AN: Hi everyone…busy day here. I'm going on vacation so I will be updating stories sporadically for a bit but I needed something simple and light tonight and I wanted to start up on this one so I can get things moving with it, however slowly because of vacation.
So let's get going, shall we? It always takes me a bit to really get into the story and into the rhythm of things, but here's the first chapter that I have to offer for this one. I want to thank you all for your support of Sweet Junction and for this little story as well. I hope as we go on this little journey together it doesn't disappoint. We've got a lot of ground to cover!
As always, I thank you for your reviews and your comments. We don't make any money off of fanfic, so that's all the payment we get and it's what makes it worth it!
I hope you enjoy the chapter! Let me know what you think!
Daryl had never been as aware of how uneven his gait was until he was trying to carry the carrier with his sleeping daughter in it all the way from the car to the house. It was the longest trip of his life and he was thankful that Carol, who had gone ahead to hold the door for him, wasn't impatient with his dreadfully slow progress…if it could really even be called progress.
Daryl made it in the house, though, and he sat the carrier on the bar, not knowing where else to put it at the moment.
And he and Carol looked at each other, somewhat awkwardly. Eliza Jo was asleep in her carrier, but now came the question of what was supposed to happen next.
Carol moved to start unfastening the straps.
"What'cha doin'?" Daryl asked.
"I'm getting her out of the carrier," Carol said. She furrowed her brows at Daryl. "You don't want to just leave her there on top of the counter all night, do you?"
"She's sleepin'…" Daryl said.
Carol looked at him, looking a little uncomfortable, finally matching the way that Daryl felt.
"You don't think we should get her out? It can't be comfortable," Carol said.
"But if she's sleepin'…she might not go back ta sleep," Daryl said.
The baby was already an enigma to him. He hated hearing her cry. It was a terrible sound, and it was mostly terrible owing to the fact that he felt like a failure because he had no idea what to do make it stop. When she was sleeping, Eliza Jo was quiet and cute and undeniably happy.
"She's got to eat soon," Carol said, glancing at the clock. "I'm going to have to take her out to feed her. They said every two hours and I know it's been longer than that."
"So what? We wake her ass up ta feed her?" Daryl asked.
Carol frowned at him.
"I want to hold her," Carol said. "Sleeping or not…I'm not leaving her on the kitchen counter."
Carol started unfastening the clasps on the seat and getting the baby out of the thing…something she was much more comfortable with than Daryl was. He still didn't feel really confident about the whole "moving her to another location" deal. He was good at holding her, but he preferred to have someone help him get started and stopped at that.
Daryl held his breath as Carol got the baby out, moving her against her chest, but if Eliza Jo woke up, she didn't make much of a show of it.
Carol smiled at him, looking very satisfied with herself, and went to the living room, easing down on the couch.
Daryl went in search of the phone. Michonne had told him he could call if he had any questions, and he certainly had plenty of those and thought of more by the minute.
When he found the phone, he glanced over toward where Carol was settled, holding the baby and examining her like they'd both done at least twenty times in the forty eight hours or so that the baby had been in the world.
"What?" Michonne answered the phone.
"Nice ta talk ta ya too," Daryl said. "How the hell ya know it weren't someone callin' ta give ya a million dollars or some shit an' ya answer the phone like that?"
"Because I have caller ID and I know you're not calling to give me anything…is something wrong?" Michonne asked.
Daryl nipped at his finger. No…there was nothing wrong.
"We made it home," he said. "An' Carol's got her outta her seat…but she's sleepin'…"
"That's good…let sleeping babies lie," Michonne said.
"Yeah, but she's gotta eat," Daryl said. "They said two hours an' it's been longer than that…so do we wake her up?"
Michonne chuckled again and Daryl could hear noise in the background. She was doing something while she talked to him. He didn't have her undivided attention…but then again she had two kids, so she rarely gave anything her undivided attention when the girls were around.
"That's not something to set your watch by," Michonne said. "She'll let you know when she's hungry…believe me. If she goes a really long time without eating or she doesn't seem to want to eat, then you worry. If she's just enjoying her nap out for another half hour, then let her have it. You'll be happy later that you did."
Michonne paused a moment and Daryl checked on Carol, but she seemed to be just fine, nuzzling the baby and not paying anything else in the world any attention.
"And Daryl…" Michonne said.
"Yeah?" He asked, his attention being snatched back.
"You and Carol need to try to sleep some too…when Eliza's sleeping…because she doesn't go down at night like you do," Michonne said.
"Yeah…" Daryl said. That much he knew already. She was a 'round the clock baby. They'd kept her with them over night in the hospital, even though they'd had the option of sending her to the nursery with the other babies except for when Carol was supposed to be feeding her.
The thought brought up another question in Daryl's mind and he was glad he still had Michonne on the phone, even though he was positive now that she was either cooking or chopping up bodies.
"Got another question for ya," Daryl said, picking up the seat and looking around for where might be the proper place to put it. He finally started back toward the nursery, feeling like they might just keep everything that belonged to Eliza Jo…which was admittedly almost the majority of what they had…in one place.
"Shoot," Michonne said, crunching something in his ear.
"We s'posed ta hold her all the time or not? 'Cause they told us we could put her down at the hospital…but I don't think we put her down none 'cept when we was in the car…" Daryl said.
He worried that maybe they'd make her sore or something.
"Mmmm…" Michonne hummed. "Depends on the baby…some like to be held more than others. Just like people liking to be touched or not liking it. She'll let you know if she doesn't want you to hold her."
"So now that we home," Daryl started…already figuring that they were going to owe Michonne some kind of special gift or something for all the times he figured he was going to be calling her just because he was suddenly feeling very much like he didn't have one single clue what they were doing. "They someethin' I should be doin' for Carol? She's in there with the baby an' I kinda feel like I don't even know what the hell I'm doin'…"
Daryl was standing in the nursery and he felt like he should be doing something…he felt like he'd be much more settled if he had some sort of purpose, but he really didn't know what to do.
"Here's what you do," she said, "you need to move that white bassinet from the nursery into your bedroom…and put it by Carol's side of the bed."
"Bassinet?" Daryl asked.
"Portable baby bed," Michonne said.
Daryl identified the object in question.
"OK…" he said.
"Then you need to put the pack and play together that's in the box in Andrea's old room," Michonne said.
Daryl exited the nursery and went to Andrea's old room, finding the box in question. He figured he could put that together without too much effort.
"You got the pack and play?" Michonne asked.
"Yeah…" Daryl said. "I can put that together…"
"Good," Michonne responded. "Put that in the living room or wherever Carol is with the baby…so when she wants to put her down, it's right there."
Daryl nodded at the phone.
"OK," he said.
"Has Lincoln met Eliza?" Michonne asked.
"No," Daryl responded. "He's with Andrea an' Merle…he spent the night over there."
"That's fine," Michonne said. "When they bring him over, give him the chance to meet her…Lincoln loves babies, so he should be fine, but kind of watch him and let him smell her…"
"OK," Daryl responded.
He was making a mental checklist in his mind and on this list he was also adding the fact that he intended to kiss Michonne the next time he saw her. He wouldn't have thought of doing any of this shit…but now he had somewhere to start at least.
"Have you eaten?" Michonne asked.
"Not since this mornin'…" Daryl said.
Once she pointed out that they hadn't eaten, his stomach rumbled. Of course his brain would forget about food until it was suggested to him by an outside person.
"Get food…" Michonne said. "Make it or order it or whatever…Carol needs to eat and she's not going to feel like cooking for a couple of days. She had a baby, she deserves a vacation."
"Yeah…OK…I kinda figured that much," Daryl said.
He thought she might deserve more than a vacation after everything surrounding Eliza Jo's birth, but he could at least order something for them to eat so that she didn't have to feel like she needed to cook or do dishes or anything like that.
"Anythin' else?" Daryl asked.
"Are you stocked up on diapers and wipes?" Michonne asked.
Daryl knew that she knew they were. She'd been the one that had brought a box of both over that was still unopened in the middle of the nursery floor because they hadn't known what to do with the boxes that were damn near the size of shipping crates.
"We're good," Daryl said. He didn't know how many diapers Eliza Jo was going to go through on a daily basis, but he'd be more than impressed…and a little terrified…if she went through that many any time soon.
"Good," Michonne said. "Then Daryl…do that…get everything set up…and then go enjoy your baby. And don't worry about holding her too much or feeding her too much, or changing her too often. She's going to tell you what she needs and both of you are going to have a lot more parental instinct than you're giving yourself credit for at the moment. It just has to kick in."
Daryl nodded at the phone again and sighed.
He didn't know if they were going to have parental instinct, as she called it, or not…he just wanted to do everything right. He knew that Carol wanted the same thing. This was the biggest thing that either of them had ever had to do in their lives and it was the most important thing to both of them. They didn't want to run the risk of doing something wrong and messing up Eliza Jo's life before it even got going good.
They didn't want to be bad parents.
"Thanks…'Chonne…" Daryl said.
He could hear the sound of running water from the other side of the phone, and silence for a moment.
"You're welcome, Daryl," Michonne said. "Call me if you need anything…I'll come by tomorrow…and Daryl?"
"Yeah?" He asked.
"Congratulations," Michonne said. "And tell Carol I said congratulations again too."
"I will…gonna go put this thing together now," Daryl said.
"Good luck," Michonne said.
Daryl hung up the phone and from the living room he could hear Eliza Jo begin to howl. He passed back through the house, putting the phone on the table so they could find it later when they'd very well probably need it, and he walked over to the couch where Carol was working to get the baby hooked on her breast.
"She OK?" Daryl asked.
"I think she's just hungry," Carol said.
Daryl could see her getting frustrated. He'd figured that feeding the baby would be simple enough…here's a boob, go to town…but Eliza Jo wasn't catching onto the fact that quickly and each time Carol had fed her it took some effort on her part to get Eliza Jo just like the baby obviously wanted to be before she would accept that she was being offered what she was asking for and finally commit to her meal.
Carol finally won the battle, though, while Daryl stood over her and watched, and then she smiled at him, looking no less satisfied than she had when she got the baby out of the seat without her crying.
Daryl smiled back at her and leaned down and she met him with a kiss.
"Doin' damn good there, woman," Daryl said.
"And what are you doing?" She asked.
"Got me a list," Daryl said. "Gotta move some shit an' I'ma put'cha together a…"
Daryl paused. He couldn't remember what the thing in the box was called.
"I'ma put'cha together some a' that shit 'Chonne bought for ya so ya can put 'Liza Jo in there if ya wanna put her down some," Daryl said. "I'ma bring it in here ta put it together an' then I'ma order supper, so ya best start thinkin' what'cha want."
Carol nodded at him and Daryl went back to Andrea's old room, wrestling up the box and lugging it back into the living room.
He ordered Chinese food, per Carol's request, and then settled down in the floor to assemble the contraption while Carol entertained the baby, who took a lot longer to eat than most people that Daryl knew.
"'Chonne said she's comin' over tomorrow," Daryl said, working at the thing that he'd now realized was something of a baby cage or something of the like. "Said congratulations again."
"We can't call her every hour, you know?" Carol said.
"Ain't called her but once," Daryl said.
"When are Andrea and Merle bringing Linc back?" Carol asked.
"Truck weren't in the driveway so I figure they off runnin' 'round somewhere," Daryl said. "They'll bring him back when they get home, I reckon. We gotta introduce him ta 'Liza Jo an' make sure he don't try ta bite her."
"I don't think Lincoln would bite her," Carol said, looking at the baby and rubbing at her face while she fed her.
"Prob'ly not," Daryl agreed. "She can't even pull his ears or try ta ride him like Angie does…but we still goin' slow about it."
"I can't believe she's finally here…" Carol said. "And home…"
Daryl smiled to himself. They hadn't had her all that long, but he was pretty sure she was perfect. There had been another baby that had been born a couple of hours after she had and Daryl had gone down to look at it through the windows in the nursery, but it was a boy and it wasn't nearly as cute as Eliza Jo was. Daryl wouldn't have told the man that was eyeing it through the window…and he assumed was its Daddy…that his kid looked like a potato, but he'd almost been tempted to go and bring Eliza Jo down there just long enough to show him what he was missing out on.
"She's somethin' alright," Daryl said. "I'm glad ta finally have her home…just hope we know what the hell we doin'. 'Chonne said our instincts are gonna kick in though an' we just gonna know what ta do."
Daryl looked up a moment when the baby started to cry again, but he realized that Carol was just trying to get her to suck on the other breast, like they'd told her to make her do in the hospital. Eliza Jo didn't care for the intervals between breasts one bit.
Once she quieted, though, and resumed her dining, Carol offered some of her attention once more to Daryl.
"I think they'll kick in," Carol said. "I think we'll figure it out. You're going to be a good Daddy…"
Daryl smiled and winked at Carol. She'd taken to telling him that almost every time he even looked at the baby.
"An' looks like you done got'cha shit figured out too…" Daryl said. "Didn't take ya near as long ta get her ta eat as it did this mornin'."
"We'll figure it out…and we've got a lot of help to count on too," she said.
Daryl nodded and hummed his agreement, glancing toward the clock and figuring that dinner should arrive anywhere in the next fifteen minutes…probably followed shortly by Merle and Andrea.
The next day Michonne would come by, like she'd said…and Hershel and Miss Jo had already said they were coming when she got home from the hospital because they hadn't seen her yet but wanted to give Carol and Daryl time to get settled in with her…so Daryl figured their house was likely to be quite popular for at least a little while.
And he'd be thankful for all the help they could get until they did get this thing figured out.
"Thank goodness for all the help we can get," Daryl said. "I'll take anything they want ta offer…long as it means 'Liza Jo's just as happy as she can get."