Disclaimer: Very much not mine.
Summary: Post-2x05. She didn't dare come in while he was still awake.
Andrea sneaks into his darkened room later that night and quietly shuts the door behind her. He doesn't stir, and whether it's because he's dead tired or on some heavy-duty painkillers, she's not sure, but she's grateful for it as she tiptoes on creaky floorboards to the foot of the bed.
She didn't dare come in while he was still awake. Carol had suggested she go and sit with him while he ate, but she'd begged off, trying to ignore the look the older woman gave her as she mumbled a lame excuse about folding laundry.
Now, she just stands there and stares at him, at the way the white bandages stand out in stark contrast against his perpetually dirty skin. He's curled into himself, looking quite helpless, though she knows he's anything but. She watches him breathe in and out, wanting to see for herself that he's alive and okay and not close to death by her own foolish hands.
Dale had told her not to be too hard on herself. The more she thinks about it, the dumber that sounds, and the worse she feels. A few extra days of target practice and a couple inches to the left, and Daryl would have died, and it would've been all her fault.
She feels her eyelids start to droop and scrubs a hand across her face. It's beyond late, and she's mentally and physically exhausted, and she really, really should leave. But she can't. Instead, she moves around to the side of the bed and gingerly settles on top of the rumpled bedding.
Just for a few minutes, she reasons to herself. The bed is soft, and he's warm and alive and alone, and all she wants to do is curl up next to him for a few minutes and let it all soak in. So she does.
When she opens her eyes, the sun is just starting to rise over the Greene farm, and Daryl's staring at her from his side of the bed.
"What're you doing here?" he mumbles, his voice hoarse from sleep. "Looking to finish the job?"
For a moment, she's so surprised to see him awake that she doesn't quite know what to say. "Hi," she says dumbly.
She props herself up on her elbow. "Daryl," she starts, snapping out of it. "I am… I am so, so sorry. I thought you were a walker. You were moving like a walker! I wanted to prove myself, or something. It was so stupid of me."
"Ain't going to hear any argument from me," he says with a grunt. "I'm just glad you can't shoot for shit."
She bursts out into nervous laughter. "Yeah," she says.
He gestures toward her side of the bed. "You been here all night?"
"Guess so." She feels her face flush.
"I didn't mean to fall asleep," she explains. "I came in to see you, and I was tired. I just wanted to close my eyes for a minute."
He seems satisfied with her answer, but still uncomfortable with the fact that she's in bed with him. He shifts, and winces as his stitches pull.
She reaches for the bandage on his head, and he flinches away from her touch. "It's okay," she whispers. "Does it hurt?"
She notes the way his breath hitches when she moves closer to him and the softness of his dirty hair between her prodding fingers. "Doc's got me on some painkillers," he says quietly. "It's all right."
"How about your side?" Without thinking, she pulls the sheet down lower on his torso to try to get a better look. There's a network of scars running across his trunk, and she can't help but stare at them.
"I said I'm fine," he says curtly. He pulls the sheet back up, and she decides that this isn't the time to bring the subject up. She'd already heard one of his childhood stories recently, and it wasn't pretty.
"You don't have to be a tough guy all the time," she says instead, scooting back to her side. She gives him a chastising look. "It's okay if you let other people take care of you, you know."
He looks away from her, fingering the bedding, and shrugs. "Never had anyone want to before."
"I want to." She says it so quickly and sincerely that he looks up and studies her face. She can sense him struggling with a desire to trust her, to accept what she's telling him, but that it just isn't in his nature.
"Why?" he finally asks. "What am I to you or anyone else around here except a dumb redneck you keep around to do the grunt work?" He looks like a lost little boy, then, and she wonders just what the hell his life has been like before it the world ended. For not the first time, she's glad that Merle isn't around anymore.
"That is not what you are," she insists. "Look. Whether you want to believe it or not, I do care about you, Daryl. You're important, and you matter, here. To all of us."
"Yeah, well." He's still visibly uncomfortable, but she can see him starting to thaw. "If I was so useful around here, you'd think you'd be a better shot, then. Must've screwed up somewhere."
She laughs. "Then I guess you're going to have to give me a lesson sometime soon. You can't have me out there grazing walkers." She's pleased when she sees the beginnings of a smirk on his face.
"Guess so." He yawns loudly and blinks his eyes, fighting sleep. "It's just embarrassing."
She catches the yawn and tells him, "You should get some more rest. It's still early."
"Yeah," he says. He adjusts his pillows and settles in, watching her as she moves to get up. Quietly, he says, "You don't have to go. I mean, if you're comfortable, it's okay if you stay."
She smiles at him and climbs under the covers this time. He starts to shift further away from her, but stops himself. "Thanks," she says.
He nods awkwardly and closes his eyes. "Night."
"Night." She's quiet for a few seconds, and then she can't help herself. "Can I just ask you one thing?"
"Hmm?" he grunts.
"Honey, what was with the ears?"
His eyes crack open. "Seemed like the thing to do at the time."
An eyebrow quirks up. "Seriously?"
"Just go to sleep."
"Fine, But stay away from my ears," she teases quietly.
He closes his eyes and shrugs. "Keep talking. See what happens."
She drifts off again with the ghost of a smile on her lips.