First of all, these are NOT in chronological order.

Also, this is my first Walking Dead fic, and first time formatting a story this way, so please give me a little credit.

1.

Daryl Dixon is not one for children. They are loud, annoying, needy, and always oozing some sort of ooze. He did his best to stay away from them, except that didn't always work, since at the end of the world, there was two—one, in his group.

Carl wasn't so bad. He wanted to be taken more seriously by the group, and often went around asking if he could be taught skills by other members. On a better day, Daryl chuckled as he refused to teach Carl how to shoot his crossbow. The kid reminded him of himself, when he was young, just absolutely desperate to hold his own in a world that was out to kill you.

As for the other, Sophia, she was a little wallflower. Of course Daryl knew she existed, they just never spoke, and he barely saw her. Ed forbade her speaking to either of the Dixon brothers. Merle was an understandable ban, and Daryl didn't mind not having to babysit, but he still felt like people were confusing him for heartless instead of just a hard ass. Sophia, too, reminded him of himself, when he was coping with abuse and no escape. And then she had to run off, like the idiot child she was and get herself bit. Everyone knew it, but no one wanted to say it.

Why he looked so hard, he isn't sure. He said to Carol it was because no one looked for Merle, but Merle was a dick whom no one cared for. Did he do it because he was worried about Sophia? Did he do it for Carol? Did he actually only do it because he had nothing else to do?

He had no idea. But if Daryl Dixon was anything, sentimental was not it. He didn't care (too much) it just happened. Survival of the fittest.

At least, that's how he gets himself to sleep.

But it is harder for the rest of the group. Carol says she gave up a long time ago, but she still hurts. Carl lost his only friend, and shamelessly cries to his mother. Andrea can relate, having lost Amy, and the group in whole lost her. They are a family, and it is too small and weak to take any more hits.

In the days after the barn massacre, and the funeral, there was an air of solidarity and sadness. Nobody really knew what to do. Herschel wanted them gone, but he couldn't just throw them out, not like this.

Carl was never seen. Often out begging to be taken with a search party, he vanished. Daryl overheard Lori talking about how he was inside the house, learning what he could from Herschel, to take his mind off from her.

They really need to give that kid some credit.

Daryl, being the kindest hard ass around, decided to make Carl useful.

Grabbing his crossbow, he made his way into the house. Maggie pointed upstairs and found Carl studying Herschel's vet gear.

"Hey, kid. C'mere, let's go get us some squirrels." Herschel smiled and excused himself. Carl placed the things back in their places in his bag.

"No thanks, Daryl. I can clean them when you come back, though." The boy spoke soft and sad.

"Just get downstairs. Let's get you shooting this thing." He nudged the bow with his shoulder and Carl's eyes lit up. It's been awhile since he has smiled that large. Daryl rolled his eyes and turned to lead out of the room when he was pulled back by the tiny arms around his waist. His eyes bulged as he looked down to see Carl's hands clenched in a death grip, with his head pressing into the older man's back.

"Kid, g'off me." He tried to shake free but was held back by Carl's death-hug.

"Thank you. Thank you so much for looking for her. No one would let me go, but you were out every day and you brought back her doll and you helped me and carol and mom and everyone and thank you and I'm sorry Andrea shot you, but thank you anyway because she was my friend and thank you." By the end of his little tangent, Carl was in tears, but not really sobbing. More like sniffling into Daryl's shirt. Daryl huffed and pulled out from him. When he spun around, Carl was wiping his eyes with his hand and was gesturing out the door with his hands.

"I'm sorry, let's go." Carl pushed him out and downstairs. Daryl said nothing, and Carl rushed past him outside, tears gone and ready to finally get to use the weapon.

Neither ever brought it up again. Carl really does deserve more respect than he gets.