"Of course I don’t mind." Carol smiled, nuzzling against him. "I’ll take all the affection you’re willing to give. And then some." She grinned.
He managed to find her lips. He kissed her long and slow. This morning was one of the best he’d ever woken up to. Yes, he has lost most of his family to a madman, but he’d finally done something about the pair of them. He let out a soft whimper as he pulled back and met her eyes. “Good to know.”
Carol opened her mouth to say something, but shut it again. She offered a shy smile. Sure, she’d gotten compliments from guys before. A lot of them, actually. But for some reason, his mattered a lot. “Thank you…”
He gave a slight shrug. He shifted a bit on he bed, trying to find a comfortable position on the bed. Compared to his own bed, this was like heaven. He let his head fall back onto the pillow. “No problem.”
Andrea silently did as Daryl said, already reaching for a backpack she had found in the house the night before. Some food, a flashlight, lighter, water, and batteries were grabbed and stuffed into the bag as the pair headed out the door.
She felt a bit nostalgia for leaving. It had been a place that held both her and Daryl for a day, had given them a safe place to express their true feelings for one another, and a great part of her didn’t want to loose that memory, that feeling.
The blond looked back, maybe for a moment too long, while heading towards Daryl’s steal horse. “Do you know how to get back to the highway?”
Daryl watched as she stared longingly back at the house. He knew exactly how she felt. It was their sanctuary. It would always be a special place to them. Not just a place that housed them one night and sheltered them. He looked away, clearing his throat.
"Yeah. Can get us there." He slipped a leg over the bike, scooting up to give her plenty of room to get comfortable. "Just gotta hold on tight. Might be a few walkers we have to slip through ‘long the way."
"I hope not." Andrea spoke low, monotone. Honestly, the thought of being pregnant, let alone giving birth, in this world was a scary though. Yes, it seemed like things were turning up finally, after all these years, a cure, but it wasn’t going to be like before he turn for a long time.
Walkers were still a threat, and a pregnant woman seemed to be an easy target. And giving birth? No pain killers, the one doctor at the camp, but what if she and Daryl didn’t make it in time? What if Andrea had to give birth in the house with just Daryl? Neither knew much about birthing babies. The multitude of things that could go wrong was starting to give her a headache.
Daryl squeezed her hand gently. He ran the pad of his thumb reassuringly over her knuckles. “We’re goin’ to get through this, babe. We gotta. Baby is gonna need us both. Won’t accept nothin’ less.”
He then released her hand and raised his crossbow as a twig snapped off to their left. His eyes eyes scanned the area. He held his breath as a walker came shambling in their direction. He easily took it down with a bolt. His feet picked their way over the leaf strewn ground to retrieve his arrow.
"We’d better get back to the house. It’s likely drawing in walkers with the town being so busy."
"Yeah, that’s something," Maggie replied, smiling slightly as she felt the touch on her hand. She turned to checkout a small, half open door that lead into another room, adding; "And who knows? Maybe we hit the jackpot and there’s some food, too…"
She had few supplies in her bag, but now that there were two to feed, they probably wouldn’t last very long. They’d need to find some more, or maybe go hunting. Still running through potential plans of action in her head, Maggie pushed open the door, and found herself looking at one of the smallest, grimiest bathrooms she’d ever seen. It smelled foul, and Maggie felt like she might catch a disease just by looking at it, but at least there were no walkers.
"We might want to keep this door shut for now," she remarked, quietly wrinkling her nose as she hastily closed the door "Have you found anything?"
He glanced up as her brow knit together and nose screwed up in disgust. “That bad, huh?” He rubbed the back of his neck as he reached to open another cabinet. It was just as bare as the other two he’d just checked. He’d been hoping the third time would be the charm, but it turned out that the fifth one held something half way promising.
He pulled out several cans of Spaghetti-Oh’s and a can of tuna. “And hey! Ramen noodles.” He immediately thought of Carl. He loved them. His face fell and his eyes misted over. He blinked rapidly several times. “Least we got us a meal.” They’d just have to get that fireplace going and find a way to hand a pot over it to heat it up.
He was bone tired, but they’d both rest better if they had food in their belly. He let out a soft sigh as he stacked everything edible on the small table and kept right on looking for other supplies. A can opener would be welcome at this point.
Maggie watched his face closely, trying to gauge his reaction. Was he angry? He’d have a right to be, maybe - after all, she’d more or less been lying to him by omission. But Maggie wasn’t going to let herself second guess her choices. Not now. She had to stay strong and keep her resolve because, at that moment, she wasn’t sure whether or not she wanted to cry or laugh. She was younger than Lori had been, and maybe stronger, but a thousand and one things could go wrong, and the future suddenly seemed a lot more uncertain.
"I was pretty sure," she said, keeping her voice steady and calm "But I didn’t know.”
She’d debated telling him so many times, but she’d always kept quiet. There had been walkers to kill, and food to find, and there had been a lot of running.
”I wasn’t gonna tell you before I was sure, Daryl - you’d just have worried about it, and you had enough to worry about.”
Daryl’s head hung down even lower. His lips quivered slightly as he raised only his eyes to meet hers. They’d been alone for months. Winter was upon them, raging hard and making it damn near impossible to find supplies. And he’d felt her growing thicker despite their lack of food. He should have known.
Maybe he did, but he didn’t want to face it. He moved his hands up to push the heels of his hands into his eyes. He scrubbed his face hard and let out a frustrated sigh.
She was always thinking of him, and here he was angry with what had happened. They didn’t need a mouth to feed. Especially a defenseless one, but this wasn’t her fault. Not completely. There’d been two being careless that night. And he remembered that night.
He reached out a hand to her, beckoning her forward. “C’mere.”
Daryl hated the Claimers group he’d joined. And he was only traveling with them because there was safety in numbers. He was certain that his brother was still out there. And maybe some of the others that they’d joined up with since leaving Macon. What remained of them, that is. His lips pulled into a sneer when Joe let out a low whistle. It wasn’t like anything else he’d heard the man give off. He turned, catching sight of the smile that was on the man’s face. He quickly turned his head, catching sight of the lone sleeping female.
"Claimed." Daryl let it fall from his lips before he had even thought to hesitate. He knew that if any of the others had gotten their hands on her, they’d tear her up inside then out. He shuddered to think of that happening. He stepped around Joe and gently shook the girl awake. "Hey. The fuck you doin’ here? You ‘lone?" He put his hand over her mouth to keep her from yelling out.
He kept his body between the girl and Joe, not entirely sure what would happen. This was the first female they’d encountered since he’d joined up with them. His mouth went dry. He didn’t want to have to fight any one of them, knowing what they did to their own that turned on them, but he wasn’t about to let them hurt this girl.
Joe sneered. “You’re definitely learnin’, Daryl.” He had to give him credit for that much. He turned his head, ambling to the rest of the house to see if she was indeed alone. Might be another warm body he could lay claim to. He adjusted the front of his jeans.
Daryl kept his hand over her mouth and put his finger to his lips. “Shh. Ain’t gonna hurt you, but he might…” He jerked his thumb in the direction Joe left in.
Carol heard the words that he was speaking, but she wasn’t listening. Her heart had hardened far too much by this. And she felt she deserved better. Any excuse he might offer would never be enough to redeem what he’d done.
She was all about trust these days, and breaking that trust was the biggest of sins that he could have committed against her. And he had, with Glenn, and likely with many of the others. Apparently he didn’t see the sacred trust the same way she did.
When he left the close quarters of the fort in a huff, she didn’t even bother to try and follow him out. She didn’t have much to say to him, did she? It was the sort of thing that if it resolved itself, it was going to take a lot more than the two of them fixing it. It was probably going to take divine intervention at this point. And faith being what it was, the future didn’t look too bright.
Instead of Daryl letting them both cool off, he started avoiding her at every turn. He’d even trade shifts so that they wouldn’t have any guard duties together or any other group delegations. And the air was palpable whenever they were in the same space with the others around. It made him itch. It made him surly. He’d been snapping at everyone left and right, and he had no idea how to dig himself out of the mess he’d made. And Glenn was the target of all his rage. And he didn’t give a damn who knew it. He suddenly saw Glenn as the enemy.
Just that morning, Glenn had barely bumped into him between trading shifts, and he’d shoved him. Something he hadn’t done since Merle. In private, embarrassment crawled into his skin and settled, only proving to make him more angry.
He moved through the warehouse intent on putting distance between himself and everyone else, but especially her when she was standing right in front of him. He turned on his heels and headed the opposite direction and instead ran straight into Rick.
"Just fuckin’ great," he growled when the man asked to have a word with him. "I’m busy."
"Then just listen. The rest is up to you." Rick planted his hand on his hip, tapping his fingers impatiently. "Whatever the hell you and Carol have goin’ on? You’ll have to fix it. The mood around here is sour enough with being all shut up and in close quarters. I can’t have a divide from the inside out. It’ll get one of us killed as soon as we’re back out on the road." Which would be soon. They’d all discussed it and decided it was about that time.
Daryl glared daggers at their self appointed leader and let out a hiss, “You’re the boss. That all?” When Rick dismissed him, he cut back the direction he’d come from, intent on finding her, but he found Glenn trying to talk to Carol. “The fuck you doin’? Causin’ more trouble?” He advanced on him. “Get. Ain’t you done ‘nough?”
His kiss broke her strength a little, as it took her off guard, she hadn’t expected it, and it the force with which he delivered it brought a well of emotions. She could feel a tear escape and she wanted to just let all of it go, but most especially her fear.
Lori wrapped her arms around him. Grateful for his affection in this moment when all seemed to be collapsing in on them. At least there was this. At least he wasn’t pretending nothing had happened between them. Looking into his eyes, she ran her thumb over his brow. “I’m not going anywhere.”
His hands grabbed her face, easing her mouth back to his. This woman was not his wife. She belonged to that of a man that he neither cared for much or respected, but she was married nonetheless. Did that even matter now? Did it even matter before all this shit happened?
He pulled away, putting a distance between them that wasn’t much in the physical, but it could have been miles upon miles emotionally. He whispered, “I’m so sorry. Lori, I shouldn’t’ve …” But he stepped right back into her.
His mouth sought hers over and over. It was a dangerous game they were playing. Out there in the open with walkers at every turn, but her lips were like a rescue, and he wanted to keep it. Even if just for a moment.
Tired eyes drifted down to where his hand covered hers. With a small movement, she turned her hand palm up so that slender fingers could intertwine with his, a small smile gracing her lips. “Thank you. I think you just being nearby is enough, though. They’re getting better.” Carol gave his hand a light squeeze.
Sophia scooted her piled of blankets closer to the couch, ending up wedged between the legs of her mother and of Daryl. She yawned once before resting her head against Daryl’s knee and then she was out like a light. Carol glanced over at him to see his reaction, to see if he was at all uncomfortable with the girl’s closeness. She didn’t want to impede on his personal space, and that counted for Sophia, too.
Daryl’s eyes moved down to their hands. They fit together perfectly. Like two missing pieces of a puzzle called life. He swallowed back the lump as it rose in his throat and then gave a slight nod in her direction. He kept silent as the girl scooted closer. His heart beat quickened as she shifted her tiny frame between them and then settled.
Then her head hit his knee. He didn’t dare move or flinch. He needed them to know they could trust him. He’d do anything for them. And he already had, but it wasn’t enough.
His free hand came up, settling on the back of the girl’s head and stroked her hair gently. “Sweet dreams, Sophia.”
The moment the words left her mouth Carol could feel Daryl tense up completely. Immediately she could feel him withdrawing from not only the moment, but from her specifically. He reeled away from her like he’d been burned, and she felt her cheeks stain red in embarrassment.
She had meant what she had said, but it was clear that he wanted no part of whatever it was she was feeling. The embarrassment coursed though her and her gaze dropped as she moved to pick up the clothing he’d tossed her way. She moved from the table top to awkwardly gather the rest and focused on pulling her clothing back into place in as little time as possible.
Carol wasn’t sure what she had expected. She never really thought that they’d get to where they were now, but in every fantasy she’d allowed herself it certainly hadn’t included Daryl rejecting her or being ashamed of what they’d done. But then Ed had warned her that she wasn’t good enough for any other man, even if she had been sure that he was wrong. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d felt so dirty about something.
She nodded at his words but didn’t say anything for a minute, just focused on buckling her boots back up for the trek back to her cell and sliding her mask back into place. It was the first time in a long time that she’d put it on with him. When she was done she finally broke the silence. “You go on ahead, I’ll be a couple of minutes. Wouldn’t want anyone to see us comin’ back in together at this hour,” she offered.
He grumbled and grunted something even he himself couldn’t decipher. He was mentally beating himself up for making her feel like he had. She had given him something so special, and he’d thrown away all chances of having it time and time again. His entire body was shaking with pent up rage. He grabbed his crossbow from where he’d discarded it against the library door and slammed the door open harder than he’d intended.
He couldn’t even look back as he fled her presence. He’d gone and fucked it up. Just like he fucked up everything else in his life. She’d given him a taste of the good life that you could build between two people, and he couldn’t get away from her fast enough.
He stopped several yards from the library door and turned to head back. He made it all the way to the door before he tucked his tail and just ran. It was what he was good at after all. But not before he spoke the words softly to the slightly ajar door.
"I love you too."
And like a flash, he was gone. He didn’t want to be caught standing there if she followed right after him. His lips quivered and real tears threatened to fall.
He caught Glenn coming out of C block heading for his watch duty. “I’ve got it. Go on back to Maggie.” And he disappeared outside to lick his self imposed wounds.
Smiling at Daryl, the blond chuckled some at that. The news was defiantly something to still get used to, but the survivor had faith that he would be a good dad. He was already a great partner. “Mommy. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I just want a healthy baby.”
He caught her hand then and gave it a squeeze. “We’ve been eatin’ right, and we’ve been gettin’ plenty of exercise. And we’re happy. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?” He hadn’t seen a pregnancy up close unless you counted animals. And he’d seen his fair share of those. Couldn’t be much different than that, right?
"I know." Andrea agreed. This place was great, but there was a nagging feel in the back of the blond’s mind: could this place really work? The farm was supposed to, as was the CDC. All she knew was that she had Daryl, and whatever they were now, he was there. And Andrea would always be there.
The woman quickly finished up what was left of the food in her can, before placing it in an already overfilled trashcan. She shot him a smile, her hand lingering on the man’s arm for a moment. ”Let’s get going then.”
He turned slowly, catching her by the hip. He gave it a reassuring squeeze and searched her eyes one last time. “We got a family to find.” He knew that the road ahead of them was going to be hard, but it would be worth it to be reunited with their family.
He released her hip and stepped away from her. He grabbed up his crossbow. “Make sure to get everything. We won’t be comin’ back this way.” At least not for a long while.
"Never said you were" Beth replied with a chuckle as she turned back to the tracks. If Daryl was anything, it definitely wasn’t Prince Charming. The young blonde never even really saw him that way regardless of the fact that the only reason she was there was because of him. However, she’d been with the surly hunter long enough to know that he didn’t take compliments well, so she opted to leave it be after one final comment. "That’s just what family does for each other."
As they walked, Beth tied her hair into a sloppy bun near the top of her head. The Georgia sun never ceased beating down on them and the rats nest of hair only made her hotter. She couldn’t help but remember when she’d gotten an up-do once for the Homecoming Dance and the heat had caused it to fall back onto her shoulders. She quickly shook herself clean of the memory, knowing that it did her no good to be unfocused on what they were doing now.
"Daryl" she asked, her voice not showing an ounce of the nerves she had flying about her gut. "Do you think you can teach me all this…stuff?" Kicking a rock a decent ways in front of them, she kept her gaze away from him. "Like the tracking and hunting and shooting. Stuff like that." As much as she hated to admit it, Daryl couldn’t protect her forever, but if he taught her how to protect herself maybe he actually could.
Daryl was shocked by her question, but he didn’t show it. He’d been waiting for her to take interest in protecting herself for quite awhile now. And he nodded slowly. “Sure can. Bout damned time you learned anyway.”
He didn’t add that she’d then be of use to herself and others because truth was, she was there and they weren’t. So she had something special, right?
He turned toward her, thrusting the crossbow into her arms. He gave her a nod. “Never too late to learn, yeah?” He moved behind her. “It’s already strung. Just gotta aim and shoot.” He put her arms in the correct position. “Got it?”
Carol let out a small squeak. She felt her face flush as she smiled. “You say you’re too tired, yet you’re copping a feel? Sending mixed signals Dixon, you better stop.” She put her hand on his cheek, her thumb stroking underneath his eye in a loving way. “And good morning.”
He slowly met her eyes. His smirk was nothing if not endearing as he looked every bit the man child that he sometimes was. He nudged her a bit. “You know you don’t mind it, Carol. C’mere.” He pulled her tighter to him, letting his lips brush across her cheekbone.