Disclaimer #1: I do not own any characters from "The Walking Dead." They are the property of Robert Kirkman, Glenn Mazzera and AMC. No money is changing hands in the writing, reading or distribution of this story.

Disclaimer #2: Any similarities to any specific persons, living or dead, is unintended.

Badass and Beauty

Total Words in Chapter: 2,089

Chapter 81

Always was a point along the dirt road what run in front of the house that signified the start or the end of a patrol. Couldn't 'a marked it on no map, but it were there nonetheless, somewhere's near where the group was originally camped once, but it were more a feelin' on the inside a bein' far off and on their own or close 'nuff with lots 'a back up. They was walkin' up on that spot now, Daryl holdin' his doe's hand in his and startin' to realize that Grecia'd been the first to figure where this spot were long before she was any good out there in 'the pit.'

She knowed when they was too far from the house and to keep her head on a swivel, and she knowed how close to the house they'd hafta be in order to relax any. Daryl'd always carried that feelin' inside him no matter where he were or what he was huntin' there…knowin' his surroundin's, findin' high ground to race off to and hold; that all meant survival no matter if'n it was mean wild pigs, or the walkin' dead what he was comin' up against. And his doe…damn, but if she didn't always have that sorta wit about her too…even if it had at first been motivated by that blind panic she used to succumb to in a heartbeat.

But now that same place what couldn't be plotted on no map represented somethin' a little bit different. Bein' close 'nuff to the house meant bein' able to relax some…particularly now that there were a damn big wall 'round eighty-five percent 'a the house, and bein' able to relax some meant doin' somethin' Daryl ain't never done before with no girl…'a holdin' her hand while he walked her home.

What Daryl and his doe was were out there now, the group knowed they was together, that Daryl'd laid claim to her as his doe...well, maybe the rest 'a the group didn't quite understand the "doe" part, but they understood that Grecia belonged to somebody and that the somebody was Daryl, so it didn't bother him none to be seen holdin' her hand once or twice, or pullin' her close, cuz Daryl didn't hold his doe's hand the way just anyone woulda.

Daryl'd learned just how to do it without makin' it look like he were some sissified, pussy whipped, metrosexual dumbass. He'd watched Merle go and sling his big arm 'round a woman's waist a bunch times…the trick was makin' it look careless but dominatin', put some force into it, almost slam her against himself in a way what left her pert near fallin' over if it weren't for landin' against him…and lock 'at arm 'round her like Merle was tellin' her and everybody else in the bar that he was stakin' a claim, that she were 'a leavin' with him and everybody else had better step the hell off.

Weren't many what was gonna challenge Merle on much a'tall, and once Merle decided somethin' were his, it was his 'til he didn't want it no more…and the more Daryl got ta' thinkin' on it, the more he was of the mind that's just what Merle musta decided 'bout Grecia, too. He get himself off 'a that roof back in Atlanta, made his way out to steal the van and all…but it weren't the camp what he drove back to, or Grecia neither. Anyone else pulled that shit with a shot 'a whiskey, a truck or a woman, just up and leave it behind unannounced, with no previous instructions on its care, and Merle invoked the right 'a salvage. And ain't that all Daryl done? His brother left his whor…shit…naw, Daryl didn't mean to be thinkin' 'at word, ain't what his doe was or ever was, that was for damn sure! God damn it! His brother left Grecia behind; abandoned her…and Daryl stepped in and stepped up, took her over…but managed to keep her in the family…and that were more than respectable.

"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" Grecia said outta nowhere, walkin' beside Daryl and apparently lookin' across at him while she did, Daryl realizin' too late that he'd sorta gone quiet on her and now he weren't sure what to say.

"Who?" He asked, the word comin' outta his mouth never mind how dumb playin' dumb was, and the look his doe cocked her head and give him seconded what Daryl already knowed 'bout how bad 'a actor he were.

"It's okay, you know." His doe up and told him, not even waitin' for Daryl to try and explain nothin' or even try to think how to tell her all what was on his mind…Daryl weren't sure mentionin' Merle to her was such a good thing…and likewise, Daryl weren't sure how he'd feel if Grecia were to mention Merle to him neither. Daryl mighta figured out where it were he stood with Merle himself, but he still didn't know what his doe's feelin's towards his brother was…he only knew she didn't love Merle. But it was "okay" if Daryl were thinkin' on his brother? Really? It was? That didn't worry her none?

"Wasn't nothin'…y'know…'bout him and you." Daryl kinda blurted out, not meanin' to say that neither, but there it were now, a mess to be cleaned up. "I mean, I ain't hung up on 'at shit still, I ain't 'bout to go and ask you a million questions concernin' what it were like bein' with him."

"Good!" Grecia sorta raised her eyebrows and give 'a enthused nod, but she also laughed some and it made Daryl curious as hell…was a time his doe was anythin' but laughin' when anyone brought up Merle. "But even if it was, I understand that things…images…might crop up in your mind without you being able to help it…I mean, you're human after all, Daryl. I can't fault you for being jealous and even a little bit curious too, but it doesn't always have to mean anything."

Daryl was noddin' now too, tryin' to keep up with all what his doe were sayin' what was more understandin' than he ever figured a woman could be 'bout anythin'…damn…it didn't always hafta mean somethin'? Really? She knowed that? She were good with that? She musta been…Grecia were gettin' a lotta things at the moment. "How'd y'know I was thinkin' 'bout him anyways?"

Grecia's hand kinda give his a squeeze and she smiled some at him. "When you start thinking about Merle, it's like he's right there in front of you; you flex your arms up and stand your shoulders out, make yourself look all big and tough…which you are," her smile broadened and she give their joined hands a swing or two. "Only when you're thinking about your brother, it's like you're doing it the way a soldier stands at attention…like that's what he taught you to be, and so that's what you're showing him you are…" she paused again, stopped walkin' and give just 'nuff tug at his hand to bring Daryl 'round to face her, "because you are," she said again, then shined them pretty pale blue eyes up at him, leaned up close and kissed him, but it didn't last near long enough no matter how much what all she said had Daryl's mind 'a racin'.

"Where you getting' all 'at from?" Daryl asked, pulled his good hand outta hers and kinda tossed it in the air like he didn't want her knowin' what she done knew anyways…but he weren't real sure…'til it come to him. "Merle used to talk to you 'bout me?"

"No," Grecia answered and laughed like she just couldn't help it. "It's just pretty obvious after having been around you both. In some ways, what was good about Merle is also what's good about you too…and I can see where you picked it from. He wasn't all bad, your brother; and you're the proof, Daryl."

"Merle'd smack you right in the jaw, he heard you say 'at!" Daryl warned, almost like it was seconds away from occurrin'...this was…shit…was this really how his doe was in her head 'bout Merle? She were okay with him too? Saw some kinda good in him, even if she ain't loved him none and never…enjoyed…bein' with him?

"He probably would," Grecia agreed with a nod of her head, but then she just kinda shrugged. "Wouldn't make it any less true, though."

"Huh…" Daryl ain't meant to go and say 'at out loud, but he had and was even goin' as far as to now stand there lookin' all to be ruminatin' and thinkin' on this whole concept. But his doe just stood there all pleasant-like, lettin' her buck do whatevers he was gonna, weren't botherin' her none to see him like this at'all. Fact was, she even looked pleased 'bout it, at peace, like she'd been waitin' on him to finally get where he finally got. She were okay with Merle…didn't love him, weren't no friend 'a his, but she could go and see some good in the mean ol' drug dealin', whorin', dirty deal makin' son of a bitch…

…and if his doe could be alright with Merle, then that meant Daryl could finally be alright with him too…and that last bit 'a realization just 'bout knocked Daryl backwards a step or two. He'd worked up a powerful amount 'a hate and shame and betrayed feelin's and even jealousy when it come to his big brother…and now, they was all just floatin' off 'a him, blowin' away like them tumbleweeds in some old cowboy movie on the revitalizin' breeze 'a Grecia's good grace.

"Daryl, are you—" his doe had started to reach out to him when he'd nearly jerked backwards on her, but she never got'ta finish her words, cuz soon as Daryl heard her sweet voice and looked to her, she was all of a sudden the most beautiful woman in the whole damn world to him, not that she weren't before now, but standin' here it were like she was even more so on some level what Daryl didn't have no words to explain, and he jest'a up and lunged at her, throwin' his big burly arms towards her, one 'round her tiny, little waist and the other 'round the back 'a her lovely neck, and he pulled that girl into a kiss what was caught somewhere's between raw purity and ferocious want. Grecia ain't fought him none, just wriggled a little bit 'til she could find the best place against his chest what put her the absolute closest to him, her heart poundin' on the otherside 'a his while lips crushed and tongues intertwined. She'd just started to get her little arms 'round him when a thought, and a will, come to Daryl what was unstoppable as bolt leavin' his bow.

He pulled away from Grecia in a mad rush, stoppin' jest long 'nough to wrap his strong hands 'round both her little arms at bicep level and hooked eyes with her, seein' the confusion bloomin' up all that pale blue sparkle what looked back at him, but she weren't scared, she trusted her buck. And then the words come outta his mouth with an intensity. "I gotta get Dale a deer."

"What?" Grecia had no idea what he were meanin', but she were laughin' a little at him, not at'all spooked by him as Daryl let go 'a her and give his bow and bolts a quick once over, but he were in too much of a rush now to explain…besides, this ain't the way he wanted her to find out nothin'.

He still faced her even as he made tracks away from her, his eyes holdin' her gorgeous silhouette and her signature red hair shinin' in the sun, but it all just made his mind scramble even more to huntin' and RV's. "All's good, just get on back ta' the house, we're at a place where yer safe 'nuff now to make it alone." He told her with every confidence, cuz they was at that point…the one along the dirt road in front 'a the house what couldn't 'a been marked on no map, but it were there nonetheless, more a feelin' on the inside a bein' close 'nuff with lots 'a back up...a feelin' a' security…and it come to Daryl that he and his doe had finally reached that spot themselves in a way what he never thought they was goin' to.

Author's Note: Sorry for the long delay in posting chapters, sorry for being out of contact for so long, sorry for a lot things, actually! Also sorry that this is a short chapter, but I'm trying to get back in the "B&B" groove and figured you all had waited long enough. So, I realize it's a pitiful little trickle of start after a long absence, but I just need a little bit of time to sharpen up. Thanks to all who are still reading me and reviewing me! My readers who review will always make the day brighter and me wiser! Thank you and have and wonderful weekend! - Grace