Daryl Dixon had always been one to take the risk, to do something completely radical. He was never an accepted man in society, so why did it matter what people thought or not? He could do whatever the fuck he wanted. For the most part, he just followed his brother as closely as he could because he didn't know anyone else to use as a role model really. He was nothing. He was nobody.
But all that changed after the Turn.
He became somebody. Almost like a leader to Rick's group, the reliable hunter, a source of food and dependence. He was accepted in a way he never knew before. It felt weird, he couldn't describe it... But the first one who had accepted him was Carol Peletier.
He had tried so hard to shut her out. He was tired of losing people and he didn't want her to be the same. He wanted to push her away because she was just some woman abused by her husband with a daughter... And he couldn't even save her daughter. And he knew he was bad for her; bad, bad, bad. He didn't want to corrupt her to this new world because he already was. He didn't want her to get too close because he didn't want her to get hurt. The thought of that, he found, actually terrified him.
Seasons passed though, and with the bustle of the prison, their relationship blossomed, and had since he had rescued her from the tombs. Something new was happening her he wasn't understanding. Something he couldn't comprehend. Butterflies were forming in his stomach every time he saw her. He knew he wasn't familiar in love, acknowledged it silently, but he never wanted to feel like this, like a bashful teenager... What was this?
He became one of the council and his experience made him wise. Everyone looked up to him, to him for the most important decisions, for the final curtain call and it made him nervous. He didn't like the attention. He wasn't used to it. He was not an angel like his vest, he did not fly. And the smiles she gave him made him realize, somehow she was working him out of the cage that trapped him as a person and kept him from being so free.
After he lost her, it was devastating. He wanted to hate Rick, he wanted to kick and scream and bust his knuckles and at the same time he wanted to throw up and fall to his knees because his stomach roiled at the news. This couldn't be happening, it just couldn't. He didn't even see it coming and he felt like he should have, felt like this was all his fault. He felt lost without her suddenly. He knew her. Better than anyone...
And nobody even asked him what he THOUGHT, which made him pissed as hell.
She was his best friend... Or something more, his head whispered, feeling like he was going completely insane.
He was the one everyone looked to for a final say, and nobody had asked him.
He couldn't help but feel so betrayed.
During his journey, he realized he was an angel but his wings were broken. It was like he had fallen off a building and onto the sidewalk and broken them, shattered them like glass. The fall of the prison made him lose his faith, and being stuck with Beth was no help to his misery, because he just wanted to hope his friends were alive. He didn't know if he would ever see them again... And that scared him.
He didn't know if he would see Carol again, and he thought she was gone. Had even told Rick he didn't know for sure she would survive, because she was strong but he was scared. He was just a little kid going through life trying to turn into a man. He needed her, she made him whole, made him want to push himself to be whole as a person for her, to find himself, to fly, to fly.
She was gone and he wanted to accept it but every time he thought about it it felt like someone had driven a knife through his heart and he still didn't know what he felt, but without his training wheels that were the others, he was beginning to figure out away from the people that sometimes suppressed how he felt. That submissive nature was still lingering from his childhood and it made him cringe.
When she was reunited with him, he couldn't believe his eyes. He hasn't even thought, just ran and jumped and dived and held on tight. Like hell he would ever lose her again, and that's why he followed her when she tried to leave. He could not, would not lose her, he had found that he was falling, that he had taken the plunge without realizing and it was too late because he had fallen so hard. He was so Goddamn head over heels his head spun every time he saw her and he wanted nothing more than to kiss and hold her and make her the one thing he had ever had to call his own...
All this time since he had known her, he had truly been finding himself, and the man he was when they went to Atlanta together was the man she had made him. This man, his true self. And he wanted to be as whole as he could for her by taking the book on treating survivors subjected to childhood abuse and swiping some objects from the pencil can when she was asleep. He had been unfolding like a story in a fairytale and he hadn't known, just like she didn't now, and he knew she was lost like he had been once but he knew this was her, this was Carol. His Carol. He would help her through, keep her in line as they did to each other so many times.
When she was hit, his heart stopped with her body falling to the pavement. He wanted to scream and shout and run to her and grab her and make a break for it or defend her. Something, anything, telling himself internally, "Please, God, not again."
Hands held him back and it frustrated him because it was like his whole life, suppressed but this time for good reason. This couldn't be happening, not again, no, no, no. He had finally found his wings, he had finally jumped when they said jump, he had finally caught up with society and become a man and now the woman that was his Eve to his Adam was gone, again.
As he left Atlanta in the rear view mirror, he swore to himself he would make sure he got her out alive unlike Sophia. He swore he would make her better from those three children she lost. He swore this time he would tell the truth and maybe one day give her another child; though the apocalypse was hard, if society was ever to get back on track he had to acknowledge repopulation was still a necessity and not a choice since they never had the time to raid for condoms and birth control and abortion pills, and the walkers would lessen gradually to nothing, for they only lived in one part of the world. He swore he'd make himself better for her and get better from his trauma.
But most of all, a quote from one of his favorite authors rung in his head over and over as he drove:
"Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall."