A/N: This drabble-and in particular, the last line-was inspired by a conversation I had with the very talented Gone Random about her story, Kiss. It's set in the winter between season 2 & 3 and is meant to fit into existing canon. Implied Caryl because they're adorable.


I Can't Keep No Secrets


He's not worried about her exactly. He knows he doesn't have to be, been three hard months on the road since they lost the farm, and by now Carol's near as quick a shot as any of them. Handy with the knife he gave her, too.

Still.

There's something...more like an itch that's worked itself deep under his skin, this urge to take care of her and he's long since given up trying to figure out why. Just the way things are, he figures.

They're holed up in some farmhouse in the backcountry for a few days, the whole lot of them pinched with cold and hunger and none more so than Carol. She'd fed them all what she could, making the most of the meager supplies scavenged from a blood-splattered kitchen without complaint, but it doesn't escape his notice that she's serving an extra-spoonful off her own plate to Lori, whose rounded belly is poking out more every day and another to Carl who seems to have grown an inch this month alone. What's left ain't much and she's always been a little thing, but these days she's all angles, like a fledgling bird.

(Her eyes are still soft sometimes though, like when she catches his eye and offers him a slight smile, lips just curving up at the corners.)

Most of them are already bedded down for the night right there in the parlor where a small fire burns in the hearth. Rick stays long enough to see them settled before he takes off to walk the perimeter with a nod at Daryl. Carol is sitting on her sleeping bag with her arms wrapped tightly around her knees, just a few feet from where his own bedroll is set up. No surprise there, they're both more comfortable on the edge of the crowd and neither of them are going to sleep with an open door at their backs. More than once he's woken up to find her curled a little closer, unconsciously seeking warmth in the middle of the night, no doubt, and he finds he don't mind it much.

He drops down next to her, watching the firelight flicker against her face. She uncurls and looks up at him, and then there's that smile, the one he's maybe starting to think of as his. The thought ruffles him enough so that he jams his hand when he shoves into his pocket and he knows his voice is a little rougher than it needs to be.

"Here," he grunts, tossing the can into her lap like a hot potato. Tin of canned peaches, small, like you'd put in a kids lunch. He wonders if she used to pack them for Sophia, a little twist in his gut burning at the thought.

"What's this?" she runs a finger along it, clearly puzzled.

He huffs irritatedly. "There's the label right there, ain't no mystery meat. Found it in the back of the cupboard. Always feeding everyone else 'round here, time someone made you eat something yourself."

"I don't...," she protests.

"You do," he says firmly. "Now eat."

Her eyes are still down but he can see her smile widen and he relaxes a little, pleased to have pulled that reaction from her.

The sweet smell of fruit fills the air between them when she pulls the ring tab. She tips the can up, a peach slice glowing golden in the firelight when she catches it between her teeth, and his sharp ears pick up the tiniest sound of enjoyment when she swallows. Suddenly, the fire seems unpleasantly hot and his fingers are itching for his bow to check, or a gun to clean, or anything.

"Want some?" she offers, and he swallows hard himself and shakes his head.

He darts a sideways glance at her and starts worrying his lip between his teeth. Doorway's right in front of them and Rick probably could use another set of eyes on watch and fuck, he doesn't even know what he's still doing here, watching her eat those damn peaches.

As if to make a liar out of him, a sudden image flies in front of his eyes. Him, licking a drop of juice from the corner of her mouth and then chasing the flavor of it on her tongue until she's as breathless and desperate as he is.

Shit, shit, shit.

The twitching in his pants is confirmation that part of him at least has a few ideas. That don't mean he's gonna get it, any more than a starving man gets offered a free steak.

Only now she's finished the can and is swiping at her lips with one knuckle and leaning towards him, eyes soft and his heart starts thumping out a painful beat.

"Thank you," she says quietly, close enough for her breath to be felt along his cheek and then just as quickly as she advanced, she retreats, looking away and smoothing out the non-existent wrinkles on her sleeping bag.

He lurches to his feet, muttering a strangled 'you're welcome' and heads for the door to join Rick on watch. Fuck, he hopes there's something to kill out there.


A/N: Not so zen now, are we Daryl? Seriously, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it and I'd love feedback if you're so inclined.