A/N: first time attempting a Walking Dead fanfiction, but i enjoy the show and enjoy horror, and i enjoy Daryl Dixon (wink wink) so i figured this would be right up my alley.

Getting shot hurts. Pain races up your body, hitting you in faraway places like your neck even though you'd been shot in the leg. Searing heat blazes around the wound until you have to glance down to make sure you're not on fire, too. And that's if you're sitting still.

Once you get up and try to run, that's a while other ballpark. Add in screaming, so much adrenaline you feel like you're Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction, and seven members of the undead, and suddenly you're wishing the bullet had hit your head.

Anyway, my point: getting shot hurt. Running made it hurt worse.

Black invaded the edges of my vision, blurring it, and I wondered briefly how much blood I'd lost. I wasn't going to make it; there wasn't anywhere to go. I was running blindly through the woods.

I felt the weight of the pistol in my hands and thought, If I'm going to die, I will not die from them. I lifted it to my head, my strides slowing, and pulled the trigger. The gun clicked…nothing.

I let out a sob, turning and throwing the useless gun at one of them. The gun bounced harmlessly off its shoulder, and as I sank to my knees, I heard a voice—no, a group of voices—calling out, "Sophia!"

That's not my name, I thought dimly. Then the undead began to close in, and my world went black, and I died.

"Hey. Hey, girly, wake up!"

Okay, so apparently, I hadn't died. Apparently, I had been rescued by a woman who reminded me of Sigourney Weaver from Alien 2, an Asian guy with a shirt meant for a pizza delivery boy and a baseball cap, a pissed-off blonde, and…what looked like Jesus with shorter hair and a crossbow.

"Daryl, you don't have to yell at her," said Sigourney Weaver softly.

"Well your gentle cooin' certainly wasn't workin'." Evidently, Daryl was the one with the crossbow. "C'mon, we gotta get a move on."

"Carol, she's awake," said Pizza Guy.

The woman, Carol, leaned farther over me and asked, "Are you alright?"

And that's when it hit me that this wasn't a hallucination. All at once, the pain, the fear, and the adrenaline flooded back. I scrambled up in a panic, tripping over myself and landing again hard.

"It's okay, calm down," said Pizza Guy.

"Where are they? Did you get them?" I whipped my head around, searching for any sign of—

"Relax, we got 'em," said Daryl. He slung his crossbow onto his shoulder and looked me up and down, lingering on the bloody mess of my upper thigh. The bullet had gone clean through, but most of the blood in my body was spread on the ground and soaking into my jeans. "Can you walk?"

"If I'm walking toward a doctor and people who aren't trying to eat me, you bet your ass I can walk."

The corner of his mouth turned up slightly. "I don't know about doctor, but I can sew you up and stop the bleeding when we reach the highway."

"Highway?" I stood shakily, wobbling, and Pizza Guy looped my arm around his neck. I was starting to feel woozy.

"You got a name, girly?"

"Jane," I said. The world pitched and I felt like I was going to pass out.

"Don't drop again," said Daryl, his voice sounding strangely distant. "Glenn won't be able to support you if you drop again."

I barely registered his words before I was met with black for a second time.

When I woke again, there was a stinging sensation on my thigh. I groaned loudly, feeling a tug and pull, multiple pinpricks—

"Get off!" I yelled, feeling hands against my bare leg. "Where are my clothes? Who—Get off me, get off!"


I stilled slightly at the voice. "You're Daryl, right? From the woods?"

"Yeah, girly, I'm Daryl. Now stop moving or I'll accidentally stitch your leg to your arm."

I winced at the pain as he pushed the needle through my skin. "Couldn't…" My face burned with embarrassment. "Couldn't a woman have done this?"

I was referring, of course, to my barely covered…regions…dangerously near where this gruff, scruffy man had his head.

He chuckled at my discomfort. "Nah, they don't know how to fix you up like I do. They woulda made a mess of it."

Looking around, I realized I was in an RV or trailer. I was laid out on the table while Daryl worked on my leg.

"Where are the others?" My memory was still slightly hazy, as if I'd been seeing through a fogged window, but I remembered there being others. "Pizza Guy and Angry Blonde and Sigourney Weaver."

Daryl looked amused. "Sigourney Weaver?"

"From the Alien movies?" At the lost look on his face, I just sighed. "Ouch!"


Doesn't sound sorry.

"I think you mean Glenn, Andrea, and Carol." He looked at me briefly, tugging again at the needle in my flesh.

"How many of you are there?"

"Couple more. Dale's a grey-haired coot in a fishing hat, you'll meet him soon enough. He and Carol are on the roof of the RV, keeping an eye out. A few of the group are at a farmhouse down a ways, and Carol's daughter got lost out there a day or so ago."

Sophia? Is that who they were looking for when they found me?

I watched him, wincing occasionally but trying not to be too big of a baby. He seemed like the kind to look down on me if I whined about something as trivial as a gunshot. These days, a gunshot was the least of your worries.

"The others?" I asked as he knotted the end of the stitches. "Do they have names?"

"Rick and Lori." He was reluctant to say—probably didn't care much for strangers—but apparently he hadn't deemed me much of a threat. I couldn't blame him. "Carl, their boy, got shot. That's why they're at the farmhouse. Glenn's about to take T-Dog there too. His arm got tore up pretty bad. Then there's Shane, a cop. He and Rick are both cops."

The names swam around in my head. I felt bad, but at the same time…would he blame me for not remembering?

"You're good, girly." He patted my calf, and I sat up, looking down in dismay at my jeans. He'd cut the material away from my leg in order to get at the wound.

"Do you have scissors? Or a knife?" I tugged at the other leg of my jeans. "At least make them even."

"'Cause we're going to care if your outfit is a little lopsided." He handed my a knife all the same, and once I'd ripped the material, feeling horribly exposed in the way-too-short used-to-be-jeans, I stood. "Try not to rip the stitches, girly."

"My name's Jane, not girly." I fidgeted uncomfortably. His eyes bore into mine. "Jane Bishop."

He held out a dirty, calloused hand. "Daryl Dixon."

In taking that hand, I changed my life forever.

"Hey, girly," Daryl called. "How's that leg?"

I rolled my eyes. He'd never really taken to calling me Jane. "Fine."

"You need any more meds?" He'd been offering pain pills from his brother's stash. At the worst peak of my pain, I only took three in two days. After that I refused.

It had been four days since I'd been saved. Andrea hadn't accepted me, had actually barely spoken to me, and Glenn and T-Dog had left just as Daryl said they would. That left Carol, who switched between concern for her still-lost daughter Sophia and a motherly attitude towards me, and Dale, who reminded me quite a bit of my grandfather.

For the most part, I made myself useful to Dale and Daryl when I could and kept to myself when I couldn't. Dale tried to keep pleasant conversation, telling stories about before the world went to hell, and asking questions about who I used to be. He didn't quite phrase his questions that way, but that's how I prefer to think of it. When I saw Dale with the guns and offered to clean them, he narrowed his eyes a little bit and said, "You know how to do that, Jane?"

"Sure do." I picked up a small handgun, examining it. "My dad taught me."

Daryl wasn't too far off, so I knew he could hear me. I also knew that when Dale asked me what I used to do for a living, Daryl turned just slightly in my direction. I directed my gaze at the gun.

"Beretta, 92FS," I murmured. "Nice gun."

Dale noticed I was avoiding his question, so he asked another one: "When did your dad teach you how to take apart and reassemble a gun?"

"I was about ten when he started teaching." I smiled wryly. This question I would answer. "About twenty-two when he stopped."

"Did he own a store or something?"

"No. Just a nut for guns. Liked the sound they made, liked how they looked, liked that they hurt people." I shrugged. "We had basically an armory in our basement, and when everything started, we packed it all up and…"

"You know where he is now?"

Daryl had asked this one. I shook my head slowly, then gestured at the woods next to the highway. "Out there somewhere. Probably still alive."

"You two get separated?"

Something like that.

"He teach you how to shoot?"

Daryl, evidently, had decided it didn't matter if I answered the personal stuff. He didn't want my past—he wanted to know if I could survive on my own or if he'd have to watch my back the whole time. He wanted to know if I was going to be a burden or not.

I shook my head, not liking the way he was looking at me.

"I've only shot a gun twice in my life," I murmured. "My aim is terrible."

For an awkward moment, no one spoke. Daryl's eyes had narrowed as he realized I would be a burden. As of yet, he could see nothing that I contributed. Maybe this was why Andrea hated me. Maybe Daryl was just slow to realize I would only be a hindrance.

I handed the gun back to Dale. "You know, I think I'll go search the cars for some new clothes. The blood might attract…" I hesitated.

"Geeks," supplied Daryl.

"Geeks," I repeated slowly. "Yeah."

"We went through all of them." Dale pointed north up the road. "That silver coup's got some clothes in the trunk."

I nodded and headed off that way, weaving in between the cars. It reminded me of a cemetery, and opening the trunk of the coup made me feel like a grave robber.

I would take what I needed only. Maybe a jacket for when it got cold, in case I didn't run into more clothes before winter. I'd find a bag, a knapsack or something. Ask for a gun. Or even just take one. They probably didn't do inventory, and if I just snuck away with a gun with enough ammo to last until I reached somewhere, they probably wouldn't notice.

As soon as my leg was healed to where I could run, I'd leave. Farther south, maybe. Somewhere not that populated to start with, so maybe it wasn't hit as hard by the apocalypse. Maybe there weren't as many…geeks…there.

My hands shook slightly as I fumbled through the clothes. Suitcases, two of them, a man's and a woman's, were in this trunk. They were open, rifled through by probably a dozen people. These people's lives were in these suitcases, and here they were tossed and chaotic, missing items—Oh God, I'm going to be sick.

I bent over next to the car, breathing slowly. My thoughts turned to a backpack, black with red pockets, a backpack now abandoned in the woods somewhere, a backpack belonging to a pair of kind brown eyes. I imagined hands going through its contents the same way I was with these suitcases, picking it apart—I vomited onto the asphalt.

I heard footsteps behind me, jumping nearly a foot in the air when a hand clamped onto my shoulder.

"Just me," said Dale. "You alright?" His face was scrunched in concern.

"Fine." I held up a fistful of clothes; a ratty pair of jeans and plain purple T-shirt. "I'm gonna change, that okay?"

He nodded and I walked past him, into the RV. Carol was in the back, curled in a ball but finally sleeping. I couldn't blame her for taking a nap—she didn't sleep last night because she was crying so much, worried about Sophia. I peel off my shirt first. It used to be my favorite shirt, a faded yellow with a lace back. The fabric was worn and comfortable, the lace soft—at least, before the apocalypse. Now as I looked at it, it was muddy, stained with blood, and the lace was torn. I tossed it halfheartedly onto the floor, stripping my jeans off as well. Well, what was left of my jeans.

The new pants were faded slightly at the knees and fraying just the littlest bit at the cuffs. There was a worn hole near the front pocket, and they were comfortable as all hell, if a little small. They hugged my hips in a way I wasn't used to. The woman must have been a size smaller than me.

I let out a slow sigh, rolling the tension out of my shoulders—or trying to, anyway—and wincing at the throb in my leg.

"We need to talk."

"Shit!" I threw my hands across my chest. "Daryl, you can't just walk in like that! And shush, Carol's sleeping."

His eyes skimmed over my bare skin and he smirked. I threw my old mutilated jeans at him, throwing on the purple shirt while he was distracted. I immediately missed my old shirt. The new one was a bit big, and a V-neck, but it was clean, and in this kind of world, I guess it was trivial to complain about a shirt.

"I understand," Daryl began once I was clothed, "that you don't want to talk about your past, and that's fine by me. I think everyone should keep certain things to themselves. I don't wanna hear your life story, girly, but geeks don't fire guns, so I need to know if I gotta be worried that whoever shot you is coming back."

I paused for a moment, staring him down. It was a good question. A sensible question. A question I hadn't yet considered.

"No," I said finally. "I was left to die, expected to die. No one's coming back."

He eyed me carefully, sizing me up for the umpteenth time since he'd saved me. "You feeling okay, girly?"

"Fine," I answered for the second time. "Where's Andrea?"

Daryl pointed upwards, gesturing. "Keeping an eye out for anyone. You avoided the question."

"I answered it."

"You look stressed."

"Aren't we all?" I asked.

"You need to try and loosen up, girly. If you don't, you'll waste away out here. Stressing over everything will make you hate yourself. Stressing just enough will help you survive.

"Yes, well, to be fair, you don't know me or why I'm 'stressing'."

His eyes were scrutinizing me, and I knew what he saw. Raggedy Jane. Muddy, stringy red-blonde hair, round face smudged with blood and dirt, and a smile that hadn't reached gray eyes in a long while. Pathetic.

He reached over, his hand delving into a pile by the table. When it came up, he had a small bottle clutched in his fist.

"Found it in one of the cars," he said, tossing it at me. I caught it on reflex and peered at the label on the bottle. "Sometimes everyone could use a little Southern Comfort."

His smirk turned decidedly lecherous, and somehow I knew he wasn't talking about the drink.

"It'll do wonders for your stress level."

Still with that leering grin, he left the RV, and I watched him with my mouth agape and my mind seriously considering the offer.

A/N: review please! :D