AN: first chapter in a longer piece. I started writing this before ep. 15 and 16 aired, so Merle is still alive and this is an alternate version to where the show went :) Enjoy and all reviews are appreciated!

Disclaimer - I don't own any of this and make no cash off of it. Sadly :)

Plan "D"

Chapter One: No Rest for the Weary

"Son'bitch!" Daryl cursed as he grabbed the arrow from the biter's eye socket. He ducked as he heard the rattle of machine gun fire and keeping low, ran around the corner of the grain silo.

Face first into another Walker.

He grunted, raising the arrow to plunge it into its forehead, but before he could finish the job, blood spurted out of its mouth and it slumped against him. Over its shoulder, Daryl spotted Martinez.

Martinez smirked; his face, clothes, and hair were covered in dirt, sweat, and gore. "Can't let the biters do all the work. I'll take you down myself, asshole. Been looking forward to it all day."

"Fuck you," Daryl muttered, and using the biter as camouflage, he pulled the gun from his belt and shot Martinez in the face. The man fell back into the dust and Daryl shoved the Walker down next to him.

"This is shit," he murmured. He'd thought the world had gone to hell when it had been overrun by Walkers. But here they were, killing each other and the Walkers had nothing to do with it. He wanted to go back to killing biters – not people. Pissed off, he hauled back and kicked Martinez' body in frustration, "Fuckin' douchebag."

A rattling of rocks behind him had him spinning around, gun in one hand, arrow raised high in the other.

"It's me!" Rick whispered loudly and held up his hands.

Daryl spat off to the side and lowered his weapons. "I almost killed you."

Rick waved it off, his eyes wide, their blue-green depths bright and fevered. Gore and blood spattered his haggard face. "It's over, we have to head back," he said, glancing over his shoulder and pressing himself up against the side of the silo.

Daryl notched an arrow into the crossbow and jammed the gun back into his belt. "He dead?"

Rick looked at him. "No."

"Then what the hell do you mean? It ain't over till that fucker is dead."

"He's gone," Rick said, closing his eyes in exhaustion. "He's got Michonne."

Daryl's eyebrows shot up. "If he's got her, he might as well be dead. She's gonna nail him to the barn door the first chance she's got."

Picturing Michonne as he'd last seen her, trussed up like a hunter's prize and being dragged and then tossed into the back of the truck, Rick knew it was going to take more than righteous anger on her part to take out the Governor. And that was if she got the chance.

"Where's Merle?"

"Retreated," Rick replied. "On my orders. Plan B."

Daryl grimaced and shifted his crossbow to his right shoulder. "Plan B meant we fuckin' back down," he pointed out.

A look of regret crossed Rick's face. "We are outgunned and outmanned here and the Governor's got Michonne. There is no deal, he's going to kill us all. So yeah, we back down. We get back to the prison and we regroup. It's time for plan B."

"Plan B is shit."

Rick grabbed him and stared him down. "We are done here," he said through gritted teeth. "Now get back to the prison. We need to take up a defensive position before he regroups and comes to finish the job."

"I hate fuckin' losin'."

Rick grinned - a mad, slightly unhinged smile that set Daryl even more on edge. "We lost this battle. We are not losing the war."

Daryl shook his head at the pathetic cliché. "We give up that prison, war's over."

Rick shook his head. "We go back and we take up a defensive position and wait." He slapped Daryl on the back. "Go. I'll see you at the prison."

Daryl nodded and quietly slipped away, hurrying through the maze of grain silos and rusted out farm equipment. He stepped into the still and quiet forest. For once, it was clear of Walkers as they had all been drawn to the feed store by the sound of the gun fight. As he moved swiftly and silently through the trees, Daryl thought about how things had gone down. Deep down they had known that the Governor wouldn't hold up his end of the bargain. Before the plague, hell, even in the initial weeks, Daryl would have been the first to throw someone under the bus if it meant it saved his own ass. When push came to shove, you don't hesitate to put the needs of many before the needs of one. But things were different now. He was different. In this new world, you had to stick together and Michonne was one of them. In the end, it hadn't been up to Rick or the group to decide.

It had been Michonne's decision and her sacrifice to make. Give herself up and hope that it was the end of it.

"Stupid fucking plan," Daryl muttered to himself as he approached the spot where he had hidden his bike. He had disagreed with Michonne's decision. He thought they should have ambushed the Governor and his men and ended this shit with a bullet to the asshole's head. But Rick and Michonne hadn't wanted to take any chances, hadn't wanted to risk any more lives than they had too. And in the end, as Michonne had pointed out, it was her head on the chopping block and it was her choice. But it hadn't gone as planned. And the moment he had her, the Governor had made it very clear that he wasn't holding up his end of the bargain; he opened fire on them.

Daryl pushed back the shrubs and branches he'd used to camouflage his bike and stood it up. A movement to his left caught his eye and he spun around, crossbow ready. As the rabbit hopped by, he let the arrow fly and pinned the rabbit to a tree trunk. He strode over, yanked the arrow and rabbit from the tree, and going back to the bike, tossed the carcass into the side bag. He straddled the bike and with one clean motion, kick started it and headed up the trail to the dirt side road and back to the prison.

At least, while they waited for the slaughter to come, they would have fresh meat for dinner.

The sound of gunfire reached him before the sight of the prison towers peaked above the tree tops. As he broke through the treeline, Daryl spotted Merle standing on top of an overturned delivery truck, shooting down Walkers. His brother turned towards the sound of the rumbling bike and grinned.

"Come on, lil' brother! I'll cover ya!"

As Daryl revved the bike and aimed it up the prison drive, he saw exactly why Merle needed to cover him: the prison yard was overrun with Walkers. They were pouring through gaps in the fence and pressing up against the walls and fences protecting their cell block.

And she was the only thing he could think about.

He had to get to her.

He had to save her.

There was no way in hell he was going to lose her too.