As promised, a quick update before the weekend. I hadn't mapped out certain scenes yet so I have to extend the upcoming ACTION/DRAMA/ANGST into yet another chapter, making this one a bit shorter than usual. So, this is building up to our season 3 mid-season finale.
Daryl was working on the generator when he heard Carl yelling his name from the hallway. There was urgency in the kid's voice so Daryl threw down the tools he was messing with, grabbed his bow, and met him outside the room. He was breathing hard, as if he had run to him.
"My dad needs you." he told him, not bothering to explain before turning around.
Daryl didn't think to question him as he followed him back to the main cell block. Lori was still in bed, Judith attached to her, but Hershel was no longer there. His thoughts immediately went to the group, as it had been throughout the day, and he felt his heart begin to race.
Carl led him into the lobby of the cell block, where they ate, and saw Hershel and Rick kneeling on the ground. In front of them lay a woman who couldn't have been much younger than all of them. Hershel was stitching up a wound that was along her thigh. Blood was splattered on her face and along her clothing.
"Who's that?" Daryl asked, standing behind them.
Rick rose to his feet and shook his head, "Won't tell us her name."
"Why's she here?" Daryl wondered, looking back to Carl.
Rick hesitated and it was then that Daryl realized something had happened. He swallowed, shifting his weight between his legs.
"She had a basket of baby formula with her from that store Maggie and them went to." he explained quietly, holding up a hand to stop Daryl from reacting, "We don't know what happened yet."
"They were taken." the woman told them, her voice tense as Hershel worked on her leg.
"What do you mean?" Daryl narrowed his eyes and took a step closer.
"Who was taken?" Hershel butted in, his hands still.
The woman turned to look up at Rick, shaking her head.
"Some Asian boy. Pretty little girlfriend."
Daryl's breath caught in his throat and he nearly dropped his bow, from relief or stress, he couldn't be sure.
"There were two other people with them." Rick stated, sensing Daryl's unease.
She shook her head, "Didn't see anyone else. Just those two."
Rick turned to Daryl, covering his mouth with his hand. He leaned in closer, keeping his voice low.
"We have to get them." he stated and Daryl could only agree.
Her name wasn't mentioned at all and as much as he tried to see it as a good sign, he couldn't shake the feeling that something had happened to her. He didn't understand why she wasn't with Maggie and Glenn and if they had gone off, he wasn't positive Rob would even be able to keep her safe. He had faith in her, but not when other people were involved.
"When do we leave?" Daryl asked and Rick shrugged.
"We need to get some stuff together first." he said, "Let's leave within the hour."
Daryl nodded once, needing to get out of the room. He saw the quiet assurance from the older man and turned around, nearly running to his cell. Grabbing his bag, he shoved in a few shirts and a couple pairs of pants, then grabbed the box of canned foods Heather kept underneath the bed and pack a few of those. Once he had everything in, he set it aside and tried to calm his breathing. He knew he shouldn't be freaking out but the more he tried to calm him and reason with himself, the worse his anxiety seemed to get. After a few minutes, he began to feel like he was suffocating, so he grabbed his bow and left the cell block. He didn't know where he was going but as he walked through the halls, he recognized markings along the walls from their first day in.
Once he was sure he was far from the cell blocks, he pressed his back against the wall, breathing in deeply before sliding down to the floor. He closed his eyes, hoping to relax but instead saw Heather's face. It wasn't her smiling or happy as he preferred her, but scared and hurt, like she had been after the farm. His heart tensed this time and he reopened his eyes, running a hand through his hair. He froze in his movements when he heard a scratching sound come from the inside of the room in front of him. The door looked like it had been jammed shut; the bottom corner was bent at an odd angle and from where he was sitting, Daryl could see that it wouldn't close all the way.
He stood up, slinging his bow onto his back, carefully pulling his knife out as he moved closer to the door. Whatever was stuck inside was trying to push the door open but was most likely too weak to move it. Daryl grabbed the door handle, holding his breath, then pulled it open, swinging his knife in front of him. He didn't see any walkers though and when he looked down, he immediately put his knife back away and held the door open.
Carol was curled up against the wall, her hand reached out in the door's direction. It had been days since the attack and Daryl figured she had been stuffed inside that small closet ever since then. She was dehydrated and when she looked up at him, a weak smile on her face, he realized he had to get her out of there.
"C'mon." he said, leaning down to grab her.
She was hardly able to move as Daryl lifted her up and situated her in his arms. He grunted from the weight and tried to hurry, unsure how long he had even been gone. He remembered the way back to the cell block, following the spray paint trail as he slowly walked. When he saw the block in view, he yelled out Rick's name. Carl came instead and when he saw who Daryl was carrying, he rushed to the door, swinging it open. Rick ran in, his eyes widening when he saw what the commotion was about.
Heather and Rob ran until their lungs felt like they were going to burst and even after that, they still had a ways to go. They took a short break so Rob could get a drink of water and Heather could rest her ankle but the break didn't last very long and before they could fully catch their breath, they were running again.
The prison came into view in less than an hour, which was better than Heather had anticipated. As they got closer to the gates, she saw that the cars were moved around in front of C block and Oscar was loading stuff into the trunk of one. She grabbed her machete and swung it at the closest walker, trying not to catch the attention of any of the other ones by the fence. Oscar turned his head in their direction, her movement seen from the corner of his eye. She heard him yell out to Rick and both him and Carl ran down to the gate.
Rob pushed Heather ahead, allowing her to run through the opening before he did, watching as Rick slid the gate into it's place and looked at them. His eyebrows were furrowed in concern.
"What's going on?" Heather asked, pointing to the cars.
"Maggie and Glenn got taken." he told her, "We thought you two were gone as well. Where were you?"
Heather hesitated and Rick noticed, shaking his head and holding out his hand.
"We'll talk about it later. Go inside and help Daryl get the rest of the stuff together." he instructed her, grabbing Rob's arm, "You stay here. We need to talk first."
Heather didn't question him as she nodded and made her way up to the cell entrance. Daryl nearly ran into her when she stepped inside and the shock on his face made her take a step back. She saw his chest move with each breath as he stared at her.
"Rick told me to come help you." she said, her voice soft as she waited for him to move.
He cleared his throat and nodded, "Yeah, I need ya to grab my bag."
"I want to go with you," she told him, "when you go find Maggie and Glenn. I want to go."
Daryl looked away from her, "We already have a full car. We need ya back here."
She started to object when she heard Rick agreeing behind her.
"We need you and Rob back here. Oscar and Michonne are going with us and with me and Daryl gone, we'll need some muscle back here."
Heather narrowed her eyes, "Who's Michonne?"
He explained then, how they had found out about Maggie and Glenn. The woman had not only found her way to the prison, but she also offered to help them find their friends. She said the man who had taken them most likely took them back to a small town just a few miles from the store they had stopped at, a city that was forged after the end, Woodbury. She had told them that the town was run by a man who called himself The Governor, a nickname that was more of a joke than that truth. Michonne said the man was not to be trusted and was dangerous, hence why Oscar would be going with them. It wasn't going to be easy to get them out.
After Rick explained, Heather only wanted to assist even more, but Daryl still disagreed, handing Rick the bag of ammo he had been carrying out to the car. Rick understood, taking the bag as Daryl held onto Heather's arm, pulling her inside the prison. He led her back to their cell, covering the entrance with the hanging sheet before he turned to her.
"Where were you?" he asked her, "That woman said ya weren't there with Maggie and Glenn."
Unlike with Rick, she didn't hesitate in answering Daryl.
"Maggie saw a smoke a few days ago so Rob and I checked it out." she told him, "A helicopter crashed but someone had gotten to it before we did. Probably someone from Woodbury."
Daryl nodded at her, biting down on his lip. She could tell he wasn't happy with her leaving but he certainly wasn't upset at her. She hadn't been involved in the situation with Maggie and Glenn.
"I don't feel good about you leaving." Heather said, hoping her honesty wouldn't make him feel uncomfortable.
He only shrugged, breathing out as he reached his hand up to scratch the back of his neck.
"I'll be fine." he shook his head.
"I know you will," she replied, "I just don't feel good about it. It seems to dangerous to me."
"We're gonna get Maggie and Glenn, then we'll be right back." Daryl told her, moving his hand from his neck to her shoulder, "Ain't nothin' to be worried about."
She pressed her lips together, trying to agree with him. He saw her struggle and leaned down, tipping her head back with his thumb. She lifted her hands up, cupping his cheeks gently and made herself smile before leaning forward and kissing him. As she began to pull away, he gripped her shoulder and held her in place, pressing against her harder. He deepened the kiss with a sigh, his fingers brushing against her nape. The kiss only last a moment and when he finally pulled away, Heather felt the finality of it. As if he wouldn't see her again. She pushed the feeling away and smiled genuinely when he kissed the tip of her nose, then moved away from her.
"Found Carol." he said, "Keep an eye on her while we're out."
Heather's mind shifted gears and her lips parted.
"Where was she? Is she OK?"
Daryl nodded, pulling the bag onto his back.
"Dehydrated and exhausted but she's layin' down. I found her in one of those maintenance closets back by one of the other cell blocks." he told her.
"Rob will be here." she reminded him, "I'm sure he'd be more than happy to watch out for her."
Daryl nodded again, "Just keep yourself busy. It'll make the time go by faster."
She followed him back out of the cell and outside to the cars. Oscar was waiting with the woman, Michonne, and when her and Daryl stepped out, they both got into the car.
"Not much of a talker." Daryl commented, motioning to Michonne.
Heather kept silent, helping him put his bag and weapons into the trunk. Rick came out then, followed by Rob, and put his own bag into the trunk.
"Carl and Rob will be here," Rick told her, "Axel's in the other cell block but he said if you need anything, just go find him."
"We'll be fine back here." she assured him.
He touched her shoulder, the same motion he always seemed to use, then got into the driver's seat. Daryl looked down at her, chewing on the inside of his cheek.
"Please be careful." she told him quietly, knowing how awkward he got whenever they had to say goodbye.
"You too." he met her eyes, "Keep a weapon on ya."
Rick started the car and Daryl let out a sigh, closing the trunk. He didn't say anything else, simply nodded at her, then climbed into the passenger seat. Heather and Carl followed the car down to the fence, sliding it open to let the car pass. Daryl met her eyes again as they drove by and as much as she tried to remain calm, her breathing was labored and her palms were sweaty. It wasn't until the car was out of sight that she was able to get a shaky breath.
Now that you know what's coming up, what would you like to see done differently? Or which scenes do you want the same? I was planning on making the next chapter another split between the two groups, then after that, go between Heather and Daryl again (since we all know what happens once Merle enters the picture).
Thank you everyone who's been keeping up with me! Don't forget to leave me with your thoughts!