I've decided to join fanfic100's challenge at LiveJournal. Let's see how many of these I can write before I give up spectacularly like the big, fat failure that I am.

Prompt #36: Smell


They find themselves in another department store when Rick hears an alien sound.

He turns around to find Andrea behind one of the counters, with a big smile on her face and a small bottle in her hand. A flowery aroma suddenly reaches him and he feels his body relax at it, and it's only then that he realizes she's found some perfume.

He lets her features amuse him as he watches her. She cups the bottle with both hands and continues to smile at it, like she's reliving a precious memory. Rick has never been one for perfumes or colognes, and he hates incense with a passion, but this scent clearly means so much to her that she's forgotten all about the supplies they came here for. It fills him with warmth to see her happy when she's lost so much, when sometimes at night he can hear her crying alone in the darkness as she thinks no one is awake.

And the scent lingers, a combination of some kind of flower and her own natural musk. She wears it nicely, he thinks. It's sweet and delicate, but unyielding, unrelenting. Not at all unlike her.

Suddenly behind him, a different sound. A sound he recognizes all too well and he reaches for his gun but when he turns around it's already too late. The walker stumbles towards him and weighs him down, and all he can concentrate on is the creature's teeth as he attempts in vain to get away from it. It wrestles him down onto the dirty carpets, completely intent on having him as its meal, and try as he might he can't fight it. It's tall and engorged with too much feeding, and so hungry for more that its milky eyes narrow viciously at him.

Rick's life begins to flash before his very eyes as its mouth closes in on his arm, but in an instant everything ceases and the creature goes limp on top of him. When he opens his eyes Andrea stands there, still aiming her gun at the thing's head.

He breathes hard, his eyes on hers for several seconds before he snaps out of it and kicks the walker off of him. Andrea offers him a hand and he takes it, allows her to pull him to his feet. He looks down. There's a hole on the geek's temple and the carpet begins to stain with red. That red could've been his, he realizes heavily. Him bleeding there to death as he's eaten alive. Him lost, gone, so quickly he might've never known he'd died before he came back to become one of them.

The realization sends shivers up his spine.

When he turns to Andrea he finds her still watching the creature with a scowl on her face. He doesn't want to think what would've happened if she hadn't been there. Adrenaline rushes through his blood and he feels an intense urge to embrace her, but he holds himself back. It's not the first time she's saved his life, as he's saved hers in several occasions, and hopefully it won't be the last. But he's never come this close to death before and he's suddenly terrified.

"Thank you," he nods at her but feels it's not enough, feels like falling on his knees before her and kiss at her feet. But this is Andrea. She'd probably kick him, he thinks with amusement.

When she looks up at him her features relax and she smiles. "I was aiming at your head."

He laughs and feels some of the anxiety melt away. Weird to think they can still joke around when every second of every day could be their last. Strange that they can find a moment of peace as they stand over a body, a body that had once been a whole person with a job, a family, friends. He doesn't feel guilty anymore, not really. She uses her humor as a defense mechanism and he leeches off of it, all too often letting her teasing and sharp tongue remind him that there are still things to smile about.

He gives the creature one last look and only then realizes she's still hanging on to the small bottle. It's got a pale lilac color and its scent still lingers in the air despite the presence of the rotting creature by their feet. Closer to her now he can truly smell it better. It's sweet, but soft. Clean and feminine and he thinks that for as long as he lives now it'll always remind him of her, this place, how she saved his life then made him laugh and forget about the world dying outside.

"We should go," Andrea says suddenly, tucking her gun into the back of her pants. "There might be more of them lurking around."

He nods in agreement and starts to gather the few supplies they've found. She does the same, and moments later he catches her looking at the bottle for several seconds as she hesitates.

"You should take it," he tells her. He can see she really wants it, but mostly he wants her to have it. He wants her to have something nice, something that reminds her that not everything is dead. He wants her to smile more. He doesn't know why. But he wants to make her happy, wants that sweet smell around camp to remind him she's safe and sound, that she'll make it to the very end and the scent will become a part of her.

But Andrea shrugs her shoulders and sets the bottle down. "What for? It's not like I have someone to wear it for."

He smiles sadly at her and starts to follow her back to the van.

In the end she doesn't take it with her, despite the fact that he suddenly feels an overwhelming urge to tell her he thinks she should wear it for him.