Chapter 1: Mourn
A/N: So, this is my first Walking Dead fic, please be kind! I think I got all details right, but if I didn't let me know and I will definitely make a note of it! Enjoy and review :)
It was all a blur; more than that, it was a painful blur. Daryl didn't remember much beyond lifting Carol in his arms and taking her to the RV. He knew he had set her on the bed, her sobs racking her thin frame. He had slammed the door in the face of the overly concerned Dale, with a echoing "fuck you". He had slumped against the wall, and with every cry of mourning Carol uttered he had hated himself more.
Shane and Rick were arguing, their voices heard even through the thin insulation of the RV. Footsteps were heard above him, probably Dale or Glenn keeping watch. Praying that every gunshot that had echoed in the farm fields hadn't been heard by walkers for miles.
Carol was silent now, and Daryl wondered if she had drifted off to sleep. He wondered why he had bothered to carry her in here, and stay, when the one damn thing he wanted to do was go out and shoot Herschel and Shane, and probably beat the living hell out of anyone who got in his way. Carol tended to bring out his reasonable side.
Perhaps he was too out of sorts; he hadn't thought straight since he had heard the last walker in the barn. He had known, deep down, that it was her. As soon as he had heard the weak growls and footsteps. Who else could be so delicate? Even as a zombie she had been nothing but innocence. And they had shot her in the fucking face.
He savagely ran his hands through his short hair, wishing he could tear it out. Wishing he had looked harder for a little girl who was lost. Wishing he had been under the car beside her, when the walkers had initially swarmed the road block, instead of Rick. He could have saved her; he would have saved her.
And now she was gone, dead on the ground. Carol had lost her daughter, and Daryl wasn't a hero any longer.
The thought was cruel, and terrible, but he had it none the less. When Sophia had been gone, Daryl, for the first time in his entire miserable life, had been the good guy. Everyone had looked at him differently, not the 'red neck hillbilly' that he had always been judged to be. Carol looked at him differently.
Now he was just a piece of shit, same as always. Merle would have told him that, woulda said "don't waste your goddamn time, Daryl. She ain't your kid." That burned Daryl, the thought of Merle's words. Merle was dead, or as good as. What the hell did he know about little girls, and heroism.
Sophia wasn't his kid, but her own damn daddy was dead, and even before that he was a sick sonofabitch. If he could turn back time he would have shot an arrow in his head weeks before the walkers got at him. He hadn't deserved Carol; she was kind, and gentle, and the best mother he could have wanted for his child. A far cry better than Daryl's own mother, who left at the first sign of trouble.
His body was cramping, and he wanted to move. He'd been sitting against the wall for so long. The sky was dark, and any signs of argument from the camp had disappeared.
It was Carol though, that called him back to reality. That forced him to move.
"Daryl?" She called, her voice hoarse from her crying.
He leapt to his feet, rushing to the back corner of the RV. Carol was sitting against the wall on the bed, her fingers clutched around the Cherokee Rose. Her dark eyes were luminescent with tears, but she smiled -smiled!- at him so softly and gentle. She was consoling him, and she was the one who had lost her daughter. Daryl hated himself for that.
"You need anythin'?" He asked, sitting on the bed opposite her.
She nodded, "Yeah, I need to thank you."
He gaped at her, "What?"
"I need to thank you. You looked for her. You never gave up, even when it almost killed you." She choked up, "You are a good man, Daryl Dixon."
She was staring at him then, with her dark eyes filled with tears, and Daryl couldn't help but notice that it was like she still saw him as a hero. Still saw him as the man that was going to save her daughter, and bring Sophia home. It was more than he could take and he stood up, clearing his throat.
"I'll bring you some food, or sumthin. You need to sleep." He muttered, shoving himself out the doorframe. Carol didn't call him back, and he raced out of the camper like some kind of coward.
There was some stew on the table, covered with a lid of some sort. Daryl assumed Lori left it out for Carol, and went straight for it. There were two bowls beside, and he realized she had thought of him too. He almost smiled, but caught himself before he could do so.
"How's she doing?" Dale's voice was soft, trying not to wake anyone.
Daryl shrugged up at him, holding the two soup bowls up as if to say she was eating, at least.
Dale nodded, "Thats good."
"No walkers?" He asked.
Dale held the rifle up, as if in confusion, "Not so far. I'm amazed, so I'm being careful."
"You do that." Daryl headed back to the RV, careful not to spill the soups. Carol was sitting in the bed in the same place he had left her, staring at her hands. He handed her a bowl and a spoon.
"Sorry, it's not hot." He murmured, settling back to eat his meal. He was starved, and the soup tasted like heaven, even lukewarm.
Carol finished hers quickly, moving as if to take Daryl's empty bowl from his hand.
"No, you rest. I'll clean them." He snapped, a little harsher than intended. He wasn't particularly fond of playing mother hen, and it showed in his temper.
He dumped the bowls in the RV's sink, pouring some soup and pre-boiled water over them. It probably wasn't entirely sanitary to wash with cold water, but it was post apocalypse time and he wasn't exactly worried about germs these days. Other than those that infected through bites.
"Ed always made me wash up. No matter what. I would have been washing up now, crying over the sink, and he would have just sat here while his daughter was missing." Her voice was sad, and angry, and bitter, all at the same time, and Daryl hated it. He'd never heard Carol sound so heartbroken, and he didn't like it. He was supposed to be the fucked up one, not her.
"Ed was a moron." He told her viciously. Comforting wasn't his forte, but that was the cold hard truth.
She let out a noise that was half laugh, half sob. "He was. He was that."
He heard her lay down, pull the covers over her shoulders.
"Carol," his voice was incredibly soft, probably the softest he'd ever heard it, "I think they'll want to bury her tomorrow."
Her breath was audible, and shaky. "I know. Daryl, you'll be there right? At her funeral?"
"Of course." He grabbed a blanket and lay down on the floor of the kitchen, unsure why he would even think of doing so when he had a perfectly good bed outside in his truck. He told himself it was to watch Carol, make sure she didn't do anything stupid like use a gun, or wander off.
He couldn't search for her too, only to have her dead before he found her.