Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 7: Fight Our Fates 'Til We Die
~Author's Note: So, here's the next one. It isn't that great...but it was a direction I wanted to go to further establish and solidify a certain bond. More musical inspiration too...I've been feeling too musical lately, but for me, it just enriches the creative process. I had Slipknot's "'Til We Die" in mind while writing this one. That's where the title of this chapter came from. Hope you enjoy it at least a little, and thanks for reading! I appreciate you guys!~
Daryl abandoned the car about a half mile or so back from the location he was shown on the map. He wanted to move in silently, unnoticed at first. After that, he didn't really know what the game plan was. The man with the info on the location made it should like it was pretty easy to get in...goin' in at least, guns blazin', probably wasn't the best move. He didn't even know if it was Beth in here. Gettin' himself killed wasn't gonna help Beth none if she was somewhere else. But he did know! In his heart. She was here...all the signs...
He'd been told it would be easy to get here...almost a straight line from Terminus...but in a car, it hadn't been easy at all. Going around all the snarl-ups, avoiding debris, dodging walkers he didn't have the time to stop and deal with, cost him most of the day. By the time he parked at the edge of the blacktop, the sky was turning pink as the sun started to fade away. The days were gettin' shorter.
Daryl could've gotten to this point much quicker on foot, even if he was just walking, not running. The thing was, when he got to Beth, much as it made him cringe, she might be hurt, and they needed a way out. He wasn't willing to find her just to lose her again by one of the biting it. It was good that the sun was goin' down. Dusk had a way of distorting things, tricking people's minds into seeing things that weren't there or not seeing things that were obvious. And then dark would come. Daryl could work with sunset. He'd spent most of his life outdoors, nothing tricked him. He wasn't bragging, his mind was just too sharp for nature to screw with. When full dark came, he would have the upper hand.
He stopped just within the cover of the tree line, crouching down to assess the situation. The "complex" was set back in a small clearing. It didn't look like much, and it didn't look all that secure. There was a school building and a playground set at one end of the small field, surrounded by a tall chain link fence with random school buses parked along the perimeter, probably at what they felt were the weak points. The church itself and what looked like an attached meeting hall on one side and parsonage on the other was protected by a wooden privacy fence resembling those around a suburban clone home with a hundred other identical homes in a neighborhood if it hadn't been constructed outta such rough hewn lumber. It looked like there was just one way in and one way out, a main gate at the front of the church's perimeter. But if he could get his hands over the top of that fence, he could get in unnoticed at any point.
Daryl watched as the people started migrating from the school complex to the church site. Must've been meetin' time. He didn't know if that made his mission easier or harder...whether he should wait until full dark to make his move when people were gone and things were calm. He watched carefully as people entered the gate. They were mostly families or small, non-threatening groups, barely any armed with a knife he could see, much less a gun. The two "guards" standin' at the gate greeting people were both armed with deer rifles and smiles. He watched, waited, desperately looking for Beth to appear among the faithful headed to the church, but she wasn't with them. The realistic part of him knew that she wouldn't be. If these crazies and their charismatic leader thought that she was some sort of gift from God, she would be kept close at hand in the place they believed was the safest...near the sanctuary.
He stood. It had to be now. Daryl had to know where Beth was and what sort of state she was in. If this place preached crazy shit, God knows what they were doin' to her in the name of God. He had to shake the images outta his head and bite back his anger. Goin' in angry wasn't gonna help him none. He needed to go in smart. Anger might help later, but not goin' in, not initially. He checked to make sure his hunting knife was still secured at the familiar place at his hip. He knew it was there, but hunters always checked. He smoothed his jacket and vest down over his pistol, concealed in his back waistband. People always seemed to get more worked up about guns than knives and bows, even crossbows. That made 'em stupid 'cause they didn't know him, but Daryl was thankful for every advantage he could get. Crossbow over his shoulder, it was time to make his move.
Something snapped in the distance behind him. Daryl froze and hunkered down instinctively. Someone...no, more than one someone...was crashing through the underbrush. It weren't no animals neither, only people were that loud in the woods! Maybe he'd been wrong 'bout the preparedness of this cult. Maybe their visible security was lacking 'cause they had scouts or hidden assets. He cursed himself under his breath for being caught like that again. That was exactly what happened to him, Rick, Carl, and Michonne at Terminus! He was fucking better than this! He slid behind the wide trunk of a tree, watching...waiting to be able to calculate his odds. And then he saw them where they stopped some ten yards away from him.
What the Hell!
"Are you sure he went this way?"
"You saw him get out of the car and head off into the tree line. He was headed toward the church. This is the only way he could've gone."
They were attempting to use hushed voices, but he could hear 'em clear as day!
"Yeah...but there aren't any tracks or anything..."
"It's Daryl. He's not going to be trackable," Rick informed Carl before pressing forward again.
Well, it wasn't scouts, but it was just as bad. Nothin' to be done about it now though. He needed to stop 'em before they screwed up whatever little bit of plan he had. Daryl stepped out in their line of sight, but even then, they didn't notice him...twilight...it fucked with people's heads...they couldn't see what was right in front of 'em.
"What the hell are you doin' here?" Daryl projected his hushed voice towards Rick and Carl.
They both drew on him reflexively...good...at least they had some useful instincts.
"That's the fourth time you've pointed that gun at my head. You gonna shoot or what?" Daryl knew the answer. Rick understood the question. It was part of their past.
Both man and son lowered their weapons once they saw it was him, approaching his location. There was a reason he'd never taken Rick hunting...now he knew why! They were so noisy! He didn't move to meet them...letting them approach. No point putting off their noise making.
"What in the hell are you doin' here?" He repeated the question. "I told you no!" Even Daryl's hushed tone was assertive.
"That was before we knew where Beth was and you were just heading off into the great wide open, not planning on coming back. Things changed." Rick was a stubborn sum'bitch...always had been.
All three had crouched down to minimize their existence in the woods.
"And you brought Carl!" Daryl commented.
"What's that supposed to mean? I can take car of myself!" Carl challenged.
Daryl liked this kid...probably didn't give him enough credit. He could hold his own, and he'd proved he was lethal. Thing was, if things went south, he didn't want Carl's blood on his hands. Rick's neither.
"Yeah...Carl's here. I've got a plan," Rick informed.
Daryl took a deep breath. He had a plan...but it wasn't much of a plan...go in and see what happens. Truth was...he wasn't a one man army. If this was going to be a rescue mission, if Beth was going to make it out alive, he probably needed help.
"So, what's this plan...spill it...we ain't got all night." Daryl didn't mean to be sharp, but if Beth was in there...she was so close, but still so far away. They needed to get her out.
"I got some information on this place after you left. These people, they might be crazy, but their apparently not paranoid. They take people in easy. The newcomers stay in the church the first night. I was told that after their service was held, the blonde girl...maybe Beth...was taken out the door of the sanctuary by the altar. It means, more than likely, she's being kept in the church."
"I'm hearing a whole lot of talking and not a lot of plan..." Daryl was getting impatient. He already assumed all that. This was a waste of his time...Beth's life.
"We're going in."
"That's your plan? That was my plan!" Daryl barked, getting up to move into action.
"Shh...listen to me." Rick grabbed his arm, stopping him from heading out. "Carl and I are going in. Have you taken a look at yourself, Daryl? You haven't even washed the blood off yet. You're a nightmare."
Daryl furrowed his brow and glared. Why in the fuck did that matter?
"Taken a look at yourself lately, Rick...you've seen better days!" Daryl spat.
Daryl didn't have a problem with Rick, but right now Rick was stopping him from what he needed to do...standing between him and Beth...and that wasn't a good place for anyone to decide to stand!
"Exactly...I look wounded...hurt. You just somehow look more dangerous when you're like this. You'll probably be shot on sight. Me, a wounded man with his son seeking sanctuary..."
Rick was right. Daryl nodded his head in understanding.
"Carl and I, we'll go through the main gates. Two new people should be enough of a distraction for you to get over the fence unnoticed. We don't really know what their defenses are like at night...so you can find a place to hunker down until the meeting is over and the church is clear...then we'll let you in and get Beth out if she's in there." Rick's tone sounded like he was trying really hard to convince him, but he didn't have to. It was better than what Daryl had. He nodded and Rick accepted, standing to move into action.
Rick unbuckled his gun belt, passing it to Daryl.
"What's this for?" Daryl refused it.
"Carl, give Daryl your gun," Rick instructed. "We're going in unarmed. It's a church. They give sanctuary...we don't want them to suspect us. You're coming in heavy."
Rick had his mind made up. There was no use arguing with him. And he was right, no matter how much Daryl hated it...them going in with no guns. Carl passed him his gun, Daryl tucking it under the front of his shirt, and finally taking Rick's gun belt, fastening it securely around his hips. The Python...it wasn't his kind of weapon, but it was who Rick was just like his crossbow was who Daryl was. That Rick trusted him with it...well, that was a feeling he didn't need to deal with right now. He just knew he wouldn't be able to get it back to Rick fast enough. Rick and Carl's lives were truly on him now, and he didn't like it one bit.
"Let's go," Rick was ready to put it all on the line.
"Rick, wait," Daryl held his ground as Rick and Carl looked back at him. "Why are you doing this?" It was a fair enough question.
"Beth's one of ours...our family...we're not going to leave her out here all alone." Rick was approaching him. It was the answer Daryl expected, but he needed to hear it all the same. He felt Rick's hand on his shoulder; he was so close that only Daryl could hear his words. "You offered yourself to save me...my son...put your bow down and offered up your blood...your life..."
"Anyone would've done that," Daryl cut him off.
"No...a brother would've done that. You saved my family. I'm gonna help you save yours."
Daryl looked down, shaking his head, biting back unwanted emotion.
"Daryl, I know...I'm not stupid. You don't have to say it...you're my brother, and we're gonna get Beth back to you...give you both a chance."
"Rick...thank you," Daryl managed.
"It's what we do...you told me that once, 'It's what we do'. It's my turn now."