Title: Reunions
Category: The Walking Dead (Caryl)
Summary: What could have happened later in the evening, after most of the group reunites. A desperate expression of relief for Daryl.
Rating: G – Good for all.
Spoilers: Pretty much the show up to date (No Sanctuary).
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.

I absolutely loved Daryl and Carol's reunion. I know, some may have been hoping for kisses and expressions of love, but a far as TV land goes, this was a biggie. I truly believe Daryl was holding on by a thread when he saw her. I also personally believe Daryl would be with Carol in a minute if he wasn't so unconfident and awkward. That hug was not one of siblings, or mother/son (she's only a few years older than him, people, how the HELL is theirs a mother/son relationship?), and if you DO hug your brother/sister/mother like that… then you may have bigger issues to tackle than the nature of Daryl and Carol's relationship.

Though their desperate desire to be together was shown with actions, I felt they needed some alone time, particularly a private person like Daryl, to express how truly desperate he is for her. I feel like Daryl has a lot of build up emotion in him right now, and he needs to get it out with the only person he can. I know this will most likely not happen, but a girl can dream.

Feedback is very much appreciated, and I'd like to thank you in advance for any kind/constructive comments you may leave. It makes me smile. :)

Reunions are short lived as everyone realizes they have to keep moving. He sticks close to Carol, watches her as she walks, watches her as she interacts with everyone, watches her as she knocks down walkers as if she were born doing it. Her strength amazes him. Her beauty astounds him. In the woods outside of Terminus, he was seriously thinking if all the shit they'd been through was even worth it. Leaning against that tree, his body aching, fatigue setting in, adrenaline quickly slipping away, he wondered what the hell he was even fighting for. Then he saw her.

At night they bunk down outside, weary but happy. Families huddle together, catching up, reaffirming their love and commitment to survive for each other. He doesn't say much, just sits next to her as she tells Sasha and Bob what a good man Tyreese is. Maybe he is a good man, Daryl thinks, but Carol is the one who got her hands dirty. He can't share in the joy. He can't share in the happy, funny stories, in the camaraderie. It's the type of banter they used to have at the prison, but there is no more prison. Part of their group is still missing. They'd almost died, after fighting so hard and coming so far, they'd lowered their defenses for a moment and almost died. It's all too much to bear.

When everyone else falls asleep he slips close to her, lying next to her on the cold ground. He's never touched anyone in an affectionate way in his life, not even his own mother, but he lets one finger graze against the back of her hand. She looks to him.

"What was it like?" he asks, his voice rougher than normal.

"What was what like?"

"Out there. All alone."

She sighs, looking up to the sky. "Lonely. I was scared, but not for me. I was scared for you, and for the children. I stuck close by."

"Why d'ya go?"

"What do you mean, why did I go? I didn't have a choice."

"Ya did have a choice. Ya could have told Rick ta fuck off. It weren't his decision ta make."

"From what I understand, no one questioned him on it."

"I did. I questioned him. I fuckin' questioned him every minute I was without ya, movin' around with Beth, not knowin' where the fuck ya were or if you were safe. Ya coulda come back. Ya shoulda come back."

She holds his hand, and he knows she's trying to calm him; she's done it many times to many people. Her touch burns him, though. It makes him angry that he's had to go without for so long.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. Jesus, Carol… don't be sorry." His voice cracks. He tries to be strong, he really does. But the relief of seeing her, of knowing she's alive, that she's with him, that she's the same strong and beautiful Carol he'd lost so many months ago….

"It's okay, Daryl," she says, her voice filled with tears, "I'm here now."

"Fuck, ya can't leave me like that. I thought I lost everythin'. I thought I lost it all," and though he fights hard not to, Daryl Dixon begins to cry.

"Daryl, Daryl, I'm with you now. I didn't mean to leave you. I never would leave you, not by choice."

"Ya coulda come and told me, Carol. If ya'd told me, I woulda told Rick I was leavin' with ya. I wouldn'ta stayed. Not without you."

"Shh, shh, shh," she murmurs, and turns to face, him, lying on her side, pulling him to her. He surprises her by nuzzling his tear stained face against hers. She reaches up to wipe the wetness from his face, sniffing again as tears make their way down her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Daryl," is all she can say. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I shoulda found you. I shoulda… I shoulda done anythin'. I'm sorry." He places light kisses on her cheek, the side of her nose, the corner of her mouth. She closes her eyes, and he wants so badly to kiss her lips. He wants so badly for some privacy so he can show her everything he's wanted her to know. But he's a chicken. He is always too chicken. Instead, he clings to her as if his life depended on it.

"Don' ever go again," he whispered to her. "Please, please, don't go again."

"I won't, Daryl. I won't." She strokes his cheeks with her thumbs and he falls asleep that way, holding her tight, his hands fisted in her jacket, her hands on his face.