Disclaimer: I do not own The Walking Dead in any way shape or form. If I did, it wouldn't be as awesome because I wouldn't be able to kill as many of the characters as they have. So it's probably for the best. But I do like to play in their sandbox.

Author's Note: It was probably 1 am last night when I realized I knew how I wanted to explain how I see their relationship, so I started writing and I passed out at 3 am, woke up and finished it. I've only read through it once so I might edit it later; but this is how I feel about what it means between these two characters and their relationship. I agree with Norman Reedus about how if they do go there, they shouldn't be making out against the wall as Walker's inch closer. They shouldn't be all about the physical lust. It's different. And I agree completely. They are older, Carol has been a mother, Daryl has been beat down just as much as Carol, and they are drawn together. Anyway, I'll stop babbling and you just get to writing. Hopefully I explained it well and its coherent. Enjoy~

~~~~~Neither Said a Word~~~~~

By: Melissa the Damgel

He took her hand one day. Nothing grandiose about the action and probably the furthest thing from feeling romantic, seeing as how they were covered in blood, Walker's crawling after them and their previous home burning behind them. Carol stopped in her tracks, her fingers gripping his desperately as his eyes flicked to hers then away, staring after the group ahead of them. He didn't talk, she knew he wouldn't even if she asked him, and Daryl shrugged instead. He tugged on her hand, coaxing her feet to move through the dirt, heat, and humidity of a Georgian summer and she followed, gazing upon him.

She reached out for his wrist, curling her free hand around it and his jaw flinched but he didn't pull away from her. He just kept walking, guiding her through the forest. Blood dried and grew sticky upon their bodies, their backpacks heavy with what little belongings they had escaped with, and smelling none to pretty after the war. Yet they were alive. Most of them. Especially him and her.

Daryl's grip tightened on her fingers and Carol returned a squeeze of her own, her cheeks warming from this-what was it? They had always been friends, a relationship of acquaintances and comrades. They bantered, teased, pushed one another to try harder. She had learned to fight, Daryl had stepped up and become the man she had told him he was even when he didn't believe her. She had toughened up and blossomed, he had softened even as his prowess sharpened.

Carol held his warm hand awkwardly as they walked, her fingers shaking against his sweaty palm. They fled with who remained of their family and there at the end of the procession, they traveled hand in hand.

That had been weeks ago and Daryl nodded to her as she joined him, his hand reached out to touch the back of her bare neck, just a faint touch and squeeze before he dropped his hand, his eyes never pausing from their continued sweep across the open streets in the dead of night with nothing but a harvest moon as their light.

Never talking, he never explained his reasons. Daryl touched her, kept her close, and sat beside her willingly around the campfires within camp. He even began bedding down beside her at night. Daryl always had begun made it a point to help, no matter how small. The other night he had simply dried the dishes she washed. Several days before that, Daryl had offered his hand to help her down as she stepped out of the cab of the truck. Day before that he practically yanked her heavy bag out of her hands and thrust his much lighter one at her, stalking off with a grumble as he shouldered her heavy pack.

Carol reached out for him then, the chill of the nights growing more sharp and crisp against their skin and seeping into their lungs with each breath. Winter approached nightly, and frost threatened to collect on the windows of their vehicles tonight. Carol touches the edge of his vest, gripping the edge of it, eyes staring up at his face. His brow twitched, his lips thinned, but he again didn't say a thing, didn't pull away, didn't grunt in annoyance. The typical Daryl response to normal human interaction was always violent; except with her and as of late.

Her chest tightened, fluttering butterflies within her belly warmed her just as swiftly as a bonfire might have. Carol knew somewhere inside exactly what this was, yet it all seemed far too-too simple.

Daryl turned his head away quickly to the side then he looked back out in front of him then away and his hand raised to swipe at his brow and Carol moved closer, a single step on quiet, and cold, toes, and Daryl touched her arm.

They weren't children. They weren't young. Glenn and Maggie were young and felt everything so acute that they acted upon their desires and clung to each other. That wasn't them though, not in the same physical way that the young; and in love; couple felt their needs. It was so very different for them.

Carol smiled, cheeks warm. He squeezed her elbow and she touched his wrist, pulling back at the curt nod he gave her. She turned to leave, the last remaining crickets of the summer chirping a fall lullaby within the pale depths of a pale moon serenade.

"Carol." Daryl turned and she paused, looking over her shoulder at him, her body turning to face him as he dropped his eyes, shifting from foot to foot.

Reaching out to him, one hand on his wrist, the other touching his cheek, Carol leaned forward, kissing his temple, just below the faint scar that reminded her of just how much of a good, decent man he was, as well as possibly the most stubborn son of a bitch she had ever met who tried so hard to keep others' expectations of him as low as possible while holding himself to a higher standard. He never had fooled her.

He grunted and she smiled, small and delicate as the first sign of annoyance Daryl had actively shown in so long. Carol squeezed his wrist and Daryl glanced at her, a little startled, but his cheeks flushed and he huffed, shrugging his shoulders several times, fidgeting in place, and adjusting his crossbow on his shoulder.

She left then, leaving him atop the truck and moving back into the cab at the back where she had set up her bedroll several weeks back and Daryl had silently moved his beside hers not three minutes later, not daring to look at her as he threw his pack of clothing down near the far end, dumped his bedding before he grunted something about going hunting and had left, leaving her transfixed and startled, yet not about to question anything as she rearranged the back to hold supplies and weapons and other necessities in case they where separated, and yet give them plenty of room to comfortably sleep. That night, she hadn't felt so secure in such a long time.

Crawling into the back, Carol changed into her night clothing and then crawled into her sleeping bag. When Daryl's shift ended several hours later, she awoke to a rush of cold air on her face as he opened the back and crawled in after her, crossbow resting atop a box that doubled as a table. He huffed and grunted, sounding like an animal as he moved about in the small space, changing, tossing his clothes in an orderly pile at the foot of his sleeping bag.

She sat up, tilting her head with a yawn.

"Sorry." He mumbled, but his own voice was so tired and he released a heavy sigh the second he laid back on his bedding and pulled the sleeping bag over him.

Carol touched him then, his shoulder, her cheeks blazing hot in the dark. "Don't worry yourself. I wasn't really sleeping well anyway." She touched his cheek, inching closer.

Daryl turned his head, just watching her as best he could. And it was that simple. They met in the middle, rising up and and leaning down at the same time and Carol and he kissed. Gentle and sure, closed mouthed, a press of lips, slow and tender. Daryl did cup the back of her head, sitting up from his blankets to roll toward her, his thumb rubbing circles along her spine. Carol pulled back and he hovered over her. She laid back and Daryl settled an arm to the left of her head, staring down at her and she saw the pale moon's light reflect in his warm eyes.

They kissed again, her arms sliding around his shoulders, his hand touching her jawline and then down under the blankets to her hip. When the kiss ceased as Daryl pulled away, they moved together in tandem. Daryl tugged his sleeping back over as Carol unzipped hers. Within seconds they had combined the two, zipping them together and piled their blankets atop, pulled their padding close and he slid an arm about her waist, his nose nuzzling into her neck beneath the blankets and Carol hugged his arm, turning her head just enough to press her cheek to his brow and she sighed, eyes closing and they drifted to sleep, much more comfortable and warm than they had been in weeks.

Nothing really changed between them, it was normal, it was the same as always, except he would squeeze her elbow or she would take his wrist in her small fingers before he left for a hunt or to scout ahead at Rick's request. She cooked, he hunted; she did their laundry, he helped her fold it if he got back in time-and Carol promptly ordered him to go do something else as she refolded his half of the laundry. They moved together like water, smooth and only swirling around one another in a mess when the occasional rocks surprised them in their path. They argued, they teased, they were in the moment, not thinking of the past, and at night, as they bedded down, he would kiss her and she him, his hand would touch her hip and she would roll onto her side, her back to him or face to face, it didn't matter because he dragged her close to him, his arm about her middle and his nose brushing against her temple, and Carol gripped his bicep, holding him in place, and they slept.

The night it was more was the same night the group; which had hidden away deep in the woods, covering their vehicles in branches and leaves as another group of survivors who had been following them, past on the road nearly two weeks back, armed to the teeth and hard as nails; had decided they would start figuring out plans to move out and find shelter for the approaching winter. They were safe now, there wasn't any question in that at this point after Daryl's four day trek out into the woods to follow them had proven they had passed right by and headed South. Daryl had been back for hours, Glenn was on watch and Daryl lay awake beside her, his fingers smoothing the skin along her hip. An inch of skin and he had found it.

"You should sleep." She whispered, her skin tingling where he touched and she trailed her nails along the back of his wrist and up his arm.

"Can't." He mumbled back against her neck.

Carol twisted in his arms, his hand touching the small of her back and Daryl inhaled deeply, lifting his head to look at her. Carol tilted her head, her hand pressing to a cool cheek and just like that, they moved together and they kissed. They rolled and she ended up beneath him, her knees parting, his hand cupping the lower half of her ribs. It was deliberate and meticulous. No frenzied movements, no desperate sounds as they struggled to undress. Carol laughed as she shivered as her shirt was pushed up and over her head, dropping it to her left. They wiggled out of pants, his lips kissing along her shoulder gently even as she whispered to him to not forget it was his turn to help her make breakfast.

"Eggs. I'd kill for some bacon."

"I wish we could figure out how to preserve the meat you catch. It would be nice to learn how to salt it or turn it into jerky." She said, head leaned back, his kisses traveled along her collarbone and down between her exposed breasts.

"Could maybe find a book." He said, dipping his head against the hollow of her throat, his back bowing as he pressed himself against her, sliding his erection against the apex of her legs and she inhaled sharply, her cheeks flushing red. "Or with winter, we could try and find a place to stay, dig a root cellar before the ground gets too hard." Daryl huffed and Carol's nail's gripped at his shoulders.

"Mmm, I would like that, a real house for a while." She gasped, her hips lifted, pushing against him, and then she touched his cheek, kissed the corner of his mouth and nodded. He opened his mouth and she shook her head, again kissing the side of his lips. "I tied my tubes after Sophia." it was all she needed to say and then his arm slid under her head, his lips kissing hers, and Carol gasped against his mouth as they joined together; his hard flesh pressing into her and rubbing so wonderfully in places that had been both abused as well as ignored over the last fifteen years due to her ex-husband. This moment, both strange and pleasant all at once and she happily opened further to him, a sense of adventure and curiosity swelling within just as Daryl was physically. He shattered previous experience and left her grasping for more of this exotic thing of honest pleasure, though neither demanded more. Sure and slow movements. It was perfect.

Daryl fumbled at first, his face going red as he tried to figure out exactly what needed to be done. Years of drunken one-night stands weren't the most ideal of training grounds. Carol rolled them over, a hand on his chest and the other holding his wrist that gripped at her hip and she moved, guiding him around the curves and bumps, showing him, leading him gently through the first half. He always had learned fast and soon enough they panted, soft and breathy, small gasps and squeaks escaping Carol's throat as Daryl rolled them again, stroking her body inside and out, stoking the fires within them both, burning them alive while at the same time, every touch settled deliberately against a curve of flesh or gripped a length of muscle that slowed their movements, lingering in the limbo of pure ecstasy and simple barbaric rutting. There was purpose, questions within the touches, lips pressing to skin and wave after wave washed over them both.

Carol's toes curled, her head swam and stars fired across her eyes as Daryl's hips thrust. Every push and pull, every hiss and breathy gasp said so much and as her head tipped back and her mouth opened in a silent cry, her insides fluttered and gripped Daryl, fingers digging into his back, her knees rising and her head lifted then slammed back into the bedding with a moan as she released, writhing under him. Daryl grunted and hid his face against her throat, his hips picking up the pace, her tight insides tugging on him and with a stutter in his pace and a strangled curse with cheeks red from holding his breath, he found his release, a hand cupping the side of her face. A groan rose out of him and Daryl slowed his thrusts to a stroke and then to faint wiggles till Carol's body collapsed under him and he followed, laying atop her, her fingers twitching against his back.

It felt like years; ten wonderful years of laying there together; before Daryl spoke, small, hushed words that fluttered over her throat with every breath. "When we go into town, I'll see about finding what you need." He whispered, his voice small and husky, one arm forcing himself to lift off of her.

Carol huffed in annoyance and slid her arms about his shoulders, pulling him back down and sliding her fingers into his hair to hold him in place. "I'll write a list. We're almost out of toilet paper."

Daryl snorted at that and shifted so he was only half laying atop her, one hand cupping the side of her breast and he traced the curve it made against her chest. "Hell, if there is any left out there."

Closing her eyes, turning her head toward his shoulder and sighing contently, Carol gave a small shrug, barely noticeable unless he hadn't been right there to feel her arm move against his. "We'll manage if not."

He grunted and moved about once again, rearranging himself against her till they were comfortable her back to his chest and his warm wrapped about her waist, holding her securely against him. "Hey, what you said earlier-"

"A few months after Sophia was born, I had to go back in for surgery. One of my fallopian tubes became inflamed and infected, and..." she sighed, her fingers gripping at Daryl's wrist. "and Ed didn't get better after the baby was born. I had hoped maybe-" she inhaled slowly, "-anyway, I didn't want to do that to another child, so as they were preparing the surgery, I asked the doctor if he could tie them off. Afterward I found out the inflammation was worse than they expected. In the process, they had to remove one of my ovaries along with the infection. I'm effectively sterile. Nothing in this new world would be able to undo it."

Daryl grunted against her neck and she smiled closing her eyes again and allowed the touch of skin to skin to soak into her. Yet, reality set in and she sighed. "We should get dressed."

"Ya should have left him a long time ago, Carol." Daryl breathed, dipping his head and touching his nose to her shoulder. "You were a good mom. You should have had a dozen of them trailing behind you."

She smiled, eyes heating up. "Maybe not a dozen..."

He snorted and she sat up, finding her shirt first and struggling into it. Daryl followed her lead and struggled back into his clothing. Once settled and once again covered, Carol leaned into him, her hand touching his cheek and she kissed his lips, short, sweet, and a simple kiss before she laid back down, her hand resting on his shoulder. "Goodnight, Daryl."

Daryl laid still, the moonlight catching in her hair and making her glow silver and white, the dancing light across her features just bright enough for him to see her smile, and his cheeks burned hot. He wasn't supposed to have wanted this. Yet here he was and all he could think about was never letting anything happen to her and needing to take care of her just as she took care of him. The differences seemed significant at first glance-he physically protected her, led her out of danger. He provided fresh venison, did runs into towns for some of the stupid shit she constantly seemed to need and yet; that stupid shit was what kept his belly full at night, or eased his aches and pains after a particularly hard day, and she was the one who kept him healthy. She cooked and cleaned and it seemed menial, but without her, his life would be ten times harder. The way he figured, he had the easier jobs.

"Night." he grunted and he swore he could feel her smile against him, her fingers curling against his shoulder.

Daryl reached up then, taking her hand and pressing it against his chest, gripping her small fingers as if needing to make sure she wasn't about to disappear on him.

Carol sat up a little, never pulling her hand away and she she settled herself against his side, his other arm wrapping about her shoulders, gripping her close, and she hummed against him, relaxing into him, finally contouring herself to Daryl Dixon just as he had apparently done over the course of the last two years.

Nothing big and romantic, nothing subtle or seductive about whatever it as they were. It was just natural. It was an easy choice. They complimented each other as well as appeared a matching set; like a cream and sugar bowl. Inherently they were different looking, but together they performed the same function when mixed together and combined within the bitter and boiling mix of life and coffee.

They would never look at what they have and just need each other in a raw, lustful sort of way like what Glenn and Maggie had, nor would they ever be the sort to hide it and sneak notes and gifts. It just was. If he felt like taking her hand, he would. If his bullheaded ego demanded she take charge, she would. If they looked at each other and just seemed to know what the other was saying, that was simply something they could do. He would never get down on one knee, and she would never expect him to. It was as if they didn't need to go through that, they didn't need the roller-coaster of emotions associated with old world concepts of romance and dating. Even love was now only a concept that the old world before the Walkers had defined by very strict terms.

Neither knew if love was the right word, yet both also knew it wasn't something to rule out. It just was with them. Daryl took her hand that day because he knew he couldn't lose her. Carol kissed him that night because she knew he was a good man and she would never do better than him, even if she lived a thousand more years and the world wasn't going to hell, he was exactly who she needed at her side, and he knew she just was who he needed because the first time he thought she had died, it had broken something inside him. He couldn't lose her.

They just fit.

The next day, as the group brought back supplies from their run, Carol greeted them, a smile on her face. "Looks like you did well."

"It did. We found a good bit on that list and then some." Rick nodded, taking the plate from her hand, already reaching for the fork. Glenn eagerly took his and Maggie right behind him. Andrea thanked her, telling her of a small Ma and Pa convenience store crawling with walkers and their plans to clear it out because if they were lucky, and first impressions were right, there was a fair amount of canned food still stalked on the shelves, let alone what might be hidden away in the stock rooms.

Daryl grunted as she offered him a plate and he took hold of it. He didn't pull it away just yet because he leaned into her, wrapped his free arm about her shoulders, pressed his lips against her hair then turned away, moving to take a seat before anyone even had time to notice. It was brief, less than a greeting and yet this was Daryl Dixon and it meant so much more.

Carol smiled as she stirred the pot, ladling another plate for the next in line. It felt good. It felt solid. Nothing grandiose, but nothing insignificant either. They just were. It wasn't romantic and it wasn't as if they expected anything more from the other than what they already were. It was natural and that night, as she washed the plates and forks and listened to the first chirps of evening song birds with the light fading behind the horizon with trees haloed in the golden light, Daryl joined her and stood next to her and dried the dishes she handed him; and neither said a word.

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed it. I'd love to hear what everyone has to say about this idea I have as to the evolution of their relationship. Don't get me wrong, I adore reading the stories where they jump each other and it's passionate and for the first time they both feel good and so on and so forth...but I guess I just feel like they needed something different, a different perspective as to how they could eventually end up. Something slow; something that just happened. Something that doesn't feel wrong at all. Natural.

:) so let me know! I love getting reviews~ I thrive on them. thanks for reading!