Prompt for contest on Tumblr. Thought I'd give it a shot.
The Walking Dead isn't mine.
Daryl paced at the bottom of the stairs, biting at his thumb nail before glancing up the staircase again. He'd just returned with Rick from a week long run. They'd pretty much tapped out on supplies nearby and had been starting to expand their runs to areas progressively further from their home at the prison. This one had been worth the trip and they'd been eager to get back and show off their bounty.
He was anxious to show Carol the things he'd found for her. She never asked for much, so he always made the effort to locate the things she felt strongly enough about to add to the list. As soon as he'd noticed her at the top of the watchtower, he'd hopped out of the back of the truck with his bow and backpack, not waiting for the truck to come to a complete stop.
Problem now was he'd just remembered how they'd parted a week ago. Everyone had gathered, same as always, to see them off. Carol stood off to the side, never one to crowd him. He'd walked away from the others to stand next to her. She'd smiled at him. The same smile he'd come to expect and had decided was saved just for him. He'd caught himself craving her smile occasionally and seeking her out just to feel her eyes on him. He basked in the warmth.
"You got a list?" He'd asked, grateful for something specific to say. Not that she ever complained about their prolonged silences. He was never uncomfortable in her company. She didn't expect anything from him.
Carol had handed over the scrap of paper and he'd glanced at the list, not really reading it. Shoving it in his pocket had given him something to do with his hand.
"Stay safe." She'd said, echoing his usual parting words. She'd grinned cheekily, as if she'd stolen his words on purpose. He'd grunted, in an attempt at smothering a laugh. Her eyes had been twinkling at him.
Then, on a sudden impulse, he'd grasped her upper arm, pulled her towards him and had kissed her on the forehead. It had been a clumsy effort. He'd nearly pulled her off her feet and the kiss was more like a quick bump against her head. "You too." He'd managed to get out, before pushing her back and joining Rick in the truck. He hadn't been able to look back. Didn't want to see what her response might have been to his strange behavior. Rick hadn't commented.
Now, knowing he was just a few steps away from her, he faltered. He wished he wasn't so damned useless at stuff like this. Whatever 'this' was. He wasn't completely clueless. She'd managed to lay claim to a part of him that he barely recognized and would deny possessing with his last breath. He suspected, at times, these tender feelings were dangerously close to surfacing. He also suspected that Carol saw right through him. He had no idea why she was so patient with him.
Letting out a long breath, Daryl ignored the knot in his gut and climbed the stairs. Better to face her now, without everyone looking. His heart pounded violently in his chest as he reached the top of the stairs.
"I was wondering what happened to you." Carol said the moment he opened the door and joined her. There was that smile. It came so easy. He could only meet her gaze for a second before he had to look away.
"Things been quiet?" He asked, turning his attention to the grounds below them, the fences and the treeline.
"Not a peep." She said. "Looks like you had a good run."
"We did alright." Daryl nodded. He felt himself relaxing, realizing Carol wasn't going hassle him about the kiss. He'd forgotten that Carol was used to receiving small gestures of affection. He'd seen Rick hug her a dozen times. Didn't mean nothing.
"I'm just glad you're back." Carol said.
Daryl froze for a moment, unsure how to react. He shifted uncomfortably and finally settled on nodding at her again.
"That was some weird shit on your list." He said, needing to shift the focus away from himself. He was a God damned pussy sometimes.
"You think so?" Carol asked. "It's okay if you couldn't find everything."
"Didn't say that." Daryl puffed himself up. "Come on." He led her just inside the lookout where he'd left his backpack.
The first item he handed her was a toddler toothbrush. He'd even managed to find a pink one, assuming it was for Judy.
"She ain't even got teeth yet."
"Not yet." Carol agreed. Her fingers brushed his as she took the toothbrush from him. "But they're coming soon. This will help with teething. She can chew on it."
"Never thought of that." Daryl admitted.
"Well, I have been through all of this once before." Carol said, coming close to talking about Sophia. Which they never did. "I'm assuming you haven't." She said, smiling brightly again. As if someone had turned on a switch. It made him dizzy sometimes, trying to keep up.
"Raised a baby."
"Fuck no. I ain't got no babies."
"You never know. You don't talk about yourself much." She said, staring at him.
"Not much to tell. Nothing good, anyway." Daryl shrugged.
"I doubt that." Carol said, but she didn't press him. She was good like that. Knew when to back off.
Daryl forced his eyes off of her and turned his attention back to his backpack. "You said purple, but there must have been twenty fuckin' different ones. Hope this works." He handed her the balls of wool. This time he let his fingers brush over hers and lingered a second longer than he had to before letting go.
"Thank you." Carol said. "This should do the trick."
"I ain't ever seen you knitting." Daryl observed.
"That's because it was going to be a surprise." She said. She reached behind her on the counter she was leaning against and grabbed a shoe box that had been sitting there. She opened the lid and pulled out a purple scarf. "I thought it should be a bit longer."
Then in one fluid movement, she threw the scarf over his head and used it to tug him closer to her. "Do you like it?" She asked.
She was still smiling, but her eyes revealed something else. Something that matched the hammering of his own heart. She tugged a little more on the scarf.
"You up here knitting when you're supposed to be on watch?" He asked, needing to clear his throat before the words got out.
"Only when I've got a partner." She insisted, continuing to pull gently on the scarf. He took a step closer to her.
"You don't need to make me nothing." He said roughly.
"I know. I wanted to."
Daryl's hand reached up and met her's at the end of the scarf. "I like it." He managed to say. He wasn't sure what she wanted or what he should do.
"I missed you." She said. And waited. He knew he could still get out of this if he wanted to, but he liked the direction he was being pulled in.
"Yeah. Me too." He confessed.
Her hand reached up toward his face and he jerked back reflexively. She paused, her hand hovering in mid-air.
"Sorry." Daryl hung his head, embarrassed. He was ready to just stomp off, but the scarf had him tethered to her.
Carol remained silent, but her hand continued it's journey, cupping his jaw and turning him to face her. She twisted the scarf with the hand he was still grasping, pulling him flush with her and forcing him to stoop a little. She leaned forward, closing the remaining distance and pressing her soft lips against his.
It was only when she pulled back a heartbeat later that he realized he'd forgotten to respond. He moved forward to reclaim her mouth, banging his head against hers in his haste.
"Ain't funny." He shifted, ready to untangle himself and get the hell out of there. There was only so much humiliation he could take. Carol was faster, as if anticipating his get away.
"I'm not laughing at you." She whispered, moving her hand behind his head.
"This a scarf or a fuckin' snare?" He groused.
She ignored him, pulling him in for another kiss. After a moment he was able to drop his shoulders and relax. He carefully matched the movement of her lips, soft and tender. A part of him couldn't believe they were doing this. It hadn't been his plan when he joined her on the tower. He'd just wanted to see her. Couldn't wait. And now couldn't believe they hadn't been doing this all along.
He let go of the scarf and grabbed on to her hips, lifting her up onto the counter. She parted her lips and he deepened the kiss, pressing himself into her. Her hands were in his hair and he groaned into her mouth. He wanted more. He let his fingers travel underneath the hem of her shirt and caressed her skin.
The sound of the door opening had Daryl jumping backwards, off of Carol and onto his backpack which let out a loud squeak.
"Rubber duck?" Carol asked, amused.
"Daryl?" Rick called, his head poking around the corner.
"What?" Daryl asked, picking up his bag, finding the duck, and tossing it to Carol.
"Deer in the field, out by the west fence." Rick informed him. "Thought you would have spotted them yourself..." He paused, glancing between the two of them.
"That all?" Daryl asked. "Deer?"
"Let's go hunt." Rick said.
"Give me a minute." Daryl said.
Rick nodded, pausing before going back through the door. "Nice scarf."
Daryl was certain he saw the man grinning as he headed back down the stairs. He looked down at the scarf around his neck and pulled it off. He folded it carefully and put it back in the shoe box.
"Maybe you could set your trap again another time." He said, flushing.
"I'd like that." She said, smiling.
He pulled her off of the counter and back outside to scout the west fence. He could see three deer in the field and a couple more just at the edge of the forest. If they could bag one, they'd eat well tonight. He had to go. Rick would just scare them off. The man was well aware of this fact, which is why he'd come for Daryl.
Daryl felt Carol's thumb running over his hand, and realized he hadn't let go of her yet.
"They're such beautiful creatures." She observed. "Look at them, so blissfully unaware of what's happened. They're so innocent. And they're strong, too." She continued, eying him. "They're often described at skittish, but I think it takes a lot of strength to stand in an open field, vulnerable, but with such poise. And ready to run at any moment. All that coiled power, ready to be released. There's a majesty about them."
Daryl snorted. "Yeah. Deer are fuckin' majestic. I prefer to think of them as tasty. You going to eat any of this meat I bring back or are you feelin' sorry for them now?"
"Not at all." Carol said, pulling his hand up to her lips. "They have their place and we have ours. And like you said, tasty." Her tongue darted out and licked the length of his finger.
Daryl snatched his hand back as if she'd burned him. He pushed her up against the wall of the lookout and pinned her there with his body.
"Woman, I don't want to start something I can't finish."
"Just wanted to give you something to think about while you're hunting." She said, grinning mischievously.
"You've given me plenty to think about." Daryl admitted. He lowered his mouth and met hers, easily this time. "Always have." He confessed as he stood back from her.
"Well, don't be gone too long." Carol said.
He was trying very hard not to be pissed at Rick and the whole damned world.
"Gonna break every God damned record in the book." He promised. "Don't even bother getting those knitting needles out."
He grabbed his crossbow and paused at the door, looking back at Carol. She was leaning on the rail, looking out to the west. At the deer. It was a hell of a view.