Title: Threadbare
Author: untapdtreasure
Rating: K+
Summary: The minute it fell from his lips he wished he could pull it back in and button it up tight. He always ended up saying something stupid like that when he was trying so hard not to. The pain in her eyes was only a flash, but he'd seen it anyway. And it opened a wound of his own that never quite would heal.
A/N: Thanks, Vicki, for the beta!

Daryl leaned against the door frame to Carol's cell. She was rummaging around inside, backside high in the air as she did so. He let his lips slip into a familiar smirk. "The hell you lookin' for?"

She moved upright, turning just enough to meet his eyes. "I dropped a spool of thread around here somewhere last night, and I need it." She had a pile of laundry to mend on the end of her bed. "Can't do any of that if I don't find it." She pointed at the menacing pile.

"Could let whomever it belongs to deal with their own damn holes once in awhile. Ain't gonna hurt any of 'em to learn how to sew up a hole." He proudly pointed at his pants. "I did okay by myself." The truth was, he did it himself to keep her from doing it for him. "You ain't none of 'ems mama."

The minute it fell from his lips he wished he could pull it back in and button it up tight. He always ended up saying something stupid like that when he was trying so hard not to. The pain in her eyes was only a flash, but he'd seen it anyway. And it opened a wound of his own that never quite would heal. "'m sorry, Carol..."

She shook her head. "No, Daryl. You're right. I guess I was just trying to do my part. I don't go out there. On runs and setting snares, I mean. So this is all I got." She moved to the bed and started to fold the laundry quietly.

He pushed himself into the room, dropping down on his knees. "Drop it down here, ya think?" He began to feel around, hoping there weren't any spiders or anything else lurking in the shadows. His fingers wrapped around the thinned out spool. She'd need more. And soon from the looks of everyone's clothes.

"Yeah." She laid a pair of Beth's jeans across her lap with a soft sigh. "I don't feel like their mama. I just feel like I'm doing my part. It's something I know how to do, and it's quiet. I don't have to be around everyone to get it done. May not be much..."

He turned then, realizing just how close he was to her. And for once, he didn't want to put more distance between them. Instead, he tossed the spool onto her bed near the pile of folded laundry and managed to lay his hand against her knee. Her pants had a small neglected tear, and his skin brushed softly against hers. "You do more 'round here than you give yourself credit for, Carol. So much more."

She looked up, eyes locked on his. Her body gave a slight quiver. It had been far too long since anyone had given her comfort. So long, in fact, she'd forgotten the touch of anyone that wasn't Beth or Judith. "Daryl, I don't do anything I hadn't done before all this. I don't step up. I don't..."

His hand came up, two fingers gently pressed against her lips as he shook his head. "Ain't gonna let you tear yourself down. Hear me?"

"I hear you." Her lips brushed his fingertips. Her voice came out soft, but there was something in it that made her sound satisfied. She leaned forward slightly and laid her hand gently over his as it rested on her knee.

He slowly moved the two fingers from her lips and held her chin. He tilted her head up, meeting her eyes. "Yeah. You hear me, but are you listenin'?" He tilted his head a bit. "Cause there is a difference."

She didn't miss a beat. "I know I shouldn't put myself down. Old habits die hard, Daryl." She took a shaky breath. Her chin still rested against his fingers. Her heart picked up speed, beating out a tempo in her chest. Her mouth went dry. She wasn't sure what should happen next.

It was like a magnetic pull that drew their mouths together. Their lips touched just as Rick called up the stairway. "Daryl, are you up there? I could use your help..."

And just like that, the moment was lost. It was their first kiss, and now, Rick had come along to ruin it.

He hurried to stand like a scalded pup. He moved to the door and turned back in Carol's direction just as he went to step out. "This...this ain't over."

Her lips felt like they were on fire. For the briefest moment their lips met, and she knew if Rick hadn't interrupted them that it would have been the best kiss of her life. "Damn it, Rick," she muttered under her breath as Daryl left her cell and hurried to do whatever Rick needed him to do.

She reached for the spool of thread and began to work on the pile of unmended clothes. She'd just have to occupy her time until Daryl returned to finish what they had started; whenever that may be.

(1/2)