New Meanings to Old Words: Love

Here we go again people! Season 2 - Love. I know you're all

We're picking up pretty much right where we left off. The crew has just left the CDC, and has stopped at a gas station rest area to 'lick their wounds and make their plans'.

As always, read, review and most of all enjoy!

Disclaimer: I own nothing, except Callie and the crew of misfits (Danny, Miles, Jenna, Mike, Nina, Ben and Gracie).

Chapter 1: Mad World

He was dead.

He was dead, and this was Hell. That was really the only explanation for the unending pain and the sweltering oppressive heat. Danny cracked his eyes open, and looked directly into the face of the devil. And fuck if he didn't find himself laughing through the pain that was coursing through his entire body.

The devil looked like Dale Horvath.

Bald head, Hawaiian shirt, and all. He honestly hadn't seen that one coming.

A searing pain shot through his leg as he was lifted just a bit and turned to the side, cutting off his laughter completely. It was at that point that Danny realized he wasn't dead. Not yet at least. He was settled in the back of the RV, on one of those small twin beds, being manhandled by Dale and T-Dog.

"Fuck!" Danny yelled out, and instantly he found himself once again on his back, staring up at the face of Dale. Smiling fuckin' Dale Horvath. "Fuckin' Hawaiian shirt-wearing Devil." Danny muttered shaking his head and feeling a sensation of lightheadedness almost drown out his slowly returning vision. He closed his eyes tight and lifted his right hand as far as he could.

He wanted to rub at the headache that was settled deep behind his eyes, but his arm felt too heavy.

"He's awake again," Dale said quietly, a small smile coming to his face as he worked to still Danny's hand. "Stay still son, we're trying to see what we're working with."

"It's bad," Shane's voice came from somewhere down the length of him and Danny tried to sit up and look. "It went through, but it tore a chunk out the back when it exited. Damn," Shane seethed and sat back to look at Rick beside him. "No wonder he lost so much blood. Daryl's right, there's no way we can sew that up."

"What about the other one?" Glenn's voice said from somewhere behind Dale. Danny's head swam as he tried to look, but another bout of nausea and lightheadedness had him reaching out and grabbing a fistful of Hawaiian shirt.

"Not as bad," Rick said and Danny felt his bloody shirt lifting from his skin. The suctioning sound of the fabric lifting reminding Danny of what they'd been talking about before he must have passed out again. Reminded him why he wasn't wearing pants anymore.

"Where's Daryl?" Danny asked, his mouth moving slowly, tongue thick and heavy in his mouth. His eyes closed tight and he said a bit of a prayer that maybe, just maybe he was wrong about where the redneck was.

"He's getting the iron," Rick said simply. "You with us?"

"Yeah," Danny said nodding his head. Snippets of the conversation they had when the RV had come to a stop and he'd been bombarded with people fussing over him coming back to him. His pants being removed painfully. The smell of blood so strong in the little backroom that the women and children had to flee from it.

One word echoing in his head, over and over.


How long ago had that been?

"Anyone who don't wanna see, better leave now." Daryl's voice came through the RV and again Danny worked at sitting up. Apparently long enough.

"I'd like to go," Danny groaned watching as Daryl came forward gripping something large and red hot. His hand was wrapped up in cloth protecting his fingers from harm. It almost had Danny grinning again when he realized that the large red hot object Daryl held was Carol's trusty ol' iron. Almost. A grimace of discomfort passed over Daryl's face as he skipped his eyes to Danny's. Danny lay back again in dismay, helped by Dale, who was patting his shoulder. "Fuck." Danny shook his head and looked at the ceiling as if he were praying. "Fuck. I'd really like to go."

"Wish you could, brother." Daryl said back as he shifted the red hot iron a bit in his cloth covered hand. Twenty long minutes cooking that metal plate in the fire. It was red hot and ready to go, but it would cool fast. He looked to Rick who nodded and moved to so that Daryl could squeeze between the RV wall and Danny. "Gotta be now." Daryl said through clenched teeth.

Rick moved to the end of the bed and held tight to Danny's injured left leg, and put a hand to Shane's shoulder and nodded. Shane stood up and wiped his hand along his mouth and then knelt down beside the bed. With Daryl and Dale's help they worked to move Danny so that he was laying on his right side. The large exit wound in his upper left thigh now visible for Daryl. T-Dog worked his way past Shane and lowered his head as he made his way out.

"I can't—" His eyes caught Daryl's who looked away without a word. "I'm sorry."

"No worries," Danny grumbled as he closed his eyes again and buried the side of his head into the mattress. "Keep Callie and Miles out." T-Dog nodded his head and looked back at the group of men still in the small back room of the RV. He caught Daryl's gaze again and was rewarded with a single nod. Shaking his head at himself T-Dog made his way out of the RV.

"Glenn?" Rick asked, looking up at where Glenn was situated at the top of the bed, between the wall of the RV and Danny's body. The younger man's eyes were wide, his skin pale and sweat slicked as he looked at Daryl holding the still red hot iron. He shifted his gaze to Danny and then put his hands tight on Danny's left shoulder, while Dale held tight to his chest and a bit lower. Trying to avoid the still bleeding second wound in his abdomen.

"I'm staying," Glenn said with an air of finality that had Daryl looking at him and nodding. Glenn looked down at Danny's pained face.

"You're a good fuckin' friend, Glenn." Danny mumbled as he tried to push his face further into the mattress. "Fuckin' stupid, but good." He closed his eyes tight and with one final pained breath said "Do it, Daryl."

"Here we go," Daryl said tightly his right hand coming to grab at Danny's hip to help hold the man steady. He took three deep breaths, nodded glancing at Rick, Shane Dale and Glenn and then pressed the iron to the back of Danny's leg.

The scream that dragged out of the man on the bed, the guttural pain-filled scream was enough to have each man closing their eyes to the horror they were inflicting on one of their own. Daryl's jaw tightened to an almost painful degree as he pressed the hot iron into the back of Danny's tore up thigh. His right hand was holding tight trying to keep the man from thrashing away from him as his body bowed at an almost impossible degree.

Desperate to get away from the pain that Daryl was inflicting.

"Hold him still," Daryl growled as he pressed. The rest of the men inched closer, each one holding tighter as Danny continued to scream and bow his body. Glenn was shaking his head wildly from side to side as Danny pressed his head into the mattress and yelled.

Danny's voice cracked on the scream tearing from his throat.

Daryl pressed one final time, the smell of burning flesh tickling at his nose. His stomach lurched in a threatening manner and he growled in an attempt to still its protest. A lot of things were going through his mind when he lifted that hot iron from Danny's leg, and stared down at the wound he'd just cauterized. A lot of them were for the man that now lay shaking and now convulsing on the mattress.

But a scattered few were back in Atlanta. At a hot plate in a kitchen. And on a white fuckin' box truck that he'd passed to get here.

"What's going on?" Glenn was asking as his hands lifted from Danny's convulsing body, Dale still holding tight. Danny was thrashing, his eyes closed and breathing like a hiss of air coming fast through his clenched teeth.

"He's goin' into shock," Daryl said letting his hand lift from Danny's hip. Dale, Rick and Shane worked to lay Danny back onto his back, the man still convulsing under their hands. Daryl watched for a second before lifting to his feet and heading out the door. His hand on the iron was shaking and he didn't want any of them to see that.

Danny's body stopped moving just as Daryl was exiting, and the quiet of the room caused him to look back. The last hiss of breath leaving Danny before he subsided into complete unconsciousness again. Glenn was staring down at Danny's now unmoving form, the back of his left hand over his mouth and his eyes wide as saucers. Dale put a hand to Glenn's shoulder getting the kid's attention on him. Glenn blinked twice and looked at Dale. Dale put his hand to Danny's neck, feeling the beat of his erratic pulse below his fingers and let out a low sigh of relief.

"He's passed out again," Dale said quietly, a small smile of reassurance passing over his face. His eyes lifted from Glenn to Daryl and then back. "It's his body's way of escaping and processing the pain. It's for the best right now."

"He ain't gonna be able to take much a anything else for a while." Daryl said from the doorway. "Gonna have to bind the other wounds till he can."

"Right," Shane said again wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. He nodded towards Dale and Glenn. "Grab those sheets the ladies ripped up for us. We'll bind him up and then get him onto some clean sheets."

Daryl turned away as the rest got to work, his feet stomping towards the little kitchenette. He tossed that fuckin' iron into the sink, and quickly unwrapped his hand. He stared at it for a moment, watchin' it fuckin' shake. Feelin' more and more like a bitch with each little quake of his fingers and wrist. Clenching his jaw at the sound of approaching footsteps he slammed both of his hands to the counter around the sink and bent, curving his shoulders and stretching his back. He kept his head down, lowering it almost to the counter as he stretched out his frustration and anger. He tightened his hold on the counter, feeling his arm muscles constrict and bunch up as he worked to get a hold of his fuckin' nerves.

"You alright?" Rick's voice sounded from his right and Daryl snarled. Of course it had to fuckin' be Rick.

"Fuckin' fine," Daryl growled at the man as he came to a stop at his side. Rick's eyes followed Daryl's heated gaze to the iron in the sink.

"Why don't you go get cleaned up," Rick said his eyes lifting from the iron to the side of Daryl's face. Taking in the tight set of Daryl's jaw, Rick ran a hand through his own sweaty hair. "We got this."

"Yeah," Daryl growled back, his angry gaze landing on Rick. "I'm gonna go do that."

Rick watched Daryl stalk off, and slam his palms at the door of the RV. Daryl exited, and Rick watched through the window near him as the man ignored everyone who even attempted to talk to him. Rick's eyes slipped to where Callie stood near the back of her Hummer. Her eyes following the stalking redneck as he just walked away with his head down.

Suddenly her eyes lifted, and amazingly blazed through the small window and locked with his. They stayed that way for a few seconds before she shook her head and disappeared back behind her Hummer. Rick's eyes slipped back down to the blood and skin covered iron in the sink. One hand gripped the counter as Daryl's just had, while his other cupped his mouth and squeezed.

"Is he alright?" Dale's tired voice sounded and Rick lifted his tired eyes to the older man. Dale ran his hand over his bald head and furrowed his brow as he grimaced at the sight of the iron in his sink. Rick continued to watch Dale as the older man came to a stop, grabbing up the shirt that Daryl had wrapped around his hand earlier.

"I don't know," Rick said honestly, his brows quirking slightly as he shook his head and let his gaze flick back out to the assorted survivors still milling about their cars. His gaze locked on Lori, who was holding Carl to her and refusing to give the boy even an inch away from her. "I don't know, Dale."

"Well," Dale said stepping closer and putting a hand to Rick's shoulder. "I've been around Daryl long enough to know that if you just give the man some space, he usually works out whatever he's feeling on his own."

"You mean he buries it," Rick said with a bit of a tilt to his lips as he shook his head and put his other hand to the counter. Turning to look at Dale the two men shared a smile.

"Whatever works, right?" Dale said with a chuckle. His eyes skipped outside and he closed his eyes for a second. "I need some air. Join me?"

"In a minute," Rick said nodding his head and letting the older man pass. Dale clapped his hand on Rick's shoulder and nodded his head as he made his way slowly past. Rick settled his butt along the counter and folded his arm over his chest. His eyes roamed back to the room where Danny was laying, and he watched Glenn slowly work his way out of the room. Glenn didn't say a word, as he walked past his eyes landed on the iron in the sink and he shook his head.

Shane was there at Glenn's back, his large hand settling on the younger man's shoulder and pushing him forward. Shane raised his angry brows at Rick and pushed Glenn forward and towards the door. Rick lowered his chin to his chest.

"We gotta figure shit out, Rick." Shane's anger-filled voice echoed back from the door. Rick nodded his head a couple of times, his eyes lifting to meet his friend's. "This ain't safe."

Shane pushed Glenn outside, and only seconds later did Rick hear the sounds of the kid dry-heaving not far off. The door slammed shut, and Rick cupped his hand around his mouth. A second later he turned and braced himself over that sink, pushing the iron out of the way as he felt his body contract with a wave of nausea. He dry-heaved a few times, spitting out the acidic fluid into the sink.

Spitting the acrid taste out of his mouth one last time he ran the back of his hand over his mouth and again looked out the window at the people milling about. Shane was right. It wasn't safe. But what choice did they really have.

Callie looked at her bare legs dangling off the tailgate of the Hummer, and let her eyes slide down to her bare feet. Wiggling her toes a bit she let out a sigh and then ran both of her hands down her sweaty brow. The heat of the late summer day was stifling, but in all honesty she was damn glad to feel that heat and breathe that fresh air.

It amazed her to think that the escape from the CDC had only happened a four hours ago. Dale had said it was a little after eleven in the morning when he had exited the RV. That had been hours ago, and as Callie shifted her head to look at the digital watch strapped to her backpack the read out staring back at her confirmed that. One forty PM.

She rubbed at her temple and shifted a bit on her butt, hands now rubbing at her bruised sore knees. She'd been damn near brow beaten by Rick, Dale and the rest about trying to get some sleep. The apparent sight of her face, and the bruises and cuts inflicted by Santos causing everyone to think she needed to lay down.

And she'd agreed. And she'd tried. But the mix of emotions running through her, the mix of images that assaulted her each time she closed her eyes—she shuddered, closing her eyes tight as she shook her head and those images away again and tightened her grip on her knees.

A little under two hours. That's all the time that she, Carl and Ben had been down in those horror-filled halls of the CDC's Quarantine Station. But it had felt like fucking days. Days of terror, instead of hours.

Again images worked their way into her brain. Santos, and his sickening smile as he looked at her. As he hit her. As he dragged her away from the boys. As he touched her. Paul, dying and coming back. Paul biting Santos tearing into his flesh. Her putting a bullet through Santos' head. She shook her head.

Less than two hours.

An image of body bags moving and a hand clawing its way out at her flashed in her brain. Followed by the sight of an entire horde of Walkers at her heels. One biting into Wallace's arm.

Her hands tightened on her bare legs to an almost painful degree. The image of Wallace being torn apart before her eyes had her damn near vomiting. Again. She shook her head and opened her eyes. Shit, add to that the horrific screams of Danny coming from the RV not too long ago and she had herself a whole lifetime of nightmares.

But yeah, she was supposed to get some sleep. Fucking idiots, all of them.

Callie ran her fingers along her dry lips and pursed them for a minute before grabbing for the pair of scissors she'd found in one of the little first aid packs in the Hummer. She looked down at her bare legs again and sighed.

There was only one part of all of that horror that had settled her down. One lovely little sensory memory that had helped her to stop from screaming when she finally gave up on the idea of sleep. Strong arms being wrapped around her, carrying her, holding her tight and shielding her while she cried into a hard chest. The feel of his rapidly beating heart under her cheek and fingers.

Daryl fuckin' Dixon.

She shook her head again and tightened her grip on the scissors she held. He'd been avoiding her. Hadn't so much as said one word to her since they'd stopped at the little gas station pit-stop. He'd walked right past her when they arrived, and clamored onto the RV to see what was going on with Danny leaving Ben at her side with a mumble of something. He'd pushed her out of the way, not letting her on to the RV when she wanted to go back and see her friend.

Head down, eyes on the ground he'd left her with Andrea, Carol and Lori while he and Rick moved around. Rick had shook his head at her and put a hand to her arm, telling her without saying it that she didn't want to go in. That she didn't need that now.

She'd watched as the men scurried building a fire, placing Carol's iron in it. She'd helped tear bed sheets for bandages. And she'd swatted away the hands that wanted to check her over. The ones that reached for her face, or her bloodied left shoulder where her stitches had pulled and ripped. She'd sat there and listened with the rest as Danny screamed. And screamed. And finally quieted, which had been almost more unsettling.

And she watched as Daryl stalked out of the RV looking like hell. She'd caught Rick's eye at that moment, feeling his worried gaze slide through that little window of the RV and smash into her. And that was the point she'd finally given in, and tried to lay down. Because honest to God her body just couldn't take standing anymore.

And that had been almost two and a half hours ago.

Shaking her head one more time she adjusted her grip on the scissors and put the fingers of her left hand to her left knee. The stitches that Felipe had put into her leg during their little fun-run around Atlanta were ready to come out. There were only four little black stitches, but she knew it was going to sting and was actually really not looking forward to it. Biting her bottom lip she lowered the tip of the scissors to the first stitch and winced as she had to wiggle it into place.

The sound of scuffing shoes had her hands stilling in their movement and her eyes narrowing just a bit. A new kind of warmth spread out over her as she felt his familiar gaze settle on her bare legs and she tipped her head to the side. Squinting her eyes in the sunlight as she looked at his face.

"Supposed to be sleepin'," Daryl said crossing his arms over his chest and letting his eyes ride up her long bare legs, over her new clean t-shirt and neck, and up to her eyes. He held her gaze for a moment, and she smiled before putting her eyes back to her knee and snipping that first stitch.

"Yeah, well," Callie shrugged. "I tried." Wincing she moved to the next stitch, her eyes staying on her knee. She felt more than she heard him move and was surprised when he reached out and snatched the scissors from her. Her eyes lifted to his face. His gaze was settled at her knee, his lips twitching in a grimace as he settled himself between her knees, his upper thighs hitting off of the tailgate of the Hummer.

"Should fuckin' try harder," he lifted his eyes to her and cracked a crooked smirk. "Ya look like shit, girl."

"Sweet-talker," Callie grumbled, but couldn't hide the smile. She shivered as his right hand worked its way around her knee fingers gliding over her skin and tickling the back of her knee. She moved a bit backwards, but was stopped by his angry clenching of his hand.

"Stop moving," Daryl growled, and Callie shook her head and settled her hands behind her. He looked up at her and she gave a sigh of defeat waving one hand at him to go ahead. He lifted her knee just a bit, and she blushed remembering a time not so long ago when he'd lifted her leg. Hooking it around his hips as he'd pressed against her. She rolled her eyes at herself and let the pain of him snipping at her stitches take the place of the rush of heat.

She watched him work, keeping his eyes on her knee and only her knee. The tension in his hand as he held her leg up, and in his jaw as he stared, told her he was thinking about other things too. About too close and not close enough. She watched a bead of sweat roll down the side of his face, and her other leg bobbed a bit beside her in anticipatory agitation.

"I said stop," Daryl's gruff, throaty growl had her leg stilling but her heart hammering. She closed her eyes and tipped her head back in hopes of controlling herself.

She'd actually thought he was gone. Thought he'd left in those two hours she'd been trying to sleep. Thought he'd headed back to that box truck. She knew he wanted to. She'd seen his eyes skim over the highway that they had driven off of and back towards where they'd passed it. Seen him angrily tossing shit out of the bed of his truck and onto the pavement of the gas station parking lot. Lowering Merle's bike to the ground, and angrily going through the bags on it.

She'd really thought he'd left.

"One more," Daryl said idly, and the last snip had her wincing and looking back at him. He used the tip of the scissors to pull the last bit of thread from just below her knee, then ran his calloused thumb over the pink scar running vertically down her leg. The shivers came back, and her skin began to heat up all over as he stared at his hand running along her leg.

"How's Danny?" Callie asked, once again trying to get her mind off of other things. Dirty, wonderful things. His eyes finally lifted to hers. He stared for a moment, dropping the scissors beside her while his other hand dropped from her leg.

"You ain't been in?" Daryl asked, his brow furrowing as he crossed his arm over his chest.

"I've been trying to sleep," Callie shrugged and winced as her shoulder pulled. She worked her jaw a bit as she felt the small split in her lip pull a bit. She ran her tongue over it and looked at him.

"He's still out," Daryl said quietly, watching her tongue flick over her split lip. "Which is good." She nodded and rubbed her hand over her temple. She opened her mouth to ask her next question, but he beat her to it. "Ben's sleeping in my truck." Her mouth snapped shut and she looked up at him. He lifted his hand to her face then, tilting it so that he could look at the bruise and cut on her left cheek bone. "Sat with him for about an hour before he finally drifted. Boy's seen a lot," he caught her eye then and shook his head. His eyes went back to her cut and he rubbed his thumb lightly along her bruised cheek. "Gonna be havin' more nightmares probably. But we'll deal."

Callie firmed her lips and nodded her head just a bit.

"Jenna's with Gracie, sitting over by Andrea and Sophia." Daryl continued much to her surprise. "They're working to put together some kind of food for us. And Miles," he smirked a bit and shook his head. "He's helping to burn up the bloody sheets with Glenn and T-Dog. Crackin' wise 'bout that being the way men fuckin' do laundry."

Callie nodded her head and worked to keep her smile under wraps, but she must have failed miserably because Daryl's brow furrowed. He let his hand fall from her face and glared at her.

"What?" he snapped and she finally smiled fully and chuckled.

"Nothing," she said putting her hand to his chest and patting him. "That's the first time you've answered a question about 'my kids' without saying 'Fuck if I know'." Daryl grunted in return.

And while what she said was true, and it made her chuckle, it also touched her very deeply. One, to know that he actually took the time to find out before he made his way over to her. And two, while she'd thought he'd left because he was so quiet for so long, learning that he'd instead been sitting in his truck bed for an hour with a traumatized little boy-staying until he fell asleep, made her want to reach out and grab him to her.

Her eyes lifted to his, her hand settled on his chest, and he must have seen some of that in her eyes. She watched his expression change, that slight darkening of his eyes as they narrowed just a bit more. His hands that had settled on either side of her hips clenched tightly as he once again surveyed her face. He leaned in close, and let his lips touch hers so tenderly, so softly that she really couldn't even describe it as a kiss. But she felt her blood boil anyway and she damn near melted. He pulled back just a bit, and she could feel his stubble grazing her lips and then her cheek as he turned his head a bit and put those lips to her ear. Her hands slid to his shoulders, nails digging in, as his hot breath hit her ear.

"Want me to check the other stitches," One hand had moved up, a single finger ghosting so tantalizingly from the bottom hem of her shirt, over her breast and then over the slightly sore area of her left shoulder. And while she knew he meant well, and that he was half joking, and half serious, and someone she would never ever have to fear, her body tensed anyway. The memory of Santos and his joke about her 'getting her stitches checked' and how dirty she'd felt when he looked at her that way, had her pulling away and pushing him just a bit.

Daryl's hand slid to her upper arm, noticing the stiffness to her body and held her from moving away. He held her gaze, and she shook her head and patted his chest, trying to be playful. He dipped his head so that he caught her eyes, and clenched his jaw at what he apparently saw.

"Sorry," Callie said smiling at him and putting her hand to his cheek. "It's not you. Just-" she grimaced. "That's just not a good joke right now." A beat of silence followed and Daryl stepped back just enough to put his hands back at the outsides of her legs on the tailgate of the Hummer.

"You gonna tell me what happened down there?" Daryl said, the anger in his voice clear. But it wasn't anger directed at her. Not that he wasn't pissed at her, but this wasn't that anger on the edge of his voice. This was a whole different type of anger. "What the bad man did to you?"

"You were in a car with Ben for a good while," Callie said running her hand through her knotted hair. "You telling me you didn't get it out of him?"

"I got bits and pieces," Daryl said, his hand lifting as he bit at his thumbnail. "But I'd rather hear it from you. So you gonna tell me?"

"Yes," Callie said smiling sadly at his chest, looking at her fingers that had splayed out over his heart. "Just not yet. Okay?" Daryl looked at her, his eyes moving back and forth over hers as he tried to read her. Tried to get the truth out of her now. Finally he shook his head and then begrudgingly grunted an acceptance of her terms.

She smiled then, and slipped her hand from its spot on his chest, up to his neck. She felt his sweat slicked skin and swore she felt him lean just a bit into her hand. Her fingers trailed over his hot skin, and tangled into the hair at the back of his head. She smiled at him, his eyes narrowed on hers and then flicked to her lips.

He was debating whether or not he should kiss her. Whether or not she would be okay with it. And that made her want him to so much more. She pulled him close, but he braced himself on the tailgate and held himself away just a bit. Holding him an inch from her face, nose to nose with him, she let her fingers play in his sweat-soaked hair. Closing her eyes, she smiled.

"We aren't going to be having too many more of those heated moments that we had at the CDC, are we?" Callie said her eyes slipping slowly open to look at the man still debating his choice of actions in his head.

"Don't need a fuckin' heated moment, girl." His voice was a harsh rasp again, and he put both of his hands to the back of her bare knees. With one fierce tug she was pulled to him, a whole different heat settling between her legs as he settled himself against her. Hip to hip. He moved his calloused hands slowly up and down the outside of her bare thighs, and she fuckin' shivered. "Just an uninterrupted one."

In the next instant he licked his lips and captured her mouth in a devastating kiss. Callie let out the tiniest little sound against his lips, and let her hand in his hair pull him closer, her head falling to the side and mouth opening at his tongue's insistent plea for entry. His hands left her legs, and their lips parted on her sigh as he snaked them up the back of her shirt. Calloused fingers working over the taught muscles, slipping on her sweat slicked skin. His lips found hers again, her heels pushing at the back of his thighs, pulling him just a little closer. She could feel the press of that hardening length against her thigh and she bit down on his lip just a bit. She felt herself being pushed down by his weight, and one of his hands slid out from under her shirt to help control the fall. Her nails were digging into his neck now, as his lips and tongue worked over her own and then down her neck, causing her stomach to dip and heat with anticipation.

God she needed him.

"Hey guy-" Glenn's voice close by had Daryl lips stilling on hers. "Son of a bitch!" Glenn again, and the sound of scuffling feet.

Callie was chuckling, she couldn't help it. She was chuckling and she could feel Daryl smirking against the erratic pulse in her neck. "See," Daryl whispered against her skin. "What I say?" She chuckled again and smacked at him.

"I'm sorry," Glenn was saying. And as Daryl helped Callie back into a sitting position and ran his hands through his hair, she watched Glenn remove his hat and run his own hand through his hair. His eyes were on the ground, but every other second they would be on her legs, then the ground, and then back to her legs. "God, I'm so sorry."

"Yeah," Daryl said putting both hands to his face and running them down, before sliding them behind his head and scratching. "Heard that one before, Chinaman." Daryl shifted his gaze to Callie quickly and then back to the shuffling and muttering kid, still trying to avert his gaze from them. He kept his hands at his neck, trying to wipe the feel of Callie's nails, and the thoughts of them elsewhere on his body, far, far away.

"What's up, Glenn?" Callie asked her hands grabbing her jeans where she'd tossed them behind her. She was all sorts of serious now as she looked at the kid, and Daryl knew where her mind had gone. "Is Danny—"

"He's still out," Glenn said, his eyes snapping up and his attention focused again. "Stirring though. Carol's sitting with him now. And Lori." Callie was nodding as she pushed at Daryl so that she could start to work her pants on. Glenn's eyes slipped to Callie's legs but a clearing of Daryl's throat had him shifting them back to the man still settled almost between them. "Uh, Rick wanted to get everyone together so we could start discussing what the plan's gonna be. I said I'd come—" he shook his head and pointed an accusing finger at Callie. "You were supposed to be sleeping." Callie snorted and he shook his head again, moving that hand to the back of his neck and scratching. "I'm not volunteering for anything ever again."

"Good plan, Glenn," Callie said smiling as she got both feet into her pants and hopped down from the tailgate. She was shimmying the pants up, and Glenn was averting his gaze to the sky. Daryl was watching her, his eyes still a bit hooded when they met her laughing gaze. Then he was shaking his head as she did up the button and the zipper, and he bit at the inside of his cheek. He turned to Glenn and wagged a finger as they started off towards where Rick was set up by the RV.

"This is gonna come back on ya, Chinaman." Daryl was saying as Callie grabbed her newly returned gun and tucked it into the front of her jeans. She smiled as she followed behind, watching Glenn stop and turn to raise a brow at Daryl.

"Let's be serious, Daryl. There is no way in hell that you are ever going to get to pay me back for this." Glenn said with a bit of a smirk as Daryl caught up with him. "The options just aren't there. But it's nice that you think it could happen."

"Mark my words," Daryl said as Callie fell into step with them. She smiled at him as he gave her a quick glance and she shook her head as she worked her long hair back into a sloppy ponytail. "It's gonna come back on your ass."

Daryl veered off then and went towards his truck to gather Ben, and Callie slapped her hand to the back of Glenn's shoulder. Smiling widely she steered the still blushing kid towards where she could see the rest of their group gathering, Rick front and center waiting.

"You know, Callie said quietly as she pulled Glenn closer to her. "I think he may actually kill you next time," Callie laughed as Glenn groaned and shook his head.

"Don't really know what the hell we're discussing this for, Rick." Shane said again, his anger almost at a boiling point as he removed his hat and ran his hand over his sweat drenched hair. "Fort Benning is our only option. We need to get moving."

"We've been over this, Shane. We can't just move," Callie said irritably settling her butt back against the hood of the station wagon. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Shane as he looked angrily back at her. They'd been standing out in the hot sun for twenty minutes now, discussing options. And apparently Shane's idea of discussing things included brow beating his best friend into making a piss-poor decision.

Unfortunately for Shane, Callie and Dale were just about ready to lay a brow-beat-down right back on him. Considering Rick wasn't.

"Danny's injured," Dale said nodding his head in response to what Callie said. He removed his bucket hat and wiped a hand over his head while shaking his head at Shane. Eyes shifting to Rick he continued. "We can't just go off and start on a hundred mile journey without taking that into consideration. The man needs rest."

"The man needs a hospital," Shane countered, and Callie rolled her eyes. "He needs care that we can't be expected to give him now, Dale." Shane took a breath and looked at the strangely quiet Rick who was glaring at the tips of his shoes. Rick looked up at Shane finally, and clenched his jaw. "I'm not saying that we don't try and take care of him, but we can't hinge our whole plan on Danny. It ain't safe to stay here."

"And it ain't safe to move him," Daryl chimed in, earning a bit of shocked glance from Callie. He wasn't looking at her, in fact he was actually standing a good distance away from her. Ben was settled on the ground at Daryl's feet, his eyes bouncing back and forth between each person as they talked. Daryl uncrossed his arms and lifted his left hand so that he could bite at his thumbnail. "Man's in shock. His body can't take too much jostling around and who knows what we're gonna run into on the road."

"We could split up. A few of us stay with Danny while the rest head towards Fort Benning." Callie posed, trying to figure something out, because this going around in circles stuff was getting annoying.

"No," it was a resounding almost unanimous shout from pretty much everyone. Callie threw her hands in the air.

"Well, at least we can fucking agree on something," she said throwing her hands into the air and shaking her head. She crossed her arms over her chest again and continued in a calmer tone. "Then we all stay with Danny," she said looking at Rick. "'Cause I'm not moving him now." She looked to Dale who nodded his head in agreement, and Rick looked between the two of them. She smiled a bit, thinking she'd won the argument.

Fuck, if Dale wasn't gonna move the RV—then the RV wasn't fuckin' moving.

"Your brother is at Fort Benning," Shane shot back, his feet dragging him closer to her. One finger was pointing at her in an almost accusatory way. She raised a brow as he closed the distance. "How can you not want to get moving?"

"I do, Shane." Callie said standing up and stepping forward. "I do. More than you could really understand. But Danny is my family too," she lifted her hand and lowered his finger. "Fort Benning isn't going anywhere." Shane shook his head and slipped his hand out from hers, running it through his hair again. Callie looked to the still silent Rick. "We could stay here for a bit," a few groans of dismay and scattered 'not safe out here's' sounded and she shook her head. "A day, two tops. Give Danny time to at least gain some strength back, he's lost too much blood. If we run into trouble on the road, Rick-"

"I know," Rick said finally and Callie once again crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm with Callie and Dale on this," Rick said and Shane threw his hands up in the air.

"Of course you fuckin' are," Shane grumbled his eyes sliding over Callie.

"And just what the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Callie said stepping forward angrily.

"You know exactly what it means, honey." Shane shot back, and Callie's eyes went wide. Her mouth opened in shock and her gaze slipped to Rick. From somewhere behind her she heard a distinct growl from Daryl as he moved forward.

"Hey, back off!" Miles yelled as he stood up from his spot on the ground near her. Callie put out an arm to still the boy and settle him back to the ground mumbling 'It's not worth it', as she glared at Shane.

"Shane," Rick said in that calm voice of his. But Callie saw the tightness in his jaw as he turned to face his friend, and the steel in his eyes when the met Shane's.

"It ain't fuckin' safe here, Rick!" Shane yelled his hands going up to the air in exasperation.

"Then we make it fuckin' safe!" Rick yelled back and everyone, including Shane's eyes went a bit wide at the outburst. Rick let out a low sigh and ran his hand over his hair, turning his back on everyone for a moment. He let his eyes shift over the RV, then the small gas station, and finally to the small little mom and pop restaurant in the other end of the parking lot. His gaze slipped to Carl sitting not far off, and he met his boy's steady gaze straight on.

"Rick," Dale's voice sounded and Rick turned to face the still fuming Shane.

"Shane," Rick started again, raising a stilling hand at Dale, that calmness back in his voice. "I want to get us on the road as soon as possible. Trust me on that." He took a few steps towards Shane who was pacing in a small tight circle now. "It's not good to move Danny. We all agree on that. He needs to rest up at least a day." Rick's gaze shifted to Callie who smiled slightly. "It's not really good to move us either. We're exhausted. We're all just-we all need a bit of time to process everything." Rick ran his hands through his hair and sighed when Shane finally stopped moving, his eyes slipping over his shoulder at Rick. "We go off and start towards Fort Benning now, when we're running on steam and fear and we're gonna get ourselves killed."

"So what are you sayin'?" T-Dog piped up, his brow narrowed. "We hunker down here, in the middle of nowhere and just what?"

"We gather our wits. We're all stretched thin. We need to get our heads right before we go anywhere," Rick said quietly his eyes lifting to T-Dog. "So yeah, we hunker down here. We get supplies, we scavenge. Fort Benning is a long way off, and we're gonna need everything and anything we can find. Car parts, gasoline, clothes, food. Who knows what we'll run into on the road."

"You're serious?" Andrea piped in, her eyes shooting around the group. "You really want us to stay here."

"Not indefinitely," Rick said shaking his head. "We need time to cool off. If we run now, we're running blind and scared and almost on empty. And that's going to get us into trouble." He looked at Andrea, and saw the indecision in her eyes. But the woman grimaced as she looked at the RV. "I'm not going to force the issue. We all have the right to have a say in what happens."

"This is fuckin' ridiculous," Shane was muttering, with disgust. "Ain't the time for a fuckin' vote."

"A vote seems fair," Dale said quietly his head bobbing as he looked between Rick and Shane. The tension between the two men was palpable. Shane sneered as he shook his head at Dale. He apparently couldn't even voice the many words that were crawling in his brain, so he just pointed a finger at the older man and shook it before letting his hand drop angrily to his side again.

"Alright," Rick said, his eyes again roving the surrounding faces. His jaw was still clenched tightly, and Callie could tell his nerves were still frazzled by Shane's outbursts, but he was keeping it together pretty well. "All those in favor of spending a couple of days here, gathering supplies and getting right before heading to Fort Benning." Callie raised her hand before he'd even finished talking and was rewarded with a very small smile and nod from Rick. More hands shot up, Dale, a reluctant Glenn, Carol, Miles, and finally Andrea.

Daryl huffed out a quick 'whatever' as he settled himself near Callie and she smiled. Daryl wasn't a voter. He was more of a majority rules type of player. Rick looked at him anyway and Daryl shrugged. "Whatever you say, Deputy Do-Right." He flipped his hand up in the air and Rick gave him a nod holding his gaze for a moment.

"What about your wife?" Shane asked angrily as he looked around, his eyes finally settling on Rick again. "She get a say in this? You gonna even ask her opinion?"

And honestly, if there was ever a straw that broke a camel's back, that question was it for Rick Grimes.

"You know what, Shane," Rick seethed at his friend. "You wanna ask, you go right ahead, but I'm pretty sure she's with me." He stared at his friend long and hard, and watched Shane's jaw clench and his eyes go wide as Rick advanced on him. "But you go ahead and ask her. Be my guest." He let his arm go in an arc towards the door to the RV and Shane wet his dry lips as he stared at his friend.

There was more to that statement than just this disagreement. Much more. And they all knew it. The level of discomfort in the group as they all averted their gaze from the two men spoke to that. Shane's eyes slipped from Rick to the ground, catching Carl's uneasy gaze before he shoved his hands in his hair and pulled it slightly. Rick took in a couple of deep breaths and ran his hands through his hair.

Shane had turned away by that point, his back to Rick as he shook his head.

"Shane," Rick was calm again, and he put a steady hand to Shane's shoulder. When the man didn't pull away Rick nodded his head and squeezed just a bit. "I need you to be with me on this. We can't start bickering and yelling, that isn't going to solve anything. We need to work together." Shane turned and looked at Rick, and there was sorrow in his eyes but there was something else too. Something edging its way towards the surface, but still held back by a wall of sorts. A slowly crumbling wall. Carl came and wrapped his arms around Rick's hip and looked up at Shane.

"Rick's right, man." Miles said putting his forearms to his raised knees. "United we stand, divided we fall. Patrick fuckin' Henry." Miles was looking at his cast encased left hand, and idly scratching where his fingers peeked through the opening, but looked up at the silence that followed his statement. Everyone was looking at him, most with amusement riding their features. He furrowed his brow and looked over at Dale who had put a hand to his shoulder. "What? I read."

The group laughed, and it was a much needed laugh. Shane let out a bit of a chuckle and looked at Rick, the only one not laughing. Rick had maintained his gaze on his friend, while he held Carl by the shoulders before him. When Shane's eyes met his again, Rick saw that glimmer of the old Shane as he nodded his head and sheepishly scratched at the back of his head.

"Okay," Shane said nodding his head and lifting his hand to ruffle Carl's hair. He looked up at Rick, his hand resting on the boy's head between them. "Okay."

"So what do we do now?" Carol asked timidly as she settled an arm around Sophia, her eyes slid from Shane to Rick and then around at the rest.

"We make it safe," Shane said, his fingers again slowly ruffling Carl's hair.

Rick looked down at Shane's hand, his own hands squeezing just a bit as they rested on Carl's shoulders. The position of the boy settled between them was an eerie reminder for Rick of how things were between him and Shane now. Carl tipped his head back a bit and smiled up at Rick as Shane let his hand fall back to his side. Rick felt Shane's stare leave Carl and land on his face, and when their eyes met again the words 'divided we fall' started to echo in his head.

All around me are familiar faces

Worn out places, worn out faces

Bright and early for the daily races

Going nowhere, going nowhere

Their tears are filling up their glasses,

No expression, No expression

Hide my head I wanna drown my sorrow

No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny,

I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had

I find it hard to tell you

I find it hard to take

When people run in circles it's a very, very

Mad world

Mad world.

~ Mad World / Gary Jules

AN: I was so tempted to make you guys wait for this. SO TEMPTED. But when it started flowing I got real excited to get it out there and get the story moving. I'm amped up and ready for my Walking Dead-athon Weekend here… YAY!

I hope it was worth the wait.

As always I'd love to hear from you.