A/N: And here we are at long last, my little chickadees, the end of the story. :D
I can't believe I've been writing this story for so long! I just checked and I started in early January. That's crazy! LOL For what was originally only going to be a couple of chapters, this story certainly has evolved. I've had a ball exploring the dynamics of Caryl and everyone else in this story, so thank you one and all for joining me in that.
I'm heading off for a week with work but when I get back, I'm planning on posting the two parter prequel to this story, 'The Jonah', so keep an eye out for that one won't you?
So, thank you one last time and let's end with a little bit of fluff after all that I've put you through. Please enjoy...
"We're all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you've been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there's no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. And it isn't until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems—the ones that make you truly who you are—that we're ready to find a lifelong mate. Only then do you finally know what you're looking for. You're looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person—someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, "This is the problem I want to have."
I will find that special person who is wrong for me in just the right way.
Let our scars fall in love."
Carol could feel his eyes on her. She could always feel his eyes on her. She gave no outward sign of knowing he was there though. Carol continued to stand under the stream of warm water coming from the shower head and didn't turn around. Life had set into as easy a rhythm as living in a post-apocalyptic world could as she'd slowly continued to heal. It was twelve days since she'd been shot and Carol was finally getting to enjoy the simple pleasure of a shower, rather than just washing herself down with a damp cloth. Her wound had healed enough that water couldn't get in and Carol was taking full advantage of it. She closed her eyes as she put her head under the stream of water and just enjoyed the sensation of feeling properly clean again. At least she would be once she got to work with that soap. Carol reached out blindly for the bar of soap she knew was sitting on the ledge behind her but couldn't find it. Pulling her head out of the shower stream, she blinked the water out of her eyes and looked around. Immediately she spied Daryl standing at the edge of the shower now, having come into the room. He held the soap in his hand. Carol smiled. "I think you've got something I want," she teased him. Things had been so wonderful between them these last couple of weeks. They'd just reverted back to an ease between them that warmed Carol from the inside out. Daryl was someone she could laugh, cry and whisper secrets with. He was her best friend and Carol never felt so safe and content as when Daryl was with her.
Physical intimacy beyond a few stolen kisses had been impossible for them so far, because of her injuries. Truth be told, Carol knew she still wasn't up to anything along those lines at the moment, even though she wasn't sure that was what Daryl wanted anyway. It surprised her how little that bothered her, not knowing. After their talk where Carol had reassured Daryl that they could just make this up as they went along, things had been very comfortable between them. She didn't know if Daryl wanted to continue the sexual aspect of their relationship and that didn't worry Carol at all. They were so much more than just sex. Their intimacy didn't start and stop with a physical act and Carol relished that. There was no expectation from either side, so, if it happened, it happened. Carol knew Daryl enjoyed kissing her, having become more than proficient in that simple little intimacy but this was the first time things had moved past that in watching her shower. Mind you, nothing had happened so far but Carol was standing their completely naked and Daryl wasn't exactly looking away.
Daryl didn't answer her loaded question, just gave the barest of smiles instead. He inclined his head for her to come closer and Carol did just that, stepping out of the cascade of water. The fully clothed Daryl reached out the hand holding the soap and wet the bar under the shower, then he was gently turning Carol around. She couldn't help but give a contented sigh at the first touch of the soap to her skin. Daryl worked the bar of soap methodically over her body, along her shoulders, down the sweep of her back and the back of Carol's legs. Still crouched down behind her, Daryl gently turned her around, so that she was facing him now. Daryl's hand with the soap slid up the front of legs and then higher. He was at her hips when he blushed a little, flicking an uncertain look up at Carol, as though asking for permission to continue. Carol found Daryl's blushes to be the sexiest thing she'd ever seen. She took his hand and guided it over the apex of her thighs, holding his gaze. He slowly straightened up, the soap gliding over her stomach and being very careful to keep away from her wounded side.
Daryl stared at the slowly healing wound and then lifted his head to capture her gaze. "You're gonna have a bad scar," he said quietly.
Carol glanced down at her side and lifted one shoulder. "It's not the first, I doubt it'll be the last," she said easily. They both knew the truth of that statement.
Daryl reached out with his hand and very tenderly traced down one side of the damaged flesh. "That was the last thing Merle did in this world and it's on your body."
Carol blinked in surprised, immediately recalling how she'd commented on the scar in Daryl's side from the time he'd found Sophia's doll. A little tremor ran through her body at the fact they both had such an important part of each other's history seared into their flesh. Carol cupped his face with her hand. "I know," she said simply.
Daryl covered her hand with his own and they shared a look of understanding between them. He then gently moved Carol gently backwards, so she was under the falling water from the shower head again. Daryl stayed close and was immediately soaked in the spray as well.
"Another bath," she whispered, lips twitching with tender amusement. "This is becomin' a habit even if-"
"I know," he rasped, staring down at her intently. "I'm doin' it wrong."
Carol knew Daryl was referencing the fact that he was still fully clothed and getting completely drenched but she gave a little shake of her head. "No," she said huskily, "you're doin' it perfectly, trust me."
A shy smile came to Daryl's lips as Carol lifted one arm and put it around his neck. She couldn't lift her other arm because of her still healing ribs but Daryl slipped his arm around her good side and drew her closer, the water coursing over the both of them. Daryl bent his head, capturing her lips with his own and Carol smiled into his kiss, delighting in his slowly growing confidence with her. She knew Daryl was never going to be big on romantic displays and words but if they could continue to have moments like these, she definitely didn't need them. Just before she lost herself in his kisses, Carol couldn't help but think about all the things which had brought them to this point in their lives. All the pain and suffering, all the horrors they'd both endure and Carol found herself not begrudging those hardships. Their brokenness only made these moments all the sweeter. There was no guarantee for the future, but truth be told, there never had been. The here and the now was all Carol needed with Daryl by her side.
Tomorrow could take care of itself...