On Funerals, by MissMishka

DISCLAIMER: The usual warnings, I claim no ownership of these characters, they are simply borrowed with love and adoration from the original creators to have their stories embellished on a little more than the show may do. Not for any profit.

Daryl hadn't understood the group's decision to bury their dead back at the quarry.

Glenn had been oddly vehement about it and the emotional display from the kid had been enough to keep Daryl from tossing the familiar corpses on the burning pile of unknown Walkers. Lori had been equally emphatic, plus Jim had already had the graves pretty much dug, so there hadn't been much point to arguing it.

Before that day, he hadn't attending many funerals and certainly not any that made him a rabid supporter of the custom.

Someone-his grandfather and father-croaked, you put them in a box, put the box in the ground, cover them up and mark the spot with some stone like anyone else gives a damn about the body beneath all that dirt. Words are said by people who don't really care about or know the dead, or worse, hypocritically kind words are said about the bastard being 'laid to rest' by a bunch of do-gooders who'd never done a thing to help the Dixon boys stuck in that house. And a bunch of bawling was done like there was some great loss to the world.

There just hadn't seemed a point to it. Certainly nothing special about it that set people apart from animals.

As the sweat continued to roll down his face, salty in his unblinking eyes, he flung aside one last shovel full of dirt then stabbed the blade of the shovel into the ground near the foot of the grave.

He wiped at the wetness with the back of his wrist, smearing dirt and not caring.

He looked up from the hole to meet T-Dog's eyes and give a quick nod, silently telling the other man he was ready.

The black man nodded back, locked his jaw against any emotions either of them may have been feeling, then bent to gently scoop up the sheet wrapped little bundle on the ground.

Daryl accepted the burden with reverence, feeling an urge to hug her to his chest and bawl like she'd a bigger part of his life than she had been in reality.

He held her, though, only for the extra moment it took him to bow his head over hers to whisper a quick, meaningless and unheard apology.

"I'm sorry," tasted like stale ash and a weeklong bender in his mouth as he bent to place the body carefully on the ground.

The sheet had been white before they wrapped her corpse, but the blood and dust had been quick to stain the pristine color.

He wished they could have fashioned some kind of coffin for her.

He was glad Carol had opted not to watch this as he accepted T-Dog hand up out of the grave then yanked the shovel from the ground to begin returning the dirt to the hole he had made.

He had to remind himself that she didn't feel the clumps of earth and rock pelting down on her little body any more than she had felt the hollow point Rick had put through her skull.

As T-Dog moved to another plot to begin covering a body already placed there, Daryl took a quick moment to survey the others all moving to either dig or bury a cloth covered corpse.

He doubted Hershel had many blankets left inside the house now.

Jimmy, the teenager, was the only one outside of their group to be performing this morbid task. His little girlfriend had been so distraught after what had happened that she had had to be sedated by the vet. Maggie and Alice had been capable of helping, but the sisters had steadfastly refused to spend the time in Shane's presence and Daryl couldn't blame them.

The man's continued fury had moved a lot of dirt, though, so the absence of those women wasn't greatly missed. They would have added unnecessary drama to an already overwhelming scene.

Lori had taken the boy away, leaving Andrea as the only woman helping the men with the burials. The blonde wasn't as rabid in her determination to bury any of these bodies, as she had been Amy, but the woman still worked with a focus that was disturbing.

He didn't care if it was sexist or whatever the 'libbers' may want to say, this wasn't something a woman should be doing. It wasn't something even he wanted to be doing.

When the last grave was finally patted down with the last of the dirt they had unearthed, no one spoke. There were no requests or expections for words to be said over these emptied shells. Whatever souls they may have had were long gone to a place one could only hope to be better.

Daryl gravitated toward the rest of the group, moving to stand with Andrea, Glenn, Rick, Shane and T-Dog as they stood back to survey the number of graves.

Sixteen plus Sophia. More graves than years the child would ever know.

His thoughts turned to Merle, as they often did.

Was his brother stumbling around somewhere, waiting for a bullet to stop the unending need for flesh to feed a hunger that would know no satisfaction?

Hell, was Jim, for that matter? He wished he had thought to put an arrow through the mechanic's head before driving away and leaving the man against that tree. It hadn't been what Jimbo had asked for, but he hadn't been in his right mind and now his body was likely back up and walking those woods.

The idea of people he had known being reduced to this tore at him.

The thoughts had a way of consuming him if he let them get into his head, so Daryl forced then aside, threw down his shovel and stalked away from the graveyard they had made of this piece of land.

Fucking funerals.

The dead laid to rest leaving the living with no peace to be found.