She Thought She Got Away With It
[A/N]: READERS, PLEASE DO ME A FAVOR!
I worked really hard on this one, it contains some interesting parallels to Toby, Merle, and Daryl relationship in early season 1. What I was you to do, BEFORE READING THIS CHAPTER. Go back and read Chapter 1: The Dixon's. Give that a read, and come back for this!
(Also, don't forget to vote)
With my index and middle finger together, I tapped on the metal table three times.
I watched Carl's brow furrow, then give an eye roll before taking a card from his hand to slide it across the table.
I took the card, then my own, from my hand to set the pair aside.
I noticed Merle making his way over but didn't look, thinking he'd just keep going or ignore us. He'd been ignoring me since our talk before since he'd spoken with Hershel. It didn't bother me. I had nothing to say to him and was still trying to settle on how I felt about him being around.
To my dismay and to Carl's, as I noticed the side-eye he was giving Merle, the eldest Dixon brother, stopped at our table, just at my side.
Merle waggled a finger between us, "what's all this?"
I watched Carl expectantly as he glanced at Merle. Carl's eyes returned back to me, slowly shaking his head to show me he wouldn't go for it.
Damn it. Merle actually would've been helpful for once. I flexed four fingers outward in a quick motion, indicating Carl could go.
Carl took a moment, staring at his cards before tapping the table; I counted five. I shook my head. His lips tighten to suppress an annoyed sigh. I could see the desire to show his frustration.
"Nothin'? Really?" Merle's tone was annoyed, "ya'll just gonna pretend I'm not here?"
Stuck between wanting to piss him off and also not wanting to piss him off, I just looked up at him. Merle did have the tendency to scare me or make me nervous. But I wasn't about to lose the game for him.
He was frowning; I just stared, trying to convey the message silently.
"Well?" He pressed.
I held back an eye roll simply because Daryl didn't like it. I gave a shrug of the shoulder before looking back to my cards, tapping out the number two for Carl.
I heard Merle intake a breath, about to continue before a voice across the room cut him off.
"They won't talk to you," Guillermo informed, walking passed us with a box. He'd carefully stepped around Michonne, who was doing push-ups a few feet away.
"Did I fuckin' ask you?" Merle snapped. When Guillermo didn't react, continuing to the cell-block, Merle just cursed and asked, "The hell ya pissed at me for now?"
"Not everything's about you," Michonne's voice came out lowly. It was the first time she'd spoken since Carl and I had sat there.
Guillermo turned around at the cell-block door to talk to him; he didn't seem to care about Merle's outburst. "it's not you; it's their game. Whoever talks has to pick up cards."
"What game is that?" Merle sounded confused, but Guillermo had already turned into the cell-block. I frowned when Merle brushed his hand over my collected card pile as if trying to figure out what game we could possibly be playing.
"It's just Go Fish," Beth answered sweetly, passing by us from the block, an empty baby bottle in her hand. "I guess Toby didn't talk for a while so they made up a new version. It's fun, actually. Carl always loses."
"I do not!" Carl exclaimed.
Carl caught my expression, "crap!"
"Yes, you do," Beth sang as she stood at the shelves, her back to us as she prepared the bottle of formula. "Toby always wins."
Carl was frowning deeply, I knew he wanted to protest, but he couldn't as he picked up two cards.
"Maybe learn ta shut yer trap, and you might win a few rounds," Merle said to Carl.
Carl tilted his head up, so his hat wasn't blocking Merle as he glared. Allowing my expression to clearly show I wasn't happy, I glared at Merle as well. When he saw us both staring at him angrily, he just snorted.
"Jesus, kids' are touchy."
Instead of leaving, Merle actually sat on the table next to me, lifting his leg to rest his foot on the bench at my side.
I attempted to ignore him, determined not to talk and also not sure what to do about him anyway.
Carl and I continued a few more turns until Merle spoke up again, but not to us.
"Smart to stay fit."
I looked just to check who he was talking to. Michonne had changed from regular push-ups to a different version, where: as she pushed upward, she bent a leg inward, resting all her weight on one.
"Don't leave out the cardio," Merle advised her. "Y'know, if we're gonna live under the same roof, we should clear the air."
It was my turn, but I paused to focus, wanting to catch everything. I didn't get to know everything that happened with Merle and the woman, and I knew better to ask. No one would tell me. Daryl might later on.
"This whole, huntin' you down thing, that was just business. Carrying out orders."
Business. He'd said the same thing about Maggie and Glenn. Was that all I was at Woodbury? I was pretty sure. If all that was business, if I was business, if Michonne and Glenn were, what were we now? At the prison?
I was tempted; I'd even parted my lips, the two words 'fuck off' just about to slip out.
Michonne spoke first, allowing me to compose myself and tap out the number I wanted, "like the Gestapo?"
I didn't know that word, so I made a mental note to try and remember to ask.
"Yeah, exactly," Merle agreed. I checked, noticing his expression neutral as he watched her switch positions on the floor. "I've done a lot of things I ain't proud of. Before and after."
If I weren't watching him so closely, I would have missed his eyes flicking over to me for the briefest of seconds.
"Anyway, hope we can get past it," Merle lifted himself from the table, his hand patting my back as he did so. I turned my head to watch him, noticing Michonne sitting up straight to do the same as Merle continued walking, giving a shrug. "Let bygones be bygones."
Michonne was glaring as he went. I was . . . I couldn't even hold a blank expression. I just felt lost. I knew he was pretending, playing nice, playing up an act as he wanted me to in Woodbury. But that pat on the back as he spoke to her, the way his eyes had just, for a split second, looked my way.
That made me think, who was he talking to? Me? Michonne? Both of us? I was probably overthinking it, but it bothered me.
Glenn walked into the room just a few moments later, glancing at Beth, who was mixing the formula in the bottle, "Beth, you're up."
"Oh! Judith's up from her nap, I was about to feed her."
"I'll feed her," Carl volunteered, putting the cards down.
"Thanks," Beth nodded.
"Toby, can you take watch?" Glenn suddenly asked.
I looked at Beth questioningly, she was doing the same to Glenn. Carl had just agreed to feed Judith so Beth could go. Merle was on the other side of the room, adjusting something on his metal arm.
Glenn kept watching me, his face pleading as his eyes switched from Merle to me repeatedly, "please?"
I put the cards down, nodding at Carl before leaving the table. I pretended and didn't bother to acknowledge the exchange.
It wasn't about putting me on watch. Glenn wanted to get me away from Merle; he'd been trying and wanting that since that day in the clearing after escaping Woodbury. Both he and Maggie hated when I was around him.
What did they want? Merle lived there, I couldn't exactly avoid him. Well, I could, but that would go as well as me avoiding Rick all winter.
Part of me wanted to tell Glenn no, just to make a point and also because I didn't want to listen to him. I still didn't like the way he was acting. Even the way he was asking me to take watch didn't sound like him.
I was walking through the halls, almost to the door to get outside, when I heard footsteps running my way, Carl.
"Hey," He echoed. "Just wanted to check. Want me to take watch? Beth was going to feed Judith anyway."
"Nah," I said, walking close and gripping the door handle to go outside, "Yer s'posed to go after Beth, right?"
Carl nodded, "I could come with you? I don't have anything to do anyway."
"No, go help with the . . . " I denied, struggling with the word I didn't want to say. "Uh, the bottle."
"Okay, I'll see you after," he turned.
"C'ya," I pushed open the door and winced. The sun was low in the late afternoon, the perfect spot to shine directly into my face painfully.
Holding the door open, I turned back inside, "Carl?!"
Carl, just a bit down the hall, turned around.
"Can ya grab my hat? It's in my cell. Don't wanna go all the way back."
"Yeah, I'll bring it out," Carl continued back to the cell-block.
"Thanks," I called, shielding my eyes and stepping outside.
The doors to the prison weren't exactly quiet. Even from several feet away in the courtyard, by the fence that overlooked the yard, I heard someone leaving the building.
With the rifle pointed through a hole in the chain link, between openings of a wood pallet, I was trying to see in the distance with the scope, looking out for any more of the Governor's men. So far, I only saw walkers, but it was dark. I was afraid I was missing something or looking at the wrong places at the wrong time.
I'd been put on watch as the sun was lowering, not very high, but high and bright enough to shine in my eyes. Shane's cap helps block the unwanted glare of light. While after, it was dark and no longer needed, but I wore it anyway, enjoying the secure tight-feeling of the fabric around my scalp.
When I heard the footsteps get closer, I pulled the gun out of the place and turned. Carl was walking toward me. He was wearing the hat, like always. Along with a bulletproof vest, and a gun holster at his right knee. While my holster was at my hip, it looked just as ridiculous as his, big, wobbly, out of place.
"We match," he said in front of me, smiling with a wave to my own vest.
"Almost," I looked down at his shins, covered in hard black material.
"Yeah," he laughed. "You talked Daryl out of it, huh?"
"Barely. Told him it was gonna hurt my leg, he eased off."
"Surprised he didn't make you wear the shoulder pads. Dad tried."
"Oh, he tried," I let out a small, breathy laugh. Remembering back to before, Daryl was trying to fit the vest onto me. He'd been going through the riot gear, trying to figure out what I should be wearing. When the shoulder pads were brought up, I complained it was hard enough to position the larger guns, like the assault rifle or the hunting one. I didn't need those in the way.
"Even after all that, though, don't see him wearin' this shit. Or yer dad."
Carl laughed again. It was odd to feel this way, just at ease, better. I didn't feel paranoid or scared at that moment.
"The kids get shot more, I guess."
I shook my head, almost laughing, before I paused, "wait . . . shit, I think yer right. Me, Sophia—"
Carl watched me curiously as I cut myself off, he was still smiling, but it was more subtle.
"Sorry," I mumbled.
"I didn't mean to say her . . . I didn't mean to say it."
"It's okay to say her name," Carl assured. "It's okay to talk about it."
"Is it? I never know," I glanced around, briefly peeking through the slits in the pallet. No sign of anything other than walkers. "I'm glad you didn't call . . . that you didn't use the name. Is that mean?"
"No. I'm glad I didn't either."
Looking back at him, I could tell he meant it. I felt better about what I said. Sometimes it could be terrifying just saying what I was thinking, but I could never quiet the thoughts. I would always have to ignore myself the best I could for them to go away. It was nice to be able to say anything and then see his face not be angry or confused with me.
"I guess they're right then," I brought the conversation back, looking down at my vest. "I mean, me, Sophia . . ."
"Dad got shot before all this," he reminded me. "Still more kids, though. I'm probably next."
I couldn't help my smile, mostly because he looked so excited, "why do you look so happy about that?"
"Because that would be cool. I'd be just like you and dad. I'd get a real cool scar too."
"That's so dumb. You know how much that shit hurts?" Although I was trying to seem displeased with him, I was still laughing. "And this ain't even that bad. It's just a graze."
"Exactly, so mine will look better."
I gaped at him and shoved at his shoulder. After we laughed a bit more, he reached for the rifle and I handed it to him.
"You should go in, try to get some rest."
I nodded, stepping away, "night."
"Night," he called over his shoulder.
When I arrived back into the cell-block, the first thing I heard was Beth singing. To my surprise, Merle was actually inside the cell-block. The large barred door was open wide into the block, Merle was standing, leaning against the bars just inside the entrance.
Merle just barely spared me a glance before ignoring me. Without a word, I made my way to Daryl, he was standing against a wall near a cell, right next to Hershel.
"How does your leg feel?" Hershel questioned.
"Better," I answered. "It hurts, but don't feel bad. I'm careful."
"Good. Continue to be careful. Don't push yourself."
With a silent agreement to Hershel, I turned my back to the wall beside Daryl, the opposite side to Hershel. I didn't bother putting any space between us. My side against his. As I expected, he didn't say or do anything about it. Somehow, I was able to keep whatever content mood I was in. Everything was shitty, but I felt okay.
Rick was slowly walking by Beth, cradling a bundle of blankets in his arms. I saw the baby's arm poke out, but it wasn't crying. Rick joined us, so Hershel stood between the two of them, then me beside Daryl.
I kept my eyes cast downward, not wanting to catch another glimpse of the thing in his arms.
"Have you made a decision?" Hershel asked.
"I think so," Rick began. "I'll meet him. We don't have much else. I'll see what he wants."
"We have to be smart about this. This fella's armed to the teeth. Bent on destruction."
"We'll match it," Rick promised.
"If there's anythin' we can do for Ty, we gotta try. And Sasha," Daryl said.
"I wish we could do more, I really do. Sasha . . . I don't know how to help her, what kind of plan she has," Rick ranted. "We can't go to Woodbury, we can't go out looking for her."
"Something tells me she counted on that," Hershel suggested. "I'm hoping whenever she got out, it was before the shootout, that she got out safe."
"There's nothin' safe 'bout what she's doin'," Daryl said dejectedly.
"No," Rick agreed. "But all we can do is hope for the best and prepare."
"So, what do you want to do?"
"Just what I said. Prepare. We need more than what we have. Firepower. I'm going on a run."
"I'll head out tomorrow."
My head shot up to look at Daryl. I grabbed his sleeve, but before I could say anything, Rick went on.
"No, you stay here. Keep an eye on your brother. I'm glad you're back, really. But if he causes a problem, it's on you."
I'd never been more thankful to Rick, and that made me a bit annoyed. I swallowed the desire to walk over and hit him. Daryl's eyes went down to my hand, and I released his sleeve. We shared a look before both looking at Merle across the room.
"I got him," Daryl said.
"I'll take Michonne," Rick added.
"You sure that's a good idea?"
I really didn't get everything behind their distrust of Michonne. I understood not trusting new people. But ever since I first saw her, she'd been helping us, hadn't she? I didn't see any kind of problem. Everyone else in the group seemed to just expect it from her. Merle was causing much more trouble than she ever did.
"I'll find out. And Carl. He's ready. You hold it down here."
Daryl gave a nod, "You got it."
I thought about Rick's words and what he meant. What was Carl ready for? He didn't mean the run, did he? Carl had been on runs, he'd cleared houses before during the winter. Though, neither of us had don't much of anything since getting to the prison.
I heard the baby make a sound, some kind of high-pitched whine. I made sure not to look Rick's way as he hushed it and began making his way down the cells.
"Bed?" Daryl asked me as Hershel disappeared into a cell.
I looked over at Beth, then toward Maggie. Maggie was sitting on the stairs with Glenn, leaning into him with his arm around her. She was smiling, watching Beth sing.
"Kinda wanna stay longer," I confessed.
"Yeah," Daryl mumbled after a moment. He pulled away from me, causing some anxiousness to flare until he lowered himself to sit on the floor. Daryl patted the floor at his side, and I sat there, carefully bending my leg as I did. I reached up, taking Shane's cap off my head and placing it in my lap.
"Well, don't the two of you look so cosy?"
I glanced up at Merle before looking away quickly. I was tired and did not need to deal with any kind of embarrassment he conjured up.
"You shouldn't be in here," Daryl warned quietly.
Merle waved him off, "They haven't kicked me out yet."
To my surprise, Merle lowered himself to the ground, just in front of Daryl and me, facing away and toward Beth. His legs were outstretched, his one hand behind him on the floor to hold him up.
"So, this is what you wanted to come back to."
"Stop," Daryl warned him in a low voice.
"What? We're here now, in it, right? Mean, I've been curious what bullshit they're feedin' you."
"If ya don't stop, I'm gonna kick you out. They don't want you in the block."
"Hey, I just think I'm owed an explanation, that's all. After your hissy fit out there, all 'bout comin' back here, where you belong, your family. Don't even get me started on 'I'm goin' back to my kid'," Merle's voice went low in a mocking tone on the last part. "I mean, come on, you hated this kid, now she's yours?"
My jaw went slack, eyes snapping to Daryl.
"That ain't what I meant," Daryl shifted his position and looked away from the both of us.
"What did you mean?"
"Just let it go, man."
Merle sighed and, surprisingly, did let it go. I didn't; I stared at Daryl more, unsure how to decipher the whole interaction. When Daryl caught me watching, he just gave me a small shake of the head, continuing to watch Beth on the other side of the room. I turned my head, doing the same. I was glad for the quiet again, listening to Beth's voice. Maggie was still on the stairs with Glenn, I thought maybe she would sing with Beth too, as she had before.
"Still can't believe you lost my knife," Merle suddenly muttered.
"It's not lost!" I repeated for what felt like the 100th time that day. How many times do I gotta explain this? "It's in that guy's leg in Woodbury."
Merle stared at me for a second, then shook his head in disbelief, "Ya do realize it's not gonna be in his leg anymore, right?"
I was quiet for a moment, "That ain't my problem," I said. "That's where I put it!"
Before Merle could say anything else, Daryl voiced in with a look that held nothing but confusion, "What the hell are ya two talkin' about?"
"Your fuckin' kid lost my knife back in Woodbury. Bad 'nough I got one taken away from me, then she loses the other. Now I got this fuckin' piece of metal taped to my arm."
"'Nough. Too tired for yer bullshit. Been a long day. Tomorrow's gonna get longer. If yer gonna keep complainin' 'bout her, answer this for me."
Merle's head tilted to look at Daryl, looking amused as he waited.
"Why did you let her reset your snares?"
"Snares?" Merle's eyebrows raised. "My snares back at the quarry? That's what you wanna ask me?"
"Yer always such a bitch 'bout 'em. Ya never let me touch yours, always did my own. She told me, said ya let her reset them."
Merle chuckled, "Aw, that hurt your feelin's, Darlina?"
"I wanna know," Daryl brushed off the words.
I watched Merle as well, curious myself. It was a while ago I told Daryl about it, and I was genuinely surprised at his reaction. He'd told me how no one was ever allowed to touch Merle's snares. Neither of us could figure out why he let me. I was pretty sure Daryl even thought I was lying at some point.
Merle stared back at Daryl, his expression became passive, uncaring, "she'd been fuckin' with 'em anyway. Figured it was better that I'm there ta fix if she fucks it up. You know how much time gets wasted on a spoilt snare."
It took too long for his words to register, and my jaw barely dropped. I felt as if my eyes were bulging from how wide they were. Merle didn't seem affected, either not noticing or caring about the bomb he'd just dropped. He looked so casual as if he'd said nothing of importance.
Meanwhile, it felt like there were sirens blaring in my brain.
"You knew?" I finally got out, my voice cracking.
Merle's head turned to look at me in disbelief, as if I'd offended him, "Of course, I fuckin' knew. What'd'ya take me for?"
"Knew what?" Daryl pushed. "What the hell are you talkin' 'bout?"
I put a hand to my face, very much wanting to hide from the embarrassment swelling inside.
"Seriously?" I could hear the smile in Merle's voice, there was a tone of surprise and expectancy. There was even a pause as if making sure that Daryl wasn't joking. "You never figured it out? Damn, I knew you were soft, just didn't think you were slow too."
When a response didn't follow, I peeked out from my hand. Immediately wishing I hadn't, Daryl was just staring at me with an annoyed expression, though I couldn't tell if it was directed toward Merle or me. Daryl still looked confused. I racked my brain, trying to think if I could change the topic. I knew I'd been caught, but no way was I about to fess up.
But I wasn't quick enough for Merle's big loud mouth, "how do you think she got those squirrels?"
"Slingshot," Daryl answered simply. "She showed us."
"All three," Merle pressed on, stretching out each word. "All on her own. With that."
"Yeah, I saw 'em. Hell, I skinned the damned thing."
"One," Merle corrected. I wanted to scream. I even glanced for which would be the closest cell I could hide in. Under the bed was fine. I could stay there for the next few days. "You skinned one she got. Other two had snapped necks."
More silence followed. I knew Daryl had put it together. Finally, I couldn't hide wait anymore and looked at him again.
Daryl was staring at me with a bewildered expression, not even blinking. I just groaned, very much wanting to sink into the ground.
"Hmm," I hummed noncommittally.
Daryl looked back at Merle, "why did you never mention this shit to me?"
"Honestly?" Merle questioned. "Thought you knew, seriously."
Daryl's eyes switched to me, "why didn't you?"
I bit my lip, unsure how to respond.
"Ha!" Merle exclaimed, laughing as he grinned wildly at me, realising my behaviour. "You thought you got away with it?"
"Kinda," I mumbled into my hand. Seems like I almost did, too, 'til you opened your big mouth.
"You really didn't think I'd notice?" Merle continued his mocking grin, staring at me in utter disbelief. "I'm peelin' the thing apart, I'm not gonna notice how it died? Was pretty obvious."
"Guess I didn't think that part through . . ." I confessed with another mumble. "Wait," the word shot out of me so quickly, the rest of my thoughts barely had time to catch up. My brain thought it all over quickly. Trying to make as much sense as I could out of all of it. "If you knew they were yours . . . That I didn't get 'em. Why let me . . . why did ya let me say I did? Why teach me? You coulda just taken 'em!"
Without any contemplation, Merle shrugged a shoulder, "had nothin' else goin' on."
"I . . . I don't have anythin' to say to you right now," Daryl muttered tiredly, running a hand over his face. "Either of you. M'goin' to bed."
I watched Daryl stand, shaking his head as he started toward the stairs. I stood too, slower because of bending my leg, then began to follow, grabbing my cap as I did.
"Ya just said ya wanted ta stay longer," Merle's voice made me pause. I turned, raising a brow. I didn't know he'd heard anything Daryl and I said. I was surprised he even brought it up.
"If Daryl's goin', I'm goin'," I said simply. When he only scoffed, I continued on.
As I went, I heard him mutter, "brat."
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Did you expect this plot twist, 68 chapters later? Tell me how you thought about it, what you thought. Did you have any suspicions? Dadryl sure as hell didn't. Daryl had to just leave the conversation, I think he feels like his whole life is a lie now. I wrote this and the scene has me screaming whenever I read it still. I love it. I'm dying for your comments. Let's hear it!
I'm sorry that it's been so long. Something happened in my family a couple of months back and it made it hard to write and keep up with anything I had to do. The drama and events kept piling up and unfolding, there was much to deal with. I had the next few chapters done, for those of you who know about Early Access. But I had no energy, or will to edit and post the previous finished chapters like this one. I know it's been since Christmas, the chapter was down, I should have just sat down and posted. But even that just seemed to take up too much. Things have calmed down and are getting better, it is still very rocky. I'm trying to get back into the groove of regular updates again. I'm nowhere near done. Please review, and tell me what you thought.