Hi readers! So this is another Daryl/Carol one-shot that just popped into my head. It's not nearly as angsty as Shattered, but it's not all fluff either. For starters, this is a little something that my Caryl muses just came up with. I just sat at my computer with no idea how it would turn out. I had a pretty good idea on how I wanted it to come out, but I had a little trouble getting there. Secondly, I want to thank everybody who reviewed or favorited my last TWD fic! I really adore this pairing and I love writing about them. Lastly, this is an AU fic set during Judge, Jury, Executioner. I imagined this sometime after the scene where Dale tells Daryl he's a decent man and before the actual jury scene. I think this could be read as either romantic or platonic; what ever floats your ship. Ugh last night's episode nearly killed me! I don't care what anyone says, Shane was an awesome character.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. At all. As soon as I get the money I will own season 1 on DVD. But that's about it.
Special thanks to Vesper's Lullaby for putting up with my constant fangirling. Love ya, chica!
His knuckles hurt like hell.
Daryl had dealt with rough situations before and was no stranger at all to violence. The little white scars on his hands only began to tell the stories of the fights he had either started or participated in.
Daryl was nine years old when he had his first fistfight. Some neighborhood punk had said something about his momma. Needless to say, the boy was picking himself up off the concrete ground less than five seconds later. It took the kid a while to find his two front teeth that had fallen out, and he actually swallowed a third tooth. Merle had gotten a kick out of that. After that incident, the rest of the neighborhood kids were careful about what they dared to say in front of Daryl Dixon.
Most of the fights that followed were solely with his older brother. Sometimes the fights spawned from crazy wrestling matches that got out of control and sometimes one of the siblings would just be looking for something to hit. Once, Daryl was nearly flayed alive for stealing Merle's motorcycle and going on a little joyride. His muscular arms nearly mapped out the places where Merle drew knives on him.
Daryl never backed down from a fight; if he was threatened he would defend himself. He hardly ever lost, and when he did it was only to Merle. Unlike the scars on his back from the beatings given by his old man, Daryl would sport his battle scars with pride.
His mind was running at one hundred miles a second as he currently sat at the Greene kitchen table. His chin was resting on his uninjured hand as he sat alone, going through the day's future events in his head.
For lack of a better word, Daryl was pissed. He thought of the kid tied up in the shed and his anger grew by the second. All he could think of were Randall's words about the two girls and their father.
'The daddy had to watch while these guys… They … and they didn't even kill 'em after words. They just… they just made him watch.'
Daryl felt physically sick as he thought of what the kid meant. Thinking back, he honestly didn't think he punished Randall enough. Daryl just didn't believe him when he swore up and down that he never touched the girls. It was in the way he said something beforehand.
'Teenagers, ya know? Real young… real… cute.'
He was surprised his punches hadn't knocked the kid unconscious sooner.
He heard the door to the farm house open and then close, slamming behind the newcomer. A pair of footsteps grew louder until they stopped directly in front of him. Different objects were being placed on the table but Daryl didn't look at the person in front of him until they addressed him directly.
"Give me your hand."
The sentence wasn't said as a question; it was a demand. Daryl looked up to see Carol standing in front of him with her palm extended. On the table in front of her was a porcelain bowl, a blue cloth, a bottle of a clear liquid, and a gauze.
Daryl's eyebrows scrunched together. "What's all this?"
"Let me see your hand and you'll find out."
The redneck scoffed and shook his head. "We got a decision to make 'bout if we're killin' a kid or not, and you want to see my hand?"
Carol sat down at the kitchen table across from Daryl, her hand still extended. She didn't say a word as her blue eyes locked with his. Knowing that she wasn't about to go away anytime soon, Daryl held out his hand, muttering something that sounded like, "This is ridiculous." She took it in hers, her smooth skin contrasting against his calloused fingers. She gently rubbed the shallow wounds with her thumb before taking the bottled liquid and pouring it into the bowl. She then took the blue cloth and dampened it with the liquid.
"What are you—ah!" he winced sharply as Carol stroked his knuckles with the cloth, causing them to burn even more. "What are you doing? What the hell is that?" he asked through gritted teeth. Daryl tried to recoil his hand, but Carol's grip on him was firm. His other hand was fidgeting like crazy.
"Hold still, it's only rubbing alcohol. Hershel's got plenty of this stuff around here. It's easier to get infections now than ever, and we don't exactly have an unlimited supply of medicine anymore. We have to be more careful." She dipped the cloth back into the bowl before continuing.
"Where'd you find all this?"
"Hershel was a veterinarian before the outbreak. He has a lot of this minor stuff just around the house." She looked disapprovingly at his hand.
"You did a little more than chat with Randall by the look of your knuckles."
"Punk deserved it," Daryl snarled, still trying to get used to the sting of the alcohol on his broken skin.
Carol gave a sigh and continued to clean Daryl's wounds. "Did he really? Or are you punishing him for what his group has done?"
"He's guilty by association, and if you would have heard some of the things he said they've done, you would think twice before questionin' my motives. His boys threatened our boys. You threaten one person in this group, you threaten us all. Hell, he was out there at the bar shooting at Rick, Glenn, and Hershel; that's how we ended up with the bastard in the first place."
Carol heard the anger in the man's voice and her eyes rose to look at Daryl's face. The dark shadows under his eyes indicated a lack of sleep, and Carol noted an overall strange deep and raspy tone to his voice that was unfamiliar to her. His dark hair was matted from sweat and was sticking in every direction. Even his ocean blue eyes seemed to have lost some of their rebellious spark that Carol admired so much. All of this led her to wonder if he'd even rested since the barn shooting. Lord knew she hadn't…
"You look tired," she said, deciding to voice her thoughts aloud. She didn't care if he thought she was being nosy. She just wanted him to know that she worried about him. She wanted Daryl to know how much she cared about him, but without being too straightforward on the matter. She didn't want him to distance himself from the group any more than he already had. She missed him more than he knew.
Daryl shrugged nonchalantly. "Gotta lot on my mind I guess." He took this thumb and began to chew on the loose skin, a nervous habit that Carol picked up on almost instantly. He was staring out into space, looking anywhere but at the woman cleaning his hand.
"What is it with Randall that's got you so worked up?"
He met her question with silence. They sat in the quiet for a few seconds; the only noise was the cloth moving over Daryl's skin. It wasn't long before Carol tried another approach.
"What did you mean when you said that if his group comes through here, the women would wish they were dead? What happened, Daryl?" She put the cloth down and released his hand. Then she picked up the gauze and started to unwrap it.
"You don't want to know."
"I'm pretty sure that if I didn't want to know I wouldn't have asked."
Daryl took his hand away from his mouth and finally looked at Carol's face. If she thought he looked tired, she needed to find a mirror. The shadow over her freckled face made her seem much older than she was. Her eyes were sunken in and the black under them was prominent. He wondered if she even rested since the barn shooting.
He sighed, knowing that he was fighting a losing battle. The woman was stubborn, he'd give her that. "He said part of his group came across some campsite. There was a daddy and his girls… Teenagers. The kid said they were really cute. How do you think that ended up?"
Carol closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, pursing her lips tightly together. She knew exactly what he was implying and a feeling of dread plunged into the pit of her stomach. "They didn't even kill em' after," Daryl continued. "They had their way and left. If that entire group comes with their guns, we don't even have a chance."
"Oh, God," she whispered. "Those poor girls. And their father… I can't even think about what he must have seen…"
"Well I did," the redneck murmured.
Carol finally opened her eyes and found herself staring at the man across the table. "What do you mean?"
"I did think about what he saw. But I didn't think of those two girls…" He trailed off, as if the thought disturbed him beyond belief. Carol thought she had seen him most upset after he found out Merle was handcuffed to the top of a building. This was a different kind of upset, and it seemed to be eating at his insides.
It hit her like a ton of bricks. Suddenly Carol understood. She knew exactly who he thought of when he was beating the living crap out of Randall. Her face went from an expression of confusion to complete understanding.
Daryl nodded. The thought of that little girl being attacked by those animals fueled his anger to no end.
Carol let out a shuttering breath that she had no idea she was holding. She gently shook her head as she stared down at the kitchen table. "I think it's safe enough to say that will never happen to her.
'But not just Sophia,' he mentally added. 'You too.' For a moment he was worried that he'd spoken his thoughts aloud, but seeing as he got no response, it was safe to know that his thoughts remained solely in his head. Another thought came into his head. This was the first conversation between them since he'd yelled at her at his campsite the other night.
'Go ahead and what? Just go! I don't want you here!'
He'd never even apologized, and yet here she was, applying bandages to his bloodied knuckles. He'd yelled the most hurtful things he could think of at her and she just stood there and took it.
'You're afraid! You're afraid 'cause you're all alone! Ya got no husband, no daughter. You don't know what to do with yourself. And you ain't my problem! Sophia wasn't mine!'
Daryl suddenly felt uncomfortable with her trying to help him. After everything he had done, she always came back. After he called her a stupid bitch in the barn, Carol forgave him. After he failed at finding Sophia, she never blamed him. Even after he stood there and yelled in her face, she still smiled at him when he came into the farm house for the first time since the barn shooting.
'All you had to do was keep an eye on her!'
He went as low as blaming her for her own child's death.
Carol was completely oblivious to the internal struggle going on inside Daryl's mind. He could only watch as she continuously wrapped the gauze around his knuckles with a gentleness that completely confused him. She of all people had every right to hate him…Why didn't she?
He was so lost in his thoughts that even though he was staring at his hand he didn't notice that Carol had finished dressing it. Her hand was resting on top of his, softly stroking the visible skin. She ran her fingertips over some of the old scars that decorated his rough and calloused hands. Carol might have been able to bandage the physical wounds, but when it came to the wounds in his broken soul, she doubted that there was a bandage large enough to fix that.
Reluctantly, Carol pulled her hand away and stood. She actually felt Daryl watching her as she moved to put all the supplies away. The excess alcohol was put back into the bottle before the bowl was put in the sink. The cloth was put on top of the faucet while the bottle and gauze were placed under the sink. These weren't the places she originally found them, but Carol had a feeling she would need the objects again soon.
With her task now finished, Carol turned to leave. She was almost in the living room before her name was called out softly.
"Carol." Daryl's rough southern accent was pleasing to her ears. She couldn't even remember a time when he'd actually called her by her name. He was by her side in a few seconds, standing beside her in the doorway. He was standing so close to her, his broad shoulder brushed against hers as they faced one another. Carol instantly felt her pulse quicken. Very slowly, he leaned over and kissed her gently on her left cheek.
"Thanks," he whispered softly into her ear before pulling away. Carol tried hard to ignore the feeling of her now pounding heart against her chest as she watched Daryl walk to the door. What was this man doing to her? The place on her skin tingled where his lips lightly brushed over her smooth skin; she almost lifted her hand to brush her fingers over the spot and make sure it was real. She was genuinely touched by his actions.
With a soft smile, Carol walked out of the farm house and into the hot Georgia sunlight. When she looked around, Daryl was no where to be seen. She ignored the feeling of disappointment and moved towards the camp. There were chores that needed to be finished.
Daryl didn't know what made him call out Carol's name or what made him even go after her. He certainly didn't know what made him kiss her cheek. When he walked out of the house, his first instinct was to grab his bow and go kill something. He needed some time alone just to think.
He could have said anything to her in that moment when he pulled away. 'Thanks' was just the first thing that came out of his mouth. Thanks for what exactly? For not being pissed at me for yellin' at you? For not hatin' me for not savin' your kid?' It took Daryl a moment before he even knew the proper meaning behind his words. As he walked towards the camp, leaving the farm house further and further behind him, he slowly realized there was something else he should have said. Two little words were burning in the back of his mind, refusing to leave him be. Just two little words that would have sounded so much better than 'thanks.'
Just two little words.
So what'd ya think? Like I said before, I love this pairing! I saw some pictures for Sunday's season finale with Carol riding on the back of Daryl's motorcycle and this made me quite happy. I'd really love it if you guys dropped me a review or a message! Thanks for reading!