AN: Okay, I'm not gonna lie, I'm not a big fan of TV Ezekiel. So my therapy was to write and Ezekiel that I like. I hope you like this version as well. Have a great night!
Out of the Darkness - Part 2
"Ezekiel," Carol sighed. "It's late, what are you doing here?"
"Aren't you going to invite me in?" He asked. Carol wearily eyed the tiger. "I'll chain him outside," Zeke chuckled. "He's not much of a house cat anyway." He quickly chained up Shiva and entered the house. "We need to talk," he said, dropping the accent and the clairvoyant act. It was part of the reason he loved being around Carol - she was the only one who knew the real him.
"Fine, come sit," she said leading him to the living room. Zeke sat in a chair and she sat across the room on the couch. It was evident she was distancing herself, both physically and emotionally. Whatever happened with her and Daryl had her on edge.
"I'm not gonna lie, you intrigue me," Ezekiel started. He could see her bristle and knew he was making her uncomfortable so he tried to get the rest out quickly. "That's why I want to help you, why I've been so focussed on making you realize you have a future out there." He took a deep breath. "It wasn't until today that I realized exactly how I'm going to help."
"You gotta stop… you and Morgan both…" Carol said, sighing again.
"No, for once - you - need to listen," Zeke interrupted, his tone very serious. She glared but like she did so many others Carol didn't scare him. "You have a future if you would just open your damn heart and let love in."
Her eyes widened, "You mean… you?" Her words hurt him because she seemed so shocked and resistant. He decided it was because of how she felt about Daryl, and not because of anything personal towards him.
"No, sadly, not me," Zeke shook his head. "You know who. It's why you look like someone just died, sadder than I have ever seen you before. You know, I know, Morgan knows and… I am pretty sure he probably knows too, though he seems just as damn stubborn as you from what I have seen."
"I can't be in love," Carol snapped. "That just makes it even worse."
"Oh Carol, but don't you see? You already are. You love him. It's too late to change that," Ezekiel replied, his voice softening. "I don't know when it happened, but I'm willing to bet how you feel about Daryl is part of why you ran away." He could tell from the look on her face that he was right. "You gotta stop running away from the one thing left in this world that makes life worth living."
"I don't want to see him die," she stated. "It's not just him, others too. But Daryl… that would kill me."
"So you lock yourself away here, alone, and you take the chance you'll never see him again?" Zeke prodded. "Don't you see? You're killing them all. You're killing them in your mind I mean." Carol looked away. "And you know what else? You're killing yourself in their world, taking yourself out of their lives like this." Still she wouldn't look at him. "Carol, please… let yourself love and let yourself be loved. It's not gonna be easy. Nothing is easy anymore. But don't punish yourself like this, don't punish those who care about you."
Finally she looked up and she admitted something he never thought he would hear from her lips, "I'm scared." Tears filled her eyes. "Love has never really worked out for me… the people I love - they die. That's why I refused to let myself fall in love with him. If I do… he's going to die."
Ezekiel stood and walked over to her. He offered a hug and she took it. It wasn't the kind of hug he'd imagined and hoped for, but it still felt good to comfort her. "Daryl isn't going to die because you love him… he's going to live, he's going to be happy, because you love him."
He held her for a long time, letting her cry silently. Ezekiel knew it was going to rip his heart out to see her leave with Daryl, but he was feeling pretty confident at that point that he'd got through to her - finally, and that was all that truly mattered.
Zeke heard a low rumble coming from outside and he quickly released her. "Someone is here," he whispered. Shiva could sense someone approaching long before they arrived. Ezekiel quickly went outside to calm the tiger before he let out a full roar.
Carol followed him and they waited on the porch until the two figures came into view: Morgan and Daryl. Zeke felt a sadness wash over him. Even though he'd been instrumental in setting things up, it was still hard to accept that in only a few minutes he would lose her for good. He sucked in a breath and put back on his royal persona, "Morgan, my good Shepherd, what brings you here on this fine evening?"
Morgan didn't reply, Daryl did, but he wasn't addressing Ezekiel. "Is he why? Is he why… you said no? Why you won't come with me?" His tone was seething with jealousy but the look on his face was pure, gut wrenching hurt.
"No you idiot," Carol replied, stepping off the porch and starting towards him. "You can thank him for giving me the kick in the ass I needed. I'm coming with you," she said softly as she stopped before him. "Because… I love you."
"Oh," Daryl muttered, looking dumbfounded as if that was the last thing he expected. Zeke looked at Morgan and saw him grinning.
"Oh? That's it?" Carol teased.
"No, uh, no… I mean.. uh," Daryl stammered. "I love you too," he whispered. Ezekiel was pretty sure he had never seen a man so shy and unsure of himself. He was also sure that Carol's love would change that - quickly.
He risked a glance at Carol's face and his heart ached. The look on her face was exactly the way he'd wanted her to look at him. Zeke realized they were going to kiss, likely their first real kiss and he knew he should look away and give them privacy, but he couldn't make himself avert his eyes. It was magical. Like that moment in a movie that builds for 90 minutes and finally happens. It made his heart ache again, but for a different reason. The two of them, kissing passionately in the moonlight was so tender and touching, like an artist painting a beautiful portrait on a canvas.
When the kiss went on a little longer than expected he finally looked away and caught Morgan's eye. He could see a look of respect and gratitude from his new friend. He had asked for Morgan's trust and he'd given it, so Zeke felt good he had made good on their agreement.
When Ezekiel looked away the kiss had ended and they were hugging. He gave them a moment before he finally spoke. "Stay here tonight," Ezekiel said, placing a hand on Daryl's shoulder. "But do stop by in the morning for a delightful breakfast, and to bid us all adieu." He addressed them both. "And remember, once things settle you always welcome at The Kingdom."
He tugged Shiva's leash, nodded to Morgan and they started to walk away. Ezekiel didn't look back. He knew if he did he would see the silhouette of lovers, leaning on each other. His heart was breaking but he knew it would heal. And he knew he could be proud for helping bring Carol out of the darkness she had enslaved herself in. The real hero, her hero, was the handsome redneck in her arms and he couldn't help but wish them a long and happy life together. Zeke smiled, one day his queen would arrive too. And he would understand the true power… of love.