Disclaimer: I don't own AMC's The Walking Dead or any of its characters. Wishful thinking aside.

Warnings: This is my fill response to prompt posted on LJ at the TWD_Kink meme: "Daryl/Glenn massage: Daryl's had a really rough day hunting/killing Walkers, what have you and so Glenn offers to give him a back massage. Daryl being Daryl of course doesn't agree right away but Glenn is resistant and damn can he give a good massage. Bonus uno: UST. Bonus dos: Daryl being Daryl, saying stuff like, "Wanna do my nails next?" and things like that. Glenn just banters back 3 TRES TRES BONUS: Daryl releasing a very moan-y groan of pleasure."

Authors Note #1: *Rated for: adult language, adult situations, and Daryl generally being Daryl.

Gnarled

Chapter One

He'd learned two things during his life that he figured were worth passing on. First, always have a spare clip. And second, to never sass his Momma. And for a good two decades of his life, those had been the cardinal rules he'd lived by. …Or least variations of them.

After all, each one could be widely applied. In his opinion it was about as inherent as making sure to lock your doors at night or grabbing your wallet and keys before you left the house in the morning.

For example, in his youth, while Merle had been in and out of juvy, he'd taken to doing a few odd jobs for the neighbors. Mowing lawns, roofing, helping with the fall harvest, the usual types of jobs teenage boys tended to take on in backwater farming towns. But mostly, he ended up working for a younger couple about a mile or so past the old Douglas Crossroads.

And despite the fact that Merle had burned those bridges years ago, for some strange reason the Wilson's had taken a liking to him. And pretty soon he found himself walking that four and a half mile stretch every other Saturday morning for a good five years of his life.

He'd been quiet, but respectful as he'd done the work they'd paid him for. A few painted fences here, a fresh root cellar dug out there, even a few weeks helping them out come harvest time. Certainly nothing a lanky, hard-edged twat barely halfway through his teens couldn't handle, that's for damn sure.

It had been his first honest to god paying job, and he'd taken to it like a fish to water. At first it had been a thrill, maybe even an ego trip. Finally finding something he could do better than his older brother. Something that was his and that Merle couldn't mess up for him. But soon enough, it became far more than that, because despite having a whole brood of growing youngins' themselves, the pair had never failed to slip him a piece of cobbler, or a plate of homemade cookies to take home with him when he left. Pockets jingling happily with the few dollars he'd actually made as he pretended not to lean into Mrs. Wilson's affectionate touches and easy words.

Truth was he'd never really done it for the money.

To be honest, it was Mr. Wilson's easy laugh, and his wife's seemingly exhaustible ability to bake in bulk that had him coming back. He'd liked it there, more than that, he'd been happy there. They were normal, friendly, and happy. Everything a real family was supposed to be. Good, warm, right.

Christ. Even now, more than a decade later, the memory was enough to give him pause. It was a feeling that had stuck with him, despite the fact that it sometimes made him feel as though he was stuck in one of those smarmy Lifetime specials on the Women's network.

Mrs. Wilson had always been a smart cookie. Often taking to stopping by with her little ones when his Pa was off god knows where. Talking to him about any number of things until he was too busy trying to stutter his way through her gentle questions that he often didn't realize she'd gone and stocked the refrigerator and put on a load of laundry before she was halfway out the door again. Herding the kids in front of her like the god damned pied piper as she sing-songed a quick good bye over her thin little shoulder.

God, he'd loved that woman.

She'd been the kind of wife any man would have been proud to call their own. Tough as nails and a sassy little thing to boot, but with just enough softness to her that she could have had the meanest, most paranoid sonofabitch in the state all but eating out of her hand in less than five seconds flat.

As for his rule about always bringing a spare clip? Well, that held true to just about anything from car keys to crossbow bolts. Never have more than you need, but always have more than you can use. It was simple really. If Merle had taught him anything, it was to always be prepared for the next round of shit people were gunna fling at you. – And ironically enough, at least in that regard, his brother had rarely been proved wrong.

So sure, he'd stuck to those two rules like flies to a horse's ass.

Only now, he was seriously considering adding minding his own damn business to the list. Because if he had, he wouldn't be having to sit through the feeling of Glenn pressed up along the length of his back. All lean, lithe, and rangy. Forced to breathe in the tang of the kid's sweat slicked skin. And that burnt, acrid scent unique to that of raw fear and one too many close calls, a smell that was all but seeping from the kid's blood spattered pores.

But no... He had to go play the god damned hero. Christ. Next time the kid could go and save his own ass for a change. He was gettin' soft. All it had taken was one startled, horror stricken peep from the man and he'd been vaulting over the counter of the store they'd been raiding, ready to take on the fucking world.

Idgit…

Within minutes it had become apparent that they needed to regroup. He'd wanted to get the rest of the shit on the list and head back to camp. But Glenn had been insistent, going disturbingly pale whenever he caught sight of the mangled skin and avoiding his eyes to boot when he'd grabbed the nearest piece of clothing off the rack and tied it around the wound to staunch the worst of the bleeding.

So, considering Glenn's reaction, he'd backed down. Trying to ignore the way his skin had pulled and prickled, coated over in layer after layer of fresh blood as he soaked through the makeshift bandage in less than five minutes flat. Shoulder burning something fierce as they'd collected the rest of the supplies and took off to down the back ally of what he could only guess served as main street for this posh little piece of retirement paradise.

They ended up taking shelter in a hastily cleared house on the outskirts of town. Trailing blood and sweat down the debris strewn streets like confetti at a god damn parade. Dodging small groups of walkers, and burnt out car wrecks as they tip-toed through suburbia. Trying not to look to closely at the blood splattered windows and half open front doors that creaked; high pitched with rust and disuse in the soft summer wind.

But despite it all, they'd gotten lucky; too lucky. With practically no stiffs wandering around they'd had time to cover their tracks and pick the house that looked the least suspect. They'd even found a spare key taped to the inside of a drainage cap, half hidden in a snarl of over grown bushes near the front door. – All in all, if the world hadn't gone and ended on them, these people would have been what Merle would'a called 'easy marks.' And honestly, he couldn't disagree.

This was Georgia after all.

In short order they'd raided the cupboards and hit pay dirt. Stumbling over not only a fully stocked medicine cabinet, but a hidden cupboard in the den stuffed to the brim with all manner of fancy liquors and expensive vintages. Whoever had lived here hadn't just had expensive taste; they'd had the pocketbook to back it up. That's for damned sure.

Merle would have shit.

He'd told the kid not to waste the booze. After all, it wasn't everyday a man practically tripped over a bottle of Dalmore 64 Trinitas, and a special edition two-six of Russian Standard.

But hell if Glenn had listened, in fact the kid seemed dead set on ignoring him. It was either that, or he was pissed off. Because a moment later, without even a single word of warning, Glenn unscrewed the cap on the bottle of Vodka and doused the entire left side of his shoulder with the potent liquor. – Oh..

For a long moment he couldn't even breathe, let alone speak. Caught completely off guard by the way his nerve endings suddenly smouldered. Sending searing bolts of pain shooting down the length of his back like cars revving down on a race track. And for a long moment that pain was the only thing there was. There was no air, no light, nothing. Only the fire and the slow crush of a billion and one star bursts until his entire body sang out for the welcoming rush of unconsciousness.

One minute, two, maybe even three past him by unnoticed. But he'd forgotten how to count, deafened but the echoes of his own heart beat as his vision swam. The world paused, shuddered… - And then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the pain ceased, and the world came rushing back.

And he was certain, at least in that moment, that the air had never tasted so sweet.

Later, all he would remember about that moment, save for the blood and the flames, would be the startled quiver of the kid's skin pressing up against his own, and the jittery fingers that had curled around his forearms like that of an apology.

Either way, by the time he'd regained his tongue, he was too busy cursing inventively enough to make a sailor blush to worry about the god damn booze. - Mother fucking Christ, that'd stung!

Still, it just figures that the day he'd find himself in the possession of both would also coincide with the day he managed to snag the back of his left shoulder across a jut of exposed piping and start bleeding like a stuck pig. - Even he had to admit that he'd gotten himself pretty damn good. Hell, he'd known right away that the stitches couldn't wait. And despite looking a bit green, the kid hadn't wasted any time either. Pausing only to double check their temporary digs and spread their first aid kit across the house's large dining room table. Bandages and thread at the ready.

He'd downright refused to waste the Dalmore. That shit was sixty four years old, and one of only three bottles in the entire world according to what he'd heard Merle yack on about. By all accounts it was probably about as rare to see in this world as pigs were to fly. The Vodka was better for wounds anyway, no other crap in it to hinder its use as a disinfectant.

Either way, you really couldn't go wrong with a bottle of eighty proof.

The pinch-pull-tug of the suture pick pierced pointedly into his arm as the younger man neared the halfway mark. The rhythm turning harsh and decidedly chilly as a heavy silence stretched out between them. But save for a raised eyebrow, he refused to even so much as look at the kid. Determined not to give him the satisfaction of letting him know he'd noticed.

He could take care of himself for Christ sakes. He didn't need a fuckin' nursemaid.

But hell if he could figure out why he wasn't doing anything to stop it. Even he didn't have answers for the hundred and one reasons why he didn't just pull away and suffer the kid's glares while he patched his own self up.

The way the kid was tending to him was a whole other can of worms. Because even he had to admit that the passive aggressive force behind the way the man was dabbing at the wound was just a bit too hard to be considered friendly. Even for someone like him who was more than used to the rough and tumble treatment.

Oh, for fucks sakes, now what did he do?

The mere thought made raw anger and frustration burble in his gut. The kid was mad at him? What the hell? And for what? Saving his miserable hide?

Lord… And people called women complicated?

A/N: Please let me know what you think? Reviews and constructive critiquing are love!

Reference: Dalmore 64 Trinitas is a 64 year old single malt whiskey. It is a unique blend of multiple rare stocks of matured liquor. It is one of only three in existence today. The last bottle is available for public purchase at 100,000 euros starting price. (Yes really.)

"Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh." – Leonard Cohen