(Part 7 of ?)
“If you go, then I go.” Daryl said it as a matter-of-fact, like it was that simple.
Carol paused. “It’s not going to come to that. Deana isn’t going to exile me.”
She’d helped him navigate out of the exam room in the clinic, to the patient room where Rosita was keeping a vigil over Tara. He’d take her instructions to sit on the couch in the room and rest, but only so long as she was sitting nearby, within his reach. Tara was still unconscious, and Carol had said that she would stay with her and Daryl while Rosita went to grab something to eat.
“I’m not lettin’ you take off on your own, neither.” Daryl had agreed to let her wrap a few layers of bandaging around his eyes, to let them heal without the light hitting them. He hated it, but he tolerated it. “You go; I go.”
Carol sighed, unscrewing a bottle of water and pressing it into his hand. “Drink this, and take these.” She deposited two tablets of aspirin in his palm.
He grumbled but swallowed the pills along with half the contents of the bottle.
“Everything’ll be all right around here without Pete,” he muttered. “Rosita did a pretty good job.” He gestured vaguely to the stitching on his forehead. “Eugene’s smart, even if he’s an idiot sometimes. You done more’n your fair share of savin’ people.”
“First aid is not the same as performing surgery, treating the ill, or being a real doctor,” Carol argued gently. “What if Tara has a complication? What if your eyesight doesn’t return completely? What if Eric’s ankle doesn’t heal correctly? None of us know how to treat things like that. Judith hasn’t been immunized against ANYTHING. I don’t…I can’t regret my actions, but if killing Pete ends up costing more lives…deaths that could have been prevented with formal medical training…that’s on me, and I don’t deserve to be here.”
“Ain’t a matter of what you deserve. You belong here,” Daryl said. “Ain’t talkin’ about Alexandria or the woods or wherever…Just here.” He made a vague gesture to the space between them. “This place ain’t somewhere I want to be without you in it. So…you go; I go.”
She sighed, relieved and terrified at the prospect.
“Besides,” he added. “If we all got what we deserved, I’d have been dead a long time ago.”
Carol wanted to correct him, but the air in the room felt too heavy, too morbid.
“Me too,” she murmured softly in return.
Daryl’s hand fumbled blindly for hers, and she let him grasp her fingers.
“Then…if we go, we can just…be ghosts together,” he stated.
Carol drew a breath to collect herself, but Tara’s soft wheeze from the bed interrupted the moment.
“Oh fuck, what soap opera did I wake up in?” she groaned.
Carol gave Daryl’s hand a squeeze and then stood, crossing over to Tara’s bedside. “Tara? Hey, it’s Carol.”
Tara opened one eye, while the other eye fluttered a bit against the thick bandaging that was encroaching over her eyebrow. She blinked a few times and focused her gaze up at Carol.
“How are you feeling?” Carol asked, eying the bandaging.
It looked secure, and Tara seemed responsive and lucid enough.
“Like I got hit by a truck…Did I? What happened?” she asked. “It’s kinda…foggy.”
“Don’t worry about that right now,” Carol assured. “It’s okay. You’re all right.”
If Tara heard the lie in her words, she didn’t point it out. Instead, the young woman winced at the pain in her head and swallowed.
“You gonna…let him talk to you like that?” she said hoarsely as Carol opened a bottle of water for her to drink. “That’s the cheesiest thing I’ve heard in years.”
“Shut up,” Daryl grunted from his seat on the couch, picking at the wrapping around his eyes.
“Sounds like you guys are going somewhere,” Tara asked, taking a few tentative sips of water with Carol’s assistance. “You’re not leaving, are you?”
Carol hesitated, then quickly recovered with a gentle smile. “We’re not going anywhere.”