I don't own walking dead or Daryl Dixon. Thanks everyone who has been reading and for leaving the reviews. I really appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my story. I'm determined to get this one done all the way through.

The next day T-Dog, Glenn, and Rick reviewed the surrounding area with Ahhme. Pulling out an old map she pointed out where they were and which roads they would need to find later to get the group there. Looking at the map T-Dog estimated that it would take the better half of the day to trek back to the group.

"If we take off soon, we can make it before it gets dark. Shit….its gonna be dark when we are heading back though. We will have to wait back at camp till tomorrow morning." T-Dog said.

"Daryl can't wait that long" Rick said leaning over the map, "You guys could make it back faster just bringing the whole group back in the cars here, along this road."

"No, the roads will take longer" Ahhme interjected quietly "They are really blocked and you gotta take a lot of back roads. It's easy to get lost, especially in the dark."

"What are we gonna do then , Rick" Glenn asked. Rick sat and thought for a moment but he couldn't think of a faster way to get Hershel to Daryl.

"I know ," Ahhme spoke up, "if you bring one of the dogs you can travel back through the woods at night. You won't get lost and the zombies won't bother you. As long as it isn't a herd." The three men sat and stared, considering the option laid before them.

"They won't hurt you, and it's the fastest way to do this" she continued as she got up and went to retrieve the dogs from outside. The three dogs slowly ambled into the cabin and sat in a line before the guys. She stood behind them and asked,

"Well who do you wanna take with you"? She asked, Glenn shot Rick a nervous look as he weighed the plan.

"The big one should do it, can't run to fast on those three legs so he won't be able to get too far ahead of them. Big enough to take care of himself and them if needed. Right?". Ahhme nodded and knelt down next to the large golden dog. Grabbing his huge head she stroked behind his ears as she talked to him.

"Ok Stumble, time for you to go to work. Stay with them ok? No wandering off, help them." The big cadaver just panted and stared blankly back at her, "Dumb dog" she said standing back up. You guys better get going." She directed towards T-Dog and Glenn.

"Ya, ya you right" Glenn said shouldering his backpack, "Um…come on…Stumble". He awkwardly slapped his leg and to his amazement the large dog slowly got up and loped towards him. Stopping in front of him he nudged Glenn's hand into petting him. A small smile appeared on his face as he pet the big dog's massive head.

"Alright, if you are done petting the dog let's get our asses moving. Daylight Glenn, daylight. We don't have a lot of it." T-Dog urged. Rick nodded his agreement and the two men and the large canine cadaver left the cabin and starting trekking into the woods. As Rick and Ahhme watched them leave the other two dogs slipped out the front door and went a separate direction into the woods. Rick coked his head, curious at where the pair was headed. From behind him Ahhme sensed his confusion and offered an explanation.

"They are going to go look for zombies…walkers"

"Well what do they do with them once they find them?". She looked out into the woods and said simply before going back into the house,

"They eat them."

Rick took a moment to process what she said and quickly followed her back into the house.

"Wait, wait, wait! Your dogs eat other walkers, walkers like them?". Ahhme stopped clenching her fist tightly. Rick heard her suck in a breath right before she quickly turned on him.

"They aren't walkers! Don't ever call them Walkers! They have names. Furya, Ripper, and Stumble. They may be dead but they are still my dogs! It's different with them and I don't know why it is exactly, but it is. Don't ever call them walkers. They have done more for me than any..any one has done for me through all this shit." Her eyes were beginning to show the glistening of tears as she stood, starting down Rick. They remained there for a moment before she broke the gaze and went quickly up the stairs to Daryl's room. Rick shook his head and wiped his face with his hand. He stood at the bottom of the stairs, unable to decide whether to go up and try to talk to her or leave her alone for the time being. He decided to stay downstairs, watch for any signs of walkers. Give her time to be alone. After a few hours he heard a small tapping. Cautiously he looked out at the sliding glass door in the living room. It was the two dogs, waiting patiently at the door. As Rick watched the female dog lifted her front paw slowly and tapped a few times on the glass. He walked over and placed his hand on the doors handle. She wagged her tail a few times. He slowly slid the door open and they plodded inside and wend directly up the stairs and to the closed door of the bedroom. She repeated her tapping motion on the door and it opened after a moment, allowing the two dogs to enter. Rick slowly ascend the staircase and stood for a moment in front of the door, before knocking softly a few times. After a minute the door opened. At first Ahhme didn't match his gaze, keeping her eyes averted. When she did finally look up at him her face was a defiant mask with steely eyes. She didn't speak or move aside to let him in. Clearly Rick was gonna have to work to patch this up.

"They are different, I can see that. Once you are around them, even for a few minutes its plain as day that they are different from other" Ahhme's eyes narrowed, Rick quickly recovered "From the walkers. I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to offend you. If you hadn't found Daryl and decided to help him…he would have died out there, alone in the woods."

"I know", she said stepping aside to let him into the room. Upon entering Rick went over to check on Daryl. His face was flush and dark circles enclosed his eyes. Rick wasn't sure, but it appeared that Daryl had lost weight. Rick could only hope that they returned quickly with Hershel.

"He isn't looking good, have you taken his temp yet today?"

"Not since last night, we were kinda busy this morning helping your friends with directions. I guess we should get his temp and try to wake him up for some water, maybe try and even get some food in him." Rick nodded and he proceeded to try and wait up Daryl.

"Hey Daryl, need ya to wake up for a short while." Daryl roused a little as Rick talked to him, but didn't fully wake. Ahhme set over to the bed.

"Here Rick let me try, why don't you go get some water for him down stairs. Oh and in the kitchen in the cupboards above the fridge, there is soup cans. Find one of the chicken broth ones. It will be easy for us to give that to him, well easier than trying to get him to eat anything else right now. But it's been days and he needs to eat something." Rick nodded and headed out of the bedroom. Down in the kitchen Rick found what she had asked for, but lingered down in the kitchen for a bit, giving Ahhme time to help Daryl. Back up in the bedroom Ahhme sat down on the bed next to Daryl, a cool washcloth in her hand. She slowly leaned forward and dabbed his face with the washcloth. Under the cool moisture he stirred a bit. She worked down his face to the back of his neck. His eyes open slowly as his body registered the temperature change.

"Hey Daryl, now you don't have to do anything, but open your mouth so I can take your temp ok?" He was looking at her oddly as she spoke, and she was hesitant if he remembered her. She doubted it but pushed on, "Daryl, do you remember who I am, Rick is here, just downstairs. You are safe inside my home here, but very sick. Can I take your temp please?" He nodded slowly, and allowed her to place the thermometer in his mouth. By the time Rick came back upstairs she had a reading and Daryl was a bit more awake. He handed the glass of water to Ahhme and smiled at Daryl, happy to see him awake.

"103.1 degrees Rick, it went down a bit. Might finally be breaking" Ahhme said

"Hey Daryl, how ya feeling?" Rick asked, sitting on the chair next to the bed. Daryl looked up at him and said quietly,

"Feel like shit Rick, how do ya think I feel?" He started coughing heavily, pulling the blankets up towards him to cough into.

"Well ya I guess you defiantly sound like shit" Rick said once Daryl quit coughing. Ahhme scowled at Rick as she reached for the glass of water and helped Daryl sit up to drink it. She propped him up with some pillows and let them know that she was gonna go back downstairs to heat up the broth for Daryl. After she left Daryl turned to look at Rick.

"Hey Rick" he said weakly, "We should get back to the group soon." Daryl tried to get up out of the bed, once again pushing the covers off. With great effort he managed to come to a sitting position on the bed. Only then did he realize that he didn't have his shirt of pants on.

"Where in hell did my pants go!?" he started to yell before his chest tightened up on him and he could only get coughs out.

"Daryl, now calm down. You aren't going anywhere, but back to lying down in the bed. All you're doing right now is tempting fate. The group is coming here and we are staying until you are healthy again." Daryl's coughing was getting harsher and Rick was really started to become concerned. He yelled down to Ahhme, but she was already in the room. She hurried over to Daryl and getting behind him in the bed she pulled him up out of the hunched over position and leaned him back against her until the coughing passes. Daryl lay up against her, pale and breathing shallow as he struggled to regain his breath. Rick saw that he was struggling to stay awake, the coughing had taken a lot of out him. His eyes fluttered between open and close, and as he was falling back to sleep he whispered faintly,

"Don't let them see me like this Rick".

"What the hell was that all about" Ahhme asked, Daryl still resting against her.

"He freaked out once he realized his clothes where gone", Rick said. Ahhme grimaced a bit at this.

"Oh shit, ya. I used his clothes to leave the trail for you guys. I guess I should have made him aware of that."

"Well it's not like he has been very coherent. That was the most we seen out of him so far and looks where it got him. Maybe it's better for Daryl if he just becomes delusional again, at least while he is sick." Ahhme laughed a little at this, agreeing with Rick. The day wore on and Daryl continued sleeping, waking only when they roused him for water. Ahhme tried to get him to drink a bit of the broth and only had minimal success. Rick and Ahhme talked quietly about their pasts to each other as the sun started to set. Ahhme told Rick all about the various performing she used to do and how she did archery and knife throwing. She told him stories about all of her animals that she used to have and how she used to joke about waiting for the zombie apocalypse. He told her about his career as a cop and about his family. As Ahhme started to tell Rick about her time in the Renaissance festival circuit, Furya and Ripper both suddenly stood up and stared out the window. The female was slowly baring her teeth and the little one was growling and trying to climb up to the window sill. Ahhme paused for just a moment then jumped up, ran over to the window and open it up. The two dogs jumped out and down to the ground below. Ahhme peered on into the quickly descending darkness then ran to the light switch, shutting off all the lights.

"What's wrong?" Rick asked, confused by her sudden change in attitude.

"Be quiet" she hissed."We have to go now, help me grab Daryl. We need to get up to the roof" Rick tried to ask another question, but Ahhme shut him down, "Rick no questions, we gotta move now." Realizing that something big was going on he quickly pulled all the blankets off Daryl and proceeded to rouse him.

"Daryl wake up, we gotta move and I need you to use whatever strength you got to help us" Rick roughly shook Daryl awake. He felt bad being so rough with him considering his condition but it had to be done.

"What's going on" Daryl asked groggily, "Rick…what.." He didn't get a chance to finish as Rick grabbed him by the arm and hauled him up and out of the bed. He groaned in pain as Ahhme jumped in on the other side supporting the rest of his weight. Together they hauled Daryl out of the bedroom and down the long hallway to a barred door at the end. As they reached the door Ahhme asked Rick to take the rest of Daryl's weight so she could unbar the door. As she slipped out from under Daryl, he leaned heavily against the door frame, hand resting on his chest. Rick noticed he was breathing heavily.

"Hey, you ok. Daryl, you gotta take whatever you got in ya and put it all forward right now." Daryl nodded, but as he took in another breath his face twisted in pain as he quickly hugged his arms to his sides.

"What's wrong with him, we gotta go…now" Ahhme said , the door to the steep stairwell all opened up. "You gotta pick him up Rick, carry him." Looking up the stairs Rick saw she was right, there was no way that they could both carry him up and Daryl couldn't make it himself, no matter how hard he tried.

"Sorry Daryl, gotta do this." Rick grabbed up Daryl and hefted him onto his shoulder and ran up the stairs as quickly as he could manage. When he reached the top, Ahhme went back down to the bottom and bolted the door behind them. Once she got back to the top of the roof she did the same with the roof top door. Rick set Daryl down onto the rooftop and Ahhme came over with blankets and a bottle of water that she kept stored on the flat rooftop. Wrapping Daryl up she saw that he was shivering harshly and his teeth were chattering. It was cold out but it also wasn't very warm. The sun had set and the air had a cool, dampness to it. Daryl was covered with sweat and he was getting chilled being outside. Ahhme wrapped her arms around Daryl in an attempt to help keep him warm.

"Rick, stay low and crawl over to the edge of the roof and watch for the dogs, ok? We can go back inside once the dogs come back into the yard. I need to stay here with Daryl and keep him warm, or else he is gonna get even worse."Rick was frustrated, not knowing what was going on, So far he hadn't seen any reason for them to leave the inside of the house.

"When what's over" he whispered harshly, "you still haven't told me what's going on". She looked up at him, fear in her eyes.

"Please Rick, get down and be quiet", she pleaded. Seeing the panic and hearing the fear Rick complied and crawled over to the spot she had pointed out. As he looked into the darkness he saw the reason for her fear and urgency. A huge herd was beginning to emerge from the woods.

Thanks for reading, please please review.