For the first time after the war’s end and the reveal of the Reader’s relationship with Negan, she is forced to encounter Daryl and Maggie at the Hilltop
The sun was already turning softer as the dusk began to slowly set in and drowned the trees and all that surrounded them into a warm light as the truck rushed past them.
Normally you liked this time of the day that made all seem a little more peaceful but at this point, on this day, this time was just an indicator of you getting closer to the Hilltop, the place you wanted to be the least in these moments.
Between your legs still stood the big, black sportsbag that held all your and Negan’s personal belongings in you had taken several hours ago from the Sanctuary, before you even knew that you were about to take off to the Hilltop first before going back to Alexandria.
You weren’t even sure whose glorious idea it had been to make the big detour to the Hilltop instead of just driving back, you only knew that you couldn’t stand the idea, even worse, you were afraid of it.
Tara, Rosita and Aaron, along with the new people from other communities were talking quietly here and there and just as occasionally as you heard them talking, you could see Tara’s, even Rosita’s, cold glances wandering over to you.
Aaron was the only one of your old friends in here who didn’t treat you like a complete stranger or even enemy, he was still pretty reserved and talked as little with you as he could, but in comparison with the other two, especially Tara, he was being kind.
You gulped as you looked down to the sports bag and fumbled once again nervously on the loose black threads on its belts, knowing that sooner or later you would arrive at the Hilltop and you would have to see all those people who wanted you nothing else than gone.
And next to all them was this one person ghosting through your mind, that made it harder for you with every moment and every foot this truck drove.
The encounter on the battlefield with your half-brother had been enough for you, his coldness, his harsh and sharp, even hatred filled words, his crossbow that had pointed at you, all this still send harsh shivers through your body.
It had been about two weeks, maybe a little more or less since then, but not even nearly enough to make him calm down just a tiny bit.
You knew as soon as he would see you, see the bag and what was inside, that his blood would boil up and make him lash out again.
Hell, after everything you could understand that he was angry and needed time and space, and you were able to give him that but in his anger he was being blind as well, and that was your problem.
You had saved him from Saviors when this war had begun, you had always tried to find a way out and you weren’t Negan’s little minion.
If he’d only see that, you would be fine.
And next to all this stress with Daryl, there was also Maggie at the Hilltop and next to Negan you could imagine being the person she wanted to see the least.
The cars were driving a lot faster than usual, obviously trying to make the detour work out and as then the car began to jerk slightly as the underground got rockier, your eyes darted at the front window and caught within moments the tall, wooden walls of the hilltop.
Heavily gulping you stared back down, your body sensing the way the truck was driving up the Hill until the squeaking of the rustic gates sent ice-cold shivers through your body.
Unknown voices mixed quickly with familiar ones outside the truck, people walking around and stopping nearby, ready to help unload the supplies the trucks were bringing into the walls of their home.
Then, the engine of the vehicle hushed and the truck came to a stop even though every inch of your body had wished for it to go on and on forever so you wouldn’t have to face this whole mess.
Tara, Rosita and Aaron, along with the other three people began to get up from their seats, while you remained like stuck to the wooden bench, not knowing what to do now.
You didn’t want to face them, especially not Maggie and Daryl.
And no matter what you do, something would be wrong about it.
If you would go outside now, help carrying the stuff like it was nothing, you could already hear those voices say what a respectless fuck you were for just walking around in front of Maggie who was carrying the unborn baby of Glenn who’d been killed by the man you had fallen for.
Just by the man who was still their enemy in their eyes, especially in Daryl’s who would feel provoked by this as well.
And If you would stay inside, protect yourself from just another destroying encounter that would in the end get nobody just anything than more distress, no matter who it was, somebody would call you a spineless coward.
But even though there almost nothing you hated as much as being called cowardly, right now, being called that was the better option to one or even more fights that would most certainly sooner or later emerge.
Already beginning to move on you saw tara walking with a cold stare out of the truck, already carrying a small basket in her hands before the corners of your eyes caught Aaron stopping right next to you.
Looking up you met his glance, his eyebrows pulled questioning up as you let out a tight and uneasy breath.
“Shouldn’t I better stay inside?”, you asked, already trying to read a reaction off of Aaron’s face before he answered.
“They’re gonna come and take things in and out, they’ll see you either way”, he said, giving you a small nod before he shoved himself past your legs and stepped outside the truck as well.
Shivering you tightened the grab you had on the belts, as if you were trying to find something to hold onto while your mind was filled with muddled thoughts.
This was a lose-lose situation for you and the more you thought, the more you knew deep down that if they would find you in here, not doing a single thing, you would turn into a bigger target or they would think even less of you than they already did.
They saw you as a traitor either way, but a traitor who was now not willing to even work was probably even worse than the provocative traitor who crossed paths with those people.
So even though every inch of your body tried to keep you on this bench, every bit of the pain that was left tried to keep you inside the truck and every bit of the fear tried to keep you from standing up, you finally got yourself onto your feet.
Slowly you got on your knees, shoving the black sports bag beneath the bench as much as you could so no one would think it belonged to the supplies that were meant to be carried out.
And then you grabbed one of the boxes with some tools, moved the truck’s tarp a little open before taking a deep breath and shutting your mind out to not let your fears make you run as far as you could into the truck.
Warmth was the first thing you felt when your feet hit the earthy ground, the very last sun rays dancing over your face as you tried to let them fill you with some lightheartedness as your slightly dazzled eyes began to get used to the light outside the dark truck.
People were buzzing around, carrying boxes in and outside the trucks, unknown faces mixing with familiar ones as your alert glance forced you to search for Daryl’s face.
And as they gladly didn’t find him, they instead caught Aaron and a group of others who were carrying some boxes as well as they made their way up the impressive stairs of the Barrington house.
With quick feet and trying to catch up on them you rushed over the uneven ground, doing your best to not trip until you finally stood behind the last member of the small group as they walked inside.
The chilly air of the old mansion let some goosebumps spread over your skin, just like the very first time you had stepped into its inside that already laid so far in the past.
Step by step you got further inside, reaching the stairs as you had do take care that none of the people who rushed down the stairs were taking you right with them.
Your stomach tightened, your body tensed up and it just got stronger as you heard this one familiar female voice that let your blood freeze within seconds.
Of course she was in here.
She was the leader, it was part of her job to tell the people where she wanted them to carry the supplies the Hilltop needed.
A cold shiver ran down your spine as you realized that you were about to see her again and even worse, she was about to face you again.
The very last time that had happened, you had cowered crying and whimpering over an unconscious Negan, cradling his blood-soaked body against yours as you held him and tried everything in your might to stop him from bleeding out until Rick had said those two words that had saved your world and had let hers break apart.
While your mind was trying to figure ways out how to get as fast as possible outside this house, your body kept moving and your feet kept taking you up the stairs while you fingertips rigged nervously into the cardboard material of the box in your sweaty hands.
And then you saw her standing next to Enid as soon as you had reached the stair’s top, while both of them were too busy explaining to another group where they had to carry the supplies in their arms to notice you.
You knew it was ridiculous, of course it was, but still you tried to hide yourself at least a little behind the blonde man who was walking right in front of you, trying to procrastinate just another awful encounter for a little longer.
You had enough of them behind you already and even though, or maybe even especially because you knew that there was no way past facing her, you wanted to keep the turmoil that was rising in your body as calm as you could for some longer, even if it were just seconds.
For a moment Maggie’s face lightened up as the other men stepped away, revealing the baby bump that was slightly hidden behind the wide shirt she was wearing but that still showed that she was at least somewhere at the beginning or maybe even in the middle of her last trimester.
Her eyes caught Aaron who was leading your group closer over to her, her voice boomed through your head as her friendly tone greeted him while you knew that this was about to hush sooner than you liked.
Your eyes trailed nervously through the room, your body shivering as your eyes suddenly caught Enid’s whose were staring right at you, coldly, while a harsh gulp ran down her throat as she seemed to realize that Maggie was about to find you too in the matter of seconds.
And then, she did.
For the matter of a second, not more.
Just that and her whole body seemed to tense up, all the muscles in her face formed it into a serious expression while she turned completely cold within this tiny second.
And within this second you tensed just as much up as well, the pressure on your ribcage seemed to press all the air out of your lungs as you were forced to step closer towards her as her glance wandered to Aaron for a moment, then she forced herself back to concentrate on the men and women in front of her and in front of you.
You could feel your own pulse pounding in your ears as there was only the blonde man in front of you left and you could see that Maggie was tensing up as well while Enid was still keeping an eye on her as she was speaking to a woman who was talking about whatsoever.
Your body felt like it was burning up as you saw the blonde stepping away and before you could prepare yourself any more or could look at her you heard her voice.
“Stairs down, first room on the right side”, that was all she said, her voice firm and strong even though there was a slight stirring inside that revealed how much was going on in her.
And then your body forced you to look up at her, her eyes darting right into yours as they screamed out the stirring that had sounded through her voice as well.
Those words had been not only the first ones from her to you after the war’s end, or even after finding out about what you had with Negan, they were the very first ones after Glenn had died.
And by the look in her eyes, you knew that she actually wanted to say something else.
She wanted to growl, maybe even yell at you, asking you what the hell was wrong with you for falling for him and for turning up at the Hilltop now.
You could hear her imaginary voice yelling about what Negan had done to Glenn, to the father of her unborn child, about how you could even look into the mirror anymore.
But she didn’t.
The woman who had once been a close friend just like all the others that had been part of this family, was now looking at you as if you were the completely opposite.
And right now, it felt like Carl had been wrong with saying in his letter to you that no matter with who or where you were, you would be part of this family.
Right now, it felt like you weren’t part of it anymore at all, regardless of how much you wanted it.
So you just stood in front of her, knowing that anything you would say would make it all just worse while a harsh gulp traveled down your throat, your lips pressed tightly on one another while the pain filled glance which you tried to keep as strong as possible began to trail off as you just gave her a small nod.
The next thing you found yourself doing was stumbling down the stairs, doing your best to keep the calm face expression on to not let anybody see the mess that was actually going on in you.
You made yourself through a group of a few more busy people until you had found the room you were searching for and began to step inside as you already saw Aaron and two other men laying their boxes down.
Slowly you walked in, your glance searching for a place to leave your carton on before you saw the taller one of the men walking over to Aaron, placing a hand on his shoulder before he calmly rose his voice.
“Been a while already but I didn’t get the chance to say it yet…I’m sorry for what happened to Eric”, within these words your breath stopped for a moment, your mind processing within seconds what that must mean.
You knew that a lot of people had fallen on both sides, you had heard about what had happened to Tobin or to Francine and even though you had known that there had to be more, you hadn’t thought of Eric.
You hadn’t seen him around since you were back at Alexandria, but since you had barely stepped a foot outside the infirmary, you hadn’t caught any suspicion, nor had you heard Siddiq or anybody else talking about it.
And now, now that you heard it, you didn’t only feel incredibly bad for what Aaron must have gone through, you felt horrible for not noticing it earlier as well and it made you ask yourself what else you didn’t know yet.
“Thank you…it’s okay”, Aaron said, giving the tall man a small, forced up smile while you let out a tight breath and laid the box onto a small table before Aaron’s glance caught yours.
Gulping you looked at him, another tight breath falling from your lips as you stepped a little closer.
“Aaron, I didn’t know”, you said, almost exhaled as you let pressed your lips on one another, trying to search for the right words,”I’m sorry.”
“Thank you”, you just heard him answer as he gave you a small nod, clearly not too sure how to behave as well before he exhaled shivering and turned around, leaving you alone in the big room.
Just moments later you walked out of the mansion again, breathing in the fresh air as if it would urge the tension out of your body while you began to make your way over to the trucks that were parked along the side of the Barrington house.
People were still carrying boxes of supplies in and out if the trucks, even though it gradually became less busy around the vehicles.
You tried to loose yourself some more up as you made your way through a few trucks, intending to go back to the one which had gotten you here and see if you had anything left that was meant to stay at the Hilltop.
Your breath was becoming less tensed again, your ribcage rising and falling with less pressure before it suddenly stopped by the sight in front of you.
There it was, the truck you had searched for and there he was, the person you had hoped to be able to avoid in every way possible.
Your mind raved, questioning if you should just turn around and go to another truck as long as he hadn’t seen you before fate took this decision away from you.
Just as you thought it couldn’t become worse you saw Daryl grabbing the dark belts of the sports bag you had placed beneath the bench and began to pull it out with puckered brows and a questioning glance in his eyes.
A tight breath left your lips as your heart began to pound relentlessly against your chest while you knew that you had to do anything, right now.