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"Carol, get up!"
His tired, raspy voice startled her, and when she opened her eyes, she saw Daryl standing in front of her, a worried expression on his face. "What's going on?" she mumbled, wanting to sleep for a just a bit longer. She almost shrieked when her companion pulled her to her feet and threw a bag into her arms.
"Walkers," the man replied, reaching for the blanket Carol had been sleeping with — he didn't even know where she had found it — and shoving it into his own bag, the one he found in the cabin's secret closet, along with some more food, when he realized that they needed to get out of there as soon as they could. "A whole herd of them. They're already gettin' closer. We need ya get the hell out if we don't wanna be their breakfast." He grabbed Carol's hand, leading her towards the front entrance and urging her to run in front of him. It was still raining, although a little less, but it would probably get stronger later on. "Just keep goin' and don't look back. We need ta outrun them and then find a new place to hole up in."
The woman didn't protest as they walked and walked for what seemed like an eternity. She understood how important it was for Daryl to keep her safe, and wanted to prove it to him, therefore not saying a word about it. Still, her legs began to ache after a while, and she couldn't help but stop when they reached small river. "Let's take a break for a bit," she said softly, knowing that Daryl was probably exhausted, too. "We need to fill up the water bottles, anyway."
Daryl just turned around and stared at her for a few seconds, his eyes glossed over. With a small nod, he walked over to the body of water, kneeling down and slinging his bag off his shoulder. He began dumping the three empty bottles into the river, waiting for the cool liquid to flow inside. He could barely even believe how hard he had missed the feeling of water against his skin. Once done, he stood up and waited while Carol filled up her own bottle, wanting to get out of there as soon as possible. There was no way that he going to put that woman at risk. Not now … Not ever.
"Ready to go?"
Her soft voice brought him back to reality, and when looking up, he saw that her face was slightly damp. After quickly walking over to wet his own face, he pushed himself up to his feet and nodded once more, deciding not to say anything. He just signaled her to follow him, and then they were off again, each person lost in their own thoughts.
Carol kept thinking about Daryl, and how he was slowly becoming more and more distant, almost afraid to even talk to her. In a way, she understood it: He was dealing with a lot of guilt that he just didn't know how to handle. But she also thought that it was wrong of him to do this to her, to push her away when she was ready to be there for him. It hurt her to see him like this, so broken and fragile. She was suddenly forced out of her thoughts when she suddenly heard a click and a soft gasp.
"Shit," Daryl whispered, turning around, his icy blue orbs widening by the second. "Carol, run!" He watched as she quickly obeyed, knowing that she was confused as to why she was doing it. In a few moments, she would find out why. In the meantime, he had to get as far away from the abandoned mine as he possibly could.
The explosion sent him flying onto the ground, and all Daryl could feel after that was numbness, starting at his collar bone and making its way down his hand. Pretty soon, that numbness turned into a dull ache, and when the world finally made itself known to him again, it became an agony that he would never forget. He cried out in pain, curling into a tight ball, afraid to even touch his skin to see what the damage was. He could hear Carol calling his name and rushing over to him once she found him. Tears were in her eyes, streaming down her face, as she began to cradle him in her arms.
"Oh, my God, Daryl!" she sobbed, stroking his hair gently, pushing it out of the way so she could see his eyes. They were full of fear. She could feel him trembling against her, small sounds of discomfort coming out of his mouth. Right then, thunder burst, and rain began to fall right after, which, in a way, was good for Daryl, since it cooled down the fresh new burn that covered his entire left arm. "I have to get you somewhere warm. Do you think you can stand?"
Somehow, Daryl managed to grunt a weak 'yes', and was on his feet without even realizing it. Everything around him was spinning, nothing in his mind was clear. He almost fell back down again if it wasn't for Carol holding his sorry ass up. "There's a-a cave … up a-ahead," he told her, voice shaking with the effort of saying something so simple as that. "We c-can hole up … t-t-there for the n-night…." His voice trailed off then and he moaned, throwing his head back to try and fight off the pain in his arm. All he wanted to do right then was sleep, and maybe never have to wake up again.
"Alright," Carol replied. "Lead the way." She whisked that they were still near the river. Then, she would have just let him cool off there for a while. Cold water always did wonders for burns, and currently, that was something that Daryl really needed. She already knew that they didn't have enough medicine to help the wound heal completely. So that means that he would be forced to survive through heavy fevers, possible hallucinations and delusions, and a pain that he never felt before. On top of all that, depending on how his body would mend, he might have a permanent scar on his body, an addition to his already rather large collection, reminding him of what he would call his failure.
When they finally made it to the cave that Daryl had seen, Carol was quick to take out one of their blankets and place it on the ground before helping Daryl lie down. Taking a quick look around, she saw that this had once been someone else's camp, with the burnt out logs sitting in the middle of the space and the two, slightly dirty blankets lying in a crumpled heap in one of the corners. They had gotten lucky; this meant that they had a greater chance of staying warm if they were to stay here for more than just a day. With Daryl's injury, it was pretty clear that they would be staying for a long time.
"Hey," Carol murmured gently once covering him with one more tarp, leaving his wound exposed so that nothing would touch it. "You gotta keep drinking more water, Daryl, stay as hydrated as you can. We have some medicine in our bag, but it won't last. At one point or another, we're gonna have to find a house or something to stay in, and then I'm gonna go scavenge for more. For now, you have to stay with me, okay? Just hold on, alright?"
"'M sorry," the hunter breathed out suddenly, unable to meet her gaze. "I-I was stupid … Should've s-s-seen it. 'M sorry." He gasped then, scrunching his eyes shut. His body was on fire, every nerve inside him burning.
"No, Daryl, this isn't your fault. It could've happened to me, too. If you hadn't told me to run when you did, I would've probably been caught in the blast. Thanks to you, I'm okay, and now I'm gonna make sure that you get better." Carol smiled slightly, cupping his cheek and brushing her fingers over his stubbly skin. "Now, sleep. I'll be right here to wake you up when you need water and the meds." She paused then, looking at him lovingly. "I promise, nothing will happen to you. Everything will be just fine."