" Adrianne chastised, his words stinging just as much as Maggie's had.

"What? Can't handle the truth?" Will spat, puffing his chest out.

"You're gettin' a little too big for your britches, kid," Adrianne warned in attempt to hide how hurt she was, "how would your father react to you talkin' like that?" Will shrugged as he shook his head.

"I dunno, he's not here," he hissed.

"Well, from now on pretend that he is. Don't speak to me like that," Adrianne retorted in a motherly tone as she crossed her arms - it was taking all the strength she had to not cry. She took a deep breath and bit her tongue as she looked down to the floor, just in case the tears did begin to fall.

Will shook his head and scoffed, scooting down so he was laying down on the bed and pulled the blankets over him. Adrianne looked down to Nick, who was staring at her with wide eyes. "Hey, buddy," she whispered as she kneeled down by the bed in front of him, "how are ya?"

"Are they really gonna leave?" he asked, pulling the blankets down so they were under his chin.

"What they did was-"

"What Shane did," Nick argued, propping up on his elbow. Adrianne looked down to the floor and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Don't punish them all when it was just him," Nick pleaded, sounding older than he really was - he was right. Adrianne remembered when he or Will would come home from school some days, complaining that the entire class had to do extra homework just because one kid was being bad.

"It's Uncle Hershel's decision, not mine," Adrianne finally said as she pushed herself up from the floor, pulling the blankets further up onto him. She crawled onto the bed next to him, pulling him onto her lap and kissing his forehead. "Night," she whispered.

"Night," he echoed, closing his eyes as he rested his head on her chest.

"Sweet dreams," she replied and leaned her head back onto the wall once he said it back.


"Adrianne?" Maggie's worried voice called in the hallway jolted Adrianne awake, along with Nick. "Adrianne!" she called out again, closer than before, then the door busted open, revealing an extremely panicked-looking Maggie. "Dammit, Adrianne, I was lookin' everywhere for you," she scolded, her concerned look dissolving as it was replaced with agitation. She crossed her arms over her chest when she glanced at the floor - when she looked back at Adrianne, a look of remorse crept onto her face.

"Where?" Adrianne inquired, her eyebrows stitching together in confusion.

"I dunno, your room, the living room!" Maggie answered, still just as frustrated. Adrianne nodded and stayed silent, suddenly uncomfortable with Maggie because of Maggie's rant the night before.

"Anyway, um, they're goin' out to search for Dad and Rick if you wanna go along," Maggie briefed avoiding eye contact with Adrianne, glancing from Will as he stepped down the ladder and glancing from Will to Nick, who was groggily getting off his bed.

"Who's all goin'?" Adrianne asked, her tone flat as she watched Will - he was completely ignoring her. He said good morning to Maggie, but said nothing to Adrianne. Adrianne swallowed, then began to feel her bad mood creeping up on her again. It wasn't much, but Will's disregarding her felt like he was driving a knife through her heart.

"Andrea, T-Dog, Shane-" Maggie began; her voice was to to-the-point, only there for business and not for friendliness.

"No," Adrianne interrupted as soon as she said Shane.

"Alright. Can you come check on Beth, then?" Maggie asked, grabbing Nick in a hug as she said her hello to him.

"Yeah, just gimme a minute," Adrianne replied, and Maggie nodded, then exited the room in a hurried manner and with a look of relief on her face. Nick slowly walked up to Adrianne in result of his tiredness and wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Morin'," Adrianne said with a chuckle.

"I love you," Nick responded as he backed away, causing Adrianne's smile to grow.

"I love you, too," she replied as she pushed him gently toward the dresser so he would get dressed. Adrianne strolled up to Will, who was already dressed; he must have slept in his clothes. She gave him a surprise bear hug. It wasn't necessarily a friendly hug, it was more like a forced hug. "And I love you," she as he squirmed to get away, "even if you don't love me." She let him go after giving him one final squeeze, then made her way to the door. "Make sure you do the homework I left for you in the dining room," she added, trying to be motherly, turning to face them with her hand on the doorknob.

"When are you gonna give us a break from homework?" Nick whined.

"When you're eighteen and you can find the secant of the sine of thirty degrees and the cosine of sixty degrees," she retorted, gazing at their reactions: Will's face pulled with disgust as Nick's jaw dropped. "I'm just kidding, I don't know how to do that," she said, trying to lighten her mood by being humorous as she twisted the doorknob and exited the room, closing the door behind her.

When she got into the room Beth was staying, Patricia was setting up an IV for her. Maggie sat on the bed next to Beth, holding her hand.

"What're ya doin'?" Adrianne demanded, making her way over to Patricia.

"She won't eat or drink. Every time we give her water, she chokes on it 'cause she won't swallow," Patricia explained, wiping Beth's arm with an alcohol swab before sticking the IV needle into the vein. Adrianne pinched her nose in exasperation.

"Fine," she said, standing back to watch Patricia do what she needed to. After Patricia left the room, Maggie turned to Adrianne.

"I'm sorry 'bout what I said last night," Maggie apologized in a quiet voice.

"It's fine. You were right," Adrianne replied as she sank down in the chair that was still next to the bed from when Hershel moved it there for Rick. Maggie shook her head and gazed back down at Beth. Adrianne rested her elbow on the arm of the chair and then propped her chin up on the palm of her hand as she also gazed down at her motionless cousin.

"No. You are a good mom. Just not recently," Maggie explained and peeked back towards Adrianne; Adrianne dropped her hand, causing a thud on the arm of the chair.

"Gee, thanks, " Adrianne responded, her voice heavy with sarcasm as she narrowed her eyes at her cousin.

"Well, I didn't wanna lie t'ya," Maggie chuckled.

"Aren't you a peach?" Adrianne responded, the sarcasm not leaving her voice as she pulled a face at her. Maggie laughed in response.

Car doors slamming brought their attention to the window - Adrianne and Maggie glanced at each other before scrambling to their feet and bolting to the window. Hershel, Glenn and Rick were stepping out of the truck; they all seemed exhausted. They scurried to the door and whipped it open. Adrianne skipped down the steps after Maggie, rushing to Hershel's side as Maggie ran to Glenn. Hershel gave Maggie a somewhat aggravated look since she didn't run to him.

"Are you alright?" Adrianne demanded Hershel. He glanced at her, but offered no response.

"Patricia, Adrianne," Hershel began as he walked up to the house, "prepare the shed for surgery." Patricia looked at Adrianne.

"Don't worry, I got it by myself," she said, resting a hand on Adrianne's shoulder. Adrianne nodded and followed Hershel up the steps.

"Who the hell is that?" T-Dog's voice brought Adrianne's attention to the group behind her. He was pointing to something in the truck - Adrianne side-stepped to get a better look and saw a young man who seemed to be unconscious with a red rag around his eyes. She glanced back at Hershel; he was making his way inside like he was trying to avoid the situation.

"Hershel!" Adrianne hissed under her breath as she whipped the screen door open and followed him inside. "What's he doin' here?"

"We couldn't leave 'im," Hershel explained briefly, clearly not wanting to explain himself since he wouldn't even look at her.

"I know, but remember what happened the last time we brought someone here?" she demanded, jabbing a finger toward the door; Hershel turned to her and stopped walking.

"We had no problem with Rick," he argued, earning a scoff from Adrianne.

"With Rick? No," Adrianne began as she shifted her weight from one leg to the other, "but with his group? Yes."

"Maybe this boy is different," Hershel retorted, raising his hands up defensively.

"Maybe?" Adrianne hissed. "Hershel-"

"His group abandoned him. He won't do anything," Hershel interrupted, a look of annoyance growing on his face.

"I'm talkin' 'bout the group before Rick. Y'know the men that tried to-"

"We're not allowing this kid the stay with us," Shane hissed as he walked in the door behind Rick, halting Adrianne and Hershel's argument for a moment. Adrianne turned back to Hershel, deciding to drop the subject of the previous group since Rick and Shane was now there.

"Rick's a good man," Hershel said quietly as he ushered Adrianne into the kitchen for a more private conversation.

"I know Rick is!" Adrianne vexed, bringing her hands to her face in irritation.

"He'll keep them in line," Hershel reassured, his calm temperament throwing Adrianne off a bit.

"You don't know that," Adrianne argued, then looked back to the group that was filing into the dining room. She looked back to Hershel - he was giving her a look like he needed to go and she needed to join them. He turned, leaving Adrianne in the kitchen and dropped the argument.


Adrianne leaned against the doorway of the dining room, her arms folded over her chest as everyone else sat down at the table; Maggie stood against the wall next to Adrianne and Shane stared out the window.

"We couldn't just leave 'im behind. He would'a bled out," Rick explained, leaning into one of the chairs, "if he even lived that long."

"It's gotten bad in town," Glenn added in a low voice, glancing around the room at everyone.

"What are we supposed to do with him?" Andrea demanded from next to Shane. Hershel walked into the room, drying his hands on a towel as he explained what he did to the boy.

Adrianne's eyes drifted to the floor and zoned out for a moment.

"When he is," Rick started, standing up straight, adding to Hershel's estimate of the boy's healing time, "we'll give 'im a canteen, take 'im out to the main road and send him on his way."

"Isn't that the same as leaving him for the walkers?" Andrea persisted. The door squeaking open and the creaking of the floor brought Adrianne's eyes to the door, seeing Daryl making his way inside.

"He'll have a fightin' chance," Rick pointed out, glancing at Daryl and nodding in acknowledgement.

"So you're just gonna let 'im go?" Shane inquired, "he knows where we are."

"He was blindfolded the whole way here. He's not a threat," Rick answered, shaking his head and narrowing his eyes at Shane.

"Not a threat, huh? There were how many of 'em? You killed three of their men, you took one of them hostage, but they just ain't gonna come lookin' for 'im?" Shane demanded, raising his voice.

"They left him for dead. No one is looking," Rick enunciated, trying to drive his point into Shane. As much as Adrianne hated to admit it, she agreed with Shane. The boy could escape and find his way back to his group and they would all gang up on them, slaughtering them with no mercy.

"We should still post a guard," T-Dog suggested pointedly, gazing between Rick and Shane.

"He's out cold right now. And will be for hours," Hershel said,

"Y'know what? I'mma go get him some flowers and candy," Shane scoffed as he started for the living room. "Look at this folks! We're back in fantasy land!" he added in a loud voice, glaring at Adrianne as he passed her.

"Y'know we haven't even dealt with what you did at my barn yet?" Hershel chastised, jabbing his pointer finger at Shane, who turned around to face Hershel. "Now let me make this perfectly clear once and for all. This is my farm. I wanted you gone, but Rick talked me out of it." Adrianne snorted and shook her head, earning a glare from Shane and Hershel at the same time - Hershel looked back at Shane and continued, "but I don't have'ta like it. So do us both a favor and keep your mouth shut." Shane shook his head slowly before he continued out the door, a look of frustration on his face.

"Look, we're not gonna do anything about it today. Let's just cool off," Rick told the group.

Adrianne unfolded her arms and straightened up, then stepped into the living room where her sons sat on the couch - Nick was drawing while Will was reading his book. Adrianne plopped down in between them and leaned into Nick to see what he was drawing. Graphite lines and shading spread across the paper in what looked like a dragon and a lion. The lion was reared up on his hind legs as the dragon breathed fire at him.

"So how is the lion not gettin' burned?" Adrianne questioned, glancing from Nick to the picture in the sketchbook. Nick looked at her with a pointed look.

"It's not a lion, it's a tiger," Nick whined, sounding offended.

"Honey, tigers don't have manes," Adrianne laughed, poking his arm. He looked from Adrianne to the drawing, his face twisting into a look of disbelief. "And tigers have stripes."

"What?" Nick said in an exasperated tone. Adrianne pressed her lips together and shrugged with an amused look on her face. Nick flipped his pencil around and began rubbing the eraser against the paper furiously.

"No, no, don't erase it!" Adrianne exclaimed and snatched the pencil from his hand. "It can be a lion. Lions are just as cool as tigers."

"No they're not!" Nick argued, "tigers are the kings!"

"I really think lions are," Adrianne replied, pursing her lips and putting a hand up from enunciation.

"Lions are stupid! A tiger would kill a lion in a fight," Nick pressed, reaching for the pencil in Adrianne's hand - she brought her hand up so he couldn't reach it.

"I don't think so," Adrianne scoffed, her eyes widening. "Lions run faster."

"Tigers are bigger."

"They're like the same size," Adrianne exclaimed, her voice getting louder as she waved her arms in exasperation.

"Tigers would still win," Nick mumbled under his breath as he brushed the eraser shavings off of the paper.

"Whatever," Adrianne responded, slumping down on the couch farther and giving up on the argument. "Well, I'm gonna go do somethin'," Adrianne huffed as she pushed herself up from the couch.

"Okay, bye," Nick replied, not looking up from his sketchbook as he focused on drawing a tiger.

"Bye," she reciprocated and turned on her heel to head for the door.

As much as Adrianne didn't want to admit it, Nick was the only good thing she had left - Will had basically disowned her as his mother but Nick still loved her, no matter what happened. Nick was the only reason she had to be happy. It would take a lot of time before she could get Will to talk to her again, just like he did before the world went to hell. For some reason, she was confident that he would come around.

Shane and Andrea were in the front yard, talking amongst themselves quietly when Adrianne stepped outside; the conversation stopped once Andrea glanced at Adrianne, bringing Shane's attention to her. Adrianne disregarded them, continuing her way down the steps and across the lawn to the barn in a fast pace. Footsteps approached her from behind.

"Go away, I don't wanna talk," Adrianne sighed as she started to walk faster.

"Why do you look at me like I'm the bad guy?" Shane's voice demanded from the side of her. Adrianne rolled her eyes while shaking her head – she'd hoped it was actually Andrea who was chasing her.

"Why do you think?" Adrianne replied with a rough tone as she glanced at Shane with narrowed eyes.

"I know you wanted to do that, too. Don't act like I haven't noticed," Shane argued, quickening his pace so he could stay at her side; she knew he was talking about the barn shootout.

"I didn't agree with them bein' in there, but at least I respected Hershel. It didn't bother me that much," Adrianne spat, halting immediately and turning to him. "It shouldn't've bothered you, either."

"Uh huh, you were totally okay with the fact that you were living next to a tickin' time bomb? You respected the fact that you were puttin' our lives in danger?" Shane pushed, gesturing with his words.

"What the fuck do you want from me, man?" Adrianne exclaimed, continuing her walk to the barn with a heavy sigh.

"You know that barn was endangerin' us. You know that that kid is gonna get us killed. I can tell by that bloodlust in your eyes, you want that boy dead," Shane rushed, his voice getting louder - he was talking to her in the same way he was talking to the group right before he slaughtered everyone in the barn.

"What bloodlust?" Adrianne scoffed, stopping once more and shooting a sharp glare at Shane. "I don't have any 'bloodlust'. And if that's what you're seeing in me, then it's actually me wantin' your ass on the side of the road with a canteen. Not Randall's."

"You wanna protect your boys?" Shane demanded pointedly.

"Of course I do," Adrianne answered, her eyebrows knitting together in confusion.

"Then we need to kill that boy. You-"

"Shane, stop!" Adrianne hissed, her hands bundling up into fists because of her frustration. "I don't know why you're tryin'ta get me on your side, but you need to stop. I wanna protect my boys from you, not Randall. I ain't gonna kill a boy 'cause'a your paranoia." Shane fell silent with a look on his face like he was wondering why he was asking her to be on his side, as well.

Adrianne turned as she ran a hand through her hair, which was not in a ponytail for once.

She had no idea what Shane was up to - he knows how much she hates him, and yet he's trying to convince her to kill Randall. Seeing as you're his right hand man, Rick's voice suddenly reverberated through her mind from when he was trying to persuade her to let them stay.

Then it dawned on her. Shane was trying to climb to the highest point of the totem pole so he could get his way. He was planning on forcing his way to leading the group, even if that meant he had to get blood on his hands. He wants to kill Randall, so why would he have a problem with killing anyone else? He killed Otis, so why not Hershel or herself? He's accusing her of having 'bloodlust' - it was like he was trying to get her to feel the need to kill. And he seemed to have no problem with admitting to have an itch to kill someone.

I'm probably wrong, she thought as she reached to swing the barn doors open, I'm just overreacting, like I always do.

Adrianne sighed and picked up the shop broom that was leaning on the outside of the barn. The stench of rotting flesh burned Adrianne's nostrils as she strolled to the back of the barn and began pushing the dirty, bloodstained straw out of the barn. She crinkled her nose when the dust underneath the straw was kicked up, bringing out an even stronger stench. She rushed to the door and jumped over the pile of straw she made and covered her nose with the back of her hand. Her eyes began watering uncontrollably and she sneezed - she rested her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath, heaving in air through her mouth.

"That's nothin' compared to what the city smells like," a voice said from behind Adrianne, startling her. She wiped her watering eyes as she straightened up and turned around, seeing T-Dog holding back a smirk.

"Another reason why I hate the city," Adrianne wheezed after she cleared her throat.

"Need some help?" he offered, reaching out for the broom she had dropped.

"No, no. It's fine. You go do what you were doin'," she refused, shaking her head as she sniffled and wiped her tear-stained cheeks. She sneezed again, harder than the first time. "Ow-w," she complained as she clutched her stomach which felt like she was was having a charlie horse from the sudden, painful sneeze.

"Bless you," T-Dog laughed.

"Thanks," she croaked, "it doesn't help to be allergic to dust," she added with an awkward chuckle.

"Lemme help. It's the least I can do," T-Dog offered again, the broom now in his hand.

"Fine, knock yourself out," she said, waving her arm toward the barn.

He stepped over the pile of straw and began pushing more out of the barn. Adrianne slowly made her way to the wheelbarrow leaned against the side of the barn and pushed it to the pile of straw. She stood there, planning her attack. She reached down, picking up a handful of the straw with a disgusted look on her face, then threw it into the wheelbarrow.

"Can I ask you somethin'?" T-Dog asked when he came back to the door, pushing the straw into a bigger pile.

"Go for it," Adrianne replied, continuing to pick up handfuls of the dirty straw.

"I saw Patricia bring a walker into your storm cellar over there a few days ago," he began, walking over to the pile and started helping her pile it into the wheelbarrow. Adrianne avoided eye contact and worked slowly. "Then you went in there shortly thereafter. I didn't see you come out for a while. What were you doin' in there?"

Adrianne swallowed and froze, cautiously glancing over at him. He was gazing at her expectantly, but she just stayed silent, trying to figure out what to say.


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