ONE WEEK LATER
So far we have not found any more of our group. So for now we just have Daryl, Maggie, Beth, Bob, Sasha, and Judith. Judith is starting to learn how to crawl. Daryl goes on daily hunts for food while Maggie goes to scavenge. Bob and Sasha get water and chop wood for the fire. We never let the fire go out. Beth and I take turns getting vegetables, taking watch for walkers, and watching Judith. Upstairs is a small balcony perfect for a person with a gun and a pair of binoculars. Every day I hope I see carl and possibly rick, walking down the dirt path I came upon. I wonder how far this place is from the ruined prison.
Beth is out at the garden where I first came here. Woods surround this small road, besides the dirt road, we are hidden. I haven't been in the other houses. Yesterday that is what Maggie and Bob did, clear out the houses and find warm clothing. I got a couple pairs of good warm socks that are perfect with my boots. I barely wear my tennis shoes anymore.
I sweep the perimeter of the street one more time, then go downstairs to Judith. When no one is watching Judith, we put her in the kitchen with some cups and block the back way upstairs and into the living room. I step over the coffee table pushed up against the back way upstairs and sit in front of her, placing my gun and binoculars on the table.
"Hey little tulip." I coo to her while picking her up.
She smiles and tugs on my hair. That's how we talk. I talk, she tugs. I step over the bench into the living room and going outside to the porch. Beth walks in, lugging th big basket of vegetables inside. I go back in and push the bench out of the way with one arm so she can get throught easily.
While I wash the vegetables, beth keeps a close eye on Judith and stokes the burned logs in the fire. Maggie comes in and sets a plastic bag on the counter beside me. She unties it and takes out a loaf of ham burger buns.
"Holy shit!" I exclaim as I turn the water off and carefully handle the rare food.
"Yeah, there is a bakery a nine miles south west of the pharmacy." she says happily.
I put down the bread and hug her tight, "This is amazing. Thank you."
It's 2:30, lunch time. Everyone knows when to come in. Sasha and Bob come in carrying wood and jugs of water. Daryl comes in with four squirrels and a good sized rabbit. Beth comes in with judith on her hip. We all wait for Daryl to get done skining and cooking the meat so we have something to eat on the bread.
Judith eats some squirrel and bread dipped in the juice that we catch from the meat. Daryl is the leader of our group, he is a good one. Maggie is next in charge. We don't go out anymore after lunch. We eat rabbit for dinner with vegetables from the garden today. It's getting colder. We all sit close to the fire. I sit huddled between Maggie and Beth. Sasha and Bob are cuddled together on the couch. I check my watch, 10:30.
Daryl says, "Get to bed, we have a busy day tomorrow."
We all nod and say goodnight to each other. Judith takes turns sleeping with either me or Beth. Tonight it's Beth. I station myself by the window, like every night, I stare out and wonder about something or someone. Sasha told me about the govenor last week. What a cruel monster. I get back up and settle in my bed roll, staring at the embers until I fall asleep.
I wake up early to the wood cracking in the flames. Daryl is crouched beside it, stoking the flames higher. I sit up and press my hand over my hair. I take the two hair ties out and fix it in a high bun like always.
"Morning." Daryl mumbles to me.
I go over and hold my palms out to the flames and echo his response back to him.
"What's for breakfast?" I ask.
"Whatever we have." he says, getting up and putting on his jacket with the wings on the back.
It's getting colder. He gets his crossbow and bolts.
"Be back later." he mumbles before leaving out the back.
Maggie comes in a few minutes later. I get up and grab my gun and the basket.
"I'm gonna get my chore over with." I joke to Maggie, tugging on my green jacket and sliping my boots, zipping them up.
She chuckles by the fire, warming up like I did a minute ago. I walk quietly over to the kitchen and grab a ham buger bun and a cup of water. I eat quick and leave. As I walk down the street, I think of the canned food in the house I stayed in the first night.
The sun is up and the birds are too. I jog the rest of the way to the garden. I sing under my breath as I search for ripe vegetables. I get half a basket full of carrots and broccoli. There is no more vegetables that are pefectly ripe. I pick up the basket when I hear four shots west, not too far.
I drop the basket and run to the gun shots. I come to a big white house. There are blood marks on the door and the door itself is broken. I hear someone puke to my left in the back. I run. I gasp.
"C-carl?" I exclaim.
He wipes his mouth and his blue eyes snap to mine.
"Charlotte." he says.
I walk to him and pull him into a hug. I put my arms around his neck in this hug, tipping back his hat. I see the pile of walkers. I pull my head back and kiss him on the cheek.
"I'm glad I found you." I say.
He smiles at me, "Me too."
We let go of each other and walk down the road. He looks left and right.
"Cool." he mutters.
As we walk, his hand brushes mine. I take it and lace my slim fingers into his. I squeeze once, he echoes. We do that, laughing and smiling. We stop in front of another big white house. Carl takes a light that lights up path ways from the ground and lets go of my hand.
He hands me the sack and goes up to the door. He slams his shoulder into it and falls on his back. I cover my chuckle with a cough, he playfully glares at me. He wedges the pointy tip in the door and pries it open. I smile and follow him in. We go into the fancy kitchen that has been ransacked. He gets some cans from a cupboard and I get out more from another one, setting it on the table.
"Keep getting more food. I'm gonna go clear upstairs." he says.
I nod and continue to find cans. I hear him climb the stairs. I tune out the world and dig around in the cupboards. I hear shots upstairs. I drop the can of beans I was holding and grab my gun.
"Carl!" I yell, racing up the stairs.
I trip and slam into the top stair, knocking the wind out of myself. I wheeze and wince, knowing I will have a bruise in the morning on my ribs. I hear a door slam shut. I see Carl's back. I peer over his shoulder. He wrote, Walker inside. Got my shoe, didn't get me.
He turns around and smiles at me. I look down and see his shoe gone.
"Follow me." he says.
I follow him back down to the kitchen and he pulls a bench over and gets on the counter. He jumps down with a big can of chocolate pudding. I follow him again back upstairs. He opens a window in the next room with a can opener and two spoons. We climb onto the roof and start eating the pudding. When I had enough, I put down my spoon.
"Carl, stop eating for a minute." I tell him.
He puts down the tub of pudding and his spoon and turns to me. I take his hand.
"Judith is alive." I say.
"W-what?" he exclaims, a smile on his face.
I nod, "Yeah. I got her out in time and-"
I'm cut off by him throwing his arms around me in a hug. I loose balance and fall back. I grunt at the impact. In the time I fell back, he had shifted so his legs were on either side of me. He pulls back his head and looks at me. His left hand cups my cheek and his eyes glance down at my lips. I barely nod as he leans down.
He was being too slow, so I grab the front of his shirt and lean up at the same time. Our lips connect. I almost cry in relief at the prolonged desire finally being done. I wrap my arms around his neck. We break the kiss after a few moments for air. I smile and tip back the hat. His lips tasted like chocolate pudding.
I grin and say, "You taste like chocolate pudding."
He smiles and says, "You do too."
I go up for another kiss when he says, "Wait, somewhere not in the open."
I nod and follow him back to where we first met again. He leads me around. We walk through the living room and I stop at the sight of rick.
"He's fine," Carl reassures me.
I nod and take his hand as he leads me upstairs. He opens the door on the second floor into a green room. A teenage boy's bedroom. He closes the door behind him and wraps his arms around my waist, tilting his head in for a kiss. I lean in faster and eagerly connect our lips.
As we kiss, he moves forwards, making me go backwards. My hand goes from his shoulder to the edge of his hat, gripping it and dropping it on the ground. His hands tug my jacket off, discarding it on the floor, revealing my plain black t-shirt. Now that the hat is off, I run my fingers through his hair. It's damp from water, he proabably took a shower before leaving. The back of my legs hit something and I fall ungracefully onto something soft.
A bed. I wrap my legs around carl's waist as we begin to move our lips in sync, breathing heavy through our noses. I draw my fingers from his hair and slide them underneath his shirt. He shivers as I trace the very faint outlines of his torso, hinting abs. I dare run a finger over the elastic of his boxers and snapping it on his skin.
One hand that was gripping my waist is now in the crook of my knee, squeezing it in response of my bold move. I pull back from the heated make out and sit up, removing my hands from underneath his shirt.
"I should probably get back to the others, You can stay or go." I say, panting a little.
"I'm gonna stay, wait for dad to wake up." he says.
I nod and shift to the edge of the bed. I crouch down and grab his hat, handing it to him. I kiss him sweetly and break away, leaving him leaning in for more. I laugh and leave the house. I go around the front and see michonne.
"Michonne?" I ask.
She turns to me and smiles. I motion for her to come around to me.
"I have a camp with some of the others. Rick and Carl are in there." I say, pointing to the door I just came out of.
She nods and goes in. I run back down the street and to base.
"Where the hell have you been?" Daryl asks once I step into the living room.
Everyone is there. I can't stop smiling.
"I found Rick, Carl, and Michonne," I announce.
They stare at me in shock.
"They have a bigger house, food, and there are other big houses as well." I explain.
Daryl nods, "I guess everyone pack up and follow Charlotte."
"I'll take the horse." I say while rolling up my bed roll.
Everyone else goes upstairs to pack. I get the sling out and put Judith in it. I zip up my backpack and carry it out to where the horse is. I hop on the horse and wait outside for the others. They come out with their bags. I give directions to Daryl and tell him I needed to grab something in the house. I grab the cups for Judith and hurry outside.
I lock up the house and get on the horse. I see rick is up and on the porch in a rocking chair with the others around him, reconnecting. He sees me on the horse. I slide off the horse and let my backpack drop to the ground. I walk to him until I'm in front of him. He is standing in front of me, towering over me. Slowly, he averts his eyes to the sling. He shudders as tears well up in his eyes at his happy daughter. He takes her in his arms and sits down, pressing his forehead to hers.
"You have no idea how thankful I am to you, Charlotte." he says quietly.
I nod and smile. I lead the horse to the back shed and head back inside with my backpack.