Everyone is writing how Daryl goes back for her, finds her, and proceeds to jump her, including me. So, here. He doesn't find her.
"You wanna live or not?"
The voice echoes through Andrea's head and she doesn't know why. Waking up with Daryl's voice in her head is a normal thing as of late. After three months away from the original group she had been apart of, she was having flashbacks. But only of the people she had really cared about. Glenn, Dale, and Daryl. Dale, she knows was dead. But what about Glenn, her little brother? What about Daryl, the strong man who had cared enough to talk to her?
After the woods, she travels with Michonne. From time to time, they come across survivors. Gradually, their group builds up into one that's about fifteen strong. This is Andrea's new life, her third life. There's no drama in this group, no hatred. Only support and care. These new people know only a little about Amy and know almost nothing about her near suicide. She's alone, but she isn't. Everyday she strengthens a friendship or forms a bond. She still misses parts of her second life though. She loves these people, all of them, but she can't help but want her old friends back. Robin reminds her of Glenn, asking for relationship advice. The fatherly way that Barry has puts her in mind of Dale. Janie's humour makes her think of T-Dog.
These new people could never take the places of her old friends from her second life, they simply help fill the void.
Andrea sits up and climbs out of her sleeping bag into the chilly morning air. She stretches and exits her tent. She sees Barry by the fire, stirring a pot of coffee. That's another thing she likes about this third life group. Everything is shared equally. Exspecially chores. Every person gets to decide what they do, as long as they do work. It isn't strictly "men do the work, women do the chores". She's able to protect the group without someone saying she shouldn't have a gun. The people who are unable to weild a weapon respect those who can, no matter the gender.
"Morning, Andrea," Barry says. He's a bit of a large man, with a friendly face and dark brown hair.
"Good morning," she replies. She sits by the fire and splays her fingers before it to warm them.
"Good night's rest?"
She nods then yawns. They're both silent as they sit and stare at the flames. They're far enough south that there's little to no snow, only cold rain, and even that's rare. After a few minutes, once her hands are warm, she rubs the sleep from her eyes, returns to her tent, changes, and steps out again.
"Has Corey gone to check the peremeter?" she asks. They're lucky to live here. It's almost ten miles of walled in land. No one knows what is was used for, but are thankful it exists. The walls are tall and thick. No walker could get through them. It's an amazing place to live in, safe and plentiful. They can wash in streams, fish in the two lakes that are nearby. They can even hunt, albeit sparingly.
"About ten minutes ago," he replies.
"Well, has anyone gone to the streams? Or the exits?"
Barry places a cup of coffee in her hands and makes her sit by the fire. "Everything is taken care of. We're fine. Relax."
She sighs and takes a sip of coffee. It warms her through the inside and wakes her up. They had found a lot of the caffeinated drink when looting a Tim Hortens. Janie emerges from her tent which she shares with Corey. She's a small woman with short brunette hair and striking green eyes. She's also seven months pregnant. She sees Andrea and Barry and smiles. "Good morning! Sorry I slept late. I would've made the coffee."
Barry gives her a friendly smile and shrugs. "It's fine. A pregnant woman needs some more rest than the rest of us."
Janie sits besides Andrea and shudders when she sees the blonde sip some of the coffee. "I don't know how you can drink that. It's disgusting. I prefer tea."
Andrea opens her mouth to reply on how Amy liked tea better too, but Robin approaches from the woods. He's a young man, no more than nineteen. He's got brown hair and dark eyes. He's out of breath from the run in. "Corey and Jack found someone on the outside. They brought him to the halfway." The halfway is a small shed that is used to house the newest survivors until they get better. Most arrive sickly or injured.
Andrea stands. "I'll go help. Here, have some coffee." She shoves her half empty mug into his hands and begins to jog down the trail to the halfway. She reaches it and sees Corey standing outside. He's a handsome man, broad shoulders, blue eyes and a scar from his collarbone to the underside of his jaw.
Jack comes out of the shed. He looks like a serious man. The laugh lines are barely dicernable next to his eyes. He's got graying hair and light blue eyes. Before the end of the world, he had been a doctor. "Yes. Can you get the vitamins from my tent? And food."
"Is the man alright?" She asks. She's been learning from Jack. Before deciding on going to college to be a lawyer, she had been pre-med. If anything ever happens to Jack, she'll take over.
"Just over exhausted. Looks like he's been running for awhile. I don't think he's had food either. He's also got some scrapes and a lot of bruises," Jack says.
"I'll be right back." She runs faster back to the tents and gets the vitamins and the food. She also grabs her extra water bottle, thinking this new survivor would need to be rehydrated. She returns to the halfway. Corey's just inside the door now. Andrea goes inside, looks at the man on the cot and freezes. All at once, she shoves what she has in her hands into Corey's and falls to her knees besides the cot and places her hand on the side of the barely concious man's face. "Daryl."
He looks at her and squeezes his eyes shut. "I... Died..." He mutters. "You... Died back at the farm..."
"No, Daryl, we're both alive. I didn't die," she whispers but he's slipped into unconciousness. Andrea looks back at the two men behind her. They're a little confused, but they've seen similar reunions. "I'll stay with him tonight." They nod. "He was with my old group..." she explains. "He's one of my friends."
Corey can see that this man on the cot means a lot to her. "I'll go get some of your blankets so it's easier."
Andrea goes to say thanks but Jack cuts her off. "It might be better if we move him to the tents."
She speaks instantly. "Then he can stay in mine. At... At least until he wakes up."
Jack agrees. "Corey and I will go get the stretcher. Try to wake him up and get him to drink. Or eat, if he has the strength." The two men leave her alone with Daryl.
She pulls over the folding chair from the corner. It's seat is right at level with the highest part of the cot. She shakes his shoulder gently. "Daryl... You have to wake up."
He barely moves, but opens his eyes. "But you're dead..." he whispers. She holds her water bottle to his lips and has him drink. He takes as much as he can before coughing. She pulls the bottle away.
"I'm not dead... I'm right here."
"But they said... Rick said he saw..." Daryl takes a breath, looking at her face and past it all at once. "... Said he saw your body."
"I'm alive, Daryl. I've got a pulse. You're alive too. You're going to be fine. You've got to eat something." She puts a peice of fish jerky to his lips, but he doesn't have the strength to chew it. So she does what Janie had to do for Corey the day he had got that scar. It's the closest anyone can get to a feeding tube at a hospital. She bites off a chunk of the fish and chews it thoroughly. She leans foreward, pressing their mouths together and pushing the food past his lips. He swallows and she holds the bottle of water to his lips again.
"Rick lied..." he mutters after drinking, a faint anger in his voice, his eyes slipping closed.
Andrea nods, taking a shakey breath and taking his hand. "Rick lied."
Andrea pulls her own blanket up over Daryl. He's asleep again. He was able to swallow vitamins before succumbing to the uncomfortable unconciousness. He's in her tent and she can hardly beleive that he's alive. There's a stillness outside as she sits on a log, looking over the fire at her tent, waiting for any sign of movement from within. Michonne sits next to her. "That the guy you were telling me about?"
Andrea had told Michonne some stories when they had traveled alone. Stories from her life, her old group. Everything. Daryl had been one of them. "Yeah..." Andrea sighs and looks down at the fire. "The great Daryl Dixon. Best hunter and tracker alive."
Michonne smiles at her best friend. "He's back in your life."
"And I'm damned thankful. He's probably one of the best men I've ever met." She sighs again. "He thought I was dead."
Michonne's eyebrows raise. "Well, you're not."
"Unless we're all dead and this is some sort of... Purgatory."
This earns a small chuckle from Andrea. "That's... Morbid, Michonne. And sad."
The african-american shrugs. "It's possible."
"But Janie's pregnant. Are purgatories allowed to have pregnant women?"
Michonne shrugs again. "Either way, you've still got an injured man in your tent. And, either way, you still care about him." Andrea tilts her head down in agreement. Michonne stands and pats her friend on the back. "Get me your water bottle. I'll refill it so you don't have to go far from your tent." Andrea does so and watches Michonne walk away.
She moves back to her tent, slipping inside and looking at him. He's still asleep, lying on his back. She had put his crossbow(which had miraculously made it with him) leaning against the fabric tent wall. She pushs a stray lock of hair back from his face. He feels a bit feverish.
"Here," Michonne's voice comes as she pokes her head inside the tent and hands the blonde the water bottle. "How's he doing?"
"He's a bit warm, but he'll be fine."
"Good. Just call me if you need help." She disappears again.
Andrea pulls a tanktop from the bag that sits in the corner of the tent. It's a thin thing that works perfect as a clothe to go on his head. She pours a bit of the water that she had just received onto the shirt. She then folds the wet fabric and places it on his forehead.
The blonde leans foreward and kisses his cheek. "You're going to be fine."
Later that night, Andrea curls up in the corner of her tent, jacket pulled tight around her body. There's about a foot in between them. He shifts and mumbles something she can't decipher. She reaches over and gives his hand a quick squeeze.
When she wakes in the morning, it's early. He's sleeping peacefully, lying on his side. She smiles and sits up. His eyes open when she does and looks up at her. She quickly moves to his side. "How are you feeling?" she murmurs.
He turns on his back. "... Tired." He's completely lucid now, nothing like the day prior. His voice sounds broken and dry. His face is emotionless, if not, a bit sad.
"What about hungry?" she asks. He nods slightly and she leaves the tent for a moment, returning with some dried meat in her hand. "Here..." He slow in taking it, barely having the strength.
"Thanks..." he mumbles. She hands him her water bottle and he drinks from it as well. After he finishes, there's a short silence that he breaks. "Where are we?" His voice is no longer quite as dry but his voice is
She shrugs. "I haven't kept track. A nature preserve somewhere in the lower part of the US. The ocean is close. Twenty miles at most."
He nods slowly. "How'd I get here?"
"Corey and Jack brought you in." She takes his hand. He looks down at the connection. He had thought she was dead for months now. But now she's alive and breathing and holding his hand. And he's angry. He had been told she was dead, devoured by walkers. And now that he knows she's alive, he wishes he could give a few choice words to Rick. "Do you want to go outside?" He nods and she holds a hand out to help him up. She opens the tent and guides him out. He's much thinner than the last time she saw him. Not exactly emaciated. Just skinnier.
Corey's awake and by the fire. The sun's only just risen. Andrea guides Daryl to the fire and sits with him. "Corey, this is Daryl. Daryl, Corey," she introduces.
"Good to meet you, man," Corey says, extending a hand for Daryl to shake, which he does.
"Same." Daryl looks away and then back. "You the guy that brought me here?" Corey shakes his head yes slowly. "Gotta say thanks."
Corey shrugs. "Jack's the one that saw you. I just helped him bring you inside the walls."
There's silence again and Andrea goes to refill the water bottle Daryl had emptied. She returns and hands it to him. He thanks her and sips from it. The thirst and hunger he felt when he woke has subsided. He examines her from the corner of his eye, pretending to stare at the fire. She seems relaxed, more than he's ever seen her be before. She'd almost seem happy if it weren't for the worried look on her face. Corey, feeling awkward, returned to his tent where Janie was asleep. Daryl's thankful for that and thinks that he might actually like Corey once he gets to know him.
The huntsman turns to Andrea and frowns. "I though you were dead..." He shakes his head. "Glenn and I got 'em t' go back for ya', but... Rick went alone t' search. He told us that he saw your body gettin' gnawed by a couple a' walkers. Told me that he putta bullet in your brain!" Daryl sighs angrily. "I ain't... I ain't happy that-"
She takes his hand and murmurs, "It's fine." And just like that, it is. He feels better and she knows they at least looked for her.
He squeezes her hand and she smiles. "I'll have to introduce you to everyone else soon," she mentions. "They usually wake up around now."
He nods. " 'Kay."
She very cautiously puts her arms around him and hugs. He returns it slowly. "Shit, Daryl... What happened to you?" She mumbles, referring both to his attitude and his physique.
He shrugs as he pulls away. "Dunno."
"You need to start eating again. Couldn't've been good for you out there like this."
"I did start eatin'. You gave me food when I woke up."
"I know," she replies. "I'm just worried about you. You look like you've been to hell and back."
"Well, hell started after the farm. Or maybe right at it. I ain't really sure. Stayed that way for a long time, though." He pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. "But you guys look like ya' got something good here. 'M glad you fell in with people like this."
She nods. "Michonne saved me in the woods around the farm. She's the only reason I made it this far. I'll introduce you two when she gets up." Andrea looks around at the various tents and realizes she should show him around. "Feeling up to a tour?"
He nods. "Yeah. Guess so."
She stands and helps him up. With some help, he's able to make it. She starts by leading him to the stream. "We usually get cooking water and drinking water from here. There's another stream out a ways where we bathe." Then she shows him the shed that was built to hold all the supplies they gathered. "We've been planning on building houses, but we have to be able to clear spots first. And find timber. We'll probably start out with log cabins first." He listens to her hopeful tone of voice and can't help but let the corner of his mouth twitch up. She's got that look on her face and that sound in her voice that makes him feel like everything will be okay. "We cook here." She points at a crudely made stove oven as well as a tripod over a fire.
She reminds him of a child who has finally been allowed her best friend to come over to play. Her eyes are lighting up and he can't help but keep the smile on his face when hers is so big. It's as if her emotions were so overwhelming to her that they were able to wash out and touch him too.
"We're a little low on living space, shelter wise, but you can stay in my tent until we can find you one."
She stops and looks back at him. "You okay?"
" 'M fine. Just a bit tired."
"It's going to be a few days before you get your strength back up."
"Andrea!" a voice says. She turns to see a child with a smile on his face. He has dark brown hair and mocha colored skin. One of his top front teeth is missing. Daryl guesses he's six or seven, eight at most. Andrea has been acting as a sort of babysitter to the child but a friend at the same time since she arrived.
"Hey, Aren. You're up early." Andrea states, smiling back at the child.
"I wanted t' see if you'd take me fishin' again. M' mama says it's okay, long as you're with me." The boy waits for her answer.
She shrugs. "Sorry, bud. I've got to show my friend here around. He just got here."
Daryl shrugs too. "I can go with ya'."
She looks at him now. "You think you can?"
"Made it this far, didn' I? Fishin' ain't gonna kill me."
She smiles at him and then returns her gaze to the boy. "Looks like we'll need to get some fishing poles."
"Yes!" Aren exclaims, running off to where they're kept.
There are five fishing poles leaning against the shed food is stored in. Andrea hands a medium one to Daryl. "Think you can handle that one?"
" 'Course I can, blondie."
She smiles again and hands the second shortest to Aren, taking the longest for herself. She grins at the child and says "I bet I can find more worms than you!" Aren laughs and imediately starts searching under rocks. She follows suit and Daryl joins in. Eventually, Aren is declared the winner with seventeen worms and Andrea's and Daryl's total count together only going up to thirteen. "I think we've got enough. Let's head to the big lake. We'll need more room with four of us fishing."
They walk on, Aren carrying the bucket with the worms while Daryl finds himself struggling to keep up. He feels better than he did the previous day, but still isn't back to how he was four months earlier when Andrea was lost in the woods and he was bitter about it. He manages to get there though and finds that there's a canoe, just big enough for the three of them, sitting on the edge of the lake.
Andrea hands him her fishing pole and flips the canoe over and pushes it to the edge of the water, front facing outward. "You first, Daryl," she says as she docks it. "And you sit in the middle, Aren." The two boys get in and she takes the back seat and pushes off. Once they reach the middle, she takes her fishing pole back from Daryl. "You remember how to cast, right, Aren?"
The boy nods enthusiastically, quickly puts a worm on his hook and casts. It's a good cast that goes out to the shady part of the water where a tree leans over. "How's that?" he asks.
"Great!" Andrea follows with another cast of her own that ends up far from the boat, closer to the deeper part of the lake. She's got weights on the thing so it promptly sinks to where the fish are. "Your turn, Daryl."
He casts and admits it's not his best. It lands in a sunnier part of the water where fish are less likely to be, even though it's morning. She laughs at him, and he just rolls his eyes. "It's been awhile since I fished, tha's all."
Aren is the first to reel in a fish. It's of decent size and Andrea tells him it's a black crappie. Fine to eat, they keep it. The next to bring one in is Andrea. It's a large catfish that she can't wait to fry up. It could feed three, maybe more. There's a long spell until Aren catches two more in quick succesion. Daryl recasts in a different spot, but still has no luck.
"C'mon, Daryl. I've heard you brag before about being good at fishing. Where's the skill?" Andrea kids.
He shrugs. "Maybe I left it behind. Dunno where."
An hour later, they've used up most of their worms and their stomachs are starting to growl. "You boys ready to pack up and head back? We've got, what, ten good sized fish?" She smirks and says, "No thanks to you, Daryl."
He rolls his eyes again and reels in as Andrea starts to row back to shore. Suddenly, he's got one on the line and it's fighting. "I got one." He states it calmly, more focused on the reel than them knowing. Aren leans over the side of the boat and watches the creature grow closer.
"Whoa. Is that a snake?" He asks.
Andrea looks at it and shakes her head. "Nope. It's an elver. A freshwater eel."
Daryl grunts and yanks the thing into the air. It lands in the boat at his feet. He unhooks it and tosses it into the bucket with the fish. "We goin' back, or what?"
Andrea laughs and Aren starts to prod at the mysterious new animal in with the fish. It's long, ink black and smooth. "We can eat it, right?"
"Yeah. I've had eel before. It's actually pretty good," the blonde informs the boy.
"Can we share it?" he asks, looking up at the woman rowing back to shore.
"I guess that'd be Daryl's choice. He's the one that caught it."
Aren looks at the man and waits. Daryl shrugs. "Yeah, we can share it. Don't see why not."
Later that night, Andrea makes Daryl go lie down when he starts falling asleep by the camp fire. They ate a good dinner of fish. The ten fish and eel fed all sixteen people in camp without left overs. Daryl was introduced to everyone there and thanked Jack for 'saving his ass' as he put it.
Andrea goes into the tent later, after she thinks he's asleep and curls up in the corner as she had the night before. She jumps as a hand grabs her arm. "I don't wanna take your bed from ya'. At least get under the blankets." She doesn't resist as he pulls her over to the big nest of blankets she had made up. He lays an arm just above her hips and lets his head rest on her stomach. She combs through his hair gently until the pair fall asleep.
A few days later, Daryl's back to full strength and asks Andrea to go hunting with him. She's done it before back when they were under Rick's authority. She accepts and they head deep into the woods. They're two miles away from camp when they've got at least five squirrels and a couple of rabbits.
He stops, just looking at her. She tilts her head in confusion. "What is it?" She subconciously takes a step back and ends up against a tree. He steps closer to her, placing the crossbow back on his shoulder.
He sets his hands on her waist and presses his cheek to hers. She breaths deeply, inhaling his familiar scent. Eventually, his presses his lips to the side of her neck. They stay there, unmoving for a few moments. "I'm sorry..." He whispers. "I shoulda made Rick prove he saw you dead. Shoulda went to see the body m'self..."
She shrugs. "It's okay, Daryl. None of it was your fault."
He kisses her neck once more, sending shivers down her spine. She pulls his chin up so she can assault his lips. It's something she's wanted to do for awhile. His mouth is warm and has the perfect amount of roughness behind the kiss. The kiss becomes deep and last for minutes until they pull away breathless. But then their lips meet again, more frantic this time until all they can see or feel is each other. His hands wander and so do hers. She elicits a low moan from him when her hand snakes down the front of his pants.
It's after a particularly sad dream that she asks about the others. He waits a few minutes to reply. He's lying on his back, an arm around her shoulders. He stares at the ceiling and finally answers. "I can tell ya' who didn't make it. 'Less you don't wanna know."
She takes a shakey breath. "I want to know."
He waits another minute. "Lori got shot. And, uh, Beth got bit by a walker a little after that. Lost Rick and Hershal after that. Not sure what happened t' them... Carol opted out." He paused again. "I ended up here 'cause of a horde swarming our over night camp. I, uh... Saw T-Dog go down. Not sure about Glenn or Maggie or Carl."
She squeezes his hand and moves closer to him. Tears don't fall, but the silence is enough to convey the sorrow. She's happy he made it though, happy Jack and Corey decided to risk bringing him inside.
Knowing the fate of the others gives her a sort of piece of mind. She's able to continue on with memories held inside.
More days pass and Daryl's surprised at how little any problems surface. He feels liberated without the weight of the judgement others passed on him on his shoulders. His relationship with Andrea is something the others know about, but no one has issue with. All are happy for them and see it as a little more hope for the future. They aren't open with the relationship, he and Andrea. They tend to keep everything more private, be it a kiss or holding hands.
A month or so after Daryl's arrival, Janie goes into labor. Andrea stays up with Jack, Aren's mother, and a few of the others in order to help deliver the child. It's early in the morning when a child's cry rings out over the camp. Andrea's the one that hands the newborn to an exhausted Janie. "It's a girl..." she says.
Janie smiles and takes her baby. Corey is right beside her, looking at the child with her. Andrea steps back and retires to her tent, allowing the parents their peace.
Daryl's sitting up when she goes in the tent. "Hey, doll. Everything go alright with Janie?"
Andrea nods. "Yeah. The baby's adorable. They're so lucky to have each other, that family." Daryl pulls her against his chest and they fall back. She cuddles up to him, something he's gotten used to. "... Would you want to have a baby with me?" She whispers the question quietly so he barely hears it.
He shrugs. "If you want one. I'm not the one that has to force it outta my body. I think it's your choice, not mine."
"But do you want one? And a straight answer, if you don't mind."
He hesitates. "... Yeah. Guess I do."
She smiles and kisses him. "We'll have to work on that, then."
She shrugs now, still smiling. "Only if you want."
Finally finished this. I ran outta the ability to write anything after finishing my essay for English. Twenty pages and torturous. But I'm posting this now, and I have two other story ideas. One is another that takes place after the finale. The other is an AU story.
With Corey, in this, I'll admit I based his face and name off of Corey Taylor. That man is a lyrical genious.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Reviews are very much loved.