Stones in the Road part 1/?

by Ikkleosu

Caryl fanfiction.

Post- Indifference (4x04). I am trying to make sense of this *^%$$%! story, but there's some part I refuse to even TRY and explain, so make of that what you will.

It was Michonne who spotted it first. They'd pulled up; gas running low and tensions running high. Daryl was sure they all felt the same claustrophobia he did, with the 4 of them in that hot metal can. He could practically feel Bob's breath on the back of his neck. So while Tyresse poured the gas into the tank, Bob paced outside the car nervously, and Michonne leaned against the driver's side casually and they breathed separate are for a moment. Daryl was still turning that jasper stone in his hand, trying to latch on to some thought or feeling that was elusively teasing the back of his mind, when Michonne called out.

"Car!"

They all leapt to attention and looked in the distance where Michonne was pointing. They all saw it, the tell-tale glint of the sun shining on metal; a car was cresting a hill and heading straight in their direction. Daryl estimated they had maybe 2 minutes until they'd be in sight.

Michonne looked straight at Daryl and he knew what she was thinking.

"Could be anyone," he replied to her unspoken statement. It could be the Governor, but it might just as likely be a family needing help or someone passing through.

"What do we do?" Tyresse's voice was low and hushed, as they all looked to Daryl for answers.

"Get this thing out of fuckin' sight. We're just sitting ducks waiting to be picked off. If they don't want no trouble, and just pass on by, we just let them be. We got enough battles right now."

They all nodded and jumped back in the car. Michonne maneuvored it off the road and round the back of an overgrown hedge that was crowding into the road. She switched off the engine and looked to Daryl again. Unspoken, they opened their doors and silently stood behind them as they faced the road; poised with bow and sword, they listened to the engine growl coming closer.

Every muscle in Daryl's body tingled and he sensed the anxiety in Michonne. She wanted it to be the Governor, but how likely was that? Daryl simply didn't want to be spotted. If it was the Governor, he could wait till another day when half their family wasn't a hair's breadth from death, and his make-shift crew weren't all dancing on a knife's edge of anger. Anger didn't make for clear thought. He sensed Bob shifting his weight back and forth behind him, and he felt his own anger rise again. Such a stupid, stupid thing to do. But forgivable, fuck, hell yeah, until you go for your gun. Turning on your own because you're out for yourself that didn't belong in this family. No how.

He knew it was something he had to put on the back-burner for now. And he pushed it from his mind at the unmistakable sound of a car pulling a tight corner round the bend they'd just passed. Michonne raised her sword and Daryl leaned forward, pushing a small gap in the hedge.

He saw the car. It wasn't a jeep; it was just a small, pale car driving at a steady pace along the deserted track. The sun reflected off the windshield and he couldn't see who was driving, or how many occupants it had.

He held up a finger to the others, holding them in readiness, as the car passed them by. It passed in a flash and yet that was enough time. His body sagged and he sensed Michonne looking at him in confusion.

"What you see?" Tyresse whispered.

Daryl looked back in the direction the car had come from until he was sure there was no other vehicle following, before turning back to the others.

"It was Carol," he said, the confusion clear in his voice.

"What she doing out here? Who was she with?" Bob spoke for the first time since Daryl had shouted him down.

"She was alone. The car was empty."

"What in hell?" Michonne sheathed her sword and put her hands on her hips. "What's going on that Carol's out here? Is she looking for us?"

Daryl had no answers, and a million scenarios ran through his mind, none of them good.

"We gotta catch her." Daryl leapt into the driver's seat as he spoke and the others instantly followed. He tore the car around, taking chunks of the hedge with him, and speeded after her.

it didn't take long to catch her up. Although she sped up as their vehicles came into line of sight, his driving experience gave him the edge and he was quickly pulling up beside her.

He wound the window down and waved his arm to her to stop.

"Carol! Carol! It's me! What's going on?! Stop!"

Her eyes had been firmly on the road ahead, clearly trying to ignore him, but his movement caught her eye and she turned. Daryl's blood ran cold at the look on her face when she recognised him. She looked horrified, scared and her face was red and blotchy.

He was afraid she'd pull away, but he nudged the car gently and forced her to pull to a stop. As he approached the car, he was surprised to see Carol had failed to move. She was still behind the wheel, her hands gripping it firmly as her head was dipped.

They all saw it.

"Is she sick?" Tyresse called from across the car.

"Carol! Carol! What's going on?" Daryl tried to open her car door and found it locked. She didn't move.

"Are you sick? What's happening? Why you out here?" Daryl continued as he pounded his fist on the driver side window.

Still she didn't flinch.

"Carol! Open up. Let me in! Is it the Governor?"

That got a reaction. She shook her head firmly but still wouldn't look up.

"Has she been bit? Walkers? Another breach?" Michonne offered from over Daryl's shoulder. Daryl leaned on Carol's car and put his face close to the glass.

"Was there a breach? Are you bit?" Again she shook her head but didn't look up.

This close up Daryl could see there were no obvious signs she was sick, but she looked like she had been crying for some time. He looked into the back-seat for clues. No-one there; no blood, no mess, Just some supplies and a sleeping bag. Something was so horribly wrong his mind couldn't even fathom what it was.

"Carol, please," he dropped his voice and tone, pleading with her. "Open up, it's me. What's goin' on?"

Finally she uncurled her white fingers from the wheel and opened the window. She looked up at him and his heart broke. The expression was something he remembered only too well. It was the one he'd seen haunt her face after Sophia walked out of the barn.

"Please, Daryl, don't. Just leave me. Go back to the prison. Leave me be."

"What's happened? The prison, is everyone else...?" He couldn't finish the sentence.

"Did you get the medication Hershel wanted?" she asked, her voice wavering.

He nodded.

"Everyone's okay, or as okay as they were when you left," she continued. "But they won't be for long. You've got to get that medication to them, please hurray. Lizzie, Sasha, Glen, Caleb. Please, just go."

For the first time she looked him in the eye. She was begging him. Her soul laid bare in her expression. Daryl was terrified, awash in a sea of confusion with seaweed threads of fears wrapping round his ankles weighing him down.

"You're following us though, right?" he asked, sensing he already knew the answer.

"Daryl, please, just go. They need you." Her voice was becoming harder, stronger.

"I ain't goin' no place until you tell me what's going on," he exclaimed, and pounded his fist on the roof of the car. She leapt at his action, and he saw tears spring down her cheeks.

"Daryl...don't. I can't... I can't... "

He couldn't take it anymore and he whipped round to the others who were standing silently behind him looking as confused as he felt.

"Go on ahead. Take the meds. We'll follow you."

The others looked confused, but Michonne nodded and got back in the driver's seat. Tyresse threw Daryl's pack and bow across the top of the car, and looked with a furrowed brow at him. Daryl just nodded.

As their car pulled away he heard Carol sob and saw she'd buried her face in her hands.

He was totally lost. He wasn't fucking Dr Phil and had no idea how to pull something out of someone who doesn't want to speak. Something horrific had happened, and he wanted desperately to get to the prison and do whatever was needed but he couldn't leave her like this; wouldn't leave her like this.

"Don't worry, they'll be fine. When we left, nothing had changed." Carol's voice surprised him as she'd seemed to pull herself together in a moment. He felt like the picture of her he'd just seen was a figment of his imagination, as she opened her door and climbed out of the car. He found himself looking her over. No wounds, no blood, no mud, nothing.

"Where were you going? Were you lookin' for us? Why are you out here on your own?" he questioned.

Carol rubbed her palms on her thighs and tried to avoid looking at him.

"Why couldn't you just let me go?" she sighed, resignation in her voice. "It was clean and simple, now… I thought he'd never tell you. I thought it would just be an end and everyone could move on."

"What the fuck are you talkin' about?" He yelled, angry at her vague statements and un-Carol-like behaviour. He'd never known her not to reach out to him, to touch him, gravitate towards him, welcome him with her smile. Now she was closed to him and it scared him more than some fuckin' flu.

She sighed, seeming to compose herself more before finally looking at him.

"I killed Karen and David."