So I kinda like this chapter but I kinda don't. I still don't know if I'm going a little bit too fast. Please let me know if I am and I will try to fix that.
In the meantime, please enjoy! And don't forget to favorite, follow, and review. Thank you for all the wonderful feedback you've been giving me so far. I really appreciate it.
Daryl watched as Judith ran to her father, who picked her up and spun her around, a bright smile on his face. He gasped when he saw Michonne come out from the shadows and join her husband, both of them crying at the site of their little girl.
When the reunion was finished, the couple made their way over to Carol and Daryl. Rick immediately pulled his brother into a tight hug, the men trembling with shock and relief. "How are you here?" the former sheriff asked, disbelief lacing his words. "How is Judith with you?"
"I don't know, man," Daryl replied truthfully, pulling away to look at Carol. "I don't know."
After they finished greeting at each other and marveling at the fact that this was actually real, they sat down on the cold ground and began to talk. It was then that Daryl noticed the wounds mottling Rick and Michonne's bodies. "Where did you get these?" he muttered, worry beginning to seep into his stomach.
Rick sighed. "It's a fight club, Daryl," he explained. "And every person her, in these cells, is part of the main event."
"How long have you been here?" Carol questioned as she interlocked her and Daryl's fingers together.
"From what we can tell, a month," Michonne replied, sounding exhausted. "After we left Alexandria, we searched for survivors, but didn't find anyone. We traveled for a few months, but then were captured by these people."
"Why are they keeping kids here?" Carol's eyes fell on the child resting in her mother's arms. She had seen other kids in some of the nearby cells. They didn't look hurt, but they sure looked terrified, clearly worried for their parents and what was going to happen to them.
"They don't touch kids," Rick said, "but they don't treat them any differently, either. We get food and water every two days, and fresh air every time we go out to fight. Every once in a while, if they see that the fighters are really hurt, they give out medical supplies."
Daryl nodded in understanding, already beginning to process all the information Rick and Michonne had given him. He looked at Carol, noted the fear written all across her face, and pressed a quick kiss to her temple, pulling her close. "Is there any way to break out?"
"Some people have tried," Michonne said. "But each time, they were caught and killed. We were thinking of trying … But now that you're here, and Judith is with us … We don't want to risk anything."
"Ya shouldn't," Daryl quickly said. "Ya have a kid to take care of now. You're gonna have to keep yourselves as safe as possible."
"I know," Rick agreed, reaching down to stroke his daughter's curly locks.
"Just get some rest for now," Carol offered. "We'll keep watch." She was incredibly grateful when they obeyed, the two of them falling asleep in seconds. Letting out a heavy breath, the greying woman placed her hand on her companion's chest. "Daryl, how are we going to get out of this?"
"God, Carol, I wish I knew."
His answer truly surprised her. Carol locked eyes with Daryl and attempted to smile, albeit weakly. "Well, that's a first," she whispered, leaning in to kiss him gently. She was grateful when he returned it, his arms wrapping around her slim waist.
"I'll figure something out," Daryl murmured in her ear. "I have to."
"Sleep. Don't think about it right now. You need to save as much energy as you possibly can."
Daryl exhaled and then nodded, taking a moment to rest his forehead against her own. "I love ya, ya know that?"
"I know. And I love you more."
While Carol slept, Daryl didn't allow himself to even close his eyes. He was dead set on making sure that his people weren't going to be hurt in any way. So when he heard the sound of footsteps, he immediately moved Carol off of him and stood up, just as two guards unlocked the door and came in.
"Put your hands on your head and don't move," one of them said, thankfully not paying attention to the other prisoners in the cell. Apparently, they only need one fighter for the moment.
Daryl obeyed, staring straight at the ground while they chained his ankles and wrists and attached a long pole to the ones wrapping around his hands. He spared a final glance at the love of his life, memorizing every single feature on her face before he was forced out of the room. He was led down the same long hallway he had walked through only a few hours before. Nothing had changed. Daryl locked eyes with multiple other prisoners, and they all looked the same: terrified. He wondered if that was about to become his fate.
The warm sun blinded him, and in that moment he wished that he could just raise his arms and shield his eyes, but the men didn't even give him a chance to do it. After about five minutes of walking on the outside of the community, they arrived at a huge fighting ring. There were people crowded around the fence separating them and the arena, cheering and screaming, clearly ready to watch a fight.
It took a lot for Daryl not to attempt to escape. He wanted to see what their options were before risking their lives. He was shoved through a door and into a small room full of more prisoners. Daryl quickly realized that these were going to be the men and women that he would have to fight.
They let him sit on one of the benches, and he watched as two men were forced to stand up and move towards another exit, which no doubt led to the ring. Daryl took these few moments of silence to collect himself. He closed his eyes and began to channel his breathing, thinking of nothing and no one, not even Carol.
He barely even realized how much time had passed. In what seemed like seconds, he was pulled up by his wrists and pulled to that same exit from earlier. He was suddenly standing right outside a huge arena, which looked even bigger now that he was in it.
Daryl's eye caught his opponent. He looked to be about fifty, and was almost twice the size of Daryl. Guess these people don't care for fair matches, the tracker though wearily, already beginning to study him and look for any weaknesses he could possibly use. He found nothing.
He was brought over to the other side of the ring, while the other man stayed. Once he was in position, the gate was opened, all of his chains were taken off, and, without warning, he was pushed inside, the door shut behind him.
Daryl now found himself standing in front of his opponent, understanding that this wasn't his first match. In fact, it seemed like this stranger had been in many fights, based on how many wounds he was sporting, both old and new. On top of that, he looked ready to kill, a sign that told Daryl that he'd have to be more careful and much more brutal with his attacks.
The minute the crowd started cheering, the man - Daryl decided to call him Hulk because of his build - charged straight at Daryl. There was no sign of remorse or sadness in his eyes. Daryl was quick to dodge him, deciding to let him make the first couple of moves.
Hulk seemed to grow angrier the more Daryl dodged, clearly wanting to get this fight over with. At one point, he'd almost caught Daryl but, the hunter quickly escaped his beefy hands, to which he responded with an animalistic cry. Without giving Daryl and time to react, Hulk grabbed him by the wrist and shoved him to the ground, landing a precise hit to Daryl's shoulder.
The crowd and Daryl both roared at the same time.
Only Daryl's roar was more of a pained cry, for his shoulder had just been dislocated. Still, he wasted no time in punching Hulk right in the face and pushing the man off of him with his legs, scrambling to his feet. He could see that Hulk was getting more and more angry by the second, and knew that he had to do something fast. When Hulk began to run at him again, Daryl reached down and grabbed the sand beneath his feet, throwing it right into Hulk's eyes, almost smiling when he screamed. He didn't expect for hulk to recover so quickly and pummel him to the ground again, this time beginning to hit him all over his body.
For a moment, Daryl was lost, unsure of what to do. It was like all his senses had left him, and he was now stuck in between reality. But when he finally came back to the real world and realized what was happening, Daryl growled and caught Hulk in a chokehold with his legs, pressing down as hard as he could, even as Hulk struggled.
It took a while, but Daryl succeeded in bringing his opponent down. The minute Hulk went slack, Daryl shoved him aside and pushed himself back, hearing the people watching yell and scream.
Clearly, he was the victor of this match.
He barely noticed as the same guards from before walked inside the arena and chained him again. He only regained some sense of where he was when he heard a gunshot, the sound making him jump. Looking back, he saw that Hulk now had a bullet in his brain, and he was being dragged out of the ring, never to be seen again. Daryl muttered a weak apology and let himself be led back to his cell.
In what felt like an eternity, they finally made it. He was unchained - thank God - and shoved back inside, where Carol had been waiting, pacing like crazy until her eyes fell on Daryl.
"Oh, my God, Daryl," she whispered, running over to him as he began to collapse. She caught him and gently helped him to the ground, where she began accessing his wounds.
"Is he alright?" Michonne asked worriedly, kneeling down beside Carol.
"I don't know…"
"Shoulder's … dislocated," Daryl managed to say, feeling incredibly exhausted all of a sudden. "Few bruises. Otherwise fine. J-just tired."
"That must have been one of the older fighters," Rick said from nearby. He was cradling a sleeping Judith in his lap, and didn't want to wake her by moving. "I've seen him around. Always tries to dislocate his opponent's shoulder before doing anything else."
"'M called him Hulk," Daryl breathed out, wincing as Carol began to touch his shoulder. "Good fighter. S-sad I had to kill him…"
"I'm going to pop it back in, okay Daryl?" Carol asked, using her free hand to stroke his sweat dampened hair gently.
"Yeah … g-go ahead."
It took all his energy not to scream when Carol pushed his shoulder back into place. For Judith's sake, all he did was grunt and curl up into a loose ball, closing his eyes in an attempt to fight off the pain.
"I can't do anything about your other wounds," Carol said sadly. "They'll have to heal on their own. For now, you need to get as much sleep as you can." When her companion nodded, she began sat against a wall and helped him pillow his head on her lap. She leaned down to kiss the top of his head before saying, "Sleep. You deserve it."
"Thanks, C-Carol…," Daryl mumbled, already feeling better because of the hand running through his long locks.
With that final thought, he fell asleep, feeling more exhausted than ever, even though this had been his first fight.
He wondered what else was in store for him and the rest of his family.