Thanks to Cam90, BrodyMichael, qlara, liontaming, dallas laczny, vampirente, black leather, Avelo and SecretsAreHiddenByMe for adding this to your alerts/favorites list!
Readergirl66: Shocking, I know! What a way to start a romance, by shooting a girl in the leg (that's the dream!) Glad I really stunned you with that. Lots of emotional conflict now!
WaterWarrior6: I'd imagine he'd react about that way if such a lie were to occur. What a great way to find out indeed, now let's find out about the aftermath!
madisongjohnson: It's gonna be a long journey for her now, I didn't want a complete blowout quite yet and move on, I really want this to fester in the group as they try and puzzle out Ajax. That's a great question, and I wish I had some thoughtful, ingenious reply, but in all honesty, I came up with an idea for a girl to be in disguise, and I'm like, hmm, I wonder if that would work in the walking dead?! When I need to write down a five second idea, I tend to let it evolve into a story all in its own, and I think it's working!
BrodyMichael: Welcome to you, and I am glad that you are a fan, and that you picked my story out of a number of so many. I like to keep things mysterious so be prepared to be on your toes a lot! I also saw that you love the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, I totally got my books signed by him last December!
Leyshla Gisel: Haha, I know, way to go Daryl, getting all trigger happy! Oh, we all just make fun of Korean Glenn! Poor kid though, first Rick attacks him and now Merle's on his case, what gives?! Hehe, careful what you wish for Daryl, it may very well come true (totally in his face!)
SilverAdvenger12: I love me a slow romance, and it's easy to get carried away with a character like Daryl, so I want to go slow. Twinkies! They are getting impossible to find in America!
FanFicGirl10: At long last I get to the truth, now here comes the exciting part!
FourLetterlie91: Shooting a girl the first time you meet her, I'm not gonna say there will be problems, but it doesn't seem like a great start! He knows the truth though, so let's all rejoice in that fact!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the OC
They were both damp from trudging through the bush, but that wasn't the reason Daryl hadn't moved to help her up yet. He didn't want to have to touch her, and he wished she'd hurry the fuck up and stand all ready. Her leg was shaking from the pain, but he couldn't summon any amount of pity for that either. He was blinded by rage for the stupid bitch bleedin' out on the ground. All the shit he had shared with her he wouldn't have normally done if he had been aware that it was a girl he was drivin' 'round at the end of the world. Shootin' her in the leg he didn't regret at the moment, that actually felt pretty damn good. Given time though, he'd be thinkin' 'bout it later.
"Jesus, I know you have touchy-feely issues, but there's no way I can stand up…thanks to you." She was biting her bottom lip to combat the urge to scream and fuss, both at the pain and at Daryl.
"Hell." He bit back a retort as he went in quick to heave her to her feet. He went through the deed at a practical level, probably how an adult would lift a child up; under the armpits. Ignoring his discomfort for half a second, he was able to tell she weighed next to nothin', and he had her standin' on her feet in no time.
"Christ!" She exclaimed. It was too much to put pressure on her right leg, and she had it lifted carefully like a wounded animal, "This is going to be a fun walk back."
"Damn straight yer walkin', cause I ain't carryin' ya." He snapped in her face.
She glared half-heartedly, but it waned as she took her first step forward, "Well, if you could at least grab all my stuff together."
"The fuck lady, you want me to carry all yer shit back too?" He grumbled, though he ended up bending down to pick up her gun and bag for the sake of the group needing weapons, "Start walkin'."
She glared over her shoulder not fully trusting him to walk behind her while she had her back turned. It didn't bring her any comfort either that he had shot her in thinking it was James, it only made her think he was a damn asshole. She was huffing and puffing for air, dragging in oxygen greedily while her lungs felt on fire. The pain in her leg was hot, and she was tempted to remove the bolt, but knew it would be unwise to let the wound open up, allowing for more blood flow. They were lucky enough as it was to have no walkers on their trail yet. She couldn't hear Daryl behind her, other than the odd grunt or growl. She was hopping along rather slow, and it was probably getting on his last nerve.
"Keep your fuckin' head up." He snapped when she almost walked straight into the trunk of a tree.
"Seriously!" She cried while coming to a full halt, "My head's fucking spinning from blood loss here. I'm not exactly in shape to run a marathon!"
"Don't you pass out now." He grumbled. She was already leaning on the tree for support when he came up to her reluctantly. She let out a small gasp when he threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. They didn't say anything to each other, and he continued on through the bush at a much faster pace with her hanging limp over his shoulder. His hand was tense as he kept her in place and she could feel the strain it seemed to take on him just to keep her from falling. This was difficult for him she realized because he hated close contact with others. Each time her leg bounced, she gritted her teeth to keep from yelping out in pain. She was probably getting blood all over him too, but the man never seemed able to stay clean for too long anyways.
The short trip back had been too long for Daryl's liking, and he ignored the astonished stare coming from Dale atop the RV, "Is that Ajax?"
"Sure as Hell it ain't." He snapped back. He went through the door of the RV, loud enough to wake Glenn in the front seat, and Andrea who was sleeping in the back room. The blond woman was stunned for a moment when Daryl entered, while in the process dropping a red haired woman onto the bed next to her, "There, she's yer problem now!"
"Who is she?" Andrea asked while crawling over to Ajax.
Daryl didn't answer and he bumped shoulders with Glenn before leaving out the front door of the vehicle again. Dale had already climbed down the ladder, and came rushing in after to check on the person who 'wasn't Ajax', "Oh God!" Glenn exclaimed.
"Can someone get me that first aid kit, and someone who can stitch please?" Ajax moaned while she pulled herself into a seated position.
"Glenn, get Carol!" Andrea yelled at the kid, knocking him from his trance as he stared at Ajax with wide eyes. Looks like the secret was out now, and not in the way he had expected. The kid bolted from the RV in an instant, leaving her with Dale and Andrea.
"I don't normally like to say this, but I told you so." Dale chuckled to Andrea.
Andrea scowled, "Ajax, you're actually a woman?"
"Looks like it." She coughed, "You knew Dale?"
Of course he knew, the old man was a wise owl after all, "I had my suspicions when we left the CDC. Andrea didn't believe me."
"You're losing a lot of blood." Andrea commented while brushing aside Dale's gibe, "Why'd he shoot you?"
"It's complicated, but in his defense, he shot me before he found out I was a woman, so it's not like he was trying to kill me." She lied on her good side, while holding the bolt with her hand, "I need to get this thing out."
"Whoa, hold up a minute!" Dale said while stopping her hand with his, "Wait until Glenn returns with Carol. She's going to give you stitches."
"I'd do them myself if I wasn't ready to pass out." She mumbled. She was briefly aware of Andrea brushing her hair out of her face as her eyes began to flutter. The door of the RV crashed back open and Glenn came rushing back in while pulling Carol along.
"Oh God." The woman held a hand to her mouth in shock, "What happened?" Andrea began to explain the situation as she pulled Carol next to her on the blood stained sheets of the bed. It wasn't clear to anyone now if Ajax was still conscious when they started to fix the items they needed from the first aid kit. Glenn was biting his lip nervously as he dragged Dale back out of the bedroom in the back.
"Everyone else is awake outside, wanting to know what happened." He told Dale in a hushed whisper.
Dale took his hat from his head, wringing out the rain water in the sink of his little makeshift kitchen, contemplating what had just occurred in the early morning. It was still black outside, and he was worried about the commotion that was happening. What if walkers were close by? "We should settle them down by telling the truth."
"Yeah…yeah, I guess we should." Glenn mumbled, "Daryl's not out there with them."
"Then we should let him be. He's probably confused about what just transpired out there in the woods." Dale respected the young man enough to not bother him. Hell, he couldn't imagine what was going on in his mind after shooting a young woman in the leg; most likely guilt, "Let's go calm the crowd down."
He and Glenn stepped outside onto the cold highway where everyone was surrounding the RV in a circle. Confusion marked their tired faces that had been abruptly awoken from a restless night of sleeping. Lori caught Glenns eye, and he turned away with shame, knowing that the lie they had been keeping was just blown out of the water, "So, Ajax is a woman." Dale stated
"The Fuck? The one from the picture?" T-Dog asked.
"What picture?" Shane interrupted. He had his hands on his hips again, classic Shane as it were. That strong, agitated face of his seemed permanent since leaving the CDC, Dale knew because he'd been keeping tabs.
"When we was walking back from Atlanta, he—she, I mean, showed us a picture of her and her fiancé. Guess I fell like an idiot for calling her a nice piece of ass now." T-Dog mumbled while rubbing his neck.
"Where is this picture?" Shane asked sternly.
Glenn bit his fist, not entirely ready to let another secret escape tonight after making a promise, "She lost it." He was glad Daryl wasn't around at that moment, or he might not have been able to lie as easily.
"I don't think this is all that surprising." Dale interjected, "Didn't you think it was obvious by her size that she was a female?"
"Yes." Lori agreed, "I already knew, back at the CDC. I confirmed my suspicions behind closed doors after she revealed herself."
Rick's astounded gaze turned to his wife, looking both angry and betrayed, "Lori, why didn't you say anything?"
"It wasn't my call Rick. Glenn knew too, and didn't say anything."
Glenn's eyes widened while everyone turned to him with accusing glances. He frowned, silently thanking Lori for throwing him under the bus, "I've known since we first left Heavenly Grace." He admitted, "But Lori's right, she didn't want us to say anything for a reason."
"And that reason would be what?" Rick pondered while rubbing the side of his face.
Glenn opened his mouth and paused, "I don't know, she didn't tell me."
The conversation was interrupted when Andrea appeared back at the door of the RV, "We need some help in here! I can't get the bolt out."
Without question, Rick and Shane went following after her into the tight space of the vehicle. Ajax was sprawled on the bed, a tourniquet wrapped around her leg which was made out of torn bed sheets. Carol sat stunned, ready with the thread and need, but the bolt was still sticking at of the thigh at a queer angle, "Her blood isn't clotting. I'm sorry." She whispered.
"It's not your fault Carol." Rick said as he walked passed her, "Andrea, help hold her down. Shane, I want you to yank that thing outta her."
The deputy nodded while Carol took a step back from the room to allow him enough room to pull, "Ajax, you awake girl?" Shane asked as he gripped the bolt between his fingers.
"Barely, Deputy Walsh." She spoke into the side of the bed, her one hand fisting the sheet feebly, "This is going to be a bitch, isn't it?"
Shane smiled wryly, "Yeah, but we'll get it over with quick." Rick nodded to him to get started while Andrea and him held her thrashing body down and the pain was upon her.
Everyone was scattered outside while Dale took watch at the top of the RV. No one was quite sure on where Daryl had headed off too, but it was mainly the furthest thing from their minds. Everyone was watching the RV with nervous looks, awaiting the sound of shrieks from the agony Ajax was going through. Glenn was leaning against the RV while he watched Lori with Sophia and Carl. He didn't know what to say to her, even though it seemed evident there was plenty to be shared. Pointing fingers and naming names wouldn't really change anything though, and perhaps that was why no one had decided to break the silence.
"Daryl's coming back!" Dale announced from his watcher spot, "No one put any blame on him." He hissed out of ear shot to the approaching man.
Everyone understood why. It was because Daryl was already putting enough blame on himself. His head was down in a snarl as he attempted to hide the guilt he was feeling. He ain't ever laid his hands on a woman, and he sure as shit felt terrible for shootin' one. It gave these people the right to condescend now, and they probably had a grand ol' time blamin' him for stakin' the girl. He was desperate to avoid the situation, but no matter where he turned, there it was rearin' its ugly head at him.
"How are you doing son?" Dale asked as he leaned over the top of the RV.
Daryl raised his head to look at the old man, and decided that it was fuckin' annoying how he gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. He didn't answer the question as he went up to Glenn and Lori. They were watching him closely, almost scrutinizing him, and his brows pulled together into a scowl, "Did ya know?"
Glenn pulled himself into a straight position off of the vehicle. He was an open book and Daryl could already read the truth comin' off him better than the writings on a bathroom stall, "Uh, yeah I did. We both did." He gestured to Lori, who spared him a quick glance while she continued to babysit the children.
"Fuck." He growled under his breath, "You should have fuckin' said somethin'."
"We wanted to Daryl, but she didn't want anyone else to know." Lori argued. Apparently she was tired of sitting back on her boney ass, and only decided now to contribute somethin'. Her being cross at him for doin' somethin' by mistake was just the cherry on top.
"Why'd you shoot her anyways?" Glenn inquired, his one eyebrow raised.
Daryl scoffed, "Didn't she say somethin'?"
"She didn't have time. They're still working on getting the bolt out." His blue eyes surfaced to the RV after he processed Glenn's words. Fuckin' stupid bitch. He hated that he actually felt guilty, when she was the one lyin' in the first place. He'd done what he had to do, and it all ended up a big fuckin' mess.
The door of the RV opened again for what seemed like the thousandth time that morning. Shane stepped out, his hands bloody and his eyes stormy when he found Daryl. He tossed the bolt back to the redneck, who caught it easily, "Next time, don't go shooting someone from our group. Man or woman."
Daryl snarled back. Since when was the fuckin' deputy best friends with the Canadian? He looked back down at his hand where the bolt laid useless. He threw the thing to the ground when he noticed it was still warm and slick with her blood, "Fuck." He cursed.
"We should think about moving. The smell of the blood's going to attract walkers." Rick said as he stepped out after Shane. He looked relatively calm, even as he turned to Daryl ,"Don't listen to Shane, he's just upset. No one blames you here." He landed a comforting hand on Daryl's shoulder, but all he wanted to do was shake the damn thing off. He didn't need no coddlin' like a fuckin' child.
"Can I go see her?" Glenn asked Rick once he left Daryl alone.
"Sure, she's tired though. Lucky enough she passed out just as we got the bolt out. Thought we might have to muffle her screams with something, but I guess she knows better than we do." Rick smiled grimly as he walked back over to his wife and the children. The sun was just coming up over the horizon now, and they had at least survived the darkness as the warmth of the sun was beating down on their skin.
"Want to come?" Daryl's eyes snapped up to the Chinaman who spoke invitingly, "Do you want to come and see her?"
"I heard ya the first time!" He snapped, "And no, I don't need to go see some lyin' bitch. Christ, what's with you people?!"
"I just thought you'd want to apologize to Ajax." He regretted the words just as soon as they left his mouth. He was caught in a staring contest with Daryl who was fuming like a broken furnace. Glenn understood that he felt guilty, but Ajax probably wasn't holding anything against him. How could she, when she was the one who had been lying to the group to begin with?
"The fuck do I need to apologize for? And her name ain't even Ajax, so stop callin' her that!"
Glenn made a face, "Wait, did she tell you her name?"
Daryl huffed as he started to gnaw on his cuticle. The fuck, now he was in on the lie too? "Clever ass bitch." He knelt over to pick up the bolt, his hand trembling slightly as he went. He wiped it on his pant leg, and the red stain reminded him of her hair color. He'd already tried previously to wash off her blood from carrying her, but it looked to be a wasted effort on his part.
"If you come and see her, maybe she'll answer some of your questions." Glenn suggested. He couldn't explain why he wanted Daryl to come with him, though it might have had something to do with his curiosity as to why she'd told Daryl her name, and not him.
"I'll do it, if you shut yer trap!" Glenn hid his smile of triumph while even allowing Daryl to go first into the RV. The place was silent, and right away they ran into Carol who was holding a bundle of red sheets over the counter. Daryl had stopped moving, Hell, he even stopped breathing for a moment when he took a look at how much blood there was. His chest was tight and he thought he might start coughing.
"Oh Glenn, is Sophia alright?" Carol asked passed Daryl's frozen figure. They all seemed to take notice of him, but ain't no way in Hell was anyone going to ask him about his feelings.
"Uh yeah, she's with Lori and Rick." He muttered as he eyed Daryl's stoic face, "You can move forward you know." He urged him slightly.
"Hell, what's with all the blood?" His hands nervously started to twiddle as a child's would and Carol watched him with sympathy.
"She's fine." Andrea said when she stepped out of the curtained off room. The commotion was evident, and she had come to see if it actually was Daryl who had come in for a visit. Andrea never thought of him as a bad person, not like Merle anyways, and she even felt bad for him in this situation, "Her platelets are low, and she just bleeds more before a clot can form. She's awake right now, so you'd better get moving."
"Didn't think I stuck her that bad." Daryl continued to mutter, "Fuck it, I ain't got shit to say that she doesn't already know and I don't have to make excuses for you people!" He spat before forcing his way back out through the entrance that had become constricting and stifling to him.
"Well, I tried." Glenn mumbled as he watched Daryl exit the RV, slamming the door with brutal force.
"He just feels guilty is all." Carol replied. Her pale face smiled with grace, and she stepped aside to allow Glenn to move forward.
He took a breath before pushing back the curtains. Ajax's hair was fanned out around the pillows she was propped up against. She had no pants on now, and her one pale leg was thrown over the covers where he could see the freshly stitched wound glaring up at him. Her forehead was sweating, and her skin was fairer than the last time he'd seen her without her disguise. She gave a sluggish smile while waving her hand over, "I won't bite, it was only a Dixon that got me."
Glenn chuckled, "Yeah, he's sorry about that though."
"Oh I know. I heard him yelling. Remember, it's only a curtain blocking off this room."
Glenn took a seat on the edge of the bed, his weight dipping into the clean sheets, "You look good."
"Asshole." She murmured with a smile, "Shane says I'll probably walk with a limp for a while. It's funny, now that he knows I don't have a penis, he suddenly wants to be friends."
"See, something positive came out of being shot."
"I doubt it. They're only being nice because I'm laid out. Once I heal, I'm going to have to answer a lot of questions."
"Well, you could save yourself the trouble of one. How come Daryl knows your name before I do?" He feigned hurt and she gave a wavered grin.
"Did he tell you what it was?"
"Nope, he's in too pissy a mood. So, what is it?" He insisted.
"Jolene huh, nice to meet you officially."
"Yeah." She uttered, "I'm feeling regret now; wish I had told you all from the start."
"It might have made things simpler." Glenn pointed out as gentle as he could muster, "I think we're going to decide on where to move next. Probably Fort Benning by now."
"Well if it goes to a vote, tell them I'm for Fort Benning."
"Sure. Can I get you anything?"
"Nothing that I haven't already asked for, though if you could get my stuff from Daryl, that'd be great. I don't think I'll be seeing him any time soon."
"Well you never know." Glenn commented, but it fell on deaf ears because she was already sleeping again. Jolene: that was probably going to take some getting used to after he'd grown used to calling her Ajax. He figured she wouldn't mind him spreading her name around the group now, just for the sake of easing the transition along.
"Glenn, Rick wants to talk to everyone about our next move." Dale said as he poked his head back in again, "How's she doing?"
"Sleeping. I was getting ready to come back out anyways." He stood up off the bed, and Jolene didn't even stir. He walked with Dale back out of the RV, and everyone was gathering around Shane's jeep. Carol was now holding Sophia in front of her, her hands were still stained red from stitching. Glenn observed Daryl for a moment, and the man had his head bent down, watching everyone else's feet while he adjusted the strap of Jolene's bag on his shoulder. Glenn was tempted to ask for it back, but maybe now wasn't the best time after he had tried pressuring him into visiting her.
"I think if we plan our route right, and continue to scrounge like we've been doing, Fort Benning will be our best option." Said Shane confidently.
Rick stood in union beside his friend, nodding his head in affirmation, "I agree. We have enough fuel left to get us a ways from here, and if we ration our food right, there should be enough to last us."
"I'm leavin' the truck behind." Daryl commented idly to the group, "Thing needs too much fuel to keep runnin', and it'd be easier on Merle's bike."
"You're sure?" Rick confirmed.
"Yep, Imma go get my shit ready right now." He went off from his spot with little difficulty from the group. Already they were too damn busy listenin' to Shane makin' his smart plans. As far as Daryl was concerned, it wasn't no fault of Rick's that the CDC had gone so bad. Hell, ain't anyone he ever met had tried harder than the Sheriff to try and please a bunch of people he owed nothin' to. That made him alright; it might have even been possibly that Daryl had moved passed the transgressions of him leavin' Merle on that roof in Atlanta. Merle had probably deserved, Hell, had it comin' even.
Daryl had one last thing he wanted to get done, and now seemed a good of time as any, what with the group not payin' attention to what he was doin'. He scowled at the front door of the Winnebago. The thing was bein' held up by duct tape by now, and there just wasn't enough of the stuff left in the world to fix the ol' piece of junk if it suffered another break. He wasn't any penitent man, but he was makin' the effort for the first time today when he re-entered the quarters of the RV. The blond broad was sitting at the table, smiling too damn smug in his direction as he fiddled with the strap of her stuff apprehensively, "You're back again already?" She asked.
"Why aren't you out there with the group, thought you were outspoken and shit." He detoured around her question, knowing full well they'd return to it again.
"To get away from Dale's watchful eye for a bit and besides, someone needs to watch the patient. You wouldn't happen to know her name would you? I'm tired of calling her 'the patient', and Ajax doesn't suit her now."
"Told me Jolene, Hell it could be a lie for all I know." He realized this in false hope, because it chilled him to the bone to know she had entrusted him with the sanctity of her name.
"I doubt it. I knew you'd be back too." When she tried to meet his gaze he turned away, "You're not good at apologizing are you?"
"Ain't ever had to before."
"Your secret's safe with me. Hurry up though, or someone might find out you actually care about the little things."
"Little things bein' what?" He grunted.
"Like respect for woman. You're better than your brother Daryl."
He strode passed her with a huff, though his chest had constricted warmly at her words. He didn't really want to name the emotion; he just let it sink in until it evaporated into thin air. Taking the biggest breath he could inhale, he tore back the curtains of the cut off bedroom, and found sleepin' beauty herself. He felt his mind go numb again, and he mentally kicked his ass to get it over with, or else he'd never do it. First he set her stuff down on the side of the bed, makin' sure not to brush too close beside her. When he took a step back again, his eyes traced the surface of her naked leg, and the angry wound that had been stitched closed clumsily by a frantic Carol. Scars were ugly no matter how much you tried to dress them up, and he felt like it didn't belong with the rest of her body. The muscles were tense and clenching, and he took note of her frailty. She wasn't no athlete, and she sure as shit must have been taught by someone else how to shoot, because girls like that didn't know how to by second nature. Only one of her feet was visible, but it was small and strangely cute. Hell feet were never cute, they were meant for walkin' 'round on all day, yet he couldn't describe them any other way. Her long auburn hair was red in the light, and though the ends had grown out too long without proper maintenance, it was still a gorgeous feature. Her flesh was pale in contrast to it, like paper dipped in red ink.
Daryl hadn't felt this wound and uptight since he'd stolen his first pack of cigarettes when he was a kid. He'd almost gotten caught, and by the time he'd ran home, he felt too sick to smoke them so Merle had taken them. All he had to say was three words, and he could leave. It was really simple actually, she wasn't even awake or nothin'. He scratched his face, and then his hair then down to his neck. His eyes were momentarily distracted by the gleamin' of somethin' shinin' on her finger. He took a quiet step over the room, liftin' her tiny palm carefully to inspect the ring that was on her left third finger. He almost whistled at the oversized rock. Someone had put it there as a heedin' to say this girl's taken. She belonged to someone, and Hell she was practically marked property. The intention of the ring didn't immediately scream love, but what the Hell did he know on that kind of thing anyways.
His thumb brushed over the smooth surface of the diamond once; now was as good a time as any, "Damn Cherry, sorry I did ya in like this." He was about to let her limp hand fall, until it squeezed back with unexpected tightness. His eyes snapped to her face, and a pair of brown eyes were staring back at him, already smiling.
Everybody lets you down
In this brief hole of a town
What a difference of the rushing out
Tell me what you're running from
I know everybody lets you down
And I'll do the same
But know I'll always be around
This can remain the same
Remain Nameless, Florence + The Machine...
Another long chapter! So Ajax can now be properly referred to as Jolene, that's at least one step further. Not really any relationship advancement, though maybe friendship if you squint. I tried to think of the best way to portray Daryl in this type of situation, and I imagined he'd be a little lost like a child, but still angry because he had felt like a fool. We're moving back on the road again, though I'm still delaying season two a bit because I like making my own chapters! You know the group isn't done with bombarding her yet about the truth, but since she's wounded they'll let it slide for now. Thanks for the continuous R&R, you guys are some great fans and have a great Thanksgiving!