“You have a wife?” Eden asked.
Max groaned. “Eden, are you saying that some crazy hell beast chases us down, almost kills us all, commands a legion of zombies and all you care about is the fact that Daryl’s hitched?”
“Only because the person he’s ‘hitched’ to was the crazy hell beast,” Eden said, rolling her eyes at her husband.
Max pulled Eden close and said, “Whatever. You’re probably just disappointed he’s not single.”
“Why the hell would you say something like that?” Eden put her hands on her hips. “We’re not all just waiting for the split second our spouse isn’t looking, you know. Some of us have morals.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know damn well what it means!” Eden was screaming now and Corrigan covered his ears.
“Guys, really, calm down,” Daryl said, moving to pat Corrigan on the back. Eden turned from Max. When he tried to move closer to her, she backed away but Daryl was sure he saw her grinning.
“So... she’s, like, in this building?” Corrigan gulped, his eyes wide. “And she could wake up any time?”
Daryl turned to Corrigan and attempted to keep his face as steady as stone for the young man’s sake. “She’s okay now, Corrigan. It must have just been temporary and she’s back to normal.”
“For now, but what if she wakes up?”
“If she wakes up she’ll be fine!” Daryl didn’t know what to think about Felicia being alive. On one hand he was relieved--and excited, of course--who wouldn’t be if their wife suddenly came back from the dead? But, on the other hand, she did transform into a vicious, zombie-controlling beast and try to kill him. Of course... he killed her first. So, by some cosmic measure of karma was she justified in her murder attempt? Were they even now? For some reason Daryl didn’t believe that was how it worked.
“Besides, she’s locked up pretty good,” he said. “They’ve got an amazing setup down there. Gotta be government or something.”
“Oh hello, hello!” An old man said as he entered the apartment. His posture was quite impressive for his age, despite his diminutive stature. “My name is Charles, nice to meet you.”
“Who are you people?” Daryl and Max asked simultaneously.
“Whoa ho, so eager for answers.” Charles grinned and stepped aside to reveal Lila, still in full body armour, weapon at the ready. As she entered she made room for...
“Donovan?” Daryl said, feeling his feet grip almost magnetically to the floor, hesitant to get any closer to his nephew. The boy wasn’t related to him by blood but it was impossible not to feel an overwhelming sense of home, relief and shame as Donovan entered the room.
“Daryl?” Tears were falling freely from Donovan’s eyes now. He wrapped his arms around the man and Daryl returned the hug. “I can’t believe you’re alive. And here!”
“And you! It’s been so long, who knew it would only take a zombie apocalypse to bring us back together.” Daryl stepped back and took in Donovan’s appearance. Nobody in the family had seen Donovan since he moved to the city and Daryl was ashamed that these were the circumstances that finally brought them together again, the only two remaining members of their family--except for Felicia.
“I know, I’m sorry.” Donovan was averting his gaze. “After everything that happened with my brother.”
“You don’t need to explain, I’m just happy to see a familiar face at the end of the world.”
Donovan cracked a bit of a smile as he looked up at his uncle.
“Ah, what a heart warming reunion.” Charles grinned and went to the kitchen. “Scotch?”
“Yes, please!” Corrigan exclaimed.
Daryl was quick to squash Corrigan’s excitement though. “Hey now!” he said, “You’re too young for that.”
“Oh come on, let the poor boy have a drink!” Max smacked a hand against Corrigan’s back and guffawed. “He did just survive a zombie attack.”
Daryl gave a sideways glance to Eden who smiled and shrugged. “I mean, I might like one too,” she said with a smile and took a seat on an extravagantly long sofa in the living room.
Max followed and snuggled up beside her, briefly pulling his head away to cough into his elbow. “Sign me up!” he called into the kitchen.
“Well this is a pleasure!” Charles grinned as he came out with his tray. “It seems like none of my guests are willing to share a drink with me lately!” He smiled at Donovan as he spoke.
“Wait,” Donovan said, stepping back from Daryl. He pointed at his uncle and his mouth opened and closed like a dumbstruck fish. “Vicky told me about a cop showing up. And that his wife was a monster? Felicia?”
Daryl averted his gaze from Donovan, staring hard at the floor.
“What happened? Why was she a monster?”
“I don’t know, I swear,” Daryl said as he attempted to craft a better explanation than ‘I shot her and left her on the side of the road.’ “We just... we just got separated while we were escaping from town, then the next time I saw her she was... well--”
“Chasing you down with an army of zombies at her command?” Max chimed in.
“Yes, thank you,” Daryl said as he put a hand to his brow, sick of the man’s games.
“And Wendy?” Donovan. Daryl didn’t respond right away, he thought about the bodies of Wendy and Felicia on the side of the road. He tried to say the words but they caught in his throat so he just shook his head.
Donovan looked at the ground for a moment before wrapping Daryl up in another big hug. The cop disengaged, leaned against the wall, hands covering his face as he took several deep breaths. “Listen, we need to get back to the farm, and we need to bring food,” Daryl said, not looking at his nephew.
“Oh it’ll take at least a night before you four will be cleared to leave the premises,” Charles said, sipping the amber liquid from his bevelled glass.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Max asked, wiping his nose on his sleeve.
“It means it’ll probably take all night for the snipers to take out the zombies that thing brought here. Just wait patiently until we can ensure your safe departure and we will supply you with food, medicine, whatever supplies you may need for your farm.”
“And we get to sleep in this cushy place for the night?” Max threw his dirty boots onto the couch and Charles stared coldly at them.
“Well, not in this suite, of course,” Charles said, glaring at the boots on his fine upholstery, “but one similar.”
Lila stepped forward and beckoned for Max, Eden and Corrigan to follow her out the door. Daryl stayed behind with Donovan and Charles. “I just want to thank you for all of your help,” he said, inclining his head to the old man in thanks.
“Oh don’t mention it!” Charles smiled his regularly creepy smile.
“No, this is more than I ever could have expected, it’ll really help us.”
“Wait, you’re not leaving are you?” Donovan said, dismayed.
“I have to. I need to get the others home safe with our supplies. I’ll be back though.” He put a hand on Donovan’s shoulder. “I could never leave you, or Felicia. You two are all I’ve got now. I need to make sure you’re safe.”
Donovan smiled and brushed a tear from his eye. “I’m so glad I found you two. Can I see Felicia?” he turned to Charles as he asked the question.
“Not now I’m afraid. She’s with the doctor.” Charles emptied his glass and grinned up at Donovan. “Perhaps in the morning? She may even be conscious then.”
Donovan nodded, then asked Daryl, “so who were those people?”
“Just a family that lives on a farm north of here. There’s a small community living in their fields, displaced people looking for a safe place. I found them after I got separated from Felicia.”
“Daryl,” Donovan hesitated, “I... I was wondering if um, I mean Julia called me, right before all this crap happened, and--” Before he finished asking the question, Daryl was sure Donovan had seen the pained expression on his face.
“No.” Donovan shook his head and shivered. “It’s fine. I’m fine. My sister’s dead... apparently so is the rest of my family, but I have you!” He tried to smile at Daryl, who half-smiled back. “And we’re going to figure out what’s wrong with Felicia and she’ll be fine. We’ll have each other. That’s something.”
Daryl smiled more genuinely now and Donovan’s mood seemed to improve. He shed a few tears more and then brushed them aside.
“What happened?” Donovan asked. “I mean, how did Julia die?”
Silence reigned between them and Daryl looked away. “I found her dead at your house,” he lied, trying not to think of Julia attacking Wendy in the back seat.
Donovan twisted his face. He suddenly looked as if he didn’t trust Daryl. But then, could Daryl blame him? Everything he’d just told him about Felicia and Julia was a lie, wasn’t it? Daryl couldn’t help but wonder if maybe Donovan would have made a good cop.