A/N: Much love and thanks to Tam for looking it over before I posted. Written for the Nine Lives Caryl Archive Remorse Challenge.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or themes in this fanfiction. Nor do I receive any monetary gain from this. It all belongs to the creators of the Walking Dead. I just enjoy toying with it.
Remorse was such a simple word. One he'd never really thought about before. A word that never held much sway over his life, but with the hatred and self loathing roiling through his gut, it now weighed heavily on his soul. It pressed down with an unimaginable force as he leaned against a tree several miles outside Terminus, side-eyeing her. He'd given up reason, given up hope and his fragile first glimpse at love as soon as the prison fences failed.
Instead of searching for their family…her, he'd been wallowing in self pity. Rutting around in his past, in the people who he knew were gone, in not knowing if she was alive or dead. Beth had tried to pull him back from the despair of all that was lost, all that would never be again. He'd even come close to thinking the others might have survived in the face of that young girl's optimism, determination and bravery, but then she'd been taken, too.
How could Daryl expect Carol to forgive him for not looking for her, fighting for her, and giving up on their family?
"You okay?" Her soft voice startled him from his innermost thoughts. The light caress of her shoulder, so reassuring against his, caused Daryl to turn and become lost in his personal serenity of her ocean blue eyes.
"It's okay, Pookie." She gave him a knowing half smile, turning and brushing bits of hair from his forehead. Reading his mind as she always had.
A/N: This is a short companion piece to She Knew. It is completely unbeta'd so all screw ups are my own.
She could see it in his eyes, feel it in the tremble of his shoulder against her own. The knife twisting in his gut, the pain of not doing what he thought he should to be worthy.
What he didn't understand was that he never had to be who he wasn't. She knew he needed the tangible. Without the proof in front of his eyes, without the people before him, comfort of family being there, he would slip back into his survival instincts. The same that told him no one would help, none had survived, and it was all on him, only him.
"You okay," she whispered, peering at him from beneath her lashes as he turned, blue on blue. Seeing the anguish so palpable, reflecting back her own hell, Carol did the only thing she could. Her hand rising of its own volition, delicate fingers reached to brush the wisps of hair from his eyes, their tips gentling across his forehead.
"It's okay, Pookie." A loving smile played across her lips, knowing.