Another long break between updates, another heartfelt apology from yours truly.

I am absolutely determined to finish this fic, guys (no matter how long it takes)!

Hope you enjoy this chapter. In light of current canon angst it really hits me in just the right ouch-feels ;)

He was cold. Shivering.

They were on the move again, and he was fucking bedridden in the back of the RV, occasionally passing out with little to no warning. He would wake up, look to the front of the Winnebago to make sure Dale hadn't been eaten while he was unconscious, wrap the blanket tighter around his shoulders and fight chattering teeth.

And then the walls around him would blur, the light trickling in through the windows of the vehicle would stretch and brighten, and then turn black.

And he'd be out again.

Daryl lost count of how many times it happened during the first leg of their movement. Rick had them moving east, on another search for supplies and shelter. Their need for fresh water and filling food doubled the moment Shane had spewed out that Lori was pregnant, and Rick was a man obsessed.

He couldn't do shit to help. He was useless to them and every time he blinked back into reality he was reminded of that fact.

And it was the one thing about this Walker limbo he hated the most.

He was a string-along. A burden

He bit back a curse as his spine was wracked with a cold pain. A grunt thudded in his chest and he fell back onto the mattress, exasperated and helpless. Just down the walkway, past the bathroom, sitting at the table, was Carol, vigilant and determined, watching over him while he fought a virus that had destroyed the world.

He sighed, eyeing the front of the RV as he waited for the next blackout. For her, he would suffer through this perpetual un-death and try to claw his way to the other side. For Carol, he would fight it.

He just couldn't make any fucking promises.

He wasn't cold anymore.

Hell no, he was anything but. Heat seared across his skin, the skin of his chest, and the heat was breath, and the breath was hers. Softness padded along his ribs, tickling. He jumped, found a grin pulling at the corners of his mouth.

She laughed at him, light and airy and content. He grabbed at her wrists, stilling her fingers on his sides and coaxing her back up to his face, where he could look her in the eyes and see the bright blue salvation in them.

Carol's hair brushed against his skin as she lifted her head, looked at him.

He stopped smiling. Watched the blue of her eyes glaze into grey, a deadness corrupting, consuming. Her head cocked to the side, brows furrowing in confusion.


He reached up. Wrapped his fingers around her throat and pushed against her, desperate and angry.


He awoke to a choking sound.

The world came into focus as if in slow motion, the light in the RV dim and disorienting. He blinked hard, felt a weight in his arms and realized they were lifted from the bed, suspended in mid-air. Pain prickled at them, scratching.

A second later, the sensation that his hands were squeezing something.

Something smooth, soft…

Something that breathed.

His eyes shot open wide. With a forced breath that bordered on a shout, Daryl jerked his hands from Carol's throat and watched her fall back from her place above him. A thud sounded as her ass hit the floor, and as Daryl sat up fully in the bed he looked down to find her rubbing her neck with one hand, the other pulling at the front of her shirt as if doing so would help her breathe.

"Shit, shit, shit…"

He grumbled more to himself than to her, but Carol lifted her head to look up at him nonetheless, shaking it slightly and gasping as she attempted a smile,

"It's…it's fine, I'm fine, you were….having a nightmare—"

"It ain't fine!"

Wasn't a fuckin' nightmare, either. At least, not at first….

For the first time in almost two days Daryl dragged himself off the mattress, fought to steady himself on the old, filthy carpet that felt more like a moving sea than a solid floor. The RV was in motion, he realized, just as Dale's voice called back to them,

"Carol? You okay back there?"

He took a step close to her as she coughed, nodded even though Dale could certainly not see her,

"Yeah, I'm fine!"

Daryl grimaced. Carol's voice was like a dying cat, scratchy and high-pitched and pained.

Despite the shakiness in his legs he managed to close in on where she sat, attempted to bend down to reach out for her.

"C'mon, I got ya—" His head swam, the dull colors in the RV spilling over themselves and for a moment in time all Daryl could make out was blue of Carol's widening eyes before two sharp pains signaled his knees hitting the floor.

"Daryl! God," His vision went black for that single moment, and he wondered if he would pass out again. Carol cleared her throat just in his ear and he forgave her the quickly spawning headache that resulted.

"Daryl, talk to me."

He groaned. Helpless.


"Can't keep this shit up. It's gettin' worse. I'm fuckin' dying, Carol."

Even through the pounding in his head he could hear her breath catch; her body, suddenly so close to his own, grew still and he looked at her through the fog in his eyes to find her staring him down with a wet, desperate gaze.

And then her hands were on him, one sliding across his slumped shoulders to pull him against her, the other finding the back of his neck to secure him there. And his world fell into softness, and he bent his head in to the curve of her neck (the neck he had just assaulted) and breathed.

Even if he wanted to fight the close proximity (the goddamn intimacy of it), he couldn't. He was too weak, too out of it to do anything but let her hold him on the stinking, dirty floor of the Winnebago.

And when he really thought about it, he didn't want to fight it anyway. No, he was perfectly fine passing out in Carol's—