(And that's literally about all I got right now.)

Seriously though, 3x15. Help. Hold me.

Also I wrote a thing.

Spoilers, obviously.

And, obviously, I still don't own anything.

Please enjoy while I go cry into a pillow.

He'd come close to just brushing past all of them and heading straight for his cell.

Rick had blocked his path. Ducked his head. Caught his eyes.

Carol watched from the bottom of the stairs as Daryl's face grew grim, his eyes creasing into Rick's own. In silence, the man shook his head.

"Merle's gone."

He didn't look up to note Michonne standing nearby.

He didn't even acknowledge Carol herself as he stepped past her and headed to the second tier.

The sun was coming up.

Everyone was moving, prepping, pausing here and there to look at each other, reach out, touch a shoulder, nod.

Offer encouragement.

This was it.

They didn't know when it would happen. They didn't know when the Governor and his "army" would come for them.

But they were coming, and at Rick's urging they'd collectively discussed it and decided to stay and fight.

The prison was their home, and they were a family. They would fight together, and if it came down to it, they would die together.

When everyone was strapped to the teeth and ready, the bay fell still and quiet.

They crowded together in the center, circling Glenn, Maggie and Hershel as the farmer opened his Bible to read passages of love and marriage, loyalty and compassion.

She smiled, ignored the tears that streamed down her cheeks.

Maggie's hands shook when Glenn placed the ring on her finger, and the two leaned in to kiss as they all clapped in a brief moment of genuine pride and joy.

Carol turned from the small celebration to find Daryl on the outer edge of the huddle, just behind her. He met her eyes and blinked, nodded hesitantly in silence.

And turned to walk away, rifle in hand and bow hanging almost somberly near his waist.

They were tasked with getting Carl and Judith to a safe location deep within the bowels of the prison. Carl had nearly protested, but to Carol's surprise the young man seemed to understand that this meant he would literally be the last line of defense for his baby sister.

They couldn't be sure if the Governor's men would do something as heartless as killing an infant.

But Rick and Michonne seemed adamant that the man himself very well could, just to be spiteful.

They left Carl huddled with the baby in a closet similar to the one Daryl had found her in, supplied with water, formula, two guns and plenty of ammo. They locked doors and gates on their way back out.

It was a long, painful return.

She watched him from the corner of her eye as Daryl led them back out of the "tombs". His flashlight flickered from one side of the halls to the other, the keys jingling in his other hand.

Carol gripped her rifle and followed his movements as he checked and re-checked every last cell and corner.

For several long, aching minutes, he didn't speak.

He barely seemed to breathe.

And then, as she pulled a gate closed and he came to hover close as he found the key to lock it,

"Looked like he'd killed a few of the Governor's guys."

She jolted slightly as his breath ghosted into her face, and she looked up to find him staring at her.

Carol took a moment to take in his words, mull over the crack in his voice as he said them.

She nodded to herself, to him:

"He went out fighting for us," she watched Daryl blink and pull back slightly, eyes darting over her as he did so,

"For you."

His lips grew tight, and the hand that gripped the keys also reached up to grip at the gate.

He sniffed a little. Carol felt her heart tighten at the sound.

"Yeah. Maybe."

She shook her head in response to his low murmur.

"No, Daryl. Merle was an asshole but he loved you. In the end, he did what he could to help protect you."

Her words sent the man next to her stepping back, turning slightly to press his forehead into the cold metal he was clinging to. Even as he ducked his head she could see his mouth contort as he tried to stop himself from crying.

She reached out.

Slid a hand across his back.

He tensed at the contact, the muscles beneath her palm tightening.

But he didn't flinch away. Only breathed heavily, deeply, his exhales coming in quiet, frustrated shudders.

For a long moment they stayed as such, Carol rubbing her hand in circles along his spine as he silently wept.

And then, he sighed, ducked his head farther.

A small, groan-like whimper seemed to grind out of his chest and Carol felt tears prick at the corners of her eyes. She stepped closer, took a moment to slide her rifle strap across her shoulder as she brought both hands to him, cupping at his shoulders and leaning forward to press a kiss at the dirty, sweat-soaked cloth of his jacket collar.

The action stilled the man almost instantly, but he didn't move to turn toward or away from her.

Daryl only breathed, growing calmer and quieter as she continued to hold him cautiously.

During the few minutes that ticked by Carol thought of what she could say to him, if anything.

In the end, all she had left was a weak 'sorry', and that just didn't seem to cut it.

Daryl shifted in her grasp suddenly, bringing his head up from its place against the gate. He straightened a bit and turned to peer back at her. For a moment he was unreadable in the darkness, but as he hands moved so did the flashlight, and as it flickered over his face she could make out a bittersweet quirk of his lips,

"He really was an asshole."

Carol could only smile back as Daryl pulled gently away from her and turned, catching one of her wrists in the air before she could lower her arms.

The action was quick, fleeting, but she felt a warmth bubble in her gut when he squeezed her hand briefly before unceremoniously dropping it to jerk his head down the hall behind her.

"Come on. Let's get outta here."

She nodded and Daryl took his position at her side, shining the light ahead to ensure every inch of the tombs were safe.

He brushed her shoulder slightly as they walked, looked over at her as they came to the door that led them back into the main block.

She met his gaze and smiled.

This time, he smiled back.