Title: A Safe Place To Fall
Author: untapdtreasure
Pairing: Carol & Daryl
Spoilers: Anything before Pretty Much Dead Already
Rated: K+
Summary: Carol can't sleep. She's drawn to the one person that makes her feel like she belongs. Daryl.
A/N: This is my very first The Walking Dead fanfiction so please, please be kind. I fell hard for this pairing, and I just had to get this down in print. Please read & review.

The tent that she used to share with her daughter felt colder tonight than it had at any other night. Maybe it was because it had been so long since she had held her close, smelled her smell. She closed her eyes, pulling the doll that Daryl had found close to her. She let her eyes close tight against tears. She could not do this. Not now.

She pushed herself up, pulling on her jacket. She had barely been eating and if anyone had paid close enough attention, they would see that her clothes hung loose on her frame now. Her hands shook as she pulled her jacket tight around her.

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She looked over at the Winnebago. She was not sure who was on duty then, but they had their back to her so she slipped off into the darkness toward the one person that brought her any sense of comfort.

Daryl.

His tent door was open. There was no doubt it was so he could make a quick exit if need be. She bit her lip, terrified of reaching back and pulling the tent door to the side so she could slip in.

"Going to stay out there all night or come inside?"

She nearly jumped out of her skin. She slipped inside, heart thundering wildly. "You scared me."

"You nearly got a bullet for your trouble." He was half sitting up, rubbing his face to get the last bit of sleep from it. His other hand replaced his revolver beside him. "Woman, you are quieter than most game."

She squatted down. "I couldn't sleep. And I thought that..."

He pulled back the unused sleeping bag and patted the pillow. "It's not the Ritz, but it's warm."

She slipped off her shoes and into the sleeping bag. Her body was turned toward him. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"Who really sleeps much anymore," he replied gruffly. Something about her calmed him. And that scared him. He started to get up. "I'll just go relieve Shane..."

Her hand shot out, stilling him. He always flinched when she touched him. "You need to rest. You're still healing..."

"I'll be fine," he assured her, almost shrugging her off. He felt her hand pull away like he had burned her. "Hey...you okay?"

She looked away as a tear slipped down her cheek. "I, uh, I just..." She bit the inside of her cheek hard enough to draw blood as she nodded. "I'm fine."

"Bullshit," he muttered as he laid back down. "I'll just stay until you fall asleep. Okay?"

Her voice was but a soft whisper, "Thank you, Daryl."

He glanced at her again. The moonlight slipping through the cracks between the tent cover and the net mesh roof of the tent. It illuminated her. Her cheeks still damp from her tears. He reached over without thought and wiped them away gently. "Hey..."

Their eyes met as her hand came up and covered his in a gentle squeeze. "Thank you..."

"It's nothing," he replied gruffly, pulling his hand away. He missed her in that moment more than he had ever missed anyone. "Go to sleep." He shifted closer to her, needing her close, but never letting on that he needed it.

"Good night," she whispered as her eyes became heavy with exhaustion. For the first time in a long time, she felt safe. His scent, his breath, his mere presence calmed something inside her and filled a part of her that she knew would never belong to anyone but him ever again.