New Meanings To Old Words: LOVE

A quick note to the readers: I WILL NOT ABANDON THIS FIC. I'm so sorry for the lack of quick updates, the two kids are running me ragged and I've had to choose between an hour with my husband and a hour to write… unfortunately for YOU I seem to always choose the Hubs. But I've been on a steady schedule of writing for at least a half an hour a night (when humanly possible). I want you to know that this fic will not be abandoned. I've got the story plotted (pretty much all the way) up through the end of Season 4. So the plans are there. And while the updates may not be as quickly as I'd like right now, they will be there. And the story will continue as long as you all want to read it.

Now…..

The wounds are still fresh here people, necessary filler is necessary….and you've stuck around this long so….

It's still the same night as Dale's death, the dawn is a ways away and the sun feels like a beacon of hope that may never rise for some of our crew. We're continuing our flashback trend to the very beginning of things for Danny and Callie. In case you can't tell, things are starting to have a bit of a familiar ring as of late. The measure of how far our dear Mr. Murdock has come since this all began willl come to light. Callie gets a lesson in strength. Ben's fate is unveiled. And Daryl finally comes back inside.

Lots to get to this chapter. Let's see how it rolls, hmmm?

As always, Read, Review and most of all ENJOY!

Disclaimer: I own nothing but Callie Marcus and our wondrous crew of misfits; the ones we know and love, the ones we've lost along the way, and the ones we may meet sooner than you think.

We Are Broken

They'd just finished burying them.

That poor woman and her two babies.

Buried them in three separate graves, shallower than they shoulda been but deep as they were gonna get with two fuckin' exhausted and drained people diggin' them.

Three graves in a neat little row, under the heavy bows of the big fuckin' weepin' willow in the back yard. The well-used tire swing hanging from the lowest branch workin' as a makeshift marker swingin' above them all.

Danny closed his eyes tight and felt the pulsing of his blood rushing through his head as he worked to stifle whatever the fuck he was feelin' at the moment. He didn't know these people. Didn't have a fuckin' clue what their names were.

He'd never been the type to be empathetic. Maybe that's because for the majority of his adult life he'd been killin' off that special part of himself with self-medication so strong he'd hardly even felt a thing when his own mother had passed away. No. He'd never been the type to feel the sorrow of others.

So he figured it had to be pity. Just had to be something like that.

Pity for that poor son of a bitch he'd tossed out on the lawn earlier. Pity for that poor woman whose last moment had been spent in agony over shooting her baby-girl. Pity for that boy…

Danny's chest constricted at the memory of that little boy up on that table. The way he was wheezing out his horror, draggin' in terrified gasps of breath as he lay dyin'. The look in his glassy eyes as Danny had shifted that pillow over his face.

Glassy eyes that had been such a bright shade of green that for a single second Danny's heart had stopped. Green eyes that had stared up at him and reminded him so much of….

Danny shook his head and shoved his hands at the faucet of the sink, flipping each silver handle as far as they would go and driving his hands into that running water. He scrubbed them together for a single second before smacking them up at his face. He smacked himself twice, then a third time because why the fuck not. And when that still didn't shake the image of Jake from his mind he opened the fuckin' medicine cabinet and began a diligent search and fuckin' rescue mission for his pounding head.

His fingers shook slightly as he tipped each of the mundane fuckin' aspirin bottles aside. He smashed his fist hard into his arm as that ticklin', fuckin' tellin' sensation began to ride along his skin and as he did he kept hope alive that his car was still settled on the side of the road where he'd left it. And that all the goods he'd hidden so fuckin' well inside were still there.

Danny shook his head again and smacked his cheeks before slipping his hands up to the top shelf, knocking a few bottles down into the sink basin and crackin' a fuckin' Cheshire grin as he finally read a word he knew and loved.

Vicodin.

He didn't know who the fuck Suzanne Marcus was, and didn't give a fuck that the expiration date was well past-shit, that'd never stopped him before.

Danny slipped the bottle down and opened it up shakin' out the remaining contents and slappin' them into his mouth without a second thought. He didn't even bother scoopin' up a handful of the water running in the sink below, just swallowed and let out a sigh, knowing that some relief-fuckin' small as it was gonna be- was comin'.

He turned off the water a moment later and let his eyes roam around the cabinet some more, skipping the tips of his fingers over the bottles of cold medicine and mouthwash, tapping idly along them thinkin' about the best way to slip them into a bag before he left.

He closed his eyes a second later as that weird sensation in the back of his throat began to burn back to life, and the odd bit of pounding started again. He closed his eyes and tried to will it away, but couldn't. That pity-or whatever the fuck it was-was settled deep into him.

And it wasn't goin' away this time.

The rush of the water flowing from the shower head behind him had his head shakin' and his hands clenchin' along the basin of the sink before him. He tipped his head to the right and then to the left crackin' his neck, waiting and fuckin' hoping that the magical pills he'd just popped would do their thing fuckin' soon.

He dragged one more breath in through his nose and as the rush of water continued to pound between his ears and cause flashes of light to burst here and there behind his eye lids something finally broke. Something that had him snappin' his hand up and slammin' the fuckin' medicine cabinet closed, so he could stare into the reflection of the world behind him.

As if that would somehow keep whatever was going on there unreal and distant.

The shower curtain was open, smears of blood and dirt staining the fresh white linen where he'd pulled it back. The water was streaming down into the old claw-footed tub-a tub that was also stained with that odd mix of dirt and blood that had seemed to somehow seep into everything around them. And sitting right under that stream of water, a stream of water that had to have run cold by now, was the woman he'd met only hours ago.

A woman whose life he'd saved, more than once. A woman who'd then saved his life enough times to more than even the score.

A woman who'd just killed and buried a good portion of her family.

A woman who hadn't said a word as they dug the graves, or as they carried the bodies.

A woman he'd helped strip out of clothes soaked through with the blood of her family.

Danny stared at her as she sat there in just her bra and underwear, with her knees drawn up to her chest and chin resting on her arms; the handcuffs broken at the chain by bolt cutters still stickin' out of a man's head somewhere in the yard, were still encircling her now raw red wrists. Dark curling tendrils clung to her shoulders and face. A face still spattered with bits of blood and dirt.

He felt that sensation warm the back of his throat again, and tried to convince himself that it was pity. Tried to convince himself that the only reason he was still there, the only reason he'd helped her in the first place was because of some out of character feeling of woe for this woman he'd just met. He tried hard push that thought through the haze of his mind but even in the ever-so-slight lightening of his senses he couldn't deny the truth.

He felt sorrow for her; felt an almost unrelenting urge to turn from the mirror he was staring at her in and wrap her up in his arms. He felt what he figured was a bit of pity, but that wasn't what had kept him from running back out to that squad car after everything went down, and leaving her ass behind. That wasn't what had him swallow that bit of bile in his throat and grab a towel from the rack before heading over towards the shower.

No. It wasn't pity that welled up in him when she tipped her red-rimmed eyes up to him as he stood before her at the edge of the tub.

It was respect.

Danny stared out the window in that small back bedroom; stared out into the darkness and watched the rain slide along the glass. The darkness of the exterior, mixed with the bright illumination inside the room made the planes of the window into a mirror. A mirror that was reflecting the morose goings on behind him in an odd sort of Impressionistic display of color and movement.

He blinked twice at his own face in the glass and then shifted his eyes along the pane to where he could make out the blurred shape of Callie. She was settled into the chair by the bedside, her gaze fixed on the bed and the man settled before her speaking in a hushed tone.

Rick's voice was low, too low for Danny to make out. Hell, he'd be surprised if anyone but Callie could hear the words that were filtering out of Rick's slowly moving lips as he shifted forward slightly. Danny's head tilted and he let out a slow breath as he watched Rick's hand shift idly where it sat on Callie's at her thigh. They'd both shifted their attention to where Hershel was standing at the other side of the bed, watching as the elder man lowered his stethoscope to the bare chest of the seemingly unmoving form of Ben.

Ben was breathing still-slow rattling breaths that seemed to get slower by the minute- but he was breathing. He was breathing and Danny thanked God for that. He thanked God every other second of every minute that passed, while the other half of those minutes were reserved for damning that same God.

It was an exhausting endeavor and a pretty impressive waste of time and effort, but really, he couldn't think of anything fuckin' constructive to do. Truth of the matter was, the only thoughts running through his head were quite de-structive. He wanted to break shit. He wanted to break shit and bust in the head of each and every fuckin' Walker he could find.

But that wasn't an option.

Danny's eyes slid over again along the window pane watching as Rick continued to hold tight to Callie's hand as they both watched Hershel work on Ben. He watched Callie steel herself for what she expected to be the inevitable outcome of the past few hours.

And really, how could she not expect it?

After all they'd been through…

The soft shuffle of feet at the door had Danny blinking a few times and shifting his gaze away from Callie for the first time in hours. Lori's face was ashen and her eyes were glued to the bed and her husband's back as she walked slowly in. Danny's eyes picked up movement over her shoulder and he watched Carl slip forward, shoving himself against the doorjamb leaving only one vibrant yet watery blue eye to stare in at the body of his friend. Lori looked back to her son and she reached out a hand to him beckoning him inside, a small reassuring smile lingering on her lips as she tried to express that things were going to be okay without saying the words and insulting the sensibilities of the rest of them.

Carl stared at her for a moment, his face still half hidden by the doorjamb. His eyes slipped away from Lori and across the bed to where Callie sat with her head now settled in her hands as Rick continued to speak to her in that low indecipherable tone. He looked at her for a moment and then again to the bed, the half of his face visible scrunching at the sight of Ben's body, and the stained sheets below him. Finally Carl's gaze slid back to his mother, her arm now open wide inviting the boy to her side. He moved slowly at first, pushing away from the doorway and then in a flash he dashed away into the house leaving Lori to let out a long defeated sigh as her arm shifted back to the wad of clothing she carried with her.

Lori's head shook slowly and her eyes slipped from the floor to Danny as she continued her way quietly inside. In his periphery Danny saw Rick shift slightly in his position his face grim as his eyes landed on his wife. Lori frowned as Rick gave a single shake of his head before shifting his attention back to Callie.

"How is he?" Lori asked quietly as she moved to stand beside Danny at the window. Danny shifted stiffly, his bum leg givin' a quick jolt of pain that coursed up his back and into his head. Lori's hand slipped off of the stack of clothing she held and she squeezed his arm. "How are you?"

"We're both alive, so that's somethin'," Danny muttered before patting her hand and giving a wan smile. His hands then lifted to his face and he rubbed hard as Lori slid her hand up and squeezed his shoulder. Danny's mind slipped back to Dale and he felt his chest constrict just a bit as he let out a long shuddering sigh. "This fuckin' world-"

"I know," Lori said quietly cutting him off. Danny dropped his hands and looked at the woman still standing beside him. "I know."

Danny frowned and lifted his hand back up to place it over hers. He squeezed tight knowing damn well that if anyone could understand exactly what was going through his head and Callie's in this moment, it was her. Danny's mouth opened to say something to her, maybe thank her, fuck he didn't know. But before he could get a word out she dropped her hand from his arm and turned towards Rick as he made his way towards them.

"How is she?" Lori asked watching Rick rake a hand over his head and around to the back of his neck. He shook his head and shot a quick glance over his shoulder to where Hershel was now taking up his spot on the bed.

"She's…" Rick began, his eyes still intent upon Callie settled in the chair by the bedside. His eyes raking over her clothes still stained with the mud, blood and gore of the evening's events. "She's quiet."

"Yeah," Danny said nodding his head and catching Rick's gaze. He wanted to say more. Wanted to tell them about what had gone down with Callie's family all those months ago. Wanted to give them that insight into just how horrifying this all really was for her. For them. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. Couldn't bring himself to break that bond between him and Callie. Instead all he did was nod and smack his hands hard into his cheeks a couple of times.

"Everything okay?" Rick asked putting a hand to Lori's arm and squeezing.

"They're back," Lori said, her words more than the quiet tone of her voice catching the attention of everyone in the room. Danny saw Callie's head tip up and her eyes shift in their direction and he held her gaze as she shifted restlessly on her seat.

Callie had only really said a few words to Rick that whole time the man sat there, words that were said in a pained voice and in excruciating repetition.

"I left him there, Rick. I left him."

The way that woman shouldered guilt shoulda left her hump-backed and broken on the floor, and Danny would never understand what in the world kept her from fallin' under that pressure. He watched her now, shifting a bit forward in her seat, her eyes shifting to the doorway and then to where they stood near the window. Danny swore the only thing keepin' that woman in her seat was Hershel's steady hand upon her knee and the sound of Ben's slow rattlin' breathing not far off.

"I'm gonna go…I'm gonna," Rick began and then sighed as he cupped a hand over his mouth and looked back at Callie. Their eyes locked and Danny felt something pass between the two of them, some kind of energy that had Callie shifting a bit more in her seat and Rick scrubbing a hand over his mouth and stubble covered cheeks. "I'm gonna take care of things out there."

"Go," Lori said putting a hand to her husband's arm and catching his gaze. "

"I should go too," Danny said quietly, his eyes slipping to the door and then back to Rick. He watched the other man's head shake and frowned at him. "For Glenn, for Andrea…" Danny looked to Lori and rolled his head along his shoulders. "God, Andrea. How is she?"

"She's - Shane's with her," Lori said as she shifted on her feet a small wince settling along her features as Danny's face contorted a bit. "They were just sitting outside-"

"It's fine," Danny said waving a hand and letting his eyes roam about the room. "It's fine. It's good. She shouldn't be alone." Danny's gaze moved restlessly around the room, over everything and everyone, avoiding the heat of Callie's gaze settled so firmly on him. "I want to see him."

"You don't," Rick said in a quiet yet firm tone that had Danny looking at him. "You don't, Danny. You don't. Don't do that to yourself."

"I'm not doin' anything to myself, Rick. The man helped me bury my wife. He was my friend. I-" Danny cut himself off and Rick nodded his head, understanding dawning slowly over his drawn features. Rick's hand fell heavily onto Danny's shoulder and he squeezed once and gave him a bit of a shake.

"A'right then," Rick said letting his hand fall to his hip. He shot a glance over his shoulder and then looked to Lori.

"Go," Lori said firmly as she stepped back a bit to let Rick pass. "I'll stay." Rick looked back towards Lori and she put a hand to his arm. "Are you okay?" Rick firmed his lips and Danny watched his head shake just once before he pulled away.

Danny gave Lori a small smile and then took a few steps towards the door before stopping and looking back towards the bed. Callie was staring at Ben again, one hand covering her eyes while the other waved off Hershel as he stood up.

"Go," Miles muttered, his voice startling Danny into looking back towards the window. The boy had been so fuckin' quiet since he'd come in that Danny had damn near forgot he'd posted himself up under that window. Miles sat there with the broken pieces of Ben's camera settled between his upraised legs while he worked the worn dish towel Rick had brought in to him earlier over his hands, his eyes settled on his boots as if he hadn't said a damn thing.

Danny, Rick and Lori all watched Miles as he continued to wipe at his hands. The blood was gone now, but something still had him wiping to the point that the kid's fingers had turned a raw red. Miles didn't lift his gaze from the edge of his boots, and for a moment Danny marveled at just how much of Callie seemed to exist within that boy with the way he was settling an unnecessary guilt upon his shoulders.

"I ain't leavin' so you don't gotta worry," Miles said quietly. At that his eyes lifted and pierced into Danny's. "I'm not gonna let her do anything on her own. I'll be here. Go, do what you gotta do."

Danny held Miles' gaze for another brief moment before Miles shifted his eyes back down to his boots. The kid continued to work the towel around the beds of his fingernails and ignored the stares of the adults lookin' on. Another breath in and out and Danny was workin' his way slowly to the door with Rick in tow, leavin' Callie to watch over Ben.


Callie's head was heavy. Shit, her whole damn body was heavy. There was just too much settling in on her at the moment. And no matter how much Danny, or Hershel, or Rick tried to take it from her that weight was stuck-like a fuckin' block of cement tied to her ankles waiting for the floor to open so it could drag her on down to the lowest depths of hell.

Her mind was stuck, on a horrifying loop that seemed to just get worse and worse with each passing moment.

Ben.

Dale.

God, Dale. That poor man. She'd left him out there. Left him behind when she knew he wasn't in a good place. Chose Ben over him, and now Dale was gone and Ben was in limbo and it was all her fault. Callie closed her eyes briefly against the sound of her own voice echoing in the far reaches of her brain. The constant repeating of words that she'd been desperate to quell since they'd lost Jenna and Sophia on the highway. And no matter how hard she tried, it seemed as if that voice just seemed to get louder and louder with each loss they faced.

She closed her eyes and settled her thumb and forefinger at the bridge of her nose, applying pressure against the pounding of her own exhaustion. She pushed against that odd pulse and worked to focus her mind on all the information that had just been laid at her feet.

It was almost painful to recall it all. Rick's voice…..God that voice…. had been so coarse; so leaden with exhaustion and torment and grief that he hadn't even sounded like himself as he sat there on the bed talking to her. The only familiar thing had been the way his thumb had absently stroked back and forth over the top of her hand. Hell, even his eyes hadn't looked the same. Streaks of red shooting through the white and blurring the vibrant blue that they usually were.

Callie knew she had to have looked horrid too when the man had simply stopped talking when his eyes met hers. Blood and gore was fucking everywhere, she could feel it. The way it was caked into her clothes, on her face, hardened so that each time she made even the smallest of movements she was reminded of its existence. Exhaustion marring her features to the point that she actually felt like her face was sliding slowly down to her feet.

Rick liked to say it so much that she was actually surprised when he didn't; but the two of them did make quite the fuckin' pair at that moment.

Callie huffed out a breath into her fingers and let Rick's words replay slowly in her head. His long lingering gravely tone scraping once again along her nerves as it detailed everything she'd missed. The meeting in the house-the fucking "trial". Dale storming out and then away. Rick's obvious guilt over what was now his last conversation with the man settling harder than he wanted to admit. Everything that happened out in that field with Dale….with Daryl taking the gun….

God Daryl…

Everything that happened with Carl and Randall -

Fucking Randall.

Jesus, this was all just one big fucking mess now. And it was all her fault.

That voice began its taunting call again in the back of her mind but this time the sound of approaching steps held it at bay. Callie's hand fell from the bridge of her nose and she shifted to see Lori standing at the foot of the bed, her arms laden with clothing and her eyes locked on Ben's seemingly lifeless figure.

Callie watched her for a moment, watched as a myriad of emotions flew over her face. Watched as Lori no doubt relived those excruciating moments she'd spent by this same damned bedside watching her son recover from his own wounds not so long ago.

Lori's eyes skipped away from Ben at that moment and met Callie's. The two of them stayed that way for some time, a bond of shared pain and torture bridging any gaps that may have settled between them as of late. They stayed that way until finally Callie snapped herself out of that growing need for comfort and steeled her spine

"Everything okay?" Callie said settling both of her hands along her knees and letting her head tip back slightly. Lori smirked at the floor and shook her head as she stepped closer.

"Nothing is okay right now, Callie. But none of that is your concern right now," Lori said shifting on her feet so that her hip jutted out and a single dark brow rose above tired brown eyes.

"You sound like, Rick."

"So do you," Lori said shifting her eyes over her shoulder slightly towards the door that her husband and Danny had just exited. Callie smirked as Lori smiled tightly and they fell back into silence.

"I should go with Danny," Callie said quietly as she lifted both of her hands to rub at her face. She didn't really want to…didn't want to see Dale like that, to be left with that, but she felt like she needed to. His death was on her hands after all, she should at least show the courtesy of -

"No you shouldn't," Lori said in a firm tone that shook Callie from her reverie and had her lifting her heavy head away from the cradle of her blood-encrusted hands. "You shouldn't, Callie. You don't need-you don't want to see it, Callie. Trust me you don't want to that to be your last memory of him."

Callie let out a long breath and rubbed her fingers along her brow. Thoughts of her last real conversation with Daryl about the images they were left with of the people they loved. Those lingering images of horror that haunt them no matter how much time passed. Thinking along those lines Callie knew that Lori was right. She didn't need to add to the horrors she'd seen. Rick's halting utterly pained description of Dale's evisceration was enough to fuel even her own feeble imagination.

Lori was right.

Callie firmed her lips and gave a single nod that Lori returned before she settled herself on the edge of the bed, taking up the exact spot her husband had just vacated. Lori shifted a bit, and gave a glance to the tiny curled up figure of Gracie settled behind her near the foot of the bed. She reached out a single hand and settled it at the girl's ankle giving a soft pat before turning her attention to Ben. Callie watched Lori, watched her settle the mass of clothes beside her and give a curt nod of her head as she shifted back around to face Callie.

There was something amazing about Lori Grimes, something Callie was really only beginning to understand. Some amazing sort of strength that she stored deep into herself and reserved for those she cared for most. Callie had glimpsed it back when Danny and Glenn had gone for their little adventure in Atlanta, and heard about it from Rick, but hadn't ever really been on the receiving end of it before. It was a fierce strength, something Callie envied-a selfless sort of strength. It was a strength born of a life experience Callie had never been able to go through. A life experience that she was just stepping into now- and really fucking up.

Callie took in a deep breath and watched as Lori dragged in a few short deep breaths through her nose as she steadied her own frazzled nerves. Lori's eyes skipped over her shoulder to where Miles was still settled on the ground under the window. He'd finally given up rubbing the blood from his fingers and was instead simply holding the towel in a white knuckle grip as Hershel stood nearby. She couldn't tell if the elder man was speaking or not, but knew that his presence alone could be soothing in a way to a tortured soul.

Callie let out the breath she'd held in and lifted a hand to her mouth as her eyes shifted back to Lori who sat staring at her. She shook her head and lowered her voice so that her words wouldn't echo the way she felt all the rest had.

There was something about Lori Grimes. Something that clicked in Callie's mind and allowed her to finally open the top of the bottle she'd corked only a small while ago. Something in the woman's eyes now, and way back when she first came to the Quarry with her crew, that let her know that she could speak plainly about things and get a plain response.

"I don't know how to do this, Lori." Callie said quietly her eyes widening as she lifted her other hand to her mouth. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I want to help Rick, I don't want him taking it all on. I want to but…All I can think to do is sit here and wait, but somehow that seems so-" Callie cut herself off and shook her head. She took a few breaths in through her fingers and felt her body beginning to rebel, felt all those emotions she was trying to keep inside slowly beginning to crack through. "I was never supposed to be a mother. I wasn't. And this is proof. Jesus, Lori, Look what I did. I let him come out there. I let him… I'm not-," her voice cracked at that point and Lori's hand shot out immediately. Callie's hands fell under Lori's firm grasp and settled upon her knees. "I'm not cut out for this. I'm-" Callie cut herself off as she almost uttered the words that had been slowly working around in her head for weeks now. "I don't know how to do this," she repeated in a low defeated tone as her head fell to her chest.

"Yes, you do. You are doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing. It feels wrong because you always try to do so much more. But this... this is exactly what you do," Lori said firmly, and Callie watched the woman's back stiffen as she sat up straight and stared hard at Callie's face. "You don't go out and worry about Walkers. You don't worry about Randall. You don't worry about Daryl or Danny or anyone else. You sit here and you wait. You wait for your boy to wake up."

"I wait for him to wake up and look at me and see the person who let a Walker get him. The person who decided to cut off his arm. The person who held him down while he screamed out against it," Callie shook her head and watched Lori's eyes shift over her face. "Jesus, Lori. I cut off his fuckin' arm. How the hell is he supposed to live now? How? He's going to hate me. He's going to look at that stump and see my face and he's going to hate me."

"He's going to live," Lori shot back and Callie sighed in return. "He is. You saved his life. That is what you do. You are his mother now. You do what you have to do to keep him alive; whether he hates you for it or not. You keep your baby alive."

Callie stared hard at Lori as the woman's head rose in an almost defiant manner, as if she expected some kind of debate or fight over what she'd just said. Again they sat in silence, holding one another's gaze for those long moments as Callie took in everything that Lori was offering to her. She took that strength and support for all it was worth, because to not take it would have been a disservice to the woman settled across from her. She watched Lori's eyes begin to water slightly, and Callie squeezed tight onto her hand pulling her slightly forward as she did.

"Thank you for that," Callie said after a beat, squeezing Lori's hand again before finally letting go. "Thank you, Lori. For everything."

Lori nodded her head idly and then sucked in a deep breath while Callie lifted both of her hands to her tangled and disgusting hair.

"Okay," Lori said a moment later, reaching down to pick up the clothes that had fallen to the ground when Callie pulled her forward. She settled what Callie now realized where a change of clothes for Ben beside her on the bed and then lifted the rest out to Callie who raised a brow in return. "You wanted to know what else you should be doing, well, I'll tell you. You go clean yourself up. You go clean off that blood and whatever else that is all over you. You take off those clothes and you burn them. You don't let him wake up and see you like this." Lori waved a hand in her general direction and Callie couldn't help but chuckle slightly as she rolled her eyes. "You wash it off. All of it. You wash it off and you let it roll down that drain and then you come back here and you wait for your boy to wake up."

Callie watched as Lori shifted the clothes out towards her and caught the shifting movement of Hershel in her periphery. The elder man stepped up to the foot of the bed and stood watching them, his hardened blue eyes boring holes into hers when their gazes met.

"Go on. She's right," Hershel said quietly as he adjusted the stethoscope settled around his neck, and then worked the rolled cuffs of his sleeves slightly further up his arms.

"I can't. Not yet. If he-" Callie began, her eyes shifting to where Ben's prone form lay and then to where Gracie lay her tiny figure curled up directly behind Lori. "If he - If it didn't work-"

"He doesn't have a fever," Hershel said quietly, his hands coming to settle hard on the wooden footboard.

"That doesn't mean-"

"Callie," Hershel's firm Southern drawl rolled out and Callie couldn't help but sit a bit straighter in her seat as she regarded the man. "You came in here and asked me to trust in what you believed we had to do. I was skeptical, but I did. I trusted you in that moment and I believe you have succeeded in saving this boy's life. Now, I need you to trust me. I don't believe he's infected. I don't. I've seen what happens to a person that's been bitten, just as you have. And I know I was foolish in my beliefs before, but I need you to trust that I've come to terms with things now. I trust you and I'm asking you to trust in me. If the worst should happen, I will be able to take care of things."

"You won't have to," Miles' exhausted voice sounded and all of them turned to watch the younger man slowly push up off the floor and settle his backside against the windowsill. "I'll be here. Go on. You look like shit."

"He's right. You look disgusting," Lori said gaining slightly amused look from Callie as Lori pulled her to her feet. Lori chuckled and pushed Callie towards the door, easily transferring the clean clothing she held into Callie's hands. "We'll all be here," Lori said putting a hand to Callie's shoulder and practically propelling her towards the door. "And it will be fine. You were here for Carl when I wasn't. Let me sit for you for a few minutes, Callie."

Callie's eyes shifted back to where Ben was laying and then down to where Gracie was eyeing her from the foot of the bed. She watched Hershel's hand settle onto Gracie's head, his large fingers shifting idly over her curls. She caught the elder man's gaze briefly, sharing a small exchange of nods as Lori settled down into the chair that she'd just vacated.

Slowly she turned to where Miles was shifting idly on the windowsill. He looked so pale, so tired, so very unlike the Miles they'd come to know, and more and more like the Miles that she and Danny had first picked up all those months ago. More and more like the boy who'd lost his entire family-the boy who'd had to bash in his younger brother's head in order to survive.

Callie closed the distance between them in a few short steps and reached out a hand to his shoulder. She squeezed once and then pulled him closer, while he just stared at her.

"You don't have to be like me," Callie said quietly, her fingers once again tightening in the muscle of his shoulder. "You don't have to sit here, Miles. You don't have to."

"I know that, Cal," Miles said in reply, his mouth hitching slightly to the side before he tipped his head up in a defiant manner. "I want to. I want to be here."

"You're an amazing young man, Miles Grant," Callie said patting his shoulder and pulling him towards her for a quick hug. She squeezed him and felt him fall forward into the hug before pulling away and shoving his quickly growing hair away from his face. She gave him one last look and then shifted slightly away and off towards the dresser near the window. In one quick motion she bent and snatched Miles' bat from where he'd set it along the wall, and held it out of reach of the quietly protesting boy's hands as he grabbed for it. "I'll put this out in the hall," she said shifting her eyes away from Miles and over to where Hershel still stood near the foot of the bed. "You don't need it in here."

A brief moment passed before Callie gave a nod to Lori and then worked her way out the door. A moment that she took to collect herself. A moment that she took to really force that voice in the back of her head deep down under the pile of crap she'd somehow accumulated in the past few months. A moment to drag in a deep breath and let it out as she adjusted all the shit in her arms and reached for the knob on the closed door.

She walked out and closed the door and dragged in another deep breath, closing her eyes and relishing in the crisp air. Her eyes opened and her brow furrowed as the smell of lemons assaulted her. Her eyes shifted down the hallway instantly spotting the familiar lanky shadow of the man feigning an air of ease as he leaned against the wall. That last mind clearing breath was left behind as her feet began to walk almost instinctively to his side.

Danny didn't move a muscle as she approached. Didn't turn towards her, didn't avert his eyes from whatever he was staring at. He didn't even acknowledge her as she came to a stop beside him. She stared at the side of his face for a moment before shifting her eyes to where his gaze was settled.

Rick was elbow deep in a bucket of something soapy, pulling out a rag and splashing it down hard on to the kitchen island. Callie shifted her attention slightly to where Patricia stood filling another bucket at the sink and then back to Rick at the counter top.

"I wanted to go out there and see him," Danny's voice echoed as they both stood and watched Rick, Patricia and Maggie work to clean Ben's blood from the kitchen. "I wanted to. I just couldn't seem to get my feet to move that way. Couldn't work past this spot." Danny's head shook idly and a hand waved out. "So instead I'm standing here like a jackass."

Callie didn't say anything, simply shifted so that the wall was at her shoulder. She wanted to say something to him. Wanted to tell him that it was okay. That she understood not going out to see Dale. That she sympathized. But instead she stood there like a jackass with him, watching Patricia carry a bucket towards Maggie as she dazedly worked a worn mop over the same damn spot on the floor. She watched Rick scrub and dunk, and scrub and dunk until her vision began to blur.

"We never cleaned up my house," Callie said idly a few moments later. The words sounded hollow coming out. Her voice rang strange in her ears as if an echo of a thought left unsaid, but she knew she'd actually said them because she felt Danny stir slightly beside her. She blinked a few times, not really sure why she said it. Not really sure what the fuck that had to do with anything at the moment, but feeling the need to say them just the same.

"Honestly, Cal," Danny said a second later. "You ever really plannin' on going back there again?"

Her head snapped towards him and met his gaze straight on. She stared for a moment, the idea -the utter truth of what he'd just said hitting her like a brick to the chest. She felt her jaw clench and a moment later she dropped the bat to the floor with a low thud. She held Danny's gaze moment longer and ignored the feel of Rick's gaze settling on the side of her face. Without another word she made her way towards the stairs.


It was still dark when it happened; somewhere in that middle place of night and morning where the sky reaches an almost perfect dark. Callie had been so intent upon the pillow clenched in her hands and the weight of the gun at her hip as she stared at Ben's slowly, almost imperceptibly moving chest as it rose and fell-her mind still so deeply entrenched in both the past and the present that she was lost somewhere in between. She knew she was there at the Greene's farm. She knew Danny was settled at her back in the chair she'd vacated to sit on the bed at Ben's side. She knew he was there because his foot was propped up on the bed beside her tapping an idle yet somehow comforting manner on her thigh. She could see Gracie curled up now at her side, her little head settled on the pillow beside her brother, her eyes staring a hole into the side of his face. She could hear the sound of Miles thumping his head along the wall outside the door, and the low tone of Glenn's lowered voice filtering in through the cracked door.

She could see and hear all of that. Feel all of that.

Yet somehow she was seeing Sammy and Hannah. Each thump of Miles' head along that wall was Hannah's little body hitting the wall. Each tap of Danny's foot was Suze's hand grabbing for her. Each slow breath of Ben's was a stuttering gurgle of Sammy trying to speak a final word to her before the end.

She was wired. Too fucking wired. Too fuckin' lost to be able to sort through the mish-mass of it all in her head. The shower had helped to quell the sound of that voice-at least at the time. But it was coming back now. Coming back and steadily playing in the background of the oddly composed living nightmare she'd somehow created for herself.

She was too fucking lost. Which was why, when Ben's body jerked upright and then off to the side as he retched, Callie's entire body jolted and her heart nearly leapt out of her chest as if she'd woken from an actual nightmare. She could feel the erratic pulse of her heart in her throat as she lunged towards the boy. Felt Danny come alive and heard his voice yelling for Hershel as he reached out and grabbed the scrabbling form of Gracie off of the bed as Callie moved.

Ben's entire body was a mass of shakes as her hands settled along his bare chest and back. She held tight to him and kept him from falling off the bed as he dry heaved again and then slumped back into her. Shifting around she looked towards Danny who was cradling Gracie and then towards the door where Hershel and Patricia were pushing past the forms of Glenn, Miles and Carl near the door.

Ben was whimpering now, and Callie's cheek settled upon his head as she held him close. She hadn't touched him the entire time. Hadn't wanted to feel his skin for fear of finding a fever growing there. Hadn't wanted to. But now…

She let her cheek settle upon his forehead as Hershel settled himself onto the bed. She held Hershel's gaze as he settled his hands upon the bloody mass of bandages settled at the severed end of Ben's left arm and she pressed her cheek hard onto that clammy yet cool surface and let out a long breath of relief.

Patricia closed the door slowly shaking her head at the gathering crowd outside, and Callie shifted her attention back to the boy in her arms. He was barely conscious, as if a switch had been flipped on and off for the briefest of moments. She would have thought he was unconscious, but she could hear him talking. Or thought she could.

"My arm hurts," Ben's voice-a voice so hoarse and that it sounded painful-echoed low as Hershel bent forward and worked to lift Ben's severed left arm. "My arm…"

"The bleeding's slowed," Hershel said quietly as Patricia moved to his side to help to prop the severed arm up along a bunch of pillows. "We're heading in the right direction, but he's lost a lot of blood."

"Okay," Callie said sliding away as Hershel and Patricia worked to lower the once again fully unconscious Ben back down to the bed. She shifted around and worked the sweater she'd put on off of her arms quickly, before glancing back to Hershel. They held one another's gaze for a moment before Hershel nodded and waved a hand at Patricia. "Problem?"

"You're sure?" Hershel asked as Patricia moved towards the closet that they'd began storing the rest of the medical supplies in.

"You really need to ask?"

"No I don't suppose I do," Hershel said reaching out a hand to her and stopping her from moving off of the bed. "He's gonna be fine, Callie. You saved his life."

"You did," Callie said in return, letting her hand fall on to his and squeezing. "And I'll never be able to repay you for it. But I'll spend the rest of my life trying to."

"She's not kiddin'," Danny muttered from near the foot of the bed where he stood holding Gracie. "She's fuckin' crazy when it comes to that kind of shit."

"Thanks, Danny," Callie muttered quietly. "Now go make yourself useful and tell everyone what's going on."

Hershel smiled and their hands slid apart as Callie worked her way over to the chair that Patricia was now working closer to the bed side. Tubing and needles were set out and Callie was eerily reminded of when she'd given blood to Carl weeks ago. Danny slipped out the door with a look back at her that very clearly said he'd be back, and then she watched Patricia work the needle into her arm. The world started slipping away not long after that; her mind again set upon the boy in the bed.

Hours drifted by slowly.

The second time Ben woke, it was quiet yet still as startling. He didn't seize upwards or retch, simply lifted his right arm and blinked his eyes a few times. Callie had been in the chair still, recovering with a glass of water and freshly sliced yet completely uneaten peach on the beside table. Danny was snoring with his head rolling against her knee and his bum leg propped up on a pillow that Patricia forced upon him when he staggered back into the room earlier.

Ben rolled his eyes around the room twice before they landed on her, and she waited to see what his reaction would be. She didn't know what she really expected from him. Hatred? Fear? Sadness? She didn't know. And she didn't get anything more than a grimace of pain and a shuddering breath dragged in before his head was lolling back to the side and he drifted off again.

The third time he woke was only a short while later, and his first moment of lucidity. Callie had moved back onto the bed now, her body drained and ready to finally give into the exhaustion but her mind still working too fast to let it. But Danny was dead to the world by this point; his body prone on the ground next to the chair, with one arm thrown over his eyes. Miles was back, settled in the chair and his eyes set upon the bite mark scar on his formerly broken left arm that he bore from his run in with Whitmore. Hershel was settled in another chair near the window, his chin to his chest and hands firmly clasped upon his knees as he watched Gracie sleep on the makeshift bed that Maggie and Danny and made up for her on the floor.

"Am I gonna die?" Ben's tired voice rang out causing both Callie and Miles to sit upright and move towards him, while Hershel's head snapped up. Callie shifted along the bed slowly, her head still a bit heavy from the transfusion she'd given not so long ago. "I got bit. I saw it. I can feel it."

"You're not gonna die, Ben," Callie said putting a hand to his head and slowly shifting a lock of hair away from his bloodshot eyes. "Do you remember what happened?"

"I got bit," Ben said groggily his head shifting slightly. "My arm…"

"Ben…." Hershel's voice was low but forceful as he settled himself on the other side of Ben. He put a heavy hand to the slowly moving upper portion of Ben's left arm and stopped him from lifting it. Stopped him from looking at it. "Ben. Look at me, son." Ben did, and so did Callie, Miles and the newly awakened Danny as he pushed up from the floor. "Son, I need you to stay calm and keep your arm still."

"My arm hurts," Ben said, his voice hitching slightly as he shifted around and worked to sit up. Callie moved closer and put a hand to his chest to keep him from moving any more. "It hurts, mom." Ben said shifting his glassy-eyed gaze to her. A second later his eyes widened and he started to shift around even more. "The watch cut me. I feel it. I lost it. I lost it. Dale's gonna be mad."

"Ben," Callie said sucking in a breath and working to calm him down as he started to get more and more restless in his motions. "Buddy, you gotta calm down."

"It cut me. I feel it," he sounded drunk now, his mind obviously spinning around and around as he tried to start coping with what had happened to him. "My arm hurts so bad."

"He's going out again," Miles said shifting towards the bed more scuttling around the slowly moving lump that was Danny.

"That's for the best," Hershel said as he helped Callie adjust the again unconscious Ben back into the bed. "He's in shock. Everything that happened, it's to be expected. He's going to probably drift in and out like this a few times as he starts to come to. And every time he does his adrenaline is going to keep pumping his blood too fast for his wounded body to be able to recover from. But eventually he'll wake up and stay awake."

"And then the real nightmare will begin," Callie said quietly, her fingers lifting to the bridge of her nose and rubbing hard at the slow pounding headache behind her eyes.

"Then the healing begins," Hershel countered with a stern look. "For all of us."


By the time the sun began its slow ascent into the sky, the odd little round robin game of 'where to fucking sit' that Callie, Danny and Miles had been playing all night and finally come to an end. Both men were settled in the living room sharing a pot of coffee with Maggie, Patricia and Glenn. Gracie had curled herself beside her brother in bed. And Callie….

Callie was settled on the floor, her back up against the bed along the side closest to the door. The side that Ben lay fitfully sleeping on. Still settled in the same spot she'd practically fallen into when she'd tried to help Danny and his gimp-ass out of the room before. On her left, the cup of coffee and plate of food Lori had brought in earlier sat untouched. While on her right sat the matching untouched cup of coffee that Rick had stared into for nearly an hour as he sat with her. Left behind as an afterthought or maybe as a token saying he'd be back. She wasn't sure which, but she'd be willing to bet on the latter.

Callie shifted her head along the mattress and rolled her eyes to where the barest hint of pale yellow light from the sun could be seen, the low gray blue hues of early morning being pressed upon by it as it ushered in the promise of another day.

"Fuck the new day," Callie muttered to herself as she shifted her head back and tipped her chin towards the ceiling. She closed her eyes and felt the tug of exhaustion once gain rear its ugly head; felt herself slipping off towards oblivion.

She'd done it three times that she was aware of. Once after Ben woke the first time, relief coursing through and putting her mind and body into as much ease as she figured she'd ever really be able to attain. The second, midway through the blood transfusion, at which point Hershel had put a stop to it and ordered up the food for her. And the third time only a short time ago, when she'd settled her head on Rick's shoulder as he spoke in a hushed tone about what was going on outside the room. T-Dog and Glenn working on the grave, Miles and Danny slumped on the couch, Shane leading a group out tomorrow before the funeral to take out anymore Walkers. His working plan for Randall. And Daryl settled on the top of the RV smoking alone and very keen on staying that way.

She'd fallen out shortly after that, for only a few minutes, or so Rick had said when she snapped awake again. He'd worked to his feet not long after that, and she'd mumbled something about his voice apparently being the only thing around that could put her to sleep anymore. He'd smiled, but it hadn't reached his eyes as he stared hard at her. She'd waved him off and out and instead turned her attention back towards the bed and the two babies settled up there.

Callie's gaze drifted down to Rick's cup now, the memory of the lingering silence between them inching a slow dagger between her ribs. He'd said he'd be back, so she really wasn't surprised when the door cracked open and the dull thump of heavy footsteps sounded.

She wasn't surprised at all, until she felt the heat of Daryl's gaze settle upon the top of her downturned head.

Callie's head snapped towards the door and she watched him. Daryl stood stone still in the doorway, his eyes riveted not to her, but to Ben -and probably Gracie as well, settled on the bed. He looked just as exhausted as everyone else, but there was something else. Something lingering and clouding his eyes just a bit. Something she could just barely make out before he blinked it away.

She wasn't sure what it was, but she'd seen it before. Hiding along the edges of his gaze after he'd put Jenna down, and again after what happened with Sophia.

Callie sucked in a slow deep breath, an action that finally had his gaze drifting down to where she sat. That piercing gaze of his was just as powerful as ever, and she shuddered when his eyes narrowed slightly.

They were all as threadbare as their clothes now, each and every one of them slowly spreading thin, starting to show thoughts and feelings that in another time and place they would have been able to keep from peeking through. And maybe it was just her past training, or maybe it was the fact that she knew him well enough to see it clearly in that brief flash of a moment in which it had passed by in his eyes. Maybe she was completely wrong. But as she watched him finally push himself through the door and slide his way along the wall opposite her she felt like she was right-like she finally figured out what it was hiding along the edges of his gaze.

He blamed her for it.

All of it.

Some part of him. A part that he didn't want to really admit to having, a part of him that he had no real intention of showing her or anyone for that matter-hell, maybe it was just a part of him he didn't realize he even had-, blamed her for what happened with Ben. Blamed her for what happened to Dale. For Jenna. For Sophia.

She felt her insides churn at the idea and hoped that it was the exhaustion and that echoing voice in the back of her head playing tricks on her. Hoped and prayed that she was wrong as she stared into his eyes and watched his mouth hitch slightly to the side as he lifted the cuticle edge of his thumb to his mouth and began to chew.

"Rick told me about what happened with Dale," Callie said quietly, wincing slightly at the way his body recoiled just a bit before he schooled himself again. He feigned a nonchalant attitude and shrugged a single shoulder, but the chewing of his cuticle sped to a more agitated level causing her to sit forward and try to steady his wandering gaze on her. "I'm sorry that you-" she cut herself off as his eyes snapped back to her and she shook her head. "I'm sorry, Daryl. Sorry that you had to-"

"Needed done," Daryl muttered around his fingers before dropping his hand. "Rick needed it done."

"Shane could have-"

"Dale deserved better than that," Daryl spat, his mouth drawing into a tight line of disgust before he shook his head.

"Yes he did," Callie said quietly, her eyes sliding to her sock covered feet. Daryl's eyes followed her gaze and she felt the heaviness in the air between them subside just a bit. His socks, the ones he'd given her all those months ago at the Quarry; socks that were far too big for her feet, but still comfortable as hell, wiggled slightly as she moved her toes back and forth. Slowly she slipped her feet up so that both of her knees were raised and she settled her chin upon her arms as they rested there.

It took him three seconds. Three long seconds, to inhale and exhale and finally drop down to the ground across from her. His eyes hit hers and they sat there for a few moments; moments that felt like hours, until Callie's gaze shifted out towards the window and Daryl's shifted back towards the bed.

The darkness of the room slowly began to ebb away as slats of light began to filter in through the window at the back of the house. Odd spindly shadows began to reach further and further inside as the newly rising sun hit off the branches of the trees.

Callie shook her head and then her whole damn body just trying to shake off everything. Fucking wash it off Lori had told her. And sure for the fifteen minutes she'd stood under that scalding hot water it'd felt like that's what she was doing. But then the water began to run colder, and colder, and her mind wandered back to the past. Back to that moment after burying Suze, Sammy and Hannah, when she'd been so utterly broken that she'd let a man she barely knew scrape her up off the ground and carry her.

It'd been a low point, one of the lowest in her life if she was being honest. And she'd vowed never to let herself reach that point again. But history had a way of repeating itself in the most horrific ways possible and it seemed now as if the great Lord above was testing her resolve….again.

"You're scared," Daryl's voice rattled out, low and tired, and her gaze snapped away from the window and over to him. His tongue darted out quickly wetting his lower lip before he began to chew at the inside of his cheek, almost as if he were nervous for saying the words out loud. He regarded her with a strange sort of look that she just couldn't place and she tipped a brow up at him as a slow smirk slipped over her lips. She was apparently getting just as threadbare as everyone else these days if he'd been able to see that. Because that was the one thing she'd been working to hide for a long time now-that odd sounding voice began to echo in the back of her mind again and she shook it off as she watched Daryl shift a bit in his seat adjusting his legs so that one knee was raised mirroring her pose, while the other was outstretched before him the toe of his booted foot tapping idly against her outer thigh. He dangled an arm over the upraised knee in an effort to maintain a nonchalant air, but she saw through that easily enough when he began to once again chew at the cuticle of his thumb. "Ain't seen ya scared in a long time. Not really. Not since the highway and Whitmore. But you are now."

"World's a scary place, Daryl," Callie said with a stiff smile as she settled the back of her head against the mattress behind her. Daryl just stared at her, his hand leaving his mouth and dangling down from where his arm draped over his upraised knee. Callie blinked and looked down at her shoes. She smiled when the position they were in finally hit, the memory of that night on the highway when he'd come to sit with her. The way he'd tapped his foot along her leg, and crowded her senses with an oddly placed bit of sexual tension that helped to alleviate the stress of the moment. It was the night he'd first kissed her. And that moment came back in a rush causing her eyes to dart up to his meeting his heated gaze head on. "You're right," Callie said nodding slightly and rubbing at her arm where the needle had been settled not long ago.

"Gonna be headin' out in the mornin' with Shane, T-Dog and whoever else wants to come to take care of whatever Walkers we find," Daryl said sharply, before muttering his next words in a rush of anger and disgust. "Shoulda gone out with 'em earlier to make sure that shit got done."

"Daryl, this wasn't your fault. It wasn't-" Callie cut herself off as Daryl's eyes snapped away from his own shoes and up to her eyes. "The blame game isn't going to fix anything."

There it was again. That fleeting glimpse of something in his eyes that flared to life as she spoke of blame and fault. Callie firmed her lips and set her spine as she stared at him, watching him shake off whatever it was riding along his shoulders and slowly chewing at the inside of his cheek.

"Yeah. Whatever," Daryl mumbled looking towards the bed and once again lifting his hand to his mouth.

They drifted back into silence at that point. Callie watched as he Daryl stared at where Ben was laying atop the bed over her head, his thumb rubbing idly along the scruff settled just under his lower lip. Her eyes drifted over him, until finally her gaze locked on the pack of cigarettes just barely sticking out of the front pocket of the denim button up he'd put on under his black leather vest. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she took in what she could make out of the design on the package. The thin red stripe along the one side the only distinguishable marking she could see.

Rick had said that Daryl was up on the RV smoking. He'd said that Daryl had wanted to be alone. In that moment Callie understood why. Understood completely. Because that pack of smokes was Dale's. The Virginia Slims that Daryl had found for him. The ones that Dale had joked about being his lasting legacy to the redneck with a heart of gold that he'd come to respect. And Daryl had just spent however long sitting atop the hulking vehicle of the man he'd had to put down, smoking that legacy to the air in a place that was as sacred to the group as any church had been in the world before.

Callie's hand drifted up to her mouth and she wiped along her lips, working to hold in the small tremble she could feel settling along her nerves. She pressed hard and blinked wildly as a wet film began to form over her eyes, blurring her vision.

The bed sheets shuffled a bit and Callie felt her body jolt at the sound. Her head shifted and her body turned and lifted in one fluid motion so that she could peer up and over the bed. Her eyes met Gracie's as the little girl's head lifted slightly off of her pillow before she snuggled back down. After a quick glance at Ben's chest rising slowly up and then down Callie shifted and let her body fall in an exhausted heap back to the ground.

She hadn't even realized she'd put her hand to the gun settled in the holster at her hip until she felt her arm move away from it. She shook her head, knowing that she hadn't thought to pull it. Not even for an instant.

She hadn't. But apparently Daryl thought she had. His eyes were boring holes into her now, the heat from that gaze a red hot poker on the side of her face until she turned to meet it dead on. Those tired blue eyes of his were hard to read now, that moment of thinly veiled feelings on his part gone completely.

"Shit, girl," Daryl grumbled as his hand fell from his mouth and into his lap. She smirked at him just barely, a fleeting memory of him atop the RV grumbling over her being so fuckin' jumpy slipping to the forefront of her mind for a moment. She wanted to hold onto that fleeting memory. That simple moment in time when things seemed just a bit easier. When things were going right…or at least as right as they could in this fucked up new world they lived in. She was desperate to hold on to it, and it seemed like he was just as desperate when his body shifted. The leg that had bent up fell and his arm reached out towards her. "C'mere."

There wasn't a moment of hesitation as she crawled over to him and settled herself in between his legs. She fell into his chest and pressed the side of her cheek hard to him as his arms circled around her. His arms tightened and she closed her eyes for a moment as those warm calloused hands of his sent shivers down her spine even through the fabric of Jenna's threadbare sweater that she'd taken to wearing. She felt his fingers dig into her arm, pressing unknowingly along the still healing wounds of her torn flesh hidden beneath the fabric. Felt him slip his chin up and rest it atop her head before he spoke in a low yet gruff tone above her head. She didn't need to look to see that his eyes had once again settled on the Ben's figure atop the bed, his words were evidence enough.

"He ain't infected," Daryl said simply and Callie's eyes opened. His words were meant to be comforting, his mind catching onto those moments long ago when she'd fear for her own life, as well as Miles after the run in with Whitmore. Catching and holding onto the simple explanation for her fear and hoping to dispel it in the way he was taught, with quick and simple terms that any idiot would be able to understand. Her gaze was fixed upon the window, watching as the sky began the slow transition from night into day as she blinked and listened to the voice in the back of her head once again begin it's repetitive mantra.

"You're going to get them all killed."

"I know," Callie replied in just as simple a tone.

She felt him tense just a bit as her words settled over him. Felt him toying with the idea to question her response, because it was obviously the truth. Felt him wrestle with whether he should ask her to explain, or let the moment stay suspended in the air of the past and those seemingly easier times that they'd cocooned themselves in. His shoulders lifted as he dragged in a long breath and finally Daryl let out a long soft sigh as he readjusted his chin on her head and settled her further into his embrace.

Again, the questions and truths left unasked and unsaid as the need for a moment of peace took precedence.

My mouth is dry

With words I cannot verbalize

Tell me why we live like this

Keep me safe inside

Your arms like towers

Tower over me, yeah

'Cause we are broken

What must we do to restore

Our innocence

And oh, the promise we adored?

Give us life again

'Cause we just wanna be whole

~We Are Broken / Paramore

AN:

Okay. I did it. There's a chapter here.

And yeah… nothing really happened.

I want to explain a bit about the abundance of Callie/Danny flashbacks in this period of the story. I had plans originally to do a Prequel to this series that would detail everything that happened for all of the characters: Callie, Danny and the crew mainly, but also everyone else. However, I've decided that I like the way that the flashbacks drip into the current timeline so I nixed the prequel and instead plan to write these moments into the regular story line. (as we've seen from the get go)

And the reason that we're seeing a lot of Callie and Danny's time together now, as you can probably tell, is it really feeds what's going on right now in the story. And I really think it shows just how far these two characters have come and where they came from. And trust me, that's super important for where the story is going.

So yeah….

There's that.

Now, for a bit of fun.

I've started up a tumblr for this fic: .com The tumblr is all about this fic, with character bios for the people we've lost, the people we haven't met yet and the people we'll be meeting eventually. I'm also detailing important objects, places and will answer all questions you may have there. So if you're interested in what a certain character looks like or want a little more info hit me up there. I may also post chapter snippets as I work…so if you like spoilers… that's a fun little thing

Last but not least, I'm going to be working on a new fic for the New Meanings Verse. It's the prequel fic that show exactly what happened to Daryl and Merle on the road before they met the crew at the Quarry… I don't know when that'll be coming but I'll be posting updates on the status of that one on the Tumblr too.