The wind whips through the vast span of trees lining out along the far ends of the chain linked fence that constantly surrounds them. The greens and the greens and the yellows and the browns of their leaves shake through the open slits of the razor wire, rhythmically and haphazardly all at the same time, that Daryl often finds himself staring at and out when he's stood on the concrete just outside the prison doorways. It's strange. No matter how long him and his group stay there and no matter how many people they bring out from the constant hell of the outside world and into their fold, it's strange living and sleepin' (as best he can) in a place he'd worked, hard as he could be assed, to avoid his entire life. A casual stroll, which ain't never a casual stroll to him; almost neurotically checking their exits and their people, out in the yard is always enclosed by these fences and those barbs. A constant reminder that he's ended up exactly where he never wanted to be.
But, it's different than it would've been before the world shit all over 'em, and he's grateful for these thousands and thousands of twisted wire knots.
Keeping the dead out. Keeping the living out.
Keeping them safe.
Tower Three's line's been folding on 'em lately, though, and Daryl's been trying to get a good enough group together to handle the situation; there are loads of different jobs to be dished out. Needed some logs cut up and prepped for fucked situations when the walkers pushed just too far and too hard and the bent links started a downward trek towards the scattered gravel. Needed some folk to go 'round mending compromises with easy techniques 'til Daryl could find something more reliable to keep the damn thing together. Needed to make a run out to the Home Depot twelve miles out for some nails and wire and whatnot, to fix up some patches of fence that Rick had spotted on a walk around the perimeter, as well. Needed to clean out that hardware store for every rope, nut, and bolt, actually, and sooner rather than later. Before some other son'a bitch wised up and did what needed doing.
Daryl moves his eyes off the trees and back down to the bowl of brown rice cradled between his worked dirty fingers; staring at the earth locked underneath bluntly cut nails.
After he'd come back from his last run to the development down the way with his hand all banged up and Hershel had left his youngest to finish up the wrappings, Beth had made him cut them down once she'd managed a good look at their condition. He can't remember what it was she started going on about at the time, he'd been too focused on shoving away the thoughts of the natural pink of her lips forming every single syllable. Tucking those thoughts away, in the particular way that he did. But, he was pretty sure it was something or another 'bout his "health and safety". With nothin' more than a small pat to his hand (which prompted more thoughts that were immediately shoved in their respective pockets) she'd slinked a few cells down into her room, while he sat silent and alone out in the front lounge; trying not to watch her leave, and come back with a small set of clippers.
She made sure he was in his best condition, just like she did everyone else; always taking on the jobs that no one ever thinks about. 'Specially him.
He was supposed to get a trim of his hair from her, soon, too. But, he plans on avoiding that. She'll just shake her head, anyway, at his refusal and offer a familiar grin.
Part of a routine.
Part of their routine.
On his way out of the prison after a one sided conversation about his fence concerns, with Rick, this morning, he'd silently passed her by. She was sat on the far end of the courtyard, past the ho-hum cafeteria station that they'd been workin' on for weeks. It had started off pretty rickety in the beginning. But, after awhile it stood strong enough and they'd gotten some picnic tables lined up underneath. Beth hadn't been there eating breakfast with the others (she was from C Block just as he and their family was; early risers, who put both feet and an arm forward to keep their home running). She was further back on their concrete island, next to the long clothing lines that he'd gotten set up, as per her request.
There had been plans to get them nailed in place for a long while, anyway. But, he'd pushed it forward on his list of things that he needed to get done (pushed it to the top), when she'd cornered him one dim afternoon, with Ass-kicker perched carefully on the soft curve of her hip, and looked up at him with those wide and clear eyes.
...Needed a lot'a things.
Daryl shakes his own head, clears his mind, and reminds himself to pay attention. Carol's next to him, as she often is, giving him the daily report that he wishes she was givin' Rick, instead. He's not used to this, either. Being in charge of everythin' and everyone. Don't like that all of them stragglers living under this leaky roof keep turning to him with their questions and complaints. Don't like that he's in charge of keeping their ship above water. Sure as fuck don't like that he's the one that has to shuffle tired legs to some poor lump of crying flesh, at the end of bad runs, and deliver the news. Sometimes he can delegate that particular duty to Glenn, seeing as he's next in charge under Daryl's temporary leadership. His friend will pause with a groan of his own despair and turn on his heel to go on his way. Or, sometimes, he can manage to pawn it off onto someone else from the Council.
But, they all want him to do it.
Want him to be the one that's not able to look their group members in the eye and rip out their hearts, at the same time.
They've not had a death for a decent while, though, and he's beyond grateful for that. He's tired of seeing tears well up behind shining eyes and the unmistakable quiver of lips. He's tired of carefully ducking out of reach, so that they can't and won't expect any sort-of physical comfort out of him.
"I know you're heading out soon," Carol hums, her eyes squinting off to Tower Four and the small crew of people with shaved pipes and broken walking sticks clutched in sweaty palms. He can't hear the pop of the metal being stabbed through the rotting bone of the sculls or the slurp of the suction, but he knows it well enough. Hell, they all did. Goin' on two years of the end of the world and the familiarity of the feel of the tug was one of which they wouldn't never be allowed to forget.
"'mm," Daryl nods slightly and rolls his head on the span of his shoulders.
"If you have time, I was thinking you all could look for some aprons?" Carol tilts her head out through the fields to the far end. "Depot's likely to have a bunch in the back rooms and it's not something I can see a lot of people taking for sport."
"To protect Fence Duty from splatters of blood. Small luxuries and all that," she smiles with a dip of her head and an expectant raise of her eyebrows.
Daryl dips his fingers into his bowl and scrapes along one side to gather some grains into a clump. When he manages to make a small ball of what he has left, he crooks his fingers to scoop it out and up towards his mouth. "I can do that," he speaks through mouth full of food.
"Good," Carol's hands pull up to cross across the front of her chest. "And good to have someone around here taking charge, huh Pookie?" She knocks once at his side, with the point of her elbow. "Seeing as Rick's useless these days. Not much of a surprise, though. Always was a bit flake-y."
Daryl looks back down to his bowl, now empty save a few singular pieces of rice still stamped along the sides. He don't wanna talk to Carol about Rick and Rick's break. There's a reason for everything that goes on, here, and they'd all agreed that their friend needed to breathe; he's not backin' out of his vote, now. Hell, Daryl's only been in charge for one or two months and he's already losing his mind with the stress of it all on top of everything and everyone else that's got his mind racing in ways that it shouldn't. So, he more than understands Rick's slight fall off the ledge and his desire to drown himself in the dirt and the pigs. Even for just a little while.
But, Daryl's got enough shit on his plate without adding this discussion to it. Again.
So, he does what he always does when something's happening that he ain't got the time or the mind to deal with, he pockets it away.
He forces himself to forget about it and wills himself to move on.
"Gotta take this back," he growls noncommittally after a few moments of thought. He waves his empty bowl into the air and knocks his own elbow into her arm, before turning swiftly on his feet to walk away. Daryl vaguely hears Carol saying goodbye, but his mind's already turning over and over with the list he's tasked with for the day, to push Carol's contempt of Rick's recent attitude from his mind.
The wind picks up and he feels the chill across the edges of his face, as he makes his way back towards the bustle of activity. There's people all over the front lot, moving from one thing to another, as they're supposed to do. The kid that Rick brought in shortly after Woodbury fell, Patrick, is hovering over the grill, working alongside Karen on a batch of meat he'd recently brought in. The smell of burning wood and a rabbit drenches over the courtyard and those sitting at the tables (cleaning and striping guns) keep looking back at it, hungrily.
His last hunt didn't bring a lot of game in and he knows, by those faces, that he needs to do better next time. He makes a note.
Then, there's Glenn and Sasha, secured up in their riot gear, walking around the two cars he had them pull out of the garage, handling baskets of supplies and preparing to head out. A kid quite a bit younger than him and probably a lot more suited to the thoughts that flip through Daryl's mind, like a picture book of torment, is working alongside them. Zach. Daryl found him four weeks back alone on the side of the road, standing next to a big black car and hovering over the popped top. He's got a bit of a soft spot for the kid, actually. He's friendly to everybody he talks to, which is usually a trait that drives Daryl insane in most people. But, Zach's alright, really, and damn handy with the gun strapped to his waist.
He talks a lot, tells stupid jokes, and sometimes makes Daryl smile because of it. On the inside.
But, the thing that really catches Daryl's eye is on the far edge of the property.
Blonde wisps of hair blow with the breeze across porcelain skin and Daryl's feet stutter into place; physically attempting to remind him that the object of his gaze has a pocket in his mind, all for her own. Attempting to remind him that, while everything else he doesn't want to and just can't allow himself to deal with is shoved in every which direction, in every which spot, Beth Greene singularly holds a big rectangular space, in his mind.
Large, vastly deep, and concernedly full.
He's got enough shit on his plate, alright. Including his genuine worry that her daddy, his friend, will somehow be able to see it in his face every time Daryl happens to be in the same room as his little girl.
With his feet holding protest and Beth's Pocket spilling over, Daryl thinks he'll be safe. But, in only a few seconds, the cloud he's becoming familiar with when he sees her slips away and his eyes adjust to see that her form is growing larger and larger, as his stride betrays him. He's stood over her, where she sits on the burning floor, before he can blink. Her legs are crossed over each other, long and seemingly smooth; something he's noted before and doesn't need to add to her space for a twentieth time. He feels bad enough that he's noticed, at all. Then again, he is the one that found the girly razors with the little pink stripes at the top, on a run to a Piggly Wiggly. The tall of his form casts something of a shadow over her and Daryl watches and waits for Beth to raise her head up to meet his eyes, "Greene."
"Hey," she greets him; one arm vacating the fourth basket of clothing she's been folding since she woke up earlier, to hover the flat of her palm over the hood of her eyes.
The expectant gleam is one entirely different to that of which he's just received from Carol. Where her's had been filled with purpose and a consistent jest, Beth's is calm and sincere in it's very existence. Soft, just as her being is. She doesn't raise a brow when Daryl can't seem to manage to respond, right away; just watching her. Instead, she simply waits and allows the corners of her lips to glide smoothly up when he finally speaks. "Hi."
"You're leaving, I see," Beth turns her head, breaking contact, to look over where Glenn's laughing at something Zach's saying.
Zach's charming in the way confident college kids are and Daryl sometimes finds that it, irrationally, pisses him off. It's just that he can so easily picture the kid getting what he's been working towards, since he first got dragged in through the twisted knots by him and Glenn. He can so easily picture Beth standin' next to the boy with their fingers locked together and a giggle in her throat; in awe that she's gotten so lucky and Daryl the opposite.
Like Beth and the pretty way she smiles, those bad thoughts have a pocket all their own, too. Rage and anger and rage at things and situations that don't deserve it. Had that particular pocket all his miserable life. It's holey and worn and beaten, with years and years and years of abuse and self loathing. Things that should do, never properly stay in, because of it, even though he wants them to. Because Daryl ain't no moron, he knows they're not warranted and reminds himself that he likes Ivy League (even if Ivy League laughed that he didn't go to no top college).
"Yeah, gotta get something to keep the geeks out... Fence ain't doin' so hot these days," he gruff's and clutches his fist tighter around the strap against his shoulder, as he takes her moment of temporary distraction to scope the line of her neck. The mangled and knotted black string that he'd hovered over for an embarrassing amount of time, dangles against the flat of her chest; black contrasting appealingly against the light of her skin. Beth looks back to him, her eyes flicking to where his knuckles flush red with the pressure, and back to meet his gaze. He looks away, unable to handle the stark of her blue; so much more clear and inviting than his own, even though he doesn't want to. But, he doesn't need to watch her face to feel her smile widen when he forces himself to speak, once more. "Ya need anything?"
He hears Beth plant her palm against the pavement and push herself to her feet; the bustling of the fabric of her shorts (too small, far too small) and the fabric of a long grey sheet, coming together to battle against the whistle of the wind. He looks back to her to see her hair falling haphazardly out of it's elastic and whipping 'round her face, as she thinks his inquiry over. And her pocket screams at him to keep his arm still - to not reach out and tuck the strands behind the scope of her ear, to help settle them into place and out of her way.
She's so much shorter than him and he has to look down at her. Once, when he was laid out on the uncomfortable cot in his cell, he thought about it; how he has to look down and she has to look up and in a different and better world, where she wasn't so young and pure and sweet and he wasn't so undeserving of having any of that focused on him, he could lean down and she could lean up.
And for just one moment, he'd get to know what it was like to taste her.
"I think I'm okay," Beth's voice in real time sings out towards his ears. The delicate of her fingers are still gripping carefully at the cloth in her hands and Daryl looks down, without moving his head, to watch her blindly begin to fold the item. Careful and elegant strokes, up and down and around, slowly but surely lessen it's mass and the pocket in his mind burns bright.
...He's never really given much thought to her fingers before this moment.
Daryl sees an edge of confusion take residence in the blue pools of her eyes, as she studies the same red of his knuckles suddenly smear over the span of his face. But, he doesn't give her a chance to question him.
"I'll find you something, anyway," he growls low and turns away without saying any more.
"Thank you, Daryl," he hears her voice, as he walks away, and a soft frump, when she lets the folded sheet fall into a separate basket and her body gliding back down to the concrete.
He nods, as if she'll see it and beelines back to his initially intended destination.
"Here," he chucks his empty bowl at Patrick, when he makes it under the canopy, and continues on walking towards the cars, before his newest shadow can start in on how good of a leader he is. How much he's appreciated.
Daryl doesn't need the lie; which is what it is, even if Patrick doesn't know it.
He can see the greens and the greens and the yellows and the browns of the leaves on the trees outside the fences, as he nears the vehicles and the crew he's taking out of the prison's confines.
It took the death of Lori and the constant weight of a year and a half worth of decisions and stress, to bring Rick down.
To make him crack.
To overflow his pockets.
Daryl feels weak in comparison.
He can practically feel Merle's ever present opinions calling him a pussy from the grave. It took the death of Lori and the constant weight of a year and a half worth of decisions and stress, to bring Rick down. And all it took was the weight of one and a half months worth of decisions, stress, and one ever feminine and unattainable pocket, to bring Daryl to the point he's at, now. To make him yearn for his friend's instant recovery, so that he can take the reigns, once more, and let Daryl return to his intended and comfortable position of hiding away and doing what Rick needs to be done, without being the face of it all.
When he approaches the cars, Glenn bounces slightly on the balls of his feet and turns his wide smile onto his friend, to tell him Zach's joke. "Aprons," Daryl bites out, before Glenn can utter a word.
"I - okay," Glenn pauses where he stands and shakes his head in short bursts of non-understanding. "...Wait, what?"
"Carol wants aprons," Daryl reaches out a hand to grasp the car handle and tugs open the driver's side door. "Then we need wire," he slides into the car, while Glenn signals for everyone else to hurry in their vehicles, as well, before sliding into the passengers seat.
"Don't worry, every one knows what they're looking for. Sasha wrote a list last Council meeting, too."
"Wire, nuts, bolts, saws for the wood, aprons," Daryl starts up the car and starts heading down the gravel drive, passed Beth's sitting form. "...A pretty blanket. Something flowery and bright, or some shit." Glenn quirks an eyebrow and raises his chin up slowly. Daryl refuses to look over at the man, who's craning his neck 'round to look where Beth's fading form is pulling out another sheet from her baskets. "Greene asked us to keep a look out for something," he lies.
When he glances to his right, Daryl sees nothing but his friend smirking lazily at his side. His hands tighten once on the leather of the steering wheel and he directs his eyes back out onto the road.
He pockets Glenn's reaction away; not quite ready to deal with the fact he's so incredibly transparent, and watches the greens and the greens and the yellows and the browns of the trees zip by.
A/N: Hiii there, lovelies. Okay, so I'm putting my prompts here [obviously] and I hope that this first one wasn't too much of a mess, oh my god. But, as I carry on with the prompts in my inbox, they'll all be of varying lengths. Some will be longer. Some shorter. It all depends. Some in our Apocalyptic world. Some in Alternate Universes of sunshine, glitter, and zero rotting corpses. Comments are welcome of course annnnnnd okie dokie.