The Old Ball and Chain
by Leela

Rick, Glenn, and Daryl are about to head out on a long journey. Lori's pregnancy is coming to an end and despite the nine months of preparations they're still not really prepared.

There is a small clinic a few towns over, or so they think (who knows if it's there or if they'll find anything inside). Hershel gives them a list of all the items and drugs they might need for Lori's birth and subsequent recovery. Glenn expects them to be gone two days tops, but in this new world there's nothing like "expect" anymore. You go on a mission; you might just not come back. Simple as that.

Daryl can't say he's happy to be going, especially since when it comes down to it, he's essentially risking his life for Lori Grimes. He sneers at the thought of the woman. Dumbnut had to go and let Shane get her pregnant and now she's punishing Rick for it. Whatever. None of his business. Except when it is, when he has to risk his life roaming the land for gold and riches to present at the feet of Her Royal Highness.

He's loading the last of their supplies into the pick-up truck. Rick is back inside, probably saying goodbye to his family. He looks beside him and Glenn and Maggie are joined together in a warm embrace, kissing each other tenderly as they say their goodbyes. Maggie is crying, scared.

Daryl sees Andrea approach him and he expects to receive a similar farewell.

Instead, she swings a hand into his groin and grabs him, hard.

"Ah! My balls, fuck!"

She looks at him menacingly. "If you get yourself killed in this trip I swear to God, Daryl, I am going to kill myself and shoot your dick off in the afterlife. Okay?"

His eyes are closed and he's yelping in pain. "Alright! Aright! Let me go!"

She finally does and he groans, putting his hands over his groin, willing the pain to subside. "Woman, are you crazy?"

Her hands are on her hips now and she looks angry. "I mean it, Daryl."

"Yeah, obviously. Jeez."

"Fuck," he adds as an afterthought as he holds his balls in place, scared that they might fall off. Way to start the trip. With a throbbing crotch, angry at his reasons for having to go, and pissed at Andrea.

Daryl looks at her, and something very faint has changed in her expression. His anger subsides a bit. He can tell this is one of those moments when she doesn't want him to know how scared she is.

He's learned it's best to let her pretend.

"I'll be back!" he says, trying to reassure her in his crotchety way, just throwing the words at her like they're a bunch of dead squirrels. "Alright?"

She looks at him like she wants to believe it, but she doesn't know. Hell, he doesn't know, either.

"Let's go," Rick tells Daryl as he whisks by Andrea.

Daryl rubs his groin one last time and looks at her, anger all but forgotten. Her own anger seems to have subsided a bit, and they look at each other but neither says anything. They don't know how to be like that.

He just nods at her, "Keep the fort down."

Andrea nods, arms now crossed in front of her. It's time to go but suddenly his legs aren't moving. Don't seem right, parting ways like this, pissy with each other. But a voice in his head groans at the thought of tears and kisses, hugs, and all that mushy crap.

They just stand there looking at each other.

"Daryl, you ready?"

He looks down to disentangle himself from the moment, and doesn't look back up before he walks away, groin still throbbing in pain.

"Shit," he mutters as he moves past Glenn, hobbling. The younger man chuckles. Daryl gives him a sneer. "Shut up."

They manage to find a few supplies on their way to the clinic. It turns out to be much further out than they initially thought (and Daryl begins to wonder if it's there at all, because all they have is an old map). But Glenn feels confident that they'll make it back in two days.

Except they don't.

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong and they're trapped in the godforsaken clinic. Thankfully its walls are built with steel but it's of very little comfort when they're surrounded by a herd. The first night they hope the walkers will be gone by the morning.

The second night Rick considers shooting at them, but they can't waste the ammo and the sound might attract more of them.

The third night Glenn breaks down.

Daryl sits by them, looking as Rick tries to reassure the young man, but his voice is spent all out of hope. They sit near him, talking about regrets, their lives, and blah blah blah, and Daryl can't listen to them anymore. They're whining about Lori and Maggie like a couple of bitches and Daryl needs to be away from them right now because he can't deal with this Steel Magnolias bullshit.

He approaches one of the windows of the clinic and peeps out. The place is surrounded, and he's not sure it looks prettier on the other side.

It's not looking good for them, that's for sure, and on top of that he knows they're starting to run out of food and water.

If they try to make a run for it, two might survive but one's going down for sure. Or one might survive and two won't make it. Or most likely, none of them will. He wishes he'd paid more attention to the buildings surrounding the area, but he was too busy whacking at walkers as they made their way in.

He looks back at Rick and Glenn. For a moment he thinks about trying to help them escape and staying behind. He thinks about pregnant Lori and young Maggie. Rick has a baby on the way, a son he needs to raise and take care of. Glenn and Maggie are young and can start a family of their own. They have their whole lives ahead of them and though Daryl will die before he admits it, but he is a little fond of Glenn.

He knows their lives are worth more than his.

Another person pops into his head.

Honestly, he doesn't know what to make of Andrea most of the time. She's crabby, opinionated, and demanding.

The woman can spot a walker a hundred miles away and get it right in the head. She's proud of it, too, and goads at him every time she saves his life.

She's a firecracker and when he says the wrong thing she doesn't hold back.

They spend a lot of time bickering and always end their arguments naked in bed.

She's not scared to stand up to Rick and challenge their leader when she thinks Rick is making the wrong call (which is often).

She likes to curse. A lot. Daryl sort of smiles at this. He likes her filthy mouth, especially when they're in bed.

Where she's smiley and zippy and downright annoying with her cuteness.

Her ponytail bounces when she walks.

When she runs, her scrawny little arms flail about like she's a puppet.

She scrunches her nose when he flirts with her.

She likes to tease him about how dirty he always is and every time she does it makes him blush.

When they fight and make up, he stays in bed longer the morning after, kissing her smile and touching her and teasing her like the world isn't dying outside.

And if he doesn't return she's going to have his dick on a platter.

This isn't gonna be the end for him. Not by a long shot, cause he has to go back to that godforsaken woman or she is going to show up here somehow and kill him herself. And he knows she would, too.

Before he knows it he's kneeling by Rick and they start formulating a plan. The first one is too risky, the second one damn right impossible, but the third one sounds good.

Well, not good. Less foolish.

Rick is gathering all the weapons and the ammo and Daryl tries to go into his zen mode. Next to him, Glenn shivers like a cat left out in the rain. Daryl frowns, wanting to slap the fear straight out of him. But a part of him feels sorry for the guy. He's really not a fighter at all.

"Be alright."

Glenn looks at him, fear and uncertainty in his eyes. "How can you tell for sure?"

Daryl snorts dryly, as if the answer is obvious and Glenn is an idiot for even asking. "Think I'm gonna let that woman cut my dick off in heaven?"

Glenn smiles and some of the fear dissolves.

Hours later, Glenn has his eyes closed and he's praying and panicking and God, he hopes this works. He can't bear the thought of not seeing Maggie again, or his friends, but worse: he can't bear the thought of dying like this, being devoured. He takes a deep breath and tries not to think about it.

"Ready?" Rick tells him and Glenn just nods. He's not, really, but it has to happen whether he's ready or not.

Rick opens fire and he follows.

They're in the back of the building, their guns pressed to the narrow open spaces where an old air conditioner is shoved in a wall. At the sound of bullets flying out into the night, the herd starts to move back and gather there. Rick is relieved when he hears the engine of the truck, thankful that Daryl has made it. The truck suddenly appears into the distance, and they cease fire when the walkers start chasing after the truck. Daryl blares the horn and Rick and Glenn gather as many bags of the supplies they've gathered and run to the front of the building. They wait anxiously and Rick looks out the window. There's only seven or so walkers on this side. They can manage to get those.

If Daryl's plan works.

They don't have time to think, just act, when the pick-up truck shows up, the herd close at its heel. Daryl barely slows it down and with a strength he didn't know he had, Rick grabs all the gear, tosses it in the bed of the truck, grabs Glenn and shoves him back there before he hops on himself. Daryl speeds away and all Rick hears is Glenn crying, "oh God, oh God, oh God!"

He breathes loudly as he watches the herd trying to chase after them before they disappear into the distance.

It takes them an extra day to return, because Rick figures they may as well scout about the area, since they're already here. They find a few canned foods and bottles of water in several abandoned houses, and they hope it makes up for all the things from Hershel's list that they couldn't find or had to leave behind.

It's nearly sunset when the house is visible in the distance.

Daryl can see T-Dog standing on the roof, jumping up and down and waving his arms.

"Yeah, yeah, it's a truck, not an airplane," Daryl mutters but knows the man is probably just excited to see them back.

Maggie and Lori are crying hysterically and wailing about like those stupid characters in the soap operas his aunt used to watch. They're clinging to Rick and Glenn and as he walks by them he can tell Glenn is crying, too.

Good lord, Daryl thinks. That kid cries more than Carol.

He's probably not going to get the same type of welcome, judging by their last goodbye. What's it gonna be this time? Slap him in the face? Kneel him in the balls? Tie him to Lori for a few days?

He shudders.

But when he looks up he sees Andrea. She approaches him with her arms crossed, and for the first time ever something feels funny in his stomach when he notices she's smiling warmly.

There's also a pool of tears in her eyes that she's refusing to let fall out.

As he approaches her Daryl drops the bag he's carrying. She opens her arms for him and he wraps his arm around her waist, holding her bouncy ponytail as she presses her cold nose to his shoulder.

When she pulls back and kisses him he feels the stress of the last four days take over and it's overwhelming. It rushes through him as he remembers the herd, the clinic, and the hopelessness. But she kisses his cheeks and his eyes and it melts away. He grabs her face and looks at her, and she smiles brightly and then chuckles a sigh of relief. For a while he didn't think he was ever gonna see that pretty smile again, and seeing it again does something to him.

This woman. He doesn't know what to make of her.

But he also doesn't know what he'd do without her.

He smirks against her mouth. "I'm back."

"You are." She smiles at him and kisses his jaw.

Daryl runs his hands up and down her arms, feeling warm in so many new ways. "I can keep my dick, then?"

Andrea chuckles, grabs his hand, and pulls him towards the house. "Yeah. Come on, let's put it to good use."

The End

I have 6 word documents open right now and they're all different D/A stories. But I don't have a problem. I DON'T! I can quit any time I want!