It was early the next morning, the sun barely shining in the sky when I woke up. Sometime in the middle of the night, Riley had gotten off my lap and lay down on a patch of ground beside me, and I too was lying on the ground, but with my head resting on Daryl’s chest and my arm lying across him. I carefully sat up, blushing at the thought of being so close to my savior as he slept, and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I looked down at the still sleeping Daryl. His head was resting on one arm while the other was draped over his eyes. From what I could see of his face, he looked peaceful and I marveled at that fact. This wasn’t the side of Daryl I or anyone else got to see.
“What are ya lookin’ at, woman?” Daryl’s southern drawl grumbled catching me off guard and causing me to jump slightly.
I blushed, again, at being caught staring. “Sorry,” I said as I hurriedly looked away and began messing with my hair, trying to brush out the knots with my fingers. There was no use in trying to make excuses; he already knew that I liked him. He sat up and smirked before rubbing his hands across his face. We sat there in silence a few minutes, staring at the dying embers from last night’s fire. Events from the past few days started playing in my mind. How he kissed me back at the farm. How I kissed back. How last night he offered his shoulder to sleep on.
Movement caught my eye as I looked over at the wall were Rick was keeping guard. More movement caught my eye as I saw Glenn and Maggie begin to wake up. Rick noticed, too, and made his way over to them.
“As soon as you can, I’d like for you to go on that gas run,” Rick spoke quietly as to not disturb the others.
“We can go now,” Glenn said, looking to Maggie for conformation. She nodded, agreeing that now was a good a time as any.
Rick nodded and looked across the fire to Daryl. “I need you to try and find some food for everyone. You and Chelsea are our best hunters.”
Daryl nodded and stood up, grabbing his crossbow and securing it on his back. “Rick, you’ll watch Riley for me won’t you?” I asked, standing up also.
“Yeah, I’ll let him know you’ll be back.”
I smiled graciously at him and turned to Daryl. I already had my knife and my gun, the one I gave Riley at the farm, on me. I followed Daryl into the woods, like I’ve done so many times before. It was a quiet morning, the sun now peeking through the trees to light our way. It was pretty cold this morning and all I had was Daryl shirt. I pulled it tighter against me hoping the sun would start to me warm me up. We walked for about ten minutes without seeing anything.
“Think we scared everything off?” I joked walking a bit closer to Daryl, his body heat keeping me slightly warmer.
“Yeah, they saw you and scattered.”
“Hey! Rude!” I feigned a hurt expression and lightly smacked his arm.
“Truth hurts,” He remarked.
“Bitch!” I laughed; he shortly joined in with his own chuckle. “You know, I don’t think I’ve heard you joke the entire time I’ve known you, but let’s be honest it hasn’t been that long. Like what a month?”
“Somethin’ like tha’,” He responded.
We fell back into silence as we continued our search for food. I thought back on our little joke/conversation we just shared moments earlier. It was strange seeing Daryl as anything other than hard and cold, but it was a refreshing relief that there was something underneath that hard exterior. After about an hour, we’d finally caught a few rabbits and squirrels.
“I don’t understand why Rick say’s a good hunter or tracker. You’ve caught everything so far!” I said as we started our trek back towards camp.
“Ya fended for yourself and your brother just fine,” He responded glancing back at me seeing as I was walking a few paces behind him.
“Yeah, I set traps. During the day I’d find a trail or something, set a trap and the next morning we’d have food if a walker hadn’t gotten to it first. I never went out and actually hunted.”
He didn’t comment, just shrugged his shoulders.
“So much for conversation,” I grumbled.
We continued on in silence. The only noise was the sound of our feet on the ground. And that’s when I heard it; the quiet moans and growls of a walker. “Dary-” I started but was cut off by a walker jumping from behind a tree and reaching its decaying arms out towards me. I stumbled back, dropping my knife in surprise. My back slammed into a tree as I tried to back away from it. Its rotten hands latched onto my shoulders as I attempted to push it away from me. It bared its teeth as it lunged for my throat. I clasped my eyes shut and waited for the agonizing pain I knew was the come. But it never happened. I felt the walker’s hands ripped from my shoulders and I quickly opened my eyes to see Daryl had thrown it on the ground and had smashed its head in. I took in a shuddering breath as my knees wobbled, threatening to give out on me.
“Are you ok?” He questioned turning to me and placing his hands where the walkers had been and looked for any scratches it might have left in its wake. I continued to shake too shocked and embarrassed that I didn’t do anything to answer him. “Hey,” He said softly, cupping his hand against my cheek forcing me to look at him. His blue eyes locked onto my brown ones and we held contact. I was so mesmerized by his eyes that I didn’t even realize he was leaning in until his lips brushed against mine. I quickly responded, standing on my toes to warp my arms around his neck, his arms wrapping around my waist. I pulled away after a few minutes in desperate need of air and looked into his blue eyes.
“If you’re gonna kiss me every time I get attacked by a walker, I might just place myself in those situations more often,” I joked, smiling up at him.
“S’only way ta calm ya down,” He said.
I laughed at his reasoning and pulled away from him slightly. “Come on. I don’t know about you, but kissing next to a dead walker is not a turn on for me.” I scrunched up my nose at the corpse and he chuckled pulling his arms from around my waist and a small smile forming on his handsome face. “You should smile more often, it looks good on you.”
I pulled completely away from him and stepped around the walker to head back to camp. He soon caught up to me, falling in step beside me. He walked so close to me that our hands would brush against each other. I desperately wanted to reach out and grab his hand, but I knew that that would be way too fast for him. I needed to let him let me know when he’s ready. A smile spread across my face as I glanced at him noticing that his smile still hadn’t left his face yet.