Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to The Walking Dead.
Author's Note: This is the first chapter of a story I wrote a while ago, as it picks up where season 2 left off. So there is a lot of backtracking, and a lot of characters that are dead now are still alive. I encourage everyone to read and review so I'll know if I should continue. Thanks!
Carol shifted uncomfortably on the cold hard ground, trying to find a comfy position in the dirt to no avail. Fed up with tossing and turning, she finally sat up, untangling her limbs from the thin blanket that was supposed to offer warmth during the cool night. Cricking her neck, she looked over to her right to see T-Dog still keeping watch by the fire. His head was bowed low, as if he were in deep thought or prayer. She imagined that the events from earlier were still running through his mind: the walker attack on Hershel's farm, Rick's revelations concerning Jenner and Shane, and Rick's ultimatum to the group. Those were just a few of the reasons why she herself couldn't get to sleep.
Rick's ultimatum to stay with him or leave and fend for themselves had left everyone shaken and confused. This was a side of Rick that no one had seen before. Carol wasn't too sure she cared for it. Rick seemed like he was slowly starting to unravel, not to mention he was keeping major secrets from the rest of the group. That was something else Carol hadn't had the energy to think on: Jenner's revelation. What did that even mean that they were all infected? Any walker she'd ever seen had bite marks on it and anyone she ever saw turn got bit first. Maybe Jenner was crazy. Maybe he was right. Either way, Carol was going to choose to put that one on the back burner until she got more information.
She also wasn't sure how she felt about Shane's murder at Rick's hand. On the one hand she supposed he'd had it coming. He had definitely been off his rocker, and he and Rick had seemed to be fighting more often. Not to mention him killing Randall in the woods and making it look as if Randall had gotten one up on him. She wasn't too sure what all that was about. On the other hand, though, Shane had been nothing but kind to her, if not sometimes flighty. She sensed, however, that there was more to the situation than Rick or Lori were letting on, so she put that one on the back burner too.
A rustling sound coming from somewhere behind T-Dog startled her. Just as she got a firm grip on her pocket knife, she saw Daryl getting up from his pallet on the ground and realized the men were switching out. T-Dog stumbled around in the dark, picking his way over the rest of the sleeping camp, trying to find a spot to bed down for the rest of the night. He jumped and almost fell on top of Glen when he made out Carol's form sitting in the darkness with a knife in hand.
"Jesus, Carol, you 'bout gave me a damn heart attack! What are you doin' up? And with that knife in your hand?" T-Dog whispered fiercely. She could tell she had really freaked him out by his labored breathing and the way he gripped his ax so tightly.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. I couldn't sleep is all, and I thought Daryl was a walker until I saw him getting up," She smiled to try and reassure him. After a half second, he gave her shoulder a squeeze and went to lie down in a grassy spot near Beth.
The other thing that kept bothering Carol was her last conversation with Daryl, the one they'd had right before Rick's speech. She'd told him that he was nothing but Rick's henchman and that she was nothing more than a burden. She'd told him that he was a man of honor that could just as easily lead the group or survive on his own. She'd been suggesting that they break apart from the group and go off on their own together.
He hadn't been hearing any of it, though. He insisted Rick was a man of honor as well and that he hadn't done anything to make Daryl doubt him. Daryl didn't want to leave this group. Even though they made him do all the dirty work, he still wanted to stick with them. She supposed it was because he liked the feeling of being wanted and needed for the first time. She couldn't exactly deny the man that, could she? As she looked over the sullen man staring into the dying fire, she knew deep down inside of her that she would follow wherever he led, and if Daryl wanted to stick around with this group, then she would too. Now she needed to let him know that.
Carol got up quietly, taking care not to get tangled in her blanket again. Daryl gave her a single nod as she came around the fire to sit next to him. His crossbow was strapped across his back, and he held a small pistol in his hands; he was always ready for a battle. They sat side by side for several minutes just looking into the fire. Carol was trying to find the right words to apologize for their conversation earlier. She guessed that he was probably trying to figure out what the hell she was doing all up in his personal space.
"Daryl, I want to apologize for what I said earlier, about you being Rick's henchman. I was just scared is all. About the walkers and what Jenner said and Shane's death. It's a lot to take in, but I never should have taken my fears out on you. I'm sorry."
She placed a hand softly on his knee and turned her face up to his so she could read his expression in the fire's glow. A tremor went through his entire leg; he shifted uncomfortably from her touch and she took her hand away to let it rest on her thigh.
"S'okay," Daryl replied, casting a glance down at her and giving her one of his half smiles, "I understand where you were comin' from."
"So we're okay then?" She asked quickly, not bothering to hide the anticipation in her voice.
"We're alright," He replied, "Now go get some sleep. Got a big day ahead of us in a few hours."
Carol stood, trying to hide the large grin spreading across her face. It was good to have a touch of normalcy in her life again.
"I just want you to know that I'll go wherever you go, Daryl. If you feel that it's right to stay with this group, then so do I. I just don't want you to go anywhere without me," With that, she walked away from him and headed back to her pallet on the ground.
As she made her way around the fire, a whisper on the wind stopped her cold. She kept walking quickly, but she knew what she'd heard, and it brought an even bigger smile to her face. Daryl's voice had come to her on the wind saying, "You're not a burden to me, Carol."
It may not have been much to go on, but it was the closest thing she was going to get from Daryl telling her that he didn't want her going anywhere without him either.