Actions

Work Header

Destiny

Chapter Text

Sweat dripped from what felt like every part of his body as he pulled up to the small house that he and his brother had built from the ground up. When their old man died the two Dixons had brunt the old trailer to the ground. Afterward they worked nights, both of them building a home for themselves since they had never really had one before. Now the three bedroom log house looked like something out of those home magezines.

The thought made Daryl snicker as he climbed out of the truck and headed toward the house. His boots thumping as he walked up the stairs. He let out a sigh of relief as he opened the door, the air conditioning hitting his hot skin making him almost shiver. Walking into the living room he flopped down on the couch his legs dangling off the side as he laid back agianst the cool leather and ran his hands through his hair. Closing his eyes he let the cool air settle all around him. Hearing a chuckle coming from the door way he lifted his head and cracked open one eye to see his brother standing there a towel wrapped around his waist and another towel drying his hair.

Merle took in the sight of his brother and shook his head, "Boy you look wore out."

Daryl sighed letting his head fall back against the couch, "I am."

Merle walked closer to his brother and snapped his leg with the towel he had just dried his hair with, "Why the fuck ya workin' all these hours? We got everythin' we need and honestly you're a little grumpy asshole."

Daryl grabbed the towel and swung his legs down to the floor as Merle sat down next to him. Daryl sighed staring at the towel in his hands, "Just don't want to get behind is all. Don't want to ever be without again...."

Merle growled standing up, he stared at his brother, "DAMNIT boy! You need a life. A fuckin' life!"

Daryl glared up at his brother, since Merle started to get his life together, he was like a sinner that found Jesus. Daryl chewed his thumb, "I got a life."

Merle sighed, "Oh sure ya weld for twelve hours a day and then ya come home and hold up here in the house. Unless it's huntin' season then your ass is gone till the daylight is gone. That's not a life and I'm the only fuckin' person ya talk to! YOU NEED TO GET OUT!"

Daryl stood up his chest heaving, in his heart he knew that Merle was right. "Ain't nothin' holdin' ya here Merle. Ya can go whenever ya want and have yourself a happy fuckin' life with Andrea. I'm not stoppin' ya. I AIN'T NO FUCKIN' CHARITY CASE."

Merle squared his chin, taking a deep breath, "Boy this ain't got nothin' to do with Andrea and I wouldn't go there if I were you. And ya ain't no fuckin' charity case." Merle put his hand gently on Daryl's shoulder, making his brother look him in the eye, "This is about not lettin' the sick son of a bitch win. This is about us makin' somethin' of the Dixon name. I know how hard it is. I know the pain ya lived through. Daryl if ya didn't pull me out of the fuckin' gutter I'd be dead somewhere with a neddle in my arm. Here I fuckin' am with a good job, one I love. I get to work with my hands build things. Hell look at ya! Ya went to tech school and learned how to fuckin' weld. Ya been at the same job for eleven fuckin' years. That bastard that called hisself our daddy, he didn't do shit for eleven days let alone for eleven years."

Merle sighed, his voice low, "Go to one meeting. Sit in the back, listen to the people there. That's what I did. Just try it, ain't gonna hurt. Just one meetin' do it for me boy."

Daryl nodded his head, "Yeah Merle, alright. I'll go. But I ain't gonna like it."

Merle chuckled, nodding his head, "That's all I ask. Just go. I ain't gonna be here tonight."

Daryl sighed watching as Merle turned heading out of the room, "With Andrea?"

Merle smirked as he turned, "Hell yeah, wes a babysittin' her god daughter. Then I'm gonna babysit Andrea."

Daryl nodded, feeling a little pathetic as he called after Merle, "Ya huntin' in the mornin' ain't ya?"

Daryl felt his body relax as Merle's voice came down the hallway toward him, "Wouldn't miss it

Daryl ran his hand through his hair as he headed toward his bedroom if he was going to this stupid fucking meeting, he might as well take a shower. He hoped this would at least make Merle shut up. He wasn't one for this meetings where people got together and talked about their feelings.

As he walked through his room he started stripping from his clothes. Walking into his bathroom he stared at his reflection in the mirror. Merle found Andrea at one of these meetings, but Daryl wasn't Merle. Turning a little he stared at the scars that marked his back. Shaking his head he turned toward the shower. Climbing in he groaned as the water hit his chest. He knew that no woman would want to deal with someone like him. His scars reminded him everyday that he could become the monster his father was. Happy lives were for other people, not for him.

He would do this one meeting and hope like hell he could help Merle move on. He knew his brother loved Andrea and Daryl knew he was slowly losing his brother and it was time for him to learn how to be alone. It was for the best, it was his destiny.

/////////////

Carol looked in the mirror for the hundredth time. Shaking her head she ran her hand through her short grey hair trying to do something with the newly growing hair. She turned when she heard someone clear their throat. Turning she smiled at her fifteen year old daughter, "I hate doing this."

Sophia pulled herself up onto the counter of the sink and grabbed some hair gel she ran her fingers through her mother's hair. Leaning back she smiled at her mother, "That's perfect. You look beautiful momma and you always say this and then when you get home you're happy you went."

Looking at her daughter and then looking back at the mirror, her eyes scanning the left side of her face, "It's looking better.....isn't it?"

Sophia sighed slipping off the counter she walked behind her mother and put her arms around her mother and settled her chin on her shoulder, "Momma, what HE did to you can be fixed. Every surgery it gets better, but like Aunt Andrea says it doesn't change the beauty you have inside you."

Carol felt her throat grow tight, tears burning at her eyes, she put her hands over her daughters and felt Sophia hug her hard, "I know thank you."

A voice floated toward them, "Where are we?"

Turning both Carol and Sophia smiled at Andrea. Andrea Harrison had been the one person who had pulled them both from hell. After everything with Ed, Andrea had sat down next to Carol at her first meeting and just squeezed her hand. That small action started a friendship that ended up with the two women buying a small duplex together so Andrea could help with Sophia while Carol recovered. To them she was a god send.

Andrea smirked at Carol, "Are we passed her not wanting to go?"

Sophia walked around her mother and flopped down on the bed, "Yup, even got her dressed. Just have to push her out the door."

Andrea's smile widened, "Well we are getting better. And you look beautiful."

Carol groaned walking toward her bed she picked up her coat and scarf, "Sophia finished her homework, she just needs to be home by ten."

Sophia groaned, "Come on momma it's Friday night and Andrea's new guy is going to be there. I have to make sure he's worthy you know."

Carol smirked as she leaned down kissing her daughter's cheek, she whispered, "I want a full report."

Andrea chuckled, "Well if you two lazy butts could make it over for breakfast I'm sure he'll still be there."

Sophia made a face groaning as she got up, "Ewwww....old people and sex. And they yell about us teenagers!"

Once Sophia had left the room Andrea stepped in front of Carol helping her button her coat, "You can do this."

Carol looked into the eyes of her best friend, "I've never lead the meeting before."

Andrea nodded, "No you haven't but this is a step toward your healing. Ed Peletier doesn't get to stop you from being who you are. He doesn't get to make you hide in the shadows anymore. Now get out of here so I can save Merle from Sophia."

As Carol walked to her car outside she nodded to herself hoping that she could do this. Andrea was right her destiny had nothing to do with Ed Peletier anymore, her destiny was her own now. No matter how scared that made her.

/////

Daryl stood outside the First Baptist Church of Cedartown, a cigarette held tightly in between his lips. He watched as people filed inside, he was almost ready to turn around and leave when he almost ran over a small woman who was bundled up in a coat with a scarf hiding part of her face. He reached out to steady her dropping his cigarette onto the ground, "Fuck, I'm sorry."

Carol was shocked, having being deep in thought about what she would say while starting the meeting, she hadn't even seen the man when he turned to leave. She steadied herself, her small delicate hands grabbing onto his leather covered arms. She felt fear as she slowly looked up into his eyes. She was still very nervous around men, but when she looked into his eyes she saw the same demons deep in his clear blue eyes that stared back at her in the mirror.

She had never seen him before and figured she would do for him what Andrea had done for her, moving slowly she released his arms and her cool hand slipped into his warm calloused hand, smiling at him, "No harm done. Are you coming in?"

Daryl couldn't even speak as he stared into her face, or what he could see of her face. Her soft looking lips turned up into a half smile, a small button type nose and soft curls of grey hair peeked out at him. But it was her eyes. He had never seen anything so blue in his life. He felt she could look into the sky and make it envious. He nodded not her, not sure what to say and was reward with another smile that made him understand why Merle busted his balls for Andrea.

Carol swallowed hard, his stare and silence making it hard for her to speak, "Well see you inside."

Carol walked inside her heart beating hard in her chest. She wasn't sure if it was the beauitful man with the hard leather covered arms, deep blue eyes, brown hair hanging in his face giving him an air of mystery or the fact that she was talking in front of several people in just a few moments. But Carol hoped it was the latter. She knew no man would want to look at her face, not like that. Feeling tears sting her eyes she wiped them away as she went to the front of the room.

But out of the corner of her eye she saw the handsome stranger sit down in the back row. Taking a deep breath she turned her back to the room, the low mumuring of the group growing silent as she took her coat and scarf off. Her hands shook as she turned to face the group, she set them on the small podium and folded them. Swallowing hard she glanced up at the stranger, when she looked into his eyes she didn't see disgust, only understanding.

Looking around the room she gave everyone a small smile, "Good evening, I'm Carol Ann Mason, I will be leading our group tonight. This group is for victims of abuse, be it child abuse or spousal abuse. So if you're looking for AA they are one block down on the left."

Several chuckles erupted from the group giving Carol the strength she needed, "I guess I will share first and then open the floor." Swallowing hard she looked out of the group her hands tightly clasped together in front of her, "I was married for six months before he hit me the first time. He told me how sorry he was the next morning at breakfast. Said it wouldn't happen again, he said he just worried about me and wanted to help me be the perfect wife. So I slowly lost more and more of myself. I became what HE wanted. The wife to hang off his arm. But I got pregrant. He was overjoyed at first, telling everyone about his son and how he would be a perfect addition to the family. But.....but i had a girl. I knew in the hospital when he came in the room that I would suffer for my daughter to survive. And when I got home he made sure I knew just how angry he was. The beatings got worse as my daughter grew. I tried to hide the beatings from her, but it got more and more difficult as his rage did. He wanted a son and I knew that I couldn't bring another child into that relationship so I made sure.....that I never had anymore children. Sneaking birth controls pills doing whatever I could to make sure no one else suffered at his hands."

Carol took a deep breath, wiping at the tear that fell from her eye, "The night I decided to leave he came early and caught me. I told my daughter to run to the neighbors. He.....he drug me into the kitchen and poured .......we had ....you see we had lighter fluid for the grill under the sink......He was going to burn us both....the house...everything....he said If he couldn't have me no one would. So he poured the lighter fluid onto himself I was under him pinned down by his legs....he lit the match and the lighter fluid.....well you can see."

Carol looked down at her hands and took a deep breath, she knew she had to finish. She could see the tears dropping down onto the podium and for a moment she felt like maybe Andrea and her doctors were wrong, maybe she couldn't do this. When she was close to shutting down she heard someone clear their throat. Looking up she saw a hand holding a red dew rag, the hand was attached to a leather clad arm. Looking up into his eyes she took the dew rag and wiped her face. "Go on, finish it."

Carol nodded giving him a small smile. She watched as he sat down in a chair that was empty in the front row. She took a deep breath almost like she was pulling from this man's strength, but she didn't even know him. She was strong, she knew that now.

Carol looked up at the group, "I shoved him off of me just as the neighbor ran in. Thank god he was a detuy sheriff and he tore off his shirt putting me out. Ed, my monster of an ex husband and coward had already begun rolling around on the floor and by the time Rick got to him he was almost out. Rick had already called it in. He and his wife were wonderful watching Sophia when I was in the hospital. Lori even came to my first meeting here with me. And Ed is serving a life sentence. He has appeals and I'm sure he will do everything in his power to get out of jail, but I won't give him anymore power. So I'm standing in front of you today. I still have several more surgeries to fix what he did, but my daughter and I.....we're gonna be just fine. I have the power now, not him."

Carol stepped back from the podium as the group clapped. She smiled wiping her face she nodded, "Who would lilke to share tonight?"

////////

Daryl had watched her as she walked slowly up to the podium. When she turned around the only thing he felt was rage knowing that someone had done that to her. Someone had made sure she was scarred in such a way. He figured everyone was scarred somehow but some people like him and her, they wore theirs on the inside and the outside.

As she started to share what had happened when she had finally tried to leave, he felt his own throat start to close up. When he thought she might not be able to finish he knew he had to do something, something pulled him from his chair. The next thing he knew, he was standing offering her his rag. He had sat while she finished, he half listened to the others as they spoke. His eyes kept on her. It was the level of caring he saw in her face. She had been hurt so badly, but she didn't let it make her beaten down, it made her more caring for others. He was amazed with this small woman.

He stood up at the end of the meeting, hanging back as the others stopped and talked to her. He had to do something, say something to her but he didn't know what. When the last of the people had left and she started to gather her coat and scarf. He cleared his throat making her look up. She smiled and blushed as she looked at the red dew rag in her hand, "Oh, I guess you might want this back."

Daryl nodded biting at his thumb. Carol could feel his unease as their fingers touched as he took the dew rag and shoved it in his back pocket. "Well I hope you come back. It's always nice to have others to talk to."

Daryl nodded, "Not sure I'm the sharin' type."

Carol shivered at the sound of his voice, so gravelly, almost like he drank gasoline in the morning, "Well sometimes listening helps. Knowing others have gotten through to the other side."

Daryl eyed her, "Like you?"

Carol chuckled as she slipped her coat on and began to cover one side of her face, "If I was on the other side I wouldn't need this."

Daryl gently reached up slowly pulling the scarf from her face, letting it pool around her neck, "Don't need it."

Carol held her breath as he turned and walked toward the door. Not knowing if she would ever see him again. Some people came once and never came back. To her surpise he turned and nodded his head, "See ya next week."

Carol nodded, smiling at him, "Yeah....next week."

Chapter Text

Carol walked into Andrea's house and had to cover her mouth as she laughed. The scene in front of her was one of total chaos. Andrea was kneeling on the floor laughing a small dust pan and broom in her hand as she tried to clean up what looked like cookie dough from the floor. Her daughter was on the back of a very large man shoving cookie dough into his hair as both of them laughed. "SOPHIA MARIE! What are you doing?"

All three heads snapped up and that made Carol laugh harder. She held her side shaking her head, her eyes cutting to Andrea, "What is going on?"

Andrea stood up, Sophia dropped off the man's back, and he straightened up licking cookie dough off his hands. Sophia smirked at her mom, "Aunt Andrea was trying to learn how to bake cookies, Merle was showing us his famous peanut butter cookie recipe."

Andrea smiled as she stood up leaning against the counter, her eyes cutting toward the man, "Merle started the food fight."

Merle smirked walking over he wrapped one arm around Andrea as he hit Sophia in the back with a ball of the dough. Sopha turned giving him the evil eye as he snickered, "Hey the kid started it because she said men can't cook, let alone bake.

Andrea shook her head, "Carol I guess you have met Merle. Merle you know Carol from group."

Merle nodded at Carol, "I remember seeing ya there. Nice to really meet ya."

Carol walked over picking cookie dough from her daughter's hair, "It's nice to meet you too."

Merle smiled easing out of the room, "I best clean up. Kid don't think this is going to fly, ya need to watch yourself."

Sophia smiled puffing up her chest, "You need to watch yourself old man."

Carol shook her head, her eyes going to Andrea, "So it was a good night."

Andrea smiled, opening up her arms gesturing toward the mess of a kitchen, "Can't you tell?" Andrea walked toward Sophia and Carol, "Sophia go get your stuff."

Sophia smirked, "Sure."

As Carol watched Sophia leave the room she called after her daughter, "Don't mess with Merle."

Both women chuckled when they heard Sophia groan out a 'yes'. Andrea stared at Carol, gesturing to the scarf, "You're not wearing it."

Carol looked down and nodded, "Yeah. Someone helped make me see I don't need it anymore."

Andrea nodded, "So the meeting went well."

Carol smiled, "I almost couldn't do it. It's different when you're in the seats looking at someone and being the someone everyone looks at. But I got through it with a little help."

Andrea raised an eyebrow, "Who helped you through it? Because you're blushing."

Carol shook her head, "There was a new man at the meeting tonight...."

Andrea grinned, "Oh a man?"

Carol groaned, "Not like that. He was new. You know the feeling. He was standing outside and something made me want to encourage him, like you did me."

Andrea smiled, "And this stranger said not to wear the scarf?"

Merle walked back into the kitchen Sophia over his shoulder, "There was a stranger at the meeting?"

Carol nodded, "Yeah, he had a leather jacket on, his hair was longish, brown I guess. But he had these eyes, these blue eyes that told me he needed to be there. I just encouarged him and in turn he did the same for me."

Merle smiled, setting Sophia down, "Well we will finish this later young lady."

Sophia smirked at him, holding out her hand, "Nice to meet you Merle, but I will pay you back for this."

Merle took her hand and shook it pulling the small framed girl toward him, "I'm countin' on it sugar." He stood up and smiled at Carol, "Well you two better hurry home and get some rest. I'm going huntin' tomorrow and I plan on teaching Andrea here how to grill venison. Ya'all are comin' right?"

Andrea cocked an eyebrow at Merle but slipped her arm around his waist and smiled at Carol, "Yeah you two have to come, Merle is a pretty good cook."

Merle leaned down to kiss the tip of Andrea's nose, "Sugar ti....sugar I'm good at everything."

Andrea blushed bright red and Sophia made a gagging noise, "I'm out. See you tomorrow old man."

Merle chuckled as Sophia rushed out of the house, "She's a good kid."

Carol smiled after her daughter, "Yes, yes she is."

Andrea walked over and put her hand on Carol's back guiding her friend toward the door, "So cookout tomorrow night, here?"

Carol nodded, "Sure, I'll bake some brownies. Good night!"

Andrea waved good bye stepping outside long enough to watch Carol get safely into her side of the duplex. Once the door was shut she looked at Merle who was grinning like a cat that ate a carnary, "What are you doing?"

Merle walked over and put his hands on Andrea's shoulders, "I think the stranger was my brother and if he made that kind of impression on her, I think maybe we need to see these two together."

Andrea's eyes got wide, "Daryl? He finally went?"

Merle nodded, feeling his throat close up a little, "Yeah I think he finally might have listened to me." Merle felt Andrea slip her hands up his chest, her face full of worry. Merle smiled down at her like a wolf smiles at his prey, "But we will worry about that later." Andrea squealed as Merle hauled her over his shoulder, Merle walked around turning off the lights as he went, "I believe you promised me something special tonight and I hope to GOD it's those handcuffs."

Andrea giggled, "You do love to be tied up."

Merle threw her on the bed his smile wide, "I do with you sugar tits. Let's play."

/////////////

Merle had been quiet the next morning when Daryl found him in the kitchen drinking coffee. The two of them walked silently into the woods behind their place, making their way toward their blind. Deer season was in full swing and both Dixon men loved the outdoors. Some of their best memories coming from the grandfather taking them out and teaching them to hunt.

Merle nudged Daryl handing him the thermos of coffee they brought. Daryl took a drink letting the warm liquid slide down his throat, he handed it back, his eyes scanning the area for deer, "Went last night."

Merle nodded his eyes still looking out for any sign of movement, "Good, what'cha think?"

Daryl shurgged, "It was fine."

Merle looked over at his brother, "What happened? Did ya listen to the others?"

Daryl nodded, "Yeah. Makes ya think we didn't have it so bad."

Merle cleared his throat, "None of them spoke to ya?"

Daryl looked over at his brother, "One lady, she was the leader of the group or whatever. She just.....something....I don't know."

Merle waggled his eyebrows, "She spoke to ya?"

Daryl groaned, "Not like that, she was just....been through a lot ......the way she smiled and had....well cared what the fuck others said. I don't know."

Merle side eyed his brother, "Her name's Carol right?"

Daryl nodded, "Yeah."
-
Merle stared out toward the trees away from Daryl, "Yeah she's friends with Andrea, lives next to her in that duplex. Her daughter was the one we was watching. Kid's cute, fifteen full of shit but funny as hell. Gonna get a deer today and take some meat over and cook out with them all."

Daryl looked over at Merle, his heart hammering hard in his chest. He had laid in bed for hours thinking of her. How could anyone hurt her like that? How was she so positive? She was fucking brave and he hid from what happened to him. Hid from the world. His nostrils flared and he started to chew on his thumb, "Next door neighbor?"

Merle nodded, bringing his bow up to train on a large doe that had walked into the clearing, the arrow let go and the doe died instantly. Merle beamed at his brother, "If ya think for a few hours ya can stop bein' such an antisocial dick why don't ya come?"

Daryl watched as Merle climbed down the ladder of the blind, his brother looking up at him, "It's just dinner, besides ya know damn well you're carryin' that doe back and doin' the cleanin'."

Daryl growled as he moved down the ladder after his brother, "I ain't cleanin' shit, ya lazy bastard ya shot it, ya carry and clean it."

Merle turned and smiled wide at his brother, "Ya gonna do it 'cuz if ya don't I'll tell that sweet little Carol ya got soft spot for ya, in front of ya. So move your ass boy, we're burnin' daylight."

Daryl rolled his eyes and jumped down from the ladder, he grumbled all the way back with the weigh of the doe but he knew Merle was right, he did have a soft spot for the woman. He just couldn't figure out why."

///////////////////

Just as Carol opened the oven to pull out the brownies Sophia ran in the back door startling her. Carol stood up putting a hand to her chest hoping the pounding of her heart would slow down, "SOPHIA! You scared me to death!"

Sophia smiled at her mother sheepishly, "Sorry momma, but they're here! Merle and his brother and they brought the deer steaks and Merle said that there was blood everywhere and that he made his brother do it all and then he gave Aunt Andrea a long disgusting kiss like on one of those movies and pinched her butt...."

Carol held her hands up, "Ok, ok slow down. Merle brought his brother?"

Sophia nodded, "Momma it's ok. You are suppose to be doing more of this and I really want to go."

Carol looked at the brownies that were sitting on the stove, her hand worrying the bottom of the red short sleeve shirt she was wearing, "I should change."

Sophia shook her head walking over and cutting the brownies, "No momma you look fine. He seems as nice as Merle."

Carol didn't know, she wasn't use to people who hadn't seen her burns. She even made sure that she worked somewhere that she could keep hidden, her job at the hotel kept her in the kitchen where the only people who saw her were the wait staff and they all knew about her and her condition. She wasn't even one to go to the store, going late at night on the weekends with her scraf wrapped around her. But looking at her daughter who was standing at the door with a potholder under the brownie pan she knew she couldn't disappoint her daughter again.

Smiling she nodded, "Ok, let's go."

Sophia's face lit up, "Oh thank god. Come on momma it's gonna be fun. They brought their bows!"

Carol didn't know what to except so she followed her daughter out their back door toward Andrea's part of the back yard. She could already smell the grill heating up. She glanced up and saw Merle with his back to her, working on the grill. Andrea was setting things up on the picnic table that Carol had helped her make earlier and another man with dark brown hair stood next to Merle in a flannel sleeveless shirt with his back to them.

As Carol got closer Sophia turned and smiled, "See Aunt Andrea, momma is wearing that new shirt you got her."

Carol wanted the earth to open up and swallow her as all three heads turned in their direction. She looked down taking a deep breath, trying to calm herself when a pair of well worn boots came into view. She looked up slowly into those deep blue eyes and felt her breath catch, "Well...it's....I'm wasn't..."

Daryl smirked looking down, "Daryl, name's Daryl didn't say it last night."

Merle groaned behind them, "Boy ya been raised better, ya shake a ladies' hand when ya meet her."

Daryl wiped his hand off on his jeans and took another sip of the beer he was holding as he held out his hand. Slowly Carol put her small delicate hand in his, he smiled a half smile at her as she spoke, "Well Daryl it's nice to meet you."

Daryl nodded, "Same."

Sophia smirked, "Merle said you know each other from group. It's almost like...."

Merle finished it for her, "Almost like some kinda fuckin' destiny or something. Me and Daryl bein' related and all, us all meetin'. Now can we fuckin' cook I'm straved. Boy if ya can tear yourself away for a second and give me a hand, or do ya want to keep holding Carol's?"

Andrea and Sophia giggled as Carol and Daryl both blushed hard. To say the least this cookout was going to be something.

Chapter Text

Carol had eased into the evening. It took some time but she finally stopped tugging at her shirt and started to enjoy herself. She couldn't always hide, it was time for her live, at least a little. Merle was everything Andrea had said he was. Merle was the laugh of the party. Between his stories about being in the army, to picking on Andrea or his prank war with Sophia. Carol couldn't help but laugh. It had been a long time since she felt so at ease with people she didn't know.

After dinner she sat down at the table nursing a half warm bottle of water when Daryl sat down across from her. He gestured toward Merle who was now running around the yard with Sophia trying to get Andrea with the garden hose. Daryl took a drink from his beer and glanced at Carol from under his bangs, "Merle sure is at ease here. Good to see him havin' fun."

Carol nodded, her eyes still on her daughter, "I don't think I remember Sophia being so happy. She doesn't like men much so to see her with your brother it gives me hope."

Daryl nodded taking a drink of his beer, "Does she go to meetings?"

Carol smiled sadly at him, "Yeah there are meetings for kids. And she sees a doctor twice a month. She's come along way."

Daryl turned his back to Merle and the others, playing with the label on his beer bottle, "Seems you both have."

Carol sighed, looking up at him, the intensity of his stare made her shiver and she hugged herself rubbing her arms. She looked down at the water in her hands, "I wish she didn't need to go to any meetings. I should have picked a better father for her."

Daryl chewed on his lip, not sure what he should say, so he took a deep breath, "My daddy was a son of a bitch. He beat me and Merle something awful after our momma got sick and died." Carol looked up at his face as he spoke, "She didn't know the old man was a drunk bastard. She did everything she could to keep us safe, but it didn't work. I don't blame her for it. It was just what was. I'm sure your girl feels the same. Sometimes evil people sneak into our lives. Can't blame yourself for that. Seems to me ya doin' just fine now."

With that Daryl stood up and threw his beer in the trash walking toward Merle, "Hey ain't we showin' the kid the bows?"

Merle looked up from the pile of Andrea and Sophia who were now trying to get him with the hose, "Yeah get'em from the truck."

Sophia jumped up and squealed running toward her mother, "MOMMA!! They have bows!! Can I shoot one?"

Carol shook her head laughing, "If Mr. Merle and Mr. Daryl say it's ok."

Sophia squealed and headed toward Merle and Daryl who were talking to one another. The men walked toward the back of the yard sitting down at another small table talking to Sophia as Andrea sat down next to Carol. Andrea looked down at her shirt and laughed, "I'm soaked."

Carol laughed nodding her head she took a sip of her water, "You are gone."

Andrea looked at her confused, "Gone?"

Carol nodded her head gesturing to Merle, "He's a very nice man. Good for you."

Andrea chuckled, "I don't think anyone has ever called Merle Dixon, 'nice'. He'd die if he heard you. Brash, preverted, a pain in the ass, those are more like him."

Carol shook her head leaning back in her chair, "No he's sweet on you and you're sweet on him."

Andrea sighed smiling as she glanced at Merle, "Yes, I guess I'm gone."

Andrea looked over at Carol, "What was Daryl talking to you about?"

Carol smiled, leaning closer to her friend, "You know he was that man at the meeting. He's sweet. When I first saw him he seemed so haunted, he still does, but there is a warmth underneath. He's a good man, I think?"

Andrea smiled, putting her hand gently on Carol's arm, "You're right sweetie, he's a good man. Sometimes good men come to your doorstep. Or a meeting."

Carol sighed, "I'm glad you have Merle. You deserve it. You know I could never....I don't.... I need to go home take my meds....the pain is getting bad today."

Andrea watched in sadness as her friend hurried back toward her part of the duplex. As she turned toward Merle she noticed that Daryl tracked Carol with his eyes. The look on his face made Andrea smile wide. When Daryl saw she was looking at him, he ducked his head. Andrea smiled it looked like something just might show up on Carol's doorstep after all.

/////////////////

Carol got into the house and felt the tears start to fall. Sinking down the door to the floor she covered her mouth to keep in the sobs. She knew that Andrea meant well but there was no way she could open herself up to a man. Let alone what kind of a man would want someone like her. The doctors weren't even sure the skin grafts were going to cover all the burns.

Not to mention she had a fifteen year old who still wet the bed from time to time because of nightmares where she thought her father was coming for her. The poor girl had ran into the house and saw her mother screaming in agony from the burns that her father had given her. Carol would never forget how brave Sophia looked as she knelt down on the kitchen floor that day and ran her cold fingers over her mother's unburnt cheek. Sophia had sang softly to her their favorite song, telling Carol that everything would be fine.

No, no man would want the kind of issues that Carol brought to the table. Standing up slowly she wiped her face. Turning she looked out the back window to watch her daughter light up as her daughter watched the Dixons shot their crossbows. Her eyes drifted over toward Daryl, once upon a time he would have been everything she ever wanted. A single tear rolled down her face, happy endings weren't her destiny. Walking away from the door she headed for her room. She figured she would sit in her favorite chair and read some. This was her life now.

//////////

Carol woke with a start. She was still in her chair, but a blanket now covered her legs. She smiled when she looked over and saw Sophia curled up in her bed. Standing up she walked over and pulled the blankets up watching as her daughter snuggled deeper into the bed. She heard rain on the roof and walked out into the living room.

Opening the front door she stepped out onto the porch. Glancing toward the driveway she noticed both of the Dixons trucks were still there which meant that the party had gone on after she left. Looking out at the rain she held her hand out and smiled as the rain hit her hand.

"Beautiful storm."

Carol jumped her eyes cutting to Daryl who was sitting on the porch swing a cigarette tight between his lips. She heard him cuss under his breath as he threw the cigarette out, "Didn't mean to scare ya. Was gettin' ready to go when it opened up on me. Figured I'd wait it out."

Carol smiled a blush spreading across her face, "I get jumpy sometimes.....sorry."

Daryl walked over toward her keeping his distance he leaned against the porch railing, "Nah, my fault should've said somethin' earlier. My grandpa always said I was light on my feet."

Carol nodded, looking out at the rain again, "I love the rain."

Daryl nodded, his voice low, "Cherokee use to say that standin' in the rain would wash away the bad spirits in your life. Water is the base of life and they knew the great spirit sent the water to chase away all the bad things. I ain't ever tried it but they say it works."

Carol didn't know where her courage came from, but she stepped down the three short stairs and held her hand out for Daryl, "Well if it works."

Daryl took her cool fingers into his hand and felt himself drifting toward this woman. This small strong woman who for whatever reason made him want to be around her. They stood in the rain, both of their chests heaving.

Carol's voice was whisper soft, "What do we do after the rain?"

Daryl took her hand and pressed his lips to her palm, his eyes dark blue orbs as he looked at her, "We live again."

Chapter Text

It had been a week since he had kissed her hand in the rain. One week of the daily grind. Get up, go to work, come home, sleep, get back up for work. The difference was he felt lighter almost. Like something had changed in that rain. He went as far as going to an earlier meeting in the week hoping to catch her but she hadn't been there. But he had stayed and listened to other people talk through their pain. Merle had been right, it helped. He couldn't see himself ever standing in front of everyone and talking about his feelings, but at least he felt like he wasn't alone. He knew there would be others who had gone through what he and Merle had, the world was a fucked up place. But somehow just hearing how other people dealt with it helped him.

He hadn't even had a nightmare that week. In fact when he did lay in bed at night he thought about her. The way she talked, soft like the sound of a brook whispering through the trees at night. The way she smelled like a summer meadow of wildflowers. The way she smiled and it lit up the whole world around her, without her even knowing. But mostly he remembered her face as they stood in the rain. She had a childlike joy there that he wanted to see there all the time.

She tried to hide from the world. But the scars her asshole ex left behind were badges of honor. She had lived, she won, beat that bastard at his game. Daryl didn't see the scars, he knew they were there, but he saw beyond them. He saw her soul.

It was her soul that made him take the bike out and head over to another meeting, the one he had met her at. His heart hammered in his chest as he slipped in the back door. People were just starting to arrive and when he looked around he saw Andrea heading toward him, "Hey, didn't know I would be seeing you tonight."

Daryl nodded, "Yeah was here Tuesday night. Thought I might come again tonight."

Andrea nodded standing next to him scanning the room, "Looks like a good crowd tonight."

Daryl chewed his lip, side eyeing the door when it opened hoping she would walk in. Andrea watched him and chuckled, "She's not coming tonight."

Her words breaking his train of thought, he looked at her, "Who?"

Andrea smirked, "Ok, we can play it like that. But in case you were wondering Carol is working the late shift at the Radisson hotel down the street, be there till nine tonight. She works the kitchen. If you go to the service door in the back I'm sure Sophia will be outside doing her homework or playing cards with the wait staff." Andrea moved to stand in front of him, "Or if you need the meeting you are welcome to stay here. But my guess is that you might want to head over to the hotel. And don't worry I won't tell your brother. But if you want to go, you better go now because Merle is leading group tonight and he will be here any minute."

Daryl watched as Andrea walked away and headed to take a seat. He chewed his thumb, his stomach churning. Swallowing hard he turned and walked toward the door. Merle had told him once that Andrea had been a one time thing. That something like that doesn't come around every day. He didn't know if he was strong enough to be a good man for her. Hell, he was broken inside. The old man had beat him and scarred him so badly he had always been afraid to even get close to a woman but a few he had fucked in bar room bathrooms. He knew she was broken too, but he wanted to try. He wanted to be a man that would show her all the world was at her feet and he would give it to her.

Straddling his bike he knew the only way to even try was to take the first step and the first step was the Radisson hotel.

/////////////////

Sophia squealed with delight as she pulled the candy closer to her, "SUCKERS! I told you not to mess with me tonight. I'm on a roll!"

Glenn Rhee, one of the waiters that worked at the hotel, huffed at her, "But that's a full size butterfinger. I thought I had you this time."

His girlfriend Maggie Greene leaned over and kissed his face, "Oh come on! You always win, Sophia is just on fire tonight."

Glenn pouted, "I was going to eat that tonight while I worked on the wedding plans."

Maggie stood up and kissed his cheek, "Come on sore loser, help me bus the last few tables and I promise to stop off on the way home and get you another one."

Sophia snickered opening one of the jolly ranchers she won and popping it into her mouth, "Told you my Aunt Andrea's new guy showed me some stuff."

Glenn rolled his eyes, "Does he do classes?"

Sophia smirked, "Nope, only for family. Sorry Rhee, guess you better study up."

As Glenn and Maggie walked back inside Sophia sat there shoving her candy into her school. She looked up when she heard a bike pull up. Smiling she stood crossing her arms over her chest, "Why Daryl, what ever are you doing here?"

Daryl snickered the kid was acting more like Merle everyday, "I'm sure Andrea already called ya."

Sophia shurgged, "It is possible that she may have texted me. But before I get my momma why don't you have a seat."

Daryl stared at the girl and saw the determination on her face and sighed as he sat down, "Alright."

Sophia sat down and opened her book bag pulling out a sucker, "Candy?" Daryl shook his head no and waited as the girl popped the sucker in her mouth. Sophia sat up the stick from the sucker sticking out of her mouth as she spoke, "Now Daryl, my Aunt seems to think you might want to take my momma for coffee after work, is that true?"

Daryl shifted in his seat, he wasn't sure what the hell he was going to do but he guessed coffee was good enough, "Yeah."

Sophia nodded, "Alright nice ice breaker. Take her to Horvath's Pies on 2nd, they're open late and she knows them. So she'll be more comfortable. Now are you planning on dating my mother?"

Daryl eyed the kid and knew he was going to cut her time with his brother way down if he had anything to say about it, "Don't know, guess that depends on your momma."

Sophia nodded, "Good answer."

Daryl huffed, "Pffft, what would be a wrong answer?"

Sophia took the sucker from her mouth and stared at him hard, "My momma has been through a lot and she didn't get a choice with Ed. I want her to be happy. I want her to have a life, not be afraid anymore. And a lady should be treated like one. So waiting to see what she thinks is the best thing for a relationship."

Daryl nodded, "And how do ya know about relationships?"

Sophia smirked, "Got a boyfriend, Carl Grimes. His daddy's the sheriff, we use to live next door to them. And we have a lot of classes together."

Daryl eyed the girl, "Your momma know about this boy?"

Sophia rolled her eyes, "This isn't about me. This is about you and momma. Now if you want my help you're going to have to prove to me that you are as good of a man as Merle says. So are you going to take her for coffee?"

Daryl nodded, "Yeah."

Sophia smiled closing her book bag, "And are you taking her to Horvath's?"

Daryl sighed, "Yeah."

Sophia stood up putting her bag over her shoulder, "And of course you're going to pay right?"

Daryl rolled his eyes, "Of course, I ain't dumb."

Sophia smirked, "Good to know." Her eyes going to the back door of the hotel kitchen where Carol had just came out, "Momma, Daryl is here to take you for coffee and Aunt Andrea is here to take me home. Love you have fun." Sophia blew a kiss to her mom and then leaned down talking to low to Daryl her voice sickenly sweet, "Screw this up and I will find a deep a hole to throw your body. Love you mom!"

Carol stood there shocked to see Daryl and even more shocked to see her daughter taking off with Andrea, "What? Ok, I love you."

Carol walked over and sat down in the chair that Sophia had just left. She waved at Andrea and when Daryl looked over to wave too, she flipped Andrea the bird hating how her best friend had left here alone with a man that had started creeping into her mind when she was alone.

Once they were gone she smiled at Daryl, "I'm so sorry. They mean well but I don't know why ..... well you don't have to do this...."

Daryl stood up and nodded, "Ain't never did something I didn't want to do. Thought we could get coffee over at Horvath's on 3rd."

Carol smirked, "They're on 2nd, but you don't have to do this Daryl."

Daryl leaned down staring her right in the face, "Carol, I come to take ya for coffee, would ya go or not?"

Carol nodded, her voice sounding almost foreign to her own ears, "I would."

Daryl stood up and nodded, "I'll follow you over since I don't know where the hell I'm goin'."

Carol snickered, "Sophia tell you to take me there?"

Daryl blushed, "Yeah, gave me a real ass chewin' as to how a gentlemen is to act. And she said she had a boyfriend, did ya know that shit?"

Carol chuckled, "Yeah I know that. Follow me."

Daryl straddled his bike and watched as she got in her car. The funny thing about it was he knew he would follow her anywhere and that scared the hell out of him.

/////////////

Once inside Daryl watched as Carol's face lit up, she reached for a menu that was behind the salt shaker on the table, "Oh I love their strawberry pie."

Daryl looked around the place, it wasn't a dive, just a small little place only two other people there, "How'd ya find this place?"

Carol put the menu down and folded her hands in front of her, "When .... well when I first started going out it was really hard. I had to wear this plastic mask thing over my face to help the burns heal. I didn't go anywhere but the house and the hospital for a long time. I had to sit through his sentencing but other than that, Andrea and my friend Lori took Sophia where she needed to go. So it was after we got the duplex, the first Halloween since Ed had been in prison. And Sophia wanted me to go out so badly, she had this adorable Wonder Woman costume that Andrea and I made her, but she wanted me to go out to the street fair. So Andrea talked me into it. I had a mask on and it was Halloween, no one even paid attention to me. So after the street fair we came here. Andrea introduced me to her aunt and uncle, they own this place, and after that, this was the place I came to start becoming human again I guess."

Daryl stared at her, watching her face as she told the story and it made Carol feel uneasy. She looked down at the table, "Daryl, I know that Merle and Andrea probably talked you into this. We can just call it a night. It's too much for me just looking in the mirror everyday...."

As she moved to stand Daryl grabbed her wrist softly. She looked into his eyes and it almost made her heart skip a beat.

Daryl smirked, "Well I don't know if ya noticed but it ain't much better over here. See I don't know if anyone has told you this, but once someone gets to be around ya for even five minutes, they don't see no scars. What they see is a woman who loves her daughter, so sit down we gonna order some pie and coffee. If ya think ya can look at me for that long."

Carol felt her throat closing up as she sat back down in the booth across from him. Before she could answer him a waitress came and took their order bringing them coffee. Carol stared at Daryl as he opened several creamers and dumped them into his cup. When he finally took a sip he noticed she was staring at him, "What?"

Carol shook her head, "I don't understand, why would someone not want to look at you?"

Daryl snickered, running a hand through his hair, "Ya can't tell me that Andrea ain't said nothing about our daddy."

Carol made herself busy putting sugar and creamer in her coffee, "She mentioned a few things. But we don't like to talk about other people in group."

Daryl shook his head, "I guess we can say that our pa and Ed are cut from the same cloth. Merle left when I was around eleven, went into the Army to get away from the old bastard. Lied on the paperwork said he was older than sixteen. Left me home with him. His first leave he came home and found me layin' in my own blood. Been out for a whole night, old man got pissed when I ate a piece of cheese he was savin' for somethin' or another. Well Merle got me to the hospital and called our grandpa Norman, he was our ma's pa, he took me in took care of me since Merle was in the service."

Carol reached across the table and took his hand, her eyes showing him all the compassion he had seen that first night of group, "I'm so sorry. So you didn't see your father again I hope."

Daryl chuckled, "He showed his face at my grandpa's once, got his ass filled with buckshot. Grandpa told him if he ever came around lookin' for me or Merle he'd kill him and feed him to the pigs. Never saw him again. When he died he left us both some money and the old trailer we lived in as kids. Merle was just gettin' his head on straight, he went through some shit. After the service he drank and whored around, got into some drugs. We was sharin' a place over in Rockmart. He came home one night high as a fuckin' kite, thought I was our pa. Beat the piss out of me. I told him the next day when he was sober and seen my face that if he ever did it again he wouldn't see me no more. He started doin' NA meetings and these abuse meetings and hasn't done drugs again. But we burnt that trailer to the ground me and Merle did. Then we build us a fine home on it. Got twenty acres out there nearest neighbor can't even see them. Maybe if ya like coffee you and Sophia might come out on Saturday. Could do some fishing or somethin', I could show you the place."

Carol nodded, "I'd like that, if you wouldn't mind us girls messing up your bachelor pad."

Daryl chuckled, "Nah, it ain't like that. First time Andrea was there she said it was cleaner then her house. But the point is we all got shit that marks us, leaves a scar somewhere. Ain't that what the meetings say?"

Carol nodded, "Yeah, I guess so. But most people don't have to look it in the eyes everyday."

Daryl took a drink of his coffee and sighed, "That's true, but just cuz it ain't there right up close in the mirror don't mean it ain't there."

Carol smiled at Daryl, "I think I might like you Mr. Dixon."

Daryl smirked a half smile at her, "I hope the hell so, your daughter threatened to throw me in a hole if ya didn't and ya ordered two pieces of pie."

Carol laughed and Daryl sat back glad to see that joy on her face.

Carol nodded, "Well it better be really good pie and I ordered a piece for you too."

Daryl nodded, "Well let's hope."

Chapter Text

Sophia hummed as the car went down the road, her mother's phone in her hand, "Make a left here momma."

Carol groaned, "Where are we anyway? I don't think I've ever been out this far."

Sophia smiled at her mom, "You're nervous?"

Carol blushed, "Am not! I'm just trying to figure out where he lives! I don't think in all my years of living here I have ever been this far into the country."

Sophia shurgged, "Left here momma. And you are nervous. You like him."

Carol gripped the steering wheel tighter, "He's my friend."

Sophia smiled at her mom, "Carl was my friend too, once. Now he's my boyfriend."

Carol groaned, "You're too young for a boyfriend."

Sophia rolled her eyes, "I'm not too young and you aren't too old. Momma it's time. Ed isn't your husband anymore, you're free to do whatever you want."

The car came to stop at the end of the dirt road, in front of them a beautiful log cabin. Carol eyed the house, "It's beautiful."

Sophia nodded handing her mom the phone and threw her sunglasses onto the dash. She sighed looking at her mom, "Momma?"

Carol looked at her daughter, "I know, I know."

Sophia shook her head, "You don't know. Momma he didn't invite you out here to be your friend. Just give him a chance, he seems nice."

Carol reached over running her hand down her daughter's cheek, "When did you get so smart?"

"Don't know momma, just am. Must be Aunt Andrea rubbing off on me."

Carol saw Daryl slip out onto the porch and she felt her stomach flip. This was all new to her, she had only ever been with Ed. So she didn't know how to date someone, let alone be in her condition and date someone.

She gave Sophia a smile and opened her door, before she could get out Daryl was there reaching for her hand helping her stand up. She could tell he was nervous too, his hands were sweaty and she could see sweat beading on his forehead through his bangs. "Thank you."

Daryl nodded, releasing her hand, "Find it alright?"

Sophia came around to stand with them, her eyes big, "Daryl this place is awesome."

Daryl blushed, "Yeah, me and Merle we built it."

The three walked up the porch and went inside. Once inside Daryl gave them a little tour, both Carol and Sophia so impressed with the workmanship both men had. Daryl blushed not sure how to take so much praise.

Guiding them outside onto the back deck he grabbed a camo book bag and smirked at them, "Ready for dinner?"

Carol chuckled, "Where are we going?"

Daryl gave her the signature Dixon half smile, "Come on, ain't gonna kill ya, have some faith."

Sophia jumped down the two stairs to stand next to Daryl, "Let's go momma it'll be fun."

Carol chuckled, "Alright, I'm ready if you are."

///////////

They walked through the woods. Daryl pointing out a few things here and there, but mainly they stayed quiet just enjoying the woods around them. They walked for about twenty minutes when they came to a clearing. Carol felt her breath catch, her hand going to her chest, "Daryl it's beautiful."

Daryl stood there watching her face. He had hoped this was a good idea taking them to the creek, he and Merle's favorite place to fish. He had no idea what to do on a date but here he was trying.

Sophia ran down toward the creek, "These shoes are coming off!"

Daryl motioned toward a small spot where he had a blanket laid out, Carol notices some fishing gear next to the blanket. He set the bag down and stood up smirking at Sophia, "Ever trout fished?"

Sophia beamed, "NO!"

Daryl looked at Carol, "How about you?"

Carol shook her head, "Nope, never."

Daryl smiled, "Alright shoes off, pants rolled up."

Once they all got down to the creek he shows Sophia how to do it. While Carol stood off to the side watching her daughter. Pulling her phone from her pocket she snaps a picture of the two of them. Slipping the phone back into her pocket she smiles as Daryl gestures to her, "Come on woman, can't let the kid win. WE need to get some damn fish going here."

Carol felt the rocks under her start to shift and before she could fall Daryl was there his hand snaking around her waist as he tried to catch her, but both of them ended up going into the water. When they sat up Sophia snickered, "Say CHEESE!!!"

Carol realized she was now sitting in Daryl's lap. Her eyes going wide when she realized that through her wet jeans she could feel how glad Daryl was to have her in his lap. She shifted and Daryl moaned, his hand going to her hip, his voice low, "Stay still, damn it."

Carol blushed hard, "I'm so sorry." She moved fast trying to get off his lap, falling over again in the water.

As she sat up feeling two large hands lifting her up onto her feet. Carol finally looked at Daryl, the man's face bright red, "I'm so sorry."

Daryl nodded, "Sorry."

He couldn't believe he got her out here for a nice date. And what does he do? She slips and the feel of her in his lap got him hard. Hell he even listened to Merle and jerked one out before they got there. Now he's blowing the whole damn thing. He balls his fists up and can feel his nails biting into his skin. What an idiot he is.

Then he feels her small cool hand on his arm. He looks up and she smiles at him, "No harm done, sorry I took you down with me. Now show me how to do this again. I was watching when you showed Sophia but I'm not that great at this."

Daryl huffed, "Yeah."

No one noticed Sophia who wasn't so much fishing, but sending photos to Merle and Andrea giving them the update on the date. Smiling, Sophia put her phone in her back pocket and cast out her line, her eyes cutting back to her mom and Daryl. One way or another she would help her momma see that she was just as beautiful as she ever was.

Sophia opened her phone and saw her Aunt had sent her a big thumbs up. Daryl's voice snapped her attention back to them, "Ya got one!"

Sophia looked down at her line and shoved her phone into her pocket squealing, "I GOT ONE!!!"

Carol watched as Daryl helped her take the fish off the line and smiled, glad to see her daughter interacting with men, good men. They both needed that in their lives.

////////

Carol sat next to Daryl away from the fire laughing at Sophia who had been trying for the last half hour to catch a firefly. They had caught seven fish, most of them Daryl's, but then they cooked them out. Sophia making faces about the fishes eyes, to which Daryl popped them out and ate them telling her they would put hair on her chest. The comment making Sophia turn pale and making Carol laugh.

Now Sophia was catching fireflies and they were sitting watching her.

Carol looked over at Daryl, studying him, "Thank you for today."

Daryl looked at her, "I hope it was alright. I asked Merle and Andrea if this was alright. Ain't been really any dates with a lady, let alone a lady with a kid."

Carol felt the blood rush to her face, "This....this was a date?"

Daryl nodded biting at his lip, "I thought it was." Daryl ran his hand through his hair, "Shit, I told Merle a lady like ya wouldn't want to date some asshole redneck who ain't been married, don't have a fuckin' idea what to do with a kid."

He stood up and walked toward the creek away from her. Carol looked over at Sophia who gestured toward Daryl. Standing up Carol swallowed hard and moved toward Daryl who had lit a cigarette. She folded her arms over her chest and looked at the water, "You know before we got here I changed four times. Almost called to say I was sick. I almost wore a scarf, but Andrea and Sophia hid them all." Daryl looked at her as she spoke, she turned to him, "I don't know how to date anyone. I have never been with anyone but Ed and honestly I'm not a fan of sex or anything like that."

She took a deep breath, "But I like you. So yes this was a wonderful first date."

Daryl glanced back at Sophia who was now on her phone facing away from them. Swallowing hard he threw his cigarette out. He brought his hand up to her burnt cheek, his eyes staring into her, "I don't see it. I know ya have trouble with it, but I don't see it. Ya got a light inside of ya that is as bright as the fuckin' sun and I want to stand in that light if ya let me." Daryl swallowed hard, moving closer to her, "I'm gonna kiss ya now."

Carol couldn't speak, she just nodded as he leaned in every so slowly. His lips brushing hers, pulling away to look at her for permission he went back in his lips hitting hers firm and soft. Carol leaned into the kiss, it felt like something was on fire in her blood. She felt his tongue trace her lips and she opened her mouth slowly letting him.

Daryl groaned into her mouth as he tasted her, she tasted like heaven. His cock already asking if everything tasted like that, but he ignored it focusing on the woman in front of him.

Carol and Daryl's heads snapped as they heard Merle's voice. Standing there in front of them was Sophia who was on facetime, Merle's face on her screen, "GET IT DONE LITTLE BROTHER!"

Carol hid her face in Daryl's chest the two of them chuckling. Looking into each other's faces Daryl smirked, "So i guess we datin'."

Carol smiled at him, "I guess we are."

Chapter Text

'Ya ain't nothin'.....nothin' I tell ya....come back here you piece of shit.....take your beatin' like a man....think that woman wants ya? Think ya good enough....ya ain't nothin'!'

Daryl sat up with a gasp his sheets wrapped around his waist sweat pouring down his body. His door bust open Merle standing there, his voice hoarse with sleep, "Alright?"

Daryl nodded wiping the sleep from his eyes, "Yeah...fuck."

Daryl swung his feet down to the ground and sat up on the edge of the bed. His heart hammering in his chest. He ran a hand through his soaking wet hair, "Jesus what the fuck am I doin'?" He looked up at his brother, "I ain't go no business with a woman like her."

Merle frowned, "Come on it's the middle of the fuckin' night. Come sit with me, have a damn beer. Settle ya down."

Daryl watched his brother leave and he pushed off the bed grabbing a pair of sweat pants and a muscle shirt he had sitting on the chair by his bed. When he got into the kitchen he found Merle sitting at the table with two beers open. Merle gestured to the seat across from. Daryl sat down and took a pull from the beer, "I ain't talkin' about it."

Merle nodded, "That's alright. I'll talk, ya listen. How's that?"

Daryl chuckled nervously, "We gonna do each other's hair afterward?"

Merle took a deep breath, "Ya get that shit from me. I never wanted to know what he did after I left so I would say somethin' smart ass and shut ya down. Ain't ever wanted to talk about how I felt, still fuckin' don't. But I talk to Andrea, she helps me. She was with that Phillip guy and he tortured her. Sometimes when I think of how her beautiful skin is marked it makes me want to hunt that bastard down and kill him. But this ain't about her. This is about what we went through and I have a feelin' it was much worse on ya than it was on me. He took it out on ya that I left and I ain't ever gonna forgive myself for that shit." Daryl went to say something but Merle stopped him, holding up a hand, "No boy, it wasn't right, but I was young and scared. I tried to take as much as I could for as long as I could. But I couldn't do it no more. The old bastard was a mean son a bitch, but what was worse was when he was nice. I would take the mean over the nice any day. He didn't start makin' me do shit to him, till ma died and then it was only once in awhile." Merle shivered taking a pull from his own beer, "Then I think he got a damn taste for it. I know he did the same shit with ya and that's why yous scared of this thing with Carol. Trust me brother I know how easy it is to fuck some woman and leave. Not have to get too involved, not havin' to give a shit, just get off and leave. But bein' with a woman, a woman ya think ya might even be able to care about, makin' love to them. Two years ago I would've told ya to fuck off. But I talked to Andrea, but I listened. I held her as she cried over what had been done to her. I knew she understood what happened to me.....well that wasn't on me boy, it ain't on you. It's on that old piece of shit bastard who is hopefully burning in the pits of hell right now. So if ya want to talk boy.....if ya really want to talk....It ain't nothin' he didn't do to me."

Daryl sat there tears of shame biting at his eyes as his brother finsihed off his beer. Merle stood up and motioned to Daryl to stand up. Daryl stood up and before he knew what was happenings Merle pulled him into a bear hug, making Daryl break down, his tears streaming down his face. Merle just held onto him, his own eyes filling with tears, "It's alright boy, I'm here. Ya always been the sweet one. Ma said that, I know ya keep it all inside because I did too. But what he did, that shit ain't on you, it's him. Ya need to be happy, ya deserve it." Letting go of Daryl, Merle wiped at his own face, sniffling, "You and Carol, give it a chance boy. Promise me."

Daryl nodded his head, wiping his tears on his arm,"Yeah, I'm gonna try."

Merle gave him a sad smile, clapping Daryl on the shoulder, "Good. Ya good to go back to bed?"

Daryl nodded and Merle took their now empty beer bottles and threw them out, "Ya go on now. Huntin' in the mornin'."

When he knew Daryl was asleep he picked up his phone and called Andrea, her sleeply voice just what he needed, "Hello? Merle? Is everything ok?"

Merle smiled, "Sorry to wake ya, just wanted to hear your voice."

Merle might not know much but he knew he was going to help his brother through this. The boy had taken enough for him and now he had the chance to make things better for Daryl and he planned on doing just that.

////////

"Sooooooo.....are you going to dish or am I going to stand here and wait for death to take me?"

Carol rolled her eyes looking up from the homemade chicken pot pie she was making for dinner that night. Daryl was coming over to watch movies and she wanted everything to be perfect, but her best friend had other ideas. "You saw it thanks to Sophia!"

Sophia yelled from the living room, "I didn't do anything wrong! Merle said he would pay me for dirt so I gave him proof!"

Andrea laughed grabbing an apple off the counter and biting into it, talking around her food, "Come on Carol, tell me was it nice?"

Carol blushed, trying not to look at Andrea, "It was nice."

Andrea groaned, "Well if he's half the kisser his brother is I bet you had your panties all in a knot."

Sophia had picked that moment to come into the kitchen, "Oh god."

Andrea laughed as the girl turned around and left, while Carol felt as if she might die she was blushing so hard. Putting the pot pie in the oven, she moved closer to Andrea leaning in she whispered, "STOP! It was nice. He's nice. I don't know anymore than that right now, ok?"

Andrea smirked taking another bite of her apple, "Don't worry I understand you want to keep it to yourself, but your blush gives you away. He curled your toes didn't he?"

Carol smiled softly, "Honestly kind of, but before I could figure out how I felt Sophia was there with the phone."

Andrea nodded, watching as Carol started to peel apples for an apple cobbler she was making. "I'm going to the bathroom I will be right back and you better give me a better answer than that."

Carol shook her head as Andrea left the kitchen. Walking into the living room she went over and sat down next to Sophia, "So how about tonight, you realize that you might have forgotten something at my house. You know wait till the movie is really getting good."

Sophia smirked looking at her aunt, "I have a text book in the other room I could slip you when you leave."

Andrea smiled wide, "That will work. You just come over and we can have ice cream, give them a few minutes to theirselves. See what happens."

Sophia smirked, "You know my mom will kill us right?"

Andrea shurgged her shoulders heading for the bathroom, "Not if it works out." With a wink she left the room grateful she had Sophia to help her. One way or the other she was going to prove to her best friend that having someone wasn't such a bad thing.

/////////

Carol noticed how quiet Daryl had been during dinner. But then again it seemed Sophia had more to tell him then she did Carol on most nights. Maybe because it was Sunday night and she was going back to school the day. Maybe it was because Sophia noticed something was off with Daryl tonight, but Carol hadn't really gotten to say much. But something told her that tonight was a night that maybe she should listen.

But a part of her, a very large part of her figured the kiss wasn't good. Ed had always said she sucked at everything in the bedroom. When they had first gotten together he had told her, he would teach her. Then after the years passed he just gave up on her, instead forcing her to have sex with him. Sighing she shook her head to get the old memories from her head. Andrea had already told her that if she started to think about Ed in anyway while with Daryl she needed to put him out of her head.

Now they were sitting in the living room, the three of them watching a movie that Sophia was mostly watching. She kept glancing over at Daryl who was chewing on his thumb nail, while being shoved up against the other side of the couch. Carol pulled her legs up under her, sighing her eyes cutting back to Daryl. "Daryl, do you want some more apple cobbler?"

Daryl looked over at her, "What? I'm sorry ain't much company I guess tonight."

Carol gave him a sad smile, "Well it's fine. I'm sure you're tired, with work this week coming up and everything. I'll get you some leftovers gathered up and some extra apple cobbler."

She went to jump up and go get it when his hand snaked out and gently wrapped around her wrist, "I'm sorry. I'm bein' a bad guest. Just a lot on my mind. Nothin' to do with ya."

Carol nodded, trying to swallow back the tears, "It's fine. I totally understand. I'll be right back just need to get that food put up."

Escaping to the kitchen she covered her mouth standing by the sink. Tears dripping from her eyes. She heard the front door open and close a sob ripping from her thoart, at least he was gone she thought to herself. She felt large hands gently on her waist, "Carol."

She wiped at her face trying to smile as he turned her around, "I'm so silly I burnt myself the pan was still hot."

Daryl had followed her into the kitchen after Sophia had smiled at him saying she forgot something at Andrea's. He knew damn well that Merle was over there and he knew this was them trying to let them be alone. But when he walked into the kitchen and heard her sob it about ripped his heart out. His thumbs wiped gently at her tears, "Damn woman I told ya it ain't ya. I slept like shit last night and then got up at the ass crack of dawn to go into the woods to freeze my nuts off waiting for a deer. Listenin' to Merle go on and on about Andrea. Trust me when I say my brother is one sick asshole when it comes to that shit. I know what fuckin' safety word they use."

Carol chuckled, her hand going to cover her mouth. Daryl shook his head smiling at her, he took his hand and gently moved her hand from her mouth, "Don't cover up your face. I like your smile."

Carol looked at him, his eyes were flicking to her lips, "Why are here Daryl? What are we doing?"

Daryl chuckled, his thumbs now rubbing a circle on her sides, "Because I like ya was hopin' ya liked me too."

Carol nodded, her voice small, "I'm scared."

Daryl snickered giving her the classic Dixion lopsided smile, "Makes two of us I guess. But Merle says that the two of us might be able to help each other."

Carol nodded, "After we....help each other.....well....where do you see yourself then?"

Daryl leaned in close his lips brushing hers, his voice rough, "I'm hopin' I'll be right here."

Carol sighed contently into the kiss, his lips moving slowly against hers. His hands slowly slipping underneath the edge of her shirt. Carol gasped when she felt his erection grind against her as he ran his tongue along the seam of her lips. Daryl chuckled, "I guess I ain't lyin' when I say I want to here. I want ya Carol. Ain't ever took my time with a woman. I ain't pretty under my clothes Carol. I got a lot of scars too. But I want to...." Daryl moved closer to her, his hand ghosting across the sliver of skin that was showing from him slipping his hands up her shirt. Leaning in again he kissed her deep, pulling her into his arms.

Carol didn't know what to say, but she never knew that the romance novels were true. You could be kissed so right that it did curl your toes. As his tongue glided against hers, she felt a heat start to coil inside her, her core flooded and she understand why Andrea was so happy all the time. Pulling away a little she smiled at him, "Sophia will be back."

Daryl nodded, "I know. Maybe this comin' weekend we can have a date night, maybe alone."

Before she could answer he kissed her again, his tongue darting back into her mouth. His hands sliding to her ass, squeezing her ass he was rewarded with a moan from Carol. Her hands pulled at her hair, their tongues fighting for control.

When the kitchen light came on, "Oh GOD! I....SORRY MOM."

Carol and Daryl pulled apart, Daryl hiding behind Carol pulling at his pants to hide his erection. Standing at the kitchen door was a horrified Sophia, but just behind her were Andrea and Merle both with shit eating grins on their faces. They were busted.

Chapter Text

Carol smiled as she felt him sit down next to her, "You're late."

Daryl chuckled, "Had to shower, worked over to get the weekend off."

Carol side eyed him, "You look nice."

As soon as she said it, she could feel the blush creep up her face. Looking again at him, she could see he was blushing too. Clearing her throat she let her hand fall open between them. Daryl slowly inched his hand to hers, the two of them slowly settled back into their seats at the meeting. Merle had convinced Daryl to come to one of the meetings he led.

Daryl nodded to Merle as his brother came to the podium. Daryl felt Carol squeeze his hand, hoping that listening to his brother's share might help him deal with his own issues. Daryl felt sick, but he focused on his brother as Merle started to speak.

"Good evenin'. Name's Merle Dixon for those of ya ain't met me. Been comin' to these meetin's for about two years. Came here on accident. I was honestly lookin' for the NA meeting down the street." A low chuckled rippled through the group making Merle smile, "I got clean two and half years ago. I was a mess, but I'll get to that."

Daryl watched as Merle took a deep breath, "My momma was the most beautiful, kind woman that ever lived. She loved me and my brother and we knew that. But after she died my daddy took a nose drive. He started drinkin' heavy because I guess he missed her. It started with him smackin' around my brother and me. It wasn't bad at first. But then one night he came into our room. I saw him go toward my brother....and I sat up lettin' him know I was awake. The old bastard smiled at me, made me go out into the living room with him. He was nice and my daddy nice was worse then him bein' mean. That was the first time he ever made me suck his....well ya know. It got worse. The beatin's were worse, the sexual stuff was worse. It just built till at sixteen I ran, went into the army but I left my brother there and he was younger than me. When I came back at nineteen, I took one look at my brother and drug him out of there. Took him to our mother's dad's place, grandpa Norman. He was a cranky old bastard, but he took care of Daryl and me, taught us to fish and hunt, survive. But by the time I got out of the service I was drinkin' all the time. I fucked every woman that came my way. Provin' I was a man, not some sissy that took it up the ass. Now I ain't got nothin' against the gays, but I ain't gay. Felt I had to make sure the world knew old Merle was a man. My brother was the one who pulled my ass around, made sure I wasn't in jail long. He tried to do everything he could to keep me sober. But it wasn't till two and half years ago I woke up."

Merle looked at Daryl and took a deep breath, "I went home high on smack one night. Daryl tried to get me to go to bed, but....I was angry....I didn't want no one tellin' me shit. So....I beat him....hell I didn't just beat him I almost killed him." Merle looked Daryl in the eye, "For that boy I won't ever forgive myself."

Daryl nodded, his eyes shining at the pain in his brother's eyes.

Merle took a drink of water and cleared his throat, "Boy told the police that someone broke in and did it. That night I saw him in the hospital I checked myself into a program. After I got out we burned down the old man's trailer that he had here in Georgia. We cleared that spot and started building a house with our own hands. It helped focus me on somethin'. I been sober since. But I'm a grateful son a bitch for findin' these meetin's and my Andrea. She let me know that I ain't what my old man did. That I can be the man I was afraid to be. Now I help run these meetin's here. So if ya afraid to share then listen. Sooner or later ya find your ass up here borin' everybody."

Another chuckled rippled through the room. Merle smirked, "Alright I'm done, whose next?"

Carol leaned into Daryl whispering in his ear, "He does great don't you think?"

Daryl nodded wiping at his eyes proud of his brother. Merle was right sometimes hearing other's problems helped you. He was proud of Merle.

///////

After the meeting the four of them went back to Andrea's for coffee. They laughed and talked waiting on Sophia to get home, she had gone to a movie with Carl Grimes.

Merle smirked, "So little brother Andrea and I are happy to keep an eye on 'Phia for ya this weekend if ya want to go out together."

Andrea smiled wide sitting down on Merle's knee maing him chuckle, "Oh my God! YES! Carol, you two should go to the nice Itailian place on the edge of town. The one we always order from."

Carol shook her head, "I don't know....not really...you know I don't..." Carol glared at Andrea knowing full well her friend knew she wasn't comfortable going places that she couldn't hide the side of her face.

Daryl looked at Carol, "Why don't we go? Ain't been on a real date yet."

Carol looked down at her cup of coffee, "I don't like to go places. I don't like people to see me."

Daryl huffed, his eyes on Carol now, "I don't think so. We're goin' and ya gonna be just fine. If anyone says shit I'll gladly go to jail."

Carol shook her head sadly smiling at him, "Daryl..."

Daryl shurgged, "Don't know what the big deal is. Ya ain't dead and ya pretty as hell, gonna take ya out. We gonna eat and come home. Nothin' but a thing. I need to get my ass home. Walk me to the porch woman."

Carol blushed as Andrea and Merle made kissy face noises at them.

As they stepped out onto the porch they weren't ready for the sight in front of them. Daryl grabbed Carl Grimes by the back of the shirt spinning him around, "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?"

Sophia rushed to get in between them, "Daryl, this is my boyfriend, JESUS!"

Daryl growled looking over Sophia's shoulder at Carl who looked more like a deer fawn then a sixteen year old boy. Daryl heard Merle come onto the porch, "What the hell is going on?"

Daryl motioned toward Carl, "Come out here and find this little asshole kissin' on 'Phia!"

Merle growled stepping up to stand next to Daryl, "Ain't it time for ya to leave boy?"

Sophia stomped her foot, "MOMMA!" Carol held her smile under her hand and shurgged, Sophia called after Carl, "I'm SORRY!" Sophia turned to the two Dixons who were still standing there with their chests puffed out. "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?"

Carol sighed, smiling softly at her daugther as she got between the three of them, "It was a shock. Daryl was leaving and I was walking him out. We weren't spying on you, but it's not smart to kiss your boyfriend like that where others might see you. Now go inside and text Carl make sure he's ok. I will be in shortly to talk to you."

Sophia pointed her finger at both Daryl and Merle who looked almost wounded about the whole thing. She stomped pass them all opening and slamming the door hard. Andrea broke the silence, "Guess it's a bad time to tell everyone we're going to have a baby?"

Daryl looked up at Merle, "Really?"

Merle nodded fishing a smoke from his shirt pocket and offering up one to Daryl, "Yup going to grow the Dixon clan a little bigger."

Daryl smiled at his brother, "Damn proud of ya. I hope it's a girl."

Carol and Andrea laughed as they hugged, when they looked over at Merle he was sitting on the porch rail looking like he might get sick, "It's a boy."

Andrea shrugged, "Who knows right now, could be a girl."

Daryl snickered, "Could be twins."

They didn't mean to laugh when Merle fell over the rail, but how could they not. It wasn't everyday you caught a fifteen year old girl you cared about kissing some strange boy and then figured out your girlfriend might end up having a girl. Yeah Merle knew as Daryl fished him out of the bushes, he would never live it down if he had girl. Right now he wished Daryl had a few daughters of his own so he would stop laughing at him.

Daryl looked over at Carol, "Will she be alright?"

Carol nodded, stepping into the house she yelled for Sophia. The girl showing up still mad, but there, "Yes momma?"

Carol smirked leaning into Daryl's side, "Andrea and Merle have news for you."

Andrea smiled, standing by Merle picking a leaf off his shirt. Merle huffed and put his arm around her, "We...well we gonna have a kid."

Sophia's eyes lit up, "WHAT? YOU'RE...OH MY GOD this is AWESOME!!! Can I name it? When will it be here? Can I babysit?"

Andrea smiled at Carol, then looked back at Sophia, "Yes you can babysit."

Merle grumbled next to her, "Not with old hot lips though."

Andrea elbowed him, "We won't know just when we're due till the doctors on Monday. And we would love you to help with the name or the nursery whatever you want."

Sophia squealed launching herself into Merle and Andrea's arms, the three hugging.

Carol gently poked Daryl's side making him put his arm around her looking down into her face, "That makes you an uncle Congratulations." She softly gave him a quick kiss on the lips and Daryl smiled. If he was going to get more kisses he was glad to be an uncle, but inside he was scared. This meant that things would change for him and Merle.

Clearing his throat he looked at his brother, "I think ya and Andrea should get the house. I'll come over here and rent out Andrea's side of the duplex."

Carol felt a little panic, "You want to move?"

Andrea smiled at her, "I was thinking about what to do. I can have Merle come here."

Daryl shook his head, "Nah, I'll go here if that works with you and Carol. Ya need the house for the baby."

Merle shook his head, "I don't know Daryl. Don't seem right."

Sophia popped her head up, "Why don't you sell the other place. The duplex has three bedrooms on each side. Uncle Merle and Aunt Andrea and the baby keep her side. Daryl can rent our spare room so he's not alone all the time and that way we're all together."

Merle smirked at her, "A minute ago I was an asshole, now I'm Uncle Merle."

Sophia brushed him off, "I'm fifteen try to keep up old man."

Andrea knew what Sophia was doing, "I like it! That makes more sense. We can sell that place and find a bigger place for all of us."

Daryl looked at Carol who looked just as shocked as he did, "It's up to you. Your house."

Carol swallowed hard, her hand going into his, "I do have the extra room. It's upstairs you'd have your bathroom and everything. It would help with the bills too."

Daryl chewed on his lip, "Well let me see it, this new place I'm living."

Carol and Daryl went inside. Merle and Andrea turning to Sophia looking at her with their mouths open. She shurgged, "What? They both need a good push and your pushes were strong enough. With the baby coming maybe this will motivate them to get busy. Jesus I must be the only kid in the world trying to get her mom a man. Come on let's make sure they don't change their minds."

Chapter Text

Daryl sighed as he went to knock on her door. He was all for the date but he had never really done this with anyone. Now standing on her porch he wanted to run. He knew he wouldn't but going on a real date? He wanted to throw up. Running a hand through his hair he went to knock again, but the door opened to reveal Sophia standing there grinning, "Come on in. Sit down."

Daryl looked around as he came into the living room. Andrea was sitting on the couch, the woman patting a seat, "Come on in, take a load off."

Daryl swallowed hard and sat down, "Is....is Carol ready?"

Andrea nodded, "She'll be right in."

Sophia sat in the chair in the corner, "She's ready, we just felt we should talk to you before you go."

Daryl nodded, "Alright."

Daryl's thumb went to his mouth, he didn't know if this was such a good idea anymore.

Sophia smirked, "What time do you plan on having her home?"

Andrea hummed, "Yes, what time do you think you will be home?"

Daryl shurgged, "After we eat? Unless Carol wants to do somethin' else."

Sophia nodded, "You do know that I love my momma more than anything in the world." Daryl nodded, "And if anything happened to her, I would feel the need to....shall we say kill the person that hurt her?"

Andrea nodded, "Pigs eat anything."

Daryl's eyes went wide, "Jesus, I'm just takin' her to dinner."

Carol chose that moment to come into the room in a light blue sundress, a light weight white sweater on. He stood up and felt himself start to get hard in his pants. Willing his dick to settle down he gave her a crooked smile, "Ya look real nice."

Carol smiled, her eyes travelling over him. He was wearing a new pair of jeans and a black short sleeve shirt, the sleeves rolled up to show off his arms. "You look very nice too."

Sophia and Andrea stood up. Sophia going over to kiss her mother's cheek, "You look beautiful. Now both of you get out of here. Andrea and I have to go out and help Merle pack."

Andrea smiled patting Daryl's back as they ushered them out of the house, "Don't forget Daryl, pork eats anything!"

Daryl and Carol were pushed out onto the front porch. Sophia gave them one more smile, "Have fun!"

When the door slammed Carol looked at Daryl, "What was that? And what does pork eats anything mean?"

Daryl shook his head putting a hand on her back guiding her down the stairs toward his truck, "Hell if I know, guess we ain't gettin' pork tonight."

////////////

Carol hesitated as they walked toward the door of the resturant. Daryl put his hand on her back making her look at him. Daryl smiled shyly, "Ain't nothin' but a thing. I'm right here."

Carol nodded walking inside with him. The hostess coming right up to them, "Good evening, do you have a reservation?"

Daryl nodded, "Yeah, Dixon, party of two."

She looked over her book and then smiled at them, "This way please."

Once they were seated Carol picked up her menu, almost trying to hide her face. She didn't see the hostess really notice her face, but that didn't mean anything. She knew this was a mistake, she wasn't ready for this. Just when she thought she might run from the booth they were in Daryl pulled her menu down smirking at her, "I know what I'm gettin'. How about you?"

Carol shook her head, "I have no idea."

Just then Daryl heard his name, "Daryl! Daryl Dixon!"

Carol froze in fear as a large black man came toward their table. Daryl stood up shaking the man's hand, "Dog what're you doin' here?"

The man gestured to a pretty dark skinned woman, motioning for her to come over, "Just taking the wife out. And who might this be?"

Carol swallowed hard, but Daryl smiled at her, "This is Carol, Carol this is TDog, he and I work together."

TDog held out his hand shaking Carol's hand, "Nice to meet you Carol. I was wondering if this one was ever going to settle down. Daryl, Carol, this is my wife Jackie."

Jackie smiled, "Oh my gosh I love that dress it brings out your eyes. Where did you get it?"

Carol looked down at her dress, "I guess we got it at that new store in the mall?"

Jackie nodded, "I love that place, it's got wonderful dresses. Don't be surpised if the next time you see me I have that one."

Carol laughed nervously, "Would you like to join us?"

TDog looked at Daryl and Daryl just shurgged, "Got room."

TDog and Jackie slid into the side of the booth that Daryl had been sitting. Daryl sat down next to Carol his hand finding hers under the table. The hostess brought two more menus and TDog smiled at them, "So what's good here?"

Carol smiled, looking at Daryl, "I heard the pork isn't good."

Daryl chuckled and squeezed her hand, "Yeah don't eat the pork."

/////////

Carol unlocked her door and walked in, Daryl coming in behind her. Carol laughed, "I had so much fun tonight. Jackie and TDog are wonderful."

Daryl sat down on the couch and groaned, his hands going to his stomach, "Dog is good people. Been workin' with him for fifteen years. I'm his boss kinda. One thing is for sure I ate too damn much."

Carol sat down next to him a soft smile on her face, "Me too."

Daryl huffed, "Pffft, ya hardly ate half. Need some meat on your bones. The way ya cook ya should be as fat as Merle."

Carol laughed, "I have never been told to eat more before."

Daryl shurgged, "Probably never been told ya beautiful either and ya are."

Carol smiled looking at her lap, "I don't know about that."

Daryl turned tilting her chin up with his finger, he stared into her eyes leaning in closer to her, "Ya beautiful Carol Ann."

Carol nodded, not being able to speak. Daryl's lips touched her softly, body leaning back into the couch as she followed him, kissing him back. Carol moaned and Daryl took that as an invitation and slid his tongue gently into her mouth. Carol shifted not breaking the kiss as she straddled his lap. They broke apart, both of their chests heaving. Carol looked at him, her hands on his broad shoulders, her voice timid, "Is this alright?"

Daryl didn't know what to say he just nodded, his eyes going back to her lips. Moving in he captured her mouth with his kissing her long and deep. Daryl moaned as Carol pulled his tongue into her mouth sucking on it. His cock jumped in his pants and Carol felt it grinding down into him. Daryl eased his hands up under her dress growling when he felt lace panties. His hands gently squeezing her ass and pulling him down against his erection. One of his hands eased around to the front pushing her dress up more. When his hand found her breast he groaned, thrusting up against her core. His hand snaking into her bra, his fingers gently rolling her nipple.

Carol felt like she was floating. She had never felt this way with a man. He was gentle, yet his hands were rough feeling against her skin. She wanted to feel him too. She slowly pulled on his shirt until her hands slid up the back of his shirt. As soon as she did, she could feel him freeze.

Carol pulled away looking at him, "What?"

Daryl couldn't breath, his cock shrinking when she touched his back. He set Carol off his lap and stood up, "I have to go. I ....I have to go...."

Daryl started for the door and Carol called after him, "PLEASE STOP!"

Daryl turned around but he couldn't look at her. She had felt them. She had touched his biggest fear.

Carol trembled as she stood there before him, her voice small, "Is...is it my scars?"

Daryl sighed, "No, ya know that."

Carol swallowed hard and reached down pulling the dress over her head standing there in nothing but a light blue lace bra and matching panties. Her hand going to her face, "The....the burns go down to right above my breast." Pulling from all her courage she reached behind her and undid the bra letting it fall to the floor, her hand going to a long scar that ran her right hip and ended under her left breast, "I .... I got this the first time I left him. Not to mention all the....all the times he put his cigarettes out...on me. Do I....do i disgust you?"

Daryl didn't know what to do but his feet finally started moving toward her. Holding his breath he pulled his shirt over his head. He stared at her, his voice low, "He would crave on me. Got....got scars everywhere but my back...it's the worse...he use to....he use to touch them when he....when he...."

Carol trembled as she walked toward him, her chest heaving. She put her hand on his chest making him shiver. Slowly she walked around him, her hand going to his arm. Then he felt her kiss the worse of the scars. A single tear slipping from his eye.

Carol felt him trembling too, but she knew they both needed to get pass some things. So she kissed the length of the worse scar, "You survived. Just like you said to me. They're not scars....just badges of honor....we lived...they don't get to win."

When she stepped back around him, she slowly put her arms around his neck. Leaning up she kissed the tear that was sliding down his face, "He doesn't get to win Daryl."

Daryl nodded, his chest heaving as her lips brushed his, "I don't...I don't know how to do this. Ain't never....ain't never touched a woman like I touch you."

Carol nodded, her lips brushing his again. Daryl pulled her to him, her bare breasts pressing against his bare chest. Daryl moaned, picking her up he walked her back to the couch. Gently he laid her down climbing on top of her he kissed her slowly enjoying the feel of her against him. His lips brushing down her neck kissing her scars as he got to her breast. His lips wrapping around her nipple, his hands sliding down her body as he moved down, kissing the long scar across her stomach. He looked up at her as he put her knees over his shoulders. Pulling aside the lace fabric he slowly ran his tongue down her slit.

Carol moaned, "You don't have too."

Daryl looked up at her, his nostrils flaring, "Tell me to stop."

His tongue licked at her core again and Carol arched her back. She could feel him slip one finger inside her. She started to panic but he moved his tongue back to her clit, slowly tracing circles over the hard throbbing little nub. Carol grabbed his hair gently her back arching, "Oh god."

Daryl wanted to take her fast, but he knew they were there yet. But he wanted her to cum, he wanted her to know that he would never hurt her. He started moving his finger in and out of her, groaning at the tightness. His mouth was full of her as he licked her.

Carol felt something building inside her, a heat coiling up as he increased his speed. She felt him latch onto her clit and she screamed falling over the edge. Her body alive as she came.

Daryl felt her walls close around his finger and he drank her down as she came. Once she had came, he pulled his fingers out pushing her panties back into place. She opened her eyes just as he licked his finger clean. He sat down on the couch and pulled her onto his lap.

Carol smirked at him, "That was....wow."

Daryl chuckled, "Yeah, that was."

Carol could feel how hard he was and she slid off his lap onto the floor, her eyes holding his, "Let me....let me make you feel good."

Daryl almost whimpered as she undid his belt and unzipped his pants. He lifted his hips as she slid down his pants and boxers. "Ya ain't gotta."

Carol smiled, her hand wrapping around him. "I want too. Just relax. It's just me."

Daryl moaned when she squeezed his hard shaft, her small cool hand moving slowly. He growled when she used her tongue and licked pre cum from the tip. His hand softly running through her short hair.

Carol pumped her hand, not sure if she was doing it right. She wanted to make him feel good, like he had done for her. Slowly she put the tip of his cock in her mouth sucking as she continued to pump him. She was afraid to take him all at once, but she started to increase her speed. She could tell he was getting there. Looking up at him, his chest was heaving and his eyes were closed. "Daryl look at me."

Daryl looked down at her, seeing her soft beautiful lips around him made him cum. He tried to warn her, but it happened so quick he didn't have time. He spilled his seed into her mouth calling her name.

When he came back to himself she was curled up on his chest, softly kissing his neck. He wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling against her, "I guess this means your my girl?"

Carol smiled at him and gave him a soft nod, "Yes, I guess so."

They heard voices outside, signalling that Andrea and Sophia were home. They both hurried to get redressed. Just as the door opened they were both sitting on the couch. Andrea smirked at them, but didn't say anything as Sophia ran through the house toward the bathroom. Bending down she picked up Carol's bra and threw it at her, "I see it was a good night."

Carol blushed burying her head into Daryl's shoulder and Daryl stared straight ahead. By the time Sophia got back into the room Andrea was still laughing and so were Daryl and Carol. No matter what happened, they had each other now.