Summary: "I know you," Her kid sister had said confidently as they had jostled around in the RV on another hot Georgia day, "You say you want all those things, but when it comes down to it, you'll just do it."
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: This is so fluffy and tentative that I was literally too afraid to post it here until gagewhitney talked me into it. The only way to describe it is fluff, unadulterated fluff. Read at your peril and please be nice as I know that there isn't much call for fluff in their world!
Before the world went to shit, Andrea always had quite specific ideas about what her wedding would be like. She wasn't unusual, of course, or at least, she wasn't among her peers; what girl hadn't at least thought about it, at least once? Plus, as the hedonism of her twenties solely segued into her more mature thirties, single women were an endangered species among her friends. You didn't go to an average of three weddings a year without thinking about your own wedding, and what you wanted and didn't want when you said those two little words to the person standing opposite you.
The funniest one had to be that of her old college roommate who, by the time of her wedding, was a professor of English Literature at a small liberal arts college in northern Florida. She had wanted a Pride and Prejudice-themed wedding complete with Regency dress, vows, music, dancing – even food and speeches. Andrea hadn't been so sure at first, but once her hair was curled into tight ringlets and secured behind a bonnet and the best man had asked if she would take his hand for the first two dances, it had actually been a lot of fun. Although she was pretty sure that Jane Austen wouldn't have condoned the skinny-dipping session afterwards.
The best one had been her best friend's wedding. A simple beach ceremony in the early summertime, close family and close friends only. Andrea's dress had been pale pink, the wet sand had cooled her bare toes and the warm air had dried the tears of happiness that fell as she watched her best friend marry the love of her life.
The worst one had been her cousin's. It technically hadn't been a wedding at all, because thirty minutes before the ceremony was due to start, the mother of the bride had caught the groom romping with the chief bridesmaid in the coat check. So in reality, it was just a very expensive, very short gathering in one of Miami's nicer hotels.
Between these three extremes, spread over almost ten years, Andrea had managed to accrue a list of what she wanted and didn't want. It was difficult to sit as a spectator to other people's conceptions of a perfect wedding and not think about what it meant, what it could mean for her. Plus, sometimes she found herself bored by the vows and speeches (how many times can you listen to two crying people say 'you're the love of my life' without them sounding a little repetitive?) so it was only natural to let her mind wander.
Usually it wandered to things that she needed to do: buy groceries. Balance check book. Get bikini wax. But often, it would stray to her wedding, should that miraculous event occur. She had come close once or twice, one time a guy had even been down on one knee, ring box open. Andrea had thought about it, of course, but in the end there was always something holding her back. She couldn't ever bring herself to say yes. It had always felt wrong, like she would be giving up a key part of herself if she said yes. And Andrea didn't know a whole lot about relationships, never mind marriage, but she knew enough to know that if she felt that way, then she couldn't ever say yes.
It didn't stop her thinking about her wedding, though.
Andrea imagined that there would be lots of flowers, a white or ivory dress to make her mom happy, a long aisle for her dad to walk her down, friends and family gathered in pews to watch her become the future Mr. Whoever.
Other times she thought that the whole notion of marriage was nothing more than a sham. After all, didn't America have the highest divorce rate in the world? What was the point in spending thousands of dollars on a spectacle that stood less than a fifty per cent chance of actually lasting?
But other times, when she was feeling serious or maudlin, depending on how she looked at it, Andrea would think about it. She would think about a heartfelt proposal, maybe over dinner or a long walk on the beach. She would think about a small church in Florida on a warm spring day, a ceremony that was short, sweet and to the point, small bands of white gold and tears streaming down both their faces. She would think about long white veils and a simple white dress and a bouquet of pink roses. She would think about her parents in too-formal clothes and Amy in a bridesmaids dress because her mom wanted it, not because they were particularly close because a twelve-year age gap didn't really do much to encourage sisterly closeness. She thought about mouths smeared with icing and a slow first dance that soon segued into a raucous party that broke up in the early hours of the morning.
It wasn't lost on Andrea that in this list of do's and don'ts, the groom himself was a big blur, if he was there at all.
When she and Amy had talked about it (because when you were faced with hours in the back of that RV, you had to talk about something other than the world ending), she had always said that Andrea wouldn't have the patience for the planning required for such a day. "I know you," Her kid sister had said confidently as they had jostled around in the RV on another hot Georgia day, "You say you want all those things, but when it comes down to it, you'll just do it."
"Will not!" Andrea had said indignantly. "Mom and dad would freak out, you'd never speak to me again, my friends-"
"You will." Amy had said, shrugging slightly as she cut across her sister's protestations. "When it comes down to it, you won't care about anyone other than the guy standing opposite you."
"That's what my wife and I did!" Dale exclaimed from the driver's seat. "Me and my wife, took ourselves off to Vegas, did it in ten minutes." He's silent for a moment before continuing. "Some of the best ten minutes of my life." He says sadly.
Lori takes the opportunity to chime in, then. "Rick and I had something small." She says softly, a smile playing around the corners of her mouth. "We were young, broke, Rick hadn't long started at the Sheriff's department. We planned everything in six weeks because we'd seen a house we wanted to buy ... people thought I was pregnant with Carl but ... we just didn't want to wait." She says, shrugging happily. Aside from Rick's return, it's the first time that Andrea has ever truly seen Lori Grimes smile. No doubt she's remembering happier times, not just because the dead weren't walking the streets.
Carol doesn't talk about her wedding day, which is fine by Andrea because Ed deserves no more.
Andrea hasn't thought about that conversation in a long time, not least because there's hardly cause to (not like she'll be attending weddings during the zombie apocalypse, right?), but as she stands in front of a shattered jewellery counter in a south Georgia Wal-Mart, staring at the slender gold band nestled in Daryl Dixon's rough, large palm, she can't help but think that her sister knew her a hell of a lot better than she knew herself.
"Saw ya lookin'." He says in that gruff way he has about him. "Think this one should be about your size. Ya got skinny fingers, ya know."
Its not the most romantic place for a proposal: a decimated Wal-Mart pillaging for what supplies they can find. Andrea's got an assorted collection of items at her feet, most of which is for Lori and Rick's adorable one-year old girl who arrived with much blood, sweat and tears on a chilly January morning.
In the intervening fourteen months, so much has changed.
They're more settled now; a small encampment not too far from this particular Wal-Mart. Their new home began life as a fancy country hotel; now its home to their new family. It's not a family that Andrea would have either chosen for herself or thought that she would ever have, but now she has it she can't imagine being anywhere else.
Things between her and Daryl changed the night that Rick and Lori's daughter was born. If she's honest then they'd been slowly sliding into ... something, but the celebrations of that night, the congratulations and warm fuzzy feelings did something to her and she took a leap, pressed her mouth to his. She'd figured it for a one-time thing until it just kept happening.
Guess this is where they ended up.
Andrea's brow furrows as she looks at the ring. It's plain white gold, no fussy adornments or embellishments. There was a time when she might have wanted something fancier but now, as she looks at the ring in Daryl's palm, she realises that she doesn't need or want anything more.
She can't deny his statement, after all. She had been looking. It's something she's started doing, now that things are slowly calming down. She isn't sure what she's looking for, exactly, or if she's looking specifically at rings, but each time the opportunity presents itself she finds herself drawn by the fancy colours and shimmering gems. Maybe it's because jewellery is in abundance now that the world has ended, and people are more interested in water and medication and ammo than they are with carat diamonds in a princess cut. Maybe it's because she feels the need to do something normal, something connected with the old world. Maybe it's because she looks at Daryl and for the first time, wants to look at wedding rings.
She just didn't expect it from him.
"Is this a proposal, Dixon?" She says, arching a brow.
He shrugs nonchalantly, as though he's offering her a bottle of water. "If ya like." He says, gesturing that she take the ring, like it's no big deal which, in a way, it isn't. It's not like it means anything anymore (some of her more bitter friends would argue it hadn't meant anything to begin with), right? With the collapse of secular and religious authority, it's not like it can mean anything anymore. It's just a ring, something to wear, although as she looks at Daryl she wonders just how much it does actually mean. He isn't one for meaningless gestures, after all. He wouldn't have brought it up if it didn't mean something to him.
"Well it's not just if I like." She says, picking the ring up and holding it between her thumb and forefinger. "You have to like it, too."
"Ya think I would have suggested it otherwise?" He says.
That's got her attention. "Never pegged you for such a traditionalist." She says, feeling the shattered glass crunch beneath her feet as she shifts her weight. In the background, the can hear Rick and Lori moving around, Dale and Glenn's low, mumbled voices. They're scavenging supplies while she's being proposed to by Daryl Dixon.
A year ago, if someone had told her that this would happen, she might have exploded with laughter.
Now, there's nothing to laugh about. In fact, she doesn't dare, not when she sees the look on his face because he's wearing a look that she's never, ever seen on him before.
A shadow crosses his face, then. "Just 'cos I didn't have it don't mean I didn't want it." He says with more than a touch of frostiness.
"I didn't mean-" Andrea wants to put her head in her hands. "I'm sorry, I suck at this." She says helplessly.
"Yeah, you kinda do." He grumbles, but takes the ring from her and holds it between his own thumb and forefinger. "How 'bout it, then?" He says expectantly.
It may not be the most romantic proposal, but coming from him it's the most sincere, heartfelt proposal Andrea could ever think of.
In the end, Amy really is right. And the groom is anything but a blur, although to use the term 'groom' when describing Daryl Dixon is nothing more than a nonsense. He's no more of a groom than she's a bride but as she stands and looks at the small band nestling in his giant, rough hand, she suddenly realises that she's stumbled into a proposal and if she had been less observant, she would have missed it.
Her eyes dart to the shattered jewellery case. "You need one too." She says, wincing as she scrapes her hand on a jagged piece of glass. It's worth it though, because she comes away with a ring that looks as though it may fit him.
Her hand trembles as she slides the ring onto his finger, but that's not what surprises her.
What surprises her is that his fingers shake so badly that it takes him two tries before he can slide it onto her finger.
She marvels that she's seen him face down a herd of walkers with nothing more than a crossbow and a sharp stick, but putting a ring on her finger turns him into a bag of nerves and she feels tears prickle her eyes when she looks down and sees the matching pieces of metal on their hands.
"Y'okay there, Dixon?" He asks on the drive back, his truck's engine loud and throaty.
Andrea's so engrossed in the slim white gold band on her left hand that she completely misses his question. "Sorry, what?" She asks.
"Ya zoned out there for a minute." He says, giving her a concerned stare, one that breaks into a smirk when he sees where her gaze is focused. "Sorry it ain't fancier." He apologises.
Andrea waves away his apologies and gives him a smile. "It's perfect." She says softly. And it really is. Because Amy was right. In the end, she did just do it, because nothing else mattered to her but the man holding the ring. He's not the man she thought she'd end up with, certainly not the man her old self would have chosen, but her old self is gone and now, this new self can't imagine being anywhere but by his side.
It takes less than thirty minutes before the others notice their new adornments.
"What's that you got there?" Lori asks when she sees the ring catch the light as they're unloading supplies.
Andrea's stumped at her question before holding her hand up and giving her an ear-splitting grin. "Guess you can call me Mrs. Dixon now!" She exclaims.
"You got married!" Lori shouts as she grabs Andrea's hand and stares at the ring on her finger. "When? Where? How?"
"In Wal-Mart." Andrea says, a blush beginning to colour her cheeks. "We were standing by a jewellery counter, Daryl asked ... I said yes. So we did it."
"I go to Wal-Mart and get ammo." Glenn says, shaking his head. "You and Daryl, of all people, go to Wal-Mart and get married? What's happened to the world?"
They're both hit by a wave of congratulations then, as their little family comes together to examine the rings, to ask just how it happened, to tease her about being Mrs. Dixon. Daryl looks like he'd sooner be anywhere but there, but there's a glint in his eye that hasn't been there before, as though that great yearn to roam and move and bolt has somehow been sated, at least for a little while. But he stays by her side the whole time, even puts his arm around her at the nice dinner that Lori and Carol manage to whip up, and cringes while Rick makes a small, impromptu speech to celebrate their union.
In the end, as Andrea lies in the comfort of Daryl's arms, she knows that her wedding was the best one she'll ever go to. There was no church, no bridesmaids, no fancy speeches or dinners and certainly no white dresses. There was just her, Daryl, the rings and her family. And in this new world of chaos and swirling death, it's all that matters.