The Long Road Home

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  • The Long Road Home



    Daryl was out his pop - Will Dixon - hunting game. Sure as hell beat dealing with the drunk fool. Merle wasn't around. Cooking in the county jail he figured. He could always count on his older brother to get booked. Hell, he got roped into the crazy shit sometimes. Everything from drugs, violence, and even to belligerent drunken behavior. Merle was a shitty influence, and Daryl knew that. For all his faults, Merle always had his back though. His pop tried to steer him right, but the old man was just as broken. Ever since mom died Daryl reckoned.

    Cradling his crossbow, Daryl moved through the forest slowly, just like his pop taught him. His old man could be a complete asshole at times, but the shit he passed on was worth its weight in gold. They were at Uncle Jess's cabin. Get away from the city or something like that. Daryl liked Uncle Jess. Crude with the words but practical. World needed more practical red necks instead of the insane ones. Merle definitely belonged in that camp.

    "Been pretty quite boy." Daryl grunted as the trio kept moving, looking for a good buck to send either an arrow or some lead through. City folk never understood why hunter's hunt. It was a primal thing as it was natural. "Still bitter what I said about your brother? Ain't doing nothing good with his time, and he sure as hell ain't doing you any favors either."

    "Drop it old man," Daryl said. He was tired hearing the same shit over and over. "Goin' to scare off the game. You ain't exactly speaking quiet."

    "Why is it every time y'all come up, you Dixon's always finding something to bitch about?" Uncle Jess said as he cradled his rifle in his hands. "You know boy? Not wearing a hunter vest might get you killed one day. You hear about that PTSD soldier shooting a SEAL? Christ."

    Daryl knew about it. Pretty messed up. Some veteran who came back from deployment helped out the soldiers back here who never really came back. Daryl wanted to enlist when he was younger, but the record would qualify him to be some kitchen servant. Just the image made him scoff the idea off. PTSD or whatever it was. It beat being chased by the uniforms and taking the chemicals down every other week or so. Fortunately, Daryl kept away from the hard stuff. He let Merle, and they're friend have free rein over that shit.

    Hearing footsteps next to him, Daryl met his dad's stare. "What?"

    "You handy with that bow?"

    "Yeah. What you think I've been huntin' with? Rifle? Too much noise and too easy for my tastes. You learn to improvise after getting lost out here. Not that you'd know anything about that."

    "Damn fool for getting lost in the first place."

    Daryl was about to throw back a crude remark until he stopped in his tracks. He brought his fingers to his lips and pointed straight ahead. Quietly, he lowered himself slightly and crept forward as quickly yet cautiously as he dared. He felt the sweat from the sun roll down his forehead. He'd been out here stalking for too long to not get a single kill. The very thought of venison made him salivate. Cheapest food anyone could get - if you killed it yourself though.

    A good distance away from the buck, Daryl marveled the size. It was a big one. Methodically bringing up his bow, he centered it right where the brain would be. A click came from behind him as he rolled his eyes. He wasn't about to miss. Slowing exhaling, the arrow from his cross soared towards the buck. A smug grin cross his face as he saw the animal go limp. No matter how big anything living was, knock out the brain and the kill was guaranteed.

    "Well I'll be damned," Uncle Jess said as he followed Daryl to the deer. "We got a marksman right here! See that little brother?"

    Quickly coming upon the buck, Daryl pulled out the arrow. The dumb beast was as dead as dead could be. It wasn't getting up anytime soon. "Uncle Jess, you think we can get that trailer back over here and haul the beast out?" Daryl asked as he prospected the horns and the fur. "No need to be wastin' a thing. I can take this back into town. Fetch a decent amount."

    Uncle Jess stood above the corpse. "Yeah sure. We splittin' this thing, right?"

    "Yup. Fur's mine though."

    "Hard bargain. Come on little brother. Leave your kid out here to guard the spoils of war."

    Daryl ignored the bickering as he heard the two men start to walk away. His pop and Uncle Jess always talked about the same shit over and over.

    Standing up and looking around, Daryl's eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he saw an orange vest in the distance making its way over to him. Making sure he stood in the open, he kept his eyes trained on the stranger. Uncle Jess's words from earlier echoed in his head. That hunter over there better not mistake him for the buck. Getting shot wasn't on his daily to-do list.

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Tessa Caroway had lived an particularly ordinary life. There was nothing in her life that stuck out. But that was the way she liked it. Living out here, there were no nosy neighbors to bother her or her children. Well, technically they were not her own. But from the time they were very young, she had taken custody of them. Her sister, Sarah was a single mother...and also an Alcoholic. She couldn't put the bottle down, not for anything, not even for her own precious children. Her well fare paycheck went straight to the bottom of the bottle. So, since the children who were now nine and twelve years old, were not receiving adequate care, someone had to take them. Being close to the children she had decided to take the boys. Today, they were going out to do something she had promised them months back. Deer Hunting, and today, it had come into season. They were very excited and were practically tugging at her sleeves to get out the door.

Dressed in long sleeve camo and matching pants, she quickly went to the mirror on the wall, tying back her long, thick, rich brown hair back in a loose ponytail. Growing up, her now deceased father, had taught her how to shoot a gun. A hand gun, Rifle, shotgun...a staple of life around here. Hunting. It was how they got by around here. Cash didn't flow as easily here as it did else where, so naturally she was teaching her nephews to hunt. It was the life they would have to live around here. Even if it wasn't easy all the time, it was quiet, it was the life she wanted. It was the life she would instill in the boys she was charged with raising.

"Evan! Ian! Y'all ready to go?" she asked and as she turned around, there were two soldiers in camo much like her own. She couldn't help but smile. Having chosen not to date or marry since she had adopted the boys six years ago. They were her top priority. So going over to her bed, she picked up three orange vests, securing two of them on the two excited boys. After putting on her own, she slung the rifle locked on safety over her shoulder with the strap. Setting out, they as quietly as possible, lurked though the woods towards a excellent hunting spot she knew of. But as they made their way there, she stopped the boys and saw a rather large buck. Starting to bring her rifle around, she watched as it was hit and fell to the ground. Straight though the head, a nearly perfect shot.

She had to admit, it was impressive. But just as soon as it fell, there was a chatter. A frown came across her lips. The other hunters were being rather loud. So getting a bit closer, she was able to see his face, and in his hands, a cross bow. Blinking, her hazel eyes took in the shape of his face, his figure. He was standing in a clearing next to the buck, but he wore no hunter's vest which put him in danger. What if she mistook him for a deer? It was easy enough to make the shot. His features were distorted a bit with the narrowing of his eyes. The woman, Tessa, didn't say anything, just watched from a distance for awhile. It seemed a long while before she continued. But as they neared the hunting area, she noticed that the older of the two, Evan, was getting much too far ahead of them. Soon, she couldn't see them and was forced to break her silence.

"Evan!" she called. But she was only met with a horrified scream of the boy. Her hazel eyes widened and she rushed though the brush, dropping the rifle near by she quickly caught up with the two boys. Evan was crying loudly and held his left leg close to him. Ian stood a couple yards back, not knowing how to react. Rushing up to Evan, she pulled the child close and pried his hands away, revealing three consecutive bites. Her eyes wandered up, and she spotted in the distance a brown and black snake, evil looking eyes adorning it's scaly face. It was a cottonmouth snake, looking as angry as hell. Somehow, it had bitten though the camo pants he was wearing and now, the venom was making it's way though his system. Quickly she scooped him up and pulled him away.

They had to get to a hospital, and quick. Evan went pale and his breathing became shallow in the amount of time it took to got a half mile. Pulling the younger boy along, she didn't care just how much noise she made. She needed to get back into cell service so she could call nine-one-one. In the mean time, the young boy was sinking further and further into the effects of the venom. They were loosing him quickly and she knew it. Cottonmouths were nothing to mess with. The brunette felt so stupid! How could she have not been more careful? But now wasn't the time to think about it, they just needed to get help, and quick while her older nephew was still holding on by a thread.
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It was a woman. Daryl didn't know too many women that enjoyed the hunt. Not in these parts anyhow. He was pretty surprised. This was a spot he often frequented, and there wasn't a soul present whenever he came up here to hunt. If anything, he'd expect another drunk, gun-happy red neck that he'd have to reason with somehow. The types that Daryl was most accustomed with were the hyped up looking sickly ones or the 'bad' girls he drew at bars. He attributed all that mostly to Merle. Having to look after himself, the younger Dixon hardly had the time to go girl hunting. Survival and all that shit he figured. However, right now, he was perfectly content with returning the stare that the hunter was giving him.

It didn't take long for him to hear the rustling of the woodlands to the side and kid's voices coming through the thicket. Was the woman getting the kids accustomed to the hunter's life? If so, Daryl approved. He'd seen what became of the middle class families. They were all soft in his eyes. There was something about hunting that tapped into humanity's primal nature and made a man a man. Them city folk. He'd never understand them. The majority of the men grew fat, the women passed the time with idle gossip, and the kids agonized over scores that would determine their path for the rest of their lives. As long as he could survive, Daryl really didn't care about those things. He'd like to think he was a simple man that was thrown into shitty situations.

Daryl was inclined to go introduce himself before he heard a boy's scream. Leaving the buck, he rushed forward. It wasn't his deal, but he had a knack for helping though his outward's disposition hardly advertised that. Eyeing the snake, Daryl stole a glance towards the woman and the two kids. "What you waitin' for? Get him out of here," Daryl said as he placed another arrow into his crossbow. It was the same one he used to kill the buck. He hadn't been snake hunting for a while. "Get on!"

Stealing a glance back, the hunter and the two kids were already gone. It was a shame he didn't get a name. Stupid thought to be having with the snake present. When he was lost, he knew exactly how deadly that bite could be. He was damned lucky. The venom made him sicker than when he had the flu. Odd.

Aiming at the creature, he let loose his arrow as it skewered through the thing. Daryl was half way through removing his arrow and retrieving the snake when he heard Uncle Jess. He heard the panic. Moving back into the clearing, he saw his Uncle. White as a sheet.

"What the hell, Jess? You'll scare off the game," he said slightly annoyed. "The fuck's wrong with you?"

"Get over here boy," Uncle Jess said as he turned around and went back the way he came. "Hurry your ass up! Leave that buck."

Daryl was more scared than intrigued. Since when did Uncle Jess abandon a big haul? In fact, when was the last time Daryl saw the man shaking in his boots like he did now? Hot on the man's heels, Daryl raced after his relative as he came into a clearing. What he saw next scared him more than anything in his life up until that point, and he'd seen a lot.

"Ah, no no no! What the hell happened?" Daryl said. Running towards his dead, it looked like the old man fought a bear. He was mangled badly. Daryl noted the corpses laying about the clearing. "You kill those men? What the fuck, pop? Did ... did those fuckers bite you?"

"Put him out of his misery, boy." Daryl saw the gun extended towards him as he took it. Kill the old man? Daryl couldn't do that. Sure the old man and his mom neglectful little shits, but they were still family. Aiming it at the old man, Daryl's hand trembled. The piece in his hand grew heavy as his arm fell to his side. "Can't do it..."

Uncle Jess took the firearm as he shook his head. That was when Daryl saw the bite mark. "Goddammit boy," Uncle Jess said as he aimed it at Daryl's dad. "Sorry brother."

Daryl jumped at the gun shot. For once in his life, he wished he had a moment longer with the old man.


A day had passed since the hunting trip. Daryl sat in the police station. Uncle Jess told him not to, but he had to report what had happened. The first few hours, the police hadn't believed him. They didn't have anything on him, but they kept him there just in case. They'd found the body, and the mortician's findings supported his findings. For his 'protection', however, the uniforms kept him where they could see him. A good time later, they said he could leave. They'd look into matters they said. Daryl doubted that. Uniforms didn't care if some hick was eaten by junkies. Probably did them a favor.

Walking out onto the streets, Daryl looked around. It was the first time he noticed the apprehension permeating off the other folk. There was even a hell of a lot of sirens blaring through the normally quite town.

"Christ," he said as he began to walk down the sidewalk. He walked towards his truck. His crossbow was still resting in the backseat. He didn't bother removing it. Taking out his keys, he was about to unlock the car when he saw someone shambling down the street. It looked like the man started the drinking games early. The man walked with a limp, which Daryl would've normally ignored. However, what stopped him was all the blood, and the man's open chest.

"Hey buddy," Daryl said as he slowly circled the man. "You alright? Christ, of course you aren't. Station's right around the corner. You need help?" Daryl quickly dodged to his left when the man lunged at him. "Hey asshole! Lunge at me again, and I'll sit your ass down. You hear?"

As the man lunged again, Daryl was about to push him over when a gunshot rang out. Daryl ducked as more bullets jerked the man about. When a hole appeared in his attacker's head, the man dropped down and didn't move no longer. Daryl looked up and saw an officer. "The fuck officer?"

"Step away from the body!" ordered the uniform as Daryl complied. "You bit, boy?"

"I ain't your boy, officer," Daryl said. "Do I look bit to you?"

The officer walked towards him as kicked the body before stepping back. "Haven't you been watching the news?"

"I was at the station reporting a crime."

The officer rose and eyebrow. "Drive out on the highway. They're signs along the rode. There's an evacuation going on."

"No shit?"

The officer shook his head. "No shit," he said. "Now get going boy."

Daryl was about to give the uniform more lip but more spectators were slowly limping their way towards him. They all looked like the man the officer had just shot. The kicker? The one's in the clearing that mutilated the old man looked just like them as well. Whatever was going on, it was big.

Not keen on sticking around, Daryl moved to his truck as he got in. He offered the uniform a ride, but the man declined. Shrugging, he drove around the walkers as he made it to the street. Daryl didn't know what the hell was going on, but he sure as hell knew he had to get the hell out of dodge. If drugs were responsible, he swore he wouldn't touch a single needle again. Not after everything that had happened.​
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The stranger had rushed to their aid, snapping her out of the sort of shock she had been in. Mostly, she had thought to herself how stupid she felt for not thinking of the snakes. Those Damn snakes! Of course there were snakes, she had been taught about nearly every inch of these woods. Now her mistake may very well cost her nephew his life. She and Ian made a lot of noise as they struggled though the brush, but she also had the weight of Evan in her arms so moving too quickly was out of the picture. However, she made for the edge of the woods as quickly as she possibly could. Finally, as she reached it's edge, she carefully laid the bitten young man on his side and reached for her cell phone. It was a prepaid, cheap phone she only used to make occasional calls to child services and her consistently drunken sister to check in on her. But now, she dialed nine-one-one. However, the curious thing was, nobody was picking up on the other end of the line. No matter how many more frantic calls she tried to make, no one picked up and she felt like she was wasting time.

"Damn fools just piddlin' around, wastin' my time! Let's get moving Ian, get to my truck!" she said, leaning over and picking up the ailing boy again. He was only getting worse, and had vomited all over the pavement in the time it took her to make the calls to the non-existent help on the other end. Rushing towards her beat up, faded, worn truck that had once been her fathers. And probably someone else's before hand. Quickly, she laid him out on the seat, propped up against her as she drove. The younger brother looked horrified, having no idea just how severe a situation they were in. Maneuvering the dirt roads back into town, she glanced frantically from one side of the road to the other. Looking for the hospital. Typically she didn't come into town so just where everything was, was foreign to her. Finally, spotting a building that was labeled a hospital, she screeched to a halt next to the curb and scurried to once again pick up her slowly dying nephew.

Pushing though the doors of the establishment she cried out, her heart racing.

"Help! I need some help!" she called. But doctors and nurses were already rushing around, ignoring her cries. Patients were over spilling into the hallways. Pulling Ian along, she made her way down and forced a nurse to stop.

"I said, I will be needin' some help! My Nephew was bit by a Cottonmouth snake!"

The woman was wide eyed, and Tessa glanced down to notice a bite mark on the young woman's arm, like a patient had bitten her. It had taken her off guard, her next thoughts spilled out of her mouth.

"What in the hell is going on here?!" she asked, glancing around at the patients in the hall ways, then looking back to her.

"If I was you I would skedaddle! There is in outbreak of somethin' here!" she said frantically. But the hazel eyed woman wouldn't take no for an answer.

"NO!" she reached out and shoved her nephew into his arms. In a demanding tone, she continued. "Do somethin'! Save him!"

With that the nurse nodded and rushed off with the boy. But as the time passed, it seemed that things only escalated. The noise level in the hospital was becoming unbearable. And as hours passed she went to check in on her nephew, the brown haired woman went in the direction the nurse had. Then, at the beginning of the next hall she wandered down, she saw a small figure underneath a sheet and she tore it back. Laying, deceased on the hospital floor, was Evan. She screamed and dropped to her knee's, tears welling up in her eyes. But just as she reached out to touch him, his eyes opened again, but they were dead looking, his skin paler than death. A groaning sound fell off his lips and the boy lunged at her, biting at her, trying to snap at her skin. Scratch her. Pushing him off she backed up and s she did, she ran into a man with a hole though his stomach, walking, looking much like her dead nephew.

Soon, they were coming down the hallways in hordes. Some had even stopped and were tearing the flesh from the bones of the living. It was a truly gruesome sight. Tugging her surviving nephew along, she made it out into the streets. However, the situation out here was not any better. Making a b-line for her truck, she jumped in. After making sure that her responsibility was secure, she slammed her foot on the gas peddle, to get away from here. Her mind was racing. What in the blazes was happening? Whatever this wasn't good, and it didn't seem localized. It made her wonder just how far this spread. However far, she needed to get there. She needed to get him safe. However, as she drove, she didn't notice the bite mark on the remaining little boy's arm.
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Taking the roads was the worst decision he could've possibly made. Daryl was stuck in traffic as he leaned back in his seat. He wasn't even looking to evacuate like all the other sheep. He had to go check on Uncle Jess. Old fool done gone got himself bit. For once, Daryl actually listened to the radio. The signal was shaky at best. Something about some virus - some infection - was sweeping the nation by storm. The military was deployed and everything. Why it sounded like the same old garbage. Daryl was close to dismissing it too. Close to. If it weren't for the National Guard driving about with their humvees and gas masks on and shit, the shit on the radio sounded like a big prank. The Dixon wanted to think that. However, he knew well enough that those walkers he saw earlier - the cop shooting that corpse dead - was no hoax.

"Come the fuck on!" Daryl yelled as he slammed his fist against the stirring wheel. He never realized how annoying car horns could be until today. It was the new hip song it seemed. Honk, honk, and add another honk into the mix. Hell, he'd prefer that pop garbage over this. "For the love of Christ! Sure, clog the highway, but the inroads? Fuck!"

Daryl was about to try and sneak his truck out when something hit his window. The native Georgian jumped as his heart rate shot through the roof. "Fuck!" he said as he looked to his right. Daryl was about to tell the stranger off until he saw the woman's face. Only it wasn't a human face staring back at him. In the distance, gunshots rang out as several figures ran past. Looking back at the woman, he flipped her the bird and reached back to grab his crossbow and bag. "Bitch."

Grabbing the handle to the door, Daryl kicked out as the walker toppled over. Dashing out of his truck, Daryl looked around. He froze. Just a few blocks ahead, he saw an orgy of death, cannibalism, and people feeding on people. "Holy hell ..." Daryl forget where he was for a moment as something tugged at his pants. Looking down, he kicked the woman's head with his foot, but she wouldn't let go. The blow didn't even seem to faze the crazy. Pulling out his knife, he brandished it. "Let go!" He kicked out again, and the thing kept its grip strong. Fighting against his decision, Daryl plunged his knife through the woman's head. The grip fell limp. He looked at the corpse as he swept his free hand through his hair. "Ah fuck. Fuck!"

Stumbling back, Daryl made his way off the streets. The whole entire town went to complete hell. He saw military folks shooting those walkers while people stampeded across each other. It was kind of comical in a dark way. Running towards the direction of the woods, Daryl had to get out of this place. This was why he avoided the cities like the plague. All hell always took place in the cities.

Already a good ways away from his truck, Daryl saw a convenience store as people rushed in and out carrying goods. Rolling his eyes, it was wrong, but tough shit.

Pushing people out of the way, Daryl fought the mayhem inside as he heard himself cussing people out and fighting for whatever canned goods and beverages he could fit into his bag. The shit was heavy, but he knew he'd be thankful for all this stuff later. When he was full up, he made for the door.

Free from the hysterical people, Daryl spat on the sidewalk as he continued to make his way out of the city limits. He'd never step foot in a death trap like this again. It was time to get back to the woods and hunker down. It was going to be a long night.​
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Since she was able to understand a lick of what her Papa spoke about on a day to day basis, she had been taught the in's and outs of this town. Born and raised here, outside the city limits, Tessa had never been a city girl. She knew these woods like the back of her hand. So instead of fleeing with the crowd, she had taken a rough and rarely used path the back woods had to offer. The woman hoped that none of the infected people she had seen would come meandering down this path. It would be her only saving grace right now. Groaning and growling at her, she slowly ushered her old truck over the rocky path towards the small house they had called home for so many years. For so many generations. As they went over a particularly rough bump, Ian yelped and she nearly jumped out of her skin. Looking over she saw the little blonde boy holding his arm and hiding it.

"What's wrong baby?" she asked and reached over, but he pulled away and sniffled. A frown fell on her pretty lips, her tone rising a bit. "Ian, quit you fussin' and you show me what ever it is that is makin' ya make so much noise. "

Ever so slowly, the little boy moved his trembling hand to reveal a minor bite mark on his arm. It wasn't that deep but it was clear that an infection of some sort was settling in the blonde boy's blood. Her hazel eyes widened and she choked a bit. Eyes still on his wound, she wasn't paying attention. It was all so much at once. Her memory went back to about an hour ago when she saw he infected, deceased nephew rise from the dead and try and take a bite out of her. He couldn't help but think that her younger nephew would have the same fate befall him. What in the hell was happening out there? She was snapped from her thoughts as she went over a huge bump and an equally as huge and rather sharp rock met the bottom of her truck, piercing the gas tank.

It was about about a quarter mile from the house the pierced tank was completely drained of gas, and stuck in a rather hard to get at spot. Worry had completely seized her being, and for now, decided that she just needed to get home and ride this out. For as long as possible, and hope that Ian took a turn for the better as opposed for the worse. The bite wasn't even that bad, or severe. It gave her hope, he would be just fine.

As they got back to the house, she was relieved to find it untouched. Just as they had left it yesterday afternoon. Sliding her key into the lock, she pulled Ian inside who in the quarter mile journey had only gotten worse. He had a very bad fever, and was sweating bullets. Laying him down she gave him some fever reducer and some antibiotics for the infection that seemed to have taken hold. Sitting on the side of his bed, she ran her fingers though his hair until he dozed off. After he did, she wrapped his bite and went around to the windows and doors, locking them. She had to make sure they would be safe here until this passed. Hopefully it would.

Going into her room, she stripped down and re-dressed into some jeans, worn in hiking boots, and a tank top. Leaving her hair pulled back. Making her way to the kitchen she saw the stocked cupboards and relaxed. With this and the food in storage, they would be just fine if the food was rationed properly. Tessa fell back into wooden kitchen chair and breathed a sigh, just trying to relax even more. Despite being exhausted, she didn't feel like she would be able to sleep soundly for a very long time.
The crazies - the walkers - were largely confined to the city. Fatigue set in a while back, but Daryl couldn't stop walking. When he was lost, things were way worse than this. This time, he had water, he wasn't starving, and he had the means to survive this time. No more using that poison oak bark as toilet paper. Daryl remembered the lesson well. He wasn't about to do that again. Already in the thick of the woods, Daryl wasn't sure where he was going. He knew the approximate direction - sure - but how far away he was? It was all a game of guessing from here on out. Things were too hot for him to take the actual roads leading to Uncle Jess's house.

There was something else on Daryl's mind. Where the hell was Merle? He knew the answer to that question, but where was his older brother? Did the uniforms down at the jail the next town over still have him or had he managed to slip out? The old dog probably slipped out. Merle's past hadn't exactly screamed model Boy Scout. When Daryl was young, his older brother was out at prison from possession and other things. Forced to survive by any means on his own, Daryl was thankful yet pretty damn pissed. The whole entire Dixon family were a bunch of fuck-ups. Himself included. Wasn't any point crying over spilled milk though. All he knew was that he needed to find Merle. While he was better off without his family, the concept of family - having someone having one's back - was a powerful feeling.

It wasn't too much longer when the thick forest opened up to a clearing. Daryl emerged from the forest line as he looked around. No walkers shambling around was always a good sign. Seeing a house in the distance, Daryl swore quietly to himself as he walked up to the rustic, well-kept place. The only folks who lived out here were ones who knew how to use guns. Folks who're happy with the trigger. If the owner was still around, Daryl didn't plan to stick around.

Finding a stump, Daryl sat his tired body down. His green vest was drenched in sweat while his pants were marred from crossing the forest. He bet there was a tick on him somewhere. The damn critters. He hated how they slowly shimmed their way up to get to sweet spot of blood. One of his 'friends' got Lyme disease a ways back. Wasn't anything pretty.

Taking out a bottle of water, Daryl sipped on it carefully. Fighting the urge to dump some of the water on him, he had to conserve the stuff. Unlike food, he couldn't survive long without water. Sure, filtering the nearby creek was an option, but with those things walking about? Simply boiling the stuff didn't sound like it'd work. Whatever. Daryl would cross that bridge when he had to.

Putting the bottle of water away, Daryl made ready to get moving until he heard a twig behind him snap. The hunter moved out just in time to dodge a walker. The damn thing almost got him! Taking out his knife, he slid the knife through the person's head. The walker looked like it'd been dead for a few months. Did this virus or whatever date back that far? It seemed pretty recent, but Daryl didn't know. He didn't spend his time watching the news.

"Ah hell!" he said as a dozen or so of the walkers came into the clearing. The monsters finally started drifting away from the town, huh? Fuck. Loading his crossbow, Daryl aimed and let an arrow loose as he fell a walker. Constantly moving, Daryl ended up using the bow was a bludgeoning tool as he moved to retrieve his arrow then start to slowly retreat away. There wasn't a single moment of hesitation to pull the trigger. This was self-defense. If the cop shot these people, surely he could too.​
The hazel eyed huntress wondered just how long this safe haven, would remain safe. Getting up from her seat, reluctantly, she would glance out the windows. Those things, whatever they were, were starting to wander in from the city. She would have to keep an eye on things and hope that this situation wouldn't get too out of hand. The infected, as she would call them for now, hopefully would remain for the most part, contained in the cities. But she had never really been brought up to believe in the word of a politician of any sort. The only thing she could put her trust behind was her own rifle, her own ability to protect what was hers. That was what she had been raised to believe anyways. The two most important things were family and the possessions that would help sustain your loved ones.

Leaving the kitchen, she went into the basement, the stairs creaking with each step as weight was put onto them. In the confines of the basement, she kept her guns and other hunting supplies locked up in a safe, away from the boys. Tessa was a firm believer in teaching them when they were young. It expelled their later curiosity with the guns, so they would have no interest in trying to break into the safe and mess around with the dangerous weapons. Walking over to it, she pulled her car keys that had so hastily been shoved into her back pocket out. Shuffling though the different keys, she found the one for the safe and pushed it into the lock. It unlocked with a turn and a click. Opening up, it revealed five boxes of ammunition for every type of gun stashed away in the safe. Grabbing her favorite hunting rifle, shot gun, and hand gun, she took them, and the ammunition upstairs. Making a second trip to retrieve the supplies she would need to clean them and get them ready for a moments notice.

Sitting at the kitchen table, she prepared each of the weapons. First the rifle, then the handgun and lastly, the shot gun. As she finished, she set them on the kitchen table, all on safety before starting to dig though the cupboards. Pulling out some canned carrots and canned chicken, she went to turn on the propane stove. However, the ignition wasn't working. So turning the propane on low, she located a book of matches. Breaking one off and striking it, it lit up brightly. Leaning in she carefully lit the propane stove, the gas catching the flames wonderfully. Pulling out a pan, she heated up the food, two decent sized portions and spooned them off onto two different plates.

Taking one of the plates back to Ian's room, she saw he was awake and sat on the side of his bed.

"Ian, Ya need to eat somethin' baby..." she said. But he didn't move. The little boy's breathing was getting heavier and his fever worse. The infection was spreading though his small body. She swallowed back the tears. the woman needed to remain firm and strong. But no matter what she did, he refused to eat. So instead she gave him move fever medication and a cold cloth for his burning up forehead before returning to the kitchen. Setting the plate on the table next to her own, she decided to check out the window once more before settling in to eat her own meal. However, this time, she was met with the much different sight. Outside, there was about a dozen or so infected and one man was fighting them off. He seemed to be doing alright, but if he was anyone worth saving, a slip up couldn't be allowed. Grabbing her rifle off the table, she went over to the door an undid both the dead bolts. Throwing open the doors, she pulled up the weapon and looked though the sights. Getting one in her sights she fired and the metal went straight though it's head. The infected dropped the the ground, dropping several more, careful to not shoot the man. Once they were down, she turned the gun on the man.

"Who the hell are you?" she asked, standing firm, unwavering, the gun aimed straight at the man's head. It was then she recognized the man from earlier, when she took the boys out to hunt. "It's you. You was the one who took down that Buck the other day. Why's your ass on my property? If you ain't bit, You got one minute to explain yourself or you will find you self like those damn infected. "

It was clear she was tense and very defensive of whatever lay inside of her house. Tessa was about five foot eight and was lean but not a total string bean like those other girls from town. All evidence pointed to her being able to take care of herself. It was also clear this was not the first time she had, held a gun.

"Well, speak up! I'm a waitin'!" she said, her finger on the trigger.
When the walkers began to die out, Daryl nearly jumped right out of his skin when he heard a shot from what he supposed was a rifle. Stealing a look behind him, Daryl was caught by surprise. That didn't happen often. It was that fine lady hunter from yesterday. No way he could've forgotten a face like that. The rifle's muzzle pointed away from him, Daryl went back to killing whatever the hell these creatures were. They were the priority for right now. Priming his crossbow once again, Daryl fired his arrow into a nearby walker. He repeated his cycle. Shoot, bash the walker in the head, retrieve, and back away. No way he was about to let one of those mouths take a chomp out of him.

Stabbing his knife through another walker's skull, Daryl looked around. All them walkers were all dead from what he could see. Getting up, Daryl heard another click from behind him as he turned around very slowly. Eyeing the woman, Daryl had a feelin' this wasn't her first time handling one of those. She was a hunter for Christ sake. When he first stumbled upon this place, Daryl imagined a fat, dumb redneck. Did the woman live out here by herself? Shame he didn't stumble upon her abode by accident and introduce himself. The Dixon liked to believe he was as much of a gentleman as he was a 'bad boy'. Titles. labels? He hated them all. In his eyes, he was just Daryl. Poor ole' country boy mixing with dead beat assholes.

Daryl read the woman's posture. He knew she meant what she said. Daryl could also tell that she did things herself. The body could tell folks so many things. One just had to look.

Lowering his crossbow, Daryl stood up straight. If she was going to shoot him, he'd day standing like a man. Not some coward fearing death. No room for the weak. only the wicked persisted in his world. He was one of them.

"Didn't mean to trespass!" Daryl said. He took one slow step forward. "I've been hiking through the woods from the city. Whole place gone to hell. One of these biters took my pop. Ate him like rabid fuckin' dogs." Coming to stop about a dozen feet away from what he considered a true southern belle, Daryl turned his whole body to her. No tricks, no nothing. If she wanted to shoot him, she most certainly could. "I stopped just to take a sip. Catch my breath. I wasn't goin' to break in or nothin'. Name's Daryl. Daryl Dixon. I saw you yesterday too. How's your boy doing? Cottonmouth's got a nasty bite."

Taking a look around, Daryl could hear something coming from the woods. Something that wasn't entirely human. Something that made his hairs stand on end. "Look. You wanna pull that trigger. Go right ahead. If not, I gotta go. I gotta find my brother. My uncle. Those things are comin'. Just listen," Daryl said as the moans got louder. "Ah hell. You're free to come with me. Your kids too. I ain't forcin' ya, but you gotta make a decision fast."

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Her hawk eyes never left the man standing in front of her. She noted that he carried a crossbow though. Must have been his weapon of choice. The southern bell could feel his eyes all over her. It was clear he was trying to get his bearings for the woman standing in front of him. Trying to see if she was dangerous or just another redneck willing to shoot at anything that moved. Tessa was as southern as a woman could come without being a complete out of wack hillbilly. She had her manners, but, if the occasion called for it, she wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Get the job done. Whether it be gutting a fish or field dressing a kill. Digging in the dirt and mud, or doing minor fix ups on her old truck. Her daddy had made sure she was prepared when it came to living outside the city limits with very limited income coming in. Sure, she had her weaknesses, everyone did, but she didn't let anyone see hers. The last thing she wanted to be seen as was vulnerable and weak.

Listening her her words, she continued, unwavering. Trusting people was one of her weak points. Too many people in her life had shown her that the only people she could trust were herself and her Papa. As he spoke about the whole city being torn to bite sized pieces by the monsters, she could believe that. But only because she had seen it for herself. Only because she had nearly been trapped in a hospital with a whole slew of the infected. Just one trip up and she would have ended up like those bitten men and women, tearing into his Papa like a pack of wild mutts. However, she tensed more, standing her ground as he continued closer, her finger itching to pull the trigger. But finally, he stopped about twelve feet from her front porch. Getting a closer look at him, she could see that he was a typical southern boy. Not a farmer of any sort, but his body held a defined figure. He wasn't weak, that was for damn sure.

As words continued to spill from his lips, he explained he had been hiking though the woods and had just stopped to get a drink and take a rest. But after asking about her biter nephew and stating his name was Daryl, Daryl Dixon, he made it clear that he wanted to get going. There were people he needed to find. Namely his brother and uncle. He also said that she and her nephews were free to come with him. As he finished speaking, she didn't let down her guard, words trickled out of her pretty lips.

"Ya'll is a fool if you take off into those woods. Your as good as a one of them infected. And if one of them don't catch you, somethin' will. My Papa hunted these woods for fifty years and they still gots the better of him one day. I know every inch of these woods 'round 'ere. Trust me, you don't want to go takin' off in them with infected at your tail pockets Mr. Dixon. Not by yourself..." she said and lowered the rile. "They ain't my sons. I was rasin' them for their no good mama. The one who got bit yesterday, died cause the damn hospital was overrun with bitten and dead. He raised up like one of them. I ain't bit but the other boy is. He ain't in no condition to travel. Because it would be mighty stupid to travel by yourself, come inside. I will gather some supplies, you can help yourself to dinner on the table. Ain't fancy, but it's food that ought not to be wasted. Maybe by mornin' we will see how my nephew is fares, and perhaps enough of those infected will be passed though here to make it safer to go rootin' around for your uncle and brother. " she pulled the gun back up to put it on safety.

"But let me make it clear Mr. Dixon...yous try anything remotely funny, I ain't afraid to have a little blood on my hands and walls. I'm sure a country man likes yourself understands. If y'all do...make yourself at home. My name is Tessa, Tessa Caroway."
Daryl smirked as the woman mentioned about getting lost in the woods. These woods? He might have gotten a bit lost getting from the city to here, but he knew these woods as well. Uncle Jess always brought him out to explore while his good for nothing pa - he missed the bastard already - sat in and drank to his heart's content. Like it or not, Daryl preferred to be alone. He was more cognizant of things, and the distractions were far less. However, that was before the dead started coming back to life. The walkers. What the hell were the damn demons anyway? Gunshots didn't kill them unless it was a bulls eye in the head. Though it went against every survival instinct he had, Daryl was intrigued by the woman. He finally ran into someone 'normal'. To him anyway. Those city folk wouldn't understand the beauty of an outdoors woman. Pretty one at that.

"Sorry 'bout your nephew," he said as he moved towards the house. He kept his crossbow pointed down. While the woman put the rifle on safety, he didn't want to give the woman - Tessa - an excuse to change her mind on her hospitality. Ascending the steps, he looked back towards thew woods. God knows how many of them walkers were out there. He refocused his attention back on the woman. "I ain't lookin' to give you trouble unless you start something. Thanks for your hospitality Tessa. Come on then. Inside."

While he didn't exactly receive permission, Daryl led the two into Tessa's home as he looked around. It looked pretty neat even the exterior was quite rustic. Definitely had a woman's touch even though Tessa was as hard as nails. How hard? He'd have to see. Coming to sit by at the dining table, Daryl placed his crossbow on a nearby seat. He looked at his hands. There was blood on them. Getting up, he went towards the kitchen and washed them. He didn't want no walker's blood flowing through his system. Sounded like bad news to him, and he didn't want to end up like them. Hell, if he didn't watch the silly TV, zombies would've been a thing of novelty to him. Inspecting his hands and satisfied, he went back to the table and took a biscuit and dug in. He hadn't eaten since last night. Too scared - grieving - too be able to hold anything down.

Looking up at Tessa, he motioned towards the seat. "If I didn't know any better, I thought you'd have shot me when you walked out. Thanks for not. I know how folks out here are. Shooting trespassers. Wasn't my intention to loiter to long on your property," he said. "I may not be a doctor, but I know a thing or two 'bout first aid. You want me to check on your nephew? Makes you feel better, you can watch me with that rifle of yours pointed at my back."

Taking another biscuit, Daryl bit into it. After he finished, he crossed his arms and looked at Tessa with a hint of amusement. "Now, I'm not the one to complain 'bout stuff like this, but what's a pretty lady like yourself doin' out here? When I first stumbled upon this house, I thought for sure it was goin' to be some crazed redneck. I was prepared for a firefight - much as I'd hate that to happen," he said. "What I said out there still stands though. You and your kid wanna tag along with me, you're welcome. You can handle yourself. Sure as hell think your boy can keep up after he gets better. Last thing I want is dead weight, you hear? I get the feelin' you ain't dead weight though are you Ms. Caroway?"

Hearing moans in the distance, Daryl got to his feet and looked out the window. Nothing there yet. "If we ain't leaving till tomorrow, we might as well board this place up while it's still light. Ain't that many of them out there yet. Wouldn't bet that'll continue though. Got some stragglers coming up already," he said. "Why don't we do that then go check on your nephew?"​
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The way that this man wore a smirk, was nothing short of a country man's way. Having spent most her life out here, she liked to think she was good at reading the faces she saw every day. The faces of fellow backwoods neighbors. And to her...they seemed much different. Different from the high and mighty city folk. Or at least they liked to think of themselves that way. Up in their fancy houses and buildings, they were certainly a sheltered bunch. Sheltered with their green dollar bills and expensive silks and linens, their marble and gemstones. It kept their minds away from the daily grind country folk worried about on a daily basis. They seemed to look down on them from their concrete pedestals. But they didn't have a clue how to get by when a grocery store didn't supply the food to fill their bellies. The woods, the wilderness, would be foreign to them and they would regret burying themselves in the sheltered life of a city slicker.

In the city, there would always be some shelter, some charity to give to those who lived in it's streets. But that was gone now, and the forest was a whole different animal to come to understand. The outdoors was unforgiving. It offered the same food and shelter the city did, but in ways much harder to obtain. Only those with a trained eye for mother natures treasures, would be able to find them. In a way, it was a poetic justice. Now she had the advantage and they would look to her for the same privilege they once had. But they would never be able to find it. Not with the world as it was becoming. Nobody would be anybody special, not really. But it didn't really matter to her because nobody was to begin with. In her mind, everybody had people they deemed special. Family, friends, other such loved ones. say one human was more important than another was foolish. They were made of all the same. Flesh, blood, internal organs...and they would all one day be buried six feet under.

But for a backwoods woman like herself, who had been taught by her papa to lend a hand when the one reaching deserved it, she thought that this man did. It was the first time she had caught him on her land. Never had she been bothered by him before and he seemed apologetic for his intrusion. So it would be awful rude of her to not offer any of the hospitality the south was famous for. So as he finished speaking and ushered her in, she followed him to their humble little kitchen. However, she stopped in the door frame, leaning against it. It protested with a creek, but she ignored it for now, watching him set the cross bow down and inspecting the blood dried on his hands. Going over to the sink, he washed them clean before taking a seat in one of the old wooden but sturdy chairs. He ushered her over, to take a seat, but she was unsure.

In her life, not many people had given her a reason to trust them, and to it close to a perfect stranger was unlike her. Yet...this situation was unlike most others. Any other situation if she was to be honest with herself. So she made her way over, sitting herself across from him at the far end of the table. It remained to be seen as to whether she could trust him or not. And if he wanted her trust, it wouldn't be easy to earn. But once he did have it, he could or would never ever need to question her loyalty. It was the kind of person she had always been and would always be.

Pulling the plate in the middle of the table towards her, she picked at it's contents of canned chicken and carrots as he spoke. When he finished speaking, her plate was nearly emfksngnpty, but her belly was full. Standing up, she pushed the plate away from herself and parted her lips to speak.

"This here land was where I was born and raised. It was also where ma papa was born and raised, and his papa before him...eight generations of Caroway's were born and bred on this land. It's ma home. Ma Papa taught me these woods and how to survive out here...that is why I'mma out here. I would never leave it. It woulda been ma own children's land too had I had little ones. Perhaps even ma are right. I shoulda shot your sorry ass out in front of ma house. But, my papa taught me that the three things in this world that matter the most. The ones who you love the most...the ones who you consider blood, family. The things ya need to takes care of them. Food, water, shelter, land. The third is teachin' them those things they need to survive and in turn take care of those they care about..." She turned and looked out the window, hearing the same moaning that the man must have as well. They were beginning to wander in, more and more of them. Hardly stragglers. Tensing up, she bit her lip and sighed.

" papa also taught me to lend a hand to those who be deservin'. I have no issues with ya now, so you are as deservin as one can get now a days in ma eyes. However, had you been a city slicker, I woulda' saved ma bullets and let the walkers or whatever it is we be callin' them have their for boardin' up the house, I don't think it's right to be goin' out there when it's dark and we won't finish before night be fallin' around comes faster than you think. But ya probably know that. I don't take you for a fool...but...we should check in on my nephew..." she said and started to walk past him. Going down a short hallway, they ended up in a small room with a young boy laying on the bed. His breathing was shallow, skin pale but fiery to the touch. His fever out of control. It was clear, with the hazing over of the eyes, the young man with a deep human like bite mark buried in his arm, wouldn't make it through the night. Again, staying in the door frame, she tensed up even more, forcing back tears in a way he wouldn't notice.

"He was bit last night at the hospital..." she said, now beginning to realize that he nephew would turn into what they were trying to keep out. The dead and the dying, the bit, were ending up mindless consumers of flesh. It was all to easy to spread. "But it's pretty clear now...more clear than a couple hours ago..that he won't make it....He'll end up like his brother at this rate..."

Six years of her life she had spent with these boys, rasin' them. But it was disappearing before her eyes.
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Daryl laughed, which sounded more like a brief scoff. "Straight-up country born woman. I can respect that. Glad you didn't shoot me though. It'd be a shame to take someone like you down with me. Unlike the city-slackers down that way and the good for nothin' moonshin' drunks in these woods, I go down kickin'. If you catch my drift? I don't go lookin' for trouble though. I got my brother to for all that," Daryl said. Hearing the moans from earlier intensify, he ruffled his hair. "If this thing don't die down, you got your old man to thank. I'm pretty sure those pencil pushers and lawyers ain't got the skills to survive somethin' like this. Hope the government's handin' it out to these things. Somethin' ain't right. Doper on drugs. I can believe that. Dead walkin'? Fictitious bullshit."

Nodding to Tessa's comment on boarding up the house, the Dixon still felt they shoulda at least barricade the door. However, if they were just quiet, those things should right on pass. They make it into the house though ... Daryl didn't like the idea about being cornered. That certainly did not sit well with him. Getting up and following Tessa to where her nephew, Daryl swore under his breath when he saw the poor kid. The boy looked whiter than the sheets he slept in. His eyes were the worst part. Daryl didn't claim to be a scholar or any of that shit, but the kid looked like he had cataract. Developing it in less than a day though? Even Daryl knew that was next to impossible. It don't work like that he thought to himself.

Reaching over, he felt the kid's forehead and frowned even more than he was moments ago. "Not trying to sound like a prick, but ..." Daryl searched for the right words before looking back at the kid. He wondered if the kid could hear them. He was staring at the ceiling, but made no motion to acknowledge that the two adults were there. For once in a very long time, Daryl was scared. "I've hunted since I was a boy. Came across wounded animals hunter's weren't kind enough to put out of its misery. Your boy looks like he's sufferin' more than he's tryin' to fight the good fight." Pulling out his knife, Daryl kept it to his side as he rested a hand on Tessa's shoulder. "Don't wait till he turns. You already know what happens. You don't have to do it. If you want, I'll make it quick."

Staring back at the boy, Daryl really didn't want to end the kid's life. It didn't sit right with him at all. He'd done pretty shitty things in his life, but never did he ever hurt a kid. Let alone release them from this life. That was a boundary that he didn't share with his old man. However, if the little one did turn, he'd be more of a problem down the road. Daryl didn't want to say that part. The country boy was worried that the belle would try to shoot him with that rifle of hers. Not that he could blame her. If anyone were to do that to his brother, he'd do the same. Merle - as twisted as he was - always had his back. Even if big bro did abandon him while doing time.

"Tessa?" Daryl prodded yet again. "What do you wanna do? We can wait till he turns, if you want. Be a bit more dangerous, but we can do that."​
Tessa caught his drift. She knew exactly what he meant and she didn't blame him at all for it. They were alike in that respect. There was no way she was going to sit still and let them infected sink their rotting teeth into her flesh. Even more than that, she wasn't going to let another live person take her out. Not without serious consequences and repercussions on their part. But as he continued, she became a bit wary. If they were going to leave this place at some point and go looking for his brother, the brother that seemed to stir up trouble no matter where he went, then she had some issues with that. If this did continue, he was right, she did owe her Papa more gratitude than humanly possible. But if they found the trouble maker, she didn't intend to let him drag her into a situation where she would end up as one of the walkers stumblin' about her property. The brunette country woman had come though a ton of rough shit in her days and she swore to herself that this wouldn't be how the world took her out. As long as she still had the fight in her, Tessa Caroway would just keep on kickin', punchin', and screamin' away till every inch of life was drawn from her body.

The man had also spoke about the government coming to eliminate their problem with the infected. However, she wasn't about wait around for some corrupt government man to come to her rescue. They had never done her any favors and she didn't want to owe them anything. Tessa may have been stubborn, but she wasn't stupid. Owing the government favors was never a thing of beauty. They took advantage of their supposed authority at every turn and she wanted no part of that poison. But moving into the back of the house, she clearly heard the obscenities pass his lips as he laid eyes on her dying nephew. To be honest, it didn't make her feel any better, but there was hardly a thing that would in this moment. The scene was horrific. This wasn't the first time she had seen somebody dying. Tessa's hazel eyes had beheld her Papa's accident deep in the forest.

Shaking her head, she pushed the bloody memory away for now, she had this to deal with. Clouding her mind with memories of the past wasn't going to help her in this situation. Her eyes traced his movements as the man named Daryl had reached out and felt the pale boy's forehead. Her jaw clenched as he pulled his hand back and spoke. Letting the hard reality of the situation hit her like a diesel truck barrelin' down the freeway. No matter how it was put, no matter how eloquent or ineloquent it was said, Daryl was right. She couldn't let him turn, so she shook her head at his last comment. Tensing up a bit at his hand on her shoulder.

"He is ma Nephew. I got him in this situation, I need to be the one to end his sufferin'...." she said. Slowly she turned and walked back towards the kitchen. Seeing the Revolver laying on the table, she picked it up. She stared at it for several long moments and then took a few more to pull herself together. At the very least enough to get the job done. Walking back to the room, she went over to the boy hanging on by thread, a very thin and fraying thread, and took the pillow out from underneath his head. Pressing it to his head and face, she swallowed a lump in her throat. It would be her first time killing another human being. Pushing the end of the gun into the pillow, she took it off safety and shakily pulled the trigger. The normally loud shot was muffled by the pillow so no one outside this house would have been able to hear it. Watching, warm blood started to pool on the mattress and soak into it around the boy's head. Turning her head, she glanced at Daryl and tucked the revolver into her waist band. Tears could be seen welling in her eyes but she wiped them, ashamed they had been seen. But she wasn't a monster. She didn't enjoy that in the least. Trying to put it behind her, she spoke.

"We best be packin' up as much food and supplies as we can carry. There dosen't seem to be an clear cut endin' to this madness....foods in the kitchen...bags in ma basement. Ma Papa did some bow huntin' of his own sometimes too so you might find somethin' useful to ya in the gun safe. Kept his old bolts, arrows, and bow. I'll get some medical supplies...whatever I got. Them we can be on the road and find your brother if thats is what ya still be wantin..."

She walked right past him and into the kitchen to see what there was that could be taken with them. It was best to be safe and not sorry and it seemed the duo would have an awful long road ahead of them.
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If he were a gentleman, Daryl would've offered to do the gruesome deed himself. Question was, could he? He remembered how he froze up when Uncle Jess told him to shoot his old man. The crazy old grouch didn't deserve the time of day in his books, but he was family. That still meant something to Daryl. A silly notion of normalcy he held onto he supposed. The real Daryl, however, could only commend the woman for doing the deed herself. It took brass. Now, to see if she'd go through with it. Even if she didn't, Daryl respected the woman. Practical with strangers, she was no fool. Not like those city girls that couldn't do shit by themselves. Those were the folks Daryl couldn't stand. It probably wasn't the right time to be thinking about what he was, but he'd roll the dice and see if something - even a chance of something - could happen between him and Tessa. Firstly, they had to survive.

When Tessa came back, Daryl was about to ask if she wanted him to do it. That was until she placed the pillow the kid was laying on over his head then fired a round into it. Daryl simply stared. The mattress and blanket were slowly soaking with crimson red blood. Daryl had seen it many times. He was no stranger to it. What got him was that it was a kid. A kid. Even Merle wouldn't harm a kid. They had a code. A few rules - simple - but it separated them from the true scary folk out there. A big difference between Merle and him was that Daryl restrained that side of him. It wasn't easy, but he felt there was something more he could be doing with his life other than being the modern day outlaw. It was an outdated, glamorous fairy tale.

Listening while following Tessa into the kitchen, he'd seen the tears. The woman definitely had the brass. Walking up to the woman, he placed a hand on her shoulder. "You did your nephew a favor. You best believe that. Might not be what you want to hear, but better you than some stranger," he said. "You doing alright, Tessa? We're not in a hurry. If you need to sit, sit. When you're good and ready, we'll pack what we need and head out."

Slowly letting go of her shoulder, Daryl never forgot the warmth he felt. If he actually had a caring mother, he wondered if it'd feel like that. "I still gotta find my brother. I also want to know what the hell is going on. I don't usually give a shit 'bout the city folk news, but I got a feelin' this might not be temporary," he said. Scratching his chin, Daryl felt like he was going to regret asking, but he shooed the thought away. "I wouldn't mind having a travelin' companion. You ain't some useless city dweller, and you got guts. I ... could live with that."

Clearing his throat, Daryl pointed towards the door he guessed that led down tot he basement. "I'll go check those bags and see what we can bring. I don't work with guns though. Not if I don't have to. I prefer a bow," he said. "Anyway, think things over. You don't want to come with me, no harm. I'll leave your stuff and be on my way. You tag along? Then we gotta plan. Oh, gun safe. Unlocked or locked? You'll need to open it, if it is."​
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The country woman heard the foot falls of the man, following behind her so she had continued to speak. When she was finished, they were standing in the center of the kitchen. As a hand fell on her shoulder, she tensed up even more. Having had to shoot her nephew, the southern belle was most certainly on edge. The words spilling from the lips of the stranger named Daryl, seemed fuzzy in her ears. She barely comprehended what he was saying, since so many of her own thoughts were buzzing around in her head like a next of angry hornets. But she caught enough of what he had said to make a sensible reply for the man.

"Perhaps it's is for the best that I be believin' that...but...I don't wanna think on it. I don't wanna be here no more....not with ma nephew layin' in his bed with blood poolin' around his head. It will be doin' us no good to sit around and wait. If we are right bout the feelin' in our guts...sittin' round will be the death of us. I sure as Hell don't wanna be feasted on by them damn infected...." she moved away from his touch and towards the pantry door, gripping the rusted metal knob between her fingers and palm, perhaps a bit too tightly. "So Imma good and ready. The gun safe will be open, help ya self to whatevea you like...." Then there was a silence she could hardly stand, so she spoke so her voice could fill it. "Best we be gettin' ready for first light...gotta find ya brother....and whatever the hell is happenin' to this here damn world. We should get movin'. The Basement door is just down the hall to ya left...."
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And with that, she pulled open the pantry door and stepped inside, falling silent. Looking over her food supply, she grabbed every last drop of smoked and dried meat they had. It was pretty light weight, despite the volume of it she had. Moving that onto the table, she returned and sorted though the cans. She pulled out potted meat in small cans, larger cans of vegetables like corn, peas, and carrots, then some smaller cans filled with canned chicken. After, she went though her canned fruit and decided on some peaches and pears.

When that task was accomplished, she went down the hall and into her own room. Pulling open the bathroom door, she ransacked every bit of medical supplies she had. From Ace bandages, to burn ointment, to bottles of rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. It also included pain killers and antibiotics. There was little in the way of medical supplies that she didn't have. Living out here wasn't exactly safe, so to have plenty on hand, espcially for her now deceased nephews. Finding an old school backpack, she filled it to the brim with the medical supplies and food.
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Dropping it on the floor in the kitchen, she sat down in one of the chairs around the table, and reloaded her revolver and rifle. The ones she would be taking with her. Having reloaded them earlier, she had the ammo up here. She packed that away too and was ready to go. She would travel with this man, though she didn't quite know what to think of him yet. Tessa wasn't one to be shallow, having come from humble beginnings herself, so she would have to see if this man could be trusted, with his own safety and hers as well. Now that they would be working as a team, or that was the idea anyways, they would need to be looking out for one another.
The country woman heard the foot falls of the man, following behind her so she had continued to speak. When she was finished, they were standing in the center of the kitchen. As a hand fell on her shoulder, she tensed up even more. Having had to shoot her nephew, the southern belle was most certainly on edge. The words spilling from the lips of the stranger named Daryl, seemed fuzzy in her ears. She barely comprehended what he was saying, since so many of her own thoughts were buzzing around in her head like a next of angry hornets. But she caught enough of what he had said to make a sensible reply for the man.

"Perhaps it's is for the best that I be believin' that...but...I don't wanna think on it. I don't wanna be here no more....not with ma nephew layin' in his bed with blood poolin' around his head. It will be doin' us no good to sit around and wait. If we are right bout the feelin' in our guts...sittin' round will be the death of us. I sure as Hell don't wanna be feasted on by them damn infected...." she moved away from his touch and towards the pantry door, gripping the rusted metal knob between her fingers and palm, perhaps a bit too tightly. "So Imma good and ready. The gun safe will be open, help ya self to whatevea you like...." Then there was a silence she could hardly stand, so she spoke so her voice could fill it. "Best we be gettin' ready for first light...gotta find ya brother....and whatever the hell is happenin' to this here damn world. We should get movin'. The Basement door is just down the hall to ya left...."

And with that, she pulled open the pantry door and stepped inside, falling silent. Looking over her food supply, she grabbed every last drop of smoked and dried meat they had. It was pretty light weight, despite the volume of it she had. Moving that onto the table, she returned and sorted though the cans. She pulled out potted meat in small cans, larger cans of vegetables like corn, peas, and carrots, then some smaller cans filled with canned chicken. After, she went though her canned fruit and decided on some peaches and pears.

When that task was accomplished, she went down the hall and into her own room. Pulling open the bathroom door, she ransacked every bit of medical supplies she had. From Ace bandages, to burn ointment, to bottles of rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. It also included pain killers and antibiotics. There was little in the way of medical supplies that she didn't have. Living out here wasn't exactly safe, so to have plenty on hand, espcially for her now deceased nephews. Finding an old school backpack, she filled it to the brim with the medical supplies and food.

Dropping it on the floor in the kitchen, she sat down in one of the chairs around the table, and reloaded her revolver and rifle. The ones she would be taking with her. Having reloaded them earlier, she had the ammo up here. She packed that away too and was ready to go. She would travel with this man, though she didn't quite know what to think of him yet. Tessa wasn't one to be shallow, having come from humble beginnings herself, so she would have to see if this man could be trusted, with his own safety and hers as well. Now that they would be working as a team, or that was the idea anyways, they would need to be looking out for one another.
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Taking the hint, Daryl moved away from the brunette and made haste to the basement. What the hell was he supposed to do in a situation like this? Give petty words of comfort? It was a strange sentimentality that was pretty foreign to him. He grew up with blunt words. Not beating around the bush so to speak. In the country - unlike the city folks - it was either deeds or actions that spoke of a person's character. Not words. Old man taught him that way of thinking well.

Checking his surroundings, Daryl gripped his crossbow as he descended the stairs. Though there wasn't any sign of those biters making their way into the house, a bit of caution couldn't hurt. He'd seen enough to know that one bite - one scratch - was all it took for someone to turn into one of those things. The scenes of his father getting torn apart to the things he saw back in the city flashed through his mind. Daryl wasn't the type to get squeamish, but this was a sole exception. How could someone see those things and not get sick to their guts? Crazies he supposed. Damned things were invincible too. Unless you knocked them in the head. The Dixon was a good shot, but not even he could guarantee a head shot every time.

When he was sure the place was clear, Daryl saw the gun safe. Grabbing his bag, he rummaged through the safe. Tessa was stocked. Well stocked. While it was tempting to take a few rifles, Daryl instead took a hand gun - for himself and Tessa - ammo said hand gun and rifle ammo for Tessa's piece upstairs. Stocked up to the brim, Daryl also managed to take some flares, flints, knife sharpeners, and some bolts he saw lying around. Only the essentials. Before he left to rejoin his acquaintance upstairs, Daryl swung the door shut and locked it. Selfish thing to do, but at least this would be a place the two could come back to in case things didn't work out. He was sure he could secure the place. It'd take time, but he could do it if he had to.

Making his way up the stairs, Daryl walked back into the kitchen. Eyeing Tessa reloading her arsenal, Daryl smiled. Woman sure knew how to keep on her toes. Her pack seemed fit to burst to. He reckoned food and the like were housed in there. Putting his bag down, Daryl took a handgun from his bag, flipped on the safety, and housed it securely on the inside of his pants. No holster. He'd make do.

"Grabbed all the ammo I could. We should be alright for a while," he said. Taking a seat near the woman, Daryl watched her work. "I figure we leave in the morning. Let things die down. You were in the city, weren't you? Pure madness down there. We'd be fools to be travelin' through all that right now. Top off the perishables, cap as much water as we can, and we'll hunker down and move tomorrow. You still have gas in your truck? Saw it out front. Figure we use that. We'll siphon gas as we go. Beats goin' on foot. Back roads be best."

Leaning back in his chair, Daryl nodded to the windows. "Might wanna board up for the night, if we wanna stay. However, if you feelin' the urge to move on now, we certainly can."​
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