Hello again! This will be my 2nd Chapter story for Caryl and Daryl. And it takes place after the events of the recent one shot I wrote - Light To Dark. If you haven't read it, you can still read this and get the gist, but it might help to read that first to understand some of the character's motivations. I hope you enjoy! Please review & let me know what you think! Thank you for each and every thoughtful msg and review for Slow Fire Burn and Light To Dark. Enjoy - "Pressure Makes Diamonds" Kat

It didn't make any sense, but then again nothing with Daryl ever did. She waited, so still she swore she stopped her heart from beating. She listened as he stirred behind her on the couch. Who was whispering? Was it morning?

Opening one eye, she saw that it was still dark. They'd all just gotten to sleep a few hours ago. It was Andrea's voice she heard, trying to wake him. Low in her gut adrenaline boiled and shot through her upper body. She felt her fists ball up tightly against the flimsy mattress on the floor.

"Hmm?" He asked and Carol heard him grunt. "You got watch not too long from now." He whispered.

No matter how hard she strained, she couldn't hear what Andrea said in reply. How stupid. Carol seriously felt like an idiot, not that it'd been the first time she'd made a bad decision.

Maybe she hadn't been thinking clearly after she and Daryl left the mall. A lot had happened. There'd been the walker that had come out of the wrong bathroom that'd rattled him. She almost smiled thinking about how worried he'd been when he'd come in to find her standing there in the women's bathroom. He thought she'd been bit.

She was ashamed of herself for being jealous over Andrea and Michonne. He had so much more in common with either one of them than with her. She was just Carol. But she had changed since they'd left the farm, maybe not as dramatic of a change as everyone would've liked to see but it'd only been her second run.

Why she'd let him kiss her was beyond her. They'd just made their escape from the mall which had been like something out of a movie. She was alive and glad for it. And when he'd pulled her out of the truck bed, she'd also been glad then because the tent poles had been horribly uncomfortable, poking into her knees and legs. She wasn't as young as she used to be. But then his arms had stayed in place around her waist and she knew with how natural it felt and by the look in his eyes that he wouldn't pull away if she leaned in. He'd leaned in too, it hadn't been her imagination. Neither had the fact that his lips had been glued to hers only hours ago. Still, that didn't mean he was hers. She didn't own him. She only wanted to know what was going on from where she lay on the other side of the couch. Was he going to continue to traipse after Andrea and Michonne, drinking in the woods? Because if that were the case –

"Carol?" Lori's panicked voice came from the small hallway between the bedrooms.

Carol stood immediately, knowing Lori was fairly far along in her pregnancy. When she glanced over Daryl was heading out the back door with Andrea. He hesitated, looking behind him, his eyes giving away that he was concerned with what it looked like. She didn't care at that point she decided. Giving him a disgusted shake of her head, she followed the sound of Lori moving around in the dark hallway. His eyes narrowed back at her in return, his defenses coming up, she was sure of it.

"What is it Lori?" She asked, rounding the corner.

"Contractions – steady contractions. I've had them for about an hour now."

She was just into her eighth month and considering what they'd been through, it stood to reason she'd go a bit early. "Just whatever feels comfortable for you right now, do that and I'll get Herschel."

Lori grabbed her arm. "Herschel's fine, but not Rick. Let's wait and see if this is for real. I don't want to jump the gun."

Carol could see that her eyes were large and her jaw clenched as another wave of pain hit her. She held onto her arm to steady herself. After it passed, and it took a moment, Carol said, "I'd say it's real." She remembered all too well the awful night Sophia had been born. "You're gonna hold tight her while I get him you hear?"

Lori nodded. "Just be quiet about it."

Carol walked across the room, grasping Herschel by the shoulder gently, waking him, watching Daryl descend the back steps with Andrea when she did. They were headed right where she thought they'd be going and Michonne was probably out there waiting.

"Herschel. Lori needs you. I think she's gone into labor."

The old man stirred, rubbing his eyes. "Did you tell Rick?"

Carol sighed, staring off across the room to where the front door remained closed. Rick was on watch. "She doesn't want him to know until we're sure."

He began getting up, his bones creaking and popping. Shuffling through the doorway, they found Lori where she left her leaning against the wooden slats of the wall breathing heavily.

"I'm here." Herschel mumbled, sleepiness lacing his words. "Let Carol get you in your bed so I can check and see if you're dilated. I need to wash up."

A few moments later he walked in the bedroom, stretching rubber gloves over his hands. Lori lay next to a sleeping Carl. When Herschel slipped his fingers in, she tensed, squeezing Carol's hand.

Herschel's eyes traveled to Carol's and he gave a quick shake of his head. "Five centimeters." He whispered.

"You want me to get Rick?" Carol asked from where she sat rubbing Lori's forehead.

The woman hesitated, glancing between Herschel and Carol then agreed.

"We'll get Carl tucked in my bed, once I bring Rick in." Carol gave her knuckles a kiss and left her with the veterinarian, almost forgetting that he had been a vet up until Carl had been shot. He'd been such a valuable asset to the group and she was so thankful they had him there.

It'd already slipped her mind about what Daryl had or hadn't been up to when she opened the front door and walked out on the porch. Rick wasn't there and then she remembered. She glanced in either direction listening, then went back in for the bat she'd put near her bed after they'd come back from their run.

Voices could be heard from around the corner of the cabin, Daryl's grumbling and Rick's higher pitched authoritative tone. When she walked around the corner, bat in hand, the four of them stood near the small shed linked to the side of the building.

They all swung around to look at her, weapons going up. Carol stopped in her tracks holding one hand and the bat up. "It's just me."

Rick let out a heaving sigh. "What?" He asked, irritation coming through loud and clear.

"I just thought you might want to know that Lori is in labor." She told him, trying to push a little nerve into her own voice.

He turned around and pointed at the three he had gathered in front of him. "We aren't finished. I want you two back inside. Daryl, you take watch out front since you're so eager to stay up tonight."

Daryl's stare hadn't left her face since she walked around the corner. Andrea pursed her lips and gave her an abrasive stare that forced her eyes to drop to the ground. She could feel Michonne's gaze from under her hood and caught the glint of moonlight off her katana sword near her boots.

She spun on her heels to follow Rick as he left and could hear them whispering behind her. The only thing she could make out was whose voice was the loudest – being Daryl's, who uttered a hearty "Shut-up." and stalked after her. "Hey. Wait up."

Rick was already around the corner and Daryl was by her side before she could take another breath. "Save it." She found herself saying.


He stopped and so did she. If it weren't for the tone of surprise in his voice she wouldn't be as curious to hear what he had to say.

"What do you mean what? I told you earlier while we were stuck in that department store that it's none of my business what you do."

"If it's none of your business, why are you so pissed off? Don't I even get to defend myself?" He asked before she could answer his question.

She crossed her arms, gripping the bat tightly. "If you feel the need to." Her tone was resigned. "I don't know why you would."

"Like I was tryin' to tell Rick, I was keepin' the girls from gettin' into trouble."

She shook her head, a small smile playing on her lips. "You don't owe me Daryl. They aren't gonna leave you alone." She said calmly. "I need to figure out a way to make peace with Andrea. It's just – I don't know, too complicated right now."

Daryl huffed, narrowing his eyes again, his shoulders going up. He looked at her, his features all twisted. After some hesitation he stalked by her. "Aw, screw it."

He'd never been good enough, never would be. Rick hadn't believed him and Carol didn't either. Ever since Andrea had come back with Michonne, the two women had been in over their heads. Not that they couldn't fight or defend the group, but they seemed to view themselves as some kinda unstoppable force, like they were invincible. When people got thinkin' like that, he knew from experience they tended to get reckless. He could reason with Rick after Lori popped that kid out. Carol he wasn't so sure of.

"Daryl." She said from behind him. "I believe you."

The tight, angry breath he was holding came out in a rush. Even if she were telling the truth it didn't matter. "You're right it's too complicated. I'll take care of it."

"See, that's just it. Don't – if, if you're talkin' about Andrea. I'll handle that. I need to. That's not up to you."

He turned a circle, running his hand through his hair. "You think you can handle it better. Have fun."

Carol gave him a nod, not completely looking sure of herself, but it was amusing nonetheless.

"You're gonna want to try and do that before we leave for the prison." He told her.

"We got awhile, especially now with Lori having the baby."

"Don't count on it. Rick will want to move as soon as he can." Daryl said pausing on the steps.

Carol walked past him and opened the front door. Before she closed it, she looked back at him. "Let's just get through tonight and take it from there.

Daryl's chest felt tight. Anger surged through him. Why of all nights had Andrea figured on comin' in and askin' him to go out drinkin' with her and Michonne? She had watch after Rick was supposed to be done.

He wasn't surprised when she wandered out well before his shift was done. When she sat down beside him, he wiped down his bow a bit harder, trying to ignore her until the question practically leapt out of his mouth. "So what's the deal Blondie? Are you losin' your mind?"

Her full lips turned up, he could see that out of the corner of his eye.

"I ain't kiddin'. Holdin' Shane's death against Rick, blamin' Carol for leavin' ya. Lori, Dog, they left ya too, ya know? Hell, I sat there for God knows how long watchin' the barn burn before I heard Carol scream for help."

Andrea let out quiet chuckle that had been on the verge of bursting forth since he started talkin' and he sure as hell didn't appreciate bein' laughed at.

"That's just it Daryl. Don't you see? You had to go rescue her like some white knight on a bike and I busted my ass for eight hours running through the woods nearly dead from exhaustion before Michonne saved it."

"So you think you're better?"

"Better? No. More resilient? Yeah. People like her aren't made for this kind of world."

Daryl had been on edge to begin with. He stood up, whirled around and pointed at her. "You wanna know who you sound like? Someone you used to fuck is who you sound like and you know what he almost did to his so called best friend."

Andrea hopped to her feet, facing him nose to nose. At first she appeared confident, but as his words hit her they began to sink in and her expression went to shock.

"This ain't you. You haven't been right since you got back and takin' it out on Rick, Carol and everyone else, actin' like you're untouchable – it ain't gonna fly. That's not what this group needs. It's not what you need."

Her brow furrowed. "You don't know what I need." She said in a low voice.

Daryl looked her in the eye without hesitation. "I don't think you do either." He could see it in her eyes. Everything that had happened had taken its toll. Sure she was a good shot, she was strong, could hold her own, but her thinkin' wasn't quite right. He walked a few steps away from her, watching the tree line. "Until you get your head outta your ass I don't want you near Carol."

She was beside him in two strides. "You've got to be kidding."

He glanced to his left to where she stood. "Nope."

She scoffed, shook her head and stormed away.

"That's right, go back to your bitch." He taunted. "She'll just keep feedin' your head full of bullshit."

With that, the door to the garage slammed shut. He smirked to himself. No, the group didn't need further conflict but he wasn't gonna let Andrea go off on some stupid whim and hurt anyone.

An hour or so later, the garage door creaked open again. He'd been hearing all kinds of noises comin' from inside the cabin that he tried to block out. Some of it sounded scarier than the walkers themselves. Lori in pain. He was uneasy around their "unofficial first lady" as Carol had dubbed her, but he didn't like to hear her in agony like she was.

Michonne appeared beside him like an apparition in the glow of the rising half moon.

"I want you to know I haven't put nothin' in that girl's head. Not that I have to defend myself to you."

Daryl stood up, ready to head inside and try to get some shut eye. "Then why are ya?"

Michonne shrugged. "When I found her she was alone, scared, and exhausted."

"Yeah, yeah we've all heard the story." He had several times out in the woods while they'd been drinkin'.

"She just needs time, and maybe a little more understanding from you." Her voice grew husky as she moved into his personal space.

He was definitely beginning to feel uncomfortable. "And what's that gonna show her?" He asked trying not to let his voice falter. "That she can get away with whatever the hell she wants?"

"I know she'd be a lot happier if she had her way about something else she's been pushing for."

"And what's that?" Daryl asked backing up, catching her at the elbow as she reached for him.

"What is it about me you don't like Dixon?"

Daryl swallowed, cursing that it was a little too loud, giving way how uneasy he felt. "It ain't that." He pushed at her elbow moving her away from him. "Ain't much not to like, aside from how reckless you two've been since ya got here."

"You've joined us in the fun."

"Won't deny that, but we need keep our heads together."

Michonne smiled. "That's what I'm trying to do." She told him with a wicked grin.

"Sorry. Ain't happenin'." He said firmly.

"Because of Carol?" She asked boldly.

"Don't matter what it's about but no, it ain't. There's no room for shit like this. I got better things to do." He turned to climb the steps hearing her slight chuckle.

"We'll see about that."

He walked in closing the door behind him, listening to Lori moaning and almost welcoming the sound – anything better than being stuck out front with Michonne. And now so she wouldn't be a target to the two women, he'd have to distance himself from Carol, which wasn't something he wasn't sure he wanted to do.

They'd kissed. And something inside him had stirred. But he'd been right in saying there was no room for relationships and shit. Complications, drama, more conflict. They didn't need it. It was time to get back to keeping the group safe, helping Rick, earning back what trust he'd lost, if any.

He was still pinned to the door when Carol walked out of the hallway, the sleeves of her fitted Henley rolled up, blood smeared all over the apron she wore. He sucked in a breath when he saw her stop and lock eyes with him in the light of the single lantern that sat on the mantle.

After a moment she said, "She's got the urge to push. Shouldn't be too much longer. Could you do me a favor and put some coffee on for Herschel and I?"

Daryl simply swallowed and nodded. Her hair was a mess, all spiky and the dark circles under her eyes made them appear sunken in. With as bony as she was, she coulda doubled as a walker and yet she was beautiful. When had the thought first hit him? Earlier at the mall maybe? When she'd kicked that walker over the railing? Or maybe back to when he'd walked in Dale's RV and given her the rose. He didn't know where that random act of kindness had come from either, but he definitely felt drawn to her.

"Daryl, you okay over there? You act like you've never seen blood before."

Daryl grumbled glancing away, walking toward the kitchen to make the coffee. He had to take his own advice and get his head outta his ass. This was Carol and even with what happened after the mall he could play it off as nothing, he tried telling himself as he scooped the grounds from the can into the percolator. If anything he had to, to keep her from harm at least for the time being.