Tonight I saw a deleted scene from season 3, and it had Carol telling Merle that "if you ever hurt Daryl, I will slit your throat in your sleep." I almost keeled over and was inspired! Enjoy, everyone!
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Chapter Eleven: Can't Stand the Rain
Unbeknownst to Carol, Rick organized a group to head to the closest town that might have medicine and whatever else Daryl and the rest of the group needed. She only found out what was happening when Rick poked his head into the cell. Carol was sitting beside Daryl and running a damp rag over his fevered skin.
"How's he doing?" Rick's voice was soft.
"He's breathing." Carol dipped the cloth into the bowl of cool water and rang it thoroughly before returning it to Daryl's cheek.
Rick shifted uncomfortably, struggling to find the right words to say. The first time he saw her at the quarry, she was a little mouse who skittered and cowered at every noise. She was a shadow of a woman, a victim of abuse whose only job was to keep her daughter safe from her daughter's father. Daryl had changed her so much that Rick barely recognized the woman in front of him now. She and Daryl had forged a connection built from mutual loss and pain, a connection so strong only death could break it. "We're going to make a run."
Her head swung in his direction and there was no denying the relief in her features. "Who?"
"Me, Glenn, Tyreese and a few others." He shifted from foot to foot. "It might take a day. Hershel seems to think Daryl can last that long, but it'll be cutting it close, especially if he has another seizure."
"His temperature is finally starting to drop. He still needs medicine, but he may not have another seizure."
"We'll still go. I know you're going to stay close to him. Hershel will be in and out and Daniel and a few others will be in the guard towers."
"Looks like you've covered all your bases."
"We can't afford not to."
He watched with weary eyes as Carol continued her ministrations. Without her, he was certain Daryl would have died by now, even with all of Hershel's help. Taking a chance, he crossed the floor and lightly squeezed her thin shoulder.
She looked up at him with startled eyes.
"We're going to save him, Carol," he vowed, his hand gripping her shoulder. "Believe that."
"I'm trying, Rick. I'm trying."
After spending a few minutes with Carol, Rick went off in search of Molly. He found her in the prison yard talking to Beth. "Molly?"
Molly looked up from her conversation. "Yeah?"
"I think we're all ready to go."
The young woman quickly got to her feet. "I'm ready. Let's do this."
He nodded and ten minutes later, the group left the prison in their designated vehicles. Rick took the lead with Molly in the passenger seat and together they drove away from the prison in search of supplies for Daryl.
Hershel stepped into the cell to check on Daryl not long after Rick and the group left for a run. He wasn't surprised to find Carol sitting by Daryl's side and reading to him from a book she held in her hands. "Everything okay in here?"
Carol looked up from her book. "Okay as it can be," she replied honestly. "His temperature is coming down slowly."
"That's good news." Hershel leaned over the bunk and listened to Daryl's heartbeat for a minute. Then he checked the younger man's blood pressure. "His blood pressure is a little higher than I'd like. He might start gettin' restless."
"I can handle him," Carol stated confidently. She closed her book and set it aside before resting her hand on Daryl's arm.
Hershel chuckled softly. "I know you can, Carol. In fact, I'm sure you're about the only one who could." It was the truth. The young Dixon was a handful under good circumstances; sick and injured, he would prove to be more like a caged animal, tense and ready to snap at the slightest touch. When the group had first arrived at Hershel's farm with that hurt boy, Daryl Dixon had kept to himself for the most part. But over the following year, he had really come out of his shell so to speak. He hated to see the group lose Daryl, but most of all he didn't want to see Carol lose Daryl. She needed him more than she needed anyone else in the group and it was clear to everyone but the two of them. He pushed himself upright again and gave Carol a reassuring smile.
"Don't lose faith in him just yet, Carol."
His words set a fire in Carol's soft eyes.
About thirteen miles from the prison, the group found a small town. Comprised of a drugstore, library, post office and grocery store, it looked promising to Rick. Hopefully they would at least find some medication for Daryl and maybe some bottled water for the entire group. He parked the car in the middle of the street and killed the engine before looking at Molly. "Stay close to us, Molly. Don't go off half-cocked," he warned.
Molly frowned. "I'm not gonna go off half-cocked," she protested with a glare.
He nodded and pushed the door open. "Let's go."
Glenn and Daniel met Rick by the car. "You two hit the grocery store," Rick instructed, loading his pistol. "Molly and I are going to the pharmacy. Tyreese and his group are going to stay out here and watch for trouble."
Having their assignments, the group splintered off. Rick and Molly ducked into the pharmacy, tense and ready to dispatch any walkers. Luckily the store was empty. It had been ransacked at least once before, Rick grimly discovered as he began searching the shelves. He had a list of medicine and equipment Hershel had requested and Molly had a second copy of the list. Rick looked up occasionally; Molly was on the other side of the store and placing her finds into a basket she had grabbed at the front of the store. He was still guarded around her and he had good reason to be. He had to protect his makeshift family before anything else and destroy any potential threats to it. Molly seemed like a decent enough person, but how could he be certain she wasn't an agent of the Governor?
He was so encompassed by his thoughts that he didn't hear the walker until its rotting fingers dug into the skin of his arm.
Carol had just dozed off beside Daryl's bunk when he cried out. Immediately she bolted upright and leaned over him. He was breathing hard as he sat up in the bed; his eyes were red and wild and his sweat-soaked hair clung to his head. "Carol!"
Trembling and fighting to remain calm, Carol reached out and brushed her fingers against Daryl's cheek. "I'm right here, Daryl," she soothed.
He immediately leaned into her hand, breathing hard and wrapping his arm around his abdomen. "Carol…"
"Shh…" Abandoning her chair, Carol moved onto the bed with Daryl and held her arm out to him in invitation. He was an immensely private man; a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Sometimes he wanted to be touched and other times he skittered around her like a feral animal. This time she let him make the choice and she waited.
He hesitated for several seconds, still breathing hard and clearly in pain.
Carol kept her arm open to him, ever patient and giving.
Finally he leaned into her and rested his head against her shoulder. His entire body was tensed as she slowly put her arm around him and leaned her head into his. "Nothing is going to happen to you," she promised as he breathed in and out. "I won't let it. You know I won't."
He nodded weakly and finally closed his eyes again. "I know."
"Good." Her lips lightly grazed his temple, just applying enough pressure to let him feel it. "You've always protected me. Let me return the favor."
His body slowly sagged against hers and his head lolled against her shoulder. "No one's protected me since Merle," he whispered, his voice hoarse.
The thought hit her like a blow to the gut. "Well, I'm here now," she finally managed around the painful lump in her throat. "I'll protect you." She began stroking his hair gently, just as she had done during their first night together. The memory seemed like a lifetime ago.
He grumbled softly and moved his head to tuck his face against her neck. The position was uncomfortable for Carol but she didn't budge as Daryl succumbed to sleep. He needed her now more than ever and they were making so much progress. She wouldn't impede that, so she brought him closer against her and scooted up so that her back was pressed against the wall. Once she was situated, she pulled the blanket over them and closed her eyes, her hand still stroking Daryl's hair.
"I'll protect you."
Rick spun and wrenched his arm away from the walker's grasp. Before he could draw his weapon, a knife flew through the air and found its mark in the center of the walker's forehead. The corpse fell to the ground and Rick spun around.
Molly wiped the sweat from her forehead. "Maybe next time we should check a little more thoroughly?" she suggested angrily.
Rick glared at the young woman but held his tongue. She was right. He should have been more thorough and she had saved his life. He nodded curtly and stepped over the walker's body to grab an armful of gauze.
They still had work to do.
When they had scavenged all of the supplies they could, Rick and Molly headed back out into the street. Glenn and the others were still busy as Rick and Molly loaded their spoils into the backseat of Rick's car. Shutting the door, Rick turned toward Molly and studied her intently. "Thanks."
Molly raised a dark eyebrow. "For what?"
"Saving me in the pharmacy."
She shrugged. "Instinct."
Their eyes locked and he leaned slightly toward her.
Swearing, Rick pulled back and Molly turned away from him as Glenn jogged over to them with a ridiculous grin plastered on his face.
"We hit the motherload. Canned food, water, more medicine, even diapers and formula!" the young man enthused.
Rick slapped his hand against Glenn's back in appreciation. "Fantastic."
In the distance, a walker's groans could be heard. Rick sighed. "Everyone, get your stuff in the cars. We have to get out of here."
Working together, everyone packed up their haul in their cars, and before long they were ready to go. Rick was glad because he could make out the beginning of a herd in the distance and a storm in the sky. Thunder rumbled lowly as he put his foot to the gas and they left the small town in the review mirror.
Rain was pouring down when the group returned to the prison. Rick was willing to let everything stay in the cars until the rain stopped, but Glenn, Tyreese and Molly were all too happy to unload everything despite the rain. Outnumbered and outmatched by their enthusiasm, Rick shrugged and gathered the medical supplies, running them into the prison while the rest of the group stayed behind to unpack the cars.
Hershel was happy to see Rick emerge in the prison. "We found everything on your list, Hershel," Rick announced as he set the box down on the closest table so Hershel could inspect the contents. Hershel quickly opened the box and retrieved the saline drip and several syringes.
"Great job, son."
"Is Daryl…?" Rick's sentence trailed off.
"He's still with us. Daryl's a fighter. Carol hasn't left his side."
Rick chuckled grimly. "I would have been surprised if she had."
Gathering a few other things, Hershel handed them to Rick. "Come on, son. Let's get that boy taken care of."
With a smile, Rick followed Hershel's uneven steps to Daryl's cell.
Carol was lightly dozing with Daryl in her arms, but she awoke the moment they entered the cell.
Hershel sat down in the chair by the bed and smiled at Carol. "First thing's first. I'm going to start a saline drip to stop him from becoming more dehydrated."
A worried look crossed Carol's face. "Do I have to move?"
"On the contrary. I want you to stay right there. There's a chance he could wake up and become agitated, and if he does, I want you in that spot making sure he doesn't get too riled up."
Carol was obviously relieved by Hershel's declaration. She nodded and held Daryl closer to herself as Hershel took Daryl's arm and cleaned it with alcohol before inserting the IV into his skin.
The moment the needle broke the skin, Daryl stirred restlessly. "No…"
Hershel made a makeshift IV pole and hung the bag of saline solution from it. Then he patted Carol's arm. "I'll come back when the bag is empty. If you notice anything wrong or out of the ordinary, holler for me. I'll come limping."
Carol managed a small laugh for him. "Thank you, Hershel."
"It's no problem, dear. Now try to get some rest with him."
Rick helped Hershel upright and walked out of the cell with the older man. Once they were out of Carol's earshot, Rick looked the old man in the eye. "Level with me, Hershel. How is he?"
"I really think he'll be fine, Rick. He's going to be weak for a while and I don't see him leaving the cell for a few days, at least. I'll set his leg in a splint in a little while and wrap his ribs as well. He won't be moving anywhere very fast for a few weeks, at the very least."
Rick nodded and swiped his hand over his face. Hershel grabbed his shoulder and squeezed it firmly.
"You've done a lot for us today, son. Why don't you go spend some time with your children? I'll keep an eye on Daryl and Carol."
The thought of spending some much needed time with Judith and Carl did appeal to him. "Yell if you need anything."
"You know I will."
Satisfied, Rick turned around and headed toward his cell, only to come face to face with Molly.
"What do you want?" he grumbled wearily.
Molly just shook her head. "Just this." She leaned up and lightly kissed his cheek, leaving him stunned and confused.
"What was that for?"
"For trusting me. Thanks." She turned around and left him standing there alone and confused.
What the hell just happened?
To Be Continued...