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Couldn't Leave You

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Carol tears apart the note she was writing with a sigh. Staying hurts, but leaving her family? The thought alone was killing her. What was she thinking? Morgan was getting in her head and she couldn't let this happen. She was needed. Lord knows they would probably get themselves all killed without her. Especially Abraham, Glenn and Carl. Wiping her tears she throws the paper away and tucks the bag under her bed. Just in case they needed to make a quick escape. She smiles shoving the jacket underneath as well. Something has shift in her. Maybe it was the option that she could leave if she wanted but she doesn't feel so...suffocated anymore. Nodding Carol thinks about why Daryl had to be a runner. Because he would be climbing the walls. She should have known she needed some outside time. Frowning she thinks about Denise. Obviously they didn't end it with the Saviors. And that was concerning enough. But...she didn't realize how close Daryl had become with her. Should have. One of the few people he was comfortable around. Sighing she walks down the stairs prepared to go talk to him. It was barely daylight and Tobin was still asleep upstairs. Grimacing she makes a note to deal with that when she's done with Daryl. 

Alexandria was blue in the early morning light. Off in the distance she could hear the stirrings of the survivors who were still not used to sleeping late. Carol smiles liking the way the dew was scattered around her lawn. She curses noticing Morgan practicing in between the trees. Quickly she circles around keeping out of his sight. The man has made it his mission to get her to stop killing. Her gut twists at the thought. She didn't like killing people. But she would do anything to protect her family. If she was more like this back at the prison...well maybe more people would be alive. Shaking her head she finds Daryl's bike and leans against it digging out a cigarette. It had been a while since she had to deal with an angry Daryl. Her hand shakes a little with anticipation. This was not going to be fun. But it would certainly be worth it. A boot scuffing the pavement makes her smile brightly and look up at him. Even furious and grieving he was distractedly handsome. She misses his vest and sure he does too. Her eyes flicker to his bangs and tells her self to cut those tomorrow. 

"Morning Pookie." She wasn't holding anything back. All the cheap shots. She had to.

"What's wrong?" He asks defensively. Carol tilts her head offering a smoke. He shakes his head stepping into her space looking down at her. Carol swallows hard. It had been a while since they were this close physically. And yet it still feels like he was so far away. But for the first time since they came here she could see him again. 

"Nothing's wrong with me, I'm just worried about you." She states the half truth. There was a lot wrong and maybe when she was done stitching him back together she would tell him. Daryl surprises her by cupping the sides of her face tilting her head up further. Her heart started pounding and a hope she hadn't felt since Rick had left her in that neighborhood starting rising. The pads of his thumbs were caressing her cheek bones the callouses made her shiver slightly.

"What'd he do?" He asks gruffly. Carol's eyebrows knit together in confusion.

"Who?" Daryl flings himself back with a snarl.

"Don'tchu go and play stupid with me. I know the hell you two been up to." Carol takes a hit watching him start to pace. 

"Daryl, I don't understand what you're talking about. Just...back track a second here and tell me who we are talking about?" Daryl whirls around glaring darkly. Carol makes a face knowing he wasn't really angry with her.

"Tobin." Maybe he was mad at her? The venom in his voice certainly suggested it. Carol blinks flicking some ashes wrapping an arm around herself. 

"Tobin? I'm an adult Daryl. He's a bit of comfort and I guess fun? But what does he have to do with this?" She was never prepared to defend her actions to him. Daryl shoves his hands in his back pocket with a huff.

"Ain't askin' you to be celibate or nothin', just don' lie to me." He kicks the ground glancing at the gate. She ignores Abraham and Sasha as they exchange guard duty. Carol does note Rosita off to the side glaring at the new couple. Rosita was going to need some cookies later. 

"I would never lie to you Daryl. Everyone else of course, easily. But not you." The truth sort of scared her but...she shrugs. It was Daryl. He glares stepping closer to her again.

"Then why you been cryin'?" Carol stiffens understanding that Daryl thinks she and Tobin had a fight.

"Let me make something clear;" Her voice was steady as her eyes narrowed at him, "even if he had the balls to argue with me I wouldn't come to you just because I'm upset. You're my best friend Daryl. I love you and I wouldn't use you like that." He sucks in a breath listening to her rant. 

"Carol-" She tosses her cigarette raising her voice not caring about the audience five feet away. 

"No, you listen to me Daryl Dixon. I don't know who you think I am or what I'm like but I would never do that to you." Daryl's temper rears again and he points a finger at her, 

"Then why you been cryin'?!" He shouts. Carol throws her hands in the air,

"Because I almost left!" The silence was deafening. Their onlookers had their mouths open in shock. Daryl's face pales eyes wide.

"Whut." He breathes. Carol sighs heavily. 

"I've been thinking about running away for a few days." Daryl takes a step back, "Ever since Maggie and I were kidnapped. I thought it would be better if I wasn't here. I thought it wasn't going to be possible for me to keep killing people" She said disgustedly looking at the ground, "to protect our family. I have a bag packed. I sewed a gun into the sleeve of one of Tobin's coat. I had a letter written. Was going to steal a car during shift change and just...go." Carol admits leaning against his cycle again. Daryl's shoulders slump.

"Why didn't ya?" Carol's heart breaks for him. He sounded like a lost child so alone and scared. Carol smiles softly extending her arms for a hug. Daryl hiccups before wrapping himself around her. Carol chokes out a breath holding him close.

"Because I was too worried about you. The thought of leaving you was killing me. I knew you were hurting and I...I couldn't. So I came here to wait for you." Daryl lets out a small sob burying his head in her neck. Carol smiles softly petting his hair. Over his shoulder he could see Sasha give him a sympathetic look. Abraham and Rosita give an identical grimace of understanding. Footsteps caught her attention and she looks over to see Maggie, Glenn and Michonne headed their way with a bucket more than likely filled with guns. Fools thought they were going out there. 

"M'sorry." Daryl mumbles. Carol tsks shaking her head.

"Aw Pookie. I told you, you have to feel it."

"Everything alright?" Glenn asks stepping up patting Daryl's back. He shakes against her trying to compose himself. 

"We're fine. What are you three up to?" She asks as if there wasn't a sobbing Dixon in her arms. The three shrug at her,

"Maggie is worried about security." Michonne comments watching Daryl warily. Maggie nods setting the bucket on the nearest car. 

"I am. there is no doubt in my mind that the Saviors will want to retaliate." Carol glances at Daryl as he sniffles. "I want us to be able to find guns in case of an attack. Thinking about having some set about the place. Daryl stiffens his anger returning. Carol rolls her eyes.

"Good thinking, but their killing out in the open? They're sending a message." Daryl pulls back frowning at her. "Listen to me. They're watching us. They only attacked because they recognized Daryl." Abraham and the girls wander over, he was chewing on a new cigar. 

"What are your thoughts then." Carol perks up in shock when Daryl steps back and they form a semi-circle around her. They were looking at her like they do Rick. As if she was a leader! Blushing she fidgets a bit. 

"Um. Well they're going to be sending someone. A small group maybe. To see if killing one of ours has made us scared. Too concerned with everyone else's safety to continue fighting." Everyone nods in agreement. The rage in Daryl's eyes lessen to a calm storm. The corners of her mouth twitch.

"So, what do you think?" Rick's voice catches their attention and they make room so he could join. Carol's eyes widen. Rick was ready to listen to her ideas? What parallel universe did she wake up to?

"Well, we need more people on watch. And when they show up kill all but one. Send him back with a message. Maggie you said we finally have a bud with the tomatoes right?" Maggie nods smiling proudly. Glenn wraps an arm around her waist beaming. "And Rick, I need you to send a party out to that lake where Jesus lost the truck. Take a tractor and fish it out. We're gonna need it. In case we're put under siege." Daryl cocks his head. Glenn leans over and whispers an explanation. Daryl gives him a glare as if insulted that Glenn figured out he didn't know what it meant. 

"Good idea. You want us to wait for the first party?" Rick asks hands on hips. Carol shakes her head folding her arms.

"We don't have the time. Abraham, Glenn and Michonne will go with you. Hurry up." She motions with a wave of her hand. They nod, Abe smiles down at Sasha with a tender look. Rosita rolls her eyes at it, while Maggie and Glenn give each other a quick kiss. Carol looks Maggie up and down her lips thinning. Rick and Michonne share a kiss as the four of them head off. Daryl glances at Carol waiting. "Maggie. You're not going to like this." Instantly the younger woman was defensive.

"I can fight Carol. I have to fight." Carol closes her eyes for a moment moving her face into the rising sun. 

"Maggie." Carol sighs, to her surprise Daryl moves so he was standing beside Carol showing his support in her decision. Carol beams at him while Eugene opens the gate for the scouting party, they all wave them off. "Listen to me, I know you can fight. I understand that, but we can NOT control the future. But we can do what we can to keep the worst from happening." Maggie shifts looking ready to argue.

"I think she's right." Sasha contributes. Everyone turns to her. She shrugs, "I think Maggie should take Judith to the Hilltop while we deal with the rest of the Saviors." Carol grins.

"That's exactly what I was thinking." Maggie looks between the four of them and sighed shoulders sagging in defeat.

"Alright." Carol nods,

"Good. Sasha will you take her?" It was phrased as a question but it really wasn't. She nods while Rosita cocks her hip out.

"Great. What did you want me to do?" Maggie and Sasha hug Carol and pat Daryl's shoulder before going to pack bags. Carol smiles going over and taking her hand.

"I need you to gather people and weapons. Including Carl. We need everyone for this attack. You're our best shot with a pistol. So I'm going to need you to shoot out a tire." Daryl frowns digging out his own smokes.

"Ya think they're gonna be in a car?" Carol nods while Rosita scoffs and walks away. "Why? Wouldn' they just walk up if they really wanted to make a deal?" Carol chews her cheek turning to him. 

"They're going to call it a deal. But it'll really be servitude." Daryl hums in agreement.

"So...you n' Tobin?" He asks shifting. Carol rolls her eyes with a chuckle.

"Not gonna last. He's too...suburban." Daryl raises an eyebrow looking her up and down. Carol huffs straightening her shirt. "Don't judge me." Daryl snorts.

"Jus' sayin'. You looked better with the stuff ya wore at the prison." He comments. Carol blushes a little.

"Stop." She giggles turning to see Sasha hobbling over Maggie hunched over her shoulder with Enid in tow behind them carrying their luggage. "Daryl." She says worried. He rushes forward scooping Maggie up bridal style.

"The hell happen'?" He asks looking at Sasha who was paling. 

"I don't know. Something's wrong with the baby," Her voice was shaking while Maggie moaned in pain. Enid was panting in the effort to keep up. Carol places a hand on her chest, fretting.

"Hurry up. Enid go with them, you HAVE to get to the Hilltop." They nod loading themselves into the truck. Carol chews her lip thinking. With a sigh she leans down to Sasha who was buckling up.

"Listen to me carefully. You're going to have to go East to go north. I don't trust any of the normal roads." Sasha grumbles but nods. "Just drive fast and drive careful." Eugene makes his way over fidgeting. 

"Um...there's an unknown vehicle waiting at the gate." Everyone looks at him. "I-I did not answer it, but they rolled in on what I assume is netural in the gear shift being as we did not hear their approach. The truck seems to be an old chevy I would wager an eight-two or an eighty-three so there really is no other explanation as to why we did-" Carol shushes him and walks to the gate picking up a pistol out of the bucket as she walks.

"Carol." Daryl calls after her. She points to Maggie without looking. She hears him settling her into the car as she pulls back the curtain fence.

"Can I help you?" She asks holding the gun behind her back relaxing to look as if her hands were on her tail bone. A young man smiles at her causing her to beam. Simpleton. 

"Good morning ma'am. My name is Jiro and we are here on account of our boss." Carol tilts her head looking interested. "His name's Negan." She widens her eyes looking shocked.

"Negan? Isn't he dangerous?" She asks sounding nervous. 'Please stay with Maggie', she silently begs Daryl. Jiro laughs a little.

"Yes that he is. So we are here to make a deal." Carol nods pulling a hand forward opening the gate fully. Resting it on her face in a worried stance.

"Gosh, that sounds like the smart play. Our leader isn't here, maybe you can go ask Negan to come here himself?" Jiro places his hands on hips looking back to the truck. Carol counts over his shoulder. A total of five. Geeze. Negan thought they were just a bunch of lucky amateurs didn't he? Only five? Glancing to her left she see's Rosita and Carl slowly and quietly climbing the watch tower, and off in the distance Spencer into the newly repaired sniper one. Two minutes, she calculates to herself. 

"Well, we might be able to work something out. One of us stays here with y'all, one of you go with the rest of us? When do you think your leader will be back?" Carol smiles brightly looking relieved.

"Oh! That sounds great, absolutely. Yes he should be back within a couple of hours. By the time Negan gets here I'm sure." Jiro nods again motioning for someone to get out of the truck. Beautiful; the driver. The man walks up crossing his arms listening as he was filled in. 

"So what's your name little lady?" Carol tilts her head hearing an 'owl' hoot three times. 

"Carol." She says pulling out her gun and shooting Jiro and the driver between the eyes without blinking. Three silenced shots were fired and two of the remaining men went down in the back of the truck while a tire was blown. The last Savior throws his hands up in the air cursing. Carol walks over the bodies calmly Daryl jogging to catch up. "Throw it in neutral and get it out of Sasha's way please." She asks him pulling the survivor to the side. 

"Jesus lady. Don't kill me! I-I only work for these guys." Carol nods watching Daryl move the truck as Sasha pulls forward running over the dead without care. "Shit! You people are crazy!" She nods again holding his arm tightly. 

"We've been told. Now listen here." Carol points her gun at his knee, "We are going to give you a car, and you are going straight to Negan. Tell him if he wants to make a deal to come back here himself," She stresses that by pushing the barrel against him making him flinch, "or we will just keep killing his men until he does." She tilts her head side to side in thought, "or until he runs out." The man starts nodding as he was shaking from head to toe. 

"S-sure, whatever you want. Just let me go." Daryl comes up scowling darkly.

"They'd jus' kill ya." Carol looks at him debating, but nods. With a grunt Daryl starts beating the shit out of the Savior, the man was crying and curled up in on himself. Carol puts the safety back on her gun slipping it into her holster. 

"Alright Daryl." He stands up flipping his hair out of his face. "He needs to be able to limp at least." Daryl huffs stomping on the man's hand breaking it. The man screams in pain. Carl comes up aiming his gun.

"Why don't we just kill him too?" Rosita wanders up arms folded looking annoyed. Obviously she explained it to him. Carol puts her hand on his pistol making him lower it.

"Because otherwise we won't know what Negan is planning. We have to be smart."

"They killed Denise." Carl tries to remind her, like she couldn't see the Dennis key-chain hanging out of Daryl's pocket. Carol turns to him with a small glare making him look at the ground.

"We are aware. And the man who did needs to die for it. But he's not here. And neither is Negan. We have to make sure they all die and we can't do that if we're blind." Carl flinches and she gasps. "Oh, sweetie. I didn't..." She trails off as he holstiers his gun turning away.

"I know. Just...let me go get Judith. I'll watch out for her." Carol grimaces realizing in their haste to get Maggie to the doctor they were unable to take the baby. 

"Take Daryl with you." She states looking back at the injured Savior. 

"The hell?" Carol ignores him pursing her lips in wait. He scoffs storming off after the teen. Rosita steps forward heaving the sobbing man up. 

"Go." Carol tells him when Rosita shoved him towards the car Carol was going to use to escape. Carol hands him the keys watching him fumble and get in. Rosita closes both gates as he drives off. 

"Now what?" She asks sarcastically. Carol turns to her grimly.

"Nothing but prepping. We need everyone able to fight armed and ready. those who can't will be with Judith. Rick's house will be the best place for them." Rosita nods walking off to do what's needed. Carol turns to watch the road. All she can do is wait and hope. Her gut twists thinking on what might have happened if she wasn't here. Her hands ball into fists more convinced than ever to stay. Even if it destroys her.