All's Fair in Love and the Zombie Apocalypse, Y'all

Chapter 1: The Sound of Silence

Disclaimer: I do not own The Walking Dead, just playin'.
Spoilers: None really, just know this takes place in the prison, Merle and Michonne are "with" the group, before the war with Woodbury.
Chapter 1 Summary: ONESHOT Daryl contemplates life. Features baby Judith and Caryl.

A/N: My first foray into the Walking Dead territory. I'm also a bit rusty with the Fanfic, so apologies in advance.

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It's rare but it happens.

Daryl's standing on the landing in front of the top row of cells, noting how the first rays of sunlight are pouring through the grimy windows of the prison.

This is when the quiet comes.

Where even the groans of the undead wandering outside the prison fail to filter through the concrete, fortified walls. Where the soft snores and shifting of the others as they sleep are barely perceptible to his well trained, hunter's hearing.

He likes this time of the day the best. If he were out in the woods, it would be eerily the same. The animals and critters still in a deep slumber, leaving him nothing to focus on but the dawning light and the silence surrounding him.

In the quiet, you would never guess the world had gone to shit and that they were on the verge of war.

But Judith's sudden, soft gurgling as he holds her in his arms disturbs the moment. And Daryl can't help but smile down at Lil' Ass Kicker.

"Shh," he says as he reaches down to lend a grimy finger into the baby's still developing grasp. He watches Judith, her chubby features, light brown hair, drool pooling around her mouth and chin and savors the calmness and quiet that engulfs them.

Because he knows it's short-lived.

He doesn't – can't – dwell on their chances against Woodbury. From what Merle's told them, and Michonne of the evil the Governor's planned for them, the anxiety within him is starting to rear it's ugly head again, barely contained. But he tamps it down. He can't lose his shit now. Not ever. He's distracted from his own thoughts when he hears her minutes before she appears at the end of the hall.

Judith blows a spit bubble and squeezes his finger tighter. It's as if she's pulling his attention back to her, reminding him. She let's go of his finger suddenly and waves an open fist awkwardly at him. A louder gurgle and he jiggles her lightly to soothe her and she quiets immediately, looking up to him with wide eyes. It's as if she's really seeing him.

It's not the first time he's been on the receiving end of such a look and he figures with some levity that maybe Carol has had some influence on the baby. Admittedly it's not so unnerving coming from Judith just yet. But Carol's gaze sometimes seems to go right to his soul. Though he knows he would prefer the latter's any day, as long as it meant she was still with them – him, even.

He shoots the woman who finally shows at the gate a quick glance and catches her soft smile as she watches him and the baby. Daryl's gaze never leaves Carol's and at this point, he's lost count, but he feels his chest tightening in that way he felt only once before, a lifetime ago about the girl next door. In the stillness of the prison, the frequency of the feeling is not lost on him and he can't help but return her smile with his own shy one.

But, he finds Lil' Ass Kicker once again claiming his attention with another gurgle and wave of her arms. It's then as he's looking down at Judith in the quiet, that he refocuses on something else other than the impending attack. Something infinitely more important and as plain as day, laid out before him.

They're alive.

And in this new world, this new life – the good things, like the birth of Judith, family – and maybe even love, are just like the sound of silence.

They're rare, but they happen.