Um...hi guys? I know, I know, it's been forever, or so it seems since I posted a chapter but I swear I had good reasoning! Last week I ended up getting strep throat, and I thought I was over it, but turns out...yeah, not so much. I ended up landing myself a free hospital stay for two nights without my laptop. Sounds just fantastic, doesn't it? I ended up there and then once I got home, the new meds they threw at me had me sleeping about 14 hours a day and still waking up all sluggish and I couldn't really find the juice to power up and write anything. So I took a few days off from writing, but now I'm all better and spent all night writing a new chapter for you guys and I promise that I'm going to go back to posting a chapter a day now that my little fiasco is over. Thanks for waiting and I hope you enjoy! :D
As I turn and go to get in Dale's RV for some snack foods, like a small bag of chips or something, I notice that everyone is gathering around the outside it, looking at what I assume is Amy and Andrea. Curious, I make my way up, standing between Dale and Daryl, and watch as Amy reawakens. I feel Daryl move beside of me, I look over and watch as he reaches for his handgun from his waistband, bringing it out and aiming for Amy. I grab his arm and gently pull it down, causing him to throw an angry glance my way. I slowly shake my head, giving him a silent "Not yet." and slightly bob my head to the left towards the two girls on the ground. We both turn our heads and watch as Andrea pulls out her own pistol and grasps Amy's head one last time,
"I'm sorry for not ever being there. I always thought there'd be more time. I'm here now, Amy. I'm here. I love you."
With that she quickly draws the gun up to the side of Amy's head and pulls the trigger, one shot ringing out as Amy dies for the second time in 24 hours. Andrea cries by her body for a second before finally standing after so many hours and making her way into the RV, shutting the door quietly behind her. I step forward, ready to go in and comfort her, but now it's my turn to be held back as Dale firmly grasps my shoulder and tugs me backwards,
"Let her alone for a bit Rose, she needs to be on her own for a few hours."
"But Dale…she…ok, ok, fine."
He gives me a sad smile and a small pat on the shoulder before walking away and over to Amy's body. I stare at the poor, dead girl for a few moments, saddened over the fact that she died under such horrible circumstances, but I shake off the feeling as quickly as I can. I've watched a lot of death since the zombie apocalypse decided to make man and womankind's lives a living, breathing hell, and if you dwell on it too long, it eats you alive, no pun intended. Once I'm done ridding myself of my grief over Amy, I realize that I can't go in the RV for food anymore and have to figure out where else I can find Jim something to eat. I give a quick look around and thankfully, someone left a few of our nonperishable food storage crates outside by the fire. I hurriedly walk over to them and rummage around for a few minutes until I find a couple of protein bars inside. Figuring that this is the best I can do for the moment, I shove them both into my pocket and stand. I spin around, ready to head back to the tent, when I run face first into something. I bounce backwards slightly and look up to find Daryl has planted himself right behind me. I let out a heavy sigh and look up at him,
"Need ya' ta' help me drive the bodies up ta' the top of the hill."
"I'm taking care of Jim, ask someone else." I reply curtly before walking around him and attempting to once again return to the ill man on the other side of camp. Before I make it 2 steps though, Daryl grabs my hand, stopping me in my tracks. I pause and turn around, annoyed by his persistence to try and force me to stop caring for Jim,
"Daryl, knock it off."
"Help me move the bodies, yer the only one around who has got the muscle to git them geeks out of the truck and in ta' the graves."
"Excuse me?! That man is over there dying and he needs someone to take care of him, and since everybody except for Rick and I seems to want him dead, he doesn't have many people on his side. Rick has Lori and Carl to worry about already, so it isn't fair to add another person onto his list of people to take care. That means that the responsibility falls to me. So don't tell me I'm not doing shit just because I'm not helping your fucking ass carry dead bodies. Now kindly let me the fuck go."
"Not til ya' agree ta' help me."
"Daryl I swear to God I will shove my fist so far down your throat you'll feel my fingers tickling your stomach. So unless you want my hand messing with our intestines, I'm going to ask you as nicely as I can one more time, GET THE FUCK OFF."
He opens his mouth to retort when a small cough causes both of us to whip our heads to the side and find Carol patiently standing there, her hands clasped in front of her while she stares at the ground.
"Oh, Carol…sorry, we were just…talking. Need something?" I ask as politely as I can considering Redneck over there has gotten me all riled up.
"I was just...I overheard you two, and I thought I would offer to take care of Jim."
"Oh Carol that's very sweet but I don't want to have to pawn him off on you. Jim is my respo—"
"Rose, no…I just…I need something to keep my mind off of…of Ed. Please." She asks staring at me with this deep sadness. I stand there for a few seconds, trying to find an excuse, but I know I just can't say no to someone like this. I drop my shoulders in defeat and give a half smile,
"Alright Carol, you win."
She smiles and starts to walk away, headed towards Jim's tent. At once, Daryl drops my hand and gives me a smug smirk,
"Shut up. This wasn't for you Redneck, it was for her."
"Sure, whatever ya' say Lil' Miss."
I glare at him for a second when I remember the whole reason I ever even left Jim's side was to grab him some food.
"Shit, hold on." I tell Daryl as I pull the protein bars out of my pocket and turn to see that Carol is almost out of sight,
She stops and turns around,
"Here!" I shout, jogging over to her and placing the two bars in her hand, "Feed him these."
She nods and closes her hands around the bars before turning around and heading towards Jim once more without a word. I turn and run back to the spot where Daryl and I were standing, where he is impatiently tapping his foot as if I am an employee who is running late again. Once I reach him, he lets out a grunt that I think was supposed to sound like "Come on." as he strides his way to his truck, which is filled to the absolute brim with bodies. The smell makes my nose crinkle is disgust for a moment, but I am, unfortunately, growing use to the smell of large piles of putrid flesh, and I just shake my head and climb into the truck. Daryl starts her up and pretty soon we're headed down the hillside and to the quarry. The two of us get about half way there in complete silence, with Daryl concentrating on the road while I stare out the window at the passing scenery before he decides to start irritating me again,
"Can I ask ya' a question?"
"Why are ya' wastin' shit on Jim? He's a dead man either way."
"You don't know that, the C.D.C.—"
"If the government had found a way ta' cure everybody, don't ya' think they'd a started usin' it by now ta' treat all the walkers right about now?"
"Maybe they have and we just haven't heard about it."
"If they'd found something, trust me, we'd of heard about it by now. So answer my question."
"Fine, even if there isn't a cure, Jim is still, currently, a human. His blood is red and his heart is beating just like you or I, and because of that he deserves to be treated with kindness and care and love, even if his clock is running out. Plus, if he is going to die, then don't you think he deserves to die in the least amount of pain as possible?"
"Not at the risk of wastin' supplies we might need. If that was me, I'd ask ya' ta' kill me quick."
"And I'd tell you no, not if there was a chance of you surviving." I say, pulling my eyes off the landscape and staring at him. He gives a few sideways glances, his eyes jumping back and forth between the dirt road and me.
"Then I'd shoot myself."
"Then I'd handcuff you to something immovable and make sure you couldn't get your hands on any weapons."
He stays quiet for a minute or two before stopping the truck, putting it in park right in the middle of the road. He turns his whole body and looks at me, distrust coloring his eyes.
"Mind givin' a better explanation?"
"Fine, I've got two reasons. For one thing, if there is a chance to help somebody, I take it. Whether it's family or complete stranger, I just get this weird…I don't know…urge to protect them from people or things that might try and hurt them more."
"Well ain't ya' just Mother Teresa…"
"Shut the hell up, just because I happen to give two shits about my fellow man does not give you the right to mock me."
"Would ya' calm down? Jesus, learn to take a joke…and what's two?"
And two…well Redneck, as crazy as it sounds, I consider you to be a friend. You get under my skin and make me want to kick some fucking sense into that narrow minded brain sometimes, but that's pretty much what friends make you want to do to them, right? Anyway, because you're my friend, you get the VIP treatment."
"Which means that if that had been you down in that tent and not Jim, I would be driving your ass to the C.D.C right now, no question."
Daryl sits there and…analyzes me, I suppose; for a few long moments he looks at me with such concentration that I start to fidget, uncomfortable at being stared at for so long by someone. After a couple more minutes of being watched by this slack jawed num skull, I break the silence, fed up with his weird ass gawking,
"What the hell are you staring for?"
"If I had a nickel for every time I heard that during my life, I'd be in my own personal military fort right now. Any particular reason you decided that now I'm cuckoo?"
"I ain't ever known somebody that did nice stuff fer nothin'…always a catch, so what's yers?"
"You see Daryl, there's this little bitty thing called loyalty. Basically it means that you are so devoted to someone, for whatever reason, that you will do almost anything for them. In our specific, fucked up friendship, I'm loyal to you because you have saved my ass a few times and never asked that I do anything in return, which makes me think that deep down, you're a good person despite the assholish exterior you put up for everyone. And because that loyalty exists, it means that if I can do anything to make sure your sorry redneck ass doesn't bite the dust, then I will."
Just as I would have expected, Daryl gives no sign of any kind of reaction, just looks for an instant longer before shifting back around to the steering wheel and starting back down the hill.
"Well, guess that moment is over…" I sigh, turning back towards the window.
Men, as I've learned through personal experience and my Psychology of Men class, because of the social norm of masculinity equaling stone cold detachment, rarely ever want to talk about ooey gooey emotions. They'd rather push it all way, way, WAY down deep into a black pit at the bottom of their stomachs and pretend that it doesn't exist. Now obviously this doesn't apply to every man, but I have a feeling, especially after meeting both Dixon brothers, that the classic idea of masculinity was almost certainly upheld in their home growing up, and showing anything other than that probably meant some sort of punishment. I mean, for God's sake, I haven't seen either Merle or Daryl show anything but indifference or anger at everyone or everything they meet. Hell, rocks have shown me more than these two. My mind must be wandering around the idea of men and women being so different in their approaches to emotion that I don't even notice that we've reached the quarry. Daryl does a three point turn and whips the truck in backwards before throwing it into park. The two of us climb out of the truck and walk over to the graves that Shane and Rick have been digging all day.
"I still think it's a mistake not burnin' these bodies. It's what we said we'd do, right? Burn 'em all, wasn't that the idea?" Daryl says, glaring down at the two men who are making their way out of the most recent graves they dug.
"At first." Shane grunts, jumping and pulling himself out of the earth before standing upright in front of the two of us.
"So what? The Chinaman gets all emotional, says it's not the thing ta' do, we jus' follow him along?"
"Daryl these were people, OUR people, and as fucking nuts as it sounds, there are individuals who are up in that camp that knew them and think they deserve to be laid to rest. So no, we're not doing it because Glenn got a little misty eyed on us, we're doing it because humans go through a grieving process and putting a body in a grave helps them find closure." I retort, sick of this emotionless robot shit he keeps throwing my way.
"That's the rules though." He answers, a slight hint of anger lacing itself into the statement as he scowls down at me. I glower right back, not intimidated by him or his answer. Before the two of us start going at it though, Rick steps in between, looking Daryl right in the eye,
"There are no rules."
"Exactly," I say, making my way over to the tailgate and lowering it, "We need time to bury the dead and to mourn, not because it's the most efficient or best plan we have, but because that's what people do. No stop whining and let's get these guys into the graves." I say, hopping up onto the truck bed and spinning around to look at the three men on the ground.
Shane and Rick nod, making their way over, but Daryl stays planted for a few seconds longer before finally complying and coming over to help me. The four of us break into teams of two, with Rick and Shane on one team and Daryl and I on the other, and we start filling in the makeshift cemetery as fast as we can. We leave one grave open, back row and right in the center for Amy, who I assume is being brought up later. Once all the graves are filled, Shane and Rick go back to shoveling, this time to refill all the occupied holes that now litter the quarry ground. Since there are only two shovels, Daryl and I are of no use, so the two of us decide to head back down to the camp to load Amy into the truck bed and bring everyone else down for the burial/funeral service. The ride down is deadly silent, and I'm kind of happy it is; I'm too emotionally and physically tired to really give a shit if Daryl thinks no one does nice things for no reason, I just want to get this service over with and go to bed for a few hours. We roll back into camp just in time to see Morales, Carol, and Dale carrying Jim across the camp center.
"What the living fuck?!" I ask.
Alarmed, I jump out of the truck and pull my handgun out of my waist band, dashing over to the three of them. I plant myself in their path, stopping them from moving Jim, who looks like he's in insurmountable pain, and aim my pistol at them, anger quickly spilling into my veins.
"What in the name of all that is holy do you three think you are going with Jim?" I ask, teeth clenched tight against each other. Carol and Morales appear to be speechless, both of their eyes locking onto the barrel of the gun, thus shutting down their mouth to brain connection, but Dale hardly skips a beat when answering me.
"Rose, now calm down. We're just moving him to the RV. There is a bed and air conditioning in there and he'll be more comfortable. So put that gun away before Carl or Sophia sees."
I look into all three of their eyes, trying to find any small spark of dishonesty, but I can't see anything besides fear. I lower my gun and stick it back into the waist band of my shorts,
"Sorry…I'm slightly overprotective if you can't tell." I say, stepping out of the way as they shuffle Jim the rest of the way to the RV. I follow them into the vehicle and anxiously watch from the doorway as they set Jim down onto the bed in the back. Once they've got him laid down, Dale and Morales quickly leave, offering Jim a smile before heading back out to finish whatever they were doing beforehand. Carol sits down gently on the bed, dabbing a wet washcloth that appeared out of nowhere across his forehead. Once she's finished I make my way into the tiny room and look down at him,
"Besides the fact that I'm in agonizing pain from this walker bite and have a possible heat stroke, I'm just peachy." Jim answers, a sarcastic smile cracking across his lips. I roll my eyes as dramatically as I can while giving a small smile back,
"Ok, guess I deserved that answer for such a stupid question…Anyway, Carol, the rest of camp is headed to the funeral down by the quarry, you go and I'll stay here with Jim."
Carol nods and turns, making her way out of the RV. After a minute or so though, Jim starts speaking up, refusing to let me miss the service,
"No, you go too."
"Jim, you're sick and you can't just stay here on your ow—"
"You'll be gone, what, half an hour at the most? Go, I can be alone for that long."
"Listen, I need some time…time alone. You go up, help people get through the mourning and then you can come back here and baby me the rest of the night if you want, okay?"
I look at him, not wanting to leave the dying man's side, but I shake my head and comply. I quickly gather a bottle of water, Carol's cold washcloth, a granola bar, one of my knives, and a dose of ibuprofen and put them all within arm's length of his sitting position,
"Here's food, water, extra medication, your washcloth, and a knife. Don't you dare try and do any stupid shit while I'm gone Jim, you hear me? I'll be back in exactly half an hour, ok?"
I look everything over one last time before walking out of the RV and back over to Daryl's truck, where everyone has climbed into the cab and bed in order to ride down to the quarry. I bypass the fully truck bed and go right up to the cab, where I find Dale, Carl, and Daryl sitting,
"Scoot over, I'm coming in." I say, opening the door and waiting for Dale to move his ass over so I can squeeze in.
"Carol said ya' was staying with Jim." Daryl says, not moving an inch as Dale and Carl push up against him while I jam myself in and manage to close the door.
"Well Jim wanted some alone time, so here I am. Now go before my kidneys get permanent damage and fuse to my stomach from squishing myself in here so tight."
"Whatever ya' say, Lil' Miss." Daryl replies, putting the truck in drive and slowly making his way down to the quarry with the entire camp bouncing around in his truck.