Again, these two are possessing my mind. This is another extended scene set in 2x05 "Chupacabra." Perhaps a bit choppier than my other contributions thus far, but I really just needed it to set the stage for a backstory idea for Daryl that's been jumping around in my brain like SpongeBob and Patrick on a Pixie Stix bender. Can't promise that that piece will get written all too soon, though, so treat this like a Caryl one-shot. :-)

And for anyone who likes a soundtrack to their fiction-set this to Sixx AM's "Skin" which is where my singular title for the piece came from. I'm kind of playing that song on repeat at the moment and OMG, it is SOOOOOO this scene! Not only for my story, but for the whole exchange between Carol and Daryl in that bedroom.

Skin, by MissMishka

DISCLAIMER: The usual warnings, I claim no ownership of these characters, they are simply borrowed with love and adoration from the original creators to have their stories embellished on a little more than the show may do. Not for any profit.

He was quick about it, despite the tightness he had to be feeling from the wound in his side. He yanked that thin sheet up over his bared torso in the blink of an eye, clearly not wanting it to be seen.

Unfortunately, the blink of her eye occurred after he'd covered up the scars she plainly wasn't supposed to see.

It was all she could do to stifle the gasp that twisted in her chest at the brief glimpse that managed to show and tell her so much. For all his sins, Ed had never left a physical scar. The mental and emotional damage might linger her whole life, but the physical had never gone beyond a bruise or a broken bone he'd taken her to the hospital to have had set.

The rib she had seen protruding at an odd little angle from beneath the too thin layer of his pale white skin told her no one had bothered to bind Daryl's broken bones. Brief as the moment had been, she would bet those had been the deep welts from a belt cut into his back and it was just plain cuts she had seen crossing his chest. Almost looking in one place like someone had tried to scratch out his heart.

Shame was obvious in the way he balled the blanket over those particular marks, leaving her to wonder if, maybe, they had been self-inflicted.

It wasn't unheard of.


He certainly had a selection of knives for it, if that were the case, but the marks looked old so it had most likely been a habit from when he was younger. That was usually when someone needed an outlet for all they felt while suffering abuses from their parents or wherever else he may have gotten his scars. Shaken by the idea of anyone going to such extremes, she breathed in to dispel that line of thought.

Circular burns from something like cigarettes had left their evidence on his flesh as well. How much of it all had been done to him and how much done by him, she wasn't going to wonder. That tapestry of pain was one she was glad he covered from her sight with no intention to ever discuss.

Carol pretended to have not seen a thing as she set the tray down for him. Causing him any kind of discomfort after all he had done and been through that day was truly the last thing she wanted.

"How are you feeling?" she asked softly, giving his bare shoulder just a sideways glance.

"Bout as good as I look," he scoffed at himself.

It gave her pause, those words. That thought.

Despite it all, she was stunned to realize that even in that moment he looked good to her. Strong and capable and … virile.

As he literally huddled under that thin covering to keep her eyes from seeing more of those scars, she found herself wondering if it was just her he didn't want looking or if he'd always covered up.

Had any woman seen all of his scars?

Had he ever allowed a gentle touch to explore the marks in a belated effort to erase some of the hurt?

Now certainly wasn't the time, if ever there could be a time, for such wondering and she forcibly shook them off.

"I brought you some dinner," she distracted them both by saying. "You must be starving."

Somehow, more pieces of her heart managed to find themselves and break at how he twisted his head toward the food. Like a wounded, starving stray the scent of food lured, but the moment of exposure to further potential hard while reaching for the meal was too risky, so he remained huddled under his blanket.

She knew, though, that the moment she stepped out, he'd fall on that food like it were his last meal and she wished she'd thought to bring him more.

Unable to resist some kind of token, she gave in to impulse, bent over his hunched shoulders and quickly kissed his forehead below the white gauze wrapping his head. The urge to linger and to touch was there, but she resolutely kept her hands on the bed and not on him before pushing up and away.

The surprise in his eyes as they darted to and quickly from her own wasn't exactly one sided. Carol had always been skittish with men. Only with Sophia had affection ever come easy and natural to her.

In that moment, though, Daryl was the surprisingly skittish one. It sent a curious reaction through her and she straightened slowly as her mind tried to process what it was. She couldn't help but wonder, despite the improbability of it, just how much experience he had with women on the physical level.

One thing she felt was certain. No woman had ever been allowed near those scars, if any had ever even tried to access them.

Another certainty she could not escape as he squirmed further under his thin white shield of cotton was that someday, before this was all over, she'd at least be a woman to try soothing those wounds.