keep your hands to yourself

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"Mind your own damn business, Andrea," Shane snaps, stepping back from the bed of Daryl's truck where a map and a lantern are set. She'd walked up to him, wondering what he was up to, because he sure as hell wasn't on watch with her like he should have been.

"Hey," Andrea snarls, eyes narrowing, hip jutting out, "you don't get to do that. Quit being an ass."

Shane glares at her. It's the only expression she's seen him wear lately. "I can do whatever I want." he tells her, grabbing up the map and lantern.

"Look," Andrea sighs, lowering her voice, "just because Rick doesn't trust you anymore and Lori doesn't—"

Shane's glare hardens, "You don't know anything about Lori and me." he spits.

"I know that she sure as hell doesn't want a damn thing to do with—" she doesn't get the entire sentence out because Shane drops the map and lantern, and before she has time to cover her face, he hits her, knuckles busting against her cheek.

Andrea rears back, gasping. Her hands fly to her cheek, and she clutches at the throbbing skin. Tears of pain well up in her eyes as she stares at him in horror. His eyes are wild, crazed.

This isn't the Shane who flattened Carol's husband to a bloody pulp for laying a finger on her. This isn't even the Shane that taught her to shoot. This isn't the Shane she knows, so she steps back, hands raised in front of her, and she backs up as quickly as he can. He watches her move away, smirk widening each step she takes until it's so sinister that she turns tail and runs back to the camp.

The next morning, she stays in the RV as long as she can, bruised face turned into her pillow. She wishes Dale was there, more than anything. He'd have some weird remedy to take the swelling and bruising down. She knows she could ask Carol, but well, she doesn't really want to do that because of obvious reasons. She climbs out of bed, changing into a reasonably clean pair of jeans and slipping one of Dale's old sweatshirts over her head. She pulls her hair back from her face, examining the mark on her left cheek in the mirror above the sink. The bruise had turned a nasty shade of purple, edges rimmed with green. She gulps, fingers shaking as she touches it. There's no possible way she can hide it.

And she knows she shouldn't have to, but she also knows that if she says anything, Rick will cast Shane out. No questions asked. She doesn't want that, no matter how much of an asshole he's becoming. He might be having a baby, and Rick's his best friend, and she doesn't want him to die out there alone and the group...well, the group needs him.

Andrea pulls the hood of Dale's sweatshirt up, hoping it'll keep most of the questions that are sure to come at bay. As she climbs out of the RV, she's thinking of ways to explain away the bruising, and she runs right into Daryl.

"Woah," he grumbles in his southern twang. His hands catch her as she stumbles, and he rights her, "watch where you're going, girl."

During her little stumble, the hood had fallen from her head, and Daryl's eyes instantly find the ugly mark. She ducks her head and tries to move away, but he grabs her chin, jerking her face up. "What the fuck happened?" he asks flatly, clear blue eyes examining the bruise. Something flashes in the blue, and it looks like anger, or something more. More like rage.

"I...fell?" Andrea says lamely, closing her eyes. Daryl swears quietly, and then he's pulling her into the RV, sitting her on the bed and digging into the cabins.

Daryl hands her a bottle painkillers before taking her face in his hands again. His thumb lightly brushes the bruising, and she hisses. He mutters a quick sorry, and now she knows why Carol trusts him so much. Before, she couldn't see it. Daryl was just a hick that was riding with them because he had nowhere else to go. But now, she sees that, in his own way, he cares. Enough to sit in the RV with her while she's having some kind of apocalypse crisis.

"I know you didn't fuckin' fall, Andrea." he tells her, crouching down in front of her, "Don't try to lie to me when you can't lie to save your life. Tell me what really happened." he orders.

Andrea gulps, "I did fall." she lies earnestly.

Daryl's eyes darken, "Into who's fist?" he snaps irritably, displeased that she's still lying. Andrea doesn't say a word, but Shane's voice comes from outside, and she flinches. Not because she's going to cower in fear from him from now on, but because she knows she's just given the secret away, and before she can stop him, Daryl's jumping up and striding out of the RV.

Andrea scrambles up, "Wait, Daryl!" she bursts from the RV, and Daryl has Shane pinned up against the tree in the center of their camp. There's a knife in his empty hand, the other holding Shane by his throat.

Rick comes into the camp, hands raised, "Daryl," he says gently, "whatever he's done now—"

"Why don't you take a look at that nasty bruise on Andrea's face then, Rick." Daryl says, completely levelheaded. Rick's eyes widen as he catches sight of the bruise.

"Shane," he starts, "did you—"

"'Course he did," Daryl snorts, "little bastard." Shane kicks out, but Daryl dodges the move, and presses his harder against the tree.

"Daryl," Rick murmurs, "please put the knife down and let him go." he's using his no nonsense Sheriff voice, and even Daryl doesn't want to fuck with that.

Andrea licks her lips as Daryl does what he's told and steps back, but before Rick can move, Daryl's rearing his fist back and punching Shane square in the eye. Andrea squeals, covering her mouth in shock.

Shane groans, and Daryl turns away, coming to stand next to her. Shane rubs at his throat, and she figures, hey, now that everyone knows what happened, and Daryl's taken his own swing, she can dig up some revenge herself.

Daryl's looking at her in a way that makes her think he knows what she's thinking. He smirks when she moves past him towards Shane, who's sitting on the ground, still rubbing his neck. Before he can move or react, she rears back and brings her foot into his groin, kicking as hard as she can. Daryl snorts out a laugh as Shane groans, falling back against the tree.

"You got a cannon for a leg, girl," he laughs, covering his mouth. Andrea fights a smile, but she's never seen Daryl laugh before, so she can't help it. Even Rick's cracking a smile as he walks towards Shane, hand on the butt of his gun.

"Got him good, didn't I?" Andrea asks later that night, when her and Daryl are on watch.

"Yeah," he agrees, eyes on the tree line in front of them. Andrea kicks her legs over the side of the RV, watching him as he watches the trees.

"Thanks," she says, "for sticking up for me."

Daryl shrugs, "A man don't hit a woman," he casts his eyes on her, and a rare smile is playing on his lips, "no matter how annoyin' she is."

Andrea rolls her eyes as the jab. "Still, thanks for scaring him." she says.

Daryl grins, "I think you did more harm than I did. Where'd you learn to kick like that?"

They spend the rest of the night together, trading stories about fights they'd gotten into as kids, and Daryl even divulges that he'd taken boxing lessons behind his dad's back for his entire childhood. It's nice, and she can feel the bruise fading.

The next morning, as she's coming out of the RV, she's met with Shane's grim face. His lip is split and his right eye is rimmed with black. She glances quickly at Daryl, but she doesn't flinch, just stares him down. Daryl's hand is wrapped around the back of his neck, "Well?" he urges, growling.

"Sorry," Shane mutters, permanent glare darkening. Andrea's eyes fall to Daryl's free hand, and she winces when she sees that his knuckles are busted and bleeding; some scabbed over, some not. Her eyes flick up, meeting his. Her cheeks heat up at the thought of him protecting her.

"I can't hear you," Daryl snarls, and Andrea crosses her arms across her chest, eyes turning back to Shane, "and neither can she."

"I'm sorry." Shane says loudly.

"Fine." Andrea says, and she jerks her foot towards him. He jumps, hands covering his junk as he hobbles away.

"Damn, you did get him good. Look at that little bitch limp." Daryl praises as they watch Shane lope away.

Andrea smiles, and Daryl, seemingly without thinking, places a warm calloused hand on her back and leads her to the roaring fire that's roasting their breakfast.

The bruise fades completely three days later, but Daryl retells the story of her assault on Shane's balls for years to come.

fin.