Hi guys! Decided to write a different story, a multi chaptered one. The idea popped into my head a few weeks ago, and I just couldn't help but write it.

Let's imagine that Carol had never actually killed those two people at the prison during that flu outbreak they had. Let's pretend that she and Daryl were the ones who made it out when the prison fell.

There will be some romance in it, and by some I mean a lot, so I hope you don't mind. I already have a little outline written of where I want to go with this story, but I'll probably just end up playing it by ear. I'll also try to update as much as I can, but I don't know how well that will go, either.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this work of fan fiction. Please leave it a favorite, a follow, and a review if you like it and have the time. I'd really appreciate it. Reviews are what keep me going.

-M


Chapter One:

Daryl collapsed onto the dirty ground, finally letting go of his crossbow and curling into a loose ball. He saw Carol fall on her knees beside him, clutching onto her knife like her life depended on it. In a way, it did. "You alright?" the tracker rasped, scanning her over to make sure she wasn't hurt, or worse … bit. A sigh escaped him when he found that she was unharmed.

"Gotta be," Carol replied breathlessly, locking gazes with her companion. He looked so exhausted, she realized, sadness creeping into her heart. "What about you? I saw one of those men land a harsh blow to your ribs…" Carefully, she leaned forward and lifted up his shirt, noticing how he flinched a little at her touch. She gasped when she saw heavy bruises mottling his entire abdomen, already turning a dark purple. "Dammit," she cursed, taking off the backpack she had thankfully managed to grab before she and Daryl escaped the prison. Fishing out a roll of bandages, she gave them to him, the frown never leaving her face. "Wrap them so they don't get worse. If we're lucky, we'll find some place that had the medicine you need."

With a curt nod, Daryl sat up and carefully began to bandage his ribs, wincing every once in a while. He had barely even noticed the pain while they were running, the adrenaline blocking the feeling out. In truth, he had absolutely no idea how he had managed to get so far without his body giving out on him completely.

"Come on," the woman said when she saw he was done, pushing herself to her feet and offering him her hand. "We should find some kind of shelter of some kind. Let's just hope luck is on our side today."

"Doubt it," Daryl muttered, accepting Carol's gesture of support. He grunted as he stood, his arm snaking around his waist. "There ain't no luck, anymore, Carol. If there is, it sure hasn't been nice to us." Just as he said it, a boom of thunder sounded, startling them both. The man just looked back at Carol and raised his eyebrows. "See? Let's get goin'."

They walked for hours, thankfully managing to find a small cabin to stay in right before the rain hit. In it, they discovered some extra, non spoiling food, water, a shotgun with a box of ammo with it, and a couple of pairs of clothing that fit them. It was a little, but it was something, and that was what counted.

"You go on and get some shuteye," Daryl said, slinging his bow over his shoulder. "I'm gonna keep watch for the night." Without another word, he stepped out onto the porch, sliding against the fence and placing his weapon right next to him, so that it would be easy to reach. He slowly let his head fall into his hand, his body remaining just as tense as it was.

Carol watched Daryl with a sad sigh, wishing that there was more she could do to help him. She had taken whatever she could before they were forced to flee, and even though it wasn't enough to last them for a long time, it would hopefully help them survive at least for another few weeks. But supplies weren't going to fix a broken soul, and that was exactly what Daryl was in that moment. He was broken, all the hardships and pain he had to suffer in the years of the apocalypse finally making themselves known to him. Just by looking at him, Carol could see how this was eating away at him, making him feel like this was his fault, when in reality it wasn't. It was nobody's fault. It was just how life was.

Knowing that he needed some kind of assurance right now, Carol joined him on the porch, making sure to sit on the opposite side of his crossbow. "Hey," she said softly, taking his hand and squeezing gently. Once receiving a small grunt in return, she continued, "We're going to be okay. You know that, right?" She smiled, reaching to run her fingers through his hair. They traveled down to squeeze his shoulder blade when he jumped at a loud boom in the sky and the flash of lightning that followed a few seconds later. "You do know that, right?"

The man didn't reply, just continued to stare at the wooden floorboards beneath him. He let his eyes fall closed then, bringing his knees up to his chest. There was a pained expression on his face, and it was clear that this was much harder for him than he would ever tell her. He seemed to be reliving the memory of what had happened only a few hours ago.

"Alright, Daryl," Carol breathed out, leaning in to kiss his temple gently. "I'll leave you alone. But just know that you can talk to me if you want. I'm here for you, just like you were there for me since the very beginning. Please, just don't pull away from me, because that's not going to make anything better. We both need each other, now more than ever." She choked on her voice then, the time trying to stay strong for Daryl taking a toll on her. She, too, could barely believe what had happened, and was really having a hard time coming to terms with it.

Silence surrounded them for a few minutes, but it was short lived. Suddenly, the tracker leaned in and placed his head in the crook of her neck, shaking slightly. Carol instantly wrapped her arms around him, stroking his hair lovingly to provide him with some comfort. "Hey, everything's going to be alright, you hear me? Everything's gonna be just fine."

Shaking his head, Daryl sighed and said, "No, Carol, it ain't. And it won't be, either." He separated from her, going back to the position he was in before. "Get some sleep. I'll stay here for the night." Not saying anything else, he turned away, pulling his crossbow into his lap. "Please, just go rest. Ya need it."

"You need it, too, you know?" Carol countered softly, trying to give him a small smile. Giving him one last glance, she stood up and walked back inside, unable to resist plopping down on the rather comfortable couch. "Goodnight, Daryl," she muttered, quietly enough so that the man couldn't hear her.

She just couldn't seem to fall asleep, though, her mind constantly bringing her back to Daryl. He had done so much for her and the group, wanting absolutely nothing in return. In reality, he deserved so much more than what life was giving him. He was a good man, one of the kindest, most loyal people that she's ever met. And to think that this was how the world was treating him … It made her heart ache just thinking about it. Silently, she promised herself that she would make sure that Daryl would keep going, even if he didn't want to anymore. Secretly, she made it her responsibility to help him in his time of need, which she knew would be really soon.

~TWD~

As Daryl forced himself to stay awake throughout this cold, rainy night, memories of what had happened at the prison haunted him. He kept seeing Hershel and the Governor, the man who jumped him and began to beat him — if it hadn't been for Carol, he probably wouldn't have made it out — and literally everything else. He remembered the feeling of shock that practically attacked him when everything went to hell and those people started attacking them. He could still feel this horrible pain in his heart from before, when the realization finally hit him.

He knew that he was the one to blame for all of this. If he hadn't stopped looking for the Governor, then maybe they could have avoided losing the prison, and maybe they would still be living comfortable lives, shielded from the apocalypse. He cursed at himself quietly, trying to fight off the tears that wanted to fall down his face. You screwed everythin' up, he thought to himself. You made this happen. This is your fuckin' fault.

Slowly, though, he managed to stray away from the subject of the fallen prison, his mind leading him towards thoughts of Carol.

Carol. Sweet Carol. The one who had been with him since the very beginning. The one who suffered so much, just like him. She always claimed that he was a good person, but in his eyes, it wasn't true. He was nothing but a piece of redneck trash, someone who didn't deserve the likes of Carol. This woman stuck with him, and had shown him a love that nobody else had. She was the light to his darkness, the one who always tried to make things seem a lot better than they were.

But she was just as torn up about this as him. Only, she forced herself to stay strong … for him. Usually, he would think it should be the opposite, but at this point, he just couldn't find the strength inside him. He really was broken, wasn't he?

Soon enough, the rain started to get worse, and he was soaked within an hour or so of sitting there. Sleep tried to take him, but he fought it, too afraid of the nightmares that he was sure would plague him if he slept. That was why, he forced himself to just sit there and keep watch, needing something to do that didn't involve any shut-eye.

He only hoped that maybe, just maybe, all of this would work out soon. They would find the others, they would find a new place to call home, and they would all survive, together.

One could only hope, right?

TBC