Hello! Welcome to Tame Me - my little pet project. I've read a few stories here and there, mostly to calm my need for a Walking Dead fix. I'm fond of Daryl (who isn't?) and this is my take on a Daryl/ OC story. Just to let you know where I am headed: I want to follow the timeline of the show as closely as possible, but as a writer I certainly am going to take some creative liberties. I'm trying to focus mainly on my character, Ella and her relationship with Daryl as the group moves through the story. I'm not planning on copying and pasting the script of the show, nor will I re-write the scenes blow for blow… I find that a little boring. You guys know the show, I don't need to type it up for ya! I'm hesitant to post this because there are SO MANY Daryl stories out there! So many good ones too! However, writing is cathartic for me. So, why not share? Would love to hear any and all feedback! Updates will be somewhat dependent on reviews. :)
I ain't lookin' for a free ride home,
Back to the middle.
I need a new locale,
I need a girl that calls me baby,
I gotta know if she can tame me.
–Needtobreathe, Drive All Night
The sunlight filtered through her eyelids as Ella slowly woke. She blinked groggily before yesterday's events rushed in bringing a wave of panic. The running. The terror. As quickly as the panic came, it subsided as she remembered that she was safe. There were men outside her tent who stood watch 24/7, women who had tended to her cuts and bruises and children who had brought a smile to her face. She was in a safe place. Finally.
She rolled over to see that her gracious tent mates were already up, their beds were made and one of the sisters had put out clean clothes for Ella. When the four men had brought her back late last night Amy had been quick to invite her into their space. She barely remembered thanking them as she drifted off to sleep, utterly exhausted from the weeks leading up to finding this group of survivors. Ella winched as she sat up, her body sore in places that she didn't even know existed. Carefully, she stretched her limbs and stood up. Weeks upon weeks of near death experiences had destroyed her. Her body was battered and bruised. While still curvy, she had about 15 pounds and her clothes were beginning to hang off her. Ella took a deep breath. She was alive. She was alive! A laugh escaped her lips despite the horror that she had felt less than 24 hours ago. They saved her. She wasn't dead. Or a walker. She could deal with a few bumps and bruises.
She exited the tent and took in her surroundings. It looked completely different in the daylight. The camp was primitive, yet homey. Tents, a fire, cars and a Winnebago littered the area in a seemingly organized fashion. A perimeter was set up and Ella knew it was being carefully watched. She shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up to see two men on top of the camper. The older one looked down and gave her a friendly wave. Ella smiled and waved back. Was his name, Dale? She made a mental note to find out later.
"Morning, sleep well?" Amy asked. She was clearly a morning person.
Ella smiled. "Better than I have in weeks. Thanks so much for letting me crash in your tent."
"No problem. The more the merrier!"
Andrea, the other blonde sister, approached, she was hard looking and seemed to wear a permanent scowl, but Ella saw her eyes soften when she looked at Amy. "Morning," she said.
"Andrea, right? I'm sorry. There were so many names last night and I was so tired."
Andrea nodded, "Yeah. Good memory," she gave me the semblance of a smile. "How did you sleep?"
"Great, thank you for letting me stay in your tent."
"Are you hungry?" Amy asked, sweetly.
Andrea pointed to the fire, "Go talk to Glenn," she then turned to Amy and they began to talk in low voices so Ella moved away, giving them privacy, and walked towards the center of the camp. The fire was set up there, surrounded by rustic seating.
"Ella. Good morning!" Glenn greeted her. Ella had to smile at him, he was contagiously happy. Even last night as they fought their way to camp, Glenn had kept a level head. Ella had trusted him with her life. In fact, she had trusted all of them instantly. She had no choice.
Glenn handed her a plate of hot food, Ella struggled to keep herself from inhaling it. The food was bland, but hot and it filled her empty stomach.
"I'm sorry about that guy," she started after a few mouthfuls. "The one who you couldn't find." She had put together bits and pieces from conversations. They had been on a rescue mission to find someone. Instead they found her. No, thankfully they found her.
"Merle?" Glenn snorted. "Trust me, we're better off without that guy. He's a nut job."
Ella frowned. "What about his brother?"
"Daryl? He's okay I guess. Real helpful with hunting and tracking. And he's got his crossbow which is helpful so we don't have to use guns."
Glenn continued, "He's a Dixon though. Daryl seems okay, but Merle made a lot of the women uncomfortable."
"Where is Daryl now?" She hadn't seen him hanging around.
"Out hunting, would be my guess. He doesn't hang around camp much."
"Not a people person?"
Glenn laughed, "Yeah, I guess you could say that. You finished?" He reached for her empty plate, taking it from her hands.
"Thanks. And about yesterday… " Ella trailed off thinking.
Glenn stood and brushed the dirt off his jeans. "Don't mention it."
Ella looked up at his boyish face and smiled. "No, thank you. Seriously. You guys didn't have to take me in. This is more than I could ever ask for. I owe you one."
Glenn smiled at her from underneath his ball cap and cocked his head. "C'mon help me clean up. Then we're even."
The rest of the day, Ella spent helping around camp, trying to dodge curious stares and observing her new group. The dynamics were dizzying, she could barely take it all in. However, it was nice to have people around.
For the most part, everyone was friendly. Lori, Amy and Carol had welcomed her with open arms. Carol's husband made Ella's skin crawl and she didn't trust Shane, although she couldn't figure out why. She made up her mind to not get too close to either of them. There were plenty of men around whom she trusted. Glenn, T-Dog, Rick, Dale.
She was still unsure about him. When they left Atlanta, he had been angry and hurting, but she knew he was mourning his brother. No one seemed too concerned about him though and that worried Ella.
Daryl approached the riverbank and saw Ella sitting on the edge throwing rocks into the water. He hesitated, unsure if he wanted to deal with her. He was angry when they had run into her outside the city. He had argued with Rick about bringing her back to the camp and he knew Ella had heard his careless words. He didn't want a girl dragging them down.
It looked like she had just washed her hair. It was wet and hung down her back in loose ringlets. Shaking his head he moved forward, making sure to crunch rocks under his feet so she wasn't startled.
"Hey," he mumbled walking past her and into the water.
"Hey, Daryl," Ella gave him a wide smile and watched as he bent down to wash the knives that had been used to skin the morning's game. He methodically wiped and cleaned each one in silence, fully aware of her eyes on him.
Turning from his crouching position, Daryl looked at her. "Whatcha doing out here alone? Ain't safe."
She shrugged, "I needed space. Some time to process. Think. A lot has happened."
He nodded, understanding. "Be careful."
She nodded back.
"Hey…" she started before fumbling over her words. "I…. I never … got to say thank you, Daryl. You know, for last night." Ella swallowed nervously, unsure how to act around him.
He hadn't said two words to Ella since the group took her in. She knew there had been a discussion between the four men before they took her in. Daryl had been upset. Angry even. She didn't think he wanted her around.
"Wasn't my idea. It was Rick's decision. You should thank him."
She had no rebuttal. Sadness welled up inside her for him. She knew, they all knew, how it felt to lose loved ones. Ella was a comforter, a talker, a listener, her career as a school guidance counselor had defined her. She could tell that Daryl was a loner.
He worked in silence for awhile before asking, "What kinda stupid name is Ella, anyway?"
He certainly didn't mince words.
Ella studied him and finally said, "It was my grandmother's name." Then she wrinkled her nose and gave a shake of her head. "Short for Stella."
Daryl looked up at her briefly with squinted eyes and a half smile, chuckled and went back cleaning his knives. He wasn't used to women overlooking his brash words and being nice to him, just for the sake of being nice. It felt strange. It felt good. It felt… normal.
"I'm sorry about Merle," she continued with sweetness in her voice. Almost like she really cared.
Daryl paused. "Merle's a bad ass sona bitch. He took that van. He'll be alright."
"Still, I know it's hard not knowing where he is."
"He'll be alright, girl." Daryl stood and walked away. He didn't have time for her emotions.
Ella stared after him, curiously. She had a feeling that there was much more to Daryl Dixon than met the eye.
Later that evening as they sat around the campfire, things were good. There was food, everyone was happy. Stories were being told, jokes were being made and spirits were high.
The attention turned to Ella and Shane asked a hard question, "What were you doing alone out there anyway?"
The fire crackled and popped while Ella was silent. All eyes were on her as she tried to form words. "My story is no different than anyone else's, I guess. I was with some refuges from the school I were I worked. We had been turned into shelter, but got overrun. I've been separated from the group for a few days now. There were 4 of us. A small herd came and we scattered. Everyone just ran. I have no idea where they are. If they're alive. I don't even know how I am alive…." Her words trailed off.
There were nods and murmurs around the fire. She saw Rick reach for Lori and Carl. Andrea and Amy joined hands. Carol wrapped her arms around Sophia. Other families snuggled in closer. They knew each moment was precious.
Suddenly, a scream ripped through the night. The group jumped up, the men cocking their weapons and women gathering the children close.
"Walkers! Get to the RV!" Someone yelled.
Ella looked around frantically, still unsure of her surroundings. From the corner of her eye she saw a walker approaching. He was fast and grotesque. She turned to run, colliding into Daryl's chest.
Daryl grabbed Ella's waist and threw her behind his body. "Run. Run to the camper!" he pushed her hard in the direction of Dale's camper before putting a bullet between the walker's eyes.