Standard disclaimer stuff. This is the first part of at least a two or three chapter fic, and my first ever TWD fic so please pardon my rusty writing! I own nothing, TWD and BtVS do not belong to me. EDIT: This fic is going on way longer than I'd planned, and I already have some simultaneous cross-over stories and a continuation fic planned - what have I gotten myself into? This story is set somewhat out of time - it's after the Walkers in the barn fiasco but AU after that.
You can keep up with the 'Strangers' fics via tumblr at 'strangers-verse'!
"I'm going to plead the fifth on that one." Andrea laughed, leaning against the crumbling whitewash of the weather beaten wooden banister that lead up to the Greene's front door. She was tired from a night shift on the roof of the RV and sweaty from the badly timed heat wave, but sharing a chuckle all the same in a rare drama-free moment on the farm.
Carol sat in a whicker chair and turned a gray, stained shirt in her hands as she carefully stitched the frayed collar back onto it's shoulders, "I told my 'Anywhere But Here' story, it's not fair if you don't tell yours." She smiled at Andrea and then to Lori who was sitting on the floor near her, cross-legged, with a large silver bowl in her lap.
"True. That's true." Lori teased with a small grin as she snapped another hand full of peas one at a time. She glanced over at Carol mischievously and added, "But you lied." With that all three women busted into the heartier laugh they had been controlling until now, thoroughly enjoying each other's company for the first time in ages.
With all of the craziness, it seemed like it had been weeks since these survivors had it in them to look each other in the eye, let alone share a lazy afternoon of girl talk over chores. It was nice, and simple, and it took Carol's mind off of the horror that had been her life for the past few weeks and the following perpetual humdrum that the farm would lull into between Walkers.
Chatting like this had reminded her of their camp outside of Atlanta. Of washing clothes and dishes with the other women, talking about men, books and what life was like before the world ended. It seemed so long ago now, the daily grind turning each hour into two and stretched her memory until their short stay on Hershel's land began to feel like years.
"Well," Carol brought the group back into the moment, finishing up the shirt with a final stitch and cutting the thread with a small pair of haircutting sheers, "I don't think there's anything wrong with wishing for a bath tub with hot running water, just because it isn't filthy." Lori suppressed a chuckle, knowing that barb was meant for her Anywhere But Here which happened to involve Christian Slater and an indoor swimming pool. Carol continued, "I'm not saying I'd take the bait if the Devil offered it to me." She smiled at the others and almost whispered, "But I'm not saying I wouldn't, either."
The women giggled again just as Rick and Daryl pushed through the screen door and onto the porch. Rick nudged sweat from his brow with a knuckle, "I need you to get the truck ready, we have to be fast if we're gonna make it back before dark and I'd like to beat the sun if we can."
Daryl thoughtlessly took the shirt Carol had been mending and gave it a careless shove into his pocket, "Yep." was becoming a familiar response from him when it came to Rick's orders and he casually bumped knuckles with the other man before heading out to his chore. Carol's mouth twisted as she watched him go without so much as his usual nod as a thank you, which gave Andrea and Lori reason to shoot each other a knowing smirk.
Rick leaned in to Lori who was popping a pea pod into her mouth and said, almost confidentially, "We're gonna make a run up to the highway. Search the wrecks for things we can use - bottles, clothes. If you want anything specific I need a list before we head out, okay?"
"I have the list from Wednesday," Lori responded with a nod, "I just want to add some things to it."
Rick responded, leaning against his bent knee, "That's fine. Where's Carl? Might want to see if he needs anything special."
Lori handed the bowl to Andrea and climbed to her feet, dusting her jeans off, "He's in the house, but he made his list out last night." She slipped her hand into the front pocket of her jeans and pulled out a rumpled piece of paper then unfolded it and handed it to her husband, "It's not much, just a pair of socks and some batteries if you can find them." She gave Rick a quick but affectionate kiss and her jeans another brush off, then took the bowl back from Andrea who'd been watching the display and picking at the peas, "I better get these inside."
Rick watched Lori make her exit then turned to the other two, "Any requests? I can't promise we'll find everything you need, but if it's important we'll sure try."
Andrea piped up first, "I can put a some new tank tops to use, if you can find any to spare. It's just getting so hot I don't think sleeves are really optional anymore."
Rick nodded and turned to Carol, who already held a green post-it out to him, "Just a few things, it's alright if you can't find them. Don't put yourself in danger for my vanity."
Carol smiled at Rick, who returned her smile as he took her list and stuck the post-it to his knee. He pulled a pen out of his pocket and added Andrea's request to the list then pocketed both the paper and pen just as Lori slipped back out and put her list in his hand. Rick kissed Lori's cheek then nodded to the women and headed off the way Daryl had earlier, met in the distance by the pick up.
The sun was already low by the time Daryl turned onto the onramp, Rick in the passenger seat looking over the lists he had been given, "Chapstick, sunscreen, bug spray. I never remember this stuff." He shook his head and mused to Daryl, "This is why God made wives, friend."
Daryl grunted, eyes fixed on the road, "Good head on her shoulders," was all he managed to say as the truck pulled up behind the seemingly abandon pile up where they had lost Sophia weeks earlier, "What else?"
"Socks and batteries for Carl," Rick continued as they both climbed out of the truck and gave the road a quick scan, "He didn't say what kind but I reckon he means for that video game he found on the highway. Tank tops, sandals, a mess kit, perfume and an egg slicer." He seemed confused and slightly amused as he stressed the last item, "Something tells me that one's for Maggie. She's been on about egg salad ever since we brought home that crate of mayonnaise and mustard."
"Perfume?" Daryl took the post-it out of Rick's hand and looked it over in disbelief, "For who?"
Rick's door shrieked as he pushed it closed and shoved Lori's list into his shirt pocket, "Carol."
It was too late, Daryl had already recognized Carol's handwriting. He winced at the sky and grunted, "Hell is wrong with that woman? Putting our asses on the line for a fucking slumber party, out here. What's she need perfume for?" He took another look at the list then shook his head and pocketed it as he walked towards the cars without Rick, "Ain't got nowhere to be."
"Well." Trying to open the trunk of a Mazda, Rick glanced at Daryl's back with a small, amused smirk, "Maybe Carol wants to get done up for some reason?"
"Done up enough as it is. Woman's a walking ass ache," Daryl sneered, shielding his eyes from the sun's glare as he peered through the rolled-up window of a station wagon that looked like it had been broad-sided by Rick's Mazda.
With a shrill whine the trunk of the Mazda opened and Rick started looking through what little was left to pick in back there - some bottled water, a diaper bag and an igloo cooler that swished when he moved it and smelled like someone had tried to bake garbage in it, "Nothing?" Rick egged Daryl, unable to hide the knowing smile trying to break on his face as he teased his friend, "No reason at all she might want to gussie up a bit?"
Rick jumped a bit when the station wagon door, which had been holding on by a thread before Daryl tried to open it, hit the ground, "You got somethin' to say?" Daryl asked, a note of warning in his voice that was not lost on Rick.
"No, nothing at all." Rick tried to stifle and pulled a flat of bottled water, still in it's shrink wrap, out of the car. He tried to heft the bottles onto his shoulder when he noticed Daryl, serious and quiet, calmly aiming the crossbow right at him, "Hold on, hold on…"
Rick set the water down in the trunk without moving much from his current spot. He trusted Daryl not to shoot him, especially not over a joke, but he hadn't expected it to go far enough for Rick to find himself in Daryl's sights. Out of habit his hand reached for the gun on his hip and bolt whizzed past his head and lodged itself into the skull of a Walker.