This is the first time I've ever posted anything on here. I've read a lot of The Walking Dead fanfiction but never really considered writing any until I started telling my sister about this idea for a good story. She told me I should go ahead and put it on here. I had to write it on paper first because I'm weird like that and now, after a lot of loose leaf paper and a disgusting looking writers callous on my middle finger, I've decided to finally post the first chapter. I have four written so far. I hardened up some characters and softened up others. I went with what I would like to see Carol become as the show progresses. She's pretty hard core. Just a warning, when I say hardened up some characters that is exactly what I mean. Carol is still Carol but there is an edge here that some of you probably wont like. But this is just an idea that had been swimming around in my head that I really wanted to write. Some will hate it and that's okay but I hope others enjoy it. Oh, and I, unfortunately, do not own any of the characters or the show itself. Rated M for Language and future smut.

Chapter One

Carol crossed her arms over her chest and leaned her hip into the stainless steal counter. It hadn't been forty eight hours since Daryl had found her in the storage closet but it felt to her like much longer. Hershel was astounded by how quick she had recovered. But that was the way they had to be now. No one had time to lay around. There was too much that needed to be done. After some food, lots of water, a much needed shower and a little rest she felt strong enough to take on a herd of Walkers.

She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily as she went to the sink. No Walkers for her today. Instead she would have to make due with tackling the mess that the rest of the group had left. She was pretty sure that no one had bothered to do any cleaning while she was on her three day hiatus. The prison was grim enough as it was. The fact that it was filthy didn't help matters any. With another weary sigh she began the tedious task of getting the kitchen back in order.

"Need some help?" Someone asked from behind her. The old Carol would have flinched at the sudden sound. But she wasn't the old Carol. She hadn't been since last winter.

She turned her head slowly, blue eyes narrowing slightly as she dropped the rag and once again crossed her arms over her chest. "I believe I can manage on my own, Axel."

He stood in the doorway and eyed her from head to toe. It made her skin crawl. "Well, maybe when you get finished up in here we can take ourselves a walk around the yard."

"No." She turned back around and hoped he would finally get the hint. It seemed like ever since he found out that she wasn't a lesbian he thought there was a chance that she would return his interest. It wasn't going to happen.

"You know, I'm startin' to think that maybe you warned me away from Beth because you might be a slight bit jealous."

Carol almost laughed. Almost. Instead she spun around and glared at him. Was this guy serious? He was grinning which caused that ridiculous mustache of his widen over his lips. "Get the hell out of my kitchen, Axel, before I'm forced to remove you physically." She smiled a little as she let her hand rest on the hilt of the knife that hung from her belt. Yeah, definitely not the same Carol.

The grin slipped. "Fine," He muttered as he turned to leave the kitchen.

"Hey," Carol called before he was out of sight. He turned, a hopeful look in his eyes. "Stay the hell away from Beth. I don't know if you have noticed but Carl is real close to shooting you over that girl."

He frowned. "Carl and Beth? But he's just a boy."

"And she's just a girl. You best not forget that." She turned again, ending the conversation.

As she carried on with her work her thoughts drifted to the newcomers. She was usually leery of new people, especially since the world had turned to shit, but there was something about the new groups leader that made her more curious than afraid. Despite his intimidating size he seemed to be a good man. Just someone trying to survive this new world the best way he could while also trying to keep his family alive.

She had found herself gravitating towards the new group throughout the day until finally she just decided to strike up a conversation with the big man. He was friendly and open and it was pretty refreshing. She wasn't used to that. Most of the time her group was always quiet, thoughtful. Not really wasting much energy on idle chat. She really enjoyed talking which was another thing that she hadn't done much of before. So she spent quite a lot of her day in conversation with Tyreese, despite the warning looks she was getting from Carl and Beth.

She was worried about the new group and what Rick and Daryl would have to say when they finally came home. Rick seemed to be better but from what Beth had told her he had had a complete meltdown when he found out Lori hadn't made it. She knew that it mostly came from guilt and the fact that it was Carl who had ended it for her. Anyone would have had a hard time after that. It still wasn't easy to guess what his reaction would be to these new developments. She did, however, know exactly what Daryl's reaction was going to be. He was going to be furious. She laughed to herself when she pictured the fit he would undoubtedly throw once he got back. Especially when she was going to have a few things to say about it herself. She thought they should stay. It wasn't easy to find good people in this world and they needed numbers to survive. Their numbers had dwindled over the last year leaving the rest of the group more vulnerable. And it wasn't that long ago that Rick had plead his case to Hershel on the farm. She was definitely going to stand behind the new comers in this inevitable fight.

"Maybe not, though." She said out loud to the empty room. Maybe if she could just talk to Daryl before anyone else got a hold of his ear. He was getting better at listening to reason, at least if it came from her. But she knew that even she had only a slim chance at getting through to him over something like this. He didn't trust anyone. At least not anyone that wasn't a part of this group and even that had taken a lot of time and a lot of blood. But in his eyes, and to the rest of them, they were family. And he was extremely protective of them all.

The one she needed to convince the most was Rick. He had nominated himself as the official leader of their group but if she could get Daryl on her side then it wouldn't be as hard for her to convince Rick. If anyone could convince Daryl it was her, and if anyone could convince Rick it was Daryl.

She was wiping down the last counter when she looked up at the dirty windows and saw that night was receding into the dull blue of dawn. Her stomach clinched painfully. She was sure that they would have been back before daybreak.

She swallowed down the familiar panic that was trying to overwhelm her. How many times did they go out? And every time she had to force the thoughts of them not returning from her mind. They were strong. They would come home. "Stay safe." Those words bounced around frantically in her mind. Those were the last words he had muttered to her right before they had left to go rescue Glen and Maggie. It had never even occurred to her to tell him to do the same.

She shook her head as though that could loosen the panic she was feeling. He was a Dixon. The only thing that could kill a Dixon was a Dixon. That was something else he had told her a hundred times. She repeated those words to herself like a mantra. This time, for reasons she didn't understand, they didn't make her feel any better. This wasn't just a hunting trip. It wasn't a quick trek into town for supplies. They were actually going on a mission. A dangerous one that held more dangerous foes than mere Walkers. Walkers couldn't shoot. She leaned against the counter and started chewing her thumbnail nervously as she glanced occasionally at the brightening windows.

She wasn't aware of how long she had stood there like that but eventually she heard tires on the gravel outside. She let out a ragged breath and hurried down the dark hallway towards their cell block. The flashlight was slick in her sweaty hands and she slowed her pace, knowing they would all just roll their eyes at her worrying like that. They'd see it in her face. Well, Daryl would anyway. She didn't know about the others.

By the time she made her way through the doorway she had calmed herself down considerably. They were filing into the cell block slowly. Glen was leaning heavily into Rick, his face swollen and bloody, his chest bare. Maggie was helping a limping Michonne. All of their faces were grim and she couldn't help but notice that none of them, not even the new woman, would look at her. She reminded herself to breath as she watched them. Carl and Beth were filling Rick in on what had happened while they had been away. She kept glancing at the doorway, expecting him to come through. Hershel lead Glen and Maggie away to get Glen patched up and Beth held out a hand to a reluctant Michonne. Eventually she let the girl help her up and they followed Hershel and the others out of the room.

"We are gonna need all the manpower we can get. If you all agree that they are okay then go get them. We're gonna need their help." Rick said to Carl. As Carl hurried out of the room Rick finally looked up at her, his eyes seemed desperate. Silently pleading for her to understand.

"Where is he?" Carol kept her voice calm, revealing nothing of her turmoil. She had learned from the best.

"I'm sorry, Carol." Ricks voice was barely a whisper but the words rang in her ears as though he had shouted them at her. As her heart pounded and her stomach turned she forced her expression to remain calm.

"Sorry for what, Rick?"

Rick dropped his head and shook it back and forth but didn't say anything right away.

"Dead?" She asked as a cold knot formed in her chest. She was having trouble catching her breath and her cool facade started to crumble. It felt like her chest was wrapped in steal bands. She hadn't felt such loss since the farm. She hadn't thought that she would ever feel that way again. But she was feeling it now, and now there wasn't anyone to run too.

"We don't know that. Not for sure." He hissed as he took a few steps towards her. She didn't back down from him the way she would have before. Instead she squared her shoulders as her eyes flashed coldly.

"What do you mean, we don't know that? Either he's dead or he got left behind. Which is it, Rick?" She tried hard to keep her voice level. But she didn't need him to answer the question. She already knew by the defeated look he was giving her. They had left him. If he was dead then he would have told her outright. She couldn't be angry at Glen or Maggie. They were both lucky to be alive themselves, but Rick? She clenched her fists in anger.

He scrubbed at his haggard face with his hands before meeting her eyes again. "You don't understand. After we finally found Glen and Maggie it was chaos. Right when we were about to make a break for it he just took off. He said he was gonna lay down some cover fire..." His voice trailed off as he stared at her. "But I don't think that is what he was doing at all. I think once he was sure we were gonna make it out of there he went after Merle. We waited for hours once we got out. He never came."

"Merle? As in Merle Dixon? You're kidding." Carol's heart sank. She didn't want Merle dead. Not really. He was just a class A jerk. But she saw what Daryl was like with him around. In the beginning. He was nothing like that now. With Merle in his life things could unravel. All the progress he had made in the last year. All gone. And she knew what Merle would have to say about her. Would her best friend abandon her for his real family?

Rick nodded. "Merle's the one that did that to Glen. Said it was payback for Atlanta. Once Daryl found out that Merle was alive I should have known he would go after him. But what could I do?"

"What about Oscar?" Axel asked from behind Carol. She hadn't even realized that Oscar hadn't come in with the others.

Rick sat heavily in one of the mismatched chairs. "He didn't make it, Axel. He went down as we were going over the wall. Maggie put him down so he wouldn't turn."

Axel simply nodded and left the room.

"So, we need to go back out there. Tonight. We have to go get him." Carol said as she finally let hope loosen the bands around her chest. She took a deep breath.

"We will. But not tonight. Glen and Michonne are both injured. We are all exhausted and there has to be someone here to protect the prison. You don't understand the firepower these men have. It's only gonna be a matter of time before they regroup and come here to kill us all. I need to talk to this new group and feel them out. We can make a trade. They can help us get Daryl back and we can let them stay on here. As long as they are good people and Carl tells me they are."

"So we leave him there while you rest up?" Carol snapped. She crossed the few feet that was separating them, he stood up from the chair. She was so close that she had to look up to make eye contact. "This is Daryl we're talkin about, Rick! How many people have we lost since the quarry? It's just the five of us left! Me, you, Carl, Glen and Daryl. And there wouldn't be a me or you if it wasn't for him! He's saved us a hundred times over! And he is the one that has been taking care of your kid's while you were off having a breakdown!"

"Don't you think I already know what I owe him!" Rick roared as he grabbed her by the shoulders.

Carol didn't even think about what she was about to do. For a second her mind flashed back to last winter in the woods, when it was just her and Daryl coming back to their camp after trying to hunt for food.

"Why do you think you're a burden?" Daryl had asked.

She had given him a sideways glance as they trudged through the cold silent woods. "Because I am. I'm this groups damsel in distress all the time. I'm more of a burden on you all than anything else."

He had stopped then and put his hands on his hips then scowled at her. "You're right I 'spose." His voice was quiet.

"Leave it to you to not sugarcoat anything, Dixon." His words had stung a little but she couldn't help but smile as he'd narrowed his eyes at her.

He grunted. "If you wanted somebody to stroke your ego then you'd be off whinin to one of the women right now instead of me. You're whinin to me cause you know I'll tell the truth." He smirked.

She put her hands on her own hips and unconsciously mirrored his stance, narrowed eyes and all. She spent most of every day with him as he taught her how to use the knife he had given her. They spent every night together smashed into a one person sleeping bag as they shared body heat to keep from freezing. The others had mentioned how, day by day, they had become more and more in sync. The way they moved around each other, the way they spoke, sometimes even facial expressions. She even found herself smelling like him most of the time since they shared the small sleeping space.

Of course Carol was usually the more pleasant of the two. Just because she spent all her time with him didn't mean it made her turn into a brooding cursing bad tempered Dixon.

"I'm not whining about anything. I'm just saying that I'm sick of feeling like the weakest link in this group. I want to be able to protect our people. Not just myself. I want to be more like you." She hadn't meant to say that last part out loud, she felt the heat rise in her cheeks.

He snorted and shook his head. "Then stop your cryin' and actually DO somethin' about it, woman. You ain't gotta be that weak little mouse everyone else see's. I know you're a lot more than that."

She glared at him. "And what do you suppose I should do? Besides what I'm doing already?"

His lips twitched and then before she could even register that he had moved he was right there in her face. His strong hands gripped her slender shoulders roughly and he used one leg to knock her feet out from under her. She landed hard on her back. He pounced, landing on top of her and pinning her to the ground with all of his weight.

She was stunned and confused but unafraid. There was a lot worse positions she could find herself in. She was just a little dismayed by her bodies reaction to his closeness. She stopped concentrating on how good it felt and started concentrating more on why he was on top of her in the first place. Her blush deepened. He brought his head down and put his mouth so close to her ear that his lips actually brushed against her skin as he spoke.

"You fight back, Dummy." He whispered. And even though every cell in her body wanted nothing more than to stay like that, she shoved against him as hard as she could. And that was the beginning of a long hard winter of learning to do just that. She fought back.

"You fight back." His voice once again whispered in her mind. Rick hadn't loosened his grip on her. She lashed out then, her fist connecting with his mouth. He dropped his hold on her and took a few steps back, wiping blood from his lips with the back of his hand.

"You do what you need to do, Rick. I'll go after him myself. Tonight."

"No one is leaving!" His voice boomed as she turned to walk away. She stopped and faced him once more.

"What are you gonna do, Rick? You gonna lock me up in a cell until I calm down? By the time you get your head out of your ass he could be dead already. That ain't a chance I'm willin to take."

"He could be dead right now, Carol. I'm telling you, if you do this it's suicide."

"I guess I'll find out."

"I said no one leaves." He said from between gritted teeth. There was a storm brewing behind his tired eyes.

She threw him a tight smile. "You know, this role you are playin here, this little Dictatorship you got going on? It isn't workin for me anymore. If I ain't welcome back after I leave here tonight then that's fine. I understand that you gotta punish your people somehow. But I swear to you right now, I will get him out of Woodbury and when I do who do you think he'll choose? Me or you? I'm just curious about one thing after he makes his decision." She turned on her heal and headed towards the cell she had, until recently, shared with Lori.

"What's that?" Rick asked quietly as he watched her walk away.

She threw him what she knew was a smug look over her shoulder. "Let's see how long you people survive without him. You know what his choice will be." Those were almost the same words Rick had said to them after the farm.

She paced the small area of the cell trying to come up with a plan but the combination of fear and anger that was pumping through her blood kept any rational thought at bay. She dropped to her knees and peered under the bottom bunk. There was her bags and a few of Lori's. She pulled Lori's out, already knowing that there wasn't anything useful in her own. She had no idea what she was even looking for. Lori had some knives and a couple of handguns stashed away so Carol threw them on the bed. She felt frantic. She stopped and slowed her breathing. A few minutes passed as she tried to clear her mind. She needed to be sharp, not a blubbering mess. He needed her and she had to keep herself from falling apart. She angrily wiped away the tears that were, to her, a sign of weakness. There was no time for grief. There was nothing to grieve over. She would get him out and everything would be fine. She told herself that over and over as she tore back into Lori's bag.

She heard her cell door creep open but she refused to turn to see who was there. She was done arguing and she figured it was Rick or at the very least Axle.

"Can we come in?" A husky female voice asked from the open cell door.

Carol looked up at the unfamiliar voice and was a little surprised to find Michonne standing there with a nervous looking Maggie hovering behind her. She nodded at the two women and continued on with her rummaging. "If the two of you came to try to talk me out of this then you're wasting your breath and my time." She said. She sounded harsher than she had meant too.

Maggie came forward and knelt on the floor between Carol and the bag. "We ain't here to talk you out of anythin." She said softly in that sweet southern drawl that always made her seem younger than she really was. "God knows if it was Glen out there I'd be doin the same."

"Me and Daryl ain't nothin like you and Glen, Maggie." Carol said softly as she stared miserably into the duffel bag before she met Maggie's kind eyes.

Maggie took Carols hands in her own and gave her a small knowing smile. "No, you ain't. But you're still two people that love each other. You'd both sacrifice yourself to save the others life. You need one another the way Glen and I do. Am I wrong?"

That accent was soothing to Carols frayed nerves. She nodded. "That's how we all are Maggie. You know that." She said it almost sadly.

Maggie rolled her eyes. "You're right. There ain't a person here that I wouldn't fight to the death for. But I'll always fight a little harder for Glen. That's what you do when you're in love. You and Daryl are the only two people here that's just too damn stubborn to see that it's the same for the both of ya."

Carol gaped at the girl for a second before she felt her features pull down in a scowl, then, in true Dixon form, shook her head and scoffed. "Not everybody has a love story, Maggie. You'll see that someday. But you are right about one thing. I'm gonna fight just a little bit harder because he's my friend. We've been through a lot together and I know he'd do the same for me. Rick ain't gonna do a damn thing."

"Look," Michonne interrupted before Maggie could say anything in Rick's defense, "You can't go in there, guns blazing. I know them well enough to know that after what happened last night they are going to be on high alert. You wont make it two feet into that town before you are either gunned down or taken prisoner. Either way you wont be any good to that redneck man of yours."

Carol was about to argue but Michonne put up a hand to stop her. "You need a plan."

"Well, why the hell didn't I think of that myself? Thanks. You two have saved the day." Carol muttered. Her voice dripping sarcasm.

Michonne ignored her. "The Governor has probably already had this place scouted. We saw them leave last night while we were waiting on your man to come out."

"Stop calling him that." Carol hissed.

Michonne didn't skip a beat, "Were you outside at all last night?"

Carol nodded, her face grim. "I was for quite a while actually. I took watch early on and then Carl and I walked the fence to make sure everything was still secure. Why? So what if someone seen me? I don't plan on just introducing myself and marching right in."

"That was actually exactly what I was going to suggest. Or it was before I knew you had been out last night. It would be impossible to sneak in again. Not after we did. But if you were just one unarmed woman running for your life, well, the Governor would probably welcome you in with open arms. He's all about image. I don't think he would turn you away. It would make him look bad."

Maggie grinned at Michonne. "Now that's a good plan. Seems to be the safest way since no one's gonna talk you out of going."

"But that plans a bust. If anyone saw me then they'll sound the alarm as soon as I get there. Then I'm dead for sure and so is Daryl." Carol ran a hand through her short hair and groaned. "Thanks anyway girls. I think I might just have to do the sneaking in thing. It's the only way."

"There has to be some way to make this work. Somehow you have to get him out of there without getting yourself killed." Maggie fumed as she began to idly rummage through the bag herself.

"Sorry, Maggie, but I'm fresh out of wigs and costumes. I think I can sneak in and out okay. If I have to kill a few men in the process then so be it. I'm fast and I'm quiet. I don't need you worrying about me. I'll be fine."

Maggie was about to say something when her hand brushed against something. She looked into the bag and pulled out a box. She stared at it for a few seconds and then she gave Michonne a wide eyed grin, tossing her the box. She looked at the box and then to Carol and back again, her eyes bright with excitement.

"Why would you all have something like this?" Michonne asked but even she seemed excited by whatever it was that Maggie had found.

"Maggie, what the hell is that?" Carol asked as she snatched the box from Michonnes hands.

"You'd just have to have known Lori to understand." Maggie said to Michonne with a slight shake of her head. "Leave it to Lori to worry about her roots even after the world has ended."

Carol grimaced as she looked at the box. "You're kidding, right?" She held up the box of dark brown hair color.

Maggie and Michonne both shook their heads in unison. "Darken up the hair, maybe a little wardrobe change. Who knows?" Michonne shrugged. "It could really work. Especially if they seen you from a distance."

Maggie grabbed Carols hands and pulled her up from the floor. She tugged on the hem of Carols dingy shapeless blouse and then eyed her baggy pants. "Is this what you wore when you were out?" She asked as she made a face at Carols clothes.

"Come on you two! This is serious! I'm not gonna hang around and play makeover with you guys. Now, lets sit down and come up with something that will actually work. Please? This really ain't the time for you, Maggie, to get on my case about my clothes."

Michonne stared at her with narrowed eyes. "If playing dress up with us can save your man then you need to consider it. I really think this will work."

Carol groaned. "Stop calling him that." She muttered, more to herself than to Michonne. But Maggie could tell by her defeated tone that she was, indeed, finally going to get Carol out of those old lady clothes. She was nearly bouncing up and down when Carol stormed past them. "Let's go then. I'm gonna need all the help I can get." Maggie and Michonne followed her to the showers.

Thirty minutes later Carol found herself standing in front of one of the dirty shower room mirrors staring at herself critically. Michonne sat cross legged against the wall behind her drawing out a map of the town of Woodbury. She wasn't sure how she felt about her new dark locks. Her hair had never been dark before. She sort of liked it. She hadn't ever considered coloring her hair before. Ed had forced her to cut off all her hair a year after they were married. That was when he started dictating what she could wear and who she could speak too. After that she just never really cared much about her looks. This was so different she couldn't stop looking at herself.

"Maggie is taking way too long." Carol mumbled as she glanced at Michonne through the mirror. "I'm getting scared. She's gonna go overboard, I just know it."

Michonne raised her eyes from the paper and nodded. "I have a feeling that girl is enjoying herself much more than you are. I like the hair though. It's a good look for you." She tilted her head to the side, "It does make you look a lot different. That's a good thing."

"Thanks a lot." Carol grumbled. She hadn't thought there was anything wrong with the way she had looked before.

Michonne rolled her eyes. "I meant that if any scouts saw you out there they probably wont think you are the same person. Especially after Maggie gets you dolled up." She actually cracked a shadow of a smile. The first one Carol had seen.

Maggie came in just then, looking breathless. She threw a pile of clothes on the counter. "Okay, let's see what we can find." She turned and stared at Carol. "Oh my God. That looks so good!"She gushed. "I love it. You look..." Her voice trailed off and she looked at Michonne for help.

"Fierce. You look like you could kick some serious ass now." Michonne chimed in.

"I can kick serious ass." Carol said deadpan.

"I was gonna say hot." Maggie grinned.

"Shut up, Maggie. I've never been hot. Now what the hell is all this?" She gestured toward the pile of clothes and picked out something black and lacy. Her eyebrows shot up. "Really?" She held up the bra with her thumb and forefinger.

Maggie shrugged. "Figured you would want a little paddin."

"Once again, honey, you figured wrong." She let the garment fall back into the pile and picked up a pair of jeans, ignoring Maggie's pout.

"Actually that isn't a bad idea, Carol." Michonne said, not looking up from her drawing. "He's a ladies man. The sweeter that body of yours looks when you make it in there, the better the chances of charming him into keeping you there."

"I don't plan on running screaming through the town in my underwear." Carol grumbled. "And I don't plan on datin the man. I just need to get in there long enough to get Daryl out. That's it."

Maggie frowned. "But if it helps. You have to do everything you can to make sure you can get in good with that son of a bitch."

Carol growled. "Why did you bring so much stuff?" She asked as she started picking through the clothes once again. She held up an ordinary looking black tank top that was at least two sizes too small for her.

"I couldn't guess what size you were so I got some of Lori's things and some of mine." Maggie said as she handed her a pair of jeans that also looked too small. "Just put these on." She snatched up the bra Carol had tossed to the side and the black tank top she had just been looking at. She shoved the clothes into Carols arms and gave her a huge smile. "It's for Daryl. Just keep repeatin that in your head if it helps. He'd do the same for you."

"Hold on. I don't think you should go in there completely defenseless either." Michonne said as she sat down the notebook and pulled her bag onto her lap. She pulled out two knives out of a side pocket and gazed at them fondly.

"How could I sneak those in? I thought you said that they made you hand over all of your weapons when you got there?"

"They did, but we can improvise." She pulled out a roll of masking tape from the same side pocket on the bag and began taping off the blades of the knives. "This will keep them from cutting you."

"Great," Carol groaned when Michonne handed her the knives and the tape. "What am I suppose to do with these?" They weren't large knives. The blades were no longer than six inches long but having them would be better than having no weapons at all. But she wasn't sure how she could get them into Woodbury.

"The hilts are sort of flat. You tape them to your inner thighs and no one would be able to see them. I'd feel a lot better if you had something on you. You wont even know they are there." Mechonne nodded, "Go on now, Rambo. Get yourself ready."

She went to one of the shower stalls to change. She grumbled to herself the whole time but she was surprised that everything sort of fit. Everything was a lot more clingy than she was used too but it wasn't as bad as she thought. She wasn't expecting to even get the pants buttoned. They must have been Lori's. She was also surprised that Michonne was right. She was expecting the knives to be uncomfortable but that wasn't the case. They didn't stick out at all so unless they patted her down, which she hoped they would not, she could sneak them in undetected. The shirt was to tight but it wasn't something she couldn't live with and the stupid bra that Maggie had forced her into made her seem much bigger in that area than she really was. She lingered in the stall for longer than necessary, dreading Maggie's reaction.

When she finally made her way out Maggie and Michonne were leaning against the wall looking as though they were deep in conversation. That conversation abruptly stopped when they both glanced up as she came around the corner.

"Wow!" Maggie beamed. "You don't even look like the same person! There's no way in hell they'd recognize you." She grabbed Carols hand and pulled her over to the mirror. "Look, Carol! You have hips!" She laughed.

"Jesus, I look ridiculous." She moaned as she looked at her reflection.

"No, you don't." Maggie said as she turned Carol around by the shoulders to face her. "You look really good. I don't think you've been told that enough, Carol. Learn how to take a compliment. You can't always just blend into the background. I think you should do this more often."

Carol shook her head. She took a little comfort in the fact that when this was over she could go right back to being wallflower Carol. She didn't want to stick out.

Maggie sighed, letting the topic drop. "I talked to Rick."

Carols defenses instantly went up. "It don't matter either way what Ricks opinion in on the matter. This is happening whether he likes it or not. He isn't my keeper. Not anymore."

Maggie held up her hands. "He actually thinks it's a good plan. He's even talking it over with Tyreese and his group to see if they could help. Tyreese looked pretty eager. Beth tells me you and him hit it off from the start. She thinks he has a thing for you." She giggled.

"Maggie, you're insane." Carol grumbled but it did nothing to shut Maggie up.

"I bet Daryl has a fit if he finds out somebody else has their eye on you. Then maybe you'll see what everybody else does."

Carol ignored her. She was thankful that Rick was letting the new group in. It would have been a shame if they were forced out. "Let's go then. If they are gonna put their two cents in then I need to be there to see what they have to say. It is a good idea to send some back up.

When they got back to their cell block Maggie made a beeline for the cell she shared with Glen. Carol hoped he was okay. He had looked pretty bad when they had came in. The others were gathered around one of the tables. Rick and Tyreese were the only ones talking. Everyone glanced up as Carol and Michonne approached them and then did a double take. It made Carol feel like she was in one of those dreams where you found yourself in the middle of class and realize you had forgotten to get dressed. Narrowing her eyes she squared her shoulders and stormed over to Rick and Tyreese.

Michonne sat the map down in front of Rick. "I marked all the areas that are usually manned but that don't mean a whole lot now. They would surely have more people on guard unless we killed off a lot of their muscle. It was hard to tell if we were really hitting anyone with all that smoke."

Rick tore his gaze from Carol and looked down at the map in front of him. Carol leaned in closer so she could peer down over Rick and Thyress's shoulders, trying to remember as much of the details as she could. Michonne had even marked the buildings that she thought they would use to keep prisoners. Most of those buildings were accessible from the back. Tyreese and Allen had already agreed to go with her all the way to Woodbury but then stay out of sight so they could keep an eye on the backs of the buildings. Once she got Daryl they could leave through one of the back buildings. The entire town was fenced off but that was easy to remedy with bolt cutters. Allen had already ran off to fetch tools and other supplies with Axle.

Carol came around the table to stand in front of them with a frown.

"Well? What do you think?" Tyreese asked. His voice sounded too soft for a such a big person.

"I don't like that fact that you two will just be standing around waiting on me. It puts you both at risk, not just from people that could be patrolling the outskirts of town but also Walkers. I don't need to worry about things like that when I need to stay focused and get to Daryl. I can manage this on my own." She gave Rick a pointed look but it was Tyreese that spoke up.

"Look. We already went over that. We'll have some prison garb to wear over our clothes. We find a Walker or two and then..." His voice trailed off and he grimaced.

Rick finished his sentence for him. "They do the same thing Glen and I did that time in Atlanta. The same thing that got Mechonne here without her getting attacked."

Carol made a disgusted face. "But I still don't think it's the greatest idea. You two are essentially risking your life for people you don't even know. It doesn't make any sense. And if Rick told you that you have to do it them forget it to earn your place here then forget it."

Tyreese shook his head and gave her a small smile. "He didn't. I volunteered." He held up a hand to cut her off before she could even say anything. "I want to help. We've been out there a long time. Lost a lot of good people and you are the only folks we've ran into that isn't worse than the dead that's walkin around out there. If this man is as good a person as you all let on he is then I want to get him outta that place.

"He is. But I want you to understand that I don't expect you to do this. Not for strangers. That is all we are to you right now."

"I'm looking to change that, ma'am." He said.

So it's all set then?" She looked at Rick but he only nodded, avoiding her gaze. She picked up the map and was about to go to her cell so she could be alone. She wanted to memorize everything about it, but she paused. "Rick, can I talk to you? Alone?" She was starting to feel bad about what happened earlier. He looked like he was in bad shape. She knew he was exhausted and stressed and still trying hard to get over the loss of Lori. She should have cut him some slack but she let her emotions run away with her. She was still bitter. She was still angry that he would leave Daryl there to die but he had so much on his shoulders all the time. And he had came through for them over the winter. She owed him an apology.

Instead of leading him to her cell she found herself taking the stairs up to Daryl's perch. She hadn't put Lori's things away and she didn't want him to have to look at all her things. He had been through enough. There really wasn't a place to sit other than the pile of mattresses that Daryl had piled up in a corner to use as a makeshift bed. She sat down and patted the spot next to her.

"You ain't gonna hit me again, are you?" He asked. The ghost of a smile played at the corners of his lips.

Carol shook her head and let out a weary sigh. He sat down beside her and hung his head low as he stared down at his boots.

"Rick, look. I'm really sorry for the stuff I said earlier and I'm even more sorry for hitting you like that. I had no right to act that way. I know you well enough to know that leaving like that was a hard decision."

She heard him chuckle and turned her head sharply to look at him. "That ain't nothin compared to what I'll catch from Daryl after he finds out I sent you into the lions den alone to get him out."

She laughed. It felt good to laugh after the day she had had. "He'll just be pissed because a girl saved his ass. Don't take it personal. Besides, this is what he was getting me ready for. All the fighting and the training. It was so I could be useful if one of us ever found ourselves in trouble."

"Yeah, you're right." He shook his head and looked at her like she was stupid. "It couldn't have had anything to do with all the time he got to spend with you all hot and sweaty rollin around in the dirt." He tried, unsuccessfully to dodge her hand as she smacked him in the back of the head.

"What the hell has gotten into everybody around here! You know it wasn't like that! You all know it!" She shook her head but she was grateful that the tension between them had broken. Even if it was at her expense. "If it was like that then he wouldn't have had me runnin laps around a prison yard like a common criminal."

"Carol, did it ever think that maybe he wanted you to learn all that because he wanted you to be able to protect yourself, and not everybody else? Maybe because he couldn't handle the thought of something happenin to you? Because he cares about you?" His voice was serious now.

Carol shook her head and looked away. "We all care about each other, Rick. That's what makes us all family. Right?"

She felt him get up and listened to his heavy footfalls as he walked towards the stairs. "That's right. But I also think that all that runnin he made you do was for his benefit too." His voice was louder than it needed to be.

She looked at him then. "What?"

He gave her another smile and turned to leave. "Never mind." She heard the humor in his voice.

She had no idea what he was talking about but a few seconds later she heard Maggie and Hershel start laughing, followed by everyone else in the cell block. She frowned and laid back onto the bed to study the map. She could hear everyone else bustling around below her. She listened to the quiet conversation about their plans for the night and when would be the best time to leave. It all became white noise to her after a while and she felt her eyelids begin to droop. It had been a rough few days. She rolled over onto her side and took a deep breath. She was only going to lay there for a minute and secretly enjoy his scent that was all over the pillow under her face but she quickly drifted off to sleep.