"I can't believe I'm even doing this." Kelly grumbled sulkily, dunking the t-shirt back into the bucket of soapy water and scrubbing. "I didn't even do laundry when I had a real laundry room."
She sighed and swiped the back of her arm across her forehead. It was very hot. Carol rolled up a shirt and squeezed out the water, adding it to the pile to be hung out to dry later. She glanced at the younger girl besides her. Kelly's tawny hair was pulled back in a messy plait, exposing the freckled cheekbones and sulky mouth that made her look even younger than she actually was. Her forehead was creased as she swirled the t-shirt around in the bucket of water.
"Who's stuff is this anyway?" She held up the dripping t-shirt.
"I think it's Shane's." Andrea offered as she joined them at the long table with her arms full of even more laundry.
"Why are we doing everybody else's washing?" Kelly demanded, wringing out the t-shirt with unnecessary vigour. "It's like feminism didn't even happen, one little apocalypse and the men revert to their natural Neanderthal ways and we have to stay by the fire cooking and cleaning."
Carol laughed, retrieving the soggy t-shirt from Kelly before it was entirely ruined and adding it to the pile.
"Who even knew there was this amount of laundry once the world ended." Kelly muttered, grabbing the next bundle from the pile. "Still, at least there's no underwear in this lot. Scrubbing other people's dirty unmentionables in cold water is not my idea of survival."
Maggie, who'd wandered over in search of Glenn, snorted. Kelly eyed Lori from under her sooty lashes.
"What does Rick wear?" She asked sweetly, batting her eyelashes mischievously when Lori looked at her questioningly. "Boxers or briefs?"
Lori looked startled and then she shrugged.
"Depends, I guess."
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask which kind Shane wore, but Kelly bit back the impulse.
"Glenn wears briefs." Maggie offered casually, looking pleased at the eruption of giggles this caused.
"I bet T-Dog wears them too." Kelly said thoughtfully, eyeing T-Dog in the distance where he was helping Dale work on the RV. "Probably those nice shorts style ones. Dale is a y-fronts man, I'm telling you."
Maggie scrunched her nose up and made an "ick" sound. Carol tried to look disapproving but she couldn't quite pull it off when she was grinning.
"What about Daryl?" Andrea asked suddenly, her gaze flickering to the surly Southerner polishing his bow besides his tent.
The five girls exchanged looks but no one suggested anything. Maggie's gaze lingered on Kelly for so long that she felt her face start to heat up.
"Why are you looking at me?" She demanded, plunging her hands back into the bucket of cold water before her.
"I just figured… maybe-"
"Well don't." Kelly snapped, scrubbing the shirt in her hands as if it had personally offended her.
"So you don't know?" Andrea asked, quite unrepentant despite the younger girl's death glare in her direction.
"Why would I know?" Kelly scowled when she realised the shirt she'd been working on was the subject of their conversation's favourite sleeveless abomination.
"No reason." Andrea said casually, smirking when Kelly twisted the water of the shirt and handed it to Carol.
"If you knew would you tell us?" Lori asked curiously, looking up from where she was organizing everybody's laundry into separate piles.
"Maybe." Kelly's eyes glowed with sudden mischief and the four women eyed her warily. "What would it be worth?"
Andrea laughed, shooting a glance over her shoulder at Daryl, who seemed to be completely oblivious to the conversation concerning him going on a few feet away.
"What do you mean?"
Kelly smiled wickedly, flashing her teeth.
"Would it be enough to get me out of laundry duty for a while?"
Andrea cocked her head, exchanging a look with Maggie across the table.
"How about, whoever finds out first gets to opt out of chores for a month?" Kelly suggested calmly, as if she were asking about the weather or if she could borrow a cup of sugar.
"You're joking, right?" Lori said in disbelief, lowering her voice even though Daryl hadn't so much as glanced in their direction.
Kelly shrugged, not denying it but not retracting the bet either.
"Or we could make it even more interesting." Her voice got deceptively sweet when she was plotting something.
"How interesting?" Andrea asked, curious despite herself.
"Well I would offer you the use of my vibrator but… you know…" Andrea went white and then red in rapid succession but Kelly was already speaking again. "What if I told you I have access to quite a large amount of chocolate."
Lori's eyebrows flew up and Maggie stopped fiddling with her boot.
"What kind of chocolate?" Andrea asked in a voice not quite as casual as she would have liked, it had been a long time after all.
"The kind you use to get over the love of your life." Kelly said conspiratorially and Lori gulped.
"Well what do you get if you win?" Andrea asked suspiciously.
"I get to keep my hands dry for a while." Kelly said, curling her lip and splashing her hands out of the bucket to wave them at Andrea. "Are you in?"
"How will we know what's true?" Maggie asked sensibly.
"Bring them to the rest of us." Kelly said in an "obviously" tone.
Carol looked distinctly uneasy now and Andrea's smug smirk had slipped from her face. Getting an eyeful of Daryl Dixon's underwear was one thing but actually getting your hands on them…
"Of course, if you're not up for it…" Kelly trailed off with a rather maniacal grin and Andrea bristled.
"Excellent." Kelly said with relish. She turned to Carol who looked torn between amusement and disapproval. "Can you be our neutral bystander?"
Carol wanted to tell them that this was a bad idea but Kelly had that look on her face and Andrea was pouting at her stubbornly, even Maggie and Lori looked amused. She nodded with a sigh. This was not going to end well.
Daryl flicked an annoyed glance up at the girl currently blocking out his light. It was Hershel's pretty daughter, the one guaranteed to cause trouble.
"If you've lost him I ain't goin' lookin' for him." He said flatly.
Maggie looked briefly annoyed and then she smiled. Daryl eyed her suspiciously.
"He's fine. So… how are you?"
Daryl looked at her impatiently. She'd shifted to put one hand on her hip, throwing her hip to one side.
"You didn't come here to talk about my feelings."
Maggie opened her mouth crossly, then bit back her reply and hitched a smile back onto her face.
"Well I did want to ask a little favour." She fluttered her eyelashes in the same way that made Glenn tremble.
"Is that a fact." Daryl said bluntly.
Maggie glared at him, subtlety was not her strong point.
"The problem is, Glenn got wet." Maggie said sweetly, thinking on the spot. "Soaking wet. So I was wondering if you had any spare clothes you could lend him."
"Summat wrong with his own stuff?" Daryl said gruffly, turning his attention back to his bow.
"It's all in the wash." Maggie said triumphantly, waving one hand at the table where Kelly and Carol were still scrubbing. "So, any chance-"
"Do I look like I hand out my clothes to idjits too stupid to keep dry?" Daryl cut her off, looking at her as if she couldn't be seriously asking that question.
"So you won't-"
"No." Daryl didn't even look at her. "It's hot, he'll dry out."
Maggie glared down at his bent head but he was clearly under the impression that he'd dismissed her because he was back at work oiling his bow. Maggie flounced away sulkily, seeing her chocolate rapidly disappearing from her grasp.
"Well I guess you're out of the running." Kelly commented as Maggie returned to the table looking mutinous.
Maggie glared at her and Kelly laughed. They worked amicably until they'd got through the substantial pile of laundry, scooping it all into piles to hang up to dry. Out of the corner of her eye, Lori saw Daryl get to his feet and disappear into the trees. She shot a covert glance around at the others. Kelly and Maggie were dissecting her attempt as they hung up the clothes and Andrea and Carol were talking and laughing. Lori took a few steps towards the trees. No one commented and she slipped away.
She followed the little path through the trees. Daryl was a reasonable person. She'd just ask him casually what he wore south of the border and she'd get her hands on that chocolate. It was just ridiculous to be taking part in something so childish but she really wanted that chocolate, and she was pregnant. She found Daryl by a little creek a few feet into the trees. He was crouched over it rinsing the oil from his hands. She stepped on a branch and he whirled around.
"It's just me." She cried, holding up her hands defensively.
His tense posture eased but he shot her a thoroughly suspicious look. She moved closer. Now that it had come to it she couldn't quite find the right way to ease into her request.
"Did you want somethin'?" He asked gruffly, swiping his wet hands on his jeaned thighs.
He glared and she took an awkward step backwards. What had she been thinking? Daryl was not a reasonable person. If she told him about the bet he'd be absolutely furious. He scratched his arm, cocking his head to the side and studying her impatiently.
"You're still here." He pointed out irritably.
She shuffled a little closer.
"We were just doing the laundry and we found a pair of… boxers." She forced the word out over her embarrassment. "I thought, they might be yours."
He looked at her as if she'd announced her plans for a sex change. She shifted awkwardly, hardly believing she was standing there saying these things. Had she lost her mind?
"Nah." He finally said, shooting her a look and turning back to the creek.
"Sure? They were… er… blue. Stripey."
"I said no." He snapped without turning around.
Lori beat a hasty retreat before she could embarrass herself further. Well she'd won half the battle, he must wear briefs if he was so adamant stray boxers weren't his. She almost ran slap into Andrea on her way out. The blonde nodded coolly and vanished into the trees.
From the look on Lori's face she clearly hadn't won the bet, Andrea mused gleefully as she traversed the little path in search of Daryl. He was still crouched by the creek muttering to himself and splashing water on his bare arms. She came to an abrupt halt a few steps away. Whilst Daryl seemed to have forgiven her for the whole "bullet to the head" catastrophe, he was not the fluffiest friendly person. In fact sometimes, he was downright dangerous.
"Hey." She called out, figuring an early warning would keep an arrow out of her appendages.
He didn't seem at all surprised, in fact he didn't even look up. She moved closer.
She put her best smile on and undid a few buttons on her shirt for good measure, moving into the water besides him and splashing the cold water on her arms.
"Nothing." She said, running her wet hands through her hair and ensuring he caught a glimpse of her bare stomach.
He didn't seem affected and she frowned. He bent further over and she chanced a quick glance but she couldn't see any underwear band, his shirt was too long. She edged closer a little and feigned a stumble on the slippery stones of the creek bed. He didn't even move to help her, despite her throwing her hand against his bare arm to "steady herself". Okay so seducing him wasn't exactly going to plan. He wasn't even looking at her. Andrea hated to be ignored. She was seized by the sudden desire to shove him into the creek just to get his attention.
She bit her lip thoughtfully. He still wasn't looking in her direction. She shoved her foot towards him as if she'd slipped again, throwing her hand out and knocking him in the small of his back. Caught by surprise he stumbled, landing with a splash in the middle of the creek. Unable to help herself, she laughed. He rolled over and glowered at her icily. She stopped laughing. He got to his feet slowly. Andrea's plan to offer him dry clothes flew out of her head at the dangerous look on his face.
"I'm so sorry." She stammered, reaching towards him to help him up.
He shrugged away from her with a muttered curse, stomping out of the water and marching back towards the camp. Andrea glanced nervously at the trees around her and darted after him.
Kelly watched a soaking wet Daryl Dixon stomp to his tent, followed by a pale nervous looking Andrea. The blonde joined them at the makeshift washing lines without saying a word. Kelly felt a brief flush of smug amusement. They finished hanging up the washing with no further mention of the bet. Afterwards they dispersed, Maggie returned to the house and Lori went in search of Carl. Andrea saw Rick and Shane by the cars and dashed off towards them. Carol returned to the RV.
Kelly took her time clearing away, her mind wandering as she pondered the best way to win her bet. She dragged the buckets of dirty water away from the camp. She was tipping them out when the hair stood up on the back of her neck. She hadn't realised how far she'd gone and she glanced around nervously. No one. She still felt like she was being watched though. A growl made her stomach churn and she opened her mouth to scream. A hand clamped over it, an arm locking around her waist and yanking her backwards. She felt her feet literally leave the ground and she squirmed wildly. Her elbow caught something and there was a grunt, followed by a curse. The grip loosened.
"What the hell are you doing?" She hissed, fear strangling her as her heart thundered out of control.
Daryl glared at her, rubbing his chest where her lucky blow had landed. He'd changed into a dry t-shirt and clean-ish jeans. He looked furious, the sweat and grime on his face blending into his stubble. He grabbed both of her upper arms and shoved her back until she slammed into a tree.
"I want to know what's going on!" He seethed, his blue eyes flashing furiously. "You people avoid me like I'm contagious and now all of a sudden I can't take a leak without one of you gals poppin' up."
He cocked his head, pressing her even further into the tree until pain shot through her shoulders and she glared.
"What's goin' on?"
She jutted out her bottom lip mutinously, glowering up at him.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." She snapped haughtily, tilting her chin to meet his gaze with her own.
He smiled and she gulped.
"Don't play with me girly." He said quietly, exerting just enough pressure to make her wince.
She cursed, wriggling to get leverage onto one foot so she could bring up her knee. He blocked her blow calmly, shifting his hips so her knee struck his thigh. He grunted but his grip didn't loosen.
"Done? Explain." He said calmly.
She gave him a poisonous glare, quite breathless from her struggles. He glowered quite calmly back down at her. She realised how close he was. She could see all the flecks in his eyes, his long sweeping lashes and the plump lip curled up into a half-sneer.
"No." She blurted before she could stop herself.
It was a taunt and he knew it, his lips curved into a full blown smirk and he edged even closer until she was flush against the rough bark of the tree just to keep an inch of space between them.
"Oh I think you will." He said in a dangerously quiet voice.
She tilted her head back to look down her nose at him.
He lunged forwards suddenly and her breath caught in anticipation, her eyelids flickered down to fix on his mouth and she licked her suddenly dry lips. He stopped an inch away from her, so close he could have connected the freckles on her nose and count the feathery black lashes.
"I know you've got something to do with this." He said softly, waiting for her to look at him.
She didn't, she couldn't seem to summon the courage to lift her gaze to meet his. His grip had loosened on her arms, enough to allow the blood to flow again but not enough to release her.
"Really?" She sounded unconvinced, a touch of sarcasm colouring her voice.
He shifted his hip, pressing the length of his thigh between hers until she trembled slightly. She put her hands up, pressing against his chest.
"I want the truth." He demanded again, his breath hot against her cheek.
"The truth?" She repeated challengingly and she did look up then, her silver-grey eyes flecked with green and gold.
He blinked, recoiling back a little. Her lips lifted into a mocking smile and she squeezed his thigh between hers, just enough to make his hands clench reflexively. She was pretty sure she'd have bruises there.
"It was an experiment." She said suddenly.
He cocked his head consideringly, surprised at the sudden give. Her hands were very warm through the thin material of his t-shirt, slightly wet from the buckets. She drew her tongue along her lower lip and he glanced down.
"We were trying to figure something out."
He was still distracted by the moisture now glistening on her lips, he had to search his suddenly foggy memory for what she was talking about.
"Huh?" He narrowed his eyes in his best imitation of a glare, trying to gather his fuggy thoughts.
"Something about you." She clarified, peering coyly at him from under her lashes.
Her hands were wandering he realised. She was tracing gentle swirls on his chest with her fingernails, the thin cotton material barely a barrier.
"What you wanna know about me for?" He grunted, searching for his anger at being discussed between them. All he encountered was the tingling sensations her fingernails were sending through the sensitive skin of his chest.
"Let's just say I have a personal interest." She purred, trailing her fingernails a little lower.
His gut clenched and heat flooded through him. The way she said it and the way her head was half-cocked to one side made it sound thoroughly wicked. He scrambled to gather his thoughts, trying to figure out when the situation had slipped out of his grasp and reversed their positions. He might still have her pinned to the tree but she was firmly in control right now.
She hooked one finger into the band of his jeans and pulled them out towards her before he could react. She didn't look down even though he was thoroughly exposed. She ran her finger experimentally against the skin she encountered there. Her eyebrows lifted and disappeared under her fringe. Amusement sparkled in her eyes and her smirk became a full blown smile.
"Interesting." She breathed, letting go of his jeans and smoothing her hands over his waist.
He leaned towards her until his lips were hardly a millimetre from hers. Her cocky demeanour faded and she caught her breath in her throat. Her eyes had closed expectantly. He grinned and they were so close that she felt it.
"Like for like." He murmured, pressing against her until she could feel every inch of him.
She tilted her head, aiming her lips at his impatiently but he drew back with a smirk. He let go of her and she sagged a little against the tree, not entirely sure her knees would hold her up anymore.
"What does that mean?" She demanded waspishly, clenching her hands into fists so he wouldn't see them trembling.
He backed up a few steps, holding his hands out and smirking. He gave her a last look and then walked away. She stared after him, her heart thundering against her ribcage and her knees weak beneath her. After a stunned moment she cast around wildly, finding a rather sturdy rock she grabbed it up and heaved it after him. She was a good shot but he was too far away and it landed with a dull thud in the grass a few feet behind him.
"Bastard." She seethed, pressing her palms to her hot cheeks.
She gathered the buckets and headed back towards the camp slowly. Now she had a whole new dilemma. How could she win her bet when, short of yanking down his jeans in the middle of the camp which was admittedly not an entirely unpleasant notion, she couldn't prove that Daryl Dixon apparently went commando. She watched his departing back with a malicious grin. Oh she was going to prove it, one way or another.