– A Caryl Fic
This takes place after the last mid season finale where Daryl is captured. It started as a one-shot but I'll probably continue with chapters if I get enough response. Enjoy and let your imagination paint for you!
The rain pounded the ground hard all around him, his feet slipping in the mud every so often under his weight. With another sudden crash of thunder from above Daryl drove the knife home hard and grunted with the effort. The walker beneath him gasped and its limbs flailed about helplessly as the blade cracked its skull and pieced its brain. Hands trembling Daryl held the knife still for a few seconds longer before rolling to the side and tugging the knife free, on his back he closed his eyes and let the rain wash over him. He lost track of time as the clouds rolled thick and angry over the sky above, for what felt like hours he lay there soaked to his skin, his clothes sodden and heavy and his mind numb. He listened to the thunder cracking and felt the ground shudder with the force, puddles around him trembled and turned a hazy colour of rose as blood seeped into their waters.
Still gripping the knife, Daryl opened his eyes and warily looked at the walker he had taken down. They all looked the same in the end, skin peeling, eyes sunken and teeth bared ready to tear into you without a seconds hesitation. Its eyes had long since glassed over and they stared at him now blankly and devoid of life.
A few seconds later and that could have been me, he thought to himself.
Carelessly he had pushed through the undergrowth and tripped around the tree only to stumble into the walker that lay before him, it was mere instinct that his hand found his knife before the walker had had a chance to react. This one had been slow and he had been lucky, adrenaline had kicked in and pushed the aching in his muscles aside long enough for him to trip and force the knife forward quickly.
The rain and thunder continued on and Daryl felt himself grow wary where he lay, he had to get moving again, stay ahead of the pain and tiredness. He had no choice but to keep going. Dragging a hand over his face he wiped the water from his eyes and pulled himself up.
Get your ass in gear and stop being a pussy! He screamed at himself
Fumbling with the knife Daryl quickly placed it back its in sheath by his hip and looked around. It was still too dark to see clearly among the tree's and he could hear little but the thunder and patter of rain all around him in the woods. Squinting he looked about slowly for several long seconds before finally catching a glimpse of his bow lying several feet away, its arrows fallen askew and lying in a puddle close by. With much effort and a few grunts he scrambled to his feet and swayed dangerously towards his weapon while the blood rushed back through his numb body. A few minutes later and he was forcing himself to move forward trying desperately to see in the darkness.
After several minutes of what looked like endless darkness Daryl began to wonder if it was better to shore up somewhere and hope for the weather to die down. Last thing he needed was to stumble into another walker or down a hole somewhere, breaking his legs. He couldn't afford that, they were counting on him, he couldn't risk losing another hour.
Several hours ago he had escaped the clutches of Woodbury and its psychotic leader, barely making it out alive. As he thought of this, his feet quickened their pace instinctively, forcing him on faster in what he hoped was the direction of the prison. It was all a blur as he thought on it, he was standing with Merle awaiting his fate to the walkers in the ring, the last thing he remembered of his brother was the surprise, then relief and finally anger in his face as he had looked at him. He remembered pleading with Merle with his eyes, begging him to help him, to save him as only he could. But Merle had stood there looking betrayed and uncertain at the whole scene, then the shouts and screams had started...
A snapping of branches to his left brought his head up quickly, snapping him from his thoughts. Crossbow still in check Daryl could see nothing in the darkness and strained to hear the moaning of the undead over the noise of the rain. Suddenly the woods all around him lit up with a blinding white light and he cussed swinging his crossbow up front quickly, finger tensing on the trigger. The lightening had finally cracked overhead and lit the whole forest up. Before the light faded into darkness Daryl caught a brief glimpse of the forest before him and in the distance through the branches, a small break in the clouds where the sky was slowly turning grey.
It's nearly morning?! Gritting his teeth Daryl swore to himself, nearly tripping over the branch in front of him out of frustration, he had lost more time than he thought. But I've got to be close, so fucking close!
He knew of the plans for Woodbury, he knew what the intentions of its people were, he could see it in their faces, in their eyes. Branded a terrorist, he was to be executed and made an example of for disturbing what he was told was their peaceful community. Luckily for him though it wasn't his time to go just yet, the timing of walkers had never before been more welcomed than at the time of his execution. Everyone had panicked, their walls had been breached and chaos was everywhere as walkers finally invaded Woodbury, Daryl has seized his opportunity and made a break for freedom as walkers and civilians poured into the arena in a crowd of fear and confusion. He had slammed into the guard closest to him, knocking him to the ground and driving a swift kick into his ribs then his face as he cried out. After securing his knife and cutting his bonds he went in search of Merle but instead found the trampled body of the guard who had held his crossbow. He had dived for his weapon without giving it a second thought but instead found his captor waiting, gun in hand pointed at his head. There was nothing he could have done, mid dive Daryl had seen it all too late, the barrel of the gun staring down at him, the baring of teeth as the man holding it looked at him with his one good eye and cackled with joy. He had closed his eyes and waited for the shot but it never came. As he hit the ground he quickly grabbed his crossbow and held it up to shield himself. Turning, Daryl caught sight of Merle through the crowd, wrestling with his captor, although Merle's hands were still bound he drove his boot into the other man's groin and Daryl heard the roar of pain as the man stumbled and fell backwards disappearing from sight amongst the civilians trying to escape.
Scrambling quickly to his feet he had shouted for his brother, trying to be heard over the noise and screaming all around them. Merle had then turned, searching the crowd for Daryl and finally spotted him, but at the point it was too late. The walkers that had invaded Woodbury now spilled into the arena, driven into a frenzy by the screaming and running of civilians everywhere. Daryl had watched stricken as Merle turned all but too late, he went down under a mass of snapping teeth and limbs as walkers descended on him...
Daryl stumbled into a nearby tree and swore as his knee tore open on its trunk. Hissing through the pain he kicked the thick wood over and over till he felt the blood running down his leg into his shoe. Without realising it, tears had been streaming down his face making it impossible to see anything, he collapsed against its trunk and tore at his chest, beating on himself in frustration and anger as his mind replayed the scene over and over.
Why you son of a bitch...why! he screamed inside, hands clawing the skin on his chest trying to tear at the feelings eating away inside of him. The pain, it hurt so fucking much...WHY?
Not for the second time Daryl had lost his brother and that loss was just now finding him. He had been furious and he had screamed and cried when he had made it to Atlanta, only to find his brother's hand on that roof. He had grieved and carried the guilt that he had not been there for months afterwards. Everyday he had beaten himself up and blamed himself for not having done something more, and now this?!
Leaning against the tree Daryl fought to catch his breath through the sobs and the pain that tore through his chest. The rain continued on, beating down on his back and the thunder echoed through the woods around him.
Useless, I'm so fucking useless, useless piece of shit..as the sadness began to fade, Daryl felt that all too familiar anger building up inside himself. He hated himself, he loathed himself, he should be the one dead under those walkers, his capturer should have been the one under them his mind screamed at him. He should have stayed and slit that sonofabitches throat!
"HOW AM I BETTER THAN ANY OF YOU!" he roared as he swung from the tree and broke into a stumble, then a shaky run.
Without realising it Daryl reached for his knife and tore it free from its sheath, he started swinging blindly at anything and everything as he half tripped and half ran on through the darkness. Eventually the anger within him subsided and his sorrow deepened, his feet slowed and the pain returned. He let the crossbow dangle weakly in one hand and the knife in the other as he came to a stop. Daryl squeezed his eyes shut tightly, trying to stem the tears or was it just rain water? At this point he no longer cared.
Why do I keep running? Was the only thought that drifted across his mind...
Thunder clapped overheard and he felt it deep within his chest.
Why should I? Came another thought as he opened his eyes.
Lightening lanced across the clouds overhead and once again the forest was bathed in a brilliant white light. Daryl blinked at the sudden blindness and as the light died down quickly he was left with small, white circles dancing in his vision. He shoved his knife into its leather hold and dragged a hand over his hands, trying to rub away the spots of light. As he opened his eyes again his vision continued to be blurred and he squinted in the gloom, up ahead he could now just make out the greying horizon through the tree's as morning was finally approaching. But there was something else, the white spots still remained and Daryl blinked several times in confusion. Stumbling forward without thinking, Daryl concentrated on the spots till his feet carried him forward towards a thick bush that sat curled between several tree's.
Your every bit as good as them...
The voice suddenly echoed in his ears and he spun around with his crossbow raised in alarm. Yet there was no one behind him, only the rain and the woods from where he had come. He blinked in confusion and tried to assemble his thoughts, did he say that? No, he had heard that before somewhere, from someone. Then it hit him.
"Carol?" he whispered.
When he couldn't sense or hear anything Daryl quickly spun around and squinted at the bush before him. Leaning down he raised his hand forward and touched the white spots which he thought had been the light. His hands found the softness of petals and the wetness of the rain.
He was speechless. He couldn't believe it. Of anyone or anything that he could have stumbled across this was what he found. For several minutes Daryl simply stood, hand holding the flower, crossbow forgotten on the ground. He couldn't even remember dropping it. But he remembered this flower. Suddenly his mind filled with memories, memories of hunting and days of camping outside with Merle. Of the night they had found the Cherokee Roses for the first time and Merle had told him of their story. Of the day he searched for Sophia and found the Cherokee Roses. Of that very same day when he gave one to Carol in the hopes of finding her little girl. Of the afternoon when he had visited her grave having found one and brought it back in her memory. But then he had found her, left for dead almost but he had fucking found her...
"Carol..." he spoke her name again.
His mind filled anew with memories of the long winter the group had spent on the run, of moving from house to house, scavenging for food, learning to survive and learning to live in a shattered world. Daryl also remembered that afternoon where Carol had approached him and straight out asked him to teach her to live. He had known then that the world had changed and wouldn't change back. He had known then that she had really wanted to survive just like him and he had shown her how, just like Merle had shown him.
Don't pretend you don't care...
Her voice drifted across his mind again, clear as day, almost as if she were standing next to him and repeating herself with that same angry look he loathed to see on her. But he had been pretending, just like he pretended he didn't care about what had happened to his brother, he had pretended he didn't care about everyone, Sophia, Hershel, Lori, Carl, Rick and everyone else. And Carol. She had called him out on it and he knew he was struggling to hide it any-more. To hide his feelings.
Daryl continued staring at the rose he held in his hand and watched as his vision began to clear slowly. Morning was coming on fast now and although the storm still raged, it was becoming lighter in the woods. Daryl could finally hear the noise of the crows stirring in their nests and the chattering of a nearby squirrel as it darted through the branches above, scared by the thunder that rolled through the forest. The thoughts continued to come to him of everything that she had ever told him, that he was apart of their group, that he was needed, the he was cared about. Daryl actually let out a snort at that last part. Still finding it difficult to swallow, that someone other than Merle cared for him. But he knew that despite his reluctance of accepting them, they had accepted him as part of the group, of their family. They relied, needed him, at times that annoyed him but often when he thought back to that moment where he had found Carol in that cell on the brink of death, that look of hope she had in her eyes. It had mirrored his own feelings or disbelief and joy at having finally done something right.
But what was he doing now, giving it up all over again grieving for his brother. And finding that these fucking roses were following him everywhere he went. Daryl let out a quick laugh, almost sounding like a bark but without any hint of amusement. Here he was drowning in self-pity while everyone else struggled to live on, and that's what it all came down to. Wanting to live in this shitty broken up world. But he knew from what he had seen in Woodbury, everyone was far from safe. Daryl knew that that one in particular, would be seeking his vengeance in whatever nasty way he could. He had seen that malice, that murderous look on his face and he just knew.
"Bringing some vengeance back to camp," Daryl muttered to himself, another ghost of a memory coming to him of when he had felt that way.
And he knew then, if he didn't reach them before that one did it would be too late. Gone was all of his family, his Mother, his Father whom he never knew, yet missed and now his only brother, Merle. But he stood the risk of losing everything he could care about, that included his new family. Water trickled from the flower and down his palm bringing him out of his thoughts. The morning was almost fully here now and he stroked the petals of the flower gently. A reminder of the losses in his life, but of the hope that he could still have a life. Maybe a good one someday. A rightone.
What do you want?
A man of honor...
Daryl slid the knife from his sheath once again and bent forward, slowly and as gently as he could he cut the stem at its base and removed the flower from its bush. He opened his vest and carefully placed the flower inside, trying not to ruin its petals and flatten them. Replacing the blade, he picked up his crossbow and grimaced at the effort of doing so. He was a wreck, bleeding and banged up like a horse that needed put down. But he couldn't afford to think of his pains any-more, he couldn't continue to mourn or grieve for those now gone. He needed to get back, he needed to warn them all, he needed to save them all somehow.
Beyond the flowers he heard the snapping of branches and the slow shuffling sound of the walking dead. The moans almost drowned out by the continued thunder but he heard them. Wiping the rain from his face he gave the bush one last look before limping around it to face the walker now shambling into his sights. It was an ugly sonofabitch, hair mostly gone and bare feet broken and bleeding as it dragged itself through the dirt and leaves of the forest floor. It turned in his direction as it heard him move, mouth falling open to reveal a blackened swollen tongue and further blackened teeth. Daryl watched it for a few seconds before squeezing the trigger of his crossbow.
"I'll be that man of honor," he told the walker.
Thanks for taking the time to read this guys.