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A South Wind

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It's mid-morning and the sun is finally starting to burn off the dew. Everyone is moving about in their morning rituals, with Daryl providing the percussion to their chores with each crack of the axe, adding to their small stash of firewood.

Most days now Glenn and Daryl will either go hunting together, drive into the city for supplies, or whatever else needs doing. So it's safe to say that they've become quite a team.

Of course, it depends on how you say it.

"Where's your boyfriend?" Shane asks Daryl just as he finishes splitting a chunk of wood.

Daryl looks up sharply in irritation. "What?"

"Glenn," Shane sighs, clarifying. "Where's Glenn?"

"How the fuck should I know?"

"You're usually two peas in a pod. Just figured if anybody'd know, it'd be you."

"I don't know where the hell he is," Daryl replies cagily, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

He doesn't appreciate that little knowing smirk he's receiving from Shane. And, of course, the fact that he's lying to Shane pisses him off all the more. He knows Glenn has gone off with Dale to help get water. He props another piece of wood up for splitting.

"Well, when you see him," says Shane. "Let him know I'm looking for him."

Daryl brings the axe down with a loud crack and the wood pieces shoot to the side. He looks up at Shane briefly but doesn't answer him. He picks up the pieces of wood and tosses them over on the stack with the others. Shane just walks away, shaking his head.

Daryl's hands clench on the axe, just itching to wing it at Shane's head. He's only about halfway through the woodpile but he's too agitated to continue. He buries the axe into the tree stump and grabs his crossbow.

"Goin' huntin'," he snarls on his way out of camp.

He misses the look of concern in Carol and Lori's eyes as they watch him disappear into the woods.

A short time later, Glenn and Dale return with the water they've collected. Most of the group is around camp. Glenn sets down his container and immediately notices Daryl is missing. "Where's Daryl?"

"He left to go hunting," says Carol.

"What? By himself?" asks Glenn in shock, already reaching for his backpack. "Which way was he heading? How long ago did he leave?"

"Glenn, you're not going to look for him," says Lori, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder. "You'll never find him."

"It's dangerous for him to be out there alone," Glenn insists.

"It's too dangerous for you to go look for him," Rick affirms.

"Someone should have gone with him."

"He's a smart man," says Shane, stepping up to redirect Glenn's focus. "He'll be fine. He's gone by himself before."

"But…"

"He'll be fine," repeats Shane. "In the meantime, I think you and I should go into Atlanta."

Glenn looks at him in confusion. "For what?"

"Guns. Ammo. I've been thinking…and I'll just bet some of those nicer homes in Buckhead…I bet they've got hidden stores of weapons. The more ya got, the more ya want to protect it, right? What do you say? Need a good backup man on this."

Glenn doesn't appear to be totally sold on the idea but he still relents. "Yeah, okay."

With one last glance towards the woods, Glenn sighs shortly and follows Shane to the truck.

__________________________________________

Daryl is so distracted that he isn't even aware that he is stomping through the woods, scaring off all the animals. He can't get his mind off of what Shane said. At this rate, he wouldn't be shooting anything unless he comes across a suicidal squirrel.

Fucking Shane. Yeah, he and Glenn had been spending more time together, but it was because someone needed to watch out for the kid. Everyone else was distracted by their own bullshit so, yeah…so maybe he stepped into that role. So what?

Boyfriends? Jesus. It wasn't like they were even friends…were they? It was hard for Daryl to gauge. He'd never really had any friends. He'd worked with guys, drank with 'em, smoked with 'em, but he never considered any of them a 'friend'. To be honest, he wasn't real sure what defined a friend. He supposed Merle was the person he had been closest to but even Daryl knew he wasn't much of a friend. He was pretty sure friends weren't supposed to treat you like crap on a regular basis. No, that's what siblings were for. Friends were supposed to make you feel good, he thought anyway. Make you laugh. Make you want to spend time with them.

So, Glenn…well, he doesn't know how to define Glenn. He likes the kid. Feels protective. But, really, they were just thrown together under shitty circumstances, depending on each other for survival. That's all it is. And Shane…well, Shane was just being a dick, plain and simple.

It takes him a good hour to rationalize it all well enough to calm himself down. It takes him another couple hours to find some game so he doesn't come back empty-handed. But he finally ambles back into camp about mid-afternoon.

He sets his kill on the makeshift table they have sitting near the fire. He casually glances around, immediately noticing that Glenn is missing from the group. After counting heads, he realizes Shane is missing as well. Well, no worry. He's sure they aren't too far away. He isn't going to worry about it. They're two grown man, aware of the many dangers they all face on a daily basis. There was no reason to worry.

His 'not worrying' is noticed by Andrea who decides to put him out of his misery. "They went to Atlanta."

Daryl is surprised by the news. "What? Who?"

"Glenn and Shane. They went into Buckhead, to look for guns. Shane thought they might find some in the mansions."

Daryl figures he must have looked worried for her to offer up the information without him asking. He tries to reel in the initial panic that shot through him at the news.

"I'm sure they'll be fine," continues Andrea. "They said they'd be back by sundown."

He takes a breath. She's right. They're adults. They'll be fine. There's no need to be worry.

He spends the day distracting himself with different tasks, each one more mundane than the next. But as it gets closer to sunset, he climbs up on the RV to take over watch for Dale. He trains the binoculars just below the horizon, where the road first makes itself visible, and waits for the familiar truck to come up over the hill.

But it doesn't.

And as the sun goes down, his panic goes up as he continues staring at road, trying to blink away the darkness.

Carol brings him something to eat but it lies untouched at his feet. He is nauseous with tension and she is the last person he wants to see. He doesn't want to think about what she represents. How many times had he told her that they'd find Sophia? And look at how that had turned out. Just the thought that something similar has happened makes Daryl want to be sick.

The fact that Glenn is out there somewhere with Shane watching his back makes him feel equally queasy. He thinks of Shane's questionable account of Otis' demise and comes to a conclusion. If Shane comes back without Glenn, he isn't going to wait for an explanation. He's just going to empty the rifle into Shane's chest.

The night plods on at a snail's pace. Every once in a while he remembers that he's also supposed to watching out for walkers so he scans the area quickly but then locks his eyes back on the road, waiting for a pair of headlights to appear.

At one point Rick comes up to take over watch but Daryl refuses to leave.

"When sunup comes," says Daryl decisively. "I'm goin' to find 'em."

Rick sighs. There are still a few hours until sunrise. That means that there are a few more hours before that decision needs to be made. He isn't going to argue about it now. He heads to his tent to try to get a little sleep before what he is sure will be a stressful day.

As day finally breaks, Andrea takes over watch while Daryl gears up to head into the city. No one else is stirring. Though everyone had spent most of the night awake along with him in anxious worry, he is annoyed to see that they had somehow found slumber.

"Rick!" yells Daryl, not feeling any guilt for his loudness. "Where are the Goddamn keys?"

Everyone stumbles out of their enclosures, all looking worse for the wear, but Daryl doesn't give a shit.

"The keys," Daryl demands when Rick exits his tent, pulling on a sweatshirt.

"Now, Daryl, just hang on," Rick responds calmly.

"What's going on?" asks Dale. "What are you doing?"

"I'm gonna find 'em. Gimme the keys."

"How the hell are you going to find them?" inquires Dale.

"Daryl, let's just think about this for a minute," adds Rick. "Let's make a plan."

"They were heading for Buckhead…" says Daryl.

"Do you know how big the area of Buckhead is?" continues Dale.

"Daryl, come on," says Rick. "Let's just sit down for a minute."

"No! I ain't waiting no more."

"You can't just run off…"

"Shut up, old man!" Daryl takes a threatening step toward Dale. T-Dog steps in with a firm hand to his chest so Daryl turns back to Rick. "Give me the fucking keys!"

"If you give me just a minute," says Rick. "I'll go with you."

"Hey!" yells Andrea from atop the RV. Everyone looks up at her. She's pointing towards the road. "What's that?"

They all move forward to try to get a better view.

"What the hell is that?" asks Dale, squinting.

It's hard to make out. Something is coming up the road toward them but it's not the truck. It's not walkers either. It slowly gets closer and closer.

"You've gotta be kidding…" says Andrea, looking through the binoculars.

After a minute they can all finally see what she sees. They just can't believe it. Shane and Glenn are pedaling a tandem bicycle and pulling a bicycle trailer behind it.

Glenn is in the front, smiling. He rings the bell as they steer up the last fifty yards into camp. Rick and T-Dog grab the bike as they practically collapse in their obvious exhaustion.

"Lord, you're a sight for sore eyes," says Rick, helping Shane from the bike. "What happened?"

"Walkers took over the truck," explains Shane. "We were gonna wait 'em out in a sporting goods store but more came, then we ran across this beauty."

"You biked here?"

"All night long," adds Glenn, crumpling into the grass. "Thankfully the moon was out."

"You've gotta be exhausted," says Lori.

"Oh, God yes!" exclaims Glenn.

Everyone laughs in relief.

"Did you find guns?" asks T-Dog.

"Found a few," replies Shane. "Then we just filled up the trailer there with whatever we could find."

Glenn's still smiling, but it falters when he sees Daryl, who has been lingering in the back of the group.

Daryl's relief lasted all of two seconds. It's that smile that put him over edge. He's furious. Here he was panicked with fear all night long, running on no sleep, and then Glenn and Shane show up riding a fucking bicycle built for two, happy as you please, like it was a fucking Sunday in the park.

He turns and stalks away from the welcome party, takes his crossbow into the woods and fires a bolt straight into a tree, pissed as hell. The bolt splits and breaks, which pisses him off even more. He rips it out of the bark and then turns around. Glenn is standing there. He's holding something that looks like a piece of clothing.

"What's wrong?" asks Glenn, brow furrowed.

In the back of his mind, Daryl knows that there is no good reason for him to be so angry with Glenn. But he's never been good at controlling his emotions and he's just about to bust.

"Don't ever fucking do that again!" he roars, chest heaving in fury. "I can't sit here and wait for you not to come back!"

They're both stunned by what he's just said, no one more so than Daryl himself. But it's the truth. And it about knocks all the anger clear out of him.

Glenn blinks at him in surprise for a minute before responding. "It goes both ways ya know."

"Huh?"

"You took off hunting all by yourself. At least I had someone with me."

"I can take care of myself," growls Daryl, suddenly on the defensive.

"Oh, yeah, we've seen that. Or did you forget how you fell off your horse, impaled yourself on your own weapon, and decided to stop and make some jewelry for the Tim Burton collection?"

Daryl recognizes the hypocrisy but his emotions are too much for him. Anger is about all he can handle at the moment. "I ain't dead, am I?"

Glenn's shoulders slump in exhaustion. "I'm too tired for this. But feel free to yell at me again once I've had a good night's…day's sleep."

He turns to walk away and then glances down at what he has in his hands and turns back to Daryl.

"Oh, here, this is for you," he tosses the garment to Daryl. "I know it's not your style, it having sleeves and all, but I thought you could use it since the nights are getting colder."

Daryl catches it. It's a brand new North Face jacket, the price tag still on it. Glenn stands there for a second waiting for Daryl to react, but Daryl is still fighting with his anger and doesn't seem to know what to say. Rolling his eyes at Daryl's lack of gratitude, Glenn walks away, shaking his head.

____________________________________________

By the time Glenn wakes up, it's dark and nearly everyone is in bed.

Glenn looks out the entrance to his tent and sees Daryl sitting at the campfire. Sighing, he pulls on a hoodie and walks over to him. When he gets close enough to get a good look at Daryl, he freezes. Not only is Daryl wearing the jacket that Glenn had gotten for him but he has obviously cleaned himself up. Even from ten feet away Glenn can smell the floral scent of shampoo. His goatee appears more groomed than usual, and his hair actually looks like it's been combed.

"Who the hell are you?"

Daryl snorts sharply. "Found some shower gel in your recent haul and figured it was about that time of year."

"That time of year," Glenn echoes in amusement.

The truth is Daryl felt like he should clean himself up before he put on the clean jacket. It would inevitably get dirty like the rest of him but he figured it gave him a reason to clean himself up a bit.

Glenn sits gingerly down in the camp chair next to him.

"Thanks." Daryl clears his throat, looking away briefly. "Thanks for the jacket."

"Oh, yeah. No problem." Glenn shrugs it off. "I've lost track of how many times you've saved my ass so we're nowhere near even but…you're welcome."

They sit quietly staring into the glowing embers.

"Are you the only one up?" asks Glenn.

"Shane's been up for a while," Daryl replies with a frown. "He's on watch so he's slithering around here somewhere."

"I'm surprised I slept so long."

"Shit. Almost forgot," says Daryl, getting up from his seat. He comes back and hands Glenn something wrapped in tin foil.

"What's this?" asks Glenn.

"Small group of turkeys nearly walked right through camp earlier. I got one. Andrea got another. Saved you a leg."

"Are you serious? Turkey? Oh my God," Glenn exclaims, unwrapping it and taking a bite. His eyes roll heavenward. "Oh my God."

"It's not a Butterball or nothing but it's not too bad."

"Oh my God. This is so awesome. I could kiss you."

They both freeze on his comment, awkwardly avoiding each other's eyes.

"I mean…" stutters Glenn, face going red. "It's good. It's…"

Daryl isn't sure why he's so warm all of a sudden. It was just a silly comment. Not like he meant it.

"Andrea's shot woke up Shane," explains Daryl, trying to change the direction of their conversation. "Surprised you didn't wake up."

"Oh," says Glenn, thinking. "I think I did. Must have just gone back to sleep."

"Could've been walkers," replies Daryl in a tone that is slightly admonishing.

"Yeah, but I was pretty tired," shrugs Glenn, taking another bite of turkey. "We biked a long way, all fucking night I might add. Sitting down is not going to be fun for the next couple days. My legs are still wobbly."

He takes a couple more bites before seeming to lose interest. He swallows and looks sideways at Daryl for a second before continuing. "Besides, you wouldn't have let them get me." Glenn looks over and meets his eyes. "Right?"

Daryl stares back, chest tight and face heating up more than before, unsure of what would come out of his mouth right then. But he is spared the trouble because Shane takes that moment to make an appearance.

"What are you boys up to?" asks Shane with a smirk.

It is too dark to see the flush that crawls up both their necks. Daryl is irritated by Shane's presence but more so that it's made him feel like they were caught doing something.

"Hey, Shane," greets Glenn cordially.

Shane notices the turkey leg in his hand. "There anymore turkey?"

Glenn opens his mouth to offer some of his but Daryl beats him to the punch.

"No," states Daryl firmly, daring Shane to make an issue of it. They stare each other down for a minute before Shane relents.

"Glenn," says Shane. "You mind taking over watch while I get a little more shuteye?"

"Oh, no. That's cool," replies Glenn, getting up from his seat.

"Must be the food that's getting to me," yawns Shane as he hands off the rifle to Glenn. "What's the name of the stuff in turkey that makes you tired?"

"Buckshot?" deadpans Daryl.

Shane's face twists up into a sardonic smile. "Right. Buckshot."

Glenn juggles the rifle and his turkey leg so he has a handle on both. He then looks between Shane and Daryl like he's not sure how to act around their obvious hostility.

"See ya," he says to both, but mostly to Daryl.

Daryl watches him disappear into the darkness before turning back to find Shane staring at him. He glares back.

"You got a problem?" growls Daryl.

Shane snorts a short sigh, shaking his head.

"You smell good," comments Shane, chuckling quietly to himself. He then turns and walks away leaving a very dumbfounded Daryl in his wake.