Daryl Dixon had never been one to look at the big picture in regards to anything. Most people, he figured, made plans, thought about the future, maybe even wondered about their place in the grand scheme of things. Not him. Not once did he ever think about the next day until it reared its ugly head. He'd greet it the same way he always did, cursing and fumbling to turn off an alarm that always managed to come too soon.
That was until the moment when everything changed. The moment when he woke and didn't hear an alarm clock. The moment when nothing registered in his mind but pain.
It wasn't like pain was anything new to him. God knows he'd spent more than his fair share of time in it. Hell, the marks all over his body could attest to that. Still this...this was different. He could almost feel the life seeping out of him. His head pounded, his muscles ached and every time he moved or even breathed another wave of fire tore through his ribs.
Christ, what had he done to himself? How had he…? He tried to remember or even think, but it was like his brain was shutting down as static and fog began to build inside his mind. Jesus…maybe he was dying. The thought weighed heavy and for the first time he considered the possibility that he might not see another day. He'd never done it before. Maybe because he'd lived through enough shit to think it couldn't happen or maybe he never cared enough to worry about it in the first place. To think, after all was said and done, he'd wind...up…like...
He began to drift off, holding onto consciousness by the skin of his teeth. Sleep would have been a relief, but he fought it, afraid that if he didn't, he might not wake up again. He dug his fingers into the palms of his hands, forcing himself to concentrate.
It only took a moment for his body to tense, suddenly aware that something was moving near him.
Whatever it was, was heading right towards him. His adrenaline began to pump as he tried in vain to figure out how to defend himself from whatever was out there. It was an exercise in frustration. He could barely feel his arms much less raise them.
A groan died in the back of his throat, his body stilling at the sound of a voice...or was it voices? The throbbing inside his head was making it hard to tell. He tried to focus, listening as the voices came closer. He was sure of it now. There were at least two of them.
A dark shadow hung over him and he knew that they were close. He could feel them circling him, talking in hushed tones that gradually tapered off to silence. The quiet stretched for a moment and he forced his eyes to open, seeing for the first time the woods around him and the woman leaning over him.
Her eyes stared directly into his, her voice reassuring him, urging him not to move. He stayed still as someone grabbed hold of him, pulling his back up off the ground. The sudden movement made his head spin and he could feel a wave of nausea roll through his stomach. The woman held his face, slowing the dizzying blur around him. "Can you tell me your name?" she asked softly.
"Daryl." All he could manage was 'Daryl'.
The next thing he knew he was hovering over his feet, his arms draped over two sets of shoulders. He could hear his handlers panting and grunting as they struggled to carry him. His body ached with each jarring movement, his teeth gnashing together with every step. He tried to find his footing to take some of the load off, but he couldn't seem to control his legs. He figured he was doing more harm than good when a male voice uttered, "It's alright. We got you."
He stopped fighting after that, letting them drag him the rest of the way. He heard what sounded like a car door slam and figured he must have blacked out; because when he opened his eyes he could tell that he was out of the woods. His vision began tunneling and during one brief moment of clarity, he saw that he was on his side, his legs folded behind him, laid out across the back seat of a truck. He would have questioned the truss like positioning until he noticed the reason for it. There was a bolt sticking out of him.
What the fuck?
His mind churned, trying to determine when and how it'd happened. He felt his stomach lurch, suddenly aware that he didn't even know why he was in the woods in the first place. He closed his eyes hoping it would reset his mind, but it wasn't any use. He couldn't remember a single thing and the thought scared the shit out of him. He must have hit his head. That had to be it. Before he could begin to make sense of any of it, darkness slowly overtook him.
The next time he opened his eyes it was dark. He hoped that it was night because anything else was too disturbing to consider. He noticed that the hard feel of a truck seat was replaced by something much softer against his skin.
His clothes were missing, everything save for a pair of boxers he wasn't even sure was his. A shot of white hot rage ran through him. Who the hell had undressed him and why? He figured he was in a bed, but who's?
His eyes darted around him, searching for anything but darkness. One sliver, that's all he saw, one tiny, uneven crack of light that cut across the blank space beside him. It was something—a window maybe?
He swung his legs to the floor, groaning as his hand went instinctively to where the bolt had pierced his side. When he found what felt like a bandage, his apparently unwarranted rage began to subside.
Getting to his feet, he reached out his hand, fumbling to make contact with something—anything. It became evident he'd made a mistake in moving when he smashed his shin into something on the floor. "Son of a bitch!" flew out of his mouth before he had a chance to contain it. It must have been louder than he thought, because less than thirty seconds later the door to the room tore open, practically knocking him over. "What the—?" he croaked, staggering to stay on his feet.
He looked up to see the light of a lantern, illuminating the form of a woman. "Are you okay?" she whispered.
Apparently it was a rhetorical question because she didn't wait for him to answer. She set the lantern down on some piece of furniture he hadn't yet smashed a body part into. "You shouldn't be up," she gently scolded, ushering him towards the bed.
"Wait just a goddamn minute!" he barked. "Who the hell are you?"
She took her hands off of him, taking a step backwards. "Sorry," she murmured. "I didn't want you to rip your stitches."
He took a deep breath, running his eyes down the length of her—dark hair, a bit younger than him, not really tiny but slight. It didn't look like it would take a whole lot of effort to snap her in two. "I didn't mean to yell," he grumbled, suddenly feeling the need to take the edge off his tone. "I just want to know what the hell's going on."
"It's Daryl, right?" she asked.
He nodded reluctantly, confused as to how she knew his name. Shit, how hard had he hit his head anyway? He noticed her gaze traipsing over him, reminding him that he was standing in his underwear. He cut his eyes at her and dropped down on the bed, quickly throwing the sheet over him.
"I'm Sarah by the way."
Her name was a useless piece of information. What he really wanted to know is who she was to him and why he was lying half naked in some strange bed. He determined that she was a mind reader, because the next thing out of her mouth was, "You're probably wondering what you're doing here."
"Yeah, you could say that," he snorted.
"Daniel and I found you on the side of a ravine. It looked like you had a pretty nasty accident from the looks of that arrow that was sticking out of you."
For some reason the revelation that she was the one who found him knocked him off kilter. Lord knows he didn't like the idea of anyone seeing him in that condition, especially a woman. He decided to deflect the comment. "It was a bolt," he said brusquely.
"That thing that was sticking outta me is called a bolt. It's for a crossbow. Regular bows use arrows." God, now he sounded like a dick.
She nodded, biting down on the side of her lip. "Were you hunting?"
He didn't know how to answer the question. He had no idea if he was hunting or not. He decided to go with yes.
She nodded again. "Daniel found your crossbow in case you were wondering."
"I was," he said honestly, rubbing his hands down the sides of his face. "I guess I should thank you for looking after me. Hate to think what woulda happened if you hadn't." He glanced down at his bandage. "For this too."
"You can thank Daniel for that. He's the one who stitched you up."
He nodded, shifting uncomfortably on the bed. "How long have I been here?"
"Jesus Christ!" he snapped, causing her to flinch. She lowered her hands as if to tell him to keep his voice down. "I've been sleeping for two damn days?" he said a little more quietly this time.
"You were barely conscious when we found you. By the time we got you back here you'd passed out. It was probably a good thing in the long run. At least Daniel was able to take care of your wound for you."
"Guess so," he mumbled, more to himself than anyone else.
"I'm assuming you'll want to leave in the morning and get back to where you came from. We can take you there if you want."
Yeah, he wanted it. That's all he wanted. Now if somebody could just tell him where the hell he'd come from he'd be all set. He looked up at her, knowing he had to tell her something. Yes. No. Screw you. I want you to but I don't remember a damn thing…Son of a bitch.
He nodded his head again, not quite ready to delve into the fucked up nature of his situation. Besides, things might be different in the morning. Maybe he just needed a few more hours of sleep to straighten his head out…Right, as if forty-eight hours hadn't quite been enough for him. Christ, now he was deluding himself.
She picked up the lantern and turned towards the door. "Okay. I'll see you in the morning then."
She gave him a weak smile. He figured it was more out of pity than anything else. She'd gotten a good look at his scars and whatever she was thinking probably wasn't far off. He raised his mouth at the corners, straightening out the less than hospitable frown on his face. He didn't think he could manage a smile even if he wanted to.
"Try to get some rest," she said.
He laid his head back down on the pillow and pulled the covers over him. Easier said than done.
A/N: My intentions with this story are for it to be a re-imagined season two in which Daryl does not come back from his trip in the Chupacabra episode. Obviously, some things will have changed with the group on the farm, but I'm going to try and tie together what I think still would have occurred. I hope you enjoyed it.