She comes to his camp with red eyes and a stack of haphazardly folded shirts.
“You helped him,” Andrea says. “You did the right thing when no one else could. So I thought – you should have these. I don't know how well they'll fit.”
Not at all, most like, Daryl thinks – but he just takes the pile of cloth and nods, solemn as he knows how, because he's not an idiot and it's not about the damn clothes. He makes a show of shaking them out as she walks away, silent – of looking them over. Makes a series of 'not bad' faces, despite that they really look pretty useless – they might fit, around the middle, anyway. Be too small in the shoulders, though. Or he can tear them up for rags, wear 'em on his head. He thinks she's got enough sense to see that as respectful enough.
She doesn't glance back once, but if she had, she'd have seen him being properly appreciative.
Her retreating shoulders are rounded, her hips swaying in a way that says she's not paying a damned bit of attention to who's lookin' on – she doesn't walk like that, like a woman, when she thinks folk are watching. Has to prove what a tough-ass bitch she is every goddamn step she takes. Usually, anyway.
The shirts are crisp as paper, recently washed and line-dried, but they still smell a bit like Dale – like his old-man deodorant and sweat. Andrea's not exactly domestic; laundry ain't her thing. Probably he could do a better job doing the washing himself. Has before, likely will again, soon as Carol remembers she's not his goddamn mother.
Daryl folds the shirts back up along the lines Andrea made and takes them on over to his tent. Puts them inside almost reverently. Goes back to carving arrows. Andrea is just a speck across the field now, swaying a little with every step, as though the wind might blow her over. He watches until she disappears.
A day or so later, she drops a pile of sticks at his feet.
“They're not rotted,” Andrea says, no how do you do, just straight to the point. “That's as many as I could find that looked like you could carve them straight.”
She's wrong about a good third on one point or the other, Daryl can tell that at a glance, but it's a fairly impressive pile of sticks all the same.
“Thanks,” he says slowly, making it a question.
She just crosses her arms and squints off into the sun; hips cocked to one side and shoulders square again. It doesn't keep her from looking like she hasn't slept in about a hundred years. “I wish we had a boat,” she says. “I miss fishing.”
“I miss eatin' fish,” Daryl allows.
She smiles a little at this, just the one side of her pressed-together lips. “Don't tell me you're sick of squirrel,” she says.
“Hey, I said it'd keep us from starving,” Daryl responds. “Never said it was good.”
She gives a little snort of a laugh, and he smiles back, but then she's walking off.
“Hey!” Daryl calls after her. She stops, looks back; not surprised or annoyed or much of anything at all, just waiting to see what he wants. He flips his knife in his hand and gestures with the hilt to the space next to him on the log. “C'mere.”
She comes back, just a flicker of curiosity and wariness on her face. It's something, anyway. Daryl gestures again, when she stops in front of him, for her to sit – she does, but gingerly as a girl in church in a short skirt.
“I don't want to talk,” Andrea says flatly.
Daryl snorts. “Yeah?” he responds, sarcasm as sharp as the knife he's still trying to hand her. Her hand closes around the hilt, and for a moment it just hovers there upraised, like the knife is some strange thing she's never seen before. He doesn't say anything; she finally snaps out of it, turns it over in her hand, examines the blade. Does something that he guesses is her trying to test the weight of it, though he wouldn't guess she's ever actually seen someone really check over a knife, outside of TV.
Andrea looks up at him, the knife across both her hands like it's some kind of goddamn sacrificial offering and a question in her eyes. Something about the way she looks at him hurts, hurts like Carol thinking he'd hit her, like Sophia stumbling out of the barn, like Dale's eyes and the scars on his own knuckles from where he beat a damn stupid kid senseless.
“Pick one,” Daryl says, gesturing angrily at the pile of sticks still sitting there in front of his boots.
She shifts the knife into one hand, leans forward to do like she's told – then stops. Draws her hand back. Shakes her head.
“What?” he demands.
“I don't know which one to pick,” Andrea admits, still shaking her head, then turns to look at him. “Which, considering I picked all of them, probably means they're useless to you, doesn't it?”
“Nah,” Daryl contradicts, and plucks a good one out – nice and straight, no knots, doesn't twist too much. Has a bit of weight to it still that says it's not all dry-rotted or eaten out by termites. “Here.”
“Okay,” she says, and now she's got a stick on one hand and his knife in the other and she's not fucking stupid, she's caught on by now, but she still looks like she's got about as much idea of what to do next as if he'd asked her to fly to the moon. Daryl sighs. Thinks about her tough-ass walk, and the girly little gun that she shoots like she means it, and the way she won't be within ten feet of Shane since Dale died – she's not stupid, but sometimes she tries real damn hard to be.
Shouldn't make a damn bit of difference to him if she does. No business of his if she could be one mean-ass bitch – in all the good ways, mind – if she'd just stop trying so hard to play one.
She's still just sitting there, like a doll somebody dropped and forgot about.
It's not a thing he wants to think on, at all, ever.
Daryl sighs and reaches out and around her to correct her grip. “Here – you wanna hold it like this, see? And spread your knees a bit, get nice and grounded, set your elbows down or your arms are gonna shake – you ain't used to this.”
Couple days after that – she gets passable at arrow-making, but not really good, just doesn't have the arm strength – she comes marching up with her shirt pulled out of the front of her pants to make a pouch, full of all manner of little bottles.
Spices, he sees, when she dumps them on the ground.
“We're going to see what can be done to improve squirrel,” she pronounces.
“It's squirrel,” Daryl retorts, eyes going between the pile of garlic and pepper and God knows what else laying there in the dust and her determined expression, not bothering to hide that he pretty much thinks she's lost her mind. “Ain't no way to make squirrel fancy.”
“I'm not aiming for fancy,” she says, crouching down and beginning to arrange the bottles into some sort of order that apparently makes sense in her head. “I'm aiming for different. I think we can achieve different.”
“Think we already have,” Daryl shoots back; she gives him a withering look, and he shrugs. “Hey, you knock yourself out,” he says. “But you gotta eat it, whatever you do to it. I ain't bustin' my ass out in the heat all day so you can play Rachel Ray.” Another thought occurs to him. “Maggie know you took all this?”
She gives him the look that probably deserves.
“Shit,” he says, getting up and stomping a few paces off. “Are you shittin' me? You're gonna start with her over some salt and pepper? You think that's what this group needs?”
“Yeah, I do,” Andrea says, not looking at him, pulling bottles out with what looks like purpose. “I really do. Somebody starting something is exactly what this group needs. Because I am sick of Queen Lori acting like she's saving the world with lemonade, and all Rick's drama, and the nice little psychotic break we're not supposed to notice Shane having, and of everyone's grief, including my own. You know what? This is our life. Right here, right now, this is what we've got. And if we're going to live in it -” she tolds up a handful of clinking bottles. “I'm going to learn to season goddamn squirrel, if that's alright with you.”
He holds his hands up in surrender, and goes back to making arrows – pretty much ignoring the hell out of her.
He is wrong. She makes the fanciest damned squirrel he's ever tasted in his life.
“What the hell'd you do to this?” he asks, with something like awe. He's speaking in hushed tones, as if whispering will keep the rest of the group from smelling it and them from having to share. She hadn't made much.
“Just something my dad taught me,” she says, smiling this smug little smile he hasn't seen on her – fuck, hasn't seen on anyone - in pretty damned near forever. “Though he had game hens in mind. And I'm not telling you, because you did not believe.”
He throws a bit of bone and gristle at her, which catches in her hair and has her sputtering and calling him gross, but she's laughing.
Daryl isn't especially fond of the RV; it was too tricked-out and nice to start with, not the sort of place he feels comfortable, and now there's all sorts of memories stuffed in there that he'd like to leave be. But she's sitting watch on top of it, and the others are busy, and he wants to do this in daylight – but damned if he's gonna have an audience for it.
He climbs up the side and onto the roof, ignoring her quizzical look until he's sitting next to her. He pulls out what he has wadded in his pocket – it's not folded up all nice, but it's not like she's gonna iron it and hang it in her closet, now is it? “Here,” he says, holding it out to her.
Andrea takes the shirt – a pale blue one with two green stripes – and holds it out. “This was -” she stops, Dale's name on her tongue, and finally actually sees the shirt. She whips around to face him, one hundred percent gob-smacked. If he's got a bit of a shit-eating grin on his face, Daryl doesn't think he can be blamed. “You sew? ” Andrea demands.
She's clutching the shirt to her chest, which does funny things to his.
“A bit,” he says. “Not too well, mind, but enough. Probably sewn myself up more than I've sewn clothes, but I can mend a bit.”
He'd just tucked in the shoulders and the sides a bit, narrowed it down, made into more of a woman-shape. He hopes it's not too small now; he wants to make her happy, not get his ass kicked, and if there's one thing he knows of people – Andrea included, for all her virtues – it's that they're fucking stupid, when it comes to it. Scrounging and starving or not, no woman wants to be given a too-small shirt.
“Thank you,” she says, sounding all choked up.
“S'just a shirt,” Daryl says awkwardly.
“No,” Andrea insists, voice gone all throaty and strange. “No, it's not just a shirt. It's not just a shirt at all.”
And then she leans over across the rifle in her lap and kisses him.
It's quick, dainty almost, and when she pulls back they've gone and traded expressions.
“You, ah,” Daryl says, and rubs the sweat out of his eyes. He flings an arm out in the general direction of everything that isn't her, though he can't quite focus on any of it. “You get back to it. Pay attention.”
“Uh-huh,” she says, though it's pretty plain she's agreeing to something else entirely from what he said.
Daryl just nods like that's settled, then, and leaves. He doesn't run; he leaves at a dignified pace. He can feel her eyes on him the whole way back to his camp, hotter than the sun.
She comes to his tent that night, and it's all too-hot sweaty and awkward and fucking goddamn amazing – and he's not sure that her rubbing his feet isn't better than the sex, even. Who the hell rubs someone's feet after sex? Andrea, apparently, and he is not complaining. It makes him feel like he's supposed to do something extra for her, too, but she declines a return of favors on the foot rub.
“I just want to lay here,” she says, done with him and his feet, flat on her back and naked as the day she was born and staring up at the dome of the tent above them. “I want to lay here, and feel like it's been a good day. Can I do that?”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” Daryl agrees. “But roll over.”
She shoots him a look, but does – and he's right, her back is one solid knot under his hands. She groans the minute he touches her, digging his fingers into either side of her spine. “Sitting up on that RV all day ain't good for you.”
“It's good for the group,” Andrea argues, muffled, face half buried in the sleeping bag. It smells like sweat and sex and humid summer there in the tent. He hopes the sleeping bag will hold the smell. He hopes more that it won't have to because they'll be repeating this, and often.
“True enough,” Daryl agrees, hands splayed across her shoulders, feeling the muscles jumping under his prodding – like no one's touched her in forever, like her flesh is trying to remember how to be alive.