Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont (for the moment) and others in the employ of AMC

Hands reached out of the dark and grabbed both Carl and Sophia by the back of their shirts.

As their final nerves snapped, they let loose high-pitched screams that weren't heard over gunfire even to the ears of their mothers who were frantically looking for them.

Those same hands wrapped themselves around their mouths, silencing them in seconds.

"You tryin' to get bit?" Said a familiar southern accent. "God damn, its me"

Daryl pulled them up on to a porch, away from herd of hungry walkers.

The door to the house was locked. Daryl tried kicking it in, tried and tried again until his knee started to twinge a bit. It did not give an inch.

"C'mon," he beckoned to the children.

No geeks noticed them as they hugged the shadows, following the dirty white lattice around the side of the house.

The fence was high, so high that Daryl had to jump to get a grip on the top. He scanned the backyard. No shambling cadavers in sight.

Two shambling cadavers had them in sight from the front.

Carl held an arm in front of Sophia, moving them backwards as far as they could. Their backs hit the wooden slates.

One of the walkers reached out to them with its decaying gray hand, its jaw unhinged, sucking in breath in a raspy growl.

A soft whir then an arrow imbedded itself in its neck, severing its spinal chord. It dropped, and writhed to the best of its ability, which wasn't much, on the suburban lawn.

Daryl reloaded the crossbow in record time, he didn't want to attract any more of them with the sound of a gunshot, and nailed the other one square between the eyes because he wasn't also holding himself up this time around.

The arrows were retrieved in another record setting time. The one with the arrow in its neck bared it's few remaining discolored teeth.

"You gotta purty mouth," said Daryl grabbing the end of the shaft and ripping it out with that garbled suction noise.

Being either brain dead or far too young for it, no one in earshot caught the Deliverance reference.

Carl and Sophia were still huddled up against the fence. Their wide eyes caught the burning white flashes of gunshots in the distance, silhouetting a few of the many walkers that were between them and their parents.

The only thing standing between them and the hungry herd was Daryl Dixon.

The kids were too stunned to move. Before they were noticed again, he hoisted each one of them up on to the fence. Carl hopped down once Daryl leapt over. It was quite the drop but the ground was soft due to the overgrown crop of grass. Sophia waited to be helped down even though Daryl had been a bit rough on her ribs when he picked her up before.

The backdoor was as impossible as the front was and the windows were boarded up with unmerciful plywood. This place was a stronghold; it would be perfect if only they could get into it.

The houses on either side would be less of a challenge. The windows were smashed, there'd be no resistance getting in, meaning they were walker traps.

Daryl picked up a small end table from the patio set and started beating the large wooden window no more then three steps from the door, concentrating on the lower corner, hoping it would lift and yield an entrance.

Each heavy bang made them flinch. Every bang opened up the possibility of attracting fatal attention. Like startled rabbits, they stood still with the exception of small twitches; keeping a fearful watch for any movement from the shadows, ready to run on the first sight of anything.

The hammering was interrupted by a sharp crack as the wood gave way and a laugh with panted breath. With a weakness in the structure, it only took two more hits with the now dented in iron table to break the hold on the upper corner.

If there were any walkers, they would have heard all the commotion and be trying to reach out right about now. All the same Daryl readied the handgun. The opening looked too slim to fit the crossbow through at the same time as himself unfortunately.

"Hand this into me" he instructed as he passed it off to Carl.

It was heavy then Carl expected, especially compared to his dad's python.

The rough edge of the wood scrapped against his chest, stopping in crook in the middle of his ribcage. The opening turned out to be too slim for Daryl to fit through at all.

After he gave the crossbow back to its original owner, Carl stepped up to the window, un-vocally volunteering himself to go in.

Daryl knew it was not a good idea to send him in first and tried to think of something else to try. He could try and break more of the plywood, but making more noise and tiring himself out presented too much risk.

The back fence started trembling violently as something or something's rammed into it again and again.

Now they had only had one option; get inside as quickly as possible.

Carl squeezed through the window, disappearing into the sheltered darkness.

"Hey" Daryl whispered sharply after him. "Get back here"

Carl came back in to view. Daryl put the loaded handgun in Carl's hands. Lori would flip shit but Lori was not here, he was and he was not going to send the kid in alone and defenseless.

The fence continued to shutter and shake. Growls, snarls and other noises could be heard on the other side.

Sophia whimpered and started to squirm. Daryl's hand hovered over her shoulder, prepared to grab her the second she decided to bolt.

It was pitch black inside; Carl oriented himself from the window. The door should be only a couple of steps away on the left. He kept his free hand sliding along the wall. It rounded an unforeseen corner, then dipped slightly in to the doorframe. He found the doorknob and above it the deadlock that had kept them out.

The unbolting of the door made an audible click that made a tense Daryl and exceptionally scared Sophia breathe the first small sigh of relief of the night. Without any delay they joined Carl on the inside, escaping the maddening noise of the walkers testing the fence.

As luck would have it Daryl happened to have a lighter in his pocket, which had seemed like a good idea before and was a stroke of brilliance now. The flickering flame was overwhelmed by the size of room. It only illuminated the eyes looking up to him of all people.

No longer in imminent danger, the new situation presented itself in those young eyes.

Daryl, whether he knew how to be or not, was now wholly responsible for Carl and Sophia.

Son of a bitch.

Author's Note:

This is my first Walking Dead fan fic, I hope you all enjoyed it.