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"Knock, knock," Dakota said before hesitantly entering the room Shane was being kept in. He chuckled,
"I gotta admit you're the last person I thought I'd see walk through that door," His voice was quiet and he looked beyond exhausted. Dakota smiled;
"You shoulda seen me trying to convince Cas to let me in, even now he's standing outside."
"Why do you even want to see me?" He asked looking up at her, the dark circles under his eyes reminded her of the Revenants.
"Why not?" She replied making him laugh bitterly.
"I could write a list just from our first meeting." Dakota hummed still standing at the door awkwardly, "I really am sorry about the way I've been treating you and your kid," He said looking at the toddler hiding behind her leg.
After a moment of studying Shane's face, she replied, "I forgive you." He quickly looked at the teen.
"Thats it?" The bewilderment was clear across his face.
"I can tell you mean it this time," she laughed sitting on the side of the bed with AJ crawling on her lap. Shane smiled,
"Hey kiddo," He said, sitting up as AJ took hold of his finger. "How old is he?"
"Two, he'll be three in December," she replied. He nodded,
"So, whats your story?"
"Well before I met all of you guys I was with another group. Two men a woman and AJ. The woman, her name was Sabrina, died first from an infection. She was AJ's mother and she asked me to look after him. Then Joel, Kay shot him when he went crazy," Dakota saw Shane wince at that. "And then there was Kay," She hesitated. "I dont really wanna talk about him," She said while adjusting the yankees cap on her head.
"Was that his?" Shane pointed to the hat.
"Yeah, so were the machetes," She said gesturing towards the two swords leaning against the door frame. "He taught me how to use 'em."
"I'm sorry for bringing it up," He said looking sincere.
"Its not your fault," She stood up, "You just focus on getting better, Rick could use a friend." She looked over to see Shane about to say something when he was interrupted by a shrill voice,
"He attacked me and you're letting him near two children?!" It was Lori.
"Fuck," Dakota whispered.
Cas had been keeping a close eye on Shane, suddenly wishing he could get the poor man some anti-psychotics. They had switched from having him tied to a chair to having him shackled to a bedpost with heavy iron shackles, so he could move around and sleep comfortably.
[b [+blue "How are you doing today Mister Walsh?"]] His voice was soft and gentle, a completely different person from the man who had gotten so pissed off at the former cop that he had punched him. Cas felt guilty, he should have known that Shane was loosing it when he had to pull the man off of Lori.
Cas was jerked back to the present when Shane sorted and scooted forward to lean closer to the Colonel,
"I'd be doing a lot better if you let me go, Doc." Shane sighed and sat back in his chair,
[b [+blue "You know I can't do that until I'm completely sure you're safe to be around children. I can't afford to put Carl, Dakota or A.J. in anymore danger than they are already in being in a world like this..."]]
"I'd never hurt a kid!" Cas's brows furrowed and he sat forward,
[b [+blue "Shane, what is the last this you remember clearly? I need to know so I can make a proper diagnosis."]] Shane drew a shuddering breath, his face twisting in pain,
"You pulled me off of Lori... I... I can't, it was like I wasn't even in control of myself..." A shuddering gasp left Shane's chest, pulling at Cas's heartstrings even as his brain began cataloging everything and matching mental illnesses to Shane's symptoms.
[b [+blue "Shane, have you ever had any other episodes where you didn't remember something properly, possibly during a time of immense emotional or mental stress?"]]
"Few times when I was younger, but once I got out on my own they stopped until..."
[b [+blue "Until Lori refused to let you explain yourself?"]] Shane winced and nodded. Cas sighed and patted the older man's leg before standing, [b [+blue "I know, I know... I'll be right back Shane, gotta go talk to Glenn about picking something up for me on his next run."]] He left the room, his heart aching for the man shackled to the bed because of something that wasn't even really his fault. Daryl jogged up to Cas, crossbow slung lazily across his shoulder.
[b [+red "You look like a man on a mission, you figure out what's wrong with Walsh?"]] Cas glanced at the redneck and smiled softly, scratching nervously at his stubble,
[b [+blue "I think so... The fix could be as simple as forcing Lori to sit down and make the bitch listen to Shane's explanation, thus getting rid of the stressor that is causing his break down, but I'd like to see if Glenn can pick me up some anti-depressants while he's out on his run. At least to knock the edge off for the poor man until he can get his head straight."]] Cas stopped next to the group by the well and wrinkled his nose at the stench, [b [+blue "Whose brilliant idea was this? Now we're down a well and have over a dozen people to feed and water, not to mention the cattle."]] Everyone looked around sheepishly, making the Navy Coreman swipe a hand down his face in exasperation before he looked at Glenn and pulled the young Asian aside, [b [+blue "I know you hate it when people request things on a run, but this could possibly help the group out majorly. I need you to pick up some anti-depressants from the pharmacy, he might not need them, but I'd like to have them on hand if my first plan doesn't work to pull Shane out of his funk."]]
"It's for the good of the group Colonel, I have no problem picking them up, but I don't know what to look for."
[b [+blue "Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft would work, If you could get me a bottle of each that would be amazing, in case Shane's allergic to one of them or we need it for another member in the group."]] Glenn nodded briefly,
"You mind writing those down for me? I'm going on a run with Maggie tomorrow."
[b [+blue "Yeah, I'll get the list to you tonight. Thanks Glenn."]]
The next day everyone had set up camp at the Greene farm and Carl had started his slow recovery, when Dakota went to visit Carl she made sure to bring AJ. She didn't know anyone in the group very well, after all she'd only been with them for three days but she trusted Carl, and she knew he liked AJ and hoped the boy would help cheer him up.
"Knock knock," she said walking in the room, AJ walking beside her.
"Carl!" AJ shouted, running up to jump on the bed, Dakota winced and put her hands on his shoulders.
"Hey, Carl's in some pain right now so you have to be gentle okay?" she asked brushing a curl away from the kid's face as he nodded. Carl and Dakota sat talking for a few minutes with AJ putting in his two cents once or twice before Hershel came in. He had the two leave so Carl could rest and told them to help gather some water at the well.
She arrived with AJ on her back to find Dale and T-Dog already there pumping some water into a cup, but a noise coming from the well caught the girl's attention.
"No!" she screamed slapping the cup away from T-Dog before he could take a drink, "There's one in the well."
About thirty minutes later Dale had gathered Glenn, Maggie and Lori and thought up the brilliant plan to lower Glenn into the well to pull the Revenant up. "This is the stupidest idea I've ever heard of!" She shouted, she'd been trying for the past ten minutes to convince them to think of another plan but in vain. She watched in horror as Glenn plummeted down the well when the support beam broke. She quickly took AJ off her back and turned him away from the scene which ended in the Revenant ripping in half, contaminating one of the wells. "Told you," she muttered.
Cas's attention was mainly on helping Hershel, but when the old veterinarian shoved him out of the room he huffed and growled before storming down the stairs in time to hear Dakota's words. His gaze snapped to Shane and narrowed as he took the ex-cop in slowly, cataloging every minute detail he could about his appearance.
[b [+blue "Shane Walsh if you so much as twitch I'm going to put a fucking bullet through your head. Drop the gun and sit down slowly."]] His voice was a commanding growl, startling everyone, especially the cop. Andrea, the blonde gun-freak, stepped forward, a confused look twisting her classically pretty features
"Wait, why? What's going on here?"
[b [+red "You don't bring home a dead man's gun..."]] Daryl whispered, but the group was so quiet, every single one of them could hear the redneck's words. Cas took a step towards the unstable man, one hand held aloft, the other wrapped tightly around the handle of his gun.
Shane's hands were shaking, he was shaking, as he dropped the gun. Tears pricked his deep brown eyes, bringing a harsh well of sympathy up in Castor's chest.
[b [+blue "It's going to be alright Shane, I just need to to sit down for me... Why don't you kick that gun to Rick, wouldn't want anyone to get hurt now would we?"]] Shane seemed to follow the Colonel's orders without so much as a thought to disobeying, the gun was slid over to Rick and Cas tied the shaking cop to a sturdy wooden chair. [b [+blue "Now, I need you to sit their while I talk to the rest of the group, can you do that?"]] At an affirmative nod the colonel smiled at the former cop and pulled away from him. Backing away slowly, never taking his eyes off of the bound man. The rest of the group followed him silently.
"So what exactly is that about?" Cas snorted and glared at the dark haired woman that had become quite a thorn in his side,
[b [+blue "That, my dear, is a possible psychotic break. One of two things happened. He either killed Otis himself and took the gun, or wrestled the gun away from him after shooting him so he could get out with his bum leg."]]
"Shane would never!"
[b [+blue "Rick, I would normally never talk to a woman this way, let alone another man's wife, so I apologize ahead of time."]] The deputy shot him a confused look as her rounded on Lorie, eyes narrowed and shoulders squared, [b [+blue "Listen here you bitch,]] the gasps and exclamations of the rest of the group made him frown as he waited for them to quiet down, [b [+blue "I don't just immediately dislike people, unless my instincts scream at me that they are dangerous, you however are the biggest fucking cunt I've ever met. I've spoken to Shane at length and he's not so bad once you get past the fact that he's a controlling asshole. Now that means I also got all the gory details about the two of you after all this shit started. Do I condone you cheating on your husband? No, that's just plain wrong and unchristian, and I'm gay, my whole life is unchristian. Do I think you are to blame for this? No, you honesty believed Rick was dead, but you should have told him immediately when you found out he was alive. What I do blame you for is the fact you were so pissed at yourself after you found out Rick was alive that you didn't even let him fucking explain himself! That's the whole fucking reason he even started to break down in the first place."]] Cas took a deep breath as he finished speaking, his own hands shaking nearly as badly as Shane's were when he entered to house, except his were from anger rather than a mental break. He grumbled to himself in Gaelic as he stepped back into the house to pry the true story from the former cop, hopefully with enough help he would be able to bring the man back from the edge of insanity. He'd seen it enough in soldiers on the front lines that he also knew how to treat it, at least enough to get the man back on his feet, at least then they would know if he was truly and asshole or if it was because his ind had been breaking this entire time.
It had been four hours since Rick, Carl and Shane went looking for Sophie, and one hour since they heard the gunshot. "I'm sure its nothing Lauri, probably just a walker," Carol had been comforting the woman for most the hour.
"Lauri!? Is there a Lauri here?" A woman came riding in on a horse. After Lauri showed herself the woman spoke again, "Carl's hurt, Rick sent me," She gave everyone directions and took off with Lauri. After they wrote a note on a car window and left some food in case Sophie came back, they were off. It was a thirty minute walk and when they arrived Lauri and Rick were standing next to a bed with an injured Carl and introductions were brief.
"What happened?" Carol asked,
"My son Odin shot a buck, and the boy was behind it," Hershel responded. After a long few minutes of waiting Shane came back and dumped the supplies needed for Carl's surgery, Hershel and his wife immediately went to work while the group and their daughters waited outside.
A gun caught Dakota's attention, it wasn't one of theirs, and she was sure he didn't have time to pick up a new one. "Dear God," she turned to Shane as everyone focused their attention on her hugging AJ closer. "What have you done?"
Cas was fuming still when they emerged from the woods, his hands shaking slightly as he slung his gun over his shoulder. A slight smile twitched on his lips when he saw Dakota running after A.J. playfully.
Daryl dropped back to walk next to the Colonel, biting his lip as he tried to figure out what to say,
[b [+red "Why do you care so much about her? We... you barely know her, hell the group barely knows you but they differ to you more than they do Rick or Shane."]] Cas smirked slightly, stopping his stride as Rick approached Carol slowly, his head hung low.
[b [+blue "I have always had a soft spot for kids, even if she's not really a kid in this world anymore. Plus I can't stand the fact that Shane would kick a little girl and a toddler out on their own. To an extent there's safety in numbers nowadays, and..."]] He stopped talking when Shane stormed past, grumbling under his breath about stupid whores. Cas's blood ran cold and he could feel every muscle in his body tense as he turned to watch the cop, [b [+blue "Do you want to repeat that Mister Walsh?"]] Carol and Rick, who had been watching Cas and Daryl started towards them, hoping to make it to them before the situation escalated.
"I said that I still don't want the bitch here, her or the bastard she calls a son." Cas's movement was lightning quick, giving just about everyone who was watching whiplash. Shane wasn't even sure the Scotsman had moved until he saw the blood staining his knuckles and Daryl having to use his entire body to hold the man back.
[b [+red "He's not worth it Cas. T-Dog needs your help, you still haven't been able to stitch him up after he got himself cut."]] Cas growled as he tore himself from Daryl's grasp and stormed over to the rest of the group, ordering T-Dog to sit.
It took a few minutes, but he managed to get the wound cleaned, thankfully someone had stashed away some whiskey and antibiotics to clean it and prevent infection.
Dakota stood in shock, it had been a while since someone stood up for her like that. Everyone was staring at her and AJ except for Sophie's mother. Dakota knelt down in front of her, "What's your name?" She put a hand on the woman's shoulder.
"Carol," she answered a small smile twitching at her lips when AJ reached his little hand towards her.
"Well Carol, I'm Dakota and this is AJ, I know you're scared but the sheriff wasn't far behind your daughter and I'm sure he'll help her." Dakota comforted the woman for a few more minutes before introductions were made. AJ had been put down during this time and was walking around and giggling at a few select people in the group Dale, Carol and Carl to be exact.
"And this.. is Shane," Dale said.
"I'm sorry about earlier," Although it was an apology Dakota and any smart person could see he didn't mean it.
"Sorry about being a dick or sorry for getting called out on it?" She responded making Shane slam his fist on a car and stalk off a few feet. When she looked back at the group she found AJ hiding behind Carl's leg, looking quite scared of Shane. Dakota bent down and slowly started walking towards him. "Im gonna getcha," she whispered causing AJ to run around with her chasing him.
"No mommy no!" He giggled when Dakota caught and spun him around. Though most of the members were smiling at her and the boy Dakota saw the way Andrea and T-Dog bristle at the name and Shane just looked disgusted but she didn't comment on it. The fun quickly faded when they saw the three men emerge from the woods without Sophie.
Cas couldn't help his knee jerk reaction to the police officer's words. His green eyes narrowed dangerously and he stalked forward, his fingers tangling in the fabric of the man's shirt.
[b [+blue "Who the fuck died and put you in charge? Last I checked you pussy footed off when Rick came back. Now you want to try an' man up and take charge by tossing a fucking toddler and a girl no older than the boy you treat as a son out on their ears."]] His accent thickened as he pulled the cop closer. His voice was soft so the Corpses couldn't hear him but the danger in it sent shivers down everyone's spine. [b [+blue "You throw her and the little one out and you lose me too. And T-Dog won't last too much longer bleeding like that. Not to mention the fact that we have no clue what was on the metal that cut him."]] He said the last part so low that only Shane heard him, honestly he would never leave someone to die if he could save them, but the cop didn't know that.
[b [+red "Colonel..."]] The Scotsman shifted his gaze to the redneck but didn't release Shane. [b [+red "We ain't gonna let them be kicked out. Just put Shane down and come help me look for Rick and Sophia."]] Cas let Shane drop to the ground, and pinned him with a dark glare.
[b [+blue "She and the baby better still be here when I get back, or else."]]
Dakota saw the colonel's eyes widen when AJ started to cry. Hugging him close Dakota started humming a tune her own mother used to sing to her as a child. Dakota found out it helped AJ and it became a habit for her to hum it to him. Soon enough AJ was only sniffling. After the last Revenant passed the three of them stayed in the car for a few more minutes before even thinking of leaving. Picking AJ up Dakota followed the colonel as he got out the car when they saw a little girl run into the woods with two Revenants close behind. She could do nothing but hug AJ closer and turn his head away as the sheriff chased after her, the girl's mother was being comforted by the rest of the group. When Dakota walked up to do the same a man with dark hair turned to her, "What the hell are you still doing here? We dont have the room or resources for more people go away!"
"But she has a kid," a boy no older than herself stepped up. "You gotta let her stay."
"She herself is a kid, you can't turn her away!" The older man from before shouted. As a few people with the group started arguing with the man Dakota saw the colonel getting angrier,
"Shes not coming and thats final!" Then snap. She saw it in his eyes, the colonel was furious.
The Colonel would have been completely and totally lying if he ever said that he wasn't extremely grateful to the white haired woman with the grenade. He frowned as he looked the woman over again, now that they weren't in immediate danger from death by explosion or Corpses, and realized that "woman" was not the correct term for her.
She barely looked sixteen, maybe seventeen.
[b [+blue "Thank you for rescuing us Dakota, I can't speak for the rest of the group but I am personally in your debt."]] He gave her a curt nod as everyone filed onto the RV and into other cars. Without even asking either Rick or Shane whether or not the young woman was welcome among them, Cas dragged her, and the toddler she was traveling with, into his chosen vehicle. She was a child herself still and he would not leave her in the area around the CDC when he knew that Corpses would be flocking to the area after such a loud noise.
The group made it a ways away from the CDC before they were forced to stop by the RV breaking down, [i again] from the sounds of it. Cas spotted them first, his green eyes widening at the sheer amount of Corpses shambling their way. He let out a low whistle, drawing everyone's attention before nodding to the herd. Grabbing Dakota and AJ he pulled the both of them into the van they were driving and shut the doors, grabbing a musty blanket to throw over the three of them. He made sure he was perched over both of them should any Corpses choose to investigate the van and find them.
He thanked his Navy training silently as he held his breath and peeked out from under the blanket to watch the herd amble by. His heart was pounding in his chest and he was almost afraid that one of the Corpses would hear it and he'd be nothing but dinner.
Dakota smiled, "We're here buddy," she adjusted the baby carrier on her back. AJ did a little happy dance while giggling. "Shhh, there could be revenants," she warned. she arrived at the CDC door when she heard a soft thud coming from the window to her left. When she went to investigate she saw a group throwing anything they could get their hands on at the glass. One man started pounding on the glass, she couldnt hear what he was saying but she knew the word help enough to know they wanted out.
Dakota quickly set her backpack down and started rummaging through it, when she stood up with the grenade everyone inside went to the far wall, Dakota set the item on the window frame and released the handle. "Cover your ears AJ!" She ran behind an abandoned car until she heard the explosion go off. Immediately the group ran out and continued running. "What the hell is happening?!" She shouted as a man of mixed race grabbed her and started dragging her away. "Hurry up the whole place is gonna blow." He said pushing her forward to a van, where the rest of his group was waiting, watching. Two people emerged, a young girl and an older man. Dakota took the baby holder off and hid AJ's face from the building while covering his ears. The two people dove behind a car right as the building exploded, Dakota could hear AJ crying. "Shh," she calmed the boy as the two made their way over to the rest of the group. Once they arrived everyone looked at her and the boy. Dakota sighed, "Im Dakota, and this is AJ.
Castor Rhodes crouched behind the doors to the CDC building he and one of the few surviving scientists were sequestered in. There was a group of survivors just outside the doors, he had all but had a screaming match with the scientist, Doctor Jenner, about leaving them out there. They had children with them, and he wasn't going to let that happen.
As the doors slid open he flipped the safety off on his gun and kept his eyes on the area behind the group of survivors. When they hesitated he growled and stood from his crouch.
[+blue [b "The fuck are you waiting for, get your asses in here!"]] He fired off a few shots, downing some of the Corpses that had gotten too close to the group for comfort. That was all they needed before they rushed in and Cas typed the code to shut and lock the doors once again. Cas flipped the safety of his gun on and slung it over his shoulder. [+blue [b "Any of you bit? Scratched?"]] negative shakes of heads all around earned a slight nod from the soldier [+blue [b "Good, follow me."]] He started through the dimly light corridors of the CDC building, barely glancing behind him to make sure they were following him.
Edwin Jenner stood in front of him, face flushed slightly with anger,
[i "Happy now Colonel?"] The Scotsman smirked as he brushed past the Doctor,
[+blue [b "At least my conscience is clean Doctor, remember, children are to be protected."]]
[b "What's he talking about?"] The doctor flushed at the question, shooting a glare at the colonel who just raised a single brow at the man.
[i "Nothing... Just a conversation we were having before we opened the doors."]
[+blue [b "Don't feckin' lie to them ye bloody arsehole! You were gonna leave them out there tah die!']] Green eyes flared with indignant fire, [+blue [b "If I hadn't all but forced ye to open the bloody doors they'ed be Corpse food! You don't put children through that!"]] Everyone was shocked by the soldier's outburst. The man stormed off, deeper into the facility as the group of survivors stared at the doctor.
[i "You have to understand, it's nothing personal."] Rick held up a hand,
[b "No, it's fine. We understand. Thank you for letting us in anyway."] Doctor Jenner gave them a sheepish smile,
[i "Thank the Colonel, he was rather insistent."] Rick nodded. The group followed the Doctor deeper into the facility. [i "Pick any of the rooms, we have hot water, but please use it sparingly."] The doctor wandered of to leave the survivors to get cleaned up before dinner.
Daryl groaned as hot water washed over sore muscles, he was completely oblivious to the world.
[+blue [b "I know I don't have a lot of stuff but did it really look like no one lived here?"]] The redneck started when the lightly accented voice of the Colonel broke into his peace
[+red [b "Fuck! I didn't... Uh... can you hand me that towel?"]] Daryl's face turned bright red as the Colonel handed him a towel, not hiding the way his jade gaze traveled up and down the redneck's naked form. His lips quirked up into a smirk as he turned and left the bathroom so he could dress.
Daryl made his way to the dining hall, his cheeks still stained pink from the incident in the Colonel's quarters. His gaze caught the man in question and he flushed brighter, grabbing a bottle of wine from the table and taking a swig from it directly, he needed to be drunk after what had happened.
The rest of the night passed in a blur of laughter and peace, everyone drinking the ample supply of wine that Doctor Jenner had brought out, well everyone except the Colonel, who stuck to water and watched the drunken survivors with a mirthful grin on his lips.
[i "Colonel, why aren't you drinking with us? Loosen up!"] Castor rolled his eyes at the Doctor,
[+blue [b "Someone has to make sure you idiots don't unleash a deadly version of smallpox while inebriated."]] Laughter echoed around the room despite the fact that the Colonel was completely serious.
The next few days went by without incident until the generators began to shut down. Then all hell broke loose. Doctor Jenner refused to unlock the doors, until Cas held him at gunpoint and demanded he release them, vehemently telling him that he had no reason to force these people to die. They managed to get to the front doors of the CDC, but the doors wouldn't open. Everyone but the Colonel was panicking. Cas took a deep breath and slung his gun over his shoulder. He had resigned himself to death once, he would resign himself to death once again. he sat down on the stairs and ran a hand through his short hair, his lips moved but no sound came out. His silent prayer continued as those around him continued to try to find a way to get out before the CDC blew up.
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