Nothing much registered as she made her way down the long corridor of cell block C.

Nothing external, anyway. Inside her head, voices tormented her with all kinds of warnings.

What are you doing? Stop. You're being weak. Because you're weak. It's okay to be weak. It's okay to let it out. Only it's not. It's not. You can't. Go back. Tough it up. Get over it. Just get over it.

The battle continued, and with each step it got more and more gruesome, but her legs couldn't seem to stop. A terrible dream had disturbed her troubled slumber. She'd always been prone to nightmares, since she was a child, but this dream had been different. It'd been a dream in the sense that the scene took place in her mind. But it wasn't really a dream. Not really.

It was a memory.

Her body trembled as she recalled the images. Her wrists burned as she tried to calculate how many days she'd been chained in that room. She rubbed at her skin to get rid of the imaginary pain, but it still stung her deeply. She continued to fight with herself as she walked.

You're stronger than this. So much stronger. Go back.

Yet she couldn't. She couldn't turn around. She couldn't go back into that dark, lonely cell and fall asleep again. Because if she did, if she went in there alone and dreamed... she knew she'd dream of those days. Of those nights. Of the Governor.

Remembering the man's face made her nauseous and she had to stop, press her hand to a wall for a few seconds as she waited for the feeling to pass. She wanted to close her eyes but couldn't, knowing that if she did she'd see the images printed on the back of her eyelids. She took a few deep breaths instead, and when she finally began to move the voices screamed louder, but she ignored them. Her legs moved much faster, her breathing was ragged, and when she reached her destination she stopped with a gasp.

He looked up quickly and she dropped her head, trying to conceal her vulnerability. She could feel her hands shaking and she balled them into fists, reminding herself again to get herself together. She tried, but the dream was right there, right there, and the smell of The Governor still lingered. She felt the nausea return and for a moment she just wanted to run, but suddenly found her legs were locked in place.

"Hershel snores keeping you up?"

His voice brought her back to the moment and she jumped in place. Michonne looked at him with relief in her eyes and nodded, feeling small, but grateful for his discretion. He knew why she was there, this wasn't her first nightly visit. But he never bothered her about it, never asked her. Maybe he didn't want to know the details. Maybe he knew she didn't want to, couldn't talk about it. Maybe he was waiting for her to be ready. She didn't know. But she was grateful that he never asked.

He was so much like her. So guarded.

"Yeah," she replied quietly, looking towards the corner of his cell. Once again she thought of how much she hated this prison. The prison reminded her of Woodbury. The cells reminded her of him. Of his sweat and his skin and his hardness as he forced himself upon her.

"Ain't as loud from this side," Daryl said and Michonne suddenly felt a great relief. Her own voice warned her again against getting close, getting weak, getting vulnerable. But her body had other thoughts and suddenly she was in his bed, in the small space of his cot. She lingered there awkwardly for a second, but suddenly his arm found the curve of her waist and she felt as if a dam had broken inside of her.

She inched closer, pressing her body to his, gripping at the skin of his chest tightly. Her nails dug into his flesh but he didn't seem to care. On the contrary. He pressed her harder towards him and she felt the prickly hairs of his chin scratch against her forehead.

They were both so good at pretending. So good. Yet so shitty at the same time. She couldn't lie to him. He couldn't lie to her, either. After all, it was Daryl who found her in that cell back in Woodbury. It was Daryl who untied her wrists and broke her fall as her weakened body fell from its ties. It was Daryl who put her pants back on and it was Daryl helped her walk out of that room. Daryl who pretended not to know why she was limping. Daryl who ignored the blood collected at the crotch of her panties. Daryl who said, "she's just fine," when they were reunited with Rick.

It was Daryl, and only Daryl, who truly knew. And it was Daryl, and only Daryl, who could keep her together when the nightmares came.

The crook of his neck smelled like sweat and something southern. His arms were strong yet she still mutely begged at him to hold her tighter. She chastised herself mentally once more for being so weak. How the Governor would love to see her like this, broken, seeking comfort in someone's arms, scared, shaking. She could almost hear him laughing now.

"Better?"

The sound of his voice brought her back once more and her body relaxed against his. She nodded, not knowing why she could never look at him during nights like these. She felt his body relax, too, and soon they were both drifting, lulled by the rhythmic in and out of his breathing, to a place where there were no cells, no chains, and no Governor.

Before she got there she felt his hand stroke a line down her back and her fear dissolved. Her sleep was dreamless.

the end