AN: This is a one-shot I was forced to write for my editor in exchange for her reading my sad fics. Expect some silly things coming out of my brain. And some fluff. Who'da thunk that Daryl and Carl might be friends? I didn't. Anyway, I own nothing but the words coming out of my brain. Enjoy! :3
The adventures of Carl & Daryl
"Will you teach me how to shoot that?"
Daryl looked up from his work. He was busy making new bolts for his crossbow. He'd lost too many arrows and he was forced to replenish his supply by sharpening long branches. It was a tiresome process because he had to find just the right length, just the right weight and then he had to pray to the hunter-gods that they were properly balanced enough that he could use them. It was a lot of trial and error but he'd gotten pretty good at it in the time since the walkers had started.
Standing in front of him was Carl, Rick's son. The kid was soft, there was no denying it. He was about ten years old, and felt like more of a burden to Daryl than anything else. Daryl studied the kid, he looked a lot like his dad, dark hair and the same cynical look in his eyes. Or maybe he got that from his mom? Daryl wasn't sure.
"Ah, I don' think yer dad would approve of that." Daryl replied, squinting in the bright mid-afternoon sun.
Carl kicked at the grass beneath his feet. "Na'ah, Dad was happy that I learned to shoot a gun."
Daryl smirked. Of course. "Crossbows are a bit different." He was trying to lose the kid's interest. "Much harder to use than simply pulling the trigger."
Carl took a tentative step forward. "Yeah?"
Daryl swore inwardly, this kid wouldn't back off. "Yer mom don't like me much." He said, trying a different tactic. "I really don't wanna get into a fight with her over this."
Carl sighed. "Mom's always busy doing things." He said glumly. "Like, cooking and making the other ladies do laundry."
Daryl grinned, he couldn't help himself. The way that Carl had said laundry suggested an innate dislike for sudsy water.
"And Dad is always off fighting walkers with Shane." He sat in the grass at Daryl's feet. "I got no one to talk to since Sophia..." He sighed again, dramatically for effect.
Daryl glanced around. The kid was right. Everyone was off doing their own thing. There was no point in arguing with the kid.
"Tell me what you know about guns and I'll think about it." Daryl said finally, defeated by the kid's enthusiasm.
"Never point a gun at anyone unless you mean to shoot them." Carl said immediately. "And point it somewhere safe when you're not sure." He screwed up his face in concentration. "And... you have to turn the safety off if you wanna shoot."
Daryl nodded approvingly. "All right, c'mere." He said, stabbing the bolt he was working on into the ground and picking up his crossbow. He didn't keep it loaded, if someone wanted to pick a fight, the weight of the thing would do just as much damage as a well-placed arrow.
Carl got up and walked cautiously closer to Daryl. The kid was still hesitant around the bigger man. He knew that Daryl had a bad reputation, but he also knew that he had been the only person who had looked for Sophia when she went missing. Something about Daryl intrigued Carl, if he'd known what the word intrigued meant.
"Right." Daryl said awkwardly. He'd had no experience with kids and Carl was almost as big of a mystery as the origin of the walkers. "Well, this is a compound bow."
Carl nodded eagerly.
Daryl wrinkled his nose, really not sure how to teach Carl how to shoot a bow. Daryl didn't remember being taught. He remembered being handed a bow, and a quiver and told to find a deer or else he wouldn't eat.
"The arrow goes here." Daryl said pointing to the top of the bow. "You set it in here and pull this part back."
"Can I try?" Carl asked eagerly. The kid was all but humming with excitement.
Daryl cast a wary glance around the camp again. There was no help in sight, everyone was preoccupied.
With a sigh, Daryl agreed. He handed over the heavy weapon to Carl.
Carl nearly dropped it. "It's heavy!" He exclaimed.
"Yep." Daryl agreed. "Heavier'n a gun. It has to be, all these bits make it work."
Carl nodded and pointed the tip of the bow down, as if it were a loaded gun. Daryl had to admit that he was impressed. At least the kid took the gun safety lessons to heart.
"Okay, here." Daryl said, handing Carl one of the bolts he had made. "Place it in that little groove and pull this piece back to load it."
Carl took the bolt, but he couldn't hold the bow one-handed. He rested the stirrup part on the front of the crossbow on the ground. He gently set the bolt in place. Daryl was impressed again, the kid managed to fit the bolt in on the first try.
A smirk crossed Daryl's face as the small hands struggled to pull the bow back. The kid was determined at least.
"Okay, you're probably not strong enough to do that part." Daryl said gently. "Try putting that bit flat on the ground." He suggested, pointing at the stirrup-shaped piece on the front of the crossbow. "And then hold it down with your foot and pull up instead of back."
"Oh, THAT'S what it's for!" Carl said excitedly. "I wondered what that was, because it didn't make sense before."
Carl was strangely adept at using the bow. With Daryl's new instructions it seemed almost natural to the child to load the crossbow.
Daryl let out a low whistle of appreciation.
"You can shoot it at those trees over there." Daryl said, pointing to their right. "You can see my targets." He added.
Carl nodded. There were a few pieces of thin wood painted with bulls-eyes set up against the trees Daryl had indicated.
Keeping the loaded bow pointed down, Carl turned slowly towards the targets.
"Okay, now get it up against your shoulder." Daryl said, motioning towards the butt of the crossbow. "And you're gonna have to hold it tight there." He added. "Otherwise you could hurt yourself."
"Okay..." Carl said, less confidently than he had been a moment ago. He followed Daryl's instructions, however, and was quickly standing with the bow against his shoulder.
"Now tilt yer head." Daryl said, placing his hand against the mop of dark hair. "Sight like this." He explained, carefully tilting Carl's head.
Carl was receptive to the instructions and didn't resist Daryl moving his head to help him aim.
"When yer ready," Daryl instructed, "pull the trigger."
There was a silent moment as Carl sighted and took his aim. His little arms were shaking, Daryl knew that the bow was heavy but Carl didn't complain.
There was a hissing noise as Carl loosed his arrow. Daryl watched impassively as the bolt sailed through the air and struck the target. It wasn't a bulls-eye, but it was in the next circle out from the center.
"Damn." Daryl said with a chuckle. "Good shot kid."
"Yes!" Carl exclaimed, setting the bow back on the ground to allow himself an arm pump of self-congratulations. His face was lit up in an easy grin of childish innocence. "That was awesome!"
Daryl couldn't help but grin, the kid was really proud of himself.
"Thanks, Daryl!" Carl called. He set the cross bow entirely on the ground and ran off, presumably to tell his mom.
Daryl shook his head and went back to whittling his arrows, wishing that he still found that much pleasure in shooting arrows at targets.