More Carol-centric angst for you guys!

Don't hurt me, please.

I disclaim the show, the characters, etc etc...but not the angst. Never the angst!

Murmurs echoed through the corridor. Footsteps followed, slow and hesitant.

The meeting was over. Her fate decided.

Carol sighed, leaned back against the mattress in her solitary cell. She'd gone willingly, once the truth came out. She knew it was better to be open about it, and she would not regret what she did.

Desperate times, isn't that what they say?

Daryl had been distant. She expected as much. But she also expected his eyes to be watching, always watching, even from a distance as he paced back and forth trying to mull her cold and bloody act about in his brain.

He wouldn't desert her.

But that knowledge did not help ease the tight churn in her stomach as the footsteps grew steadily closer.

Rick's face was the first to appear.

Eyes flickered across her entire body, taking in her struggle to calm her nerves. She sat upright, folded her hands into her lap.

Whoever else came with him hung back, out of her sight, but she swore she recognized a boot just jutting into her view.

Keys clanked. Metal creaked.

Slammed shut.

He stood peering down at her a moment before crouching down with a heavy sigh.

She felt her skin prickle. Her head spin and gut flip.

She wouldn't regret. So why was she so-?

He stared at her for a long moment. Eyebrows bent inward, the blue of his orbs digging holes into her own. Searching, she felt, for something. An answer? Hope? Remorse?

She breathed and leaned forward a bit into what little space there was between them.

"Rick, maybe you should just say it."

His head jerked to the side just slightly. He blinked for the first time in several seconds.

Nodded to himself, reached out with one hand to brush lightly against hers, the other darting forward to her side.

She didn't move.

Didn't breathe as Rick unsnapped her knife sheath and pulled it off her hip completely.

"First, this comes with me. The rest of your weapons will stay with Daryl."

His fingers were warm as they first folded and then laced into hers. The nervous feeling increased and lessened simultaneously.

God, she hated herself.

And she didn't.

She squeezed his hand and he attempted a soothing smile.

"Tyreese doesn't believe they were already near death when you got to them. He doesn't want to believe that because he doesn't want to believe that there was nothing that could be done. Maybe there was…we…don't know that. But what we do know is that you are one of us. You're ours, Carol, and we trust you. If you say they were on the brink, then….then they were. But…."

She felt her head nod again, to herself, she figured.

To the sudden hardening of his gaze.

"You still killed in cold blood. Behind our backs. You can't make decisions like that; it leads you into the worst parts of yourself, Carol, trust me….God, trust me, I know. But you did it. And you've lost the trust of those who don't know you like we do. And for the sake of the community, we have to take precautions."

They were whispering.


The silent figure standing outside the cell door could hear them just fine.

He was a tracker, after all.

"Okay. Name them."

"No weapons for awhile. No runs. No guard duty. No medical duty. You'll be designated to Beth, to help with Judith. If she reports you handling a weapon, you'll be isolated completely. Just for awhile, Carol…just until Ty calms down. It'll help if-when this flu is beaten back. When Sasha gets better…."



If, Rick.

And if not, then what?

Fingers left hers and moved to the back of her neck, pulled it forward so he could press a kiss to her hair. Something in the act made her want to cry, push herself into his arms and spill out every apology she could think of.

But she didn't regret.

She didn't.

She felt him linger, his lips skimming the skin of her forehead a second longer than she would have expected.

When he pulled back, his eyes hesitated a moment before falling back to hers.

"You sacrifice for us, Carol. Time, energy, blood and sweat. But life, innocent life…you can't. You can't. Trust me, you don't want those ghosts haunting you."

As he stood, pulled away from her and the cold of the lonely room hit her skin in his absence, she looked up to find Daryl hovering outside the bars, eyes boring into her with a million emotions swimming out into the room. She swore she could feel them, itching under her skin.

She tore her eyes from his and followed Rick's face as he backed away to the door.

"They already are."