"You have got to be kidding me," Carol sighed, hanging up her cell phone. She was at the baggage claim at the bustling JFK international airport, waiting for her luggage to appear on the belt and wishing she had decided to drive instead. But if everything had gone according to plan she wouldn't have needed her car anyway, which was why she chose to fly from Atlanta.
The call she'd just hung up from threw a huge monkey wrench into her plans. Carol had found an apartment in Manhattan to sublet for the 2 months she would be in the city. The owner was also an actor and had a role in Los Angeles. But as things often do in their business… everything changed. His movie was bumped to a spring filming start and his apartment would no longer be available for the time of her stay.
So now she was at the airport waiting for her belongings with absolutely no where to take them to. The owner of the apartment was in LA already and offered for her to stay there a couple nights until he returned - for the inconvenience, but she had declined. It just didn't feel right. She decided she would just take a cab into Manhattan and try to find a hotel for the night and start fresh the next day.
Her phone rang again and she was terrified to even look and see what else could go wrong. Carol smiled when she saw who was calling. "Hey," she sighed with relief into the phone.
"Hey, what's wrong? You in the city yet?" Daryl asked. It was Daryl Dixon, one of her closest friends in the entire world. They had met more than 5 years earlier when she picked up a role as an extra in a movie he was in. Daryl only had a supporting role and it was his first film, but it was incredibly successful and really kicked off his career. They had really hit it off right from the start for so many reasons.
The area where they lived in Georgia was a huge hotbed for filming and there were always roles popping up for extras. The way they had both got into the business was essentially the same - they'd been in a place in their life that they really needed the extra cash and they started taking any roles they could find. It might have been a day's work, a week's work, whatever - but if you could get an extra role it was quick cash and actually great experience for those who really knew nothing about the business at the time.
Daryl's path to stardom had started over a year before her own, and like it often did for handsome men in the film industry - his celebrity climbed a lot quicker than hers did. But Carol was okay with that because she had seen first hand how much his life had changed. It was actually almost crazy how he'd gone from a small town southern redneck with a huge chip on his shoulder to a well known celebrity who had homes in both Atlanta and New York.
When she first met him, even though he was already moving up the ranks she would never have believed he would live some of the year in a huge city like New York. He loved to be outdoors and he loved hunting, tracking game through the woods and riding his motorcycle on the backroads of rural Georgia. But people change because of circumstance and somehow Daryl had actually fell in love with NYC and was actually rather passionate about it.
Carol on the other hand - was not. She'd been out to LA a few times and of course she'd been to NYC, but never for an extended period like she was about to do. She knew she would be homesick in a matter of days, but she hoped to stay very busy with work and that the two months would fly by. At least Daryl would be around - just knowing he was in the same city was comforting. She always missed him this time of year when the TV show he filmed in Atlanta wrapped and he went to New York for a few months.
"I'm at the airport," Carol replied. "But I'm not off to a great start."
"What happened? You need me to come there?" he was genuinely concerned and it was touching. Daryl truly was a really close friend and she was quite looking forward to spending some time with him in his city - if their schedules were at all in sync to allow for it.
"No, no, I'm fine," Carol insisted. "I just got a call and the apartment I was renting is no longer available. So now I gotta find a hotel for the night and see what I can find tomorrow."
"What? Are you kidding? No hotel. Just come here," Daryl said, somewhat insistently.
"No, it's okay. I'll just find…" she started.
He quickly cut her off. "Come on. I have a spare room and I'm free all day tomorrow. I can help you find a place."
Carol hesitated. She didn't want to inconvenience him, though she knew full well Daryl would be happy to do anything he could to help. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, of course," he replied, sounding pleased he'd convinced her so quickly. "I'm headed out in a few. Some friends are taking me for a belated birthday celebration. But I'll leave the key at the front desk with security and let them know you'll be picking it up." He paused for a minute. "Unless you want to join us?" Daryl offered. "Just dinner and some drinks at a little place near my apartment."
Carol knew full well that dinner and drinks often turned into late nights, bars and nightclubs for Daryl. He was just too nice to say no if anyone pressured him for starters, not to mention the fact that he could get rather unruly when he drank too much. "Mmm hmm," she laughed. "No that's okay, you have fun. I'm a bit tired anyway," she said truthfully.
"Okay, I won't push…" he started, but it was followed by a condition. "As long as you promise that you'll go out some night with me while you're here. Let me show you the New York
"Of course," Carol agreed. She knew there would be a wild and crazy night with Daryl at some point during her stay. It wasn't her thing, but he always seemed to happy to have her tag along so she would suck it up and drink with him one night.
"'kay, so I'll try not to wake you when I get in," Daryl chuckled, probably referring to the fact that it would be late and he would be drunk. "See you in the morning."
Carol hung up just in time, as she spotted her huge suitcase coming along the conveyer belt. She went to grab it but forgot just how heavy it was. She stumbled, lost her grip and swore under her breath as she watched the suitcase heading off for another trip around. Maybe it's a sign, she thought. Maybe I shouldn't have taken the role. The movie she was filming was something very different for her. It was just a supporting role, but it was a significant supporting role. And there were some scenes she was extremely nervous about - to the point she had originally turned it down. When they called her back and said no one had even come close to her audition and they just couldn't see anyone else in the role, Carol gave in and took it.
Now she was in New York City and so far nothing had gone right. Carol was seriously considering heading back to the ticket booth and booking it right back to the ATL. Her suitcase was making its way back again and she felt the anxiety creeping in. She didn't want to miss the fucking thing a second time or there was a good chance she would throw a very public hissy fit.
"It's the gigantic black one, right?" a voice spoke up. Carol turned to see a handsome man in a perfectly tailored suit. "I'll get it for you this time," he said with a sexy smile.
Carol blushed, realizing that he must have seen her miss the suitcase. "Yes, that's the one. Thank you," she replied.
"Oh my God," he groaned, heaving the suitcase off the belt and setting it at her feet. "What do you have in that thing? Bricks?" he teased.
Carol smiled at him, "A girl never reveals her secrets." What the hell, did I just flirt with a random stranger? she wondered, shocked at her unusually forward behaviour. But the man was gorgeous. He looks almost as good as Daryl in a suit, she thought. Why on earth am I comparing him to Daryl? Carol blamed the frustration of her situation. "Uh, thank you for your help," she added.
He nodded. "It was absolutely my pleasure."
Run, a voice inside her head screamed. "Bye," she said quickly, taking off into the crowd pulling the suitcase behind her. Carol had to admit it was nice to flirt and be flirted with by such an attractive, likely younger, man. Chances were he recognized her - she'd been in enough movies by that point - even though he didn't let on. She chalked it up to his celebrity moment, but still found herself smiling the entire cab ride to Daryl's apartment building.
The key was waiting, just like he'd promised. It felt strange to be letting herself into someone else's place, even if it was Daryl's . She'd never been to his apartment before. She'd been to his house in Georgia a few times, but never alone other than the time offered to check on his cat when he was stuck filming super late.
Carol walked in and stood her suitcase up in the hallway. Just as she expected the place was spotless, everything in it's place. It truly amused her that Daryl was a neat freak. It wasn't something you would expect from him. But it was part of his minimalist attitude. Always just enough - never too much - meant there was never any clutter.
Just as she was about to head down the hall to figure out where the spare room was Carol heard a hiss. Scrappy was staring at her, his fur pricking. "Oh stop that, it's me," she said, giving the cat a look. "Enough with the diva act." Carol made her way over to the furball and bent down. She reached out her hand and the cat sniffed her. The hiss instantly switched to a deep purr and he rubbed against her hand, begging to be pet. She slipped a hand under his belly and swept the cat into her arms for some snuggle time. It made her miss her own fur balls, but she knew they were safe and happy where she'd boarded them.
Carol put the cat down and continued past the living room and kitchen. There were 5 doors in the hallway. The first was a bathroom, then there was a room that appeared to be a storage area, there was a large closet, and at the end of the hall there were two bedrooms. The first was clearly Daryl's room and the second had to be the spare. Carol pushed open the door and stopped. It wasn't a spare room at all, it was someone's room. T-Dog - Daryl's manager… it had to be his room. She remembered Daryl mentioning that T-Dog stayed with him sometimes and thinking it was weird for an actor and their manager to share a place. But Daryl had always surrounded himself with friends instead of going right to the well known industry types and he was making out just fine. Carol shut the door, she just didn't feel right taking the room.
She wandered back out to the living room and decided she would make herself comfortable on the couch for the night. She picked up the remote and turned on the TV. "Jesus," she muttered, quickly switching from the playboy channel, not really in the mood for an evening of porn, even though she had packed her vibrator for those lonely nights. She put on CNN, thankful for some background noise.
She was feeling thirsty so Carol went to the kitchen to see what she could find. She opened the fridge and took out a bottle of water, noticing a note laying on the counter. She picked it up and smiled as she started to read Daryl's scribbles:
Make yourself at home. Towels are in the hall closet. Coffee is in the cupboard above the sink. Take-out menus are in the drawer by the phone.
Welcome to New York. Glad you're here.
He knew her so well. The first thing she did was grab towels from the hall closet and took a long, hot shower. She followed that up with a mug of coffee and then decided to order a late dinner. Carol had almost fallen asleep on the couch when the delivery man arrived with her Thai food. She paid him and dug in. Really good ethnic food was definitely one benefit of city life.
Half an hour later she was digging through the hall closet again to find bedding for the couch. Carol was exhausted by the time it was made up and she'd gone through her nightly bathroom routine. She slipped into a pair of pajamas and then climbed into her makeshift bed. The sofa was plush leather and very comfortable. In no time she was fast asleep.
Carol had no idea how long she'd been sleeping when voices woke her up. She grabbed her phone to check the time: 1:35. It was actually fairly early for Daryl to be calling it a night. But suddenly she heard a female voice and realized why he was home. She instantly wished she had opted for the hotel. She really didn't want to be there with one of his random flavors of the night.
Too late now, she thought, lying back down. The voices were getting louder and Carol was curious what they were saying. She flipped back the covers and snuck closer. "No… please go. You walked me to the door. Now have a good night," Daryl said, slurring just a bit.
"Oh come on Daryl, you know you want this," the female voice replied. "I won't stay long…"
"No," he persisted. But the argument continued and finally Carol sighed. She would save his ass and he would owe her huge.
She couldn't just walk out there because the girl would most likely recognize her, so Carol called out loudly, "Daryl is that you? Come to bed. I've been waiting for you for sooooo long." She did her best to sound flirty and almost desperate.
"You have a woman here?" the girl shrieked. Carol had to bite her lip hard to keep from laughing. "You're a disgusting bastard," she yelled.
"Um, bye," Daryl called out. Carol heard the door shut and she peeked her head out into the hall. "Fuck, thank you," he sighed.
"You're welcome and you owe me… but I'm a bit confused," she admitted. "Why didn't you just… let her in?"
"Because you're here," he said, struggling with his jacket. He was clearly very drunk and it was quite amusing to watch.
"We're adults," Carol replied. "What goes on in your bedroom is not my concern."
AN: Yeah, so I don't know if this is gonna work or completely bomb, but I'm gonna give it a try. There's really no way I can make Daryl exactly like the Daryl we know on TV given that in this AU he's a celebrity. But I will do my best to pay homage to his original personality by harkening back and making comparisons to what he used to be like. And maybe I'll even do a flashback or two that weren't in the original McReedus version - just to remember where they started. Sorry for these long, stupid author's notes where I let you all in my crazy insecure mind. Anyway, hope you enjoy and let me know what you think if you can or want to.
"Does that mean you weren't waiting in my bed?" Daryl said, finally getting the jacket off with a triumphant look. Carol remembered a time when he used to blush when she flirted with him and now Mr. Big Time Celebrity was the one doing the flirting.
"Uh, no," Carol said, crossing her arms over her chest when it suddenly occurred to her she wasn't wearing a bra. "I was quite comfy on the couch."
"The couch? Why didn't you take the spare room?" Daryl kicked off one shoe and hopped around trying to get the other one off.
"It's T-Dog's room. Just didn't feel right," she admitted.
"He wouldn't care," Daryl said, leaning against the wall for support as he wrestled with the uncooperative shoe. "Ha," he said, smiling when the shoe came off and flew across the hall.
"Did you have fun?" Carol asked as he stumbled towards her.
"It was great." Daryl was looking at her very strangely. "You're beautiful Carol," he said, leaning in and kissing her on the forehead.
"And you are very drunk," she replied, tapping his cheek lightly with her hand. She could smell the whiskey on his breath. "Go to bed Daryl."
"Okay," he sighed. "My bed is way more comfy than the couch…" he offered.
"Go to bed," Carol said firmly.
Daryl gave her a quick peck on the cheek then started towards his room. "Just so you know," he said, turning and smiling at her. "I sleep naked."
Carol couldn't resist, "So do I." She heard his moan as she headed back to the couch, chuckling to herself. At least she was laughing before bed, after the terrible way her day had started. But she was always laughing when she was with Daryl. She had a feeling that having him nearby might just be her saving grace on the trip. Welcome to New York, she thought, home of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and… the one and only - Daryl Dixon.