A little crappy drabble (might turn into more, but I don't know if I'll have time for more than another chapter or two) to say happy birthday to DixonChick. I promised a little Caryl, here it is!


"Okay, just calm down…" Rick stood his ground, hands out in font of him to hold Daryl back, "We don't have a choice, here. If you're bit, now's the time to find out. You know we can't let you in there."

Daryl stumbled back, with a sneer and a grunt. He started to quickly, angrily pace around in front of Rick like a caged lion, glaring at him, "Think you can keep me out?" He gave the cop a small, cocky smirk and advanced into the other man's space, "Best step aside, brother. 'For I put a boot in your ass."

"Don't wanna do something stupid." Shane remained threatening but calm behind Rick, both of them between Daryl and the abandon strip mall that had become a string of make-shift homes for the survivors in recent months, "Scaring the shit outta everybody. Stand down, man, or I'mma put you down."

Trying to look around the men Daryl continued to pace. He pointed at Shane "Better watch what you say." then wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist and decided to take matters into his own hands. He rushed them, trying to get between the men instead of going around them but Rick and Shane managed to make a decent barricade. Unable to get through, he struggled to find his voice and harshly, insistently called at the new compound, "Carol!"

Inside what used to be a Chinese restaurant, Carol sat on the ground behind the gaudy black and red checkout counter, too low to be seen through the only window that wasn't covered by a floor-length red curtain. Lori was standing near the entrance, peeking carefully through the black folding blinds that covered the door trying to see what was going on and Andrea sat with Carol, keeping her hands over the weeping woman's mouth to keep her from giving away their location. Carol held Andrea's hand with both of her own, using every bit of strength she had left to stay where she was. It went through Carol's mind briefly that it didn't matter, Daryl seemed to know where she was at all times, and from the way he had been straining against Rick and Shane trying to break for that particular store made it pretty obvious to everyone involved that this time was no different.

It was hell again. A living nightmare she never seemed to shake. After Sophia had been taken from her almost a year earlier Carol had slowly rebuilt a life worth living around Daryl. A life he had fought kicking and screaming every inch of the way. But with the collapse of their safe haven at Hershel's farm, and the following mayhem at the prison and an abandon hospital in Ariton, they had come to settle in what was left of Bear Creek, Alabama. In a strip mall, with full-wall glass windows and a wide lot that seemed an unlikely place to keep safe. Still, it had offered them all temporary shelter and the town had been so small that Walkers rarely came stumbling over the cheap blacktop parking lot.

Living inside the stores had many advantages. Much of the dry food was still on the shelves and, other than a clean up and airing out at the start, they found them easy to live in and keep clean. Supplies, generators, even gas from the cars still parked in the lot were all of easy and convenient use and a lot safer than making trips into town whenever they ran out of something.

Then there was the biggest bonus - privacy. There were enough buildings for each group to have their own temporary home, complete with locks on the doors and somewhat functioning bathrooms. When the larger group started breaking down into family units Carol had gone to find a space suitable for one person and she found the small, alarmingly pink Sanrio store still stocked with gifts, candy and other useless items featuring all manner of reekingly adorable cartoon animals. She had claimed the place, swept up what little debris was on the floor and took it out back to find somewhere to dump it. When she returned she was surprised to find Daryl sitting on a sleeping bag that he'd set out next to hers on the floor, leafing through a rumpled paper back and trying his damndest not to be put off by the dancing bunnies, kitties and ponies on the wallpaper.

Since then things had slowly progressed between them. His standoffishness didn't phase her anymore and neither did his crudeness, but she had still noticed a gradual decline in that kind of behavior towards her, specifically, as he became more and more aware of sharing space with another person. He would often become furious at any perceived mistreatment of her and, while she tried to stop him from going off on the rest of the group, part of her was grateful to have someone looking out for her for a change. Inch by inch, day by day, things began to change between them and now it was too late. Carol had lost her little girl, and the thought of losing Daryl now was too much. So she clung to Andrea, hoping the other woman's will power would be able to stop what she knew she was about to do.