NOTES: hey still here :P
"Come on, man," Daryl mutters. He looks confused about having to ask twice. For good reason – he's not asking much.
Glenn should be able to do this, he knows, but his gut doesn't care about knowledge, and in his gut he can feel it: going down there, into that building, broke him, and it will break him again if he gives it a chance.
"I said before, no one'll bug you," Daryl says. He's getting annoyed. Because Glenn is being ridiculous. So Glenn nods, ignoring the screaming, frantic warnings in his gut, because putting up with them is preferable to losing Daryl's patience, Daryl getting sick of him, disgusted – leaving –
"Alright," Glenn says.
He follows Daryl off the roof, down the stairwell, and the steepness, narrowness of the stairs startles him. He must have walked these steps to get to the roof to begin with, but Glenn can't remember . . . it feels like he's been hiding away on this roof for a while, everything that happened before that is a sharp, sudden drop into the dark, a curtain that's been drawn tight on his memories.
He moves cautious and quiet behind Daryl, like either the walls or he, himself, will crumble to pieces if they touch. Daryl was true to his word, there's no one else on the way from the roof to the bathroom, and it goes okay until he gets there, and closes the door behind him, and realizes he'll have to take off his clothes.
He knows he's being ridiculous.
He smells of death, and sweat. Filth is in every crease of his hands, on his face. He needs to shower, and he should want to shower.
He takes off his shirt. That's okay, right? That's fine. His hands pause at the buttons of his jeans and he realizes he's shaking, horribly. Like before, when he was trapped – trapped in that freezer – fuck, the freezer –
Glenn killed people.
Glenn realizes he's dropped back against the wall. He's killed – people – but he – he had to – they were going to hurt him. They did hurt him.
The door opens and Glenn scrambles – but it's just Daryl.
"You gonna do this?"
Glenn stares wildly, "I – "
Daryl's gaze drops to Glenn's pants, which are still obviously on, and Glenn's grip tightens instinctively, eyes growing a little wider. Daryl seems to get it, gaze going immediately back to Glenn's face.
"Look, man," Daryl says. "I'll be right outside the door. No one'll come in. You're good."
"Okay," Glenn agrees without thinking, tightly. "Okay, good."
Daryl gives him another look, then steps out for a second, reappearing with a handgun. "Figure you don't want me sittin' in here while you – you know. But that should make you feel better. Right?"
"Yeah," Glenn says, taking the gun, and the agreement means a little more than before, the now familiar shape of the handle is a comfort. "Thanks."
Daryl doesn't even nod, just hurrying back out the door.
It's been a few days since they all set up camp and Daryl's come down from the roof for food three times, not saying so much as a word before climbing back up. This time he comes down and graces them with his presence, only to kick them all out of the air conditioned building to sit out in the yard. 'The kid needs some privacy' is all the detail the hick gave, but no one, Shane included, wanted to dig any further. They made their way outside without protest.
"Think they're even keeping watch when they're up there?" Shane mutters.
Rick shrugs. Shane can tell he's annoyed by the question. Shane tries not to let that annoy him in turn.
No one needs to tell Shane what happened.
After they found him, Glenn had a kind of emptiness, hollowness, that Shane's only seen in the worst sort of cases: broken teenage hookers who were left to die by a pimp that lost his head from drugs or rage or both. Battered women that had been smacked around so hard and so long that they lost any sense of self, refusing to press charges. Dogs tied to poles in the Georgia heat, abandoned, hopeless and starving, not so much as a growl or twitch of their tail when they were cut loose.
Shane isn't exactly clueless about the kind of treatment Glenn probably went through. How a monster who's attracted to the idea of hurting another person could view someone like Glenn; young, boyish, smallish, weak, alone.
And it's a tragedy.
But that doesn't mean they don't have to worry about keeping watch.
"I mean, we can only see to the northeast on top of Dale's mobile home. We'd get a full view if we could get to the roof."
"I'm sure Daryl's keeping watch," says Rick.
"Yeah? Sure enough to bet your life on it? Carl's? Lor – "
"I'll talk to him," says Rick. He stands just like that, maybe walking inside to talk to Daryl, but it feels like more to get away from Shane.
Shane scowls. Right. Fuck. Someone has to have a cold, critical eye. It's something Rick and Shane used to trade off, back before, back when the worst thing Shane ever thought he'd see was the bloody aftermath of a domestic dispute. Someone has to read between the lines when a slurring, pig-eyed husband says his wife can't come to to door cause she's sleeping. Someone has to question that kid in the heavy jacket in July walking so close to liquor section.
Everyone has a weakness, and it just sort of fell into place for Rick and Shane, which one would come into the situation with sharp eyes, who was coming in with a soft heart. It's why they were such good partners. Rick was the one who asked the tough questions when they had to deal with street women, Shane just didn't have it in him to second guess a goddamn thing one of them said. And Shane is the one who stared coldly when an elderly man was accused of stealing, cause Rick would just about fall over himself to help the poor bastard.
It was an unpleasant but necessary part of the job, and now, of the whole goddamn world. Sometimes the two of them disagreed, like any brothers, but it was never a point of contention between the two of them. They both understood when that ugly suspicion just had to be voiced. When that unpleasant little kernel of doubt had to be felt, cause the alternative would hurt way more than just a tiny fucking kernel.
But Shane supposes he can understand. This is a little different.
Rick had been really cut up when it looked like they'd seen the last of Daryl and Glenn, and Shane has to admit, it feels something like a miracle that that wasn't the case. It's understandable that Rick wouldn't want to question it just yet.
So Shane's trying not to be annoyed. But it's not like Shane wants to question it, it's not like Shane's sitting there all giddy at the chance to poke and prod the Glenn and Daryl, question their general usefulness. If Shane had it his way, they never woulda gone missing to start with, and Rick has to know it.
It's not like Shane's happy. It's not like he got anything out of seeing Glenn all – broken.
Goddamn, though. That had been a sight. And that back room, the mattress, the blood – an uncomfortable, knowing silence had fallen on the group when they cleaned it out, burning the mattress along with the stack of mauled up bodies, the vague distractions they gave to Carl's questions. Sophia hadn't even asked.
Shane thinks he'd rather someone put a bullet in his own head before going through whatever happened there, that left Glenn the way he is, so it's not that he doesn't have sympathy. And of all the people for it to happen to, too. It's a crying shame on every count.
But it changes nothing.
Shane shares a startled look with Lori for less than a second before bolting inside.
That was a gunshot.
He's running so quick he nearly slips on the slick floor of the hall, he's prepared for anything – but no, he hadn't been ready for this.
Glenn is shirtless and shaking, standing under the still running shower. There's a gun in his hand, aimed at Rick, and a bullet hole in the wall, entirely too close to Rick's head.
"Hey!" Shane hollers, and Glenn whirls his direction – eyes blank. Druggie, supplies the part of his brain that just refuses to accept the new set of dangers from this new world. Perp's strung out, doesn't know what he's doing. Can't reason with him.
Not aggressive though, Glenn's stepping backward, into the shower, like a cornered animal seeking escape. But there's nowhere for him to go, he can't exactly sink into the concrete walls. Glenn's finger is trembling on the trigger of the pistol.
"Glenn," Rick says, voice soft. "Do you know where you are?"
"I – " Glenn stutters, eyes darting between Shane and Rick too quick to be processing either of them.
"Kid!" Daryl's voice is a loud, startling bark, and he shoves past Shane, forcing his way into the small bathroom. Loud, sudden movement is the worst possible thing to add to this situation and Shane falls back, waiting for a second gunshot. But no.
Against all reason it's Daryl's dirty, scowling face that seems to kick sense into the kid's head. Glenn focuses on the approaching men, and the kid's eyes close, his face crumbling in some combination of shame and horror. He drops his arm, the gun, his entire body against the shower wall before sliding down to the ground. "I – sorry, I don't – I'm sorry."
"Didn't I tell you to stay out?" Daryl yells, getting up in Rick's face, shoving him out of the bathroom, out the hall, back outside into the Georgia heat.
Rick doesn't resist, actually lifting his hands. "I was looking for you – "
"I told you to stay out!" Daryl yells again. "Both of you! All of you!"
"What's happened?" Dale asks, standing from the camp. Lori and Carl are there, too, wide eyed, along with T-Dog and Carol and Sophia, silent and staring.
"Just a scare," Rick says. "I spooked Glenn – "
"Scare? That boy shot at you, Rick!"
"So it was a gunshot?" Lori asks, eyes widening, hands tightening on Carl's shoulders.
"Maybe we should have this conversation elsewhere - "
"No," Carol's voice is a surprise, the resolve in it doubly so. "We need to know – I need to know who I can trust my daughter with."
This is the first news any of them have gotten of Glenn. The rest has been vague, unspoken silences and Shane can see they're all anxious, ready to have a frank discussion about it. They're stepping closer to the porch. This is not an issues they're gonna let Rick brush away.
"That's right, Rick. What if one of the kids had gone in there?" Shane says.
Daryl snarls, like he's resisting the urge to knock Shane over for the comment. "I said to stay – "
"Yeah, I don't know if I'm comfortable with a bullet to the head being the consequence for not following Sir Dixon's orders," Shane says.
"Shane's right," Rick says. "Glenn's not in the right state of mind to have a loaded weapon. "
"Wanna leave him walker-bait?" Daryl says darkly, but he knows he's losing this battle, falling back. "Even Carl carries a gun."
"Yeah, and Carl can tell the difference between his dad and a group of goddamn Walkers. Didn't you see that look on Glenn's face, man? He didn't know who the hell we were, where he was, but he knew how to shoot that gun," Shane says. "Next time it could be aimed between your eyes – fuck, man. He shot at you, Rick."
"You made your point," Rick says. "Like I said, he won't have a gun to shoot with from now on. Right, Daryl?"
Daryl sneers, rolls his eyes but doesn't protest. Just turns around and storms back inside.
An uncomfortable silence follows, no one quite making eye contact with anyone else. It's not fair. A monster shouldn't be able to take someone good, who did nothing wrong, and make them worthless, make them too dangerous to be allowed. But it happens. The good guys don't always win. And Shane can see this realization hitting each of them.
Except for Andrea –
"Where you headed?"
"I figure now that we've gotten the paranoid shouting out of the way," she says, walking up the front porch. "It'd be a good time for an actual productive discussion with Glenn himself."
"I donno, man. Daryl seems like he's got a handle on this," T-Dog says.
"I'm a human rights lawyer," Andrea says. "Daryl's great, but flashbacks, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, even full blown PTSD – I've got experience, I've worked with some deeply hurting people. At the very least I should be able to see if there's anything we can do to help."
"Or if he's a lost cause."
She gives Shane a flat look and follows Daryl through the door
"Hope she remembers to knock," Shane mutters.
Daryl sits up sharply. It's Andrea, stepping slow and careful onto the roof. Glenn, seated beside him, doesn't even bother to look up. He hasn't said a word. Daryl hasn't pushed him. He can feel the kid's shame and frustration, and is annoyed, ready for round two when Andrea settles down on one of the a/c units on the roof.
"What?" he barks.
"About earlier, with Rick. And the gun," Andrea says, ignoring Daryl and looking straight at Glenn, who glances up only briefly, expression pained.
"I've never done anything like that. Not before. Not when – I wasn't – "
Daryl scowls, he's being way too rough, practically grinding the sharpening stone against the blade of his hunting knife, but listening to the kid stutter makes him want to break something. Makes him want to shove Andrea back down the stairs. Glenn shouldn't have to be explaining himself, not to any of those fuckers. They don't know.
"I just wanted to say, I used to get paid to talk about things like this, if you're up for it," she says. "And honestly, from what it sounds like, your reaction isn't all that surprising. It's almost textbook."
The bland, matter of fact way she says it actually settles Daryl down somewhat. He lets the stone drop, checking the edge of his blade, testing the thin, sharp edge along his finger as he listens. She's the first one talking like this isn't some end world thing, like Glenn isn't a hopeless nutcase.
"So what happened?" she says.
"I don't know. I didn't even think," Glenn says. "I couldn't see Rick. All I saw was a random person. But it was like I was back when . . . all I knew, was that if I didn't . . . do something. I knew I had to do something," Glenn stops there and covers his face.
Andrea waits another beat, then nods slowly. "Alright. Well, in my opinion that sounds like an anxiety attack. Triggered by the obvious. Frankly, I don't think you'll see much improvement while staying in this building. In my opinion, we should pack up and head out as soon as possible."
"How're we supposed to do that if he can't even have a gun?" Daryl asks darkly. "Think you can convince the rest of them?"
"Oh," Andrea says, a little slowly. "That's not what I was saying. Even when we leave here, he – you, Glenn, probably shouldn't be handling any weapons. You'll still have issues you need deal with. It's going to be a long, long process. I mean, if this was before, I'd be able to set you up with some specialists, they'd probably be able to give you some anti-anxiety medication. . . . "
Daryl sneers, turning away. She says a bit more to Glenn but he tunes it out.
Uncle Rufus went off to war, came back all wrong. All blank-eyed. Alls he did was drink and when he wasn't drinking, he got all trembly or ragey, thinking he was back in the war. Daryl was just a kid then, didn't understand what was happening, and the sight of a grown man in such a sobbing mess had terrified him.
There had been no fixing Uncle Rufus. He killed himself for years with the bottle, finally sending himself over the edge with a proper bullet to the head.
Daryl knows there's no fixing Glenn, neither, no matter what pretty words Andrea uses. The kid is broken in a permanent way. Ain't anything anyone can do for him.
And that awful, burning cross against Daryl's back – none of this would've gone so broke and bent if it weren't for Merle.
And Daryl knows how wrong Merle was at the end, but he can't help wanting him back, wishing they'd had a better end. Best he can do is see to Merle's affairs – and Merle left one hell of a debt in this kid, not to mention Daryl hisself.
Andrea's gone and Glenn's got his head tipped back, eyes closed, face relaxed. The damage is there, too, though. The paper white scars, over his eye, on his lip. The still healing cuts. The dark smudges under his eyes, the skinniness, in his cheeks and in the kid's wrists, resting on his knees. Every inch of this kid screams dead man walkin.
So this is how it'll end.
Daryl finds an odd sort of peace at the thought. The Dixon brothers made a hell of a good run of it. And there are worse ways to go – worse people to go there with than Glenn. And if it is Glenn in the end, mixing Daryl up with one of those bastards and shooting him, or putting the barrel to his own head and leaving Daryl to figure it out from there . . . Daryl's okay with however it plays out. With having his last stand at Glenn's side. He'll see this through.
"I don't think," Glenn says, quietly, after another hour or so of silence. "I should stick around here. I'm no good for anyone. They're right."
Daryl's relieved that Glenn's the one to say it. He nods, setting aside the crossbow he'd been in the process of cleaning. "Try to sleep. We'll head out tonight."
"You don't have to come," Glenn says, but at the same time he's wincing, needing Daryl, hoping he will.
"Yeah, right. Your scrawny ass would last about five seconds out there on its own."
Daryl closes his eyes and dozes, the sun too warm for decent, actual sleep for the first few hours, but Glenn doesn't seem to have a problem with it, passing out almost immediately.
Daryl finally manages to drop off, waking at sunset by a pair of panicked hands scrambling across his chest, squeezing his shoulder. It only takes a second for Daryl to come back to himself and remember – this is Glenn, and he's probably not even awake. He's done this every night so far, but it's still a fucking surprising way to wake up.
Glenn's blinking at him blankly, both hands on Daryl's chest. Definitely not awake, or he won't remember this later anyhow.
"Daryl? You came back?" Glenn asks, voice shaking.
"Yeah," Daryl says, actually not entirely sure what Glenn's talking about, but that feels like the right answer. Glenn nods, dropping back against Daryl's chest.
Daryl stares forward, into the purpling, twilight sky, letting his arm fall against the kid's shoulders.
He thinks about the kid's panic when Rick stepped into the bathroom, and doesn't know what the kid would've done if he woke up like that and found someone else there, or how one of the others would react to Glenn's panicked scrambling. If he'd end up sleeping alone, left to come back down to earth on his own. Daryl doesn't like the thought, feels something like important at the way the kid goes soft against his side, knowing Daryl, knowing he's safe with Daryl there.
Yeah, he'll see this through. However it ends.