A/N: I was so bummed about Andrea and completely blame the writers for making her character so weak. The comic Andrea would never have been sucked in by Phillip. More important was that I thought Laurie Holden was amazing as Andrea and did such an amazing job transforming from a woman so broken to such incredible strength. I'm actually looking forward to the next season without Mazzara. Hopefully the show will align more with Darabont's season 1. I just hope these decisions are truly story driven and not budget driven. The constant change in story-runners does worry me. Hopefully the Reedus coalition will keep him on. But we saw so much more emotion last season. The only tender moments Daryl had was the moment where he named Asskicker, then with Merle. Keeping my fingers crossed. Would love to hear your thoughts

Reviews: You guys gave me such amazing reviews last chapter. I struggled so badly with it, so to have such great input from people who love these characters like I do is so amaxing.

Note: I will be taking a hiatus from this story as I started it in attempt to stay true to the TV storyline. My previous attempts at guessing what the writers would do proved disastrous, so despite my creative changes I will wait for the return. Aaahhhhh. October, so far away. I will likely start a new story or try and get reinspired to focus on my old stories. Input is appreciated. I love you all and have so much fun sharing my Daryl obsession with you all. Here's to fan fiction helping us make it to October!


Chapter 17 - What Then Must We Do


"Hey...How is she?" Daryl had never seen his brother like this. Caring about someone other than kin. This was even more than that. On the one hand he was thrilled that Merle was showing a more compassionate side of himself so the group could hopefully one day accept him. But on the other hand, he understood why Glenn and Maggie couldn't accept Merle under any circumstances and maybe never would.

"Doc says she'll heal. Lots of cuts but most of 'em relatively shallow. Just meant to inflict the most pain but not so she'd bleed out. Beat the shit outta her ribs too," Merle said with utter disgust and contempt, then stood up and began pacing the small room. At that moment Lane walked in carrying some mugs and a thermos of coffee.

"I thought this might help. I figured you weren't a tea man, so I brought coffee...strong and black," Lane sat the mugs down on the table and turned to face the two Dixon men.

"Thanks!" Merle numbly accepted the warm mug, actually appreciative of Lane's efforts. Lane caught the look of surprise on Daryl's face but just smiled reassuringly at him. She had to make this effort for Merle, and for Daryl.

"They'll be coming for us. Not tonight...he'll want time to plan his retribution. But he'll come...likely tomorrow. And we can't defend this place. Not against his trucks and rocket launchers," Merle had never felt so defeated, not even when he'd been chained to the roof. Suddenly that felt like a lifetime ago rather than less than a year.

"They have rocket launchers?" Lane felt the air whoosh out of her as the reality of their situation truly hit her.

"Fuck us!" She exclaimed then clasped an embarrassed hand over her mouth as she realized she had said that out loud.

"S'bout right Lane," Merle had been clean for a long time but had a real hankering for some 'Irish' in his coffee 'bout now.

"No way. I ain't just gonna give up!" Daryl began pacing back and forth between Merle and Lane. "Not to that asshole."

"Maybe we don't have to?" Lane's computer-like brain began cycling through any and every possibility.

"Whatcha thinkin' gerlie!" Merle frowned but was strangely intrigued by a new glint in her eyes.

"I'm not sure. It's just that we've been going back and forth trying to choose between fighting or running? Maybe we do a little bit of both?" Lane was starting to formulate the kernals of a slightly crazy plan.

"Hummmm?" Merle began to get an idea of where she was going ...and liked it.

"What the hell are ya'll two thinkin'?" Daryl hated being the only one not in things.

"It's just that I overheard Michonne talking with Rick and got to thinking. She said 'We don't have to win. We just have to make it more trouble than it's worth to come after us.' So, if we can't have the prison, then we make it their grave." Lane was more than a little surprised at how blood thirsty she had become. She wasn't ambivalent about the Governor's death. She craved it.

"What? Like set up booby traps?" Daryl was starting to put it all together. "This ain't the Goonies!"

"I loved that movie and Yes, that is what I'm thinking, just times a thousand. I mean we had an advantage with the towers. But if they can just blow us up in them, then we're nothing but sitting ducks. So lets let them think they have us pinned down. Maybe set up some dummies and decoys? You're the one who said this was terrorist guerrilla warfare," Lane reminded Daryl.

"Hold on a sec. I'ma go get Rick," Daryl felt a surge of excitement but was starting to feel weird planning things without Rick.

Lane and Merle sat there and watched Daryl shut the door behind him.

"Christ! I didn't think that boy's nose could get any further up Officer Friendly's ass but apparently I was wrong," Merle snorted as he put his coffee down. He never expected the flat handed slap that stung his cheek before he even could turn around.

"Don't you ever talk about you brother like that in front of me. I get that your jealous and this is your 'thing'. Your way of coping. But the fact of the matter is that Rick has been there for Daryl and you haven't." She waited for the words to sink in before she continued.

"But you have a chance now to make it right. Don't screw it up by being stupid!" Lane softened her tone as she saw just how badly her honest talk was hurting Merle.

"You can be a real cunt ya know!" Merle looked away but then turned back to look her in the eyes. In that moment she saw all the hurt and regret Merle had been living with.

"That means a lot coming from you. I'm sure you've met quite a lot of cunts in your life so are quite the expert," Lane smiled at him as she forced the offensive words across her lips.

Merle stared at her somewhat incredulously and then his face contorted from rage to one of respect...then a woeful smile. And before he could respond to her scathing diatribe, Rick entered the small infirmary room, quickly followed by Daryl and Glenn.

"Daryl tells me you two have some ideas?" Rick felt like the odd man out for the first time. And Lane could sense it.

"Yeah, well we've been vascillating between the two options we thought we were limited to, without considering a third," she escorted Rick and Glenn to a seat, pouring them both some coffee and keeping Glenn as far from Merle as possible. The way Rick and Glenn seemed to immediately relax under her ministrations gave Daryl a new respect for her diplomatic abilities.

"And this third option?" Rick's eyes still held the clarity she had initially seen in him. That same clarity that had built up such loyalty among the group.

"Well, first off it might mean losing the prison. They'll be coming here, expecting us to fight it out tooth and nail. I say we try and provide that illusion long enough to draw them in...then turn it into their grave. In Merle's words, we booby trap the place. They can't get out through the back because its crawling with walkers." Lane paused with a deep breath as she looked to Rick for his thoughts on the matter.

"And when they all start running back out, we pick them off like a turkey shoot," Merle finished, a low chuckle rumbling from his chest at the image. Even Rick's eyes seemed to gleam as the first glimmer of real hope blossomed.

"Do we have what we need to make this happen? Time to set it all in place?," Rick began pointing out the very real flaws in the plan. But Lane welcomed his discerning skepticism. They would need to explore any and all possible points of failure to ensure this was a success.

"I seen tanks full of diesel, fishing wire, piping. I think we got what we need to for some IED's." Merle offered up his support. "Have to go old school though and use trip wires and pressure."

"How many people do we need to stay here? I want as many people as we can get safely away from here," Rick knew he'd still have the ultimate responsibility of deciding who stays and who goes.

"We also need to present this to the group. But first of all I have to apologize." Rick suddenly turned to Daryl, placing a warm hand on his shoulder.

"I've said it to the group but not yet to you Daryl. I had no right to make you choose...between us and Merle" Rick choked up as he faced what he had asked of Daryl. A man he loved like a brother.

"I really like this plan. So lets see if we can make this work," Rick looked around the room and for this first time in a while he had everyone's full support.


"Are you kidding me? No way! I am staying here and fighting with you!" Lane's arms were crossed and she actually stomped her foot. If she wasn't so utterly pissed at him right now, he'd have thought she never looked more beautiful.

They had immediately explained the outline of the plan with the group and once everyone was in agreement Rick decided which core group of people would head out as soon as they could pack their belongings. That core also involved outfitting the RV as a pseudo medical facility and the rest as safe transport, leaving the others there to fight.

Rick ended up selecting Ethel, Miriam, Hershel, Carl, Beth, Judith, Carol, Mariel, Maggie and Lane to leave the prison and wait for them in a secluded area about a half hour in the other direction. It was an old hunting camp that Daryl felt sure would be hard to find.

That left Tyreese, Alan, Ben, Sasha, Glenn, Merle, Martinez, Daryl, Rick, Andrea and Michonne to stay and fight at the prison. Sure, the selection was decidedly sexist and ageist but Rick couldn't afford to be politically correct at the moment.

"You know you need every able-bodied fighter we have!" she continued to plead her case.

"Lane, you're right. But I need some of our fighters to protect the others. Just in case they get past us, we'll need you, Maggie and Carol to protect the others. Hershel can shoot fine but with only one leg, he's got limited mobility. Mariel isn't even on her feet yet...and Judith?," Rick was filly prepared to continue trying to convince her. A few weeks ago he would have just made it a flat out order...but those days were gone.

Lane felt her choices being stripped away and a gaping hole of worry was building in her heart. Instead of continuing her appeal to Rick, she turned to face Daryl.

"Please don't ask this of me?" She had given up holding back her tears and before long she had snot running out of her nose and it was no longer 'pretty' crying. But she didn't care...and Daryl still thought her the most gorgeous woman in the world. This amazing woman "was actually crying for him.

"You have to! What if yer pregnant?" He tried to joke with her, except the croak of emotion in his voice sounded very far from teasing.

"I'm not pregnant and you very well know it," she protested but couldn't help but imagine the possibility given the way they'd been going at it. They'd tried to be careful...but...things didn't always go as planned.

"You could be and just don't know it yet!" He sounded like a naughty child trying to get away with something as he twisted the facts around her heartstrings. "And I want you and our baby safe and sound with Hershel and Mariel."

"You sneaky yellow belly manipulative son of a..." She lost the nouns to express her exasperation with him, mostly for making her want things she knew would likely never be.

"I love you too!" Daryl whispered into her with a soft kiss then smiled at her which only brought on a new round of crying by Lane.

"I swear to God, Daryl Jerome Dixon. If you don't come back to me safe and sound... I'll drink myself into oblivion and then kill myself," she did her best to sound serious.

"Not if you're pregnant, you won't!" He tried to sound confident and diffident but the impact of his words told another story.

"I love you too," she sighed and finally gave in, resting her head on his shoulder as he pulled her into his arms. They stood that way until Merle eventually dragged his brother away and they all went to work.


"Its this waiting that sucks," Lane kicked the tire of the RV as she paced around outside while Maggie stood atop the RV keeping watch. They were about twenty miles away from the prison but in the opposite direction of Woodbury, a very wooded, obscure area at that.

"Yeah, I know. And it never gets any easier!" Maggie quietly agreed, both women in the same boat except Maggie had a little more experience. She wished she had encouraging words to share or something but both women had seen too much to try and bullshit one another. After three hours or so Carol walked out of the RV to take watch and give Lane a break from pacing the perimeter.

Lane was reluctant to leave because at least patrolling gave her something to do to take her mind off things. But she was starting to feel pretty tired and despite the emotional toll of the day, she knew wallowing was a luxury none of them could afford. With thanks she handed her weapon to Carol and joined the others inside, gratefully accepting the half sandwich handed to her.!

"He'll be here soon, Lanie!" Ethel squeezed her niece's hand then slowly stroked her back in a soothing rhythmic motion. "They all will."

"Thanks Auntie!" Lane knew she was being told what she wanted to hear but it felt nice anyway. She needed something to ease her fears and help her deal with the intensity of all these new emotions.

"It's just so strange and terrifying. I mean two months ago I never even knew him. And then it was like 'BAM'! Now I can't imagine life without him, which only makes my heart break for what Rick has been going throught," Lane leaned her head on Ethel's shoulder while the older woman gently stroked her back. The thought of continuing this life without Daryl was almost more than she could bear. Moreover was the grim realization that even if he did return, this is what life would likely be for them now.

"Aw Sweetie! That was exactly how I felt the first time Miriam walked into the room. I'd been confused, but at that moment I KNEW. She had been the one I'd been waiting for. It wasn't like that whole 'she completes me' or anything. It was more that she made me better. Or she made me want to be better. I wanted to be the person that she seemed to see, you know?" Ethel's eyes became weepy at the happy memories.

"I love you both so much, you know that right?" Lane was also weeping as she hugged Ethel close. "Thank you."

"I think I'll go back and check on Mariel," Lane leaned over and kissed Ethel's cheek then stood up and headed to the rear of the RV, pausing a moment to compose herself. With a deep breath she slid open the RV pocket door that led to the bedroom where Mariel was laying.

"How are you feeling?" Lane gently sat down beside the injured woman on the bed. Mariel's color was better, but she was still quite fair which only made her bright emerald eyes stand out even more. Even the dark circles under her eyes had nearly disappeared.

"Better than I deserve I expect. I should get up though," Mariel was unused to lying about and felt strangely uncomfortable, like she was playing hooky or something. "I hate not helping out."

"And do what? Help my aunt Miriam drive or something? Sorry but that's been my Aunt Ethel's role my entire life?" Lane tried to sound light-hearted even though her own was breaking. "All that's left for us is to wait and pray and I think you can do that while you rest. The Governor did quite a number on you so take some time to heal. There'll be plenty of work soon enough, I promise." Lane lightly patted her leg.

"So you're in love with Merle's brother, Daryl?" Mariel asked though it wasn't much of a question, merely a fact.

"I am. And you and Merle?" Lane wasn't quite sure she was ready to discuss her most private feelings with a stranger...one from Woodbury no less.

"I'm not exactly sure. I care of course. And I always feel slightly off balance around him. Like I'm dizzy and need support but I'm not quite sure if its a good thing or bad," Mariel chuckled until the pain from her bruised abdomen and ribs brought about another sharp pain from the Governor's beating.

"He saved me and I care deeply for him, but he seems hell bent on doing his best to make it hard for me. I wonder if that makes it more or less if you ever break through?" Mariel sighed and turned away, aware of just how much she had revealed.

"He cares deeply, I can tell you that. It even shocked Daryl by how much. He is so tender with you. Not to go all armchair psychiatrist on you, but I'm afraid Merle doesn't feel worthy of you. Because of the things he's done. It won't be easy," Lane told her honestly.

"I'm thinking you and I need to form a pact. Or maybe a club. Just the two of us. An 'It's hard to love a Dixon' club. We can meet weekly and discuss," Lane actually managed to croak out a chuckle. "Maybe have a song?"

"I think just about any country song would likely work," Mariel smiled at Lane, surprised at how quickly she was easily becoming friends with her. It had been such a long time since she'd had a girlfriend to have discussions like this with.

"I've only heard a bit about Daryl, but Merle loves him more than his own life. Merle will bring Daryl back to you," Mariel sensed that Lane needed reassurance and almost by saying it aloud, it gave her hope as well.

"And who is going to bring Merle back?" Lane wasn't so naive as to believe in fairy tales and that good would always win out over evil.

"Merle. Always Merle. No matter what the Governor ever had him do, he always returned. So I have to believe he will return tonight," Mariel's green eyes glowed with conviction...and emotion.

"Do you love him?" Lane asked, knowing full well all the hateful things Daryl's brother had done. Could she get past them.

"I don't know. At times I think maybe I could. But what I'd really like is the chance to find out," Mariel groaned in more pain as she struggled to sit up.

"Here, take thee!" Lane handed her two pills from the bottle Hershel left for her but Mariel waived them away.

"I took enough narcotics for a lifetime I think. Do you have any plain old Tylenol," Mariel was still scared at how close to dying she'd come. Granted it had likely save her life and kept her from going into shock, but it still scared her.

"We do somewhere. But I'm just not sure where everything is. Compromise and take just one, and I'll ask Carol to find the regular." Lane held the single tablet out with a bottle of water and Mariel conceded gratefully.

"I'll get you some crackers and soup," Lane quickly returned with a box and handed her two thin crisps and a mug of instant chicken broth which Mariel forced down, more to halt the nausea than actual hunger.

And the two women waited.


"Someone's coming!" Beth called from above the RV, binoculars in hand. Everyone scurried into motion, grabbing weapons and surrounding the RV.

Lane's heart was going a mile a minute and every second felt like an hour as she waited for Beth to identify the driver.

"It's Glenn ...and Sasha!" Beth screamed with relief as she was able to make out the drivers. As soon as she could tell they were friendlies, Beth scampered down the ladder and joined the others.

Soon Glenn was racing out of the truck and into Maggie's arms, sweeping her up and holding her tight while she cried tears of joy into his neck. Sasha approached the group tentatively, while everyone else stood there waiting impatiently for news.

"What happened? Where are the others?" Lane begged to hear that everyone was ok...that Daryl was ok.

"We ran them off. The plan worked brilliantly. We got half of them at the prison but some twenty or so managed to run away. Rick and the others went after them to end this." Sasha filled everyone in. But the look on her face told Lane there was more.

"We lost people." Glenn pulled away from Maggie to give everyone the bad news. Lane's heart was nearly beating out of her chest as she stood there waiting.

"Alan and his son were shot. And we lost Andrea..." Glenn told the group, wiping tears from his eyes for Andrea.

"No!" Carol wailed at the loss of her friend. The one who had saved her back at the farm.

"Daryl?" Lane needed Glenn's reassurance.

"Went with Michonne and Rick to get the Governor. Tyreese and Merle are securing the prison until we get back," Glenn finished, himself looking weary and drawn, but still grateful.

Lane turned away for a minute to get herself together. While this was technically good news, there was still so much loss and heartbreak. And so unnecessary. And until she saw Daryl with her own two eyes she'd still be on edge. And she actually felt guilty at her relief that it had been Alan, Ben and Andrea that died rather than Daryl. What kind of person did that make her?

With heavy hearts they all returned to their vehicles and the caravan headed back to the prison.


When they drove back to the prison, they were all still worried they might have to run again, so nobody unpacked a thing. In fact they primarily gathered in and around the RV, carefully tucked between the concrete buildings.

"Merle!" Lane ran to the filthy sweaty man and gave him a big hug. To her surprise, Merle bear hugged her in return and swung her around and around until she begged him to stop.

"So? Do you think this is it? That its really over?" Lane prayed for Merle to confirm her hopes.

"It aint gonna be over til we got the Governor's head on a stake, but it'll be a while til he even thinks a comin' back. It'll give us time to track him and take him down. He took heavy losses though," Merle analyzed.

"Yeah, but so did we, Merle. So did we," Lane reminded him and even Merle started to crack his steely facade.

"I hate what happened to Blondie. We became friendly sorts back when she first came to Woodbury, in spite of me bein' such a dick. Called her a 'rug-muncher' and shit. Still, she was the one that told me Daryl was still alive and the best place I could start looking for him," Merle's fists clenched and unclenched and he was desperate to hit something. That the Governor actually smiled when he shot Andrea, made his blood boil with a desire to slowly fillet that pig limb by limb.

"Merle, I think there's someone else who would really like to see you and know you're safe," Lane gently shoved him in the direction of the RV. She watched him hesitate but with another gentle push he entered the RV to see Mariel.

"Where are they? They should be back by now?" Lines of worry strained Lane's face as she stared out over the prison yard. They'd been back at the prison since yesterday. The sun had just come up, and still nothing.

"I'm going after them," Merle finally had enough and left to gather his gear. The look of worry on his face only serves to reinforce her own fears.

"I'm going with you," Lane turned and ran to catch up with Merle.

"Ya ain't! Ya know Daryl wouldn't want that!" Merle tried to do what his brother wanted, and that was to ensure her safety.

"Well he isn't here is he. And if you leave me I'll just head out on my own," she stood her ground, staring at him stubbornly.

Merle shook his head, rubbing his closely shaved head in frustration. How his brother put up with her mouthiness he'd never know. He groaned out an epithet ...and then he heard it. The faint rumble of his motorcycle. He craned his neck around to look.

"Do you hear it too?" Lane's voice quivered in anticipation as she turned and ran towards the fence, Merle with her the entire way.

"I see my brother, but what the fuck's up with the big-ass bus?" Merle squinted to sharpen his focus.

Merle helped her open the gate and Daryl drove in, the beaten up bus drove in next, followed by the truck with Michonne and Rick.

Lane really could have cared less if all the dwarfs in Oz were in that bus, she was so grateful to see Daryl. She raced to him, catching him off guard as he barely hopped off Merle's bike in time to catch her.

"You're ok...You're ok." She repeated over and over into his lips which were now crashed down so hard on hers she tasted blood, his tongue frantically taking control.

Daryl couldn't get enough of her, not after mentally losing her. There was something intoxicating and powerfully intense about reuniting after such emotional loss. It wasn't until Merle's not-so-subtle cough finally interrupted the two.

Lane reluctantly pulled herself away and Merle stepped in to give Daryl that brotherly handshake half-hug they had done since they were kids.

"What happened?" Lane still hadn't heard if this was truly over and the damage and debris that still littered the yard told a frightening story.

"We went after the Governor, 'cept a few miles down the road we found their trucks and nearly all their people slaughtered...except for one." Daryl rapidly spoke, still unable to believe anyone would do such a thing, even the Governor. It wasn't just cruel. It was stupid.

"The survivor hid under a body and told us how the Governor turned on them and started shooting. Just because they refused to turn around and attack us after gettin' their asses whooped. This one woman hid under one of the dead bodies until the Governor and two of his henchmen left," Daryl finally finished telling what he little he knew and Lane's jaw was wide open in utter and complete shock. What kind of person could do such a thing?

"And the bus?" Merle kept watching as people he'd seen in Woodbury began to slowly walk off. And by slowly, he meant barely able to navigate the bus steps.

"They're mostly just kids and old folks from Woodbury. 'Bout twenty or so of 'em left. There wasn't anyone left in town to protect them so we went back to town, grabbed the supplies and brought them all back here," Daryl sighed, envisioning how much more work there was going to be to keep everyone fed.

"Let me guess? That was Officer Friendly's call? Guess it'll be up to you and me to be back huntin and feedin' all them folks," Merle's voice was oddly excited rather than the surly reluctance which was what he was going for.

"Yea! But there will also be more people to help finish clearing this place. Fortify it! Maybe get back to our plans of planting crops and even have some chickens and cows?" Lane tried to look on the bright side, but well aware there was a lot of work necessary to repair the damage from the Governor's onslaught, much less make any headway.

"And the Governor?" Lane remembered what Merle said about needing his head on a stake.

"He's likely long gone by now, if he has a lick'a sense," Daryl's jaw clenched with desire for revenge.

"He'll be back, little brother! Not for a while maybe, but mark my words, he'll be back. His sick mind won't ever let this go." Merle knew this in his bones. He would just have to make sure he was ready when it happened...that they were all ready. Merle realized he was starting to feel a twinge of belonging...maybe not for the whole group exactly, But definitely with his brother, Lane and her crazy aunts...and maybe with Mariel. And even crazier, Merle realized he wanted and needed to belong.

There was no grande celebration that night, like Lane had at one time envisioned in this fantasy in her head. Everything would go perfectly and they'd defeat the Governor and lose none of their own. But instead they were mourning Andrea, Alan and Ben, while the all newcomers were nearly in shock by all they'd lost.

Not only were they mourning the deaths of nearly thirty loved ones, but they'd lost the town and way of life they'd been so grateful for. And then to learn the deaths were at the hand of the man they'd all put their faith in? It was more than some of them could handle. Hershel decided it was best to sedate some of them.

They buried Andrea beside Lori and T-Dog and Alan and Ben were laid to rest beside Donna. But that was a luxury, since the folks from Woodbury would not going to even be able to do that. All they had were Rick and Karen's (the sole survivor) assurances that their loved ones weren't walkers.


After the chaos of getting everyone fed and settled somewhere for the night and new watch details assigned, Lane and Daryl finally managed to sneak away to the RV. Her aunts were already sound asleep on the sofa which was folded out.

"Auntie's!" Lane protested. "We can sleep there! You two should take the bed!"

"Go on you two. You've both had a long day and need the rest," Miriam lifted her head, but Ethel was already slightly snoring beside her, her arm snug and tight around Miriam.

Daryl felt awkward and wondered if maybe he should go bunk in with his brother, but one look at Lane's face and he knew he'd get over it. After quick lukewarm showers they both crawled exhaustedly into bed.

Lane curled up close to his warmth and he put his arm around her so her head was resting on his shoulder. Daryl wasn't sure if there was anything that felt this great...except there was one thing.

She placed soft little kisses on his hard, warm chest and her leg threaded between his. He wanted nothing more than to roll her over and bury himself inside her. But he held himself in check.

"What's wrong?" Lane leaned up to whisper, her hand resting gently on his chest.

"I cain't. Not with yer aunts right there," he muttered, half pissed half embarrassed. "Ain't respectful!"

Lane leaned up to stare at him, unable to believe he'd just made her love him even more. Without thinking she began gently stroking 'him'.

"Stop it," he mumbled but didn't push her hand away. Lane reluctantly removed her hand but only to lift up and gently kiss his lips.

"Ya know, I'm having a little trouble breathing in here. Don't you think it's a wee bit stuffy?" she whispered then laid back down, resting her head on his arm and closing her eyes. She felt his lips at her temple gently kiss her.

"Maybe... if yer havin' trouble breathin' an' all we should consider sleepin' outside?" his voice was low and husky and warm against her skin.

"We do have to take our health into consideration," Lane obediantly agreed with his assessment. She silently scooted out of bed and reached her hand out to him.

"Let's go," Lane offered her hand to him, then Daryl completely took charge. They snuck out of the RV, while Ethel and Miriam silently smiled in approval, knowing exactly why those two needed to leave.

Daryl had Lane gathering up linens and such while he quickly set up the tent nearby. Lane joined him, carrying an armload of blankets as well as a blowup bed.

"Come 'ere!" He called to her, once everything had been set up. Lane smiled at him with that look of desire that still floored him. But to his surprise, she shook her head and ran back into the RV. Within minutes she had returned with these fake little tealights that looked like candles, along with a bottle of wine and two glasses.

She poured Daryl a giant glass of the Cabernet then one for herself, and silently they sat there drinking and absorbing all that had happened today.

"I feel so guilty that we have tonight but Andrea doesn't. And all I could think of was how grateful I wad that you were safe," Lane admitted to him her deepest fears...and the guilt she felt.

"That's just the way it is. But I really NEED you to let me keep you safe," Daryl leaned up over her to make his point.

"I don't expect an accomplished woman like yerself to understand this, but its somethin' I need to do fer ya." Daryl had bared himself to her and prayed she understood even though it might not align with her equal rights sensibilities. "I need ya to let me protect ya!"

Lane cupped his face with both her hands as she straddled him, stunned by how much she could love this man.

"I will try really hard to handle this better next time...be braver when you have to leave. Because we both know there will be a next time...whether its when you have to go off hunting or to kill the Governor or whatever else we will face." Lane's face softened as she stared at him.

"I just didn't expect loving you could hurt so much," Lane admitted, then bent over to kiss him, surprised by how urgently he changed the kiss. This kiss wasn't soft and gentle and comforting. This was raw, voracious hunger.

Soon he had her naked, wet and flipped over, just about to bury himself in her. She threaded her fingers at the nape of his neck and pulled him tight, urging him on. He thrust into her, thrilled by the way she arched beneath him and clenched around him. But before he could continue, she slipped out and rolled over. Raising herself slightly on her knees, she turned her head and looked at him, eyes heavy with desire and her hair mussed and falling down her back.

"Ya sure?" Daryl gripped her hips, unable to believe this was really happening to him with the woman he loved.

"I need you too!" Lane ran her tongue over her lower lip as she felt the moisture drip between her legs when his eyes sparked with desire. She felt his chest press against her back as he gripped her hips. His hands ran along her hips to her waist then up to her nipples and breasts. The way her tits dangled as if solely for his pleasure seemed to fascinate him. And Daryl enjoyed every minute. But Lane needed more. She needed him.

"Daryl?" She turned her head to look at him, her desire evident.

Seeing her face was too much. He ran his hand back down to position himself at her entrance, where she naturally tilted her hips to accept him even deeper. With a swift thrust he buried himself into her, enchanted by this new position that allowed him to lose himself in her.

-/-/-/

Daryl and Lane lay intertwined together in the tent both completely sated, her bottom snugged up against him and his arm draped possessively around her waist. And Daryl never felt so good. They both knew things were shit and tomorrow faced a world of challenges. But for now...in this one moment everything was perfect. Burying her face into his into her neck, he breathed deeply and closed his eyes and fell asleep.

thanks again to all who have reviewed, favorited and followed. Here's to Season 4