Evening my downtrodden comrades! I wrote this about a year and a half ago and just never really got around to wrapping it up. I didn't plan on posting it because it is kind of... I don't even know. Halohunter compared it to a beautiful sweet cinnamon roll that was too precious for this world. So I was like, yeah, no one wants to read 40 plus chapters of goo. But I have a feeling that maybe that's exactly what we all need. I'm about three chapters away from finishing it so this can be one of those that I update all the time. Hope your chins are up and thank you for giving this fluffy treat a taste. lol Okay, that was lame as fuck. Anyway, hope you enjoy. =)
Daryl peered up at the clock and grumbled to himself. He had only agreed to stay until two a.m. because he needed the money. It was one fifty eight and he could have sworn that the second hand on the clock had started moving slower. He was worn out, taking on as many hours as they would give him. Ever since Merle got arrested six months ago he had been working his ass off to save up every cent that he had. What little money didn't go to rent on the shabby house he lived in went into his sock drawer.
Finally the clock struck two and he grabbed his jacket and hurried out of the office before the phone could ring. In thirty minutes some other poor bastard would show up and he would be the one stuck going out in this bitter cold to help some stranded bastard. Driving a tow truck wasn't too bad, if he was being honest with himself. He didn't have to deal with his coworkers and when he did have to deal with people he didn't have to worry about small talk.
"Son of a bitch," he growled, blowing into his cupped hands after he was seated behind the steering wheel of his beat up Chevy. The cold was brutal but the cab of the truck was relatively warm since it had been running for the last twenty minutes. He had a forty minute drive back to his house and he could only hope that the heater at home hadn't given out again. If it had then his pipes would likely be busted and he knew that the slum lord that owned the place would take his sweet ass time getting everything fixed. The heater and the pipes would be out of commission for a while.
With a heavy sigh he pulled out of the parking lot and began the forty minute trek back home. It hadn't snowed in a few days so the roads were clear, which explained the lack of call ins from stranded motorists. Most people probably weren't stupid enough to be out in cold like this, not unless they had to be. That's why he scowled when, far up ahead, he saw a car on the side of the road. He slowed once he got a little closer and could see someone leaning against the bumper.
"It's not your problem," he muttered out loud. "Your off the clock."
He scowled harder when he saw that the person leaning against the bumper was a woman. She was wearing a heavy coat. It wasn't like she would freeze to death if he drove on by. He told himself that several times before he pulled off onto the shoulder. He tapped his fingers against the steering wheel before he finally opened the door and hopped down. Merle would have handed him his ass for doing something like this but it was too damn cold for him to leave some woman out on the side of the road alone. It wasn't a busy road by any means and maybe the next person that drove by wouldn't be just some helpful jackass like himself. He sure as hell didn't need that on his conscience.
The woman was coming around the side of the car as he approached and when she saw him she stopped in her tracks, glancing around like a rabbit in a trap. Of course she was probably afraid of him. She was just one woman stranded on the side of the road and he was some weird fucker walking right up to her. If he was a woman he'd probably be nervous himself. He stopped a few yards away and cleared his throat, since it didn't look like she was going to say anything first.
"You break down?" He asked like a dumb shit. Of course she was broke down. She sure as hell wasn't out here stargazing.
She nodded and pulled her coat further around herself. "My husband got a ride back home so he could call someone to pick up the car so they should be back any minute."
He could hear fear in her voice as her eyes kept going to the road. He couldn't help but scowl. What kind of piece of shit left a woman standing out in the cold, alone, while they go off to call someone? "How long you been out here?" He asked suddenly, the question coming unbidden.
"Not very long at all. Thank you for stopping but I'm fine, really. It shouldn't be much longer before he shows up so you should go."
Something dawned on him then. She really didn't seem very scared of him exactly but it was clear that she was afraid of something. He knew all too well what that feeling was like and he could read it on another person easily. He couldn't make out many of her features but her large eyes reflected the moonlight easily and for some strange reason he felt anger spike his blood, causing him to take another step towards her. "What did the car do? I might be able to get it rigged so you can at least get home," he offered, knowing he wouldn't be able to leave her standing there. Too bad her husband didn't have the same qualms.
She shook her head. "No, you don't have to go to the trouble. He said to just stay here and make sure no one messes with the car and he'd be back."
And it was clear that she had better listen to him or face the consequences. He took another step towards the car and the woman took a step back. He stopped, not sure what he should do at this point. He didn't have a cell phone and it was obvious that she didn't have one either or she wouldn't have been stuck guarding the piece of shit car on the side of the road. "You sure you don't want a ride or something? It's only getting colder."
She shook her head so hard that she nearly lost her hat and she took another step back. "Thank you, really, but I should stay."
The thought of leaving her there bothered him, probably more than it should have. He didn't know her from Eve and really, this wasn't any of his business. He would have been better off just driving on past because now he wasn't going to be able to stop wandering if she had frozen to death or gotten her ass picked up by some freak. But he couldn't force her into his truck. So he simply nodded and turned back to his truck.
"Thank you," she called.
He stopped in his tracks because she wasn't thanking him for stopping. She wasn't thanking him for offering to take a look at the car or for the ride. She was thanking him for leaving. He could hear it in her voice. Without a backwards glance he started walking again, a heavy feeling coming over him. Tired or not, this was going to be a long night.
It took him fifteen minutes before he made it to the nearest twenty four hour mini mart. He pulled in, in serious need of a cup of coffee and he knew that this place offered the biggest cups. He also knew the guy that worked the night shift and he knew he would be sucked into small talk but for some reason, tonight he didn't mind. The bell jingled over his head and the guy behind the counter looked up sharply. He grinned and tossed the comic he had been reading down on the counter.
"Dixon! You come to keep me company tonight? It's been dead in here," Glenn said as he glanced out the window.
"Nah. Just headin' home," he said gruffly.
"You hear that by dawn it's gonna be ten below? What the hell is with this weather anyway? You know it's bad when it's too cold to even snow."
Daryl filled up the large Styrofoam cup but paused with the pot in his hand. What if the woman's husband didn't come back? What if he'd gotten into an accident or something? The temperature was dropping quickly. "Damn it," he growled, grabbing another cup and filling it up. He put the lids on both, shoved some sugar and cream packets into his pocket and hurried over to the counter.
Glenn raised his brow at the second cup. "Hot date?"
Daryl shook his head and snorted. "Cold one."
Daryl shook his head. "Some dumb ass is stranded a few miles back and she's too stupid to let me look at her car or get a ride. Least I can do is bring her some damn coffee."
Daryl didn't like the smile that spread over Glenn's face. "I never pegged you for the knight in shining armor type, Daryl. You're usually much to crabby for that."
"Shut up, Rhee," Daryl grumbled.
"It's on the house. Now hurry up and get that woman warm. We sell condoms, you know," he laughed as Daryl glared, holding up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. But you know we're open twenty four hours if you change your mind."
"She's married you ass," he said as he turned towards the door.
"Oh man. This is gonna be good. I'll see you tomorrow and you can give me details!" He called.
"It's my day off, asshole. You won't be seeing me for a few days." He heard Glenn laugh as the door swung shut. The kid had been right. He could have sworn it felt colder. He didn't know why the hell he was doing this. It was pretty damn stupid, actually. He needed to get his ass home, get some food in his system and deposit his paycheck into that damn sock drawer.
He sped. He never sped. Most of the cops around these parts knew of his brother and would love to have an excuse to give him a hard time, even though he had never been busted for anything in all his life. Maybe the woman's husband finally came for her. He hoped that were the case because he really didn't know what to say to her. She'd surely think that he was coming onto her doing something so goddamn chivalrous, and idiotic. Hell, he didn't have time for anything like that. Not to mention she was a married woman and he hadn't even gotten a real glimpse of what she looked like. For all he knew she was a goat face. But he remembered her eyes and the way the moon reflected in them and realized that even if she was a goat face, he could look at those for a long time and not notice anything else.
He almost slammed on the breaks as the thought entered his mind. "What the fuck kind of pansy ass Shakespearean shit was that?" He said to the empty cab. "Jesus Christ."
He drove the speed limit after that, every now and then he would glance in the rear view mirror to give himself a good long glare for being such a sappy dumb ass. When the car came into view he pulled up closer to it than he had the first time he had stopped. He could just make out the outline of her figure huddled in the drivers seat and he made a vow to himself that if he ever saw this woman's husband out and about, he was going to kick his ass and lock him in a deep freeze for a few hours.
He didn't waste any time because if he did he might drive away, so he walked right up to the window and tapped on it. He could have sworn he saw her sigh before she opened the door and stepped out. He backed up a good couple of feet, giving her room so she didn't feel like he was trying to crowd her.
"Here," he said quickly, shoving the coffee cup towards her.
"I..." Her voice trailed off as a thin line of steam rose up from the opening in the lid of the cup. "Thank you so much," she said gratefully, taking the cup in one gloved hand. "I thought he would be here by now."
"Well, he ain't and it's only getting colder so you can let me take you home or I can stop back by that gas station and have my friend call a tow truck to come get you. I ain't leavin' some woman out here to die tonight." He said that all in a rush. The headlights gave him a view of her that he hadn't gotten before and, to his dismay, she was definitely not a goat face. He wished she was a goat face though. Driving an ugly woman home would have been better than driving a woman home that he wanted to stare at. She didn't look much older than himself, early thirties at the most.
She looked around, her eyes unable to hide her fear. "I don't know if we can afford a tow," she said more to herself than to him. "Really thank you but I should-"
"No. Call a tow or get in the truck. Those are your options. I can't go home and get any sleep knowing I left somebody stranded." He knew he could get the car towed for free. He worked for the fucking company for Christ sakes, but there was no way he was going to go out of his way, and face the wrath of his boss, just so some cheap asshole could save a few bucks. Not after leaving his wife like this.
She took a few sips of the coffee, moaning softly as the hot liquid warmed her some. The sound had him swallowing hard and he felt his face flush at the thoughts that he had to mentally shake from his mind. What in the hell was his damn problem, anyway?
She finally looked up, meeting his eye. "Okay. Just let me get my purse and you can take me home." She didn't sound thrilled at getting out of the cold at all, making him wonder what her life could be like when she would prefer this over her own warm bed.
He wasn't so sure if his house would be warm but he knew that his bed wouldn't take long to heat up if she wanted to- "Okay, lets get you home then," he said, grinding his teeth together and forcibly willing those thoughts out of his mind.
She gave him easy directions and was pretty surprised that they almost lived in the same neighborhood. He was more on the outskirts in a rougher part, of course, but she didn't live far from him at all. She had thanked him several times on the way to her house but he had shrugged it off and kept his eyes on the road, refusing to look at her.
Her house was small but well kept. Much nicer than his beat up rental. The lights were on, causing him to frown. "You think your husband's home? Looks lit up like a Christmas tree." He risked a glance at her and saw that her head was down. When she looked up her expression was embarrassed.
"I didn't think he would..." Her voice trailed off and her wide eyes went back to the house. He hadn't pulled up in the drive because she had asked him not to. He didn't ask her any questions about it though, already guessing the reasons and not wanting to have that on his mind as he drove away. "Anyway, thank you again. You didn't have to go to all that trouble."
"What's your name?" He asked suddenly, not wanting her to go into that house.
The ghost of a smile graced her lips. "Carol. Carol Peletier."
He nodded and watched as she climbed out of the truck, walking slowly towards the house. She glanced back twice, both times he gave her a small wave. She waved back. Once she closed the door he drove off. When he got to his house he slid out of the truck, the coffee hadn't done anything at all to chase the exhaustion away. He had been pulling as many shifts as they would let him and since they were short handed he was able to get as much overtime as he'd wanted. He was bone weary and ready to collapse and sleep until he couldn't sleep anymore.
Before he slammed the door to the truck he happened to look down at the seat. Sitting there, was Carol's purse. He knew he couldn't take it back to her tonight. He was pretty sure that her husband would already be pissed that she hadn't stayed with the car. He didn't want to cause her anymore grief. He snatched it off the seat and slammed the door. He'd figure out some way to get it back to her.
He ignored that small jolt of excitement that he felt at the prospect of having an excuse to seek her out. When he made it inside he discovered that his luck had held. The living room was warm, the heater had held up again. Tonight hadn't turned out too bad after all.