Life continues at the two prison survivors camps as both face challenges from inside and out.
"You look a lot better today." Carol said approvingly as Beth sipped at the thick broth the older woman had brought her. She was sitting up on the side of her cot, her light hair held back from her face in a long messy braid, tendrils of gold escaping to curl in wisps around her forehead and temples. She was still pale, but the blueness that had tinged her lips for the last week had been replaced by a healthier pink and her eyes were brighter. She also hadn't coughed once since Carol had been with her this morning which was a very good sign. The contagious phase of the illness had passed and Beth would be able to rejoin the rest of the group today.
"So do you."' Beth observed. Without the bandana mask on it was easy to see Carol had some color in her cheeks, a glow of contentment that Beth had seen on other's faces before. People in love.
"Regular meals and more than a couple hours of sleep for a few nights can make a world of difference." Carol smiled at the girl.
"And being happy." Beth said, smiling knowingly as Carol blushed and refused to respond.
Beth finished the good tasting broth and handed the big mug back to Carol, trying to catch her eye, wanting to ask her a question. Carol motioned for her to take off her sweat stained shirt so she could have a sponge bath and a change of clothes. Beth slowly complied, feeling weak as a kitten, and Carol sat down beside her on the bed to help her.
"Carol?" Beth asked as Carol ran the washcloth, warm from the campfire heated water, over the sliver of soap to get a few suds. She handed it to Beth who washed her face with it, sighing at how good the warm cloth felt.
"Will you answer me honestly, if I want to know something?"
"Of course." Carol had decided long ago to do her best to always be honest with the children she cared for. If she'd been more honest with Sophia maybe she'd have been better able to take care of herself.
"What's it like? To have sex?" Beth asked.
Carol almost dropped the washcloth, her eyes going wide, caught in the web of her promise.
"So you and Zack never...?"
"No. Daddy, Glenn, Daryl and Rick would 'a shot him and he knew it." Beth sighed wearily. Sometimes she felt like very adult male in the prison had appointed themselves guardians of her virginity.
"And let's not forget Carl." Carol said, lightly teasing.
"I know he has a crush on me, but he's like my little brother." Beth frowned. "Now there's nobody I could even have sex with." she huffed out a sigh. "So you have to tell me—what's it like having sex?"
"I don't have very much experience, Beth..." Carol demurred, taking the washcloth back to rinse it out, add more soap and hand it back.
"You were married..." Beth said sounding confused. Carol motioned for the girl to hold her hand and frowning, Beth did so.
"That's not the kind of experience I want you have, honey." Carol said with a sigh, giving her hand a squeeze and then stretching Beth's arm out so she could wash it for her.
"He hurt you." Beth said, nodding, finally remembering what Carol had said about Ed and Merle being cut from the same cloth back when Daryl had run off with his brother.
Carol nodded and then switched hands so she could continue to gently bathe the younger woman.
"But Daryl's not like that." Beth said insistently, looking into Carol's eyes hopefully, wanting reassurance that there were still good men out there, needing the hope that maybe someday she could find one.
"No, Daryl's not like that." Carol agreed, trying to be nurse-like, gently efficient, focusing on her patient, but couldn't help the small smile and blush that thoughts of what Daryl was like start to fill her head.
"Does he make you all tingly?" Beth giggled, sounding more thirteen than eighteen.
"Beth..." Carol admonished, embarrassed.
"He does, doesn't he?" Beth asked with a sigh. "He was always just Daryl, you know? Big old tough guy on a motorcycle, brave and indestructible."
Carol nodded, that was a fairly accurate picture of what Daryl appeared to be.
"But now I've seen how he looks at you, kisses you...touches you...he's gentle with you, isn't he?" Beth asked longingly. "When he makes love with you?"
Suddenly a bit uncomfortable with the very personal direction Beth's questions seemed to have taken, Carol rinsed and wrung out the washcloth again and handed it and the soap to her charge.
"You can do the rest yourself. Call me if you need help getting dressed." Carol said.
Realizing she had over stepped Beth blushed crimson and put her hand on Carol's forearm to stop her from rising.
"I'm sorry—I used to bug Maggie about what she did with her boyfriends—she said I was a pest." she bit her lip, "And I used to sort of have a crush on Daryl." she admitted, "Before I really understood how he felt about you...before Zack..." she grinned impishly, "I had a dream once that we were together and I was riding behind him on his motorcycle yelling at people, warning them about the walkers...but he only let you ride with him, that's how I knew."
Carol raised an eyebrow. She'd known some of the Woodbury women and others at the prison had the hots for Daryl, but hadn't imagined that sweet little Beth Greene had been one of them.
"I'm sorry; I really don't have a crush anymore..." Beth repeated, wrinkling her nose. "...besides, he's old! Old enough to be my dad."
At that Carol did smile, realizing she must look like Grandma Moses to the teen.
"Yeah, he's much more my era." Carol said dryly, raising her free hand to her silvered short curls.
"Oh Carol—I didn't mean—" Beth said ruefully, "I just meant that...that you're perfect together." The girl looked at Carol, worried she'd angered or hurt her friend with what she'd said.
"Everything okay in there?" the man in question's voice startled both women as he first knocked and then pushed the door open to check on them. Beth, still shirtless, yelped and pulled her blankets up around herself.
"Stay out! We're not done!" Carol cautioned.
"Well, what's takin' you so long?" Daryl asked, stepping back so he couldn't see in but they could still hear him. "Quit yer jawin' and get out here. People out here anxious to see little Greene. Her sister's about havin' a conniption fit."
"Oh, tell her to cool her jets." Beth piped up and they heard Daryl chuckle.
"Sounds like she got her gumption back," Daryl said with amusement.
"We'll be out in a little bit, honey." Carol told him without thinking and then she met Beth's amused eyes. There was a slight pause before he responded.
"I'll be waitin', sweetheart." Daryl said easily and then the door closed as he moved away.
"See? Perfect." Beth chortled.
"Are we safe here?" Tyreese asked the woman on watch beside him.
"Got fences; better than out there with no fences," Michonne shrugged, her eyes on a small movement at the edge of the road coming into the factory yard. A large black and white rabbit hopped into view and she huffed out a sigh.
"Fences didn't do us much good at the prison." Tyreese said in a sad monotone. First the plague and then the invasion; the wire hadn't stopped either one.
"And if it comes down to it they won't here either, I know." Michonne said, "But there's one thing even more devastating than any herd or sickness or sick bastard with a tank..."
"Fear." Michonne said, "We can't let it rule us...rule them." she looked back over towards the group gathered around the outdoor cooking fire waiting for Beth to emerge from her quarantine.
"Fear can keep you alive." Tyreese disagreed. He knew the adrenalin rush had propelled him through his near death experience when the megaherd had blocked them from the Veterinary school.
"Maybe in the short run; but people can't live with it all of the time—it eats away at them, drives them crazy." Michonne said. "They'll do anything they can to avoid it, give up their freedom, their morality..."
"You're talkin' about Woodbury now." Tyreese said, knowing what it had felt like to find the place after being on the run for so long, after Rick had kicked them out of the prison.
"Andrea felt it, the relief from fear and the illusion of safety being inside those walls." Michonne said.
"And you?" Tyreese asked. He knew that the two women had disagreed over staying in the walled town, that their falling out had consequences for everyone both there and at the prison.
"It was a trap...had a spider at the center." Michonne said. "He made it look so pretty, lured people in, soothed their fears, then snap. Caught."
"So it isn't just fear keeping us here too?" Tyreese asked looking around the compound. "This place ain't just a trap?"
"One big difference between here and Woodbury," Michonne said, "Far as I can tell, no brown recluse or black widow here."
"You trust 'em all?' Tyreese asked looking over at the group again.
"I do." Michonne told him.
"That little boy...when he told me what he and the other children...I...I didn't want to believe him." Tyreese said.
"It was easier...believing Carol had done it." Michonne nodded. "We don't want to think the kids are affected by this mess we live in; we want to protect them from it."
"Do you think he'd do it again?"
"Do you think Carl will?" Michonne asked, watching the smiling Grimes boy carry his sister over to Maggie as Luke tagged behind.
"I guess all we can do is try to help them understand...to know the difference...to use their fear and not be controlled by it." Tyreese said.
"That's all any of us can do." Michonne agreed.
"Hell fire woman!" Daryl said, wincing as Carol placed something stinging, white and sticky over top of the bleeding cut on his upper arm where a chunk had been carved out of it.
"I'm so sorry Daryl—I didn't see you—I was just practicing..." Carl said, his voice desperately apologetic and fearful. He still held the bloody katana in his hand.
"Accidents happen, Carl, but you need to make sure you have a clear field around you—360 degrees—always before you start." Michonne said evenly, reaching out slowly but firmly to remove the sword from Carl's hand.
"He could've sliced into Daryl's neck—hit a major artery!" Carol said, quietly furious as she packed the balled up spider web silk into his wound.
Carol had read about the coagulating and antiseptic agents in web silk in her herbology book section on organic healing and knew the dusty cobwebs on the inside of the buildings couldn't be used; they could cause infection. But clean fresh outdoor webs like these would harden and seal over the wound, preventing bacteria from entering. She wrapped a tight cloth bandage around his bicep, keeping pressure on the cut as well as adding another layer of protection from dirt.
Daryl had been far enough away, his body at an angle to Carl's position, so that the wound though bloody was more of a shallow scoop out of the skin and meat of his arm, stitches wouldn't close it.
"Not like I don't already have any scars." Daryl shrugged with his opposite shoulder, grinning at Carl. He'd just been coming to tell them to finish up because dinner was ready and had been admiring how well Michonne's lessons seemed to be going—Carl had some real talent with the sword—when he'd been surprised by a lightning fast turn and slice of the katana.
Michonne nodded in acknowledgement of Daryl's ready forgiveness of Carl's error and took out a rag to clean the blade.
"We'll be better about marking off our practice ground in future." Michonne promised them all.
"Daryl, he could have killed you." Carol said, still angry, pulling the dressing sharply to tie it off.
"Shit!" Daryl winced, "Easy there Florence Nightingale!"
"I'm sorry, Carol." Carl said tightly, silent tears running down his face.
"Do you need more webs?" Glenn asked from where he hovered nearby watching the scene. They'd been preparing supper when they'd heard Daryl's yell of pain and Carl's panicked shouts for help and all come running. Tyreese had resumed watch and Maggie and Beth had taken Judith back to the cooking fire while Carol worked on Daryl. She held a cloth to the wound to slow the blood flow and had sent Glenn to hunt for the webs while Luke watched wide eyed. There were a lot of webs in the tall grass between the orchard and the parking lot.
"Take Carl and show him how to gather more." Carol told Glenn and then she looked over at young Mr. Grimes muttering, "He keeps up his training we'll probably need them."
Carl flushed hot but acknowledged the order, heading off with Glenn, Michonne trailing behind.
"Are you going to die Mr. Daryl?" Luke asked, raising tear filled eyes to the hunter.
"Com'ere Luke." Daryl said, beckoning with his free hand.
The boy shuffled closer and Daryl put his hand on Luke's shoulder.
"You see Miss Carol here?" Daryl asked.
"Do you know what she just did?" Daryl continued.
Luke looked over at Carol who was washing Daryl's blood off of her hands in a pail of warm water.
"She stuck spider spinnins' on my arm to stick it back together—anybody knows how to do sh—stuff like that ain't about to let me die, m'ai right?" Daryl said with a smile.
"She did?" Luke said, awed.
"That she did." Daryl nodded. Luke looked over at Carol who was drying her hands. She smiled at the little boy and he ran to her, enveloping her in a tight hug.
"Thank you for being so smart to save Mr. Daryl with the spiders!" Luke said worshipfully and then whispered, "I love you Miss Carol."
"I love you too, Luke." Carol said, hugging him back.
They'd been camped by the river for almost a week and had settled into a routine of sorts. Rick patrolled, looking for walkers that ventured too close to the RV while the girls sat atop it, like Dale and the others used to do, keeping watch.
They had cleaned the supplies out of the other campers in the clearing, siphoned their gas, getting ready to go, but Rick had been indecisive, the stress of worrying about keeping the girls safe getting to him, not wanting to head in the wrong direction, waste their resources on a dead end. There were safe where they were for the time being and he pored over the map he'd taken from Michonne's cell, trying to decide which of the seven sites she had marked was the most likely one to seek out first.
He'd just gotten back from morning patrol, having taken out three walkers trapped in a mudslide after last night's rains, finding the girls in their usual place.
"Mr. Rick?" Mika said in an urgent stage whisper.
"What is it?" Rick asked in a quiet voice.
"Someone's coming!" Lizzie said.
Then they all heard the sound of a vehicle and then slamming doors, voices, close, too close and Rick wrenched open the door of the RV, hissing at the girls to "Get down!" knowing they didn't have time to join him inside, hoping they could stay out of sight of anyone on the ground. He didn't make it all the way into the Winnebago before they were on him. A warning shot, a crossbow bolt pierced the door of the RV, right next to his head.
"Put your hands up and turn around!" a deep male voice yelled, and when he hesitated, "Next one goes in your back!"
Rick raised his hands turning slowly towards the intruders, keeping his face blank, showing no emotion even as he saw who stood between the bearded bowman and another rough looking man holding a large machete.
"Now what do we have here" Phillip Blake drawled with a smarmy smug smile, "Well, if it isn't Sheriff Rick Grimes himself—and here I thought you were all dead and such."
"Governor." Rick said curtly.
And then a small round hole appeared in the middle of Phillip Blake's forehead, right between his eye brows. He looked puzzled, the brows starting to draw together and then he went down, spinning slightly with the force of the bullet that had killed him. Before they could even react, the two men with him went down as well, one shot through the eye and the other clutching his neck, his jugular blown.
Rick's ears were ringing from the sound of the pistol's report. He whirled around and looked up to see Lizzie and Mika lying on their bellies in sniper position on the top of the Winnebago, Lizzie holding the 9mm pistol they had found in one of the other campers.
"That one will turn." Mika said, pointing at the third man who lay on the ground, his wide open eyes staring skyward, his hand still holding his neck, where he'd tried to staunch the heavy blood flow that had been pouring from it.
Rick pulled out the trench knife and made his way to the third man and quickly dispatched him with a punch in snap through his ear canal. Then he stood and stared down at the Governor and all he could think was the line the Wicked Witch had uttered after Dorothy had doused her with that bucket of water, "Who would've thought that a good little girl like you could destroy all my beautiful wickedness?" He was saddened and a bit terrified to know that exactly what he'd feared Carl would become had happened to one of these two little girls. Lizzie was a dispassionate, stone cold killer...and he'd be dead right now if she wasn't.
"We need to go Mr. Rick. They'll come looking for him." Lizzie said as she and Mika climbed down from the roof.
"You killed him." Rick said, feeling oddly numb. How could the devil, the person that had haunted his nightmares just suddenly be...gone? It couldn't be that easy...
"A bullet will do that." Lizzie said matter of factly, shrugging. "He was a real bad man. Miss Carol told us he killed her friend Andrea and Mr. Daryl's brother."
"And Alice and Graham's mom and dad." Mika added in a small sad voice, missing her friends as well.
"No one will be sad he's dead and gone." Rick agreed. "But you're right, if there's others in his group they'll come looking. Come on." He bent down and picked up Blake's gun and knife and after studying his corpse a bit more, reached down and pulled off the eye patch he wore to cover what Michonne had done to him. If they ever found her again he planned to give it to her. Then he headed for the Winnie, the girls quickly gathering the other two dead men's weapons and then following him.
Once they were all inside both girls grabbed him up in a hug, one on either side and he put his arms around them, holding them close.
"You did good." Rick murmured.
"We should go get their car." Lizzie said, in a no nonsense voice and Rick frowned, releasing both girls.
"You're right. This thing will use too much gas." Rick nodded. The safety and shelter provided by the RV had been fine while they were stationary, but they needed to leave now, get on the move.
It took them 45 minutes of solid work to transfer their supplies into the older model red Subaru Outback station wagon Blake and his men had been driving. The gas tank was almost full already so they filled up the red plastic gas cans they'd found in the other vehicles with the rest of the gas from the Winnebago's larger tank and strapped them to the roof luggage rack.
Rick started the vehicle, Lizzie and Mika sat in the passenger's side seat, crowded together, the seat belt strapped around both of them. They exchanged a worried glance.
"So where are we going, Mr. Rick?" Mika asked.
"To find the rest of our family." Rick said, handing them Michonne's map plotting out she and Daryl's safe houses and rendezvous spots, spiraling out in a set of concentric circles from the prison.
"But where are they?" Lizzie asked, looking down at the map and then back up at him.
"Pick one." Rick replied, giving them an encouraging smile. "We'll just keep looking until we find them."
Both girls grinned happily at him and started looking at the map.
Rick thought of something Hershel had tried to tell him long ago, knowing its truth, hoping he could continue to believe it.
It's not enough to just live. You have to have something to live for.
AN: Well, I knew I was tired of the Governor, but I hadn't really decided to kill him until I started to write this chapter and just said oh what the f-, l really don't want to write him into this story, so bam, Lizzie got to do the honors. I always wanted someone to just do an Indiana Jones and just shoot the SOB instead of all the swordplay and talking, LOL!
Speaking of swordplay, those who were worried about Carl and the katana, you were right! Fortunately he didn't do too much damage & hopefully learned his lesson. Daryl's quiet tracker tread is usually a good thing, but not in this case...
Of course there are more dangers out there in the big bad world than Phillip Blake and it's a constant struggle for anyone to stay safe. Both our groups have challenges ahead...
"Spider webs have natural antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that help keep wounds clean and free of infection. In traditional European medicine, cobwebs are used on wounds and cuts to help healing and reduce bleeding. The reason they heal so well and so quickly is because spider webs are rich in vitamin K - the clotting vitamin. The web itself is a biologically neutral material whose silk will not cause an infection as long as clean webs are used.
Using spider silk to heal has long been a staple in the folklore medicine chest. Even Shakespeare was apparently aware of the medicinal qualities of spider silk, as illustrated in his play A Midsummer Night's Dream when the character named Bottom said this: "I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good master cobweb, if I cut my finger, I shall make bold of you." Source: Cheryl Hayashi