The bright sun shined through a deceptive crack in a set of smoke stained curtains. Morning came fast than anyone wanted, signaling it was another day of work. The squeaky coils of a mattress disturbed the silence of a small bedroom, making the man who lied in it groan with displeasure. He hated the bed and cursed to himself mentally, threatening to light the noisy mattress on fire. Not to mention the annoying sunlight poking him pupil's under his eyelid.
Like a schoolboy, he tossed his sheet over his face and rolled over towards the bedroom door, tightening his eyes in hopes he would fall back asleep.
"Ey boy! You better get your ass up before I come in there and beat you with a tire iron!" The bed ridden redneck ignored his big brother's threats and only buried his head under a pillow rebelliously. He heard a few heavy boot steps trudging towards his bedroom, growling as he heard the door slam open.
"God damn it Daryl! Get your ass up this ain't no Motel Six!"
"Fuck off Merle!" Merle heard Daryl growl under the pillow. Merle was already prepared for his little brother's disgruntled stubbornness. Merle gripped the edge of a bucket tightly and tossed it forward, unleashing a furious gallon of cold water. It slammed onto both Daryl and his bed; Daryl tossing off his sheets and lashing at Merle,
"What the hell!?" Daryl shouted with a release of a fist, Merle catching his arm and yanking him towards him, laughing with a heavy grin at his little brothers soaked appearance.
"Do I make you wet, little brother!?" He laughed again and shoved Daryl backwards, waiting for another fist to fly his way. But Daryl restrained himself and only glared at him with his blue eyes,
"Ya'll just give me a sec I would've been up in a few minutes! You didn't have to dump a whole lake on me!" Daryl bit at him, clearly angered by the rude wake up call. Merle snorted with a chuckle,
"Oh come now little brother! We both know ya'll would've stuffed your face under that pillow and stayed there all day. Now get dressed, we got work to do, dammit!" Merle ordered and walked out of his bedroom, Daryl following him and slamming the door shut. He huffed and looked back at his soaked bed, wiping the back of his hand over his wet face. He grunted and rubbed his head, a headache suddenly eating at his brain. Clenching his eyes shut, he moved towards his dresser on instinct and pulled open a drawer, rummaging around and grabbing a clean flannel shirt complete with a white wife beater.
A hangover was slowly claiming him from a long night at the local bar. Usually four times a week, he, Merle, and the rest of the crew would hit up the bar, and maybe even some women. Daryl usually had to be drunk enough to do that though; he already had a hard time talking to girls while sober. A little liquid courage always helped.
But Merle, he was the lucky one last night; bringing home the young, platinum blonde bartender once again.
Buttoning up his flannel shirt, he shifted out of his dirty pants he had slept in and managed to find a pair hanging off his dresser. Not knowing whether or not they were dirty or clean, he noticed there were no stains, so they were automatically fit for travel.
Scuttling his fingers through his ragged brown hair, he slipped his feet in his boots and tied them loosely. He gathered the wet sheets on his bed and kicked open the back door to his and Merle's cabin, trudging across the green grass of the backyard towards the old fence. He hung them all side-by-side to dry in the hot Georgian sun that already bore down on Daryl's skin.
He ran his thumb across his bottom lip and turned towards Merle's large shop, seeing the two garage doors wide open. Finding the relief of the shops shade, Daryl saw Merle's motorcycle propped up on the bike lift. Merle rolled the back tire towards Daryl and he caught it swiftly, rolling it against the shop wall.
"Bout damn you got finished puttin' you're makeup on son! Had me waitin' out here all friggen day!"
"Just shut the hell up Merle! I ain't in the mood for your shit today!" Daryl called and Merle laughed to himself, glancing over his shoulder,
"Oh boy, watch out Mitch! Looks like its Darleena's time of the month again!"
"Do I need to go get you some maxi pads Daryl? Maybe some pamprin to make ya'll feel better?" Daryl glared at Merle's good friend, Mitchel, as he walked out from behind a truck and wiped his hands of grease. He had a toothy grin spread across his face, a few spots missing from teeth that had rotted out form his gums. He always took part in Merle's sarcastic jokes, making Daryl's day hectic as they were constantly riding his ass.
"I swear I'll knock whatever teeth you have left back down your throat Mitch!" Daryl warned and the two older men laughed with each other. Merle flicked his head towards an old Chevy pickup that Daryl had been working on all week,
"Get to changin' out that radiator and finishin' up the truck. Roy called and said he'll be by later to pick it up and if you don't get it done, you ain't gettin' paid."
"What the hell? I told him I'd be done with it by this weekend."
"Says he's got some gator huntin' trip he's takin' with his buddy down in Louisiana. Ain't just gonna take to walkin' his happy ass down there." Daryl grunted and walked towards the back of the shop, Merle following him. Mitch tossed him the dirty rag and Merle began to wipe his hands,
"Bobby Joe says he can't make it in today, so looks like you're flyin' solo, brother."
"Course he ain't. I don't know why you hired the lazy son bitch anyways, always showin' up late and hungover all the time. I'd be better off workin' on the damn vehicles by myself." He looked over at Merle, "He's always messin' up shit that I either gotta fix or pay for outta my own pocket."
"You gonna keep bitchin' all day? You're not the only one hatin' life with a hangover." Merle said and Daryl rolled his eyes, grabbing a few ratchets, screwdrivers, and socket wrenches from the large tool box. Yanking up the hood on the large Chevy in the second stall of the three-stall shop, he propped it up with the hood rod. He saw the hole in the radiator in which it blew and quickly grabbed an oil pan, crawling under the truck and placing it under the engine. Reaching up, he twisted the cap to the radiator fluid and moved his head quickly as the green liquid began to drain into the pan.
Standing back to his feet, he wiped his forehead of the sweat already forming out of the hot morning. The sun was already high in the sky and Daryl forgot to check the time before he left the old cabin. Meaning he had to have slept in longer than he intended.
As the radiator fluid drained, Daryl easily swapped out the spark plugs, cap, and rotor to ensure a clean tune-up on the old truck. Grabbing a socket wrench, he checked the fluid and saw that it was no longer draining and took to the old rusted radiator. Back and forth the socket wrench clicked until the bolt came out, Daryl moving onto the other bolts and finally yanking out the old radiator. He walked out into the blazing sunlight of the Georgian summer day, tossing the radiator into Merle's old junk truck to be taken to a junkyard later on.
As Daryl walked back into the shop, he heard Merle's old Lynard Skynard CD begin to play on the crappy stereo in the shop. Merle and Mitch were exchanging some words as Merle was tearing off the brake pads on his motorcycle. Daryl grabbed a box with the truck's new radiator and began to install it, listening to the scratchy music playing overhead.
He lost himself in the southern rock music and the hard work of the vehicles mechanics. Hours rolled by as he moved from the radiator to the engine, stripping off parts to make sure they didn't need to be replaced. The hot air the best of him and he couldn't resist stripping off his shirt and tossing it on a wooden chair. His muscles contorted under his tan skin as he moved them about, yanking at engine parts and getting oil all over himself in the process.
He stretched his thick shoulders and stepped back from the truck, looking over to see Merle hovering over a small ice chest. His big brother leaned up and tossed him a beer, Daryl catching the cold bottle flawlessly. His fingers twisted off the cap and the cold alcohol seeped onto his tongue with much needed liberation.
"Why's it gotta be so damn hot?" Daryl asked before taking another swig and running a hand through his sweat dampened hair. Merle took a few chugs of his beer, downing half of it in only a few large drinks.
"Supposed to be hittin' hundred degrees today." Merle stated and looked back at Daryl,
"That truck done?"
"Sure the hell is. Roy better not try to screw me outta my money again this time or he'll be earnin' himself a swift boot up the ass."
"I need ya to run to town for me." Daryl glanced over at Merle curiously, wondering what his brother wanted.
"Why can't you?"
"I'm helpin' Mitch swap out an engine in the Scrappy's old roadster for the car show this weekend. We gotta get that done so I'm gonna need you to go grab me some brake pads for my hog."
"Could've done that rather than dickin' round with your bike earlier." Daryl grunted and tossed his beer bottle in the overloaded trash can, grabbing his sleeveless shirt off the chair and tossing it over himself. He grabbed the keys to his baby blue for pickup and walked towards in in the long driveway stretching to the road,
"Make sure you order CC's from Waldgrave's shop or you'll be experiencin' the wrath of God!"
"Yeah, whatever!" Daryl's raspy voice called back and he tore open the driver's side door of his truck, stepping in and pressing down on the clutch to start the old engine.
Daryl walked through the doors of the Russell Waldgrave's old auto shop, his blue eyes glazing over the picture cluttered walls of motorcycles and classic cars. The jingle of the bell just over the door faded as he looked around the counter, not seeing anyone occupying the swivel chair sitting lonely on the other side. He had been to this shop many times, but never has he seen it empty and without its workers. Daryl checked over his shoulder quickly, seeing the OPEN sign still on in the window.
"Any of ya'll in here?" His scruffy voice echoed in the office space loudly, hearing no voice calling back in their protest. He stared past the office and narrowed his eyes once hearing a loud clank through the doors that lead into the shop. Slowly, Daryl's boots made way towards the closed door, "Russell, that you!?" He asked loudly again, shoving his rough hand against the swinging doors and hearing a small shriek. Daryl flinched at the sound and surprise riddled through his bones, watching as a woman dropped a ratchet set on the floor. All the different ratchets slid across the floor in all kinds of different directions, but Daryl ignored the possible distractions as his attention was now focused on the woman that stood in front of him.
"Jesus, you scared me!" Daryl didn't realize that his lips were parted in slight awe as his staring was longer than he intended.
A pair of bright green, apple colored eyes stared back at him; fear slowly veiling themselves from her fight-or-flight response. He watched as her small hand shuffled through her chocolate brown, wavy hair and then slapped down against her thigh. Her full, rosy lips parted into words that he failed to comprehend, his eyes now taking in her full figure. She wore a small black tank top that sucked against her sun kissed skin, exposing a couple inches of her tight lower belly in which her hip bones glared out at him. But it was her legs; those long legs extended out of some rugged jean shorts into a pair of old, light brown cowboy boots that ended just below her knees.
"I said what are you here for?" Daryl's eyes moved back to her face as her words finally reached his ears, and being knocked from his thoughts, he finally muscled out words that rolled off his tongue awkwardly.
"Parts." He watched her eyebrow raise and her hands grip onto her curved hips, staring at him as her green eyes narrowed. Daryl straightened his posture and tugged involuntarily at his sleeveless shirt, "I came to order some brake pads. Where's Russ?" He looked around the shop to avoid her bright gaze, seeing a couple trucks taken apart and a large motorcycle sitting quietly behind the woman. His blue eyes came back to her when he heard her soft voice,
"Oh, my dad left with the guys to go out for lunch. I'm holding down the fort until he gets back."
"Dad?" That word struck him hard and the confusion in his eyes made her smile. He had never seen this woman before, not even in the past couple years that the auto-shop had been there. Daryl heard the heel of her boot clad against the floor as she stepped back, crouching down and picking up the stray ratchets about the concrete floor.
"Yeah. My dad's the owner… doesn't surprise me much he hasn't mentioned me to his buddies. Even all the mechanics were surprised I suddenly showed up." She stood back up with the ratchet box in her hand, setting it on a dirty and clattered table while returning her attention to him. "Not much of a talker, are you?" The woman mused with another smile, stepping towards him and stopping a few feet away. Daryl shook his head and spun his finger around his ear,
"Nah just… tryin' to wrap my mind round all this." She shoved her hands into her back pockets and studied his features briefly, leaning back and balancing on the heels of her boots. Tilting her head, she stared into his blue eyes curiously,
"What's your name?"
"Daryl. Daryl Dixon." She extended her hand towards him with tenderness and welcoming. With slight hesitation, he took her hand in his, feeling her hand tighten in his grasp. It didn't tighten with friendliness this time, but that of insecurity and uncertainty.
"Harli Waldgrave." Her voice wavered in Daryl's ears and once their hands split from each other, her demeanor changed back in the sliver of a second. Harli rubbed the back of her neck nervously, "Dixon? You have a brother?"
"Yeah, my big brother Merle."
"Merle…? Oh yes, my dad talks about him a lot. You Dixon's hang around here a lot, he says." She nodded and walked past Daryl, his eyes following her as she walked through the doors he had entered through.
"Come on in, I'll get those parts for you." She called and he wheeled around on his boot, following after her through the swinging door. The bright light of her computer screen only brightened her green eyes, Daryl staring at her, completely unsure of himself. He chewed on his thumbnail and waited for her to speak the next words, finally seeing her eyes meet his.
"What kind of parts are you here for?"
"I need brake pads for my brother's motorcycle. CC's… and better make sure they're CC's or you best pray he don't come down here and light this here shop on fire." Harli's eyes flickered in amusement at the bad-boy front that Daryl was putting on. She glanced back down at her computer screen, her finger slapping down on the mouse as she clicked away on an order form. She stood up straight and rested her hand on her hip, her other hand twirling its fingers in her hair.
"Tell me… do you, well, your brother… does he find that the CC's wear out faster on his front end than the back end?" Daryl's eyebrows knitted at her words and he itched the scruffy facial hair on his chin,
"I think he's mentioned it once or twice. How do you know that?" She smirked and leaned forward, Daryl quickly catching his eyes from looking at the cleavage that decided to peek out from under her tank top. Her hair fell from off her shoulders and managed to mask her tan chest before he could steal a look.
"If he would put GG's on the front and leave the CC's on the back they'll last a lot longer. Just some friendly advice." She raised her eyebrows and he stared at her for a moment, his eyes deep in thought. She stood back up and tilted her head, shrugging a shoulder, "But I ordered you the CC's so Merle doesn't come burn down my dad's shop." Harli laughed and Daryl heard one click of her mouse, looking at her while involuntarily chewing on his thumbnail nervously. "They should be in tomorrow." She handed him a written receipt and he took it in his hand, standing to his feet and staring at the paper. He reached down and rummaged in his back pocket,
"Thanks uh… how much do I owe ya?" Harli walked out from behind the counter and leaned on the edge with a smile. Shaking her head, she propped her hand on her hip and waved her other,
"Don't worry about it… it's on the house." He stopped and looked back to her, his eyes narrowing as he tried to comprehend what he thought she had said.
"On the house? Russ'll be pissed."
"Eh, let him be. I didn't even put the order in the records books so he won't even know whether or not you paid for them." She waved her hand and brushed her father's anger quickly off her shoulder. Daryl stared at her for a moment before cocking half a smile and nodding at her,
"Thanks." His boots moved backwards a few steps until turning swiftly and walking towards the door. His hand gripped the door handle tightly and the door swung open, her soft voice calling out to him warmly.
"See you around, nice meeting you!"
"Yeah, see ya later." He brought his hand up over his shoulder in a weak wave, cocking his head in a rough nod and stepping out of the shop. He walked down the sidewalk, dodging a few people along his journey in returning to his old truck. The driver's door creaked open and he stepped in the robin-egg colored truck, staring at the receipt in his hands. He didn't know why she had given it to him and he knew she didn't even know exactly why. The only thing is said was: Harli Waldgrave. It's on the house! with a smiley face engraved at the bottom.
He tossed the receipt down on his bench seat and started the groggy, roaring engine of his trusty truck. He shoved the stick shift into first gear and gave one last look at the shop, seeing Harli walking out with a large box in her arms. He chewed on his lip and narrowed his eyes as she gave a quick wave to him her long legs carrying her to a large dumpster on the side of the shop. He hummed in his throat and couldn't help but smirk unknowingly to himself as the truck shoved off from the sidewalk, trudging down the road back to his big brother Merle.
"What was the Dixon boy doin' here?" Harli's attention on Daryl's blue truck was knocked short when her dad's deep, southern licked voice raided her ears. She turned to face his dark blue eyes as he walked up from the back of the shop, the keys to his big truck jingling in his bruised hands. She cleared her throat and clasped her hands behind her back,
"Nothing… he just came to order a couple parts." She watched his employees shuffle back into the auto shop one by one, her father standing on front of her with his hands on his hips. After few strenuous moments, he nodded at her and flicked his head back towards the shop,
"Get your ass back in there and get workin' on that bike sittin' in there. I ain't payin' you to sit round here and be lazy."
Harli wiped her forehead and stepped back, staring at the shambles of a Harley Davidson scrambled all over the floor. The exhaust system needed to be modified and the fueling system needed to be fixed, therefore, Harli had taken most of the large bike apart. The big car festival was this weekend and many orders of motorcycles and old muscle cars were making their way into Russell's shop. This was the third bike she had been set to fix since she started working at her father's shop a week ago. It was overwhelming in the hot summer weather; but Harli loved her job and working on such an amazing contraption really rattled her bones.
Her eyes found the clock high above the double doors leading into the office, seeing as it was now closing time. She heard her father's shop hands conversing with one another, passing her with a couple smiles and hushed tones. Harli turned around and scrunched her nose with a soft groan, always hating the desirous stares she got from her father's friends and other men she passed. It was sort of a downfall being a female mechanic with a specialty in motorcycles. Biker boys were always a handful.
She tilted her head at the thought of the man that scared her in the shop today. Daryl Dixon. He seemed sweet in her eyes and he was the first man out of a handful that didn't seem to stare at her in the same matter the others did. He was a bit hesitant to engage in conversation, but maybe he was just shy around girls? A lot of men are.
She smiled at the thought and brushed in through the double doors, seeing her Russell and his workers gathered around each other. Harli sat down in the chair behind the office desk and her eyes quickly found the computer screen as she went to an order site for parts.
"Harli." Her eyes found her father's dark blue eyes and a ring of keys flying her way. She caught them awkwardly and stared at them,
"Lock up shop and be here to open up here in the mornin'. Me and the boys are goin' out to the bar for a guy's night out. Make sure you get that bike fixed up by closin' tomorrow you got another one comin' in the afternoon and I don't want you to get too overloaded."
"Yes, sir." Harli mumbled and Russell gathered his shop hands, leading them out. The dead silence washed over Harli's ears as she quickly ordered the parts she needed, not wanting to stay too long after closing. Shutting down the computer, she stood up and walked around the shop, locking all the doors and windows, checking them all twice, before leaving out the back. Her book bag dangled over her shoulder, a makeshift purse, holding whatever items she needed on a daily basis.
Harli walked to her old, beat up Chevy Camaro and yanked open the door. The scratchy seat poked at her legs and she shoved the key into the ignition, twisting it to start the engine. But it refused. The engine turned over a couple clicks and finally started, taking a few seconds to actually gather enough power to drive. Harli sighed to herself and rubbed her head; she couldn't wait until she had enough money to buy a new car or at least get someone to fix it rather than her lazy father who didn't have the time.
She found her way on the small road leading to her house. She passed through town and the little downtown area on the lake in which the car show usually took place. This was a beautiful town, Waleska, and Harli was glad she moved to a place like it after she finished school.
Her eyes finally locked onto the driveway of her small home, and with a turn of the wheel, she pressed on the breaks and came to a stop. Grabbing her bag she stepped out of the rusty car and walked to her front door, unlocking it and stepping in. By the time she got home, the sun had already disappeared behind the horizon.
Harli flipped on the lights to her living room and heard soft cooing coming from the large black cage in the corner. With a smile, she walked over and clicked back, sticking a finger through the slots of the cage. A big black crow bounced to the edge of his branch and gently nibbled her finger in welcoming her home. She pulled away and walked towards the kitchen, tossing her bag on the table and heading straight for the refrigerator.
She sighed when she heard a low meow, turning her head over her shoulder to see her chubby orange cat waddling in to greet her. Looking over to his food bowl, she noticed he had eaten it all and he was most likely waiting for her to serve him.
Welcome home now feed me.
Harli tended to her pets first before herself, even though she had barely eaten anything all day. Scooping food into her fat cat's bowl, she prepared her crow's meal of small cubes of fresh, raw beef and a couple pieces of bread. The two began to scarf down their meals, and finally, Harli could take to herself.
She sat down on her couch with a bowl of soup and crackers, watching the news. The forecast promised good weather for the weekend ahead, the car show being one of the biggest events in the small town's year. Harli had never been to it, though, and she was sort of excited for it. All the classic cars, vendors, and devious motorcycles made her shiver with anticipation. It had been a long time since she had been to such a festive event.
Nothing interesting on the news, she took to her bathroom for a nice hot shower before the days end. She wanted to get to the shop early in the morning and get a head start on the motorcycle so she could hopefully get started on the next one coming in. She heard a low caw come from her crow, taking it that he wanted to get out and stretch his wings. Maybe tomorrow night Harli thought as she stepped into the steaming water, taking in a sharp inhale as it burned her skin for only a few seconds. She pressed her head under the water and closed her eyes, taking in the delight of such a warm feeling. Grease, dirt, sweat, and grime circled warily around the drain as it surged off her body before descending down into the sewage system below the house.