Daryl was staring at me, his arm around my waist securely, holding me. There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to do... But I didn't want to scare him off. I was beginning to understand this Daryl a little better. He was the same sweet man that I had always loved, but he had hardened since our time apart. He had been hurt, maybe even just as badly as I had been, and it showed all over him. I could see it much clearer now.

"What's on your mind?" I asked quietly, lifting my hand to push his hair off of his forehead.

"Nothin'." He said gruffly, his voice more of a mumble. I softly pushed his chest, and he allowed it, laying back on the bed. I curled up at his side, my head resting between his arm and chest. The room was completely silent, and I could feel his heart beating under my hand. His chest rose and fell with every breath, and it took me back to better days, memories of times just like this. When everything was quiet and it was just us.

Feeling brave, I leaned up, my hand leaving his chest. I grasped his neck, pushing my body upward to kiss him. His eyes were on mine, and I glanced at his lips, before reaching them. He returned the kiss, his hand suddenly on my lower back, pulling me into him harder. Daryl leaned up a bit into me, kissing me rougher than before, and I could finally breathe. His tongue slipped over mine, and I shivered, my fingernails digging in a bit harder at his neck.

"Ev'lyn.." He broke the kiss, his voice hoarse. His blue green eyes were weary, as they stared into mine.

"It's okay to feel, Dixon." I kissed him again, softer this time. He allowed it, and our lips lingered even after I had stopped kissing him. I moved away, burying my head into his neck. I felt him kick off his boots, and I moved once again so that he could pull the covers over us. Curling up to him, I sifted through the hair at the back of his neck with my fingers. It was something I used to do all the time when we were together.

"Never wanned things to go the way they did." Dixon said, his voice barely above a whisper.

"I know." I whispered against his neck.

"You should'a moved on, Ev. Had a real life.."

"Hey," I sat up, looking at him. His eyes met mine and I frowned. "It was you, it was always you, Daryl."

"Think every good memory I have includes you, yer family.." He mentioned, and I felt my lips tug upward.

"I don't think there's one memory of us that didn't play on a constant loop in my head the past few years." I admitted. "I... I had a rough time for a long time."

"Everything was fucked, includin' us. From the start." Daryl's fingers went underneath my shirt, rubbing my side. "We never had'a chance after..." He trailed off and I closed my eyes.

"Railey saved my life." I said. "She was there for me when I had nothin'. If it wasn't for her... I dunno. She's like my sister, I dunno what I would'a done without her."

"Merle jus' left me." Daryl growled. "Wasn't nothin' new, I was used to fendin' for myself. Dad was still the same, stayed with him a while."

"I'm sorry." I said quietly, but he shook his head.

"Ain't got nothin' to be sorry for."

"You know that no matter what happens, I'll always love you... You know that, right?" I raised my head up to look at him. "Jus' wanned you to know that."

"I know." He said gruffly, and I laid my head back down. My eyes felt heavy, as I sifted my fingers through his hair. His fingers drew lazy circles along my side, his finger tips warm against my skin. And before I knew it... I was out.

We had moved around a bit here and there, bouncing from house to house. We steered clear of walker infested areas, staying under the radar. Ever since the night Daryl had stayed with me, he had been distant. I was forced to sleep, what little I did, alone. My watch shifts were always with Maggie, Glenn, or T-Dog. I knew that Daryl was trying to process having me back in his life, and it wasn't like time was an issue. The world had ended, we had all the time in the world, really.

"Are you okay?" Glenn asked, as we sat on the roof of the newest home we'd taken.

"I'm frozen." I mumbled, pulling the blanket I had draped over me a little tighter around me.

"I mean..you and Daryl?"

"Honestly.. I dunno, Glenn." I let out a breath.

"You wanna talk about it?" He asked, and I looked over at him.

"I think he jus'.. He jus' needs time, I guess. You know, to process everything." I looked out at the darkness surrounding us. "He's different from the man I knew..the boy I grew up with. He's still Daryl, but he's got walls."

"Everyone has walls." Glenn said, and I shrugged.

"Maybe we do, but can't keep 'em up forever. There's always someone that comes along an' tears 'em down."

"Maggie..I'm fallin' for her. If you didn't know."

"I definitely knew that." I laughed, earning a grin from him.

"That obvious?"

"What's even more obvious, is how she feels 'bout you." I replied surely.

"You think so?" He questioned, and I raised an eyebrow.

"Know so." I answered. "Anyone can see she's crazy 'bout you."

"I can tell Daryl's protective over you." He countered and I snorted. "Seriously, Evelyn. The day at the barn... When Shane did what he did, it was pretty brave of you to try and stop it. Stupid, but brave. I thought Daryl was gonna kill him."

"I'm surprised he didn't." I admitted. "I jus'.. I didn't wanna know what, who, was in that barn. Hershel's family... Their friends. Shane had no right to open those doors."

"It worked out, though." Glenn said, and I rubbed my eyes.

"Found Sophia.." I muttered. "Damn, I wanned her to be alive, ya know? I really did. We spent all that time lookin' for her, an' there she was all along. Wish that would'a worked out differently."

"Me too." He nodded. "That was the last thing I expected."

"Shane pulled that barn stunt, but we all saw who put her..down. It was Rick, he handles the stuff others can't. Like Shane. He knew, as soon as she walked out that barn, that he had screwed up. No goin' back after that... An' Carol had to see that." I looked over at him. "First walker I killed was my Mama. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.. I didn't really know what was goin' on, an' she jus' kept comin' for me. That's the kinda stuff you never get over."

"You're human, Evelyn. You're not supposed to just get over something like that."

"Daryl's been cold shoulderin' me." I changed the subject, pulling my knees up to my chest. "Hate it when he shuts off like that."

"He'll come around." Glenn said surely.

"Yea... Yea, I hope so."

"Hey, Dixie girl!" I cooed, petting her head. She licked my hand, leaning against my leg. "Sweet girl.." I scratched behind her ear, leaning down to kiss her head. She had curled up with me the night before, keeping me warm.

"Evelyn? I think we're gonna hit the road soon!" Maggie called to me from the yard. She was packing bags into Rick's vehicle.

"Okay!" I called, shooting her a thumbs up. Leaving Dixie on the porch, I walked back into the house, making my way toward the stairs. I bounded up them, walking down the hallway toward the bedroom I had slept in the previous night. My bag was on the floor, everything I owned stuffed inside. Grabbing it up, I shouldered it and started to leave the room. I turned and stepped through the doorway, nearly bumping right into Daryl. "Jesus!" I breathed, startled. Ducking my head, I started past him. "Sorry." I muttered, and he grabbed my wrist gently, forcing me to face him.

"You ridin' with me?" He asked, letting me go. I clasped my hands together, fiddling my thumbs.

"If you want me to." I replied softly.

"Why're you nervous?" Daryl questioned, raising an eyebrow.

"Wha-?" I gave him a confused look.

"Used to fiddle around with your fingers when you were nervous." He snorted.

"Well..this is the first time you've said anything to me in days." I pointed out. "But, yes, I wanna ride with you." He gave me a smirk, before stepping past me to walk toward the stairs. I watched him go, disappearing down them.

My heart was hammering in my chest at the affection shown, and I had to force my legs to move. Reaching the stairs, I took them quickly. At the bottom I met Carl, who was carrying a small bag. He gave me a slight grin, and I put my arm over his shoulder. "You ready to go?" I asked, and he nodded.

"I guess so." He replied. "I wish we could..find something stable."

"We will..I hope."

"Sweep through here, then Daryl.. You and Evelyn double back to that little store we saw down the road." Rick looked exhausted. He had dark circles under his eyes. "Glenn, you and Maggie could go down to the utility unit, see if there's anything in there worth takin'."

"We can do that." Maggie nodded. I skimmed over the odd housing area we had stumbled upon. It was a small neighborhood, about eight or nine houses jammed along either side of the street leading in. A large, paved circle sat at the end of the street. One way in, one way out. The little houses were what one would consider to be an "apartment house", and they offered two different housing areas in one.

"We'll go in two per house. Anyone runs into any trouble, call. Lori, Beth...stay in the car. You see anything, just honk once." Rick instructed, and they nodded, climbing back into the vehicle. Daryl and I started forward, walking down the paved street toward the end circle.

We were silent, neither of us speaking. I wasn't sure what to say, and I felt that he wasn't either. Our relationship had been nothing short of complicated since we had found one another again, but it wasn't our fault. Sometimes things didn't work out the way you wanted it to, no matter how hard you tried to fight for it. I knew that now. I knew that Daryl had tried to fight for me, for us. But my father had shut it all down and forced his hand.

I'll never forgive him for that... I thought, even though that bothered me. It sat in my gut like a heavy rock, knowing that I was angry with someone who was probably dead. I had made myself believe that everyone I had known before was dead. They were dead or just gone. I would never see them again. With Daryl and Railey I had gotten lucky. It was rare to have that kind of luck once, let alone twice. I knew it wouldn't happen that way again.

"Hit that one first." Daryl pointed to the house on the right of the circle.

"Okay." I said quietly, pulling my hunting knife from my belt, as we stepped cautiously toward the small house. Once at the door, Daryl knocked softly. We waited a few seconds, listening carefully for noise on the other side of the door. All was silent.

Daryl grabbed the doorknob, and to my surprise, it opened right up. Whoever had lived here, must have left in a hurry to have left the door unlocked. My stomach knotted as we stepped inside, the house dimly lit by curtains across the room. I hated walking into situations where I had no idea what could be waiting for me on the other side. My eyes darted around the room, as I watched for any sign of movement. I stayed close to Daryl, right on his heels.

I wasn't sure if it was the lack of food or just my bad nerves, but my fingertips were shaky, and my thighs felt tight. Swallowing hard, I fought off the nausea I was feeling. I took a deep breath, wondering why my anxiety was kicking in all of a sudden. Maybe it's jus' too much at one time.. Findin' Daryl, the way he's been actin', losin' people, the farm... Mama... My mind raced with thoughts of the things I knew were boiling somewhere deep inside me.

Daryl moved fluidly through the first side of the house, checking every room. We found a few little things here and there. Simple medical supplies. A can of beans, two cans of corn.. Better than nothing, I knew. I put the items in my bag, watching as Daryl worked on getting the door open that separated this side of the house from the other. After working it for a few seconds, I heard a light POP, and the door opened slowly. I was already walking up behind him to follow him through the doorway, when he turned suddenly, grabbing my arms.

"Whoa, whoa... Don't go in there." He said gruffly, backing me out of the room and back into the previous one.

"Wha-Why?" I asked, looking at him, then at the doorway.

"Jus' listen to me, Ev." He growled, his hands slipping from my arms. He hesitated a moment before walking back toward the doorway. He stopped, looking back at me. "Wait here." He said, before disappearing into the other room, pushing the door just inches from being shut.

I stood there awkwardly, my bag on my right shoulder, waiting. I could hear him shuffling around in the other room, the door separating us cracked. My mind was racing, my heart pounding, thoughts rushing through my head like tidal waves. I clutched my knife so tight that my hand shook. Everything was crashing down on me inside, but I had to fake it on the outside. I had to hold it together for everyone else.

It felt like thirty minutes had passed before the door opened. I knew it hadn't been that long, but it certainly felt like it. Daryl stepped into the doorway, his hand up at his face. He was biting his thumb nail, looking at me with weary eyes. Like he was worried about something. His hand left his face, and his eyes met mine. "Jus' stay in here, let me look 'round."

"Daryl..." I walked over to where he was blocking the doorway. "Whatever it is, I can handle it." I muttered, pushing past him.

I tried not to look. I really did. The smell was enough to let me know it wasn't good. I figured it would be better to just not see whatever he had seen. But I noticed it right away, it was impossible not to. Over in the left corner of the living room, was something under a sheet. That 'something' was in the shape of a car seat. Daryl had covered it up with a sheet, which could only mean one thing... Oh, Jesus... I immediately turned away, only to see another disturbing sight.

On the couch, I could see two pairs of legs sticking out from underneath the window curtain. He must have pulled it off to try and cover them up so I wouldn't have to see. An arm stuck out limply. I could see, what appeared to be, dried blood speckled along the decomposing skin. The smell was overwhelming, making my stomach churn. I swallowed hard, forcing myself to look straight ahead. Walking quickly across the living room, I went straight into the kitchen area, opening cabinets.

I found one can of soup, and I was on my last cabinet. A tear slipped from my eye, and I wiped it quickly with the arm of my sleeve. I opened the final cabinet in the kitchen, grabbing a box of crackers that hadn't been opened. Moving my arm, I shrugged my bag around to where I could reach the zipper and open it. I shoved the crackers and the can into my bag, snatching the zipper to close it. My stomach churned again, and I bit my cheek hard to keep from being sick. Resting my palms on the counter, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

"Come on, Ev." Daryl's gruff voice was behind me, his hand on my arm. He was pulling me away gently.

"No, we gotta check the-"

"I got it-"

"NO!" I yelped, snatching away from him. Hurt flashed in his eyes for a moment, but they hardened just as quickly. I rushed past him, heading for the bathroom. "We gotta check everything." I muttered, grabbing the doorknob and opening the bathroom door. It was lit up from a little window above the shower, but the smell inside was even worse than out in the living room.

I stood at the door, staring at the bathtub. A curtain was drawn around it, keeping whatever was inside hidden. I put my hand to my nose to keep from being sick, and I stepped over to the sink. Opening the medicine cabinet above, I grabbed everything in sight. It wasn't much, but there were a few different types of medications. Leaning down to check under the sink, I snatched up small items I thought may be of use.

Shoving them into my bag, I didn't even bother looking back at the tub. I left the bathroom, shutting the door behind me. Daryl stepped out of one of the bedrooms. "Nothin' in either." He said surely, and I nodded. Turning away from him, I walked quickly out of the second half of the house and into the first. I didn't slow down as I passed through the living room hurriedly and through the door we had come in through.

The fresh air hit my lungs, and I had to force myself to breathe normally, as I trudged toward Rick's vehicle. Once I reached it, I dumped the things I had found into the trunk with the pile of other supplies. I just stood there, staring at the things in the trunk, when Beth came around the side. "Are you..okay?"

"Uh, yea-yea.. I'm fine." I nodded, shrugging back into my bag.

"You saw somethin'." She said surely, and I forced a smile.

"Nah, no... I'm jus' exhausted." I lied, refusing to look her in the eye. "Jus' need sleep is all."

"Looks like they're finished securin' the houses..." Beth trailed off and I looked up to see the others. "Maybe now you can get some sleep."

"Hopefully." I clenched my jaw, but kept my smile held strong. Now is not the time... I thought to myself, leaving the back of Rick's vehicle.

"We're goin' to take that row over there." Rick pointed to the right side. "Those are in good condition. We'll stay a night or two, dependin' on what happens, then it's back on the road. Everyone take some time to wind down, we'll get the store and utility unit taken care of, and I'll get the watch duties set up. Glenn will be first on that house when he gets back, T-Dog on the other."

Everyone agreed to that, and I started toward one of the houses Rick had pointed out. It was a pale yellow color, the door a soft brown. I walked up the walkway, and up the two steps to the door. Opening it, I stepped inside and stopped. The place was furnished with a recliner chair and a large couch. A big t.v. was in the corner, a nice bookshelf across the room with many books filling it neatly. It looked like a nice little place to settle down. But it all had belonged to someone else, at one point in time.

I walked across the living room, reaching the kitchen counter. I sat my bag down on it, and stared blankly at the wall. I could hear shuffling on the other side of the walls, and I heard Beth's voice. It was barely audible, but I knew it was her. I took a breath, feeling the most empty I had ever felt in that moment. When I heard the door click open behind me, I didn't even flinch. I just stood there, feeling void of any emotion. "Ev?"

"Yea?" I turned around, trying to act normal. "Where's Dixie?"

"Carl's got her." He replied, his eyes on mine. He shut the door and locked it. "Gotta hit that store soon."

"Good... Good, that's good.. The store, yea." I nodded, turning to walk toward the back of the house. I reached the bathroom, before I felt Daryl grab my arm gently, pulling me to face him.

"Told you not to go in there." He said gruffly, and I clenched my jaw.

"I'm fine." I managed to say, trying to wrench free of his grasp.

"Ya ain't fine!" He snapped, holding onto me tighter.

"Daryl, let me go." I hissed through gritted teeth, as I tried to pull away.

"No." He growled, pulling me into him. His arms went around me, but I pushed him away, my back bumping into the wall. Covering my face with my hands, I slid down the wall. Pulling my knees to my chest, I wrapped my arms around them, rocking gently. A single tear slipped down my cheek, as I stared at the wall across from me.

"Everything's so fucked." I whispered, as Daryl leaned down to sit beside me. His arm went around my shoulders, pulling me against his chest. Curling into him, I closed my eyes and listened to his heart thumping against my ear. It was the only thing that made me feel alive.

Oh, my goshhhhh, I'm so excited to get into season three. I'm trying not to rush it, but I'm so ready !

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Thank you all for being so PATIENT and LOYAL to my stories. It means the absolute world to me. And of course, thank you for every READ/REVIEW/FAVORITE/FOLLOW !