Author's Note: My response The USS CARYL'S first Kinky/Non-Kinky Drabble Challenge prompt: "Carol tries to convince Daryl into finally letting her cut his hair."

I'm sorry, I thought long and hard about making this a response to 'a haircut turns sexy', but I couldn't get beyond the thinking, because I am a smut failure. /sigh

Disclaimer: The Walking Dead is not mine. I can't has it They don't even answer my repeated requests anymore.

The sound of his boots echoing on the concrete floor. It's intentional, a kindness. He's taking mercy on her frayed nerves after ghosting in and startling her out of her skin at least half a dozen times after the past few months. They'd laughed together afterwards. It's sweet how easily she can make light at her own expense. Even so, enough is enough. He doesn't actually like seeing her frightened.

It isn't until he pauses in the doorway that she stops humming and looks up to acknowledge his arrival with a smile. He smiles back at her, hesitantly. It's a new expression for him, still feels awkward after years of falling back on his trademark scowl.

She's still sweeping up a pile of straw colored hair from her last victim. He crosses the bathroom, giving her pile of clippings a wide birth and hefts himself with easy grace to a casual seat atop the vanity where she'd set up shop. She's been shut away down here all day providing a service he considers so trivial as to be pointless, but she's intent on it. Insists it's 'one of the small comforts that makes being here feel more like living and less like surviving'.

He watches her bend over and sweep the remnants into a dust pan. She languidly props the broom up against the wall, and then saunters his way. His pulse quickens until he realizes she's only dumping the pan into the little trash can he hadn't realized was tucked away just beneath him. She's dusting off her hands when she straightens up, and eyeing him with a long, fixed stare.

"You know, you look a little like this guy I met just outside of Atlanta."

"Oh yeah?" he asks indulgently, sensing she's drawing him into another of her little teasing games that leave him tongue tied, but feeding into it anyway because they make her happy, "Decent sort?"

"The best." She answers without hesitation. He chews his lip and averts his eyes down to his feet. He'd stepped right into that one. Still uncomfortable when it comes to praise, he's caught off guard when she dives her fingers into his overgrown locks, pushing her fingernails over his scalp to comb through the tangled mess.

"Something around the eyes…" she presses, tilting his head from side to side to study him intently. It's overwhelming. All of it. The rush of adrenaline as she unexpectedly initiates contact. The uneasy feeling of surrendering control without the accompanying fear. Hell, even just the physical sensation. He hadn't realized how sensitive and rife with nerve endings his scalp was. Before he can recover he's let a soft groan slip.

Her lips curl into a devious little smirk at this rare glimpse behind his façade of invulnerability.

"Why do I get the feelin' you're refusing this just to make me crazy?"

He locks eyes with her, relying on the weight of his flinty stare to carry him where he flounders with words, "Hard ta' say. Do I really strike you as a guy that's ever given a shit 'bout his hair?"

Her eyes sparkle and her mouth gapes with whimsical outrage at his offhand admission. In an uncharacteristically bold turn she closes her fist, locking the brown strands entwined around her fingers and holding them taut. Her free hand produces the forgotten cutting shears from the counter and raises them at him menacingly.

"You may be the only holdout left, but the Philistines are upon you, Samson."

"Go ahead. Do it."

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath before releasing him, "No. I can take it as long as you can."

He gives an impertinent snort and hops off the counter.

"You ready to get out of here yet? Grub's on."

"Yeah, I'm ready." She folds, falling into stride next to him.

"Maybe tomorrow?" her voice trails behind them through the corridor.