if i had a choice i'd choose you
Andrea's never been the one to initiate the beginning of a relationship, or anything, really, if you can believe that. She's always been the go getter kind of girl, and whoever stands in the way of her getting what she wants is nothing but a miniscule blip on her radar. She'll get what she wants, everybody else be damned. But there's something about putting herself out there for any man and the world to see that scares her. Especially now when she can't have a good cry, drink some tea, call Amy, or immerse herself in college life when faced with rejection. She's kind of terrified of rejection, actually. Even though she's never been "rejected", per say. The thought of being turned down when she's worked up the courage (or drank enough) to throw caution to the wind and open up scares the fuck out of her. She's always had something to fall back on; designer clothing, her law degree, family. Now she doesn't have any of that. So she keeps to herself, and she doesn't speak to anybody about anything pertaining to life before.
All she's got now is this kind of burning need to touch somebody and be touched back. She likes calloused hands, rough and tough and sturdy. She likes a man who's not afraid to spend a night (or nine) alone in the woods. She likes a man that's strong and silent and durable, but intelligent, clever, and cunning. She likes a man who gets her jokes and laughs at her snide comments. She's always looked for that kind of guy; she just never thought that guy would be Daryl Dixon. In the old world, she'd expected it to be a lawyer, or a doctor, or a politician, but now she sees that guy in cutoff flannels and jeans, five o'clock shadow at noon, and a crossbow over his shoulder. Even more surprising is that fact that she doesn't really care that it's Daryl. He's safe and warm and sturdy. It never ceases to amaze her that he's the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up and the last thing she thinks of when she goes to sleep.
There's something about him that makes her want to shut down. She doesn't quite understand why she worries when he doesn't come home from a hunting trip right away, or why she checks his tent at night to make sure he's okay. Maybe she's crazy. She avoids him, generally, because she doesn't know what she'd do if he spoke to her in the light of day, smirk prominent, sunlight glinting off of his farmer's tan. She'd probably jump him, then everybody and their mother would know she's stupid over Redneck Extraordinaire.
So, she keeps avoiding him.
"I liked stability," Andrea finds herself saying one night when they're all sitting around a fire, discussing what they missed from the old world, "I miss having solid walls around me, and god, I miss bubble baths." the bubble bath comment gets her a few laughs, but it grows silent as they all contemplate having a home with four plaster walls and a doorbell.
Daryl's eyes are on her, and it sort of ruffles her feathers, so to speak. She tries to avoid his gaze but she can't help herself, and she glances up, eyes locking with his. He's grim faced, but thoughtful looking. She wants to ask him what he's thinking about, but she doesn't.
"Never taken a bubble bath." Daryl suddenly muses, lips twitching. Andrea blinks in surprise while the others break into spurts of laughter. "But I miss having a solid home, too," he adds, growing serious. "Had a cabin on the edge of the woods back before the world went to hell." he glances down at his boots, "Wasn't much, but I was…I was content." he looks back up, his eyes meeting hers in the flickering firelight. "I kinda want that again."
"Stability would be nice," Lori echoes Andrea's earlier words, hands coming to rest on her growing belly.
Rick's hands cover hers, and he looks thoughtful, "Hershel's place isn't stable enough for you?" he asks, putting on his figurative sheriff's hat. He looks around at everyone, perplexed.
"You're doing just fine, Rick." Lori assures him, "But this isn't our place."
Carol speaks up for the first time, "I miss Sophia having her own room." she's staring down at her hands. Dale pats her shoulder. "We never had much, but Sophia loved having her own room. She'd draw pictures and hang them up on her walls, her bed was always made, and her toys were always put away. I think she would like it if we had a place to call our own." she trails off, and the weight of their most recent loss settles heavy over all of their shoulders. They're leaving soon, as soon as they can, and Maggie's coming with them. It's wrong for them to stay in a place that had brought them so much grief. Everything else seems like a miniscule problem when compared to Sophia's death. They had to bury a twelve year old girl, Carol's baby, and it's wrong.
Andrea thinks about how hard Daryl had looked for Sophia, how sure he'd been that she was still alive. "She's strong," he'd said, "got it from her mamma." She knew he was in just as much pain as Carol was in right now, he was just better at hiding it. But she was a lawyer first and foremost, and she saw right through his I'm Fine's. She watches him as he watches Carol and she can't help but feel a little sorry for him, and he'd hate her for it if he knew. "I don't want you pity," he'd spit.
She wisely keeps her comments to herself.
Andrea gets tired of the moping. It's cruel, yes, but if they don't want to lose anyone else the way they lost Sophia, they've got to step up their game. "I'm sorry," she says to Daryl one afternoon. They've left Hershel's and their on the road. They're stopped at an abandoned campsite, "about Sophia." she's folding laundry at a picnic table while Daryl's cleaning his crossbow beside her.
"'The fuck are you apologizing to me for?" he mutters, not looking up from his weapon, "It's her mother you should apologize to."
"I don't think so." Andrea says, "I think you had a whole lot of faith in Sophia, and when Rick had to…to take of her, it tore you up. I think you're hiding how devastated you are."
Daryl finally glanced up at her, "I think you're fuckin' nuts." he snaps back, getting up, slinging his crossbow over his shoulder and walking away, back stiff. She knows she's gotten to him by the way he walks.
Later that night, he stops outside of the camper, asking her to come outside. They walk side by side until they reach the small stream a half mile from their camp site. Daryl kneels down, cupping his hands in the water and splashing his face. He stays down, staring at the water, "You're the first person to remember that I cared about Sophia, too." he says offhandedly.
Andrea bites her lip, "I know."
Daryl finally looks up at her. He nods to the gun at her waist, "C'mon, let's go shootin'." she follows after him happily, and she's pretty sure she's done something right. And when his hand falls to her hip as he shows her how to aim her girly pistol, she doesn't shiver. And when her hand starts to shake, he covers it with his own, completely absorbed in teaching her his techniques that he doesn't notice her staring at him instead of the tree he'd picked out as their target.
"Andrea?" Daryl murmurs as they're walking back.
"I'm gonna do my best to find somewhere stable for all of us. We don't have to live like this forever." he says, looking down at his feet.
Andrea stops walking. She doesn't know exactly what's changed, but she knows something has. She puts her hand on his shoulder, half convinced he's just going to push it off, but he doesn't. "I know you will, but not everything's got to fall on your shoulders." she says.
Daryl shrugs, and the moments over as he pulls away from her and walks to his tent. He unzips it, back stiff, mask up once again. It's almost like they hadn't spent the last few hours talking about anything and everything, but she supposes that's to be expected. He stops just before he goes into his tent, "Thanks." he murmurs, then he's diving into his sleeping bag and she wonders if she imagined the thank you.
They spend the next few days picking a town to scout out, because Lori's about to pop and they can't be on the move when she does. Daryl picks a quaint little town of about three thousand people, and they'd all agreed because they've all learned that sometimes, Daryl knows what he's talking about.
It takes them two days to get there and Lori's due any day now. The town is empty, of the living and the dead. It's far enough away from civilization that the Walkers got to hungry and died out. Their bodies litter the sidewalks, and it's pretty disgusting, but she's kind of glad she doesn't have to kill any of them. Just because she's grown into a sharp shooter doesn't mean killing gets any easier. They scavenge about four blocks a day just to be thorough.
Their food is running low, and the town is surrounded by rolling hills and woods. Now she knows why Daryl loves this place so much. They set up shop in a three story house in the heart of town, and Daryl goes off to hunt, promising to be back before nightfall. When it gets dark and he's not back, Rick is quick to assure everyone that Daryl knows what he's doing, and that they shouldn't worry yet. She tries her best not to worry, but damn it, if Daryl says he's coming back before dark, he's coming back before dark.
She starts to panic when he's gone for two days. She paces and wonders and worries and it's all just too much. She wonders why she never told him. How she felt, that is. For all they know, he's dead and now she'll never have a chance. If you listen closely, she thinks that you might be able to hear her heart break just a little bit more.
He comes home on the morning of the third day, carrying a buck over each shoulder. There are tears of joy from Carol and a lot of cheering from Carl. Daryl's all smirks and laughs as she watches from the window of the living room of the house they're in. When he sets the bucks down on the lawn of their makeshift house, the door bangs open and closed as she launches herself from the house and down the steps, right into his unsuspecting arms. She wraps her arms around him, pressing her face into his neck. To her embarrassment, a tear streams down her cheek. He's stiff for a few moments, but then one of his hands wraps around her waist while the other clutches at her back, just underneath the strap of her bra.
There are catcalls and whistles, but she doesn't care, "Don't do that again. Don't disappear like that." she whispers into his neck, and she feels him nod.
It's a start.
Andrea goes to her room early, rubbing her neck as she walks through the door. She shuts the door behind her quietly, rolling her shoulders and stretching her neck. She's never realized how stressed she is, but now she can feel it in her bones. God, she hates this fucking life. She reaches behind herself and tries to massage her aching neck.
The door clicks open and shut again, and a hand replaces hers. It's calloused and rough, and it tugs and pulls at her neck in all of the right ways. She turns quickly, staring up at Daryl.
"Hi," she murmurs, tilting her head to the side.
"Hey," he murmurs, his voice going soft. He stares at her, eyes dark, something she's never seen coming from him before. She knows that look. She smiles a little, reaching up to touch his cheek.
"Freaked me out when you didn't come back when you said you would, you know?" she says softly, fingers ghosting over his cheek.
Daryl nods, lifting his hand to touch hers. She pulls her hand away before he can touch her, and lets her fingers fall to her t-shirt. Daryl's eyes flicker from hers, to her hands, to her eyes again. She bites her lip, and lifts her t-shirt over her head before she can stop herself or think of the consequences of what's about to take place. As soon as her shirt is over her head, she's pinned backwards on the bed, and Daryl's mouth is on her neck, and she whimpers. Isn't this what she'd been afraid of? This attachment? She tries to reason with herself, but Daryl's lips are hot against her skin, and her eyes roll into the back of her head as he deftly removes her belt and pops open the button of her jeans. He looks up at her questioningly, honey brown eyelashes contrasting greatly with the darkness of his eyes. She nods, and then her jeans are off of her and discarded somewhere in the room.
Much, much later, she trails her fingers down his bare back, and his lips twitch, and he cracks one eye open to look at her. She puts her head on the pillow beside him, and opens her mouth to speak. She finds that she has nothing to say, and she also finds that the silence isn't uncomfortable. "Shh." Daryl murmurs, seeing her struggle. She snaps her mouth shut, closes her eyes, and leaves her hand on his back.
When she wakes up the next morning, he's gone, and she doesn't know what to make of that.
When Andrea gets down the stairs, she's met with knowing looks and a plate of deer meat. She takes her breakfast, and glares at anyone who snickers at her because they all, with the exception of Carl, know what went on last night. She eats her breakfast in silence and doesn't bother to ask where Daryl went. She's not really mad that she woke alone, what else did she expect?
She spends her day covering a few blocks of the town, scavenging for supplies. She's walking back to the house, pack heavy against her back when there's the roar of a familiar truck behind her. She turns and Daryl pulls to the side of the road. He rolls his window down, jerking his head towards the passenger seat. She climbs in, and he's grinning stupidly.
"What are you smiling about?" Andrea asks, lifting an eyebrow.
"I found it." Daryl replies, smirking.
She blinks, lifting both eyebrows. "Found what?"
He looks at her, hands on the wheel. They pull to a slow stop, and he murmurs, "Home."
It's suburbia, the place Daryl's found. It's all white picket fences and cute yellow houses and Andrea thinks she would have liked to live here in the old world. She's in love with it already, and everyone else is, too. They pick a secluded neighborhood, a cul-de-sac just on the edge of the woods but still close to town. There's still that fear. The fear of the Walkers and death. But Daryl has a fix for that, too. He and Rick and Shane scavenge the hardware stores around town and come back with a truck full of thick wood. They start building fences around the property, with one gate, and cut out holes for their guns. It's genius, really.
They pull their vehicles into the middle of the cul-de-sac and they get to work. Andrea helps Daryl with the fence and she watches him work and wonders which house he's going to pick. He catches her looking when he calls for a break. He wanders over to her, wiping the sweat from his forehead. He takes the water bottle she offers him and drinks deeply before asking, "This stable enough for ya'?"
Andrea's cheeks turn a little pink, "Is that why you did this?"
"Wasn't just for you," he concedes, looking over at Carol who's standing beside Lori, discussing which house would be more beneficial for Lori once she gave birth. "but yeah, it was." his cheeks color a little, and he gives her a dopey grin.
Andrea smiles back, turning to look at the houses. "Which one you gonna pick?" Daryl asks, turning with her, shoving his hands into his pockets.
There's one in the middle of the cul-de-sac that catches her eye. It's a yellow single story, smaller than the others. The grass is dead and dry, but that's easily fixable. The shutters on the windows are white and the paint is chipped. The sidewalk is crooked and cracked. She loves it. She points to it, "That one."
Daryl surveys it, pursing his lips. "It's nice."
"What about you?" Andrea asks.
Daryl looks at her, and without looking away, points to the yellow house with the cracked sidewalk and the white shutters. "That one."
Andrea bites her lip to hide her grin, "Oh, yeah?"
Daryl nods his head, "You mind sharin'?"
Andrea smiles, "Not at all."