Title: The Wolf's Teeth Are Red
Summary: The group are forced to ask themselves more question about infection and how it's spread when an unfortunate incident means one of their number could become infected.
Notes: This story takes place after my little story 'A Slice of Normal', hence the dog. If you haven't already read that you can easily read this story just knowing the fact that Daryl found a dog. The title comes from the song by Thrice 'The Lion and the Wolf'.
"The Lion's outside of your door, the Wolf's in your bed
The Lion's claws are sharpened for war, the Wolf's teeth are red."
He didn't always hunt now, sometimes he just stepped outside the prison walls for the hell of it.
Like right now, he was checking everything was secure. Well, they all knew it was but the added assurance that he was checking made them sleep a little easier and it gave him his space. The dog had come out with him. Carl had ended up naming her Bella, which Daryl thought was a stupid name for a dog but hadn't said anything. He never used the dogs name anyway so it mattered little to him.
While Daryl was happy to stay near the front of the prison, working on sharpening his knife he let the dog wander around freely.
It wasn't until he heard her yelp that he realised how stupid that was. He was stood up in an instant and feared the worst, waiting to see a walker, or a herd of them, heading his way. However, he didn't see a sign of any walkers and he couldn't see Bella either, the grass surrounding the prison was over grown and obscured the view. He called the dog to him and eventually he saw the grass moving about in such a way that he was sure it was her coming towards him and sure enough, she came towards him, limping along, not wanting to put too much weight on one of her back legs. Daryl called her to him and as she came to a stop by him, he petted her, trying to reassure her as he looked for what might have caused her discomfort. Her leg looked fine to him and he guessed she might have injured it in some other way, maybe something simple like twisting it had caused her pain.
Then he made a crucial mistake, something he knew better than to do, especially when it came to animals.
He hadn't realised that the dog had a bite on her. After checking her lame leg he'd gently stroked her and hadn't seen the bite mark on her. He'd grazed it with his hand and the dog had reacted instinctively, biting to protect itself.
Daryl recoiled his own hand immediately, suddenly losing trust in the dog, however after it's defensive bite, it looked like it knew it had done wrong by him and lowered it's head. He realised that he'd just hurt the dog and all it had done was try and protect itself. He rubbed the dogs head cautiously and then checked her more carefully for any other bites.
He could only see the one and while it was bleeding and sore, he didn't think it was too bad. He couldn't help wonder what had caused it. It looked too small for a walker to have done and any walker that had bitten a dog would surely have followed it back. There was still no sign of anything out there but he wasn't happy to just let it go. He made his way back inside.
Maggie was on watch and he told her that the dog had been bitten and her Dad needed to take a look at it. She tried to ask him where he was going when he turned back around and went outside again but he paid little attention to her or her words.
He headed out towards the area he'd seen Bella come back from and headed towards the trees. He knew from when he walked around out here himself with her that she usually came to the edge of the trees and spent her time sniffing around happily. As he got closer he could hear a strange sound. Kinda like a walker but not quite the same and he couldn't really tell how it was different. Not sure what he was looking for, he moved around slowly and carefully in the tall grass. He could tell the sound was coming from close to the trees and stepped through the tall grass towards it.
Behind him, Rick emerged from the prison hearing sketchy details from Maggie about the dog being bitten. But she'd seen Daryl's hand bleeding too and panicked. She'd come across Rick first and told him who'd now followed Daryl outside. He began to follow Daryl towards the trees where the hunter was slowly checking around for some kind of danger. From what Rick could tell with how Daryl held his crossbow low, he wasn't expecting a walker. Daryl turned slightly hearing someone approaching him and saw Rick but quickly turned back to whatever was making the noise somewhere unseen.
His eyes happened to catch a flash of red and he saw that Maggie was right, Daryl had been bitten as well although it didn't seem to hamper him a lot.
"Your bit?" Rick asked, voice hushed.
"Was the dog," was all Daryl offered as an explanation for now as he tried to concentrate on the job at hand.
Rick grimaced at the thought of the commotion they'd get back to but he kept his eyes open and assisted Daryl in looking for the creature making the weird noise.
That's when they found it. Half concealed under some wild plants was a very young walker. Rick hadn't seen a walker so young before, it was bad enough when he'd seen children Carl's age turned into such hideous creatures but this thing, it couldn't be any older than three or four.
Daryl moved around to one side and moved some of the plant aside revealing that one leg had been pulled right off, the other was badly twisted in such a way that it was mostly useless. It's arms were missing too, forcing the creature to just have to lay squirming in the grass, unable to move. He realised it was why the bite on the dog was so low.
Rick looked like he was about to hurl and Daryl felt pretty sickened by the sight himself. He was prepared to put the thing down but before he even had a chance to take aim, Rick had shot it, ending the short life.
Daryl couldn't help but take a closer look. The leg had clearly been ripped off and he wondered if that was how the child died, bleeding out like that wouldn't have taken long. But the missing limbs were a lot cleaner, like they'd been cut off and he wondered why someone would leave a walker like that. He wasn't exactly a fan of them but to do that was some sick shit. He stood up again and looked to Rick, who he realised was staring at the bite mark on his hand.
He immediately felt defensive. "What?"
"People are going to be worried about that," Rick said, indicating to the bite mark unnecessarily.
"So? I told ya, was the dog," Daryl explained again, feeling there was no need to tell Rick what he'd already told him.
"The dog that was bit by a walker," Rick stated.
"It's a dog bite, Rick. No walker bit me."
"Yeah, but the dog was bitten by a walker," Rick said, trying to keep things calm but he couldn't help but feel a slight panic at the prospect that one of their group had just been infected.
"You think it works like that? Dog gets bit, now cause it bit me, I'm done for?" Daryl questioned.
"I don't know. I don't know if the dog will be fine. Maybe it doesn't affect them, I don't know. Maybe they can carry the virus though. Maybe they can pass it on... I don't know. I'm just saying, we need to be cautious," Rick said.
Daryl stared at Rick for a few moments before his face creased in frustration. "To hell with you, Grimes," Daryl said before storming back towards the prison.
Daryl hadn't spoke to anyone when he got back to the prison and they knew him well enough to know that he wasn't in the mood. When he got to the cell he had made his room the dog was already in there waiting for him. It wagged it's tail at his appearance and had the same slightly nervous look about it as though it was waiting for him to tell it off. He petted the dog before he lay down on the bed and tried not to think about what had happened out there a short time ago with Rick, knowing that all it would do was frustrate him more and he wasn't really going to be able to blow off steam.
He lay there quietly for quite a while before he heard the footsteps approaching. He assumed it'd be Rick and was mildly surprised to see Hershel stood there.
It was obvious that he knew what was going on, about the bite and the dog. He just waited for Hershel to say something. He didn't have to wait long.
"Mind if I take a look at that bite?"
"Mine or the dogs?" Daryl replied.
"Well, both would be good. But I'd like to start with yours."
Daryl sat up and Hershel took that as an invitation to fully enter the room. He approached the bed and pulled the chair forward that was against the wall and sat on it so he could inspect the wound.
"Can you tell?" Daryl asked. He didn't need to say it any clearer than that, they both knew what he meant.
"Not this early. For what it's worth, I don't think the dog is infected and I don't think that even if it was it could pass it on to you like that. But I don't know, I'm just making assumptions," Hershel reassured him. "We can just keep an eye on it. Now, I'd like to give you some antibiotics, just in case and clear the wound up and wrap it, just to keep it clean. And then we'll take a look at the dog, okay?"
They hadn't talked about things calmly.
There'd been an air of panic within the group when Maggie had told them about Daryl and the dog being bitten. Rick had gone over the story with them, stressing that Daryl had been bitten by the dog, not a walker but the fears were the same.
They were worried Daryl could still become infected, worried the dog was a time bomb and might bite anyone of them. Lori had swore Carl away from the dog. The dog had decided that Daryl was it's master now and seemed pretty content to stay by his side.
If that wasn't enough of an issue, Hershel had more bad news for them.
"All the antibiotics are gone," He'd told them.
"I assume the last people to leave this place, prison guards or whoever cleared out the supplies they had. All I've been able to give him are painkillers and not even very strong ones. We don't have anything stronger once those are gone either. I haven't told him what I gave him, he didn't ask and I didn't offer anything up. The mind can be a pretty powerful healer itself so hopefully just taking something might make him feel better."
"What about the stuff Daryl had?"
"We used most of it on T Dog's blood infection. Daryl had the rest after his near miss," Hershel recalled.
"So we're gonna need to make a run for supplies?" Glenn said, feeling like he was about to be asked to go out with Maggie yet again.
"I'll go," T Dog offered.
"Wait a minute, it's dangerous. For all we know Daryl's infected and this isn't going to do any good. Risking more people, is that the right thing to do?" Lori asked.
"You're right, he might be infected. If he isn't and his infection gets bad, he'll die anyway and we'll have the same problem. In light of it being pretty essential in our survival, I'd say this was a supply that was worth the risk," Hershel said.
"I'll go with you," Glenn offered T Dog.
"Are you two happy to go together, or do you need anyone else?"
"I think we'll be good," T Dog said, looking to Glenn who nodded in agreement.
"You're not going too?" Lori asked.
"We need someone back here to keep watch and I'd feel better if someone was around to keep an eye on Daryl,"
"I can do that," Carol voluteered.
Rick nodded, hoping she would offer it seeing as Daryl seemed to be quite happy around her. Glenn and T Dog headed off to ready themselves for their journey. Carol also left the group but headed to get Daryl some food and water before going to see him, wanting to have a reason to visit him rather than just sitting there without a reason.
"You want me on watch?" Maggie offered.
"Thanks. Take Beth with you if you want."
"What are you going to do," Lori asked.
"I was going to do dinner."
Lori nodded. "Carl, come and help me and your Dad, okay?"