"I think this looks pretty clear," Songbird pointed out about an hour and a half later. "Want to try to get on the interstate now?"
Daryl looked down the road and then nodded.
"Reckon it can't hurt."
To their grateful surprise, one lane of the interstate had been cleared.
"Shit," Daryl said in awe. "How many fuckin' people live in this damn place?"
"It must be a lot. This isn't easy work. Hey look! This is exit 1! We're almost there!"
"Yeah I know," Daryl glanced out over the bridge where the lake sparkled in the late summer sun.. "Hell it's actually prettier'n it used to be."
"Can we stop?" Songbird asked suddenly.
"To look. We haven't exactly had great scenery in a while, you know?"
"Good point." Daryl squinted through the windshield and up at the sun. "We got time. All right darlin'."
He pulled the truck over to a clear spot on the shoulder of the bridge and got out. Michelangelo jumped out eagerly and promptly began marking territory.
"I bet Kansas was soaked," Songbird said with a shake of her head as she watched him. She pulled her sweaty hair off of her neck and thanked God that she'd had the sense to make cutoffs of one of the prison jumpsuits. Bright orange might not be the most stylish look, but with the pants cut off at mid thigh and the sleeves cut out, it was the coolest thing she had. "The water looks nice."
Daryl caught a hint of a challenge in her smile.
"We could walk down the side over there-" he began, but she just kicked her boots off and raised an eyebrow.
"Or..." she said with a grin. "Catch me if you can."
Before he could form a retort, she'd hoped up onto the guardrail and taken a deep breath. Then, with that easy grace that he thought was sexy as hell, Songbird dove in. Michelangelo looked horrified.
"She's fine," Daryl said. "Look she's wavin'."
The dog didn't bother to respond before he jumped through the guardrail and hit the water with a splash.
"Nah, you ain't gotta wait for me," Daryl muttered as he untied his boots and pulled his shirt over his head. He had to take a second to empty his pockets, which gave Songbird time to shout general taunts about fear. His dive probably didn't look as good, but he managed to swim over underneath her and pull her down, so it was worth it.
"Hey!" she gasped when they both came to the surface. "What was that for?"
"Name callin'," he said. "It ain't polite." He ducked back under the water before she could retaliate.
The next time he tugged her under she wrapped her legs around his waist and gave him the sexiest look she could manage with her eyes squinted under the water. From the fact that he nearly choked laughing as they surfaced, she assumed that it hadn't been terribly sexy. From the way his mouth covered hers once he stopped laughing though, she assumed that sexy wasn't exactly what he was looking for in a woman.
She kissed him eagerly, until she felt them starting to sink.
"Shit," he said as he pulled back. "Guess I ain't the multi-tasker I thought I was."
"There's a perfectly good beach over there," Songbird pointed out as she pulled out of his embrace and began to swim.
Daryl followed her quickly. She was messing with the zipper on the jumpsuit when he caught up.
"I think it's stuck," she said with a frown.
Daryl wrapped her braid around his hand and tugged until her lips met his. The next thing Songbird knew her jumpsuit was unzipped to the waist and Daryl's mouth was moving down over her wet skin. She arched into his touch when his lips closed over her nipple as his hand slid under the waistband of her clothes.
"You're good," she managed to gasp out.
"Damn straight darlin'."
HIs jeans and her jumpsuit landed on one of the nearby rocks several moments later, but when Songbird moved to tug him down onto the ground Daryl shook his head.
"Don't know about you, but there's some places I don't reckon I want sand."
"So what are we...oh."
He boosted her onto one of the taller rocks and began kissing her neck again. In a few seconds her hand slid down his chest and she wrapped her fingers around his cock.
"I knew you'd figure it out," he said as she began to stroke him with light, teasing movements. "Come on darlin', you know how I like it."
"Yeah, but where's the fun in giving you exactly what you want?" she asked with a smile. "If I make it too easy..." she trailed off as he swatted her hand away and pushed inside her. "You don't do awesome things like that."
"You might know me better'n I give you credit for."
"Daryl?" she asked a while later.
"I've been thinking about what you said about secrets."
"Really?" he moved his arm off of his face where he'd been blocking the sun, and sat up to look at her.
"Yes. I don't want to make it hard for you to love me."
"It ain't hard for me to love you. It's hard for me to trust you. That's different."
Songbird slid down off the rock they'd been lying on and walked over to their clothes. They weren't totally dry, but they were good enough. She pulled her jumpsuit on and tossed Daryl his jeans.
"I don't want to make it hard for you to do either of those things then," she clarified. "But I had some questions."
"Sure you did." Daryl pulled on his jeans and said, "Let's have 'em."
"What about...well...good secrets?"
"Are there good ones?"
"Yes! Like surprise parties." Daryl gave her a skeptical look and she rushed on, "And good news that you want to come at a great time. The right time."
"Oh. Yeah, I guess that's different. I'm talkin' more about shit that could get you killed."
"I understand why you were mad about Shane," she admitted.
"I get why you didn't tell me," Daryl said after a few seconds. "You probably did save his life. And you thought it was worth savin'."
"You really don't?"
"More now than I did. Guess everybody's got a purpose and I ain't gonna say Shane was a shitty leader in the beginnin'."
"Oh that's right! You knew him before you knew Rick didn't you?"
"Yeah. Me and Rick didn't have the best beginnin'."
"What about you and Shane?"
"Guess it was all right. He seemed like an asshole, but I didn't have any problems with him. Merle hated him."
"Oh yeah. Merle was used to bein' in charge. Anyway, Shane did a pretty good job keepin' everybody in line and alive."
"He kept you in line?"
Daryl saw Songbird's eyes sparkle as she grinned at him.
"I went huntin' a lot. Can't tell me what to do if you can't find me. And it wasn't like he could complain 'bout me feedin' people."
"Very smart." Songbird glanced up at the bridge. "I wish I had my boots now. So many pine cones between me and that bridge."
"What you get for bein' impulsive," Daryl said with a grin. "I'd carry you piggy back if I thought I'd survive it."
"Is your back hurting?"
"Not right now. Like to keep it that way." He linked his fingers through hers and helped her up the embankment and onto the road as he whistled for Michelangelo.
Songbird was pulling her shoes back on when she heard the voices. They weren't close enough for her to be able to pick out words, but she heard a light laugh and the answering rumble of a deep, male voice. She straightened up and listened closer.
"Daryl," she called softly when the voices moved closer. She could tell that they were walking up from under the bridge.
Daryl scooped up the crossbow and walked over to where Songbird was standing.
"Hear them?" she whispered.
"Yeah, Get in the truck darlin'."
"What are you going to do?"
"Wait and see. At least get closer to the truck. For my peace of mind."
Songbird did as he asked. A few minutes later a bullet whizzed by Daryl's head and hit one of the parked cars. Songbird only half managed to hold back her shriek of panic as Daryl ducked.
"Ain't Walkers!" Daryl bellowed as he motioned for Songbird to crouch down. Her face had gone pale. "It's all right darlin'."
She went to her knees beside the front tire of the truck and tried to keep from shaking. There were no more bullets. The voices had risen.
"You're human?" the man's voice finally called.
"Fuck yeah!" Daryl shouted back.
"I'd be a hell of alot more friendly if I knew you wasn't gonna shoot me!"
"Sorry about that!"
That was the woman's voice.
"We're gonna come up," the man continued.
Daryl stood up cautiously and, when he could see that the man had put the gun away, he pulled Songbird to her feet. They eyed the pair struggling up the bank as Songbird held Michelangelo's collar tightly.
"Father and daughter it looks like," she began when the young woman slid backwards a little. The man grabbed her by the ass and pushed her upright, ending the gesture with a hearty smack.
"Christ, I hope not," Daryl answered as the pair got up onto the highway and began walking toward them.
"Put your arm around me," Songbird said suddenly.
"So that guy doesn't think what we just thought."
"Shit. Good point." Daryl slung his arm over her shoulders. "Damn good thing you're a shitty shot." He called by way of a greeting.
The man narrowed his eyes but the young woman beside him laughed.
"You just caught Abraham on a bad day. Hi! I'm Rosita."
Daryl looked Rosita up and down. She was young, maybe around Songbird's age, and she was damn pretty. She had a baseball cap on with her light brown hair pulled through the back of it to keep it out of her eyes. It didn't distract from her pretty smile and sparkling eyes. She didn't exactly seem to match the guy she was with. He looked at Abraham and saw that Abraham was apprasing him and Songbird the same way.
He saw Abraham give a quick smile under his handlebar mustache after he took a long look at Songbird followed by a quick glance at Daryl.. It took a second but Daryl returned it. Hell, it wasn't like there wasn't something to be proud of. His girl was something.
"I'm Daryl," he said. "This is Songbird."
"Songbird?" Rosita repeated. "That's a pretty name!"
"Thanks." Songbird gave her a smile. "I was just thinking that Rosita is pretty cool too."
"That dog trained?" Abraham asked suddenly with a glance at Michelangelo.
"Yeah," Daryl confirmed. "Where ya'll headed?"
"Think the days of being headed somewhere are over don't you?" Abraham asked.
So they didn't know about the radio station. Daryl saw Songbird glance at him and he took a moment to appreciate the question in her eyes. She was leaving it up to him.
"There's a town a few miles up the road," he said. "They're takin' people."
"What?" Rosita gasped. "Are you serious?"
"Yes," Songbird confirmed. "We heard it on the radio."
"There's radio?" Rosita's dark eyes shone. "Abraham!"
"Want to listen?" Songbird asked after another glance at Daryl.
The signal was stronger since they were closer. Songbird saw tears fill Rosita's eyes when she heard the DJ's voice.
"Have you been out there long?" Songbird asked. "Alone?"
"I've been with Abraham since the beginning. Well, almost the beginning. But it's been just the two of us since spring. I was starting to think we'd never find more people. That maybe we were the last ones on earth or something, you know?"
Songbird realized that she didn't. Not really. It was odd to realize that you'd been any kind of lucky during an apocalypse, but she'd always known there were other people in the world.
"Do you guys have a car?"
"Not anymore. It broke down. Abraham didn't know how to fix it."
"The car sucked too. Once I got used to be able to walk without worrying about being eaten alive I remembered just how much I hated being driven around."
"Well I was just about to ask you if you wanted me to ask Daryl if you could ride in with us, but now..." Songbird trailed off with a smile as Rosita's eyes lit up.
"Really? You wouldn't mind?"
"I don't, but it's not just up to me. I guess I'd say that you've got my vote."
"Lets go ask now!" Rosita pulled Songbird out of the truck and they headed back to where Daryl and Abraham were still standing.
Daryl put his arm around Songbird when she stepped up beside him and finished his sentence, "It was probably just the battery. But it ain't like that's such an easy fix anymore."
"Yeah," Abraham agreed. "Hated to leave it though."
Daryl nodded and glanced down when Songbird tugged the back of his shirt.
"What you want darlin'?"
"I need to talk to you."
"Hang on," he said to Abraham and Rosita as he followed her to the cab of the truck. "What's wrong?"
His eyes scanned her quickly and she gave him a reassuring smile.
"Nothing. I just wanted to talk to you alone for a second. I think we should give them a ride."
Daryl rubbed his lower lip thoughtfully.
"Got a good feelin' about 'em?"
"I kinda think I do to. And either way, I think we could take 'em if we needed to."
Songbird laughed and kissed him quickly before she said, "For sure."
A/N: Finally got some time to get this done :) Just a few chapters left now!