So after a few weeks of numbing shock I finally decided I was pretty damn insulted with the way they wrote Rick in Indifference (and mostly in this season as a whole but I'm not going to get too much into that here). There was ZERO conflict with him concerning his feelings about what Carol had done and what she meant to him in light of her actions. One season he cares and adores and wants to protect her, the next, "Here ya go honey have a car GTFO don't come back."? *insert annoyed eyeroll here*
So I decided to change that end scene up a bit and throw some legit Carick into the mix while I was at it.
Hope you guys enjoy, and always feel free to hit me up on Tumblr (shipperwolf1) if you want to discuss any of these feels with me!
I disclaim the show as always. But never the feels.
They were quiet for awhile, a tense air suffocating the space between them as they finished packing the car.
Rick watched her from the corner of his eye, took in the thin line of her mouth and the calm, determined sharpness of her eyes as she organized their finds neatly in the back.
He peered down at the jug of gasoline in his hands. Sighed and set it next to the box of clothes they'd scavenged from the surrounding homes.
"Carol, I'm going to be honest with you. Part of me doesn't want you coming back."
She froze, neck craning to look back at him as she adjusted the boxes to make more room.
Rick felt something akin to anger swell in him as she drew out slowly and straightened, and merely blinked at him in silence before tilting her head and shaking it slightly.
The anger bubbled. He tried for a moment to rationalize it, to himself before to her,
Who even are you?
I don't know anymore.
How could you have done this?
Is it a joke?
Are you messing with me?
How can you act so cold about it?
"I'm torn. I….you…you killed them. You killed Karen and David, Carol. You killed them and hid it from us and I just don't know what to think anymore."
A few feet of open air felt like miles as he heaved for breath, and he held out his hands and splayed them wide, shook his head at the way she continued to just…look at him.
Where are you?
Who are you?
"I know I killed them. But like I told you….someone had to do something, Rick."
A fist balled. He wondered absently if he wanted to punch her or himself with it.
"You—Carol, dammit….the moment you told me you did it, I felt like I was looking at a different person. I didn't think you were….capable of something like this."
Finally she moved, just enough to toss a bag of assorted painkillers into an open box without bothering to look in its direction.
"People change, Rick. You'd notice a lot of things changing if you bothered to look up from your tilling every once in awh—"
"I've got that. I've been absent from the group; I pulled away to focus on Carl. To focus on myself. Maybe I messed up. Maybe I should have come to the meetings, I got it. That doesn't change the fact that you're…you've done something that destroys trust, Carol. You killed two of our own. And you show no remorse? Let me ask you something,"
He stepped closer and she crossed her arms, avoided his eyes as he leaned into her personal space,
"If it were Lizzie or Mika, or Carl or Judith, would you have done it then?"
Immediately her wandering gaze shot into his. It narrowed, mouth falling open and something deep in the blackness of her pupils glinted before a glossy sheen fell over them completely,
There you are.
"No! I…Rick, they were dying,"
"And if Judith was dying?"
He pushed closer.
"How can you expect me to feel safe with you anymore? If it were me that was sick, or one of the kids, or Glenn or Maggie or Daryl; if you claim to have done it save the rest of us…."
She swallowed hard. He locked onto a falling tear and knew he'd thrown her into turmoil.
He saw her then, for the first time since asking her that dreaded question in the yard.
The woman he knew and cared about, the woman he trusted.
Except he didn't.
He didn't know her, he didn't trust her…
He reached out, wrapped a splayed hand around the protruding bone of her shoulder and chased her newly avoidant gaze until she relented.
"If you come back, I can't promise you'll be safe. People will need to know. Tyreese will know. And there will be consequences. They won't see it the way you do, Carol. They won't look at those graves and thank you for them."
Her lips pursed at his words. Eyes sharpened again and her brows dipped in.
"I don't expect them to. I know what I did. I regret killing them, Rick. But I don't regret trying to protect everyone. It might not make any sense but—"
The blaze of confusion and hurt in her eyes reminded him of something, a confrontation from what felt like a lifetime ago.
He exhaled into her face (and when exactly had he gotten so close?) and moved his fingers across her shoulder, coming to the back of her neck and gripping it even as she made an attempt to take a step back.
When he spoke, his voice cracked. He suddenly felt exhausted, and he was whispering as if in secret,
"I know. I look back and I do not regret one bit killin' Shane to protect myself and my family….but I hate myself for murdering my best friend. That's why I can't just leave you here. That's why you're coming back. Whatever happens next…we'll all decide on it together."
She nodded with him, slowly. He'd leaned in closer and he swore he saw her glance down at his mouth before blinking back up at his eyes.
His free hand landed on her arm. Held strong. He shook her slightly, alerting her attention, demanding she look him in the eye and hear him.
"No more rogue decisions. For any of us."
And that includes me.
His chest tightened and released when more tears slipped from the corners of her eyes, and despite the anger, the distrust, the lingering shock, he found himself pulling her against him, felt something inside him break and howl when she wrapped her arms around his waist and wept without so much as a whimper.
His thumb rubbed against a muscle along the back of her neck, and Rick found himself standing on two sides of a line with her, unsure of what to do or think or say once they got back into the car to return to what was both their home and the scene of her crime.
He sighed. Stared up at the sky and absently pressed Carol tighter against him.
"I don't know how this is going to end for you. I can't make promises and I can't stand up for you entirely. And I don't know if I can protect you from Tyreese."
She exhaled heavy into his shoulder, almost snorting.
"I don't need you to protect me, Rick. I'll face whatever consequences are coming for me."
She pushed at him gently, a request for space.
He stepped back and watched her wipe at her eyes and smile at him sadly, motioning to the car.
"We need to get back."
Hesitated as Carol turned away to slip into the passenger seat of the car.
He stood there, straddled the imaginary line in his heart and cussed under his breath before opening the driver's side door and slumping inside.
They didn't look at each other as he turned the key and pulled off the curb, didn't speak for the two hours it took to get them back to the prison.
He didn't trust her anymore, didn't know her the way he thought he did.
But he didn't need words to tell her he still cared.
And he would protect her in any way he could.