Title: Chupacabra- The Missing Scenes
Summary: Daryl fought off walkers to get back to his group while injured and was greeted with friendly fire upon his return. A little look at what happened when Daryl got back to camp.
Notes: This went on a little longer than planned, apologies for that. Enjoy. :)

Rick had shot him!

God dammit, Rick Grimes had shot him.

He lay on the ground and groped around at the stinging at the left hand side of his head and looked at his hand. He was sure there was blood on his fingers, but as he looked at his filthy hand in front of him, he had no better idea how bad it was. The fact he was alive and conscious made him think it couldn't have been too bad, yet he'd also heard Rick shouting 'No', sounding panicked.
He felt like he was going to swallow something, on the verge of choking on it maybe and his mind conjured up images of his own blood filling his mouth, yet he knew that wasn't right. In fact, he also knew that it wasn't Rick who shot him as he'd seen him lower the gun and try to catch his breath seconds before the shot had sounded.

Someone else had fired at him and his mind was too hazy to try and think who it might be. Rick and Shane were hovering over him and grabbing him, trying to help. Shane reached towards his mouth and the weird sensation by his mouth went away and he realised stupidly late that it was the ears on the shoelace that hung round his neck. There was a gentle touch at the side of his face for a second before Rick and Shane started to haul him to his feet.

"I was kiddin'..." he breathlessly said, still managing a note of aggression in his voice despite it all.

Once they had him upright, he could do little but lean against Rick heavily as they started to move him. He heard T Dog and Glenn start to say something about Andrea and Dale but the words seemed to be getting further away and before he knew it, there was nothing but darkness.

He heard voices before he fully awoke and he somehow knew he was safe. When his mind eventually got itself together enough to tell him to open his eyes, he found himself in the unfamiliar setting of one of Hershel's rooms. They were lucky this farmhouse was so big, Daryl guessed, considering they also had Carl taking up another room here.

He quickly realised that Hershel was tending to the arrow wound on his side and Rick and Shane were both in the room with him. Daryl was at least grateful it was just the three of them in the room with him, he was no spectacle to be gawked at by the others.

"Can you hold this in place?" Hershel asked Daryl and he suddenly realised that Rick was stood pressing a cloth to the side of his head where the bullet had hit him. It stung a little but that was all and as Hershel was tending to the arrow wound, he figured the shot must had been as superficial as he'd first suspected.

With Rick released from his one duty, he hovered by the bed and waited to asked to help in any other way Hershel needed, yet the old man managed perfectly well without any assistance. Award that Rick had nothing to do but watch Hershel work made Daryl feel like some kinda mannequin on display in a fancy shop window and he started to recount what had happened and the ground he covered. Once Daryl started to talk, Rick didn't take long before he asked about the doll and Daryl did his best to tell Rick where he'd found it. The problem was, without seeing things for himself, Rick just didn't have the knack for the woods that Daryl did and Shane seemed to produce a map from nowhere so that Rick and Daryl were able to go through the fine details of where exactly Daryl had been.

Rick and Shane left just after Hershel reprimanded Daryl of sorts for losing his horse and taking it without asking in the first place, but considering all that, Hershel's words weren't all that harsh and it wasn't anything Daryl didn't expect to have someone say to him when he got back. If he'd come back with Sophia it'd be a different story, but a doll would have to do until he was next able to try and find her again. Rick and Shane departed together while Hershel got another closer look at the bullet wound. He cleaned it, making sure there was nothing embedded in the wound. Happy that it was clear, Hershel told Daryl that he'd get a bath filled up for him and that he'd have to get cleaned up before he bandaged the wounds.

Daryl wondered briefly just how repulsed Hershel was at the state he was in. There was practically no patch of skin on his upper body that wasn't covered in filthy and grime, yet Hershel didn't seem put off by him like some would be. He guessed being a farmer the man had been in likewise state himself a few times.
The old man didn't mention anything about the scars he must still be able to see on Daryl's body and once he'd washed his hands a final time he gave Daryl directions to the bathroom and left him.

Daryl gave Hershel a little time to be out of the way before he got up to his feet. He hadn't realised how sore he was until the moment he went to move. His feet ached and the boots did little to help the matter yet he wasn't about to walk around in his bare feet. He did however find the shirt they'd taken off of him and put it back on as he walked to the bathroom. It was still filthy, covered in dirt and blood and it was still damp.

He made his way along to the bathroom and found the tub was a quarter filled with cold water. It didn't bother him though, not after the day he'd had. He locked the door and stripped his filthy clothes off and kept them in a pile on the floor. Whoever had set the room up for him had put a towel ready and waiting for him by the bath and put some of his cleaner clothes for him to change into. He stepped into the tub and his feet relished the coolness the water gave them. He squatted in the tub and washed himself as best he could. He briefly thought back to being at the CDC and having the chance to have a real warm shower which he'd ignored for drinking Jack Daniels and wished he'd had the shower and stolen the JD. He didn't spend too long cleaning, it was a quick job, more a chore how he saw it and once he was as clean as he could be, he stepped out of the bath and pulled the plug and watched the filthy water disappear, feeling a little disgusted with just how gross he'd been. He wondered briefly how the others managed to stand being around him.

He quickly and roughly towel dried himself, just taking care near the stitches Hershel had put in for the arrow piercing in his side and draped the towel over the side of the tub before he pulled the fresher set of clothes on. He didn't bother buttoning the shirt up, seeing as how he'd soon be having to remove it for Hershel to bandage him up.

He made his way back down to the bedroom he'd left earlier, carrying the dirty clothes with him and waited for Hershel to return. It didn't take long for the older man to come back in. He tapped a gauze pad to Daryl's side but wrapped a bandage around the lesser head wound, simply because it was more likely to come off during the night due to the fact that it was so close to Daryl's hairline and couldn't be secured with tape as easily. Once it was finished, Hershel took Daryl's ruined shirt and told him he'd throw it out. Daryl got up to leave the room and head out to his tent, but Hershel held up his hand and told him he should sleep inside tonight. Daryl wasn't overly keen and Hershel told him if he felt up to sleeping in the tent tonight, he was sure having dinner with the rest of them should be okay as well and he'd make a space available if he felt up to it. Daryl hated the idea more than he hated the idea of sleeping in the bed for the night and he shrugged, "Guess one night won't hurt," he mumbled.

"I'll make sure someone brings you something in to eat a little later," Hershel said, leaving Daryl to get some rest.

Daryl had little to do once that detail was taken care of. He had no difference between the clothes he wore during the day or night so after checking out the sparse room, he decided he might as well rest, knowing it would be a nice change to just be able to lay in bed and not have to worry about being attacked. The threat was still there, it would never go unless all the walkers just died but being in a house was different than being in a tent.

The problem was, with safety not as present in his mind, Daryl was left with nothing else to think about other than his failure to be able to find Sophia. The group was depending on him to find her because he was the tracker, the hunter and she was a little girl, not capable of being careful and hide her tracks out in the woods. So why couldn't he find her? How could a small child escape from his skills? he hated that every time he came back without her, he'd see the girls mother's heartbreak a little bit more. Couldn't even hide her tears and worry that her daughter was missing.

He saw her take that frustration out on Rick, it was his fault she ran off, his fault that he chased her and tried to kill two walkers without a gun and his fault that she got scared off returning to the camp by something. But he knew deep down, carol wasn't angry at Rick, she was angry at Daryl, for not finding her daughter, yet he knew that when she looked at him, she just saw a different version of Ed and she dared not speak the harsh words she threw at Rick for fear that Daryl wouldn't be so calm in the face of her accusations. And while he'd never struck a woman, she didn't know that. Rick was a man governed by the rules he still used to live his life by, that there was a right and a wrong way to do everything. The only way Daryl knew was the way he and Merle had done everything, and that was their way, and he didn't think that their way was anything like the right way.

He lay in the spare room of the Greene's family home, thinking about everything. About Merle and where he might be, about his family, about how he got all those scars and how all those who'd seen them had been too polite to mention them. He barely noticed the gentle clattering of plates and cutlery coming from the rest of the house, so lost he was in his own mind.

Carol didn't knock when she came in the room. just opened the door and stepped on in and because of that, he'd assumed it would be Hershel so he hadn't turned with the urgency he might have done if he'd known a woman was entering the room. The sheet from the bed was low due to the heat that still hung in the air and he quickly pulled it up to underneath his armpit as though there were a sudden chill in the room. She, like everyone else, was too polite to say anything about his messed up body, simply asking how he was feeling and telling him she'd bought him some food. He glanced over at it and saw a small portion of food and a large wine glass of drink and wondered ideally if it was actually wine in there or not. She rested the plate on the bedside cabinet just in front of the lamp that illuminated the room and probably helped her see every damn scar on his back. He turned away from her, laying back how he had been before she entered and she suddenly was moving towards him. Instincts took over and his hand came up to protect his head, just like he'd always done. She hesitated at his flinching but as it was instinct, it only took a second for his arm to relax a little more and she continued to gently kiss his head, close to where the bullet had grazed him.

So shocked he was by her action that it took him a moment to think of something to say, and a quick reply telling her to watch his stitches was all that came out.

She spoke again, telling him, "You need to know something," and he waited, because it couldn't be anything good. She'd been nice to him and now, here it came. the blame, the anger, whatever it was, she'd just done the ground work by her kindness seconds before and now, she'd pull that out from underneath him. He waited for it, for the words to hit him but when she spoke, the words she said were kind and... fuck it, they were more than kind. the were some of the nicest words that someone had ever spoken to Daryl.

Spoken to him, about him.

And he felt a fool, laying there looking up at her as she said those things to him, so he turned from her, settled back to rest, told her it was nothing, the same as Rick & Shane would do.

He didn't know that with his back turned, Carol took the chance to take a quick few glances down at Daryl's exposed back where the sheets had slipped away slightly. She could see some nasty scars there and wondered about them, but she'd never ask and she knew he'd likely not tell her. They were his burden to bare.

She spoke again before leaving, telling Daryl he was as good as Rick and Shane. Every bit as good, she said. And the thing was, Daryl didn't think she was lying. She actually believed it to be true.

And then she left him there, alone, hiding his troubles underneath a sheet, as though if they weren't seen, then they were gone.

But her words lingered in his ears.

Not forgotten.

"Thank you for what you've done today," Rick said to Hershel after the meal had taken place.

Lori was with Carl and the rest of the group had returned to the camp site.

"I'm not going to turn away an injured man. Even if he does steal people's horses."

"Borrowed... and I promise to talk to him about it. I don't think he'll be doing it again," Rick surmised.

"Least of all not with that one," Hershel said.

"Look, I just wanted to thank you," Rick said.

"You did already,"

"On behalf of Daryl, because I don't think you'll get it from him,"

"I don't think so either. Sometimes, Rick, you don't have to say the words. You just know when someone appreciates help. Especially when they aren't shown it very often,"

Rick looked around, slightly nervously, "You saw those scars too, right? I mean, he was dirty but I could still see them..."

"I saw them,"

"How do you suppose... I mean, what do you think caused them?"

"Man would be a good guess. Look, Rick, I wouldn't worry about old scars. Everyone's got some scars they're carrying. Just worry about the fresh ones. The faded ones aren't going to heal any more than they already have. Now, if you don't mind, I think I'll retire for the evening."

"Goodnight," Rick said, as he watched Hershel disappear from view, thinking over the man's words.

Carol stepped out of the house, having left Daryl with his dinner and walked back towards the camp where most of the others were already settling back down for the night.

It had been a taxing day, and everyone looked to be feeling it now. Andrea in particular still looked mortified by her close call, having nearly shot dead one of the group mistaking him for a walker. A genuine mistake, but still a terrifying prospect.

When Andrea spotted Carol heading towards the camp, she got up and headed towards her, even though she only ended up meeting her a few steps before she got into the camp.

"How is he?" She asked, knowing Carol was heading to see Daryl and leave his food with him as the others left.

"He'll be fine," Carol said, laying a comforting hand on Andrea's shoulder, hoping to comfort her.

"Did he say anything, like he was going to shoot an arrow through my head?" Andrea asked, a little nervous.

Carol smirked slightly. "We didn't talk about who shot him, we didn't say much at all. You know Daryl."

"I feel so bad about this. I go and shot the guy who's busting his ass trying to find your daughter. I promise, I'll go out and look for her myself tomorrow,"

"No, my God, anything could happen to you out there. See what Rick wants to do tomorrow. He'll probably have a plan, but I don't want you risking yourself just because of guilt."

"I should have listened to Dale. He told me not to shoot."

Carol took hold of Andrea's hand and they walked back in to camp together. "Stop beating yourself up about it. It was an accident, okay?"

Andrea sighed, still not happy, but nodding anyway, more to please Carol than anything else.

They sat down together at the camp site by the fire. Rick walked up to the camp, and headed to Daryl's tent.

Inside it, Daryl's crossbow already waited for him, having been left there by Glenn when he'd returned earlier. Rick reached into his pocket and pulled out the necklace or ears that Daryl had been wearing when he returned to camp. He hung them on a lamp that was near Daryl's sleeping bag. He might have thought they were disgusting and he had no idea why Daryl had been wearing them, but it wasn't his to throw away and so he'd leave it for Daryl to do with whatever he pleased.

He looked around the simple tent, bag ready to go at a moments notice. He left the tent quickly and ignored the odd look Carol was shooting at him. He didn't really want them to know about the necklace of ears if Glenn hadn't said something to them already, and he definitely didn't want it to get back to Hershel at some point either. A lot easier if they didn't know.

Something caught Rick's eye beyond Daryl's tent and he saw it was Merle's motorbike.
He thought back to Hershel's words about old scars. Wondered if that scar had even healed yet, or if it was still a scab and if it was picked, it would bleed again, make the scar worse.

He shook the thoughts away. This wouldn't help matter. He sat down on one of the fold up chairs that sat around the fire in a large circle.

"Long day," T Dog muttered from where he sat not far away.

"Can say that again," Andrea replied. She still looked a little upset about shooting Daryl, but the fact that he wasn't really hurt by her had helped somewhat.

"Hershel says that Daryl'll be back with us tomorrow. From what he said, he'd have been out here tonight if he had his way, but once he was reminded of the dinner we were all having, he soon changed his mind," Rick said.

Some of the group smirked and Andrea's own smile faded when she spotted a familiar figure walking their way, although rather gingerly. "Maybe not," she said. The others turned to see Daryl heading to the camp.

Rick stood up and took several steps towards Daryl, his first intention was to help him, but then he reconsidered that move, given who it was. "I thought you were staying in the house tonight?"

"I don't need a bed, 'm not hurt like your boy. Tent will be fine."

He didn't slow his pace when he got to camp to talk to anyone, heading straight into his tent. He was grateful to see his crossbow, carefully placed on his sleeping bag. Whoever had taken care of it for him had cleaned it because he knew it was in a bit of a sorry state. he vaguely remembered dragging it for part of his return to camp and although it still needed a lot more love, he did appreciate the effort someone had took to get the worse mess off of the weapon.

He moved the crossbow off of his sleeping bag and kicked his boots off. He felt himself relax a bit more and lay down on the sleeping bag. The ground was hard as always, yet he didn't care, it felt better than a soft bed.

Those four walls and a roof might have been safer, but he strangely felt more safe out here, with this weird group of people and he didn't want to think why that was.

But he knew that if anything went down, this was the place he needed to be. He needed to make sure his group stayed safe and he couldn't to that tucked up in bed, out of reach.

He closed his eyes and finally found the peace he needed to let sleep wash over him.
Even if it was just for one night.