Hey guys!

Sorry for the delay. School and other various distractions, life, blah blah, etc etc...you know. Things and stuff...

Anyway, Daryl kicked me in the teeth tonight and demanded I write some. Hope yall enjoy this next chapter!

This grave of life, I give to you
Ignore what was, you know it's true
Realms of fear, they speak the truth
What has past, I hand to you

Bleed for me, I've bled for you
Embrace me, child, I'll see you through

I'll see you

'Bleed for Me', Black Label Society

It was surprising to him, how one moment could change the way he viewed a person.

Before, he'd only thought of her as submissive and silent and battered, weak in both body and willpower. And as was the nature taught to him, he knew it was not his part to stand up for her.

The older woman had her own life, a dick husband to obey and a shy girl to coddle.

And he had his life: Waking up in the morning, killing things (whether it be a Walker, an animal, or just a few unimportant brain cells), eating, pissing, and sleeping so he could wake up and do it over again.

Such lives weren't meant to cross, and her business was certainly not his.

Hell, he wasn't even sure he had her name right…

But in that moment, the morning after the attack on the camp, that quiet, weak woman made him notice her.

He watched the expression on her face as she smashed her dead husband's head in, that mixture of sorrow and relief and pent-up rage, and suddenly, she was real.

He couldn't look at her and see 'weak' anymore. He couldn't hear her voice and choose to ignore the pain he heard in it. And he couldn't convince himself that her life had nothing to do with his.

Daryl was rarely surprised by anything, especially considering the current circumstances of the world.

But this woman surprised him.

Carol surprised him.

He would remember her name from now on.

Waves of power rushed through his arms with each swing, the loud clang of metal against metal repeating as he arms swung forward again and again.

He didn't care that reality sat in the back of his head, reminding him with a quiet sarcastic snarl that his efforts were in vain.

He didn't care much that the doctor sat still and calm, trying to assure them all that their deaths would be quick and painless and that their panic was only making the end harder for them.

He'd begun to swing that axe the moment it had landed in his hands, and he had no intent to stop despite the obvious futility of it.

He felt the vibrations all the way in his toes and the sharp noises his weapon created was something of a relief to him. He hated to admit it to himself that he was swinging the axe for more than one reason…

Between every single swing, in those split seconds without metal chaos ringing in his ears, he could hear them.

Those kids, crying and panicking.

That girl, sobbing in terror of her imminent and inevitable death.

Her mother, words equally soft and frightened and accusing as she scorned the doctor for trapping them and condemning them to lifelessness.

As his arms pulled back to build momentum once again, he could hear her. Sophia Peletier, a little girl as innocent as anything could be in this damned world, crying and inconsolable. Her tears were matched by the quieter, clipped and yet equally panicked sobs of Rick's boy.

He hated hearing kids cry.

But as he brought the axe down against the metal door, as desperate screams echoed in the large room and angry shouts interrupted them, Daryl realized that it was the sound of Sophia crying that he hated most.

And damn it to hell…

He had no idea why.

The wind flashed against his face, into his eyes, against his clothes. The harsh rumble of the bike drowned everything out and the bright light of the sun nearly blinded him.

He glanced back at the small convoy that trailed just behind, and for the first time, realized that he was leading the group down the highway.

He wasn't much for leadership, and it seemed more to be the two cops in the group that held a special talent for such things anyway.

Riding ahead of the group felt freeing.

Knowing that they were counting on him in some way felt-

He welcomed the bug that smacked him in the face.

He hadn't wanted to finish that last thought, anyway.

Pain had always been a larger part of his life than comfort ever had.

Blood was something normal, and whether he was drawing it or excreting it the red liquid seemed more like a companion than something to be feared.

So it really wasn't much bother to him that his side was pierced and bleeding and the burning agony of the injury was preventing him from getting up that hillside. It hurt like hell, sure, but it wasn't something that brought even an ounce of real worry or fear to his mind.

He could bleed all day and consider it normal.

He could hurt in every muscle and extremity and hardly consider it at all.

But when he got back to that farm, and they'd laid him out on that bed, and that woman took the time and care to bring him food and lean down to kiss him, normality took a backseat and his world flipped to its side and screamed in silent shock.

He hadn't meant to flinch away from her.

And he was glad she pretended not to notice.

The pain was still sharp, but it wouldn't stop him from trying to get back out there.

He felt the wound open up just a little, felt the warmth of the blood trickling out from his side.

He carried the heavy saddle anyway.

And even as he heard Carol's voice calling to him to stop, her concern by now obvious and, in some fucked up way, even accepted in his mind, his body still moved against the pain and the blood and he snapped at her words with his own.

He would not tell her that the image of her little girl, lost and crying, was what made him risk tearing open his wounds completely.

He wouldn't tell her that her own tears pushed him to go back to those woods and not stop until he found her daughter.

Instead, he'd cuss at her and leave her hurt.

It was just his way.

And somehow, he knew she'd accepted that.

And damn if that didn't make him want to get back out there even more.

Could I be a more obvious Caryl fan?