New Meanings To Old Words: Safe

Gonna tie this little sucker up in a neat little bow now… enjoy and check out the ANs for a few parting words.

Formatting Note: CB communication is in italics.

As always read, review and most of all enjoy!


Disclaimer: I own nothing, except Callie and the crew of misfits (Danny, Miles, Jenna, Mike, Nina, Ben and Gracie).

Chapter 27: Dust In The Wind

"Where are we heading?"

Dale's tired voice echoed in the Hummer through the static filled CB, and Callie couldn't help the tiny bit of a smile that cracked her lips. Memories of the first time she met Dale filtered into her brain. God what was it? Two months ago now? Almost, she thought as she listened to the static die out as Dale ended his transmission.

Her eyes were glued to the back of the RV, at least what she could see of it past the rest of their little caravan. And that's exactly where her eyes had been focused since Miles had told her about Danny. The idea of her friend—her brother if she were being honest with herself as to what role the man played in her life now- laying in that bed, unconscious due to massive blood-loss, bullet holes in him-her head was shaking again and her hands were clenching tighter on the wheel. Beside her Miles was staring out the passenger window, his forehead resting on the glass. He shifted a bit, his eyes sliding slowly to the CB as if Dale's voice had woke him up from a day dream.

Miles leaned forward and grabbed the handset and held it out to her with a bit of a smirk playing on his lips. She shook her head and snatched it from the tips of his fingers and pressed the button.

"Hell," She answered back with a bit of a chuckle. She let the button go and Miles cracked a wide ass grin and shifted so that he was once again looking out the passenger window.

"Very funny, Callie," Dale's voice clipped back. And even though she knew he was trying to sound stern she could clearly hear the relief in his voice. They hadn't had a chance to have the wonderful family reunion she could see playing out in her head just yet. They'd just started driving. All of them desperate to get away from the remnants of the CDC. The horrors of those days there, and the Walkers they could see still milling about in the rubble. She heard him chuckle just a bit before he disengaged the button of his handset, and she could see him in her mind's eye, his head shaking as he no doubt smiled at the memory of their first conversation too.

"Not my fault you're always asking the same damn questions, Dale." Callie returned into the handset and slid her gaze towards where Miles was still chuckling silently.

She shook her head and let her eyes slide to where she could make out the rearview mirror in Daryl's truck, right past Merle's bike in the bed of his truck in front of her. She could feel his gaze on her in that mirror, and smiled as she gave a bit of a wave with the fingers she had wrapped around the handset. She saw his head tilt just a bit, and his hand slide out his open window and he lifted his hand just barely. Two fingers up in a strange sort of 'Harley Hello' type of move that you would usually see between two Bikers passing on the road.

"When it stops being a valid question, I will." Dale returned over the radio, his voice a mass of chuckles now. She could hear some noises in the background, Andrea's voice as she spoke to Carol. Low tones, but she made out two haunting words, 'still bleeding'. Callie's jaw clenched and she held the handset to her mouth. Three deep breaths and she pressed the button.

"How's Danny?"

The silence in the Hummer seemed to penetrate the airwaves, and in Callie's mind she knew that same deathly quiet was playing out in each vehicle riding in front of her. The crackle of static sounded, telling her that her message had been completed and she sat waiting with baited breath for the returned transmission. Seconds ticked by and they seemed like hours.

"He's not good," Dale said finally. Callie knew him well enough to know that Dale was hanging his head as he said the words. No doubt trying to keep his voice lower so as not to alarm Jenna, Gracie or Sophia who were riding in the RV with him. "That's why I think it would be best if we stopped sooner rather than later."

"Dale," Glenn's voice cut into the conversation, and Callie smiled a bit as the station wagon up ahead swerved just a bit out of line and then back in. From what Callie could remember Glenn had jumped into the back seat. Callie figured that swerve was from the young Asian kid propelling himself towards the CB in the front seat. "Jesus Christ, Glenn." Rick's voice echoed over the static right before Glenn continued. "Sorry. Sorry." Sheepish, the kid sounded sheepish and Callie shifted her gaze to Miles who was smiling and shaking his head back and forth. "Hey, Dale, my map. It should be there in the glove box. I think there's a gas station or something not far."

"Good ol' gas stations," Miles mumbled beside her and she shifted a smile towards him. Miles rested his head against the glass and she shifted her eyes between the boy and the road.

"If I'm reading it right," Andrea's voice popped over the radio and Callie shifted her eyes forward again. "We should be almost on top of it," She stopped and Callie heard the rustle of what she suspected was Glenn's trusty road map. "Yeah, next turn off. From the rate we're going, I'd say we'll hit it in maybe twenty minutes, half an hour tops."

"Will he be okay until then?" Rick's voice clipped over the radio and Callie gave his concern for Danny a small smile. She again slipped her eyes to Miles beside her and listened as he rapped his knuckles over the glass.

"He doesn't have a choice," Andrea said, the anger and heat in her voice as it filtered over the CB was a bit shocking to Callie. Her eyes slipped to Miles and she saw him crack a wide grin and chuckle.

"Guessing there's a part to that story I'm missing," Callie said to the boy. He shrugged and Callie took that for a big 'yes'. She smiled and lifted the handset to her lips, then lowered it again. She did that two more times before settling the handset back into its cradle and gripping the wheel. There really wasn't anything left to be said. Her eyes slipped to Daryl's truck.

At least not over a radio.

"It's our best bet right now," Rick's voice came over the air and Callie's eyes slipped to the CB. "We need to get somewhere, lick our wounds, and make plans."

They all slipped into silence again, the CB crackling once more before quieting. Callie slipped her eyes to the grassy area on her side of the highway, and pushed her finger onto the button lowering both her window and Miles'. The boy's head lifted from the moving glass, and she watched from the corner of her eye as he set his elbow at the now open window frame. His fingers tapped along the upper part of the door, as he stared at the cars lining his side of the highway.

Sliding her gaze forward she saw Daryl's arm slide across the back of his large bench seat, towards where she figured Ben was curled up. She saw the top of Ben's head as Daryl's hand landed on it, and let herself relax a bit and smile at the scene.

Her body had just relaxed, and she was rolling her stiff left shoulder in its socket when her eyes shifted out her window again. Her right foot pressed on the brake, slowing the hulking Hummer to a stop, her jaw clenching. She wasn't sure, hell how could she be, but when she saw Daryl's truck's brake lights light up in front of her as he pulled to a stop that tingling along her spine increased. She watched as his head popped out of the window to see just a bit closer, and she figured he was thinking the same thing as her.

Sitting out in that grassy field, just down that small hill leading from the highway sat a white cube van. It's front cab facing the trees and the back tailgate facing the road, as if it had driven down the hill and just died.

"Everything okay?" Miles' voice cracked into her brain, and Callie shifted her eyes to the front windshield. She watched Daryl's profile for a minute and when she thought he would turn towards her, thought he felt her stare on his face, he didn't. He simply put his head back into his truck's window and pressed his accelerator, both hands on the wheel now. She watched his truck lurch off after the rest of their caravan, and shook her head. "Callie?"

"Yeah," Callie said smiling and pushing her foot to the Hummer's accelerator, speeding up to diminish the space that had grown between the Hummer and Daryl's truck. Thoughts of how many white cube vans there had to be out in the world. The odds that the van sitting down in that grass along the highway were the same one that they had lost—lost to a now one armed man who may or may not have gone bat shit insane. The odds that Daryl wouldn't leave to go find out no matter which way the dice rolled. She shook her head. "Yeah, all good."

The two of them slipped back into silence, Callie continuing to stare at Daryl's truck in front of her, while Miles continued to drum his fingers along the window base. His head was tilted so that the wind was blowing his slowly growing out sandy-blonde hair wildly around his head.

Quiet Danny had always been a bit of a shock to her in the early days of their travels. The man so prone to jabbering on about nothing and making jokes at bad times being quiet had always given her an ill-taste in her mouth. But she knew when he did it, it was because he needed to. Needed to reassess and get himself right.

Miles had never been quiet. Never fallen into that habit of Danny's, unlike all of the others he picked up from the other man. He'd never seemed to feel the need to reassess and get himself right. He'd been a loud-mouth from the day they'd picked him up, and she'd expected he would be one 'til the day he died.

So the quiet coming from the boy sitting beside her was disturbing. And she was really getting fucking tired of disturbing.

Just as she was about to open her mouth, her eyes shifted to passenger seat. The bulk of the side of his seat closest to her was open to her view because the boy had pressed himself close to the door to get his head out into the breeze. And sitting there on that seat was a hand gun, sitting on top of a worn blue ball cap.

Jim's ball cap.

Her hands tightened on the wheel and she shifted her gaze to the front. The blood stains on the brim of that cap had her shaking her head. It had been in the station wagon that they rode to the CDC in. Sitting on the middle consol between the driver's and passenger's seats. Which meant that Miles would have had to have gone back to that car and grab it before getting into the Hummer.

Her jaw clenched again, and she shifted her gaze to the boy sitting quietly beside her. She opened her mouth to say something but the boy beat her to it.

"Do you think we'll ever find some place safe?" Miles asked, his eyes still staring out the window, watching the abandoned cars fly by.

"I don't know," Callie said in return, watching him from the corner of her eye. "I hope so."

"Yeah," Miles nodded his head. "Did you know that there are over eight different definitions in the dictionary for the word 'safe'?" She looked at him with a raised brow and he chuckled slipping his eyes to her for a second. "All of them really say the same damn thing."

"It's subjective," Callie said with a shrug of her shoulder, she winced putting her right hand to where her stitches were pulling and no doubt pulled out. Miles slipped his eyes to her, confusion on his brow. "Nowadays, everything is. Safe. That word has no meaning anymore. It's just a subjective concept, you know, open to interpretation."

"One man's safe is another man's slaughter house," Miles quipped, returning his gaze out the window. Callie's eyes dropped to the seat beside him, watching as Miles' cast-covered left hand settled on the gun and hat.

God. All she could think of was the last time she and Miles had been in a car together, and she felt her own eyes filling with tears.

"Where'd you get the gun?" Callie asked, clearing her throat a bit, her eyes staying facing the road in front of her. She heard Miles rustle just a bit. Watched in her periphery as he lifted his broken left hand from where it was resting and looked down at the gun, and the hat. His eyes stayed there for a minute, staring at both items. He turned away, his eyes going back to the passing scenery.

"Glenn," Miles said quietly. "He was carrying Danny out, and passed it to me to help watch our backs." He bit at the inside of his cheek and she nodded her head.

"Well," Callie said with a bit of a smile on her face as she turned to face him. "I guess we're gonna have to teach you how to use it. Once we get set up, me or Danny—" she stopped, felt it when his gaze flicked to her and she shook her head. "Me or Danny will show you how."

Miles was quiet, his eyes flicking fast back out the window. Callie's eyes stayed forward and she slowly lifted her right hand to rub at the bridge of her nose. Beside her she heard Miles shift again in his seat, and turned to watch him slowly extend his hand out the window and let it glide along the wind. He did that for a few seconds, before letting it fall back to the door.

"Jacqui stayed," Miles said quietly, causing Callie's head to snap to him. His eyes were on her then, a tiny bit of wetness shining as he stared at her. He looked away and cleared his throat, once again drumming his fingers along the open window bed of the car door. "She's gone."

"Tell me," Callie said quietly, her eyes sliding to the caravan of cars ahead. "Tell me everything."

Same old song

Just a drop of water in an endless sea

All we do

Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

Now don't hang on

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

It slips away

And all your money won't another minute buy

Dust in the wind

All we are is dust in the wind

Everything is dust in the wind

~Dust In The Wind/ Kansas

AN: I know this one was short, and you all were hoping that there would be a good Daryl/Callie chat. But I wanted to keep to the pace and design of the show intact, so don't worry, the next Season is going to pick up right where you want it to. I'm already hard at work at Season 2 –so be on the lookout for that one to come up and bite ya real soon (pun intended people! *grins*)

A note to those that have read, and possibly never understood-

For me the entirety of Season 1 of The Walking Dead (TV show) was a study of the word safe; and how it's meaning can change. This fic for me was a way to really play on that…with recurring themes that I've tried to tie into each little bit of each chapter.

Safety in Numbers –Dale, Amy and Andrea accepting help and sticking with Callie and the crew, sticking with the group after the incident at the Quarry, keeping together in their distaste of the CDC

Safety of our children –Callie and Danny takin in strays like it's going out of style, Glenn taking the kids and the crew to the Quarry, Callie stepping between Ed and Jenna/Sophia,

Safe Places – The Hummer, the gas station they all stop at before going to the Quarry, the Quarry, Heavenly Grace, the pit-stop before the CDC, the CDC

Then there are the other aspects that play into a deeper meaning of SAFE in general, staying safe from harm, whether it is physical or psychological: Daryl and Callie's half-in/ half-out relationship, Andrea and Danny's budding romance, Rick convincing everyone to go to the CDC, even the crazy sons of bitches at the CDC were trying to keep people safe…

As a bit of a spoiler—teaser-what have you, the next story will be entitled: New Meanings To Old Words: Love I'm thinking that should get your tongues-a-wagging and a bit of excitement rustling through you.

I'm going to leave you with that. I'll be responding to your reviews through PM…

Thank you so much for reading, and reviewing and falling in love with my characters so much. I've had such a difficult time keeping my OC's from diminishing the great characters of The Walking Dead. (Hell, looking back I'm damn proud of how many lines fuckin' T-Dog had in this shit!) I love you all, and look forward to hearing more from you as we delve into Season 2.

Love and hugs,

~Michelle (AKA SWW)