All the wonderful Daryl/Andrea writers over here have finally broken my resistance and sucked me into this ship. Hopefully my first attempt at writing for them isn't too disappointing! Pure, shameless fluff lies ahead.
"I would have pegged you for more of a Skynyrd man," Andrea says as she comes to sit beside Daryl, tipping an imaginary hat in his direction.
It's roughly seven weeks after Sophia's death, and they've set up camp in an isolated little area that hugs the boarder of Alabama.
It's relatively a peaceful place that lies adjacent to a river, abundant in Georgia's signature pines and empty farm houses with supplies just waiting to be scavenged. Walkers, they've come to find, are rare there, usually only single strays that just barely brush the outskirts of their makeshift home.
For the first time since their departure from the Greene farm, there's finally a sense of tranquility that's settled over their camp. They have food, water, and are relatively safe. There are far fewer lines of worry that crease Rick's forehead and prior tensions have more or less dissipated between the group. Though he prefers to keep to himself, Shane is speaking to everyone again (and everyone is now speaking to Shane, albeit warily), Lori is almost always found in some kind of embrace with her husband, and even Carol has taken to smiling again, quietly laughing along to jokes and stories and allowing the mother in herself to remind Carl that even if there's no longer such a thing as school, knowledge is still important and that yes, he still should read and practice his math whenever he has a chance.
For the first time in a long time, they have a stable and comfortable life. They're a family, and just as dysfunctional and quirky as every family should be. They spend their days doing the odd chores that make their camp run as smoothly as it possibly can and when dusk rolls around, they park themselves in front of a fire for dinner. Often, Glenn will break out his beloved, battered guitar and pick at it the best he can, and every once in a while, Dale will crack open a dog-eared book of poetry that he'd plucked from one of the cars on the highway and recite a quick little something, much like the way someone religious would say a nightly prayer.
After that, they're off to bed, scattering off to their respective tents or to the RV to sleep or keep watch, waiting until the moment where they rise with the sun to repeat everything all over again.
But every now and again, on nights like tonight when the camp's gone quiet and sleep has evaded them, Daryl and Andrea meet up beside the dying embers of their fire. Sometimes they talk about nothing, sometimes they talk about everything, and sometimes they just sit there in silence, watching the last little orange flame flicker and die out.
Tonight, its Daryl's whose cradling Glenn's guitar, plucking out a soft and familiar melody that had always been one of Andrea's favorites. Melissa, by the Allman Brothers—a staple in the music collection of any good southern girl or of any decent radio station.
"Nah," Daryl replies, gliding his fingers over the strings. He's leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed and the guitar perched on his lap, looking just about as relaxed as Andrea has ever seen him look. "Skynyrd was more Merle's thing. Used to drive me damn near crazy playin' that shit as much as he did."
Andrea hums in response as she settles into her chair, closes her own eyes, and listens to the subtle nuances of Daryl's finger picking. "I always loved this song," she says, thinking back on all the times she'd crank it in her car on her way to work and how she'd sing along, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel.
"Yeah." Daryl hits a sour note and makes a face as he quickly corrects his finger placement. "'S been awhile since I heard it."
"Yeah," Andrea echoes. She can't even remember the last time she heard music of any sort. Had it been with Amy? One of the bubblegum pop, girl-power anthems she'd been so fond of? Had it been when they started riding with Dale? Some classic country song? The only thing she can remember about the radio now is the warning signals that had slowly trickled in and overtaken the stations. Even the frequency she'd always listen to has eluded her, just another forgotten aspect of a life that's now long gone.
She pushes those thoughts away with a sigh. "Where'd you learn to play like that?"
Daryl gives a half-hearted shrug, fingers momentarily stilling against the strings. "Taught myself, mostly. My dad used to play. 'Course I was never as good as him, but I tried."
"I think you're wonderful," Andrea says softly, turning her head towards him. "Why haven't you ever played for us?"
Daryl shrugs again. "It's been awhile. Wasn't even sure I could still play." He strums out the final chord of the song and lets the last few notes quietly die off before he finally opens his eyes to meet her gaze, offering up a sheepish sort of smile. "Didn't think it was fair to steal Glenn's thunder, either."
Andrea laughs at that. "Maybe you should teach him. Give the rest of us a break."
She casts her gaze back towards the fire, watching the tiny sparks pop and crackle. "Will you play it again?" she eventually asks, giving him a small, shy smile of her own.
Daryl chuckles as he sits up a little straighter, adjusting his hold on the instrument. "I ain't used to performin' like this," he says as he begins to strum the opening notes. "'Cept for the time I dated a Melissa. I got so damn sick of havin' to play this for her all the time."
Andrea raises her fingers to her lips, trying to hide the smile that's blossoming there. "Daryl Dixon, are you trying to tell me that you're a romantic?"
He casts a sideways sort of squint in her direction, mouth pressed into a thin line. "It ain't funny."
Andrea stares at him for a moment before the laughter she'd been trying to hold back finally bubbles over and she has to cover her face with her hands to muffle the sound. She can't even remember the last time she'd laughed like this; hard enough to leave her teary eyed with burning lungs. "I'm sorry," she finally gasps out, running the tips of her fingers beneath her eyes. "You're right. It's not funny."
Daryl remains silent for a moment before he lets out a chuckle of his own. "Nah, you're right," he says, shaking his head. "It is."
She lightly bites down on her bottom lip, trying to keep the rest of her giggles contained. "So is this what you do? Lure girls in with your musical prowess?"
Daryl sort of falls lax at that, striking an off note that's loud enough to make them both jump.
As she watches the wheels in his head slowly start to turn, Andrea momentarily begins to fear that maybe she's finally said too much. Amy used to chide her about that all the time; never thinking before she spoke. "You need a filter," she would say with a click of her tongue. "A brain-to-mouth filter." And oh God, did she ever.
It's not until that she's certain that her cheeks have colored a shade of red so violent that they're permanently going to be stuck that way that Daryl finally responds, awkwardly clearing his throat as he shifts around in his seat. '"S that I'm what I'm doing to you? Lurin' you in?"
Yes, she thinks.
"Maybe," she says coyly, drawing the corner of her mouth up into a smile.
"Andrea, you tryin' to tell me you're gonna play hard to get?"
Daryl gives her a little scowl as he places the guitar to the side and stands up. When he turns back to face her, she notices his hands are shaking. "C'mere," he says.
When she stands, she notices that she too is shaking, confidence and cocky attitude having fallen by the wayside. It makes her feel so stupid, like a silly school girl with jelly knees who can't even look into the face of the boy she thinks is cute. But this is serious. This is something real. Something real with Daryl Dixon who's standing in front of her, muscles all tensed and coiled like a skittish animal that's ready to run, and who is perhaps standing on the cusp on something she had no idea she so badly wanted.
Andrea closes the distance between them with a few hesitant steps and kind of just winds her way right into his arms. Her cheek falls onto his chest and she can feel his heart beating, hammering away just as rapidly as hers, and she feels him take a deep breath and then swallow thickly.
"I ain't… look, I can try and you can throw out all this shit about me being romantic but I ain't good at it," he says, and something in his tone seems… scared?
"Neither am I," she breathes, thinking about the failure of a relationship that she'd left behind when she'd left with Amy on their trip. Three months, that had lasted. The one before that had only lasted one. "Look, my expectations aren't that high, Daryl. I'm not asking for hand holding or cuddling or exclusive titles."
Andrea pulls back to look at him, placing a hand on his cheek. "Maybe just play me a song every once in a while."
Daryl's gaze darts between the ground, the sky, and one of the trees behind Andrea's head before it finally lands on hers, hesitance suddenly vanished. "Think I could manage that," he says gruffly, settling a hand on her hip to pull her in closer.
"Just don't choose another that you've sung to anyone else."
Daryl chuckles at that, leaning in to rest his forehead against her. "Woman, I've gotta catalogue for you."
"Good," she says, and then, "I want you to kiss me."
"Yeah, I think I can manage that," he says.
And then he does.