Part TwoPosted on 2012.11.19 at 02:23
It’s a dead end. Of course. It’s obvious even from a distance that the parking lot is occupied. There’s no hope of sneaking past unnoticed and Daryl refuses to leave the bike. Maggie threatens to go in while he makes sure no one steals their transportation, but he vetoes that by pulling a U-turn and speeding up the road.
“What are you doing?” she screams into his ear.
“It’s not worth it,” he snarls back and when she replies, he tunes her out, hearing just the wind as they travel on down the road.
If Carol could laugh right now, she would. How lucky is it that she’s had so much practice crying silently? Because she doesn’t think she’s ever going to be able to stop. She wraps her arms tight around herself and rocks back and forth in a chair in the guard room she crawled into. She stares at the wall. Because every time she closes her eyes she sees T-Dog. Hears him scream. Sees the teeth tearing into him. He sacrificed what was left of his life for her and it was all for nothing.
Because behind her, they’re waiting. Impatiently.
Outside the locked door the walkers moan and press against the door. Half a dozen when they followed her, but calling others all the time. Axel and Oscar obviously hadn’t been very thorough in cleaning out their wing of the prison if that was even where she was. It was so hard to tell in the dark and in her panic.
One thing about her situation is abundantly clear: no one is coming for her.
If they lived, which is never a given, they wouldn’t know where to start looking. And if they found T-Dog, well, they weren’t likely to think they had a reason to keep looking. It’s been hours and no one has called for her. The crowd outside her door keeps growing. Sooner or later she’s going to have to decide how she wants to die.
It’s something she never prayed for even on her darkest night. She’s felt like she deserved to die. She’s felt willing to do it for someone else. She’s felt guilty for wanting to live. But Carol has never wanted to die. But if she waits, she could be here for weeks until she wastes away and her body will pace this room forever. Of course that still might be preferable to being torn apart. If only she had a gun.
But the only thing in this room she can use as a weapon is a dull pair of scissors. A billy club by the door is functionally useless. Even if she could swing it hard enough to take a walker down with one blow, she couldn’t do it fast enough to take care of the whole group. She’ll have to decide what to do soon.
For now she cries.
“We should have gone in,” Maggie says, bringing it up for what feels like the fiftieth time as they sit around a too small campfire at the end of the day. “We could have gotten it.”
“You a psychic now? What makes you think those shelves’d be any less empty than the others?”
“You don’t know they weren’t.”
They made it to a few other towns before it got dark. More polite places with “Please take what you need” signs in store windows and only a few broken windows. And evidently what the people of these towns had needed was everything because all of the shelves are bare. Well not completely bare.
There were a surprising number of condoms left on the shelves. Most people had probably gotten too into the end of the world primordial thing like Lori and Shane had. Some of the boxes even had a couple months left before their expiration date. Without thinking, Daryl had picked one up and thrown it at Maggie.
“Here,” he’d said. “We don’t want to make this run again anytime soon.”
He hadn’t meant anything by it; he thinks he was even trying to be helpful. But Maggie had gone pale and her eyes went wide and then she’d left and gone to check another aisle before he could react. She’d been quiet the rest of the day. Until now.
“We can’t go back empty handed. We can’t.”
Her voice wavers and Daryl risks looking up at her. She looks back.
“If the baby dies, that means Lori died for nothing. It means I killed her for nothing. I can’t let that happen.”
There isn’t enough light for him to see if there are tears in her eyes, but he can hear them in her voice beneath the desperation and the determination and Daryl cannot take it. “Everybody fucking dies. Lori, T-Dog. Your people. My brother.” He can’t say her name. “That kid’s gonna die too and none of it means anything.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Yeah? Well you’re a fucking idiot.”
Maggie doesn’t reply and for a while all Daryl can hear is her trying not to cry and his pulse pounding in his ears. Reasons and meaning have nothing to do with any of this. If they did, they’d all be back at the compound. Carol’d be swaddling the baby up, singing to it while Lori slept off her trauma and Rick sat beside her bed. If there were reasons for people dying, Carol would have lived forever. Because there could never be a good enough one to take her out of this world.
‘”I cut her open. I stuck a knife in her gut and she screamed until she died. Pulling that baby out of Lori killed her and I’m not gonna let her die too. Do you understand me?”
He understands, but he doesn’t answer and Maggie keeps talking.
“If it was your life on the line, they’d risk it for you. Lori- ” –Daryl snorts- “She would have. And
T. You wouldn’t have been able to keep Carol out of there.”
“Don’t you think you owe it to them? To be as good as they were?”
“Nobody could be as good as she was.” They aren’t the words Daryl planned on saying. He was leaning more toward “shut the fuck up” actually. Every time Maggie opens her mouth his mind goes to Carol. And every time he thinks of her, he can only think of her at the end, screaming and scared and alone. And his jaw aches from keeping his teeth clenched against the emotion. His nails, short as they are, leave prints on his palms.
“Carol?” Maggie asks, startled by the quiet whisper of his words.
“She could be a real pain in the ass. Pestering all the time. Always checking up on me. She, uh…” Swallowing hard and shaking his head, Daryl pauses. “She was gonna make me a part of the group whether I wanted to or not.” There’s more that he can’t say. The way she trusted him so damn much and called him on his shit. The way it felt when he really made her smile, bright and happy. The way she always looked to him and for him during their encounters with walkers. The space she always left for him when they all gathered around a fire. How effortless it was. Feeling like he belonged to someone.
As matter-of-factly as she might say “her eyes were blue,” Maggie says, “She loved you.” Before Daryl can object she presses on. “Not even like that. Just- She did. You were both so similar. You were family. Everybody saw that.”
It’s too much. He can deal with what he felt for her, barely. He can’t deal with what she felt for him. Can’t deal with being counted on, being thought about at the end, being nowhere around when she needed him. He shuts the conversation down, picks up his weapon to walk a perimeter of their little camp. “Yeah, well. Guess everybody in my family ends up dead sooner or later.”
“What is this anyway? Goddamn group therapy? Get some sleep. We got work to do tomorrow.”
It isn’t as bad as she thought. Most of the walkers are downstairs and the few milling around on the upper level aren’t pressed against the door like she thought they’d be by now. She has a chance. Carol turns the scissors over in her hands and tries to wet her lips. She’s dehydrated already and hungry and her eyes are burning from crying, but those aren’t exactly new feelings for her. She still has enough strength to do what needs to be done.
One chance. One last ditch effort to save her own life and make it back to the people who have become her family. A year ago she wouldn’t have had it in her. She does now.
Tucking the scissors into her back pocket and saying a prayer, Carol starts to move furniture.