Here's a little contribution to the USS Caryl "Emotions" fanfiction/fanart challenge on tumblr.
Again, I disclaim all the stuff and things.
The smell of cooking food stirred him from his station and he glanced over at her, watched her lift her nose to the wind and smile.
Crystal blue eyes stole his full attention, held them.
She always held him strong once she caught him, damn her.
"Maggie's been doing the cooking so long I've forgotten if I'm even any good at it or not. I should probably volunteer to take over for her…."
He huffed. Lifted his bow from the floor of the tower and slung it over his shoulder, watched her do the same with her rifle just as the call for lunch lifted to their ears.
"Never had any complaints with your cookin' myself. Getting kind of tired of eating burnt eggs, too."
She laughed, and it sang in his brain and melted it.
She patted his shoulder and shot him a bright smile,
"Fine, you've inspired me, Mr. Dixon. I'll take back over for awhile."
She was hopping, goddammit, bouncing on the balls of her feet like a jackrabbit, hoisting the bow high like a trophy. If not for the fact that they were outside the fences, exposed, she probably would have shouted in her elation.
Daryl shook his head, handed her another bolt.
"Good shot. Want another go?"
She giggled like a kid at Christmas. He hated her so much in that moment, hated that she looked at him like he was the brightest light in her entire world.
When she took the bolt, her fingers held his for a second and squeezed.
He shuddered and bit back a grunt.
She hopped again, energetic, and drawled out an excited "Oh, yeah" before bending to set the bolt into place.
They were clearing one of the storage houses that day, and it was all peaches and cream until she suddenly stepped back from a box, dropped an old prison uniform she'd grabbed up from it and whirled around, racing all the way back to the block.
He hesitated a moment, saw Glenn shrug as Hershel nodded his way.
He followed, swift on his feet and they brought him to her cell on the top tier, just next to his.
Carol sat at the edge of her bunk, doubled over, breathing ragged and quick.
An alarm sounded in his head.
"Hey, you a'ight?"
"Yeah, I'm good. I'm fine. Everything's okay, just….head on back to the—shityou'vegottobekiddingme!"
He blinked. Cocked his head as she cursed the floor.
"Yer lying to me. The hell's goin' on?"
She lifted a hand (it had been clamped onto her stomach) and tried to wave him away, head shaking.
"Nothing, Daryl, I'm fi—"
He snatched her hand in the air, bent down to her level and looked down, tried to pinpoint any trace of blood from the bite she might be hiding.
Her free hand reached out, pushed against his shoulder, confusing and further irritating him.
Why wouldn't she just tell him what it was?
"You bit? You hurt? Sick?"
She sighed, loosened the pressure against his shoulder and pulled back.
Looked him in the eye and proceeded to break the fuck down, crying silent tears.
What the fuck, what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck!
And then she shook her head again, laughed even as liquid salt trickled down her cheeks.
What the hell, was she high?
"I'm on my period, Daryl!"
His mouth forgot how to close for a moment, and she laughed at him still. Pulled her suspended hand from his to reach back down and grip her tummy.
"Ugh, I haven't had one in months and I thought…I thought, you know, I was going through the 'change'. Plenty of women hit it a little early. But I guess…it was stress, I don't know, but Jesus, it's come back with a damn vengeance, and it….it just hurts like hell okay? Just give me a minute and I'll be back out there….probably…"
At some point he'd stood, pulled back away to stare at her hands as they clutched her lower abdomen.
He blinked, shifted in place and processed the excess of information she'd unloaded onto his unprepared ears.
The tears stopped abruptly, however silent they had been, and she smiled up at him. He knew she thought his nervousness hilarious in some way, and he tried (tried so hard) not to let it get to him.
When she spoke, her voice was light but low.
"Sorry. You just, well, you happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. I feel a little better already, now that I've ranted."
A crick hit his neck and he realized he'd cocked his head again.
Raising a hand to his face he rubbed a thumb against his forehead and then brought it down to nibble at the nail,
"Hell, whatever makes ya act normal again."
There's an itch under his skin that bristles and burns whenever she goes off on a run with someone and he'd not included.
At first, he tells himself it's just concern. He worries, despite knowing full and well she can take care of herself.
He worries because goddammit, the world is absolute shit now and who knows what could happen. He worries even when he's right there next to her, because what if he looks the other way and she fucking drops dead for no reason?
No, his skin doesn't go to itching when he watches her get in the back of a truck with a rifle and an empty duffle bag to fill.
No, No, No,
It's when he looks at the people around her, at Beth curled up at her side, shoulder brushing hers playfully. At Hershel reaching out to hand her something she forgot.
At Rick, raising his fingers to brush against the back of her shirt in passing as he makes for the driver's side—
It itches, it bristles, it burns, and he knows he's jealous, or something beyond it, and he knows it's because she means something to him that she doesn't mean to them, and he wants those smiles all to himself, and he wants that playful shoulder nudge, and wants to bare his teeth at Rick and tell him to go tickle Michonne's back for Christ's sake,
And he hates the world for feeling like he owns her, because he doesn't.
Couldn't. Even if she gave herself to him.
And that just makes the burn even worse.
At some point between Rick's return and the conversation about Carol, he'd decided he wanted to destroy the universe.
He wasn't quite sure how he was gonna go about it, but he didn't a single flying shit at the moment. The powers-that-be (God, the Devil, aliens, whoever it was, because dammit, somebody had to hate him so much as to do this to him) had given him the ultimate finger and taken the one person in their shitstorm world and….
Taken her from him?
Sent her away. Transformed her. Mutated her into something he couldn't accept.
He seethed, right there in front of Rick, who stood hesitant and wary, but unmoving. He felt right in what he'd done.
(And had Carol? Was she really without remorse, a single fucking drop of it?)
It didn't matter, because she was gone, and he couldn't ask her himself.
He balled his fists, wanted to shake them, wanted to fly them forward into the nearest skull.
A glance at Rick and he both deflated and fumed even harder.
His brother, by all rights now, had cast out his….
Carol, and fuck, fuck, fuck, he wanted to rip the world in two, wanted to snap his fingers and make the sun explode, wanted to watch hell rain down on everything because he was selfish and furious and vengeful, and she was special to him goddammit, and he needed to look her in those bright blue eyes and see the answers for himself, and Rick had taken that chance away from him.
And he couldn't hate Rick for it, couldn't damn his brother for trying to protect his family, and that just made him grit his teeth and seethe all the more.
Nails pricked his palms. His head pounded.
What he would give to be God himself, with the ability to change everything.
Or a demon, a devil, with the power to set it all aflame.
But there he was, a man in a world of monsters, both living and dead.
He was Daryl, and he was human, and he was helpless.
And he hated everything and everyone, but he didn't.
And he hated her more than anything,
And he didn't.
Not in the least.
Not at all.