Tara had been watching the woman from a distance. She wasn't into the whole mama trip, normally, but damn - she'd always had a weakness for confident women with long legs, and this Carol had both and then some.
And let's face it, she missed sex. Not just the sex, but the comfort of lying in someone's arms, letting them help keep away the darkness. What she'd had with Alicia had been good, incredible even, and she believed it could have been something real, given time. But they hadn't gotten that - just a few days of flirting and then an all-consuming passion that had left Tara weak in the knees at the possibilities. And then Alicia was dead with a bullet between her eyes. It wasn't fair. But it was how things were, and although Tara mourned what might have been, she wasn't dead yet, and she planned to keep on living, for however long she had left. That included finding someone to love, in this godforsaken remnant of the world. Who knew - maybe this silver-haired woman with the sexy swing to her walk might be the one?
Carol didn't really give Tara a dyke-y kind of vibe, but even the most finely-tuned gaydar wasn't always a reliable gauge, and that hair - for a lot of lesbians of an earlier generation, a short cut like that was practically part of the uniform. So she watched. Took note of how Carol was around the others, both women and men.
With Glenn's wife Maggie there was a kind of distance, and Tara figured there was some story behind it, although it was impossible to know what the issue was. Carol treated Glenn himself like a younger brother, teasing him and giving him endless shit, even picking up some old running debate over the original Star Trek series versus The Next Generation. God save them all from nerds. She'd about had her fill of gaming and sci-fi references during their time traveling with Eugene.
Carol seemed to have taken all of the new faces pretty much in stride as she set about organizing their nomadic camp's endless duties - it was impressive how she managed to sweet-talk or browbeat just about everyone into doing their share without ever ruffling anyone's feathers. She had Abe eating out of her hand, put up with Eugene's rambling discourses from Geeksville, and treated Rosita with more gravitas than Tara suspected the other young woman had ever encountered. Tara kept looking for there to be a spark of something more there - Rosita was a babe by anyone's measure - but the only thing she saw was the polite regard of one strong woman for another.
As far as the rest of the men - the ones who were part of what they all referred to as their "family" - the big guy, Tyreese, obviously had a deep affection for Carol, and they'd apparently worked together to perform a damn miracle in freeing all of them from the railroad car at Terminus, but there didn't seem to be anything more to it than that. Their leader, Rick, treated Carol with respect, but an underlying wariness, too - another story there, Tara thought. These were people who had some serious history with each other.
And then there was the quiet guy with the crossbow, Daryl - who knew what his deal was. He hadn't said two words to Tara, basically kept to himself when he wasn't off tracking down some kind of game for dinner. He seemed to be tight with Rick, but other than that he didn't mix much.
Since observation was turning out to be so uninformative, Tara upped her game, putting herself in Carol's path as much as possible - offering to lend a hand with meals, even though her cooking skills were pretty much limited to opening cans and dumping them into whatever they had to heat up the food in, and asking the older woman for instruction in the fine art of banging clothes on rocks in the nearest creek. It seemed they'd spent a long stretch on the road once before, and Tara had to admire the determined efficiency Carol brought to the task. And if she got herself an eyeful of some very nice cleavage in the process… well, that was just one of the percs of the job. About the only perc, truthfully, because despite her best efforts at flirting, there didn't seem to be a single glimmer of interest on Carol's part.
Finally she got tired of trying to suss things out second-hand, and cornered Glenn for a little heart-to-heart while he was busy scarfing down his dinner. Glenn was a good guy, but she'd already figured out he loved to gossip, and was the perfect candidate to get the goods from.
"So - about Carol," she said. "She bat for my team, or what?"
Glenn nearly spat out his mouthful of food, and Tara had to pound him on the back while he coughed and choked and eventually caught his breath.
"Uh, no. No. Definitely not. Why, you thinking of making a play?"
"Just curious, asshole," she said sourly. "I'm trying to figure everybody out, and she's kind of a mystery. I see Rick and Michonne making eyes at each other, so that one's pretty easy, and Sasha and Bob have a thing going, and Maggie's with you - I guess I just wondered if she liked girls, since she doesn't seem to be hooked up with any of the guys." Tara wasn't sure why she was denying the attraction, but she wasn't lying either - why a vibrant, desirable woman like Carol would be unattached was a puzzle to her, and she figured if anyone knew why it would be Glenn.
Disappointingly, all he said was, "I think I'm gonna let you figure this one out for yourself. Keep your eyes open, and let me know what you think."
"But I've been watching," Tara groaned. "Come on, give me a hint - what is it I'm supposed to be looking for?"
"Just watch," Glenn grinned. "You'll see."
So she watched Carol going about her day, taking care of business, offering warmth and comfort to everyone equally. The only time she really lit up was with Rick's kids - Carl was a little too much of a teenager to be huggable, but Carol snuck in a squeeze here and there, and the kid was always a little brighter afterward, even as he squirmed away from her - and the baby was hooked to Carol's hip more often than anywhere else. So maybe she was just everyone's den mother and content in that role.
And then she saw it, and once she did she wondered how she'd ever missed it. How the hunter's eyes tracked Carol as she moved around the camp. How Carol looked at him as she handed him his food, always making sure he took his share. How their bedrolls always ended up next to each other, even though they were separated by a foot or two. How Carol'd get fidgety when Daryl had been gone on a hunt for a while, and how she relaxed only when he got back to camp. And one time, when they were standing together talking, a short distance from everyone else, how Carol reached up and brushed the hair out of his eyes, and he smiled a little at her.
She was perched on a log, watching the two of them working side by side, taking stock of the supplies, seeming to communicate almost wordlessly, when Glenn came up and flopped onto the ground next to her.
"So, you figured it out yet?" Glenn asked smugly.
"Yeah, I guess I have. So they're…?"
"No one knows, really," Glenn said with a shrug. "Least of all them, I think. But whatever it is, it's the real deal. And it's a good thing you didn't try to make a move on her, 'cause he's lethal with that crossbow."
"He wouldn't really have tried to kill me, would he?"
"Oh, probably not. Just wound you a little, maybe."
"Good to know," Tara mused, and watched as Carol laughed at something the hunter had said, lighting up like the Fourth of July. "Kind of a shame, really - seems like all of the really hot ones are straight, or taken. Or both."