I have no idea where this story came from. It's Caryl all the way, with Gleggie and potential for Rick/Michonne and Rick/OC. I contemplated putting it in my Love Bites series, but this became its own entity, so I now present Lead Me Home for your enjoyment.

Disclaimer: Not mine!


Well, this was just a clusterfuck.

Daryl Dixon shielded his eyes from the harsh rays of the sun as he scanned his surroundings. It had been a week since their showdown with Woodbury and the subsequent arrival of Woodbury's elders and children. It was more of a burden, but he knew they couldn't turn away those who were most vulnerable. And while he could have very easily struck out on his own, he couldn't find it in him to leave baby Judith, or most importantly, Carol.

The thought of Carol made him smile slightly. Things were taking on a new sense of normalcy, with the exception of them. He could almost feel the weight of her breast in his hand, the way her lips feathered shyly over his. She was the only one he trusted with the knowledge that he had never been intimate with a woman; she was the first and was very vocal about her pride in being his first and only. When the world went to shit, he had never imagined it would lead him to the one woman he couldn't live without.

Somewhere nearby, a squirrel chittered merrily on a tree limb. Daryl swiftly raised his crossbow and took aim. A moment later, the squirrel fell to the ground. Daryl snatched it up and removed his arrow before stuffing the squirrel into his bag. As he was closing his bag, a small field of wildflowers caught his attention. He had never been a romantic man, but the thought that Carol might like them was enough to send him in the direction of the flowers. With nothing or no one to bother him, he took his time in forming a small bouquet for the woman who tolerated every cruel word and sneer he tossed at her. No matter how small the gesture, she would appreciate it, and that made the effort worth it.

Satisfied with the flowers, he tied them together with a piece of string from his bag and tucked them away. As he raised his head again, he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. With lightning speed, he grabbed his crossbow and spun around, but no one was there. Bewildered and smirking at himself for being such a pussy, he moved away from the remaining flowers and moved deeper into the trees.

He still had dinner to catch.

After a few more hours, the sun was setting and Daryl's bag was full of possums, squirrels and even a couple of rabbits. A week ago, it would have fed the group for days. Now with the newcomers, he doubted it would last the evening. So he grinned when he spotted the dainty tracks of a deer. They hadn't had deer in months, and a good sized deer would provide food for everyone for a couple of days. Feeling a sudden surge of adrenaline, he began following the tracks.

Crickets began singing in the foliage, birds called out to their mates and he couldn't find a trace of the rotting stench of the death. A warm breeze caressed his face pleasantly. If he stood here long enough, he could pretend none of this was happening. He was just on a hunting trip and Merle was waiting on him at camp.

He should have known better than to let himself be distracted by memories. He had barely scratched the surface of his grief for his brother's death, and now was not a good time to do that. But his mind wandered enough that he didn't notice the slightly risen root of a tree in the path of his foot, or the sound of rushing water which seemed to be coming directly from beneath him. His foot snagged on the root, sending curses flying from his mouth as his body propelled forward over a small, stony embankment. Rocks pierced his skin as he tumbled down the steep embankment, sending an unexpected surge of déjà vu rushing through him. Hadn't he done this once before? Wasn't losing Sophia punishment enough?

He finally hit the water hard enough to knock the wind out of him. His limbs were useless as he sank beneath the water's surface, and his last conscious thought was what would happen to Carol without him there to protect her?

Then, mercifully, he knew no more.

A few feet down the small river, a young woman was washing her clothes when she heard the string of swears followed by the sounds of rocks falling, and finally a body hitting water. She lowered her pants long enough to look in the direction of the noise, and she saw a man disappear beneath the water's surface. Swearing, she dropped her pants on the bank and took off. Her dog, a border collie mix, yelped and chased after her.

She reached the spot where she had seen the man go down in a matter of seconds, and she took a deep breath before diving below the surface. Her fingers curled around clothing and latched on. Breaking the surface a moment later, the woman struggled to pull the man to the bank. He was dead weight, leading her to wonder if she would even be able to do anything for him. She had to try.

Once they were safely on the bank, she rolled him onto his back and turned his head to the side. Without any assistance from her, he began coughing up water. His body shuddered and shook uncontrollably despite the warm early evening air.

The woman sighed as she began checking him over. When she reached his abdomen, she discovered several broken ribs, and lower, she found his leg twisted at an impossible angle. She wasn't a doctor by any means, but the poor bastard was in a bad way.

As she probed his ribs gently, he groaned and twisted in a futile attempt to get away from her. "Knock it off, pal," she grumbled as her dog came up beside her and promptly began to whine.

The wounded man groaned and sucked in a painful breath before uttering a single name.


To Be Continued...

A/N: I really dislike OCs, especially Mary Sue ones, so I don't think this girl will be around long. But who knows? The muse will go where it will go, as long as there's Caryl along the way. LMAO. Also, I was finally able to upload my video of my encounter with Norman onto Youtube. You can find it under MionaShulesLove. Thanks for reading, and please review!