Title: Clearing

Number: 2/?

Warning: Language, violence, death, gore, blood, horror

Author's Note: I'm sorry for the wait! So if y'all haven't noticed, since this takes place between seasons 2 and 3, this is like replacement season 3. (I started writing this before season 3 came out.) So there won't be a Governor or Michonne or Merle, but I haven't figured out the fate of Andrea, Lori, Hershel, or T-Dog yet. It will all come to me sometime later. :) On a different note, wow, thanks for the feedback I've gotten! I very much appreciate it. :) (Note: Un-beta'd as of right now)


It wasn't a secret that Daryl was good at fighting. His whole life he had been getting into fights over one reason or another. He would admit, though, that most of those fights were Merle's fault and his father only persuaded Daryl to fight harder. Neither of those reasons led to Daryl's childhood being anything except fucked up and the only thing that changed his life at all was Amaleen and she completely turned it around. Her betrayal and the constant reminder of her being his first and only love weighed on his mind, the fact that she got away without telling him and just didn't even bother to tell him the truth is what bothered him the most.

So imagine his anger, the way he acted...Merle, his father, Amaleen. The main stressers in his life and the main reasons he was so damn good at his current job. He just imagined he was hacking at any of the three, putting a bullet or an arrow through them in a way to extract revenge from them fucking him up so bad.

Daryl and Rick went in guns (and crossbow) blazing. They had their knives tight in their hands and swung them as hard as they could towards the onslaught of walkers that started to come out of buildings around them. Shit, he thought to himself. They all knew it'd be a long, hard fight but there was more there than even they could anticipate. Daryl could already feel blood splattering him and he could hear the others around there grunting and panting as they dove in.

He saw T-Dog and Glenn start in the fight out of the corner of his eye along with Maggie. Hershel, Beth, Lori, Carl, and Carol back by the cars. Hershel would start firing if things got a little too out of hand. But deep down, Daryl was a man who wanted to protect those that couldn't fight from the things that could hurt them. He'd rather be chewed on by a walker before admitting that, though he had a feeling that a couple of his friends already knew, he was too proud to admit that he'd risk his life for the others around him before he'd save himself.

Daryl was shooting and slashing, his eyes tracking where his arrows went so he could gather them when he was done. He knew he'd lose a couple, but he he could always make some more. He watched as Rick moved, covering his ass the same way Rick was covering him. The same way T-Dog and Glenn were covering each other. He'd never say it out loud, but they were a family and he protected his family. Even if they decided they didn't want him, he was loyal. That was just a flaw he had.

When he heard moans coming from behind him, he turned just in time to keep a walker from getting too close to those standing by the car. Lori looked up at him in shock and he nodded once before turning back to help Rick and Glenn. He didn't know how many walkers were in this little shit-hole town, but he could tell from the way they kept filing out of buildings and houses that most if not all the township had been bit. He could see someone's attempts to board up some of the older, stronger buildings to keep walkers out, but he could see by the broken doors and he shattered windows that the attempt had been futile.

Daryl grunted as a walker crept up next to him, lunging at him, knocking the knife from his hand. He was fighting it to make sure it didn't get near his skin or try and take chunk out of him, grabbing at the extra knife stuck in his belt. He let out a yell as he was nipped at and plunged the knife into the thing's eye-socket. Carol quickly rushed towards him, grabbing his arm. Luckily no skin was broken and he gently pushed her away with a slight look as he then continued to stab the walker. When he was satisfied with its second death, he stood up, the front of his shirt drenched in sweat and blood. He knew he probably smelled worse than he looked, but when they cleared out a place, he would find the nearest creek and take a dip in it.

He ran around to collect some of his arrows having used most of them to shoot from farther away in effort to pull up the rear behind the other three. He reloaded quickly, but decided to drop the crossbow to swing around to his back and use his gun. He knew he was better with the crossbow, but the gun was easier to load and reload. Rick had already planned to find the nearest sporting good store or police station to grab their weapons, and it looked like it'd be even easier than they had originally thought.

Finally they started to make a dent after about an hour of fighting. Hershel, Beth, Lori, Carl, and Carol had picked up some weapons and started firing from their position by the car, Hershel taking lead. "Let's push them back a mile that way!" Rick yelled, pointing towards the tree line. "Once we get half a mile out, switch to knives and then get away quietly. I don't want to draw their attention back to town." The others agreed with him even if they didn't say it. Rick was the leader, they unanimously agreed even if some people fought or had their own opinions. Daryl sure as hell wasn't going to lead and Glenn wasn't up for it. Rick was a born leader.

Lori stayed towards the back with Beth and Carl while Hershel and Carol went to fight with the others. They needed it and they fought quieter than they ever had before. There were even walkers around they that didn't notice them until the wind sent their smell or until there was one of their own dropping to the ground next to them. They were all tired and won out, but they needed more cleared. At least to be safe for the night, they didn't need to go to sleep and wake up to find themselves surrounded by a herd.

Rick signalled them almost an hour in. He nodded once and pointed back towards the center of town. They all stopped their fighting, softly panting into the night air. Daryl's eyes flickered over the walkers that still milled about, not even looking in their direction. They slowly made their way back to the center of town, their steps dull and full of trepidation. None of them were comfortable with sleeping someplace unknown without having a cover of the perimeter. Daryl already figured he'd be up most of the night so he would offer to take watch.

Silently they grabbed supplies and went into the nearest building, it looked like it used to be a bank. If they knew they wouldn't get locked in, Daryl would suggest sleeping in the vaults. But it would be better to have windows, so with Glenn and Rick leading the way, guns raised, they made their way upstairs where the offices of the manager and other ranking employees were. They slowly split themselves up and were surprised to only come across one walker, the man they assumed was the bank manager himself as he looked like he was a walker from the twenties. T-Dog took him out easily and he and Glenn threw it out the window.

Rick took Lori and Carl across the hall while Glenn, Maggie, Beth, and Hershel took the room they were in. T-Dog and Daryl looked at each other and then shrugged, heading over to the smallest room at the back. T-Dog instantly laid down while Daryl grabbed his bag and dragged it out of the room. He grabbed his gun and mumbled to Rick where he was going before heading outside.

The sun was just setting and Daryl breathed in, hoping that he could just smell the scent of fresh air, but of course all he smelled was the rotting bodies of the walkers they took down. He grunted as he grabbed his knife out, walking quickly and quietly through the bodies. He didn't care of the others slept, he needed to be clean for once in his life.

Expert tracker that he was, he was able to avoid the most traveled paths—assuming they were walkers and animals both—and made it to a nearby stream without any headaches. He dropped his stuff to the ground and looked around before stripping to his boxers and sliding in. Luckily it smelled clean as it usually had remanence of walker in it, but it wasn't like he was going to drink it anyway.

As he cleaned the dirt, blood, and grime from his body, he couldn't help but stare up at the dusk sky. It seemed like the world was still the same the more he looked. He could almost hear the grinding of dirty tractor engines and the distant sound of hunters catching their prey. If he closed his eyes, he could almost smell freshly mown grass the the scent of pie from Mrs. Baker down the street. He couldn't help a small smile quirk the corner of his mouth. Even as he heard rustling far off into the woods, he pretended, just for a moment, that it was a random deer sneaking towards him and not the sound of a walker stumbling along the leaves.

He decided it was time to get out when the sun sunk behind the hills. He didn't want to get stuck in the woods without a flashlight, which made his face fall to a frown as he realized how idiotic it was to go out there without one. Getting stuck in the woods with walkers so close by wasn't something he was going to jump at the chance to do.

He grabbed new clothes from his bag and dunked his dirty stuff in the stream before heading back. He knew the women had enough on their hands without having to worry about washing his clothing, too. He was a grown man, besides. He didn't need to be looked after.

The trip back to town was quicker than the one to the stream. He stayed in his earlier path and made no sound as he crept back into the bank. Once inside, he found Rick's room and told him he was going to find the roof exit and take watch. He saw their fearless leader was too tired to argue, so Daryl left after that and made for the outer offices. He finally found it in a large janitor's closet. Taking his crossbow, a gun with a scope, and a knife he made himself a little perch on the roof and took a seat. He really wished he had some smokes and whiskey, but he just settled for some previously-boiled well water from the farm.

He watched as the sun completely disappeared, leaving the land in complete darkness. It was surreal to look over the landscape and see slight, slow movements of walkers down the road. He looked around and saw no other movement and was satisfied to sit down and make sure that the movement he could see didn't come closer. Taking a "hit" from the water jug, he slowly fell into his rhythm of watch, not once wishing he was one of them asleep downstairs.