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Author's note: Heyyyyy I'm back and on a mission to finish this story! Quick note, I had to go back and change some small details to fit the new plot I have in mind... If you are caught up as of April 6 2021, you're good to go. If you read this earlier than that, go back and reread Ch 25-here. SORRY! Thanks for all your support, you all are the best!!!


I eye the child wearily, and she stares back with Carl's eyes. The tiny thing is so strange and foreign to me, I can't help but stare. I try to remember the last time I saw a baby, and then it dawns in me. Denali's nephew, back at Whiterock. He was a very fat, very cute baby with a head full of hair and chubby fists that grabbed at shiny things. How strange that this tiny human was my blue eyed window to the past.

"Do you want to hold her?" Carl asks, offering up the infant. Rick tenses for a moment, as does the woman with the sword, Michonne. They don't know what to make of me, and that's okay. I'm not sure what I make of them.

I told Daryl I would stay, and for now I don't have much of a choice anyways. It was going to be a long time before I was comfortable, maybe never. The amount of people here, the sound of them breathing, the sensation of being watched, the loudness of them being alive... I've learned groups don't work out the hard way twice, now.

I look around at the familiar and unfamiliar faces. This first group taught me that I couldn't rely on others to take care of me, and I'm the only person I can trust with my life.

Surviving alone was easier than surviving together.

The last group taught me that confident cruelty increased with numbers, and if I didn't spend enough time alone, I couldn't keep my own values straight.

Surviving alone was easier for surviving together.

Alone has always worked for me, but there was always something missing. If Daryl had been with me all this time, no way I would have ended up with the Saviors. We would have hunted and stayed quiet, and stayed safe .

The realization pierces my daydreaming, a sudden flash of lightning illuminating the shadows of doubt and the precipice they protect.

I'm not staying for any of them. I'm not even sure I care if they live or die. I'm staying for him. And when the time is right, I will leave this group, with his hand in mine.

Daryl pokes at the fire with the toe of his boot, oblivious to the friction in the air.

I shake my head. "Babies don't like me much, they always cry when I hold them," I smile weakly. Shadow bows her head and nickers lightly as she eats some of the stale hay from the ground , I think agreeing with me.

The wind seems to die down for a moment just before the sun sets, and the air in the barn is almost warm.

We sit around the fire, dividing up the victims of my snares hungrily. I sit a little further back from the others, which Daryl notices. He wordlessly scoots back to sit close to me, our arms inches away from one another. The proximity is unfamiliar still, but I don't shy from it.

"Sonora." Rick's voice is gravelly and tired, but has a presence that demands he is listened to. I look up. "What happened after Hershel's farm?"

"I was alone." I reply curtly, chucking a bone into the fire.

This answer doesn't satisfy him. "You said you've killed seven people. Who were they?" The others look at me expectantly.

I bristle at his demanding tone. "You think I introduced myself first? I don't know. They're dead." I thought I had reconciled with the guilt, but Rick's prodding creates a stirring in my chest that makes my breath catch in my throat.

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