A/N: I wasn't entirely sure the exact time it originally took Daryl and Aaron to reach the food company, so for this story's sake, I'm guessing it to be about a day's worth trip to and from Alexandria. (They seemed to find the facility in the afternoon and already returned back to Alexandria that same night)
It was early in the morning where the sky was still dark and the scattered stars could all be counted for. Lacking the intense city lights, the stars shown much brighter than they used to before the turn. Even with an absent moon, this made moving about in the dark much simpler for those who choose to travel in it. Also, it made it easier to see the dangers lurking within.
Daryl and Carol soundlessly moved through the town's streets to borrow one of the cars utilized for extensive trips. After closing the settlement's gates behind them, the two set out for the food company.
As they traveled, the sun wasn't far behind as it slowly began to peek its golden crown over the horizon and continued to brighten the morning sky in several shades of orange and red. The pair would talk every now and then, mostly about nothing in particular. Talking about the past seemed to bring up unwanted memories and pain that both did not desire to reflect on, so they kept their conversations subtle and focused more on the future.
Later in the morning, Daryl pulled the car over to the side of the road and drove into the ticket, concealing the car from anyone passing by.
"We'll walk the last few miles." He killed the engine and exited the vehicle.
Carol also exited the vehicle and walked to the trunk to retrieve their gear. Daryl grabbed his backpack and crossbow. Within seconds, they had abandoned the car and ventured into the forest to remain hidden for the rest of their journey. They decided earlier in the morning that they were merely scouting the facility; finding out who was behind the traps was the main priority for the day.
With his crossbow in hand, Daryl led the path forward as they silently progressed through the dense forest.
The raucous sound of branches snapping in the distance caused both to freeze in place, drawing their weapons in its direction. As the noise drew nearer, it was easy to distinguish that it was only a walker – sauntering with a limp and without care who heard it. Once the walker approached and caught view of the pair, it quickened its pace, going in for the attack.
"I got it," Carol said, hoisting her gun and reaching for the hunting knife secured to her belt.
Daryl kept his crossbow raised, holding his sights set on the walker's head.
Carol quickly put the walker down with a quick thrust to the side of its head with her knife. The decaying body then fell limply to the ground. Relaxed, Daryl lowered his crossbow and paced over to the walker. He used his foot to push the walker's head over so that its face was in view. As Daryl expected, a "W" was etched into the skin of its forehead.
"We've been coming across a lot of those," Carol stated, referring to the mark as she wiped the blood off her knife with a dirty rag.
The note Aaron found in the car the other day made its way back to Daryl's mind. Trap. Bad people coming. Don't stay.
Daryl moved away from the walker. "The place was filled with 'em too."
Carol slide the knife back into its holder on her belt. "Hopefully we'll find out why soon."
"Ya," Daryl mumbled. "Let's keep movin'."
After trotting another few miles through the woods, the pair finally spotted the large, white structure of the food company. Instead of venturing out into the open clearing, Daryl held up his hand to signal that they would stay here - remain hidden within the forest and survey from afar. The pair hunched down behind a fallen tree where they could get a clear view from the building's side.
"Those the trucks?" Carol quietly asked as she observed through her binoculars.
"Ya, that's 'em," Daryl said.
"Don't see anyone or any walkers. The trucks are all closed up, too," Carol said.
Daryl spit to the ground. No walkers out roaming the caged area only ascertained that someone was behind the trap. "The bastards must've already locked 'em back up. Setting the trap again for anyone who's dumb enough to mess with 'em."
Carol lowered her binoculars and glanced over to Daryl, a teasing smile coming to her face. "Sort of like you?"
Daryl returned her glance and scuffed, "S'pose so." Daryl, annoyed more at himself than Carol, reached for the binoculars from her and peered through them himself. Damn assholes. What he'd like to do to the pricks if given the chance. Yet, Carol was right. There was absolutely no one in sight. Not even a walker. The food company appeared quiet and deserted as it had the day before. Then again, once they had activated the traps, no one showed up or stopped them from leaving. Whoever was behind it wouldn't go too far, though. They must have come in the night to reset the traps.
"What are you thinking?" Carol asked.
Daryl sighed and lowered the binoculars, providing an honest answer even though it pissed him the hell off. "Dunno yet."
Carol shifted and sat down with her back against the log - now facing the dense trees behind them. "We could wait till someone shows up."
"Ya, 'cept who knows when that'll be. We could be here all day before someone does."
"Better get comfortable then." Carol smiled in his direction. "You look like hell. Get some sleep. I'll keep a lookout."
Daryl was about to retort but he couldn't deny how worn out he felt. After being away with Aaron for the last few days to the hour of sleep he had the night before – only because the incident from the food company was still seared in his mind – he decided he could use the rest.
"Aight," He agreed, lowering himself to the forest floor and rested his head on his gear bag. He looked up at Carol who wore a look of disbelief, as if though she didn't anticipate him to give in so easily. "What?"
Carol chuckled lightly then. "Nothing."
If it was anyone else, Daryl wouldn't be able to relax even the slightest. But with Carol there, he knew she was perfectly capable of handling herself, and that he could count on her to stay alert and inform him to anything out of the ordinary. This wasn't anything new to her, after all. Although he still hated the thought of it, being out on her own had changed her in some way. For the better, he settled.
As Daryl's thoughts drifted him off to sleep, Carol returned her sights on the stranded white building in the clearing. She was almost curious herself to see the trucks full of walkers up close, but also didn't want to risk setting off the trap. For now she would wait until there was some kind of movement.