I had been laying in bed awake since before the sun came up. My mind was in overdrive thinkin' about what Rick had said last night. He had offered to say the baby was his and he had offered this without expecting anything in return. But how could I do that? It'd cause more trouble but then again, maybe I would get Maggie and daddy back. But how would they react? Would they accept it or would it make it worse? Isn't that what they wanted though? To know who the father is? Even if I had told them about Shane, I wouldn't even consider him the father anyway, he was nothin' more than the sperm donor from hell. Besides, there is a good chance my baby and Judith are siblings, so why not raise them like they are?
Judith's cries startled me out of my thoughts and I moved to get out of bed. Which meant climbing over Rick and tryin' not to wake him up. This wasn't gonna be easy.
"I'll get her," he said. I wasn't aware he was awake.
"I can get her."
"No, you rest. I'll take care of her."
"Are you sure? 'Cause I don't mind," I told him.
"I know you don't mind but I think I can handle her for a little while."
I shrugged, "Okay."
Everyone was eating breakfast when I walked into the common area. All eyes were on me. Judith was cradled in my arms cryin'.
"I was just about to bring Beth a bottle for Judith," Carol said, handing the bottle to me.
"Thanks," was all I said and I sat down to feed her.
I noticed the new people were lookin' at me nervously. So I stood up and walked over to them.
"I'm sorry about yesterday. From what I was told, y'all are good people. Y'all can stay if you want."
They both looked at me. "Thank you. We'll pull our weight around here. You don't have to worry about us," Tyreese said.
The room slowly cleared out, except for me and Carol.
"Rick," she said sitting across from me, "we're gonna need to make a run soon. I haven't asked for volunteers for it because I wanted to talk to you first."
"What all do we need?"
"Well, we need to go ahead and get stuff for Beth for when the baby's born. And right now she's only been able to keep down oatmeal, I figured we could try to find her some crackers and see if we can get something for nausea. She can barely fit into what she's wearing now so she needs maternity clothes. We definitely need to make sure we have the medical supplies for her and the baby though."
I put my hand up, "Okay, make a list and we'll go on a run tomorrow."
"I already have a list made. I think Tyreese or Sasha should go on the run with whoever else goes. Now that Daryl's not here, they could help us a lot."
"I know they could. I'll go with one of 'em and Carl."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Rick. Carl should stay here. I can go instead of him."
"Okay. We'll gather everyone up tonight and discuss it. Who's on watch?"
"Um...Glenn and Maggie, I think."
"I'll go ahead and take my shift after I put Judith down."
"No need, I'll take her," Beth said, "I think we're gonna walk around a bit." She smiled.
I smiled back and handed Judith to her. "I'll be on watch if you need anything."
The sun felt so warm and nice. Today is a beautiful day and if it wasn't for the sounds of the walkers, I would've been able to pretend we were back on the farm, before all of this happened.
I held Judith tightly in my arms and walked around the yard. Everyone was keeping busy. Maggie, Michonne, Sasha and Tyreese were clearing the fences; Glenn was talkin' to daddy; Carol was washing sheets; Andrea was in one guard tower and Rick was in the other; and Carl was walkin' around by himself. I smiled to myself, we all had jobs to do and we were slowly making this our home.
Judith started fussing a little so I decided to sing to her. I walked over and sat in the cool grass and began to sing:
"A little bird sang me an early mornin' song,
her feathers were white, as white as the snow,
so I fell in love and started to roll,
searching for that bird that made me love her so,
winter was upon us and I knew where she'd flown,
far away from what I call home,
so I hopped a train and away I was gone,
with the snow on my back but my face was warm and I know one day, I will find you,
I'll find love, I'll find love, and until then, I am chained to the ground like a flightless dove, like a flightless dove"
Looking down at her, she had fallen asleep and I knew in that moment, I couldn't wait to hold my own baby. It may not have happened the way I wanted it to but I'd love him or her regardless. I just wished daddy and Maggie could think that way too and my mind went back to what Rick had said. I'd made my decision earlier but now I was certain of it.
It wasn't easy but I carefully climbed the stairs in the guard tower.
He turned around and smiled, "Hey, everything okay?" he said looking at Judith.
"Yeah, everythin' is fine. She's sleepin'. I just wanted to talk to you about your offer."
"What'd you decide?" he stepped closer and kissed Judith's head.
"If...if you don't mind, I'd like to do that. Tell them it's yours," I stuttered a little.
He looked at me intently, "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure," I nodded my head.
"Okay. We'll talk about the details when I get off watch. If that's okay with you. But I do think it'd be better not to wait any longer."
"Alright, we'll talk later."
He looked down at Judith, "You should go inside and lay her down. I'll come by when I'm done here."
"Okay." I knew I had made the right choice but now I was nervous about what daddy and Maggie would do.
Once I was back inside, I put Judith down and prayed.
"Beth? You in here?" Carl called out.
I stepped out of my cell, "Shh...Judith's asleep."
"Oh, I didn't know. I found a deck of cards. You wanna play a game?"
"Sure. What'd you wanna play?"
"Do you know how to play poker?"
"No. Do you?"
He shook his head, "No. We could play Go Fish or Old Maid."
"Or War? Do you know how to play that?" I asked.
"No but you could show me."
I explained the game to him and we played a few rounds of it and Go Fish. It was nice to play a game and even though it wasn't much, I was glad to see Carl was enjoying it as well.
I rubbed my face, I had no doubts that I had made the right decision by offering to be the baby's father. I meant everything I had said to her. But I know it's not gonna be easy to tell Hershel and Maggie. They wouldn't be happy but they could move on and act like a family again. It was the right thing for them and more importantly for Beth and the baby.
By the time Carol had fixed lunch, I had prepared myself for the talk with Beth. After everyone had ate, they all cleared out and I went to her cell, "Are you ready to talk?"
"Yeah, let me finish changing her diaper. You can start though."
"Okay. Like I said before, I ain't expectin' anything, so if they ask, we'll tell 'em it happened once and that's it. You okay with that?"
"I don't want them thinkin' I'm pushin' you into anything."
When she was finished she laid Judith down and I saw her hands were shaking nervously. I grabbed her hands.
"Hey, look at me. You don't have to be afraid, I'm gonna be with you for everything," I told her.
She looked up at me with tears in her eyes, "Thank you."
I leaned down and kissed her forehead, "I've already told you, you don't have to thank me. I meant everything I said about helping you and...and our baby," I said.
She started laughing, "That sounds so weird."
I laughed a little too.
"Oh God," a voice behind us spoke up and then shuffled away.
"Carol, wait!" Beth grabbed her arm, "Carol please don't say anythin'..."
"Beth," she said looking at us both, "I won't say anything but you are going to tell Hershel, right?"
"We're gonna talk to him later," I told her, "we were just discussing how to tell him and Maggie."
"Good. Then I won't speak of it to anyone but you better tell them soon," she said walking away.
We went back into her cell to finish talkin'.
"I was gonna ask you, how...how exactly is this gonna work? I mean, with the baby and all," I asked.
"Hmm...well, you're the baby's mother and I'm the father, we'll just have to figure things out as we go. To be honest, I'm not really sure how this is supposed to work either."
"I only asked because of," I swallowed hard, "because we both know there's a chance Judith and the baby really are siblings."
He walked over and sat down next to me, still holding Judith, "You don't need to think about that, neither of us do. As far as I'm concerned, I'm Judith's father and this baby's father, not Shane. You understand? No one else needs to know any more than that. Not even Carl and Judith and certainly not the baby. It's ours."
I smiled and nodded, "Thank you so much for doin' this. I don't like lyin' to everyone but it's easier than telling them the truth."
He put Judith in her makeshift crib and smiled at her.
"Speaking of Carl. He...after Lori...he asked me who the father was..."
"Don't worry about Carl. I'll handle everything with him. But first we need to tell Hershel. You ready to do that?"
We walked into the empty common room. "Stay here. I'll go get him."
"Hershel, you got a minute?" He looked up, "I wanted to talk to you. You mind comin' inside?"
When we entered the prison, he looked at me and then at Beth as we all sat down but he didn't say anything so I started.
"Hershel, you wanted to know who the father is and you deserve to know," I looked at Beth.
"Daddy," she said, "Rick's the father."
He was silent. "Daddy, please say somethin'."
"Rick, she's a child. She's my child, my youngest and she's pregnant." He stopped and shook his head. He was obviously shocked and disappointed but he finally continued, "I figured you were the father when I saw you in her cell. You already have two kids, Rick. I expect you to act like a father. You can't treat my little girl wrong. You have to do right by her. Are you gonna be there for my Bethie and help her?"
"I'm gonna be there for her. I care about her and I have no intentions of treating her wrong or leaving her side. I'm gonna do whatever I have to, to make sure she's safe, to make sure they're both safe."
He gave Beth a quick glance, "Rick, the only things I ask of you are that you be there for Beth and your child; and whatever's goin' on between you two, whatever happened, needs to stop. Y'all can raise a child together without it goin' any further. Bethie," he touched her hand, "I'm sorry for everything but you had to tell me the truth. I love you and I will love this baby. It's a part of you." When he finished, he got up and went back outside.
"Wow, that was easier than I thought it'd be," Beth said.
"Yeah, it was. But I don't think it's gonna be as easy tellin' Maggie."
She sighed, "yeah, I guess Maggie is the one we have to worry about."
"Why do y'all need to worry about me?" Maggie said as she and Glenn came inside. She looked at us, "What the hell is goin' on?" She was beginning to sound pissed off.
Beth's eyes were wide with fear when Maggie approached her, "Beth?"
"Maggie, Rick and I wanted to talk..."
"I fuckin' knew it!" She yelled, cutting Beth off she turned to me, "You sick bastard! What the hell is wrong with you?!" She drew back and punched me.
"Shit!" My eyes filled with tears makin' it hard to see when she came at me. She hit me with something and I fell to the ground.
"Maggie stop!" Beth yelled to her.
"Come on bastard, hit me! I dare you!" Maggie yelled in my face, "It wasn't enough that you lost your wife but now I could lose my sister because of you."
"You won't lose her if you start actin' like her fuckin' sister. She needs you. I don't hit women, Maggie." I groaned when she punched me again.
"Glenn, do somethin'! Get her off him!" Beth pleaded.
I grabbed Maggie's arms and shoved her away. "You can hit me all you want but it won't change anything and I'm not hittin' you back."
Beth moved closer and tried to pull her away, instead Maggie went to shrug her off but her elbow connected with Beth's nose and she fell to the ground.
"Beth!" Maggie and I said in unison, rushing to her side. Maggie gasped, she was bleedin' and cryin'.
"I'll get Hershel," Glenn ran out.
"Beth? Come on." I said pickin' her up, she had both hands on her face.
Carol, Hershel and Carl ran in.
"Put her in my cell," Hershel instructed me.
Maggie was cryin', "I'm sorry, Bethie. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to."
Carol helped Hershel tend to Beth while we all waited.
"She's gonna be fine. It looked worse than what it was. Her nose isn't broke. She will be in pain and bruised up though," Carol said, "Maggie, Hershel wants to speak to you. Rick, come with me and we'll get you cleaned up."
"Y'all told Maggie?" She asked.
"Yeah, we told her."
"Rick, you've been sleeping in her cell and taking care of her. It isn't nothin'. Do you love her?"
"I care about her."
"No. I can see it's more than that."
Carl came in and stared at me and Carol.
"Is Beth's baby yours?" He asked but before I could form words, he left.
"He's protective of Beth," Carol said.
She looked up at me, "You don't know, do you?"
"He isn't just protective of her, Rick. After you told us about Beth being pregnant, I overheard him asking Daryl if you were the father. Daryl said "no" but Carl didn't seem to believe him. He thinks you cheated on his mom with Beth and that's why y'all were havin' problems. I have to say though, with the timeline, I can see where he's coming from. Everyone knows about Lori and Shane, everyone except for Carl. I mean, I get that she cheated on you and y'all weren't exactly "together", we all do, but he doesn't see it that way."
"Shit. I didn't know."
"You'll have to make it right somehow. I don't think he'll take it out on Beth or anything but he's gonna have a hard time with it."
"Rick," Hershel called to me from the cell block, I got up and went to him, "I've talked with Maggie but she wants to talk to you herself. She's with Beth in her cell."
I walked over and stood outside her cell. Beth had Judith and Maggie was sittin' beside her prayin'.
They both looked at me.
"Are you just gonna stand there or come inside so we can talk?" Maggie said.
I stepped inside, "Let's talk."
"Good. Daddy may not have asked you but I want to know, are y'all still sleepin' together? "
I looked to Beth, "No. It was a one time thing."
"So my sister was just a one night stand?" Maggie growled.
"No, I didn't say that. It happened once, she got pregnant and that's it. I've slept in here with her but nothin' else has happened."
"Beth? Is he tellin' the truth?"
"Yes Maggie, he is. Nothin's goin' on."
She looked back at me, "Daddy's said you told him you're gonna be there for her and he's okay with y'all. But I'm tellin' you again, if anythin' happens to her, I mean anythin', I will kill you." She stood up, walked closer to me and stuck her finger in my face, "I'm not kidding, Rick. I think you're way too old for her and personally, I think you took advantage of her. You said it happened once and it better stay that way. If you fuck my sister again, I will cut your balls off and feed them to a walker. But, as much as I don't like what's goin' here I'm willing to try to be alright with it for Beth's sake. Do you both understand how I feel and what I'll do to protect my family?"
We both nodded in agreement.
"Okay," Maggie then burst into tears and reached for Beth, "I'm gonna be an aunt!"
I smiled and Beth started laughin'.
"Do you need me to take Judith?" I asked Beth.
"No, I've got her," she smiled at Maggie, "Maggie's here if I need anythin'."
"If y'all need me, I'm gonna be talkin' to Carl. I don't think he took the news too well."
"We'll let you know if we need anythin'," Maggie said.
Later that night, after Rick announced he, Carol and Tyreese were goin' on a run, Rick and Carol came to my cell. Everyone else was either in bed or on watch.
"Hey Bethie, do you need us to get you anything tomorrow?" Carol asked.
"I don't know."
"Well, if you think of anything you need, let me know before we leave."
"How did the talk with Carl go?" I asked Rick when Carol left.
He sighed, "Boy is pissed but I think he was tryin' to hide his excitement. I think he likes the idea of having a brother or another sister."
We both smiled.
"Do you have watch tonight?" I asked and scooted closer to the wall.
"No," He looked at me then toed off his boots and climbed into bed and I snuggled up next to him. I felt safe there.
-THE NEXT DAY-
The next morning was pretty uneventful. Everyone went about their normal routines, well, as normal as they could be anyway.
Since Carol was on the run with Rick and Tyreese, I was tryin' to keep up her work and occasionally Sasha would keep me company while the others kept their distance.
I looked up and was surprised to see Andrea standing there. I've barely spoken to her since we were at the farm.
"Hi," I said back.
She studied me for a minute before speaking, "You're wearing one of Rick's shirts."
I shrugged, "Carol gave it to me this mornin'. My shirt hardly covered my stomach."
"I just can't believe he's moved on from Lori so quick."
"I don't think he has," I told her.
"He's sleepin' with you, so trust me, he's over her."
I didn't really like the tone she was using but I continued to be nice, "Yeah, sleepin' is all we're doin'."
"So you're not fuckin' him?"
"No," I wrinkled my nose.
She gave me a short nod and left.
Not long after Andrea left, Maggie walked over and sat down beside me.
She thought for a minute before speaking, "I only have one question, Did he force you?"
"What?! NO! Why would you even think that? Rick is a good guy," I began cryin', her words brought back images of Shane. His hands over my mouth and him touching me. Everything he did made me feel disgusting and sick. Just thinkin' about it made me want to scrub my skin off just to get rid of him. I wish I could forget about it but I can't. He hurt me and no matter how much Rick helped, he couldn't change that and though I knew we were lyin' to everyone, the truth wasn't an option.
"Bethie, I'm sorry. I know Rick's a good man but he's not in his right mind. Have you seen him lately? He wanders around in his own world. We've all seen him talkin' to someone who isn't there. I'm worried about you, Beth. I don't want him to hurt you."
I rolled my eyes and wiped at the tears, "Maggie, I thought you were alright with this."
"No. I said I would try to be alright with it for your sake but honestly I don't think I will be."
I ignored most of what she was sayin', "I better check on Judith."
When we returned, it was almost dark but everyone immediately carried the bags in and dug through them to separate everything. I carried some stuff to Beth's cell and found both Judith and Beth asleep. I intended on leaving the bags where Beth could get to them but I decided to unpack them for her. The noise must've startled her because she jumped out of bed, towards Judith's makeshift crib.
"Oh thank God," she said when she saw me, "I thought somethin' was wrong."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you up. We got everything that was on the list. Carol found you some clothes too. She has them though," I said as she began rummaging through the bags. She neatly set everything up and then sat down on her bed.
I sat down next to her and handed her another bag, "I got ya some stuff. It's not much, just what I could easily find."
She smiled as she emptied the bag. There were a few candy bars, chips and books. She immediately opened one of the candy bars and started eating it.
"Mmmm...this is so good!", she sighed.
I couldn't keep myself from laughing a little.
"What's so funny," she asked.
"Nothin', just never seen anyone enjoy a candy bar that much."
She smiled again, "Thank you. You didn't have to get me anything."
"I didn't have to, I wanted to. Plus, Carol told me you were wantin' chocolate so I thought I should try to get you some."
"I was but didn't actually think I'd get some."
She picked up one of the books, "Baby names? I guess I gotta pick one eventually."
"We," I corrected her, "we have to pick one."
She smiled slightly and leaned back on her pillow and yawned, her eyes were slowly closing.
"I have watch tonight so I'll see if Carol or Carl or someone can take care of Judith so you can rest."
"Okay," She said without moving or opening her eyes.
"I'll come check on you when my shift is over," I told her. Before I left, I put my hand on her stomach and kissed her head. She smiled again. I realized then, that I love seeing her smile no matter the reason.
Carol ended up taking Judith for the night.
I had been in the guard tower for a while when I heard someone coming up the stairs. I turned around hoping and expecting to see Beth.
"Beth?" Before I could fully focus in on her, I saw blonde hair and then felt her lips on mine. I pulled back, "We can't do this, " I told her. She kissed me again.