A/N All characters belong to the writers and creators of The Walking Dead. Except those that arose from my own twisted imagination.
Chapter 44-Day at a Time
Kristen hauled the steaming bucket of water to Marci's cell to clean and sanitize it. Down the hall, Jessica, Andrea, Carol and a few others were doing the same in the other cells. They were using the cleaning supplies from the prison, industrial strength cleanser and sanitizer, to disinfect all the cells that had housed sick individuals. Even though the walls and floors were concrete, they didn't want to take any chances that any bacteria had escaped them. She got down on the floor with a sponge and scrubbed underneath the cot, the smell of the cleanser burning her nostrils even through the mask she wore.
"You need some help?" Kristen jumped and spun around when Cedric spoke. "Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you." Kristen pulled her mask down.
"No it's ok. I don't know why I'm so jumpy." She sat back on her heels. "How's Darnell?"
"Never did get sick. And that's what I really wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to thank you for looking after him while I was laid up. It hasn't been easy for him since we lost my wife last fall." Kristen smiled.
"Of course. We're family here." He nodded.
"So, since we're family, can I get you to promise me something?" Kristen frowned slightly at his sad expression.
"If anything happens to me, can you take care of Darnell?" Kristen rose and sat down on the cot, stunned.
"Why me?" Cedric backed out of the cell and looked around. Then he walked in closer to her.
"Andrea's already taken Dylan and Carol's been looking after Lizzie and Mika since their dad got killed on that supply run a few months back. They don't need to worry about another kid. Plus, Darnell likes you and your sister. You were nice to him and he trusts you. It would make me feel better if I knew he was with people who'd take care of him." Kristen smiled.
"I promise you, I'll look after him if it comes to that. But nothing's going to happen to you. You pulled through this just fine." Cedric nodded and backed out of the cell.
"In this world, you take it a day at a time. That's all you can do." He nodded at her. "Thank you Kristen."
"Does this remind you of anything Andrea?" Carol asked and Andrea laughed.
"Washing clothes in quarry at camp. Wondering why the women got stuck with all the domestic work." It was quiet for a moment and when Andrea spoke again, her voice was sad. "Do you ever wonder what would have happened if those walkers hadn't come into camp that night?"
"Sometimes I do," said Carol. "Who would still be alive, where we would be now…" Her voice trailed off. "I wonder if Ed would've made me and Sophia leave. He was threatening to do it after Shane beat him up." She shook her head and closed her eyes.
"I know how you feel Carol. I wonder if we would have stayed together. Amy and I would probably have stayed with Dale but I don't know if the group would have gone their separate ways. Some people may have followed Shane, others Rick. Daryl probably would have taken off to look for Merle, maybe met up with Phillip. Our group was big enough to split off before the walkers came into camp…" Andrea shrugged away the thought. "It doesn't do any good wondering 'what if' now does it?" Carol smiled.
"What's important is where we are now. Look what's been built here." Andrea looked and smiled.
"We haven't done too bad have we?" She plunged her hand back into the hot water, the warmth penetrating her glove, and then wrung out the sponge. "Which brings up the question: why are we still doing the domestic work?" Andrea and Carol looked at each other for a long moment and then burst out laughing.
"It's up to you Dani," Rick said. "If you want him gone, I'll drive him out myself." Dani nodded and looked up at Daryl and Jesse. Her son grinned at her and wiggled in his father's arms. So Greg was partly responsible for Jesse recovering, even if all he did was place his IV. According to Rick, Alice said she wouldn't have been able to do so. Dani frowned.
"Have you talked to him?" Rick nodded.
"Greg is ready to work with us. Even though he still can't talk that good, he assured me and Hershel that he wants to be here, be the prison doctor. You don't have to see him or talk to him and he'll stay away from you, Jesse and Daryl. I told him that I'm putting it in your hands Dani." Dani nodded and looked at Daryl.
"What do you think?" Daryl shook his head.
"I don't trust him. Never will. But it's your call Dani. If you say he should stay, I'll back you on that." Dani looked down and began chewing on her thumbnail.
"Rick, can I think about this for a day or so? I can't just make this kind of decision this quick." Rick nodded and smiled.
"Of course. Just let me know, alright?" He nodded at Daryl and left the cell, putting his hand on Dani's shoulder as he passed her. Dani sat down on the bed and looked up at Daryl.
"A week ago I wanted Greg dead. Why is it so hard to make that call now?" Daryl kissed Jesse and sat next to her.
"That's not who you are Dani. You're not a killer." Dani leaned her head on his shoulder and took Jesse's hand in hers.
"I just want us to be able to move on with our lives Daryl. I don't want to have to worry about my ex living in D block or what crisis is going to hit us next or anything like that. I just want to be with you and watch our son grow up. That's not asking for too much is it?" Daryl rubbed the back of her neck with his free hand and watched his son's smile grow when Dani tickled his feet.
"No it's not."
Hershel limped carefully across the back yard where Michonne and Glenn were loading up walker bodies back in the truck.
"What's going on?" Glenn looked up at his father-in-law.
"Too many corpses to burn back here. Michonne thinks we should dump them over in that clearing about a half mile out." Hershel nodded and smiled at Michonne.
"I'd like to help with that." Michonne and Glenn exchanged a look and Hershel raised his eyebrow. "I know what you're thinking but it's only a half mile. We have the truck and I'd like to get outside of the walls for a change." Glenn shrugged.
"I guess it shouldn't be a problem." Hershel pulled on his gloves, tied his bandana around his face and helped Glenn and Michonne load up the truck. When they were finished, Michonne tossed Hershel the keys..
"Think you can drive?" Hershel pulled down his bandana and smiled.
"I probably can manage that." They both climbed into the truck and Glenn leaned through the open window.
"Be careful out there ok?" Hershel patted Glenn's arm.
"Will do son." Glenn backed away as Hershel started the engine and pulled out towards the front gate.
Dani carried Jesse outside for some fresh air. It was a beautiful day and not too humid for a change. She carried him over to the chickens where a batch of newly hatched chicks were running around. They were only a couple of days old and chirping at their mother as the scratched at the ground. This was the biggest hatching they'd had so far with seven chicks. Dani sat on the ground near the fence and carefully sat Jesse up on her lap.
"See the babies Jesse?" He was sucking his fingers and staring at the coop wide-eyed. For as young as he was he was so alert, noticing and absorbing everything around him. Andrea and Rick had both remarked that he was very much like Daryl in that regard. "The momma protects the babies until they can take care of themselves. She teaches them where to scratch for food so they can feed themselves when they get bigger. Your daddy and I will teach you how to hunt and Hershel will teach you how to grow vegetables so you can take care of yourself and the group when you get bigger. You're growing up in a different world then we did sweetie but we'll make sure you're ready to live in it. Until then, your daddy and I will take care of you, protect you, keep you safe and happy, just like that momma over there." Jesse squealed with delight when the chicks came closer to the fence and held his arms out towards them, kicking his legs. "You like them don't you?" She kissed his head and turned around when she heard Daryl's footsteps behind them. Daryl sat next to them and Jesse's grin widened when he saw him.
"Hey you. What are you and Momma doin'?" Dani smiled and ran her hand over Jesse's hair.
"We're talkin' about when he grows up and all the things we're gonna teach him." Daryl gently squeezed her shoulder and then ran his hand down her back.
"Thought you didn't want him growin' up too fast." Dani snuggled closer to Daryl and he put his other hand on her thigh.
"I don't. We were just talkin'. He likes watching the chickens." Daryl leaned over her, kissed her neck and lowered his voice.
"I was thinkin' maybe Carol could watch him for a bit." Dani looked over at him and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the look on his face.
"Now?" Daryl nodded, his blue eyes darkening as they met hers.
"Yeah." She took a deep breath and nodded.
"I'll take him over to her and meet you inside."
His kisses were what made her melt and his hungry mouth on hers took her breath away. Daryl's hands were roughened from years of work but gentle on her skin as he slid her shirt slowly down her arms. She had already unbuttoned his shirt, running her hands down over the muscles of his stomach before slipping her fingers under the waistband of his pants. Without saying a word, Daryl pulled back and turned her around, sweeping her hair to one side and kissing her neck and shoulders as he unhooked her bra and removed it, tossing it to the side. Dani dropped her head back as Daryl cupped her breasts and his teeth gently scraped her shoulder. His hands slid down her stomach to her cutoffs and he was quickly pushing them down along with her panties before she realized he'd even unfastened them. She reached behind him, twisting her fingers into his hair as she felt his hands slide up her inner thighs.
"Daryl." The breathless whisper was all it took and he stepped away and quickly stripped off his own clothes. She turned to embrace him, kissing him as he walked her back to the cot. He gently lay her down, moving between her legs and feeling the heat radiate off of her. Daryl's mouth left hers, his tongue tasting the salt of her skin as he continued his way down her body. He wanted to taste every inch her and he'd missed her body so much. He put his hand between her legs as he kissed her breasts and heard her moan when his fingers slipped inside her. He continued down her stomach until he finally replaced his fingers with his tongue, the sweet taste of her everything he remembed from that one night all those months ago. He was focused entirely on her, on her breathless cries, her hands in his hair urging him to continue. He lifted her up to his mouth and she arched her back, pushing herself against him more. Opening his eyes, he looked towards her face. Dani's eyes were closed and she was biting her lip, whimpering softly. They had shut the door but sound still carried in the prison. When she finally came, quivering violently beneath his lips, the taste of her flowing over his tongue, he set her down on the bed and moved back up her body, burying himself deep inside of her in one move.
Dani arched her neck back when she felt Daryl inside her and slid her legs up to wrap around his waist. He was moving so maddeningly slow, not thrusting but stroking her, his hands cupping her face as he kissed her slow and deep. This was what she needed, what he needed. He was whispering in her ear that he loved her, wanted her, needed her, backing up his words with every movement of his body, every touch of his hands, lips, tongue and fingers. They had never made love like this before and Dani didn't want it to end. She came again, this time almost biting his shoulder to keep from crying out. His strokes came faster, harder and Dani eagerly brought her hips up to his, striving for another orgasm as she felt him tensing inside her. Grinding against him, she came again just as he finally allowed himself his own release. He kissed her deep and she could still taste herself on his tongue. When they broke apart, Daryl pressed his forehead to hers. He didn't want to move, didn't want to leave her body. When they were together he felt whole.
"I love you so much Danielle." Dani stroked his face and twisted his hair between her fingers.
"I love you too Daryl. I always will." Taking a deep breath, he slid off of her and she turned to face him on the bed, their legs still entangled. He held her tight against him, rolling onto his back and Dani put her head on his chest. His fingers traced warm trails up her arm and she took his other hand in hers. They lay together like that for awhile, listening to the sounds of the prison. Dani sighed and shifted closer to him.
"What are you thinkin'?" asked Daryl, twirling a lock of hair around his finger. Dani smiled.
"That I want you to do that to me again." Daryl chuckled softly. Dani slid up and kissed him. His hands found her hips and guided her until he was inside her again, watching in awe as she rode him.
Hershel tossed the last of the bodies on the pile and closed the tailgate.
"That ought to do it." Michonne smiled, her eyes lighting up.
"Not too bad for a guy with a metal leg." Hershel laughed.
"One metal leg but the hands still work." He leaned on the truck. "Daryl once told me I was a tough son of a bitch." Michonne laughed.
"He was right you know. Taking care of those people when they got sick, keeping that garden going, watchin' out for all of us…you don't have to do any of that but you choose to." Hershel raised an eyebrow.
"No, I don't have to. No more than you have to ride off looking for the Governor but you choose to." Michonne's eyes darkened and her mouth twisted up in annoyance.
"I'm not doing that anymore." Hershel smiled and nodded.
"I understand that and I for one am glad you're finally here…for good." Hershel bent down to pick up the can of gasoline and heard a gun click behind him. He stood slowly, facing Michonne who had her hands raised. A woman stood behind Michonne with a gun pointed at her head.
"Just stand up slow old man." Hershel raised his hands when he heard the male voice behind him.
"We don't have anything of value." The woman smiled.
"So that prison over there, that's not valuable?" Hershel shook his head.
"You don't have to do this. We take people in all the time." The woman smirked.
"Yeah, we know. We've been watching you for a while." Hershel and Michonne exchanged a look and she glanced down at the gun by his side. He shook his head slightly.
"If you've been watching us, then you know that we have families there. We have people who were sick recently, some are still recovering." The man behind him snorted.
"We don't care much about that. We have our own people that need a place to stay. We don't give a damn about your people." He nudged Hershel with the gun. "C'mon, we're goin'." The woman pushed Michonne and the four of them walked back to a truck hidden in the trees.
They drove for an hour before arriving at a small camp. Several tents and three trailers were in a rough circle, like a wagon train. But the one thing that Hershel noticed right away was the tank parked near the front entrance to the camp. The man parked the car, got out and ordered Hershel and Michonne to follow him to the larger trailer. The woman kept the gun trained on them while the man went inside. Not long after he went in, the man returned with another person, one who Michonne recognized immediately.
"You." Phillip smiled broadly.
"Hello again Michonne." He laughed, a sound that made Hershel's blood run cold. "I think we have much to talk about."
A/N Sorry for taking so long. I've been in mourning since mid-season break and I've also been writing four chapters at once, which is fun!