Warnings: spoilers for "Pretty Much Dead Already"
Disclaimer: All rights for The Walking Dead go to Robert Kirkman and AMC
Carol finally got him to explain why he had been so sure of her daughter's life when she stopped crying. It was more that he was terrified of her sudden blank emotional state than him having an easily explainable reason that spurred him on.
He hadn't wanted anyone else to hear the story, but Andrea refused to leave Carol's side once the pair of them got her into the RV. She had a wad of tissues clutched in one hand and periodically reached up to wipe tears away. Daryl long since gave up any of his composure when, an hour ago, they buried Sophia and Carol had collapsed in his arms.
"I ever tell you 'bout the blackberries?" he whispered.
Carol frowned slightly.
"It was that day it'd been rainin' real hard back before we found the quarry. Remember that?"
"I do. Amy took her shoes off and went barefoot the whole day," Andrea confirmed. The pair of them locked eyes for a scant second, understanding and pain passing between them.
"You were talkin' ta Lori and it was too wet out ta do any proper huntin', so I started scoutin' the woods for some blackberry bushes. They grow all over the damn place up there an' I figured we all needed somethin' besides all them canned peaches Dale had back then."
Carol leaned her elbows onto the table between her and Daryl and finally accepted Andrea's light touch against her back. "I was asking if she had a hat or an umbrella I could borrow," she whispered.
Daryl carefully closed his fingers around hers and smiled tightly. "Well, see, while y'all were off bein' grown ups, your little girl grabbed a grocery sack to help gather up blackberries. When she caught up ta me, she just handed me the bag and started to head back for the road.
"I dunno why, but I asked her if she wanted to help and I made her borrow my gloves so she wouldn't get stickers in her hands. She kep' on runnin' inta these huge patches of fat berries an' we got the bag purty full 'fore she spoke again."
Carol quietly let go of one of Daryl's hands to wipe her cheeks.
"She said she knew why I always wandered off alone. Why I didn't talk ta no one. Why I'd been keepin' my right shoulder stiff when we all first met up…" he paused, remembering something that was done to him in the weeks before he ran across Dale's RV. His eyes went dim in a way that wasn't easy for either woman to watch.
Daryl shook his head and looked back into Carol's eyes. "I could see it in her, too. And you," he frowned.
The moment needed to be brought back to the uplifting memory he'd started, but he wasn't sure how to move on from talking about shitty fathers. Andrea saved him the trouble.
"I don't remember you bringing blackberries into camp," she said.
Daryl smirked. "That's 'cause we ended up eatin' most of 'em on our way back. She gave the rest ta Carl and gave me the stink eye for a few weeks 'cause I let her eat so many it made 'er sick. Made me sick, too. I dunno what she was glarin' at me for."
His smirk shifted into a smile and Daryl scooted his elbows forward just a tad. The button on his shirt clicked when his chest pressed against the table. "Sophia was the first person to actually talk ta me in a long-ass time. I used ta think it was 'cause she didn't know that talkin' to a Dixon was a foolish thing ta do, but I figured it out when I was on watch lookin' over camp 'fore the whole thing with Merle. She talked ta me 'cause she could see I was just as fu-screwed up as y'all an' her momma taught her to be kind ta others. You raised a good little girl, Carol."
Carol started crying again and, for a second, Daryl panicked. He only calmed down when he saw the smile on Andrea's face and felt how Carol was clutching his hand.
His smile was small, as usual, but more than reassuring. "She wasn't too bad at pickin' blackberries, either," he said.