Hey thurrrr guys! So this is going to be multi-chaptered! No set amount yet, but it's something that is mentioned frequently in the reviews so I thought I would give it a go. I am going to make this less fluffy than the usual. I hope. It's so damn hard. Thank you for all the reviews on my past works, I read every one.
He had avoided speaking to Carol for days. Not an easy task when half the time she sat behind him on his bike, her knees touching his waist, her hands clutching the fisting the front of his jacket tightly.
At first he was angry with her. He wasn't anyone's fucking henchman. What did it matter if Rick didn't tell them about them all carrying the infection? Everyone got their brain smashed in after they died because they only ever died from Walkers. It didn't change anything. There wasn't a cure for it. Rick had never done wrong by this group. Sure, he disagreed on a ton of shit he did, but as far as ex-cops went, Rick was alright. He was pissed with her for doubting his judgement on Rick.
The anger didn't last. He replayed the conversation beside the fire that first night out of the farm and he realised a little more about what she meant. She trusted him. She was calling him a man of honour. He didn't realise it at the time. But when he asked her what she wanted, he wanted to know more than that. He wanted to know if she wanted to live or die, because honestly, he didn't know. He thought maybe she did, after he picked her up from running from the farm. She ran, didn't she? Maybe it was just a reflex, he wasn't sure.
Now, he was just tired of all the shit. They'd been running for a week. Never stopping for more than a few hours. They stuck to the open roads, scavenging only from abandoned cars and small buildings on the road side. They needed somewhere better and they needed it fast. The nights were getting cold. They were travelling in a convoy of three cars and his bike and all crammed into the cars to sleep at night.
She was right, she was a burden. It wasn't her fault. She didn't have survival skills, she never needed them. She had someone who made decisions for her, took away her choices. Maybe it was time to change that.
Carol regretted what she said about Rick. She was scared and it made her blurt out things that she couldn't articulate very well. She didn't like secrets. There was no room for lies and mistruths in this world. Seeing how tortured he was though, over the death of Shane, the way Lori and Carl avoided him like the plague, that was devastating to watch. She'd apologised. He did little more than look up at her and nod in response. She figured that was as good as it was going to get and it was a little more than she deserved.
She needed these people. She needed looking after her. If she meant anything she said to Daryl, it was that she was a burden. He didn't deny it, so she knew it to be true. That man never candycoated or lied about anything. Sure, she helped the entire group on a day to day basis. She was probably busier than most of them. She cooked, she cleaned, washed clothes, tended wounds. She was a housewife to all of them and she never begrudged doing any of it for a minute. But the reality was, anyone could do it. If they had to, they would do it. Protecting herself, however, was something she couldn't do on her own.
She'd only ever taken out one Walker. One. It was right at the beginning, before they even knew what Walkers really were and this particular one came after Sophia. It was instinct, brutal and true, and she didn't hesitate to run her bread knife through it's brain. It was pure luck that she managed to take it out before it bit her, definitely no skill involved. Now, she cowered in the corner whilst others took the risks. And it made her feel sick to her stomach.
Trouble was, how did she change this? She wanted to ask Daryl, but he could barely bring himself to speak to her now. He just avoided all eye contact with her, brought back up all the walls she fought damn hard to knock down. She was confused as to why he let her ride with him on the bike everyday, when there was room in any one of the three cars they travelled in. He never said anything to her about it, but he always waited for her to climb behind and settle herself before he started the engine. He had plenty of opportunities to zoom ahead of her and let her get into a car but he didn't.
Since she met these people, she had never felt so utterly alone.
After thirteen days of travelling, they ended up just a few miles shy of a place called Newtown. They'd looked at several places, but the main requirement for any new home, however long they stayed there, was a water system. Having easy access to water was an absolute essential, the second requirement was space. Finding somewhere to bed down when there was ten of you was hard enough, but finding space for privacy for all ten was another matter altogether.
The house was something out Little House on the Prarie, Carol thought. It was large, two stories, with a porch that ran right the way round the house, up off the ground and a little attic that used to be study. There was a cellar too, with access both inside and out. There were fireplaces in the dining room, sitting room and the kitchen and even a shed full of chopped wood.
What it was lacking however, was furniture. It seemed that the last owners had taken whatever they could and it took some sleepless nights on the floor, before they managed to raid nearby abandoned properties for things like beds and chairs.
Rick had decreed that providing the Walker population was manageable, that it would be a good place to fortify and to build a home, if only for the winter.
There were four bedrooms on the first floor, Lori, Rick and Carl took the biggest, Maggie and Glenn took another, T-Dog and Daryl agreed to share and originally Beth was to share with Carol, whilst Hershel took the attic for himself. Beth was still deeply upset by the events at the farm and Carol agreed to switch with the young girl's father so he could comfort her.
She didn't mind. It was peaceful up there, with the most fantastic view of the town that dipped into the valleys below them.
Everyday the men were going out and bringing home bits and pieces that was building their home.
It was still a dangerous task, no-one was taking it as lightly as they had back at the Greene farm. Everyday was a waiting game to see it those that went out foraging returned.
She wanted to help them. She had to try.
"Can I help you today?" She asked Daryl as he filled their new van with supplies for that day. Today they were going into the edge of the town. There was a shop that sold weapons. They were hoping it had something of worth. They had taken now to searching every abandoned car and house. Anything that could be useful, from a coat to a bottle of water, to the petrol in the tank. Shops were getting emptier by the day, but survivors were also decreasing and it was easier to pick off what they had left behind.
He stopped what he was doing and looked at her, as if he were assessing her, then he shook his head.
"OK." She replied softly and turned back to the house.
"Rick's coming." He told her retreating back. She stopped and turned around him. "It's the gun shop today. I need someone who knows shit about weapons to get it done fast."
"OK, thank you." She nodded to him that she understood. This was the most he had said to her in days and she was over the moon about it.
"You got a list or somethin'?" He asked her, taking a couple of steps closer towards her. He was surprised she offered. Was this the confirmation he wanted? That she wanted to survive?
"Mmhm. I don't think these things will be found today though..." She fumbled in her cardigan pocket for the scrap of paper with her list. Mostly things for the kitchen, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, first aid kit supplies. "They aren't urgent really...just stuff we should stock up on for winter..." She tailed off as she handed it to him, her fingers brushing his outstretched hand. "Thank you." She told him, stuffing her hands in her cardigan. "Stay safe today." With that, she turned on her heel and made her way back into the house.
Daryl watched her until he could no longer see her before unfolding the scrap of paper. He scanned it quickly, her neat cursive was easy to read. Rubbing alcohol, bandaids, towels were fairly easy ones. She wanted winter boots, he was surprised to see she had small feet, only a size seven. At the bottom of the list, was what surprised him the most. She had written that she wanted a weapon. She didn't specify what, just one that he thought she could handle.
He was right. She did want to survive. And he was surprised by how much that pleased him.
The gun shop was not as bountiful as they hoped. The Walkers still swarmed the town and there didn't seem to be any living around. Thick dust coated many of the doors and windows. They found some boxes of bullets, a couple of knives and two handguns. Rick raided the office to see if there were anything worth taking whilst Daryl guarded the door from behind the counter, keeping low to avoid any stray Walkers. It was there that he spotted the bow. It was stuffed under counter, a quill filled with arrows along side it. It had a tag on it that said it had been reserved and was awaiting collection. It was made of metal and wood and was sleek and light in his hand. It would be perfect. He threw it over his shoulder, stuffed the quill in the sack with the other things.
Rick came out, two bottles of what looked like paracetemols in his hand, a baggie filled with cigarettes in the other. He held them up to show Daryl. "T-Dog will kiss our feet." He chuckled.
They arrived back after dark. Although the weapons were somewhat thin on the ground, they'd scored a jackpot with an abandoned car, the boot was piled high with bottles of water and canned goods. Daryl left the bow in the van. Although he couldn't explain why, he didn't want the others to know that he got it for her. Not yet.
He awoke just before dawn and slipped out of the room quietly. Not that it mattered. T-Dog snored like a demon and didn't ever seem to wake himself up. He headed out to the car first, picking up the bow and quill before making his way to the attic to Carol's room and realised he'd never set foot in it before. Glenn had done the sweep of this floor and T-Dog had been the one to help her shift the furniture into the room. He didn't knock, but pushed the door open quietly. She lay curled up in the corner of the bed, that was set in the centre of the room, directly beneath the skylight, where the sun was slowly creeping in, framing her body. It was a sparse room, aside from the bed, she had a small chest of drawers, a chair, on which her clothes lay neatly folded, her shoes underneath and a bedside table, which only had a single dogeared book on it.
He stood in the door way. It was tempting not to disturb the peaceful scene. Still, it had to be done. This was important.
"Hey." He called softly, only one foot in the room. She didn't move from her position. "Carol." Again, she heard nothing.
Slowly, he entered the room. Approaching her bed. It seemed wrong, almost. Invading her privacy. He called out softly again but she only stirred, not waking. He reached out, rested a hand on her quilt covered foot and shook it lightly. "Carol."
She awoke with a start, sitting up sharply. "What's wrong? Are there Walkers?" She pushed the covers back and he looked away, she was only wearing a nightdress. It seemed indecent, even though nothing was on show.
"No. Don't panic. Just get up." He tossed the bow on the bed.
"What's this?" She reached out and picked the bow, running her hand over the smooth curve of the wood, where it melded into the metal.
"It's a bow. It was on your list." He told her, putting the quill down next to her.
"But I...I've never used one before."
"I know. So get up. I'm goin' into town later, so let's start this now." He turned away so she could get up, heading for the door. "Downstairs in five minutes. You wanna learn to survive? Let's start now." He walked down the stairs, missing the look of joy in Carol's face as she put the bow down, rushing to get changed to start target practice.
And so it was decided, she thought. Carol Peletier was going to live.