This is a companion piece to my story "Five Hundred Days". I just can't get Daryl's voice out of my head, and I had to get it out. This piece follows the events of day one hundred and thirty one (chapter three).
This piece contains foul language and some elements of sensuality. Be forewarned. :)
He can't get her voice out of his head.
"I'm pregnant," she'd announced, point blank. Like a gun at his fucking head.
What was he supposed to say to that? What could he say to that? The first thing that come to mind had been the fact that'd she'd been prowling around the woods with just that gun at her hip, in constant danger from walkers and snakes and god know what in the woods. Bad enough she was doing it before, but now, with a baby on the way? He'd gotten so angry then, so irritated at her disregard for safety that he'd stormed out into the night, with only his crossbow to protect him and his anger to keep him warm.
And now he's out here, in the middle of the night, walking through the woods towards god knows what.
He doesn't want to go back. Not there, where'd she'd (and maybe all of them) would be waiting, waiting for him to respond to whatever the hell it was she'd just thrown at her. He can honestly say he didn't see this coming, not for a second. He'd just put the whole thing out of his mind, pushing it down into that pit where he kept things he'd rather not think about, chalking it all up to the whiskey and the fact that she'd probably never want anyone else to know about her... encounter with him.
He kisses her as he pushes her down against the wood beneath them, hands moving first from her cheeks, to her neck, then down below her sternum. A groan escapes his mouth as his hands skim over her breasts; he can't even remember the last time he'd been this close to a woman. She moans against his mouth, hitching a leg up around his hips, grinding up towards him. He's not thinking anything in this moment, not a fucking thing at all, the world completely blocked out save for the feel of her skin against his, the pressure of her fingers on his spine, the way she feels beneath him, so real and firm and alive.
He shakes his head abruptly, trying to knock those memories out of his brain. He really wasn't one for one-night stands, though he certainly had more of those than he did relationships, preferring mostly to be on his own, staying in control and safely out of harm's way. He can't say that he hadn't thought of her in that way, especially when they'd first met – but Merle had ruined that when he'd opened his dumbass mouth and called her a "decent-looking uppity bitch" when they'd rolled into camp, leering at her and resting his eyes a little too long on her chest. She'd looked at them both with contempt and disgust, and that was the end of that thought.
Until that night in the barn, at least.
And now, what now? What the hell did she want from him? First she sneaks off in the middle of the night, leaving him to wake up alone in the hay, flies on his face and the smell of animals pervading every pore on his body. What the fuck was he supposed to think?
He kicks at an acorn on the trail, irritated again.
He can't even really begin to fathom this whole "pregnant" thing. What did that mean? Was she actually going to bring a kid into this whole messed up world? More to the point – she was going to go through this with his kid? How was that a good fucking idea?
Absurdly, an image comes to his mind: Andrea and this kid, five or six years old. They're both smiling, way too happy for this to be real, but they're both smiling up, up towards him...
"Damn it, you idiot, get it together," he grumbles to himself, fists balled up at his sides.
What did he know about being a father? His own father had been nothing but a drunk, a drunk that liked to bring home these ugly as fuck skanks from the bar, stumbling over each other as they came into the house at night. Every morning he'd poke his head in the bedroom door, just to make sure his dad was still alive. Not that it'd make a huge difference if he wasn't, he supposed – maybe then he'd go somewhere where his clothes didn't have holes and he didn't get smacked every time his father felt he deserved it. Merle was nowhere to be seen – either in juvie or getting high with his friends, stopping by every couple of weeks to steal some of their dad's booze and grabbing any cash he could find. That was the worst; that was when he'd have to hide as best he could to avoid catching the worst of his father's rage. That was when he'd cover his ears and try to block out the sound of his father's voice echoing off of the walls.
"You ain't ever gonna be anything," he'd slur, tearing apart closets and checking under the beds, always searching for his son. "You're nothing, a nobody – you're trash in the alley, garbage people throw away."
He rubs his hand against his face, biting into the skin on his finger, pushing the memory of his father's voice down, far away.
How could he be a father? How could he risk doing what his father had done to him? What if he yelled at her, or hit him, or told her she was a useless piece of shit, destined to be nothing and no one. How could he dare call himself someone's dad if all he had to go on was violence and anger and pain?
No one deserves to grow up like that.
Suddenly, all his anger is replaced by the overpowering sensation of fear, coursing through his veins. Wasn't it already too late for that? He'd signed his death warrant the minute he'd kissed her back that night, pressing his lips against hers and pulling her tight against him. This is why he always avoided getting involved, always tried to stay out of everything. If he didn't get involved, nobody got hurt. No one would suffer. Everyone would be safer and happier without him.
"Ain't nobody gonna care about you except me, little brother," Merle says to him, taunting, always taunting.
He stops then, in the middle of the woods, the moonlight shining down on him through the branches and the leaves, surprisingly bright for a half-moon. He checks the crossbow to make sure everything's in working order, and pats the sheath on his belt for reassurance.
And that's when it hits him.
Maybe this isn't all about him. Maybe it's not about how the others see him, or what Andrea thinks of him, or even if she cares about him, at all. Maybe it's about the fact that he can't just walk away from this, because he's responsible for it now. Maybe this is his chance to show his brother and his father and all the ghosts in his head that he is good for something, that he doesn't just cut and run.
Maybe he'll have to deal with this after all.
"Fuck," he says softly, recognizing his fate, not without irritation. He lashes out with his foot again, kicking at a stump on his right hand side. "Fuck!" he exclaims even louder.
That's when he hears the twig snap behind him, the noise of leaves rustling in the wake of movement through the underbrush. He swings around to see the shambling form of something that was once human emerge, moaning as it approaches him, hungry and eager for fresh meat.
"There ya are," he says, and he's smiling now. If there's one thing he knows for sure in this goddamned world, it's that he knows exactly what to do with these ravenous motherfuckers.
He pushes all thought of father s and children and responsibility out of his mind and notches his arrow, steadying his hand and readying himself to take his shot. He'll think over this introspective crap later (much later).