A short Caryl scene after Episode 6. I own none of the genius that is The Walking Dead. Sadly.
Daryl could not believe it.
He wasn't even aware he was carrying any weight in his arms, it felt more as if he were flying over the concrete floor towards their secure cell block.
Carol moaned, burying her face in his shirt.
"We'll be there in a sec," he murmured, clutching her tighter as he rounded the corner, coming to their cell block.
He rounded the corner and came to a stop in front of the locked gates outside their block.
"Where the fuck is Hershel?" he cursed to himself as he entered his cell and laid Carol down on a mattress as gingerly as he could. He carefully pushed a pillow under Carol's head, his eyes never leaving her face.
Carol's head moved slightly and her eyes fluttered open. They seemed unfocused until her gaze landed on him and she opened her mouth.
"Water," she croaked.
Daryl shot up and started searching around the cell frantically. He located his water bottle, wrenched the cap off and went to Carol. He leaned the opening against her mouth and tipped the bottle. Water ran over Carol's chin onto her throat and she coughed.
"Shit," Daryl said in alarm. He put down the bottle and slowly helped Carol sit up a little.
"A little slower maybe," she whispered hoarsely, water still running down her skin. He could see how utterly exhausted she was, but there was that familiar gleam in her eyes that she always had when she was teasing him. It was a relief to see it.
"Sorry," he said and took up the water bottle again and cautiously positioned it against her lips. He tipped it slightly and Carol began taking gulps.
"Careful now," he said. "You drink too much at once you'll puke your guts out."
She gave a small nod and he put the bottle down. She let out a sigh and leaned back against the pillow, her eyes closed.
Daryl looked intently at her. He wanted to say things, so many things. He knew she must hate him. He had abandoned her, had stopped looking for her. Worse yet, he hadn't really searched for her, had immediately believed her to be dead when he found her scarf next to T-Dog's mangled body.
"Where is everyone?" Carol asked, interrupting his thoughts.
"Outside," Daryl said. He wouldn't tell her about Lori or the baby, it wasn't the time, or his place. He had to make sure she got better first.
"You okay?" Carol asked, her eyes now open and studying his face.
"You seriously askin' me that?" he snorted incredulously. "I ain't the one who nearly died."
Carol managed a weak smile that turned into a grimace of pain.
"What?" Daryl asked, the concern evident in his voice.
"My head," Carol said, her fingers reaching up to her forehead where an open wound was gaping.
"Don't go touchin' that!" Daryl said sternly, grabbing her wrist. "You'll get dirt in it."
"Okay, dad," Carol said and snorted when he shot her a contemptuous look. Then the smile disappeared and her eyes started to water.
"T-Dog…" she whispered, taking a deep breath.
"I know," Daryl said, not wanting her to focus on it.
"They got him," she said, lifting her arm off the bed and pointing to her bony shoulder. "Right here. I didn't want to leave him. He… he stayed so that I could run."
Daryl swallowed. He would be eternally grateful to T-Dog for making that decision.
"And ya did," he said, taking her hand to comfort her. "That's what's important."
Carol eyes flew to his hand on hers. It was very unusual for Daryl to be touching anybody. He quickly drew back his hand, feeling the heat creep up his neck.
"You got any other injuries?" he asked to mask his embarrassment.
"I don't think so," Carol said, shaking her head. "Nothin' major."
Daryl nodded, staring at the edge of the mattress.
"I'd better go get Hershel anyway," he muttered, getting to his feet.
"Okay," Carol said, as he turned around to leave.
Then he stopped abruptly, his hand clenching into a fist. If he was gonna say it, now was the time.
"I'm sorry," he said, without turning to face her.
"What?" Carol asked.
"I'm sorry," he repeated.
"What for?" she asked.
Her questions took him by such surprise he turned to look at her.
"That I didn't come for you," he said as if it were clear as day.
"You did," Carol said.
"By accident," Daryl mumbled. "I only opened the door 'cause I thought it was a walker."
"So?" Carol said. "You still found me."
"But…" Daryl didn't know how to phrase it.
"But what?" Carol looked at him in confusion
He took the steps back to her bed side and sat down at the edge of the mattress, looking at her.
"But I didn't … look for ya," he said quietly. She didn't answer. "I found your scarf next to T-Dog, there was blood everywhere. I just assumed…" he stopped. "I didn't think that you coulda gotten away. I didn't look around for ya. Not once."
There was silence for a few moments and he didn't dare look up after his confession.
"It doesn't matter," Carol said.
"Course it fuckin' does!" Daryl snarled, anger filling his chest. "I shoulda looked everywhere in this damn prison, cut open every fuckin' walker in sight, to make absolutely sure you were gone! And I didn't do shit! I just went on doin' other stuff, shovelin' dirt in an empty grave."
"You buried me?" she asked quietly. He nodded.
"I like that," she said and he looked at her like she was crazy. "You thought I was dead. There was no point in looking for me." She said like it was the most rational thing in the world.
"How can you not hate me for that?" he blurted out without thinking.
"Are you out of your fucking mind?" she asked in bewilderment. He was taken aback at her swearing; she didn't usually do it.
"I don't hate you," she said, taking his hand. Daryl felt panic and thought about drawing back his hand, but she sensed it and tightened her grip. "I'll never hate you."
Daryl looked up. Her blue eyes were clear and staring at him and he found he couldn't look away.
"Don't ever think like that again," she whispered. "Okay?"
Daryl didn't trust himself to speak as she slowly entwined her fingers with his.
"Okay?" she repeated, her eyes never leaving his face.
"Okay," he answered, nodding once.
It was a lie to some extent. He knew he'd always carry that guilt with him, blaming himself for giving up on her so easily, for underestimating how strong she really was. But for now he would just be grateful. Grateful that she was alive, that she wasn't hurt. and grateful that he still had her.