TWD Kinkmeme Prompt: So I know there's been fics where Daryl's gotten sick, but it seems like they're all either incomplete (so sad) or they're painfully short and barely touch on the illness. So I'm gonna request another one. Please someone take this up! I just want him to get really sick and the others are scared he might die and lots of h/c and angst. No slash please. Virtual chocolate chip cookies to anyone who fills!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any part of The Walking Dead. This is for entertainment purposes only.

A/N: So yeah. I've been working on this. Figured I might as well post it here too. Y'all probably think I hate Daryl or something since I feel like I'm constantly beating him up. I just like the whole angst and h/c thing.

It had been a couple weeks now since the war with the Governor and the addition of the Woodbury citizens. Everything was in full swing with the extra twenty or so bodies around, everyone working together to clean up the prison and make it a safe environment. There was an added strain on the group as they tried to accommodate the best they could. Rick couldn't just leave all of those people behind though. Since they lost their original leader, they were in need of new guidance—Rick figured he could give them just that. He knew it would be hard work to get everything going at first but hoped things would change soon after.

Having everyone crammed into the same cell block was less than ideal but D Block was still a work in progress. Everyone took shifts when it came to supply runs, taking watch, cooking, and cleaning up. Not a day went by that they didn't make a large dent in their progress. Even the elderly folk were doing all they could to help, bless their hearts.

Another day came and went as evening had fallen upon them once again. Beth and Carol worked together with Karen and a couple other ladies from Woodbury to serve what they had prepared for dinner while the others crowded around in light conversation. Rick slightly bounced his daughter in his arms, one hand bracing her bottom while the other was planted firmly across her back. Things might have looked like they were working out but truth be told, there was still just as much tension now than ever.

Carl was becoming harder and harder to reach out to and the more Rick tried, the more he felt like he was failing as a parent. He was just starting to really wrap his head around Lori being gone, no longer seeing her image haunt his mind. Then making the discovery that Tyreese and his small group had joined Woodbury in hopes of survival and having lost two of their members, Rick couldn't help but think that those deaths were on him. He should have never pushed them away in the first place.

But Daryl? Daryl was a whole other story.

The group had noticed he was wearing down more and more with each day, avoiding everyone more than he often did—even Carol. Rick had brought it up in a brief discussion one day with the woman and they had both settled on the conclusion that this was all falling back on what had happened to Merle, the Governor still out there somewhere waiting to strike. But anytime someone tried to comfort Daryl or try to get him to open up a little, talk about whatever he was going through, he shrunk back and pushed them away. So it left Rick and the others to assume that he was doing okay, doing whatever he needed to do and grieving in his own way.

It was when Daryl's health started to take a noticeable turn that it concerned the others. Rick had been so occupied chasing down Carl and helping with the Woodbury citizens that he had failed to notice the signs sooner. Hell, everyone had failed to notice sooner with everything that was going on around them.

Daryl hung back most of the time. He never really came around much when it involved the people of Woodbury, he wasn't eating, and when he did make an appearance, he always had his arms crossed in front of his chest in an attempt to hide the shivering that was coursing through his body.

When he seemed to disappear though, the group panicked. They tried to keep quiet about it, not wanting to alert the townspeople of Woodbury and spook them. Rick rounded up Glenn, Tyreese, Maggie, and Sasha as they searched through the prison in hopes of finding Daryl. Rick felt a pit of guilt building. He should have seen this sooner, should have known that something was wrong.

Rick thought to check the generator room—the room Merle was last seen in before taking off to face the Governor and ultimately sacrificed his life for the prison group to have a fighting chance. Rick swallowed down the bile that rose into his throat at the thought. He never really thought too much about it at the time but he owed his life to Merle. That chance was better than nothing and it delayed the Governor from marching straight to the prison.

The only thing was… Daryl was nowhere to be found in that room. The room was completely empty, just as it had been left.

After meeting up with the others and sharing the same news that Rick had discovered—no Daryl to be found—Rick decided to run outside and check the guard towers. By this time, Carol and Beth had caught wind of what was going on and came to help. They split up and checked some of the remaining towers that were left after the attack from Woodbury. Those who didn't checked around the perimeter for any sign of Daryl. All of the vehicles were accounted for but wherever he was, he had his crossbow.

Rick ran up the steps to the tower Michonne was taking watch in and burst through the door, half startling the woman. Panting to try and catch his breath, he put his hands up as if to calm her down. "Have you seen Daryl? We can't find him anywhere inside the prison."

Michonne shook her head, "Haven't seen any movement since I've been out here. It's been quiet."

Rick rested his hands on his hips. He was still at a loss. "Alright… Well if you see him can you let someone know?"

"Will do," Michonne replied, sliding her katana back into the sheath.

Rick ran down the stairs and made his way over towards the next tower. He wasn't about to give up on searching. At this rate, he wouldn't be able to go back inside and get some rest until he at least located Daryl—the one man, who if he didn't want to be found, was nearly impossible to find.

But as Rick threw the door open to the next guard tower, he sighed in relief. Daryl hadn't taken off after all, the worry that he went after the Governor subsiding. That worry was soon replaced with a new worry though as he noticed Daryl hadn't stirred from the noise Rick had made barging his way up the steps and through the door. He was curled up on the floor, crossbow propped against the wall, with his back facing toward Rick.

"Daryl?" Rick tried calling out his name, slowly approaching the hunter. Daryl still didn't stir as Rick noticed his breathing sounded a bit raspy.

Advancing with caution, dreading what could be the possible reasoning behind all of this, Rick stooped down beside Daryl. He reached out and placed his hand on the man's bicep to gently shake him but froze when he realized he was burning up, let alone seemingly passed out.

Daryl was easily the most observant of the bunch and definitely the lightest sleeper Rick had ever encountered. The fact that Daryl had excluded himself from the others without a word, burning up, and not stirring at the sounds and touch of Rick's hand had Rick completely beside himself. There was a sinking feeling in his gut as he thought to leave Daryl long enough to find the others and at least let them know he had found him. But he couldn't bring himself to pull away from him.

"Daryl," Rick tried again, this time lightly jostling the man's arm. Receiving no sign of acknowledgment once again, Rick carefully rolled him over onto his back to check for a walker bite. Only he finally got some movement out of him.

As soon as Daryl had landed on his back, he immediately slammed the palms of his hands down as if he thought he was falling, his eyes wide with panic for just a brief moment staring back at Rick.

"Hey, hey—it's just me. We've all been looking for you. Had us worried," Rick began. Daryl placed an arm across his eyes. "What's going on with you?" Rick stared at him as Daryl shifted around a bit, trying to get comfortable on the hard floor.

"Ain't nothing goin' on… Jus'… wanted some fresh air," Daryl mumbled from under his arm.

Rick frowned, "You're burning up. And you've been doing a mighty fine job of avoiding everyone lately."

Daryl lowered his arm enough to force a miserable looking glare at Rick, "I ain't bit."

Rick shook his head, "That's not what I said." Though he was glad Daryl came forward and put that fear to rest. But that news only meant one thing then: Daryl was sick. It didn't come as a surprise with the way things had been going lately. Daryl hadn't exactly been taking care of himself. Rick rubbed at the stubble on his chin, "When was the last time you ate something? Why don't you just come on down and—"

"Not hungry," Daryl cut him off, rolling back over to his side.

Rick had known Daryl to be stubborn but this was a whole new level of stubborn in the book of Daryl Dixon. Rick wasn't quite sure what to do.