A For Want of a Nail fic, based on the televised version of The Walking Dead, taking place around the end of Season 2 and leading into Season 3. The story begins at the end of Season 2, so all pre-Season 3 spoilers will be unmarked.
As Rick Grimes tries to lure Shane Walsh into a false sense of security, Shane reacts in the nick of time to avoid a fatal attack from Rick and, by a stroke of luck, comes out of the encounter with Rick's corpse laying in front of him. The night doesn't end there as the inevitable invasion of Walkers swallows Hershel's farm and the Atlanta group is forced to flee, along with the survivor's from Hershel's group.
The following day the groups reunite, and with Rick gone, the group is leaderless and bitter over the loss of yet another haven. Enter Shane, retaking his role as leader with none the wiser that he murdered Rick in cold blood. But few are willing to trust Shane - there's Hershel, who still has issues with Shane over the mass slaughtering of most of Hershel's family; Daryl, who catches onto Shane's methods and the truth behind why Otis and Randall died; and Glenn, who trusted Rick from the beginning and shares Daryl's suspicion of Shane.
In Spite of a Nail Shane manages to lead the group to the same place as their canon selves: a Prison mildly infested with Walkers. Suffering from a long, hard winter in the sticks, Shane drives the group inward, intent on capturing the Prison for them and creating a safe place for Lori and "his" child.
Tropes seen in this story are:
- Adult Fear: Shane imagines Lori getting eaten alive by her own unborn baby to make himself tear up, making his cover story about Rick's death all the more believable.
- Alternate Universe Fic
- Death by Adaptation: Rick Grimes.
- Deconstruction Fic: Is Shane a better leader than Rick?
- Dirty Business: Shane convinces himself that murdering Rick was a necessary act, believing that the group wouldn't survive with Rick at it's head.
- Failed a Spot Check: Averted. Shane spots the herd of Walkers approaching Hershel's farm as opposed to Rick and Carl not detecting the Walkers right away in canon.
- For Want of a Nail: The premise.
- In Spite of a Nail: The initial progression. Shane's leadership brings the group to the Prison and into conflict with Woodbury, and the Governor.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Shane Walsh.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Shane pays attention to this detail after killing Rick and shoots him in the head. Unfortunately, this also prevents Shane and the others from learning that they are already infected and can "turn" without getting bitten.