"Who buys a bright orange truck?"

Daryl, up to his elbows in grease and some sort of fluid she couldn't identify, merely tugged again at a rusted bolt.

Carol adjusted the lantern in a failing attempt to give him more light. Her own greasy fingers kept slipping on the metal. "I mean, who walks into a dealership and says,'That one. The orange one. That right there is the truck of my dreams.'"

Daryl tugged again and shook his head in quiet frustration. It was a losing battle there out on the gravel. The battery had gone in easy enough, even under Carol's unsure hands. It was becoming rapidly apparent, however, that the old orange beast was in need of much more than just that.

Sighing, Carol leaned her hip against the truck and turned her attention to the full moon. She listened to Daryl tinker with the hoses just a bit more, though they'd likely reached the end of what they'd accomplish for the night.

She'd loved it, though. Every quiet moment between them. He'd been so patient, at ease and yet shy, as his hands guided hers under the hood. Already she missed their gentle warmth. Missed the feel of him leaned up against her. Missed the way his voice rumbled so close to her ear.

"Son of a..."

She couldn't help but smile as he cut himself off, likely for her. Shaking her head, she continued her musing. "Glenn," she announced with a slight note of triumph.

At last, Daryl removed his head from the engine with a confused sort of grunt. "What about him?"

She smiled softly at the way his hair fell toward his eyes. "Glenn buys an orange truck," she clarified. "That's who walks in and does it."

A huff of a laugh escaped from Daryl as she eased off with the light. "Glenn, huh?" He leaned forward to peer one last time under the hood. "I had a truck like this once," he muttered, testing the strength of a hose with one hand. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. "Same color paint."

Carol blinked in surprise. "Really?"

He nodded for a moment as he leaned back. A crooked grin - one she might have described as shit-eating if she'd been so inclined - threatened his lips. "No."

Carol swatted him lightly with an oily palm.

He grinned even wider, liking the way her eyes seemed to sparkle. Liking that they did that when she looked at him. "Damn thing looks like a pumpkin. You think I'd drive one of these if I had a choice?"

Shaking her head, she offered up a fairly clean towel and snagged one for herself. "Well, there's no accounting for some people's taste."

"Ain't that the truth." He began wiping at his soiled fingers. "Guess beggars can't be choosers."

They quieted for a while as he finished scrubbing his arms, eventually fidgeting with a frayed edge of the cloth. Carol cut the lantern then, leaving them with only the moon.

At least there was now a breeze, reaching them in whispers through the dark. The heat of the day had subsided, and Carol inhaled the cooling night air while savoring the calm that rested between them. Her palm thoughtlessly smoothed the rusting paint. She hated for this evening to end. "You think there's any chance of getting it to run again?"

Daryl shrugged. "Maybe if we find the parts. Already got the battery. Just gonna be more work than I thought. Got all these cracks in the hoses here..." He ran a finger along a wire. "Can mend those up. Just gonna take time."

She nodded, the back of her hand still tingling from his earlier touch. "Best things in life always do."

His features tightened briefly, but he merely nodded his agreement and studied the sky.

Carol tipped her head back, exhaling a breath she hadn't meant to hold. "Thanks for showing me how to change out the battery. And for earlier today."

"Can show you the rest, too. Just need supplies first."

"I'd like that."

He nodded again, daring a glance in her direction. "You got, uh..." He gestured vaguely to his forehead, mirroring the location of a swipe of grease across her pale skin. Her hair was getting longer again, and she'd left behind a mark when she'd absently brushed a strand out of her way.

Her hand fluttered up, but she missed by a bit.

Daryl's cheek quirked in amusement. "Nah, it's more..." Before Carol could react, he'd taken the rag from her hands. Gently, so gently, he wiped away the smudge at her temple. Once, twice, then a third time he eased the cloth over her skin, pausing to peer at the spot after each pass.

So gentle. He seemed to move slower with each delicate brush. She couldn't help the way her eyes fluttered closed.

After the fifth pass, he lowered his hand. She could feel it trail along her cheek. "Got it," he breathed out in an awed whisper.

She opened her eyes.

His eyes were so blue, and so very near. "Thanks." Somehow her feet couldn't take a step back.

She felt grounded and jolted all at once. Her palm twitched, but surely it'd push too far if she reached up to nudge back his hair.

Carol blinked, but the feeling didn't disappear. "I'm glad we came down here."

He nodded. "Me, too." Shifting, he seemed to realize how close they were. Realize how close to the invisible ledge they'd both crept. His hand scrubbed at the back of his neck. Breaking her gaze, breaking the moment, he eyed the truck and cleared his throat. "Just wish we coulda got her runnin'."

"Daryl?" She wasn't ready for it to end.

Whatever it happened to be.

He looked up nervously at the sound of his name.

"It wasn't the cars I liked about today." She chewed on the inside of her cheek, doubting her courage to spell it all out.

But that wasn't needed after all. She should have known. Words usually weren't. Not between them.

Daryl fussed with the rag still in his hands, then laid it over the side of the truck. Swallowing down his panic, he chanced a look at her face. "Me neither."

Heat rushed up his neck and stole his breath. She was damn beautiful when she smiled like that.

A nervous bout of energy had her moving, gathering the rag from the truck's edge. "Anyway, I liked this. All of it." She paused, debating how much farther to push. "And you're a good teacher." Taking a step forward, she raised up on her toes and aimed for his cheek. One hand steadied itself at his firm chest.

He was certain she'd feel the way his heart shook.

A brief peck on his cheek and she pulled away, intending to head straight back inside. Intending to leave him to respond - alone - however he would. But his hand at her wrist stilled her retreat.

Carol's breath caught as her heels found the ground. Her eyes trailed to his fingers circling her skin. The tentative touch on her wrist held her in place. Grounded him and her and the shift in the air.

She looked to Daryl in silent question, and suddenly she was quite sure he'd meant what he said - not about showing her more or anything having to do with the heat of the day.

But he didn't seem to know where to go from there.


He didn't respond. At least not at first. Then his worried eyes darted from hers. "I don't..." The words exhaled in the slightest breath. Carol had to struggle to hear.

"You don't what?"

His fingers trembled against her pulse. She watched the muscles of his jaw clench. "I don't know where to begin."

The memory hit like cold summer wind. The words. Her words, from that afternoon as she looked, confused, on the tangled web of crisscrossed wires.

Uttered just before he'd shown her what to do.

And yet, it was all changing so very fast. Too fast to completely edge out the doubt.

"Where to begin with what?" She needed to hear him confirm with words, to ground her to the fact that this possibility was about to turn into something more.

He didn't answer her with words. Just circled his fingers more firmly around his wrist, easing her ever so slightly closer to him.

She found that response more than enough.

She nodded back the barest of nods. "It's easy."

He didn't pull away, but she felt the reflexive tightening of his fingers still wrapped at her wrist.

His chin fell to his chest, darkened eyes drifting closed. "Got no idea what I'm doin' here. Probably gonna...Probably ain't a good idea."

He released his grip on her wrist, leaning back just a bit.

Pulling away.

"Wait." The word slipped out, oblivious to the fact that he hadn't really gone anywhere at all.

Her fingers chased after his hand, bumping against his knuckles before he yielded and gave in. Allowed her fingers to tangle gently through his.

"Daryl?" The way she said his name - so careful - had him looking up.

She thought for a moment. "You remember what you said to me - earlier today? When I was looking at all those wires? Thinking I'd electrocute myself?"

His eyes met hers and found them shining in mirth, but before he could speak she drew serious and answered herself.

She leaned even closer into him. "I'm not gonna let you get hurt."

Daryl felt his fingers twitch in her hand. Felt the soothing brush of her skin impossibly soft over his. Wondered how it could be that it all came to this. How, after all these months, it all changed in a day.

"Hey," her free palm found the curve of his cheek. He realized then that he'd stared for a while. She shrugged, patiently forgiving his silence. "Just tell me what you're thinking. Tell me what you want."

He thought for sure she could see his heart jump in his chest. Felt like he'd lost all his air. What was he thinking? Fuck, how was he supposed to answer that? He didn't have a clue what he was supposed to say much less any idea about what he wanted.

But even as those thoughts rolled through his mind, he knew they were wrong. He looked at her eyes and pushed out the word. "This." His breath caught in his chest. "I want this."

He was stunned by the tears that caught the moonlight. "Okay."

Blinking, she offered him the barest nod, and he took his cue.

So carefully, he leaned down. Inch by inch, he closed the gap. All the while his heart thundered inside of his aching test. He paused with only a whisper of a breath between then. Paused, giving her the option of turning away.

She didn't. To his absolute shock and wonder, she leaned slightly forward. Brushed her lips softly right against his.

He startled at the touch, inadvertently breaking their tenuous connection. She could feel more than hear his startled gasp.

But he surprised her. Gathered himself up in the very next instant and pressed his lips firmly to hers.

Soft. Warm. And all too quick he was pulling away. Daryl stared at their boots while she blinked in surprise. He sucked in a breath, suddenly too aware of her hand clamped embarrassingly tight inside his own. Carol only smiled when he loosened his grip, but didn't let go.

"Told you," she whispered, easing back on her heels. Her thumb soothed over his palm. "Nothing to it."

If he hadn't been in such shock he'd have laughed. It had taken months, hell, longer than that just to get up the balls. "Not so sure about that."

Her words again, from earlier that day.

At that his hand slipped away. Suddenly empty, hers fidgeted at the back of her neck before she stilled it at her side.

"You did just fine." Her head dipped to catch his eye. When he dared to look, he saw her grin. "Though I'm willing to practice more if you'd like." She raised an eyebrow in teasing offer.

Daryl flushed red, though she thought she saw the start of a smile. It didn't last long, though. His face drew up in twisted worry. "You okay with this?" he asked softly. It had all snuck up on him so fast. He hadn't planned to kiss her. Hadn't planned whatever this feeling was inside of his chest.

But there she was, looking up at him like he hung the damn moon. "I'm more than okay with this."

He scratched at the back of his itchy neck. "'Cause it ain't just..." Ain't just a kiss or a one time thing. Ain't something unimportant. Ain't just because of that sweaty shirt or the way you looked out there in the sun or down here under the moon. But none of those things were quite right. He drew in a breath. "It ain't...nothin'." His boots scuffed the ground and he scowled at the gravel, frustrated by his inadequate words.

"I know." She paused. "It's not nothing. I think...it's something."

His head whipped up. The way she said it...She understood.

"It's..." Her eyes drifted over under the hood. "It's just gonna take some time."

He glanced over at the tangle of hoses. "Best things in life do," he echoed her earlier words.

"Yeah." Her lips pressed together against the smile. Carol reached once more for the discarded rags, gathering them easily in her arms. "Gotta be almost midnight. You're on watch?"

He eyed the moon with a regretful nod. "Yeah. Best be heading up."

"Okay," she acknowledged with a soft smile. "Daryl?"

He looked up and she felt herself blush.

"I know it's not nothing." She pressed her lips to his cheek one more time, pleased when he didn't pull away. She whispered the rest into his ear. "All it takes is one little spark."

A/N: Thanks for reading! This one most likely ends right here, but I hope it's gotten me back in the habit - or at least made someone smile.

(In memory of The Pumpkin Truck)