Everyone was packing their things to leave for Fort Benning the next day but you didn’t see the point. Walkers had attacked the camp, killing half your group…including your whole family, your parents and your brother. You were brokenhearted, you didn’t think you could ever stop feeling this pain. You were alone in the cruel world. You didn’t know why walkers hadn’t gotten to you too. What was the point in keeping going anymore?
Some of the other had begun to drive picks into the heads of walkers and fallen friends, and you felt tears falling down your eyes again as you felt sick to your stomach. Sure that nobody would notice, you went to the woods. You made sure to make noise as you walked, until you saw a walker making his way to you. You flopped down onto the ground and let it come. You shouldn’t be alive. You’d be devoured as your family and the pain would stop.
The monster was almost on you, reaching out its hands, it could almost touch you, and you closed your eyes, terrified, so as not to see it, and waited for the pain not come. Instead, you heard a whistling sound and then the walker fell on top of you. You yelped, pushing the body off you, and you looked around wildly, spotting Daryl lowering his crossbow.
“What the hell are you doing?!” He yelled at you, walking closer.
“No, what the hell did you do!”You snapped back, rushing onto your feet. Daryl’d ruined it all. You didn’t know if you’d have the courage to try again.
“I saved your life!” Daryl shook his head in disbelief at you, scoffing.
“Well, I didn’t ask you to!” You yelled back, embarrassed when you noticed tears in your eyes again. You turned to walk deeper into the woods, but Daryl rushed behind you.
“Where the hell you think you are going?!” Daryl reached out as if to grab your arm but you pulled away.
“Leave me alone! What you care anyway!” You snapped, pushing him away from you.
Daryl seeming surprised at first, and then even angrier. “Whatever, get your ass eaten, I don’t give a shit.” He scoffed, turning away from you. “Crazy bitch.” He muttered, walking back towards the camp.
You rubbed your eyes, though there was no way of stopping your tears. You kept walking and making noise, but you didn’t attract any other walker, and eventually, you went back to the camp. You flopped down next to the campfire, hugging your knees to your chest. The sun was getting down and everyone was gathering around the campfire too. You noticed Daryl a little away from there, looking at you, though he quickly looked away.
You felt bad about the way you had snapped at him. He’d saved your life, he couldn’t know you were trying to end it, and you had yelled at him and you had even pushed him. You felt awful. You hadn’t expected anyone to care about you or what you did, much less Daryl. It wasn’t like the others treated you bad, they were kind, but you were rather new to the camp and everyone had their friends and families to care about…which you didn’t have anymore. That train of thoughts made you tear up again.
Still, you felt bad about how you had behaved with Daryl. You tried to overcome your shyness, forced yourself to stop crying, and got up, making your way to him. Daryl was looking at you warily, eyeing you with anger and mistrust, and you almost turned over and retreated. You looked around to make sure none was paying attention.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you and pushed you before.” You thought you should thank him for saving your life, but the words didn’t want to leave your mouth. “I shouldn’t have and I’m truly sorry.”Daryl nodded in silence, still looking at you warily. You nodded back and turned to leave, but Daryl calling your name made you stop.
“Y/N…you were trying…you were gonna let the geek get you?” He asked quietly and you bit your lip but nodded once, feeling like he deserved your honesty. “Are you gonna try again?” You just shrugged and left.
Eventually, after dinner, everyone retreated into their tents, but you didn’t. You were feeling even more alone and brokenhearted, missing your family with all you had. They couldn’t be gone. They couldn’t be gone while you were still there. It didn’t make sense. Feeling that sense of hopelessness falling over you again, you got up to walk into the woods again. This time you took your knife with you, not in case you found walkers, but in case you didn’t. You hadn’t gotten into the woods, though, when you heard Daryl’s voice.
“Where you going?”
“I…uh…” You babbled awkwardly, surprised he’d followed you. “I was…I just…”
“Ain’t no time to take a walk, you have to keep watch, it’s your shift,” Daryl said, looking at the ground.
“Shane said we should take turns keeping watch. It’s yours.”
“Uh…okay…” You blinked in confusion but you couldn’t get yourself to say no, and so you followed Daryl back to the camp. Shane was on top of the RV and you felt Daryl was making up that keeping watch and shifts thing, but still you didn’t say anything and you sat down next to him in the log.
“You’re going to keep watch with me then?” You asked, arching your eyebrows at him.
“It’s better than alone, easier to notice geeks.”
“Alright.” You shrugged, deciding to roll with it. After a while, though, you couldn’t stop yourself any longer. “Daryl…you knew what I was going to do, right?” He just hummed, nodding. “Then why’d you stop me? Why’d you care?”
“I don’t.” He replied, yet he’d followed you after you yelled at him. Silence fell between you two again, and this time it was Daryl the first to break it. “Why you want to do that?”
You let out a long sigh, not sure about how to word your messy feelings. “I don’t know what’s the point on keep going…My family is gone but I’m here…and I miss them…I miss them like someone’s ripping out my heart.” You let out a whimpered, rubbing your eyes and taking a deep breath. “And I’m all alone, and I don’t know… I don’t know if I can keep going…” You sobbed quietly, hiding your face in your hands, and for a little while, Daryl didn’t say anything.
“All I had was Merle, he was my only family and he’s gone too,” he rasped quietly. “Wasn’t on the roof, don’t know where he’s.”
“I’m sorry…” You had been so lost in your grieve you hadn’t realized Daryl had come back without his brother.
“I’m all alone too…I know what everyone else thinks of me…” He shrugged. “But I ain’t trying to become geek’s food.”
You didn’t know what to say to that. Daryl’d always been kind of an outsider in that group, and now without Merle there…he must be feeling really lonely. But you couldn’t offer any comfort, couldn’t feel better yourself either.
“Guess I’m weak,” was your only reply.
Daryl looked at you but didn’t say anything. Neither of you slept that night, and at the sunrise, you both were still on that log, silent. You hadn’t felt like sleeping, or doing anything at all, and you didn’t know how Daryl felt, but he didn’t move from there either, at least until everyone began getting their things into the cars. He got up and nudged your foot with his.
“Come on, pick your things, we’re leaving to Fort Benning soon.”
“I…what?” You blinked, dumbfounded. You hadn’t decided if you wanted to go or not. You hadn’t even planed on being alive. You still didn’t feel like doing anything but you couldn’t resist when Daryl tugged you up onto your feet, looking at him in confusion.
“Come on, we haven’t all day! Pick your things!”
Daryl nodded towards your tent and even though you were still more than confused, you found yourself actually going to your tent and getting the things you wanted to take with you into your bag. You weren’t sure as of why, but you found yourself listening to Daryl again, like when he’d told you to go take watch.
Once you were ready, you looked around at everyone else, all already in the cars, Shane and Rick studying a map for the last time. You were about to regret it, drop your bag and stay there in your tent until walkers or anything else got you, when you noticed the Dixon’s truck driving closer and stopping next to you.
“Come on,” Daryl reached out from inside to open the passenger door, and you could just blink at him, dumbfounded again. He let out a frustrated groan. “Will you move your ass?! We’re leaving!”
“Okay…” Once again, you found yourself listening to Daryl, even if only because he confused you, and so you threw your bag inside before getting up and sitting next to him, and so you both followed the other cars to Fort Benning.
For a long while of driving, none of you said anything, though you kept peering at Daryl with curiosity. “Why you doing this?” You finally asked.
“I got the space, everyone’s crammed inside the cars and that van.”
“No, I meant…stopping me from letting myself die.”
“Want me to leave you alone?” He asked, sounding defensive.
You didn’t know what to say. Did you? You weren’t sure. You still felt like giving up and still… “I don’t know…” You let out a defeated sigh.
Daryl just hummed and none of you said anything else. He seemed to take is a “no”, though, because he still kept his eye on you, first when walkers approached you at the outside of the CDC as if making sure they wouldn’t get you, and then inside as if he thought just might try to kill yourself there.
He even dropped his stuff in the same room than you did when all the others began taking rooms, sharing by families and friends. He placed his bag on the sofa at the other end of the room. Both of you seemed awkward, but neither of you said anything. When you get up from the bed where you had dropped your things and he got up too, as if to follow you, you turned to face him.
“Are you going to follow me into the shower too?” You deadpanned. The sight of Daryl all blushed and flustered almost made you smile, much to your surprise. He grumbled something, shaking his head and sitting down again while you went to the bathroom.
You stood under the spray of water for a long while, even after the water went cold, feeling numb, until you forced yourself to turn off the water, got out of the shower and get dressed. You didn’t bother trying to untangle your messy hair. When you went out, Daryl was still there, sat down on the sofa, playing with his knife, carving patterns into the wood of the table. The doc wasn’t going to like that. He looked at you when you got out of the bathroom.
“Carol just came to tell us dinner was ready,” he told you and you nodded but sat down on the bunk, staring at the wall. “You don’t want to have dinner?” You just shrugged, but then you realized Daryl wasn’t going to go if you didn’t, as he still seemed set on keeping you under his sight. It was frustrating, but mostly you were confused. You didn’t want him to miss dinner because of you, and so you got up and went to the dining area, Daryl right behind you.
You didn’t know when was the last time you had seen so much food and drinks together. Everyone was celebrating, laughing…and you felt yourself tearing up. Your family could have been enjoying this too. They’d been alive little more than a day ago. They should be there. Yet you were and they weren’t. It wasn’t fair.
Daryl was sat down next to you and you felt him elbowing you. You looked at him and he offered you the bottle of booze he’d been drinking from, but you shook your head. He’d been laughing too, you didn’t think you had ever seen him smile that much, but his frown was back as he looked at you. You didn’t want to be a bummer for everyone else, they deserved this, and so you forced the corner of your mouth upwards into a fake smile. You felt Daryl could read right through you, though.
“No, stop, you’d drank enough.”
Dale was saying to Glenn at some point of the night, your mind seemed to have wandered away for a little while. Dale seemed amused and you saw Glenn’s face was all red and he seemed quite intoxicated, giggling at everything when he wasn’t complaining about the room spinning. Daryl was teasing him, you didn’t think you’d ever seen him joking like that with any of the others. It almost made you smile a real one that time.
At some point, you even surprised yourself letting out a short, ever so soft, bark of a laugh, even though you also teared up again too. Daryl seemed as surprised as you, turning his head to look at you, and you noticed a tiny smile tugging at the corner of his mouth before he went back to refill Glenn’s glass while Dale kept telling him to stop.
Back inside the room, you flopped onto the bunk. It was more comfortable than it looked, or maybe it was that you hadn’t had a real mattress in too long, You stared up at the ceiling and then you turned your head to look at Daryl, who was sat down on the couch, pulling at his fingers as he looked to the ground.
It was awkward, staying in the same room than him, but at the same time, you felt as if you might like his presence there, somehow, maybe…you weren’t sure. One minute you were thankful you weren’t alone in that unknown room in that strange place, the next minute you felt like yelling to Daryl to leave you alone and stop following you. You didn’t even know what you felt, and you couldn’t make your mind, but neither could you bring yourself to tell Daryl to leave you alone.
“Do you want the bed? I don’t mind taking the couch.” You offered, you didn’t think you’d sleep much anyway. Daryl just shook his head. “Okay…mind if I turn off the light?”
Daryl shook his head again and got op to turn it off himself, though then he turned on his lantern, dimly illuminating the room. You didn’t mind it, the complete darkness of the room felt oppressive after sleeping on the open air for so long.
You kept staring up at the ceiling, and whenever you glanced at Daryl he was still sat down on the couch, chewing on his thumbnail and staring at the ground, though he peeked at you from time to time. You let out a sigh.
“You don’t need to watch me. You can sleep. I’m not going to kill myself.” You didn’t know if you meant it or not, but you didn’t want Daryl to have another sleepless night because of you. Still, he didn’t move or say anything, and you let out another sigh, getting up and walking towards the table.
“Help me push this against the door.” You asked, grabbing one end of it. Daryl seemed confused but did as you said, raising a questioning eyebrow at you when it was done. “See? I can’t open the door and leave without moving the table and I can’t lift it alone so I’d have to drag it and the sound would wake you.”
You pulled at the table, making its legs squeak against the floor before pushing it against the door again. Then you made your way back to your bed, you took your bag and dumped everything onto it. You took your knife, the only weapon you had, and handed it to Daryl, who was watching you in silence, and then you began packing your things again.
“I’m not going to strangle myself with a bra, so you can sleep.”
You flopped down onto the bed again, curling onto yourself. You watched as Daryl dumped his stuff out of one of his bags. Then he stuffed in there both your knives, a gun, and even his crossbow and arrows, peeking out of the bag. Then he lied down on the couch, keeping the bag next to him, under his arm, and finally closing his eyes. You watched him, still confused about this whole thing. He did really seem set on keeping you alive, and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t understand why. You were torn between appreciating it and hating it.
You hadn’t realized you had fallen asleep, but you must have, and you looked around confused as you blinked your eyes open. Your clock still worked, and you saw it was almost time for the sunrise. You had slept for hours, somehow. You peered at Daryl. He was still asleep, one arm thrown over the bag of weapons, hugging it to him. The ghost of a smile tugged at the corner of your mouth. You didn’t know how he could sleep like that.
You wondered too if you’d be able to sneak the bag from under his arm without waking him up. You wondered if you wanted to.
Once again, you didn’t know what you felt, what you wanted…everything was a mess. But you’d told Daryl he could sleep and you wouldn’t kill yourself, you didn’t want to betray that. Neither did you want him to wake up and find your body like that. And so you did nothing.
It didn’t take long for Daryl to wake up too. As soon as he opened his eyes, they landed on you. Once he saw you were there and okay, he turned onto his back, staring at the ceiling.
“Why’re you doing this? Why’re you trying to keep me alive?” You asked in a whisper once again. “Why you care?”
Daryl didn’t say anything, but then he murmured, “I don’t know.”
He got up, making his way to the bathroom, and you heard the shower. He’d taken the bag with him, as if he still didn’t trust you not to try anything. You weren’t sure yourself.
That morning, you noticed Daryl still keeping you under his sight, whether it was during breakfast or while the doc told you the horrible truth about the whole world being gone. As if you needed more proof to know there was no point on keep going. Yet, as you noticed Daryl’s eyes on you, part of you felt as if you weren’t that alone in the world, as if maybe someone would care…even though you didn’t know why, and neither did he seem to know, and you still didn’t know if you liked it or not.
In a few hours, it seemed like the universe was answering your questions. The CDC was going to blow up with all of you inside, and the doc seemed to be putting all your messy thoughts into words, even after finally opening the doors so whoever wanted to could leave. There was no point, everything was gone, this was merciful, he kept explaining. No pain, no fear, nothing. Wasn’t that all you could hope for? It seemed it was for the doc, for Jackie, for Andrea…
Wasn’t it for you too?
You looked up and saw Daryl, his eyes on you, the flash of realization and fear that went through them as if he seemed to know what you were thinking…and then you found yourself rushing to him, taking the hand he offered, letting him tug you with him as you ran with him out of there.
A few days had passed since that night in which walkers had gotten your family. You still think you would never be over that pain, and still…still you found yourself smiling softly sometimes, you found yourself feeling as if you weren’t alone in the world, as if someone cared. Daryl had still made sure to keep you at his side, and when he had to leave his truck and take his bike, the feeling of riding behind him had been one of the firsts things to bring a smile to your lips as you felt your heart pumping as Daryl sped up through the roads.
More often than not than feeling of hopelessness, of not finding the point on keep going living in this horrible world, crept back into you, but then Daryl was always there. Somehow he was able to make you feel better, whether it was just sitting in silence with you or listening to you ramble.
When Sophia got lost in the woods, though, the feelings of dread and hopelessness came back, but Daryl was so set about finding the little girl, not doubting at all about her being alive, that it almost made you hopeful too. Besides, you felt like you wanted to support him, you didn’t want him to feel as if you doubt him. You didn’t. Unexpectedly, you two had become friends, even if neither of you seemed to know how.
You were now with him, sat down on top of a car, everything dark around you. Next day you’d be driving to a farm not far from there, where Carl was recovering after being somehow shot, and from where you could organize the search of Sophia better.
“Y/N…” You heard Daryl calling your name quietly and you looked at him. “I, uh…I heard Andrea and Dale arguing before. She was saying it was her choice to die and that he took it from her…” You just hummed, looking away. You didn’t like to talk or think about that and you didn’t know why Daryl brought it up, he never talked about it either. “I…did I do that to you too?”
You took in a deep breath before answering. “I guess you did.” After all, he’d frustrated your two attempts and then he’d always made sure you didn’t leave his sight or weren’t alone.
Daryl nodded, silent for a while, before looking at you. “Do you want me to leave you alone…and do whatever you want?”
You were taken aback by his words and you didn’t know what to think. “Would you?”
Daryl shrugged and looked down. “Don’t want to…” he murmured. “I don’t want you to die, but I guess I’d have to leave you alone if that’s what you want. But…I don’t want to.”
“I don’t want you to leave me alone.” You found yourself saying, and somehow you felt it was true. Daryl didn’t say anything, but the corner of his mouth curled into a tiny smile.
When you began camping at the Greene’s land, none of you asked each other or said anything about it, but you both shared a tent. It felt as if it should be, just as natural as it felt to rest your head on his shoulder when he sat down next to you around the campfire, or to snuck into his sleeping bag next to him when you couldn’t sleep, with anxiety, sadness, and all kind of wrong thoughts creeping into your mind every night. Daryl never said anything about it, but never pushed you away, even though the first time he’d seemed more than surprised, his heart beating like crazy as he froze…he didn’t bat an eye now.
You’d thought you were feeling better, but when Sophia walked out of that barn…it was too much. But then you saw Daryl, how broken he was, how much it had affected him, and you knew you had to be there for him. He was hurting, trying to pull away from everyone, and you felt you needed to help him through it. It’d cost you a couple of fights with Daryl, though, and you were worried about him, but at the end of the day, he always came back to sit down with you, and you could notice he still made sure you were safe and feeling okay.
You were sat down on a log at the outside of the tent and you smiled at Daryl when he made his way to you. He’d been out in the woods hunting squirrels and then he’d gone to give some of the meat to Carol, but it seemed he was finally back. He didn’t keep you under his sight the whole day anymore now, but you hadn’t even noticed when he’d stopped, it’d been slow. When he sat down next to you, you closed your eyes and rested your head on his arm, surprised when you felt Daryl’s arm wrapping around you.
“I heard what happened with Beth. Are you okay?” He asked you and you let out a tired sigh. You should have guessed he’d bring it up.
The little girl had tried to kill herself, and both you and Andrea had argued about what to do. You thought you should stay with her, be there for her until she felt better, while Andrea thought it was best to just give her the means to end it all and see if she did, if that was what she really wanted to, allowing her to choose. Andrea had carried out with her plan without any of you knowing about it, but it seemed it’d worked. Beth had decided she wanted to live. Maybe not the same things worked for everyone. Maybe you all felt different about similar things…you didn’t know what to think. You explained it all to Daryl and he didn’t say anything, letting you speak.
When you finished, he seemed thoughtful. “Should have I done that?” He asked you quietly. “Let you go to the woods, that day at the quarry?”
You didn’t know what to answer. “I wouldn’t be here, if you had.” You weren’t sure about any other day, but that night, you knew you’d have ended it all, feeling brokenhearted, hopeless, and alone in the world. You didn’t know what to think of it all, but you didn’t think you could regret that Daryl had stopped you, no matter you still felt like that sometimes.
Daryl just hummed, and you couldn’t read what he might be thinking. “You still feel like…” he trailed off, but you knew what he meant.
“Sometimes, but not like before, and not always.” You didn’t know how to explain it, but you decided to be honest. About everything. “But I don’t feel that hopeless, not in the same way I used to, just sometimes…and I don’t feel alone in the world when I’m with you.”
Daryl’s face changed as he listened to your words, a soft smile illuminating his face and you felt as if your heart skipped a beat. You always liked it when he smiled. Then he blushed and looked down. “I don’t feel alone when I’m with you, either.”
Your heart jumped again, a smile illuminating your own face. Feeling as if it was as natural as the first time you’d rested your head on his shoulder, you leaned in and kissed his lips. Daryl kissed you back softly, his hand reaching to cup your face before he tangled his fingers into your messy hair. Neither of you said anything when you pulled back. You snuggled to his side again, your head on his shoulder and his arm around you, fingers playing with your hair, as you both watched the sunset.