Maggie returned to the war room after stopping briefly in the bathroom to wash off the blood that had spattered on her as she had pulled Daryl's knife from Sergeant Bradley Wallace's skull. Most of the blood had ended up on her face and her arms and she washed and scrubbed until there was no trace of it left on her skin. Her shirt was black, and it effectively masked the drops of blood that had splashed onto it.
She knocked on the door to the war room and Lori opened it to let her in. Maggie slid inside the room and closed and locked the door behind her.
Everyone was crowded around the monitors and watching three screens in particular. The cameras feeding the three monitors were set up in the woods out back and as the group watched, three men were making their way across one of the screens as they stealthy moved through the trees. The men were dressed in camouflage and wore balaclavas, leaving only their eyes visible.
Maggie scowled; they must be damned hot and uncomfortable dressed like that, she thought. Good. She was sure that the assholes would be burning in hell soon enough; then they'd really be hot and uncomfortable.
One of the other screens showed four more hostiles sneaking through the woods toward the house. All of the men were armed with AK74U automatics. Maggie moved her eyes to the third screen. It was the one that had everyone's attention.
Dale and Glenn were speaking to each other in hushed tones and Carol's eyes were glued to the third monitor.
The area shown on this screen was heavily wooded and tall saplings grew between the mature trees, creating a leaf canopy and darkening the forest floor. Despite the low light, it was easy to see the body on the ground, partially hidden by foliage and ferns. It was visible on the lower left hand corner of the screen. The man was on his stomach and the view from his shoulders and up was blocked by tall, feathery ferns. Most of his back was visible and his sleeveless shirt with the all too familiar plaid pattern was peppered with large dark spots, indicating that he had been hit by several bullets from an automatic or semi-automatic firearm.
Maggie could hear Carol crying quietly. As they all stared at the screen another invader walked into the frame and stopped next to the body. The soldier looked down and nudged it with his foot.
Maggie looked away. Why would he bother to do that? It was obvious that the person on the ground was dead. Nobody could survive being shot up like that.
Glenn reached for Maggie's hand and gave it a squeeze. "Are you alright?" he asked her quietly.
Maggie pursed her lips and nodded.
Glenn kissed her on the cheek. "I'll be right back," he said and then moved to the ammo shelves. He grabbed two green heavy canvas ammo bags and scanned the labels on the shelves until he found the shelf with the boxes of ammo for the Ares Shrikes. The rounds were M193 rounds and Glenn cringed. Daryl had told him when Glenn had been checking the ammo supply for the first time and had held one of the bullets up to show it to Daryl that those particular rounds had been banned by the UN as the wounds they caused were so devastating that they were considered to be inhumane. For this situation Glenn thought they were just perfect.
He grabbed twelve clips and placed six in each small bag. Glenn then approached the war room door and unlocked it from the inside.
"Where are you going?" Carol asked him as she wiped her eyes.
"I just want to take some extra ammo to Rick and Andrea and give them an enemy headcount so they have a rough idea of what's coming. I don't like the idea of not helping them on the first line of defense." Glenn explained. He grasped Carol's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. "I'm so sorry, Carol. I know Daryl meant a lot to you."
Carol nodded and wiped her eyes. "He meant the world to me," she sniffed.
Glenn glanced back at the monitors just as the soldier on the third monitor drew his pistol and delivered a head shot to the body on the ground. Glenn bit his lip. Of course the invaders didn't want to take any chances that any of their victims might come back as walkers.
Glenn looked over at Maggie. Her back was to him and she appeared to continue to watch the monitor. After what had just happened on the screen, he was torn between going to her and going to deliver more ammo and the information about the invaders to Rick and Andrea. He turned back to the door and gave Carol instructions to lock it behind him.
Glenn met Andrea on the stairs that connected the second floor to the first.
"Change of plans," Andrea explained as she adjusted the strap on the Shrike and hoisted it up further on her back. "I'm going to be in Carl's room stationed at his rear window. I'll get a good view of the hostiles as they approach the fence. It should be relatively easy to pick some of them off from there. Now where do you think you're going? Rick wanted everyone in the war room."
Glenn nodded, "I know, but the monitors are showing at least eight of the bastards headed this way. I just thought you guys would like that information and I brought you some more ammo," he explained as he held out one of the dark green bags to her.
"Thanks, I appreciate the information and the extra ammo. Better to have too much than not enough." Andrea said as she took the ammo bag and scooted around him. She stopped, "The feeds from the woods out back...I know its a shot in the dark, but did you happen to see Daryl? No way do I believe they shot him. He would have shot back and we would have heard at least one of his Blackhawks go off."
Glenn swallowed. "Yeah, we can see him. I'm sorry Andrea. " He reached over and gave her a quick half-hug.
Andrea bit her lower lip. Glenn could see tears welling up in her eyes. "Are you sure?"
Andrea closed her eyes for a few seconds and Glenn saw her visibly slump. A solitary tear ran down her cheek and she wiped her eyes. "Oh. Okay then," she said shakily as she turned from him and climbed the rest of the stairs. "They're going to learn that payback's a bitch." she said coldly. "and so am I when you fuck with someone I care about."
Glenn walked quietly through the great room and stopped in front of where Sergeant Wallace was slumped over in the chair he was strapped to. His eyes were open and glazed over and blood had run down his face and was soaking into his camouflage uniform. He was glad that the bastard was dead. Glenn moved on and found Rick in the kitchen next to the window by the door. He was peeking into the back yard from around the open window's edge. He saw Glenn as he entered the kitchen. "What are you doing down here?" Rick hissed, "You're supposed to be upstairs holding down the war room."
"I know, I know, I'm headed right back, but I thought you'd like to know that the monitors that show the back woods indicate that there are at least eight hostiles headed this way, all in camo and all armed with automatic assault rifles. I also figured you could use some more ammo, you know, in case there are more of them than we know."
Rick nodded. "You're right, thanks, Glenn. " He took the ammo bag that Glenn held out to him. "Any of those cameras back there pick up Daryl?"
Rick waited a few seconds before he urged Glenn on. "Well?"
"The monitor confirms what we heard over the walkie talkie."
Rick wasn't about to believe this for a moment. Daryl was tough and had a strong will to live and a knack for survival. He was comfortable and at home in the forest. There was no way in hell a bunch of bozos in camouflage could take him out when he was in his element. He was way too cunning and clever to allow that to happen and he moved through the woods like a quiet, stealthy cat.
"I won't believe it 'til I see him myself."
Glenn was quiet and nodded.
"Is Maggie okay?" Rick asked. "She shocked the hell out of me and Andrea. Your girlfriend is quite the tough cookie, isn't she?"
Rick had been watching out the window and now he glanced back at Glenn. He was surprised at the look of confusion on Glenn's face. He was about to speak when Glenn's face suddenly showed understanding.
He looked at Rick and raised his eyebrows. "Maggie killed Wallace?" he asked.
Rick turned back to the window. "She sure did. None of us expected it, least of all Wallace. She walked right up behind him and drove a knife into the top of his head, pulled it out and wiped it off and then went back upstairs like nothing had even happened. She didn't tell you?"
"No. She hasn't said much of anything since...since..she just hasn't said much."
Rick nodded. He knew Maggie and Daryl had gotten close recently. Everyone knew it.
Maggie watched from across the war room as Lori hugged Carol and spoke softly to her, trying to comfort the crying woman. Lori took Carol's hand and led her to one of the chairs in front of the bank of monitors. She spun the chair so it faced away from the wall of screens and sat Carol in the chair and pulled another one up in front of her so she could sit with her. Lori took Carol's hands in hers and leaned forward. Maggie caught a bit of what Lori was saying.
"Carol, of course he knew you cared about him and I know he cared about you, too."
"But he was upset with me. Now I'll never be able to tell him I'm sorry and let him know how much he means to me. I shouldn't have let him push me away."
Lori rubbed Carol's hands in hers. "Carol, sweetie, that's just who Daryl is, he doesn't like to get close. He pushes everyone away."
Carol turned her head and glanced in Maggie's direction. "No, not everyone," Carol said quietly.
Lori looked over at Maggie, too and Maggie looked down at the floor. Lori continued to talk softly to Carol and Maggie suddenly had the urge to hold Daryl's knife. She needed to feel that connection to him. She pulled Daryl's hunting knife and sheath from the waistband of her jeans. She held it in her hands and looked down at it. The sheath leather was soft and worn, but still thick and strong. She ran her fingers across it, and then inside the belt loop that had been darkened by use. How many hundreds or even thousands of times had Daryl slid this sheath onto his belt before heading into the woods or to work or anywhere. He said he'd had it for years. When had he gotten it? Was it brand new then or did he get it used? Was it a gift? What was the first thing he'd used it for? To gut a deer? To defend himself? To clean his fingernails? She examined the sheath thoroughly as she held it.
"Is that Daryl's knife?"
Maggie tore her eyes from the knife sheath and looked up. Carol stood directly in front of her, her eyes on the sheathed knife Maggie held in her hands.
"Yes," she said quietly. "His hunting knife."
Carol pursed her lips. "Could I have it, please?" she asked.
Maggie hesitated, then handed it to Carol. "Do you need to cut something? What do you want to use it for."
Carol gazed at the sheath and knife she now held. "I don't want to use it," she said, "I want to keep it. Daryl meant the world to me and I know he used this knife all the time. It would be like having a part of him."
Maggie swallowed. This was going to be awkward. "He gave it to me." Maggie said, "and I'm keeping it."
"Daryl gave you his hunting knife?" Carol wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry, but I find that a bit hard to believe."
"I don't care if you believe it or not. It's true. " Maggie countered and reached out and took hold of the knife. Carol wouldn't release her grip on it. Maggie wasn't about to engage in a childish tug of war in front of everyone else, so she let go of it. "Fine. Keep it." she snapped. She turned on her heels and walked to the door of the living quarters room, opened it and went inside.
Maggie closed the door behind her and sighed a shaky sigh. The room was quiet and dark and she slowly walked over to one of the queen sized beds and sat down on it. She closed her eyes. What the hell was wrong with her? She had killed a man in cold blood less than half an hour ago and it had filled her with a sick kind of satisfaction. She thought it might be in part because she had killed the miserable jackass with the knife that Daryl had given her; the knife that Carol was now claiming as her own. Why should she care about who ended up with Daryl's damned hunting knife? Because he'd given it to her, that's why. He'd placed it in her hands and made his "we're not going steady" joke to her and he'd held her hands in his, just for a moment, as she held it and he'd given her hands a squeeze.
Poor Carol. Maybe she was jealous of her relationship with Daryl. Maggie knew that Carol admired Daryl and she was pretty sure that Carol was attracted to him in more than just a 'let's be friends' way. She knew that Daryl felt protective of Carol, but he also felt like he had let her down by not finding Sophia and he carried a load of guilt about that. This guilt had made him shy away from interactions with Carol, much to Carol's dismay. Maybe she'd just let Carol keep the knife after all.
Maggie laid down on the bed and buried her head in a pillow. She grabbed the one next to it and hugged it to her chest. She closed her eyes tightly. This was the bed she'd shared with Daryl the night after Shane had hurt him so badly. She tried to clear her mind, but all she could see was the body in the ferns and the bullet riddled plaid shirt. It wasn't fair. Daryl had fought so hard to stay alive and had unknowingly helped her father to regain his faith in miracles. He had defied the odds and was healing well and getting stronger.
So what the hell had happened? Daryl was more at home in the woods than anyone she had ever known. How had he gotten caught? She felt hot tears welling up in her eyes. She could almost hear his voice telling her to suck it up; only pussies cry.
Okay, she was a pussy, not a tiger, and if she wanted to cry, she would. Maggie hugged the pillow tighter as her mind pushed up things she didn't want to think about. She didn't want to think about Daryl but there he was, infesting her thoughts with those beautiful blue eyes and that cocky half smirk half smile of his. Damn, She was going to miss him so much. She couldn't believe that she was never going to see those eyes or that smile again. She was even going to miss his scowls, his frowns, and the curses uttered sometimes under his breath and sometimes shouted, but always with a thick southern drawl. How could this happen? She cried into the pillow she clutched as she remembered the way he'd tasted like beer as she breathed into him when he'd OD'd that night on the deck. She remembered his calloused hand squeezing hers as he quietly thanked her for lessening his pain after Shane had ripped him open and she remembered the far away haunted and sad look in his eyes as he told her about Lily. She remembered waking up next to him in this very bed and feeling his arm wrapped around her, holding her close and his head resting on hers as he slept.
Maggie heard the door knob click and the door creak as it was pushed open. She didn't look over towards the door, but just stayed still. She hoped that whoever it was would just go away and leave her alone. She didn't feel like talking to anyone right now, least of all Carol or Lori.
She heard footsteps approach her and Glenn's voice softly said, "Hey, are you okay?"
Maggie pushed herself into a sitting position and placed the pillow she had been clutching back with the others at the head of the bed. "I don't know," she answered truthfully.
Glenn sat down next to her and leaned in to look at her face in the darkened room. His eyes had adjusted to the low light level and he saw her raise her eyes to meet his. He reached over and gently brushed the tears from her cheeks.
"I'm sorry, Maggie. I don't know what else to say. I don't know what I can do to make things better for you." He pushed her hair out of her eyes and then pulled her into an embrace.
"I'll be okay," Maggie said as she wiped her eyes. "We're all going to miss him."
Glenn held her in silence for a moment and then said, "Yes, but it will be harder on you. You were closer to him than anyone else." Glenn paused for few seconds and got up enough courage to say what he wanted to say. "He loved you."
Maggie huffed. "Daryl Dixon didn't love anyone. Well, he did once, and it sure as heck wasn't me."
Glenn smiled sadly. "He loved you. I could see it in the way he looked at you, the way he stuck up for you, the way he spoke to you, the shit he let you get away with. Have you ever known Daryl to let anyone tease him and rag on him without having him blow a gasket? He let you get away with it, though didn't he? I had suspected that he had more than a little crush on you, and when he gave you his knife, he confirmed my suspicions. I don't know if he even realized it, but I could tell he really cared for you. I think you could, too. "
Maggie started to protest but Glenn put his finger to her lips and shushed her. "Its okay, Maggie. He never would have acted on it. I know that. Just like I know you would never act on your feelings for him."
"I didn't have.."
Glenn laughed quietly, "Oh you did, too. Its okay. Neither of you meant for anything like that to happen. I'm really sorry about Daryl, Maggie and I love you very much."
Maggie held Glenn tightly. "I love you, too."
Andrea saw the first four invaders break from the tree line and make a dash for the fence. In a second, she braced herself against to the window, brought the Shrike up and pressed the butt firmly into her shoulder. The soldiers in the woods were laying down cover fire and Andrea heard it hitting the wood in the side of the house below her. She aimed for the closest man, pulled the trigger and held it. The Shrike spit bullets and Andrea took her finger off the trigger after seeing one of the intruders fall, screaming, to the ground. She'd hit him in the legs and she winced when she saw that the Shrike had partially amputated them. 'Thats what a big gun that shoots 13 rounds a second can do', she thought. She heard Rick's Shrike answering the gunfire coming from the woods and Andrea scanned the fence line quickly before finishing off the soldier she had hit in the legs. Rick had shot another one of the soldiers and Andrea took down the third and the fourth one as they reached the fence.
The invaders were shouting and two tried to retreat. They had expected that their attack would be a complete surprise and hadn't counted on encountering this kind of fire power.
Rick scowled. Something was wrong here. This was too easy. He held the trigger on the Shrike again and the gun rat-a-tat-tatted as he shot down a soldier approaching the fence. A series of shots from an AK74U rang out and Rick heard the scream of bullets as they whistled by, inches from his head. He could feel the displacement of air as they passed and he dropped to the floor and to the side of the window and grabbed the mirror from his shirt pocket. He tilted and turned it as he raised it slightly. He could hear Andrea's gun blasting away from the floor above him. The mirror reflected the image of two soldiers on their stomachs, sliding along the roof of the garage. He was going to blast the hell out of the assholes on the roof. Rick sat up and stuck the barrel of the gun out of the window. He couldn't have been more surprised when the tip of an AK74U was jammed into his cheek and an angry voice said, "Drop the fuckin' gun, asshole."