The Darkest Storm
Here We Stand
“Been lookin’ for ya.”
Darcy flickers her eyes up to the figure standing casually in her doorway. She sits on the edge of her bed, sharpening her knife since activities these days where rare.
“Same place I always am.” She tells him, fiddling with the knife in her hands.
Daryl takes a deep breath in and pats his thighs when he steps inside the cell. “’M goin’ out, takin’ a look around ‘n probably gonna hunt for a bit.” There is a slight smirk playing on his lips. “Ya comin’ or what?”
Darcy blinks in thought. More than anything, she wants to get out of this place for a while. Especially if it meant her and Daryl finally having time to be alone like in their earlier days. But there is a twist in her stomach about what she has to tell him, and it is the urge in her heart that ultimately makes her decide that now was the perfect time to do so.
She slides the knife into her boot and stands up to join him, “Always.”
“Le’s go then.” Daryl points behind him with his thumb and pats the cell walls. Darcy sees his figure disappear before she even takes a step.
Walking down the stairs, the cellblock is lined with unfamiliar people whom by now, she should know. Darcy feels slightly guilty by not making more of an effort. She taps her fingers together and quickens her pace to get out towards the cafeteria entrance quickly.
A hand encloses around her forearm gently. She hasn’t realized Daryl was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for her. Daryl’s unnoticeable smirk calms her suddenly, and she returns the small gesture. With a bob of his head, he leads her outside.
Collections of voices suddenly echo around them, all saying the same thing.
“What’s up, Daryl?”
Ordinarily, all of this would have made Darcy very smug indeed, watching the bedraggled prison members stumbling in their seats to stand up and welcome Daryl into their presence. For the entire time Darcy has known him, he’s never known his true worth and potential even though she tries to tell him and show him again and again. But Darcy was in such a downwards state ever since the incident with Allen and Andrea that only the worst came to her mind in that moment.
The summer has been some long, difficult months since one particular sunny day which she tries her very best to forget – the day Maggie and Glenn were scooped up and taken as hostages to a small town that was made up of everything but your ordinary survivors. A lot has changed in her life since then.
Darcy has been doing as well as can be expected. She’s been stumbling along week by week, slowly getting used to all the new-comers Rick had mercifully picked up on their way back from Woodbury. It had been a group large enough to fill two cellblocks inside the prison, and it was uncommonly weird getting used to all these new faces, especially since this was the town they were at war against only weeks ago. Even though they were all living together, it proved more than difficult for Darcy to step outside her boundaries and seek friendships outside her old group.
Everyone else though, seemed to have found their niche. Whether it was Rick and Carl playing farmer, Hershel and Dr. S exchanging medical knowledge, Carol reading to the kids…it was silly to think but Darcy felt like it was all changing. She liked the group they were before, the tight knit family they had built whilst traveling on the road for almost two years. Maybe it was this reason, and the effect of her Uncle being their mortal enemy, that started to push her away from everyone else.
In fact, Darcy started to prove herself more troublesome than useful around camp these days. No one was allowed to leave the gates without another member, permission from the Council, and without a weapon just to be safe. Darcy chose to sneak out on the regular, to find peace and quiet out in the woods.
Rick was always the one to catch her. This inevitably led him to report her actions to the Council, since they were trying to keep order in the prison in a world filled with chaos and death. Each time it happened, it just put Rick in a leadership position, which he didn’t find favorable at all. It seemed as though Rick had the same idea as Darcy, but took an alternative route to avoid it.
Darcy doesn’t believe she has a right to become a member of the Council. No matter how many times she had been asked by the actual members, Daryl being one of them, the guilt of the actions of her Uncle turned her away. This was exactly what she didn’t want – people relying on her that she knows she couldn’t protect forever.
And that’s why that previous night, after receiving an all-knowing look from her friend Michonne, what Darcy was about to do was the only thing she could think of to stay afloat, to somehow fix what she should have done the moment she left her first group. In her mind, it would bring peace to her and everyone around them.
Back to the present time, Darcy should have anticipated Daryl’s popular uprising, especially with his big impact on the prison and the Council. The thought has crossed her mind time and time again; that Daryl would fade away from her and into better company. Daryl has always remained humble and loyal though, not straying too far from the original core group whom he now called his family. The thought still haunts her though, even it was simply preposterous. He still stays so close to Darcy. He even occasionally he will claim “accidentally” falling asleep in her cell time and time again.
Passing by and nodding and saying his responses to the prison’s hellos, Darcy was all but trying to make towards the exit. What finally catches her attention is something that makes her frown in confusion.
A delicate looking figure glides in front of Daryl with what seems to be a flawless face. Her rose tinted lips flicker with the faintest hint of an honest smile. The girl’s light blonde hair falls in wisps over her slim shoulders, which sit perfectly above a slim and elegant figure. A southern belle, as many would say, the traditional kind of pretty.
Darcy’s blood unintentionally starts to boil and pays no attention to her name. She folds her arms across her chest, slightly un-nerved that Daryl’s usual standoff ways weren’t as blunt as usual. Yet, he still talks awkwardly and with a straight, un-amused face as the girl continues to beam up at him.
Darcy catches bits and pieces of their conversation since she has decided to step back towards the exit behind them – Daryl had been one of the volunteers to help Cell Block D get their electricity set up in and around the cells, hers included. She means no harm, but simply wants to say thank you.
Darcy sighs heavily and rests her elbow up against the doorframe beside her, her amber eyes sparkled with the glittering reflections of the sunrise just over the horizon. She breathes out impatiently and checks her wrist for a watch that isn’t even there.
Who the hell does this girl think she is?
Darcy rolls her eyes, “Daryl.” She says firmly, turning slightly as if she is ready to leave without him. He gives the girl a small, uninterested nod and hops a few steps to catch up to Darcy.
Daryl playfully pats her arm with the back of his hand as he swings the crossbow over his other shoulder. “What’re ya, jealous?” They walk side by side, and he has to keep up with her as she ambles rather quickly towards the gates.
Darcy tosses her head slightly to get her hair out of her face and looks up at him finally. She seems absolutely un-phased by his sudden accusation and as she stops and turns quickly, the sudden movement almost causes them to bump into one another. Giving him a stern look she says simply, “Yes.”
Daryl blinks repetitively in shock. There was no beating around the bush this time or hiding feelings to avoid embarrassment. She takes in his reaction and turns back around, letting Carl open up the outer gate for them and finally passed through. Daryl squints unsurely at her, taking slow steps to get himself moving again.
In the woods, Darcy has finally feels like she can relax and be herself. She guards herself still, obviously from the true threat that waits behind almost every corner, but yet in a different perspective, she doesn’t. She can feel the muscles in her face relaxing with every step inside the forest, her pace quickening as she finds some rocks to climb until she stumbles a ledge overlooking a small opening.
Daryl watches her, not taking his sight off how she drifts through the twigs and leaves lying amongst the floor and barely makes a sound. Never did he think it would return to this. A sense of utter joy just being with the woman he grows more and more fond of every day. He blinks confidently, and smiles. This was perfect, just how it used to be.
“Ain’t got no reason to be jealous.” Daryl states confidently as he plays with the ties on his belt. Sweaty strands of hair fall over his face and hide his eyes. He squints one eye at the sun when he brings his eyes up to hers. “You of all people.”
Darcy keeps her eyes focused on the ground as she avoids a root protruding from the earth and unconsciously keeps steady with his slowing pace. She can feel his gaze on her, and there is no mistaking the carefree and comforting atmosphere they have created in each other’s company…but at the same time, a knot pulls tighter and tighter inside her gut with every step.
Daryl stops for a moment, and Darcy does the same so he could lean over and kiss her. It was small but gentle, vertiginous in the least and only their lips touch between them. The sun hangs high above them, but the air was cool and sweet. The wind bends in the field of wildflowers that surrounded them mixed with the tall trees.
The kiss had ended just as quickly as it begun. Something like this doesn’t happen often between them, but when it does, it’s enough to make both their bodies ache for more. After all the things that have happened these past months, it was thought to be safe to stay steady and low for now, re-test the waters and focus on rebuilding that once solid relationship.
Daryl forces himself to walk away and continue their pursuit of meat for camp but Darcy stands in the spot he’s left her in. Her stomach starts to lurch with anticipation. Now is the time to tell him, before it makes it harder than it was already.
“Daryl –“ Darcy sighs and taps her fingertips on her bow nervously. He turns his head to look at the woman who still has her back to him. “- I really need to talk to you.”
“What about?” Daryl furrows his eyebrows. He notices her shifty behavior and stance.
“You’re not going to be very happy.” She lowers the bow and faces him slightly.
“Go on, then.” He nods. Daryl is aware of the air around them, and he thinks the worst.
“I’m going with Michonne.” She says. “To find him.”
“What?” Daryl shakes his head with a scoff. In all honesty, he thinks it’s a joke. But when he sees that she is purposefully avoiding his gaze, his eyes grow with fluster in every second that passes. “You serious?”
“We’re leaving tonight.” Darcy pushes a strand of hair behind her ear. She empathizes with Daryl’s angst and confusion. It makes her stomach twist and her mind whirl.
Daryl takes a few unsure steps while he processes the total, unexpected shock of news. His face falls entirely. He brings his eyes up to her as she waits for an answer.
“How long?” He asks.
“However long it takes.” Darcy blinks repeatedly and her eyes dart towards the ground then back up. “A few weeks maybe.”
“Trail went cold.” Daryl folds his lips inward and keeps his face straight. “Shot up all his people and just –“ He shrugs, “- Disappeared.”
“No one just disappears.” Darcy shakes her head unnoticeably. The world has gone deafeningly quiet around them.
“And if ya don’t find him?” He rolls his eyes and stares at the sky, pain etched in the clenched muscles of his jaw. “What then?”
He was angry, and hurt. In that quiet and infuriating way of his when it came to Darcy. No storming about or yelling from him just yet, just silent disapproval until the familiar trigger was set off. All the while, he makes it clear he is doing anything he can to convince her to not go.
“We keep looking.” She says.
Daryl has seen it too many times; the close breaking point of Darcy Shaw. He has been at the brut of it all and this past time was too hard for him to let her brush it off like other times. He saw the pain; he saw the blood, the torment. He was the one who carried her limp, weak body back to the prison. The one who sat at her bedside while she regained her strength of both body and mind.
Ever since he brought her back from Woodbury, Daryl has acted very calming around her – as if he was doing anything he could to ensure she was taken care of, and that she was made as comfortable as possible due to her tragic situation she was just saved from. He knows deep down inside if she figures out he’s cooing her – she would grow angry and possibly pull back even further.
Daryl waits before answering, and Darcy can see him summoning calm – blowing out a slow breath, dropping his shoulders, closing his eyes. “He ain’t worth ya going out there…Runnin’ into trouble, ‘n gettin’ yourself killed.”
“How can you say that?” Darcy narrows her eyes. She gives a look in which she hopes is piercing. Her voice is low, raspy, and growing impatient. “After everything he did, how can you just stand there–“
“We tried Darcy, we all did.” Daryl drops his shoulders. “Did for weeks, ‘member? You were there ‘n said it yourself – trail went cold. There’s nothin’ to go back on, nothin’ to follow. Ya chasin’ a ghost.”
Daryl rolls his shoulder back as if to brush something off. He stares at her, face fallen and eyes looking lost as they watch a leaf twitch on the forest floor by her foot. “Should take a break. Ya runnin’ yourself ragged – ‘sides, don’t want you going out there without me. Just doesn’t sit right.”
“Then come with me.” Her eyes are pleading, and Daryl shifts his weight.
“We’re needed here, Darcy.” He shakes his head. “Got more people to look out for –“
Darcy rolls her eyes and shakes her head as well. She turns and starts walking back towards the prison. “No, Daryl, you’re needed. All I do is sit around, cause more trouble for Rick, and wait for you to get back from your council meetings –“
She hears his footsteps following her, “The hell are you talkin’ about?” He grabs her arm and pulls her back to him. “Asked ya plenty of times to join in – Hershel, Sasha, Carol – they all want ya there so don’ act like ya ain’t apart of nothing. We hunt together, bring back supplies together, keep camp safe together. Ya don’ think you’re just as important?”
Daryl’s tone softens along with his features. “We all want to find him, Darcy. Christ, all I wanna do is put an arrow through him for what he did to ya, ‘n my brother…” He shrugs. “Just gotta focus on what’s more important right now, I guess.”
Darcy doesn’t say much, but lets her hair flow smoothly against her forehead with the slight breeze as her amber-hues continue to stare down at the ground. She feels his icy blue eyes focus on her, imploring her to see it all the way he does and stay, to let it all go and just be happy she’s alive.
But something inside her stirs, something that was reminded of the time when she went to that bar to find Rick and Hershel, or when she sat and listened in to the conversation between Randall and Daryl a year ago.
“He’s still out there, Daryl, somewhere. He’s gonna be bringing back some vengeance whenever he gathers the strength or – or when he builds up a new army…”
She can’t let it go – there was too much destruction her uncle had caused for that to happen – and she would only feel safe again until he was dead and the entire image of what he had become was destroyed.
“…He’s a threat. We have to eliminate the threat.”
Darcy brings her gaze to Daryl’s as she speaks Rick’s famous words. He still has his hand on her arm but it is gentle and at the same time, desperate to not let her go.
“Now are you gonna kiss me goodbye or not because I’d rather not leave with us like this.” She mumbles.
Daryl shakes his head, drawn and hurt. “Can’t.” He pulls back entirely.
Darcy steps forward and stands on her toes to gives him a small, light peck on the corner of his mouth anyways. Daryl doesn’t react, and Darcy doesn’t expect him to, but just stands still and she can hear the disappointed and wayward sigh emit from his nostrils.
Pulling away slowly, she rests her forehead against his cheek for a moment and embraces the warm stubble on his face that she has grown fond for. She steps back, defiant nonetheless and gives the smallest closed-mouth smile.
“I’ll see you in a few weeks.”
Oh. Hey there strangers.
Listen, I'm really sorry about such a long wait on this - and this part isn't even that long, it's just a filler before Season 4 starts up here. I just wanted to say thanks for being patient, we just got back from the honeymoon two days ago, and this was really the only thing I had on my mind that I wanted to do since we've gotten back. And since it's been so long, I feel a bit rusty so please, continue to bare with me. I'm so so so so excited to get started with Season 4 I can't even explain it. There may be one more filler chapter first but I haven't decided yet. But please, let me know what you think because I do feel rusty like I said but I wanted to get this up ASAP.