Daryl pulled up the long driveway that led to the white colonial. It looked like many houses in the previously affluent Georgia neighborhood, but this one stood out with its green shutters and elaborate rose garden. With the absence of its inhabitants over the last fourteen months, the roses had taken over all of the front and side yards. When Daryl had come through about three or four months earlier, before winter had really set in, they had been straggly, many grown so huge that they were falling over. The vampires had apparently made it their nest since Daryl, Rick, and Michonne had raided the house. One of the vamps – or maybe one of their prisoners – had a green thumb, because the roses had been pruned back to more cultivated bushes. Now they were just beginning to bloom.
It would have been a lovely scene without all of the beheaded hunters, vampires, and walkers bleeding all over the place, Daryl thought to himself. He felt morbidly grateful that the stench of walker and vampire blood managed to overpower the relatively fresh scent of human blood. He could feel those weird teeth rousing, suddenly tight in his gums. He dismounted and deliberately moved over the sliced remains of what looked like three particularly ripe walkers. They'd always smelled awful, but never as awful as this moment, now that his sense of smell was working overtime. He could actually taste the stench. Thankfully, it stopped the urge to fall upon the headless buffet calling his name from up the drive.
“Oh, no,” he heard Sam say, pulling a crowbar out of the car. “It's Mark. They must have had to leave fast if they didn't take care of him.”
“Who's Mark?” Dean asked, shining a flashlight around as he inspected the driveway. Daryl threw up one arm as the light blinded him. Dean's lips tightened as he quickly spun it away towards the house.
Daryl didn't need a flashlight, or the moon, which was nearly full somewhere, though hidden behind grey clouds. Everything seemed bright and clear to him. He almost thought he saw better than he did during the day, or with the bike's light casting weird shadows in the darkness.
There was a wet crunch as Sam stabbed through a head that was barely attached to its body. No clean cut, this; the head had nearly been ripped off. There were two other bodies up closer to the house, but apparently those didn't concern Sam as much. “A distant cousin,” he answered Dean.
“So they took the Alpha,” Dean said, looking around. The house stood dark and silent. No one left here but the dead. “Why'd they take him alive? It's suicide. No way they're taking him all the way to the compound. It's too far.”
“He's been looking for alphas specifically,” Sam said, looking back toward the road. “They'd have to have some place ready, close by, to question. No place too close to a big city or possible herd. They don't want...the noise...to attract too many croats.”
“Hate to tell you,” Daryl said, “but it ain't too close. I got his scent. The Alpha. Father. It's everywhere, all over this place. But I can't smell or sense him from here. They left and left fast. I know they went further north. That's all I know.”
Daryl had always been a great tracker, but too many other things, the things here, were incredibly distracting. He could smell so many dead bodies intermixed with the cloying scent of roses everywhere. And even still, his stomach tried to rumble at the the smell of the non-rotted human blood and the smell of those two brothers, who were the only living beings outside of a few foxes, squirrels, and groundhogs that he could sense hiding out in the woods.
He felt a dull pang in his chest when he realized that he didn't count himself among the living things.
“He had a big group,” Sam said, looking around. “They'd need enough gas for at least three vehicles here and back, if Daryl's vision is right. Can't be too far.”
He knew Sam continued talking, but Daryl lost the thread of his voice as his attention was pulled toward the back of the house. It seemed to Daryl that he suddenly had some kind of tunnel hearing. The sound of twigs snapping was a clarion call in the quiet of the night. What live things there were, he could smell and name and point to in part because they were few, and he was starving and wanted them. But as soon as he stopped focusing on all the smells and realized how much better he could hear, Daryl realized that there were at least forty or more walkers heading toward them, coming from every direction. “We need to move.”
The guys glanced at him. “Get in the car,” Dean said. “We'll come back for your bike after, promise. But you can help suss him out when we get close, and we'll fill you in on everything we know about vamps.”
“That bike's just announcing our arrival to everyone out there.”
“Look,” Daryl said, getting pissed. He felt pretty clammy and wanted nothing more than to get back on the road and into the wind. The crisp night air would dry his sweat-drenched skin and clear his nose of the far too many smells assaulting him. “I get that it's loud, especially for vampire hearing. I'm happy to park it a few miles out if we find their trail, but – and no offense meant – but y'all smell like a couple of ribeye dinners right now. I can take a mile or two. Not twenty or forty or a hundred and forty. But I really need to find gramps, like, now. So let's go.”
Dean looked at him intently. Daryl wanted to get right back up in the dude's face, but he was afraid of what he'd do if he let Dean's neck so tantalizingly close. Dean seemed to come to some decision. “Roger that. You lead the way. If I blink the lights once, we're going to pass you. Twice, we need to pull over and talk.”
Nothing felt so good as pulling back onto the road. Daryl's arms shook a bit as he steered, feeling almost weak from hunger. Deep down, Daryl knew it was just the scent of blood messing with his head. He wasn't hungry. He sure as hell wasn't weak. He felt stronger than he'd ever felt in his life. He could see the road with incredible precision, but even as so many previously unknown details threatened to overwhelm him as the scent of blood and roses had, it quickly cleared to a comfortably familiar blur as he picked up speed. Even the loud rumbling of the bike was a helpful old friend, anchoring his ass into his seat and drowning out some of the night sounds. For a while, he was almost normal again.
It was easy going since the Campbells had cleared the roads already. Once they got out of the immediate walker zone around the Alpha's nest, there was very little to worry about. They made good time. Daryl had to stop once to refill his tank. Sam checked for gas in nearby cars, but the Campbells or other looters had gotten to them first. Daryl hoped that they either found more gas or Samuel pretty soon, because he'd only had the one can on his bike.
After he'd filled her up, Daryl tried to smell and listen to the wind. The trail was faint, but he caught the Alpha's scent again. “It's different this time,” he told the Winchester brothers. “He smells sick. Like death. Not the walkers, but...some kind of roadkill smell. Smells bad, man.”
Dean raised his brows and gave his brother a meaningful look. “They're souping him up with dead man's blood.”
“Probably,” Sam agreed.
“Dead man's blood?”
“Yeah. It weakens them. Regular vamps, anyway. He'd need a lot to tame an alpha, and it seems like it's getting to be a smaller and smaller window before the croatoan virus takes over once a body dies.”
Daryl listened carefully, but there were no walkers – or anyone else – close by. “So you think it's a virus?”
“I know it is,” Dean said.
Daryl narrowed his eyes. “How do you know that?”
“Listen, I'll tell you all about it later, but you're getting a little growly there, huh? Maybe we need to get back to Samuel.”
He felt a flush of hot anger, but he wasn't sure why. Logically, he knew Dean was right. It was getting more and more difficult to be anywhere near them. “I still don't know where exactly they are, but I think we need to turn a bit more east next chance we get.”
Sam pulled out a map and conferred with his brother, but Daryl kept his distance from the both of them. “280's just five miles up. We can head east there. I-75 is just a bit further east down 280, but I really doubt he'd go too far with the Alpha in his car. He's probably got a warehouse set up someplace off the interstate. Though he probably drained the gas off it already, before the hunt.”
“Maybe he'll share.”
“Yeah. I'm sure.”
“Well, guess I'll lead the way again. If we get close, maybe I can tell.”
Once they were on 280, Daryl did pick up their trail. Well, not exactly Samuel Campbell's trail, but he came across the scent of vampires who were also tracking them down, answering Father's call. Daryl followed that until he could clearly pick up the scent of the Alpha, now nearly overpowered with the scent of dead man's blood. He pulled over as soon as he could smell the humans with him.
“They're close,” he told them. “Somewhere down that road to the left there. I gotta admit, I followed the vamps here.”
“Damn,” Dean swore as he headed toward the back of his car. “Well, see if you can get us there first. You got a machete like your pals?”
“No, just my knife.”
“Here. I happen to have an extra.” Dean pulled another blade from the backseat of the car.
“Thanks, man. All right, let's go have that family reunion.”
The smell was indeed coming from a warehouse. They were about four miles from the interstate, and though Daryl's bike was pretty good on gas, it was low enough to make him nervous. It surprised him that he actually thought he might get out of this and make it back to the prison, he realized as he parked near the door. Here, the smell of dead man's blood was too strong. Daryl retreated, pacing anxiously as the Winchesters climbed out of their car and glanced around. They had made it; he knew the Alpha was inside this place, but he also sensed a herd gathering. Just not a walker herd, which he was used to watching for.
No, this was the cold, slightly metallic scent of vampires. Some of them carried the smell of warm blood on their breath. There were walkers too, plenty of them hobbling down the interstate in the dark, following the sound of some long forgotten vehicle. But everything alive in the area had been scared away. Vampires were coming from every direction. He knew many had beaten them to the warehouse. His hair stood on end as he felt their gaze upon him. “This is bad...”
“How close?” Dean asked, jimmying open the warehouse door.
“Some watching us now. Others gathering. They want in too.”
“Let's go!” he said, pushing Sam in and gesturing for Daryl to follow.
Daryl stepped back as a rotten smell filled his nostrils. “I can't, man. It stinks way too bad.”
Dean pulled back the door even farther. “It's dead man's blood. I got it for you, but this is as far away as it's getting. Hold your breath and run in fast.”
Daryl tried, then turned back and began retching as the stench overwhelmed him. The retching filled his empty stomach with pain, and the sick smell made him dizzy. “I'm sorry. Really. I can't, man.”
“If you must,” he said, grabbing Daryl by the arm and tossing him over the threshold. The smell was so disorienting that Daryl couldn't even shake off the manhandling, and he ran as far as he could down the hallway until his senses came to him. He fell dry-heaving in the corner, having nothing left to puke up.
“Let's hope the other ones have even more problems getting past it,” Sam said, hefting his knife and leading the way down the hall. Daryl had the grandfather's scent clearly now (or so he assumed – who else would wear English Leather at the end of the world?), as well as that of a handful of others, but Sam was heading in the right direction.
Daryl pulled them back into a side room as he heard distant footsteps heading their way. It was instinct more than anything. Sam said these Campbell folks were his family, but Dean didn't seem to know much about them except that they played a dangerous game. The fact that they killed vampires was enough. Daryl wanted to lay low until he had that cure.
The brothers, thankfully, seemed to agree, because they hid quietly while a youngish guy peeked his head in and looked around. He smelled off. Daryl didn't know what, but something about the guy's smell turned his stomach. He seemed to have some kind of sickness deep down inside him. It helped stem Daryl's hunger a bit. The guy shrugged and continued on down the hall.
The lights flickered, and it was only then that Daryl realized they had proper electricity and that it wasn't just his awesome new night vision making everything so clear. He could hear murmuring and pointed down another hall. They were able to peek through an open door to see Samuel questioning Father – no, the Alpha Vampire. He looked just like he had in Daryl's vision, only now he looked considerably calmer. He had been fighting quite literally tooth and nail during the vision. Now he sat, calm though tethered to a chair, a tube shoved into his neck pumping what, from the nauseating smell, could only be dead man's blood.
“Where is it? How do I find it?” Samuel Campbell asked, flipping a breaker on the wall. The lights flickered again as electricity flowed into the Alpha via iron nails in his feet and hands.
“Ow. Please, no,” Father said calmly. He smiled up at Samuel, though the smile did not meet his eyes.
It may not have hurt Father, but Daryl doubled over and bit down his own cry of pain. Standing this close to the head honcho, Daryl felt every bit as if it was happening to him. And he wasn't nearly as strong to sit and just take it. He waved off the brothers and tried to breathe through the pain, wiping sweat from his brow with the hem of his shirt.
“You'll talk before it's all over.”
“We'll see. It will be over sooner than you think.”
Samuel threw the switch again, and Daryl groaned quietly, sliding to the floor as he became unable to hold himself up. Samuel was too worried about his captive to notice. He finally slammed the switch and stalked out of the room, leaving Daryl gasping quietly in the hall.
“You three come all this way to visit and don't even say hello?” he heard Father say quietly. “And my own boy? Come here and let me get a look at you.”
“I ain't nobody's boy,” Daryl spat as he mustered the strength to stand. He eased into the room after Sam and Dean. It was a shock to actually stand face to face with the father of all vampires. His dark eyes were so compelling. They sucked Daryl right in, even as he squared his shoulders and attempted to stare the man – thing? – down.
“Get your fill now,” Dean said, sauntering right up to the cage, “'cause we're filing for custody.”
Father laughed. “Silly boy. That one's mine, and I plan on feeding him his first meal myself. He's special.” He turned his head, his eyes finally releasing Daryl and falling upon Sam. “So are you. Very special, it would seem. You smell...cold. Empty.” He peered into Sam's eyes and laughed. “You have no soul!”
“What?” Sam asked, shaking his head in denial. He glanced at Dean, his eyes filled with fright.
“What?” Dean echoed. He stared at his brother. “You can't be serious.”
“Oh, it's a serious condition.” Father's voice rumbled with amusement.
Dean stepped back from Sam, almost as if he preferred the proximity of the Alpha vampire to his brother. Father laughed. Sam frowned, shooting a look of hatred his way before stepping toward his brother. “Dean, it's still me. It's me.”
“Is it, Sammy?” Dean shook his head. “Like I said, you've been off this whole time.”
Daryl could hear the scrape – scrape – scrape of Father working a nail against his bonds. “Don't,” he warned him.
“You don't give orders. You're still a baby yet.”
“I'll deal with you later,” Dean said, pointing angrily at Sam. He turned his finger on Father. “And you...why would Samuel keep a freak like you alive, hm? What does he want?”
“The thing about souls is...” Father started, but Daryl was no longer listening. Not because existential stuff bored him, though a lot of times it did, but because his attention was drawn to the smell of Samuel and his people coming back down the hall. Daryl's stomach rumbled, and he felt Father's deep laugh roll over him, enveloping him in warmth.
Daryl turned and tried to clear his head from the effects of Father's hypnotizing voice. He focused on casting further out for sound. The Campbell family cocked weapons, their steps hurrying now. Beyond that, the vampires had gathered in huge numbers. He could hear their breathing, the shuffles as someone made their way closer to the warehouse doors. Daryl could sense scores of them surrounding the warehouse. He could smell them all. Hear them whispering in sharp, angry tones. They were preparing a rescue.
He was about to say so when Samuel and his lackeys burst in on them, guns drawn. “Didn't expect you to consort with the enemy, Sam,” he said, glancing between Daryl and Father. His eyes finally fell on Dean. “Dean. Long, long time.”
“So it has been, Samuel.” He looked back at Father one more time before crossing the room toward the group. The woman to Samuel's left raised her gun. “Aw, come on.” Dean smiled tightly at Samuel. “Is that any way to greet a long lost grandson?”
“Probably ain't a social call, seeing how you broke in,” Samuel pointed out. “And you appear to be questioning our prisoner.”
“What are you doing caging the likes of this?” Dean asked, stepping towards Samuel. He frowned when the woman stepped between them and rested the barrel of the rifle on his chest. “Look, you gonna shoot, sweetheart, then shoot. Otherwise, get out of the way and let the big boys talk.”
The woman aimed lower, but Samuel raised a hand to stop her. “Gwen, we don't shoot family.” He gazed back at Dean. “Not unless we need to.” She stepped back, then belatedly noticed Daryl and raised the gun on him instead.
“Look,” Dean said, pushing her gun away, “we're only questioning him because our friend here got turned. Sammy says you might be able to do something about that.”
“Guys,” Daryl interrupted, “I'd be much obliged and all, but I think we got some pretty pressing problems. There's about sixty or so vamps getting ready to fall on this place and free Father. You ain't gonna hold him long like that, anyway.”
“Boy's right,” Father said, tauntingly.
“I said I'm not your boy!”
Father smiled. “All right. Daryl.” He shifted in his seat, eyes raised toward Samuel. “Still...Daryl's right. In about three minutes, I'll be ripping your heads off and drinking from them.”
“You,” Samuel said, pointing at two of the men with him. “Keep watch on him. We'll go secure the perimeter.”
“Don't go outside,” Daryl gasped. “They've brought Zach. He's still alive. But he's gonna let them right in!” He pushed past the Campbell family. “I'll talk to him. I'm one of them. Maybe they won't kill me.”
“Oh, they will,” Dean said, following.
“Watch him close!” Samuel yelled again, pointing back to Father.
At the door, Daryl turned for one last look. Father smiled. Daryl shivered, turning away as his teeth began to slide out once again. He ran for the door, trying to swallow them back.
He burst outside, once again dry-heaving as he scent of the dead man's blood filled his nostrils. He did what he could to swallow it down and glanced up to see Zach pull his hands from his pockets and run across the parking lot. He grabbed Daryl's arms and pulled him upright. “Daryl!” Zach seemed shocked to see him, then frightened as he realized what Daryl was. “Oh, Daryl, I'm so sorry.”
“It's okay,” Daryl said lowly, knowing that all the vamps hiding out there in the shadows could plainly hear him. “It's working out okay so far.” He pulled Zach aside, smelling Zach's fear as his hands gripped Zach's arms. “Look,” Daryl whispered, “you can't let them in.”
“I have to. They'll kill me if I don't.”
Sam and Dean rushed out, flanking Daryl with weapons raised as they looked around. Samuel was in the doorway but pushed Gwen and another fellow out ahead of him. Just as he started after them, a scream from within pulled him back inside.
One drugged up alpha vampire or sixty-something sober, angry ones? Daryl wondered. Bracing himself, he grabbed Zach and threw him through the door of the warehouse. He took a few deep breaths, trying to ready himself enough to run through. He heard angry hissing, but apparently the hunters didn't. “Watch the tree line!” Daryl yelled, and then an army of vamps began charging across the warehouse parking lot at them.
“Oh, no!” he heard Gwen whisper.
“Get inside!” Sam yelled, swapping his big bowie knife for a gun and covering the door. A gun wouldn't kill them, but it might slow a few down. Dean followed suit, pulling a pistol with his free hand, covering his brother.
“Go!” he yelled at Daryl. “Go now!”
Daryl hesitated as he neared the door and the familiar stench of dead blood once again overpowered him. Dean turned back to him, trying to force him through the door as he had forced Zach.
“Traitor!” a vampire hissed, shoving a distracted Dean aside as she lunged for Daryl's throat.
“Dean!” Sam reached down to help his brother up, and the vamps closed the distance.
Daryl hefted the machete they had loaned him, timing it perfectly as the vamp fell upon him. Once one was down, the whole rest of the group keened. Their voices cried out together in grief and anger. It both scared him shitless and thrilled him, causing his fangs to grow and his body try to respond to the call even as his conscious mind struggled to swallow his inexplicable grief.
Gwen, who had made it to the door, turned back as the keening grew louder. She and Daryl covered Sam as he worked to get Dean off the ground, but the vamps were coming at them like a dark tsunami. Between them, he and Gwen managed to drop about a dozen vamps, and the boys a handful each, before they were surrounded and cut off from the door.
Dean kept his back to Sam's as they hacked away, shoving up beside Gwen and Daryl in an attempt to stay alive just a few seconds longer. Dean smiled over at Gwen. “Pleasure meeting you, cuz.”
As the bodies piled around them, Daryl saw Crew Cut Guy and a second big guy calmly walking their way. Faster than he thought possible, the big guy crossed the distance and had Dean's neck in one hand. “This one's mine,” he said, picking Dean up and dangling him. “Father wants that one,” he said, nodding Dean's own head at Sam. Crew Cut Guy stepped forward as four others held Sam's arms down, and Gwen just kept slicing necks as they came at her.
She seemed to be holding her own, so Daryl struggled to take out the guys who had Sam and reach Dean and Big Guy, who Daryl figured must be Father's second-in-command. There were just too many of them. Crew Cut Guy was tying a bag over Sam's head, even as Samuel had done to Father in his vision, and Big Guy was offering Dean's neck to a smoking hot vamp chick at his side. Someone grabbed at Daryl from behind, but he fought hard, trying to get through everyone to stop them from killing Dean.
He stopped abruptly as a hand curled around Big Fella's shoulder, spinning him around right as the girl's teeth descended. To Daryl's shock, a man in a suit and trench coat stood, somehow arriving so stealthily that Daryl had neither heard nor smelled him coming. And he looked pissed. He had no weapon, and he merely touched his fingers to Big Fella's forehead. The vampire lieutenant crumpled, apparently dead, and Suit & Tie began to glow. “Shield your eyes!” he said, sternly but quietly.
Daryl hadn't needed to be told. It burned his eyes the second the man had touched the vampires. He'd turned, beheaded the vampire grabbing him from behind, and ducked his head behind Gwen before he even thought enough to be ashamed about using a human shield.
Whiteness exploded around them, and Daryl screamed in agony as he threw his arms up over his face. Surprisingly, he did not burn to death, although his skin suddenly felt far too tight. But all of the other vampires smoldered in piles of ash.
“How am I alive?” Daryl asked, looking down at himself. His arms, still a bit raw from his earlier wipe-out, were now sunburned and blistered on top of the road rash. He had never felt like so much shit inside and out, which was saying a lot given the kind of life he'd had. He was starting to feel weak from hunger for real now, and he had no idea how he was still standing with the vampires around him still smoking. He looked back up at the crazy shining man who had appeared. “What the hell are you?”
“I am an angel of the Lord,” the man said, gazing back at him with bright blue eyes.
“Oh, no!” Dean screamed, punching Suit & Tie in the face. Daryl took several steps in the general direction of his bike, in case any sort of Wrath of Heaven came down. “I didn't ask you for this!”
“You didn't have to.”
“I don't want a thing from you!”
“Dean, I'm sorry.” The man's eyes looked pained, although his words were flatly spoken. “Truly. I apologize. I couldn't get away then. But I came as soon as was needful.”
Daryl slowly started coming to his senses. He hurt, he ached all over, he felt sick to his stomach, and he still found that he wanted to eat his comrades. To make matters worse, the fight, or perhaps the flash of light, had attracted the attention of all the walkers in the area. They weren't close, but they were undeniably coming in from every direction just as the vampires had. “Is this over? There's still the Alpha to worry about, we just sent out a walker beacon, and I'd like the cure soon, please.”
“Yeah, of course,” Sam said, leading them back into the warehouse.
Daryl even managed to cross the threshold more easily, wholly committed to ending the whole ordeal. After his sick time in a dark corner, he managed to collect himself and nodded at Sam. Dean stayed outside with the guy in the suit and coat, and Daryl could hear more punches being thrown. He wiped his mouth on the back of his arm and turned to Sam. “Is that guy really an angel?”
Sam chuckled. “Yeah. Come on. We'd better hope Samuel's okay.”
Once Daryl got further away from the door, his senses began to return and something became very apparent. He stopped, causing Sam to pause and wait. Gwen continued down the hall at a jog, looking for her family. “Sorry. Something weird just happened.”
“Yeah? What's that?”
“Fa-- The alpha vamp's gone.”
“Really?” Sam nodded his head. “Good, I guess. Fried with the others?”
“No. He was here just a second ago, and now he's not.”
Sam turned and started jogging after Gwen. “What about Samuel?” he asked, then skidded to a stop as his question was answered.
Samuel was in the holding room. Father was gone, but Samuel was not alone. “Crowley,” Sam sneered. “This is your doing?”
The Crowley guy smelled kind of sick too. He cocked his head. “My doings are not your concern, Moose.”
Sam looked between Samuel and Crowley. “They are if they involve my family.”
Crowley slid his hands into his jacket pockets – something about suits with these sketchy guys – and crossed the room, looking both Sam and Daryl up and down. Daryl crossed his arms and stared at him, saying nothing. Crowley's eyes flicked back to the doorway, and Daryl turned to see Dean stomping into the room, Suit & Tie trailing in his wake.
“Ah,” Crowley said, clasping Samuel on the shoulder. “I see you have pressing family matters to attend to. We'll talk later, Samuel. Good job though.” With that, the man disappeared into thin air.
“Really, Samuel?” Dean yelled, crossing the room to get right into the old man's face. His anger at the angel was carrying over to his grandfather. “You're Crowley's bitch?”
“No, I am not!” Samuel swallowed. “It's not like that.”
“I see what it's like.”
“Look, can you hold off just a few, Dean?” Daryl asked, wearily making his way to Samuel. “I'm sorry to interrupt and everything, but I'd really appreciate it if you do have a cure for this thing.”
Samuel looked back at Dean. “Of course. But you need the blood--”
“Yeah, I got that. Haven't fed. Good to go.”
“All right. Follow me.”
“Get rid of him,” Dean muttered as he passed Sam, jerking his thumb back at the angel before following Samuel and Daryl.
“Wait a minute,” Gwen called, pushing past him. “Where's Christian?”
Samuel stopped and turned back. “The Alpha killed him. And then he got back up and overpowered it. He was one of Crowley's this whole time.” He turned and continued walking.
“I freaking hate Crowley, man,” Dean said, still emanating anger. “Why are you dealing with some punk-ass crossroads demon, anyway? He might have the power to bring you back, but I don't believe for a second that he could spring Sammy from Lucifer's cage.”
“Angels and demons?” Daryl shook his head. “No way. This is freaking looney. Angels and demons sure as hell ain't that.”
Samuel ignored him. “He's not a crossroads demon. Not anymore. He's King of Hell.”
Samuel turned into a room, switching on the light. “Yeah, Crowley.” He turned back to Daryl. “You got its blood?”
Daryl handed over his canteen, and Samuel pulled out a bowl and a little book. He began flipping through it.
“But why are you dealing with the King of Hell?”
“I got my reasons. Can I focus on this, please?”
Dean threw up his hands, but he remained silent as Samuel began mixing ingredients. After pouring in the vampire blood, Samuel gave it a swirl and passed the whole bowl over to Daryl. Whatever it was, it smelled foul, almost as bad as the dead man's blood. Dean seemed to forget his anger for a moment and came forward, watching him closely. It made him nervous. “Bottoms up,” Daryl said, tipping it back.
It tasted even worse than it smelled, if such a thing was possible. It hit his empty stomach hard, and Daryl doubled over with pain. All of his insides were twisting up, and it felt like he was turning inside out. The nasty taste lingered on his tongue. He had tasted vampire blood when Michonne cut that bitch's head off, and it was gross, but this funk was how Daryl imagined a juiced walker might taste. As soon as he thought it, he turned and began spewing bile into a bucket that Samuel was suddenly pushing his head into.
He gasped, hurting so deeply that his chest caught. Then, he couldn't make a sound. His fangs forced themselves in and out, and suddenly he was burning up, his insides matching the angel burn across his arms.
The next thing he knew, Daryl was waking up on the ground, Dean peering down at him. “Did it work?”
“I don't know. Am I alive?” Daryl rubbed his swollen tongue around in his dry mouth. He wished that he hadn't poured out all of his water.
“I think so.” Dean reached down to help him up.
“Here, son,” Samuel handed him bottled water. It was even sweeter than the soda that had been such a big treat only hours earlier.
“Not feelin' so hot.”
“Are the vamps are gone?” Samuel asked Dean. “All of them?”
Dean's jaw clenched. “Yeah. I guess Crowley got his alpha, then?”
“Yeah,” Samuel said shortly.
“Then we're safe enough.”
“Uh, not really,” Daryl said. He inhaled deeply, his nose wrinkling. “I guess it worked. I don't smell 'em anymore, but there were dozens of walkers shifting this direction. The fight's drawn them this way.”
“Which direction?” Dean asked.
“All of them.”
“Again? Come on!”
Samuel rubbed his eyes. “The warehouse should be secure enough, but it's just me and Gwen left out of the whole crew. The Alpha escaped his cage before Crowley got here. Killed everybody else.”
“Uh-uh,” Dean said. “Well, me and Sammy have been driving all night. And fighting. And you two did the Alpha run even before that. This guy's had a pretty hard night too. I don't think any of us are up for fighting a herd right now.”
“What about your angel friend?” Daryl asked.
“He is not a friend.”
“Then we hunker down,” Samuel said. “We've got water and electric. We'll reinforce the doors and stay put for a while.”
“Uh uh. No way. Vamps, croats, and demons know where we are. We go.”
Daryl was tired, but he wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there. “Yeah, I'm good with that. I want to make it back to my people. Zach okay?”
“Yeah, he's out there with Gwen and Sammy. No offense, dude, but you don't really look up for driving.”
“You might be right, but I don't want to stay here. And I ain't leaving my bike.”
Samuel looked at him. “No, you need some rest. Tell you what, if we got time, we can take the back seats out of the van and load your bike in there. You can rest and take a shift driving in a couple hours. We all put some distance between us and this madness.”
Daryl looked at the men. He didn't trust Samuel, but he trusted Dean at this point. “Do we even have a place to go?” he asked.
“How far away is your...place?” Dean asked.
“I ain't bringing this to their doorstop.”
“Too late. You probably will whether you like it or not.”
Daryl, no longer fighting the urge to fall upon his neck, had no trouble getting up in Dean's face this time. He didn't know most of what these folks were up to, but he didn't want anything to do with demons. He had enough of those in his past.
“It's fine,” Samuel said. “We stayed at a decent place coming down here. If you can make it a few hours, we should be able to get there before dawn if we don't run into any herds.”
“And if we do?”
“Better hope your angel friend can help.”
“He's not my friend. He can ride with you if you want him.”
“Okay then. Daryl can ride with you.”
“I ride with my bike.”
“Let's go then.” Samuel glared at Dean as he walked past. “We have enough gas and water for everyone now that most of my people are dead.”