The Darkest Storm
The Only Moment We Were Alone
Even with the pitch darkness of twilight, the howls from the undead echoing towards them, and extreme drowsiness weighing down on their eyelids, nothing deterred them from finding those prison gates.
Scarred and bruised, filthy and weak, the group holds onto the thread of strength they have left. The wheels hit the gravel, spewing up at them at all sides and they see it…mouths dropped in horror yet gladness that the large build up of walkers that usually met them at the entrance had finally breached the other side…but they didn’t seem to get very far.
Rick and Carl are the only figures wading through the tall grass and dropped bodies of the scum consuming the earth. Chests heaving, arms shaking…they hold guns in their hands – clutching almost – from the war the others look like they’ve only just missed. Smoke still leaches out into the air from the barrels.
The flattening tires screech to a halt but it is a few seconds before in which Tyresse jumps out regardless. He rushes towards Rick, asking about Sasha in hopes they’ve made it back in time.
“Sasha?” He asks frantically, “How’s Sasha?”
“I don-I don’t know. I’m sorry.” Is all Rick says shaking his head, sweat and beads of blood dripping off the ends of his hair.
“Boy get in there!” Daryl waves his hand hurriedly, “We got this!”
Darcy opens the trunk and pulls on the first bag. She feels rushed, as if there is a clock ticking down to the last second and now, they are down to the last wire of saving their people. Her hands begin to shake from the lack of sleep and pressure riding on their backs as she lifts the heavy strap to wrap it over her shoulder…but Daryl immediately lifts it from her. “Ya’ll go on inside.” He speaks to her and Michonne. “Leave the rest to us.”
Michonne says what Darcy’s thinking, “The hell you mean ‘leave the rest -”
“All those people in there,” He steps forward and leans closer to both of them. “They got it. Bob ‘n me, we’ve been exposed to it before. Ya’ll haven’t. ‘S one thing sittin’ next to me or him ‘n not gettin’ sick but you ain’t goin’ in there. Not until it’s safe.”
Daryl wraps the bags around his mid-section and hands his crossbow with one hand over to Darcy. “Go on.” She looks at it unsurely before taking it in her left hand. “I’ll be in in just a minute.”
Barely a second passes before Daryl disappears beyond her sight. Darcy holds his prized weapon in her hands, suddenly aware of the amount of weight she feels. She hears the doors slide close at the quarantined end of the prison, and then brings her staggering attention to the footsteps marching through the cobble towards her.
It’s Rick, reaching out his casted hand up in her direction for an embrace. He wraps both arms around her neck, and hers around his middle. She feels him sigh shakily, his pulse slows and shoulders drop. She wonders what he’s had to do while they were gone…she expects the ghastly Alamo strewn about the courtyard battlefield may have only played a small part to his fragile state.
Whatever vague expectations or plans Darcy has conceived regarding returning to the prison and helping Hershel with the medications is completely wiped from her mind when she imagines herself finally lying down in her own bed for a good-nights sleep.
Her feet begin the trek upwards towards the prison without her knowing it exactly. She’s so weary she doesn’t even notice she’s already inside the structure until she’s climbing the stairs to reach her cell.
It’s quite, some lights behind the sheeted curtains of the adjacent rooms tell her others are still awake and listening carefully to what’s been happening in their own home.
Darcy plunges her hands into the soft folded sheets of her bed and she feels instant relief. A smile plays at her lips and her heart races in an urge to rest for even a little while. She’s had enough ‘adventure’ for a lifetime at this point.
Sitting on her knees Darcy rests her head on the bed and swears she can sleep just as she is…but knowing Daryl he’d come and stay with her tonight, she gets up to bathe the blood and dirt from her face as best she can.
She staggers back down into the kitchen and finds a water bottle completely untouched and filled to the brim. She gulps half of it down, unaware of how parched this journey has made her. Then she pours a small handful into her palms and brings it to the back of her neck to wipe the stickiness from her body.
When Darcy feels satisfied enough she rests her hands on the frame of the metal sink she watches the glistening moonlight cascade down through the barred window over them. A feeling of restitution sweeps over her for herself and the prison now they had made it back safe and sound with the necessary medication to save those infected.
The cafeteria is quiet and her heart starts to grow louder in her ears. It was all over; no more sickness, no walkers threatening to swarm the gates, no masked enemies lurking around the corners. No, it was all over. They could finally rest again believing if even for a moment they were safe.
It was like experiencing a euphoric dream after a recurring nightmare. Instead of waking up with a fluttering heart, feeling sick from fear and frustration, there was a sense of pure relief. All of the tension drops from Darcy’s shoulders and each breath she takes are suddenly even more satisfying.
Darcy is swiftly overwhelmed by her tired and seemingly growing absentminded state to think about anything except those soft sheets. She once again climbs the stairs to her cell and lets her feet dangle over the side of the bed as she plops down lazily.
Kicking off her boots, Darcy rolls back onto the bed and faces the wall barely able to keep her eyes open for another second…
“Ya look like shit.”
Darcy squints her eyes open between the strands of her hair and sees Daryl standing in the doorway of the cell. She lets out an exasperated moan from him waking her to which he can’t help but breath out a short laugh.
“Glenn?” She croaks, wiping her brown locks away and rolling over tangled in the sheets to her stomach.
“Fine.” He whispers. “Meds got to ‘im just in time.”
“So it’s over?” She asks.
A corner of his mouth slides into a smile. “’S over.”
Darcy lets her head drop into the pillow. Daryl watches as she pats the bed next to her, implicating for him to lie down which he simply couldn’t argue with. He watches her carefully as he slides his shoes off, and removes his jacket followed by his shirt.
He lifts the sheet to crawl into the bed next to her when his nose wrinkles at the strong scent left in the air between them, and what was emanating off of them both – reeking of sweat, the woods, a general wild night, and what could only be her bringing the scent of fresh peaches and daisies – has him squirming beneath the covers.
Lying unsurely, Daryl inches himself close enough to her so that she could move into him if she wanted to, but far enough away for himself to be at ease. He looks at her and then to the ceiling, and then back and forth when he tries to figure out what exactly to do with his arms. He finally rests one above his head and one to his side, staring off into silence and desperately wanting the woman next to him to give him her undivided attention now that there was nothing standing in the way.
A voice is muffled from her pillow, “Thank you, Daryl.”
He turns his head in surprise and compresses his brows together, “For what?”
“Finding me when you did.”
Daryl could have kicked himself for the way his chest swelled, hearing that she still thinks back to the first time they met. Not to mention the miss-beat of his pulse as she turns slightly to face him with a small, closed-mouth smile, and rushed feeling when she shifted her leg and lightly brushes it against his.
“Wouldn’t have made it this far.” She rubs her nose and stares her out of her amber-hues softly. “Not by a long shot.”
“Stop talkin’ like that.” He frowns, staring back up at the ceiling. He is trying hard to ignore the uncomfortable conversation forming between them.
“Fine.” She says, yawning, holding his gaze with her playful stare and bribing him with a teasing smile.
She sees him make the connection when his eyes flicker momentarily to her lips and he begins to pick at his fingernails with the hand behind his head. Daryl then chews the inside of his cheek, an idea taking hold. It isn’t hard for her to pick up.
“What?” She asks.
“I’m not comfortable.” He grunts.
“It’s better than that cramped van, that’s for sure.”
He nods in agreement then beckons her closer in a quiet, hoarse tone. “C’mon.” He points to his side, motioning her to actually cuddle next to him.
It was Darcy’s turn to be contemplative. She studies Daryl’s face carefully, blue eyes seemingly unblinking, and making the hunter overwhelmingly self-conscious which was, sadly, not hard to do. Something like this was never really something of Daryl’s character but it wasn’t as though she could deny the affection even if she wanted too.
Darcy shifts over to her side and nuzzles her head into his shoulder. She lays her right hand on his chest and an involuntary shudder passes through her body once he engulfs her with his right arm.
“How about now?” She asks quietly.
“Ain’t bad.” He shrugs, suppressing a small smile that Darcy couldn’t see. Daryl was, in fact, very comfortable.
Darcy isn’t sure how long they lay there for, still in each other’s hold, before she becomes very aware of how fast Daryl’s heart is beating. She feels him from time to time adjust his jaw, as if he keeps licking his lips or chewing the inside of his cheek in thought. One thing is for sure though; they weren’t going to sleep anytime soon.
“Darcy,” Daryl barely is able to speak her name, his voice is so low inside his throat.In a brief flash of clarity, Daryl realizes that this will be the first step on a path that will inevitably make him step out of his normal boundaries.
“Yes?” She whispers.
He swallows hard, “Thanks.”
Daryl shrugs, “Everythin’.”
Darcy props herself on her elbow to face him and immediately a hand reaches out towards her. It wraps itself around her cheek trailing back to her neck, pulling her into an unexpectant and shaky pair of lips that she could never mistaken to be anybody else’s.
Their breaths are caught in their throats, blushes rise over their cheeks…but it doesn’t stop anything. Hands clench the flesh they hold, lips press harder and faster against the other, needing this – needing each other.
Daryl pulls Darcy by her forearms over and on top of him. He trails her arms up over her shoulders, feeling every inch of her body down to her thighs that sit on either side of him. Darcy rests her palms on his chest, leaning in and meeting her lips with his once more.
Darcy feels a force push down on her thighs, sending her body to sit further down just below Daryl’s belt buckle. He sits up, reaching the nook between her neck and shoulder to send little nips and bites here and there before fumbling with the hem of her shirt and lifting it over her head. She feels his fingertips clutching at her lower back to hold her up against him, as close as possible.
Darcy’s body is flushed, feeling a quiver by her navel as she wraps her arms around his neck, breathing in his musk and reminder of the woods. She slides her fingers through his hair, growing impatient and tugging at the long locks.
Darcy rocks her hips into his, receiving a welcoming moan emitting from Daryl’s throat as she brushes the hardness held against her thigh. He reaches up to palm one of her breasts as he fumbles with the latch of her bra. Once it is open, it’s thrown across the prison floor and his thumb roams over the exposed skin, nipples already swollen and pressing against him.
Then suddenly, Darcy takes his hands and presses his body backwards against the bed, pinning his wrists up above his head with his eyes closed enjoying the feeling of this woman doing unimaginable things to him that no one else ever could.
And in that moment, they’ve forgotten that their once major cities are deserted and desolate. They forget the dead roam the streets and no longer wonder where everyone has gone. The stars are no longer faint or distant, and the moon is no longer sickly yellow but white and bright, promising a light through these dark and dangerous times.
The next morning proved that promise. The day was sunny and clear, the white fog had lifted and the weather turned colder and less humid. Fall was in the air, even though it was still early in September.
Darcy has woken up but lays still, stroking gently the forearm of Daryl lying next to her in a somewhat deep slumber. The edge of her mouth curves into a small smile as she watches his chest rise up and down telling her, all is right for now.
She knows it’s getting later in the morning, maybe close to early afternoon. Rick most likely has let them sleep in since they needed it; hell, they earned it after what they fought through to get back here on time.
Darcy has been listening to the bustling voices and bodies’ saunter back and fourth through the halls and tombs. Not ready quiet yet to get up and help move the bodies, she decides to lie as still as she can to not wake Daryl. He’d be up in a New York minute if he knew how late it was.
A sharp intake through Daryl’s nose for air tells her he’s stirring, almost awake. Her dreams of taking an afternoon off are cut short when his eyes flicker open and lets out an exasperated yawn as if he’d never done it before.
He rubs his sharp blue eyes and looks over to her, nodding a good morning followed by a small grin. “Still early?” He asks.
“Late.” She answers. He pauses his stretch to look at her with a raised brow and his mouth formed to a thin line. “Don’t.”
“Shouldn’ of slept in.” Daryl sits up on the edge of the bed to fumble with the hem of his shirt and drape it over his torso, followed by his jacket.
“Well, now we’re up.” Darcy follows suit and puts on her boots once she’s dressed.
“Daryl?” The sound of knuckles tapping on the hanging sheet catches their attention. It’s Rick, he wears a solemn expression and swallows hard.
“Wha’s up?” Daryl hesitates.
“Need a quick word,” He looks to Darcy. “Alone, if you don’t mind.”
Darcy raises a hand while still holding a boot in the other. She exits the cell saying, “Say no more.” And instead saunters downstairs to scrounge up some breakfast from Carol.
Her boots, once the other was finally pulled on in a rough tug-of-war, kick the metal steps when she walks down the stairs. She passes Maggie grabbing some water with a smile and rounds the corridor stepping into the cafeteria.
A small group gathers, some of who are Carl and Beth. She approaches them, and immediately Beth hands her a bowl of oats.
“Thanks.” She smiles. “Where’s Carol? With Judy?”
Beth shakes her head, “No. Judy’s sleepin’. Must be in A Block still.”
Darcy nods with a mouthful, “And your Dad?”
“Outside.” She smiles sweetly, “He’s helpin’ clean up.”
“That man never stops.” Darcy shakes her head with a smirk.
“Trust me,” Beth stands to clear her dishes, “I know.”
Without warning, a deep rumble seems to rip throughout the entire prison. The floors beneath their feet start to shake, dishes and silverware fall to the floors with a shatter, and the people around them hold themselves tight against the tables and stair rails just for stabilization.
Then, just as it started, it stops. Darcy looks around in silence as does the others surrounding her. Her mouth hangs open and her arms shaking from the tension held to keep herself steady.
The building still looms above them but all of the windows she can see are barred and split. The foyer is now lit brightly by the same cracks, and the doors that normally took two men to slide open now stand ajar. Dust dances in the sunlight. And then there it is…from one odd angle out of the corner of her eye; Darcy can see a guard tower up in flames.
“My dad’s out there!” Carl shouts.
Darcy’s trail of inspecting the damage stops short when she sees Carl bolt for the doors. “Carl, wait!”
Tearing after the boy, Darcy is forced to push through the gathering crowd to see what was happening on the other side of the gates. Something shot that guard tower, and it was with something that could most likely tare this entire place apart if they don’t stop it.
When she reaches the outside of the courtyard, she feels certain there is something unmistakably familiar about this attack. Off by the inner fences, she sees Carl has rejoined Rick and several others, but it’s odd. By now they would have been active, started defending their walls, their home. Instead they stand, mouths gawking at whatever sight they see on the other side of the gates, something deterring Darcy from seeing where she stands at all.
She suddenly notices Daryl; he’s about fifteen paces away from the gate. It’s a fair distance, still she can tell he’s looking straight at her and she swears she sees an expression of what, disappointment or guilt, she’s not sure. But the suns in her eyes, and while she’s still trying to figure it all out, a voice echoes through the courtyard.
Darcy’s feet unconsciously pick themselves up in a quickened pace towards the gate. Her heart feels as though it’s lodged into her stomach and throat at the same time because she knows it can’t be true, but she can’t for the love of God ever forget that horrifying voice…
“C’mon down here! We’ve gotta talk!”
Daryl reaches her before she can see. He stands before her, hands clasping down in an unintentionally forceful way as he stares helplessly over his shoulder at the sight. Darcy wriggles out of his grasp. There’s no point in comforting words, in telling her everything will be all right. He’s no fool. His hand reaches out and she clutches it like a lifeline when she sees him…the Governor, a tank, and a new army.
♠ ♠ ♠
Please enjoy this rather obnoxiously late update!