A time to reflect.
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The sun shone brightly when Michonne began her journey back to the prison. The prison was that one place she felt she was accepted and respected by others. It was a place where she finally felt safe. Not to say living at the prison had its ups and downs. Three months ago, the prison population fell by a third. A strange virus swept through and before they were able to get it under control, many died. Then, three weeks ago, they came under attack by Governor and his Woodbury gang. By some stroke of miracle they all survived and managed to chase them off. However, they were not able to regroup in time to find Governor, his men and for that matter, Andrea alive. Michonne was sad to lose her friend and since the siege, she wanted Governor to pay for what he'd done.
This was her fifth attempt to find Governor. She scoured the district and beyond and every time, came up empty. Losing his trail, she decided to finally end the search, at least for now. On her way back, she stopped off at a plaza and grabbed a few much needed supplies for the prison. This time, she made sure to bring back a few special gifts for each and every one. In this time of so much sadness and loss, she felt that her buddies needed something to lift their spirits.
Usually, whenever she was out looking for Governor, she would be absent for as long as a couple of days at a time. This time, she was away for a week. It was the longest she'd been away but, she was determined to find the monster who killed Andrea. Also, she needed to clear her head.
On this trip, she had decided not to travel by car. Instead, she took Flame, Hershel's horse. As one as quick and as smart as Flame, there were certain advantages of taking Flame along. With Flame, she could travel on terrains that bested any vehicle known to man. The down side of it was that his large warm-blooded body was a walker magnet. Still, his intelligence made up for that. He was smart enough to know when to stay clear of walkers. Although he didn't talk, Michonne thought he made a good companion on those long lonely roads.
It was only ten more miles left to go when Michonne saw the delapidated sign, "Savanah County Prison – 10 miles" up ahead standing above overgrown grass to the side of the road. She had been riding for the past fifteen miles at galloping speed. Up until that moment, it seemed as though Flame could continue at that pace for another fifteen miles. A remarkable horse he was. He didn't seem to tire that easily. But, on a hot day like this, Michonne thought best that it was high time that they took a rest.
"Whoa, easy boy", she said while tugging firmly at the reins commanding the large chestnut thoroughbred to slow down and come to a complete stop. She was marvelled by the beast for he had that rare quality of speed and stamina. He was a beautiful creature, lovely to look at. His phenomenal speed paid homage to his name and whenever the rays of the evening sun touched his reddish coat, in all his perfection, he glowed like a warm steady flame.
You ask, how did a veternarian farmer come by a race horse, especially one like Flame whose winnings were once in the hundreds of thousands. Of course all of this happened before the world became overrun by animated corpses. Hershel loved telling the story of how the former owner wanted to put Flame down after he tore a ligament in his leg. Despite his injury, he still placed first. Hershel knew it was an easy fix. That all was needed were several months of wrapping the area with nettle. Since the race-horse owner had neither time nor patience, he agreed to give Hershel Flame in exchange for free veternarian services to his other race horses. So, that's how Hershel came to be Flame's new owner.
Flame became useful around the farm but, it was evident to Michonne that he missed being at the races. He missed the thrill and the thunderous cheers from the audience. He liked whenever she took him along on her missions because he knew she understood and gave him every opportunity to do what he did best. Which was to run.
Michonne looked around for shade and saw a peach tree in the fields just a few yards away. She hopped off Flame and proceeded to lead him over to it. She scanned the area as they neared the tree. She was constantly on the look out for walkers because without any warning, they could appear out of anywhere and attack. Taking the reins, she tied a loose simple knot on a low branch. She emptied bottled water into an empty ice-cream bucket and gave it to the horse to drink out of. After he had his fill, she then sat down at the base of the tree next to him with her katana unsheathed by her side. She sighed as she took in the silence and the cool shade that the tree offered.
Although she was aware of the risks it came with being away from the prison for any extended time, at least the solitude gave Michonne time to reflect. It gave her time to think about Rick Grimes.
She was pleased with her findings. Top of that list were batteries and medical supplies, bandages, anticeptic creams and rehydrant crystals. She was elated to come across a large stash of X-Men and Avengers comics in one of the stores she'd discovered. Like Carl, she was an avid comic-book reader. It pleased her that they both had some things in common.
Michonne couldn't bear the thought of returning without bringing something back for baby Judith. So, she made sure to grab a few items for the prison's youngest and cutest resident. Socks, a teddy bear, and some much needed cotton tops should do the trick. She didn't see diapers this time but didn't have to worry as she already secured enough to last Lil' Ass Kicker, as Daryll fondly called her, for the next three months. She was glad she found a tobacco pipe and a bag of dried tobacco for Hershel. After he toiled in the garden, she knew he enjoyed kicking back and smoking his pipe. The one he had was beginning to show its age, so, she figured it was time he got a new one. There were other items she found on her trip that were not too bulky she could afford to carry back.
She found an electric shaver for Rick and thought he'd find it useful since he hadn't shaved in over nine months. A luxury that was ill afforded these days by both women and men alike, but, when it came to the men at the prison, they all had facial hair in varying degrees. Glenn's being the least and Rick's the most. His beard had grown half way down his chest. Michonne snickered to herself thinking that he looked like papa Moses with a gun.
As she sat under the tree, chewing on some beef jerky, it occurred to her that she'd never seen Rick clean shaven before. Nine months ago when she first arrived at the prison, one of the first things she noticed besides his piercing blue, dreamy eyes, was that he had ample facial coverage. Those eyes. She could never forget those eyes. They seem to grow more piercing the longer his hair got and the thicker his beard grew.
Gulping down a few mouthfuls of water from out of a plastic bottle, Michonne relaxed and stared up at the sky. She thought about her present family and tried to not dwell on her past one. Not a day would go by when she thought of her young, sweet, loving son, Andre. She missed him. Then, at that very moment, it was as if Flame read her thoughts and tuned into her feelings when he moved in closer and nudged the back of her head as if to say, I'm here for you, don't be sad.
Michonne smiled at Flame and reached up and patted him. She glanced at the brown leather saddlebag on his back and thought of the electric shaver when she saw the distinct bulge it made.
"D'ya think Rick would like the shaver ?" she asked Flame out loud while rubbing his large muzzle. Actually, she'd seen Rick without a beard, once, in a picture. She'd seen Carl with a picture of his parents taken in the days of happiness, before everything went to hell. It couldn't have been that long ago, but in it Rick looked happy and young.
"You know, come to think of it, he actually looks pretty hot with a full beard. Rick, the sexy mountain man.", she laughed. Flame didn't care much for what she was saying. He was busy checking out some feeled pears.
Thinking about Rick made her glow. She began to smile broadly and said with a sigh, "And those electric eyes of his. Whoo. I'd stare into them all day if I could."
In the beginning her relationship with the group's leader was not smooth sailing. Carl was the first to accept her. One day he told his father that she was one of us which helped change Rick's outlook on the sword wielding mystery woman. As time went on, she proved to be an invaluable member of their close-nit group. Above all, she proved to be fiercely loyal.
She was grateful that he'd taken her in and allowed her to stay and she always reminded him of this. She grew to respect him and looked up to him and she was not afraid to voice her opinions. She liked his passion, spirit and drive. She appreciated his inclusive mandate and that he saw strength in everyone. Above all, she has seen him risk his own life for others, including hers.
Little did she know that Rick saw strong leadership qualities in her. He saw how calm, level-headed and wise she was and how others revered her and listened to her. He found that he could always rely on her and felt safe to put his own children's lives in her hands. While she didn't realize it, he too looked up to her. Though he made crucial decisions for the group, he always acted on her sound advice.
Like everyone else, she had the greatest respect for Rick. But, eventually, her feelings went from respect to admiration to full on, raw desire. At nights she would lay in her bed thinking about him making love to her. But, it didn't stop there. All day, her mind was on him. Strangely enough, whenever she was on supply runs with Rick and a few others, she was able to keep focused on surviving and keeping everyone safe from walkers. "But, how long would that last", she asked herself.
Within the walls, it was getting increasingly harder for her to be in the same place as he. Doing daily chores and repairing damaged areas of the prison did not provide her with enough of a distraction. Hiding her feelings from others was a task on its own. Sometimes she preferred to venture out on her own just so that she could avoid Rick.
Though she had no qualms about killing people and walkers, she couldn't bring herself to make the first move. Because of Rick, many times she contemplated leaving the group all together. Mainly because she felt she would one day let her guard down and cause her foolish desires get in the way of everyone's survival. She knew she could survive on her own but did not like being alone. She'd grown to love the prison group. She felt it was her duty to protect them, not bail on them. So, she decided to stay but keep as far away as possible from Rick. She told herself that she needed to stay focused on finding Governor and Rick needed to stay focused on being the leader.
She continued to talk to Flame for he was her outlet. She didn't care that he didn't pay her any attention for all that mattered to her was getting things off her chest. Meanwhile, all that mattered to the the horse was getting some delicious pears into his stomach. Generally she wasn't comfortable talking about her inner feelings with people. So, for now, Flame was it.
"You know, I've caught him looking at me a couple of times and I am not sure what it means. Do you think he thinks I look weird? Maybe he's checking out my butt. Nah! Speaking of butts, lawd, would I just love to grab me a hold of Mountain Man Papa Moses Rick's fine ass and squeeze 'em. Um, mercy." Michonne went on monloguing with a naughty glint in her eyes.
"OK Michonne, enough!", she yelled at herself. She knew she had to stop, once and for all. She knew that this crush she had for Rick was getting out of hand and was getting her no where. All it was doing was make her act silly. For starters, she was talking to a horse, and how crazy is that. Secondly, she was going out of her way to avoid the man. And thirdly,
"Face it. I ain't his type. A loner with dread locks? He probably likes 'em chatty an' pretty with silky hair.", she said to Flame.
Flame began to nod and knicker and sure enough there were a couple of walkers approaching. It was their cue to get the heck out of there and be on the road home. But, Michonne had other plans. She got up, picked up her sword, quickly untied Flame and swiftly got into the sadle. She steered him towards the walkers even though eight more came at her out of the bushes. Looking at the situation, she held her sword up high and yelled her battle cry. "Flame on!" and charged the walkers. As she rode past them, she slashed their heads clean off. Those that she missed, she double backed and went at them again whilst herding them into small tight groups. This she liked, for with one quick stroke, as many as five heads were sent flying. More walkers emerged. With ease, she took care of them too, slashing and chopping along the way. Their rotting flesh gave way to the sharp blade of her katana. In the end, there were about thirty disembowled and beheaded walkers left lying in the fields. Satisfied with her short jousting exercise, she and Flame proudly trotted away towards the road.
Ahead of them the road was clear and wide and long. Flame knickered and snorted. He was ready. He was ready to run. So, for the remainder of their journey, she raced all the way home.