Disclaimer: BtVS and TWD don't belong to me.ain't no grave
They're on the highway into Atlanta.
The heat's suffocating, even this late in the day. The police car has air conditioning, but it's off to conserve fuel, and there's no air moving anywhere while they're stopped.
The city is a dark and motionless mass ahead, a gargantuan tumor at the end of the highway.
“We can't take the car,” she says.
His jaw stiffens.
He still looks awful. Wan and haggard, like he still needs a few more days of rest and good meals. He's sweating too much and not drinking enough water. She wonders if he's just one of those guys who always looks underfed.
His eyes are fixed on the city.
“We'll find them,” she says. “We just can't take the car.”
Their eyes meet.one
They're in the upstairs bathroom of Hershel's farmhouse.
“I'm sorry,” she's telling him. She's trembling, a minute tremoring of the body that's only perceptible to someone who knows her. Her eyes are wide, wide, wide. “I'm sorry. I had to. You saw them, you heard what Randall said. They were—I had to. I'm sorry. I'm sorry
." Her voice fractures. "I—I'm sorry I couldn't find Lori and Carl. I should have, I should have looked harder. I should have gone farther. I'm sorry. I—I'm sorry the CDC didn't work, I—I should have done something, I'm so sorry—”
He takes the dripping parang out of her hands and she lets him. He wipes the blood from the the bony angle of her jaw just below the ear, and she lets him.
He pulls her into his arms, and she lets him.
“Shhh,” he murmurs, a low thrum in her ear, “it's okay. It's okay. It's okay.”
He's stroking her hair. Holding her close.
“You had to kill them,” he whispers to her. “They were going to kill us. Everybody on this farm. You kept us safe. You stopped them from hurting us. I should have killed Randall. I'm sorry I left it for you to do. That was me. I messed up. You're okay. You're okay.”
She closes her eyes, goes limp against him. His grip tightens.
He says nothing about Lori and Carl.there you go
They're on the second floor of an abandoned home.
She's lying down beside him in the dark to try and nap while he keeps watch, the parang leaning against the wall nearby, when he kisses her.
Softly, softly. His hand on her neck, his fingers in her hair. His weight pressing on her as he moves.
He pulls back, but not so far that she can't feel his breath on her skin. The scrape of his chin against hers.
There's no light and the moon has long since set, but she can still see his eyes.
“You know I'm too old for you,” he says.the man comes around
“Have you talked about them?” Maggie asks. “His family, I mean.”
She keeps her eyes on the parang she's cleaning.
“I'm not trying to badmouth him or anything,” says Maggie, hands tightening around her mug. The last light is dimming through the windows and their sills of snow. “I just don't get it. What are you going to do if you get to Fort Benning and you actually find them? Is he going to go back to them? I mean—he wouldn't leave them, right? But where does that leave you
The door opens.
He comes in, stomping snow from his boots, a bundle of firewood under his arm. He closes the door and then pulls off his hood.
“Hey,” he says, and leans down to kiss her, brief but firm, the smell of the cold on him, before he goes into the living room.
Maggie watches him go, and when she turns back, her eyes say everything.
“I just don't want you to get hurt,” says Maggie, voice low, and reaches out to put one hand over the one holding the parang steady. “Not after everything you've done.”hurt
“I love you,” he says.
She opens her eyes.
“I need to go to Fort Benning,” he says into her neck. He's exhausted and full and half-asleep. His drawl is more pronounced when he's tired. “I have to do this last thing. I have to know that I tried everything I could think of to find them.”
He shifts behind her, and his arm comes around her waist, pulling her into him. He sighs.
She opens her mouth. Closes it.
He's decided that Lori and Carl are dead. He's decided that Lori and Carl are dead, and he says he loves her.
She feels like she's been stabbed.
“I love you,” he says again; low, and calm.
He's waiting for her to say it back.god's gonna cut you down
They're thirty miles outside of Fort Benning—
—and what a familiar feeling this is, this cold, numb feeling.
“Rick?” says a woman, a dark-haired, dark-eyed woman who looks about his age. “Rick?”
The boy's already in his arms—and that must be Carl, even if they don't look much alike—and he's got his arms locked around that boy, his face in that boy's hair, the boy is crying and he's saying Dad, Dad
She looks at his back and thinks, That's his son. And that's his wife. This is how it should be.
There are others in the camp, but she can't see them, they don't exist. Not now.
The woman—Lori—isn't running into his arms, but she just looks so shocked. How many months has her husband been dead? Eight? Nine? Yet suddenly here he is, and she isn't sure how she'd react either.
There's a baby in Lori's arms.
“Rick?” Lori says again, and her voice, her voice—she looks like she's been concussed.
The man behind her, the dark-haired, dark-eyed man, he looks as if he's been shot.
The baby can't be more than a month old.
She starts doing the math, then stops, because it doesn't matter and just seems like a spiteful thing to do.
He turns to her, Carl still clinging to him, and he says, “Buffy, I...I need to, I need to talk to—”
“It's okay,” she interrupts him, smiling, smiling wide. “It's okay. Go.”
For a second, his hand grips hers, and she tries to memorize this, his hand over hers, because it's going to have to last her a long, long time.
Maybe not so long.
Then he turns away, and walks toward his wife, his son in his arms.
She watches him go, that familiar shape of his back.
And suddenly, out of nowhere, there's this huge urge surging up inside her, an urge to open her mouth and shout after him, No, wait, Rick, wait
But she won't.
Softly, softly, she says after his back, in a small, small voice that doesn't even seem like hers, “I love you.”
He doesn't turn. He didn't hear.
walks away. She lays the shotgun she was carrying on the hood of the Jeep they drove in and then she keeps walking.
“Miss,” someone starts to say, an older man in a battered hat, but she doesn't stop. “Wait,” says a blonde woman, but she won't stop, it's still hours until sundown and she can cover a lot of ground before she'll have to stop.
Cleveland isn't that far from here.