Disclaimer: I don't own The Walking Dead. Everything belongs to whoever owns them, my wishful thinking aside.

Authors Note #1: anon wanted Caryl - Write a mini fic for: "things you said that i wasn't meant to hear." - This fic references past domestic violence and child abuse and how Carol and Daryl navigate those issues in their adult lives, please read with caution. – Set 15 years post series.

Alethiology

"I can't."

It came out in a whisper - like sinew peeling off the yellowing porcelain of old bone - subtle, yet brutally jarring.

He swallowed. Trying to make it past the lump in his throat as he slowly lowered the hem of her shirt. Patting it down smooth around her waist - like he'd never been there in the first place - before he retreated. Inching back across the mattress as she curled away and slowly sat up. Bones creaking like the springs of the old mattress they'd shared for the past fifteen years.

"I'm sorry," she offered, after a beat. Blue eyes sheened over-bright with building tears. "I thought I could tonight, but-"

He just nodded.

Because he knew.

That was the best and worst part of being them.

Of being together.

Some ghosts went away with time, but others never quite loosened their strangle hold.

They were the poster-children lamination of other people's crimes.

And deep down, no matter how many years passed them by, a part of them always would be.

"I know," was all he said as he let her choose to curl close. Scooping her into his chest without any real weight as her heartbeat gradually slowed down to match his.

It was enough.


A/N: Thank you for reading, please let me know what you think. – This story is now complete.

Reference:

- The title, "Alethiology" is a rare word meaning: "the study of truth."