Partially typed on my phone, so I hope there aren't any dumb autocorrect mistakes, but I will edit on my computer before publishing.
Still working on Speechless, don't you worry about a thing. It will just take a little more time.
Modesty has become a thing of the past.
After spending just about a year out on the road with these people, there came a day where everyone just stopped caring about how they looked, what they wore, and how much clothing occupied their bodies at one moment.
Was it because the walkers and the decimation of human life rendered any consideration moot? Maybe. Or was it the fact that everyone helped washing the clothes of everyone else? Possibly. Though most likely, it was because everyone had walked in on Glenn and Maggie multiple times, so often, in fact, where it got to the point where the couple no longer scrambled to cover themselves; they just expected everyone to turn around and walk away. Such incidents certainly played a part in the destruction of the decency standards, but at the very bottom of it, it really was that everybody had seen everybody else naked at one time or another from odd encounters ranging from changing clothes in tight spaces, to awkward run-ins bathing,
It was mortifying at first, yes, but everyone as a group collectively got over it and just began accepting the limited privacy as a new way of life. No, the prison group doesn't run around naked or have carefree and wild orgies or crazy things similar, they just truly don't care.
As for many things, Daryl continues to be the exception. No one has ever found him in a compromised situation, just as he intends. From the beginning, he has always kept a distance from the group, proving true at the Atlanta camp, and the Greene's farm. He, too, shares the apathy for immodest situations, but he has never once been intruded upon. Just as he intends.
Daryl is not so much modest as he is ashamed. The scars on his back have been glimpsed at by Carol, which he doesn't mind. If anything, she understands, but he rest of the group will not.
Having shared so little of his past, showing the group his scars will only draw pity, something he has fought his whole life against.
Everyone knows of his tattoos as well. The ones on his arm and hand clearly visible, and the one on his chest and shoulder would ghost through his shirt periodically, but no one ever dared question their meaning. The group knew they wouldn't get an answer if they asked, so they didn't. Daryl was greatly relieved of that.
He couldn't deny that being so self-aware was getting tiring. His love of the group has has only gotten stronger through the winter, and though he isn't about to rip off his shirt and shout his problems from the perch of the cell-block, it is becoming more of a struggle staying so modest.
Until the hottest summer on record hits Georgia.
By July, a drought so bad it dried up their creek had called for the redistribution of remaining gas to the generators to turn the prison well pumps on. They aren't worried so much about drying up, because worst comes to worse, they just dig a well or dip into their stock of bottled water, but it still would be dangerous to work in such heat.
At the beginning of August, the continued drought is starting to make Herschel nervous. Having help dig wells on his farm, he and his girls are familiar with locating water, and constructing it. Like most of Georgia, the prison sits on an aquifer, though Herschel assured that they wouldn't need to dig through the rock to reach the water.
On a 'cool' 100F day, Herschel decides now is as good as ever to begin. Rick, Daryl and Glenn gather their shovels while Maggie and Herschel scout a good spot to dig. Carol, Beth, and Carl come to stay on standby to make sure everyone has enough to drink so dehydration doesn't strike.
Maggie and Glenn offer to carry off the piles of dirt that will be shoveled, and Rick and Daryl begin digging.
It becomes obvious within five minutes that there is no need to have two men work on one hole, so Maggie finds Daryl a new place to start another well. Finally, work is well underway, and both Rick and Daryl are making good time. Tyresse and Glenn swap out with them for a break, and then they switch back about every half hour.
The heat is wearing on everyone. Glenn has begun to feel faint, so Beth helps him cope with his predictable dehydration back in his cell.
Carol and Carl are fanning themselves from under the awning of the prison, in between both of the holes. Rick is getting more and more exhausted by the minute, and is dripping with sweat. His disgusting shirt was flung to the wayside a long time ago, but he still can't cool down.
Daryl, though, digs on despite his rising body temperature, and leaves his shirt on. He looks as if he jumped into a pool with all his clothes on, and it is beginning to drive him nuts. The sweat is doing nothing but insulating the heat between the fabric and his skin, and it is making him itch more than anything else.
Taking a moment from digging, he looks around. The rest of the people are far enough away that they won't be able to see much, and in this heat, he figures he is going to start seeing things if he doesn't cool down soon. Glancing at the growing shadows, he believes he still has another fifteen minutes or so before Tyresse switches places with him.
But this heat is so bad, he doesn't care anymore. He flings off his dripping shirt, and gets back to work, digging faster than before. The warm breeze feels nice, and it's clearing his head a bit. While his head may be getting clearer, the fact that he is only digging harder undoes any good. Barely taking time to breathe, nevertheless pay attention to his surroundings, he jumps in surprise when Rick appears over his hole, looking down at Daryl, saying they are done for the day.
He turns around faster than he should have, and looking up at Rick makes his head spin. And the shovel. And the hole. Why is everything spinning?
With his usual lack of grace, Daryl faints right in the well. Rick shouts for the others to come help, as he jumps in to lift him out. Bringing Daryl's limp body to an awkward standing slump, Tyresse reaches in lift him out by the arms. Glenn, hearing the shouts, runs from bed to help Rick out of the hole, and Rick and Tyreese carry Daryl by his hands and feet, over to Carol and Herschel in the shade by the prison.
Carol and Herschel work in tandem to shout first aid orders to the standbys. Buckets and buckets of water are brought from the animal's troughs, from the kitchen, from anywhere else, while Carl and Beth fan his face. The buckets are dumped on Daryl, but he is still too warm, so they keep running back for more. It takes another two buckets to get him to open his eyes. Once he does, Carol all but shoves a bottle down his throat, but Daryl refuses it. She actually does shove it down his throat this time, forcing him to drink.
"Not being thirsty is one of the most dangerous symptoms of dehydration. Why haven't you been drinking?" Carol scolds him. With a scowl, he downs the entire bottle. His eyes bulge, and he flips over onto his hands and knees and vomits it all back up.
The entire group has gathered just in time to see the whole spectacle. When Daryl stops retching, he recognizes the situation, and flips back around, worried what anyone will think.
"Drink more, but slower this time." Herschel hands him a new bottle, and Daryl again obliges. He feels horrible. His head aches, and he is on the verge of passing out again, but he also has enough room for self-consciousness.
He meant to put his shirt back on before he swapped out, but obvious reasons, he didn't have time.
They saw. They had to have. They know about the scars. Daryl is mortified.
Everyone did see. Did the recognition flash through their minds? Of course, but the only thing that matters is making sure that he becomes safe and healthy again.
After sipping more water on the ground, he finally was feeling good enough to move to his cell. He situated himself in bed while Herschel told him about how much water he should be drinking during the next few hours. He heard none of it, as he was more concerned with flopping onto his back and falling asleep, to try and forget about how much he was doted on.
Herschel left and Daryl closed his eyes. He didn't hear her come up the stairs, but Carol stuck her head in to his cell, and when she spoke he opened his eyes.
"They don't care, you know," He rolled his eyes, but she continued, "They aren't saying anything. I wouldn't let them if they tried."
"I don't need ya to police them," Daryl closed his eyes and blindly took a sip of water.
"I don't have to," Carol placed her hand on his leg, and though she would never say anything, she was pleased he didn't flinch away. She removed it after a moment and left to go help clean up downstairs.
Daryl's foggy mind is racing as he dozes off to sleep. Part of him wants to be embarrassed, but he doesn't think he can summon the effort to feel anything. Maybe relief? Maybe he feels relief. They don't care. They understand. They have all come too far together to be hung up on little things.
Today was a mess, no doubt, but today mattered.
This took forever to write. I've had this sitting untouched for far too long. I hope you liked it!