Chapter one

Ready to fight.

Carol wanted to kick herself, how could she be so cruel? Where had those words come from? She looked over at Daryl, who now stood on the wall near T-Dog, standing watch and refusing to look at her. She sighed, turning back to face the small fire that the rest of the group huddled around in a vain attempt to stay warm.

"You're his henchman and I'm a burden." She had regretted the words the second they had left her mouth. She was wrong and she knew it, Daryl Dixon was nobody's henchman but she knew she had been right about one thing, she was a burden to them all. The world had gone to hell, the dead were rising up to eat the living and she was still trying to act like some kind of meek housewife, was she out of her mind? Did she want to die a painful death being ripped apart by walkers?

She had to change; she had to learn to take care of herself, to defend herself before she got anyone else hurt. Andrea had jumped from the safety of the truck to save her and now she was more than likely dead. She would never let that happen again. No, tomorrow morning she would ask Daryl to teach her how to take down a walker, how to fight, how to use a gun or bow so she would never be a burden to anyone again.

She looked up at him again only to find him staring at her; he quickly turned his head back to look out into the woods hoping she hadn't seen him staring. She felt guilt burn through her; he couldn't even look at her, not that she could blame him after what she had said. He had come back to the farm, saved her life and sped her away from the walkers chasing her; and her harsh words were how she showed her thanks. It occurred to her then that she hadn't once stopped to actually thank him. This, of course, made her feel even worse.

"What do you want?," he had asked her. "A man of honour." Her reply had seemed simple enough to her. "Rick has honour." Of course he would think she was talking about Rick. Although she hadn't been happy about Rick's decision to keep the fact that they were all infected from them, she did understand it. All telling them would have done was cause them all to panic over something they didn't completely know was true. And as for Shane, well Shane had led Rick to his death for whatever reason, and Rick had defended himself and she could more than understand that.

Rick was a man of honour.

So was Daryl Dixon, no matter what he thought of himself, and she saw that every time she looked at him. So when she had told him she wanted a man of honour, she had been talking about him; about her wanting him. But she knew she could never just come straight out and tell him that.

She didn't know when her feelings for Daryl had changed; she just knew they had. Maybe it had been when he had risked his life to look for her precious Sophia or maybe when he had brought her that rose and told her the story of the Cherokee mothers, but if she was totally honest it had started well before that on the day he handed her the pick axe that she had driven through dead husband's skull. He had handed her, her freedom that day.

She knew it was foolish to think a man like Daryl Dixon would ever look at her; she was just used up, silly, mousy Carol Peletier. What would a man like Daryl want with her? Sighing, she looked around noticing everyone was huddled in groups. Rick, Lori & Carl were curled together. Regardless of what was going on between Rick and Lori they still pulled together to keep their only son safe and warm for the night. Daryl and T-Dog stood on the wall keeping the others safe from whatever might be in the dark woods. Glenn and Maggie were lying tangled together, and not far from them, Hershel and Beth cuddled up close together. It occurred to Carol in that moment that she was without a doubt, completely, alone.

"You're afraid, you're afraid cause you're all alone. You got no husband, no daughter, you don't know what to do with yourself." The words he had spoken that night echoed loudly in her mind now. He was right. She was afraid and she was alone.Standing from her seat on the rock, she moved to find a quiet place alone to go to the bathroom. But he must have seen her move from her spot because she heard him jump down from his post, moving fast, he grasped her hand.

"Where are you going? He asked turning her to face him.

"I need to go to the bathroom" she replied softly, finding it hard to look at him.

"No one goes off alone here, it's too dangerous, we are too exposed." She nodded meekly, turning and walking just around the corner of one of the walls so no one could see her. She moved to undo her pants when she noticed his eyes fixed on her.

"Daryl, I can't pee with you watching me." She smiled.

"I'll turn around," he offered, turning away from her.

"Daryl," she sighed. He turned to face her, "I think it's safe for you to just wait on the other side of the wall, I'll be fine."

"Fine, but you keep your eyes and ears open, and you see or hear anything even if you're not sure, you call me." She nodded smiling as she watched him move around the other side of the wall.

Quickly pulling down her pants, she squatted down making sure to keep her eyes out on the woods for any movement. Once finished she used a clean tissue from her pocket. As she pulled up her pants she didn't get the chance to do them up when she heard the low moan. Turning to her right, she jumped back just as the walker pounced at her, narrowly missing her.

"Daryl!" She yelled loud enough for him to hear her but not enough to startle the whole group. He was at her side in a second, jamming his buck knife into the walker's skull. It fell to the ground making a sickening thud. Daryl scanned the area for any sign of more but luckily there was none in sight.

"Must have just been the one, how did he sneak up on you so fast?," he asked, turning to face her. She shook her head, fighting back the sobs that were trying to rip through her throat.

"I don't know, I didn't see or hear anything till he was almost on me." Taking a deep breath, she fought back the tears; she refused to cry, to be a victim any longer.

"Well are you okay? He didn't bite or scratch you, did he?," he asked, grabbing her arms and checking her over quickly before letting her arms fall at her side.

"No, I'm fine," she sighed looking up at him when she noticed he was staring at her with a heated expression on his face. She followed his line of view and realised she hadn't had the chance to button up her pants. Her hips and red lacy underwear were showing. She felt her checks burn red hot under his gaze; it wasn't her normal choice of underwear. Ed had always forbidden her from wearing anything nice or sexy, but when they had settled at the farm and Glenn had gone on his many trips for supplies, he had grabbed a heap of clothes and underwear for them all and she had eagerly snatched them up.

"Sorry, he took me by surprise," she explained moving to button her pants up, shielding herself from his gaze.

"It's fine, I didn't see anything," he babbled feeling embarrassment burn through him. He moved to walk past her and around the wall. She followed closely grasping his hand to stop him.

"Thank you," she whispered as he turned to face her.

"It's fine, was just one walker," he huffed being flip about his efforts.

"No not that, well I mean, yes that, but…," she sighed taking a deep breath, looking up into his eyes, "You came back for me at the farm."

"I'd have done it for any of you."

"I know, but you did it for me and I want you to know how grateful I am, if you hadn't I would most definitely be dead right now, and I'm sorry about before. I had no right to call you Rick's henchman, I was wrong… I was just scared."

"Don't worry about it."

"You're not, you know, Rick's henchman… you're a good man, a man of honour." He didn't know what to say, why was she being so nice to him? It was making him warm inside but also uncomfortable. The only person who had ever been nice to him was his mum and she had died when he was just a kid.

"Um, Daryl, could you maybe teach me?" At her words, he looked at her, a confused look on his face.

"Teach you what?"

"To kill a walker… to protect myself."

"You don't need to worry about that..."

"Daryl, if Andrea hadn't gotten out of that truck, I would have died, and in doing so it cost her, her own life…"

"That's not your fault," he tried to reassure her.

"Whether it's my fault or not is beside the point. She got out to save me because I couldn't save myself, that's on me and then you had to come along and save me all over again… What happens one day when there isn't anyone there to save me?" She tried her best to explain.

"You don't think I would?"

"Would what?"

"Be there to save you," he whispered looking down feeling hurt. "Will always save you, could never let anything happen to you," he thought, knowing he could never say it to her.

"The hero isn't always around to save the damsel in distress, and honestly Daryl, I'm tired of being the damsel in distress, of being the one that needs saving… of being a burden." The last part came out in a mere whisper as she looked down at her feet.

"Hey look at me," he put his finger under her chin making her look at him. "You're not a burden." She nodded, tears blurring her vision.

"Then please teach me to protect myself," she almost begged. He nodded his head agreeing.

"Fine but first we need to find a safe place to bunker down, then I'll start training you if you really want to learn." She smiled, thanking him as he walked back to his post, all the while watching as he walked away.

A safe place, she couldn't help but wonder if any place was ever going to be safe for them or if they were all just putting off the inevitable? Whatever the answer, she knew she was done running, now she was ready to fight.

Okay wow this is my very first Walking dead fan fiction and I'm so excited to have the first chapter up. Big thank you to Jaded79 for beta-ing this chapter for me so quickly So I love Daryl and Carol, I love their bond and I think they would make an amazing couple. Anyway I know where I'm taking this story there will be ups and downs, good time and bad so let me know what you guys think as I would love your input, hope you enjoy the first chapter