Born To Die
The trip back to the camp was a slow and slightly uncomfortable one, and it was about to be made even more uncomfortable as Carol called over to Aria “Well don’t you clean up good” she smiled impressed by her transformation, all eyes and attention was suddenly on Aria as everyone scrutinised her appearance, she hated the attention what Carol’s comment had brought her “I almost didn’t recognise you” Aria smiled weakly at Carol try to mask her discomfort as Shane led her over to Rick and three other men she had met to meet, as soon as they caught Rick’s gaze his steely blue eyes narrowed. Rick’s soft expression turned hard as he noticed Shane’s hand tightly grasping Aria’s waist and seeing him wearing a playful smirk made Rick feel uneasy.
“I see you two have already met” Rick spoke his voice waving with irritation, Shane chuckled slightly before smiling slyly back at him.
“You bet, where you been hiding this one?” Shane asked jokingly.
“She just got here” Rick saw the slight discomfort in Aria’s eyes as Shane still had hold of her, she unwrapped her arm from around his shoulders but he refused to yet her hand go, he kept his hand lingering on hers even when she took a few steps to create a comfortable distance between them.
“You good?” he smiled leaning in towards her
“Yeah” she smiled meekly, only then he let his fingertips trail down the outside of her hand as he released his grip “thanks for the help” Aria still held her weak smile and Shane stared longingly back at her.
“Anytime beautiful” Shane said closing the gap between once more he was only a small distance away while wearing a flirtatious grin “If there’s anything else you need just give me a holler”
“Thanks” Aria spoke politely but felt very uncomfortable. Shane leaned back but not before his eyes wandered down to her body and looked her up and down, her brows pulled together slightly giving him a scowl as he playfully winked at her and began walking away when Rick stepped to the side blocking his path. Shane gave him a confused look while Rick still held his scowl and muttered something in his ear, his smile immediately melted and replaced with a frown.
“It isn’t any of your business” is all Shane growled loud enough for most to hear “so I suggest you back off” he lent into Rick’s face giving him an intimidating look while his eyes danced with anger, Shane barged passed Rick which knocked him slightly of his balance. Everyone watched Shane walk towards a RV before he disappeared inside the motor home. Rick stepped towards Aria and spoke quietly so only she could hear
“He didn’t bother you did he?” Aria was slightly taken by his stern tone which made her feel uneasy, she wasn’t completely comfortable with how overly friendly he was with her but who was she to create more tension between the two of them.
“He’s was just very friendly, that’s all” Aria spoke cautiously with a half-smile.
“He’s a good guy, but he can come off kind of strong”
“Honestly it’s fine” Rick half smiled at her response
“Well, some of us are going out on a search, you should get some rest while we’re gone. We don’t have any spare tents and the RV is full, but you can use that tent over there if you don’t mind sharing” Rick pointed towards a tent which was almost out of sight, it was tucked behind an old well near the tree line.
“What the hell?” Daryl interjected as he stormed over, he scowled at Rick keeping his back towards Aria completely ignoring she was there “She ain’t sleeping in my tent”
“You’re the only one that doesn’t share a tent Daryl” Rick said crossing his arms.
“I have a blanket in my backpack, I can just sleep outside”
“You can’t do that you’ll freeze” an older man interjected.
“She’ll be fine” Daryl grunted
“Daryl you sleep in a three-man tent on your own. I don’t see the issue”
“Now I see why you don’t share a tent with anyone” Aria mumbled sarcastically but unfortunately it wasn’t quiet enough as Daryl heard, he growled as he turned around to look at her and suddenly, he was lost for words. His eyes narrowed in confusion at the beautiful woman that stood before him, his lips parted in amazement as he examined her features which earlier had been concealed with filth and blood. Aria narrowed her icy blue eyes at him while he unknowingly stared at her, her gaze turned into a scowl when she noticed his curious eyes shifting over her when Daryl noticed her uninviting glare, he finally shook his bewildered look away which was instantly replaced by a deep searing scowl.
“Maybe ‘cause it’s my damn tent” Daryl said raising his voice after he’d collected himself after his moment of disorientation.
“It’s non-negotiable” Rick said firmly. Daryl let out a loud agitated grunt before locking his dark eyes on Aria’s chilling cerulean irises which stared coldly back at him.
“We’ll be back in a few hours, get some rest while we’re gone and we’ll get you acquainted with how things work around here” Aria smiled at Rick thankfully and gave him a small nod as she still felt Daryl’s evil gaze burning into her, she looked toward him and flashed him a sweet smile.
“Thank you, Daryl, for being such a gentleman” she spoke sarcastically wearing a sweet smile. Aria saw a few people’s mouths twitch into smiles at her sarcastic comment while an older man and a brunette woman both tried to muffle their faint chuckles. Daryl’s eyes instantly ignited with flames as he stared Aria down, she had infuriated him and the whole camp saw him close to erupting.
“I knew we shoulda left you for the Walkers” Daryl spat at Aria as he raised his finger to point into her face but she still kept her scowl which seemed to antagonise him more, he tore his eyes from her and looked around to see all the eyes peering at him which made him feel uncomfortable “What the hell we waitin’ for? Let’s get back to Sofia’s trail” he said raising his voice and throwing his arms up furiously before storming off towards the trees. All the male members excluding one all followed the furious Daryl into the trees leaving Aria with all the women and an elderly man. After they watched the men disappear into the woods the elderly man spoke with a small smile.
“Don’t pay attention to Daryl; he’s like that with everyone. It’s just his way” Aria examined the elderly man in front of her who wore a yellow Hawaiian shirt which hung open exposing his grey stained vest, which matched perfectly with his off white coloured fishermen’s hat which assuming was covering his bald head. “He doesn’t talk much but when he does he ain’t the friendliest. He’s a bit of an--”
“—An asshole” a blonde woman with curly hair finished his sentence, they both grinned at each other before introducing themselves.
“I’m Dale and this is Andrea” he said pointing at the blonde woman by his side “And this is Carol, and Rick’s wife Lori” Dale pointed to each of the women as he introduced them which Aria returned with a polite nod “Their son Carl is here somewhere too” Dale spun around slowly searching the fields around them for Carl but he was nowhere to be seen.
“I’m glad you spoke to Daryl like that” Andrea said abruptly with a smile replaying the moment in her mind “It’s good for someone to talk to him like he talks to us every day. Gives him a taste of his own medicine”
“Is he always that hostile?” They all nodded in synchronisation which didn’t surprise Aria at all, she didn’t think Daryl was the social type. Andrea continued to tell Aria of her disapproval of Daryl’s attitude when Aria felt her legs begin to give way beneath her, she stumbled back a few steps pulling her hand up to her forehead as she felt a such sharp pain ripple through her stitches it made her gasp. The agony shot through her skull like a bolt of electricity which made her stitches burn and pulsate in pain.
“Are you okay honey?” Lori asked quickly grabbing Aria bicep in case she fell, she opened her eyes after a few moments to see everyone holding a concerned expression.
“Yeah, I’m fine” Aria said as another sharp sensation of pain rippled through her body once more causing her voice to waver in pain. She felt Lori’s grip around her arm tighten as her legs went weak once more.
“You don’t look so good” Carol said examining her face “maybe you should go and get some rest huh?” Carol said walking off and returning with Aria’s backpack and a bundle of sheets and a sleeping bag “we’ll be out here when you wake up” Carol gave her a weak smile which she mirrored while handing Aria her belongings.
“You alright to walk on your own?” Lori asked letting go of Aria’s arm to see if she was able to balance on her own which she did.
“I’ll be fine thanks” Aria said standing up straight and throwing her backpack over her shoulder before nodding to them all and starting her journey to Daryl’s secluded tent. Aria’s feet ached beneath her with every step she took, her backpack felt heavier than it ever had before as it weighed down over her shoulder, her head began spinning as exhaustion was catching up with her once more. Finally reaching her destination which felt like it took a lifetime to reach she opened the zip with her shaky hands and entered his tent, she was smacked in the face with the odour of dried blood and cigarettes. Aria threw her belongings onto the floor and began unlacing her boots before throwing the sleeping bag down and collapsing on top of it; she didn’t take much care on where she threw her belongings as she was just desperate for rest. She laid her aching body onto the sleeping bag and relaxed into the synthetic material, it didn’t take long for her to drift into a deep dreamless sleep
Aria had slept for longer than she had anticipated, she stretched her arms and legs feeling her sore muscles ache in her tired body, she opened her tired sapphire eyes and looked around the empty tent. The tent was faintly lit as the sun was faintly glowing in the skies above; darkness would soon take over the burning orange sky and be covered with a cloak of darkness. Aria hated the night in this new world, as the sun descended the Walkers would become more rabid and their ghastly groans would float through the air which echoed through the darkness which made it increasingly hard to sleep. But tonight, Aria heard nothing, the night was peaceful. Her exhausted eyes gently closed as she laid on her back letting her aching body sink into the soft synthetic material beneath her, this was the most comfortable she had been in months and the first time she had finally regained some much-needed energy. She let her fingertips caress the blankets which surrounded her as she continued to stretch her legs out as far as she could; taking full advantage of the endless space she had. Faint chattering voices filled the warm air outside which soothed Aria as she fell deeper into her relaxed state which felt truly intoxicating. The voices danced around her mind lulling her to sleep when the alarming sounds of heavy dragging footsteps came from outside the thin material of the tent. The voices ceased and she was left with silence, all but her breathing and the all too familiar shuffling footsteps of a corpse, they scuffled closer to the tent which caused her to panic, Aria bolted up and started scuffling through the sheets around her for her knife when she found it tangled with her shoelaces at the mouth of the tent. Aria crouched down low ready to pounce on the beast which was awaiting her on the other side of the tent wall, the zip jingled which made Aria’s heart race with fear, she felt her heart beating wildly as she was cornered in the tent with no escape. She watched the silver zip twitch until it abruptly pulled open, Aria took a sharp breath holding her knife high above her shoulder when a familiar face peered through the open zip. She released her breath feeling the terror melt away from her, with the unexpected noise made Daryl’s eyes shot to her in alarm.
“What the hell?!” Daryl yelled flinching back until he noticed Aria’s bright eyes through the darkness; Aria said nothing just breathed deeply still instinctively holding her knife towards Daryl. Daryl reached up and switched a hanging lamp on when the glint of Aria’s blade caught his eye; he narrowed his eyes at her while keeping his distance. “You keep pointing that damn knife at me” he growled, Aria didn’t realise she still held her knife up in defence, so she dropped it and let it fall to the floor which Daryl quickly kicked away from her.
“Sorry” she stuttered feeling the panic settling within her “I-I forgot where I was for a moment, I thought you were a dead one” Daryl scoffed finding her panic comical somehow’ she frowned at him which he simply smirked at.
“Ain’t no Walkers gonna get on this farm” he grunted walking towards her and throwing his crossbow into the corner along with his angel winged waistcoat.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Most don’t stray from a main road, even if they did, the guy on watch would take care of ‘em” Aria thought about it while Daryl knelt down on top of his pile of blankets and started unlacing his shoes, he looked at the vacant look on her face and spoke. Aria thought for a moment feeling grateful for how safe this farm seemed to be, she really had gotten lucky in Daryl and Rick finding her. There was silence while Daryl began to prepare himself for sleep, he unbuttoned the top three buttons of his red checked shirt and his trouser button which left them hanging loosely around his waist, his sweaty chest was exposed revealing the twisting lines of a tattoo which Aria couldn’t fully see. She gazed at the thick dark lines on his chest when he caught her eyes wondering over his exposed chest, she quickly broke her eye contact once she heard his scoff at her for staring. Daryl settled back into this heap of blankets and rested his head on his palms which were lying beneath him; he stared up at the ceiling before he spoke.
“So how’d you end up on your own?” Aria settled back from her defensive stance and lowered herself back onto her sleeping bag “When things started to go to hell in the city I just grabbed my stuff and didn’t look back” his eyes flickered to her as she spoke.
“Ya not leave with anyone?” she shook her head “why not?”
“I didn’t have anyone” Aria said keeping her voice strong. Aria didn’t want to come across weak by admitting she didn’t have anyone she cared about enough to take with her, she had always been on her own even before the world had gone to hell. Aria didn’t have any friends; she had always pushed people away before they had the slightest chance to get close to her, she had always found it hard to trust people after someone in her youth betrayed her in one of the most monstrous of ways possible. The only people she could depend on were her family, but she had always kept them at an arm’s length trying not to get them mixed up in the dangerous life she chose to lead before everything happened. Aria had worked for the government as an undercover agent which had placed her in numerous places in the world investigating dangerous individuals, it wasn’t a pretty life but she was very good at what she did, she loved nothing more than seeing people the old world once deemed as monsters rotting in jail for the rest of their lives. Daryl opened his lips, but Aria jumped in before he could even utter a word.
“How’d you end up with a group anyway? You don’t seem the type--” he interrupted her before she could finish her question.
“What the hells that supposed to mean?” He growled at her.
“You don’t seem like the team player type” Aria spoke while shifting onto her side and turning to face him. Daryl stared at her with his dark green eyes burning into her skin; she peered into his eyes dancing with a range of emotion.
“I ain’t, that’s why” Daryl’s eyebrows pulled together as he turned to towards Aria slightly.
“Then why are you here?” Aria asked curiously.
“What’s it to ya?” Daryl turned his head a scowled at Aria.
“Relax, I’m only asking” Aria tore her eyes away from him to look up at the ceiling while she still felt his scowl searing into her.
“I thought about leaving a bunch of times, but shit just keeps happening”
“Like what?” He thought a minute before opening his mouth.
“My brother’s gone; those assholes out there cuffed him to a roof in Atlanta, just left him for dead” Aria eyes widened in shock, she couldn’t imagine Rick doing such an awful thing, but appearances can be deceiving
“Did you go back for him?”
“Yeah, but all that was left of him was his hand. Cut it off so he could get away, tough son bitch my brother”
“This group did this to your brother?” Aria asked thinking hard about what Daryl was saying.
“Damn right they did” Daryl raised his voice when he thought about the words he spoke “He wasn’t easy though. He pushed people; probably did it to his damn self. But he’s my blood and I ain’t gonna stop searching for him” Daryl’s voice was very solemn as he spoke.
“Blood is blood, I understand. I wouldn’t stop looking if it was my family” he nodded once at Aria in agreement when his eyes flickered back and forth, he was replaying that day in Atlanta over in his mind when his face suddenly grew in anger. He shook his head sharply keeping the hard look on his face when he looked back at Aria who was still watching him. Aria knew exactly what Daryl was feeling, the heart-breaking thought of not knowing whether his family was alive or not. All of Aria’s family were back in England and she had absolutely no way of knowing if this mess had met that part of the world, she would never know if her family was safe and it undeniably broke her heart. The thought of her younger sister having to defend herself against these monsters made her heart ache, Eleanor would have no clue how to defend herself, she wasn’t as strong as Aria, she always let her emotions drive her which was weak. If Aria was with her family, she’d do all she’d possibly could to protect them from this ghastly world, even if that meant killing others to do so.
“You don’t seem like the type either” Daryl murmured the same thing Aria had earlier.
“I’m not, that’s why” Aria said repeating Daryl’s answer.
“Then why ya here?” Aria thought for a moment, but an answer just didn’t come to mind.
“Sometimes you have to accept help even when you don’t want it” she spoke sincerely “but I know if I didn’t, I would be dead right now, so thank you for your help” Aria gave him a light smile which he nodded in return “but I’ll be gone soon enough”
“Why?” Daryl asked his eyes narrowing.
“I’m just better off alone, always have been always will” she answered sincerely but to Aria’s surprise Daryl chuckled at her answer “why is that so funny?” she raised her voice in annoyance.
“Never met a chick like you, you’re something else” Aria gave him a curious look completely misunderstanding his strange attempt at flattery
“You aint a clingy bitch like the rest of them, you know how to look after yourself”
“I’ve always had to”
“Well, thanks I guess” Aria half smiled before rolling over and slowly falling to sleep.