Title: This Belongs To You
Summary: In the aftermath of Daryl's return to camp after almost dying searching for Sophia, the group find themselves pulling a little closer to one another.
Notes: Set during season two episode 'Secrets'. The idea for this came during a discussion about when Rick gave the ears back to Daryl after hiding them in Chupacabra. I then wanted to add the pillow bit too.
Lori was the one to come and find her.
She'd sat alone in the RV since they'd left for dinner. Lori immediately noticed the doll in Carol's hands. It was dirty and damp and there were specks of blood on it, but it was something Carol had to cling to while Sophia was missing. "Are you okay?" Lori asked, standing by the door.
"I don't know what Daryl thought when he saw this... but I can't imagine one good reason why my daughter would drop this and leave it behind. And the only reason I think she wouldn't have picked it up is if she was being chased and..." Carol put a hand up to her face, covered her mouth as a sob escaped.
Lori closed the gap between the two of them and quickly had her arms around the other lady, offering comfort. She too had thought much like Carol, why would Sophia not have her doll, and she was surprised by how Rick and Daryl saw it as a sign of hope. "Maybe it proves Daryl right. Didn't he say she'd most likely stick by the water as it was her only landmark? Maybe she dropped it in a deeper bit and it washed downstream until Daryl found it? I don't know the answers, but you can't give up hope, Carol. She needs you."
Carol wiped away the tears and nodded. "You're right, I know you're right..." she let out a breath and tried to regain her composure.
"Why don't you come and sit out by the fire with us all, okay?" Lori suggested.
Carol nodded. "I'll be out in a minute?"
"...all I'm saying is, he ain't said nothin' about finding her trail again. If she were down by the water playing with her doll, he'd have seen her tracks, right?"
Lori heard Shane's words. Ready to shut down all hope of finding Sophia. She quickly made her way from the RV over to the others. "That's enough, Shane! Carol doesn't need to hear your thoughts on this," she said, angrily.
Shane rolled his eyes but kept quiet. Some of the others looked relieved, some looked guilty, most probably because they agreed with Shane about this. Lori sat beside Rick. "Do you want to stay with Carl tonight?" she asked him.
"You stay with him. I'd rather you be in the house. Besides, kids always want their Mom when they're ill."
She smiled at him sadly, touching his face gently, before leaning forward and kissing him. "I'll come back to the house with you. Say goodnight to Carl and I'll check with Hershel, make sure Daryl's okay."
She nodded. It was getting late and they couldn't afford to leave it much later before they headed back. Lori was all to aware of the burden they'd put on Hershel's family.
Rick found Hershel just leaving Daryl's room.
"Everything okay?" he asked.
Hershel nodded. "Wanted to check his temperature before I headed to bed. See if there were any signs he might get an infection. I have to admit, I thought it was more than likely he would, considering the state he came back in, but he appears to be doing okay."
Rick nodded, relieved for the good news. "Is he awake? I'd like to see him."
"He is but I'd hold off for the morning. I think he's had his fill of people today." Rick nodded, understanding that. Daryl was a person who appreciated his own company.
"Rick?" a woman's voice sounded behind him and he turned to say Patricia stood there. "These are Daryl's," she said, handing him Daryl's trousers and shirt.
"Thank you. For everything," Rick said to both of them. They both offered a small smile in return.
"What have you got there?" Carol asked Rick when he returned alone.
Some of the others had gone to sleep by now. Shane was on watch while Dale sat beside Andrea and Carol. She'd noticed the clothes in Rick's arms.
"Daryl's clothes. I'll take him something clean up tomorrow morning."
"I'll wash them," Carol offered, reaching out for them. "It's the least I can do, considering all Daryl's done for me."
The gentle knocking on the door pulled Daryl from his sleep and he felt somewhat ashamed that he'd needed to be woken up.
He had no idea of the time, but he doubted anyone would wake him up early in the morning and the idea of being in these virtual strangers houses, sleeping in their beds made him feel incredibly uncomfortable. He sat up quickly, regretting it when his head swam with dizziness.
He opted to sit himself up a little slower, resting on the cushions behind his head and once he adjusted the covers up high enough, he answered the knock at the door. "Yeah?" he said, sounding weary still.
The door opened and Rick peeked inside. "Mind if I come in?" he asked.
"Your heads already in," Daryl replied and Rick assumed that was Daryl's way of saying 'Sure, come in pal'.
"I figured you'd probably want to get out of here today, so I bought you some clean clothes," Rick said.
When Daryl looked at him a little puzzled he added "Hershel said he told you about it? After you cleaned yourself up he didn't want you to put those clothes on so he passed them to us."
"Oh yeah," Daryl mumbled, a conversation vaguely familiar coming back to him now. He struggled up a little more as Rick put the clean shirt and trousers next to him on the bed.
Rick stood there for a moment looking at Daryl before he sat on the bed. "I want you to know that we're still gonna be out there looking for Sophia today. I think... it's re-energised people."
"Not everyone," Daryl countered. Upon Rick's look, Daryl continued. "These walls aren't that thick. I heard Shane."
"Shane has had a problem with this for a while. But that's his problem. I still think she's out there, alive. And so do you. That counts for something."
"I should get dressed and get outta here," Daryl said, changing the subject.
"Hershel's about to come by and check your injuries. You'll be good to go then."
Daryl nodded at that. He just needed to wait.
Andrea heard a muffled sob and turned to see Carol trying not to cry.
She walked over to the other woman who had her back to her and stopped beside her. In Carol's trembling hands she held Daryl's vest. It was nearly completely soaked with his blood, patches of the original colour of the shirt could be made out in between the huge bloodstains.
They'd both seen Daryl yesterday when he'd been brought back to the farm wearing this, but there was something about holding the material in her hands that shook Carol more.
Andrea put her hand on Carol's shoulder, trying to offer some small comfort. Carol looked to her, eyes welling up with tears. "We could so easily have died. And his blood would have been on my hands," she said, dropping Daryl's clothes to the ground and rushing off into the RV.
Andrea sighed and picked up Daryl's discarded clothing and started to dunk them in the water bucket Carol had prepared.
Rick was waiting for Daryl when he stepped outside the bedroom, Hershel just behind him.
"... if you have any problems with the wound don't worry about stopping by. I'd hate to think of you people leaving when there was something I could help with."
Daryl eyed Rick briefly and he saw the man's head drop. So Hershel had given them their marching orders it seemed. He wondered who else in the group knew that the farmer wanted them gone sooner rather than later from the sounds of it. "It'll be fine," Daryl dismissed, heading for the door.
"Listen," Hershel said, using his stern voice to stop Daryl in his tracks before he left the farmhouse and was likely never to return again. "you don't seem the type to take medical advice all that seriously but I'll tell you this once. Your injury isn't too bad. I don't think you'll have a problem with it provided you give yourself a couple of days to rest and let it heal. If you start going out there searching for that little girl again you'll make it worse. Truth be told, if you split it open and it gets infected we're going to have a hard time treating it with supplies like they are."
Daryl looked at the man. The sincerity in his voice and he knew he couldn't afford to risk it. Rick had already assured him that the search for Sophia would continue and at least the others had a plan, a system. He nodded to the other man and headed out the door.
Rick watched him go before he turned to Hershel. "Thank you," he said.
Hershel nodded and went on his way.
"You mind if I borrow a book?" Andrea asked.
"Of course not, you know I don't mind," he said.
"It's not for me, it's for Daryl. I figure I'll take it as a peace offering. Hope he won't throw it in my face," Andrea admitted still feeling the guilt over what had happened yesterday. She needed to make things right before she drove herself crazy thinking about it.
"Well help yourself, I'm sure there's something here that Daryl might enjoy," Dale said, looking at the scattering of books he possessed. "Then again..." he let the words trail off as he smiled at her before heading outside.
Daryl was grateful that only a handful of the group were at the camp when he returned.
Dale offered a "How you doing son?" and Lori spared him a quick smile as she disappeared into her tent to change after her night by Carl's bedside. He could hear the voices of some of the others but he ducked into his tent quickly before he was noticed.
With nothing to do, nowhere to go he lay on the cot of his tent and watched the others go about their business. Lori took clothes for Carl up to the farmhouse and she emerged a short time later with Carl, finally up on his feet.
He heard her talking about feeding the chickens. And he saw the older blonde from the farmhouse head out the same way too.
The others in camp were bustling around, Glenn taking around peaches that the farmers daughter had been carrying around earlier, looked like the majority were getting ready for their day heading out for Sophia. He caught snatches of talk about gun training.
"Hey," Rick said appearing at the opening of the tent. Daryl replied with a brief nod of his head. "I bought you this," Rick said, holding up a flowery pillow and holding it out to the hunter.
At Daryl's quizzical look Rick continued. "Hershel said you need to rest and if you're gonna be resting all day you could at least have a decent pillow."
"I ain't takin' that. S'not mine," Daryl said. Rick dropped his arm holding out the pillow at that.
"It's not being used the whole day. It's just sat there. Give it back tonight." Rick said, holding out the pillow again and this time Daryl took it, stuffed it behind his head.
Rick took a couple of steps away before stopping and looking back to Daryl. Like he was unsure of whether he should speak or not.
It made Daryl nervous.
Rick looked outside before stepping closer to Daryl. "This belongs to you." Rick said, pulling the necklace of walker ears and holding them out in front of him.
Daryl took them and looked at the grisly trophy he'd made himself. He hadn't really thought about it since he'd got back. He'd just woke up and it was gone and he'd forgotten all about it. Unsure whether it was just some crazy hallucination he'd had. "Why'd you keep it?" he asked.
Rick shrugged. "It's not mine to decide what happens to it."
Daryl just nodded as he looked at it as it swung slightly from his hand.
"Do me a favour though, if for any reason Hershel heads out this way, don't let him see it."
Daryl nodded. He sat up and grabbed a bag that was by his bed, pulling it closer, he dropped the ears in there. He lay back down again, his aching muscles protesting the slight movement.
"Me and Shane are taking a group of people out for gun training so it should be nice and quiet around camp. We're gonna go look at the map, see where we wanna head off to today looking for Sophia after what you found yesterday," Rick explained.
Daryl just nodded.
"With Carl up, I'm gonna stay at camp, so if you need anything, gimme a shout, okay?"
"Go already," Daryl said. "That little girl needs to be found."
Rick nodded and left the hunter alone.