AN: Sorry that this chapter is so brief, I'll get the next part posted asap.
Dusk was nearing. He'd been casting furtive glances out at the tree line for the better part of an hour now, and taken to outright staring for the past several minutes. But no matter how much he willed it nothing, or better said, no one appeared. With a world weary sigh he turned to address the group that was busying itself with the usual nightly routines.
"All right, listen up." Nobody quit their tasks, but they did turn their attention to him. "We can't wait any longer. Daryl's not back yet. We have to make a decision. We either set out to look for him now, or wait till morning."
Chores now forgotten by all, Lori was the first to speak up, "No, Rick. You're not heading out now to go look for him. Night is falling, it's too dangerous!" When Rick opened his mouth to protest, she quickly cut him off. "No! I can see you've already made your choice. You want to go now, and are just trying to get the rest of us to agree with you before you say so."
"We can't leave him out there, Lori." Rick protested
Dale injected himself into the conversation, "Rick's right, we have to at least try to find him. It's unlike Daryl to stay out like this when he's clearly said he'd be back before dark. What if he's been injured?"
"Yea, that's all well and good, Dale. But ya see, in about 45 more minutes it's gonna be dark. How far do you think we'd get into a search in that amount of time, hmm?" Shane cast a piercing stare at the older man; the contempt in his voice only thinly veiled. "Not far, which ain't safe. But see, you don't care about that. None of you that would want to send a search party out do." At that, he swept his gaze over the entire group. "You don't care because you don't have to go out there yourselves."
Glenn looked up from underneath the brim of his cap. "Not true, Shane. I want to look, and I do care, because I'll be going too."
Seeing that this discussion was going nowhere, Andrea thought she'd give voice to some reason. "Look, I don't want to leave Daryl out there all night either, but I don't see that we have much choice. He's the tracker, and he's not here to look for himself. We don't have a hope of finding him in the dark, we'll only get ourselves lost too."
Giving another heavy sigh, Rick looked around at the faces of the people he was somehow the leader of. How had it come to this? Leading a ragtag band survivors, and having to make impossible choice after impossible choice? Loathe as he was to admit it, Andrea was right. It'd be foolish to venture out right now. While it'd be a major blow to loose Daryl, and not even just because of the skills he had to offer to their group- he'd been building friendships with several of them- Rick knew he couldn't put them all at risk to save one man.
"Ok." he consented. "If he's still not back, we head out at first light. Now, who all's going to come with me?"