Coming hot from my mind, another Andrea/Daryl fic! We need a name for these two. I've yet to find a name… unlike Carol and Daryl, who're Caryl. Anyway, this is set season one and I'm sure everyone will know exactly what episode I took it from. Enjoy and review!

Andrea looked horrible. Here they were in the most brilliantly walker-free place in the world and she was not taking any of it in. Daryl could see it. She tried to fit in, tried to smile like the rest of them at their good fortune, tried to thank the CDC dude Jenner. But he saw through her simply because that's how Ma had looked and he knew that look. He saw the look of emptiness in her wandering, vacant eyes, the strange way her smile wasn't really her smile, the way she seemed out of it at dinner, only laughing—half-heartedly—when the others did.

He hadn't meant to, but he'd caught himself looking at the door to the showers waiting for her to come out. He caught his stomach twisting in something like jealousy as Dale went in to take a shower. He knew Dale would find her. Should've been him, but he didn't have the guts to. He didn't want to see her like that, but he didn't have to goddamn guts to help her.

Dammit.

Andrea came out in Dale's arms looking lost and broken. She was shivering like it was cold but the hall was a nice, even temperature. Neither looked at him as they passed; she didn't even pretend to put on a façade.

'Fuck women,' Daryl thought sourly as he trudged back to his room, taking a swig of the alcohol he held in his hand. But while his mind had thought that, his heart adamantly disagreed. He was not Merle. He'd grown to like the women of this group. He paced his room, too lavish for him, and took another swig of drink. The white walls crushed him; the bed was made up too nice; the dresser didn't have a speck of dust on it. He felt a yearning to get out. The woods were more a home for him than this place. 'Cept he liked the alcohol. Woods didn't have quite as much alcohol.

He didn't pace long. Daryl was a man who did things; he could not wait for things to happen to him. He stalked past the showers, located conveniently in the center of the apartment-like rooms, to her room. Dale had left Andrea alone, curled up on her bed in a fetal position facing the wall. He knocked on the door with his bottle, looked down at it dumbly for a second and set it on the table next to the door.

Andrea didn't answer, probably hadn't even heard the knock.

He stepped in anyway. The walls in this room didn't seem half as constricting as when he was alone.

"Andrea. Uh…" Daryl realized he didn't have anything to say. Well, what the fuck was he supposed to say? 'I'm sorry your sister is dead; I lost my idiot bastard brother but he's still alive so I can hope but you can't'? What a douche he was.

The blond woman acknowledged his silence with a slight shift of her body. She looked so helpless. That made him angry for some reason, like she shouldn't be so badly hurt, but he couldn't help. What the hell could he do for her that Dale hadn't already tried to do? Hell, he didn't even know how to talk to women much less one who'd just lost her sister. He just knew that he felt her pain. He just knew that he'd lost Merle and Merle might as well be dead, too.

He shifted his feet, longing for the bottle he'd set down, fidgeting with his hands. Andrea let out a soft sound, like a sob almost, and Daryl remembered Ma again. He remembered what he'd done for Ma. And now he strode forward, sure in his step now, and sat on the side of her bed.

"Was bad… uh… that your sister died." He murmured, looking at the blank wall.

"Why are you here." Her voice was muffled but he could tell that what she'd said wasn't a question. It was a statement and it meant she wanted him gone.

He shrugged and felt the bed move under his weight. "Dunno. You looked like… uh, like you needed—"

"Company?" She snapped, sitting up quickly. He turned to look at her and saw her face lined with fresh tear streaks, her icy blue eyes hard. Like they were ice. And they were trying to freeze him to death. "I don't need company. I told Dale that, too."

The hell she didn't need company. "Well I ain't leavin'."

They stared each other down for a bit or so before she sighed and fell apart. He saw it and he didn't think he'd ever unsee it. Her shoulders slumped, she turned inward, fresh tears tried to overflow, and she looked destroyed. Just like Ma. He could tell she was trying not to cry. Not in front of him.

"I keep… I can't sleep." Andrea muttered finally. "She's in my dreams. I dream that she's alive and I have hope. And then I wake up…" She took a shaky breath, "When I wake up I know she's gone." And then, softer as if to herself: "Why am I telling you this?"

She sounded utterly lost. He became aware of her looking at him again; he'd shifted his eyes back to the wall but now he forced himself to look at her. Hollow, lifeless eyes stared back. They'd been daggers only minutes prior. It was devastating to see Andrea, a woman he'd known to be strong for her sister, fall apart. Because she had been strong for her sister, he supposed, not for anyone else. He realized she was waiting for him to speak, to say something. Well damn. He wasn't the inspirational speaker, Rick was. He struggled to think of something, anything, to say to her.

"Do you miss your brother?" She asked, probably knowing he had nothing to say, seeing the lost expression on his face.

"Sometimes, but he ain't dead and we're better without him." Daryl answered, knowing that to be the truth as soon as he'd said it. "But I, uh, but I know how you feel. A bit. Cuz Merle's not dead but, uh…"

"Amy is." Andrea said, finishing what he couldn't say. She looked at him for a moment. "Why'd you come? Why do you care?"

Feeling his temper rise, he tried to quell it. Wouldn't be any use to yell at her when she could break so easily. Like Ma. "You gotta know we're lookin' out for you." He said. She looked skeptical, but apparently his look was enough to keep her shut up. "We all're going through what you're going through."

Me 'specially.

"I promised her I'd keep her safe." Andrea muttered, lowering her eyes. Dejected.

"And Merle promised he'd kill you all in your sleep." Daryl countered, glaring. "Thing is, nothin' happens as it should. Wasn't your fault. Anyone could have been bitten. I heard she just came out of the RV. We thought the camp was safe. Nowhere is safe—"

"Exactly. Nowhere." Andrea interjected.

"Shut up, woman. I wasn't done." Daryl, growled. When she looked at him with something akin to surprise, something lighting up dimly in her eyes that wasn't hopelessness, he continued. "Nowhere is safe except with the group. Didn't know it then. Not with Merle. Merle wanted to go off; Merle did go off. He stole our truck, but he didn't go back to the camp. The git. Was an accident, what happened. We lost people, lost your sister, but don't you see?"

"See what?" Andrea asked with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

"We're stronger, Andrea. We work together, we're a family." Daryl couldn't believe he was saying that. Couldn't believe he was actually making sense.

Andrea was quiet for a long moment before fixating on him. "Daryl, I can't believe I'm telling you this. But you can't tell anyone else."

Daryl blinked. The fuck? He didn't know if he was a good secret-keeper, but Andrea had already started talking again. "I'm not leaving the CDC."

"The fuck you talking about, woman?" He asked as he tried to keep confusion from spoiling his voice.

"I'm not going to. You saw him… Jenner. He's got nothing left. I've got nothing left. I think he's going to die here, Daryl. I'm not going back out there. I am going to die here with him." Andrea said and that strange piercing gaze of hers was back. Her lips were set firmly. She had made up her mind. There was nothing he could do that would change it.

"S'your life." He answered simply with a shrug. When she furrowed her brows, he continued angrily, "What? You want me to sugar-coat it like the old man? Say 'Andrea, you can't die 'cuz you're part of the group'? 'Andrea, just 'cuz your sister died doesn't mean you get to die, too'? 'Andrea, you don't get to have a say in your life'? If you were looking for someone to talk you outta it, you're sorely mistaken. Try Rick. I hear he's great at getting people to listen."

He glared at her for so long his facial muscles began to ache. She just looked at him blankly, like Ma did those last days. Finally, she gave a half-hearted smile, "Didn't expect you to. Try to convince me, I mean."

"Then why the hell'd you get mad at me?" Daryl countered.

"I wasn't mad." Andrea's voice was light. "I just didn't expect you to… you mean it, don't you?"

Daryl shrugged and looked at the ceiling, not meeting Andrea's eyes. "You said you lived only for your sister. If there ain't nothin' else you can find to live for, hell if I can stop you."

He felt the obvious shift in how she was sitting. He didn't need to see her to understand what she was doing. She leaned in and placed her head on his shoulder. He wasn't surprised—he'd seen movies, he'd seen what women did—but he didn't exactly know what to do. Finally, awkwardly, he drew her inward, into his chest—he was wearing a clean shirt and since he'd showered his skin smelled faintly like that rose-y soap crap the showers had—and she allowed him to hold her close.

She smelled good. He couldn't help but smell her. Her hair smelled remarkably not-roseish. It smelled good and he had to resist from dropping his head and inhaling fully. As he wrapped his arms around her, he couldn't help but feel her soft skin. He felt bad, too. She was so alive, so real, and he couldn't imagine her looking like Ma did, a cold, mass of flesh no longer anyone, just a husk. Dead. He wanted to hold her tighter, tell her that dammit she could live through this shit, but he'd already told her he wouldn't go Dale on her.

Finally, she pulled away. She tried a smile, but it was about as dull as her eyes. "Thanks. Means a lot to me."

'You mean a lot to me,' Daryl thought but could not voice his opinions. Instead, he said, "You were hurting." He paused. "I, uh, won't tell no one. I gotta go."

He got up before the need to push her blond hair behind her ears got too strong, before he thought too hard about not kissing her so he would kiss her. He left the room, glancing behind him as he did. She was looking at him but not quite at him. He left the bottle of liquor in her room. Maybe she needed it where she was going. Besides, he had another bottle stashed away, anyway.

- - - - - - - - DARYL - - - - - - - -

He wasn't surprised that the damn clock meant that this whole place was a ticking time-bomb. He wasn't surprised that Jenner meant what he said when he said that no one would go back out. He tried anyway, but opening the door with an axe wasn't exactly the best way. Finally, Jenner saw that they wanted to live and let them go, but the door to the outside was locked, too. Well, they were still going to die.

He noticed Andrea wasn't with them. He noticed Dale wasn't with them. Leave it to the old man to help the blond chick. Hell, if he didn't value his life so much, he'd be with them, too. If he didn't think Merle was still somehow alive, he'd be with them, too. If he didn't have a greater commitment to Rick, he'd be with them, too. It hurt him to think that Andrea was going to die because she'd lost her family. But people didn't think the same. Daryl didn't want to die, Andrea did. To each his own.

Rick blasted an escape route with a handy grenade Carol produced from her purse and they scrambled to safety. He hit a couple walkers in their hasty retreat, making sure his group was safe. Not like Ma; he couldn't help Ma, couldn't keep her safe. He ran as quickly as he could to his truck, high-tailing it, waiting for the explosion. Rick was suddenly honking his horn and he looked up, looked up to see her, her and Dale, running toward the RV.

"You lucky bitch." He murmured, his heart jumping lightly. Then the CDC blew up. He looked up, huffing, and spotted her being helped up by Dale. She looked traumatized. But she got into the RV. He started the engine of his truck.

Later she would tell him thank you for believing in her. Later she would hug him and he would hug her back, completely at ease now that he knew she was safe. Later he would tell her that she'd decided what would happen with her own life and she would look at him with understanding. Later he would think about how close she'd come to death… but he wouldn't dwell on it. But for now he was just one in a long line of cars… his group… and Daryl couldn't help but glance in the rearview mirror, knowing just how close to death she, and he, had come.