Title: Another Day to Break
Summary: But she knew, in her gut this wasn't about the people of Woodbury. It wasn't about their growing community. It wasn't even about The Governor. It was Merle. It was always Merle.
Notes: Because I'm still not over Merle's death and some grieving needs to be done by Daryl.

"It's nice with all these people around, don't you think?"

Carol said, placing the shirts she'd found for Daryl onto the bed he was sat on. He was fiddling with his crossbow, she assumed maintaining it in some way. There was his ever present red cloth at hand so maybe he was just cleaning it.

He shrugged. "If you like people, I guess."

"You like people." She said, smiling towards him.

"I like our people."

Carol frowned at him slightly. "They are our people."

He exhaled sharply, disagreeing. "Half those people were baying for my blood when I was there. Some of 'em's faces I can remember in the crowd."

She took a step closer to the bed and sat down, next to the shirts she'd placed there moments ago. "They didn't know the truth. They were scared. The Governor played everyone against one another like some puppet master." But she knew, in her gut this wasn't about the people of Woodbury. It wasn't about their growing community.

It wasn't even about The Governor.

It was Merle. It was always Merle.

"It'll get easier, you know," she said gently.

Because she knew it was the truth. Knew that despite it all, she got over her own grief because these people stood beside her. They held her up when she was too grief stricken to stand on her own. And she'd be damned if she'd let Daryl do this alone. So far, he'd been surprisingly receptive towards her attempts to help him through it.

But she knew him well enough now.
Knew that if he looked to her with all the worry and fear that often lived within those blue eyes and she held firm, showed him that he could always trust her and she'd never hurt him, that he would believe it and take that little step closer towards her. To letting her hep him.

He nodded. Didn't want to talk about it today.

Sometimes he'd tell her something.
A brief little nothing about Merle, but something that meant so much to Daryl.

He liked to keep the biggest parts of Merle to himself. Just like she did with Sophia.

She liked to remember those mornings when Sophia was a toddler and she'd sneak into her bed after Ed had left for work and they'd snuggle underneath the blankets together, blowing raspberries on one another's tummies and giggling together.

Those were the things that were just for her.

From what Michonne had told them when she'd returned after Merle took her to do the deal, the others had been able to work out that Merle was going to try and stop The Governor.

And they knew that Merle would come back a hero.
Or he wouldn't come back at all.

And Daryl, well he was walking into the unknown. He'd walk into a battlefield, could get caught in the crossfire, or he could get their too late.

The battle had been fought and lost by the time he arrived. She knew that much.

He hadn't said much else about it.

Michonne had spoke more about what had happened. She'd pieced enough of it together to know the truth. And Carol thought that Daryl took a little bit of that with him. That she saw what Merle had tried to do.

He'd tried.

She thought it must be of some comfort. Especially because Michonne said it.

She didn't like Merle. Had no reason to lie. Wouldn't be trying to spare Daryl's feelings either.

Just spoke the truth as she saw it.

"Come on, lunch must be ready by now." she said standing up and holding her hand out to him. She'd found the little gesture was being received by him recently. And she wanted to comfort him in some way so badly. But she knew that unlike Rick when he'd lost Lori, she couldn't reach out for him in such a way, he'd never allow it. So she kept it small and simple.

Didn't push it.

And if he didn't reach for her hand, she could brush it off.

But he did reach for her hand.

She gripped it tightly, his hand was warm and sweaty despite the colder weather, and she squeezed it a little harder than she needed too. Daryl cast aside the crossbow, left it on the bed and held her hand until he was stood.

She smiled to him as their eyes met and his lips turned up slightly at her.

But the sadness was in his eyes. And she'd do anything to take it away. But just like everyone else here, she couldn't do anything about it.

She let his hand go as she started towards the door, him following closely behind.

And they didn't speak the whole way down. Some of the new people were sat at the table eating already.

Carol grabbed two bowls and dished them both a serving of rice up, while Daryl took a container of water for them both. He sat down at the stairs and she sat beside him, eating in comfortable silence.

When the others cleared away from the table, Carol got up and moved over to the seat. "I need a table. Come on," she said beckoning him over.

She wasn't sure if he was going to join her or not but Maggie and Glenn came in at that moment and helped themselves to some food and sat down at the table.

And the tension became obvious.

"Did we take your seat, Daryl?" Maggie asked. She was sat facing him, Glenn had his back to the hunter.

He shook his head before standing. "Nah, I'm finished here anyway," he said dumping his bowl on the side before heading back to the cells.

Carol watched him go before continuing with her own meal.

Maggie reached over and put her hand on Carol's arm, offered a smile but there was nothing to say.

She just wished the people she loved could stop hurting.