Warnings: Spoilers for "Triggerfinger," the usual amount of swearing.
Disclaimer: All rights for The Walking Dead go to Robert Kirkman and AMC
Author's Note: The way Daryl makes arrows in here is similar to the way I learned how to fix fletches, but he doesn't have a clamp. Hey, he's working in a limited environment, so I'll let it slide. On a personal note, I may slow down with the writing (well, more than I have already) because I'm going back to school for my Master's degree next week. I did, however, add a new chapter to Scraping By (if anyone missed it) and I haven't stopped writing that.
There was still a slight chill in the mid-morning air as Andrea left the house. She tugged the hood on her sweater over her head and walked aimlessly. It was shaping up to be one of those retrospective kind of days. She spent the previous night wondering where the hell Daryl had disappeared to. At breakfast, Carol kept glancing toward the old wood shed with a mixed expression. The face was something Andrea had an easy time reading, what with her career in law. She knew the difference between disappointment and anguish when it came to the way a person's mouth or eyebrows would move.
Carol kept showing both.
So, hands jammed in the split kangaroo pocket of her hoodie, Andrea walked across the field in search of Daryl Dixon.
She kicked a rock out of her path and considered her approach. He hadn't seemed angry at all when she came to him after she shot him (she still felt awful about that) and the one time she spoke with him about Merle (they were both fairly drunk and the only ones still conscious in the CDC lounge) he was a little more subdued. His anger was like fireworks—it burst out loudly and colorfully but was quick to go once it exploded.
The erstwhile member of the group was seated against the crumbling chimney with a group of newly made arrows stabbed in the dirt beside his smoldering fire pit. Andrea quietly observed him, taking in the movements of his fingers as he carefully ran a brush coated in contact cement along the vein of a trimmed chicken feather and blew on it.
"Now what?" he grumbled.
Andrea shrugged; the movement almost disappeared amidst the folds of warm fabric. "Just wondering what the hell you're doing all the way out here," she said. "You missed breakfast."
She watched his face jump through three different emotions before he glanced up to see her face.
His eyes were reddened.
"What happened with Carol?" Andrea asked. She stepped closer when Daryl's shoulders drooped a bit and she dropped to sit on her heels.
Daryl took his time answering her, but Andrea was nothing if not patient. She waited while he attached the fletch to the newly made arrow shaft. It wasn't something she'd ever seen done before and she was fascinated at how straight both the arrow and the actual fletching were. By the tools he had lined up beside him, it looked like Daryl had only used his knife and a can of contact cement with one of those brushes attached to the lid.
"She bitched at me so I bitched back. End'a story."
Andrea stood up again and yanked her hood back. "Daryl, the woman just lost her daughter—"
He scoffed and looked at her like she'd just started speaking backwards. "Haven't you heard? It wasn't her daughter. Just some," he frowned and all but spit in the ashes by his feet, "thing. It ain't my problem no more. I swear ta' Christ, if another of y'all comes up to me and asks fer a favor, I'm'a really lose it."
"So last night wasn't a result of you 'losing' it? That was just, what? Mild asshole-ry?"
Daryl stood abruptly. "Why the hell do you care? Y'all only need me around ta' do your dirty work. Just leave me be!" he barked. "I'm done fixin' other people's problems. I am done workin' my ass off for people I don't know. I am fuckin' through with all y'all!" he exclaimed.
"Are you finished? Because all I'm hearing is you giving up. And from what I've seen from you, that's something you don't know how to do," Andrea snapped.
"How the fuck'd you know?" Daryl shouted.
"You're sitting in front of me, aren't you? So Carol's grieving a little differently than you are—it doesn't matter!"
"Who the fuck says I'm grieving, huh Vicki Vale?"
Andrea brought her hand up in an exasperated gesture and fought to ignore his brief flinch. "You can't isolate yourself and—"
Daryl cut her off and roughly pointed a finger at Andrea's collarbone. "What, like you were gonna?"
They spent a good three minutes glaring at each other in silence.
Andrea broke it first. "You know, I didn't come out here to yell at you."
Daryl snorted. "Too fuckin' late, darlin'—"
"I looked for her, too, you know," she interrupted. "I may not have worked nearly as hard as you, but I didn't give up on her, either."
She glanced at the healing wound at his hairline. "But because I didn't try hard enough, I ended up doing something stupid."
Andrea stood very still as his eyes flicked back and forth between hers. He chewed his lips and she could see some of the frustration drain out of him.
"Didn't I tell ya we were cool about that?" he muttered.
She sighed and moved to sit next to Daryl's fletching kit. "Look, it's been a long couple of days and, to be honest, I'm worried about you."
Daryl scoffed and joined her up against the crumbling building. His knees cracked when he sat. "Why the hell would you be worried 'bout me?"
Andrea frowned and ran her finger along the fletching of one of his new arrows. "Why the hell not?"
Daryl didn't really have a response for her. Instead, he plucked an arrow out of the ground and checked the fletching.
"You gonna be okay?" she asked.
Daryl cleared his throat. As he calmed down, he twirled the finished arrow between his thumb and forefinger. "I ain't good with people."
Andrea smirked. "I kinda noticed."
He shot her an irritated look.
She smiled at him. "Sorry."
Daryl rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you sure sound sorry."
They lapsed into one of their weirdly comfortable silences for a little while and Andrea watched him check the strength of his arrows. He sighed and handed her the one she saw him finish.
"Think of it as an 'IOU,'" he said quietly.
Andrea ducked her head to hide the doofy grin that spread across her face and had to clear her throat to keep her tone even. She nudged his shoulder with hers. "So, are you going to come back?" she asked.
He sighed. "Gimme an hour?"
Andrea finally gave him that soft smile that he was, increasingly, getting used to seeing from her. He smiled back on reflex (how she managed to get him to do that, Daryl didn't know) and rubbed his palm against the back of his neck.
"I'll just, uh," she stood and brushed dirt off the seat of her pants, "I'll head back."
Daryl watched her walk away and snickered when she looked back at him.
She did it twice.