Here is a small thingy: A prompt-fill for the latest USS-Caryl fanfiction/fanart challenge on tumblr.
Prompt: Caught in the rain.
Please enjoy. And don't sue, because as you know, I don't own!
They had to go on the bike.
Carol heard, even over the motorcycle's roar, the low grumble of thunder over their heads. She tapped his shoulder, pointed upward to the darkening sky and watched him glance up and nod, refocus on the dirt road that wove through the fields.
It had been gathering when they left: a quick run to a run-down gas station in the middle nowhere, where they luckily dug up everything from toilet paper to half-filled gas cans. It wasn't without some doing, though, with the two of them practically jumping from the bike to swing and shoot away at the small collection of Walkers wandering in and out of the building.
Carol had cut through necks and jabbed into skulls without ceremony or hesitance, the static in the air around them telling her a storm wouldn't be long in coming. By the time they were clear and scavenging, sprays of dead, black blood decorated her clothes, her skin, even her hair.
Now, rolling over the empty hills with zips of lightning above their heads, Carol cared far more about getting back to the safe haven of their prison home than she did the stink of death on her person.
It was no more than the man in front of her was donning, anyway.
The bottom fell out, and they still had two miles to go.
"Shit", was the rumble that drifted to her ears, and Carol swore she could feel the word vibrate through Daryl's chest into her own.
Light and sound cracked and ripped around them, an impressive display that she would have appreciated were it not for the clear danger it posed to their continued existence.
Rubber tires on the bike, though….wait, had that ever been proven true? She couldn't remember anymore.
Their clothes soaked through within seconds, and the rain whipped against them, hard, painful. Like tiny needles that never ended, and it only hurt worse when Daryl increased speed in his desperation to get them home.
She bent inward against him, hid her face from the rain behind his back. Felt sorry that he had no such protection.
When the trail cut into woods, woods that she knew would open back up right in front of the prison yard, she smiled into the wet leather.
The rain eased up under the canopy of trees, but with Fall setting in many of the trees were losing their leafy shields quickly.
At the thought of the cold a chill drove home down her spine.
Carol shivered, violently. Teeth chattered even as she clamped them together to prevent them.
The bike slowed slightly and she felt Daryl move, his head twisting to glance back at her briefly.
Thunder crashed and drowned his reassurance, but she heard it all the same.
He turned away before she could meet his eyes and smile.
It was still pouring on their heads when they got inside the gate, Michonne rushing to lock it up and help them tote their score into the block.
Rick waved their way from his perch in the one intact tower, another crash of thunder sending his head jerking around almost laughably.
Relieved smiles greeted them when they ducked into the dry stillness of the block, many of the older Woodbury residents waving as they kept close to the wary children who jerked every time the thunder rolled.
Maggie approached, arms rising to hug her; Carol watched the younger woman halt as she closed in and lower her arms halfway.
"Good God, you're soaked!"
Looking down Carol found water dripping heavily from her clothes, pooling onto the concrete floor around her feet.
She shrugged. Shivered slightly.
Michonne brushed past, taking the pack from Carol's hand and shaking the water from her woven hair in silence. The two met eyes and she could have sworn she saw the woman grin before jerking an arm towards the staircase, where Daryl was already heading up to their cell.
She hesitated for a moment; it had only been a week or so since she and Daryl had agreed to share his space to make more room in the main block. So far the "changing of clothes" had been something they ducked and weaved around with each other. Somehow, it was different now than it had been over the past winter. Everyone had stripped and donned as necessary, in front of whoever was around. They didn't care then, because they were too busy getting it all done as quickly as possible so they could either cuddle up as a group to sleep in the cold or jump into their vehicles and get the hell out of the area before the herd got too thick.
Carol even recalled several times when she and Daryl had paused to glance at each other mid-strip; his scarred flesh always sent her frowning and she wondered now if the crease in his eyes as they flitted across her face was insecurity or understanding.
Her pants sloshed as she made her way up the steps.
Carol shook her head to herself when Beth giggled at the sound below.
She decided not to appear as nervous as she felt.
His room was hers too now, after all, and Carol walked on in as Daryl pulled a pair of dry pants over his hips and continued to rub a towel over his matted hair.
He glanced at her before pulling the towel away and buffing it over his bare shoulders, finally slinging it over the left to busy himself with his bunk, fishing through a pile of freshly cleaned clothes to find a dry shirt.
She swallowed a bit as she pulled her own heavy, water-logged shirt over her head, grimacing at the way the long sleeves clung to her arms and bit them with cold as she peeled them from her wrists.
Tossing it into the corner to join Daryl's own, she focused next on the godawful task of fighting her way out of her jeans.
Daryl hovered just next to her, finding a shirt and pulling it over his head quickly. She caught him glance over from the corner of her eye, just barely heard the low grunt in his chest as he watched her bend over a bit to peel away the denim from her legs.
A blush toasted her face in the same moment another chill wracked her body, and she ducked toward her bottom bunk, pushing Daryl from her sight as she grabbed at the first dry set of clothes she could find.
A stillness seemed to permeate the room and as she clutched the pants and tee shirt in one hand Carol momentarily hesitated to duck back out from under the bottom of his mattress.
Another rush of cold to her spine, and her skin prickled with chill bumps. A visible shiver tore through her and she nearly cursed out loud.
Pulled out to straighten and begin dressing into something warm.
And then, fingers brushed against her bare shoulders, and she froze again.
Turned her head just slight enough to see Daryl just behind her, raising the damp towel he'd used to her head. She swallowed again, remembered to breathe and found a smile warming her entire body as she realized he was massaging away at her hair, pressing the cloth into her scalp and squeezing slightly near the ends to release the excess water.
She didn't move, and he didn't speak.
Carol stood half naked in their cell and let Daryl tend to her rain-soaked hair, and in the several long, quiet moments between him starting the task and finishing it, she didn't dare try to question his actions or their intent.
She didn't once feel her trust in him waver.
The towel slowly fell across her shoulders, and the warmth of the man slipped back and away.
Carol willed herself to turn- clothes still in hand- and face him.
She caught the way his eyes flickered down and up and then away, and she literally bit into her lip to stop the wicked grin that threatened to worm its way home.
He didn't move as she pulled the towel off of her and tossed it behind her onto his bed, bending down again to pull on her dry set of pants. Eyes wandering around the cell, Daryl seemed to be waiting patiently for her to dress and join him back downstairs.
Something bubbled in her gut and she happily let it simmer as she pulled the tee shirt over her head. It was too big for her, old and worn and full of holes.
It was his.
Carol smiled at him then, noted his flickering gaze and small, awkward grin.
She was much warmer, now.