Title: Get Up and Fight the Fight
Disclaimer: Very much not mine.
Summary: They've all been watching her since the CDC.
Note: Takes place after the deleted Vatos scenes ( watch?v=MFOQZ6Sr_dI) and deals with post-CDC Andrea. Trying to make a bridge between the deleted stuff and what aired, particularly D/A's attitudes toward each other and Andrea's emotional state; not sure if I succeeded, but it needs to get off my computer before season three starts. Title comes from The X-Files.
Daryl grows restless quickly inside the cramped little room.
Most of the group is still only trying to sleep, tossing and turning on the cold tile floor, and the kids are sniffling quietly and being comforted by their mothers, and no matter how hard he tries to get some rest, his eyes keep opening to dart around at the others.
Andrea watches as he finally gives up and sighs, rising to his feet. He shoulders his crossbow, grabs what's left of the booze and slips quietly out the door and into the hall. A minute later, T-Dog walks into the room and sits himself down in Daryl's previously occupied corner. He leans against the wall with a deep sigh, and his eyes close immediately.
She tries mimicking him, tries willing sleep to come, but she can feel Dale's eyes on her from his spot a few feet away. They've all been watching her since the CDC, throwing quick, worried little glances her way when they think she isn't looking. She hates it. It makes her antsy and uncomfortable, and all she wants to do is get away from them.
Idly, she wonders if the group makes Daryl feel the same way.
Andrea debates with herself for a minute before finally standing and heading for the hallway as well. Dale catches her eye as she goes, and she holds up a hand to stop him from following before pulling the door shut behind her.
She pads over to the staircase and finds Daryl sitting on the first step, leaning against the banister. He turns his head and eyes her briefly before going back to fiddling with his crossbow bolts. The bottle sits, open, by his feet.
With a hand on his shoulder to steady herself, Andrea drops down beside him, their legs pressed together in the small space. She watches him work a rag across one of the bolts for a few minutes before speaking.
"I'm sorry," she says, her voice quiet even in the empty hall. "About earlier. I was rude, and you were right."
He looks at her again, his eyes scanning her face and her slumped shoulders and the way she's knotting her fingers together in her lap, and his features soften. He nods an acceptance. "Couldn't sleep?"
"I could ask you the same thing."
He shrugs. "Too wired." He picks up the bottle and sips from it before holding it up for her to take.
She accepts it and takes a long pull. "It's good," she says, coughing and sputtering around the words because she's swallowed too much at once. The liquor burns its way down her throat, and she grimaces.
They sit in silence for a little while, passing the bottle companionably back and forth. Andrea picks up a bolt and runs her fingers through the little feathers at the end.
"Everyone's watching me," she finally says. "Not that I was sleeping all that well before, but… I'm sitting in there, and I can tell they're all just waiting for me to snap."
He nods and gestures to the area behind them. "You want to sleep out here, go ahead. I ain't watching."
"Thanks." She doesn't move to get up yet, though, taking another sip from the bottle instead. Her brow furrows, and she asks, "How do you deal with it?"
"Losing your brother." He looks at her sharply, and she quickly adds, "It's just that you seem to be handling it a lot better than I am."
Daryl's hands still on the bolt and he ducks his head, toeing at the little piece of rubber on the edge of the step. "Merle's still out there somewhere."
"But what if he isn't?"
He doesn't say anything for a few moments, lost in his thoughts, before he shrugs and says, "Then there's nothing I can do about it now. Just got to keep moving."
Andrea blows out a breath. "Why?"
He narrows his eyes and repeats, "Why?" He shakes his head. "These things walking around… they ain't hard to kill. Not really. Dumb as shit, too. Sooner or later, we'll kill them all. Get back to normal."
"And then what?" she scoffs. "Everything is just suddenly fine? Amy comes back to life? I go back to Florida and see my parents? Start taking cases again?"
He shrugs. "Maybe it doesn't go back exactly. Shit, maybe they kill more of us than we do of them. Better to go down fighting, isn't it?"
"Yeah," she says, rolling her eyes. She fidgets with the bolt in her hand. "Maybe one day they'll write about me in history books. Just like Joan of Arc."
Daryl sighs in frustration and leans into her space, then, a hand on the step. He takes the bolt from her fingers and points it at her, his eyes hard and serious, even angry. She flinches and shifts backwards slightly, but maintains eye contact with him.
"Let's cut through the bullshit," he growls. "This whole thing fucking sucks – for everyone. And all this shit you're hanging on to – pain, anger, whatever? It ain't just going away because the old man or anyone else tells you to get past it." A few tears well up and spill down her cheeks, and he continues. "Not any time soon, at least. You need to figure out how to make room for it, though." He snorts and shakes his head. "Hell, you need to learn to use it."
She wipes at her face. "Use it how?"
"Don't let it make you a victim," he says. "Get pissed. Be tough. Stand up tall and fight, girl."
She nods, and he leans away from her to take a sip from the bottle. "I don't know if it's that easy," she says, watching him.
"It's not," he says. "Takes time. Effort. You have to want it first."
The way he says it makes her think he's not just talking about Merle, and not just about the past few days or weeks or months. She prods him gently with her elbow. "Sounds like you have some experience in this area."
He huffs out a breath. "Yeah, well… You see me moping around, feeling sorry for myself?"
"Maybe you should listen, then."
She stares at him for a moment, chewing on her bottom lip. "No promises," she says.
"Hmmph." He picks at the label on the bottle before holding it out toward her. "Here. Go ahead and finish it."
Andrea raises an eyebrow. "You trying to get me drunk, Dixon?" She takes a long swig anyway, emptying the bottle.
"It'll help you sleep," he says. "We got a long day tomorrow."
With a nod, she squeezes his forearm. "Thanks, Daryl," she says. He nods, and she again uses his shoulder as leverage to hoist herself off the steps.
She moves to the landing and curls up on the floor just behind him, her hands under her head and the metal railing at her back. The hall is quiet except for the gentle swiping of his rag along the bolts, and in the stillness, the exhaustion of the last few days suddenly catches up with her.
She only jerks awake twice from nightmares, and in the morning, Andrea considers it a start.