Author's Note: I have never read the comic series before, so please don't get angry. This is going to be AU for the sake of my story plot and for the fact that I have never read the comics and don't know much about the character of the Governor. So please don't be angry, but this will be some serious AU. Also, I am taking some stuff from my old ffs and combining them in here!
Warning: Rated T-M for violence and bad language and all that good stuff
Summary: The group discovers that the worst evil of their day comes not in the form of walkers, but in themselves.
Chapter One: Enemy
He knew they had to head out. They couldn't camp at that little waterfall any longer. It was nearing daybreak, and Rick needed a plan. He knew the group was losing faith in him, a faith he so desperately needed to regain. How was he supposed to know every right decision? But there he was, somehow stuck in the position of being a leader, with a group of people (even if they wouldn't admit it) looking to him for direction.
Rick was the first to wake up. The pink light of dawn was just beginning to creep across the horizon. Maybe he had been wrong…maybe Shane was right. Maybe he was the one that needed to die that night. If he had died, Shane would be in charge, and maybe – just maybe – Shane would have a better idea of what to do. Rick needed someone to talk to, to brainstorm with. Darryl had volunteered to take over the watchdog duties, allowing Rick the chance of a good night's rest. Rick looked over towards his wife who was sleeping soundly, her arm wrapped around their son. He longed to kiss her cheek, but he knew better. Lori wanted nothing to do with him. The fact that she had backed away from his touch was heartbreaking to him.
Rick turned away from his sleeping wife, and headed towards Daryl. Daryl was standing there on the ledge, keeping looking out just as he said he would. That crossbow of his was at the ready to shoot anything that moved. Rick was thankful for Daryl. Though they had had their disagreements, Daryl was strong, and Rick, in need of that kind of strength, decided to speak with him.
"Hey," he tried his best to smile, but the events of the day before still played vividly in his head, making any kind of happiness impossible.
"Hey," Daryl nodded toward him, "Did you get any rest last night?"
"Honestly?" Rick sighed, "Not a bit. I want to talk to you about last night."
"Okay," Daryl was apprehensive. Usually he and Rick didn't quite see eye to eye, and after last night's outburst, he didn't know what to expect from the man.
"What do you want me to do, Daryl?" Rick asked, he sounded so defeated as he hung his head, the question heavy as a yoke upon his shoulders.
"What do ya mean?"
"All this time, I've been tryin' to make decisions for the good of the group. I don't always know what the good decisions are, but I try. And I'm tired. I'm tired of makin' one possibly wrong move, and everyone actin' like I did somethin' unforgivable."
"Huh," Daryl grunted, "I don't think you really didn't anything wrong. No one expects you to know all the answers. At least…I don't."
"Thank you," Rick was grateful for that, "I just wish I could be that person for them. They want a leader with all the right answers and I don't think I am that person. Maybe…maybe it's all backwards. Maybe I was the one who was supposed to die last night and Shane…"
"Shane-nothin'," Daryl scoffed, "You think Shane coulda done a better job than you? Shane was a tickin' time-bomb, Rick. He killed Otis and he killed that kid. He tried to kill you. Who would be next? We wouldn't have been safe with him."
"I just wonder if he might have known more than me about this whole leadership think. Maybe he'd have been better equipped than me to…"
"Nah," Daryl kicked at the dirt, "besides, you got a wife and a kid. You know about protectin' people."
"Sometimes I just don't know if I really do…" Rick glanced over at his wife – if he could even call her that any more – and felt a pain shoot through his heart.
"Yeah," Daryl nodded, "but between you and me, shootin' Shane? That was one of them good decisions."
Daryl glanced over and saw Carol sitting up by the fire, warming her hands. He wondered how long she had been up, or if she had really even slept at all. She looked cold and Daryl wished he had a jacket, a blanket – something to give to her.
Rick followed Daryl's line of sight, "Seems like you know somethin' about protectin' people too."
Rick smiled for the first time in a while, "You know what I mean, Daryl."
"I-I just…I watch out for her," Daryl suddenly became vastly interested in the few little ants crawling across the dirt he had been kicking at.
"Lots of us can watch out for her Daryl. But you? You do so much more."
"She don't got nobody, I figure she just needs someone."
Rick nodded, "Daryl, you've always kind of gone off on your own and done your own thing."
"What…what would you do if you were in my position?"
Daryl ran a hand through his already messy hair, "Gee, I dunno."
"Me either," Rick sighed, "and everyone expects me to just…know. How can I possibly just know?"
Daryl shifted his weight, "Well, I think you've done I fine job so far. I'll back you on anything, you know that. But…these people? They need a say in what goes on too. We…we kinda owe it to Dale. If I were you, I'd let people vote. Highest vote rules. You shouldn't get to or have to make all the decisions for everyone."
"Yeah," Rick nodded. Daryl did have a good point, "Thank you."
"I get it though – bein' a leader is kickin' you in the ass half the time but you're the best one out of all of us to do it. But like I said, I'll back you just 'long as you don't go off and do somethin' too stupid."
"I'll try not to," Rick stared off at the horizon, "It's daybreak. We should get a move on it, huh?"
"Yeah," Daryl nodded, "Same set up as yesterday – same cars and everything. We stick together and just drive until we reach something. There's gotta be something somewhere. All's we have to do is find it."
Daryl and Rick woke everyone up and told them their plan.
"Any other suggestions?" Rick asked, taking Daryl's suggestion.
No one said anything. "Okay then," Rick cleared his throat," Let's head out then."
They divided up into the same groups as the day before. Carol walked over towards Daryl, a worried look etched into her face.
"What are you doing?" She asked, "Siding with him?"
"I will always side with him," Daryl said defensively, "he hasn't given me 'nough reason not to. But I did talk with him. Told him he doesn't get to make all the decisions for everyone. We vote from now on. I really think this is the only way. Surely if we drive long 'nough, we will hit somethin'."
Carol nodded, "I just don't want you becoming his henchman though. He's getting dangerous."
"I'll keep him in check," Daryl mounted the bike, "Get on."
Carol slid on behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist. Even though they had ridden that way all of yesterday, Daryl still wasn't used to that touch.
"He's fine," Daryl tried again to calm her nerves, "He's scared as any of us."
"You don't seem scared of anything," Carol rested her head against his back.
Daryl grunted and started up the bike, not really knowing what to say to that. Truth was, he was just as scared as anyone else. He'd lost people too. Merle came creeping back into his thoughts.
You'll never be able to lose me, the voice in his head hissed. Daryl revved the bike, trying to drown out the voice as best he could.
They caravanned for quite a while. Rick and Lori didn't say anything the whole ride. Carl sat, awkwardly between them. He couldn't understand their anger. As much as he had liked Shane, his dad had done what he had needed to, right?
Rick drummed his hands on the wheel, and sighed. He desperately wanted to talk to his wife, to tell her that he would never willingly want to kill his best friend, his brother. Didn't she know that? Didn't she know that he had lost his brother that night? He had killed his brother.
"Sure I can't drive?" T-Dogg asked from the backseat.
"I'm sure," Rick replied.
"Going to the coast sounds nice now," Lori folded her arms across her chest, "Maybe you were on to something, T-Dogg."
"The coast?" Rick raised an eyebrow.
T-Dogg sighed; why couldn't Lori just keep her mouth shut, "Yeah," he hung his head, "I-I thought briefly about leavin' the group and just goin' to the coast yesterday instead of meeting at the rendezvous point."
"That so?" Rick glanced over at his wife, "And now you want to go?"
Lori didn't say anything. She stared intently at the fingernail she was picking at, unable to meet his gaze. She didn't understand her anger, and it scared her. Hadn't she wanted Shane dead? Hadn't he scared her? Hadn't she gone to Rick and told him her fears?
She wanted Shane gone from their lives, and Rick had done that. She had been right about Shane getting dangerous – he had planned to kill her husband. Rick was only defending himself, right? She knew she had no right to be angry, but she was.
She hated it, but she honestly missed Shane. He had done so much for her and, despite getting their wires crossed, she still cared deeply for her. And maybe it was that caring, that compassion towards him – that love – was what scared and angered her. It dawned on her that she wasn't really mad at Rick – she was mad at herself. But there was no way she would just say so. She wanted to be angry; she didn't want to speak to him at the moment. The silence let her think.
"I asked you a question!" Rick snapped. Carl winced at the anger in his father's voice.
"Mom," Carl's voice sounded as if it were on the verge of snapping, "is that true? Were you just going to leave? And…you still want to?"
Lori ran a hand through her messy hair, unable to form the words she so desperately wanted to say.
"Baby…your mama loves you very much…" she attempted, but could tell by the look in Carl's eyes that her attempt was failing.
"Maybe you should have just gone."
"Carl!" Lori snapped, "You don't mean that!"
"But it's what you want, right?" Carl asked, "You wanted to leave us and you still do. Dad didn't do anything wrong."
Carl turned away from her and leaned his head against his dad's arm. Rick knew he should be angry at him for speaking to his mother like that, but then again, all he was doing was defending him.
"Well this is awkward."
"Shut up T-Dogg," Rick and Lori said in unison before glancing over at each other, then quickly looking away.
Rick sighed checked the radio for a CD. There was one, a collection of Irish drinking songs that looked like it was from the 90s. Rick put the CD back in and turned up the volume. He figured anything, at this point, would be better than the dreadful silence that hung over them.
Suddenly the motorcycle that was leading the group skidded, and bits of marred rubber flew up against the truck behind. The truck didn't stop in time, and also fell victim to the strand spikes. The station wagon behind the truck stopped barely in enough time.
Everyone clamored out of their vehicles to inspect the damage.
"Fuck!" Daryl kicked the bike, "What the fuck was that?"
"Look," Glenn pointed to the road, "Spike strips. Someone must have put them out…but why? Walkers don't drive…"
"Unless they were after something other than walkers," Hershel suggested.
"Like what?" Lori chewed on her thumbnail and tried desperately not to look as nervous as she felt.
Daryl glanced up from mulling over the damage done to his motorcycle, "Like…us."