A/N: I don't know what this is really - just something I wanted to work out, just a drabble - can't really quantify it, so I won't - hope you enjoy it, and as always, thank you for the reads and the reviews - Caryl On!
He was bleeding everywhere. The top of his jeans were soaked through and his shirt was saturated. He was dying. From against the wall he could see Beth a few feet away, laying on her side faced away from him, and Judith was crying, deep and squalling wails from just beyond Beth. He had to get to them, see if they were okay. He blinked to keep from passing out, the pain in his gut was intense. His vision clouded and he knew he was slipping. He felt a hand on his shoulder and then everything went black.
He woke to the sound of birds. The light seemed too bright to be inside the prison; he opened his eyes slow and saw that he was in the open air, out in the prison yard on a cot. He blinked and felt the pressure of a cool damp cloth being applied to his forehead. "Awake now, I see." He turned his head slightly and looked up to see Carol smiling down at him.
"Judith? Beth?" He managed weakly. He throat was raw from the yelling and smoke.
"Both fine. Beth just had a good bump to the head, and Judith was just a bit shaken. You on the other hand..." her voice trailed off and he watched her turn away from him, avoiding his eyes.
"What?" His voice faltered, sensing her fear and something else.
"You lost a lot of blood. Hershel was able to sew you up, but it wasn't simple. You need a lot of blood."
He was confused. Why am I outside?"
"The cell block was too smoky after the fight, so we set you up out here. You get some rest, okay? I have to do a few things, but I'll be back after a bit to check on you."
Hershel had to cut Daryl's jeans off to access the wound. Carol had gathered them and the shirt and tried to see if anything could be done to salvage either. While inspecting the jeans, she felt something large and solid in the back pocket. She did not expect to find what she pulled out. A vestige of another life, one of those things that she'd always taken advantage of before but gave little thought to now.
The leather was worn smooth and although it wasn't bulging, it did appear to hold contents still. Thinking back, she couldn't even place the last time she'd seen her own wallet or purse. She had lost track of it when Sophia had gone missing, and she had never really thought about it again. And here, in her hands, she held a key to unlock the somewhat still mysterious Mr. Dixon. Sure she'd gotten to know him, but only really in this life. He avoided talking about his life right before the outbreak. She found it too tempting to not take a peek.
She opened the brown bi-fold cautiously, curiously, almost like it was Christmas. She laughed out loud when she saw the money, two twenties, a five and three ones. She hadn't thought about money in a long time, and it seemed, before, it was always on her mind. But maybe it was more what it had represented, survival and comfort, which was something they still spent nearly every moment thinking about, it just had lost its monetary representation. His driver's license was a bit of surprise. He was only about three years younger than her. She made a quick mental note of his birthday, maybe she would surprise him. She wasn't sure of the current exact day, but she had a pretty good idea, and honestly, the seasons were a close enough thing.
There was a bank card, which was dirty on the edge, and looked as if he'd used it as a scraper. She giggled at the thought. Wouldn't need to be using it for withdrawals any time soon. An expired insurance card for his truck, a business card of a bail bondsman, a blood donor card, and a list of numbers written in a random order and a neat hand. The purpose of the latter she could not guess, but some of the numbers looked fresh, and there was ample space for future writing, it appeared it was an active list of some sort.
Tucked underneath his driver's license was a black and white picture of a young Merle and even younger Daryl. She would have guessed Daryl to be about ten in the picture, and Merle looked about in his late teens. Merle had his arm around Daryl and Daryl was smiling, something she didn't see often even in daily life. She turned the photo over and written on the back was simply "brothers '79". She tucked the photo safely back into place and closed the wallet. She set the it down on a pile of fresh clothes, and after a moment retrieved it again.
She had remembered the donor card. She pulled it out and noted the blood type, O+. It was Daryl's lucky day, she knew from when she'd had Sophia that she was also O+, it wasn't universal, but she would be able to give him some of her blood, and by the look of things, he would need it.
She pulled a second cot into the courtyard and set it up for her comfort. Hershel had warned her it might take a few hours. She sat on the cot while Hershel prepared the supplies for the transfusion. Daryl was sleeping softly, but his skin was very pale. When they had found him she'd been surprised at the amount of blood. But Hershel had assured her that he had stopped all the bleeding and that what he needed now was time replenish his blood supply and to heal.
She laid back on the cot and closed her eyes while Hershel inserted the needles. She was brave, but she didn't like watching, she never did. The site of blood had made her queasy on an occasion or two, and so she closed her eyes and laid back and visualized sitting along the bank of a pond, her feet dangled in the water and she was surrounded by Cherokee roses. She tilted her face up to feel the sun and she felt a warm touch on her shoulder. Tender lips began to kiss the flesh there and work up her neck growing more insistent as they neared her earlobe. She sighed and leaned her head to the left to allow access. She felt a solid form pressed against her back, coveting each curve - solid muscles and beating heart. She sighed and relaxed against him as his right hand came up to find the curve of her breast. The water was cool, the sun was hot, and she never wanted to leave this place.
"Carol...Carol..." She was pulled back by the pressure of a firm hand on her shoulder and Hershel's voice, calling her name. She opened her eyes and met his. "Carol, I've got the transfusion going now. I'm going to go inside for a bit, but I'll be out shortly. Will you be okay?"
"Sure, just fine, take your time." She gave him a smile of thanks. She turned her head. Daryl was still asleep, his eyes closed and his features slack. He looked so much younger when he was relaxed. She frowned. He shoulders so much, and all so willingly. She closed her eyes briefly as a wave of nausea hit her, and when she'd opened them again, he was staring at her, his eyes open and bright. Not glassy as they had been earlier. His breath was measured and slow.
"There you are," he whispered, his voice was still raspy. "Ya said you'd be back, but I don't remember much. I'm really tired."
"You will be, for a while. You have to give your blood a chance to rebuild. You took a shot to the stomach. Hershel stopped it, but you lost a lot of blood. We almost lost you."
"How come you are givin' me some? Do ya'll know what yer doin'? Might not mix well."
"I found your donor card in your wallet." As soon as she said it, his face became lined again: concern, worry, distress, she couldn't tell. "I found it when I collected your clothes."
"Ain't got no right going through my things." He was too weak to argue or retreat, so he just stated the fact.
"So you saw it then?" he said, closing his eyes.
"The picture? Yeah, you two were cute kids."
"Naw, not that. The paper, with the little marks."
"I wasn't going to ask."
"I know, but you wanna know. I know you."
"And I know you too." She smiled, trying to lighten the mood just a little. She didn't want him to feel defensive, he had no need to be. "I'm sorry if you feel I invaded your privacy. I kind of saved your life in the process."
"Well, best forgive ya then." He closed his eyes and winced. "It burns."
"Just rest, you'll have plenty of time to be mad at me later."
Twenty minutes passed in silence. His eyes remained closed, and she kept her head turned, watching him. Hershel came and went after checking on them. Time. They had lots of time to heal. Lots of time to get stronger. Until they didn't have time. But that wasn't any different than life before. Something always gets you, the what might be different, but the getting was all the same.
When he spoke again, his eyes remained closed, and she saw his lips move before she heard his voice. "It is my tally."
She thought for a moment, trying to guess what he meant. Then it dawned on her. "Of your walker kills?"
"Naw...there's a lot more marks there than that I'm sure. These actually mean somethin' to me."
His eyes were open now, staring at her, through her. His featured had softened again, and very softly, almost inaudibly, he spoke her name.
"Carol...it was every time I wanted to hold your hand, or kiss you, or come to your bed at night. It was every time I couldn't do the things I wanted to do because I was scared or shy or ashamed. I make new marks on that paper every day. I think I need to stop marking my time and start living."
She reached out her hand and met his in the space between the cots.
The sun was out and her blood was flowing through his veins, it was a good day to be alive.