AN: This scene was from a tumblr prompt that wanted Carol and Rick literally bumping into each other.
I own nothing from the show.
I hope that you enjoy! Let me know what you think!
Carol really liked her new purse, a cast off from Michonne's latest closet cleaning, and it was the nicest purse that she'd had in some time, but it was almost impossible to find anything in the bag. She was quickly starting to understand why, without any hesitation whatsoever, Michonne had tossed the bag right into the "donate or sell" box while she'd been trying to make more room in the bedroom closet. Carol had snatched it out immediately, before it had even had time to settle to the bottom of the box, but now she was almost ready to toss it back into a box of her own.
She'd only had the bag two days and, despite its outward appeal, it was the least functional purse ever. Everything she wanted had a way of knowing that it was desired and it immediately migrated to the bottom of the bag and searched out a hiding place in the farthest possible corner. She was lucky that she had nothing to hide and carried nothing especially embarrassing since she'd already had to empty the contents of the purse at the bank and at the grocery store.
Now, most inconveniently, she was probably going to have to empty the thing in the parking lot of the grocery store because her keys, it seemed, had made a run for it.
As she walked through the parking lot, her arms full of bags that she always insisted on carrying out to avoid using a cart and possibly inconveniencing the poor young man that would have to roll them all back in from the parking lot later, Carol was trying to find the keys and keep herself from being run over at the same time. It was virtually impossible and she glanced up only every now and again to make sure that, in her almost drunken stumbling about, she didn't accidentally walk into an oncoming car that was—as they usually were—driving far too fast through the parking lot.
As luck would have it, Carol missed most of the cars in the parking lot, but her rummaging and slow-stepping combo didn't keep her from side-stepping right into another poor citizen who was simply trying to make it to his vehicle.
As if that wouldn't be enough for her embarrassment for the day, running into the man startled her—since she'd been expecting to be killed by an automobile and not a pedestrian—and she jumped enough to let go of the contents of her hand and at least two of her bags.
Apparently it startled him, too, because he dropped some of his own things on the ground.
For a moment, caught up in the whole chaotic event, Carol stood there and stared down at the scattered items—fruit making a break for it down the slight slope of the parking lot—and the man did the same. As though they were puppets functioning on the same strings, they both snapped into action at the same time and set about gathering up items in a hurry.
She darted after his rolling bottle of orange juice. He rescued some of her oranges yet unmade into juice. She found his keys and he located her phone. Someone in search of a park honked at one or both of them out of frustration and Carol apologized verbally to the car as though an Oldsmobile were capable of hearing her and forgiving her the clumsiness of her afternoon.
It wasn't until they had gathered together everything and exchanged bags once and then once again to make sure that they'd gathered the correct items, that either of them even spoke.
"I'm sorry," Carol said. "I wasn't paying attention. I was—looking for my keys."
"I'm Rick," Rick said. He dangled some keys in front of her. "Are these yours?"
"You gave them to me, but they're not mine. They—uh—might've belonged to someone else? Have you run into anyone else?" He asked.
Carol felt her face burn and she shook her head, reaching for the keys. The contents of the pretty but cursed purse had spilled out everywhere and Rick, apparently quite the gentleman, had helped her gather that up while he was gathering up their groceries.
"I'm sorry," Carol repeated. "Did anything get broken?"
Rick glanced into his bag, shook his head, and made something of a gentle shrugging gesture.
"Doesn't look like," he said. "You?"
Carol shook her head.
"Not that I can tell," she said. "But—I know some of it's probably ruined. I wish you'd let me pay for it? It's really my fault that your food ended up all over the parking lot."
Rick shook his head again.
"Don't worry about it," he insisted. "Most of the stuff that could be damaged would probably have gone bad before I used it anyway. I always buy all this stuff with the intention of making something, you know, really nice? But then—it just waits to go bad while I keep eating all the quicker pre-packaged food."
Carol smiled at that. Apparently Rick wasn't married. At least, if he was married, he wasn't married to someone like Carol. Even if her husband—her ex-husband—hadn't had strict punishments in place for tardy or unsatisfactory meals, she never would've let him live on prepackaged and processed food. Neither her husband nor her child would live on that, not if she could help it, and she usually could.
"Carol," Carol said. "Carol McAlister."
"Rick," Rick said again. "But you knew that. Rick Grimes. I'm the sheriff here. I know everyone around here, but I don't think I know you."
"I'm new in town," she said. "Not—not brand new. I mean I've been here...four months?"
He widened his eyes and shrugged at her question. Of course he would. He would have no idea of knowing how long she'd been in town. Carol shook her head and apologized quietly once more.
"I just mean that I'm still getting settled in," she said. She sighed. "And apparently I still haven't learned all the ropes and I definitely need to learn to pay attention to what I'm doing."
Rick laughed at that.
"No harm done," he said. "Welcome to town. Maybe—if you want? I could—show you around or something?"
"I'd like that," Carol insisted, renewing her smile to be more sincere. She bid Rick farewell with a quiet promise that he'd see her sometime, and give her the offered tour, and then she made her way to her car. She only glanced back, once, to see which car he'd gone to and to—though she'd rather choke than admit it—enjoy the view of what Sheriff Grimes looked like as he walked away from the scene of their collision.
Spaghetti straight out of the can, microwaved for a little warmth and a little less congealing, and some prepackaged, grated cheese. A meal fit for a king. That's what it was. That's what Rick told himself. Acting enthusiastic about the food made it seem a little more desirable than it actually was. Really he didn't want it at all, but that's what he had.
Despite the fact that he'd gone to the grocery store, he still felt like he had nothing there to eat. And by nothing, of course, he meant that he had nothing there that he wanted to eat. He had ingredients, but they just didn't appeal to him unless they came in "finished" form. He didn't care for cooking and he wasn't the best cook ever when he tried.
His little collision with the pretty lady—Carol—in the parking lot had cost him a few items. He'd dropped them into her bags, no doubt. If he wanted to blame his poor meal choices on someone, he could blame it on her. He could tell himself that he was having spaghetti because she'd taken what he intended to whip up into a gourmet meal.
Yes, he could say that, but he wasn't going to lie to himself. There was no one else there to lie to, and he wasn't going to start telling himself stories that he knew weren't true. Even if he'd gotten all of his items and half of hers, he'd still be eating slightly warmed, canned spaghetti with packaged cheese melted on top.
He was negotiating with himself, as though he were a child, about how much he had to eat to qualify as a meal, when there was a knock at his door.
The little house that he was renting—his palace since he'd given Lori the house in the settlement to make sure that Carl had somewhere to stay, and the baby too, even if it wasn't his—was small enough that a knock at the door echoed throughout the whole thing. The kitchen and living room was practically a combination room, so Rick didn't have to abandon his dinner and go far to reach the door. He wiped his mouth with a paper napkin as he walked, wondering what Shane wanted or Lori needed since they seemed the only two to ever show up at his door and still felt they were welcome at any hour, and was surprised when he opened it to find Carol standing there.
She was smiling, more sincerely now than she had through her embarrassment in the parking lot, and she was holding a dish and carrying a bag on her arm.
"I hope I'm not interrupting," she said.
Rick glanced quickly around his living room as though he were checking for company that he knew wasn't there, and then he shook his head.
"Not at all, actually," he said. "Come in?"
Carol opened her mouth to protest, but Rick stepped back and waved her in anyway. She came in, slowly, and looked around as she did so. She looked like she expected someone else to be there, so he quickly clarified things for her, even as he was closing the door behind her.
"I live alone," he said. "Except every other weekend. My son comes then."
Carol looked at him, her smile gone, but she quickly replaced the expression.
"You have a son?" She asked.
"Carl," Rick responded. "He's eleven."
Carol chewed her lip.
"I have Sophia," she said. "She's ten. She's having dinner tonight with Michonne."
Rick furrowed his brows.
"Michonne Williams?" He asked.
Carol's eyes lit a little.
"You know Michonne?" She asked.
"I'm the Sheriff," he said. "I know everyone. And Michonne's the best lawyer in this town. How do you know her?"
"I work for her," Carol said. "Well—I work for her, but we're friends now. At least—I think it's safe to say we're friends? I don't want to be presumptuous."
Rick laughed at that.
"If you know Michonne, and you think you're friends, then you're friends," Rick said. "She's never been hard to read if she didn't like someone. She's a pretty solid friend, though, if she does like you."
Noticing Carol shift slightly, Rick reached for the dish that she was carrying.
"Need some help?" He asked.
She seemed to suddenly realize she was carrying something. It seemed that, at least for a moment, she'd forgotten entirely what she had or why she was there.
"Oh," she said. "Oh...thanks. I—I got a few of your things. And I remember what you said. About things just going bad? I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of making you a casserole. It's nothing fancy...but I thought it might be a nice way of saying I'm sorry I ran into you and threw your food all over the ground. It's the least I can do."
Actually it was a good deal. Still, Rick let her know he was amused at her employment of humor in the situation, but he was careful to keep his laughter to a minimum. He knew she was joking, but she was also truly concerned that she'd done something unforgiveable. It was written on her face that she was waiting for some kind of punishment. Maybe she was waiting for him to banish her from his house—from the town, even.
"It's nothing," he said. "Actually? I'm so happy to see this casserole that you wouldn't believe it. I'm having—or I was having—spaghetti and cheese."
"That's not bad," Carol said quickly.
"From a can," Rick said. He saw a wince in response and laughed at himself.
He looked at the casserole and then toward the bag on her arm. She followed his gaze, looked as surprised by the bag as she had the casserole when she'd forgotten about it, and then offered it to him.
"I made dessert," she said. "For Sophia later, but there was a lot. I thought—you might like it."
Rick took it, already feeling like he was the one that owed her some kind of apology for taking so much from her, and then he cleared his throat.
"I can't accept all this," he said.
She furrowed her brows.
"It's really nothing," she stammered. "I wanted to do it. It's nothing."
He shook his head.
"I can't accept this," he repeated. "Unless—you're willing to have some with me? Otherwise I'll just be eating alone, and a lot of it'll go to waste."
"Leftovers," she said.
Immediately she laughed at herself, a soft and airy laugh.
"But—I might just taste it," she said.
Rick was surprised at how relieved he felt.
"Well then," he said. "Have a seat. It's the least that I can do."