This was an average routine for the once was sheriff. Wake up, get dressed, early small breakfast, wash his face, and get to work at the garden. Everyday for the past three months this was Rick Grimes' job for the group. He had become a farmer. Something he never thought of doing unless he retired from the force to just stuck plants in the dirt and watch them grow as he aged. Now, it was to tend and baby them to make sure they grew to produce good vegetables and fruits for the prison.
With many people joining almost every other week, the newest member Bob Stookey, he had to keep the garden in tip top shape. This also included in having his son, Carl, help out with the pigs who were growing to be good food one day. Everyone had a job for everything, Carol and some other women worked in cooking the food, though Carol stayed as the 'head chef' for it. With a proper medical man, Doctor Subramanian who most just called him Dr. S. Namely the Dixon brothers who didn't even attempt to pronounce it. Hershel was relieved of being a doctor and helped the Grimes boys in the garden, teaching them everything. Daryl stuck to hunting to keep the meat counting up, the other day he had just got a well grown buck and everyone feasted on the meat the night before. Merle was left in charge of the fence, which helped grow the once was Woodbarians to defend themselves if the time was needed. Had to keep the walker countdown, he lead a team to go out and take them off the fences as the structure on one end was growing weak for the past few days.
While it seemed Rick was still leader, a council was made in regards to the entire prison. Part of that council was Carol, Hershel, Daryl, Glenn, and Sasha. It was at one point discussed that Merle join, but he shockingly declined not wanting people to complain to him to fix problems. Apparently he prefered to throw orders around, but no trouble has been caused so he was left with fence duty.
Michonne and Angela were currently out of the prison, out on a search for The Governor. They would return with no success but never empty handed. They had found trinkets and other assortments for the members if they secretly requested something.
During one time, Angela was looking for a little something-something for her and Daryl. Thankfully, she had found some and the two had shared another romantic evening on a night watch. They never had as many nightly times as Maggie and Glenn, they only ever had about four events of it. It was mostly when Angela got back from a long trip during her searches with Michonne that they engaged in such nights.
During Angela's departures, Daryl soon became known around the growing community for fetching the best dinner ever. As he awoke that morning, he dressed in a dark button up, sleeves gone as usual and heading to the outdoor commissary. He could smell breakfast being made by his favorite cook, Carol.
"Morning, Daryl." Caleb, the local doctor, greeted the hunter. He had finished breakfast and was reading a medical book with a bowl by him.
Daryl glanced over, walking past. "What's up, Dr. S?" He greeted back.
"Morning Daryl." One man greeted sitting with his girlfriend.
"Morning, Daryl." Another did, walking by.
"Hey, Daryl!" A woman called out, catching his attention.
Carol watched as she was moving food on the griddle. He turned back, "Smells good." he told picking up a bowl from line up.
"Just so you know, Angela got you first." She teased, reminding the man how he was in a devoted relationship.
"Stop." He told, taking a piece from the bowl and dropping it into his mouth. He chewed on the food, looking around as he heard children playing nearby. "Ya know, Rick brought in a lot of 'em, too." Daryl said, knowing the people that greeted him were the ones that he brought back during rungs.
"Not recently." Carol defended. "Give the stranger sanctuary, keeping people fed, you're gonna have to learn to live with the love." She told smiling to him.
"Right." Daryl shrugged, looking around at the extra meat being cooked.
"Need you to see something." Carol turned to a teen preparing and cleaning the dishes. "Patrick, you want to take over?"
The dark haired teen in classes, known as Patrick, was given kitchen duty wanting to cook more for the members. He looked up, and adjusted his glasses. "Yes, ma'am!" Patrick rounded the table and gladly took the tongs from Carol. The two were prepared to leave when Patrick spoke up. "Uh, Mr. Dixon?"
Daryl was caught by surprise of that name, only a name used toward his father. He eyed the teen, remembering his group arriving at the prison, Patrick was a spirited childlike teenager. Very different from Carl who was quiet and reserved, he liked playing with toys such as legos and wasn't afraid to show wanting to stay young. Angela thisand encouraged him to do what helped him, it seemed the legos relaxed him, building things left and right, despite it was a repeated process. Daryl was glad to see Carl make a new friend, since he hadn't interacted with anyone since they lost Kaylee.
"I just wanted to thank you for bringing that deer back yesterday." He told, a wide grin shown, excited to be talking to the hunter face to face. "It was a real treat, sir."
Carol smiled at Daryl, seeing the surprised look he held while being thanked for such a small deed.
"And I'd be honored to shake your hand." He offered, holding his hand out to the man.
Daryl knew Angela would be milking this, the teen wanting approval and clearly saw Daryl in a light he never imagined. The hunter was a bit stunned, but got a thought on how to handle this. Clearly a boy seeing Daryl as a role model, he glanced down at the hand then stole a glance to the grinning Carol. He turned to Patrick, licking his fingers on purpose and clapped his hand into his. The boy still smiled, as Daryl shared a smile back, finding new respect for the teenager. The two left, the teen shaking his head with a grin still on as he cooked the food.
Daryl threw on his jacket and followed Carol over to the opened gate where the property of the prison was overlooked. "About today, I don't know if we're gonna be able to spare a lot of people for the run."
"That place is good to go." He defended, knowing the store they found had to be searched sooner than later. "We're gonna move in on it."
"Yeah." Carol sighed, showing the sight before them.
What caught their eyes were the loud growing growls and snarls at the one spot of the fence, supported by beams as it was growing heavy in the area in particular. Along the fence were a few members, Merle easily spotted by his loud barking in attempted to thin out the walkers. It seemed the trouble was growing, to which Daryl understood why Carol wanted to show him.
"Thing is, Merle informed us we had a pretty big build up overnight. Dozens more towards tower three." She folded her arms, shaking her head at the sight. "It's getting as bad as last month. They don't spread out anymore."
Daryl chewed his meal and swallowed half of it. "With more of us sittin' here, we're drawin' more of 'em out." He told, pointing down the other end when Merle stabbed his bayonet to help take the numbers down.
Daryl then pointed toward the other fence. "Ya get enough of those damn fence-clingers, they start to herd up. Pushin' against the fences again. Merle can't even move the bodies with the amount pourin' it, so they just gather against the fence."
She nodded. "It's manageable, but unless we get ahead of it, not for long." Carol shrugged, looking up to him. "Sorry, pookie." She teased.
Daryl gave her a look and nudged her shoulder with a scoff. He turned to finish his meal, still determined to go on the run. On the fence line, Merle jumped between the group, barking at them to keep at it, despite some were hesitate on the weight at one of the ends.
"The faster ya'll stab 'em, the faster we can clear out there!" He yelled, stabbing his bayonet through one and quickly a second one. "Let's get a move on!"
The fence liners were required to wear gloves and aprons to keep clean of the walker blood. Merle argued on him wearing one, but he was soon convinced when one bloated walker near exploded puncturing its head. Merle looked over, spotting Tyreese talking to Karen on the side. He stabbed one more and marched over just as they shared a kiss.
"At last ya arrived." He called, wiping sweat from his creased forehead. Merle looked him up and down, seeing him without a weapon, apron, or gloves. "Where's ya gear?"
Tyreese looked to Karen hesitantly, almost nervous to tell the redneck what he told Karen. She raised her brows, encouraging him not to be afraid of the loud boisterous man. Tyreese of course wasn't afraid, he just hated confrontation with the argumentative hick.
"I won't be on the fence today." He told with a sigh.
Merle raised his brows, shifting his footing. "Oh, really? Then where will ya be today, Mr. Softie?" He pointed toward the fence as the people continued their work. "Did ya not see the group up we woke up to this morning, that gathered over night? If we don't handle this, it will be impossible to clear out before more show up. Maybe even a big herd."
Tyreese nodded. "I know, but I wanted to give a hand at the run you're brother is running today. He's already thin on people, so-"
Merle grinned at that, tucking his thumb in the knot of his apron around his waist. "How many people he got on that run of his?"
"He's got Glenn, Zach, Sasha, and adding me makes three." He told, shifting his own stance.
Merle chewed his lip in thought, stepping back and spitting at the ground. "Fine, I got little Blondie joining anyway." He brushed off, refering to Beth. "She kills faster than ya do, anyhow." He waved him off and turned to go back to his work.
Feeling that conversation worked out, Tyreese shared a look with Karen who grinned at him. He smiled back and left to go prepare for the run.
Some of those on the run were wearing protective gear such as Sasha and Glenn. Daryl and Zach chose not to, and none were able to fit Tyreese but he didn't seem to mind. Daryl filled the back of the ram truck with gasoline and crates of melee weapons. He picked up a Mossberg 500 Persuader shotgun and walked over to toss it in the truck. Zach came around placing a Remington 870 Wingmaster into the back and chucked his backpack with it. As he rounded the vehicle, he grinned spotting a cute blonde coming his way wearing an apron. An indicated sign that Beth was taking on the fence today.
"Hey." She came over with a smile that matched his. "I was just gonna come find you." The two shared a kiss, catching Daryl's attention. Acting like a big brother to Beth, he had kept his eye on the boy Zach for a while.
"What's up?" She asked, wondering why he was coming to look for her.
"Well, the council pulled back everyone on the coal crew from going on the run." He shrugged looking around seeing the Hyundai start to get loaded up. "They're shorthanded right now. I figured I'd step up to help, go with 'em."
Beth nodded in understanding, not too surprised. Zach chewed his cheek, expecting her to say anything so he continued.
"Just, you know, wanted to make sure that I saw you before." He tried to hint in there.
Beth seemed to ignore his meaning and just smiled with a nod. "Okay."
"I just-" He nodded to the gang and looked back to her. "You know, it's dangerous going out there."
Beth chuckled, "I know." she kissed his cheek and walked passed without another glance.
"Uh, okay, are you gonna say goodbye?" Zach called over, waiting for this to be a moment for them.
"Nope." Beth called, almost making Daryl grin at how the girl handled her boyfriend.
"It's like a damn romance novel." Daryl commented, tossing another crate into the back as he glanced to the teen girl.
Zach stepped around, hands shoved into his pockets. "You know how it is, Daryl." He raised a brow at the teen boy. "Well, I mean- When Angela goes off with Michonne, you two share a… Moment, right?"
Daryl almost looked offended by his assumption. "Yeah right, she goes off early before I get up in the mornin' or when I'm gone huntin'."
He wasn't too concerned ever not seeing her as much or no goodbyes. In fact, he was glad to see how outgoing she had grown to be again. The only concern Daryl had was her obsession on finding the Governor with Michonne.
"She never gives a proper goodbye?" Zach rubbed his in as if he was deeply thinking on this. "Is it a woman thing?"
Daryl scoffed, "Yer askin' the wrong person." he told. "Go ask a woman."
"Hey." Everyone paused seeing Bob Stookey geared up with a backpack on and a smile on. "I'd like to start pulling my weight around here." The black man had been found my Daryl not too long ago, and showed eager signs on wanting to help out.
Sasha leaned against the Hyundai driver door with hesitation at his offer. "Bob, it's only been a week."
"That's a week worth of meals, a roof over my head." He told, walking up to her. "Let me earn my keep."
Sasha rounded the door, looking up at him. "You were out on your own when Daryl found you."
"That's right." He confirmed.
"I just want to make sure you know how to play on a team." She told, showing some slight untrust and caution to the man.
"We ain't gonna do it unless it's easy." Daryl told, walking past to mount his bike.
"You know he was a medic in the Army." Glenn told, giving Bob a boost of back up for him to come along.
Sasha didn't budge, showing she wasn't too impressed by this knowledge. He grinned nonetheless at her. "You a hell of a tough sell. You know that?"
Finally giving in, she shrugged. "Okay." Without another word, Sasha climbed into the Hyundai with Glenn as Tyreese and Zach got into the truck.
Over in the garden, Hershel now sporting a new prosthetic leg was helping Rick with spreading the garden out. Carl was feeding the pigs, noting his concern for Violet laying in the mud. Hershel was showing the branches of a plant that was maturing quickly.
"These leaves are gonna be in the shade, so we won't get any good fruit from it." He explained, checking the thin green branches and bristles as Rick momentary glanced toward the fence when Merle's barking voice was heard.
"So, we just pinch it off here." Hershel twisted and indeed pinched off a small branch off the fruit plant. "Things break, but they can still grow." He told, picking off the edge and showing Rick. "These little bristles, they'll take root," Hershel moved some dirt and stuck it into the soil, patting it down to secure it. "And we'll have a whole new plant."
A whistle was heard in the distance, making Rick jump to his feet. "Let's go!" He called his son as the two ran to the gate.
Arriving up the rode, sounds of hooves galloping against the gravel was growing closer. Angela and Michonne riding on their horses, Flame and Calypso were finally returning to the prison after being gone for over a week or so. Rick yanked on the rope for the double doors to open as Carl slide the gate allowing the two full entry. The Grimes closed the doors and gate, rushing to meet with Michonne as she climbed off her horse. Angela rounded her own, smiling at the bolting teen that was Carl.
"We're glad to see you both back." Rick told, watching Angela climb off her horse.
Michonne smiled, "Glad to see you, too." she returned.
"Hey!" Angela beamed, giving Carla squeezing hug. She pulled back ruffling his hair. "Boy, you have got to stop growing. You're going to be too tall to give noogies." She teased, taking the reigns of Calypso.
Rick chuckled, clapping his hand on her shoulder in greeting. "Daryl will be glad to see you." She smiled in return, excited to see him.
Michonne reached into the saddle bag with a knowing grin. "Somebody hit the jackpot."
Once she pulled out the pile of comic books, Carl's attention immediately went to Michonne. "No way!" His jaw dropped at the stack she handed to him. "Awesome! Thank you."
Angela grinned, shaking her head as she expected Carl. "I get to read 'em when you're done." Michonne told him, turning to Rick. "And we found this." He turned seeing her holding up an electric razor. He seemed confused by the item at first. "Your face is losing the war."
Rick grinned sheepishly at that, making Angela teasingly nudge his arm. "You'll be in the beard club with Hershel and Tyreese."
Carl took Flame and Calypso to return them to their pens for a good rest and big meal. Angela watched when she heard Rick ask them, "You gonna stay a little while?"
Angela glanced over with her hands on her hips, feeling the ax on her person. "Just a little while." Michonne told, she looked to Angela. "Someone was missing their beau, so I felt it was my honored duty to get her back to him."
"Please." Angela denied with a roll of her eyes. "You were excited to get those comic books to Carl." she countered.
This proved her wrong when the sound of a motorcycle got her grinning. She spun on her heel glad to see Daryl come riding down on his bike with two vehicles following behind him. At the sight of Angela, Daryl stopped right before them, turning the engine off.
"Well, look who's back." He grinned, earning a smile from Angela. "Hey." He greeted his girl.
"Hey." She walked over and leaned in to grace his lips with a peck of a kiss. "Back just in time."
"We didn't find him." Michonne sighed.
Daryl nodded, snaking his arm around Angela's waist as she stood at his side. "Glad to see you in one piece." He told her, and looked up at Angela. "Same for you." She smiled down, resting her arm on his shoulder.
"We're thinking of looking over near Macon." Michonne suggested, though noticed the disapproved look Rick had. "It's worth a shot, Angela has been on the road. When she was heading toward Atlanta."
At the mention of Angela leaving again, Daryl glanced up at her. "Seventy miles of walkers. Ya might run into a few unneighborly types. Is it?"
Angela sighed, knowing how much she and Michonne wanted to know where the Governor was so they could live without the fear of him coming back. But understood that Daryl didn't want them to keep risking their lives to search for someone that might be dead.
Angela pulled away from Daryl, allowing him to grip his handlebars properly. "It won't be a risk if I go with her, he could be staking out in Atlanta for all we know. I know those roads by heart."
"You'd travel all the way there, when there's nothing left?" Rick asked, seeming to want them both to stay. "There's barely anything for anyone to survive on out there."
Michonne looked between them, Angela looked down seeing the disagreement of this not resolving soon. Daryl broke the silence speaking up. "I'm gonna go check out the Big Spot." He told them, "The one I was talkin' about, just seein'."
Rick nodded in understanding. "Yeah, I got to go and check the snares. I don't want to lose whatever we catch to the walkers."
"I'll go." Michonne suddenly volunteered, walking toward the cars.
Angela shrugged at Rick. "I'll help you with the snares, can't go alone after seeing that herd building up." She nodded toward the fence.
Carl, hearing all of this, frowned at that. "You both just got here." He protested.
"I'll be back." Michonne assured him, joining in the Hyundai with a greeting toward Glenn, Sasha, and Bob.
"You don't need to, could relax for a bit after being out there." Rick assured Angela.
Angela shrugged, turning to lean down and give Daryl another kiss. "I rather help out than here Merle for the remainder of the day." Eyes wandered toward the fence where Merle cursing out a walker that he had killed could be heard. "Unless you got ear plugs."
Rick and Daryl chuckled, the hunter patted Rick's arm and started his engine again. Rick and Angela jogged over to the gate to open the doors for the gang. Once opened, they drove out, Daryl giving his engine a rev toward Angela to which she sent a smile toward him. Once they were gone, the gate and doors closed.
"I'll go change and meet up with you?" She told, resting her hand on her ax.
"Got it." He told, approaching his son to talk to him. Angela got halfway up before she her name being called. "Angie!" She turned, hand over her eyes as she squinted at Rick. "Get my belt!"
Angela gave a thumbs up and jogged the rest of the way toward the prison. She saw some cute drawings on the wall with chalk that the kids made and smelled the food Carol and Patrick were cooking. Not wanting to waste time, she made a beeline to C Block and made it to her and Daryl's cell. She quickly changed into some fresher clothing, dark jeans, her usual weapons on her hip and thigh, and a dark blue button up. She used some water from the cannisters outside to wash her face, and her old shirt to dry.
Once done, she slipped her boots back on and went into Rick's cell grabbing his duty belt that held his Colt Python in the holster. She looked over the leather thing, now used to seeing Rick without it. She threw the thing over her shoulder, took the sack used to gather whatever would be in the snares and ran out to meet up with Rick.
The findings the two had were some meaty rabbits. "I'll be honest." Angela spoke as Rick stuffed the dead thing into the sack. "I really missed Carol's rabbit stew."
Rick chuckled as he followed the yellow wiring that lead them to the snares. "Shame ya missed the deer we had last night, Daryl caught it."
Her jaw dropped, "How big?" she asked.
"About a 4.5, I think he said." Rick guessed.
"Did he keep the antlers? Could mount them like a trophy in our room." She told, referring their cell as room, since it gave it a more normal feeling.
"I don't…" Rick trailed off when they got to the next snare, finding the carcass of a doe ripped to pieces. Bugs and maggots had already invaded the body, making the meat tainted. "Know."
"Well, let's check the others." She told, urging him along.
The two walked in silence as they got deeper into the woods. Something caught Rick's eye as he wandered off the path. Angela followed, hearing the grunt of a boar. She approached seeing a discolored looking boar laying in the dirt, possibly dying.
"Worth taking?" Angela asked.
Before Rick could answer, he heard results of branches. He pushed Angela to hide behind a tree as he spotted a female walker stumble to the pig. Angela looked to Rick, shaking her head. He nodded in agreement that the two just leave before it noticed them. They turned moved along, wanting to get back onto their path.
The two froze, did the walker just speak? Angela spun around, seeing the woman wasn't a walker at all. A living person! She was filthy and had long dark hair, wearing a once was pretty bright dress with a worn out oversized blazer over it and dark jeans. Rick turned to see the woman was looking up at them with pleading eyes.
"Please." She reached out and got to her feet, stunned to find people alive. "Please?" She repeated, not wanting them to leave her. "Please help me."
Angela didn't know what to do, standing in her spot. Rick turned more at her please, not ever expecting to find someone alive out here with the growing number of walkers passing through. Angela kept his distance as the woman took a step.
"I know you don't know me. Okay, I know that." Angela heard a distinct accent in her weak voice. "But can you please help me get this to my husband?" She asked, her voice cracking at every word she spoke. "We haven't eaten in days."
Wait, husband? There were two survivors out in these woods? They could've stumbled upon the prison at any time or met up with Daryl during his runs. Angela knew Rick kept from being outside the prison for long and hadn't encountered anyone. Her eyes darted between the two, not knowing to just walk away or help.
He noticed her struggle as her hand was raised by her gun ready for anything. He patted it, assuring her not to take it out. Rick removed his gloves and approached the woman with Angela behind him. Shoving his gloves into his bag, he reached into another pocket and fished out the lunch he brought with him wrapped up in tin foil, holding it out to the woman.
"Here. Go ahead." He encouraged, as if he was enticing a creature.
The woman walked up just as slowly not to alert them and took the food gently. "Thank you." She whispered, looking over to Angela who watched her wearly. The woman must have noticed how clean they were compared to her, the way her eyes scanned the two up and down.
"Do you have a camp around here?" She asked.
"Yeah." Rick answered, shifting his footing to show he was no threat. Angela kept her stance as she looked around then back to the filthy woman.
Her eyes lit up, looking between the two. "Could we possibly come back with you?" She asked with hope in her voice. "We've been doing… Very badly on our own." Her voice strained to answer.
Angela reached back making her flinch, Rick watched. Though she only offered her canteen that held fresh water inside. The filthy woman hesitated, but Angela held it close urging her to take it.
"Thank you." She gave, popping the top and gulping down the liquid.
"We'd have to meet him." Rick said as she wiped her mouth with her sleeve. Nodding to Angela, "We need to ask him some questions, both of you." he explained.
"What questions?" She asked, offering the canteen back.
"There's only three," Angela told, holding her hand to show she could keep it. "We rather ask you both together. If you could take us to him?"
She nodded, understanding their explanation completely. "You have a gun on you?" Rick asked, possibly hiding some sort of weapon under the blazer. When she shook her head, Rick glanced to Angela. "Can she make sure?" He asked the woman.
With a hesitant nod from her, Angela stepped forward and walked up behind her. Rick had taught her how to frisk someone for weapons, though she was gentle with the woman when she had found something. Angela slipped her small knife out from her belt around her thin waist and held it to Rick. He kept it as she continued checking, stepping back to indicate she was clean… Or best she could be.
Rick walked up looking her in the eye. "Look, we don't know you so I'm gonna tell you this. You try anything," He pointed a finger at her. "Anything, you're gonna be the one who loses."
The woman seemed unfazed by Rick's threat. "I don't have anything else to lose." She whispered.
"No," Rick looked down to Angela, fiddling with the knife as he disagreed with her statement. "You do." He held the knife to her, giving a chance to trust the dirty woman. "Go ahead." He encouraged.
She took it, slid it back into its sheath and turned to lead the two back to her husband. Rick looked down to Angela, she sighed trusting Rick's actions to this woman and her supposed husband.
The group on the run had made it to their destination, a once was local food market called Big Spot. The store was surrounded by a fence with army tents and vehicles in the lot. They parked the vehicles outside, preparing their weapons and bags as Daryl gave a look through.
"What happened here?" Bob asked, guns on his person. He had his Beretta 92FS on his hip and held a Colt M4A1 rifle.
Daryl glanced over holding his crossbow up. "Army came in n' put these fences up. Made it a place for the people to go. Last week when we spotted this place, there was a bunch of walkers behind this chain-link. Keepin' people out like a bunch of guard dogs." He explained.
"So they all just left?" Bob asked, confused to where the walkers had gone.
"Give a listen." Sasha told, as Bob and others now heard the music more clearly. Daryl walked over to the gore covered opening of the fence that was ripped apart.
"You drew them out." Michonne figured.
Sasha grinned proudly. "Put a boombox out there three days ago."
"Hooked it up to two car batteries." Glenn told.
Knowing the music was still playing, it gave the sign it was safe to enter. "Alright." Daryl spoke up, dunking through the entrance. "Let's make a sweep." Bob and the others followed, hands on their weapons for anything; walker or living.
"Make sure it's safe. Grab what ya can." Daryl told behind him. "We'll come back tomorrow with more people."
Short run, small things, that was the plan for today. He was sure Merle and the other members can clear off the fence giving him his original runner group back to gather everything at once. They all maneuvered quietly through the lot, passing by tents and peeking inside. Tyreese looked into one seeing decaying bodies and continued. Michonne passed through a medical tent, but only found ripped up tags and knocked over cots, nothing useful. Daryl lead Bob, Tyreese, Zach and Michonne to the door as Sasha and Glenn circled the lot to make sure it was secure.
"Come on." Daryl called as he walked up to the store. He pounded his elbow against the glass and leaned against the stone looking to the others. "Just give it a second." He told.
Before entering, they'd have to see if any walkers were lurking inside. Daryl found that luring them to the front and killing them ahead would give them more time and found it safer than just going in guns blazing like Rick used to.
Zach leaned against the stone pillar as Michonne walked by. The teen grinned, shifting his stance. "Alright, I think I got it." He spoke up, gaining their attention.
"Got what?" Michonne asked, coming to his side.
Zach glanced over, "Oh I've been trying to guess what Daryl did before the turn." he explained.
Daryl shook his head as Zach sat beside him. "He's been tryin' to guess for, like, six weeks."
"Yeah, I'm pacing myself." He excused.
Michonne leaned against the wall, curious by this interaction. Daryl scoffed, "Angie told me ya were tryin' to get hints from her."
Zach waved it off. "Just a small hint, all she told me was that she didn't know either nor cared." Daryl resisted to smirk, knowing she lied to the poor kid. Well, half lied, anyway. "One shot a day." He told Michonne.
Daryl shrugged looking to him. "A'right, shoot."
Zach smiled toward Daryl. "Well, the way you are at the prison, you being on the council, you're able to track, you're helping people. But you're still being kind of...Surly."
Michonne tilted her head at that notion. Judging that Daryl had no reaction, he might not have caught on what that word is. She knew Angela would start using that term towards Merle, if she hadn't already.
"Big swing here." Zach took a breath. "Homicide cop."
Michonne hissed out a laugher, bending over as she leaned on the wall. Daryl looked over with a side grin. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing." Michonne stood straight shaking her head. "It makes perfect sense."
Sure, she didn't know what Daryl did, only that he knew how to hunt and work on bikes. But she was sure as hell knew Daryl was not a cop of any kind, compared to how Rick was.
Deciding to mess with the kid, he turned away. "Actually, the man's right." Zach spun his head to Daryl, thinking he actually had gotten it. "Undercover." He told, looking back to the boy.
Zach didn't believe him, still grinning. "Come on, really?"
"Yep." Daryl nodded, biting back an amused smirk. "I don't like to talk about it 'cause it was a lot of heavy shit, ya know."
Zach didn't seem to buy it with how dramatic Daryl was being. He would tease with almost every guess he had, one of them being a judge at one point to which Daryl joked how he killed twenty walkers with a gavel alone. Angela laughed for two days after she heard that tale, telling how Daryl should ease up on him. Originally Zach was to guess this game at Merle, but Angela made Daryl his target as Merle had the tendency to scare people with whatever it was he did before the turn.
"Dude, come on, really?" Daryl sighed and gave the boy a look, showing how obviously wrong he was. But he was sure Angela would get a real kick out of that fruitful tale. "Okay. I'll just keep guessing, I guess."
"Yeah, ya do that." Daryl told, clearing his throat.
A bang against the glass came at them, without flinching the men turned seeing a two walkers finally arrived. Daryl and Zach stood. "We're gonna do this, Detective?" Michonne teased as he passed her.
"Let's do it." He told, taking the crowbar Bob had for them.
Glenn and Sasha jogged over helping pry open the once was working automatic doors. The two walkers were killed easily with Daryl's knife and Michonne's sword as they wanted to keep silent. Daryl slid his knife away watching Tyreese and Bob dragged the bodies out of the way. Sasha and Daryl peeked into the black dark building.
"Alright, we go in, stay in formation for the sweep." Sasha told everyone as her brother walked over to pick up his gun. "After that, you all know what you're supposed to look for. Any questions?"
Tyreese gave his sister a look at that command as Daryl took lead inside. "Was there ever a time that you weren't the boss of me?" He asked.
"You had a few years before I was born." She grinned, entering the building with him.
Everyone entered with their guns loaded and weapons at the ready. Bob was outside though, spotting a lower torso of either a walker or just regular corpse. It put him on edge as to how this happened to the body. But once he glanced over seeing everyone enter already, he turned to go in himself with his rifle at the ready.
Out in the woods it had to have been noon as Rick and Angela continued to follow the dirty Irish woman, named Clara. She seemed to be a very talkative woman, Angela took this as that she hasn't interacted with anyone other than Eddie, her husband, in so long. One thing Angela noted was that, yes she had the food Rick gave, but showed no sign of eating it for being so hungry to eat a sick boar. She guessed she was saving it for her husband, knowing she'd do the same for Daryl.
"Clara, where were you when the turn happened?" She asked the woman.
"Atlanta airport." She answered.
"Were you trying to reach family?" Angela asked, ducking under a branch.
"We were going to Puerto Vallarta, for our honeymoon." Clara told, as she glanced back at them now and again in lead. "When they shut down the airports, our connecting flight never connected. They wouldn't let us leave the terminal, so…" He paused to catch her breath passing around a large tree.
"You had to stay there." Angela indicated.
"Yes, we slept next to these huge marble sculptures from Zimbabwe." Rick nodded, noting he knew what sculptures but Angela tilted her head at that.
"Then, on the fourth night, the things just came through." Clara turned, pausing to look at the two. "There were a lot of us and… Now its just Eddie and me. And I wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for him." She looked away and back to them, swallowing. "And it isn't that-"
Clara gulped back, her voice cracking at the memories she started to recount. Angela's brows knotted in understanding the struggle they must of had to endure. She counts herself lucky Nolan taught her and Kay how to camp and hunt. Would the sisters have ended up like Clara and Eddie?
"He saved me over and over again or that he showed me the things that I had to do or…" Clara shrugged with grimace. "To be willing to do." She sighed glancing to Angela. "If he wasn't still here, I-I couldn't be. I just- I couldn't."
Angela nodded, looking down and glancing to Rick before back to her. She turned ready to continue, but Rick and Angela stood at their places. "What were they?" Rick asked, making her pause and look at him.
"What?" She asked, confused by his question.
Angela stepped up to her, "You know, what you were willing to do or had to do." she explained.
Her eyes darted between the two. "Um, eating whatever we could find; animal carcasses and rotten fruit- And leaving people behind." Her lip trembled as she continued. "Hiding from people who needed my help. Unlike you two."
Angela rubbed her chin, she didn't know if she should feel sympathy for the woman or caution. One moment she felt bad and understood, then the next wanted to interrogate her for more information. Seeing Rick's expression, she was sure he was feeling the same thing too.
"This is not a charity." Rick said clearly. He stepped up as Clara and Angela moved to keep walking. "You have to have numbers." He told. "People are the best defense against walkers or people."
Angela nodded. "Without them, you're just waiting to be a meal to the walkers or a victim to the living."
"We help each other, stand by one another." Rick added.
Clara seemed to be thinking, hearing the term used over and over again. "You call them 'walkers'?" She asked, rounding a small branch to make a turn.
Angela glanced back at the trees and bushes they passed. She hoped they would be able to find their way back.
So far, the 'shopping' trip in the store was going according to plan. Everyone had a cart and some with little papers with written requests. The people who had a proper list was Daryl, Glenn, and Tyreese, obviously by their partners. The group were lucky to find most of the items in the store untouched, mostly the food and electronics.
Michonne was just leaving the appliance section turning toward the candy. When she shined her light, she jumped at the sight of a cardboard stand that resembled a walker. The monster looking advertisement made her glare the damn thing. She took out her katana and sliced it down the middle, making it's head rip off and fall to the floor. Michonne slid it back and continued her way to find some stale M&Ms for Rick.
Glenn piled batteries he had found in the electronic section into his cart. His eyes spotted cameras lined up on the shelf, one of those being a polaroid camera. He was about to put it in the cart when something else caught his attention. With his flashlight shining on the advertisement, he saw baby announcements. The thought on having a baby terrified Glenn, with how dangerous it was in this world and what Maggie had to go through with Judith's birth. He feared the same could happen to her and didn't find the prison safe enough to have his and Maggie's own child. Growing anxious at the sight, he turned away and put the camera in the cart, continuing to look for wires.
Daryl searched by the soup section, remembering Carol had asked for more soup. The cans he found were mostly cheap tomato and chicken flavors, but he found some shell pasta cans too for Angela. He tossed them in and looked down at the paper to whatever else was on there. Daryl soon found himself in the home section where blankets and pillows were and some home decor. He didn't think they were needed yet, as food was a top priority. He spotted something on the shelf that stood out from the rest. Wrapped up in a plastic zip up was a south western blanket, he plucked it off the shelf seeing the photo of the design on the front had liniar designs with blue, red, yellow and light brown. What caught his attention more was in the center were antlers of a deer. He smirked and tossed it into the cart ready to move on with the list she made. At the bottom of his list, he chose to ignore the one thing Merle put down as 'a pair of balls'.
A sudden yell and crash was heard toward the beer and wine. Daryl bolted down, bringing his flashlight and crossbow seeing the shelves had fallen over. He bent down, shining a light to find Bob wedged underneath.
"Ya alright? Ya cut or somethin'?" He asked, seeing the shards of the broken wine bottles all over the floor.
"No, man, but my foot is caught." Bob told, reached down to try and yank it free.
"A'right." He stood seeing Tyreese and Zach had come over. "He's just caught. Come on, help me up."
Tyreese and Zach grabbed the first shelving unit, preparing to lift it. "What happened!?" Called Glenn across the building.
"Everyone's alright!" Zach called back. "We're over in wine and beer."
The three managed to lift the first one up, seeing Bob was indeed alright with no bruises or scratches. "I was moving fast, man." He chuckled nervously as Daryl shined a light at him. "I drove right into the drinks."
Tyreese crouched down inspecting the way the second shelving fell. "Man, you lucked out. If this thing had come down on you the wrong way-"
Before Tyreese could finish, the loud crashing from the ceiling echoed out as a walker fell right through. Wires from the lights caught its torso, pouring guts and blood to splatter down onto the tile floor. Hearing the groaning and crash, Sasha, Glenn and Michonne ran over seeing the sun shining down on the hanging walker from the ceiling. Glenn, not liking where exactly it came from stepped back.
"Yeah, uh, we should probably go now." He insisted.
"Bob's still stuck." Daryl told, running over to the shelf. "Get him out of there."
"We'll get the others-" Michonne spoke, but paused as another walker crashed through the ceiling by the candy isle where she just was.
Another fell through the first hole, crashing into the wine boxes and freeing the tangled walker. One after another, it started raining walkers as the ceiling grew weaker and weaker. Everyone started backing up, further from Bob as he remained trapped. Whatever walker didn't smash its head on impact slowly got to its feet, ready to have a meal to dine for as everyone tried to evade wherever the next one would land.
"Hey!" Bob screamed, hoping he'd be free before walkers completely invaded the store.
"I saw those sculptures at the airport once." Rick spoke, which surprised Angela with how quiet he had been. "My favorite was the kids playing leapfrog." He moved his hands to indicate what he meant.
"Mine too." The woman muttered quickly.
Angela turned to him, "I saw that one in a book I read to my class one time, the one with three kids and the fourth jumping over the middle one right?" Rick nodded. "The, the…" She snapped her fingers making Clara flinch when Angela tried to get the words out. "Oh! The Tradition in Stone Exhibit."
Rick pointed a finger at her, "Yeah, that one." he confirmed.
"My class was supposed to go on a field trip for it as a mix between the history and art class. But was canceled due to insignificant funds." She explained, letting her hand drop to her side.
It grew silent for a moment before Clara spoke, bringing the subject back to her and her husband. "What Eddie and I had to do, did either of you do things like that?" She asked them.
Angela sighed knowing the many people they had lost over time; Sophia, Dale, T-Dog, Lori, Oscar, Axel, Kaylee. They had died, been bit, eaten, and murdered. But, Angela never saw it that she left them to die for her own skin. Most if not many, sacrificed themselves, for others to live like T-Dog and Kaylee had done. She glanced to Rick, who looked down to the leaf covered ground. Had he left people behind?
"Did you?" She asked them again.
"No." Angela answered, Rick looked to her. "If anything, they kept us going by saving us or risking themselves." She explained, including Rick into the book. "But that doesn't make us perfect. We still had to put them down."
Clara nodded, looking forward. "Do you think you get to come back from them?"
Rick looked toward Angela, seeing her not answer as she looked away. "I hope so." He told lowly, continuing to follow the Irish lady far into the woods.
"Yeah?" She walked around a tree as Rick kept his eye on her with Angela behind. "I hope we answer your three questions to your satisfaction."
Rick tilted his head, not knowing if that was even possible. Angela glanced up, not knowing if she would be allowed in the group at all from what the two gathered about her. Bob was in better condition when Daryl and Glenn found him compared to them finding this woman. Angela had her doubts.
Walkers were continuing to fall left and right through the ceiling, the group was expecting one to fall right on top of them at any moment. They kept moving around to avoid it from happening. Zach left himself distracted as a walker, back on its feet, grabbed his arm. He yanked away and managed to make enough space to lose the walker in the isles.
Glenn was pinned to the floor by one, riot armor prevented it from sinking its teeth into his arm. He felt tugging at his leg, Glenn spotted another walker snarling at him. He reached up above his head managing to get his gun and fire at the lower walker, with being silent was no longer an option. He kicked it away and slammed the butt of his gun into the one trying to get his arm free. Once it stopped moving, Glenn shoved it into the shelves and stood to help the others.
Tyreese fired his handgun at walkers around a corner while Sasha fired her submachine gun at as many as possible. When the distinct click of an empty round was heard, she dropped the gun and moved to use a cue stick in the sports isle. She and Michonne stabbed and sliced walkers as they kept falling with the numbers counting more.
Still in the beer and wine area, Daryl shot and slammed walkers to try and keep them from the trapped Bob. "Hey!" Bob barked, unknown if he was abandoned or if anyone was eaten.
He heard distant gunfire echo in the store and saw walkers dropping like flies. When a walker dragging its body came into his sights, Bob yelled louder to get someone's attention. "Hey!"
Daryl resorted to his handgun, firing at walkers and climbing onto the pile of wine boxes as they started to surround him. Daryl looked up, spotting a military helicopter creaking and threatening to fall through. The crash must have weakened the structure causing the walkers to fall through so easily. He felt the boxes wobble and looked down, shooting at as many as he could to not get trapped and crushed. Daryl was glad Angela had gone with Rick than deal with this nightmare, but he hoped to be able to get out of this alive.
More gunfire was heard as Glenn caught up with Daryl, killing the walkers to get him free from his spot. Metal groaned as Glenn spotted the helicopter lowering closer to them.
"Daryl, go!" He barked, needing them to get out now!
Daryl hopped off the pile following Glenn. Zach eventually got his gun and covered them. "Get Bob!" He yelled.
Just as Bob was peeling the skin off a walker in attempt to push it away, Daryl pulled it back and curb stomped its skull exploding the head. Zach ran over and lifted the shelf off Bob the best he could as Daryl grabbed Bob by the shirt and pulled him out from under.
"Come on, time to go!" Daryl ordered getting Bob to his feet. "Let's get out of here!"
Zach took a step to follow, but his ankle was caught in the grip of a walker from under the shelf. He screamed feeling the burning pain of a walker biting right into his right calf muscle. The teen collapsed watching everyone see in horror as the walker climbed on top of him. His screamed were almost heard over the crashing of the ceiling and metal structure, the walker biting and feasting onto his neck and face.
"Zach!" Glenn cried, but Daryl stopped him knowing it was too late for the boy. "Go! Go!"
Everyone ran off just as the dust filled the room when the helicopter finally caved in, crushing many walkers and Zach under it. They all rushed to the front doors expecting the whole store to collapse, when there was a pause, the dust blew out causing everyone to cough and wave the dust away. The sun shined into the building, the dust clearing for all to see the helicopter had made its grand entrance. The silence was killing them, waiting to hear snarling or groaning from any remaining walkers. When none were heard for the first minute or two, Daryl was the first to slowly step in. He kept his gun up, watching for any movement. As he approached the once working flying machine, all was left was an arm sticking out with a large amount of blood pouring from under the structure.
Everyone soon followed, finding the sight before them. They had lost Zach. To Bob, he had let the kid die for his stupid actions. Never had he crashed into the wines, he caused that to fall from his selfish needs. What did it cost? A young kid's life. Daryl sighed and sniffed wiping his chin as the dust was near covering them.
"Get what we have n' we leave." He told, everyone nodded in agreement and left to go find their carts quickly in case the building would collapse. Bob stood there, looking in horror of the teen's arm stuck out of the rubble, covered in his red blood mixed with the black blood of the walkers
"It's just ahead." Clara told, as they finally left the dense forest to a more opened meadow.
Rick and Angela spotted a campsite where many items were gathered around the orange and white tent. Clara rushed over, calling her husband softly.
"Oh, thank God, you're still here." She spoke out as they approached the site. "This is Rick and Angela. They're gonna help us." They expected him to be laying in the tent, but when she walked right past and knelt down into the dirt by a bag, something instantly felt wrong to them.
Angela tilted her head at the items strewn about. Lanterns, bags and other baskets were sitting around with nothing in them. Where Clara knelt down, other useless items were piled up. Angela spotted n ax deep in a log and a machete by her in a crate. They had these weapons yet she carried a dainty tiny knife with her? Rick glanced inside the tent seeing it was empty of anyone, but held sleeping bags and makeshift pillows.
"Rick!" Angela cried when she spotted Clara coming at the two with the said giant blade she saw.
He shoved Clara roughly as Angela pushed her to the ground. They held their guns aiming at her, glaring down. "What the hell was that for!?" Angela barked at the sobbing woman. "We were going to help you!"
"I wanted to take the boar!" She cried, slowly sitting up. "I just knew- I knew I'd get you here so much quicker!" Clara gasped and looked up at the two. "He's starving! He's slowing! He needs something alive!"
That explained the actual lack of food. She was looking for a live meal, but why? Angela looked over, seeing only the bag that moved about. She sighed, closing her eyes for a moment.
"He's turned." She whispered to Rick, who gave a short glance.
"Please," Clara got to her knees. "I told you, I can't be without him." She took a few uneven breaths as tears starting to streak down her dirt covered face. "And so I kept him. It was wrong." The woman started to hyperventilate as she poured this all out to them.
Angela sighed, her gun still aimed at her. "I know it's hard." She told her. "But, you not letting him have his peace isn't fair to him."
"What would you do?!" She asked her, stunning Angela for a moment. "If someone you loved, got bit and became those things?"
Angela hesitated, her mouth gaping like a fish. If Daryl did turn, could she really put him down? "I'd put him down." She said, though with little confidence.
The woman shook her head, not believing her. "I can't do things like this. And-And you have to do things like this!" Rick watched, never imagining to meet someone so deep in the darkness. "Let me be like him."
Angela's eyes widened, realizing what she was doing. "Stop-"
"Don't stop it. Don't end it after." She pleaded with them.
Rick shook his head, "No." he denied.
Clara moved her small knife toward her gut, gripping it tightly as she kept her eyes on the two. "Let me be with him."
"No!" Rick bellowed as Angela reached over to stop her.
She was too late, the woman rammed the knife into her gut, twisting it to make sure it would kill her. Angela dropped her gun as the woman fell over toward Angela, letting her rest in her arms. The blood poured from her gut staining her dress as Angela tried to get the knife out of her grip.
"Stop! Stop it!" She barked, trying to stop the bleeding.
Rick paced about, rubbing his brows and grimacing at the sight before him. He watched Angela try hard to get the knife out, even if she succeeded it was too late. The blood was covering her hands as Rick knelt down to the dying woman.
"What were…" She gasped out softly at them. "The questions?"
Angela looked up at Rick, her hands over the woman's no longer trying to get the knife but just holding them as she gasped in pain.
"The three questions?" Clara insisted, wanting to know them before she died.
"How many walkers have you killed?" Rick asked, he raised his hands to his forhead but lowered it feeling it tremble. He pressed his knuckles to his lips as Angela closed her eyes tightly, only able to hear her.
"Eddie-" She rasped out, "Eddie killed-Killed them all. Until..." Clara gasped, pausing at the pain pulsating through her body as she grew weaker.
"How many people have you killed?" He asked, lowering his hands and ducking his head down.
She continued gasping for air, eyes closed as tears slowly fell down her face. "Just me." She whispered out to him. "Just me."
"Why?" Angela asked, hanging her head.
Clara opened her eyes as she looked up at the woman holding her. "You don't- You don't get to come back- You don't get to come back from things..." She repeated the answer until finally her last breath was released.
Angela lifted her head, no tears were shed but she clenched her teeth in anger. Her nails dug into the dead woman's hands and finally released them. Rick sighed heavily, wiping his eye and trying to confirm what had just happened. The sound of soft growling caught his attention toward the bag. It was indeed moving as Angela saw.
Angela shoved the filthy dead woman off her without care, letting Clara fall to her side as she stood. Wobbly at first, Rick stood to help her gain her balance. She raised a hand, showing she was alright and reached down to pick up the machete holding it out to Rick. She had a steel hard look on her face, like what just transpired didn't affect her. He took it watching as she walked over to the head, taking the wrapped sandwich Rick had given Clara and holding it out to him as well. He took it, Angela walked past and took lead to head back to the prison. Rick followed without looking back, giving the woman a final wish to let her be with her husband.
Merle was on patrol as the night soon came, ending the day. Once he heard an engine, he jogged to the gate, sliding it and yanking the doors open. Walkers against the doors were pushed into the pikes as Daryl came riding in on his motorcycle with the Hyundai and Ram following in. He grunted letting the doors close and quickly slide the gate shut, locking it. They all traveled up to the prison courtyard, parking the cars at the side as Daryl stopped by the second gate watching his brother lock it for the night.
"'Bout time ya'll got back." Merle told, approaching Daryl as he turned the engine off. "Find good shit?"
Daryl looked over, seeing the others unload the cars with grimace looks and depressed features. When Merle did a count he sighed and noticed one was down. "Blondie's boy?"
"The store collapsed under a helicopter on the roof. Ain't worth goin' back." Daryl told, watching the others. Hershel and Carol greeted them to get the bags and crates of items they managed to get.
Merle clapped his brothers back and shifted the rifle trap over his shoulder. "Least it wasn't ya, baby brother."
The older Dixon never used to show much sympathy when they lost people, and it may have seemed he was but he might have just been tired. His words made Daryl looked up at his brother who held a frown.
"Hot Head and Officer Friendly got back with some rabbits." He scratched his jaw. "She's in the cell, was dead silent all day."
Daryl sighed, "She a'right?" he asked.
Merle shrugged not knowing or not caring. "She's your girl, baby brother. Not my job to keep an eye on her when you're not around." He walked past, heaving a loud yawn ready to get to bed for a long day tomorrow.
The hunter placed his bike at its usual spot and got his crossbow and bag off the bike ready to head inside. Not only was Angela possibly bothered by something, but he had to break the news to Beth. Everyone seemed settled into their cells ready for bed. Glenn going to his and Maggie's, Tyreese went to visit Karen. Michonne entered her cell and Daryl reached his own. He found Angela wake, sitting on the bed combing her wet hair, possibly had just gotten a shower.
"Hey, Angie." He greeted, placing his crossbow and bag down by the curtain.
She turned, smiling at his return. "Hey." He leaned down pecking her lips and started to remove his jacket. "How'd the run go?"
Daryl sighed, hanging his jacket on a hook he attached to the wall a few weeks back. Her own coat hung on the hook next to it as her shoes were resting on the floor. Daryl looked over, noticing Angela's concern when he didn't answer.
"Did something happen?" She asked, placing the comb down.
"Tell ya in a minute." He assured softly, moving the curtain and heading toward Beth's cell.
In her cell, Daryl found Beth laying in her bed writing in her journal she had kept with her. She wrote in it at the end of everyday, probably writing how her day at the fence went. She glanced up, spotting the hunter at the doorway, leaning against the open barred door.
"Hey." She greeted.
Beth noticed his distant stance and the way he had this guilty or solemn look at his face. "What is it?" She asked.
Daryl sighed, glancing down to his boots before looking back up at her. "Zach."
Her eyes were wide, but her features didn't really change. She shifted in her spot, fiddling with the pen in her hand. "Is he dead?" His eyes shifted between the floor and her, telling someone they cared about died was a hard task to do. Daryl voted he do the deed though.
His actions answered her question. "Okay."
Beth sat up, looking around the room for a moment. Daryl had expected her to start crying with him needing to comfort her. Instead she stood, moving toward her bookshelf. Daryl watched her walk over to a sign that read '30 days without an accident'. Something Maggie picked up for her on a run last month. She removed the number three and looked it over, having to reset her counter she had kept. Beth looked up, seeing Daryl was still standing there expecting something out of her.
"What?" He shrugged, not knowing what to do or say to her. "I don't cry anymore, Daryl." She walked up to him, he indeed didn't see her eyes grow glossy nor her voice wavered. "I'm just glad I got to know him, you know?"
"Me too." He agreed, nodding softly.
Beth looked him over, noticing how quiet he was- More so than usual. "Are you okay?" She asked.
Daryl looked down, shrugging again. "Just tired of losin' people is all." He told with honesty.
Out of instinct to comfort, Beth made a move to hug Daryl tightly. He seemed surprised by the motion, moving his hands towards her arms as she held him. Beth felt that Daryl was the one that needed the hug more than her, not minding he didn't hug back.
"I'm glad I didn't say good-bye." She told him, pausing his actions to try and move her. "I hate goodbyes."
"Me too." He agreed.
She let him go, the two looking at one another knowing that they both would miss Zach. Showing their emotions in their own way to handle it. It felt like they do great for a while, but the smallest death can affect the largest of numbers.
The teen moved from the hunter. "Good night, tell Angela I said good night too. Since she plans on leaving with Michonne tomorrow." Beth told, giving a short smile before putting the card on her desk.
Daryl forgot about that, he nodded and turned to return to their cell. Angela was sitting on the bed anxiously when he got back. "So, what happened?"
He sat down on the bed beside her and laid back with a groan, tucking his pillow behind his head. Angela frowned, looking down feeling nervous by his actions and silence. "We lost Zach."
"Oh, God." She sighed, raising a hand to her forehead. "Got bit?"
He nodded, raising to rest his arm over his eyes feeling exhausted. "Bob got trapped under a shelf, walkers started fallin' through the weak ceilin' from a helicopter crash."
"Wait, a helicopter?" Angela dropped her hand in shock.
Daryl shook his head, "Crashed there long ago, it ruined the roof makin' the walkers fall through." he explained. "We got Bob out, but a walker got him n' the helicopter fell through."
Angela positioned to lay next to him, resting her head on his chest. He moved his arm off his eyes and resting it over her shoulder to hold her close. "Did you tell Beth?" He nodded. "How did she take it?"
Daryl shrugged, "Didn't seemed too fazed. Says she don't cry no more." he told.
"Mean to say, but it's good he didn't have any family here." She said with a sigh.
The hunter groaned in response, rubbing his eyes. "How 'bout ya? Anythin; in the snares?" He didn't want it to seem like Merle was tattling or such. He rather hear what she had to say if something was wrong.
Angela sat up, proving something did when she combing her fingers through her parted hair. "Rick and I encountered a woman, we found this sick boar and we thought she was a walker. She pleaded for us to help."
Daryl leaned on his elbows, then moved to sit up hunching over to see her expression. "What'd ya do?"
"Well, she took us to her and her husband's camp. She said she was at the airport when the fall happened." Angela looked up, her eyes taking in his features before looking across the room and folded her arms in her lap. "She was luring us back to feed us to her husband, a walker head in a bag."
"Jesus." Daryl groaned, hanging his head seeing why she might have been acting the way Merle said. "Ya a'right?"
"She didn't hurt us." Angela assured, leaning on her knees as she looked to him. "Her name was Clara, she killed herself. Wanting to join her husband, Eddie." She thought back to her words and rubbing her chin with anxiety. "She couldn't put him down, he was all she had. She asked me, what if it was someone I loved."
Angela rubbed her neck, swallowing at the thought of it. Daryl was silent, allowing her to continue or thinking about it himself. Angela adjusted her seating, taking his hands in his lap and looked into his eyes.
"Daryl, if you- God forbid- If you ever got bit and turned-"
"That ain't happenin'." He told, lacing his fingers through her's. He leaned down kissing her forehead, moving a hand to hold her close. "She was just crazy, tryin' to get into yer head."
Angela pulled back, hand on his chest. "Daryl, I mean it. What would I do? I always thought of this with Kaylee. If she got bit, could I put her down? The answer was no, I would take myself out instead."
"This is something we need to talk about." She insisted, untangling her hand from his as she sat back from him. "If you got bit and turned, I would have to put you down. I don't want to be what that woman ended up. I've been down in dark depths before, if you weren't there, I wouldn't be here."
"Angie, Angie." Daryl shushed, wrapping his arms around her and hugging her close seeing this day had affected her badly. She gulped, wrapping her arms around him, nuzzling her head into his shoulder. "Only a Dixon can kill a Dixon, n' I doubt Merle is plannin' that."
Angela chuckled a bit, sniffling to try and keep from crying. He pulled back, allowing her to kiss him deeply to help calm down. She sighed once parted and nodded. "Sorry, between Beth losing Zach and that woman."
Daryl thought over the Macon trip Beth mentioned. He looked down kissing her head to get her attention. "Ya still goin' to Macon?"
Angela pulled back sighing. "No, I told Michonne I'll be staying for a while. With today and how that fence is looking, I should help here more." She told, blinking her eyes dry with a smile. "Besides, I miss sleeping next to my hunter."
Daryl shook his head, moving to hug her tighter. She winced making him pull bac, confused when she rubbed her chest. "What's wrong?" He asked, looking her over thinking she indeed had an injury.
Angela chuckled, "Let's say PMS. Got some back pain and had cramps this morning." she told. Angela moved and rubbed her back. "Could be the horse riding causing it though."
Daryl chuckled, "Turn 'round." he told motioning his hand in a circle.
Angela turned around, she felt him gently push her down to lay on her back. She did so, groaning at the pain in her back. He lifted her shirt and pressed his fingers on her spine, making her hum at the message she was getting. Daryl moved and focused on finding any knots to get rid off or ease her muscles.
"How's that?" He asked, leaning over her.
"It feels great." She giggled, leaning her chin in her folded arms. "Did Zach ever guess you were a masseuse?"
Daryl chuckled, "He last guessed I was a homicide cop." he told. Her shoulders shook as she ducked her head to keep her laughter down. Daryl's brows knotted as he rubbed her ribs making her squirm. "Find it funny?"
"Sorry, sorry!" She laughed, keeping her head down not wanting to wake anyone who had gone to bed. He paused looking over her as she glanced up at him. "Though I would like to see you in uniform." Angela teased.
Daryl poked her rib, making her let out a cry and cover her mouth quickly. "Keep it down, below!" Bellowed Merle from above.
Angela sat up giggling to herself when Daryl flipped off the ceiling where Merle was. She smacked his arm making him smirk as he moved to lay back in bed. Angela reached up, above the head of the bed where a table sat. She turned the lamp off resting on top making it dark for the two. Angela laid down beside him as he wrapped his arm around her pulling a blanket over the two. She hummed out a sigh as she snuggled into his chest closing her eyes for some well rested sleep.
Daryl stared at the ceiling, thinking over her words on him getting bit. He thought on Angela getting bit, having to take the possible task of putting her down. He looked down at her, seeing she had already fall asleep, mouth parted and breathing evenly. Kissing her head one last time, he shifted and resting his head on her's closing his eyes to sleep for the night.
The next morning, Merle Dixon was up early to try and take care of the other fence. Usually he'd sleep in a bit and wake up to breakfast call. But with the one group of walkers taken down at one side, he had double time on the opposite. He watched the fence shake and trembled as the walkers pressed against it. Merle threw on a short sleeve black button up over his white tank and dark green cargos. Stretching his arms and torso, he adjusted the apron retying it and slid on his glove.
"Morning." Frowning at the female voice calling him that, he groaned in annoyance at Angela greeting him.
He spotted the apron and gloves in her arms, knowing why she was up this early. "Thought ya'd be going with Dreadlocks on the hunt."
Angela shrugged, squinting her eyes in the distance. "I thought you'd be needing help." She pointed toward the fenced making Merle look over. "I see you and the others managed to get it half done."
Merle licked his lips and put a hand on his hip, giving her a look. She raised a brow. "What? Don't want your brother's girlfriend at the fence?" Angela teased, slipping her gloves on.
"Could say that, I ain't no babysitter." He told, watching her tigh the apron on. "Think ya can handle the work?"
Angela raised a brow at him. "Think I can handle stabbing through a fence fine, Merle. It's not like what Daryl or I do, actually going out there."
Merle was about to argue, but something caught his attention beside Angela. Getting a look from what was beside her, he clamped his mouth shut and just growled in frustration as he marched off down the path. Angela followed, taking out her hunter knife ready to get the fence back into shape.
Arriving at the fence, Angela slowed to watch the walkers gang up on the fence. They were in more of a frenzy than they were yesterday. The commotion and food cooking must have really attracted them. She just found it odd that only this side grew crowded, while the other thinned out over time. Her green eyes looked up at the fence as it creaked and shook by the jerking of the walkers against it. She stepped back with hesitance while Merle walked passed without a single glance.
"What's the plan?" She called over the roaring like sounds of the walkers.
Merle looked over, turing as he walked backwards pointing at the fence line. "Draw them off and thin it out. If we try to stab through them here, the whole damn thing will cave giving them a big 'ol grand entrance."
Angela nodded, "Got anything to lure them away?" she asked.
Merle banged his prosthetic against the gate, glaring at a walker at the end. "Hey! Get your ass to the side, ya ugly sum a bitch!"
Angela's shoulders sagged at the sight of Merle trying to get their attention. He barked and banged against the fence, the walkers at the end clawed and snarled. But showed now indication that they would move. Merle panted, wiping the sweat already built up at his forehead returning to Angela.
"I feel like I just watched Animal Kingdom, Stupid Edition. Three legged antelope tried to lure some retarded lions." She joked with folded arms.
Merle shrugged spitting at the ground as he looked over them. "We'll have to move from the edge and work our way up." He told, reorganizing his plan. "Try to get them to fall to the side."
Angela clicked her tongue, "Now that sounds like a plan." she praised.
Walking to one end, Angela gripped her knife and started stabbing through, tilting her blade in attempt to change the position they would fall. Merle walked to the other end, stabbing his bayonet through like clock work as it was yesterday.
Soon others started to awake to get to the usual work. Rick and Carl came out ready to feed the pigs and tend to the garden with the newly growing roots. Michonne had gotten Flame out and was walking to the gate ready to make her leave. Rick and Carl discovered seeing Angela at the fence with Merle, Michonne explained she'd be staying for a while this time. Rick was concerned with Michonne heading to Macon alone, but she assured she'd be fine and added that Angela deserved to be staying for a while. Carol awoke next preparing breakfast for everyone and Glenn was seen exiting the tower, no doubt Maggie was up there as well.
It was another peaceful morning, though not for long. Loud muffled gunshots echoed out for all to hear. Everyone's heads turned toward the prison when screaming was heard. "What the hell?" Merle questioned, seeing people running out into the courtyard.
"Merle!" Angela called, running toward the gate as Merle ran after.
"Cell block!?" Maggie called out from the tower.
"I don't know!" Rick called back, giving his son an order to go to the tower.
Merle and Angela paused at the gate, watching Rick bolt up toward the prison. Carl ran over to them. "Carl, what's happening?" She asked, gripping his shoulder.
Carl shook his head, his mouth gaping unable to answer himself. Angela moved to run toward the prison when a whistle was heard, they all turned seeing Michonne was returning. Carl ran toward the gate with Merle and Angela following. Carl pulled the doors open but failed to open the gate first. Walkers piled in after Michonne as she got off ready to fend them off.
"Michonne!" Angela called, sliding the gate open as Merle ran out, to stab a few.
Carl grabbed a gun from the rack by the tower as two walkers knocked Michonne over the rope line. Carl aimed his gun and fired, killing the one walker when Michonne kicked it off her. Angela helped Merle keep the walkers from gaining anymore entry as they stabbed and pushed them off. The teen boy seemed stunned when firing the gun as Michonne fended the one walker. She tucked her leg under its gut and pushed it off, launching it right into the spikes. Though a pain shot through her ankle as she let out a cry. Maggie ran over, Angela joined when Merle got the situation under control. Maggie shot the walker point blank walker, letting it lay limp over the spike like a lawn display.
"Come here." The two women hoisted her up and placed her arms over their shoulder to support her into the prison. Merle ran in and shut the doors as Carl led Flame inside, sliding the gate closed.
"What happened?" Michonne asked as they helped her up the path.
"Hell of we know." Merle threw his arms up. "Some shit is going down in the cell blocks."
Angela looked up anxiously, concerned to which cell block it was. "Let's find out."
A horror was happening, in Cell Block D. People screamed and guns were blasting as an elderly member was firing off a loud ass shotgun for all to hear outside. Daryl ran in first, grabbing the shotgun from him and tossing it to Rick.
Rick evacuated the whole block from the upper floor, checking to make sure none of them were bit. Daryl scooped up a boy that was frozen in fear as a walker was feasting on a man's leg a few feet from him. He shot his crossbow at the once was member, slamming through its eye and killing it. Karen took the boy and rushed him out of the cell with the others. People had been bit, eaten, or turned and were causing a horrible massacre in the cell block. Carol got the kids and others evacuated from the cells as Glenn and Daryl killed whoever was a walker.
One man had gotten bit under the stairs, Glenn killed the walker as Carol rushed over to get his arm amputated. Tyreese rushed in, running straight to Karen thankful to see she was alright.
"Are we clear down here!?" Rick called out as Sasha checked the cells.
"Yeah!" She confirmed.
"Yeah, yeah!" She nodded as Tyreese came out with Karen to check the damage of the room.
Daryl and Glenn moved upstairs, hearing it suddenly grow dead silent in the once was chaotic block. Rick followed, Glenn gasped as a walker jumped out from a cell behind a curtain.
Daryl turned, aiming his crossbow. "Get down!"
Glenn ducked as the bolt shot through the skull, he shoved the walker to the ground. Daryl came over helping Glenn up to his feet. "Thanks."
Rick pulled back the curtain to check the walker, the three men were shocked to find who the walker was. "Oh, it's Patrick." Daryl confirmed, his face completely covered in blood. He looked around, seeing no other walkers or hearing any more snarling. "That's all of 'em."
Rick and Daryl also saw a young woman with her neck eaten out in the cell. She hadn't turned, but would if they didn't handle it. Daryl sighed, stepping over Patrick. "I got it." He told softly.
Daryl pointed his crossbow at her forehead, looking away as he fired, hearing his bolt pierce the skull with a distinct squelching sound. Soon others entered to inspect the cell block, checking to make sure who to put down or amputate, as Carol was possibly dealing with one down below. Rick walked down to check another cell, Daryl paused to bend down and reload his crossbow. Rick came back out, looking a bit shaken up and his knife covered in blood. Understanding what he had to do, Daryl gave a nod as they moved to the last cell.
Rick was shocked to find the one locked cell had a walker in it. Blood had covered his mouth with it streaking down his eyes, reminding Rick of one he saw out at the fenced yesterday. Daryl watched as he grabbed the walker by the shirt and stabbed him through the head as quickly as possible, letting the body thump to the ground. Dr. S and Hershel were called up to inspect what had happened to the man named Charlie. He came in with latex gloves on and stepped over to crouch by the body.
"No bites. No wounds." Rick told him, looking over the body himself before he arrived. "I think he just died."
"Horribly, too." Dr. S added. "Pleurisy aspiration."
"Choked to death on his own blood." Hershel told, knowing not everyone knew what that meant. "Caused those trailed down his face."
Rick looked up at him. "I've seen them before on a walker outside the fences."
Daryl nodded, "I saw them on Patrick, too." he told.
"They're from the internal lung pressure building up- Like if you shake a soda can and pop the top." Dr. S explained looking to them. "Only imagine your eyes, ears, nose, and throat are the top."
"It's a sickness from the walkers?" Bob asked, standing outside the cell.
Dr. S shook his head. "No, these things happened before they were around. Could be pneumococcal. Most likely an aggressive flu strain."
Hershel sighed. "Someone locked him in just in time."
Daryl looked to him, "Naw, man. Charlie used to sleepwalk." he corrected him. "Locked himself in. Hell, he was just eatin' barbecue yesterday. How could somebody die in a day just from a cold?"
"I had a sick pig, it died quick." Rick told, looking to him. "Angie and I saw a sick boar in the woods."
"Pigs and birds." Said Hershel shoving his hands into his pockets. "That's how these things spread in the past." He looked down at Rick. "We need to do something about those hogs."
Caleb stood, shrugging at them. "Maybe we got lucky." He suggested. "Maybe these two cases are it."
"Haven't seen anybody be lucky in a long time." Bob had his doubts, and wasn't afraid to voice them. "Bugs like to run through close quarters." Daryl looked to Bob who glanced up. "Doesn't get any closer than this."
Hershel shook his head, looking to the men. "All of us in here, we've all been exposed."
Rick stood, realizing the new danger Carl and Judith were in. He'd have to keep his complete distance from them the best he could. Daryl sighed, he'd just had a talk about turning with Angela last night and this shit just had to happen. Having to be away from her would be painful just after she agreed to stay for a while. He wished she left, she'd be safer out there than in here now.
Michonne was helped back to the prison by Maggie and Angela as Carl and Merle followed behind. They planned to take her back to C Block to get her foot wrapped when Rick came outside of D Block. They paused, Carl making a run toward his father.
"Hey," He held his arm out, wanting distance between him and his son. "You might want to stay back. Carl-"
He ignored his father, slamming into him for a tight hug. "Dad, I'm sorry." He cried into his shirt "I didn't see you come out."
Rick cradled his son, trying to keep his blood covered hands off him. "It's okay. I'm here, I'm fine. But, back away."
He gently pushed Carl at a distance, but Carl stayed close. "I had to use one of the guns by the gate. I swear I didn't want to." Carl was fearful of angering his dad, but he didn't want Michonne to get killed.
Rick looked confused, glancing up to see Maggie and Angela supporting Michonne. "I was coming back, I fell. They came out and helped me." She told, defending Carl.
"Are you alright?" Rick asked, earning a nod from her.
"What the hell just happened in there?" Merle asked, throwing a finger at D Block. "Sounded like we were under attack."
Sniffling was heard, they all looked to see a mother carrying a body covered in a sheet; her dead child. Angela's heart sank, looking around to see Daryl wasn't out here as well.
"Where's Daryl? Is he alright?" She asked, shifting uncomfortably at her spot.
Rick held a hand up when Merle took a step to find out himself. "Daryl's fine." He said, not wanting to try and physically keep Merle out. "Patrick got sick last night. Some kind of flue. It moves fast." Maggie and Angela held fear as Merle folded his arms listening. "We think he died and attacked the cell block."
"How many died?" Merle asked, leaning back on the balls of his heels.
"Too many." He answered, looking down to his shocked son. "Look, I know he was your friend and I'm sorry." Rick feared his son would shut himself in like he did with Kaylee. He bent down seeing his son duck his head. "He was a good kid. We lost a lot of good people."
Maggie started to panic, thinking anyone who ran in could be sick or dead, including her dead and boyfriend. Rick noticed and stood straight. "Glenn and your dad are okay, but they were in there, so was Daryl."
Maggie nodded but Angela gulped in fear, thinking Daryl might now be sick. Merle stood by, huffing and puffing that his brother had been stupid and gotten himself exposed like that.
"You shouldn't get too close to anyone that might have been exposed- At least for a little while." Rick suggested to them.
Carl now understood why his father pushed him away. He rushed toward D block, "Carl, all of you." He added, eyes landing on Angela. "Daryl said he'll be fine, don't worry." She nodded as Maggie and her helped Michonne up into the block. Merle watched, turning to look between the distance of him and Rick, taking a step back to be sure.
"How many died?" Merle asked again, tucking his thumb into his belt. Rick squinted at him in question. "So I know how many markers to make."
A meeting was held once the block had been cleared of bodies. Everyone in the council had been exposed so no range or distance between each member was needed. They needed to figure out this illness.
"Patrick was fine yesterday, and he died overnight." Carol spoke as the meeting started in the library. "Two people died that quick?" No one responded, Daryl dug his nails at his chair shrugging. "We'll have to seperate everyone that's been exposed."
"That's everyone in that cell block." Daryl noted, she looked to him. "That's all of us. Maybe more."
"We know that this sickness can be lethal." Hershel told, folding his hands over the table. "We don't know how easily it spreads. Is anyone else showing symptoms that we know of?" He asked the members.
Carol sighed, "We can't just wait and see." she told. "There's children. It isn't just the illness. If people die, they become a threat."
Hershel nodded in agreement, seeing what would happen first hand with D Block. "We need a place for them to go. They can't stay in D. We can't risk going in there to clean it up."
Carol pressed her hands to her chin in thought. "We can use cell block A." She suggested.
"Death row?" Glenn questioned. "I'm not sure that's much of an upgrade."
"It's clean. That's an upgrade." Daryl told, agreeing with Carol. "Think that'll work for Dr. S?"
"I'll help Caleb get it set up." Hershel confirmed.
The sudden sound of coughing caught everyone's attention. They all stood and peeked out the room seeing Tyreese walking with a tired looking Karen. "You okay?" He asked her, she nodded but continued to cough.
"You sure?" Carol asked, entering the hall. "You don't sound so good."
They turned around seeing the others gather. "We're just taking her back to my cell so she can rest."
"Tyreese, I don't think that's a good idea." Hershel expressed, hands on his hips.
Karen looked concerned at that notion. "Why? What's going on now?"
Everyone looked to one another, obviously not wanting to scare the woman to think she was to die tomorrow or such. Glenn looked around then to her. "We think it's a flu or something." He told. "That's how Patrick died."
Hershel stepped up to them. "Judith was in that cell block. She's vulnerable. Anyone that may be sick or even exposed should stay away."
Karen shook her head, shifting her foot showing how nervous she grew hearing this. "I-It killed Patrick?"
"She's gonna be okay." Tyreese assured, but the look Carol and Sasha shared said another story. "Now that we know what Patrick died from we can treat it, right?"
Hershel saw her step about uncomfortably, raising a hand up to her face as she turned away. "Don't panic. We're going to figure this out. But we should keep you seperated, in the meantime." Tyreese held her close as she grew scared.
"We'll have Caleb take a look at you. I'll see what we have in the way of medications." Hershel explained.
Karen sighed, folding her arms at something she remembered. "David from the Decatur group, he's been coughing, too." Daryl looked down, remembering those two had been on the fence with Merle. Just where Angela was to be today.
"I'll get him." Glenn volunteered, moving around Daryl to leave. "There's some empty clean cells in the Tombs, right?"
"Yeah," Sasha answered. "We'll meet you there."
"Okay." Glenn jogged off to prepare the cells for the two.
Sasha walked up, placing a had on her brother's back. "Come on, let's get you settled." She told, leading the two down the hall toward the Tombs.
Hershel, Daryl, and Carol watched, standing at their spots. "Have to call another meeting later." The older man told the two.
"A'right." Daryl nodded, moving his crossbow strap over his shoulder. "I'll get to buryin' the dead ones."
Hershel nodded, "Rick said your brother would be making the markers for them." Daryl frowned at that but didn't question his brother's motive. "You wear gloves and a mask." He ordered.
"Uh-huh." Daryl understood as Hershel made his leave to help Dr. S. He paused, seeing Carol rooted at her spot looking stressed. "Ya a'right?"
"I'm worried about Lizzie and Mica. They were around Patrick." She confessed.
"We all were." He told her. "Karen and David are gonna be separated 'til they feel better."
Carol nodded, reminding herself that they should get better. "You're right." She looked up, noticing his own features showing the same worry. "Are you okay?"
Daryl looked down, wanting to nod but couldn't. "Merle's been out on the fence, like Karen n' David. Angie was out today, they might get sick too."
"Merle has done dirtier things. But I understand concern for Angela." She told patting his arm.
Daryl sighed, turning to get the job done of burying the dead. As he walked through the courtyard, he found his brother carrying a few cross markers that he had already made. The brothers shared a look, noting the distance between the two.
"Still breathing." Merle noted, tossing the markers to the cement floor without care. "Carl's making more, I'll bring 'em out." He told.
Daryl nodded, walking over and bending down to pick the pile up. "How's Angie?" He asked, tucking the pile under his arm.
Merle shrugged, "Silent as the recent dead." he told earning a sigh from his brother. "She went to her cell and hasn't come out."
The sound of a door slamming made the two look toward C block entrance. Angela emerged and stepped down pausing at the end of the steps. She had her knife on her, with her apron and gloves. It was clear where she was going.
"Merle?" He turned back to Daryl, placing the crosses down and leaning on his shovel. "Can ya get gloves 'n a rag for me?"
Merle glanced between the two, raising his hand and stump. "I'll let ya distant lovers be." He stepped back, swinging his arms at his sides and spun on his heel to climb the steps. Merle gave one final glance, "No swapping lips." he called and went inside.
Daryl shook his head, focusing back to Angela. She looked down as he rocked back and forth on the shovel. "Ya doin' a'right?" He asked her quietly.
She nodded, fiddling with the knife in her hand. "Are you okay? Any-" She shrugged, sighing. "Any sick feeling?"
He shook his head, "Naw, but best to be cautious. Karen and David are sick." Daryl glanced to the fence remembering. "Ya headin' to the fence?"
Angela looked over, side stepping to keep their distance. The two understood that this was going to be hard for them. Angela liked being near him, hugging and showing affection to him. Daryl, who usually liked his space, wanted to comfort her and assure it would be all okay. But, he can't promise something like that with this unknown flu around. He thought on their conversation last night, fearful that maybe they should've talked more about the 'what ifs'.
"Yeah." She answered finally, Daryl picked up the crosses and moved to the gate. "If we ignore the problem out there, we'll have more to worry about than an illness."
Daryl and her walked down the path, taking their time as they wanted to talk as much as possible. "Maybe it's best to stay inside, David n' Karen are sick n' might have gotten it from the fence line."
Angela frowned, "Patrick got sick and wasn't at the line." she argued.
He expected this, knowing how stubborn she can be. "Rick said he saw a walker with blood down his face, from his eyes." Daryl told, pointing two fingers at his eyes. "Patrick looked the same, ya might get sick bein' at the fence."
She thought about it, then reached back into her pocket for a bandana she used to keep her hair back. Tying it around her neck, Daryl sighed seeing her trying to get around his words as she covered her nose and mouth.
"I'll be fine, you have more of a chance getting sick than I do." She pointed out, though grimaced and pulled it down to her chin at that fact. "I mean, because of-"
"Just be safe, a'right?" He asked. Daryl reached out for her hand but dropped it to his side, knowing it was too risky.
Angela nodded, sighing as she wished to hold his hand as well. She swallowed the feeling back and walked down the path toward the fence. Daryl watched her until he felt something hit his arm. He turned seeing Merle had caught up, smacking his arm with gloves and his black bandana with faded gold designs. Daryl yanked them from his brother and slid them on, Merle tucked his thumb into his belt.
"She's a real pain in the ass, ain't she?" He asked the younger Dixon.
Daryl rolled his eyes, "I told her Rick saw a walker that might've died the same way Patrick did." he explained. "She could still get sick."
Merle gave a low whistle. "Well," He sniffed and adjusting his footing. Daryl glanced to his brother now noticing he had his own gloves and apron, along with a rag tied around his neck. "Better stick with my fence duty, eh?"
The hunter watched him march down the path to join Angela, Merle had been acting different since this whole incident this morning. Maybe he knew he was going to ask his brother to watch Angela during this time, but took initiative himself. Deciding to let his brother handle it, he walked where the open field was kept originally for more garden, but now would hold more graves.
Daryl placed the crosses into the ground and got to work digging the graves. He would give a look toward the fence spottung Angela and Merle working on thinning the unusually growing number of walkers. Maggie was by the tower on watch, so he tried to focus more on digging with the amount of graves there had to be.
When the hole got to the level above his knee, he noticed Rick approaching him. "Glad ya were in there." He told, muffled under his bandana.
Rick stood by the crosses, looking around spotting Merle and Angela at the fences. "Wasn't much use without my gun."
Daryl paused and turned to look up at him. "Naw, ya were." He told, tugging the bandana down off his nose and mouth. "All this time ya've been takin' off, ya earned it." Daryl assured, turning back to continue digging as Rick walked over to pick up the extra shovels laying around. "We wouldn't be here without ya."
Rick sighed, "It was all of us." he brushed off.
Daryl dug out more dirt, "Naw," he repeated turning to him once more. "It was ya first. Ya gonna help us figure this out?"
Rick leaned on his shovel, half his mind said 'yes he would. But the other half told him he better not, seeing how well it was going now without him in charge. With the council, better choices were made and his son was doing well without a gun in his hand. Having a chance to be a teen while he can.
He shrugged, shaking his head at Daryl's question. "I screwed up too many times. Those calls you got to make, I start down that road, I almost lost my boy- Who he was."
Daryl shifted his eyes down, seeing why Rick really gave up his role. His son had to come first, Daryl understood that. He turned to continue shoveling, listening to Rick's explanation.
"Whatever else this place needs, I'm here for it."
"Like I said, ya earned it." Daryl repeated, "But for what it's worth, ya see mistakes." he got another pile of dirt out and turned to him. "I see when the shit hits, yer standin' there with a shovel."
Daryl climbed out, wiping the sweat off his brow and whipping his head back to move his hair from his eyes. Rick sighed, leaning on the shovel as Daryl made a move to tug his bandana back up.
The two turned seeing a panicked Maggie running to them. She pointed at the fence showing Merle and Angela struggling with the walkers bending it. Merle whistling and calling at the walkers, but they just wouldn't budge from the large group.
"Oh, shit!" Rick cursed, dropping the shovel and running toward the second gate. Daryl tossed his and grabbed his crossbow, sprinting over.
"Hey! Over here!" Merle kept calling, slamming his fists against the fence.
"Merle, it's not working!" Angela barked, digging her boots into the gravel. She lost her footing and fell to the ground, scraping her knee. "Shit, c'mon!" She got back up, Merle jogged over.
"Unless ya got any other ideas!" He retorted, pushing against the fence with her.
Angela huffed, getting aggravated by the redneck. "How about I throw your ass over and lure them away!?" She questioned him.
Merle chuckled at her, he'd like to see her try. He spotted the others running over, Maggie grabbed a cane from the hanging melee weapons and stabbed a walker with the sharpened end. Angela kept pushing, fearful of the fence falling in from the dead weight.
"What happened!?" Rick asked as he and Daryl made it over. Sasha, Tyreese, and Glenn arrived from the prison.
"The noise drew 'em out and now this part's starting give!" Maggie yelled as she ran over to the two.
Angela groaned as she and Merle tried to keep the support in place, it started sliding against the grival like she had. She looked up, spotting the walkers climbing over others.
"They're climbing!" She barked, gaining Daryl's attention. He raised his crossbow and shot the bolt right into the walker's eye.
Merle glanced up, seeing a walker pressing its face right against the fence as the skin was peeling from the chain link. He stabbed it just as its eyeball popped out, splattering some blood on his face.
Everyone stabbed walkers as fast as possible, hoping if they kill them fast enough it will thin them out to relieve weight. Angela and Merle focused on the support poles that started bending. Her grip started to slip, feeling sweat grow on her forehead and in her palms. She felt dizzy and fell to her knees, scraping her knee even worse. Daryl reached for her arm to tug her back up.
"Daryl." Merle stepped infront of his brother, reminding him he couldn't get near her.
She stumbled back to her feet, limping a bit as her leg stung of the heavy bleeding injury. Angela nodded, assuring that she was alright. The brothers nodded back, continuing to stab walkers, killing one that was close to the ground almost stomped by the others.
"Are you seeing this!?" Sasha called. Everyone looked over, spotting rat carcasses at the ground in front of the fence. "Is someone feeding these things?"
Angela heard groaning, metal groaning. She looked up, gasping as she saw the fence bending. "Guys! Hey!" She screamed, pressing her gloved hands against the fence.
The others ran over, stabbing more walkers. The creaking made them back up, "Back up! Back up!" Glenn yelled. Everyone stepped back, Angela leaned back but stumbled to the ground with a groan.
"It's gonna give!" Rick screamed, running back over to hold the fence up. "It's gonna give!"
Angela watched the others trying to keep the fence from falling. She leaned back, closing her eyes as she saw things spinning in her vision. Daryl stood by Angela, loading his crossbow and firing at another one that was leaning over the edge of the barbwire.
"Merle!" Daryl called, gaining his brother's attention. He nodded to Angela, wanting to check what was wrong with her. Merle nodded, kneeling down as Daryl called to the others. "Back up! Everybody back! Come on, back, now!"
They all listened, jumping back against the other fence, seeing nothing that they can do would stop it. Merle tilted his head to check on Angela, who was panting and pressing her hand against her forehead.
"It ain't working!" Merle called to them. "More we kill, more weight the damn thing'll have!"
"But if the fence keeps bending in like that, those walkers are coming over it!" Sasha yelled over the roaring of the creatures.
"We-" Angela swallowed dryly. "We can't keep killing, but the support.. Support beams aren't working." She got to her feet, leaning against the fence.
"We need to lure 'em off the fence!" Merle barked.
Rick looked toward the field, eyeing up the pig pen. He didn't want to, but it was the only way to keep a break in from happening. He pinched his eyes and brought his hand down his face, turning to the others. "Daryl, get the truck. I know what to do."
The hunter nodded, glancing to Angela who waved him off. "I'm fine."
"Go!" Merle barked at Daryl, who ran off to get the vehicle.
Rick ran after, heading to the pig pen, loading them into a crate. Daryl got a Jeep a hitch in the back, Rick sat with the crate of piglets. Maggie and Tyreese opened the gate and doors, allowing the Jeep out of the prison. Sasha, Glenn, and Merle stabbed walkers, he kept glancing to Angela who shook her head trying to get her focus. When her eyes met his, she gave a look and walked over, managing to stab walkers with the others. They all watched Daryl drive the Jeep out, positioning the back end toward the herd. Walkers had caught on the two were exposed, slowly thinning out on the fence to get to them. Everyone paused, watching Rick take out a squealing piglet. Angela sighed, seeing what his plan had been. With a knife, Rick sliced the pig at the leg and dropped it down for the walkers to feast upon. Angela gulped, looking away. Yes, the pigs would've been a meal for them, but hearing their helpless squeals to become a sacrifice was hard to handle. The Jeep drove to drop another piglet as they continued to get them away from the fence.
"Get the beams!" Merle ordered, Sasha and Glenn got the wood and started to place them in to support the now dented fence.
Angela stepped back, taking deep breaths over what had just happened. She picked up a beam with the hick, knowing his eyes were on her as they kicked them into place. The piglets were gone, but the fence was now clear and had stronger support. Rick and Daryl returned, Rick was covered in the pigs' blood with a spray of it found on his face. He trudged to the pen, everyone watched as he started to tear the wood apart and destroy it. Angela turned to Daryl, shifting in her footing as she walked across the way to the other side of the fence where more walkers gathered as well. Daryl looked toward his brother, who sighed watching her walk off.
"Where ya think ya going, Hot Head?" Merle called, a fist on his hip. She turned back, wiping her forehead as he raised a brow. "Ya think working with that knee is smart? Ya might be losing brain cells, dare I say?"
"Piss off, Merle." She spat, looking down to look at her knee. The scrape had cut her jeans but the second fall made a big hole as a gash was covered in dirt. She limped, moving her footing showing it hurt to bend it.
Merle chuckled, though she took it in a mocking manner. "Ya better get it cleaned."
"You're not the boss of me, Merle." She hissed with contempt toward him.
Daryl walked over, not able to handle an argument starting. "It looks bad, Angie. Have Beth wrap it and rest for the night." He nodded toward the fence. "Merle can handle the fence."
"What?" Merle turned to his brother, earning the usual squinted look. "That fence is fine for now, work on it tomorrow." He told, not wanting to deal with it now.
Angela shook her head."But-"
"Listen for once, Hot Head. I'll toss your ass over my shoulder and carry ya there." Merle threatened, patting the muscle on his arm.
Angela's shoulders sagged, glaring at the brothers like a child. "Fine." She walked past them heading up the path. Angela turned, walking backwards to point her knife at the two. "I will be at the fence, first thing in the morning!"
"Fine! Just go, ya stubbern bitch!" Merle barked, shooing her away.
Angela flipped Merle off, turning away to covered her mouth as she cleared her throat that felt sore. She must have strained it from the screaming at the fence.
"Merle." The brother turned, shrugging at the look he gave.
"What? She wouldn't leave, next time maybe I'll haul her ass over like a sack of shit."
Daryl didn't speak, he just sighed moving his strap, stepping to the side. He looked to be struggling to say something. "Spit it out, boy."
"Angie needs to stay off the fence. She fell over n' almost got crushed by that damn thing." Daryl told, squinting at the fence then to his brother. "Ya know what I'm askin', bro."
Merle groaned, giving his brother a look. "I ain't gonna play babysitter." He paused, looking his brother up and down. "But I ain't walking away."
Daryl nodded, feeling grateful of what he was trying to say. "Thanks, Merle. Seriously." Merle looked up, meeting his brother's serious gaze. "For real, I'm glad yer 'round."
Merle frowned in a way that made him hate moments between his brother like this. "Whatever." He grunted, shaking his head as he left toward the cells to change out of his bloody garbs.
Passing by he saw Rick tearing the pig pen apart as his son approached. He watched the two interact, Rick passing his gun back to Carl. Merle shook his head, "Can't change who ya are." he told himself.
"Keep telling yourself that." Kaylee told, though the words fell on deaf ears.
Once Angela got to the cell block, she was surprised to see Michonne tending to Judith. Michonne kept a distance from her, so she hadn't expected to see her holding the baby. She limped down the steps and Michonne spotted her, frowning at her condition. "What happened?"
"The fence, it almost came down." Angela winced as she sat down at a table with a grunt. "Ahh, shit it hurts." She hissed, propping her leg up on the bench to get a good look.
"Beth!" Michonne called, standing with Judith in her arms. "Still got those bandages?" She asked, walking into the block.
"Some water too!" Angela called, rubbing around her knee.
The doors opened gaining Angela's attention, scowling to herself as Merle entered. He chuckled, slowly taking each step down as he grinned at her. "Need a hand?" He asked her, tossing the apron and gloves he had in the corner without care.
"Don't you?" She countered back, raising a brow.
Merle nodded, impressed by her combat. "Not bad." He told, groaning as he sat down across from her. "Then again, I ain't the one with rocks and shit in my knee." He countered rubbing his aching neck.
Angela looked down, finding an actual pebble in her cut. She plunked it out and threw at him, he barely flinched as it hit his boot. "Piss off, Merle."
Beth came in with the medical supplies, Angela moved her leg for Beth to sit. "Lay it here." She told, patting her leg. Angela did so, allowing Beth to start cleaning the cut. "What happened to the fence?" Beth asked, wetting a rag with some water and started getting the dirt out.
"Damn thing near caved in, walkers were trying to get some rat guts." Merle told, leaning on his knee.
"What?" Beth questioned with a frown.
"Someone left dead rats at the fence, luring them on purpose." Angela leaned back on her elbows with a wince and hiss, clearing her throat. "Just like what Andrew did back then."
Beth paused, looking between the two. "Someone inside did it?" She asked with concern.
"Don't know." Merle shrugged without care. "Might have to have patrol to make sure it don't happen again."
"Thanks for volunteering, Merle." Angela said with mocking gracious tone.
Merle grunted at her, ignoring her for a moment. He stood and stretched his arms into the air, cracking his back. "Call me when dinner's cooked." Merle waved them off, muttering how he was going to nap in his cell.
Angela made a face at the back of his head, earning a soft giggle from Beth. "At least he offered." She told, placing bandages on her knee. "There, fixed up."
"Thanks." Angela sat up, resting her leg down as Beth handed her the remaining water. She jugged it down easily, sighing as the water soothed her throat. "How's Michonne? I saw her limping."
"Just a sprained ankle, might have to stay here. But, you're free to move." Beth assured, putting the bandages away as Angela stood feeling okay to stand with the bandage. "Want me to call you when dinner's ready?"
Angela nodded, "Yeah, I got some light reading to tend to." she told moving to the cells.
Angela entered her room, sighing at how empty it was. Usually Daryl would be chilling on the bed, peeking into one of her books with interest, tending to his bolts, or just laying to relax. Angela sat down on the bed, removing her gloves and tossing them into the corner. She stood for a moment to remove her apron and tossed it with the gloves. As Angela bent down to remove her boots, she spotted Daryl's bag looking to be bulging a bit. Curious, she knelt down to the bag and looked inside surprised to see a blanket folded inside. She removed it and unfolded it to find it a traditional western blanket, a design that resembled Daryl's poncho.
"He got that for you." Angela glanced up to see Michonne leaning against the doorway, Judith no longer in her arms. She assumed Beth was feeding her before making dinner. "That was the first thing he got before the store collapsed."
Angela smiled at first, but when looking down at the blanket she felt dread in her heart. "Is it bad I miss him, even if he's only a building away?" She asked, looking up to Michonne.
She shook her head, tilting it against the wall. "He misses you too, I'm sure. But we'll get through this."
Her thumb rubbed against the material, it would feel scratchy to most but to her, it was smooth and would for sure comfort her tonight. She got to her feet, moving to the bedside where the drawer held a small box cutter knife. Michonne watched with interest, as Angela sat on the bed and started cutting the center of the blanket. She smiled seeing she was turning the blanket into a poncho just like Daryl's. Angela slid it on and looked down, tugging at the blanket with a content smile.
"What do you think?" She asked, pulling a bit to see the design again.
"I think it suits you." Michonne grinned.
Angela chuckled, almost feeling a cough coming but swallowed it back. "Do you remember how Patrick died?"
"Choked on his own blood, I think." Michonne answering, trying to think what Rick told them. "Why?"
Angela went to the bookshelf on the wall where she kept all her books now. Filing through she found a book that she borrowed from Hershel, but forgot to give it back. She pulled it out and turned to Michonne trying to find the right page.
"Here it is, 'The 1918 Epidemic'." Angela sat down, Michonne moved to sit with her looking at the book. "The Spanish Flu was a flu that was known for nearly wiping out Spain. Victims died within hours to days of developing symptoms, their skin turning blue and their lungs filling with fluid that caused them to suffocate." Angela read outloud.
"Just like Patrick." Michonne confirmed.
"Exactly." Angela nodded. "1819 was the crack of the H1N1 virus, which is what we might have here with us." She told, flipping through pages. "We had the same pandemic in 2009, right before walkers came around."
"Anything on how to treat or stop it?" She asked, peeking into the book.
Angela sighed at that, "Sadly, we know viruses don't have cures, but treatments. I'm sure the council is figuring out a way to get them." she told.
"How did it stop back then?" Michonne questioned.
"People died or became immune." Angela told, closing the book and tossing it onto the bed. "Sadly, we can't let that happen with the risk of what our situation is."
Michonne nodded in agreement. "We'll see how Karen and David are tomorrow. Maybe they're the only victims and it can fly by." She wished, getting to her feet.
Angela nodded, moving to lay back in her bed. "Yeah, maybe."
"I'll let you rest, you deserve it."
"Thanks." Angela sighed as Michonne left to rest her ankle in her cell.
Angela laid in her cell for a while before she felt her body grow hot. She removed the blanket, placing it beside her where Daryl usually laid. Curling to her side, Angela sighed feeling her throat grow tight. She grabbed a pillow and stuffed it against her face to muffle a cough the best she could. A split thought of her sick came to mind, but she denied it shaking her head. Angela kept her face into the pillow, smelling Daryl's musk as she tried to sleep so she could continue on the fence tomorrow.
Early the next morning, Merle was awake expecting to see Angela wake up and sneak out to the fences. He waited and stood by the railing above, hearing others wake up. It wasn't until mid morning that Angela emerged from her cell, without the apron but with her gloves. She had a different pair of jeans om with the other being torn. Angela left the cells and near stumbled down the steps as she moved toward the yard. She watched the fenceline seeing it was thankfully intact but still wobbling like the other.
"Got to get that done." She told herself, blinking as the sun was blinding her. As she walked down, she spotted Tyreese digging graves. Angela frowned, walking over as Bob was helping him dig.
Bob saw her, holding a hand up nearly dropping his shovel. "Don't get close." He warned.
"I won't." She assured, keeping her space as they were both exposed. "More people got sick last night?" She asked, sliding her gloves on.
Tyreese looked up, making Angela near gasp at the swollen black eye he had. "What the hell happened to you?"
"There was a scuffle between him and Rick." Bob answered with hesitance. Angela was shocked, Rick beat up a big guy like Tyreese that badly?
"Why would Rick do that?" She asked, wondering if he had snapped like before.
"Karen and David, they're dead." He hissed, going back to his rushed digging.
"The illness got them?" Angela grimaced, "God, I'm sorry, Tyreese." she sighed. "Still, why would Rick-"
"They were murdered." He grunted, clenching his teeth as he dug.
Angela's heart sank. "Wait, what? Someone killed them?"
Bob nodded, "Dragged them out and burned them alive. Tyreese found their bodies." he explained. "He asked Rick to find out who did it, and well…" He glanced to Ty then back to Angela. "A fight happened."
"Jesus…" Angela covered her mouth, side stepping in shock. Her eyes went to the fence remembering yesterday then looked back to the men. "I think we have someone betraying us."
Tyreese and Bob looked up, pausing in their digging. She licked her dry lips and pointed toward the fence. "Tyreese, remember the rats we found by the fence?" He nodded, his full attention on her. "Before your group found us, we took this prison from some convicts. Some were nice, like Oscar and Axel. Others wanted to take it back from us. Andrew, he lured walkers into the prison. It caused us to lose Rick's wife, Lori, and my friend, T-Dog."
Bob nodded with sympathy, Tyreese stood out of the grave approaching Angela. She stepped back suddenly trying to keep a distance between the two. "Someone trying to plan a mutiny?" He questioned her, she stumbled on her words at that. "Luring walkers and killing people!" He barked at her.
Angela raised her hands up, "It's a theory. For now, I'll be at the fences and making sure it doesn't happen. If I see any animal carcasses, I'll just chuck them over." she told feeling nervous under his gaze.
Bob came over, gently pulling at Tyreese arm. "She's got it, man." He assured, nodding to the graves. "Let's get them in the ground."
Tyreese nodded, turning and climbed back down to continue digging. Bob nodded to Angela, glancing at the fence. "You gonna be fine alone?"
Angela nodded, wiping her forehead already feeling hot in this cool weather. "If I keep up at it, we should be fine. You guys focus on this and let the others worry about the illness."
"If you're sure?" Bob asked again, not feeling comfortable to leave her alone after what he heard happened yesterday.
Angela forced a smile and gave a thumbs up. "I got it." Once she turned, she frowned rubbing her throat feeling it had grown sore overnight.
Once she got to the fence, Angela took her hunter knife out and got to work stabbing walkers. She tugged the bandana over her nose and mouth, almost forgetting about it. She stabbed one by one, focusing on the skulls to skewer next in the line up. Angela found herself pausing at the fourth walker, seeing blood trailing down from its mouth and eye sockets. It's eyes were bulging out as if the blood had forced itself out so badly, it near popped the eyeballs out. The thought of the illness made her stomach churn, bring a hand to her mouth she felt nauseous stabbing the walker as blood seeped out of it more than the others. The blood must have pressured into its head causing it to near splatter out like a fountain.
Angela instantly stepped back, gagging. She removed the bandana and coughed, hunching out as she gagged feeling the need to puke. Near dry heaving, she suffered into a coughing fit until falling to her knees as her head spun with pain. Once Angela finally caught her breath, she stumbled to her feet, falling to the other fence watching Bob and Tyreese finish the second grave. Her breathing was heavy and she felt the sweat drip down her face, or was it a tear from the pain in her throat and chest? She couldn't tell with her head pounding so badly.
She shook her head, "Not sick, I'm not sick." she told herself.
Merle finally emerged from the cell block after Sasha was admitted for being sick. He discovered from Hershel and Glenn that more people from D block were sick as well, including Dr. S. Merle, who scoffed about the doctor getting sick, called him useless. Hershel informed a meeting would be needed, Merle understood and continued to go check on Angela.
As he left for the courtyard, he saw Tyreese and Bob filling Karen and David's graves. He passed by, hearing roaring and squealing from the horse stables. Merle frowned, crossing the field toward it to see what the horses were freaking out about.
"We've heard that for a while now." Bob called out to him.
"Didn't think to check, numbnuts?" Merle bellowed, not earning a response from the reluctant man.
Merle approached the stable seeing Flame acting fine, but it was Calypso freaking out. The horse kept pacing in front of one side of the stable, roaring and throwing her head back. "What's your problem, Glue?" He asked, as if he was going to get an answer.
The horse reared back, letting out a loud neigh as it trotted in circles. Merle frowned covering his ear at the loud noise. "Stupid spazz." Horses did freak out over dumb small things.
Merle turned toward the fence, his steps frozen to see why Calypso might be flipping out. Someone sat against the fence, slumped to the side. Merle frowned, thinking a walker might have actually gotten over the fence and just died at the attempt. His eyes scanned the area, not seeing Angela anywhere. He looked back at the slumped figure, making his walk turn into a jog, then a sprint.
"Damnit, don't be dead." He cursed, running toward the gate and entering the inner fencing.
Merle skidded to the gravel at her side, seeing the knife on the ground, fallen from her grip. He pressed his fingers to her neck, finding a pulse. "Hot Head, get up! Hey Angela!" He patted her face trying to get her to come to, feeling how hot her skin was.
"Shit, ya idiot!" He barked down at her, moving to tuck his arm under her legs to pick her up. "Ya sick, dumbass."
Merle got to his feet and rushed out from the inner fence, heading up towards the prison. Tyreese and Bob noticed, pausing in concern seeing the unconscious Angela, assuming the worst. "Hey! Hershel!" Merle called as loud as he could approaching the building. "Daryl!"
Hershel and Glenn emerged, spotting Merle approaching with Angela in his arms. "Oh, my God. Daryl!" Glenn called as Hershel rushed over to Merle.
"What happened?" He asked, checking Angela to see her barely breathing and felt her hot forehead.
"Dumbass collapsed at the fence, got herself fucking sick." He spat.
"Angie!" Daryl barked, running out to see his brother carrying her. His heart sank, thinking she was dead. "Angie, no."
"She's alive, but ill." He assured, "Let's get her into A block." he told. Daryl followed the two with Glenn.
Hershel had gotten a cell prepared, Merle laid her on a bed and sat her up to get her to drink some water Glenn got. Much to the brother's relief, she responded and swallowed the water, coughing heavily with congestion.
"She's got a high fever and worked herself to exhaustion, sped up the illness. Got her while she was weak." Hershel told, placing a cold cloth on her forehead as he laid her head down.
"Jesus Christ." Daryl muttered with clenched fists bringing one up to his chin. "I thought she'd be safe, who was she exposed to?" He questioned, ready to blame someone if not himself.
Hershel stood, "From the fence, as you thought before. Could be from being near Karen and David before they died." he shrugged helplessly.
"We havin' that meeting now." He ordered, hearing no argument from Hershel.
The older man left to let the others know, Merle leaned against the wall watching his brother approach Angela. He pressed his knuckles to her clammy cheeks, finally able to feel her soft skin. It should've been him that got sick, not her. She was safe and somehow got herself so ill, it rushed through her faster.
"Ya got a meeting to get to, bro." Merle reminded, watching the interaction. "She's in good hands now."
"Yeah. Wish she was better." He muttered, moving to leave the cell with Merle following.
"It's spread." Hershel informed at the meeting in the library. With Sasha now sick, Michonne and Merle attended wanting to know what the plan would be. "Everyone who survived the attack in cell block D. Sasha, Caleb, and now the others."
Daryl muttered a 'Jesus' as the others grew tense. "Angela was just admitted, her case worse from over exerting herself." He nodded to Merle. "If Merle hadn't been watching her, she would've died out by the fences.
"Oh, God." Carol sighed, fiddling with her knife at the table with this news. Now her best friend was to die? "So what do we do?" She asked.
"First things first, cell block A is isolation. We keep the sick people there like we tried with Karen and David." Hershel explained, Glenn sitting by felt his throat hurt as he attempted to clear it silently.
"What the hell we gonna do about that?" Daryl asked, gripping the chair he sat in. Now with Angela in there, it was either she'd die of an illness or murdered by someone within the prison.
"Ask Rick to look into it." Carol told him. "Try to make a timeline- Who was where, when. But what are we gonna do to stop this?" She asked, more concerned to stop the illness than find the killer.
"There is no stopping it." Hershel told sternly.
"Gotta get through it, right?" Michonne told, they looked to her as she was leaning against the bookshelf. "Angela was looking into a book, comparing this illness to the Spanish Flu. Same symptoms, especially filling the lungs of fluid." She informed, nodding to Hershel.
Hershel remembered her borrowing the book, confirming this with a nod. "It kills ya, though. How ya gonna get through it then?" Merle questioned, folding his arms as he leaned against the wall. Now that he was exposed, he kept his distance from Michonne.
"The illness doesn't." Hershel told the redneck. "The symptoms do. We need antibiotics."
"We've been through every pharmacy nearby." Daryl told, trying to think of anyone locations they haven't checked. "N' then some."
"That store ya'll were at had nothing?" Merle questioned his brother.
Daryl shook his head, "Didn't have time after the whole damn thing caved in." he answered bitterly. He should've checked the pharmacy area first.
"That veterinary college at West Peachtree Tech, that's one place people may not have thought to rain for medication." Hershel suggested, leaning back in his chair. "The drugs for animals there are the same we need."
"That's about fifty miles out of here, maybe more" Merle told, scratching his chin with a shrug. "Big risk." He warned.
"Ain't now." Daryl stood at his brother's words. "I'm gonna take a group out." He grabbed his crossbow eager to head out now. "Best not waste any more time."
Merle nodded in agreement, "Right ya are, baby brother. Count me in." he grinned.
"I'm in too." Michonne offered, walking up to them.
"You haven't been exposed." Hershel warned her. "Daryl and Merle have. You get in the car with them-"
"They've already given me fleas." She joked, earning an amused chuckle from Hershel and a raised brow from Merle.
"Daryl's got fleas." He muttered, earning a chuckle from Michonne.
"I can lead the way." Hershel told, as they all got to their feet. "I know where everything's kept."
Daryl seemed hesitant as he looked to the others. "When we're out there, it's always the same. Sooner or later we run."
The hunter was giving Hershel a way of saying, it was dangerous with him and his prosthetic leg if they had to hike it. Merle nodded, clapping the doctor on the back. "With Dr. S sick, they'll need another man with medical help on their hands. Especially with Hot Head the way she is."
Not needing anymore convincing, he nodded in agreement. "I can draw you a map." He offered. Daryl and Merle moved ready to pack up, Hershel stopped them. "There are other precautions I feel we should take."
"Like what?" Carol asked.
"There's no telling how long it'll be before Daryl and his group return. Wouldn't it make sense for us to seperate the most vulnerable?" Hershel suggested. "We can use the administration building. Separate office, seperate room."
"Who is the most vulnerable?" Glenn asked, looking more stressed by the minute.
"The very young." Hershel answered.
"What about the old?" He asked, indicating it toward Hershel himself possibly.
"Yes, it would be the very young, very old, and those in Angela's case, very weak." He added, making Daryl shift his footing at her being mentioned as an example. "No one should over exert themselves. Even the slightest feeling of being sick should be reported."
Everyone agreed, Daryl and Michonne leaving first with Merle following. "Merle." Daryl called away from the door. He stepped over to talk with Daryl in the corner. "I'm gonna need ya here, watch Angie while I'm gone."
Merle frowned, "Hell no. Ya'll need someone, and Michonne ain't enough." He argued.
"Bro," The hunter pleaded, looking at his brother. "Just until we get back. What happened with Karen and David, it don't feel right her left alone. She's worse than the others, too weak to defend herself."
The older Dixon looked away, rubbing his chin as if thinking this over. He glanced down then back up to his brother. "Ya better get back with those damn meds." Merle warned, pointing a finger in Daryl's face. "I can't promise ya anything, so get back with that shit fast. Understand, boy?"
"I'll take the fastest car n' be back as soon as possible." He sighed and clapped his brother's shoulder nodding to him. "Protect her, brother."
Merle nodded, moving to let Daryl jog down the hall to get prepared. He sighed and left toward A block to check in on Angela.
Outside, Daryl went straight to checking the condition of Zach's black Dodge Charger. It was the fastest car they had and using his motorcycle wasn't an option right now. The hunter tossed his vest onto the hood as he lifted it to check the oil. Michonne loaded the back with what they needed and came around the front as Daryl pulled the stick out.
"Sum a bitch is 'bout a quart low." He stressed, indicating it needed more.
"You still keep it in the bottom of tower three?" Michonne asked.
"Tower two, Angie moved it." He paused, the mention of her made his heart sink. "Thought it would be smarter."
Michonne nodded, "I'll go get one." she told turning.
Daryl glanced up, placing the stick back into the oil tube. "Hey." He called, having her turn around. "I'm glad yer here." He told.
"Where else would I be?" She asked, walking back over.
"Runnin' off." Daryl answered.
Michonne frowned at that, "You know I'm not running off." she told. "Angela is with me all the time, I would never run off with or without her." Daryl nodded, but felt it was like an escape for them to find the Governor.
She sighed and leaned against the car. "So it's just gonna be me, you, and Merle like in the old days?" Michonne asked, referring to back when the three of them went out in their searches.
"Naw, Bob is joining us and I asked Merle to stay." Michonne raised her brows, Daryl glanced over. "Angie needs someone, so I asked him."
Michonne was impressed, tilting her head. "I'm a bit surprised he agreed."
Daryl nodded in agreement. "We could use Merle, but need another person."
Michonne understood his worry for Angela between her recent condition and a possible murderer in the prison. "Who else isn't sick?" She pondered.
"We don't ask Rick." Daryl told, lining him out. "He wants to stay here with Carl and Little Ass-Kicker." He explained, fiddling with something under the hood. "Keep 'em safe." He stood and took the vest off the hood. "Plus, there's plenty of stuff to do here."
"So who else we got?" Michonne shrugged.
Daryl got an idea, "I think I know who. Just gotta find him." he told her.
The hunter left without a word and went in search for Tyreese. He checked the graves but found it empty, with Karen and David's done and their crosses up. He checked the Tombs and still nothing until he finally got to A block finding the man standing in front of the cells where the sick were.
"Oh, there ya are." Tyreese turned, look of fear and concern over his beaten face. "Took me damn near forever to find ya." He noticed the way he stood outside the took, looking him up and down. "Watcha doin'?"
"Somebody needs to stand watch." He told.
Daryl knew why and nodded, wanting to sympathize with the hurt man. "Man, I want to find 'em, too." He assured, stepping up toward him. "Put a bolt in 'em for what they did." A faint coughing was heard, making Tyreese turned to look through the glass. "These people are cut off." Tyreese turned back to him. "Ain't no way anyone's gettin' in n' out without a whole a bunch of people seein' 'em."
"Sasha's in there." He told, standing his ground.
"I ain't going nowhere."
Daryl stepped closer, throwing a finger at the door. "Angie's in there too, dyin' possibly." Tyreese glanced in, forgetting she was admitted as well. "My brother's takin' care of her, I know he'll keep watch n' protect 'em." Daryl looked to the ground then back up. "Look, standin' gaurd ain't gonna do no good unless we come back with 'em meds."
Tyreese turned away, pressing his fingers to the glass refusing to accept Daryl's words. The hunter nodded, turning away not wanting to force the man from his post. To be honest, Daryl would do the same.
"A'right. We're gassin' up by the front gate in case ya change yer mind." Daryl told, ready to turn the corner.
"Daryl." Tyreese called for him. Daryl turned back, his shoulders sagging as he saw a visitor at the glass.
The hunter came over, Tyreese moved so Daryl could stand there to greet his brother. "Yo, Daryl."
"What?" He asked, frowning to why Merle was at the door.
"Hot Head woke up, wanted to see you." He threw his thumb to the left, indicating down the hall. "She's in that visitor's room."
Daryl stepped, looking down the hall. He glanced to his brother who gave him an expected look, before leaving toward the room. As he entered, he spotted his girlfriend sitting on the other side of the glass with the blanket he got her over her shoulders. He wanted to smile seeing her wear it, but the sight of her pale skin and coughing into her fist made his heart sink. She looked up into the glass smiling at her hunter. Merle stood by the door, arms folded and leaning against the door frame. He looked inpatient, clearly wanting her back in bed. Knowing her, she must have pestering him to the point that she won.
"Daryl, I'm sorry." She muttered with a strained voice. Daryl sat down, sighing to himself as he glanced to his brother behind her.. "Don't blame Merle, I-" She ducked her head, coughing heavily into a rag she was given. "I pestered him."
"Ya should be restin', yer lucky Merle found ya out by the fences." Daryl lowered his head and looked back up. "Get to bed."
"I-I had to see you, before you left. You're- You're going to get medicine, right?" She asked, blinking her blurry eyes.
Daryl rubbing his forehead, it hurt to see her like this in this state. Why was he always seeing her in pain or suffering? Angela could never catch a break it seemed. "Yeah, headin' out with Michonne. Findin' others to come with."
"What about Merle?" She asked, clearing her throat.
Daryl gave a short glance to his brother than back to her. "He's stayin'." She frowned, shaking her head about to argue but started coughing. Daryl flinched, leaning closer to the class. "Angie, David and Karen were killed. I don't want that to…" He ducked his head, shaking it not able to finish his sentence.
"Daryl," Angela softly called him, he look back up. "Daryl, remember the book, 'The Great 1925 Race of Mercy'?"
Daryl squinted, confused what she was saying. "Nome, Alaska, 1925. Diphtheria spreads through the town, killing the children. Musher and a team of sled dogs-" She paused to give a few coughs. "Run six hundred and seventy four miles to get the antitoxin. They succeeded, saving the whole town with a dog named Balto leading the team through heavy snow-" Angela coughed, almost leaning heavily against the table. "Daryl, Daryl…" She breathed, looking up with a pained smile.
"Angie." He pressed his hand against the glass, watching her worriedly.
"Daryl…" Angela looked up smiling weakly, pressing her hand to where his was on the glass. "Be my Balto."
Biting his lip, Daryl nodded watching Merle urge her back to bed with Sasha's help. "I will, Angie."
Tyreese watched by the door as Daryl stood there, ducking his head to compose himself. He turned away and left without a word. The bruised up man thought over the interaction, seeing Daryl was suffering with someone he loved in there as well. He was sure he would kill whoever would dare try to hurt Angela, let alone do to her what they did to Karen and David.
"Now, stay in bed, damnit." Merle grunted, getting her to lay down as she sighed wincing at the soreness through her body. "If ya try to get up, I'll try ya to the damn bed."
Angela glanced up, shaking her head. "No ya won't." She told, imitating his accent.
Merle plopped down in a chair by the bed and took the wet rag that fell from her wake up in a jolting manner. She was shocked to see where she was, thinking it was her cell barking at Merle to get out. He soon explained where she was which she needed time to figure out with her head feeling heavy and muddy. Merle had told her Daryl and Michonne was getting drugs for them, making her squirm wanting to see Daryl.
"Ya got your wish, so make my wish come true." Merle rasped, trying to keep the cloth on her moving head. "Stay still and shut up."
"That's two." Angela weakly corrected, holding two fingers up.
"Fucking delusional…" He muttered with contempt. "Fine, grant these two wishes."
"Fine, fine." Angla coughed a few times feeling sticky in her sweaty clothing. Angela closed her eyes feeling dizzy from the spinning ceiling. She brought a hand up, constantly swallowing as she winced. "Merle, Merl-"
Her chest raised as she gagged, covering her mouth. Merle moved fast, getting a bucket and placed it in her lap. Angela sat up and dug her head in, vomiting whatever contents were in her stomach. She panted, spitting into the bucket a few times. Merle grimaced when she handed it back, peeking as his chest tightened when some blood was found inside. He stood to rinse it out while Angela laid back down feeling her throat and nose burning from that experience.
"I thought I was going to explode." She muttered when Merle came back, placing the now empty bucket down and leaned on his knees. "Just felt pressure out of nowhere."
"Not funny." He told out of instinct with how she described it.
"I wasn't being funny…" She groaned, closing her eyes wanting to sleep and wake up with Daryl back instead of Merle. "Why are you even here? Shouldn't you have gone with Daryl and Michonne?" She asked, forgetting what Daryl told her a few minutes ago.
Merle shrugged. "Thought ya might want some company." He joked with a short smile, hand on his stump as his elbows rested on his knees. Angela frowned deeply sending a small glare to him.
Outside, Daryl and Bob was finishing packing and working on the car. Daryl slammed the hood closed once all was done with the oil and engine. "Everything look alright?" Bob asked, bringing over two gas cans to fill up the tank.
"Yeah." Daryl answered, ducking in through the window to toss his vest in. "Zach kept this runnin' pretty good."
Bob became spooked when he heard that. "This is Zach's car?" He asked with hestiance.
Daryl pulled out of the window, "Yeah, fastest car we got." he confirmed. Daryl noticed him frozen in his spot, staring at the vehicle. "Ya a'right?"
The once was medical man thought over, feeling something haunting him with this car, he glanced to Daryl. "You really want me coming along?"
With a simple answer, Daryl checked his pockets fishing out the paper that held the list of items Hershel wrote down that they would need. He walked up to Bob, pointing at the first thing on the list. "What's that word?"
"Zanamivir." Bob answered with ease.
"Yup, we need ya." Daryl told, rereading it and silently wording it out to himself. He turned leaning on the car seeing Tyreese came over to them. "What's up?"
"Still got room for one more?" He asked.
"Hell yeah." Daryl answered quickly.
"Good. Just got to get my gear." He told, turning back to get his supplies.
"A'right." Daryl said, opening the back door to toss his crossbow in. Bob got to work filling the gas tank. "We'll be back just as soon as Balto got to Nome." He told himself.
Bob knotted his brows looking up. "Who now?"
Daryl glanced over, forgetting for a moment that Bob was there. "Nothin', talkin' to myself." He told, slamming the door.
Merle kept up on taking down Angela's temperature as she finally got quiet, her eyes closing. Hershel came in at one point and advised she be sat up so she didn't choke when coughing. He helped Merle prop her up and gave him some elderberry tea, telling him to give it to her when she wakes up. She soon started to stir about what he guessed was about forty minutes.
"'Bout time ya woke up." Merle rasped, reaching over for the tea and leaned forward to get her to drink it. "Hershel made this."
Eyes still closed, Angela sat up and let Merle tip it to her lips as he tilted the liquid into her mouth. He remembered small sips so he pulled away for her to gulp down the first sip. He was going to give more when she launched forward heavily coughing into a fit. Merle got startled, putting the tea down in a rushed manner in case she needed the bucket.
Her eyes scanned the room, her sight was blurred with her body clammy body and head spinning. "Need a bucket?"
She blinked slowly turning to Merle, squinting as she heaved a reaspy sigh. "I thought-" Angela swallowed with a wince. "I thought you left."
"Just to empty the bucket." Merle told, seeing that the only time he left her. It was barely a minute.
Angela gave a tired smile and slowly moved to lay back against the propped pillows. "Glad you came back." She said, making Merle frown in confusion. "I'm so selfish, but I… I want you to be here instead of your brother."
Merle leaned back, what was Angela saying? "Ya… Sure?" He questioned, thinking maybe she was hallucinating.
"Of course, Daryl." She gave a airy chuckle with a small cough.
Oh, Merle understood. He felt her forehead, feeling her still burning up harshly. Angela must be thinking Merle was Daryl with her fever so high. "Better cool ya down. Talking crazy soon." He told, rewashing the cloth and pressing it to her forehead.
Angela reached up, pressing her hand over his that made him want to yank it free. But he had to keep the cloth in place since she kept moving. "Daryl, can you tell me one of your hunting trips?" She asked, looking up with pleading eyes. "Back before all this happened."
Merle shook his head."Listen, ya stubborn-"
"Just tell me one, please." She begged, closing her eyes and blocking out what he had said. "Something funny."
The older hick sighed, hanging his head not wanting to be stuck with this right now. He could've gone out on the search instead of Daryl, while he could be here taking care of his girl like he should be doing. Looking up, he heard Angela's raspy breathing and throat clearing coming up now and again. The pain in the ass redneck felt a sting in his chest, deciding to just get through this for now.
"One time, Da- Merle and I went hunting up in the mountains."
The Challenger had already driven out a good ten miles from the prison, a walker or two was spotted but now the road was clear of them and now only dead leaves and sticks were on the road. Daryl thought on his words toward Michonne before leaving, the silence of the car will killing him, wanting to talk about it.
"Hey, I know ya weren't runnin' off." He started, giving a short glance to her. "The thing is, that trail went cold. Ya know that, right?" Michonne didn't respond. Either wanting to hear his words or just not respond to the conversation. "If it was any different, I'd be right out there with ya n' Angie."
Michonne looked over, knowing he was being truthful but she couldn't give up. Between her losing Andrea and Angela losing Kaylee by his hand, she felt it was her job to find him.
"Just worried what would happen when Angie n' ya find him. Angie killed no livin' before." He told, giving a few glances to her.
She shifted in her seat, "Think she can't do it?" Michonne asked.
Daryl shook his head, tugging at the hairs at his chin. "It's not…" He sighed, not wanting to start a possible argument.
Feeling the conversation not going anywhere else, Daryl switched hands at the wheel and reached over to fiddle with the radio. It crackled with static, not knowing what he expected to hear.
"Would ya hand me one of 'em CDs right there?" Daryl asked Michonne, nodding to the glove compartment.
She opened the leather CD case, flipping through for anything good to listen to. Zach collected CDs and kept them over time, hopefully he had good music. "...Find sanctuary." Came a voice from the radio, alerting the four.
"Was that a voice?" Bob asked.
Daryl shushed him, raising the volume and trying to get the right station he heard it on. "...Determined to survive…" He kept switching between 97.1 and 69.9, assuring it was clear on the first station. "...Keep alive."
Daryl looked to Michonne, their minds boggled that it could be someone out there with radio. At the last second, Daryl looked back at the road and spotted a walker right in front of the car, slamming the brakes. The tires screeched as he spun the wheel to the left avoiding the walker, then to the right to avoid a second one. Daryl couldn't swerve around the third as the left bumper took out the walker's leg, he turned left rounding a fourth walker and sped to get away from the approaching walkers. But he hit the brakes again, actually stopping the car to find they were blocked by a herd of walkers.
The sight stunned the four as a train up ahead was abandoned with a large herd heading their way. It was bigger than the farm, bigger than any herd they ever seen. Before they knew it, the car had grown surrounded by the upcoming walkers.
"Grab somethin'!" Daryl yelled to the others, putting the car in reverse and leaning back to get see the back window littered with walkers.
Ignoring them, Daryl slammed the gas and the car ran over the walkers without care. After plowing through a good six or seven, the back wheels became jammed from the pile up he ran over.
"Go to the left!" Michonne told, seeing an opening.
Daryl kept hitting the gas and turning the wheel, but the car just wouldn't budge. "We're jammed up." He turned to them, pointing at the window past Michonne. "Make a run for the gaps right there. Ya two make a run for the woods n' don't stop for nothin', ya here me?" Bob and Michonne nodded, but Tyreese was silent.
Daryl popped opened the sunroof as Michonne hopped out of the car. He fired from his spot giving Michonne cover climbing out from the roof. Michonne sliced her sword through the walkers to make a path. Daryl slid down the car, throwing his buck knife into a walker's skull and easily yanked it out once his feet planted on the ground. He stabbed and slammed heads with the butt of his crossbow following Michonne.
Bob untangled from his seat belt and scrambled out of the car with haste. Taking out his hand gun, he fired at oncoming walkers, looking to try and keep Daryl and Michonne in sight. When he turned to make sure Tyreese was following, he didn't see him anywhere.
"Ty!" He called.
The man just sat there, sweat forming as he contemplated what to do. It was like he was deciding to die in the car or go out and escape. Michonne made it to the woods as did Daryl. But Bob was becoming surrounded, not wanting to leave the man behind.
Finally, Tyreese unbuckled himself and climbed out of the car and started slamming walkers with his hammer. Bob made a break once he saw Tyreese leave the car.
"Go! He barked at Bob as the walkers started to surround him. "Come one! Come get me!" He bellowed at the flesh eating monsters.
Bob made it to the two, turning back to see Tyreese going crazy on the walkers. Hesitating on leaving, they knew they had to leave before they all became surrounded. And besides, they all saw he was snapping at that moment as he barked and taunted the walkers.
The three ran through the woods, spotting walkers here and there heading toward the commotion behind them. Killing three more stragglers, they kept running past trees and into a low clearing. Once they heard no more snarling, Daryl paused and turned.
"Hold up." He called, bending down to reload his crossbow.
The two came over as they spotted the trees moving in a rushed manner. They held their ground, expecting the herd had followed them. When two more walkers came through, Daryl raised his crossbow ready to fire. The first walker suddenly collapsed, revealing Tyreese to have caught up, killing it in the back of the head with his hammer. He was completely covered in guts and blood and looked exhausted already. The second walker saw him fall to his knees it made a U-Turn for him, only to have Michonne slam her sword through its skull and tossing it to the ground. Daryl ran over, grabbing his arm to hike him to his feet.
Michonne helped him up and the four ran off to get further away from not only their destination as well.
Merle had been called into the visiting room to talk to Rick. With Merle being around the sick, it made sense than to open the door and let out the illness to anyone outside. Merle leaned on the table as Rick stood there looking conflicted.
The redneck chuckled, "Find this to be ironic." he told indicating the glass between them. "Never had a visitor back in my prison days. " He told rapping his knuckles on the glass.
Rick gave a look and sighed, rubbing his jaw. He had originally requested Hershel, but was busy tending to the ill and Merle was available only tending to Angela. "How's Angie?"
Merle looked down, taking a seat at the chair with a sigh. "Still alive. Her head is blazing to the point she thinks I'm Little D."
Rick nodded, "And the others?" he asked.
Merle shrugged, raising a hand to roughly pass over his head thin gray hair. "Glenn kills whoever dies, so far lost three more from D block." He answered.
"God…" Rick muttered, ducking his head and pinching his brows. "Daryl and the others aren't back yet, hopefully they found it last night and are making their way back now."
Merle shrugged, not wanting to agree or disagree to that notion. "Ya wanted to pass something onto Hershel?"
Rick sat down in the chair looking up at Merle. "Food supply is near empty. With Daryl and his group gone, half of 'em sick in there and the others in the offices, that leaves Carol and I to go get food."
"Ya plan to actually find any?" He asked, leaning his elbow on the table. "Best take Glenn's girl, Maggie." He told, as if he almost forgot her name rubbing his creased forehead. "She's a sharp shooter, that one."
Rick hesitate in answer, looking away that caught the hick's attention. "Something says ya rather she stay here?" Merle questioned.
Rick folded his hands on the table, "I need to trust you not to say anything to Angie or the others." he told him.
Merle's full attention was focused on Rick, leaning closer to the glass as if he'd whisper the secret. "Lay it on me, Officer."
"You gotta promise, Merle. I know how you are, how you act. You'll say it the first chance you get." Rick pointed a finger at him through the glass. "I mean it."
Merle shook his head, raising his hand up. "Fine, I promise, I swear, I hope to not become walker chow- All that shit." Rick rolled his eyes at the man. "What's the big secret?"
Rick swallowed, knotting his fingers together. "Carol killed Karen and David."
Merle was surprised at first, slowly leaning back in his chair as it creaked. He hung his arm over the back looking to the wall in thought. That once was little mouse was the one that killed and burned them to charred remains. He knew that woman had something in her, but never expected that. His eyes shifted up to Rick, having a new question.
"Ya plan on killing her?" He asked him.
"No." Rick answered quickly. "But, we can't have her around after what she did. What's to say she'll do it again?"
"Would she dare with so much security?" Merle dared, curious to see her try and get through him. "Would she dare kill Glenn? Sasha? Angela?" Merle leaned forward onto the surface of the table. "Or even that little girl, Lizzie? The loony one. She'd kill her after promising their dead daddy she'd take care of 'em?"
Rick stood, groaning at the thought and making himself pace. "I'm packing up stuff for her, and she'll be exiled."
Merle looked down, nodding at his decision. "If this was under that Governor's word," Rick turned to him. "She'd be dead without a second thought. You," He pointed at Rick. "Ya give 'em chances, let 'em roam and suffer, be a meal to the biters."
"Merle," Rick leaned his knuckles on the table, staring down the old man. "You can't tell Angie, she can't know until this is all over."
"And Daryl?" He questioned, getting to his feet as he felt this conversation ending.
"I'll handle that." Rick assured, turning to leave.
Merle watched, side stepping from the chair. "Just remember, Officer Friendly." Rick paused, not turning to the man. "If it was my decision, I'd lock her in a cell until this flu shit passed over. If it was the council's, they'd let it slide. But you." Rick glanced over his shoulder seeing Merle point a finger at him. "Cold as ice."
Rick nodded with hesitation and left to pack the car up. Merle huffed and left to return to Angela who he heard was coughing. When he entered the cell, she had a rag against her mouth. Removing it to find blood staining it, dripping down her chin.
"Here." Merle offered her some water, she took it and sipped some water and spat it to the floor washing the blood out of her mouth. The puddle was mixed with her blood and saliva. Merle sighed, wiping sweat from her face.
After a night of barely rest from avoiding walkers, between the worry at the prison and watch for walkers. The four didn't really sleep all that well, taking turns to watch every few hours. Daryl slept the least, despite after his break on watch he just laid there staring at the stars with dread heavy in his stomach.
The next morning, Daryl's group made stop at a creek where Tyreese had been cleaning his shirt since dawn. Daryl had the map laid out on the bridge as he, Michonne, and Bob looked over it.
"This is Turner Creek," Michonne said, pointing at the map to where they currently were. Her finger trailed toward another location. "So Barnesville must be a few miles downstream."
"Sounds like our best chance at finding a new ride." Bob told, knowing they'd never make it back in time on foot.
Daryl folded the map up, looking over at their fourth member at the stream. "Yo, Ty." He called, gaining his attention. "Come on, let's go. Vámonos."
Daryl and Michonne made their way off the bridge while Bob reloaded his gun, seeing Tyreese still cleaning his shirt. Despite at it for hours, the water dripping as he rung it out still had a tint of red in it.
"Ty." Bob called, though he was ignored. "Ty!" He called again, watching him soak the shirt to get more blood off. "There should be a town a few miles South."
"Lost a whole night." Tyreese finally responded, continuously soaking and ringing his shirt. "My sister, Angie, everybody else- They're probably dead."
"Well it helps to keep moving." Bob told, glancing to make sure Daryl didn't hear that from a distance. Something their leader didn't need on his mind, if it wasn't already.
Tyreese looked up, giving a final ring out to his shirt. "No, it doesn't." He argued.
Bob decided not to feed the fire as he saw him whip the shirt about to dry it. Bob leaned over to pick his bag up as he and Ty caught up to Michonne and Daryl. Tyreese tossed his damp shirt on and clipped his belt back on with his essentials.
As they walked along a dirt and rocky path, something caught Daryl's eye in the dirt. Michonne paused seeing him kneel down and pick up what she thought was some rock, until he started cleaning it with his spit.
"Is that jasper?" She asked.
"Mm-hmm." He nodded, licking another finger and rub it to make it shine.
"It's a good color. Brings out your eyes." She complimented, wondering why he was so interested in the stone, he never was before.
When he glanced up she grinned teasingly, he shook his head. "When Miss Richards went into A block, we were leaving. Asked me to keep a lookout." He got to his feet still cleaning it best he could. "I'm gonna use it for her old man's marker."
"You know all of them back there?" Michonne asked, knowing how secluded the hunter could be without Angela around.
"Ya stay in one place more than a couple hours, ya'd be surprised what ya pick up." He tossed the jasper in his hand ready to continue their journey.
Michonne knew what he was hinting at, following after him. The group walked down a few more miles and soon found a patrol station. Daryl slowed down at the end, eyeing up branches and bushes against the building. Bob noticed him pause and turned to him.
"You see something?" Bob asked.
Daryl approached the shrubs being cautious. The shape made him think it was something else. "I don't know. Maybe."
He reached in through the branches feeling leaves skim his bare arms and twigs scratch his skin. His brows knotted when he felt something flat, he knocked on it hearing a thunking sound. That caught everyone's attention, something was indeed hidden under the plants. He grabbed the plants and ripped it off to reveal a car door.
"There's a car, uncover it." Daryl told, putting his crossbow down.
He walked over and pulled the passenger door opened, at least it was unlocked somewhere. Daryl took his knife and started checking the inside. In fact, the car looked untouched with no dirt or grime inside. He dropped his knife on the seat and leaned under the steering wheel to hot wire the car. Tyreese and Bob yanked at the branches and weeds to find the front and windshield of the car while Michonne kept watch. The car was revealed to be a dark green van, a Plymouth.
While they were clearing the car, Daryl was struggling with the wiring. He kept rubbing them together and it was aggravating not hearing the car get any ignition from it. Giving up, Daryl sighed and tossed the wires. He rose from the seat, taking his knife and emerging from the car.
"We gotta find us a new battery." He slammed the door and looked at the dirt and grime covered window to the garage. Daryl spit on his fingers and started to rub the glass, a walker slammed against it making him jump.
"Got some friends inside." He told, picking up his crossbow and walking around the car. "Come on."
They all walked to the front of the building -what Daryl guessed to be the front- that had vines and nature covering the whole thing. "Let's clear a path, see how many we got."
Daryl grabbed a branch from a fallen tree and dragged it off. Everyone took out swords and machetes and started cutting at the vines and branches to reach the doors and windows. While everyone was cautious and taking their time, Tyreese was slashing at the plants without a pause or seeing what was under the greens.
"Hey, man, go easy." Daryl warned, cutting at thick branches with his buck knife. "We don't know what we're dealin' with."
Something had caught into Ty's machete, Michonne paused hearing metal rattled as he yanked and pulled with grunts to free it. Everyone looked over now and then, making sure Tyreese wasn't going to hurt himself. He soon got it free, finding wire wrapped around it, and returned to slashing carelessly.
Without warning, an arm shot out from the branches grabbing Daryl's vest. Michonne sliced the arm as he threw the hand off him. Another reached out for Bob, the whole body coming through revealing a walker wanting to bite him with its exposed jaw. Tyreese, next to him, completely ignore it as he found a walker and was more focused on freeing it than helping the trapped member beside him. Daryl found the walker that had grabbed him was tangled in the vines, quickly stabbing into the back of its head, letting it dangle in the branches.
Michonne was trying to get an opening on the walker that Bob was struggling with. She managed to find one walking to the side and slicing the walker's head off. Bob fell back onto the pavement as the head rolled away.
"Tyreese!" Bob yelled, getting to his feet to see he wasn't caught by the walker, but Ty wouldn't let it go.
"Ty!" Daryl barked.
"Ty, let him go." Michonne told.
Tyreese didn't listen to them, he kept ripping plants and vines to get this walker out in the open. He soon got it free only for it to land right on top of him. Daryl ripped it off of Tyreese and Bob shot it in the head quickly. Daryl helped him to his feet, but it was like Tyreese was in some mindless state.
"Why the hell didn't you let go?" Michonne questioned. Tyreese only spared her a glance without an answer, catching his breath.
"Ya gotta drink something, girl." Merle urged, holding the cup of water to her.
Angela was sitting up against the wall, feeling the cool stone wall the only thing to cool her skin. She had been ignoring Merle for about an hour now, the sounds of coughing echoed out in the cells. Something she couldn't block out, and only way she could was to cough louder, which only brought pain in her chest and head. Her breathing was strained, Merle watched her chest rise and fall slower as time pressed on. He kept looking out the cell to check if his brother had come back, the redneck growing anxious more and more. He was only thankful that she recognized him as Merle and not Daryl, but that caused her distance to grow from him.
"Drink something." He told, leaning over to put the cup in her face.
Angela pushed it away, making Merle force it to her lips. She whined and slapped the cup away, letting the precious water splash to the cement floor.
"Ya stupid!?" Merle barked at her, reached down to pick the cup up. "We barely got any water to spare."
"It doesn't help, so stop forcing it down my throat." She licked her dry lips, half wanting the water but fearful of drinking it. "Everything hurts, whatever I drink I puke back up." She swallowed, wanting to spit out the repeated taste of copper in her mouth.
"So just stop, that's what ya gonna do?" Merle questioned, sitting back in the chair and switching cups to hold the tea Hershel made.
Angela combed her sweat covered hair from sticking to her face. "I keep thinking, what if Kaylee was here during this." Merle glanced up, pausing in his attempt to get her to drink the tea. "Was it better she died and avoided this possible death? Would she be sick in this cell instead of me? Would I be out there getting her the medicine instead of Daryl getting it for me?"
"Stop it." Merle lowly demanded, putting the cup down harshly and soaking the cloth in the bowl of water. "Ya can't be thinking of that shit."
"What else am I supposed to think about? My friends dying in the other cells or just countdown until blood explodes from my eyes?" She snapped at him, feeling the cool cloth on her forehead and face.
"Think about staying alive for Little D, how 'bout that, smartass?" Merle countered, leaning on his knees as he eyed her. "Ya may have a hot head right now, but don't you dare start giving up."
Angela laid her head back onto the pillow, curling into a ball facing Merle. She closed her eyes, allowing him to dab her face and head repeatedly to cool her down. He listened to her breathing, hearing her near struggle to get some air in her.
Bob and Daryl managed to get inside, entering through the front store. Michonne and Tyreese took to clearing the car out to drive it. With a flashlight, Daryl lead through toward the door he knew was to the garage. Bob followed, seeing the tools and gears left abandoned in the room.
"Here we go." Right away, he spotted a car battery on one of the shelves against the wall. Daryl placed the flashlight between his teeth, picked the battery up and placed it on a table.
He used his knife to pop the caps off for him and Bob to check its condition. "Hmm, cells look pretty dry." Bob commented.
Daryl popped the flashlight out of his mouth and clicked the caps back on. "A little distilled water will clear that right up." He assured.
The two walked back to the store in search of the distilled water. As Daryl shined his light at the shelving units and storage areas, he spotted something on the floor. Bob followed, seeing it as well.
"That's puke." Daryl indicated, spotting the ages stains by a bottle of antifreeze and red plastic cups. Didn't take an idiot to know what happened. "Those douchebags in the vines took themselves out, holdin' hands-" Daryl shook his head, "Kumbaya style." he concluded with contempt.
Bob frowned at Daryl's emotions toward that. "They wanted to go out together same as they lived." He defended as Daryl picked up a large bottle of the distilled water they were looking for. "That make them douchebags?"
"It does if they could've gotten out." He told, giving the shelves a once over for anything useful to take.
"Everybody makes it, till they don't." Daryl gave the man a look, scoffing as if he didn't know what he was talking about. "People nowadays are dominoes. What they did, maybe it's about now having to watch them fall."
Daryl raised his brows skeptically at him, "Right." He dismissed.
Anyone bail out without trying to survive got to Daryl. Seeing Angela almost attempt to die back in the farm, hearing about the people who were forced to by the hand a mad man, all that to just avoid what could've been easy survival if they had tried. He was actually glad Angela wasn't here, as he was sure she'd have some argument towards Bob about the subject or just not handle seeing the story of this gas station.
As they moved on, Daryl heard raspy breathing, finding the source as he shined his light on the floor. "Come on." Daryl called.
Bob came over showing he had found an old walker that was trapped under a ceiling fan that had collapsed over the man, surely killing him. The walker was barely trying to reach them, as his one arm was broke and the other tangled in wires. His head turning back and forth with his jaw gnawing at the air, wanting to eat on the two men but obviously couldn't.
"Ya know, Angie had gone through hell and back. Her community committed a massive suicide, she was tortured, attacked, and lost the only blood she had." Bob glanced over, knowing half the story of Daryl's girl with only knowing her as the Hot Head from Merle and Daryl's girlfriend from others.
"If she were here, right now, by my side, she would shrug this shit off." Daryl nodded to himself. "Ya never know until you try."
Saying enough, Daryl walked back to the garage to grab the battery, as Bob stayed back to kill the walker with the bathroom key hanging on the wall.
The two left returning to the car, Daryl popped the hood and got to work replacing the battery. Knowing this would take some time, he took out his cigarettes and had a smoke -offering one to Bob who took it- while working on the vehicle. Something he had done often when Angela was gone with Michonne. He always made sure the bed and cell never smelled of smoke, cleaning his clothing of the smell best he could for her.
"Ya never told us about the group ya were with before." He muttered with the stick between his lips to Bob as he used his knife as a screwdriver.
"Which one?" He asked, blowing smoke into the air. Daryl shrugged, not knowing which he wanted as he turned back to make sure the battery was wired up properly slipping his knife away. "You know, when you found me out on that road, I almost kept walking."
Daryl bent down to pick up the distilled water, twisting the cap off. "Why is that?" He asked, pouring the liquid over the battery cells.
"'Cause I was done being a witness." He answered, watching Daryl. "Two times, two different groups." Daryl paused, puffing on his cigarette as it hung between his lips. "Like I was supposed to see it happen over and over, like it's some kind of curse."
Daryl intake the nicotine and removed it to sigh out the smoke. Bob inhaled his own, speaking as the smoke waft into the air. "But, when it's just you out there with the quiet." He paused, shaking his head. "Used to be I'd drink a bottle of anything just so I could shut my eyes at night. Figured the prison, the people, thought it'd be easier."
The hunter continued listening, letting the cigarette rest between his fingers as he bent down to pick up the distilled water.
"The run to the Big Spot, I did it for me." Bob told, feeling his guilt being laid out at once.
"Ya gotta keep busy." Daryl excused, untwisting the cap to take a swig of the nasty flat water. It was safe to drink so may as well, he thought.
"No." Bob denied. "I did it so I could get me a bottle." Daryl looked over at him. "Of anything." Bob's gaze was hard on the car, unable to see what Daryl would be thinking on this.
"I picked it up, I held it in my hand, but I put it down. I put it down so hard it took the whole damn shelf with it. That's what brought on the walkers, and that's what got Zach killed."
Daryl didn't have to think long over this confession, he placed the cigarette back between his lips looking to him. Bob was clearly taking in guilt for the incident, believing it was his fault. Anything could've happened. It could've been Glenn or himself, Michonne or even Bob that could've died in that store. It seemed it would've collapsed anyway, so something was bound to happen.
"That's bullshit." He dismissed, though the grimacing expression Bob held said the opposite. "Why don't ya get in there n' try the engine? It's a red n' a green wire." Bob didn't move, Daryl motioned to the car, urging him. "Go on. It ain't rocket science, Angie could do it."
The guilt driven man sighed, leaning off the wall and rounding the car to the driver's seat. "Give it some gas." Daryl told as Bob leaned under the wheel for the wires.
The engine soon started, Daryl clapped his hands content that the van was now running. He removed the cigarette to give a sharp whistle to Tyreese and Michonne who were on watch. Daryl slammed the hood and approached Bob at the driver's side.
"Sasha n' me picked that spot. He took ya with us." Daryl shook his head at him. "There ain't no way anybody could've known. Ya ain't gonna be standin' alone, not no more." He tossed his vest at his lap, putting out his cancer stick and picked up his bag and crossbow. "Let's go."
The others loaded the back of the van with whatever they had found in the store and garage, knowing it would be worth bringing back to the prison. Bob pulled the van out carefully once all were in the car and drove off from the gas station to get back on track toward the college.
Angela winced as she breathed, keeping the rag by her that now stunk of blood from her coughing up so much of it. Merle kept advising her if she kept coughing it would keep her from having her lungs filled with blood. Despite her finding that implausible, she did it nonetheless to get him to stop nagging. Right now, he had left to help Glenn move some bodies after three more had died.
"Angela?" The ill woman looked to the entrance seeing Lizzie standing there.
"Lizzie? You're sick too?" She wheezed out as the girl came in looking calm as can be.
Angela eyed the girl up and down, hearing about how she had treated walkers. If Angela was right, she was upset over killing a walker named Nick blaming her and Merle for it.
"How are you feeling?" The little girl asked, keeping her distance but seemed interested in her.
Angela squinted at her, "Pretty obvious I could die by midnight, Liz." she retorted.
"You don't die, you just become different." She told, shaking her head.
Angela frowned at her. "Lizzie-"
"They keep killing them, but-" Lizzie brought an elbow up to cough into her arm. "Don't let Merle put you down. I know you're friendly, even if you don't understand it either."
Angela hacked and coughed, turning away from Lizzie for a moment. "Look, Lizzie-"
"Hey!" The girls' heads turned seeing Merle march in. "The hell ya doing in here!?" Lizzie ran out, fearful of the redneck's rage. "Little psychopath."
"Merle-" Angela coughed as he came over with a fresh cold bowl of water. "She was just checking on me."
"Naw, she's a lunatic. Naming walkers, crying over 'em being dead than her own daddy." Merle shook his head and pressed the newly cold cloth to her sweat drenched head. "What she even doing in here?"
Angela shrugged tiredly with a wheezy sigh. "I guess she's sick too, she was coughing a bit." Angela moved to curl into a ball in the bed again, Merle moved his chair to continue dabbing her forehead.
"Any pain? Feeling any swelling or-" Merle asked only for Angela to wince in pain. "What? What's wrong?"
"Everything- Everything just hurts." She told, rubbing her face into the bed as she closed her eyes tightly.
Merle tossed the cloth into the bowl ignoring the splash droplets. He tugged his chair closer, hunching over the whimpering woman. He hesitated with his next move, his hand hovering her shoulder slowly lowering it. Angela flinched under his touch making him pause, but soon resting his hand on her and slowly rubbed her shoulder in what some would call, comfort. He expected her to swat her hand away or scoot away from him back into the corner. Merle noticed she was in a tight ball, her muscles tensing at whatever pain was pulsating through her body. She coughed, placing the cloth against her mouth with her eyes watering.
"Daryl…" Angela whimpered.
At long last, the group had made it to the college, the brick building covered in nature as it slowly took over the campus.
"Looks like we're gettin' closer." Said Daryl, as he eyes the area up with abandoned cars and garbage.
"The building we want is just up ahead." Tyreese informed, looking over the map Hershel had made for them.
Daryl made the first move to lead them from the Learning Center across the way to the Veterinary Science rooms. Cages of once was animals lined up in the room as paper and books scattered the tables and floors. It was as if time was frozen when whatever activity was halted in the building. They all scattered to take any bottle or container and medication or drugs. Bob wandered toward a makeshift bed behind the desk, finding something peeking out from the science books. Daryl and Tyreese jogged down the hall as Michonne and Bob took another room with a cabinet full of drugs.
"Anything ending with -cillin or -cin." Bob informed,speed reading the labels of the pill containers. Michonne glanced over as she overlooked a large pill container. "C-I-N, grab it." Michonne had found two and stuffed them into her bag. "We'll dissolve the pills in the IVs, put 'em right into the bloodstream. Dosage will be tricky but considering the time we lost-"
Bob had gotten five containers and hastily shoved them into her bag. Tyreese and Daryl returned, their bags filled with extra stuff.
"How'd you do?" Bob asked.
"Bags, tubes, clamps, connectors." Tyreese listed. "Everything on the list."
"What 'bout ya'll?" Daryl asked.
Michonne looked over the shelf once more as Bob nodded. "Yeah, we got it all."
"Yeah, we're good." She agreed.
Daryl felt a skip in his chest, feeling hope to get these drugs back. "A'right, let's roll n' get these meds home."
The four left the room and jogged down the hallway with caution. A broken door with an opened entry caught Daryl's attention. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa." He softly held them up, shining his light when he saw something moving.
Bad move, the sudden sound of a hissed snarling and the stumbled walking proved it was a walker in there. What made it worse, it had blood down its face proving it died from the illness like at the prison. They made no hesitance move fast, heading towards a door with a broken 'EXIT' sign above. They filed in slowly as the room was pitched black, making them shine their flashlights everywhere.
"Hey, the doors busted!" Bob called, leaning against it as the walkers grew closer.
"Oh. Hold up." Daryl called.
Michonne paused as Tyreese and Daryl walked back to block the door. She looked around maneuvering pass the empty animal cages finding a sign that read 'stairwell' on it above a door. "There."
Once the door was properly blocked, they all followed Michonne when a walker jumped Tyreese at the back of the line up. He slammed his hammer into the female walker's skull repeatedly, the flashlights shining about giving him little aim. It soon dropped to the floor dead, he stepped over it and continued with the three toward the stairwell. But once they got to the doors, they found it locked with heavy chains. Before a question could be made, hands shot out in the crack of the doors as walkers snarled and growled to reach through.
"How many?" Daryl asked as they tried to shine their lights between the doors.
"Can't tell." She told, attempting to count the many hands pushing through.
The sound of a crash made them turn around to see the door they had blocked was open, allowing walkers to trip inside over the boxes and cages. "We can take 'em." Tyreese announced with confidence.
"No!" Bob barked. "They're infected. Same as at the prison. We fire at 'em, get their blood on us, breathe it in." He shook his head. "We didn't come all this way to get sick."
"How do we know the ones in there aren't any different?" Tyreese questioned.
"We don't." Michonne told, still trying to get a look between the doors.
"Well, it's gotta change sometime." Daryl urged, handing his crossbow to Tyreese and moved to break the leg off a wooden chair. He propped the chair into the chains, looking to the three. "Ready?"
"Do it!" Tyreese ordered, as the ill walker made its way closer to them.
Daryl snapped the chain off and the door slammed opened with only three walkers entering. Much to added relief, they had no blood trailing down their eyes, which gave them the initiative to slice and shoot them. They cleared through only about three or so walkers coming in through the door.
"Come on!" Daryl called, jumping out of the room as the others followed before the ill walkers could reach them.
The four ran up the stairwell to the next floor. Daryl looked down the hall, seeing more walkers heading their way. They turned and ran toward the door where more stairs were, as Bob was knocking stuff over to block or slow them down. Michonne made a run to the door, but found it locked.
"Back!" Daryl told, making her move as he tried to kick the door in.
"Don't have an exit!" Michonne tried to check anywhere else they could escape.
"Then we make one!" Daryl yelled, climbing up to the window.
Tyreese grabbed a fire extinguisher, heaving it over his head. "Get down!"
Daryl ducked and pressed against the wall as he threw it at the window, causing it to shatter completely.
"Come on, move it!" Daryl hiked Michonne up to their exit. "Jump down to the walkway below."
She did just that, jumping onto the shaky walkway roof with ease. Tyreese jumped next, then Daryl, both landing fine. When bob jumped, he stumbled on his landing, almost dropping his bag over the ledge. Walkers below made a quick grab as they all got a death grip on the bag, tugging to try and pull him down.
The three turned, noticing Bob's struggle to keep the bag in his own grip. They all barked at him to drop the bag, let it go, forget about it. But Bob ignored them, tugging the bag as they pulled him back, and he managed to free it from their clutches. He tossed it onto the walkway roof, making a distinct glass clinking sound. All eyed the bag up, knowing none of the medication he put in there was in glass containers. Daryl spotted the neck of a bottle sticking out, he dug into the bag only containing a good sized bottle of liquor.
"Got no meds in yer bag? Just this?" Daryl growled in question.
He thought back to what Bob had said. Daryl took his sympathy back, he was only on this trip alone now to get alcohol. The hunter felt anger blaze through him, they were went on this suicide mission to get medication for the group, for their family- For his girl. Bob avoided their gaze, nervous as they all were judging him at this moment, but none were more furious than Daryl.
"Ya should have kept walkin' that day." Daryl spat at him, reeling his arm back ready to throw the sucker.
"Don't." Bob threatened, his hand suddenly on his gun at his hip.
Daryl was having none of this, he wanted to throw the bastard off the roof right now. He marched up, getting close to his face as a intimidation move, almost challenging him to shoot. Michonne and Tyreese shared anxious looks, not knowing to stop the silent raging hunter or not. Daryl made the move to remove his gun and grabbed his shirt, threatening to throw Bob over.
"My girl is dyin' back home n' ya grab this shit?" He snarled lowly at him, face near pressed against his forehead. "I outta toss yer ass over right now."
"Just let it go, Daryl." Tyreese told, though angry too, he was more controlling to the situation. "The man's made his choice. Nothing you can do about it. Just gotta let it go."
Daryl seethed through his teeth, finally letting Bob go thanks to Tyreese. "I didn't want to hurt nobody." Bob admitted, eyes casted down in shame. "It was just for when it gets quiet."
He shoved the bottle at his chest, leaning in close. "Take one sip. When those meds get in our people, get in my girl, I will beat yer ass into the ground. Ya hear me?" He threatened, wishing to just slam the bottle over his head right now. "Trust me when I say this," Daryl growled, moving closer to him. "Ya best lucky it be me, 'n not my brother."
Daryl glared him down a while longer, before moving to gather the bags he dropped. He shoved Bob's gun into the back of his waistband and got to moving out toward the car. Bob hesitated, taking a few steps and picked up his bag gently placing the bottle inside.
Once they had made it to a safe empty lot, they all packed the car as Michonne and Tyreese looked over the map. Bob was having a smoke break to calm his nerves and keep his distance from the possibly still raging redneck. Daryl was cooling down in the car, playing with the jasper in his hands thinking about Angie. With his shoes propped onto the dashboard without care, he tried to let the anger leave him. They had gotten the medicine and were making it back, according to what he heard Tyreese and Michonne plan. Seven hours, fine. They'd be there past sundown but as long as Angie was still breathing, that's all it mattered to him.
"Taking Highway 100." Tyreese told as he passed Daryl's side, door wide open.
"I heard." He muttered.
Michonne sat in the driver's seat, pausing as she gripped the wheel. "You were right, what you said before." She told, nodding to herself. "About the trail going cold. Angela and I don't need to go out anymore."
Daryl side glanced, "Good." he slammed the door and continued to look at the stone.
"Angela will be fine." She assured him, looking to him as he stared at the jasper still. "I'll talk to her about how we can stay, trail went cold, we'll be safe with everyone."
Michonne started the car once Tyreese and Bob got in. "I'll tell her." Daryl said as the car got moving toward their destination home.
Things grew worse over the day with A block.
"Lock the cells!?" Merle barked following Hershel through the block. "Ya planning on 'em all to defend themselves?"
"Merle, it's a precaution." Hershel told, locking cell after cell as he assured to check on them. "We can't risk the others being attacked if they return too late."
"Daryl won't be too late." Merle assured, even though he himself felt doubt growing. "My baby brother will get those drugs and we'll be back in business like it never happened."
Hershel moved to Angela's cell, hands on the bars that made Merle tense. Angela was sitting up again in there, heaving coughs and spitting out blood. She felt sick now and again, despite nothing left in her stomach. Hershel peeked inside, seeing her look paler as time went by. So far, he had struggled to kill nearly everyone who succumbed to the illness. Hershel wouldn't want to see it happen to Angela.
"I have to lock it, Merle." He told, making Merle huff and stand inside the cell.
"Lock me in too." He told, jutting his chin out.
"I promised my baby brother, I would keep Angela safe and I intend to keep it!" Merle barked, he gripped the bars and slam the door shut himself making Hershel jump. "Wouldn't be the first time I'd be behind bars."
"Are you sure?" Hershel asked, ready to lock the cell. Merle nodded. "If the time comes to put her down, can you do it?"
"Can you?" Merle countered, making Hershel falter. "I had to do it to Princess, I'll do it for her." He assured, keeping a face that proved he was telling the truth.
Hershel kept eye contact, he locked the door and patted the bars on the cell. "I'll bring an IV, she hasn't drank anything for hours. You know how to insert it?" He asked.
Merle scoffed with a lazy smirk, "If I can inject shit into myself, I can set an IV up." he assured.
Hershel nodded and left to continue lock down. Merle sighed, tapping the bars and turning to sit by Angela who was trying hard to sleep despite the pain and fear going through her. He grunted taking a seat at the end of the bed, not caring how many germs were crawling in the sheets.
"Why is he locking down?" She told, unable to hear from her coughing. "Are people turning faster?"
"Something like that." Merle told, rubbing his thumb at the tip of his nose. "I would ask how ya doing, but I don't need ya to bite my head off."
Angela sighed, hanging her head and closing her eyes wanting to sleep so badly. "Just exhausted, I want to sleep but can't."
"Pain?" She shook her head. "The coughing? Can fix ya to sit up." Shook her head again. 'Then what?"
Angela looked up, sniffling as her eyes watered. "What if I don't wake up?" Merle frowned as she tried to contain her emotions. "I take a nap, and never wake up. Daryl comes back to find me covered in blood and dead. I couldn't-" Angela coughed hard, covering her mouth as she felt the sticky substance stain her hands. "I couldn't do that to him."
Merle tilted his head, rubbing his neck as he tilted it left and right to pop a joint. "Ya ain't dying. Ya didn't die yesterday, ya ain't dying today."
Angela pointed at the cell door, "Hershel is having a lock down! Face it! We're all sick and going to die!" she yelled at the surprisingly calm man.
"You're letting the fear get to you, is that the weak woman my brother got with?" He questioned with a raised brow.
"Yes!" She barked, surprising him. He tried to get her with his words but it seemed to have backfired with the condition she was in. "I was never strong, I'm a coward who is always trying to find a way out! I tried back at the farm, at Woodbury, when Kay-" Angela gasped suddenly, feeling her throat tighten.
"Hey, breath!" Merle barked, but Angela panicked as her body shook and fell onto the bed face first. Merle stood flipping her over seeing blood gurgle out from her mouth in the back of her throat. "Shit! Fuck!"
Merle struggled to think on what to do to clear her airway. He kept pounding his head with his prosthetic to get the redneck brain to work. "Think, think, Dixon!" He scolded himself.
Angela's eyes were wide, reaching out and clawing at his arm for help. Her green eyes pleaded to save her, despite her words before Merle knew she didn't want to die. She didn't want to leave Daryl, leave this world. Angela had the will to live, Merle Dixon had to find a way to keep that going! Her throat was going to be filled with blood, he had to clear it or she'll suffocate.
"Gotta pump the blood out!" Merle pressed his hand onto her stomach , making her arch as she gurgled and mouth overflow with blood "Work with me, Angie! Work with me!"
He pressed his hand and his stump and pumped hard onto her stomach and chest. Merle didn't know it, but he was having an attempt toward CPR. Launching forward to the side, expelling the blood and fluids from her mouth. She gasped to get air, only to exhale into a coughing fit. Merle grinned but it faltered when he heard screaming and yelling. He ran to the bars, pressing his face against it in attempt to see what hell was being raised right now.
"Hershel!?" Merle bellowed, hearing snarling and screaming. "What the hell is happening!?" The redneck pulled and yanked at the door thinking it'd open.
A thud got his attention, pausing in his action. He slowly turned to find Angela had rolled off the bed, not moving. Merle felt frozen, had he not saved her? Was she dead? No, she couldn't be. What brought chills up his spine more than the screaming or the walker snarling could, was seeing Kaylee walk over and crouch down to the laying Angela. She tilted her head and looked up at Merle, a smile upon her face.
"Hope she joins me soon."
Merle ran over, falling to his knees by Angela and holding her in his arms as he turned her over. He checked to see she wasn't breathing, eyes closed and mouth wide open with blood dripping down her chin. He pressed his fingers to her neck, finding a faint pulse, much less than when he found her at the fence.
"Come on, don't make me a liar girl." He had to get air into her lungs.
Thinking the only thing possible he laid her back down on the floor, took a deep intake of air, and pressed his lips onto hers to give her a deep breath of air. He paused, waiting for a reaction but got nothing. Merle tilted her head back to open the airway properly and repeated the process two more times.
"Come on, breath. Breathe!" He barked, giving one more try before she felt air exhale from her.
Merle pulled back wiping his mouth of blood as she gasped for air. She grabbed at his shirt and her eyes soared the ceiling trying to figure out what just happened. "Atta girl, atta girl." Merle lifted her up, placing her back on the bed as she laid back breathing deeply and freely. Just as he got her breathing and living, the chaos outside the barred doors seemed to died down as well.
The prison came into view as the van rolled up to the gate late at night. Everyone in the car was eager to get in, Tyreese and Daryl most of all. Michonne thought no one was outside, about to bit the horn. She spotted Carl running down and refrained from doing so, sighing that someone was alive here still. Carl got them inside, urging them to head up as he closed and would run back up fine. Rick pulled the gate open as the van came to a stop, the doors open as Tyreese jumped out with Daryl at his heel.
"Sasha? How's Sasha?" He asked Rick.
Rick was covered in sweat and walker blood, judging by the amount of walkers and the fences something happened. "I don't know. I'm sorry."
"Come on, get it inside!" Daryl barked, as Tyreese ran inside while Daryl ran around to get the bag of meds. "Angie?" He asked Rick who just sighed, not knowing himself.
Daryl heaved the bag over and ran after Tyreese right behind him. They entered A block without hesitance, shocked to find a massacre had happened, causing dread to rise in their chests. "Merle! Hershel!" Daryl called.
"Daryl?" The hunter spotted his brother's arm sticking out of one of the cells waving him down. Tyreese ran to the stairs to find Sasha as Daryl approached the cell. "Over here, Little D!"
"Merle? Is she?"
His hands gripped the gate so tightly his knuckles were white. His older brother had blood on his hands and some on his chin. He spotted Angela laying in bed when Merle moved for him to see. Oh God, please no! Don't let him be too late. He yanked at the door, trying to force it open but found it locked. Daryl felt his person for the keys, forgetting he left them behind.
"Hershel locked the cells, in case this exact shit would happen." Merle explained, out of breath himself.
Daryl heard keys drop as he found someone had dropped the keys from above. He glanced up seeing Lizzie looking down before walking away. Daryl bent down picking them up in a rushed haste and unlocked the door. He slammed it open and ran in past his brother kneeling down to Angela.
"Angie? Angie, girl." He called, touching her cheek to get a reaction.
Merle watched when Bob came in with medical supplies, the Iv bag in his hand. The medic man got the needle and set her up with the IV, asking Daryl to hold the bag up. He did so, Merle noticing Daryl giving a warning look to the man as he started to dissolve the pills into the IV.
"Should be kicking in soon." Bob assured, reaching to check her pulse. Once he found she was going to stable enough, he left soon ready to do the same with the others.
Daryl moved to sit on the chair, holding the IV as he caressed her forehead, brushing the hair away with his thumb. She was breathing through her mouth, though wheezy it was less than before. Merle walked over, clapping a hand over Daryl's shoulder giving it a squeeze.
"Ya have a thing about dramatic entrances, dontcha?" He asked, voice low to not wake Angela.
"Ya have no idea." Daryl reached up to attach the IV to the bedpost. He hunched over his knees, taking Angela's hand into his. "Almost didn't make it."
"No shit." Merle told, letting his brother go and crouching down next to his brother.
Daryl spotted blood on the floor by the end of the bed, he noticed faded stains at the corners of her mouth. He glanced to his brother, blinking his eyes to keep them dry seeing what Merle had to do to keep her breathing.
"Thanks, Merle." He muttered. "Seriously, ya saved her life."
Merle was silent, looking down at Daryl. His little brother gazed down at his girl, his love, Angela, kissing her knuckles as she rested.
"Don't count ya chickens, baby brother." He assured, moved to lean against the wall by the doorway, folding his arms as he peeked outside the cell. "Gotta get her through the night."
Daryl nodded, holding her hand gently, but tightly as he pressed knuckles against his cheek. Merle snuck out seeing why the chaos was among them. People's bodies and stabbed turned victims laid about. He got a look at the upper floor seeing Sasha laying on the floor in one cell while Tyreese comforted her in his arms. Judging by the IV, Bob had already gotten the drugs in her. He was currently setting it up for Lizzie as Hershel and Maggie -who he didn't even know got in- was helping Glenn breathe with an oxygen bag. The old man looked over seeing Merle watching as Maggie caressed her husband's cheek. He nodded to the redneck who nodded back and returned to stand outside the cell Angela and Daryl were in. Merle listened to hear Daryl muttered things to her.
Through it all, the medicine started to take affect and thank God it did. Angela was breathing better, and Glenn was breathing on his own by sunrise. Angela squinted, feeling her chest rise as she took in a deep breath feeling her throat finally become clear. She tilted her head looking for Merle, not hearing him try to get her to drink that damn tea. Looking to her side, her heart skipped to find Daryl resting his head on the side of the bed, his fingers laced into her own holding her hand. She blinked a few times making sure it wasn't a fever dream, her free hand reaching over to touch his head. The hunter flinched looking up feeling a hand and seeing Angela awake made him sit up immediately.
"Angie…" He sighed, his hold on her hand tightened seeing her awake. "Angie, yer-"
Angela smiled, her other hand reached for his check letting her fingers brush his dirt covered skin. "You made it…" She rasped, though talking was a strain from all the coughing puking.
Angela swallowed, turning her body to just hold him. Daryl must have thought the same, as the first action he made was scooping her up in his arms and holding her close, fearful she'd fade away any moment. Her eyes watered, shocked she hadn't died. Daryl was here and she was alive in his arms. She felt the IV cord tug from her arm as she combed her fingers through his hair feeling every strand to the touch. No words needed to be said, Angela let him hold her for as long as he needed it. His hands rubbed her arms wanting to feel her soft skin, face hidden in the crook of her neck to inhale her scent. Angela pulled back pressing her warm forehead against his, wanting this to never end.
"I got back as fast as I could." He muttered softly to her, combing her hair away to see her beautiful face. "We got delayed, a herd 'n shit blocked us. Had to get 'nother car, almost got caught-" He just sighed, pressing his cheek against her clammy one not wanting to let her go. "I thought-"
"I thought so too, Daryl." Angela mumbled, her eyes closing tightly as she bit her lip. "I thought I was drowning, I was going to explode and die. I-I couldn't leave you Daryl, I almost-"
"It's a'right. I'm here, yer here." He assured, moving to sit on the bed to hold her better, rocking her gently to calm her down.
The two held each other close for what they hope is forever. Everyone was getting better, soon Sasha was insisting to walk around as Maggie tended to the exhausted Glenn. Angela expressed the first thing she wanted to do was to see Calypso. Daryl promised this, wishing to let her out once the sun rose higher into the sky but knew she had to stay in bed a little longer.
Angela was soon laying back in bed, eyes closed to sleep a bit more. The IV was removed once he was assured the drugs were well in her system. Merle emerged at the door as Daryl sat there hunched over, pulling at the hairs of his chin as he watched her sleep. "Darylina."
The hunter sighed seeing Merle at the doorway. The older Dixon had been working with Tyreese and Michonne on moving the bodies out of A block and fixing the fence that caved in last night. They made sure to separate the walkers that Carl and Rick had taken down during the whole thing in A block from the sick dead members. They were to be burned far from the prison, usual procedure. Merle let Daryl stay by her as he handled everything despite his own body wanting rest from being up over twenty-four hours and almost having someone die in his arms- Again.
He turned to his brother, sitting up. "Sup?"
Merle looked down, thumb hooked around his belt loop. "Rick's meaning to talk to ya."
"'Bout?" He questioned, squinting at his brother. Merle shrugged as if he didn't know. Daryl looked back, hesitate to leave Angela.
Merle scoffed, turning away and shaking his head as he leaned his arm at the doorway. "I should be paid by the hour for this babysitting bullshit."
Daryl chuckled, standing and taking his crossbow. "Trust me, I'll retire ya after we got this shit done."
The two passed each other, as Merle took Daryl's seat, leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest and ankle over the other. Once Daryl left, Angela cracked an eye open, sitting up near spooking Merle.
"Jesus girl," He sat up, pressing his palm onto his knee. "Thought ya were dead asleep."
Angela rolled her eyes and yawned, sitting up and hanging her feet over the bed. "I was until I got a whiff of you." Merle frowned, lifting his arm to smell his pit. "You smell like the dead."
"That's what happens when ya hang around rotting corpses, smartmouth." Angela actually grinned at him and made a move to stand. Merle moved to push her shoulder back, "What ya think ya doing, girl? Get back in bed."
Angela gave a look, moving his hand to stand. She wobbled making Merle stand ready to catch her as he pushed his chair back. "Sun and fresh air is what I need." She told, taking a few steps only to stumble over.
Merle caught her, hand around her waist as she leaned into him. "Easy, dumbass. Ya gonna hurt yourself more." He told, indicating her healing knee.
"Merle, I want to feel the sun on my skin." She felt her legs shake but soon got them straight standing with Merle's support. "I know I've been a pain for the past twenty four hours-"
"Yep." He agreed with a nod.
Angela shook her head with a soft smile towards him. "Can you get me outside? I also want to see Calypso. Make sure she's okay."
Merle bit his lip, adjusting his arm on her. She took a step and soon another, then another. Before she knew it she was out of the cell. "Let's see if we can get ya out before fainting again."
"I won't faint. Just a visit then back to bed, I promise." She told, crossing her finger over her chest.
"Uh-huh, we'll see, Hot Head." He taunted as they made their way to the door. "By the way, ya stink too."
In cell block C, it was all quiet and empty except for two males who were discussing an important subject. Rick had just told Carol what she had done, and what he himself had done to fix it. Daryl huffed and puffed, pacing up and down the walkway as Rick watched. He knew the hunter wouldn't have taken this well, banishing a council member, family, and someone important to nearly everyone.
"Man, ya couldn't have waited till we got back?" Daryl questioned waving his arm.
"Until Tyreese got back?" Rick countered, thinking what he did was the logical thing.
Daryl brushed that off, "I could've handled that." he dismissed turning away.
"Hey. Hey." Daryl spun back at him. "She killed two of our own." Rick emphasized, tapping his wrapped hand at his chest. "She couldn't be here. She's gonna be alright" He assured the glaring hunter. "She had a car, supplies, weapons. She's-She's a survivor-"
"Stop sayin' that like ya don't believe it!" Daryl hissed at him, getting in Rick's face.
Rick looked down, knowing he was right having doubt in Carol doing okay on her own. Daryl shook his head, pacing again. "She did it." Rick told him. "She said it was for us. That's how it was in her head. She wasn't sorry."
Daryl didn't want to accept that, not believing Carol killed them, that she would say that. "Man, that's her, but that ain't her." He glared and stepped away, "What are we supposed to do about those two girls?" He asked, referring to Lizzie and Mica.
Rick sighed, gripping the railing. "I told her we'd look after them."
Daryl sighed heavily, feeling anger and dread as he leaned over the railing, pressing his fists into his forehead as he stared down at the ground below. A sudden thought came and he closed his eyes, hoping to get the answer he wanted.
"Does Angie know?" He asked, rubbing his knuckles into his skull.
Rick shook his head, "She doesn't as far as I know." Daryl frowned turning his head up at him at those words. "Merle knows, I-I had to tell him." The younger Dixon slowly stood straight, his jaw tight as he listened. "I made him promise not to tell Angela, she's in the dark out of all this."
Daryl sighed, he sniffed and rubbed the back of is hand over his nose, glaring down at the floor. How could he tell Angela? What would she say? Their like sisters, always there for each other. Angela was there for the loss of Sophia and Carol was there for the loss of Kaylee. Daryl didn't want to accept Carol would think of doing such a thing, and if it was for them, would she have tried to kill Angela if she got sick too? Daryl swallowed hard, pinching the bride of his nose as he sighed with a groan.
"Angie won't take it well." He concluded, thinking her reaction could be worse than his own.
"No." Rick agreed. "I haven't even told Tyreese yet. I don't know how he's gonna take it."
Daryl thought hard on it, looking to Rick. "Let's go find out."
He rounded Rick, heading down the steps in head to find the man. Rick sighed and followed after, knowing he might need to be present with how Tyreese might react.
"Hey, girl!" Angela called, waving her hand to get her pinto's reaction. The horse nickered as she trotted over, rubbing her nose against Angela's face. "I missed you too, girl."
Merle stood by as she leaned over the fence talking to the creature. He looked around seeing the field empty and actually heard nothing. No walkers growling, no fence creaking and no screaming. Merle thought he never would like this peace and quiet. He leaned back against the fence, looking up at the bright blue sky. The sudden feeling of wetness on his head and his hair being pulled made him jump back.
"What the hell!?" Angela laughed seeing him feel the horse's spit in his hair. He pulled his shirt up over is head to wipe the gross saliva off his scalp. "That's why we turn 'em into glue."
The horse snorted at him as Angela leaning over the fence laughing hard. Her laughter soon turned into small coughs but her smiled stayed as she soon overcame them. "She wants to get out, she's been stuck in the pen for days."
"She ain't getting out. Far enough I let ya out here." Merle walked back over, wiping his hand on his dark cargo pants in disgust. "Better head back in before Daryl has a fit seeing ya out here."
"Come on, Merle." She whined, making him fold his arms to stand by his words.
Angela stepped down only to stumble, pressing her hand to her head. Merle walked over as she held the fence for support. "See what I mean?" He asked, standing by ready to help her back up the path.
Angela was cut off by a sudden explosion from a tower nearby. "Get down!" Merle barked as he shoved Angela into the dirt, rubble and concrete chunks went flying as the tower was now a blaze from an attack. They covered their heads, Angela could feel Merle's hand on the back of her head.
"What was that?!" She yelled, covering her head in case anything came hitting her.
Flame and Calypso started panicking, Angela stood to calm them but Merle yanked her back down. "Keep your damn head down."
Both their hearts sank, knowing the voice that bellowed across the yard. Merle took a chance to look around the corner, his eyes went wide at the sight before him. The Governor had returned and with not only an army but a Goddamn tank! Merle snarled at the sight of the one eyed man standing proudly on the military vehicle.
"Come down here!" He called, hands on his hips with his militia's guns aimed at the building. "We need to talk!"
Angela crawled over, gasping when she spotted him. Her teeth clenched as her hands dug into the dirt, gripping the grass tightly. "He's back? H-How did he?"
"Stay low!" Merle hissed, pushing her back to keep them from being seen.
"It's not up to me!" Came Rick's voice, making them look over seeing Rick and the others gather at the gate. "There's a council now! They run this place!"
"Is Hershel on the council?" The Governor questioned, waving his hand at one of his members.
Angela squinted seeing them pull someone from the red truck. Her stomach twisted when it was Hershel, arms bound behind him, forced to his knees in front of them.
"What about Michonne?" He added, and soon Michonne was forced out, bound as well and knelt beside Hershel. "She on the council, too?"
"No, no…" Angela shook her head, getting to her knees. "We gotta do something."
Merle glared her from his spot. "Do something? Ya, stay down and shut your trap." He ordered, pulling her back not wanting the Governor to spot either of them.
"I don't make decisions anymore!" Rick told, trying to get it through to him that he wasn't their leader.
"You're making the decisions today, Rick." The Governor nodded his head, beckoning for him. "Come down here. Let's have that talk."
Angela growled in aggravation, slamming her fist onto the turf. "What does he want?" She asked, spotting Rick calmly walking down the path toward the fence.
"Hell if I know, but we're gonna have to find a way out if shit goes South." Merle told, watching as Rick approach the gate, unable to hear their conversation.
Angela swallowed thickly, reaching for her gun but found it gone. She forgot she had been sick and didn't have her weapons, they were all in the cell back in A block. Her eyes fell on Merle's waist spotting his handgun in his holster. Her eyes shot up, seeing Rick shake his head and the Governor shrugging and gesturing to the tank. They were far, but closer than everyone at the prison. If she could, maybe get a clean shot of him, but only if she had her rifle with a scope. Risking it with a handgun, she might shoot Michonne or Hershel by mistake.
"How are we gonna get away if we end up in the middle of the cross-fire?" Angela asked, glancing over to try and see the others at the prison gate.
She saw them moving around and spotted guns in Maggie and Beth's arms. Well, they were ready for it and had the bus to escape. What scared Angela was that Daryl had no idea she was out here in possible danger.
Merle turned and looked around, trying to find an exit for them. With the fence fixed they couldn't slip out without causing any notice by the noise. Making a run for the prison was suicide, the only chance was to just stay and keep cover.
The sound of a bullet firing made them both jump and look over, seeing the Governor aiming his gun away from the prison. Another fire rang out, and then a third. Walkers must have become attracted by the tank shooting at the tower.
"We might be able to wait it out, let 'em waste their bullets on the biters." Merle suggested, his eyes falling on Rick. "Then again, we got Sir Kills A-Lot down there."
Angela glared him, "At least he's actually trying to get something done. All you're doing is making us hide behind here like cowards." she accused.
Merle gave her a look, "Hey, ya wanna run out and get shot?" he gestured with his prosthetic toward the field. "Not while you're under my thumb."
Angela sighed, looking to the army seeing the Governor jump down from the tank. The two were stiff in their spots when he pulled out Michonne's sword and held it at Hershel's neck. "God, Hershel. No."
Merle shook his head as Rick moved and talked trying to convince him otherwise. He heard them bark and point at them, asking if they wanted this. It looked as if whatever Rick was saying, was working. The Governor was lowering his sword from Hershel neck, Angela bit her lip hoping it wouldn't end in bloodshed.
Her hopes were quickly dashed, when he reeled back and sliced at Hershel's neck, blood sputtering out as it stained and soaked his clothing. Her throat tightened and it was as if everything was in slow motion. Hershel, he had just killed Hershel. Anger boiled, she felt her head spin and her hands rip the grass from the soil.
"NO!" Rick howled as he fired his gun, a bullet piercing the Governors arm.
It then became a full out war. Angela ripped the gun from Merle's holster and jumped out, firing at them. Merle reached back finding it gone thinking it was her gun. Gunfire came from both ends of the field as Angela tried to hit anyone in her red sights. Merle pushed her down as a barrage of bullets came by, letting them hide in the grass.
"No more hiding now!" Merle barked as he took the gun from her.
Angela looked over seeing Rick dragging his leg back to hid behind the bus. "Rick's been shot! He needs help!"
Merle contemplated what to do, sitting up and firing more shots, seeing he got someone in the arm dropping their gun to the ground. He ducking again, covering Angela from the bullets that flew past them. Angela tried to see Rick behind the bus, struggling to reload his gun.
"I need a weapon, Rick is alone out there!" She barked at the redneck.
Merle cussed and reloaded his gun, forcing it into her hand. He reached back and attached the bayonet to his arm. He took out a switch blade and handed it to her, as she didn't have her ax on her person.
"Cover me. I'll get him."
"Merle! Wait!" Angela reached out for him as he made a run for the bus.
The scarred woman gulped and stood, firing the gun at the army to try and disarm or gain a headshot. One of them yelled and pointed in her direction. A semi automatic started firing her way, making her duck behind the pens.
Merle managed to get to Rick unscathed, surprising the man. "Merle!? What are you-"
"No time for asking dumb questions. Let me see it." He barked, pulling his leg over to see the bullet wound in his thigh. Rick grunted at the pain, but got his gun reloaded and continued firing at them.
Angela heard an engine and glanced over seeing the tank start to move. It ran over the two fences, and kept moving up the yard as they used it for cover. Angela saw this as an advantage since by her angle she can fire at those behind it. She checked her ammo seeing only five bullets left.
"Make them count, Angie. Make them count." She told herself, taking in even breaths.
Angela ran to the other end of the pen and fired at the those in her sight. Two were shot down, gaining the Governor's attention that someone was out in the field. "Out there! Go ahead!" He ordered as two cars started making their way toward her.
Angela hid in the tall grass watching them drive around the pen. They all aimed their guns trying to find her, when she shot up and fired at the red Ford, shooting his neck and making it drive off. The passenger leaned out and fired at her, making her duck around the other end almost in plain sight of the army.
Daryl at the fence fired at them with his automatic as they drove around, he saw them gun down the pens thinking they were shooting the horses. He was wrong when he saw someone crawling against the wooden fence to try and duck from the gunfire. Daryl realized it was Angela out there! One gunner hopped out of the red Ford and was making his way toward her.
"Like hell ya are." He growled.
Pulling the trigger and letting the bullets pound into the man, it allowed Angela to take cover in the higher grass where Daryl lost sight of her.
Army crawling her way through, the tank fired at the prison, destroying the wall to C block. Angela paused, covering her head as she heard the Governor bark orders. She waited until he had no more cover, her anger rising once more at the one eyed man. He scarred her face, killed her sister, killed Hershel, and now he's destroying their home! This monster was going to suffer, and she wanted it to be by her hands.
She tucked the gun into her back waistband and flipped out the switchblade Merle gave her. Once she found an opening as he hide behind the bus, Angela got to her feet and made a full blown sprint at him with the blade above her head. Almost like he knew she was there, he spun around and fired his gun at her making the bullet hit her arm. She screamed in pain, dropping to her knees as she felt the pulsating pain course down her left arm where the bullet was embedded.
The grass bent and snapped under the footsteps of the tall man, towering over Angela. He glared down her, tilting his head as if he didn't know her. Once the hair fell from her face to the side, he smirked knowing that scar anywhere.
"Well, well, well. Ready to join your sister?" He asked, aiming his gun at her head.
Angela glared up at him, the knife tight in her grip wanting to stab it into his throat so badly. His moment was short lived when Rick came out of nowhere and tackled him to the ground. Rick started punching him when Merle came around the bus kneeling to Angela.
"Sum a bitch!" He cussed, raising her arm to see the wound. "It's still in there."
Angela stood with Merle's help about to get her away from the fight, until she saw the Governor start beating up Rick. She pushed Merle off and ran over, shoulder tackling the Governor to the ground as she fell with him. She cried out landing on her wounded arm, he got up and kicked her in the face making her roll over stunned.
The older redneck let out a yell as he slammed his fist across the face. Angela sat up as the blood stained and soaked her sleeve and her cheek discolored from the kick. Merle held him down with his knife against his throat, but the Governor kicked him in the gut and rolled over being on top. He held Merle's knife down into the dirt, letting it slice his hand as he punched Merle across the face a few times.
"Merle!" Angela held her cheek, stunned in her spot from the kick and pain in her arm.
Rick ran over, ripping the Governor off Merle and getting back into a scuffle with him. Merle sat up, blood dripping from his mouth as Angela came to his aid. The Governor pounded Rick to a point his face was swollen. Seeing Merle with a black eye she looked back to see Rick beaten to a bloody pulp and being choked out. Rick had stopped fighting, his arms hanging loose as his face started to turn from red to purple.
Her breathing grow labored, seething through her nose as she held the switchblade tightly. Bolting over, Angela jumped on top of the Governor putting him in a choke hold. The Governor tried to throw her off but her grip around his neck grew tighter as she wanted to snap his head off. Merle sat up, wiping the blood as he saw his once was boss stumble around struggling to get the woman off his back.
"You bitch!" The Governor barked, clawing at her arm to relieve the pressure on his neck.
"This is for Rick!" She barked, raising the blade in her hand and bringing it down into his chest. The Governor howled when the knife pierced him. "This is for Merle!" She ripped the knife out and stabbed him again in a random spot of his stomach. "This is for Daryl!" Repeating the process over and over as she screamed out over his head.
"This is for Hershel! For Axel! For Oscar! For Beth! For Maggie! For Glenn! For my family!" At each name she stabbed and stabbed relentlessly into him. The Governor tried to slam her back into the bus but she held strong despite pain shooting up her spine.
"This-This one's for-"
She raised the knife again for the final stab, he suddenly managed to tossed her off his back. She slammed into the dirt, coughing as the wind was knocked out of her and the dagger dropping from her hand. This man was like a war machine, despite the stabbings he stumbled toward her standing over her. His shirt and jacket was covered in blood from the stab wounds. She gulped and tried to crawl away, he grabbed her leg and pulled her back making her rip the grass in attempt to pull away. He flipped her over and held her down, but before he could try and attempt to kill her a blade shot right through his throat. Angela shuddered, behind the Governor who stabbed him was Merle with his bayonet. Merle ripped the blade from his throat roughly as he rolled off and laid in the grass, gurgling and spitting up blood that poured from his neck.
"That was for Kaylee." He spat at him.
"M-Merle…" Angela groaned out, sitting up.
Merle helped her to her feet as he pulled her good arm over his shoulder. Michonne had helped Rick up as he ran off to find Carl at the prison. The building was on fire with wall destroyed and people scrambled about to escape. He turned to Michonne who eyed the Governor, her sword in her hands.
"Michonne!" He called, she turned to him.
She saw the beat up wounded woman, nodding to Merle. "Get her to safety, I'll cover you." She ordered, turning to see walkers making their way into the prison.
Merle nodded, legging her away to get out of there. Angela looked back, bringing a hand up to her mouth and giving out a shrill of a whistle. Confused, Merle kept moving until the sounds stomping caught his attention. He looked back seeing Calypso galloping over, she jumped over the pen fence to get to Angela when she called.
"Good girl." She praised as Merle helped her up on the horse. Angela pulled him up behind her as she gripped the horse's long air. "We have to find Daryl." She told, kicking her sides for Calypso to head toward the prison.
Daryl had been fighting off not only the militia but the walkers that now invaded the prison. He fired his automatic heading to the gate to find Angela and Merle out in the field. Once he ran out of bullets he swung the gun at a walker, crushing its skull and dropped the rifle. He pulled out the pin of his last grenade and tossed it into the nuzzle of the tank he ran by.
"Grenade!" The man inside the tank scrambled out and fell to the cement once the tank exploded and was now on fire.
Daryl watched the stunned man turn and raise his hands in surrender once he saw the hunter aiming his crossbow at him. Not giving him a chance to plea, he fired the shot close range into his heart and watched him fall.
Beth ran over, finally spotting someone in the empty courtyard. "I was trying to find the kids to get them on the bus." She told, seeing the bus and her sister was gone.
The teen tried to reload her gun but Daryl saw the walkers closing in on them. "We got to go, Beth." He told, she looked up at him. "We got to go."
Daryl lead Beth and the two ran off escaping the prison. Just as they left Merle and Angela rode up to the gate. "Daryl! Daryl, where are you!" She bellowed.
Angela took in air to call again, but winced as gravity took hold of her, Merle caught her side before she could slip off. He pulled the Calypso's hair to stop moving so Angela didn't fall off.
"Shit, we gotta get ya out of here!" Merle looked to the burning crumbling prison then to the walkers making their way toward them. He sighed, shaking his head. "Ya better not be dead, Little D."
He adjusted Angela to lean against him seeing she was passed out due to exhaustion. He leaned over gripping the mane and pulled to the side to try and lead the horse out of the prison.
"Yo, come on!" He bellowed with a whistle, kicking Calypso's side.
She obeyed and burst into a full sprint past the cars and through the caved in fence. Merle's arm was wrapped around Angela close as the blood seeped down from her wound. Staining his arm and prosthetic, mixing with the Governor's blood that was splattered on him. His fist tight in Calypso's mane.
As the prison grew smaller in the distance, the more Merle's mind scrambled on what to do. He looked down at the passed out woman and looked forward letting Calypso lead them wherever, anywhere was better than back there.
Beth and Daryl ran and ran. The walkers were all over, they didn't know where they were running but it was from the death and danger behind them. Through the trees and thickets, past the meadows and forest. It wouldn't be safe until they got out of the danger zone of walkers. Beth kept looking back to see if they had outrun the walkers yet. When two came at her, she pulled her gun out only to hear it click- Empty. Daryl stopped short and fired a bolt into one coming at her. He slammed his crossbow at the other and kicked down a third coming through the branches. Daryl ripped the bolt out of the first one's skull and ran off to catch up with Beth.
Running out of the forest, the two bolted through weeds and high thin shrubs. They paused to catch for their breath for only a second before running again. Their energy was low and the two had to stop soon before exhaustion would hit them. It hurt to breath, it hurt to run, it hurt to see.
Eventually exhaustion had hit them, they both collapsed into an open spot of grass. Laying on their backs and dropping everything. They closed their eyes trying to get catch their breath as the sun shining through the trees started to set. Daryl brought a hand up over his head covering his eyes when he felt the emotions finally hit him like a truck.
Hershel was dead, he saw his neck get sliced like a fruit. Merle was out there but disappeared with Rick who knows where. Angie… Angie was nowhere in sight after he gunned that bastard down in the car. He lost track of her and now might have had lost her forever. His shoulders shook , teeth clenched with his grip on the bolt tight. Angela, his tough, hard headed, brave woman was gone.
Daryl had made a fire for the two as night faded in for them. Alone, just two of them in the big open space of the woods. Daryl had been staring at the fire since he started it at sundown. He sat against the log, arms resting on his knees with his crossbow beside him. Beth sat across on another log, her eyes scanning the area itching to move. She had no other weapons but Daryl's buck knife that he had given her, he had his crossbow but she needed something to defend herself.
"We should do something." She muttered, eyes glancing up to see Daryl ignoring her. "We should do something." Beth repeated louder.
After a moment, his blue eyes reached hers, silently expecting her to continue. "We aren't the only survivors. We can't be." Beth shook her head, deep down inside believing the others had made it out somehow. "Rick, Michonne, they could be out there. Maggie and Glenn could have made it out of A block. They could've." Beth swallowed, leaning on the log. "Angela, she's gotta be out there and-"
Beth stopped when Daryl looked away, shifting his seating at the mention of her name. Daryl hadn't even tried to search for her, call out to her, attempt to find her. The teen stood, knowing she had to push it onto the hunter to do so.
"You're a tracker." She pointed out. "You can track. Come on." Daryl didn't make an effort to move, staring back at the fire. "The sun will be up soon. If we head out now, we can…" Still, nothing was getting through to his head.
"Fine!" Beth spat, picking up the knife and sliding it into its sheath on her hip. "If you won't track, I will."
Beth marched off into the darkness, unknown if she was even going in a correct direction to find tracks. Daryl glanced up, watching her walk and finally got to his feet. He kicked dirt onto the fire and picked up his crossbow, reluctantly following the determined teenager.
That same night, the older Dixon had a small encampment as well for him and Angela. He got her off Calypso with trouble and laid her against a log careful of her wounded arm. He made a fire and sat by watching her, waiting for her to wake up. He didn't like being out in the open like this, not with the situation he was in. If walkers came around, he'd have to fend them off alone while sleeping beauty sat there like an open buffet. Merle thought if the moment came, he could use the horse as a bait and get Angela and him out. The hick knew the damn horse wouldn't be lasting long with them, but for now, she helped transport the injured woman.
As Merle watched the fire keep alight, his eyes fell on Angela resting across from him. The light danced across her body as she slept from over exhaustion. He saw the bruise on her cheek from the kick from the Governor during the scuffle. The blood staining her sleeve was now dry and brown, reminding him the damn bullet was still in their.
The redneck stood and stepped over, crouching down to her with a grunt and rolled her sleeve up. She wore a long sleeve, having dressed in fresher clothing after getting her the meds. When she muttered a few small gasps and whimpers from touching it, Merle took it to just cut the sleeve off. He used his bayonet with ease and cut her sleeve off giving him access to the bullet wound. The hole was clean and some blood was still dripping. Yes, it was keeping her from bleeding out but he knew he couldn't keep that in there. It hurt her to move the arm and after fighting with the Governor made it worse, for sure. It didn't help Merle that he had no proper lighting, so he just positioned his knife as he held her arm down. His knife managed to only touch the wound before she flinched, her other hand curling at her chest as her arm tensed. Merle shook his head, taking his knife off and pressing his arm against her's and instead tried to feel for it sticking his finger into the bullet wound. That made her scream and grab his wrist to remove it. His eyes quickly shifted to her features seeing her eyes scrunched tightly but only screamed without forming any words. Merle removed his finger having it covered in her mouth, as more blood seeped out. Once he knew she wasn't going to scream again, Merle removed his hand leaving blood on her cheek. His eyes scanned the area, hearing no walkers invade their space. Using the ripped sleeve, Merle cut it down the middle and tied it around the wound tightly to stop the bleeding he caused. Angela laid there, whimpering as tears dripped down her closed eyes.
Merle was no doctor, sure he knew bullet wounds from his time in the army and knew how to plug them up. But with the bullet still in there, he couldn't allow the wound to try and close up. She could be poisoned by the lead in the bullet.
The redneck stood, wiping the blood on his pants without care and sat back down. He heard the horse behind him find a small field to graze in, as if nothing was wrong at this moment. Not like they lost their home, people they had possibly dead, or the fact danger was now at every corner. Merle half wished he felt at ease like that.
Angela moved, awaking from her sleep feeling cold that early morning. Her head, back, and most of all her arm hurt. She stretched her back, rubbing her eyes as she released a heavy sigh.
"Oh, God." Angela groaned, flopping onto flat hard surface. Wincing at the ache in her back, she had heard grumbling. "Daryl?" She called, the sunlight shining brightly in her eyes. "Oh, man. I had a horrible dream. The Governor came back, we lost the prison-"
Angela moved her arms to stretch them above her head but stopped and shot up, letting out a cry when pain shot through her arm. Gripping the sticky arm, her eyes finally adjusting to see blood cover her hand. Her eyes found the wrapped and bleeding wound on her arm, her heart raced at what caused it. Once Angela got a look at her surroundings spotting a fire and feeling the cold dirt ground below her, she realized it wasn't a dream. Calypso was grazing a few feet away in a small meadow and a man's back was facing her behind a log.
The man turned, it was Merle. He raised a brow and turned showing he had skewed some field mice. He stepped over the log and sat down with a grunt and hung them over the fire to cook the dead things. He sighed, slapping his hand onto his knee and looked up at the stunned woman.
"Having wet dreams of Darylina?" He teased, earning a dark glare.
"Now I really, really wish it was a dream." She muttered, raising her good arm to pinch the bridge of her nose. Angela looked over her injured arm, a sudden terrified thought came to mind.
"It's not a bite." He assured, poking the small fire with a nearby stick. "How much ya remember?"
Angela adjusting her position, facing the fire and moving closer to warm herself. "Uh… The Governor came back, destroyed the prison. I stabbed him… How many times?"
Merle counted off his hand, and shrugged. "Not enough to kill him."
Angela shook her head, combing her hair out of her face. "You killed him, and we went to go find Daryl- Wait!" Angela stood, hissing as she accidentally leaned on her bad arm. "Where's Daryl? Daryl!"
"Shut your loud mouth!" Merle hissed, looking around only seeing the horse a few feet away.
Angela stood with a stumble, her hand gripping her injury as she spun around. Kicking dirt up and almost tripping on the log she slept next to. "Where's Daryl? Did you find him?"
Merle was silent, his blue eyes shifted down to the fire. Angela watched him toss the stick into the fire. "Merle, where is Daryl?" She marched up to him, nudging his arm with her knee. "Where the hell is he?"
Merle gave a long hard look up at her, his eyes shifted between her's. He soon looked back down and moved the mice to cook them eveningly- or as eveningly as possible. "Couldn't find him."
Her brows knotted, she shoved his shoulder making him sigh and stop his cooking. "What the hell do you mean, 'couldn't find him'? We ran up and you searched for him, right? Right?"
Merle stood, taking a deep breath to not lose his temper with her. "Hard to search when I got your knocked out ass waiting to be walker chow. I had to get us out of there before we got surrounded."
Angela felt her chest rise and fall as she breathed in a labored manner. Her head shook, she walked back over, paused, then paced in the dirt before looking back up the road through the trees. With a huff, Angela pushed through the trees to stand in the road. Merle twisted the mice on the stick watching her, the woman looked up one road then down the other. He knew she was clueless to which direction they came from. She looked at the sky, then down one road and started walking.
"Hey! Hey, whoa!" He called, rushing to his feet and got in front of her. "Where ya think you're going?" He questioned, stopping her in her tracks.
"I'm going to find Daryl." She told, glaring up at him.
"No, ya ain't."
"Yes, I am." She argued.
Merle looked her up and down, shoulders sagging. "Ya can't use that arm, dumbass!"
"And you got a hand back in Atlanta, your point?" She spat at him.
Merle sighed, growing aggravated if not already. "At least I got a weapon at the end of my arm. Ya got a fucking bullet in your's! It's like a useless dick, dangling there!"
She raised her arm with the support of her hand. "Then take the fucking thing out!"
He rolled his head."Ya think I didn't try? Why ya think I wrapped it, it got cut and had to keep it from bleeding."
Merle placed a hand on his hip and the end of his prosthetic on the other as she looked her arm over. He raised a hand, taking a breath to calm down and lower their voices. The last thing he needed was attracting walkers and have Angela go off on her own.
"If I try to take the damn thing out, could cut a muscle, nerve, or any veins in your pale ass." He tried to explain.
"If it stays in, I could get lead poisoning." Angela argued, a little calmer now that she wasn't yelling.
Merle held a finger up, brows raised at her words. "Maybe." He shrugged, then pointed to the fire. "Now, sit your ass down before I plant it myself."
Angela glared at him a while longer before turning and walking back to the dying fire. Merle tugged his belt and walked over, sitting across from her. "We'll eat and be on our way. Find some shit to get the bullet out."
Merle held the skewer of the mouse to her, Angela took it and reluctantly chewed on whatever tiny meat was on the rodent. Merle ate it down to the bone with ease, keeping an eye out. He glanced at Angela, seeing her rest her arm in her lap as she ate with her good hand. An idea came to his head, Merle tossed the stick once done his meal and removed his button up shirt. He took the end and ripped it, catching Angela's attention. Getting to his feet, he stepped over to Angela, tying the fabric around her neck and with as much care as possible, rest her arm in the shirt. Angela looked down when he stepped away, seeing he made a makeshift sling for her. She looked up, watching him put out the fire and walked over toward Calypso. Angela tossed the stick and got up, walking over to see Merle had gotten a rope around her neck. Judging by the fraying and dirt, he must have found it at some point.
"Get on." He told, motioning toward the horse. She looked at him questioningly. "Ya hurt and probably still sick- Just get your scrawny ass up there."
Angela rolled her eyes and with Merle's help, got up onto Calypso. The horse nickered when her owner mounted her, her hooves digging in the dirt ready to move. Merle clicked his tongue and tugged at the rope, leading the horse down the road. Angela looked behind her, wondering if Daryl was near or far from them, or even alive.
Beth and Daryl searched and searched with nothing in sight so far. No one took any lead in direction, the two just wandered waiting for something to be spotted. Beth noticed Daryl slow down and knelt to the ground, moving leaves. She walked over seeing him uncover footprints, small and big ones.
"Could be Luke's. Or Molly's." Beth guessed, thinking the smaller ones had to be one of the kids. "Whoever they are, it means they're alive."
"No." Daryl spoke. "This means they were alive four or five hours ago."
Beth glared at the hunter as his eyes followed the direction of the footprints. "They're alive."
Daryl looked up watching her march off again to where the footprints pointed. He stood, stepping over a large root and followed. The two trailed the tracks into a mud path, where the trail was slowly fading. Beth walked toward the right to try and find more, when Daryl caught up he spotted more in the opposite direction.
"They picked up the pace right here." He told, pointing at deeper prints where squashed berries were in the dirt. "Got out in a hurry. Things went bad."
Beth heard the doubt in his tone, giving him a look again. "Wouldn't kill you to have a little faith."
"Yeah, faith." Daryl scoffed, "Faith ain't done shit for us." he paused looking to see if they had went through the shrubs. "Sure as hell didn't do nothin' for yer father."
Beth spun at him with an offended look. Daryl caught it, not saying sorry but his eyes showed he didn't mean what he said. The man was just bitter and downfell from losing everyone at the prison. Beth sighed and turned, finding berries on a tree, looking pretty good to eat. Daryl watched her, feeling he may be making things worse with his big mouth.
"They'll be hungry when we find them." She told, feeling his eyes on her.
Daryl stepped over to her, taking out his black gold bandana, offering it to her. He tapped her arm getting her attention, Beth took it and gathered the small amount into it and tied it off on her belt loop. Daryl sighed looking away, raising his crossbow to follow the footsteps. Daryl didn't want to admit it, but this all reminded him of searching for Kaylee a year ago. Crushed berries, collecting them, finding Sophia, walkers now and then. The hunter didn't want to see it, but he fear Beth would be the same fate as Kaylee. Beth watched him looking around, walking over to follow the trail with him.
The pair walked over more trees and leaves finding two dead walkers on the ground. Daryl pulled on a small leaf on a tree, finding red splatter stains.
"What?" Beth asked, seeing the grimace look he held.
"That ain't walker blood." He indicated.
Beth took in a breath, "The trail keeps going." she stepping over the male walker to look through some dense trees. "They fought them off."
"No." Daryl called, pointing at the ground. "Got walker tracks all up and down here." Beth looked back to him. "A least a dozen of 'em."
As Daryl searched back for more tracks, Beth jumped at the sound of a twig snapping. She spun around, taking her knife out waiting for any other noise. Daryl kept looking around, turning toward Beth just as a walker appeared and grabbed her arms. The teen felt her mind freeze, unable to think to turn and plunge her knife into it's skull. Daryl ran over, trying to aim his crossbow but couldn't get a clear shot with Beth in danger. He chucked the weapon, reaching for his knife, forgetting Beth was holding his knife! His next action was to get the walker off her, he grabbed the back of the walker's shirt and pulled him off, pushing him into the dirt and held him down. Beth got the knife she had dropped and came over, Daryl rolled over with the walker on top and Beth slammed the knife right into its forehead. She ripped it out and Daryl tossed the damn thing off him.
Daryl gave a nod and got to his feet, ignoring the dirt and leaves sticking to his elbow and arms. He picked up his crossbow and decided they couldn't be in one place for too long if walkers were near.
"Come on." He called, taking lead to follow the damn tracks Beth wanted to stick with.
The two walked into a clearing, standing on a high hill finding a railroad track. Daryl remembered finding train cars and a track further down the road from the prison when he was on that run for the medicine. He had all forgotten a track was even near the prison when they had first found it.
Sadly, it wasn't the tracks that gained their attention, but beside it. Feasting on what used to be possibly members of their group was a gang of walkers. Meat covered bones and guts were left to the three walkers having a great meal on the once was living. Daryl fired into one walker, reloaded and shot into another. The third seemed too focus on some intestines to notice its lunch mates had just been killed. Daryl ripped a bolt out of one's skull and stabbed it into the third one and shoving it to the ground.
Beth was in shock, her eyes shifting down to find a tiny black sneaker, knowing it was a child's. Daryl walked past, eyeing up the corpses to find any indication on who they were. As he stepped onto the track, he glanced back hearing sobs from the teen. Beth stood there, crying at the sight before her. Daryl turned to continue walking, looking around at the side of the tracks. He paused and looked back, watching Beth sob harder and louder.
The hunter, deep down, wanted to believe that the others were right around that corner. Sitting at the tracks, waiting for someone to find them. Maybe it would be Rick and Carl with Little Ass-Kicker, or Maggie and Glenn, hell maybe even Merle all his lonesome biting into a possum. Daryl wanted most of all, to see Angela walk out of the bushes or trees at any moment. Her clothing covered in dirt and walker blood, her sparkling green eyes shining to see her hunter, her warm arms wrap around him. Holding her tightly and close, tears shedding from both of them.
No, the faith Beth wanted to have in him had died at that very moment.
The two walked for hours, trudging on the asphalt, not a sign of a building or even an abandoned home. Despite the small mice they had for breakfast, they were hungry and their stomachs weren't fearful of showing it. Angela swallowed as she sat up top her horse, Merle sighed trying to find anything as it felt the day was fading already.
"How could there be no buildings? Isn't this the road from the prison?" She asked.
Merle shook his head, "When escaping, made a cut through the woods and found this road. This could lead to Assville for all we know." he explained.
Angela huffed and looked around, perking up at the sound of something. "Hey, wait." She pulled Calypso's hair making her and Merle stop.
Merle looked up about to question her, he noticed her attention was heavily to her left into the trees. He glanced over, letting the rope go and venturing into the tree line. Moving branches and stepping over fallen trees, a sudden whoop of a cheer echoed from him.
"Hey! Come here!" He bellowed.
Angela tensed, looking around before nudging Calypso into his directions. The horse walked through the trees with Angela ducking her head and careful of her arm. She gasped at the pretty sight of a babbling brook. Merle was splashing his face, grinning at the feel of freshwater on his skin.
"I knew I heard something." She smiled, sliding off her horse with a few winces and grunts. She walked over and knelt at the water, scooping water to clean the dry blood on her arm and hands.
"Don't forget your mug" Merle teased, getting to his feet and walking along the water across from her.
Angela frowned, looking down to try and see her reflection in the water. With the water moving she could only see red in the muddled reflection, showing blood was on her face. She quickly splashed and scrubbed her face with red dripping into the water.
"We'll camp here for the night." Merle determined, looking around and gathering some sticks. "Could catch us some frogs or whatever is in there."
Angela glanced up, "Can't you catch anything bigger?" she asked. "Squirrels, raccoon, hell I'll even eat an owl."
Merle extended his arms out, "Do I look like I got the shit to catch those? I don't carry a damn crossbow everywhere I go like my baby brother." he spat at her.
Angela grew silent and just sat at the edge of the brook, sipping some water to fill her thirst. Splashing was heard, Angela glanced over seeing Merle try to catch frogs and failing. She almost wanted to laugh at the sight of him doing this one handed. He stared at one that had jumped onto a rock, when he dove for it he nearly smashed his chin into the stone. Angela let out a small snicker gaining his attention.
"Think it's so funny? Why not give it a shot, smartass." He challenged, getting to his feet.
Getting to her feet, Angela accepted the challenge and stepped into the water. A shiver went up her spine as the cold water filled her shoes soaking her socks and feet. She shook it off and bent over looking for anything to catch. She saw something green and slamming her hands into the water, splashing it on her face and clothing. Blinking the droplets from her lashes, she looked to see she had missed the frog.
Merle laughed, the water dripping from his chin and down his wife beater tank. "Ain't so easy, huh?" He teased, splashing water at her getting her hair wet.
"Hey! I could've got one!" She barked, splashing back though he seemed less bothered to being wet than her.
"If ya manage to catch a sum a bitch, I'll kiss its ass." He offered, kicking a stone from the water.
Angela finally grinned at that, "Oh, see." she pointed her finger at him moving down the stream. "Now it's worth the catch."
Merle snickered as she failed multiple times to catching a frog. She moved further down the stream as it got deeper to where it reached her knees. Angela thought maybe if she held still, the frogs might just come up to her. Moving to the edge, she removed her shoes and socks and rolled her jeans up, then stepped back into the water. The woman stood still there in the cold stream for a few minutes when she felt something tickle her toes.
"Ah! Get off!" She cried, lifting her foot to find a damned fish was sucking on her toe. "Get off! Merle!"
The redneck, hearing her cries, ran through the water thinking a walker had gotten her. He had his knife ready to stab its skull, only to see her jumping about on one foot with a fish on her big toe. He growled in annoyance as he marched over and ripped the fish off her foot, holding the wiggly thing.
"Damn bastard was eating the hell out of me." She barked, lifting her foot to see a small swelling on her toe.
"Don't be a pussy, you're fine." He waved off, tossing the fish at the shore.
"At least I caught food." Angela grinned, "Now kiss it's ass." she demanded.
Merle scoffed, rolling his shoulders. "I said catch a frog, not a fish."
"You said, 'catch a sum a bitch'." She told, imitating his southern raspy voice. "I call that, a son of a bitch."
Merle shook his head and started to catch fish now that she had found their location in the deeper stream.
That night, the pair feasted heavily on a good amount of fish. They sat by the warm fire and cool water stream, enjoying their meal. Angela identified the fish as notchlip redhorse, though Merle argued some were sicklefin redhorse fish. None the less, they ate until their stomach were full.
"Funny," She mused. "I was actually craving fish."
Merle used a fish bone to pick his teeth. "Yeah? Well, better than frog or the rodents we had before." He turned his head and spat at the ground. "Where'd ya learn to catch fish?" he asked.
Angela glanced up, wiping her hand on her jeans, her shoes now back on but without her socks, which were washed of by the stream. "My brother taught me." Angela stared at the fire, holding her hand at the fire to warm up. "He taught me out to catch them with our hands when camping."
"Taught the Princess, too?" He asked, referring to Kay.
"No," Angela smiled sadly, bringing her knees up and careful of her arm. "She hated touching the slimy things. Instead, she learned how to set the tent and cook the fish. It was fun."
Her smile soon faded, moving to rest her cheek on her knees as she avoided Merle's gaze. The redneck sucked on his teeth, glancing to the fire than back up at Angela. He adjusting his seating to lean back on his hand as he brought a knee up, resting his arm on it.
"Old man taught Daryl and me how to fish, how to hunt, all that shit." He spoke, making Angela glance over. "Wasn't a matter of family time or tradition." Merle lifted the bone in his hand twisting it between his fingers. "Something a man had to learn."
He flicked the bone into the fire, watching it crack and burn in the heat. Angela watched, glancing up to the redneck who shockingly opened up to the woman. She didn't want to admit it, but she felt like she was seeing him in a new light. Like when she first saw the real Daryl, was there a real caring Merle under that thick skin?
Merle stood and spat at the dirt again with a snort, "I'll take watch." he offered.
Angela stood ready to protest. "It's okay, I can-"
She suddenly felt her throat constrict and her hand slap over her lips. Merle was about to question it, until he watched her turn away and vomit all the fish she had eaten onto the ground. The redneck frowned in disgust as she spat and swallowed with a wince.
"What a waste." She grumbled, not feeling sick until now.
Merle cleared his throat, hoping the fish was indeed alright to eat seeing her body react to it. "Like I said, I'll take watch." He repeated, hearing thunder in the distance.
"Is it going to rain?" She asked, weary looking up at the sky as she wiped her mouth.
Merle stared at the sky for a while before shaking his head. "Sounds like it's too far, might go around us." He shrugged without a care. "We got trees covering our asses, anyway." Angela was going to argue being under trees was more dangerous, but felt too nauseous to try and put an effort to even think about it.
Another camp was made for Daryl and Beth. The teen used paper she ripped from her little notebook to make the fire last. The two sat in silence, but it didn't last long once the sound of walkers were heard. Daryl made the first move to cover the fire, grab his crossbow and lead Beth away. As they moved through the trees, the two burst through the branches finding a car left on the side of the road. A door was hanging off the driver's side with a corpse decaying on the ground. First thought, get it running.
Daryl ran around and aimed his crossbow into the dark dense woods, Beth tried to start the damn thing. She kept turning the keys in the ignition but no signs of it coming to life was happening. Only thing they heard was the nightly bugs and distant thunder. But a third was heard, echoing walkers catching up to them.
"Come on." Daryl called as he moved to open the trunk.
Beth climbed in and soon Daryl joined, the two squeezing together in the old thing. The door didn't shut properly, so Daryl used his trusty red rag to tie the hook of the trunk to the bumper with haste. He double knotted the best he could and aimed his crossbow in case they tried to open it.
Shadows of the walkers passed by, seen through the crack. Their hands thumping and hitting the car made Beth almost jolt. The two held their breath as it sounded like a herd was passing by at that moment. Thudding and thumping, and soon the storm had caught up. Lighting lit the inside as the vehicle shook and shuddered. Beth held the knife trying to keep from any noise to be heard. It felt like the two were there for hours and the herd was endless.
Soon enough, the walkers thinned out through the night, the two never getting sleep between the car shaking and the metal being pounded on. Beth glanced to Daryl, he held his hand up indicating to wait until they were completely clear. Who knows how many stragglers would be left over for a while.
The pair stayed in the trunk even long past dawn had arrived. The sound of birds and wildlife gave them the notice that they were in the clear. Beth felt the heat rise as they sat in the metal oven, wiping her face of the sweat that was dripping. She leaned over untying the rag and lifted the trunk, taking in a fresh amount of air. Daryl looked around, not hearing or seeing any walkers near by. Beth climbed over Daryl's legs and got out, soon Daryl following. Looking around, they saw the hood to the engine was up, door was now laying on the ground and the decayed body had been moved. Other than that, nothing much between the herd and the storm, the night prior.
First thing the two did was raid the car. It was useless, so may as well take the needed items. Daryl found some bungee cords from the roof and collected the hubcaps laying in the road. Beth found a plastic bottle with little water, took the side mirror and a chunk from the headlight. Nothing was found in the suitcases as they filled their trash bags. The two shared a look, Daryl didn't look her in the eye before turning and walking up the road. Beth hesitated before following without a word to their next mission; Find food.
Merle and Angela continue walking early the next day. Angela wasn't feel alright to have more fish Merle had caught that morning. She even declined riding Calypso, saying it was murder on her back since she didn't have a saddle on her. Angela held the rope as the two walked up the road.
"If ya feel really hungry," Merle called from walking ahead. "Could always chow down on the horse."
The said creature snorted at him, Angela glared. "We're not eating Calypso." She patted the horse's neck in comfort. "She could get us out of a bind if we hit a herd."
Merle shrugged as they looked toward a fork in the road. The three stopped, looking around for any signs. Merle walked to one road then to the other trying to see if it indicated anything up ahead.
"Which way?" She asked, leaning onto Calypso's side.
"Figuring it out." Merle told, scratching his chin. He turned looking to her, eyeing up her position against the horse. "Need a rest?"
"No." She quickly answering, standing straight.
Merle nodded, "Good, ya weren't gonna get one." he told turning back around.
Angela rolled her eyes seeing him lean more toward the left road. "Let's head this way." He told, taking lead once more. "Not like we got a destination."
Angela pulled the rope jogging to catch up to Merle with Calypso trotting along. The pair saw abandoned cars on the side but when Merle checked them, none were starting. Even when he tried to hot wire it, nothing was going to start it without the means to fix them. It was when they passed about six cars Angela noticed more corpses along the road and walkers trapped under some vehicles.
"We might be getting close to something." Angela thought out loud.
"What would that something be, Columbus?" He asked in a tone.
Angela snorted at him. "Okay, one, Columbus was a monster who pillaged, raped, and murdered people because he thought he founded America, which he first thought was Asia because the moron didn't know how to navigate. Two-"
She pointed at a sign that had large words 'Ziggy's Bowling Lane'. The sign that usually lit up had broken molded bulbs and some missing in the words. The once was bright and colorful red, blue, and yellow had grown faded and covered in leaves and vines. Some words were even gone, fallen out from the sign and laying in the dirt below it. Under the giant B was a walker, possibly once was living being crushed by the letter. The walker reached out from it's upper torso as the other end was rotted away and mangled under the B. Ignoring the crippled thing, Merle and Angela walked up to the building seeing bright colors on the building had faded just like the sign, Angela hesitated when words were spray painted in black on the walls.
Then below it, were in red words, possibly blood.
Merle snorted at them as if he found it to be a challenge. They approached the door, Merle kicked and banged on it, then folded his arms awaiting for any walkers to appear. Angela felt her sweat return, anxiously looking at the door.
"What if there are survivors?" She asked.
Merle pressed his tongue against his inner cheek in thought, then shrugged as he brandished his gun. "Guess we'll have to take it."
Angela didn't argue, at this rate anything was better and hopefully there was some sort of first aid kit in there. She glanced to her arm, feeling it grow sore wanting to rub it, as if it would make it go away. A slam brought her attention back, seeing a few walkers against the glass door. Merle let out a low whistle, swaggering by counting heads.
"'Bout seven of 'em." He raised a brow to Angela who gave him a look. "Shall I do the honors?"
Angela scoffed, "Can you even handle seven walkers?" she asked.
"Bet ya I can, whatcha wanna bet?" He asked with a grin, attaching his knife to his prosthetic.
"Bet what? Band aids?" She asked, keeping the walkers in her sights as she stepped around him. "Bullets? What is there to bet on?"
Merle thought on it, but shook his head and turned his attention to the walkers. He nodded her toward the door. "Open one to thin 'em out."
"Thought you could handle seven." Angela reminded, walking over to grip the rusty metal door handle.
"I could, can't risk attracting more out here." He excused.
Angela rolled her eyes and pulled the handle, but the door didn't budge. Frowning, she gripped it tighter and kept yanking on it. By the fifth pull, the metal handle had broken off making her stumble to the ground.
"Ah, shit!" Angela sat up, throwing the handle and looking to her arm seeing the red starting to reemerge.
"Damnit." Merle cussed, bringing up his gun and shooting at the glass.
The glass on the door shattered into tiny pieces, the walkers climbed through ignoring the shards cutting their rotting flesh. Merle shot at them one at a time as they walked through. Once he ran out leaving two left, he marched over and stabbed the last two and shoved them to the side. He wiped his arm against his mouth from the walkers blood and got to moving the bodies out of the way. Angela sat up, looking around in case walkers in the woods heard the gunshots.
"We're in." Merle confirmed, ducking through the door and using his stump to break the remainder of the glass to avoid any cuts.
"Yeah, and we got a huge opening for walkers." She told, following him into the dark bowling alley.
"We'll block it." Merle excused, looking around while his eyes adjusted to the room.
It wasn't all pitch black, the ceiling had skylights above each lane giving them partial light to the bowling room. Some machines that held the bowling balls and brought them from the back of the lane were dismantled or destroyed. The two wandered through, Angela got to work looking for something to block the door as Merle explored. The sound of snarling caught his attention, it sounded weak. Walking down the lanes, he spotted a walker head along the balls on the metal racks, it's jaw made it rock back and forth. He saw another on the rack below it, then two more on the bottom one. It reminded Merle of how the Governor used to collect heads of walkers, he snarled back at the walkers in memory. Using his bayonet, he stabbed each one slowly and carefully.
Angela had her knife in her hand for any unexpected walkers hiding about. There had to be something to block the door. Her eyes found a separate room, the door had the words 'Bar/Pool Room' on it. She pressed her good shoulder against it and counted down three. Once she hit three, she swung the door opening, knife held high and… Nothing. In fact, this room was untouched.
Angela walked through, the pool tables were clean not including the thick layer of dust on the surface and balls. She took an eight ball and pushed it against the others, hearing them connect with clicks and clacks watching them roll around. Angela remembered during family reunions on her father's side, she and her dad would play pool against her uncle and cousin. They always won, thanks to her dad tricking them. She smiled sadly at the memory, picking up a scuffed cue ball.
Something suddenly grabbed her ankles, Angela screamed falling to the ground. A walker under the table had a death grip on both her ankles, Angela yanked and kicked to free her legs. The exposed jaw and yellow teeth made her heart clench with fear. She had left her knife up on the table, only the cue ball was in her hand. With regret, she pulled herself back to drag the walker out from under the table revealing the legs were mangled and bent in different directions. With a rushed thought to kill the thing, she raised her hand and struck the walker's forehead with the ball. It still gnawed and gripped her ankles. Angela raised her hand again and slammed it down, repeating the action a few times. By the sixth slam, the ball became impeded into its skull. She shook her ankles free of the dead creature and crawled back against the wall, panting and sweating at the ordeal.
"Jesus… Christ…" She gasped out, looking to her hand seeing it covered in walker blood.
Merle finally arrived at the open door, he saw her against the wall, walker blood on her hand and splatters of it on her clothing. He walked over, looking around and saw the walker with the ball in its head. Merle lifted his foot and curb stomped the skull, making it crush and cave, the ball popped out. Blood trailed behind the ball as it rolled away. He sighed, giving her a glance as he shifted his footing.
"Ya good?" He asked, she nodded getting to her feet.
Merle reached down to take the walker's wrist. Angela took the other tugging the thing from underneath, the two dragged it outside to join the lineup of corpses. Merle and Angela got to using the pool table to block the door. It was a hard effort, with Angela only doing half the effort with her wound, but Merle was strong and managed to pick up her other half. They propped the table right against the doors, and with the weight it held, it would keep walkers out for sure.
"Time to scavenge." Merle told, heading towards the kitchen. "Can I trust ya to be alone?"
Angela gave him a look, as if offended by his question. Merle rolled his eyes, turning his shoulder to her. "Just scream as loud as your little lungs can."
Merle placed a hand on the counter at the snack bar and hopped over. His boots crushed foam cups and shards of glass from the display cases. Bringing his gun up, the redneck peeked into the kitchen and pounced in ready to fire. Angela guessed with no sound of gunfire or struggle, it was possibly clear. She walked along the lanes seeing pins scattered and bowling balls everywhere. Seeing one yellow and orange swirled ball, Angela leaned down to pick it up, struggling a bit. Her arm instinctively moved to give a lift to the ball, Angela winced and dropped it, letting it thunk to the ground. Her eyes shifted down to the sticky red color on her bandage. Finding a first aid kit should be her priority, since Merle was busy looking for food.
Usually, aid kits would be found in offices, so Angela walked down the other end of the building. She checked each door looking for any indication one was an office. She saw the restrooms, the maintenance closet, and some old vending machines. Angela paused checking in each one, the glass was broken and all the snacks were gone.
"Someone had been here." She determined.
Between the untouched pool room and lack of food, someone had to have held the place up. Angela remembered seeing bite marks on some of the walkers, possibly whatever was left of the survivors. The one walker under the table that caught her, she saw no bite mark but the body was thin and the legs were mangled. Must have been dragging itself around the room, she'd have to investigate it later.
Continuing her path, Angela finally found the office at the end of the hall. She pressed her ear against it, gripping the knob. When twisting it, she found it unlocked and cracked it open. Angela peeked through, seeing the small room empty of any walkers. She opened the door and walked in, taking a look. The desk had papers scattered all over, including the floor. They were mostly forums and reports, when Angela picked one off the table, it had black marker written on the back and front. 'DEAD' was written on one side, the other had 'END'. Flipping through a few papers, they all said the same words.
With little patience and pain in her arm, she pushed all the unneeded crap to the floor and searched through the drawers. If not all, most were empty or held more papers with the words on them. Angela stood and felt through the shelves, shoving plastic trophies and knick knacks off the edges. Sadly, through all her searching and destroying the room, nothing to help her wound was found. Leaving the office, Angela marched toward the front desk, throwing bowling shoes over her shoulder without care.
"Nothing?" She looked up, pausing in her tantrum in shock to see Merle's arms full of bags and cans of food. "Yeah, like what ya see, darlin'?" He grinned, walking over and dropping the door onto the desk.
"All of this was back there?" She asked, checking the bags of nacho chips and curly cheese twists.
"Yup, gonna have a grand meal tonight." He pulled himself to sit up on the desk, spinning to launch over the desk to her side. "Any aid kits?"
Angela sigh, tossing the bag into the pile. "No, the office had nothing but evidence of a survivor losing their mind."
"Anything like the collection of biter heads I've been seeing?" Merle asked.
Angela looked up, he pointed down the lines. Angela leaned over the back desk seeing the amount of heads chilling with the bowling balls. The blood dripping from the knife wounds in the heads proved Merle handled it all. Angela shook out a sick feeling in her and a chill up her spine.
"You sure we should stay here?" She asked, looking to him over her shoulder.
Merle hopped back up onto the counter, taking a bag of cheese twists and popping the bag open. "Do we got a choice?" He retorted, munching on his snack.
No, they didn't. "We'll hold ourselves up in the pool room." He told, nodding to the room Angela near got bit in. "I'll check for any more walkers."
"No other room to stay in?" She asked, adjusting her sling.
Merle shook his head, swallowing. "Most of the doors got glass, too easy in case walkers get in. 'Sides, it's got a bar."
Angela was going to argue, but Merle gathered the food and marched to the room, dropping the food to the floor. Angela followed, seeing the bar in the far corner, the shelves empty, but Merle was behind the counter checking for anything. She shut the door, looked around and found a chair, propping it under the door with difficulty using one hand. She was starting to understand what Merle had to go through being one handed.
"Sum a bitch." Angela looked over, Merle stood from crouching behind the counter looking annoyed. "Whoever was here robbed the bar dry."
"Oh, woe is you, Merle." Angela grumbled, walking over to sit next to the food pile. She found a bag of nacho chips and used her teeth to rip the bag open and proceed to munch on the chips.
There was a silent agreement on the encampment Beth and Daryl worked on that morning. Daryl was out hunting breakfast as Beth worked on making a fire. The hunter had found a squirrel perched on a tree. His crossbow was aimed to spear the small rodent, firing the bolt and completely missed it. The squirrel scurried up the tree, escaping from being a meal today.
Frowning, Daryl marched up to the tree and removed the bolt, finding it warped. He bent it in half, seeing the middle was weaken as the wood splintered on the aged bolt. He found these around when they got the prison, so it wasn’t a surprised they were wearing out with how many times they were used. Daryl tossed the pieces and removed his knife to hunt the old fashioned way.
At camp, Beth dug into the dirt making a hole or two. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she stuck a few pieces of cut wood into them. From the trash bag of items they got from the car, she fished out the side mirror and a shard from the headlights. With the sun, Beth got the light reflecting off the mirror against the glass, using the same logic to a magnifying glass burning grass. The wood started to burn, Beth carefully bent down and gently blew onto it to get a fire going.
The next task was to take the hubcaps and loop the bungee cord through them, from one tree to another against the back part of the camp. Beth shook the cord, hearing the noise the caps made, perfect for alerting them of walkers. The teen looked up through the trees, seeing Daryl slowly walk by. She silently followed, watching him stalk after something, knife raised in his hand and a stick in the other. Her eyes shifted down, leaning to the left seeing him following a rattlesnake on the ground. Daryl used the stick to hold the head in place and quickly stabbed the knife into the snake’s head, killing it quickly.
Beth noticed some dew on the leaves by her, she got a bottle and started collecting the dew off the edges. She saw a ladybug perched on a leaf, letting it crawl onto her finger, she watched the pretty thing until it flew away to rest on another tree who knows where. Looking back to Daryl, she watched him cut the tail and head off, and skinned the thing with ease. No doubt this was a job done before by the Dixon. With the red rag, he cleaned the blood off the long muscle. Daryl looked over his shoulder, seeing Beth watch, be it she was hungry or anxious as he skinned the innocent creature. Without care, he held it up for the end to be drained of blood before heading back with Beth following.
The snake was cut into two pieces and cooked the best it could, by Daryl’s eye. The hunter dug his teeth into the snake muscle in his hands, showing how ravenously hungry he was. Beth sat at the other end of the camp, picking at her own chunk of it with little eagerness to eat it. She was more careful of picking out the bones of the meal while Daryl just spat them out or picked them from his mouth. The skin and whatever was left of it’s body laid on the log beside Daryl, Beth had no clue what he kept them for. Feeling she was done with her meal, she tossed her chunk into the dirt without care and wiped her hands on her ripped jeans.
“I need a drink.” She told Daryl. The hunter complied, tossing the bottle of rain water at her knees. “No, I mean a real drink.” Beth rephrased, moving the bottle into her pile. “As in alcohol.”
Daryl didn't even send a glance, he continued feasting on the snake chunk, pieces of it left on the corners of his mouth and his chin. “I’ve never had one.” Beth told, trying to get any reaction out of him. “‘Cause of my dad. But he’s not exactly around anymore…”
She watched with growing annoyance how Daryl tilted his head at biting the meat off the spine. “I thought we could go find some.” It was like talking to a wall or a tree. She tilted her head forward, waiting for any sign of a response.
“Okay.” Beth stood, walking over to the log. “Well, enjoy your snake jerky.” She took the knife out from the log it was lodged into and stepped over to make her search for alcohol.
Walking past some trees and ducking under branches, Beth made a good distance between her and the camp. She paused, looking back to see Daryl hadn’t even made a move to follow her. “Jerk.”
Growling caught her attention, spinning around she spotted two walkers stumbling through the trees. No, make that four walkers. Finding the amount too much for her to handle alone, she pressed her back against a tree to hide her slim figure. Her eyes spotted a rock by her boots, silently, Beth reached down and picked it up. She threw the rock, hearing it hit a few leaves making noise. The three walkers heard and turned leaving Beth, but one wouldn’t catch onto the trick. Beth removed the knife, feeling herself tremble having to handle this alone. She peeked around the tree, watching the walker look to where its companions had gone and decided to following thinking maybe a meal was indeed in that direction.
As the walker finally made its leave, a twig snapped making Beth turn around. She found Daryl standing there, his crossbow in his arms. So, he had indeed followed her. Without a word, seeing she was okay, he turned and made his leave. Beth slid the knife away and hastily followed him away from the walkers.
“I think we made it a way.” She said, after a few minutes of following the hunter. “I’m pretty sure we got to go that way to find the booze.” Beth told, pointing in a random direction.
Her knees hit something that Daryl stepped over, hearing the sound of the hubcaps she set up earlier. “What the hell?” Daryl paused, looking back at her. “You brought me back.” Beth’s anger was starting to show toward the uncaring hunter. “I’m not staying in this suck-ass camp!”
Flipping him off, the teen turned to continue her galavant to find booze. Daryl himself was loosing his patience with the girl. “Hey!” He grabbed her arm, stepping back over the caps. “Ya had yer fun.”
Beth tugged her arm free, making a small space between the two. “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you feel anything?” Daryl just stared her down, no answer, as usual. “Yeah, you think everything’s screwed. I guess that’s a feeling. So you want to live the rest of our lives staring into a fire and eating mud snakes? Screw that.” She spat at him. “We might as well do something.”
Daryl just let her go, ranting at him without a word back at her. “I can take care of myself and I’m gonna get a damn drink.” With that, she turned and marched into the woods God knows where to.
Daryl thought on her words, glancing back at their piece of shit camp. He could let her go and possibly die stupidly to find booze, or follow her and do something. With a sigh, the hunter strapped the crossbow over his chest and followed the teen to wherever she was leading the two.
“Hey! What do you think?”
Angela looked up, feeling herself almost fall asleep from staring into space. She saw Merle wearing a buttoned up bowling shirt of dark gray with maroon stripes. She tilted her head, not seeing why he was so excited over the bowling shirt.
“Well, it’s clean.” She complimented.
He held up a finger, as if to wait. He turned and pointing his thumb to his back. The image on the back made Angela frowned, now she understood his excitement. On the back was a 1950s style of a women wearing a blue and white striped bikini.
“Huh?” He grinned down as he kept looking at it in reflection of the mirror above her head. “Ain’t it nice?”
“So long as you don’t jerk off to it with me around.” She told, rubbing her eyes as she yawned.
“No promises.” Merle turned to her, tugging at the top collar. “There’s shirts in the back for ya, too.” He told, nodding to the back room behind the bar.
Angela stood with a groan, raising a brow at him. “It doesn’t have the same image for the women shirts, right?”
“I wish.” He chuckled, looking her up and down. His smile fell seeing her tired looking eyes and pale face, paler than usual. Merle pressed his hand to her forehead, to which she shoved it away. “Feeling shitty?”
“I feel fine, just tired and annoyed with a bullet in my arm.” She countered, walking past toward the back room.
Merle watched her leave, he walked over to the wall of cue sticks and checked them over. If he carved the ends to be sharper, they could be used-
“Damnit!” Cursed Angela.
Merle’s head snapped to the back room. “Something wrong?” It was silent for a moment, Merle turned, putting the cue stick against the wall. “Yo!”
“You failed to tell me their not button ups!” She called to him, not emerging from the back at all.
“Does it matter?” He asked back, making his way over.
“With my arm-” Merle came into the doorway, finding Angela shirtless in only her bra. Her arm out of the handmade sling with it against her side as she struggled with the pale blue polo shirt. Her eyes glanced over, “Hey!” she covered her chest with the shirt.
Merle frowned, though his eyes darted from her pale back. “Calm down, Hot Head. This ain’t the first time ya been exposed to a Dixon.”
Angela felt her cheeks grow hot, glaring at him over her shoulder. “Just because Daryl’s seen, doesn’t give you the right.”
Merle hummed, not listening. “Do ya need help or not?”
Angela’s shoulder tensed, soon nodding as she closed her eyes sheepishly. “No touching anywhere!” She told, holding a finger once he took a step.
“I’ll resist the best I can.” He told bluntly.
Angela turned to him, handing him the shirt. He took it, as he helped her get her good arm through. Her green eyes avoided his blue ones as she felt her arm slip through the sleeve. Merle stood to her other side, taking the wrist of her other arm, raising it slowly to the sleeve. He watched Angela wince and screw her eyes shut, her muscles tightened around the bullet causing the pain to flare up. Merle slowly slipped her arm through the sleeve and rolled it up to avoid getting blood on it. Angela made a haste to pull it over her head, making Merle step back as she covered her top wearing the shirt inteirly.
“Thanks…” She mumbled, taking her old shirt and tossing it without care.
Angela sighed as Merle looked over the clothing hung on the rack. He spotted a long sleeve and a white polo shirt. “Better get that cleaned up.”
“Still no medical- anything?” She asked, leaving the room and toward the bar. Angela sat down at a tool, resting her arm as Merle followed with the shirts.
“Nothing, just food and clothes.” He told, standing on the other end of the bar and untying the wrappings on her arm.
Angela’s hands clenched as he peeled the dry blood off her skin, he didn't stop knowing pausing and holding out the pain would make it worse. He tossed the filthy thing to the floor and used his knife to cut the white shirt into wrappings. Merle looked around, not for alcohol but something to rinse the wound. He spotted the neck of a bottle under the bar, he bent down and pulled out a bottle of vodka. There was very little in there, enough for one sip. Merle stood, his eyes on the wound in Angela’s arm. Sighing, he twisted the cap off and without warning poured it onto her wound.
Angela recoiled, crying out in pain as she stumbled off the stool letting it tip over. She glared at Merle who held the now empty vodka bottle, not seeing a problem with what he just did. “Are you crazy!?”
“What? It did the trick, cleaned it.” He shrugged, slamming it onto the surface.
“How were you sure alcohol was in there? Could’ve been anything!” She barked at him.
“Did it sting?” He asked.
“Of course it did!” Angela answered.
Merle shrugged, “Then it’s alcohol.” he confirmed. “Now plant your ass so I can wrap it.”
Angela growled in frustration, she fixed the stool and sat down giving him her arm with hesitance. “Want to stick a pole in there, next?”
“Shut your big mouth.” He told, taking the cloth and wrapping her arm.
Merle finished her arm and used the sweater to make another sling for her. Angela adjusted the sling as Merle started going through the cans to see what was okay to eat. Angela looked around the room, before something caught her attention. She heard neighing and whining from outside, Merle heard it too. They looked out the dirt and dust covered window to see Calypso having a fit outside.
“What is that damn animal doing?” He asked, watching the loud creature.
“Maybe she wants to make sure we’re okay. We have been in here for a while.” Angela guessed, stepping back wanting to see her.
Merle frowned at another sound he heard. Titling his head against the glass to see other angles, his chest tightened at the sight of walkers emerging from the woods. He looked to Angela seeing her about to move the chair against the door.
“Yo! Stop!” He hissed..
Angela frowned, he waved her over to look outside. She walked over, gasping at the sight of the walkers. About ten or more were heading toward the building- No, they were heading towards Calypso. The horse kicked and roared in stress, trying to keep from the walker’s clutches.
“She needs our help.” Angela moved but Merle caught her arm.
“We can’t take ‘em all on.” He argued.
She glared at him. “I’m not leaving her out to be food.”
Merle looked back out, Angela walked over seeing Calypso backing away from the building, the walkers stalking toward her. Angela’s anxiety grew, her heart pounding as her friend kicked and fought against the walkers. The horse had to run, had to get away!
“Run, girl!” Angela barked at the window, making Merle jump. “Calypso, run!”
“Shut your ass up!” Merle hissed, covering her mouth with his hand.
The walkers didn't hear over the horse’s roaring and neighing. But the creature heard the demand, and turned running into the dense woods. The walkers followed after, trying to catch up to Calypso for a meal.
“Hmm, hm hmm!” Angela ripped Merle’s filthy hand off jogging to the door. “We gotta help her!”
“Uh-huh. We ain’t getting our asses killed for a damn horse.” He blocked her from the door. “You sit your ass down or-”
“Or what? Tie me to the bar, Merle? I’m not a coward, I won’t let her die!”
“It’s some dumb animal!” Merle barked at her. “It lured the walkers away, it was a risk having it sit outside the damn place!”
Angela tried to shove back him, but his figure stayed rigged in his spot. “She saved our lives! We never would’ve gotten out of the prison or gotten this far without her!”
“It was bound to die!”
“Why are you so scared!?” Angela screeched at him, making him glare darkly down at her. “You wouldn’t go back for your brother, you won’t search for anyone from the prison, and now you won’t save the only friend I got left!”
Merle held a finger in her face. “Better watch what ya saying, Sunshine.” He threatened. “Ya’d be dead if I wasn’t with ya. We should’ve stayed in the cell blocks.”
“If we had stayed inside, we could’ve died!” She argued, but knew he was right.
“Daryl would’ve known your ass was safe in that cell then out in that field in the middle of it all!” He shoved her back making her stumble to keep her balance. “Now shut up , and sit down.”
Angela seethed at him, “You’re nothing but a coward!!” she cried at him. “Just like with Kaylee! You were too scared to save her and now you’re too scared to save anyone!”
“You don’t what happened!? I tried!”
“You didn't try enough.” She growled.
Merle inhaled, chewing on his cheek at the insults she threw at him. He stepped to the side and walked toward the door. He gripped the back of the chair and threw it across the room, letting it smash against the wall. Opening the door, he moved and strode past her.
“I don’t care what happens to ya.” He snarled at her, stopping to look back. “Go die, get yer skinny ass eaten.”
Angela shook her head and left the room. She climbed out over the stable and squeezed out through the front door. Merle watched from the window seeing the woman disappear into the woods without care.
Beth walked through the woods without any direction, surprised to find an empty meadow. Looking around, she saw poles with flags and golf carts all over. It was a golf course, she spotted a building in the distance up a hill as Daryl emerged behind her.
“Golfers like to booze it up, right?” She asked him.
Daryl looked around, he had no idea. He never been golfing, and judging by the building and size, this was one of them fancy private club places. He saw walkers leaving the woods in the distance, heading in their direction.
“Come on.” Beth walked up the hills as Daryl followed. Along the way he found a golf club and took it with him, needing to give his bolts a break since they were starting to wear out.
Approaching the building, the sign with some overgrown plants read ‘Pine Vista Country Club’. Daryl wasn’t too off, knowing rich people, there might be a some sort of booze inside. The windows and doors were covered in paper, and it didn't show any signs of being overrun by walkers.
“Might be people inside.” Beth noted seeing the condition of the place.
Thunder was heard in the distance, possibly another storm heading their way. The two walked up to the porch finding a corpse with old blood against the wall by its head. Must of died before the chance of turning. Beth stepped over not giving it a single glance and shook the doors to try and open them. Daryl knelt down searching the body for anything useful, be it medical, food, or weapons. The doors were locked or barricaded from inside, the two saw the walkers following them had doubled from before.
Desperate for shelter from the threatening heading towards them, Daryl lead them to the back finding doors with its windows covered in papers. He opened the door, noting it wasn’t even locked and peeked inside.
“Come on.” He got Beth in and shut the door, hearing a snarling grow closer. Daryl slide the golf club through the door knobs to keep it from opening.
With careful steps, the two searched the room finding the windows barricaded with furniture and clothing and blankets hung up on ropes as a way of making a tent. What caught Beth’s attention was the decaying bodies that laid in rows on the floor before them and turned walkers hanging from the rafters in the back. People must have hung themselves, known that they’d turn no matter what.
Finding a flashlight on a bed, Daryl switched it on surprised to see it working. He shined the light on the hanging walkers, spotting three of them. They spun around slowing, reaching out wanting to get to the two survivors. He was disgusted by the sight of the hanged walkers, but more so at the bodies of the people all over. Some laying there as if asleep, others slouched over beds seeing the tight yellow skin over their bones. Beth found a smaller flashlight on the table, glad to see it was working too. She spotted a spoon on the clothed surface, using her shirt to clean it the inside of the spoon read ‘The Capital Washington D.C.’ and had an engraving of the white house. She heard things moved and saw Daryl on the floor. He was shoving money and jewelry into a black small purse, actually if she looked closely. The manner almost seemed rushed and brash, like he was robbing the person in a haste to not get caught.
“What are you keeping all that stuff?” She asked, finding half the junk he was taking useless.
Daryl looked up, but felt no need to give her answers for his actions. The banging on the door signaled the walkers had made it, trying to enter the building. The hunter slung the backpack over his shoulder, grabbing his crossbow and flashlight, he ran to the double doors. Beth followed behind in a rush, he slammed the door shut and propped a cabinet against it.
The two ventured deeper into the building, managing to find the kitchen. Daryl hurried through to find food, while Beth only focused on any bottles that looked to have held alcohol at one point. She wandered into the back room, taking out her knife in search for her booze. The sight of wine glasses made her move on until she saw a back freezer room. Daryl looked over shelves and only found a small container of cinnamon sticks, he pocketed them.
Checking the old freezer, Beth looked into one shelving room spotting a dead body on the floor. She shined her light up, and found a bottle of unopened wine! Finding her goal within a few feet, she stepped over the corpse and reached up, clanging some pots as she climbed the shelving. Daryl heard and paused, shining his light and listening if it was Beth or a walker. Grabbing the neck of the bottle, Beth was careful of the meat hooks that hung by her arm. Not hearing any growling or screaming, Daryl deemed it was Beth and returned to his searching.
Beth left the room and looked at the bottle, to read what exactly type of wine was in there. Too focused on the treasure in her hands, the teen didn't notice a walker had emerged from another room. Beth gasped but was grabbed by the walker, with only the bottle in one hand and the flashlight in the other, she slammed the bottle against the walker’s head. The red liquid splashed as glass smashed into pieces. It barely phazed the walker as it tried to reach its teeth toward her arm. With no other choice, she stabbed the broken bottle into its face repeatedly, seeing it not stop the walker as it was shoving her backwards down the hall. Beth dropped the bottle and finally got her knife out, stabbing it into its forehead just as Daryl ran in after hearing the struggle. The body thumped to the ground, Daryl seeing Beth catching her breath but looked alright.
“Thanks for the help.” She said to him.
“Ya said ya could take care of yerself.” He retorted, repeating the words she said back at camp. “Ya did.” Daryl turned back toward the kitchen without care.
Beth looked over into the room finding more bodies laying in a row, so many had given up. She heard the story of Angela’s old community, seeing the thousands of people, elderly and children laid together dead after ‘opting’ out. Beth glanced back toward where Daryl left, following him as the last sight of alcohol here was now gone thanks to that walker. Beth noticed he was more tense when seeing the people who hung, shot, or in anyway killed themselves.
The two made it down a stairwell, Daryl saw displays leaning against the walls blocking the path. He placed his crossbow on top and got down, crawling under the thing. Seeing a grandfather clock blocking his path, he tilted it right side up. The damn thing chimed once it was standing straight, he crawled out with Beth right behind him. He peeked down a hall as Beth went down another finding a clothing store. Daryl picked up his crossbow and shined at the clock, seeing it still ticking right now.
The clothing store had many polo shirts, golf pants, and sweaters with the club’s logo on it. Beth made a beeline for the women’s clothing, jumping when she felt a mannequin hand bump her leg. She looked at the pretty yellow shirts and white sweaters, while Daryl ignored the clothing completely. He made sure to clear the desk as he shoved whatever was in the bowl into his vest pockets. Beth grabbed the shirt and sweater, going into the changing rooms to put them on. Daryl tried to access the cash register, shaking the drawer and pressing the buttons. A cinnamon stick hung from his lips, popping one in when he stuffed his pockets. Daryl sat down, eyeing up half a top corpse on the lower half of a mannequin display, old dry blood staining the white plastic. It wore a bra and a blood covered shirt with a sign bolted into its collar bone ‘RICH BITCH’ written on the sign. Beth was disturbed by the sight when she returned, Daryl watched her try to fix the clothing to cover her up and attempted to move the legs.
Beth looked to Daryl, who watched chewing his stick. “Help me take her down.”
“It don’t matter. She’s dead.” He shrugged.
“It does matter.” She urged, trying to get the body off. Though Daryl was sure whoever did it, bolted the body to the plastic.
Daryl stood, finding a blue sheet folded beside him. “Here.” She stood back as he covered the body, respecting Beth’s wish.
The two walked back to the hall to check the others rooms, walking by the ticking clock. Not even passing a few feet, the damn thing started chiming loudly for whatever time it thought it was. The two spun around, jumping at the chime. Daryl tapped her arm to go ahead, as the clock did no harm. Or, so they thought, until passing a room two walkers were heading towards them hearing the clock.
“Move.” Daryl urged Beth to keep going, as she turned down a hall. Daryl saw a room blocked by stacks of chairs were two more walkers spotted them.
They ran into what looked to be some sort of lounge room as Beth ran toward the door. Daryl heard the walkers on their asses, wanting to avoid killing them. Finding no other way, he turned and finished chewing on his stick and aimed his crossbow at the nearest one. He fired the bolt into its skull and shoved the second against the wall of wooden lockers. It got a hold of his crossbow, but Daryl found a collection of golf clubs by him against the table. He raised one up and wacked it against the side of its head. Beth stood by the door watching to make sure he’d be okay as they poured out from the hall. He knocked the club into the third one, the end breaking off as it was lodged into its skull. Daryl stabbed the sharp broken end into the fourth walker and the next one was lunging at him. Daryl kicked it in the gut and took his knife out. He struggled with the curly haired walker, slowly stabbing his knife into its eye socket. Once the last one in a green sweater was left, Daryl grabbed a new club and started beating on it. Beth watched on, seeing Daryl wasn’t even aiming for the head anymore. The hunter was just beating the damn thing senselessly, even when it laid on the ground he just hit wherever he could at the body. Daryl was letting his anger and frustration get the better, soon his focus returned to the walker and he raised the club for a heavy swing. He swung at the head as hard as possible, half it’s face and brain flying at Beth as the blood and gore stained her once was clean shirt. She stepped back, gasping at the fact Daryl had an episode and pretty much flung walker juices at her.
Beth turned away unbuttoning the sweater and tossing it aside as she moved down the next hall. Daryl caught his breath and follow her, seeing that they had finally found a bar in this hellhole.
“We made it.” She announced, turning toward Daryl as he looked to her. “I know you think this is stupid, and it probably is. But, I don’t care.” Beth told, Daryl stayed silent letting her rant again.
“All I wanted to do today was lay down and cry, but we don’t get to do that. So, beat up on walkers if that makes you feel better. I need to do this.” With that, the teen turned and marched toward the bar.
Daryl watched her wander toward the bar, searching where the booze would be held. She walked around to get behind, noticing more corpses lying on the ground by her feet. While she searched, Daryl dumped more crap from the tables into the bag he carried. Sound of glass smashing caught her attention when she found a bottle of something. Beth saw Daryl smatch the glass of a framed document hanging on the wall.
“Did you have to break the glass?” She asked him.
“No.” Daryl told, tossing the frame and folding the paper. It was more of that he wanted to than had to. “Ya have yer drink yet?” He asked her.
“No. But I found this.” She turned to him sitting at the bar as she examined the bottle she found. “Peach Schnapps.” Daryl’s lip curled at the name, of all the alcohol, she had to drink that crap? “Is it good?”
“No.” He answered, walking past her.
She looked up at him, feeling he was disapproving of the drink she found. “Well, it’s the only thing left.”
Daryl played with the balls on the pool table, tossing it between his hands before he spotted a dart board on the wall. He tossed the ball on the table, letting his crossbow rest on the surface. Daryl removed the darts, eyeing up the photos of snobs and stiff of who owned the place. Beth took a cup and a napkin, attempting to clean it, but when she saw blood inside. Her eyes scanned the bar surface, tapping her nails against the wood. She peeked into a martini glass, finding blood stained inside that as well.
“Who needs a glass.” She shrugged, eyeing the bottle up.
The teen tapped her fingers on the bar anxiously, starring the bottle up and down. She grabbed the neck and gripped the top, hearing Daryl throw the darts. He glanced at her, seeing her frozen with her hands on the bottle, looking to be scared to open the thing. Daryl threw another dart as it impaled the photo of a chubby man, lodging into his large chin. He glanced back against, seeing her features scrunch up, and soon soft crying escaping her throat. Daryl turned back, twisting the dart in his hand as he eyed up to to hit next. He threw another, hitting a in her wrinkled old nose. The struggle Beth was having made Daryl’s chest clench. The teen wanted to find the alcohol, curl into a ball, and cry for the day. But she was right, they don’t get to do that. Daryl doesn’t get to sit in a corner and cry for those he loved now gone. Whacking that walker earlier took out the anger that built up from the past twenty-four hours. This didn't help Beth, she wanted to drink her sorrows away, do something a teenager would sneak out to do from their parent in a normal life.
Fiddling with the final dart, Daryl threw it without a care where it landed and marched up to the bar. He grabbed the bottle from Beth and threw it to the floor, letting it smash onto the ground. The liquid stained the carpet and the glass shattered everywhere. She looked up at him in question, he glanced back to her.
“Ain’t gonna have yer first drink be no damned peach schnapps.” He told, throwing an arm at the once was bottle with contempt. Daryl picked up his crossbow and threw the back door open. “Come on.” He called.
Beth pulled herself together, wiping her face as she followed the hunter out of the building.
Angela was no tracker or hunter like the Dixons, but she tried her damndest to find any trace of Calypso in the dense woods. Careful not to bump her arm into the thorny branches she passed, a knife held in her other hand keeping a lookout for anything. Be it walkers or Calypso. Angela looked down in a mud path seeing hoof prints. She couldn't tell if they were fresh enough to be Calypso’s or not, but Angela followed the direction they pointed to. She made kissing noises, clicked her tongue, and gave low whistles to call her horse.
“Calypso? It’s alright, I’m here.” Angela called softly. “I promised to protect, andI will. Remember?” she ducked under a branch.
She stopped seeing a walker with its face caved into the mud, it looked like a hoof crushed its skull. Angela took a few steps, stopping short when rustling in the bushed caught her attention. She crouched down, snapping her fingers and clicking her tongue, possibly Calypso hiding in the bushes.
“Hey girl, I’m here. I’m right here.” She called softly, reaching down the pat the leaves on the ground. “Come on, it’ll just be you and me. And not-”
Much to her dismay, walkers came pouring out from the bushes in numbers. Angela stumbled backwards to her feet, almost dropping her knife in the process. The walker’s faces were scratched and carved by the heavily thorny bushes they emerged from. Angela backed up, raising her knife awaiting the closest walker to approach her. Once close enough, he plunged the knife into its skull and kicked it away, stabbing the second. The amount grew heavier, almost cornering her against the tree. Angela spun around the tree and bolted down a hill almost falling face first into the mud. The walkers followed, tripping and tumbling down into the mud. Angela scrambled back, watching them fall one by one down the steep edge. Some bones broke and they started to pile on top of one another.
Taking her chance, Angela ran through the woods, ignoring the thorns and stickers cutting and scraping her cheeks and arms. Her legs carried her as fast as possible, her lungs burning as she ran jumping over logs. She looked back, hearing the snarling in the distance as she rounded a bush, hiding behind it. Sweat poured down her face, trying to catch her breath fast so she could hold it when they arrive.
Looking around, something to her left made her heart near stop at the sight of it. That mangled main, ripped flesh, and beautiful wide dark eyes staring back at her. She had found Calypso, laying in the mud with her concave body, guts and organs spilling out as blood soaked the grass and leaves, mixing with the mud. Her flesh was clawed and ripped by the jaws of the walkers. Angela couldn’t break eye contact from the Calypso’s big eyes, her jaw slanted and opened, probably crying out in pain of being ripped open and eaten alive. Her legs were covered in mud, her lower torso sunk into the deep wet muck. The poor girl must have gotten stuck and trapped, leading to her demise.
Tears pricked the corner of her eyes, she suddenly heard the walkers closer. Angela remembered she was not in a safe enough place to mourn her girl. She leaned down and kissed her snouth, reached up to close her eye. Angela snuck off into the high weeds and bushes, the walkers arrived and saw the horse’s corpse. They all knelt down and feasted upon whatever was left of the creature.
Angela half sobbed and half gasped as she ran to find her way back to the bowling alley. Her friend was gone, or only and last friend taken away from her like everyone else. She lost her parents, Nolan, Dale, she lost Lori, T-Dog, Oscar, and Axel from the prison. Her beloved sister robbed from her clutches and Hershel killed in cold blood by a monster, The Governor. Even if he got what he deserved, he was good and dead, she still managed to lose more at the fall of the prison. Rick, Carl and Judith, Glenn and Maggie, Sasha and Tyreese, Michonne, Beth, and Carol. Daryl, her beloved hunter and the man she loved, was gone alive or not. Now, she lost someone who she saved and promised to keep safe, Angela failed in her promise.
Her long trudge back to the Bowling Alley wasn’t as long as she thought. Arriving outside, Merle was standing out with his back against the wall keeping watch. Be it he was keeping an eye out for her or for walkers, she didn't care. He watched her walk up the path, ignoring the fact a car was now sitting in front of the building.
“Found us a ride.” He told, hands in his pocket as he propped his heel against the wall. Angela paused at the door, staring down at her feet listening to what he had to say. “Stay the night, leave by sunrise. Found more cars in the back, take the fuel and whatever else we’ll need.”
Merle eyed her up and down, seeing her unphased by his update. It was clear the damn horse hadn’t made it or she never found it. Merle pushed himself off the wall and turned spitting into the asphalt by his feet.
“Go rest, got a long trip ahead of us.” He told, rolling his shoulder as he moved toward the car.
Merle popped the hood to check the engine, though despite he gave it a therour look over, he needed an excuse to not engage in a conversation with Angela. Her shoulder turned and she glanced toward Merle, seeing him check the engine of a silver 1982 Chevrolet Camaro. Her eyes traveled down, unable to find herself to say anything in response to the redneck. Angela climbed through the door and walked into the pool room, shutting the door. She took a few steps and sat down against the wall, pressing the back of her head against the aged wood paneling. Her chest rose up and down, soon shaking as she released sobs. Not caring where she was, Angela opened her mouth and let out a wail of a cry, sobbing as loud as her lungs would let her.
Merle heard her crying, making no move to check on her or comfort her. Why bother, he thought. He slammed the hood and leaned his palm onto it. He turned and glanced at the building, sighing to himself.
“A motorcycle mechanic.” Beth said, after walking behind in silence for over an hour or so.
“Huh?” Daryl glanced back stepping over a shrub.
“That’s my guess. For what you were doing before the turn.” She explained, stepping up to walk beside him. “Did Zach ever guess that one?”
“It don’t matter.” He brushed off. “Hasn’t mattered for a long time.”
“It’s just what people talk about.” Beth told, hand resting on the knife at her hip. She wanted to make a conversation since Daryl was finally responding to her. “You know, to feel normal.”
“Yeah, well, that never felt normal to me.” He told.
Beth only knew little about Daryl despite how long the two knew each other from the first day he rolled up to the farm to now. She knew at times he could have a short temper, always thought of himself as some nobody redneck, but then he was always looking out for the others and protecting the group he called family. Still, Beth struggled to read or know who Daryl Dixon was. She supposed only Angela really knew the deep undershell of the hunter more than anyone, even Merle.
“Did Angela ever guess correctly?” She asked, causing the hunter to pause in his steps. “I mean,” Beth hoped she hadn’t said the wrong thing to make him so silent again. “You two were always together, I remember seeing you two star gazing when back on the farm. Saw you two from my bedroom window.” Beth chuckled at the memory. “Thought you were a couple when we first met.”
Daryl gave a short low glance and turned to continue walking without a comment. Beth swallowed and continued following, wondering where he would be taking her.
Ducking under thick branches of foliage, they left the trees to find a shack out here in the middle of the woods. “Found this place with Michonne n’ Merle.” He told, eyeing up the joint.
Beth was a little disappointed in the destination he got them to. “I was expecting a liquor store.”
“No, this is better.” Daryl assured.
Marching past the porch, Daryl eyed the items displayed. He peeked through the broken windows with Beth following to the back shed. Daryl opened it, content to see it was untouched when he last found it. Well, Merle found it and Daryl had to make sure his brother wouldn’t bring any back to the prison. Merle claimed he wouldn’t, saying that this would be the hide out place next time he takes a search outside the prison.
With a crate, Daryl started loading it up with jars and bottles that held clear like liquid inside. Beth guessed it could be vodka, but why in jars?
“What’s that?” She asked.
“Moonshine.” He answered, heaving the crate into her arms and walking toward the front porch. Beth following, biting back a grin playing on her lips.
Daryl checked the home first, seeing it cluttered with crap in corners and against walls. Ripped up newspapers scattered on the floor, it was a mess but looked safe so far. Beth gently rested the crate onto the kitchen table as Daryl checked the backdoor. Deeming the place clear, Daryl got a plastic cup, blowing the dust out and opened a jar. Beth sat down, watching him pour her a small amount into the cup.
“That’s a real first drink, right there.” He told, placing the jar down eager to watch her taste the stuff. He noticed her hestince, just like the schnapps back at the club. “What’s the matter?” Was Beth backing out?
“Nothing.” She told, glancing up to him, her fingers slowing curling around the bottom of the cup. “It’s just my dad always said bad moonshine can make you go blind.”
Daryl didn't debunk the myth or assure her. “Ain’t nothin’ worth seein’ out there anymore anyway.” Was all he told, not really giving her the answer if it would indeed make one go blind.
Well, down the hatch, she thought. Beth brought the cup to her lips, watching the clear liquid slip down and into her mouth. It stung as it slid down her throat, but a nasty taste soon grew on her taste buds. She swallowed nonetheless, cringing at the flavor of the nasty crap. She hadn’t expected moonshine to taste this gross at all!
“That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted.” She expressed, earning a shrug from Daryl.
Beth drained the cup, smiling up at Daryl in thanks for doing this for her. Eager to have more, despite the rotten taste, she reached for the jar behind the crate. “Second round’s better.”
Daryl raised his brow at her, adjusting the knife at his hip. “Better slow down.” He warned.
“This one’s for you.” She told, ready to pour him a drink.
“Nah, I’m good.” He waved off.
Beth looked between the jar and cup, then up to Daryl. “Why?”
“Someone’s got to keep watch.” He answered, as if it was obvious to why.
The teen felt disappointed at that. “So, what, you’re like my chaperone now?”
“Just drink lots of water.” Daryl instructed, fidgeting now as he walked past wanting to block those windows.
“Yes, Mr. Dixon.” Beth sarcastically replied, pouring a small amount for her second drink.
Using some thin plywood, Daryl found laying in the garbage, he started nailing the one window closed to keep anyone -alive or dead- from seeing them inside. There was a good amount of windows, but he still wanted light to enter and for them to see outside. Beth grew bored and started fishing through the garbage, commenting on random things she found. Though, the bright pink item that caught her eye might have won as the weirdest thing she had ever seen.
The teen chuckled as she pulled it out, finding the pink bra statue filled with old used cigarette, near overflowing at the edges. “Who’d go into a store and walk out with this?” She placed it in front of the chair, Daryl turned spotting the dumb thing she had pulled out.
“My dad, that's who.” He told, seeing a confused mixed concerned look from Beth. “Oh, he’s a dumbass.” He dismissed, “Hell, Merle would buy a couple of them, if given the chance.” Daryl joked. Beth chuckled, nodding in agreement.
“My old man would set those up on top of the TV set, use ‘em as target practice.” Daryl told, referring to actual bras or this thing, beth didn't know.
“He shot things inside your house?” She asked, finding it unsafe that a father shot things with their kids around. Growing up to where her dad had guns but never fired them around the kids or in the house, ever.
Daryl waved it off carelessly. “It was just a bunch of junk anyway.” His eyes roamed the room, thinking back to his childhood home. “That’s how I know what this place was. That shed out there, dad had a place just like this.” Daryl pointed the hammer at the furniture piled in the corner beside him. “Ya got yer Dumpster chair. That’s for sittin’ in yer drawers all Summer drinkin’.” He pointed at the metal spittoons. “Got yer fancy buckets. That’s for spittin’ chaw in, after yer old lady tells ya to stop smokin’.” He joked with a grin.
Beth chuckled, glad to see Daryl opening and lightening up with her. The hunter turned spotted the chunk of newspaper. He took it off the shelf, holding out for Beth to see. “Ya got yer Internet.” He tossed them to the floor.
The sound of growling outside made the two grow silent. Daryl held a finger at Beth who moved to stand, he peeked out the window seeing one single walker outside just wandering about.
“It’s just one of ‘em.” He assured, stepping away from the window.
“Should we get it?” Beth asked.
Daryl thought on it, “If he keeps makin’ too much noise, yeah.” he told.
Beth shrugged, “Well, if we’re going to be trapped again, may as well make the best of it.” she reached for the one jar of moonshined and held it out to him. “Unless you’re too busy chaperoning, Mr. Dixon.”
Daryl raised his hand in hesitation, he didn't want to drink too much to where he would do something stupid. He could end up being loud and attracting walkers or wander off. He hadn’t drank alcohol since his brother went to prison, he was drunk being stuck with his son of a bitch father. His Uncle Jess found him heavily hung over in the garage, room destroyed and Daryl had cut his hand on one of his tools. Bringing his thoughts back, Daryl inwardly assured himself it was just a few sips to get a buzz, nothing more. The hunter put the hammer down on a shelf and took the jar, nodding to the teen.
“Hell, might as well make the best of it.” He agreed, walking over and throwing himself into the sofa rocking chair.
Beth grinned, sitting on the floor with a crochet blanket beside the chair. He twisted the cap off and looked to her, seeing her hold the cup of her own drink in her lap.
“Home, sweet home.” He muttered, taking a gulp of the booze as Beth sipped hers softly.
Beth’s eyes fell onto the ugly cigarette trash older, a thought came to mind as she looked up at Daryl who took another gulp of the moonshine. “Did Angela ever tell you to stop?”
Daryl swallowed with a bit of difficulty when she was mentioned. “Stop what?” He asked, his fingers rubbing the glass designs as his eyes were glued to the jar in his lap.
“Quit smoking, I know you smoke. I’ve smelled it on you, saw you smoke a few times outside on watch.” Beth told, moving her seating to see him better.
Daryl thought back, remembering times he smoked around her. “Naw.” He told, taking a smaller sip than before.
“Not once?” She asked.
Daryl shook his head, tilting the jar on his knee in circles to swirl his drink. “She never seemed bothered by it. I offered once or twice, she told me she quit in college.”
“Doesn’t the smell make her want to smoke again?” Beth asked, having never done the deed herself, she was quite curious.
The hunter shrugged, adjusting his shoulders into the dirty sofa. “If it did, she never showed an itch for it. Always made sure our cell never had the smell.”
Beth chuckled, “That why you always cleaned it before she got back with Michonne?” she asked. The teen remembered how Daryl would almost be in a rush to have the linens clean for the bed.
Daryl smirked, “Yeah.” he raised the jar and sipped some more. “Think she always knew. Angie’d come in the cell, drop her crap on the floor. She’d fall right onto the bed, tired as hell. If I was out on a run or huntin’, I’d find her there, face deep in the pillow sleepin’ like a baby.”
Beth watched the glint in his eye die as he spoke softly of this memory. His smirk soon fell and he took another large gulp of the moonshine in response to the sad memory. She didn't want to make the hunter said at these thoughts, she lost her dad and it made her sad. But she treasured the good memories of him.
“Hey,” Daryl glanced over to her as she stood. “Let’s play a game.”
"So first, I say something I've never done and if you've done it, you drink, and if you haven't, I drink." Beth explained the rules after having Daryl agree to play. "Then we switch."
The table was moved between them as each now had a jar of moonshine equal to one another- half full. She sat across from him as he moved to the floor, back against the chair. Daryl rubbed his lips when she told the game play, it wasn't that it was confusing to him. If anything, he never understood drinking games. He never did it, Merle never did it, and sure as well his father never did it.
Beth felt like she might have confused him with the silent look he was giving. "You really don't know this game?" She was sure everyone knew the game 'I Never'.
"I ain't never needed a game to get lit before." He told, knee brought up to rest his elbow on it.
Beth frowned, looking down than back up to him. "Wait, are we starting?"
"How do ya know this game?" He asked, pointing a finger at her. She claimed to have never drank before, yet she knew this game really well.
"My friends played, I watched." Beth answered, assuring she didn't participate. Her daddy would've killed her if she had back then. "Okay, I'll start." The teen thought of something easy, nodding to herself. "I've never shot a crossbow. So now you drink."
Daryl reached for his jar, "Ain't much of a game." he drawled taking a sip.
"That was a warm-up." She told. "Now you go."
Daryl hummed to himself, placing the jar down. Bringing his hand back up to his mouth in his usual manner, he struggled to think of something. He wasn't going to like telling about himself with this game. "I don't know." He shrugged.
Beth held the cup she still used, not wanting to put her mouth on the jar. "Just say the first thing that pops into your head." She urged, eager to play.
First thing, huh? "I ain't never been out of Georgia." He told.
Beth's brows rose, "Really? Okay, good one." she took a sip indicating to Daryl she had left the state before. Probably for a vacation or family trip, he supposed. "I've never… Been drunk and did something I regretted."
Almost with hesitance, Daryl took the jar taking his drink. "I've done a lot of things." He told, putting it back down.
"You're turn." She told.
Daryl glanced up then back down, thinking to get something that wouldn't be too… wrong for his upbringing compared to Beth's. "I ain't never been on vacation."
"What about camping?" Beth asked, thinking that'd be the same thing.
Daryl shook his head, rubbing the hairs on his chin. "No, that was just somethin' I had to learn, to hunt."
Beth grew more curious. "Your dad teach you?"
"Mh-hmm." Daryl hummed, "Merle n' I." he confirmed.
The teen shrugged, "Okay." taking her sip. So, she had gone on vacation, Daryl thought maybe she considered camping to be a vacation. "I've never broken a bone."
Daryl eyed her up, nodding to his drink. "Go on."
Her brows went up. "Really? Never?" She asked, taking a sip. "Not even when camping or hunting?"
"Naw, Merle has though." Daryl told, reaching over to move his jar from the edge of the table. "We was young 'n, right before Merle went to the army. He just started wrestlin' with me- At me." He corrected. "He fell down down the stars n' broke his arm." Daryl held his arm up, pointing at three spots on his forearm. "Here, here, n' here."
"Did he get a cast?" Beth asked.
Daryl rested his arm back down, hand at his chin. "Had to force him, he fought how he was fine n' didn't need no doctors to tell him what he knew."
Beth chuckled, that sounded like Merle. The man cut his own hand off and survived that, wouldn't surprise her if he made his own splint or something. "Your turn."
Daryl glanced down, trying to think of something. "Ain't never had a family reunion." He blurted out, feeling his mind grow empty on what to say.
Beth took a drink, sighing as she placed the cup down. "We used to have them, on my daddy's side. We would throw horseshoes and have a big meal."
"Big family?" Daryl asked.
Beth nodded, placing the jar down. Now it was her turn to come up with something. "I've never… been in jail. I mean, as a prisoner."
Daryl looked up at that, pausing in rubbing his fingers together as he felt something switch inside his head. This seemed like an innocent game, but now this was becoming a tad personal for the hunter.
"Is that what ya think of me?" He questioned, his eyes thinning into a glare at her dumb smile.
Beth sat up, "I didn't mean anything serious." she assured. "I just thought, you know, like the drunk tank." He had said he got drunk and did something he regret, is that what brought this idea to her mind? "Even my dad got locked up for that, back in the day."
"Drink up." Daryl told, motioning to her cup.
He just wanted to go to the next subject. Daryl was disliking this game more and more. His aggravation was climbing after drinking a considerable smaller amount than Beth had been. He's surprised her speech hadn't started slurring yet.
"Wait." Beth grinned, leaning onto the table. "Prison guard. Were you a prison guard before?"
This guessing, this God damn guessing game. It was fine when Zach did it, when he was alive, when the prison was home, everyone was alive. Only one person knew who he really was, accepted and loved him no matter what. That person was gone from his life, dead or alive- Did it matter?
"No." He growled at her.
Beth swallowed, feeling the tension grow. But she persisted the game continue. "It's your turn again."
Daryl moved to stand, roughly hitting the palm of his hand on the table. "I'm gonna take a piss." He told, carrying the jar with him.
Beth sat, looking down at her drink as she waited for him. The jar slipped from Daryl's fingers as he started undoing his belt. "You have to be quiet." She hissed, expecting him to go outside.
"I can't hear you!" Daryl suddenly barked at her, standing in the corner. "I'm takin' a piss!"
"Daryl, don't talk so loud."
Daryl looked over his shoulder, preceding to urinate on the wall without care. "What, are ya my chaperon now?" He snapped at her.
Beth turned away as he finished his business desecrating the wall.
"Oh, wait. It's my turn, right?" He asked, zipping his pants and buckling his belt. "I never, uhh…" He marched over, looking down at the teen who stood rigid. "Never ate frozen yogurt. Never had a pet pony. Never got nothin' from Santa Clause." Daryl slapped the chair, near tipping the crate of moonshine over. "Never relied on anyone for protection before!" Daryl walked around, then spun at her. "Hell, I don't think I ever relied on anyonefor anythin'!" He claimed, though it was a lie deep down.
Beth shook her head, this wasn't what she wanted. "Daryl-"
"Never sung out in front of a big group out in public, like everythin' was fun." Daryl paused his pacing, staring her down. "Like everythin' was a big game." He turned away, then back at her, "I sure as hell never cut my wrist lookin' for attention!" making a cutting motion at his wrist.
Beth glanced down at her wrist, she kept bands and bracelets there to hide the scar. Daryl stood there shaking with anger, taking it all out on her. He needed to calm down. Before she could say a word, thudding was heard against the wall outside. The walker from earlier growling at the noise Daryl was making.
"Oh! Sounds like our friend out there is tryin' to call all of his buddies!" He kicked pots and pans out of his way, reaching for his crossbow he hung on the wall.
"Daryl, just shut up." She hissed, her teeth gritting wanting him to just stop it.
"Hey!" He pointed a finger at her. "Ya never shot a crossbow before? I'm gonna teach ya right now." Daryl marched over, roughly taking her wrist, heaving her to her feet. "Come on. It's gonna be fun."
Daryl kicked the door open as Beth tugged her arm from him. "We should stay inside!" He ignored her, dragging her out and down the porch. "Daryl, cut it out! Daryl!"
The walker saw them leave the home, snarling as he stumbled past the branches. "Dumbass." Daryl named it, seeing it eagerly head their way. "Come here, dumbass!"
He fired the bolt, nailing it in the chest. It lodged the walker into the tree, Daryl quickly pulled the tension back with ease.
"Ya want a shoot?" He asked, ripping another bolt from the front of holster.
"I-I don't know how." She suttered, her head whipping between the walker and Daryl.
"Oh, it's easy. Come here." He assured, roughly holding her as he placed the crossbow in front of her. "Right corner."
The bolt flew and lodged into it's left thigh, Beth pushed him off as he stumbled. "Let's practice later!" She urged, not wanting to do this.
The drunk hunter pulled the tension back, reloading just as fast as before. "Come on, it's fun."
No, this wasn't fun. This was stupid. "Just stop it." He reached for her, arm around her shoulder. "Daryl!"
She struggled under his grip, smelling the booze off him. He was drunk and she hadn't expected him to act like this. This whole charade had sobered her up quickly. "Eight ball." He whispered.
He fired and the third bolt hit right in the center of his chest. This was just torture, for the walker and Beth. "Just kill it!"
Daryl lifted his bow seeing he had used all his bolts, forgetting how many he had. "Come here, Greene." He called, marching up to the walker. "Let's pull these out. Get a little more target practice."
Beth couldn't stand this any longer. He was going to get them killed if he continued. The walker reached out for Daryl, he ignored the fact it could scratch him still. Beth ran over with her knife out and stabbed it in the head, killing the walker. Daryl frowned, glaring at the teen as she ripped it out of the skull.
"What the hell ya do that for? I was havin' fun!" He barked at her, as she stomped away from him.
Beth turned at him, "No, you were being a jackass!" she yelled at him. "If anyone found my dad-"
Daryl pointed a finger at her, not wanting this to be brought back up. "Don't! That ain't remotely the same!"
"Killing them is not supposed to be fun!"
Daryl was near snarling himself, first he was too uptight now he was a jackass? "What do ya want from me girl, huh!?" The alcohol was messing with his thoughts, too intoxicated to see the problem.
"I want you to stop acting like you don't give a crap about anything! Like nothing we went through matters! Like none of the people we lost meant anything to you! If Angela was here-"
"What if she was!? Huh!?" He hollered in her face, daring her to keep going. "Ya rather she be here? Be yer drinkin' buddy!? Share feelin's n' cry all day long!?"
"Angela wouldn't let you do this!" She yelled, motioning toward the walker. "You don't even want to look for her! She loved you and you don't care! It's bullshit!"
Daryl eyed her up, stepping back and forth hearing her rant. "Is that what ya think?" She was accusing him of all people that he didn't give a damn about those they lost. him!?
"That's what I know." Beth corrected.
Daryl stepped up to her face. "Ya don't know nothin'."
She shook her head, getting in his making him back up. "I know you look at me and you just see another dead girl. Just like Kaylee!" Daryl stepped back at that accusation. "I'm not Angela. I'm not Michonne. I'm not Carol. I'm not Maggie. I've survived and you don't get it 'cause I'm not like you or them. But I made it and you don't get to treat me like crap just because you're afraid."
Daryl's eyes slit into a glare again. "I ain't afraid of nothin'." He growled, though his tone faltered the lie.
Beth looked into his eyes, watching him lean away from her. He expected her to cry and leave but she stood her ground. "I remember." She spoke. "When that little girl came out of the barn, after my mom. You were like me. Angela was there, you pushed her away but she was still there for you."
Daryl turned away making space between them, knowing she was reading him right. "And now, God forbid, you ever let anybody else get too close again."
"Too close, huh? Ya know all about that." He accused, pointing a finger in her face as he felt his flare return. "Ya lost two boyfriends, ya can't even shed a tear! Yer whole family's gone, all ya can do is just go out lookin' for hooch like some dumb college bitch!"
"Screw you." She snapped at him. "You don't get it."
"No, ya don't get it!" He spat her her, making her step back. "Everyone ya know is dead!"
"You don't know that!" She screamed at him.
"Might as well be, 'cause ya ain't never gonna see 'em again!" Beth exhaled, holding back the urge to let a cry out. "Rick. Ya ain't never gonna see Maggie again!"
Beth shook her head, grabbing his wrist. "Daryl, just stop!"
"No!" He shoved her off, turning away as he named down the people who he believed to be among the dead now. He turned his back to her, refusing to look at her. "The Governor rolled right up to our gates!"
Daryl's lungs took in air and exhaled it, his mind molded his words together with his emotions. The sight he saw; his girl and brother pinned in the yard, Hershel and Michonne held captive.
"Maybe if I- Maybe if I wouldn't have stopped lookin'. Maybe 'cause I gave up- That's on me!"
Beth saw his colors finally show. He was blaming himself this entire time, taking all the fault. She hadn't known this was all bottled up inside, waiting to explode. "Daryl-"
He pulled away as she tried to reach for him. "No." His voice cracked and his eyes stung. "Angie she- She was out there, hunted like an animal. I couldn't- I didn't protect her."
He shook his head, bringing his arms up now and again. His chest heaved in and out, blinking his eyes best he could as the hair hung in his face. Daryl had already shed his feelings to himself of the fate Angie had. But coming to actual terms with what he witnessed and the guilt riding him for so long to someone else.
"I couldn't keep Kaylee safe, and now Angie's..." Daryl exhaled with a small sound of a whimper. "I lost her…"
"Daryl, please." Beth pleaded, touching his arm.
"And yer dad." His voice strained but he let his mouth continue to go off. "Maybe-Maybe I could have done somethin'-"
Beth couldn't handle hearing the man kick himself repeatedly any longer. She wrapped her arms around his waist, hugging tightly into his back. He stumbled at the impact, feeling his throat constrict at the contact of comfort. Raising his head up at the sky, Daryl finally felt the tears escape as they trailed down his dirty cheeks. The sun shined on his sweat covered face, he hunched his head into the shade as the tears mixed with sweat dripping off his chin and nose. Beth looked over his shoulder at him, hearing the soft sobs that escaped his lips. She hugged him tighter, pressed her face into the wings on his vest, allowing him to have his moment to cry.
Daryl wanted Angie to be alive so badly, but there was no way she had made it out of that yard. Eaten alive, shot killed, maybe even wandering as a walker somewhere. He was fearful of knowing the truth of her fate. Knowing he wouldn't feel the soft touch of her pale skin, hold her thin hands and wrap his arms around her slim figure. Hear her laughter and listen to her reading her history books. Her voice fading from his thoughts, wishing to hear it, feeling her touch, and watch her smile.
His shoulders shook as he cried for the lost of Angela.
The silence of that evening would be unbearable to many, but to Merle it was complete peace. Sitting across the room from Angela who was welded to the corner, held a can of beans sitting at the bar. Tilting his head back, he let the cold food pour into his mouth, chewing his meal and wiping his lips against the back of his hand.
"Y'know," He spoke up, mouth filled of beans. "We got ourselves enough gas make it to Orchard Hill. Few miles or so."
Merle swallowed, standing from the stool and striding over toward her. She sat there, arm resting against her chest in the sling with her head leaned back staring at the ceiling. A flashlight found in the office was used to light up the growing dark room. He leaned against the wall across from her, crossing his ankles and holding the can as if it was a beloved beer can. Angela hadn't eaten anything in the pile beside her. She had a variety of choices, from the jars of pickles to cans of beans and bags of nachos to some tomato sauce. Merle's eyes wandered toward her when he heard a small sound of her stomach growling, begging for food.
"Eat." He ordered. She didn't respond, just blinking at the ceiling ignoring him. "Eat something." Merle repeated, stirring the beans in the can. "If ya don't pick something up, I'll shove beans down your throat, woman."
With little effort, Angela looked down at the pile. She grabbed a bag of nachos and opened it with her teeth. She slowly munched on the salty treats, taking her time to picking the next chip out of the bag. Merle hummed tilting back the can against his lips, finishing off his meal. He tossed it to the floor, letting it clank and roll across the floor.
"It'll be better once we're on the road." He assured, striding over Merle knelt down in front of her by the flashlight. "Find something to get that damn bullet out of ya. Then we'll hold down a place, defend it, make it our own."
Angela's eyes now on her bag didn't shift up to acknowledge his plan. Resting his arm on his knee, hand tapping his knuckle on. The silence was starting to wear on him, expecting a smartass comment or blunt retort from the scarred woman.
"Ya should know by now, not everyone makes it in the end." He told her, trying to get any reaction at this point.
"The lights are on, but nobody's home." Commented Kaylee beside him. Merle didn't need this right now. The teen's fist phased through Angela's head as she attempted to knock on it. "Hellooo?"
"Stop it." Merle hissed at her.
Kaylee looked at him, a grin stretching on her lips. "It's not like she knows I'm here. Unless you want to tell her."
"Hell, no." He rasped, making Angela finally look up at him. He caught her eyes, Kaylee leaving his sights when his focus moved towards Angela. Her eyes grew narrow, soon she looked away biting into another chip.
"She thinks your crazy." Kaylee whispered, leaning to his side.
Merle growled in frustration, Angela glanced up again. She didn't question how he was acting, he kept glaring next to him and shaking his head. Angela finished her chips, crumbling the bag and tossed it away.
"You pretty much sent that horse to its death." Kaylee told, Merle looked over seeing her sitting on the second billiards table. "Sure, it saved your life and helped get Angela out. But, in return, it gets the death sentence."
Kaylee brought her thumb to her neck, and make a slicing notion. She tilted her head, and stuck her tongue out to the sound, making gagging noises as if she was decapitated. Merle glared at the phantom, moving toward the bar to find some alcohol to block her out.
"Just say sorry, that's all. How hard is that?" She asked, crossing her leg over her knee as she leaned back on her elbows.
"I ain't saying it." He told her, crouching down at the lower shelves expecting every bottle there. Each one was bone dry empty. "Thought the girl had grown a pair, I was wrong."
"Merle," The redneck stood, spotting the teen apparition sitting at the bar, arms resting on wooden surface as if she was really there. "She literally has no family left. If this was Daryl, he would've tried to save that horse."
"The hell ya on 'bout?" He spat at her, waving his hand in the air. "It's a dumb animal, it's only a damn shame I didn't kill and cook its ass. Would've lasted us a good while."
"Ah!" Kay held a finger up, waging it at him. "But you didn't. If Angela wasn't here, sure, you'd be eating it raw without a care. Anything to survive- But you didn't." She stated again, leaning forward as he looked away. "You made sure it was nearby when Angela hungered for its comfort."
The teen leaned back, cupping her chin in thought as she stuck her lower lip out. "Now thinking it, Calypso was the only living being that cared about her. Now, she's got no one."
Merle narrowed his gaze at Kay, slamming his hand down at the bar. "Ya make it as if I wouldn't understand what it feels to be alone. To have no one give a Jack's ass about ya."
The teen faltered, blinking at the words he hissed out at her. "Well, I mean-"
Merle leaned into her face as she leaned back from the stool as if she'd tip off. "Ya don't know shit 'bout me. Left on a roof to die, cut my own hand off to survive. Wandered aimlessly near bleeding to death. I didn't need anyone, got to Woodbury. Then my brother was alive, and found a new family- Proper kin."
The redneck circled around the bar, Kay turned in her seat as he stood right in front of her. "Then, some little brat pestered me, sticking her nose where it don't belong. Because of her, I stand here dealing with you."
He held a finger in her face, she flinched as if he was going to hit her. The dark glare in his blue eyes made his guilt fear his anger. "Ya look like her, ya sound like her. But ya ain't the Princess I know."
Merle growled at her, when he blinked away his glare he found the teen apparition to have disappeared. He huffed and spat at the floor, as if a bull had just won a fight. This whole seeing Kaylee was wearing him down. Only way to get rid of this problem was to tell Angela. If he told her what happened maybe he'd be left from being haunted by her. Merle now sees this wasn't the same Princess who followed him around and defended him. She's dead.
The older Dixon left the bar walking over to Angela. "Yo, Hot Head."
He came around the table seeing she had curled up into a ball, sleeping on the floor. He chewed his lip, looking around he saw the poncho she took with her. It laid on the corner of the pool table after she changed her shirt. Merle took the blanket and walked over, draping it over the woman. She inhaled sharply and rubbed her forehead into her arm, Merle walked back across from her and sat down with his back against the wall. He sighed resting his head back and closing his tired eyes, letting light sleep take over for the night.
It was a calm night for the pair in the shack as well. After the fight and breakdowns, confessions and heartfelt moments, they were finally sobering up from the moonshine. They sat on the porch in the dark, chatting to one another and enjoying the quiet night. Daryl just fiddled with his knife, sticking the sharp tip into the wood. Now and again he picked at the wood letting bits of splinters to chip out. Beth sat with him, looking up in deep thought.
"I get why my dad stopped drinking." She told, looking to Daryl.
He glanced up, pausing in his wood picking. "Ya feel sick?" Daryl asked, noticing she hadn't shown any signs of a hangover from the heavy drinks.
"Nope." Beth assured, hugging her knees as she smiled at him. "I wish I could feel like this all the time." She chuckled. "That's bad."
Daryl hummed with amusement, "Yer lucky yer a happy drunk." he told.
"Yeah, I'm lucky." She agreed. "Some people can be real jerks when they drink."
"Yeah," Daryl stuck his knife into the wooden been in front of him, his boots pressing against it at the bottom. "I'm a dick when I'm drunk." He grinned at her, twisting the handle.
"What's Angela like? I mean, when she's drunk." Daryl chewed his lip, Beth swallowed, rubbing the ends of her boots against one another. "Sorry, um, we don't-"
"Naw, it's a'right." Daryl assured, shrugging. "Just never seen her drunk. Wouldn't know."
Beth smiled at him, "Good thing she never saw you drunk." she mused.
Daryl nodded, his brows raising for a moment. "Ain't that right." Daryl looked down at his knife, softly stabbing the floorboards. "Angie told me she used to drink in high school."
Beth leaned forward with interest. "Seriously?"
"Just beer or shots, don't know if she'd like moonshine." He told.
Thinking to himself of what Angie would think of the booze, he inwardly smiled. She would probably sip a little and want to play that dumb game with Beth. Then again, knowing how Angie can be, probably turn it into something sexual. His eyes roamed the porch, a memory striking him of his brother.
"Merle had this dealer. This janky little white guy. A tweaker." He started, glancing up to the teen from the floor. "One day we were over at his house watchin' TV. Wasn't even noon yet, we were all wasted. Merle was high. We were watchin' show n' Merle was talkin' all this dumb stuff 'bout it. Merle wouldn't let up, Merle never could." His eyes casted down as the knife chipped at the wood.
"Turns out it was the tweaker's kids' favorite show." He told, looking up to Beth who nodded. "And he never sees his kids, so he felt guilty 'bout it or somethin'." Daryl motioned his fist softly. "So he punches Merle in the face. So I started hittin' the tweaker, like, hard- As hard as I can."
Daryl licked his lips, shaking his head at the dumb memory. "Then he pulls a gun, sticks it right here." He moved his free hand up against his temple, shaping it as if his hand was the gun. "He says, "I'm gonna kill ya, bitch." So merle pulls his gun on him." His hand rest back to his side. "Everyone's yellin', I'm yellin'. I thought I was dead." Daryl sighed. "Over a dumb cartoon 'bout a talkin' dog."
Daryl scoffed, looking down feeling the blade get stuck. "How'd you get out of it?" Beth asked.
"The tweaker punched me in the gut. I puked, they both started laughin' n' forgot all 'bout it." Daryl raised his head up, looking right at her. "Ya want to know what I was before all this? I was just driftin' 'round with Merle doing whatever he said we were gonna be doin' that day."
He looked out into the dense woods, sighing through his nose. "I was nobody. Nothin'. Some redneck asshole n' an even bigger asshole for a brother."
"You miss him, don't you?" Beth asked, referring to whether he survived the prison attack or not. Daryl looked away, not giving an answer, to her it was a yes.
"I miss Maggie." He looked up at her. "I miss her bossing me around." Beth chuckled. "I miss my big brother Shawn. He was so annoying and overprotective. Like you were with Kay." Daryl's baby blues shined in the moonlight when he looked up. She added weakly, "And my dad." in a soft whisper.
Daryl sighed again, looking into the woods before them. "I miss Angie, miss her so much." Beth swallowed, listening to the redneck. "Miss her always naggin' at me to keep our cell organized. Readin' her books late at night when I was dead ass tired, light on n' shit." His lips curled, as he pointed at the tip of his nose. "Her nose would flare up, everytime I brought back a new book for her. A huge smile on her face, excited to read the stupid thing."
Beth smiled, soon Daryl's faded. "Miss her eyes, her smile, the way she walked n' talked. Always had this…" He waved his hand in the air, trying to find the right word. "This, feelin, y'know? Used to rush back from the runs just to see her at the prison."
"You love her." Beth said, smiling softly at the hunter.
Daryl twist the handle, looking down at the knife then back at her, head raised high. "I do."
Beth chuckled, letting out her own sigh. "Daddy loved her, he liked whenever she borrowed his books. Comparing them to her own history books." The teen swallowed, thinking of what future the old man could've had. "I thought- I hoped he'd just live the rest of his life in peace, you know? I thought Maggie and Glenn would have a baby. And he'd get to be a grandpa. And we'd have birthday and holidays and Summer picnics."
Daryl nodded, letting her continue what she envisioned her father's remainder of his life was hoped to be. What it should've been. "And he'd get really old. And it'd happen, but it'd be quiet." Beth shrugged. "It'd be okay. He'd be surrounded by people he loved."
Beth laughed, trying to fight back the urge to cry. Daryl watched, seeing her blinking up at the sky to keep the tears at bay. "That's how unbelievably stupid I am." She reached down for her jar and sipped at the moonshine, wanting the alcoholic effects to come back. Make her the happy little drunk again.
"That's how it was supposed to be." Daryl agreed.
Beth sighed, folding her knees up tighter. "I wish I could just… change."
"Ya did." Daryl assured, looking up at her sad eyes.
"Not enough." Beth shook her head. "Not like you. It's like you were made for how things are now. You and Merle both."
"Merle, he's got military experience under his belt. I'm just used to this, things bein' ugly." Daryl dismissed. "Growin' up in a place like this."
"Well, you got away from it." Beth told.
Daryl paused in his twisting of the handle, his grip slackened. "I didn't." He denied.
"You did." She argued.
"Maybe you got to keep on reminding me sometimes."
"No." Beth shook her head, "You can't depend on anybody for anything, right?" she reminded.
His thumb rubbed the butt of the handle, gripping it as she grinned at him. "Angie had to do that too, get things through my thick skull." He whispered, looking away at the trees. "I depended on her."
Past tense, Beth noticed the hunter referring to Angie or his brother in a past tense. As if they were gone and not coming back. Beth watching him, hearing the crickets envelope their silence.
"I'll be gone someday." She spoke.
"Stop." Daryl looked up.
"I will." Beth insisted, gaining Daryl's full attention. "You're gonna be the last man standing." Daryl thought deeply of her words, looking away in denial. "You are." He didn't want to hear that, hear Beth claim she'll die one day. How she wasn't made for this world, how she wasn't going to get through it all.
Her ghost smile shined at him, her eyes glassy and reflecting the moonlight. "You're gonna miss me so bad when I'm gone, Daryl Dixon." She laughed.
Daryl just stared at her, his head started to hurt thinking how her story would end. "Yer not a happy drunk at all." He noted.
"Yeah, I'm happy." She assured, smile still there. "I'm just not blind. You got to stay who you are, not who you were. Places like this, you have to put it away." Beth told sternly, this place bringing harsh memories to Daryl.
"What if ya can't?" Daryl questioned, tilting his head back against the beam behind him.
"You have to, or it kills you." The redneck brought his hands to rest on his upper knee, still gripping the knife as it reflecting the light in the sky. Beth smiled, pressing her fingers to her chest where her heart was. "Here." She smiled.
Daryl chewed his lip, his eyes wandering about. When he glanced over toward the trees hearing the bugs and creatures grow louder as the night grew on. "We should head inside." He advised.
He found a large grin on the blonde's rosy cheeked face, what was she thinking? "We should burn it down." Beth suddenly suggested.
Daryl inhaled deeply at her offer, he stood using the beam to get to his feet. Bending down to pick up his near empty jar, he took a few creaky steps to the door. He paused and half turned to her, shrugging with the jar in his hand.
"We're gonna need more booze." He told, walking into the shack.
Beth beamed and stood, following after him. Daryl grabbed a large jug and twisted the cap off, splashing the walls and ceiling of the moonshine. Beth seized for a few jugs and jars, splashing the floor and furniture with the alcohol. They covered the walls and items inside with the booze, soaking the wood and kicking things about. Jars were shattered when thrown to the floor or walls. Gathering the needed supplies, the pair finished off the porch throwing the jars for them to shatter into and roll against the floorboards.
Outside, Daryl dropped the stuff onto the ground, fishing out his matched from his vest pocket. "Ya wanna?" He offered to Beth.
"Hell, yeah." She accept the match as Daryl held up the stack of bills he took from the gold club.
It soon took in the small lighted match and he tossed the flaming cash onto the porch. It ignited quickly, the fire spreading throughout the booze soaked shack. The pair moved away from the growing flames, lighting the area for them to watch the damned place burn. Daryl threw one last jar at the place, hearing it break when it made contact to the door. When they were at a safe distance, feeling the heat of the flames grow, they watched it go up in a blaze. Beth threw her arm into the air and flipped the burning place off. She nudged Daryl, who complained and joined in giving the place a good fuck you. It felt good, for both of them. It was goodbye salute to their past, telling the past of their lives to fuck off into the flames.
They dropped their arms once Daryl spotted walkers emerging from the woods toward the fire, like moths. He patted her arm, indicating they had to take their leave. Beth lingered as Daryl took lead, soon following the hunter. Daryl adjusted the strap of his crossbow, biting back a smirk as the flames heat faded from his back. He needed this, she needed this. It was them now, just Daryl and Beth.
If Merle had to really chose, he rather be tasting that vodka than gasoline right now. Early morning, the redneck was siphoning gas from the cars found in the back for the Camaro he fixed to drive today. He wanted every bit of gas from the other cars as much as possible to get them far from their. If lucky, maybe a pharmacy would be found that'd have the needed supplies for Angela's wound. Merle determined if he can't remove the bullet alone, Angela might have to be awake and aid in the removal. He just didn't want to render her arm useless by hitting a nerve.
Filling the tank, he twisted the cap and shut the gas lid. Merle shook the plastic container of gas, feeling it a quarter empty. "Better than nothing." He determined, tossing it into the trunk and slamming it shut.
His eyes shifted to the doors, Angela standing by waiting to leave. He was expecting her to have left him in the car when he awoke, but saw her eating a few bags of cheese twists and a can of veggies. She still hadn't said a word, not even acknowledging Merle, though he's been rather silent himself.
"Climb your ass in." He told, motioning for the passenger door.
Angela walked from the door and rounded the car. She opened the door and climbed in, slamming it a bit harshly. Merle scoffed and started loading the bowling ball bags with food and other items he took from the place. He tossed a cue stick or two as well. He thought if sharpened at the end, could be used as a good weapon. Merle slammed the back doors and stood by the front, taking his gun out. He checked the empty magazine, sighing as he tossed it into the back seat. They also needed to find ammo and weapons, the cue sticks and a switch blade won't defend them forever. Merle turned and overlooked the building, the thought of staying came to mind. But they couldn't, it wasn't secure enough and he needed to get Angela's arm fixed.
The redneck opened the car door and climbed in with a slam. He started the car and it purred, making Merle nod. "Not my choice of a ride, but it'll do." He mused, glancing to Angela seeing her rest her forehead against the glass. "If ya gonna be sick, stick your head out the window."
Angela adjusted her seating as the car rolled out from the parking lot and drove down the road. The green trees passed by, the windows were warm as the sun rose higher in the sky. Though it had grown chilly that morning, Merle thought it was too soon for the cold season to arrive. Then again, he tried to count back how long it was since the fall of Woodbury. About, five or six months it's been. Damn, half a year… Half a year since Kaylee's death. Merle's hand gripped the wheel, sighing through his nose. He gave a small glance to Angela, she looked out of it. Her arm against her chest in the sling as the other resting against her stomach. His eyes shifted back to the road, his handless arm resting by the gear shift.
"Once we find a pharmacy or some shit, we can get your arm working again." He told, which he felt he was repeating himself at this point. "Bad enough we got one hand down, don't need two."
Angela sighed through her nose, refusing to respond to him. He rolled his eyes, needing her to respond at some point. Merle could just enjoy her silence, but that alone was getting on his nerves.
Angela sighed through her nose, refusing to respond to him. He rolled his eyes, needing her to respond at some point. Merle could just enjoy her silence, but that alone was getting on his nerves.
"Listen woman, if ya wanna be a bitch, go for it. But ya ain't gonna hold grudges over my head, I saved your ass too many times." He told, leaning to his right.
Angela's brows furrowed, turning to him. "Once."
"You saved my ass once." She argued.
Merle grinned, lifting his finger up and waving it up. "Naw, naw, girl. I kept ya from choking the death." Angela narrowed her eyes at his smug look. He lifted another finger, his thumb hooked around the wheel to keep a grip. "Then I got your fainted ass out from the prison."
"Wow, you saved me twice, you deserve all the blow jobs." She countered making him laugh.
"Well, if you're offering-"
"Fuck off." Angela spat, looking back out the window. She fidgeted with her arms, wanting to cross them across her chest.
He just shook his head, chuckled at her. "Oh wait, make that three times."
Her head whipped at him. "Where are you getting-"
"I killed the Governor before he could kill you. Remember?"
Angela couldn't argue against that one. She huffed and looked toward the empty road. "Shouldn't I be driving?"
Merle's brows knotted, "Why?" he asked. "Think I can't handle it?" He ask, recurling his fingers around the wheel.
"Out of the two of us, who has more hands- Oh, and still has all our fingers?" She questioned, raising a brow at him.
Merle shook his head, "I've driven in worst conditions." he assured. "Ya women aren't all that good in driving."
Angela sat up, "Excuse me!?" she barked. "Oh, you are such a sexist bigot!"
The redneck cackled. "Trust me, Little D-"
"Don't mention him." She spat venomously at him, making him glance to her. "Just don't."
Merle smirked, "He's my brother, I'll say whatever shit I want 'bout him." he countered.
"I don't want to hear it." She told.
Now Merle was getting pissed off. Telling him what to do-
"What else do ya wanna talk about?" He asked, weaving to the left on purpose to make her lean toward him. She glared adjusting her seat. "We can talk about Rick, how he got the shit beaten out of him. Talk about how stupid it was to let you out there when ya would've been safer in the cells. Oh! Oh!" He weaved sharply to the right, her shoulder almost hitting the car door, which she avoided.
"Merle, stop it."
"Nah, I got a good one! How about that mousy girl- Carol! When was the last time ya saw her? Before ya got sick?" He asked, pounding on the gas. The car burst up from forty miles to sixty, Angela gripped the door handle.
"Stop it! We're gonna get hurt!" She barked at him.
"You wanted to talk about something else, I got something! Ya know how Karen and David died?" He weaved left and right wildly, making Angela tense in her seat looking at the angered redneck like he was a lunatic. "Carol, that best friend of yours, went in there and killed 'em. Killed 'em both in their beds. She dragged 'em both out and set them on fire. Burnt them like crispy bacon."
"What are you talking about!?"
"I'm talking about how I had to watch your ass cause Carol was killing the illed ones!" He barked at her, she coiled into the side away from him. "Rick left her, exiled her to defend herself! That's right, the sheriff tossed her to the road!"
Merle slammed down on the breaks, making the tired screech against the road. It soon stopped and Merle looked to her, Angela stared back at him in shock. Soon her head shook, her brows lowering and her face turning into a scowl.
"You're lying." She accused.
"I ain't lying." He growled, leaning toward her. "She done killed 'em, burned 'em, and acted like nothing had happened. Rick told me himself, she woulda killed ya."
"Carol isn't like that! She wouldn't-"
"Face the facts, Angela! That's her true colors, accept it!"
Angela looked down at the dashboard, her eyes searching as if figuring out why Carol would do it. To protect the others? In fear of getting sick? What if… what if Carol had the thought to kill Angela? Would she?
The car was moving again, back up to normal speed than before. The ride was silent, Merle was breathing through his nose to calm himself down. He hadn't meant for that to come out, but maybe it was best that she knew. The ride was silent for a good few minutes before it died again.
"Stop the car."
Merle frowned, "What?" he asked.
"Stop the damn car." She repeated, her voice at that angry tone again.
He shook his head. "Ain't happening."
"I will jump out of this fucking car, I swear." She told, glaring at him.
"Go for it." Merle challenged, pushing the gas pedal for the speed to rise. "Unless ya want a broken neck."
"You're an asshole, you know that?"
"And your just a charming bitch, ain't ya?" He glanced to her, catching her narrow glare. "That damn horse was gonna die, get over it."
"I've gotten over the stupid horse!" She yelled in his ear, making him wince. "You're just a complete asshole! Okay!?"
Angela turned her shoulder to him, tucking against the door. After a few seconds, he heard sniffling and noticed her wipe her eyes. He sighed, shaking his head. "One minute your ready to rip my head off, now your crying your eyes out?"
Angela stayed silent, wiping her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt and wiping her running nose.
"Hormonal." He commented, motioning toward the glove box. "Clean your mug up, woman."
Angela leaned over, opening it to find napkins with logos of a coffee shop on it. Despite the thick rough material, she rubbed her eyes and blew her nose, trying to stop crying. She had the napkins balled in her hand in her lap. Merle noticed she rubbed her stomach, wondering if she was feeling sick. He didn't see her show any signs, and she ate a good amount of the crap food they had. Maybe she was still getting over that flu a while back.
The drive lasted for a few hours, so far the long wide road never came up on any turns. When cars were found on the side, Merle would pull over, take whatever was inside, siphon the gas and move on. He kept a check on the gas, making sure it stayed above the second to last meter. Merle only took the chance to scavenge if he was sure no walkers were around, Angela would keep watch and used the stops to get things from the back or bathroom breaks. Merle took notice of this as well, almost every stop they made, at least four so far, she went into the woods to relieve herself. He only gone himself once and that was the first stop.
The redneck was currently waiting for her, back leaned against the side of the car as she was in the bushed a few yards away. He kept looking up and down the road, his ears open for any walkers. As he waited, he spotted a suitcase at the side of the road, a little bit away from the Sedan they had just scavenged. Sadly, the car had no gas and just some rotted corpses. But the sight of the dirty covered closed dull teal suitcase got the man's curiosity. Could be some extra clothing inside or weapons.
Merle sauntered over, picking it out of the dry mud by the handle and brought it over to the Camaro. He dropped it onto the hood and looked it over, seeing no locks on it. Merle unzipped it and flipped the lid opened, finding it to be a ladies package. How would he know? The sight of many lingeries, bras, tampons, and other assortments of pick and purple gave it all way. Merle dug through, usually he would find this to be a gold mine with all the silky underwears, but if there was nothing to help them survive he may as well ditch it back into the mud. He tossed the underwear, the deep luggage filled.
"Suppose she'll need these." Merle guessed, leaving the tampons inside. One box he picked up spilled into the suitcase, sinking to the bottom. "Sum a bitch." He curse, digging through to find them.
"Oh God, what are you doing?" Merle turned finding Angela had returned with a questionable disgusted look on her face. "Is that a prostitute's suitcase?"
Merle looked at the lacy garments in his hand and grinned at her. "These yours?" He asked, waving them in his hand.
Angela rolled her eyes, walking over and shoved him away from the suitcase. "I'll go through this."
"Ohh, want some of your own?" He dangled the sexy panties in her face. She swatted it away, letting it fall to the pavement. "Wanna make it a surprise for baby brother, right? He gets all the fun." Merle continued, despite Angela was tossing the sexual garments to the ground without care.
"What would you know?" Angela questioned.
Merle chuckled, earning a look from her. "Someone has to keep watch at night."
Angela frowned in thought, suddenly her eyes went wide and her cheeks grew hot. "You watched!? You-!"
Angela raised the box of tampons to hit him with it, to which he stepped back ready for the attack. She turned away, huffing and puffing as she collected the items, including whatever Merle spilled earlier.
"Let's go!" She barked, tossing the box into the back seat and sitting in the passenger side, slamming the door harshly.
Merle chuckled, climbing into the driver's finding Angela turned away from him again. "You should be proud, ya done the impossible. Ya deflowered Little D." He laughed at his joke, starting the car.
"If you want to keep whatever fingers you got left, you better shut the fuck up." She threatened.
"Pick a mood, honey." He told, turning the wheel to get the car onto the road. "Ya either want to talk to ol' Merle or ya sit there and cry. For once, I rather ya talk my ear off."
Angela pressed her forehead to the window, her brows knotted at her own behavior. She was more moody than usual, then again her period was supposed to arrive any time now. From the prison fall and the lost of Calypso, she could just be over stressed and it's causing it to skip this month. Angela unbuckled her seat belt and reached back for the bag of foods. She got out a can to what surprised Merle to be tomato sauce, she could've gotten the beans or bag of chips, but she chose the sauce? Expecting her to switch it, Angela took the switchblade off the dashboard and roughly opened the can. Once open, the woman tipped it back to her lips almost inhaling the sauce as if it was a fresh cold bottle of water. Merle shook his head, thinking what could be making her act like the way she was.
It was cold in the woods, the trees had lost their leaves as they laid on the dirt ground. Fall had hit for Beth and Daryl as they worked on tracking. Daryl promised himself to teach her how to track, and she was a good learner- Most of the time. She asked a lot and wanted to make sure she was doing it right, Beth certainly had the confidence for it.
"Are we close?" She asked, holding his heavy crossbow.
"Almost done." He assured, standing close behind her to show how to aim the weapon.
"How do you know?" She asked, her eyes lined up to where the bolt was aimed.
"Signs are all there. Just got to know how to read 'em."
Beth stepped slowly, the heavy weapon raised up as she felt her arms tense under the weight. "What are we tracking?" She asked, seeing they've been at this since breakfast.
"You tell me." He told, seeing as she was the one leading as he followed behind. She lowered the crossbow and gave him a look over her shoulder. "You're the one who wanted to learn." Daryl shrugged.
Beth sighed, her eyes cast down to the floor finding something in the dirt. "Well, something came through here." The footprints weren't in a straight line. "The pattern is all zig-zaggy." She noted, suddenly she smiled recognizing the footing. "It's a walker."
Daryl rubbed his chin, eyeing the markings up. "Maybe it's a drunk." He teased her, seeing her confidence boost again.
"I'm getting good at this." Beth raised a crossbow, slowly following the track. "Pretty soon I won't need you at all." She boasted.
Daryl nodded absentmindedly. "Yeah, keep on trackin'." He told, his eyes searching for something other than a trail to a walker.
Finding a bit opening, it was indeed a walker sitting in the center having a go as some poor rodent it caught. The pair stayed behind some bushes, Beth noticed something on the walker.
"It's got a gun." She looked to Daryl who nodded to go for it. If it had a weapon it was definitely worth killing and looting.
With slow silent steps, Beth walked up to get a closer shot of the walker. She was lucky to not step on any leaves or branches to alert the creature. As she got closer, her luck ran out just as her heel got caught in a trap. She cried out in pain, falling to the ground catching the walker's attention. It dropped the gutted possum and stood, finding a fresh brunch plated for him. Daryl made a sprint to aid her, just as she fired the crossbow. Seeing it jerk back, Beth thought she had hit the head. It turned showing she had only shot it through its open mouth, missing the brain. Daryl ripped the crossbow from her hands and thwacked it upside the head, killing it.
Once dead, Daryl slid into the dirt to free Beth's ankle. Thankfully, it was a huge bear trap like Kaylee was once in, a tiny one for deer or foxes. He unlatched the damn thing and tossed it, seeing if it pierced the boot to her skin.
"Can ya move it?" He asked, reaching for it but reeled back not wanting to make whatever happened worse.
Beth rubbed the spot and slowly turned her heel testing it. "Yeah." She told, though it did hurt.
Daryl gently held her heel and turned it slowly waiting for her to wince to tell him to stop. She only inhaled sharply at some pointed, moving to stand. Daryl knelt in the dirt, waiting to see as she put her weight on the other foot. He stood and walked over to the walker, turning its body about to unbuckle its duty belt seeing the walker was a cop. Daryl was thankful, he was glad it wasn't Rick he was taking this off of.
"Is it loaded?" She asked, limping over with a wince.
"Don't move." He told, removing the gun and checking the mag. "It's loaded."
Daryl walked over, and wrapped it around her waist as she stood there a bit awkwardly. It hung loosely from her waist as he picked up his crossbow and wrapped his arm around her waist.
"Lean yer weight on me, a'right?" He told, she nodded and she wrapped her arm around she shoulder as he helped her out of the clearing.
"What are the odds of finding shit here?" Merle asked, the car slowly strolling through the small town of Orchard Hill.
Papers scattered the road and sidewalks, corpses were lying about, but only a few now and then. The side of the passing buildings were covered in graffiti. 'THE END IS UPON US' 'DEATH TO ALL' and 'SINNERS WILL PAY'. Merle scoffed at what he read, turning the wheel to pull into the lot where a dollar store was found. The windows were black covered in paint and the doors were chained shut. Merle put the car into park and shut it off, looking to Angela. She looked over the place herself, taking in a deep breath.
"I'll take a look." He told, climbing out of the car and taking one of the pool cues from the back.
Angela got out, walking up to the windows, scratching at the paint in attempt to look inside. Merle walked over with a backpack on his shoulder, ready to loot whatever was inside.
"Judging by the chains," Said Angela. "they either wanted to keep something in-"
"Or keep something out." Merle nodded eyeing the chains up. He looked down at his cue stick and stuck it between the chains.
Angela's brows knotted, "That's not gonna-" Merle bent the stick, it splintered and broke from the force. "Work."
"Shit." He tossed the stick to the ground and gripped the chains, shaking the rusty things. "Damn stupid, assholes!" Merle spat, the chains jingling against one another.
"Just break the glass." She told, smacking her hand against the black covered windows.
Merle walked over, waiting for any noise to emerge from inside. Angela turned and leaned against the glass, squinting as the sun beamed from above. "I'll find something to break 'em." He told, walking around the side of the building.
Angela, not having the patience, looked around for a brick or rock to throw at the glass. Sure, she was against the idea back at the bowling alley, they were only looting the place and then leaving. She turned back with a brick in her hand eyeing up the paint covered glass. No banging or slamming on the other side was heard, Angela assumed no walkers were inside. So, she took the initiative to reel her arm back and throw the brick at the glass. It smashed right through and shattered the glass, she stepped back waiting for walkers to come pouring out. Instead, she saw Merle running back over with a glowering look on his features.
"What the hell ya doing, woman!?" He questioned, side stepping from the open store pointing at the broken glass wit a pipe in hand.
"I got it open." She argued, adjusting her sling. "I don't see any walkers coming out."
"Don't mean it's safe!" He barked, his knuckles white from gripping the pipe so tightly. "Ya can't-" Merle sighed and turned back, seeing nothing exiting the store. He looked to Angela and pointed the pipe at her. "Ya lucky, woman."
Angela glared the back of his head, following him to the smashed glass. He stepped through, both shining flashlights around the room. Angela looked around, seeing shelving units moved against the wall leaving the center of the store wide and open. The shelves weren't empty completely, Merle wandered against the left shelves seeing kitchen wares and women's essentials. He paused in his footing, eyeing a beaten up pink and white box. He took it off the shelf and ripped it open, pocketing the item inside. Angela looked over the right side, seeing pet toys and surprisingly hair products and soaps. She didn't hesitate to gather the soaps and small bottles and shoved them into the bowling bag.
Merle turned to approach Angela, stopping at the sight of camping equipment in the center. Angela looked around, spotting the items as well. A tent was set up but looked empty by the angle they saw. Only a sleeping bag, lantern, and many wrappers of snacks and old cans. Some fashion magazines were found next to the tent, Angela cringed at the sight of them looking wrinkled and worn out.
Merle held an arm up, keeping Angela from getting any closer. Was this place already claimed? If so, why hadn't the survivor emerged when she broke the window?
"Stay close." He whispered, moving around the tent with her following behind.
The freezer section against the back wall had all the doors chained shut. With it being so dark, the flashlight only had the light reflect back at them against the glass. As they got closer, Merle tried to see into the yellow tinted grime like glass. The two jumped back when a walker slammed itself against the door, soon others followed clawing at each door. Merle and Angela stepped back, the doors shook fearing the walkers would escape.
"Someone locked them in here." Angela indicated, her eyes scanning up the line. She walked along doors, seeing the entire back freezer room was filled with walkers. "Like cattle."
Merle followed up behind her, frowning at the sight of this store. No food, no medical supplies, walkers behind glass. He shook his head, turning his shoulder to the freezer doors. "Don't like this, best we move on."
"There has to be medical kits here somewhere." She insisted, walking toward the office.
Merle walked up, pushing her good shoulder toward the door. "Get in the car, we can't stay here."
Angela sighed tiredly, walking toward the smashed window. She ducked through the door with Merle following as she tossed the bag into the back of the car. Merle did the same, sliding into the driver's seat, Angela climbed in with a large sigh as she slammed the door. Merle started the car and continued their drive down the road.
Daryl helped Beth through the woods until they finally found a clearing- a large one. They had found a cemetery, how fitting, Daryl thought as they approached the land of graves. In the distance he spotted a building, be it a house or funeral home. Either way, it meant they had a safe place to stay.
"Can we-Can we hold up a sec?" Beth asked, pausing as she was helped to walk with Daryl.
He stopped and looked down as she reached for her boot. "Ya a'right?" He asked, hoping she hadn't been too badly injured as he thought.
"I just need to sit down." She assured, moving her ankle, though pain was seen in her features.
The hunter eyed the building up. "A'right, hold up."
Best wanting to get to the funeral home before dark, Daryl lopped his crossbow across his chest and took a few breaths. He moved in front of Beth and hunched forward, as she eyed him questioningly.
"Hope on." He told, ready to carry her the rest of the way.
"Are you serious?" She questioned, grinning to herself.
He glanced back at her, "Yeah, this is a serious piggyback. Jump up." Daryl nodding his head.
Thinking no other answer, Beth grabbed his shoulders and hopped onto his back. Not expecting the weight he thought, he adjusting her on his back, as she wrapped her arms around him and his hands hooked under her legs.
"Yer heavier than ya look." He commented, earning a chuckle from her.
"Maybe there are people there." She told, referring to the funeral home.
"Yeah, if there are, I'll handle 'em." Daryl assured her.
Beth sighed, looking over his head at the graves they passed by. "There are still good people, Daryl."
Daryl shrugged, "I don't think the good ones survived." he told her.
Halfway through the graveyard, one headstone caught the teen's attention. She slid off Daryl's back, making him pause as she looked over the stone. He read the words, glancing to her in understanding. It was a father's grave, not hers but someone's. Wanting her father properly buried with loved one nearby, dying of old age than a chop off his head. A wish hard to expect to happen anymore.
Daryl spotted some pretty yellow flowers and bent down, ripping them from the stem and placing them gently on top of the headstone. 'Beloved Father', the gravestone read. He stepped back, pausing as a grave next to it made his heart sink. He swore it thought it was her grave, but that was impossible. Just the name, 'Angela' almost made him lose his breath. Beth looked over, noticing Daryl staring at something, spotting the gravestone. She bit her lip, looking down and taking his hand in hers. She tangled her fingers in his, squeezing his hand as he looked down at her. Beth looked over the grave, Daryl sighed gripping her hand in his.
The hunter closed his eyes, seeing that smiling face of Angela's in his mind. Her bright green eyes shining at him, her laughter echoing in his ears.
Whenever he got back from hunting, bringing home a deer or a racoon, she always grinned at the sight of his return. Calling him that, her hunter.
His baby blues opened, exhaling deeply through his nose. "Let's get inside." He told Beth, lifting her hand to grip his shoulder.
She nodded, raising to grip his other shoulder. Daryl bent down once more and Beth hopped back onto his back and the two continued up to the funeral home. Upon approaching the porch. Daryl lent Beth down and took off his crossbow and loaded an arrow to it. Beth looked around, seeing leaves cover the yard yet none seen to touch the porch where they stood. Lounge chairs were untouched, as if welcoming her to sit and relax. The doors and windows were covered in wood boards, though they were neatly tiled next to one another.
Daryl reached for the door knob and pushed it open, surprisingly not finding it locked or barricaded. He slammed his hands against the wood and gave a whistle inside. From what Daryl could see, the place was largely spacious and… neat. The desks, lamps, pictures, all decor was placed nicely against the wall as if the funeral home was still in business. Beth took a step to enter, peeking to see just how clean and untouched it was just like the porch.
"Give it a minute." Daryl told, pausing in her entering.
They did stand there a minute, and not a sound emerged from inside. No growling, snarling, no yelling or threats. Was anyone, walker or living, even inside the home? Daryl took slow silent steps inside looking into the room on the right to see it empty of anyone, but filled with the furniture in its rightful place. Beth followed, shutting the door with gun in hand as they examined the place. The wallpaper was old fashioned and ugly, but clean of any dust or grime. It was like the apocalypse hadn't touched this place over the past year.
"It's so clean." Beth commented, looking at the pristine chandelier above her head.
"Yeah," Daryl agreed, thinking it wasn't a good sign. "Someone's been tendin' to it. May still be 'round."
Daryl spotted something in the room to his right, he nodded at Beth to follow as he entered it. A line of chairs filled the room with a casket at the end. What caught Daryl's attention was a body inside, a clean none turned corpse. Was it even real, the shine on the skin made him reach over to peel at the skin. Beth felt disgusted seeing the pale cream being scrapped off to reveal the rotting skin of the corpse against the cheek. Daryl's lip curled at the action he had just done, looking to Beth in question.
The hunter wiped the make up on the lining of the casket to get it off his fingers as they ventured through the home. The two knew funeral homes held corpses, so what if there were walkers locked away somewhere. Down below, a morgue was found to keep the cold and dress them up for funerals. Just as the two thought, two more corpses were found, both dressed in suits. The one had it's make up halfway done, the other which was awaiting for its turn, hadn't been done up yet. The gray cold skin hollowing out in its face and rotting teeth showing in the open mouth.
Daryl saw this as a chance to find some medical supplied to wrap Beth's ankle. He ignored the corpses and placed his crossbow down to search the cabinets. The teen, meanwhile, was in awe at the work done for these once was possible loved and important people. Seeing the half of its face as if it was a normal dead human and the other face revealing it had turned into a walker at some point.
"Let's get that ankle wrapped." Daryl told, finding the need supplied in the first cabinet he opened. He bit at the plastic bag that held the gauze and wandered over, seeing Beth looking over the bodies. "Looks like someone ran out of dolls to dress up." He commented.
Beth looked up at him, "It's beautiful." she defended.
Daryl frowned and looked over them, how the hell was this beautiful?
"Whoever did this… cared." She explained. "They wanted these people to get a funeral. They remembered these things were people, before all this. They didn't let it change them in the end."
Daryl wanted to understand, but his brain felt muddled at the thought of burying a loved one. No one in his family really had a proper funeral like this. His mother died in a fire with nothing left of her, his father was eaten by walkers and killed by his Uncle Jess, said Uncle got bit and turned leaving Daryl to kill him. Then there's the group, Dale, T-Dog, Lori, Kaylee, Andrea. Yes, they had 'furneral's', but nothing like this. No dressing up, no make up, no ceremony in a fancy room and plush casket. Just wrapped in a sheet and placed in a hole.
His eyes stayed on the man who had half the make up done, revealing how he had turned yet showing what he may have looked like before all this. If he saw someone he cared for or loved turned like this, would he want them back how he remembered them? The same exact way?
"Don't you think that's beautiful?" Beth asked Daryl, he looked up startled the question.
Beautiful, maybe not. Understandable, possibly. The hunter didn't know how to answer that question without wanting to shrug or just say he didn't know. But the look she held in her eyes, made him want to just change the subject or yes for her benefit. Those eyes, eyes on innocence were the same Kaylee held at him back locked in that room.
No, he can't keep comparing the two. He won't let what happened to Kaylee happen to Beth.
"Come on." Was all he said, gently tugging her over to the table.
Daryl got down and had her lean on the counter as he removed her boot and started wrapping her ankle. Beth stood looking down as he tended to her. It didn't seem too swollen from her angle, watching him wrap it.
An hour into the silent drive, Merle couldn't think what to say to Angela. He kept giving short glances seeing her look out the window or looking over the hair products she was eager to have. Feeling they were at a good distance from the store, leaving Orchard Hill, Merle pulled the car to the side of the road. Confused, Angela felt the car stop and looked to Merle as he turned the engine off.
"Found a rest stop?" She asked, looking around to see nothing but woods and nature on the empty road. "What's up?"
Merle looked to her, he had a face that she never seen before. It made her frown in confused when he reached back into his pocket and held something out to her. When she saw the stick, her eyes went wide and back up to Merle in shock.
"What the fuck is that?" She questioned.
"What do you think it is?" He retorted.
Angela sighed, shaking her head. "What in God's hell makes you think I need to take a pregnancy test?"
That's right, Merle was holding a pregnancy stick; fresh and new from the package he swiped from the last stop they made. His face held a serious solemn look, one she hadn't seen. No grinning, no jokes, nothing. Just, deadpan seriousness.
"Oh, maybe the list of symptoms. Puking your guts out, taking a piss break more than I can count, sleeping constantly."
"Maybe it's something to do with my arm?" She tried to excuse, but Merle wasn't having it.
Merle dropped his hand, chewing his lip as he was losing his patience to the stubborn woman. "When was your last time of the month?"
Angela's eyes darted about, trying to think back how many times. Not even knowing the month or a calendar to keep track, she tried to figure the math out in her head. He saw her pale when she closed her eyes, bringing a hand up to rub her forehead.
"Now, I could be wrong." Merle told, holding the stick back up to her again. "Just to put my mind at ease, take this, go piss on it and we'll see what it says."
"I just- Daryl and I have only had sex four times, all with condoms." She told, trying to wrap her head around it.
"Well, ya ain't on any birth control and condoms break, sweetheart." He responded with a shrug.
Angela let out a long sigh, taking the damned stick and leaving the car to go take the test in the bushes. Merle got out of the car, keeping watch until she returned with the stick. They got back in, Angela placing the stick on the dashboard.
"Gotta wait about ten minutes, right?" She asked, he nodded and started the car up again. "How do you know so much about this? The symptoms, testing and all that?"
Merle finally grinned as they drove back onto the road, continuing their journey. "I may have had a good number of STDs, but also had a few pregnancy scares."
"Not surprised." Angela shrugged, "Been accused?" she asked.
Merle nodded, "Some bitch wanting one night would come back weeks later, yelling how I knocked her up and shit. Took a test or two and she wasn't. Always blaming me, wanting my money for the kid if she had it." he explained, wrist resting lazily on the wheel as the stumped arm rested on the car door.
"How many times has this happened?" She asked.
"Only a few, once I got into the army and soon jail time, it stopped." He told.
Angela learned more about Merle she hadn't expected, Daryl never told her these but maybe he didn't know. Probably something Merle kept from the family in case his dad would beat or kill him for getting a girl pregnant. She leaned back into her seat, eyes staring at the test.
"Y'know, if ya are, then I'll be damn proud of my baby brother." Angela glanced over seeing Merle still grinning. "Never thought Darlyina had it in him."
"I'm surprised you'd be proud of anything he does." She muttered under her breath.
Merle frowned, eyes on the road. He decided not to argue on her, despite he never really did praise his brother out-loud much. Maybe he had grown softer the past number of months.
"You miss him." Hissed the voice of Kaylee from the back seat. Merle swatted his arm as if a fly buzzed in his ear.
"What would Daryl say?" Angela asked.
Merle bellowed a laugh, slapping a hand on the wheel. "He might faint! I'd pay to see that!" Angela frowned, not finding this matter funny. "What's got ya so tight lipped? Ya carrying a Dixon- Maybe."
"If it wasn't the world we were in, I'd be bouncing with joy." She told, her hand resisting to rest on her flat stomach as if feeling something would confirm the possibility alone. "You know how Lori was pregnant with Judith before you arrived?"
"Yup." He nodded. "What about it?"
"Lori died during her C-Section when Judith was born."
"Ya think that'll happen to ya?" Merle asked as he shook his head. "Daryl wouldn't let it happen."
"Daryl isn't here." She told thinly. "Rick wasn't there when Lori went into labor. We were attacked. Maggie, Carl, and Kaylee was there." Angela started.
Merle gave a short glance at the mention of her sister. Angela looked out the window, remembering that day. "She helped Maggie with the surgery, cut Lori open and took Judith out. Rick didn't get to say goodbye, no body was found."
The redneck guessed a lone walker had found the corpse and ate it. "That ain't happening to ya." He told, eyes focusing on the road.
"You don't know that, Merle. Something worse can happen. What if I go into early labor or the baby is a stillborn and eats me inside out?" Angela was obviously shaken up by these thoughts, her hands gripping the end of her shirt tightly.
Merle nodded, "Princess was a tough cookie." he praised. Angela looked over to him. "She might not have shown it 'til the last minute, but she was a badass." He glanced to her, honesty in his eyes as he pointed at her stomach. "If yer as tough as she was, you'll make it through. You're not alone in this."
The words were shockingly touching from the usual uncaring badmouthed Dixon. But, the thought of losing another like Kaylee or possibly carrying a new Dixon might have changed tweaked him into protective brother mode.
Angela looked down, taking a breath and looked back up to Merle. "What happened, Merle? When you ambushed the Governor and Kaylee? I know he killed her, but I need to know what happened."
Merle chewed his lip, wanting to tell the truth but found his voice wasn't going to listen. He glanced in the rear view mirror, spotting Kaylee grinning from the back seat. The older Dixon sighed, putting his stump against the wheel and reaching over to pick up the stick.
"This thing ready yet?" He asked, shaking it as if it was a thermometer.
"Merle, just tell me what happened. Please."
Merle tossed the stick back onto the dash, Angela flinched fearing it would mess up the results. "Why is it so hard to tell me the truth?"
"Because!" He barked at her, feeling his brain buzz in panic.
"Because why, damnit!?" Merle felt his anger growing, pressing his foot against the gas bringing the speed up to 70mph. "If your scared to tell me, you don't have to be! That son of a bitch is finally dead, but at least he would've told me what happened that day!"
Merle spun his head to her, steering wheel turned at his movement as the car jerked to the side of the road. "Ya wanna know what happened!?"
"Yes! Tell me what her final words were! What was she doing going after you!?" Angela screeched out at him. "Tell me-!"
Angela's scream was burned out by the sound of the tired screeching against the asphalt. The car swerved to the right before Merle could take the wheel of the out of control car. The vehicle ran off the road, taking air off a ridge and crashing head first into a ditch. The two passengers, securely buckled inside, lay forward against the straps. The air bags hadn't gone off, as Merle's bleeding head and nose was pressed against the wheel, making the horn go off. Angela's head was against the cracked window of the door, blood dripping down her head and her lip cut. The two were unconscious, unable to move with the car near standing up on its front end against the ridge in the ditch.
Sadly, the sound of the horn was attracting walkers nearby. In the woods they heard the distant sound and slowly turned, jaws dangling and arms hanging at some sides as they changed direction toward the noise. They growled as they all started grouping together, approaching the road where the car's back end was seen sticking out of the ditch. Once reaching the car, the sight of the victims inside made them claw and bang against the vehicle. Even with the blaring horn and threat of the walkers outside, the two didn't stir.
Once Daryl was done tending to Beth's ankle, they returned upstairs and started their next search; Food. The two made a beeline for the kitchen, the white cabinets and clean countertops got them thinking of someone was keeping this clean, then food had to be somewhere. Beth opened the fridge, half expecting cold fresh milk or fruit but found it cleaned out and out of power.
"Dang." She muttered. "You find anything?"
Daryl rifled through the cabinets, spotting dishes and jars without a spec of dirt on them. He was about to answer no, but the two suddenly found the mother load of food and drinks all stacked together in the center cabinet.
"Whoa." Beth was amazed, not seeing such food brands in so long.
Daryl looked them over, reading the labels and recognizing some foods. "Peanut butter and jelly, diet soda, and pig's feet." Beth took a jar of the peanut better as he looked over the jar of jelly. "That's a white trash brunch right there." He joked.
"It all looks good to me." Beth told, taking a few cans off the lower shelf.
A thought then occurred to Daryl. "No, hold up." Beth paused looking to him, thinking the food was expired or no good. "Ain't a speck of dust on this."
"That means somebody just put it here. This is someone's stash, maybe their still alive." He told, looking over at the eagerness Beth held to eat the food. Deciding what was best, he nodded to himself. "A'right, we'll take some of it n' we'll leave the rest, a'right?"
As Beth placed a can back, she grinned. "I knew it."
Daryl looked to her in question as he twisted the cap off the jar. "Knew what?"
"It's like I said, there are still good people." She smiled at him.
In response, like an annoying older brother, Daryl just scooped out the jelly and shoved it into his open mouth. Beth recoiled in disgust at how he ate it like an animal right in her face.
Daryl hummed and licked the inside of the jar claiming it. "Hey," He pointed at the jar as Beth moved to sit at the table. "Those pig's feet are mine."
"You can keep them." She laughed, opening the peanut butter and going into the drawers to find a spoon.
Daryl tossed the lid onto the table and sat down with a huge, scooping out the jelly continuously with his fingers. Beth found the drawer and took out two spoons, sitting across from Daryl and handing him one. He eyed it for a moment, Daryl licked off the remaining grape remnants off his fingers then took the spoon and ate more civilized. Beth sat down and scooped out the peanut butter eating small spoonfuls, unlike Daryl who tried to fit more onto the spoon than it could hold.
Daryl stood for a moment, reaching for the pigs feet about to twist the lid off the jar. "How do you eat those?" Beth asked, as Daryl sat back down with a grunt.
"What, pig's feet?" He asked, tossing the lid with the other. He stirred the jar and sniffed it. "Ya eat it like a rib."
The hunter reached in and took a chopped up foot and chewed at the meat. Beth watched smelling the contents, making her question the taste even more. The hunter placed two bottles of soda for them to wash down their meal. The two ate out of the tomato cans, jars and other assortments before becoming full. Daryl started collecting the cans, gaining Beth's attention.
"What are you gonna do with them?" She asked.
"Gonna set these up outside, let us know any walkers wander or livin' folk." He explained, picking up his crossbow. "I'll be back."
Daryl left, the door opened and shutting out in the foyer. Beth sighed and tapped her fingers on the table for a moment before eyeing up the half jar of pigs feet. Curiosity got the better of her. She glanced at the doorway and back at the jar, reached over and pulling it to her. Beth reached in, taking a small piece of the floating leg and glanced back once more before taking the tiniest nibble into it. Her lips curled in disgust and she shook her head, her tongue sticking out. The teen closed the jar and quickly opened her soda to rid the sour horrid taste in her mouth. It just tasted like ham soaked in vinegar, which it essentially is.
Beth swallowed the dark fizzy drink and closed the cap getting to her feet. Okay, she wasn't going to eat those for sure. Daryl could have them all.
Said hunter outside had found a can of recycled cans where he used rope he had found to string them along the porch. Once he had the rope tied at each pillar, he stepped over and shook them to test it. The cans jingled and made a good amount of noise. Once that was done, he checked the windows and the back door, He yanked at the boards to test them, finding it a struggle to pry them off himself. Daryl circled the place, stopping at the porch pausing himself before returning inside.
Daryl sat down at a chair seeing the sun setting behind the trees. His fingers reached for the pocket in his vest finding the cigarettes he's been saving. Daryl managed to get them from that shack before he and Beth burned the place. With a small match set, also snagged from the shack, he lit the end of the cigarette and inhaled deeply taking in the nicotine. He took the stick from his lips and exhaled for the smoke to fade into the air, the scent calming him, though his nerves still stood on ends.
Well, they had found shelter for now. If the owner of the items came back, Daryl would be prepared to deal with them violently or just to an agreement. If it meant it could be someone from the prison, that'd be worth the wait.
What was he doing? Daryl knew it was no one from the group, the way it was kept clean and the amount of food gathered within that time, it couldn't be. Not to mention, no one would be dressing those corpses up unless it was the owner of the home. Maybe he just wanted that bit of hope back in him. Expecting to see Rick walking up holding Little Ass-Kicker and Carl beside him, Maggie and Glenn hand in hand, Carol and Angela teasing each other, his brother Merle busting his balls as usual.
He had Beth though, and he was thankful to not be alone. Daryl just hoped Angela and the others weren't if they survived.
As the sun lowered, Daryl finished his cigarette and stumped it out on the porch, rubbing his boot into it. He sighed out the last smoke and turned to reenter the home. One he had, he found the kitchen empty and the sound of piano playing. Beth must have found that in the other room, hearing the faint singing of her voice.
"And that, that's a relief.
We'll drink up our grief.
And pine for Summer."
Daryl peeked in and leaned against the doorway watching the teen. It had gotten dark and she had some candles lit playing the keys and singing. With her back to him, she had no clue he was watching her sing softly to herself.
"And we'll buy beer to shotgun.
And we'll lay in the lawn.
And we'll be good."
Daryl cleared his throat to get her attention, she jumped and hit a key turning to him. He didn't mean to spook her, as he tossed his thumb down the hall. "Got the place nailed up tight."
Beth watched him placed the crossbow down on the ultra fancy sofa and gravitate toward the empty coffin. "The only way in is through the front door." Beth nodded.
Not resisting it, Daryl leaned back and hopped into the coffin, his legs hanging off the edge. "What are you doing?" Beth asked, an amused smirk playing on her lips.
"This is the comfiest bed I've had in years." He told, swinging his feet in and getting himself comfortable.
"Really?" She asked, finding it odd to choose that place to sleep.
"I ain't kiddin'." He assured, laying back against the plush velvet pillow. He sighed feeling the ache in his back relish in the comfort of the bed for the dead. "Why don't ya go ahead n' play some more? Keep singin'."
"I thought my singing annoyed you?" Beth asked, he had a notion of it back during his drunk rage.
Daryl snuggled deeper into the coffin, shrugging at her. "There ain't no jukebox, so…" He rested his arm over his head and other hand on his chest, ready to just sleep for the night. In all honesty, the singing calmed him and he could use it.
Beth smiled, blushing and she turned to continue her playing where she left off. The piano keys filled the room with her soft voice singing to follow it.
"And we'll buy beer to shotgun.
And we'll lay in the lawn.
And we'll be good.
Now I'm laughing at my boredom.
And my string of failed attempts.
Cause you think it's important.
And I welcome the sentiment."
Daryl sighed again, letting his arm rest over his closed eyes awaiting for sleep to take over.
Hours had passed and darkness had settled. The walkers continued slamming their hands against the glass and clawing at the car to reach the two inside the Camaro. Over ten walkers had gathered around the loud vehicle, more expecting to come from the woods. Headlights from the road started to shine in as they grew closer to the scene. The vehicle stopped, the lights revealing the car and swarm of walkers to the driver.
The faded blue pickup truck's door opened as a man climbed out and slammed it shut. He raised a wide machete onto his shoulder, the hairs of his mustache tickled his lips as he puckered his lips to whistle the tune from the car. Some walkers by the edge of the ditch turned, noticing the newcomer as a easier meal to reach then what was in the stuck car. A pause came to him as he took in a sharp breath and slammed the blade into the closest walker's skull at the dip of the ditch. The man swung and sliced at the walkers one by one, clearing the way to the vehicle. He holstered the machete at his hip and looked inside, seeing the shadow of a man at the wheel where the horn was emanating. He opened the door which was unlocked to his surprise, and heaved the man off the wheel, silencing the night finally. The injured man had one arm that made him think, this bastard has gone through shit.
The mustached man heaved him out of the car, finding him heavier than expected. An arm over his shoulder and he tugged at the back of his belt to keep him upright as he dragged his feet behind the truck. Lowering the back he tossed the man onto the flatbed, exhaling his breath at the haul. The mustached man went into the passenger car, the music softly playing from the CD player in the car as the lyrics made him hum to it.
Last Saturday night, I got married.
Me and my wife settled down.
Now me and my wife are parted.
Gonna take another stroll downtown.
He got out the duct tape and walked back toward the man, tapping his ankles together, arms behind his back and his mouth. Because of the prosthetic he had, the man decided to just tape together his entire lower arms together to ensure security. With the man still alive and breathing, he made sure he was able to breath through his bleeding nose as he slammed the back shut.
Sometimes I live in the country.
Sometimes I live in town.
Sometimes I take a fool notion.
To jump in the river and drown.
Deciding to search for items inside, the gingered mustached man walked around the car, spotting another figured shadow in the passenger seat. Ah, a twofer, he thought! He jogged to the passenger door and swung it open, the person fell out as he knelt down to catch them in his arms. Their face leaning against their arms, he knew that sharp face and had to be sure. His dirty fingers combed through her hair finding the scar against her head hiding under her grown hair, seeing someone had added the scar across her face. His lips curled again, it was fate!
Stop your ramblin', stop your gramblin'.
Stop stayin' out late at night.
Go home to your wife and family.
Stay there by fireside bright.
The gingered man picked up the woman more gently than the one armed man, holding her close as he approached his truck and placed her in the passenger seat. Walking around the car, he climbed into his driver's seat and looked her over. It was like a dream, she was here again! He saw the blood down her face and took out his faded yellow handkerchief and dabbed to clean the wound. She flinched making him raise his free hand in case he had to cover her mouth from screaming. Her features showed pain as she tilted her head but didn't wake up. His eyes traveled down to her arm, seeing the bandage, she was injured before the crash seeing fresh blood seep through it.
I'll see you in my dreams.
Smiling softly, he sighed and pressed down on the gas and turned the wheel to made a U turn on the road and return where he came from. He hummed the sung, and glanced down at the woman singing the lyrics to her.
"Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene. I'll see ya 'n my dreams." He sang, reaching over and rubbed his dirt and walker blood stained knuckled against her cheek. "Goodnight, my Angel."
The following morning, Daryl had never felt so refreshed with such a good sleep. Actually, one could say it was great. It would've been greater if he had woken up to all this being a dream. Back at the cell next to Angela, but no. It was still real, Daryl kept wanting to wake up to it all being a dream but that had to stop at some point, right?
Though his legs needed stretching for sleeping in a box filled with velvet lining and a plush pillow. His back was extremely thankful, compared to sleeping on the dirt ground or in a trunk of a car. The hunter sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and climbed out of the coffin. He stretched his arms and back, picking up his crossbow finding Beth sleeping on the couch in the other room. How she felt comfortable sleeping in the room with the corpse- Oh, the lid was closed. Beth must have closed it before going to bed. Daryl walked over, nudging her shoulder gently as she was curled up on the couch.
"Hey, time to eat." He told softly, seeing her stir at the mention of food.
She sighed and sat up, rubbing her eyes as the sun shined through the cracks in the boarded window. "How'd you sleep?" Beth asked, stretching her arms over her head.
"Best sleep I had in years." He told. "You?" Daryl watched her get to her feet, limping a bit. Her ankle must have locked up during the sleep.
"Pretty good." She responded, moving toward the kitchen.
Daryl watched her move slower than before, he walked toward the hall and nodded. "Come on, hungry as a bull."
Beth scoffed with a smile. "I'm going as fast as I can."
Daryl surprised her but scooping her unto his arms and kicking the door open. Beth laughed as he maneuvered around the table filled with their food and placed her down on a chair.
"Here ya go. Whew." He walked around and took his own seat, grabbing the pigs feet first. "A'right, let's eat."
The sudden sound of cans rattling from outside paused them. Daryl got to his feet and grabbed his crossbow. Beth stood to follow, but he pointed a finger at her. "Stay." He told, rushing to the door.
Beth stood nonetheless as Daryl approached the door, trying to peek through the wood in the glass window. He didn't see a walker but saw something moving. Cautiously, he opened the door finding a one eyed dog standing there. He panted and looked pretty excited that a human had greeted him.
"It's just a damn dog." He called to Beth, so she knew he was alright. Daryl crouched down and reached for the dog. "Hi." He greeted, letting him sniff his hand. "Come here, boy."
Though the dog didn't like the grabbing motion Daryl made and yelped as the dog ran off the porch. The cans shook from his tail sweeping past it, Daryl stood with a sigh. Seeing he spooked the poor thing, he stepped back into the house and shut the door.
"He wouldn't come in?" Beth asked, entering the hall.
Daryl turned to her, "I told ya to stay back." he said walking up to her.
"Yeah." She nodded, biting back a grin. "But Daryl, you said there was a dog." Ah, of course hearing about a furry canine would get her attention from staying somewhere safe.
"Maybe he'll come back 'round." He told, nudging her back into the kitchen. "Come on."
The two went in, sitting down to have their meal. So far, their morning was starting off with a hitch.
Unknown if it was morning or night, all Angela knew was that it was dark when she woke up. Her back resting in a bed and her arm felt like it was floating. Squinting her eyes, she wished they were adjust to the darkness. Everything felt numb and her head was spinning. Her arm tugged and it felt like something was tight around her wrist, something jingled like metal against metal. Her mind tried to figure out what it was as she kept moving her arm, it felt cold. The room felt cold, tugging her legs she found they were free but felt like jello. Angela parted her lips, finding her mouth tasting of cotton and dry as a bone. She took in a deep slow breath, not wanting the nausea to rise as she found moving her body was impossible.
"Mer...Me….Merle…." She mumbled out, trying to form her words together. Her mind was growing less foggy and her eyes dilated better to the darkness. "Merle…! Merle!"
Her arm, the cold metal against her wrist, she was handcuffed to the post of the bed she laid in. Her bad arm resting at her side, wrapped neatly and felt less painful to move as she rose into a sitting position. Her hand felt the clothing over her body, she still wore the pull over shirt and her jeans as she rubbed her knees together.
"Merle!? Where are you, Merle!?" She screamed out, panicking.
Angela remembered she had been arguing with him in the car, over a stupid test stick. Then the car went down and everything went black. Now where she was handcuffed to a bed with her arm in better condition and Merle missing.
The sound of a door opening caught her attention, she covered her eyes as the light blinded her. Pitch black returned once the door slammed shut, and the echo of footsteps came closer to Angela. Her hand searched for her knife or anything to defend herself, but found all her weapons gone.
A male voice chuckled, making her skin crawl. "Merle? Me-earl? Mar-rel?" He tried to pronounce the name in different ways as if not understanding it. "Nah, nah. Never heard dat name, Sweetheart."
"Where is he!?" She screeched, her eyes scanning the dark room for him.
"Calm down, Sugar." He purred, "N' here I 'tought I'd find little 'ol KayKay n' 'dat car wit' ya." a click of his tongue was heard. "N'stead, found 'nother man, ain't even yer brother."
Angela, ready to lunge at the man, now froze as her mind urged her body to curl into the corner of the bed. Those names, that accent, the tone. She knew this man.
"No, no, no…" She stuttered, shaking her head as her eyes rapidly searched everywhere. It couldn't be, he was dead! Dead! All the way back at that college campus, dead and gone. "I-It can't be-"
The sudden click of a lamp turning on jolted her, wiping her head to the left corner of the room. The yellow light illuminating the room, casting shadows from her, the bed and the figure next to the lamp. Her eyes went wide at the male figure that joined her in the small room. Her worst fears had come true; that man, that monster was alive; Roy Benson.
He looked thinner than the last she saw him, not dressed as a neat suited man like before. He wore dark dirty jeans with a belt keeping it them on his thin frame, dark blue plaid shirt tucked into his jeans. Another belt hung on his hips where his hand rested on a gun holstered on his side. A leather coat over his body reached down to his knees, if he didn't have his hand resting on his gun, she wouldn't even know he had a weapon on his person, the collar sticking up against his neck. No longer did he sport a goatee, now a groomed ginger mustache was perched above his lip and his hair cut short with no long ponytail.
His wide grin wasn't as welcoming as he thought it was. His arms extended out as if expecting a hug, the coat falling over to hide his gun. "Angel! Darlin'!"
Once he took a step, his boots tap against the cement ground, Angela recoiled against the wall, tugging at her arm wanting to be free as she was restricted.
He paused, tilting his head in question at her reaction. "Dontchya recognize me? It's 'ol Roy!" He laughed, bringing a hand up to comb through his short thin ginger hair. "All 'dis time, I thought ya was dead back at 'ta college." His voice sounded genuine, as if seeing her from the 'dead' was a long wish to come true.
He just smiled, shaking his head as his arms fell to his side. "Ya look amazin', Darlin'." Roy praised, eyes scanning her. Angela brought the blanket up, too stunned to respond, despite the many questions and demands buzzing in her skull.
"Yer hair is growin' back." He complimented. "Once I spotted dat scar, I knew-"
"Why are you not dead!?" She screamed out, silencing the room.
Roy's brows raised, stunned by her sudden below. He shoved his hands into his pockets sighing. He looked down at the flood, then at the door as if thinking over his words. Giving a side glance, he shook his head.
"Ain't even gonna 'tank me for fixin' ya little wound, Angel?" Was his response, looking hurt by her words.
Angela ignored his words, though tempted to look at her arm to see what he did. Roy noticed and rose his chin up proudly.
"Had a snag 'dere, didn'tchya?" He asked, his hands digging in the pocket and fishing out something small between his index finger and thumb. "Now, I ain't no gun know-it-all, but I is sure 'dat ain't supposed 'ta be in yer arm."
Roy laughed making Angela's spine shiver, hair standing on the ends of her neck and arms. "You're supposed to be dead."
"As a gentleman, I should answer yer question." He pressed his hand to his chest, flicking the bullet somewhere into the darkness. Angela flinched hearing it clink against the floor somewhere. "After everyone made 'dere promise, I found myself alone."
"You didn't drink it." She hissed at him.
He shook his head. "No, couldn't bring myself 'ta do it."
"I saw you-I saw you drink that shit!"
Roy shrugged, looking around the barely lit room. "Yes, I drank sometin', but not what everyone else did." He extended his hand out to her. "I see ya didn't drink it, makes 'dis all fate."
"Where is he?"
His brows shot up, a smile brought to his features. "Ah, I was hopin' ya would ask 'bout him." Roy chuckled, shoving his hand in his pocket again. "Y'know, ever since-"
"What did you do to Merle?"
Roy's smile faded, looking annoyed hearing that name again. He slowly shook his head, striding to the door. Angela leaned toward the edge of her bed, seeing him making his exit.
"Did you kill him? Leave him to die?" She questioned, hoping the older Dixon was actually alive. "Tell me!"
Roy paused opening the door, light entering the room as it shined on Angela in the bed. "Ya disappoint me, Angel." He turned, leaning his hand against the door handle. "Here I tought ya wanted 'ta know where someone important was. Yer family, yer blood."
Angela's face paled, was he talking about who she thought he was. Was he really alive and well? Was he really here, now?
"I'll let Nolan know ya done gave up on him."
With that, he slammed the door, the muffled screaming ignored as he wandered to his next job. Walking past the tall shelves of boxes and assorted old unneeded items, the lights lit up the back cold room until he hit the switch. Roy could hear the engine humming of the generator he used to gain electricity for his home. He praised himself on keeping that freezer section of the food store he called 'home' on, not only to keep needed foods he found nice and cold, but for his visitor.
Entering the back rooms, he buttoned his coat, shrugging his shoulders as if he was about to enter a tundra region. He swung the door opened and entered the room, reaching up to pull the string lighting the room up. There, under the light, he found his new visitor bound to a chair shivering horribly without his newly acquired bowling shirt. Roy liked the shirt, wanting it he took it leaving this one armed man in his wife beater. Roy pulled up a chair and sat across from him, humming to himself. The man's arms were duct taped behind the back of the chair, legs taped to the ones to the chair and even his torso was tightly taped to the chair for extra measure. Only his neck was the free to move part of his body.
"We gonna have a chat finally?" Roy asked, crossing one leg over the other. The one armed man didn't respond, his skin was pale and body shivered begging for warmth. "I've tried 'ta get ya 'ta talk, but ya just sit 'dere 'n I gotta be honest." Roy chuckled, leaning his arms onto his knee. "It's gettin' annoyin'."
Merle didn't respond, his head hung staring down at his lap. No matter what Roy questioned or said, the man refused to speak or acknowledge him. Unlike Angela who had her injures tended to, his was still staining his head and lips from his bleeding nose. Roy thought maybe he became brain damaged, but there had to be something to make him talk.
"Name Merle?" He asked, leaning back against the chair. "Dat's what she calls ya."
Once he mentioned that, the redneck's head slowly rose up glaring deeply at him. Roy grinned, glad to get a reaction. He uncrossed his legs and pressed his palms into his knees with excitement.
"Praise 'ta Lord, ya alive!" He joked, though the other man found no amusement in this. "I can assume yer name is Merle?"
"What'd ya do to her?" Her rasped, making Roy grin at his suppressed stuttered question. "If ya done something-"
"Oh, I only removed 'dat pesky bullet from her arm, is all. Wrapped her head n' made sure she was more comfortable 'den bein' n' 'dat ditch ya launched her in." He told, seeing Merle's arms tug at his bindings. Wanting to punch him, no doubt.
"Ya'll be making a mistake, asshole." He growled lowly at him.
Roy stood and walked over, bending over to get real close in Merle's face. "Ya from here 'n don't even 'tank me for savin' ya'll lives?" He tisked as Merle struggled in the chair, face turning from near palish blue to red within seconds.
"Short temper, I see." Roy commented, standing straight in case he tried to headbutt him. "Well, I 'tank ya, good sir." He stepped back and bowed at Merle making his anger flare even more. He raised his head, grinning at him. "Ta name's Roy Benson, I'll be takin' care of her for now on."
Merle's eyes went wide, anger flaring to a point a pulsating pain rushed to his head. Roy, he knew that fucking name from somewhere.
Not Angela, no, not Daryl. It was someone else-
Kaylee, Princess mentioned him! She told how he was the one who left the first scar on Angela's face, the reason their brother was gone, the community lost, and attempted rape to Kaylee.
Teeth clenched and hand tightened into a fist as it shook under his restraints. "You fuck!"
Roy jumped back, startled by the man's sudden echoing bellow. "P-Pardon?"
Merle spat spit from his lips as he snarled at the man like a chained animal. "I'll make sure to kill ya, making sure ya wished ya were dead before meeting me!" The chair shook as he struggled more under the tight duct tape. Roy stepped back, actually fearful of the man escaping.
"Once I'm free, I'll break every bone in your body, cut every muscle and rip out every organ. You'll feel every pain ya caused, ya sick fuck!" Merle promised, teeth clenched tightly.
Roy fixed the collar of his coat and turned ready to adjust the temperature of the freezer. "I 'tink it's time ya took a nap, my friend."
Merle kept barking at his back as Roy reached for the thermostat, adjusting the cold. The fans grew louder over the yelling, but eventually faded out.
Angela tugged and yanked at her handcuffs, resorting to kicking the metal bed post in attempt to bend or break the damned thing. She had to escape, had to find Merle and get the fuck out of there. The back of her mind kept pestering about Nolan, he mentioned Nolan.
"No." She told herself, shaking her head. "He's dead, he's a lying prick."
"Am I now?" Angela jumped, head shooting over to the door as it creaked open. Roy leaned against the door with a tray in his hand. "'Tought ya might be hungry. Ya look a little too thin, for my opinion."
Angela curled back against the bed as he approached her, placing the tray on the other end of the bed. He stood by, hands shoved in his pants as if waiting to see her eat. She just glared at him, he returned it with a hurtful look.
"Ya just keep glarin' at me, Angel. If I hadn't stopped, ya woulda been eaten fer sure." He shrugged, shaking his head. "I just wanted 'ta know, how ya surrived back 'dere."
"The hell should I know? We just didn't die."
A brow was raised, "We?" he questioned. Angela bit her lip, opening the cut on her lower lip. "What 'we' would ya be talkin' 'bout?"
Angela turned away, her eyes falling on the tray of food. There was a well made sandwich, with chips on the side and bottle of cold water. Roy tilted his head, then bent to the side to get a look at her face.
"Stop calling me that!" She barked, swinging her foot to kick the tray. The food went flying all over the floor, the bottle rolling away.
Roy flinched at the kick, but recomposed himself as he eyed the woman. "What kind of animal have ya become, Sugar. Ya used 'ta be so sophisticated, a proud woman."
Angela jumped when he stepped forward and grabbed her chin roughly. Her body trembled in fear at his touch, forcing her to look him in the eye.
"I have very little patience, Angel. Who is dis other person? Is it Kaylee?" Angela tried to dart her eyes away, then closed them feeling tears swell up in them. "It was KayKay. He figured. "Ohh sweet, little, baby Darlin'." Roy let her go, shoving her away as he stood over her. "Where might she be?"
Angela rubbed her jaw, glaring down at the blanket. "Dead." Roy blinked at that answer, hearing a strain in her voice. "She's dead. She was killed."
"Someone murdered that sweet Honey Child?" He questioned, raising his hands to his hips. "Who would dare-"
"Someone like you." She hissed, her green piercing gaze rising at him. "A monster, just like you."
Roy lost his temper, backhanding Angela across her cheek. She cried out feeling the sting, curling against the wall as she held her swelling cheek.
"Don't be spewin' such 'nsults, Angel." He growled, lips curling in a snarl.
"You tried to rape her!" Angela cried out, not caring what pain he could bring her. "She told me everything! You couldn't have her, so you were going to punish her!"
"She needed to learn her place!" Roy barked at her. "In 'dis world, 'ta men protect 'n women follow!"
"Says the man who hid behind my brother like a bitch!" Angela accused. "You're a coward!"
Roy growled, lunging himself at her as his hands wrapped around her throat. She gasped, feeling her windpipes tighten at his grip, her hand clawing at his hands. He let one hand go and grabbed her wrist, pinning her to the bed and climbing on top of her.
"I ain't no coward." He growled, lowering to press his lips to her ear. She shuddered at the touch, trying to turn away from him as she felt hot tears in her eyes. "I survived, I lived, I made it out here. I'll be damned if I let a woman call me a coward."
His hand released her throat but held her chin again as he looked into her eyes. He was about to continue, but found something else in those fear filled eyes. There was a fighter in there, her eyes glaring back despite the trembling in her body and labored breathing through her nose.
"Nah, ya ain't a coward." Roy rubbed his thumb against her boney cheek. "Yer an Angel."
He finally let her go and kicked the tray out of his path as he walked to the door. "I'll prepare 'ta meetin'. Ya deserve to see him, at least once."
Angela slowly sat up, staring at him. He just chuckled and shut the door, the clicking of a lock heard and his footsteps fading. The scarred woman yanked and pulled at the cuffs, feeling the bruises start to form on her wrists. Her eyes scanned the dimly lit room, nothing was within her reach. Her eyes fell on her hand, finding her stomach churning at the thought of breaking her wrist or even gnawing her way out. She sat up closer, inspecting how closely tight it was around the wrist. If her thumb wasn't in the way she could-
Angela chewed her lip tasting the copper blood from her cut. No, she wouldn't be cutting her thumb off or breaking it. All she had to do was dislocate it, making it easier to slip the cuffs off. She took in some even breaths, preparing herself as she gripped her thumb. With a quick movement, she popped the joint, holding a scream as she closed her eyes tightly at the jolting pain. Angela slipped her wrist free and stood, stepping about wanting to pop it back into place. She didn't even want to see the sight of her dislocated thumb, the feeling was enough for her. Remembering how to relocate joints when kids got injured, she moved her thumb and roughly pushed it back into place letting out a yell. Angela fell to her knees, able to move her thumb though the pain stayed with her.
She caught her breath, now free from her restraint. Her feet lead her to the door, testing the lock, but was shocked to find it swing open. Didn't she hear the lock click, maybe he was fooling her. The light blinded her momentarily, finding herself in a storage room. Stepping out for a second, the walls of boxes and containers proved they were in some super market as they were labeled with pantry brands. Angela cautiously wandered the room, finding scissors sitting on an open box. She instinctively took them, finding some solace to have a weapon in hand.
She peeked out the double doors, seeing the store just as dimly lit as the room she was in. Angela had to fine Merle and get out of there. She just hoped he wasn't left back in that car, eaten alive.
Angela walked past the pick up section then the sports section. This was one big outlet store, the sounds of a humming engine told her he had a back up generator running somewhere to keep the electricity going. Roy wasn't kidding, he had managed to keep this place and the electricity going for who knows how long.
The sudden sound of a high pitch screech made her duck down as if Roy was nearby. But the sound was over some speakers above head in the rafters. "Dear ol' Angel. I knew ya would find a way out." Came Roy's voice over the loudspeakers.
"Where's Merle!?" She barked at the ceiling, keeping low by the bike section.
"Merle? 'dat one armed man, right? Well, he's a tad busy at 'ta moment." Roy dismissed. "He needed 'ta cool down dat hot temper of his." He chuckled, Angela looked around before sprinting down the aisle to find any signs to where each section of the store was.
"Why are you doing this?" She questioned, scissors tight in her fist.
"Because ya need 'ta see 'ta truth, Angel." He told, as if he was sincere in his words. "Yer brother is right here n' 'dis buildin'. He 'tought ya was dead all 'dis time, ya 'n KayKay. 'Tough, I can't say much, ya might have 'ta tell him 'bout 'dat." Roy sighed into the microphone.
"You think you can play these mind games with me!?" She barked out, glaring at the ceiling.
"Don't be testin' my patience!" He yelled. "Let me help ya. If ya don't want 'ta see Nolan, I'll tell ya where Merle is, 'den I'll just have 'ta put him out of his misery. How's 'tat'?"
Angela growled and just ran down an isle to who knows where. Her shoes collided with stray boxes and hangers all over. She then had found herself in the clothing section, center of the store. She slipped the scissors into her back pocket and climbed onto a counter by the dressing rooms to see the layout of the building.
"Yer pissin' me off!" He barked, making her nerves rack more on where Merle was hidden. "Do ya not care!?"
"Why should I even believe you!?" Angela barked above her. "You're nothing but a sick, con artist coward!"
There was some silence there, Angela focused on the store layout once more. Where was Merle being kept? She thought at this point, maybe he wasn't here at all. Knowing him, he would've curb stomped Roy's head and rip off every limp. But the fact he hasn't heard him yelling or any sign of being held somewhere, had Roy actually killed Merle?
"You tried to rape my sister, you scarred my face, and left thousands of innocent people to die while you still live on! Why should I trust you!?" She screamed, feeling her throat grow sore from yelling. "Just tell me where Merle is! He's my family! My brother! Nolan is dead!"
The day was filled with just keeping watch for Daryl Dixon at the funeral home. Beth rested well for her ankle, Daryl made no notion to keep moving as the day continued. The teen played the piano at times, bringing music into the house as Daryl sat in the other room adjusting his crossbow. Whenever the music stopped, he paused to hear her making sure she was alright. Once light footsteps were heard, he assumed she was wandering the place and continued his adjustments. Daryl expected to find the owner of the place to come up to the door, but as the day progressed, he was sure they weren't returning today.
That night, as the two ate their dinner, Daryl ate out of that jelly jar he claimed. He noticed Beth writing something in her notes, finding curiosity getting the better of him.
"Whatcha writtin'?" He asked, scooping the jelly into his mouth.
"I'm gonna leave a thank-you note." She told.
Daryl watched her start writing on the lined paper. "Why?" He asked.
Beth looked up, "For when they come back." she answered. "If they come back." She added, leaning back in her seat. "Even if they're not coming back, I still want to say thanks."
Daryl watched her write, a thought had gotten into his head throughout the day on leaving this place. Now was the time to voice the thought out to her.
"Maybe ya don't have to leave that." He told, she looked up. "Maybe we stick 'round here for a while." Daryl took another spoonful. "They come back, we'll just make it work." The stare Beth was given made try to keep his thought train processing.
"They may be nuts but, maybe it'll be a'right." He shrugged.
Beth grinned, just as he expected. "So you do think there are still good people around." The teen chuckled as Daryl shrugged again. "What changed your mind?"
The hunter eyed her up, still eating out of his jar to break the glanced from her. "Ya know."
"What?" She urged, wanting to hear him say it. Daryl swallowed and tilted his head shrugging once more.
He mumbled a 'I don't know' at her, making her head shake.
"Don't," she imitated him, rolling her eyes at him. "What changed your mind?" All Daryl did was keep staring at her, he was giving her an answer. She finally realized it, her smile fading with an "Oh." at him.
The cans outside rattled, but they didn't became as alert as the sounds of the dog barking was heard. Daryl shoved his spoon into the jar and held a finger up. "I'm gonna give that mutt one more chance." He reached for his pigs feet, taking out a piece to offer the canine.
Beth chuckled as he stood and marched out of the kitchen. "Ya better eat this, mutt." He muttered himself, walking up to the door. He swung it open but immediately tried to slam it shut once the sight of walkers were at the door.
"Beth!" He barked, pressing his back against the door to keep them getting in. "Beth!"
She came out, crossbow in hand hearing the alert in his voice. She tossed him the crossbow seeing the hands sticking out from the door. "Run!" He told her, catching the weapon but she didn't move. "Run!"
Beth turned and left down the hall, Daryl jumped from the door as it opened wide for god knows how many walkers to welcome themselves in. He fired at the one lunging at him, the arrow impaling its skull falling to the clean hardwood floor. Daryl ran down the hall, losing track whatever room Beth ran to.
"Beth, pry open a window! Get your shit!" He told her, heading toward the stairs down to the morgue. He had to lead them away from her.
"I'm not gonna leave you!" He heard her voice echo from somewhere in the back.
Daryl made a sharp turn, hearing them on his ass. "Go out! Go up the road! I'll meet ya there!"
Beth hesitated at the hall, hearing the walkers chase after his heavy footsteps. "Go!" He urged, making her back to a room where the black bag was kept. She slung it over and bolted out the back door.
Daryl rushed down the stairs finding the morgue and reloading his bow. The first walker reaching the steps got a bolt lodged in its brain and slumped against the wall. He tossed his crossbow and grabbed the first sharp thing he found on the set of tools displayed on a table. Using the wheeled table with the clean corpse, he slide it to make a blockade between him and the oncoming walkers. As they reached toward him, they pressed him into a corner with the table, but he proceed to stab as many in the head as fast as possible to thin them out. He had managed to stab five walkers but found the numbers growing too big to keep this up.
Taking a risk, Daryl dove under the table and crawled through their legs and getting out with the other table to trap them. He stabbed a few more heads before grabbing his crossbow again. He fired at a walker coming down the stairs and stabbed another making its way down the second steps.
The house was no longer safe, he had to get to Beth outside in case it was a herd that arrived. He rushed outside, finding a few stragglers in the yard. He had no time for them, he bolted past them through the graveyard to find the road and get back to Beth. One walker blocked his path, he felt his energy wasting in the killings. He simply swung his crossbow at the walker's head, splitting its skull. He ran around the fallen body, keeping his eyes peeled in the dark woods to find the teen.
Once he came upon the road, all he found was the bag she took with its contents spilled out. Had she dropped it and ran off? His heart sank when he heard tires screeching, finding a car with a white cross on the back window speeding off down the road. No, something worse had happened. Beth was being kidnapped!
"Beth!" Daryl cried, sprinting after the car thinking he'd catch up. "Beth!"
The car turned sharply right as Daryl ran after, he couldn't let this happen to her. "Beth!"
Daryl run even with his lungs burning, feet aching, and legs shaking. He kept speeding down the road until the following day when the sun came out to beat down on his sweating soaking head. The hunter couldn't let this happen, he can't repeat this again. Not again, please don't do this, he pleaded.
Soon, he fell into a walk as he panted for air in the cold morning. His mind was spinning when he found himself a fork in the road passing train tracks. He kept turning about in circles, searching for any sign in the road, leaves, just anything- Something- to tell him where Beth was.
His hands shook as the crossbow fell from his dying grip. Soon his legs gave out, collapsing into the asphalt. She was gone, and here he sat alone. No one was left, it was just him and him alone.
In the freezer room, Merle felt it becoming a struggle to breath. His shoulders shuddered exhaling and inhaling, shivering as the cold air entered his lungs. The older Dixon was tough as nails, this was nothing compared to chopping his hand off on a roof.
Merle continued to tug and kick his feet to get free. He was sure the bayonet at the end of him arm was no longer attached, but feeling the tape covering his arms proved impossible to even loosen them. As he continued to struggle, he swore he felt his arms growing less and less stuck to the adhesive. Frowning, he tilting his head, feeling the creek of his joints as he felt his arms becoming loose. His eyes looked around, feeling the fans blowing cold air into the freeze, was the cold doing something to it?
Deciding to take a chance, Merle looked up finding a fan above him but not directly. He took in a breath and moved his body to the side, jerking the chair over for the fan to blow right at him. The floor proved to be slippery as the wooden legs of the chair slipped, making him fall onto the ice cold cement floor. He let out a yell as he felt the cold stab his skin like thousands of tiny knives when his face and arm collided with the floor. Okay, this was now like swimming in a frozen lake.
But wait! He might take this as an advantage. Merle rocked back and forth and eventually got onto his back, hissing at the stinging cold cement floor against his bare arms. He just rubbed his arms, ignoring the wooden back of the chair grinding against his arms.
He can't do this, he couldn't do this now. His chest burned as he caught his breath from running for so many hours through the night. No one left in his life, they were all gone. Was this how it would be for Daryl Dixon? Wandering around alone, eating snakes and waiting for his time to end?
It was about mid day, Daryl just sat there loathing himself. He couldn't keep Beth safe, what made him think he even could? Boots slowly came into his vision, a man holding a rifle stood before him.
"Well, lookit here." The man muttered, as if he had found a fresh kill.
Daryl's head slowly lifted, finding five men circle him, he felt like a trapped racoon. The first man stepped forward, reaching for his crossbow. Daryl wasn't going to be down without a fight. Raising his fist, he punched the man down to the ground, jumping to his feet as he aimed his crossbow at him. The five other men aimed at Daryl, the redneck just glared down at the gray haired man.
"Damnit, hold up!" He barked, noting toward his men than at Daryl.
"I'm claiming the vest." Came a voice behind him, Daryl ignored the compound bow pointed at his back. "I like 'em wings." He grinned.
"Hold. Up." The man repeated, wiping the blood from his nose.
Seeing the red on his hand made him release a chuckle, evolving into laughter. Daryl stepped back, he dealt with enough crazy. Was he another one in this insane world? Once his laughter died, the smile stayed as he got back to his feet.
"A bowman." He mused, checking if his nose had stopped bleeding. "I respect that. See, a man with a rifle, he could be some kind of photographer or soccer coach back in the day. But a bowman's a bowman, through and through."
Daryl didn't show any interest in what he was saying, the hunter was filled with anger and disappointment. All at himself, but now wanted to take these emotions out on this man and his lackeys.
"What you got there? Hundred-fifty pound draw weight?" He asked, his eyes never leaving Daryl's narrowed gaze. He had no fear talking to this man as if they were just chit chatting at a bar. "I'll be donkey-licked if that don't fire at least three hundred feet per second."
"I've been looking for a weapon like that." He shrugged, Daryl's arms moved to keep his arm between his eyes. "Of course, I'd want one with more ammo, minus the oblongata stains."
The compound bowman behind Daryl laughed, almost excited for this little interaction. "Got yourself into some trouble, partner?"
Not even giving a single glance or word. When Daryl still showed no sign of dropping his weapon, the man sighed. "You pull that trigger, these boys are gonna drop you several times over." He warned, then he knew why he was doing this. "That what you want? Come on, fella, suicide is stupid."
Is that was Daryl was doing? If he did shoot this man, those guys would fill his body with led and arrows. Down it would go, left behind to get eaten or turned into another wandering walker. Would he join Angela, wherever she would be? No, would he even get to be with her? What if she wasn't dead and he just pulled a stupid move?
The man's lips curled back into that grin again. "Why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people? Name's Joe."
Daryl didn't even think his own body was obeying his mind. His brain felt shut down as his aim lowered, the crossbow resting at his side. "Daryl." He told.
Everyone's weapons finally lowered, Daryl glanced around getting a good look at the men surrounding him. Shifting his footing, he looked back at the man, Joe, who just nodded as if accepting him in his group was a good choice. Was joining these men a good choice, though?