The Truth Will Set You Free

Things begin to rampantly far apart as Andrea's plan doesn't go quite the way she expected. Everything is not quite as it seems.

Woodbury Streets

"There's a dead man in that room."

Andrea, for her part, was mostly silent in safely guiding her former apocalypse family to Woodbury. They made it past the insurgent of Walkers slowly and then as the approached the town - brazenly. Settling the others right outside of the town, she easily makes it back into the town and makes her winding way to the holding cell she last saw Daryl in. Quietly, she slips inside, wary of the fact that there are no guards outside any longer.

Her suspicions are confirmed in moments. Daryl is no longer there. They didn't do anything rash already, did they? She spent far longer outside the town walls than she meant. With a worried expression, she moves outside just in time to see Milton glancing around him in a suspicious manner and move slowly down the alleyway. Without thinking, she boldly steps forward as if she belongs here. Perhaps she does.

"Hey, Milton." Her greeting is friendly and called out so as to not startle him.

But the timid man is easily startled and a soft "wh— " preludes him adjusting his glasses back up where they slipped as he turned too fast to notice her. He casts one of those glances that got him noticed by her towards the nearby wall, painting the picture that they're both standing between the good town of Woodbury and its less known prison. "Where— um— did you come from?" As though he were merely surprised, but not well enough to hide that he might know already.

Andrea is not one to suffer fools lightly. She has a soft spot for Milton, but that does not reach beyond saving a man's life. Stepping forward, she hooks her fingers into the belt loops of her jeans. The soft smile doesn't leave her face. "I finally got a chance to see Daryl. Thought I'd take it. He was one of the people I weathered the, uh, outside with before coming here." She quickly glances over her shoulder and then back at Milton. "He's not where I was told he'd be. And I didn't hear about anything, so I was just about to go see if I could find someone who could tell me where I could say goodbye."

"G- goodbye?" Milton's second startle is one of being caught, before he corrects himself far too late and with none of the suaveness of his best friend, the Governor. "I mean." Though sincerity rings in his voice like hope when he glances down with a soft frown, murmuring before looking up at her half-way through, "Didn't I hear that he left you— alone— out there?"

The startle is one easily caught by Andrea. She raises an eyebrow - he knows he was obvious, it would be more suspicious to ignore it - and shakes her head. "Well, the town passed judgement. I can't get in the way of democracy. I'm hoping to talk the Governor out of it, but I just want to cover my bases. If everything goes ahead, I wanted to pay respects. If nothing else, a good swift kick in the balls." Her tone is good natured, as if she's joking. She does want to stay in Woodbury, after all, and she'd like to keep her ass covered once Daryl is found missing. "Was he moved or somethin'?"

"Umm." Maybe he planned more — had an excuse; Milton stops there, eyes drifting down behind his glasses with a damning sense of guilt. Time trickles by as he inhales and exhales. Then, quietly as anything, he responds with a firm, "Yes." A swallow. He looks up, meeting her eyes with a flash of conviction that nearly makes his timid face handsome. "But if that's all you want to do, I recommend you leave it be."

At that, Andrea's eyes widen in surprise. There's no need for pageantry or tricks, she's genuinely unnerved by this revelation. "It was more of a closure thing and it happening in person was what I was hoping for." Her eyes narrow at Milton, disapproval plain on her face. "What happened?"

"This isn't— " his head swings from side to side, a nervous animal and he spies around the alley as if expecting to be overrun by patrols instead of zombies; maybe that there's a camera above them because he stares a long while at the sky before continuing, "I don't— know. Exactly." The fourth word comes in a rush, before she can interrupt and accuse him. His pointed palm drops and he rubs them nervously together, "But I have my… suspicions. Well— like I said," abruptly, the conviction melts and he turns, attempting to walk away from her, "Just leave it. That's all we can do."

The nervousness of Milton and the inability to give her a straight answer is enough to make Andrea annoyed. She focuses in on the scientist with a narrowed and pointed glare. "Suspicions." His words are repeated back to him in a disapproving manner. "Just tell me what you know, Milton. I'm not about to get angry at you." Though he attempts to walk away, she's not going to let him off the hook that easily. "This is a personal matter. You understand that, don't you? I just need to know what happened."

He takes half a dozen more deceiving steps away from her before coming to a slow, ponderous halt. Staring off from her, face a mask of what she can't see and the dark of the alley as the evening changes. Another drawn-out period of Milton defining a matter in his head before he answers conclusively, "Yes." Strain not from uncertainty of his reply but a hesitation to admit as much outloud. But as he's done it, it firms; there it is, and there's no backing down this time as he turns to suggest, "I'm worried about him." Him distinctively does not radiate of Andrea's friend, but their mutual one. He fills in: "And I'm worried what that could mean for your friend."

It took a while — it takes more — but when Milton abruptly completes his turn to her, he charges up to her and past like a man on a mission, glancing in neither direction with the same paranoia as he obliges her with, "Come on," then waits till she's caught up to him to continue solemnly, "He's taken him somewhere private."

Dreary lighting, half-cracked, the flourescent shining around the corpse of a once-trapped bug, is not the pristine and clinical environment that'd be expected with the professional chair so neatly arranged in the center of the room. But that's all that's neat about it, for the Governor is no doctor, and his prisoner no patient — of any variety; since waking up from the sedative, Daryl's conviction's faded none, though it takes a present back-seat burner as he reels from the retaliating snap of his nose as it dislodges crookedly out of place: a lump, and the clog of blood jumping into one nostril. His head rebounds off the chair back and he makes no extra effort to lift his face, now speckled with his own blood and made heavy by the birthed bruise above each eye.

Plop and plop. Blood trickles on the floor, but it's not from the nasal assault: they've been at it much longer, as evidenced by the spatter on the cold cement; no colder than Daryl's exposed and sliced chest, an identifiable injury difficult in the layers of superficial to serious bleeding.

A hard chortle he chokes on and his cough leaks the morbid amusement above the blatant resignation — not of the Governor's torture, but that it's here, and it's him, Daryl; he suffers with a kind of familiarity and, therefore, stupid gusto.

The fluorescent light flickers, highlighting each of the angles of the Governor's already gaunt face. He reaches for his knife from the bench just behind Daryl's seat. Everything about him is calculating, collected, and altogether vindictive. His lips twist into a maniacal smile, causing hm to hold his knife up towards the flickering fluorescent light to admire its gleam. Everything about the instrument deserves his admiration.

Like a crocodile, his toothy grin gleams as the knife is turned and then slid down his prey's cheek, running its sharp edge against skin. Skin's compliance only draws a broader smile, all around pleased with everything he's doing. "So," he pauses, "where are they?"

Run-down, his skin shudders under the knife and Daryl's head barely twists out of the way after. Part of the resignation that has nothing to do with the way he turns to spit blood and it barely gets past a bare shoulder, his cut shirt almost nothing but shreds and hard to identify. Muttering, "You got no balls, man."

The Governor laughs an echoey, hollowed-out sound, mirthful, yet tinny with each emission of noise. He breathes in an exhales a long, deep breath as he lifts the knife to admire his handiwork once more. "Son," he breathes through each of the laughs, "maybe, in another twenty-four hours you'll be the one without balls." He chuckles again.

The sound's distorted somewhat by the fogged thin rectangle slit like a window high above the dank room but it filters clear enough straight to the ears of Milton and Andrea, where he's led her into the dusty observatory, past chairs that slowed them down without lights, and now to spy upon the frightful truth of the Governor's past-time. It's hard to deny the sheer volume of freshly shining blood spattered around Daryl's seat, dripping from a leg, a stomach — his shirt's coated and ragged, pushed to either side till the pattern's indistinguishable. Like the top of his sliced pants.

This has been going on for some time.

"Sure," grumbles Daryl, with the flash of raw fear equal to the Governor's possible threat, "You'd like gettin' your hands in there again, fuckin'," blood rises in his throat, urging another spit, "faggot!"

"My God…" Milton's hand trembles near his mouth, shocked without being quite surprised. Turning his head solemnly down to the side shadows his eyes beneath his glasses; if he doesn't look, maybe it's not true. "It's worse than I… thought…"

From their perch above, Andrea has no words. While Milton is shocked, the color has drained from Andrea's face completely. She sees what has been done to Daryl and that it is the Governor that is doing it. Somehow, the pictures are not lining up. This was supposed to be a haven. This was not supposed to happen here. "…Worse…" She wheels around. "You knew this was going to happen?! And you didn't stop it?"

"Shhh, shhh, shh!" hurries Milton, catching her eye then losing it as the guilt filters back in over the fear. He casts a glance out the observatory but flinches to do so and finds the floor. "I— not like this. Not this— " he hisses. "But when he went to… visit that young woman." A swallow. "I wondered." Suspected what his friend was capable of: a difficult burden, as Andrew even suffers now, attempting to piece the reality with the desired image of the mind — or heart.

The words are enough to incide the Governor. The knife is, momentarily, pocketed. His hands trail up to Daryl's throat, and his fingers grasp it gently. "Repeat yourself, son. Not sure I heard you right." Depends always on Daryl's cooperation. Or, at least, that's what the Governor tells himself.

"The young woman. Maggie." The woman the Governor profusely denied to having met or seen. He'd lied. He'd lied about everything. Andrea will not be silent and she will not wait here. Her anger is apparent in her gaze as she glares at Milton. As she notices the Governor move forward to wrap his hand around Daryl's throat, she quickly backs away from the window. "He's going to kill him." She wheels about. "Take me to where that door leads." She's pointing through the small window to the entrance into what she can only think of as the torture chamber. "Now."

"We can't— " Milton's still hissing, and he's whitened like a ghost both to the guilt and the fear; a hand clasps to her arms, wheeling her away from the window so that they both lose sight of it. "If you go in there— if he knows you know— " Is he scared for her or for himself? It could be either, interchangeable, or both, tangled; each as weighty as the other and lending him strength against her anger.

Below and through the muffle of old glass, Daryl's less cowed, though there's a distinct disturbance in his voice — not just the strain of being pre-throttled. "Sure," he obliges like he's spelling things out for the mentally incapable: "Yer a faggot, and my friend Andrea's gonna figure your faggot ass out. How many times I gotta say it, willy?"

Milton winces visibly, hands tightening instinctively on Andrea's arms as he moans, "He's asking for it!"

"Your friend Andrea is one of us now!" the Governor's grasp tightens around Daryl's trachea. It tightens even further. "Get it through your goddamned brain— you're not winning this one— give up the rest of your motley crew, or reap the consequences," his lips curve wolfishly upwards in a rage-smile combo.

"Asking for it?" Andrea's eyes narrow and she reaches forward to grab Milton by the arm. There is no gentleness to her grip as she starts to force him out of the room. She'll twist the arm if necessary. "Was Maggie asking for it? You take me to them now or I will take you apart, Milton. I won't let him kill Daryl and you're not the one to stand in my way, are you?"

"Nn— no! That's not what I meant! — " But he's dragged rather efficiently, hurrying after Andrea as much to stop her as to not, "But if you go in there now— "

Whip. The door shoots open from in front of them; they've been too noisy and a newly posted guard, thanks to Daryl's recent infractions in the chair, snoops in to investigate, spotting the two within suspicious seconds. Seeing Milton eases some of his initial wariness, though not all, and Todd wrestles with his priorities. "You shouldn't be— " a muffled noise from the other side of the window, now across the room an inaccessible, "in here. Milton…"

"I'm sorry— " Milton shuffles his way in front of Andrea, shielding her, pushing her behind him with an arm as the other hand adjusts his glasses nervously. "This is my fault."

Andrea opens her mouth to silence Milton and make sure he takes her where she needs to go when Todd moves forward. Tightening her mouth to a thin line, she allows herself to be pushed behind Milton, but glares at Todd. The noise behind them captures her attention, but she refuses to look behind them. "No, it's not. You won't take the blame for me. I made him take me here. The Governor said I shouldn't come down here, but I couldn't just let that horrible man get away with nothing. I wanted to make sure he paid for what he did to me. He left me to Walkers." Andrea starts to move forward at that, as if moving forward to confide in Todd. "And the Governor knew that. He thought I couldn't handle it."

Skepticism attempts to take hold on Todd's face but his youth lets much of it escape into the atmosphere as he shuffles side to side, nodding along even before he's made his decision to say, "Yeah… okay. Don't you worry, miss Andrea," a soft smirk tics up the side of his mouth as he adjusts his grip on a sawed-off shotgun held at an angle in both hands, "The redneck's gettin' what he deserves, far as I hear tell it."

Thump— thump. It sounds like something's fallen to the floor behind them. Something heavy.

Andrea tenses when she hears the thump behind her. "I can hear that." Her voice is tight with emotion, though it could go either way for Todd. "Come on, Milton. Sorry for getting you in trouble." With a jerk of her head, she motions for the two of them to go. As she brushes by Todd, however, she plants her feet and swings her body to the side, attempting to shove him bodily against the wall they are close to. As she does so, she goes for the shotgun. Whatever is going on in the torture room needs to be stopped. Now. She doesn't have any more time for these games.

"Andrea— !" Much too late for Milton— and for Todd. The boy, heavily naive to Andrea's purpose, prepares to side-step to avoid her surely unintentional closeness and winds up fully victim to the shove that follows. His back hits the wall, loosening then tightening his grip on the gun so that one hand slips off and the other keeps tight possession; they wrestle, but Todd's remaining fingers are curled on the grip and with a surprise even to him the shotgun goes off with a burst and loud shout. The bullet arcs harmlessly into the air.

It echoes all over Woodbury.

Perhaps not so harmless.

With a muttered curse, Andrea kicks upward, aiming for between Todd's legs. With a wrench, she pulls backwards and twists, attempting to break his hold on the remaining hand. At least she wasn't shot, but she needs to get out of here fast now that the shot will draw other guards. Time isn't on their side.

"Unnngh!— " Unfortunate Todd sinks, body retracting into itself as he fumbles to stay on his feet as the pain vibrates up his spine. The gun slips out of his fingers as they grope for his stomach to clench frustrated air.

Swallowing hard, Milton arcs in, "Go!" to grab Todd by the shoulder, steering the in-shock young guard towards the observatory to shut him in.

There's no hesitation. Once Todd is taking care of, Andrea moves around the building with the shotgun, searching desperately for the door to lead her into the room with Daryl and the Governor. It takes her circling once, but she finds it and she shoves frantically at the door.

It opens with a rough boom testifying to its heaviness and shows flush the angled view Andrea once had on the room. Blood covering every inch beneath a dentist's crooked chair is the room's entire furnishings except a cold metal table set behind it with all manner of twisted instruments, perverted beyond their purpose with the same blood. Daryl's blood. And in the chair… a man's body with a drape of torn fabric over the slumped back; there's no recognizable features! — because there's no head.

There it rests, on the floor, shocks of hair towards her and the dead face turned away, the neck mangled but cleanly sliced to separate one from the other. It must have rolled into the corner and there it will stay, because shouting has taken up behind Andrea; other men, with other guns are getting closer.

The sound of the men getting closer do not penetrate Andrea's brain just yet. She's staring at the headless corpse on the chair where Daryl was just minutes earlier. Her mouth falls open and tears easily start to fall. No. She was too late. She was wrong about everything and she was too late. This is all her fault. Why didn't she listen? She takes a futile step forward toward the severed head, but that's when the noises of the men with guns start to get closer. The noise is enough to shake her from her grief and she stumbles backward. Away from that horrible sight, away from this terrible place. She has to go back and tell Carol. She'll have to tell them all that Daryl was killed.

"Hold on there."

A gun — two guns — two individual muzzles, one double-barreled, point menacingly at Andrea from in front of the eyes that focus down them. Two more guards, on alert from the gunshot and spotting the gun in her hand. "Put it down."

Andrea stops, eyes focusing on the guns pointed at her. Despite her grief, despite her shock, she still is a survivor. "There was a gun shot!" She puts her hands up, the gun pointed harmlessly in the sky in one of her hands. "I came as quickly as I could." Frantically, she gestures behind her. "There's… there's someone…" she can barely choke out the words. There's no acting on her part when she starts to break down at the thought of the dead body in the room nearby.

Something's different. Things have changed since Todd — things have changed since Rick; the menace of outsiders has permeated its way into the air of Woodbury and the guns levelled at Andrea do not even tremble at her assurances and words. Ralph's eyes gleam with a certain knowing that doesn't bode well. "I said put it down."

"I didn't… do anything." Andrea attempts to reign in her emotions and slowly puts the gun down. She doesn't want to get shot. "I came because of the gun shot. What is going on here." She's indignant. "There's a dead man in that room. He was beheaded. Can you explain that?"

"We don't have to explain anything," insists the second man, thrusting his chin at his companion then readjusting his gun to check the rest of the lobby outside the messy torture room; Milton, for his part, is nowhere to be found. "We're not the ones who used to run with terrorists."

An enthused jump of the shotgun and Ralph nods towards the room, "What's one dead terrorist? They shoulda chopped off more of 'im first for what happened here." It's infectious, like a disease — the Governor's violence, feeding into the residents of Woodbury she found so comforting in her first days.

The way these men talk so casually about the end of a human life is incredibly sad for Andrea. The gun she procured from Todd is on the ground and the other men are close. As they are distracted with their blood lust, she kicks the gun at them, hoping to catch them in surprise. Then, she lunges forward, attempting to get behind Ralph so that she can use him as a shield. And possibly shoot the other man if the odds are in her favor.

"Shit!— " the grabbed man twists; built, Ralph makes a worthy but difficult shield, not standing still long enough for her to situate herself to fire off any shots — or get her hands on a gun to do so. The shotgun swings around, clubbing at her as Ralph turns, a brick wall that catches up to what she's trying to do with the speed of his lust for action. Violence spurs him to quickly turn, knocking at her then backing up several steps that cough up dust to level the double barrels without a second thought, "Always knew you were just a backstabbin' little wh— "

Ralph inhales sharply, cutting himself off. It's hard to finish your curse with a katana through your gullet, angling up in front of your face with the slickness of if it belonged there. The sword slides straight back out with as much ease, depositing Ralph on the ground with a sick uneven thud as his knees smack the ground one after the other. He clutches at his bleeding as his diminished form reveals the dark-skinned warrior woman Michonne poised behind him. A planted heel twists and the sword slashes straight across the front of Ralph's friend's chest, freeing him of his own weapon. She pursues, storming forward to finish with a jab into the throat that quickly ends the man.

Andrea attempts to duck away from Ralph as he levels the shotgun at her. She knows it's a futile effort, but she won't die without fighting. The katanna is a surprise and she gasps when she sees it. "Michonne." The woman came for her. With a deep breath, her face crumples slightly, but she doesn't cry again. "He… he killed Daryl." This was meant to be a safe place. A place that felt like home. That was like the world before. Instead, it's a nightmare.

Little tells on Michonne's stoic face; Andrea knows — like she knew once, and finds she still does — that her friend is distinctly acknowledging her pain in her own way. Then, briskly, she nods her head, indicating the direction she must have arrived from. "Come on." 'Cold and unfeeling', others may have accused. No, she merely, without frivolous affairs, indicates that they will now be together in this.

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