AN: hey this is set after the season 5 mid season finale. This is cannon, Beth is dead, the group is on the road and Carol is recovering from her injuries after being hit by a car (well ...sorta) let me know what you think...i have a few ideas to make this as a short CARYL multichapter if you are interested. angsty multichapter..

I do not own or profit from The Walking Dead

Chapter 1

Oh god..she was going to cough up a lung, and bring the dead down on top of them. Either way this was not good.

Carol leaned forward in the bathroom of the abandoned house they were seeking shelter in that night, a coughing spasm racking her body yet again as she attempted to muffle the sound with her hand.

Pneumonia...she knew it, she could feel the fluid in her lungs grab hold as she coughed trying to expel it from her body. She'd had pneumonia once before. After a particularly bad beating from Ed, she'd ended up in the hospital, the doctor had told her some people when bed ridden where prone to it, especially people with thin willowy frames like herself. Walking pneumonia he'd called it, she'd been worried she'd given it to Sophia but he'd explained how it was a little different than other bugs.

She eased her shirt up examining the bruised ribs she'd sustained when she'd been hit by the car from Grady Memorial. They wouldn't help things much she thought with a wince. It hurt to breath, it hurt even worse to cough, and if she didn't cough she felt like she was being smothered.

The group was in a daze, wandering aimlessly after Beth's death. The loss of another child had affected them all deeply. In many ways Beth had been more of a child than Carl. Her sunny disposition and naïveté had been something the group had nurtured wanting to preserve her innocence. They'd been wrong, it was Sophia all over again. They'd all failed, they all felt it.

No one seemed to have a plan...a direction on what to do next. They were scavenging, wandering from place to place picking up supplies in some half hearted attempt to regroup. No one seemed to know the answer to "what came next".

Carol knew she should go, sneak off in the middle of the night. They were barely able to organize themselves into nighttime watch, sneaking off would be easy. She was sick, and with no antibiotics she would slowly get worse. They were on foot, she was lagging. She was having difficulty keeping up, she wouldn't be able to defend herself. She wouldn't be a burden ever again.

She though about leaving every day ...even started to slip away last night...but she couldn't go through with it. It always came back to him, Daryl.

He was struggling with his guilt, taking all the blame for the loss of another child. It was all bullshit. He was no more responsible for Beth's death than he had been for Sophia's, but he couldn't see it that way...he just saw another kid he failed.

He was pulling away...isolating himself again. She saw it happening more and more every day. Before she left the group (one way or the other she thought grimly, as she coughed yet again)she had to make him see that.

She wanted him to be happy, to find some peace, he deserved that. He was the one and only person who kept her grounded since this nightmare began, since she lost Sophia. He was her rock, the one constant in her life, but he was so much more.

She noticed months ago...there was something between them, they were more than friends.

They ignored it, pushed it to the side. It was like a small flower trying to bloom and they were desperately depriving it of sunlight and oxygen. She wasn't sure why. They were both scared she supposed, scared to take a chance, to take a risk. She hadn't wanted to hurt she had after Sophia's death. He was the only person left on the planet who could hurt her if he died. That scared her, she hadn't wanted to be vulnerable. She wanted to be strong, but she ended up running scared.

She regretted it now...what they could have had, what they might have been. She should have taken a chance when she had the time. She spent the last two years trying to overcome all her greatest fears and ignored the biggest one of all; love.

She wasn't sure if he knew what had changed between them, she knew he felt the same way even if he didn't realize it yet himself. She hoped when she was gone he didn't suffer through regrets. That's not what she wanted. It's not why she kept the fact that she was sick to herself.

No one had noticed, they were all to absorbed in the day to day struggle of simply staying alive...of living with their pain. She would not fault any of them for it, they were in self preservation mode...they were all just trying to survive.

Daryl had gone on a run with Glenn and Abraham and Rosita, they needed supplies, maybe a couple of larger vehicles...he'd been gone most of the day. She wavered unsteadily on her feet as a wave of dizzyness passed over her and wiped her hair away from her burning feverish brow.

She had wanted to see him just once more, but she was running out of time. She needed to slip away, she couldn't risk turning and putting them all in danger in the middle of the night. She wouldn't do it.

The effort to move her feet out of the bathroom suddenly seemed like a marathon. She wasn't sure how she was going to make it out the door let alone sneak out of the house.

She was gasping for breath as she turned towards the door, her body wracked with uncontrollable coughing yet again. She was light headed.

"Carol?...Are you okay in there?"

Rick...she should have known. She reached for the doorknob to open it her mouth opening but her voice seemingly unable to form words.

The door swung open and she glanced at Rick's concerned face. She could see Tara and Glenn behind him with worried expressions as well. So much for sneaking away she thought.

Rick hand came out to steady her and rested on her shoulder when her body swayed yet again. His expression became very worried "'re burning up..are you alright?"

She opened her mouth but no words came out as her eyes rolled back in her head and she passed out.