Title: Still
Category: The Walking Dead (Caryl)
Summary: She's still Carol, but Daryl knows something is wrong.
Rating: G – Good for all.
Spoilers: Definitely for Strangers, but I'd say for the show up until this point.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.

I have to hand it to them, they are really making me happy with the growth of Daryl and Carol's relationship so far this season. Now, let's see what the next few episodes bring. Crazy stuff, if spoilers are to be believed! Fingers crossed all works out for our two favs!

Thank you all so much in advance for feedback. You're an amazing bunch!

Something is wrong. Daryl knows more about Carol than even himself. Deep inside her, he can still see the same woman he's known for almost three years now: the woman who had immeasurable strength stifled by a violent husband, the woman who pulled herself up after losing her beloved daughter, the woman who supported every single person in their group, and the woman who'd become his best friend.

She's still that woman, but her mood has shifted. Her smiles don't come as easy. Her shoulders slump with what looks like the weight of the world. Her flirting and teasing are gone, and she's not as quick to take care of Judith. She's distracted, skittish. Daryl is frightened that when she was alone out there something terrible happened. Something so horrible that she can't share it with him. But what could be worse than what she's already been through?

She knows he wants to talk. Of course she does, because just as he can read her, she can read him. But she won't. She blatantly refuses. And he's never been one to push, and he certainly won't start now, not when he's afraid that one little nudge will send her far, far from him. But terror lurks deep in his belly. He can't lose her again. He just *can't*.

And so, he follows her. He his eyes always know where she is, and when she slips away quietly, he slips away after her. He volunteers for watch duty with her, he volunteers to go for water with her. He even follows her when she heads out to relieve herself, however he does stay a respectable distance away.

She's never told him to get lost. He wouldn't blame her if she did, not that it would make a difference. He's not going to let her go. He'll fight for her. He'll even fight her if he has to. But no matter how he tries to convince her that whatever happened is over, and they can start again, she's reluctant to believe him.

He knows she's in there, somewhere. He managed to get a familiar grin out of her, albeit at his expense when he dropped the water jug. While everyone drinks wine and celebrates being alive, she leaves. He's no dummy. He knows there's a car outside waiting for her.

If she thinks she doesn't belong after what she did, he'll make her believe it isn't true. He's not the only one who understands she did it for the best of everyone, he's spoken to Tyreese. The same man who almost went insane with fury over Karen's death has moved on. Rick has not only forgiven, but he's admitted he may have been wrong. No one else doubts her place with them. No one but her.

She's slightly startled when he comes up behind her in the dark. He wonders when she became so good with cars, but in the hell they live in, it pays to know a least a little bit about everything. He asks her what she's doing. She says she doesn't know. That makes the two of them.

He wants to ask her why she's confused. He wants to ask her if she hates him for not chasing after her when Rick sent her away. He wants to know if it's Rick that's bothering her, because at this point, Daryl is willing to forsake his friendship with the man for her. He'll beat the shit out of him for making him doubt herself if that's what she wants. He also knows she'll never ask him to do that.

Before he can beg her to talk to him, beg her not to leave him, the roar of a car goes by. He remembers the girl he left behind, the one who convinced him to keep going. He's glad she did, because it led him back to Carol. Temporarily distracted, he beats out the lights on the car and jumps in.

"Get in," he says to her, because without her, he's not going. Knowing her penchant for putting others before herself, he knows she'll jump in without hesitation. She doesn't disappoint. After all, she's still the Carol that he loves.