A/N: I don't think people are going to expect this story to go this way. And just to re-state, I don't imagine Daryl being like this on the show, but a person could potentially have a drastic change in personality after a loss like Daryl suffered through.

Enjoy Season 4 tonight guys. :)


Daryl looked past Rick to see Carol and Beth still stood behind him. He needed one final push to get things where he wanted them.

"What the hell do you think you're doing out here?" Daryl asked, turning his attention back to Rick. "Ain't you got a son to try and raise? We all know you're not bothered about the girl 'cause she ain't yours but I thought you were still pretending."

Rick's eyes narrowed slightly, and he kept his mouth shut, took some breaths through his nose. "Why are you doing this? This isn't you," Rick said.

Daryl blew a frustrated breath from his mouth, exasperated by the Sheriff's stupidity. "No, you don't get it, this is me. This is the person you were always trying to keep in line. Me and Merle were bad people. You should have known better."

"I don't buy that shit," Rick argued.

"You wouldn't. You're a dumb shit like that. No wonder Shane took care of your woman for ya, and no wonder he tried to kill you. He had the right idea."

Rick shook his head. "I don't believe it. I won't. I won't believe any of this stuff you're saying..."

"Believe what you like. You think I'm going back in there with you people? Gonna live under the same roof with sweet Beth and not get a piece of her. Gonna let Hershel blast my brains out all over the cell and try and explain that?"

"Why are you doing this?" Rick yelled as Carol backed away over to Beth and pulled the sobbing girl into her arms.

"This is what this world does to people, Rick. Look at you. The good ol' Sheriff turned murderer. Blasts people in the face if he's not sure he can trust 'em. Now, are you sure you can trust me? Did you trust Merle? You think now he's gone I forget about him or I hang on to everything he told, huh? Maybe make things right for him, he had some scores to settle with you people." Daryl grabbed at Rick's wrist quickly and Rick pulled his hand sharply away from Daryl's even though the hunter had nothing in his hand that could hurt him. The threat was enough.

And Rick looked. Wanted to see some fear in Daryl's eyes, some hope that maybe he was acting out, maybe he was just scared and doing all of this because he needed something from them, needed Rick to guide him. But he could ask for that, and this wasn't like anything Daryl had done before. He was completely out of character. Messing about with Beth, being cruel to Carol... to all of them. His words were chosen to hurt.

Rick took a couple of steps away from Daryl, eyes never leaving him.

"There's got to be a way to make this right again," Rick said, his eyes held a glazed look to them and Daryl knew that Rick realised there was no way back from this.

Not unless Daryl were to go back in there and beg for their forgiveness and they both knew that with Daryl's attitude right now that wasn't going to happen. "What can I do? Just tell me what you need..."

"I need you to get my crossbow. S'all I need from in there. Then I can go," Daryl said.

Rick shook his head, no, refusing to do as he was asked.

Daryl rolled his eyes and shook his head and headed past Rick and towards the prison. He heard Beth's hysterical cries grow louder as Daryl started to walk towards her unintentionally as her and Carol were in between him and the door.

Daryl avoided them both, eyes fixed on the door as he strode with purpose past the teen.

"Daryl, please..." she begged, sobbing uncontrollably. "Please, just tell them. Tell them you love me and it'll be okay!" She was desperate. Pathetic, really.

Carol tried to comfort the girl but as Daryl stepped past her she fell to her knees, sobs racking her body.

Daryl opened the door ready to head inside.

He expected a shit storm when he walked in, but he wasn't even able to get that far as Glenn blocked his path.

"You wanna get outta my way?" Daryl barked at the younger man.

"You're not coming in here." Glenn told him.

Daryl went to push past the other man but found he stood firm, there was no give and Daryl was impressed by the kids balls. But he knew that was wrong, Glenn hadn't been a kid for a long time. This world made men of them all. Glenn's eyes were drawn past Daryl to Beth who was still on the ground, Carol consoling her still.

Daryl watched as Glenn's eyes fell back upon him and he saw nothing but hatred in them as they locked eyes. Daryl smirked, that was what he wanted so there was enough genuine pleasure behind the smile to infuriate Glenn further.

Glenn's fists clenched as he forced himself to control his anger, only the scene of Beth's distress holding him back from laying his fists into Daryl. He knew it would distress her further but the bastard deserved it.

Sensing the fighting stance Glenn was taking, Daryl's own right hand started to creep backwards towards his knife. He might not be intending to use it but he certainly could threaten him with it. Daryl's hand gripped the hilt of the knife but his arm was grabbed and forced behind his back as Rick grabbed hold of him, seeing what the hunter was about to do.

Daryl struggled against the other man.

"Jus' get my crossbow, dammit!" Daryl demanded, facing growing redder as he struggled to fight his way out of Rick's grip. Glenn waited for Rick to nod his approval and he went and got the hunter's weapon.

Daryl could see from the corner of his eye Maggie and Hershel watching it all but neither moved.

Glenn moved back with the crossbow but rather than hand it to Rick, he barged past, shoulder slamming into Daryl as he went and he moved over to where Daryl's bike was and threw the weapon down next to it.

The force he threw it with might have damaged something but Daryl had no desire to be using the thing again. It was simply his possession. He joined the group with little more than the crossbow, Merle and his bike and he'd leave with the two things he could take with him.

Rick released Daryl, pushed him away a little, more to stop Daryl from attacking him than anything else.

Daryl huffed as he walked over to his bike and picked the crossbow up.

The sight of Daryl readying himself to leave, set Beth off again and she managed to struggle out of Carol's grip and ran to Daryl.

She was no less pleading with him than she had been a few moments earlier and Daryl stood there as she grabbed onto him, begging him not to go, not to leave her behind, that they could work all this out. He did his best to move away from her and release his leg from her grip when she grabbed hold of it.

He found the whole thing embarrassing, found she was making a fool of herself in front of everyone , but she didn't care.

Hershel and Maggie had come to the door, Glenn stood on the outside of it still guarding it. Carol was stood by Rick now, all watching Daryl and Beth.

"Beth, honey, come here," Maggie called to her sister.

Daryl looked down to the girl. "Go to someone who wants ya," Daryl told her, words harsh and cruel. He again tried to remove her and she released his leg, just to stand back up and grab hold of his arm.

Knowing this needed to end, Daryl took drastic action and grabbed the girl roughly and pushed her away from him. She stumbled backwards and tripped over her feet, fell hard to the ground. There was a gasp from a few of the onlookers and then silence.

Rick and Carol both reached out to her and Daryl's eyes stayed on the girl, desperate for her to get the hint.

Her head stayed down, crying and Daryl was relieved she got the message. He didn't get a chance to move as Michonne's katana was pressed slightly into his neck.

"You best go," she told him.

His eyes moved across to hers as the blade bit into his throat and they locked eyes.

And maybe there was something she saw in him that no one else did, or maybe he showed his weakness for just a second, but he saw her eyes soften.

She understood.

And Daryl stepped backwards away from the blade and towards his bike, harsh mask of indifference back on his face as he climbed on the bike.

And none of them moved as they watched him leave.

oOo

Maggie found Beth later that night asleep on Daryl's bed.

She woke her younger sister and took her back to her own room, an old shirt of Daryl's clasped in her hand.

Rick locked the cell afterwards.

It was Daryl's cell. Always would be and he had this stupid thin sense of hope that maybe one day Daryl would come back and reclaim it.

The others sat around that night together, wondering what went wrong.

They threw out theories, relaid what Daryl had said and in the end, none of them understood why Daryl had done the things he had.

Michonne stayed silent.

oOo

She'd gone out alone.

Knew where to find him. Back at the seed mill where Merle had died.

It made sense. She'd gathered Merle's loss had hurt Daryl in a way that time just couldn't heal. So she knew where to find him and the sight of the bike made it obvious.

It didn't take long to find Daryl.

A few walkers bodies were close by where he sat on the floor. His crossbow was nowhere in sight, just a knife by his side, just in case.

He looked surprised to see her, but only for a brief moment, then his head lolled to one side and he stared at the wall.

She knew he was dying. It was what he came here to do.

"Why ya here?" he asked her, voice a little raspy.

"No one should die alone," she told him. She sat down opposite him, leaning against a wall.

"Merle did," Daryl told her.

"That wasn't your fault." She told him. She didn't have enough time to make him believe her if he didn't but she could at least hope he might take some comfort in her words.

"I always gave him a hard time about shit, but... I weren't great. Didn't look for him in Atlanta... spent more time looking for Carol's girl. Shitty, huh?"

"Merle could take care of himself."

"He did that okay." Daryl said, closing his eyes as he let his head rest against the wall behind him.

"You bit?" Michonne asked him when silence fell and he nodded. He moved his arm to show her. It was barely a scratch really. If he'd been with the group they could have dealt with it easily.

She knew this was his choice though.

To come here alone and to die like this. It didn't escape her that he could have have a real bit, or he could have killed himself.

He was torturing himself even in death because in his mind, he'd failed his brother.

"It hurts, ya know," Daryl said, matter of factly.

"Dying? I suppose it does."

"Living." He was quiet a moment before he spoke again. "They okay?"

Michonne nodded. "Yeah. They'll be fine." Tyresse had stepped up to help Rick out after Daryl had gone and they'd pulled together. Beth was still a little tender and delicate, but she was gathering a new found strength from it all.

"Was easier that way. If they didn't care..." Daryl explained.

Michonne smiled at him. "I got it. Although they still care. Part of them always will."

"You tellin' 'em ya found me?" he asked.

"They don't need to know." Michonne said, knowing it was what he wanted. He reminded her of an injured wolf that had taken itself away from the pack to die. He knew his pack would look for him though, if he just disappeared. To spare them, he'd made sure his last act was selfless, casting himself aside so that they could continue on. "So what about when you turn?"

"Figure it won't much matter then. Won't know anythin' any more."

Michonne nodded, knew he was right.

"You can go." he told her.

"I don't want to get back too quickly. It's laundry day," she told him, jokingly.

A ghost of a smile played across his lips. "I ain't afraid to die alone," he told her.

"I don't want you to die alone."

"I ain't afraid," he repeated.

"If you want me to go..." she said, letting it hang in the air. And he nodded his reply.

She stood up, accepting his request.

She walked across to the door and opened it, staying inside and she banged it shut.

In his state, Daryl didn't notice, Michonne as stealthy as ever as she crept out of his sight in the shadows.

She moved so she was closer to him, a few large wooden crates between them and she quietly sat there.

She listened as his breathing eventually got a little more laboured, and he'd occasionally mumble something incoherently. She recognised the fever ravishing his body.

She was going to wait, going to make sure he never turned but it felt like she waited too long and the fever was taking too long to take him.

She didn't want him to suffer any more.

So she made the choice.

And she didn't let him die alone.

~Fini~


A/N: Yeah, I told you it wouldn't go where you thought it would. :D

Now, I'm ready for Season 4 to inspire me! :D