Carol was resting in her cell in B-block. She tried to pretend it was an ordinary day at the prison back before the sickness took so many people. Before she was a murderer. Everything was how it used to be – she was just curling up to catch a quick cat nap before starting her evening chores. But the weight of the silence and the locked cell door pressed on her mind, even when she closed her eyes. The handcuff linking her right wrist to the bed frame was pretty hard to ignore, too.
She rolled onto her back to stare up at the bunk above her. She'd pretend it was a coffin instead.
Someone entered the cell block, footsteps echoing in the empty room. She knew perfectly well who it was – she'd know Daryl's footsteps anywhere. She pulled her ratty blanket up to her ears and feigned sleep.
Keys rattled, and the door slid open. He moved to the head of the bed and settled himself onto the little chair there. He waited.
Well, he can just keep waiting. She scowled with her eyes closed.
He didn't move. The weight of the locked door had been nothing compared to the weight of his eyes on the top of her head. She resisted the urge to fidget.
It seemed like he had been there for hours, though she knew it could only have been a few minutes. With a hiss, she pushed the blanket off her shoulders and said, "What are you doing?"
"Keepin' an eye on you," he drawled.
She rolled onto her side to glare at him. He smiled his tiny smile. She frowned harder and willed him to go away.
"Council's takin' a break. Thought I'd come check on you."
"Well here I am. Where else would I be?"
He quirked an eyebrow. "Less concerned with where you are than how you are."
The pain that lived in her chest flared sharply. She curled in on herself. Why wouldn't he just leave her alone?
Again he waited. Carol hugged her knees with her free arm, squeezed her eyes closed, and ignored him. And still he waited. As a hunter, he had a great deal of patience, damn the man.
"Dammit, go away!" She felt tears sting her eyes and blinked them back. She couldn't do this again. "Isn't the council waiting for you?"
He shifted the chair over so he was directly in front of her. One hand hesitated, as though he stopped himself from reaching out to her. She probably imagined it. He leaned forward until she couldn't avoid looking in his eyes.
"Tell me how you're feeling." His voice was a soft, but rough command.
She buried her face in her pillow. When she finally spoke, her words were muffled. "Embarrassed. No, make that humiliated. Ashamed." Fire crept into her cheeks as she glared out at him again. "And angry. I'm SO mad at you for stopping me." The tears welled up again, but she refused to let them fall. She didn't want anyone to see her cry ever again.
This time, he did reach for her. His fingers ran gently down her jawline. "Don't give a tinker's damn if you're pissed, as long as you're not hurt."
He bit back anything else he might have said and settled back into his chair. His eyes dropped to his hands in his lap, which had apparently become the most interesting thing in the room. Dammit, everything he did made the guilt worse. She pushed herself up onto an elbow and brushed his knee with her fingertips.
"Look, I'm sorry. I should never have done that to you – it was cruel. I just...Daryl, it hurts so much, I couldn't stand it any more. Please believe I don't want to hurt you. I just wanted the pain to stop."
"Are you gonna try to hurt yourself again?"
"I..." She looked at his carefully neutral expression. "No?"
He grunted and hooked a finger into the cuff locked on the bed frame. "Until you're a little more sure about that, this stays put."
She rolled onto her back and turned away from him. She let the tears fall this time, as quietly as she could. At least he couldn't see her face.
Still, he made no move to leave. Until today, silence between them was always easy and comfortable. Now it made her stomach twist. The pain that lived in her chest squeezed until she thought she might suffocate.
The early evening light grew warmer, then began to darken into night, and still he sat with her.
Finally he moved. "Can I ask you something?"
She avoided his eyes and shrugged.
"What you said to me, before you..." He paused and shifted a little in his seat. "What you said before. Did you mean it?"
That she loved him? "Yes."
"So, you didn't just say it to get my gun?"
His hands moved nervously in his lap. "And when you kissed me, did you mean that, too?"
She turned on her side and examined his face, shadowed now in the dimming light. He looked like a little lost boy. Something fluttered in her chest – something that wasn't pain. A ghost of a smile touched her lips.
His tiny smile appeared again, and he settled back in his chair. The silence was easier this time.
This fic came from a couple of things, number one being fear – whenever the show focuses this much on a character, they're pretty much doomed, which in season 4 would mean Carol. I have been avoiding the comics until the series ends – I don't want expectations. But I saw somewhere that the Carol from the comics killed herself early on. So this was me, trying to put those two things together. I apologize for even thinking about the possibility of them killing Carol.