Littleshelly0619 and blackqueenphoenix this one is for you ladies! Hope you enjoy!
Daryl was alone in his cell, lost in thought. It was almost dinner time, but something was bothering him - really bothering him.
Carol had developed this routine of leaving the dinner table and heading straight to the chapel to pray. He could clearly remember the night he finally found out where she was going. They had been sitting up in the guard tower on a midnight watch and he had decided to just come right out and ask her. It had led to one of the most passionate debates they had ever had...
"Where do you go after you eat?" he asked. Others had been whispering about how thin Carol was and that it was strange that she always left, right after supper. Daryl had heard one woman from Woodbury say something about bulimia. He wanted to interrupt and tell her she was wrong but he honestly had no idea where Carol went. He decided then he was going to ask her as soon as he got the chance.
"Oh," Carol said with surprise. "I go to the chapel and pray." She smiled, "it's not a secret, I thought you knew."
Daryl shook his head. "Why?" he asked.
Carol wasn't sure what he was asking, "Why did I think you knew? Or why do I pray?"
"Why do you pray? What's the point?" his voice was bitter. Daryl never understood why people wasted time talking to God.
Carol looked at him and took a deep breath, "It gives me hope, and makes me feel a moment or two of peace. I pray for safe passage for me, you, everyone I care about."
Daryl snorted, "and you really think he's listening to you? You really think he gives a damn?" He knew he was being mean, but he couldn't stop himself. Daryl quit believing that God was on his side a long, long time ago.
"We're still here aren't we?" Carol tilted her head to the side and watched him, waiting for his reply.
"Sure, we are. But what about Dale? T-Dog? Andrea? Merle... And Sophia?" Daryl said the last name with a slight hesitation. He didn't want to upset Carol but he needed to be sure he was making his point.
"He has his reasons," she managed softly.
He had struck a chord mentioning Sophia. Daryl knew that, but this was a conversation he had been needing to have with someone for a long time. He was angry, bitter, and the floodgates were open. "Does he have reasons for taking a child's mother away? Or allowing his Daddy to abuse him and make him feel worthless? Or for the whole fucking world to abandon him completely?"
Daryl was shaking with anger by the time the words stopped coming out. Carol tried to reach out to him. "God doesn't give us more than we can handle."
Daryl shook off her touch, "Don't," he warned. "Don't fuckin patronize me."
Carole's eyes flashed and she stood up to meet him as close to eye level as she could. "Do you not think I have asked myself the same damn questions?"'she hissed. "Don't you think I have wondered how He could let the man I thought I loved beat the shit out of me? Send me to emerge countless times? Almost kill me once? Force me to have sex with him whenever he wanted? Or initiate it myself to keep him from going after our child?" Carol's voice got louder. "You don't have to believe, that's your choice. But you do need to accept that I have faith in a higher power. I chose to believe in a greater plan because its the only way I can cope with everything life's thrown at me. It's how I survive."
Daryl immediately felt like a pile of crap. She was right. She had in no way forced her beliefs on him so it certainly wasn't fair for him to force his non-belief on her. He met her eye and said the only thing left to say, "I'm sorry." Not only was he sorry for being a jerk, but he was also sorry for everything she had gone through.
Carol met his stare and when she spoke he knew she had understood everything he was sorry for. "I'm sorry too." She had done nothing wrong so Daryl knew her words were directed at the scars he had just bared her.
They were silent for the rest of the night. Daryl knew Carol was over it. And at least he could appreciate what prayer meant to her now. Even if it wasn't right for him, it was deeply important to her and he could, and would, respect that.
Daryl fast forwarded to more recent events. The two nights previous Carol had not left after dinner. Daryl noticed the first night but wasn't too worried. It had been a long hard day. They had lost people. Several. And no one had really been in the mood to eat. They were sad, tired, and ready for bed. Drained emotionally and physically.
A couple children were among the casualties of a walker attack through a weak area in the prison fence. They weren't expecting it and the children had been bit before any adults even got near them. Carol took it hard. She was the first defender to arrive, only moments too late.
The second night when she didn't leave yet again, Daryl knew something was up. And he decided if it happened again, he had to do something about it. He knew her faith was important and he wasn't about to stand by and let her lose it now. She had held onto it through so much shit, he was terrified if what might happen to her if it was gone.
That night Carol came by his cell to walk to dinner, like she always did. They made small talk along the way and sat side by side, in their usual spots. When dinner was over he waited for her to get up. But Carol didn't budge. She started chatting with Glenn instead.
Daryl stood up and reached for her hand. He was interrupting her conversation and he caused a bit of a scene as he pulled Carol to her feet.
"What..." she sputtered in confusion as he started to lead her away from the table.
"Bye?" Glenn called out after her. Daryl saw Carol give him a shrug and a little wave.
When they were in the hallway Carol stopped him. "What are you doing? Where are you taking me?" she asked.
Daryl tightened his grip on her hand and gave her a tug. "You know."
Carol dug in her heels. "No, I'm not going. I'm done Daryl. You should be happy," her voice cracked with emotion, "I'm just done."
Daryl released her hand, "Ok, that's fine. But I'm not. I'm just starting and I need your help." He turned and started to walk away then said over his shoulder, "Will you teach me?" Daryl paused and held out his hand, allowing her the choice this time. His heart pounded until she finally reached out and laid her hand softly in his.
They walked hand in hand to the chapel. Daryl pushed the door open and they stepped inside. Carol lit a few candles and the room glowed with an eerie calmness. She pulled his hand suggesting he follow her to the front of the room. Daryl thought he was only doing this for her, as a way to make certain she didn't lose her faith. He knew Carol understood how dead set against this he was. And he also knew Carol. Back in that hallway she had understood exactly what he was doing, yet she took his hand and followed him anyway. He wasn't exactly sure if she had done it because she recognized that he was, in a sense, sacrificing his own beliefs to help her maintain hers. Or if she really wanted him to take a chance on belief. But it really didn't matter to him. She was here and she was kneeling in front of a cross mounted on the wall before her. That was all that mattered.
When Daryl slowly sunk to his knees beside her was the moment he realized it was just as much about him. Never, in his entire life, had he knelt in prayer. He had asked God for things when he was a kid, help mostly, but when help never came he had given up. And the longer he went without guidance the more bitter he had become.
Daryl tilted his head to the side to look at her. Carol had her head bowed, eyes closed, and hands clasped in front of her. He shrugged and modeled her exact pose. The second he closed his eyes something happened, something magical, spiritual perhaps. Daryl felt like the whole world had just disappeared and he was alone, in a peaceful silence. But the second he mentally said his first words to the lord he didn't feel alone anymore. Someone was with him. Not physically, he knew Carol was right beside him, but spiritually, someone was there and they were listening to him.
Daryl had no idea how long he had knelt there in prayer. But when he finally opened his eyes Carol wasn't there beside him. He turned and saw her sitting near the back of the small chapel. When their eyes met Daryl felt a completely different sense of calmness wash over him. She understood. She understood everything he was thinking and feeling. Carol would never say I told you so. But it wasn't about that. He had helped her heal and she had allowed him to discover a part of life that would forever change him.
Chances were that he wasn't going to pray every night like her. They both knew that. But the important thing was that he knew he could whenever he needed to.
Carol stood and walked to him with a smile. She held out her hand to help him up. When he was standing she didn't let go. "Come on," she said, giving him a pull once again. He gave her a questioning look. Carol rolled her eyes, "you really want to ruin your first impression on God by having sex in a chapel?"
Daryl waited until they were out in the hallway before he pinned her against the wall and kissed her.