So I decided (with some pursuasion from dearest Alamo Girl) to add on to the 'Roses'-verse I'd created! This is a continuance, and I may also be writing a prequel or two. This will be a small multi-chapter fic, and will range from humorous to dramatic to (yes) romantic(ish)!
Hope y'all enjoy. Please review and remember: I am only a TWD-fan-drone. I own nothing, but I do reserve the right to obsess!
The heat had come quickly, as it usually did in the south; even so, Carol was not expecting to walk out into what felt like an inferno.
It was mid-March, and the campgrounds continued to act as a haven for the survivors. Day by day they existed as a family in this little isolated area of the state. They maintained the duties they'd lived by since the End began: Rick took it upon himself to be the major decision-maker, Shane continued to fume in the background, his violent attitude held at bay by the likes of T-Dog and Daryl, and the women fell back into what came almost second-nature to them: She, Lori and Maggie took care of the laundry, cooked most of the meals, and tended any unexpected injuries. And of course, they all pitched in to help care for and raise little Sophie.
Andrea split her time between laundry and gun-toting, which, considering her sharp eye and clear talent with such weapons, Carol did not mind in the least.
Even she herself had come to learn to use a weapon. The buck knife now constantly strapped to her waist had been plunged into the brain of only one Walker so far, but it was a moment that proved she could take the necessary action to defend herself and others if needed.
Carol inhaled the thick, suffocating air as she exited the RV and pursed her lips.
Fortunately for them, Walkers were not terribly amok around their new home, and it reminded her of the quarry pre-attack. People lived fairly comfortably, considering the circumstances, all the while keeping caution as top priority and togetherness as second.
As she made her way to the dining house the sweat had already broke onto her forehead. She was glad she had decided to have Lori clip her hair back down; longer locks were not for her, and the heat was simply unbearable.
The shade of the cabins provided some relief as the group gathered for breakfast. Various versions of 'good morning' were mumbled through tired smiles and Lori and Andrea had already begun to set out the old plastic plates as the half-sleeping hoard settled down together like the Brady Bunch.
Carol took her place near the end of one of the picnic tables, passing down the bent forks that needed desperate replacing. She smiled a bit at the food on her plate.
On their way they had managed to pick up more dehydrated eggs while scavenging, and, to her delight, several boxes of instant grits. They had rationed the traditional southern staple carefully, and this particular morning was instantly better as she prepared to eat.
Bending her head down just slightly, she closed her eyes and silently thanked God for what she and her surrogate family still had…
The rustle of clothes interrupted her prayer and she looked to her right to find Daryl settling onto the bench beside her, wasting no time in diving into his food. As she brought her own fork to her mouth she caught his gaze, and he offered a small nod as his way of a morning greeting.
A comfortable quiet settled the table as everyone took Daryl's example and the only sounds heard for several minutes were that of the silverware clanking and the odd gulps of people swallowing food. Now and again Sophie would coo against Carl's chest as he held her, and everyone at the table would look up at her at once.
The girl was something to behold. The little miracle of their apocalyptic world.
Carol caught Daryl watching the child as he ate, and she tried desperately to find his eyes amidst the scraggly bangs of his grown-out hair. She smiled at the sight of him continuously reaching up to try to brush the long hairs out of his face, only to have them immediately fall back down and elicit a grumbled curse from his lips.
He had done well to keep his facial hair decently trimmed, but Carol doubted he had the knack for cutting his own hair.
Those eyes of his finally met her own as he caught her staring and turned on her in an instant.
"What?" She was surprised to find his tone bereft of aggression or interrogation, the word spoken with what sounded like sheer curiosity.
But then, in the past few weeks they had come to spend more time together; Daryl's presentation of the roses on Valentine's Day had re-opened a semi-comfortable rapport between them, and it seemed every day he became both more receptive of and more responsive to her. It seemed Sophia's ghost had finally let Daryl's anger fade…
She did not miss the growing frustration in his lip, however, as he looked at her and waited for her to explain her staring.
"Nothing, it's just….it might be time for a haircut, with the rising heat and all…"
She heard his neutral 'humph' as he turned away and finished his meal. She took his lack of a negative response to be something of an agreement and looked around the table.
Rick, Shane, Maggie and Glenn were all sporting lengthy hairstyles not usual for them, and she met Lori's gaze as they nodded to one another.
"Well, at least I know what I'll be doing today. Carl, you get to babysit while I cut hair." Lori's voice garnered the attention of the group and most of the men shared glances that proved their awareness of her intentions.
The group was at the mercy of Lori's scissors for the rest of the morning.
Daryl had stood just inside the RV, watching as Lori went to work cutting hair down by the dock. Carol had offered to help, as she too had a bit of experience with such things, but as of current, the group had only one pair of scissors to their name.
And so, Carol had wandered towards the RV and the man standing in its doorway, intent on urging him to go ahead and have his hair cut while Lori was at it.
She had stopped short a few feet away, instantly recognizing the uncomfortable look on his face. He leaned against the doorframe causally, nibbling at his nails as he so loved to do, but his brows were bent down and his lips drawn tight, and she knew from his distant gaze that he did not care for the idea of Lori Grimes snipping away at his hair.
One would think he simply did not want it cut at all; but Carol knew that he found it as necessary as the others. He just didn't like being touched.
She cleared her throat a bit to catch his attention, and caught his gaze as it snapped down to her.
"I could cut it for you if you want, after Lori finishes with the others. Shouldn't take long." She watched his face relax slightly, but the look in his eyes intensified.
Carol smiled as he nodded before retreating farther into the Winnebago.
The waters of the lake glistened in the sunlight overheard and the heat likewise made its presence known.
Carol blinked up at it and chose to drag the lawn chair closer towards the nearby trees, trying to find a suitable balance between necessary light and unwelcome heat. Setting the unstable piece of metal and plastic down at an angle that caught the light just right, she looked up at the man hovering nearby. Daryl eyed her beneath his bangs and blinked at the chair, but did not hesitate to follow her silent request to sit.
Without ceremony she ran a comb through the thick, reddish-brown locks and pulled at only a few tangles in the process. As the sun hit his hair she could see the blond that intertwined with brown, the hidden flashes of red that weaved throughout. She smiled at how she herself could not name his hair color.
The man sat silent and rigid in the chair and Carol knew that it had probably been quite some time since he'd received an actual haircut by a person that was not his brother.
For a moment the image of Merle Dixon running a set of dog clippers across Daryl's scalp flashed through her mind, and she frowned before pushing it away and concentrating on pulling the bangs in her hand straight up to snip at them.
"I used to cut Sophia's hair like this. Ed didn't like the idea of her going to a cosmetologist. He thought she'd come home with hot-pink streaks or something…" She trailed when Daryl jerked his head to the right slightly at the mention of both her daughter and husband, and Carol swallowed the words like poison before running a hand through the cut locks of hair in way of silent apology.
She stepped back a fraction of an inch when he turned his head even more so, and she could see his eyes struggle to meet hers from his position in the chair.
Summoning the strength from days past fighting a young and restless Sophia in the 'hair-chair', Carol slowly reached forward to lay her fingers against the right side of Daryl's jaw and urge his face forward and straight.
She did not miss tightening flex of his facial muscles at the contact, nor the sudden inhale of breath that (just barely) hid a small, suspiciously whimper-like sound.
Sensing the discomfort in him growing, she opted to get to work on the mess of hair before her so the man it belonged to could take off and avoid any continued physical contact with her.
She frowned again at the feeling of sadness that threatened her at such thoughts, but ignored it as she severed strand after strand of thick hair.
"You boys definitely needed this. The heat's going to get rough soon. I'm glad I had Lori cut mine last week…."
A grunt was her response and Daryl's head leaned back slightly. Carol clipped faster and remembered to make an attempt at the short hairs near his neck line. As she neared a satisfactory length she set the scissors on his shoulder to run her hands through his hair, shaking out the excess and examining for mistakes. She instantly found a few and moved to retrieve the scissors, but not before steadying her hand just above the shoulder that she now realized was moving up and down heavily.
She watched as Daryl's back seemed to seize with his deep inhalations, and she snatched the scissors off of his shoulder before moving to rest her left hand on his head again.
The jerk she felt was accompanied by another grunt.
She watched him warily and continued to cut despite her concern.
A/N: Poor Daryl, with his sensitivities. ;)
Expect a more familiar aggression to return to our boy in coming chapters!