Chapter 42

Daryl jumped out of the truck the minute Rick pulled into the clearing in front of the main lodge. He was starting towards the cabin he shared with Amelia when Michael came storming out of the lodge followed closely by T-Dog.

"Where is she?" he bellowed, "Where is she you goddamn redneck? Did you get her killed?" Without waiting for a reply, he punched Daryl in the face, knocking him to the ground.

Rick, carrying Hannah in his arms, shouted, "Michael! Enough!"

Michael stalked toward Rick. "What the hell happened?"

Before Rick could reply, Daryl hit Michael with a flying tackle and sent him face first into the ground. Michael, coughing and choking on the dirt, was flipped over and Daryl was kneeling on his chest before he knew what had happened. With an angry roar, Daryl punched him repeatedly in the face. Blood flew from Michael's mouth and nose. He struggled violently and then went limp as Daryl caught him with a particularly vicious blow to the side of his head.

Rick, cursing, dumped Hannah into T-Dog's arms and ran to the two men. He pulled Daryl off of Michael, pinning the struggling, panting man to the ground.

"I said enough!" he growled at Daryl. "We do not have time for this shit. Do you want to save her or not?"

"Get off me!" Daryl shoved Rick to the side and stood up. He stared at Michael who was kneeling on the ground spitting out blood and dirt and snarled, "Touch me again and I'll kill you."

He stormed to his cabin, slamming the door behind him as the others filed out of the lodge.

"Rick, is Melissa dead?" T-Dog's face was a pasty grey and he nearly shoved Hannah back into Rick's arms.

"No she isn't and either is Amelia. Get the others and meet me in Melissa's cabin. I'll explain everything Tell Hershel we're going to need him again." He shifted Hannah in his arms and carried her to Melissa's cabin.

"How are you feeling?" the short haired woman sitting in a chair by the bed smiled kindly at Hannah.

"Better. How long have I – " Hannah stopped as an older man with white hair entered the bedroom.

"It's been three days. You're a lucky young woman." He stared gravely at her. Another day without antibiotics and you would have been dead."

"My name is Carol and this is Hershel."

"I'm Hannah."

"We know. Rick told us." Carol smiled at her.

"Rick?" Hannah asked as Hershel took her pulse.

"He's the one that found you in the restaurant." Carol replied. "You don't remember?"

Hannah closed her eyes and concentrated, "Tall with a beard?"

Carol smiled, "That's right."

A memory, hazy and vague, of a deep voice and warm mouth tugged at Hannah's subconscious. She frowned, trying to remember, but before it could become clear, Hershel spoke, "Hannah, I want to take a look at your side okay?"

She nodded and peered interestedly at her side as Hershel lifted her t-shirt and peeled back the white bandage. She was shocked by how good it looked. The last time she had seen it, the wound had been oozing, swollen, bright red and so painful she couldn't touch it. Now only three days later, the flesh around the cut was a normal pale colour and the cut itself had been sewn shut with neat black stitches.

"It's healing nicely." Hershel announced. He felt her forehead, "And your fever is gone." He pushed gently on the skin around the cut. "Does that hurt?"

"A little bit but nothing like before."

"Good." Hershel placed a clean bandage over the cut and placed some tape around the edges of the bandage. "We'll remove the stitches in about 7 days. You'll have to keep taking the antibiotics for at least another 10 days. The infection was pretty severe; we don't want it coming back."

He stood as Hannah pulled her t-shirt down and Carol rearranged the sheets, tucking them around her.

"Do you think you could eat something?" she asked.

Hannah nodded, "That would be nice. Thank you."

Carol walked towards the bedroom door, "Hershel, could you…?"

Hershel nodded, "I'll stay with her while you grab some food."

As Carol left the room, Hannah smiled at Hershel. "I don't need a babysitter."

When he didn't reply, just stared at her thoughtfully, the truth hit Hannah like a brick, "You're afraid I'll run off aren't you?"

Hershel shrugged, "I'll let Rick speak to you about that."

Carol was heating up some canned soup when Rick walked into the kitchen. "She's awake?"

Carol nodded. "Yes."

"You didn't leave her alone did you?" Rick asked anxiously.

"No. Hershel stayed with – " she stopped, as Hershel entered the kitchen.

"I thought you were with Hannah?" Carol's brow knitted together as Hershel helped himself to a glass of water.

"I was. Daryl stopped by, said he would watch her for a spell."

"You left her with Daryl?" Rick cursed and ran from the kitchen as Hershel and Carol stared after him.

Hannah slid back into the bed with a sigh. Hershel had helped her to the bathroom, she was dismayed at how weak and unsteady she was, and given her a new toothbrush and a washcloth. She had used the bathroom, having an indoor toilet after months of going in the outdoors was a tiny taste of heaven to her, and then brushed her teeth and quickly washed up. The water was cold but refreshing. Her side ached a little but she discovered that it was more itchy than painful and she scratched gently at the bandage-covered cut. "Excuse me Hershel?" Hannah called out. She shifted in the bed, "Could I trouble you for a glass of water?"

A shadow fell across the door and the smile on her face faltered when a man entered the bedroom. He was lean, with tanned skin and haunted eyes. He approached the bed, staring grimly at her and she squirmed back against the headboard when he sat down on the bed beside her. There was a crossbow slung across his shoulder but it was the knife, shiny and wickedly sharp, he carried in his right hand that had her attention riveted.

He stared at her silently, his slow, steady breathing the only sound in the room. Unable to stand the quiet tension any longer, Hannah gave him a weak smile, "Hello – I'm Hannah."

His eyes flickered, but he didn't respond. Instead, he looked down at the knife in his hand and held it up to her eye level. Hannah swallowed, the blade glinted in the pale sunlight coming through the small window of the room, and she watched mesmerized as he turned the knife back and forth.

"Yer gonna tell me where she is." His voice was a low growl.

"I'm s-sorry?" Hannah stuttered. She couldn't stop staring at the blade of the knife, imagining how easily it would slide through her flesh.

"Amelia. Yer gonna show me where yer asshole friends took her." He raised his eyes from the knife and looked at her, eyes narrowing, before leaning forward. Hannah let out a frightened squeak as he placed both hands on either side of her and put his face inches from hers. She could feel the heavy handle of the knife digging into her hip and she tried not to flinch.

"I don't know who Amelia is." She whispered.

"Don't lie to me." He spoke quietly. "Yer gonna get yer ass out of that bed and we're gonna go for a drive." He leaned back and stared down at her body disinterestedly. "Get dressed. We're leavin'."