This is one that's been rattling around in my brain since they released the episode title for "30 Days Without an Accident." I've started it and restarted it and let it sit and stew, but I just keep coming back to it. It's pretty different from the way I usually write so I'm a tad nervous about it. Let me know what you think!

It had been fifteen days since he'd returned from his ill-fated attempt to track down his misguided, but well-meaning brother. He'd stalked back through the prison gates alone to silence and looks of sympathy. Two weeks and one day since he'd sought comfort in Carol's arms in the privacy of her cell. He'd mourned silently and tearlessly as she'd held him close and rubbed his back to soothe him. Sporadic dry and heaving sobs were the only indication that anything was wrong. She'd sat up with him that entire night, giving him comfort he hadn't known he needed until she'd been there to provide it.

It had been a long time coming. He was a calmer man than he'd been only months ago when they'd found the prison. He'd even handled Carol's "death" without so much as a hint of a meltdown, at least in front of the others. He knew he was spiraling out of control, but he didn't know how to stop it.

He'd made it several months without an incident.

He led Carol down the dark hallway of the freshly cleared D Block. The stench of death still hung in the air because they hadn't secured the yard on that side of the building and walkers were still a threat. The sound of the safety door latching behind them made Carol jump in surprise and he squeezed her hand reassuringly.

She didn't ask where they were going or why. Daryl had been volatile in the weeks since he'd had to put his brother down and she had no interest in testing his attitude on this day. Instead she allowed him to lead her wherever it was he needed her to go.

It hadn't taken him long to morph back into that angry and potentially dangerous man she'd met at the quarry. She hoped he would find his way back.

Twelve days. It had been twelve days since he'd blown up at her. She'd done nothing to deserve it. Wrong place and wrong time, that's all it had been. Thankfully no one else had been around to witness it. He'd yelled. He'd said awful things to her. Again.

It had been just less than two weeks since Carol had borne witness to a fit of temper the likes of which she hadn't seen since that night on the farm after Sophia had been found in the barn. This time she had not stood idly by. Instead she'd called him out, made him see that the things he said were only said in anger and fear. That had taken the wind out of his sails.

When Daryl tried to apologize later she'd cut him off. She'd told him she didn't want his apologies. She wanted him to grieve for his brother and she wanted her friend back. And then she'd walked away from him. He thought he'd lost her for good this time.

He'd made it three days without an incident.

Daryl opened the door to the D Block infirmary. Satisfied that it was still clear of walkers, as he'd left it, he nudged Carol gently through the door. She looked back at him, her face a mask of confusion, but stepped forward anyway. Despite his erratic behavior as of late she still trusted that he'd never lead her to danger.

He ran a hand through his hair, a habit he'd picked up when he was emotionally stressed. He tugged gently at the strands before rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. He stood toe to toe with Carol crowding her up against the door. He backed away and paced the floor in front of her a few times before reclaiming his spot in front of her.

Carol watched him curiously. She'd only seen him act this way once before.

It had been eight days since he'd… Lost his damn mind. They hadn't really spoken since she'd told him off. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying. The prison had been a disaster since Rick had brought the remaining inhabitants of Woodbury back to the prison. Trying to get D Block cleared out had proven to be a monumental task and by the time he made it back to their cell she was already asleep.

Their cell. That was another issue entirely. Rick had asked everyone to share and make room for the Woodbury people. Carol was set up to share with Michonne, but Daryl put a quick stop to that. It wasn't that he didn't trust Michonne, he just wanted to be able to keep his own watch on Carol.

It had been eight days since she'd brought him dinner in the tower while he was on watch. This was not an unusual occurrence. What was unusual was his reaction to her leaving to go back into the prison. They'd eaten their meals together in silence as they usually did, but when Carol got up to leave he realized he didn't want her to go. Without much thought he'd grabbed her arm. That had been his mistake. He should have known that years of being married to a man like Ed could not be erased by a few months of freedom. She'd instinctively yanked her arm away from him. He couldn't blame her. He'd been little else but cruel and violent in the days since his return.

He'd apologized quickly. And she'd known he was truly sorry. That he hadn't meant to frighten her. They stood there for what seemed like an eternity. They stood toe to toe with Carol's back against the wall. Before he knew what he was doing Daryl leaned even further into her space, his body pressing hers into the wall. It had been eight days since he'd kissed her in the watchtower.

He'd made it four days without an incident.

Carol reached out to him. Her fingers closed around his wrist and she pulled him toward her. When this failed to rouse him from his thoughts she reached up to touch his face.

"Daryl," she whispered.

And that was what did him in. The sweet sound of his name on her lips. He was on her then. He claimed her mouth as he pressed her back into the door. The position wasn't unlike the one they'd ended up in, in the watchtower. It took Carol a moment to respond, but eventually he felt her relax beneath him and she kissed him back.

Suddenly the tension melted and her hands fumbled with his belt as he struggled with the buttons on her shirt.

It had been three days since he'd found himself in her bed once again. Three days since she'd awoken him from yet another nightmare about his brother. Three days since she'd coaxed him out of his bunk and into hers to offer him comfort once again. Three days since he'd felt her smooth warm skin under his calloused fingers.

Again Carol had held him to her and soothed him through his grief for his brother. Again she'd carried him through his hardship without promise of even a kind word or gesture from him when it was all over. This time had been different though. This time when he'd buried his face in her neck and silently sobbed the feel of her skin under his lips was overwhelming. His first few kisses were tentative. Once she'd figured out what he was doing she'd only pulled him closer.

His lips moved from their place on her neck to her bare shoulder and then back up her neck to the spot behind her ear. The whole time she'd barely moved. Only her quickening breath had given him any indication that she was at all affected by his actions. Eventually his hands had begun to wander. His fingertips found soft, warm skin under her shirt. He was growing braver, his hands moving higher, but it was not to be.

Suddenly the blanket covering the door was pulled to the side and Daryl was out of her arms and out of her bed before she could blink. Beth stood in the doorway with a fussing Judith and she at least had the good sense to look contrite. Unfortunately Daryl was out the door before any of the damage could be repaired.

He hadn't spoken to her since.

He'd made it five days without an incident.

It had been three days since he'd last seen her. He hadn't been back to their cell since the disaster that was Beth's interruption. It had been three days too many. When he'd spotted her alone in the kitchen he knew he'd have to move quickly before he talked himself out of it. He'd asked her to come with him to D Block. She'd obliged without question and now here they were.

His hands clamped down on her waist as though he were afraid she'd run. His mind grew foggy as her hands moved over his torso. The clang of his belt hitting the cement floor brought him back to the present. Her hand sliding over the growing bulge in his jeans made him groan into her mouth.

He started to pull away, afraid this was all a big mistake. Afraid that once she saw him, really saw him, she'd realize she deserved better. Carol wasn't one to be deterred, though. She quickly pulled him back to her, "you don't get to start this and walk away," she panted in his ear.

That declaration drove him forward. His fingers fumbled with the button on her jeans before she reached down and released it herself. Daryl quickly pushed her pants over her hips and she assisted by stepping out of them. He knew this wasn't right, wasn't what she deserved, but he needed this. He needed her. He lifted her leg and she wrapped it around his waist as he pushed into her. She keened softly into his mouth at the contact.

Soon she reached between them and unbuttoned his jeans before pulling his rigid cock from its confines. He swore as he thrust into her hand. He was hot and hard and ready to explode in her hand. She stroked him firmly a few times before he reached down to stop her. Carol pulled his body closer and lined him up with her wet heat.

At her urging he slipped inside just a fraction of an inch, but that was more than enough for him to know he needed this. He pushed forward into her and she cried out a little before muffling the sound by pressing her face into his chest. She was so tight around him that he realized he might have hurt her. He nudged her chin up and kissed her gently.

"Sorry," he mumbled against her lips.

"Don't be," she assured as she moved against him encouraging him to keep going.

With her encouragement he moved again. His strokes were rough and a little uncoordinated as he tried to work through the tension. He dropped his head to her shoulder and she reached up to run her fingers through his hair as he thrust into her. Daryl quickly found himself at the edge and he groaned brokenly as he spilled into her. As he slumped against her it occurred to him that she hadn't been anywhere near being done when he finished. He expected to look up and find her disgusted or irritated, but instead all he found was understanding and compassion.

He reached between their bodies and coaxed her toward the finish line with his fingers. She moved to stop him, but he brushed her hand away.

"You don't have to," she panted.

"Shh," he soothed, "Want to."

He kissed her again to drown out the sound of her moans as she came on his fingers. She leaned against him as she came down from her high. She reached to stroke his face and he finally leaned into her touch rather than running from it.

He'd made it three days without an incident and he had Carol to thank for that.