Safe Haven in the Chaos

BY : IdrilsSecret
Category: S through Z > The Walking Dead
Dragon prints: 3800
Disclaimer: I do not own the walking dead or any of the characters. No money is being made from the writing of these stories

Chapter 42 The Day the Music Died

 

 

The Sanctuary, a couple days after being taken prisoner . . .

 

Daryl didn’t know how long he’d been in this hell. At first, the music was on a loop, a horribly cheerful song that was so loud he couldn’t hear himself think. Eventually, it would stop for a length of different intervals, but then it would come back on just when Daryl was relieved for the silence. The only thing he could do was cover his ears to try and mute the obnoxious sound. He was naked in his cell without anything to keep him warm. In the dark damp room, he shivered until he thought he was losing consciousness. Hypothermia, he wondered? He’d been in similar situations growing up in the backwoods, lost in the wilderness, cold and hungry, but at least he had a shirt on his back. He had nothing now, and he thought he was losing his mind. Daryl was weak, cold, hungry, and so tired that he couldn’t sleep anymore. There was such a thing as that, he told himself, but he wasn’t sure he didn’t sleep because of his condition or because of fear.

 

He’d been deprived of any food and only given enough water to keep him alive. It didn’t help that he hadn’t eaten in a couple days prior to his capture. He had been too full of rage and sorrow over the death of Denise. And then his wrath towards Aaron for leaving Alexandria to go with Jesus to Hilltop completely destroyed his appetite. His heart ached to think of Aaron. He never should have been so horrible to him. The things he said were out of anger, and his actions against him were a result of his belligerence. He never should have accused him of an affair. He knew Aaron would never do such a thing.

 

Dwight, it seemed, was his keeper, bringing him small shots of water once in a while. Sometimes he would talk to Daryl, and tell him if he accepted Negan as his leader, he’d be given clothes and food. All he had to do was kneel down and say the words.

 

The words were said by everyone who worked for Negan. When asked, ‘Who are you’, they all replied, ‘Negan’. Daryl remembered the man from the satellite compound, the one who tried to escape on his stolen bike. He had told Rick that he was Negan, and at first they thought they had captured the man responsible for so much fear. The man was eventually killed, and so was everyone else at the Saviors compound. Alexandria was foolish to think they eradicated the problem and set Hilltop free of their enemy. That station had only been a single outpost, and the twenty or so people there, who all called themselves Negan, were a drop in a much larger bucket. They were a handful of bees collecting honey, and now Daryl was trapped inside the hive. All he had to do was conform. When asked what his name was, he would respond, “Negan,” and he could get out of his prison. But no matter how horrible his conditions were, Daryl would not say it. He refused with silence every time Dwight brought it up. Daryl knew who he was. He’d spent too many years being someone else, and he never wanted to go back to a place like that. He had finally accepted who he was. He would never pretend again.

 

Daryl had enough time to wonder why Dwight was wasting his time trying to make him submit in the first place. Negan had taken him hostage to ensure that Rick followed through with Negan’s orders. Daryl knew it wasn’t that simple. The Saviors had no intention of releasing him back to his people. Negan saw potential in Daryl, as far as turning him into one of the Savior’s henchmen. Follow the rules, bow down to Negan, and you could become his right hand man. But how many right hands did Negan have? Daryl had seen a few, Dwight for one, the man at the satellite station for another. Become an active member of their society and have your own group of followers who would listen to your every word and carry out every order without resistance. Power was what Negan used to control his top guys. He gave them their own power, but Negan’s rule trumped them all. And if he could break Daryl and get him to join them, he’d have one more under his thumb. At what cost? Daryl’s identity, the thing that drove his very soul would belong to Negan. What had Dwight given up to have the position he ruled from? Daryl wondered. He was sure it had something to do with those two women he had with him in the burnt out woods. One had died, but what happened to the other one? Sherry, he remembered Dwight calling her as she jumped on the back of Daryl’s bike, aiming her gun at him.

 

Daryl had been in such deep thought, he almost didn’t notice when the music stopped. The lock clicked and Dwight came in holding something in his hand. The light bleeding through the door was too bright to see what he held. As his eyes adjusted, he saw Dwight walk to where he was curled up, naked and cold, in the corner.

 

“You know, it’s not so bad here,” Dwight started the conversation. “Yeah, Negan has rules, and some of them don’t make much sense, but if you just do as you’re told, there’s a place here for you.”

 

“I have a place,” Daryl said in a low tone.

 

“Yeah, well, about that,” Dwight said and paused.

 

Daryl’s heart felt like it stopped. He looked up at Dwight through his long greasy hair. “What?” he asked desperately.

 

Dwight smiled. “See there? You still care. Don’t get your panties in a wad … well … if you had any.” He held his hand out offering Daryl a sandwich. “Orders say to feed you.”

 

Daryl looked at the sandwich in his hand. Every stubborn part of him said to refuse it, but his body cried out for nourishment and he couldn’t resist. He snatched the food from Dwight’s hand and instantly took a large bite. As hungry as he was, his body wanted to reject the awful smelling and tasting sandwich. The bread was hard and moldy and the meat, if that’s what it was, seemed rancid. He wanted to spit it out, but that’s what Dwight was hoping he’d do. Daryl could see it on his face as he watched him eat. Daryl kept chewing and managed to swallow.

 

“My orders were to feed you,” Dwight said again. “But they didn’t say what to feed you. I picked the filet mignon chopped dinner … for large breeds, you know, since you’re our guest and all.”

 

Dogfood, Daryl thought to himself. Of course. He gazed up at Dwight with a death stare and took another bite just to prove that he didn’t give a shit.

 

Dwight huffed and shook his head. “Huh, you are one tough son of a bitch. Well, enjoy.” He turned to leave and opened the door.

 

The light that cut through the dark was blinding, and Daryl held his hand up to shade his eyes as he peered out of the door. He could see a couple men with guns guarding the door while Dwight carried out his duties.

 

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Dwight said from the doorway. “Negan’s putting you to work. Now that you’re eating on our dime, it’s time for you to earn your keep. I’ll send someone down here with your clothes, just as soon as he retrieves them from the last guy who broke the rules.” Dwight left and the music turned back on.

 

Daryl finished the rest of the sandwich. As disgusting as it was, it filled up his stomach. He was already feeling strength return to his body, which was quickly absorbing the food into his system. He felt like the lowest of the low having to eat dogfood, but it was something at least. And the fact that they finally fed him meant that they didn’t want to kill him, not yet. It also meant that he was going to get some of his strength back, and that was important to getting out of this place.

 

>>------->

 

A long time passed before someone turned the music off again. Daryl listened to the sound of the lock clicking open and waited in the corner to see if he would finally get some clothes. The door opened, and there were only two men. One was a young fat kid, probably in his late twenties or early thirties. He was standing in the hallway, holding a gun aimed into the cell. Daryl recognized it right away as Rick’s Colt Python. The other man was the one Daryl remembered from the day he was put in the cell. This man had watched him get naked with a gleam in his eye, and Daryl knew he could be dangerous. He held a folded outfit under his arm as he strode into the cell. The man was large from muscles and height, very fit and in much better shape than Daryl was right now. He walked up to Daryl and around him, staring down with a hungry eye.

 

“Well, well, look at you,” the man said. He smiled and sucked air between his front teeth, making them whistle. “I bet your pretty damn cold sitting there naked in the dark. You know, they don’t do that to all of them, only the disruptive ones. Personally, I like it when they fight back. Gives me something to look forward to. I was kind of hoping you’d try something when the door opened. You ever wrestled a naked man before? It’s like trying to catch a pig, skin sliding, limbs twisting, gyrating as you try to wiggle free. Yep,” he finished saying in an erotic tone. He walked to the side of Daryl, and Daryl did his best to cover himself. The man laughed. “I’m surprised you’re this shy. The ones that like to fight back generally don’t care if their naked. I saw your back when they brought you in here. Looks like you fight back quite a lot.” Keeping himself at a safe distance, the man crouched down on bent knees and whispered so that the kid with the gun in the hall couldn’t hear. “I can help you get out of here, but you got to do something for me. I know about you. I heard Dwight talking to someone, said your man tried to save you. I bet you miss him something awful, the way he holds you, kisses you, the feel of his cock up your ass. I can ease your pain and make it worth your while, and in return I give you a good report. Dwight wouldn’t do that. He’s not like us.”

 

“I ain’t nothing like you,” Daryl growled. “But I know men like you. I’ve killed men like you with my bare hands.”

 

“Ooh, you know I like it when they talk like that. Gives me a warm fuzzy. Come on, just give me a peek. Turn towards me. Let me see what you got hiding down there.”

 

“Fuck off,” Daryl seethed.

 

“You’re already naked. All I got to do is close the door and tell Joey to keep watch. Then I’ll slide up in there. You can even call me by your man’s name. I don’t give a shit. We don’t get many like us around here, and it’s been a long time. No one needs to know about this. Just let me tap that–”

 

Daryl came out of his fetal position and swung a fist at the man’s face. He used the wall to propel himself forward and felt his knuckles crunch the man’s nose. The man was taken off guard, and fell backwards onto his ass. Then he shuffled crablike toward the open door. Joey, the guard with the gun, stepped forward to help the man by pulling him up by his arm.

 

“Damn Brady. What the fuck man?” Joey complained, obviously more scared than worried about where he was aiming the gun. He wasn’t paying attention. Daryl watched the door, seeing a brief opportunity to make a break for it, but he was weak and malnourished from days of starvation. The last time he stood up, his leg muscles shook. If he tried to run now, he’d just end up getting shot.

 

“Motherfucker. I think he broke my nose,” Brady said. Sure enough, blood oozed down his face and onto his shirt. Now he was angry, and he came back into the cell. “I tried to be nice. I tried to give you a choice, but you had to go and screw it up. Don’t think this is over. You broke my fucking nose. Now you owe me, asshole.”

 

He started kicking Daryl’s legs and back, anywhere his foot would make contact. Daryl tried deflecting the blows with is hands or by turning away, but nothing helped. He could feel himself getting bruised up.

 

“Hey man! Cut that shit out. This isn’t what I signed up for when I said I’d be your lookout. If Negan finds out–”

 

“If he finds out, you’ll go under the iron for being an accomplice. Is that what you want?” Brady threatened.

 

Joey swallowed hard. “We’ve been here too long as it is. Give him the clothes and let’s get the fuck out of here.”

 

Brady stared at Daryl, as though considering what to do. Finally he went along with Joey. “Fuck! I need to see the Doc. If anyone asks, this guy attacked me as I opened the door. You held him at gunpoint and we got things back under control. That’s the story. Got it?” He threw the clothes at Daryl.

 

“Yeah man, whatever. Let’s fucking go already,” the youth said worriedly. The door closed, the lock clicked and the music went back on.

 

It was a grungy sweat suit, just like the one he’d seen a man wearing, the one who had this cell before him. This one had a red letter A painted on the front of the shirt. By now, Daryl didn’t care. Just to have clothes covering his skin again was a luxury. He hurried and dressed. Getting out of this cell would give him a chance to see where he was and begin planning a way out.

 

A little while later, Dwight came back, and took him out of the cell. He held Daryl by the back of the shirt at the neck, and made him go first as he directed him down the long hallway. There were a couple men with mops who stood to the side when Dwight and Daryl passed. They kept their eyes to the floor in a submissive manner. Daryl wondered how long they had been in their cells. Now they were doing janitorial service in the pits of the factory. Moving up the ladder, Daryl thought.

 

Dwight led Daryl to an examining room. The doctor who patched up his shoulder was there with a woman. Daryl recognized her as the woman from the burnt out wood, Sherry. He kept his face hidden while the doctor finished up with her. He must be here about his shoulder, Daryl thought. The doc said he wanted to see him in a few days to check his progress.

 

Sherry slid down from the exam table and met Dwight’s eyes, but he looked down at the little silver tray next to him. Daryl glanced at it too, and saw a used pregnancy test with a large minus sign in the display.

 

“It’s negative,” Sherry told Dwight.

 

“Maybe next time,” he answered.

 

Sherry started to leave, but as she passed him, she recognized him. “Daryl?” she said surprised.

 

“Don’t talk to him,” Dwight warned, and there was more fear than anger in his tone.

 

Sherry ignored him and spoke. “Whatever they tell you to do, do it. You don’t know what they–”

 

“I said no talking,” Dwight demanded, and Sherry left the exam room. Dwight shoved Daryl toward the table, and Daryl could feel the amount of ire building in the man. That test had been a surprise to him, and the reason she took it wasn’t because of Dwight.

 

“Let’s have a look at that shoulder, shall we?” the doctor said as though this was a routine visit. Daryl had a seat on the table, and let the doctor lift his shirt. “Coming along nicely. Nothing to worry about. Negan will take care of you,” the doctor said with a smile.

 

When the doctor was done changing the bandages, Dwight led Daryl down the hall. As they were about to round a corner, Negan appeared. Dwight instantly went to one knee and pulled Daryl with him.

 

“Dwight, a word please,” Negan said.

 

“Joey,” Dwight called out, and Daryl saw the kid from earlier come up from behind them. “Take him over there, sit him down, and don’t let him move. I’ll be right back.”

 

Joey nodded and pulled Daryl up by the neck of his shirt. “This way, asshole,” the kid said, and he took Rick’s gun out of his belt to aim it at him. Joey pushed him onto a chair across from a room with its door open. Daryl gazed inside. It was set up nice, a furnished efficiency apartment with a bed, a microwave, a sink, and shelves loaded with books, table and chairs, lamps. Daryl felt his longing for home, for his home with Aaron, for the comfort it brought him.

 

Dwight returned quickly, and nodded to Joey, relieving him of his duty. Daryl was still looking in the room, but he was seeing home, and wondering if he would ever get back there. His vision was interrupted by Dwight pulling him to his feet and leading him further down the hallway to a door. He opened it and forced Daryl through. They were standing outside looking down at the perimeter fence. On the other side were walkers chained to the fence or impaled by long metal rods cemented securely into the ground. There were concrete barriers, like the ones used to divide lanes of an interstate. Walkers were chained to those as well, with only a little room to move. This was part of their security against intruders. Instead of a wooden wall made of logs like that of Hilltop, or of corrugated steel like Alexandria’s wall, the Saviors used walkers as their buffer.

 

There were two men outside the fence guiding a fresh turned walker with a bucket over his head. They chained it to an empty place on one of the concrete barriers, working together to keep from getting caught by grabbing corpse hands and bitten.

 

“If you don’t comply, this is what will happen to you. One way or another, you will work for Negan. You can do in here or out there. The choice is yours. For now, though, you’ll be doing what those guys are doing. Like I said, you gotta earn your keep. We all do.”

 

Eventually, Dwight took Daryl back to the cell. He thought he was going to be allowed to start working. Anything would be better than sitting in that cold dark room with the blaring music. If he went back in there, he would go insane. Dwight shoved him inside, and Daryl sat down in his corner with his back against the wall, hiding his panic. Dwight stood in the doorway and peered down at him. “All you have to do is say it, and I can get you out of here.”

 

There were two men who said they could get him out of the cell, and neither one gave him a good enough reason. He wouldn’t say it, not to Dwight and not to Negan. They would just have to kill him. Maybe it was what he deserved, retribution for getting Glenn killed, for pushing Aaron away, for letting his things get stolen, for not protecting Denise, his brother, Beth, and anyone else who died because of his poor decisions.

 

“I’ll never do it,” Daryl said after a long silence. “I’ll never bow down to him.”

 

Dwight shook his head in pity. “Yeah, I said that, too.” He left. The door closed. The lock clicked. The music came on, and Daryl’s desperation to get out hit him hard.

 

He was getting angrier by the moment. The music was pissing him off. He couldn’t take it any longer. There had to be a way out. He would lose his mind if he had to be subjected to this torture any longer. They said they were putting him to work. He’d take chaining walkers any day to sitting in the dark with music blaring so loud he couldn’t hear himself think. Wasn’t someone looking for him? Weren’t they trying to find a way to get him out? Rick could barter for him. He could find something that had more value than Daryl, something Negan would want more than a man’s soul. Maybe Rick didn’t want Daryl back. He blamed Daryl for Glenn’s death. Maggie was probably glad he was gone. Aaron … Aaron might have tired of Daryl’s difficult attitude. He wouldn’t forget about him, would he? They’d stared at each other across the forest and confessed their true feelings. Daryl thought he’d seen Aaron’s eyes tear. But after Glenn …. Afterwards, Aaron wouldn’t even look at him. He thought it was Daryl’s fault too.

 

“No,” he told himself. “I’m getting out of here.” He got up from the floor and started pacing the cell, feeling along the walls like he had a thousand times before. Maybe he missed something. The door. Maybe if he kicked it hard enough it would bust from its hinges. Daryl started kicking the door with his bare feet. Time and time again, he kicked it, but it didn’t budge an inch. The music played on. Daryl was losing hope. He stopped what he was doing. It was pointless. They would let him die here. He dropped to his knees and let out a guttural cry, pulling his hair as he did. He was a man on the edge. No one was going to let him out. There was no job. There was only darkness. He crawled back to his corner, pulled his knees to his chest, buried his face and rocked back and forth.

 

>>------->

 

There was no concept of time except to count how many times the song played. It was probably a two minute song. Five times would be ten minutes. Ten times would be twenty. Daryl stopped counting after a while because he could no longer decipher when it stopped or when it started. His ankles were hurting from kicking the door. His mind was mush and he couldn’t think anymore. No one was coming. He was all alone now.

 

Then suddenly the music stopped. The lock clicked. The door opened. Light knifed inside hurting his eyes. A figure stood in the doorway. It wasn’t Dwight. It was someone large, round. Joey.

 

He came into the room and looked down at Daryl. He held his hand out, offering a sandwich. Daryl looked at it a moment, and noticed that Joey wouldn’t come any further into the room. He was scared of Daryl. He seemed scared in general. Daryl got to his knees and stretched out for the sandwich. As soon as his fingers touched it, Joey released it and backed away.

 

“You’re going to need your strength,” he said, and he looked at Daryl as though he wished he could say more. Daryl thought he wasn’t a bad kid. He’d just gotten tangled up with the wrong guys. He was doing his job because he was terrified of Negan. Actually, a lot of people here seemed scared of Negan. Only the ones he called his top guys weren’t outwardly frightened. They held some power though, and that was enough to keep them on Negan’s side.

 

Joey left the room in a hurry and closed the door. Daryl knew what came next, the sound of the lock clicking and then the music. It was completely silent and he waited, but the lock never made its sound. After a moment, the music came back on. Did Joey just forget to lock the door? Was he so frightened of Daryl he forgot? Daryl was almost afraid to check the door. If he twisted the handle and it opened, and someone was standing in the hallway, he’d lose his shot at escaping. He had to play it safe. Daryl laid down on the floor, flattening himself as best he could and peeked through the space between the floor and the door. He couldn’t see anyone out there. He wished he could hear, but the music drowned out all sound. He paced the room repeatedly and looked through the crack again. He did this several more times until he was sure. Grabbing the doorknob, he turned it and pushed. Hot damn and thank you Joey, the door was unlocked. This was it. This was his chance to escape. He had to get out. He couldn’t get caught. This was his only chance, he kept telling himself. Think, think, think. Remember which way to go once he left the room. Remember the turns, the apartment, the exam room, and the door he originally came in through. He couldn’t go through the door Dwight had opened earlier today. There were too many people in that area. But that door where he came in the night they brought him here had been a back or side entrance. He remembered the van parking there, and a row of motorcycles. There were plastic rain barrels stacked up and a fence. That’s where he needed to get to. He took a deep breath and opened the door.

 

No one was in the hall, and Daryl slipped out of the cell. He still wore the jumpsuit, but he was barefoot. Didn’t matter. He was getting out. He carefully moved down the corridor and saw one of the janitors around the corner. He changed direction and found another clear path. Coming to another corner, Daryl stopped to listen for movement. Someone came out of a doorway. It was Sherry. For a split second, he thought that maybe she was going to help lead him out. She shook her head and whispered into his ear. “You have to go back, Daryl. Whatever he did to you, if he finds you out here, he’ll do something worse.”

 

“Death would be better than going back to that room,” he said.

 

“Not death. Something worse. You’ll beg for death,” Sherry warned.

 

She’s just another scared follower, Daryl thought. She escaped once and came back. Daryl wouldn’t be that stupid. He ignored her warning and shuffled around the corner, leaving her behind.

 

He could see the door, and after watching and waiting for the right opportunity, Daryl slipped outside. Yes, he’d found the side yard, and there were all the bikes. He didn’t stop to look for an exit. His first thought was to find a bike with a key in it. There were about five choppers. One of them had to have a key. He went to each one to check, and then his stomach dropped when he heard the sound of the door opening. Negan’s thugs started spilling into the yard. Shit, he’d been set up. It was nothing more than a trick. Maybe it was an excuse to kill him. When Negan went to Alexandria, he’d tell them how he kept Daryl alive until he attempted escape, leaving him no choice but to kill him.

 

There must have been about six or eight thugs, all carrying guns. Daryl was like a trapped stray with nowhere to go. And then out came Negan carrying his bat named Lucille. The sight of it brought back all the shock and pain of that night in the woods. That was the bat that took Abraham and Glenn’s lives, and the man who swung the bat. Negan smiled. “Are we pissing our pants yet?”

 

The Saviors surrounded Daryl and Negan strolled up to him. Daryl’s eyes flashed to each man, memorizing faces and weapons. One of the men was Brady, the big burly pervert. The other men, Daryl hadn’t seen before. One person that wasn’t there was Dwight, and he wondered where he was. Negan’s image was burned into his brain, unfortunately. Without looking at his men, Negan asked each one, “Who are you?” Each man replied, “Negan.”

 

“You see there?” Negan said. “I’m everywhere. I’m your worst damn nightmare. I could be your friend, but you got to say the word.” Negan paused, but Daryl remained silent. “Not yet, huh? Well, I guess we kind of grow on you after a while. I’m amazed by all these missed opportunities, Daryl. I thought you were smarter than this. Did you really think we’d leave your door open? You see, that was a test to prove you are ready for the next step so we can get you out of that cell and into some shoes, maybe some new clothes. But you failed, and you failed miserably. That leaves us with three options. You can work for me out there, chained to the fence. You can work for points, which is slow going and everyone’s least favorite way to do things around here. Or you can work for me, earn some respect, and live like a fucking king.” Negan got real close to Daryl’s face and spoke softly. “But you gotta say it. Now, I’ll ask you one more time. Who … are … you?”

 

Daryl felt like he was at the end of all things. Say the word, live another day, and conform. Leave everything and everyone he cared about behind just to stay alive. Or remain true to himself and receive the punishment he probably deserved. For a brief instant, he remembered a conversation he had with Aaron. He’d told him that if he died, to know he went down fighting because he would always fight for Aaron. If he said what Negan wanted him to say, he wouldn’t be fighting. Remaining silent was his weapon. He would suffer the consequences.

 

Left without an answer, Negan shook his head as he backed away. His eyes narrowed as he spoke. “Well, there you have it. You know what? Fuck it.” In one sudden motion, Negan raised his bat and brought it down towards Daryl’s head.

 

Daryl would not flinch. He would not move or speak. He would not wince or turn away. He would take it, and leave the world the way he said he would live his life from here on out, remaining true to who he was.

 

Negan stopped just short of bashing in Daryl’s head. Daryl’s eyes never left Negan’s. He didn’t even blink. Negan smiled. “Jesus, would you look at this. You ain’t afraid of nothing. I am impressed, Daryl. I really am. You boys seeing this shit? Lucky for you, I’m not in a killing mood. Lucille, though, she’s a nasty bitch when she doesn’t get fed. She’s gonna want some kind of retribution. I suggest you get on board because she ain’t skipping another meal.” He swung the bat so that it rested on his shoulder, and slowly strode away from Daryl. Negan whistled, setting his dogs loose on Daryl. The men surrounding him started punching him, kicking him, clawing at his skin. They beat the shit out of him until his eyes were almost swollen shut and his lips swelled two sizes. His ribs hurt with every breath. He could feel bruises on this legs and arms. His stomach was kicked in several times until he had the wind knocked out of him. By the time they were done with him, he couldn’t move. There was blood on the ground from a bloody nose and dirt in his eyes. Someone came up from behind and squeezed the injury on his shoulder, opening up whatever the doctor had done to fix it.

 

Daryl had to be picked up and dragged back inside. He was close to losing consciousness. He could hardly see who had his arms because of his swollen eyes. He didn’t care anymore. He would be glad to be back in his cell where he could lay down and not move anymore. Everything hurt, everything but his stubborn pride. He had stayed true to himself. This he would not bend on. Daryl had lived most of his life as someone he wasn’t. Not until he met Aaron did he come out of the shadows and become the man he was always supposed to be. He could never give that up. Even if it was as little as his name, he would not be anything but Daryl. This was what he promised himself. This was what he promised Aaron. It mattered now because of Aaron, who had taught him to be comfortable in his own skin. So if he was going to die because he wouldn’t conform to Negan’s law, then so be it. This would be his final battle.

 

He was tossed into the room, and hit the floor like a rag doll. He didn’t even move when they kicked him a few more times for good measure. Daryl laid on the floor and took it. He closed his eyes and went to sleep even before they left the room, before he heard the click of the lock or the music started blasting in his ears again. He let the darkness swallow him and prayed for either a miracle or death. He’d take either one, which ever one was fastest.

 

 

>>------->

 

Daryl didn’t know what time it was or whether it was day or night, but he had a feeling it was very late. The hallway was extremely quiet. There was no sound, which was his first suspicion. The music was off. He was still laying in the same place he was thrown, on his stomach using his arm as a pillow. He faced the back wall of the cell, but that didn’t matter with his eyes bruised and swollen. Every muscle in his body refused to work. There was no reason to get up anyway. If Dwight was here to feed him, he could just leave it on the floor.

 

The music was off for a while, longer than usual. Finally the lock clicked and he heard the door creak as it opened. Daryl didn’t move. He just didn’t care at this point. He heard footsteps, felt the toe of a boot nudge him in his side. He didn’t move.

 

“Is he dead?” someone asked. Daryl recognized the voice. It was the kid with Rick’s gun, Joey.

 

“Naw. His chest is moving.” Daryl recognized that voice too. Brady the brute. What the hell was he doing here?

 

Daryl felt hands on him and he was turned onto his side facing the open door. Joey was standing just inside the door. It was Brady who turned him. Brady took Daryl’s chin in his fingers and moved his head one way and another, as though evaluating him for injury. “They did a number on you, didn’t they? Just for the record, I wasn’t one of the ones kicking you. Neither was Joey.”

 

“What do you want?” Daryl mumbled.

 

“Well, we have this little matter to settle about you breaking my nose. I offered to help you advance your way out of this cell, but you turned down my offer. Now the offer is off the table, but you owe me pain and suffering. I’m just here to collect,” Brady said silently.

 

“Don’t you touch me,” Daryl said, but his words came out slurred. His top lip was swollen three sizes.

 

“I’ve never been one for cuddling, so I don’t care about touching you.” Brady sucked air between his teeth. The high pitched whistle was the same as it was before, and it burned itself into Daryl memory, just as the sound of the leaky faucet did when he was a teen.

 

Daryl put his hand out and made a poor attempt to push Brady away. “N-No,” he said.

 

“This won’t take long and all will be forgiven.” Brady pushed Daryl onto his stomach, grabbed at the waistband of his pants and started pulling them down.

 

Daryl repeatedly said no as he tried to keep his pants on, but Brady pushed his hands away. Daryl hadn’t an ounce of energy left in him, but he fought with what little he had. He managed to scratch Brady’s arm, but that made the situation worse.

 

“Goddammit! Stop fighting me,” Brady said through clenched teeth.

 

Daryl kicked his legs and waved his arms. Brady deflected every move. Daryl was too slow and weak to fight, but he wouldn’t stop trying. He felt his pants come all the way off, felt Brady’s knees push his thighs open, one of his hands digging into his back to keep him anchored to the floor. He heard the sound of a belt buckle come undone, a zipper sliding down, and the rustle of cotton as Brady slipped his cock out of his pants.

 

“Hey man! What the fuck are you doing?” Joey said, his voice going high with fear.

 

“What do you think I’m doing? You gonna stand there and watch or you gonna close the fucking door?” Brady shot back.

 

Joey, Daryl remembered, the kid who didn’t want to get in trouble. He was all Daryl had now. He was still fighting Brady off of him, but Brady was too big and strong, and in Daryl’s condition, he just couldn’t take him on. He felt his legs spread even further apart. It was hurting his ribs to have his torso shoved against the concrete floor. He tried lifting his head twice, but each time, Brady’s hand pushed his face down hard, further injuring the swelled and bruised skin. The third time, he managed to turn his head so that he could look at Joey. Brady smacked his head down again, and this time he held his hand there as he started to cover Daryl’s body with his own. He made eye contact with Joey, tears falling and pooling on the dirty floor as he gave him a pleading look of desperation.

 

“P-Please? Help m-me?” Daryl cried softly. Brady’s weight was making it difficult to get air into his lungs.

 

Joey looked scared. He looked like he knew he should do something, but he was scared of everything and everyone. Who knew what Brady held over Joey’s head to get him agree to be the look out. And then there was Negan, and everyone was afraid of him. But this was Daryl’s last effort.

 

“P-Please? H-help? P-please?” Daryl said again. That earned him another blow to the head, as he felt Brady’s fist connect with his cheek.

 

“Close the fucking door and do as we agreed. Don’t leave that spot until I come out,” Brady said, reminding Joey of their deal.

 

Joey looked at Brady until Brady turned his attention back to Daryl. Then he looked at Daryl with pity and apology, shook his head and started to close the door. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, looking away.

 

“No! Nooo!” Daryl cried. The lock clicked. The music came on. Brady climbed on top of him, spit in his hand and started.

 

Daryl was between worlds. He could smell the gasoline and grease of the garage where he was raped as a teen mix with his own stench and the dampness of the cell. He felt Brady forcing his body to its limits, but he saw Jay instead. It was as if he was that pitiful teenager again. He couldn’t fight back then, and he couldn’t now. There was no use fighting now. Brady was already in him, pumping, not caring if he was hurting Daryl or not. Amazingly, Daryl shut out the pain. He practically gave up, and laid there lifeless beneath his rapist.

 

“Call me by his name,” Brady said. When Daryl didn’t answer, he stopped pumping and slapped him in the head. “I know what it is. It’s Aaron. I heard Dwight mention it.”

 

“Fuck you,” Daryl said.

 

Brady produced a switchblade and jabbed the point into Daryl’s ribs. “You’re gonna say all those things you say to him as you’re fucking him. I want to hear it. I want you to think of him as I come in your ass.”

 

“No,” Daryl said weakly. The point of the blade cut through his shirt and sliced his skin.

 

“I’ll cut you up. I’ll make it look like self defense. Joey will be my witness. And you’ll be getting your head fucked by Lucille. Now call me Aaron.”

 

The knife slipped into his skin, slow like hot steel. “Aaron,” Daryl said, finally giving up.

 

“Say it again, but this time with feeling,” Brady said.

 

“Aaron,” Daryl said again, but not much different from the first time.

 

“Oh yeah, keep it up,” Brady said in a breathy whisper as he picked up his rhythm again.

 

Daryl repeated Aaron’s name while Brady increased his rhythm. He was crying now, and he felt sick every time he said Aaron’s name because it excited Brady even more. Daryl tried to force himself to be somewhere else, but as he said Aaron’s name, all he saw was the man he loved and trusted.  He closed his eyes and saw Aaron, and all the times he was there for him. He watched their relationship play out in his head, the first time they met when Aaron was sent to follow Daryl while he hunted. Rabbits, Aaron had told him. He’d been hunting rabbits. They laughed about that even now.

 

Then he was at Deanna’s dinner party, afraid to go inside. Aaron had seen him, had told him not to feel bad. At least he had tried, and that’s all anyone could do, Aaron told him.

 

He saw the cabin when they first found it, remembered the conversations they had, the way they laughed and got to know each other better. Daryl remembered the way Aaron stirred all those emotions that Daryl had kept hidden for so many years. Aaron made it okay to feel admiration for another man. That feeling deepened day by day until he finally gave Aaron his body, his heart and his soul.

 

“Do you love him?” Brady whispered sweetly in Daryl’s ear.

 

“I do,” Daryl answered, still in a dream world where he wasn’t being raped.

 

“Tell him,” Brady coaxed, going deep.

 

“I love you,” Daryl said, and all he saw was Aaron holding him, making all the bad go away. “I love you, Aaron, and I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

 

Brady’s body went rigid and stilled as he came. Daryl felt the hot spurt inside him, felt the pulsating of the man’s cock. Bile rose from his stomach. His mouth began watering and saliva trailed from the corner of his mouth. And then he heaved and vomited the contents of what was left of the dogfood sandwiches he’d been fed earlier. Brady was already climbing off of him. Daryl could hear the man zip up his pants and fasten his buckle. He stood over Daryl and spit on the side of his face. The music turned off, the door unlocked, and he rolled his eyes.

 

“Dammit, I told you not to do anything until I knocked three times,” he complained to Joey through the closed door. “Lucky for you, I’m done here anyway.” Brady turned back to Daryl and crouched down. “You’re one pitiful fuck and a sorry-ass excuse for a lay,” Brady insulted him as the door creaked open. “But you’re my bitch now. You tell anyone about this, and I’ll–”

 

“You’ll what?”

 

Brady froze at the sound of the voice that spoke. It wasn’t Joey. Brady jumped to his feet and stood silent.

 

“Go on. I’d like to know what it is you don’t want him telling anyone,” Negan said.

 

“Oh, uh … I … I didn’t hear you … uh … I was informed that the prisoner was … uh … that he was being unruly, and I came in here to put a stop to it,” Brady said, stumbling over his words. “I may have gotten a little rougher than I meant to get. That’s all.”

 

“Is that so?” Negan glanced down at Daryl, saw the vomit, the blood stain on the side of his shirt and at his shoulder, and realized his pants were off. Daryl watched the scene unfold from his spot on the floor. Negan’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Brady. “Please tell me what I’m seeing is not what I think I’m seeing.”

 

“I told you, he was out of control. Took his pants off and tried to strangle me with them,” Brady lied.

 

“My guys just beat the shit out of him. I don’t think he can lift his head up much less attack you.” Negan walked up to Brady and shoved him backwards until his back was against the cell wall. Lucille came up to Brady’s throat, the barbed wire making punctures in the skin of his neck. “Did you rape this man?” Negan asked, pronouncing each word meticulously slow.

 

“No,” Brady said much too fast, his voice higher than normal.

 

“Because you know I don’t tolerate that kind of shit around here.”

 

“It’s like I said,” Brady explained. “He was out of control. I had to neutralize the situation.”

 

“Uh huh,” Negan said with suspicion. He turned his head to the side, but kept his eyes on Brady. “Daryl, did this man rape you?”

 

Daryl started to answer, but the bile stuck in his throat made him cough and he thought he might vomit again. He tried again when he caught his breath. “Y-yes,” he managed to get out.

 

Negan’s full attention went back to Brady. “What do the rules say?”

 

“Absolutely no tolerance for rape,” Brady answered. “But I didn’t–”

 

“That’s not what Daryl says. And I gotta say, it kind of looks like you did, Brady.”

 

“He’s lying,” Brady said to try and save his skin.

 

Negan called out to two men who must have been in the hall waiting for instructions. They came around the corner and entered the room. Negan had a few last things to say. “You know, I’ve heard rumors about you, but I don’t take rumors seriously, and nobody came forward to make an official complaint against you. I’m thinking that they weren’t rumors at all.” Negan pushed Lucille against Brady’s neck until he started choking. “Take Brady out to the yard and chain him up,” he commanded the two guards.

 

“What? No! You can’t do that. Daryl’s lying. Please, sir. I told you the truth,” Brady begged as the two men took him by his arms and yanked him from the cell. Daryl could hear him pleading as he was led down the hallway.

 

When they were gone, Negan called for another man to come in. Daryl could see a slim man with a mop in his hand, one of the janitors. He must have been passing by and Negan caught a glimpse of him. “I need you to go get the Doc. Tell him to bring his bag.”

 

“Yes sir,” the janitor bowed and hurried off.

 

Now it was just Negan and Daryl. Negan stood over Daryl, looking him over. “I’m sorry, Daryl. This kind of thing is not allowed, not between men, not between women. Doesn’t matter if you’re one of my top men or someone like you, the dregs of our society. Rape is NOT allowed at the Sanctuary. Brady will be dealt with accordingly. I just want you to know that he’ll pay for his crime.” Negan spoke with sincerity, and Daryl believed him. Not that it really mattered now.

 

The deed was done. Daryl was a broken man, once more. He’d sworn that no one would ever take advantage of him again. He thought he was strong. He always imagined that he’d kill anyone that tried. He hadn’t planned on being starved and beaten close to death. He couldn’t protect himself. He felt useless and small. His confidence was gone. Maybe he’d been fooling himself all this time. Maybe he wasn’t a changed man. He was still the pitiful kid who let someone have his way with him.

 

The doctor came into the room with his bag and a blanket. He gasped slightly at the site of Daryl lying face down on the floor, then he looked at Negan for an explanation. “I’m about to punish one of my guys, and I need confirmation that I’m within my right to do so.”

 

The doctor glanced down to see Daryl’s bare body from the waist down. He knew what he was here for. “Does he have any other injuries?”

 

“There’s fresh blood on his side, and his shoulder wound looks like it might have opened back up,” Negan said. Not all of the wounds were from Brady. Negan had been responsible too, when he unleashed his hounds on him in the yard. The doctor would not question Negan’s methods for punishment. He was only here to patch up any of the damage because an injured man couldn’t work.

 

The doctor knelt down next to Daryl and lifted his shirt. Daryl jumped at his touch. “It’s all right. I just need to see what’s going on here. Yes, looks like a knife wound, not too deep. The bleeding’s already slowed. He’ll just need a couple stitches.” The doctor pulled the shirt back down and uncovered part of his shoulder. “Looks like he’ll need a few up here too.” He sighed and whispered to Daryl. “I’m sorry, but I need to check you … down there.”

 

Daryl didn’t care. Let the man do whatever he needed to do. He felt the doctors gloved hands nudge the inside of his thighs. Daryl spread them slightly. He felt the doctor spread his cheeks, careful not to touch him anywhere sensitive. That was it and he was done. He stood up and spoke to Negan.

 

“I’m afraid there is definite evidence that this man was recently raped,” the doctor said with his diagnosis.

 

“Thanks Doc. Fix him up. You can leave him the blanket. Harry, go bring a couple bottles of water, and then get Guy. Tell him he’s on guard duty outside this door. No one in or out except for me or Dwight,” Negan ordered.

 

“Yes sir,” Harry said and he ran off to perform his duties.

 

“You okay here, Doc?” Negan asked.

 

“I’m fine. I don’t believe the patient has enough strength to do anything,” the doctor said as Negan left the cell. The doctor helped Daryl get his pants back on. He stitched up the wounds to his shoulder and side, looked at his swollen lip and his black eyes. There wasn’t anything he could do for those, unfortunately. By the time he was done, the man named Guy arrived. The doctor got Daryl into a sitting position and put the blanket over him. Then he gently patted Daryl’s arm. “Don’t worry. Negan will take care of you.”

 

The doctor had said that to him before, Daryl remembered, and now he was in even worse shape. Daryl glanced at the doctor. “I’m beginning to question his methods for recovery.”

 

The doctor left the room. The door closed. The lock clicked. The music didn’t come on. Finally, peace and quiet. “Maybe I’ll die in my sleep,” Daryl thought to himself as he lost consciousness.



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