Rating: T

Summary: Another prompt from the U.S.S. Caryl's "What If?" Challenge. For this, my second submission, I picked option #4: In the deleted scene between Carol and Merle, what do you think would have happened if Daryl had accidentally overheard that conversation?

A/N: I promised this to thereadersmuse last weekend, but a bought of reality and writer's block is making this incredibly late. (I tried to do another prompt first. Clearly, I'm stupid.) On the plus side, since I wrote so much angst with my first prompt, this one is steamy and full of Caryl feels. Also, MWAHAHA.

Kittens and Lions

"I'm startin' to think I'm a bad influence."

Carol arched an eyebrow at him from her careful perch near the cell door. Daryl was still sprawled across the bed, fiddling with one of his arrows.

"How do you figure that?" Carl asked archly.

Daryl chuckled low in his throat, the sound making her shiver involuntarily as he tossed his arrow on the bed and stood, swiftly crossing the room on graceful feet. He was watching her, a half smirk still gracing his features, his eyes dark with something she couldn't identify. Hmm.

"Tiny little kitten thinks she's a lion now," Daryl drawled slowly. He sidled closer to her, forcing her to tilt her head back to look at him from her seat. She smirked back, clenching the fabric of her worn pants in suddenly nervous fingers.

"You're still going to have to be more specific."

He was close to her, much too close and she realized he'd never willing stood this close to her before. Her heart was starting to pound and she wondered wildly if Daryl could hear it.

"Threatenin' to slit Merle's throat?"

Balls. Carol's heart sank, the smirk instantly leaving her face.

"You heard that?" she asked, catching her lower lip lightly with her teeth.

Daryl just nodded, still with that same look on his face. Crap.

"Daryl," she said softly, "I'm sorry, but Merleā€¦ he just-"


Carol fell silent, her stomach twisting into knots as she waited for Daryl to speak. This is what happens when you shoot your mouth off, girl. He was close enough she could feel the heat from his body, count every one of his eyelashes and when the hell had he gotten that close?!

"Think I like you as a lion," Daryl muttered. "You can protect me for a change." They were pressed up against each other, practically sharing breathing air. His skin was warm under her hand; she had no idea when she'd reached out to grasp his shoulder but she thought she may never let go.

"I would, too," Carol said in a low voice. Her heart leapt up into her throat as Daryl brushed the the tip of his nose across her own.

"Don't I know it," Daryl whispered. "You're the first."

He leaned in, teasing her with the barest touch of his lips on hers. She breathed in as he breathed out, tasting him on her tongue as they reveled in the anticipation together, the downbeat before the explosion that was sure to happen as soon as they kissed and just as she reached her limit, ready to push that millimeter forward, she heard the hoarse cry of Rick's voice calling Daryl's name.

Son of a bitch.

They sighed regretfully into each other's mouths. Carol didn't, couldn't, move from where she sat, her mind nothing more than the white fuzz of static in the wake of the electric charge that was Daryl, her, them. She felt Daryl's lips twitch slightly against hers, quirking into his familiar smirk.

"Soon," he breathed into her. He pulled back, keeping his eyes locked with hers, his smile widening as she found herself giving him the smallest of nods. With a nod back, Daryl was out the door and gone, leaving Carol breathless and floating on air.