Since we first come out walking, looking for a way back in
From this crazy world where we're blowing like leaves in the wind
Just tryin' to make sense of this life any way that we can
And foolin' ourselves with the ways of man
The snow days had come and gone, but the weather was still bitterly cold. The group stayed on alert best they could so as not to lose their fighting gumption. They still figured The Governor would wait until after winter, but there was no telling for sure.
A reminder of the impending threat came one day when Rick and Merle were trading watches upstairs. After the bullet that grazed Macyn's shoulder, they had started trading shifts on the stairs that carried them in and out of the shelter. Both men hurried back up the stairs, leaving the door open behind them. Carol, at the bottom of the stairs, rolled her eyes and was going to remind them to be careful about keeping the door shut until she saw Rick carrying Andrea's limp body back into the house.
Merle shut the door behind them; a watch was probably most important right now but it would have to wait. They were all carefully locked into the shelter, and that would have to suffice for now. Rick rushed Andrea into the medical room, all the while yelling for Macyn.
"Everybody out, except Carol and Beth," Macyn ordered. "Ladies, I need to fully examine her."
That was all she had to say. Beth closed the door, and Carol got out the instruments she knew Macyn would need. Carol was now well-versed in helping Macyn, and Beth was learning, having taken Lori's place as the second helper after Lori's delivery.
"I'm not bit," Andrea mumbled out. "Not bit."
"I believe you, but you're going to have to let us decide that for sure," Macyn told her. "Lay still and rest. We'll take good care of you."
But the full examination did prove that Andrea had no walker bites or scratches. She was beaten all to hell. No bones were broken though, so after some rest and careful observation, she would make a full recovery.
"We'll keep an eye on her but I think she'll be okay," Macyn told the group. They were all sitting at the dining table, something they had taken to doing in order to make decisions together. There was an understanding that while majority would usually rule, Macyn or Rick had the last say. The only one who agreed but not happily was, of course, Merle. While he felt better about his brother's relationship with Macyn, he still disagreed with her decisions from time to time. This was one of them. At least he was trying to be civil about it, and Macyn didn't want to punch him again.
"She came from Woodbury," Merle posited. "She left us to go there. What kind of set-up is this?"
"Ever the skeptic," Macyn muttered under her breath. "But look what they did to her. I think they're using her as an example."
"Example of what?" Merle asked.
"That they hold loyalty to no one," Carol piped up. "She left us for them and they still beat her and dropped her back here."
"Or is it because she sided with us when you guys came for me?" Daryl suggested. "When y'all came to get me, she told that asshole to let us go. I think the example they're trying to set is that anyone on our side will end up at least like Andrea, if not worse. At any rate, I think we can't trust her. She left. She can't stay here."
Macyn looked at Daryl, completely at a loss. They usually saw things the same way; it was the first time he had really disagreed with her.
Macyn shook her head. "I won't put her out in this condition, if at all."
"When you took us in, it was because we had nothing," Hershel spoke up. "Sounds to me like Andrea had something and she left it when she found something new. Family doesn't leave each other, no matter what."
"But what about when they came back? It's the family thing to do to not to let them back in when they're at the bottom with nowhere to go?"
Rick sighed. "I have to side with the majority on this one, but we can't put her out like that. She's not to be trusted. I have to think of my wife and kids here, Macyn. I say we let her recover, then send her on her way."
They took a vote, and the majority won out. Andrea would be allowed to recover in the shelter, and then she would be sent on her way again. Macyn didn't like the idea of putting somebody out at all, but was grateful they would at least let Andrea re-gain her health. She nodded and gave each one of her family members an understanding glance – except for Daryl, who got an angry glare from his girlfriend. Letting out a deep breath, he made to follow her but was stopped by their bedroom door slamming in his face.
"Come on, Macyn," he pleaded. "We was bound to disagree at some point."
His only reply to that was the sound of the doorknob being locked.
Daryl sighed and banged his head on the door before looking over to the common area not far away. Although everyone had been listening, they suddenly remembered other things they had to do in the kitchen. Daryl rolled his eyes, knowing that would put the group out of sight but not out of earshot. Fishing a shiny gold object out of his pocket, he threw his head back and spoke to the ceiling.
"You realize if we got married your name would be Macyn Dixon?"
The entire shelter grew silent. The knob unlocked, but the door remained shut, so Daryl continued.
"You know, that line that separates –"
The door swung open, and Macyn jabbed an angry finger into Daryl's chest. "I know what the Mason-Dixon line is, you idiot! I grew up in the South. What is this business you're talking about getting married?"
Feeling old-fashioned but knowing it was the kind of thing Macyn would want, Daryl got down on one knee and presented the ring to her.
"I know this is your mom's ring, but it's all we got. Figured it would mean more to you that way. Told you once before but it's just as true today – you make my life worth livin'. We're not always going to agree, but I don't care. At the end of the day, fighting or not, I want to be sleepin' next to you. Even if it means I wake up to you angry the next day, at least I'll be wakin' up to you. So, will you marry me?"
Macyn, still trying to be angry with him, threw her hands up in the air. "In case you missed it, Daryl Dixon, we're in the middle of the world coming to a fucking end. Who would marry us?"
"Well, I'm no expert but if I'm doing Judith's baptism, I'm sure I could put a wedding ceremony together." Hershel made his comment; Macyn and Daryl turned to see the whole group now watching them intently.
Daryl turned back to Macyn. "I have a feelin' any objections you have, they'll have an answer. What'll be, Macyn Ballard? You gonna marry me or not?"
Macyn's scowl slowly faded away. She went from angry to seemingly unsure; she looked over at the group – at her family – and received all encouraging looks. With one more look towards Daryl, she finally broke out in a grin.
"Okay," she said softly.
Daryl couldn't remember ever being happier. He pushed the ring onto her finger and stood to kiss her. There were cheers and hugs all around, until Macyn excused herself to go check on Andrea. Carol followed her, closing the door to the medical room.
"You okay?" Carol asked.
Macyn nodded. "Just overwhelmed. Never thought it would be like this – especially with the world the way it is."
Carol stopped her and hugged her – not just a congratulatory hug, a real hug. Macyn hugged Carol back with tears in her eyes.
"It's all going to be okay," Carol promised. "You're going to be happy, and you and Daryl are going to live for a long time."
"Are we presumptuous … that's not the right word." Macyn paused, trying to think of the right word. "Are we arrogant to do this? Judith's baptism, me and Daryl getting married. Isn't that kind of a flippin' the bird to the world right now?"
Carol gave her a hopeful smile. "No, I don't think it's arrogant. It's hopeful. The world has to balance out someday. I think by doing these things, we're just helping things along."
Macyn's worried expression once again became a smile. "You're right. Thank you, Carol."
They finished with Andrea, then left the room. There was planning to do.
"Why today?" Macyn asked, interlacing her fingers with Daryl's where she was snuggled with him in their bed. "What made you decide to do that today?"
Daryl shrugged. "Spur of the moment, I guess."
"No. You had the ring in your pocket. You planned that."
Daryl groaned; he was defeated. "I know it'd be dangerous, but I wanted to take you out to the woods – where we met. Ask you there."
"That's sweet, but it don't answer my question."
"All right, all right." Daryl let out a deep breath. "I've had that ring in my pocket for a week, Macyn. I was just chicken, I guess. Was waitin' for one of us to die or something – never had this much good at once. Didn't want to ruin it. Then I remembered the last time we was apart, when we thought that would be easier. I don't care if I'm only married to you for a day. I want you to be my wife."
Macyn smiled and snuggled closer to him. "We're really going to be all right, ain't we?"
Daryl kissed her forehead and lazily dragged his fingers through her hair. He wasn't so sure about that, but he figured his job now more than ever was to help Macyn stay positive.
"Yeah, darlin'. We are goin' to be just fine."
Their wedding came first. The group as a whole – or, rather, as a family – decided that both ceremonies should take place on the first day it was warm and safe enough to go down to the pond. Heavily armed and careful to lock up the shelter, they all trekked outside, enjoying the feel of the Spring sun on their faces. Of course, down here, it went straight from Winter to Spring, without much of a medium in between. They had all dressed in the best clothes they could rummage or had left from leaving all the places they had called home.
Because Macyn was so close with Carl as it was, and had a strong hand in Judith's safe arrival in the world, Rick and Lori had asked Macyn and Daryl to be Judith's godparents. Once that was decided, Macyn insisted they wrap things up with Judith's baptism. Daryl had eyed her curiously.
"I know it's old-fashioned and maybe silly," she shrugged. "But if we are going to be named godparents, maybe we could at least be married first."
Daryl had chuckled, but hugged Macyn to his chest just the same. Maybe they had known each other for a while now, but he was still learning little details about her all the time.
Macyn had carefully washed her hair the night before, wrapping it with rags so it would curl pretty like she liked it. Daryl always complained that he didn't get to see her hair down often enough, so today she wanted to make sure she looked like a woman, not just a survivor. She put on a long coral sundress that she hadn't put on since before the outbreak. She found a pair of prettier boots she had held onto and slipped her feet into those.
"You look beautiful," Carol breathed, coming into Macyn's room. She and Lori brought a bundle of pretty wildflowers for Macyn to carry. "That dress is perfect on you."
Macyn nodded. "Thank you. It's easier to keep pretty things when you're holed up down here." She fastened her mother's necklace around her neck and let out a deep breath. "I have a surprise for you ladies."
Lori and Carol frowned with puzzlement as Macyn went to her closet, dug out a box, and pulled a copious amount of tissue paper out. She gathered a few items in her hands, then turned to display them to the women.
"We'll get Maggie and Beth, too, so they can share. I don't think Willy knew I kept these, but today is a good day to dip into these, I think."
The women were ecstatic in a way only women could be over items like these. The men announced they were leaving down to the pond – so that Daryl wouldn't see Macyn before the wedding – so Lori and Carol motioned for Maggie and Beth to hurry into the room.
"We'll be there soon!" Lori assured.
Beth set Judith, already dressed in the pretty christening gown with the pink ribbon, down on the floor of the bedroom with some toys and came to look at what the other women were in awe over. Her face glowed and her mouth stretched out into a pretty grin.
"Make-up? You've got make-up?" she squealed.
Macyn nodded. There was no foundation or powder, but she had three colors of eye shadow, an eyeliner pencil, and two colors of lipstick.
"Figured I'd want to be a lady at some point during all of this," Macyn laughed.
They all agreed, earnestly reaching for pieces of makeup or helping each other apply the make-up. Today just got better and better.
The whole thing went off without any interruption from walkers or Woodbury. After Judith was baptized, they all cheered and carefully trekked back to the shelter. After Rick and Merle staked things out, they called the all-clear and everyone went back to their living area for another feast, quilted together with whatever treats they could dig up from the food pantry.
Later that night, Macyn and Daryl found themselves tangled up in each other in their bed. Macyn's chest heaved as she examined her mother's wedding set on left ring finger.
"I just can't believe it's real," she grinned.
"I can't believe how beautiful you looked today. I mean, I can believe it, I just … that dress, and those boots … your hair … the makeup." Daryl kissed her sweetly. "You were more beautiful than I could have imagined any bride being."
"You noticed the makeup?" Macyn smiled.
"I noticed," Daryl promised. "Hey, I have something for you."
"What is it?"
Daryl got out of the bed, went to his belongings and came back with a large piece of paper, which he handed to her. "This."
Macyn studied the paper. It was the back of a worn out map, it looked like. There were several headings: Days since Home; Days Since Atlanta; Prison. Macyn knew about all those places; Daryl had told her one night when neither of them could sleep. He'd left home with Merle, found the others and made camp just outside of Atlanta, and, for a while, they stayed in a prison, until it was overrun. The last heading though, was the one that made her smile. Macyn Ballard. She mentally counted the marks under her name.
"You've been here for a year," she surmised. "This is the closest thing to a calendar we have. Are you sure you want me to have this?"
"Macyn, this is my past. You asked me once what I did before things went …" he trailed off, trying to find the words she had used.
"Pear-shaped," Macyn supplied.
"Right," Daryl nodded. "I just tried to survive, even before all this shit. I said once that it didn't matter before you and I still hold to that. But this is how I passed the days once we had to leave home. When I look back on the things I did before you – you've got my future now, and it looks so much brighter than anything I've ever done. I want you to have my past, too."
It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to her, even before Willy Slater turned mean. For that, she rolled over and kissed him for the millionth time, savoring every second of having his skin against hers.
A/N: I know this is all kind of silly for a zombie apocalypse, but they always have so much going on that's negative, I figured these characters could use some happy moments. So, forgive the fluff, please. Thanks for reading!