A/N: Thank you to everyone who's still reading this AND who have found me on LJ. Sorry for the wait but I had a hold on my account that stopped me from posting because of my story "Who The Fuck Is Murphy being deleted (which can be found on my LJ, along with all of my other unedited work). The link is on my profile. This site is apparently deleting a LOT of stories, not just mine, so I'm sorry to those who have had that happen to them recently. I can finally upload stories so you'll see a few things posted throughout the day. I DID NOT HAVE TO CUT ANYTHING FROM THIS CHAPTER.
This was not run by my BETA so all mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: I do not own. All rights go to Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont, and all others involved. Obviously I'm NOT involved.
Daryl stayed at the edge of the group that night waiting for a good time to sneak off and stitch himself back up again. He already swiped a small sewing kit from a backpack in the Kia and had half a flask of Johnny Walker left in the satchel on the bike. It would be painful and sloppy and most likely scar but he'd stitched himself up on more than one occasion and another impromptu sew job wouldn't hurt. The others sat crowded together, quiet or in tears, everyone mourning the loss of their loved ones; Patricia, Jimmy, Shane and Andrea were all gone. Daryl didn't particularly care about Jimmy or Patricia and the thought of Shane finally being out of the picture brought a smirk to his face but Andrea's death left a strange, hollow feeling in the pit of his gut.
The world tilted around him and Daryl had to reach a hand out to brace himself on the rock wall in front of him. Breakfast was rolling around uncomfortably in his stomach and when he felt the burn all the way in his nostrils Daryl had to swallow the urge to vomit all over T-Dog's bald head that was almost directly to his right. Daryl's vision went in and out, greying around the edges and it felt as though he was in a dream, all the sounds around him blurring together and roaring in his ears. Sweat beaded at his hairline even though the nights were getting colder with every day that passed, his whole body clammy and holy shit when did he start shivering?
"Daryl?" Rick barked sharply at him and Daryl opened his eyes-when had he closed them?-to find everyone staring at him.
"What?" Daryl barely recognized his own voice.
"I asked you a question." Rick quirked an eyebrow. "Are you alright?"
"'M fine." Daryl scrubbed his face. "What'd you ask?"
"We're trying to figure out where to go next. I asked if you had any ideas."
"We shouldn't stay here, that's for sure." Daryl was sure he was slurring his words but so far no one said anything about it. His tongue felt heavy in his mouth. "Find somewhere to settle for the winter."
"Maybe head west?" Glenn suggested, pulling Maggie closer to his body.
"I was thinking maybe the coast." Rick ran his hand through Carl's hair.
"You want my honest opinion?" Daryl asked. He had to breathe through his nose slowly to keep his stomach settled. "We should wait it out, gather supplies, and go back to the farm."
"You've got to be kidding." T-Dog stood and spun around to face Daryl. "We lost people there! Do you really want to drag everyone back to that hell?"
"I think it's our best bet." Daryl didn't feel like dealing with this right now. His side burned momentarily and when Daryl looked down he saw a single drop of blood on his boot. "Fortify the perimeter, be better prepared this time. If the barn didn't burn the house down there's a future for us there."
"He's right." It was Carol who spoke up. Carol who saw her only child shot between the eyes at that very farm. "We're safer there than on the road. Safer there than chasing a dream."
"Let's all think about it tonight. In the morning we take a vote." Rick Grimes to the rescue. Daryl couldn't help the soft snort that escaped.
"We done here?" Daryl needed to get away and he needed to get away now.
"Yeah." Rick was about to sick when he stared at Daryl for a long moment. "Are you sure you're ok?"
"You ask me again yer gonna find my boot up yer ass." And the others kind of gasped and followed him with their eyes as he walked away, rolling his shoulders.
Swiping a pocket-sized flashlight from the toolbox in the truck bed Daryl stalked far enough away to not be seen, kneeling on the ground behind a cluster of bushes. When he peeled off his shirt he couldn't help the low moan, breathing through clenched teeth when the fabric got stuck to dried blood. The old arrow wound was still oozing and was an angry red around the edges. It wasn't life-threateningly infected yet but Daryl was sure it was only a matter of time. He tucked the flashlight under his chin in a sad attempt to get some light.
It was weak and didn't quite give him the range he really needed but it was all he had. The flask rattled in his shaking hands and Daryl had to try more than once to open it, the metal cap clanking against the side with every tremor of his body. Without hesitation the redneck splashed the wound, holding his breath against the sting. But it was more than a sting; the liquor scorched his whole body and Daryl was sure he was on fire. When he tasted blood in his mouth Daryl spit, his tongue sore and tore his belt off as quickly as possible. He took a long swallow of the Johnny Walker and scolded himself for being such a pussy.
With the leather strap firmly between his teeth Daryl threaded a needle with purple-fuckin' purple-thread, dousing the sharp piece of metal with the booze, mentally cursing himself for not bringing a lighter. The first touch of needle against skin was enough to make Daryl gag, body lurching forward so his forehead was almost touching the dirt below him. He closed his eyes, willing the pain away. Push it down, Daryl told himself. When he sat up again he pushed the needle through, pulling the thread tight, and went back again. Over and over he did this until the hole in his body was securely closed. Tearing the string with his teeth Daryl felt a brief moment of triumph before he realized he still had to stitch up the other side of the wound. How the hell was he going to reach his back?
Daryl twisted and turned attempting to find a good angle but there wasn't one to be found. His whole body was covered in sweat by now, running down his chest and back, dripping into his eyes and blinding him. The heat radiating from his skin was more frustrating than the pain he felt and Daryl yelled out angrily, the sound muffled by the belt clenched in his mouth. With a deep, steadying breath Daryl tried to calm enough to think but the heartbeat in his ears was distracting. He twitched, huffing a breath out through his nose and blinked against the stinging in his eyes. Daryl poured more alcohol onto his back, then the needle, and after forcing his hands to stop trembling Daryl began sewing. This time around his handiwork was much messier and he wasn't sure if he had even patched up the whole thing.
Daryl drank the rest of the Johnny Walker without stopping, some of the amber liquid dribbling out of the corners of his mouth and down his chin. He spluttered, coughing, and stumbled where he sat. The worst part was over but his entire being ached, the energy needed to stand again seeming like wishful thinking so he stayed like that, eyes closing of their own accord and before he could stop himself he drifted off into an uncomfortable sleep with his head propped against a tree. Daryl wasn't sure how long he stayed there but he jerked awake at the sound of someone approaching. His tongue was like sandpaper in his mouth and it felt like someone had shoved cotton balls in his ears. Despite this Daryl pulled his jacket and vest back on, tossing the rumpled, blood-stained shirt into the bushes. He stood just before Rick was upon him, brows knitted together with concern, blue eyes taking his body in.
"Been looking for you for a while. Carol was worried." Was all Rick said, standing with his arms at his sides.
"Been right here." Daryl cracked his neck.
"Was wondering if you and I could talk." Rick questioned, all of a sudden looking incomprehensibly nervous. Daryl nodded.
"Where are the others?" He looked around waiting for Glenn and T-Dog to make an appearance.
"Back at camp. I was hoping we could be-alone." The way he said it made Daryl quirk his head to the side.
Rick started walking then, not waiting for Daryl to follow but the hunter did anyways. The first step he took caused a whole new kind of pain to jolt through his body and he stopped, body freezing and suddenly he couldn't breathe, stuck in his throat. Push it down, Daryl told himself again. With that he sucked it up and went after Rick who didn't seem to notice the way Daryl walked with a slight limp.
A/N: Please let me know what you think! I know it's been a little bit of a wait so I hope this is worth it. Don't worry…Daryl's suffering isn't over yet ha. Oh. And I haven't forgotten about Andrea. But fair warning: I've never read the graphic novel (I know, shame on me!) so I won't have Michonne, the Governor or the prison in this. I just don't want to write about things I know nothing about.