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Twist of Fate

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A/N The basic premise of this story was the idea of my 11-year-old daughter:) All the technical medical information came from my FF bestie Krissy and YES! I named my OC after her, sue me. LOL, She is a brilliant nurse and graciously answered my 300 medical questions. I like to make things as accurate as I can within the limits of a fictional story, so she was invaluable in this:) THANK YOU! This story was fun to write, and I hope you like it. Teagan xoxo

^Chapter One

For a moment it felt like a prank, a cruel prank. Daryl felt rage inside and a strong need to just get out. He picked up the cordless phone and threw it against the wall.

Grabbing his jacket, he left the apartment with only his cell phone and wallet. There was no plan or goal, just emancipation from the anger. He'd just ride till he could think straight.

Skipping steps down the stairs, he got to his bike and turned over the engine. He let it rev high and loud, needing the sound and the fury. He was angry as hell...and hurt.

He pulled his cell out of his pocket and against all his better judgment he left a text before taking off.

~ I never want to see you again. Drop it off at my brother's place. I'm done.

Pulling out onto the road, out of the apartment parking lot he settled on the highway. He could go fast and not look back for a while. No turning, no path to choose, just speed.

It was a cool night, and it had been raining all day long. The roads were slick, shimmering like mirrors and he noticed the reflection of the streetlights in the puddles.

Turning onto the first available exit, he merged into traffic aggressively. His helmet was already speckled with drops of relentless rain and water from the puddles he cut through without hesitation.

His heart ached, but he couldn't really deny seeing it coming. He'd had a feeling but really hoped he was wrong.

Daryl sped up and weaved through the traffic with ease, angry but highly focused. He didn't know what to do next or what to say to anyone. Embarrassment swelled up inside him when he thought of telling people about it, but that morphed into anger just like the sadness.

He crept in behind a semi and reduced his speed; something was slowing up traffic suddenly.

At that moment, with no warning, the semi slammed on the breaks and the trailer kicked out into the adjoining lane, he had nowhere to go. Swerving toward the ditch at a speed that was still too high to be safe, he knew he was going to hit the ditch and any opportunity to change the course of events was gone. His left arm hit the road taking all the force of the impact, and the bike was on its side, dragging him along the road.

Light shined off the slick asphalt as the grass of the ditch, and the road barrier came closer at alarming speed. His heart raced, and which way was up became unclear...and then...nothing...

#############################

"Hey baby...take me home," Andrea purred, sliding the billfold across the table.

Life had been hectic lately, and now, after 4 glasses of wine, there's only one thing she wanted. Andrea just wanted to be taken to bed and cared for in a way only Merle could. The waiting, the testing, and the doctor's appointments were getting to be too much, and she needed a break from thinking of it. She grabbed her purse and winked at him and Merle, being a smart man, knew just what that meant.

"Got it, be right back."

He walked off to pay the bill, and she touched up her lipstick, looking into the mirror of her compact.

He was back at the table in no time, "You ready?"

In 10 years of marriage, he never looked 'not in the mood.' He was always eager and ready to go, which helped their efforts greatly.

The drive home was quick and without detour. Andrea lay her hand on his thigh as he drove and he growled low and almost inaudibly.

"You're gonna get it," he said, looking over at her quickly.

"Yeah? I sure hope so or else I wore my cute panties and got this wax today for nothing."

"You didn't..." he uttered.

"Yes, I did."

They were home within minutes, and he tossed his keys on the kitchen table and grabbed her. It had been a while, and he was more than ready to make up for lost time.

Business had put a damper on their love life. Owning a company with his brother was sometimes a struggle, but overall he loved it. Work and their continued attempts to start a family were keeping their minds frazzled.

Tonight, all that mattered to him was her body. He had her on the bed in no time, and it was frenzied, just like when they first met. He couldn't get her clothes off fast enough, and she was wrestling with the buckle of his belt.

"Gimme your dick, baby...I need you so bad..."

He grinned, pulling her dress over her head and started looking for the way to get her out of her bra.

"Front or back?" he panted.

Andrea rolled her eyes and reached behind her back to unfasten it.

"That's what I'm talkin' about," he moaned as he dove for her breasts.

Andrea giggled and started to slide his boxers down his thighs. She wasn't looking for foreplay; she just wanted sex.

Merle got the message when she began to wiggle out of her underwear. He grabbed her behind both knees, pulling her legs apart, he recognized this kind of need.

"Do it, baby...give it to me," she whined.

In a heartbeat, he was inside her, and her eyes rolled into her head. She felt weak and tightly wound, and this was the cure, his body was the cure. The smell of his cologne and the strength in his hands as he held her was too much to take. He rolled his hips and kissed her neck and face.

"Gonna cum for me, honey?" he asked, rolling her on top of him.

"Yeah..."

Andrea rode him smooth, laying her body flat against his and he knew just what she wanted. He took both handfuls of her breasts and teased nice and light across her nipples with his tongue. He had her right there in minutes. She rolled her hips over him and took in the teasing pressure of moving her body against his and the sensation of him inside her.

"You there?" he asked, clutching her thighs tight, barely hanging on himself.

"Yeah...Mmmmm...Jesus!" she cried out, fucking harder as it took over her whole body. This is exactly what she needed.

The phone started to vibrate on the night stand, but he had to get off before he answered a dumb call, so he ignored it.

"Turn over, honey," he panted, grabbing her by the hips and driving into her again.

"Jesus, Merle...give it to me good..."

He was ready, and he could feel it coming on fast.

"Ffffuuuuuck...Uhhhhh..."

The phone started to ring again, and that's when they both realized it might actually be important. Who would even be calling this late on a Sunday night?

"I got it," Andrea answered.

"Hello?"

"Yes, I'm calling from the Pasqua Hospital, may I please speak with Mr. Merle Dixon?"

"Of course, what's wrong?"

"I'm sorry, I need to speak with him, ma'am."

"What is it?" Merle asked, pulling his boxers back on.

"The hospital," she answered, handing the phone to him.

"Yeah?"

"Hello, Mr. Dixon?"

"Yeah, yeah! What is it?"

"Your brother was brought in this evening. He was in a motorcycle accident, and he's just been brought into ICU from emergency. He sustained serious head trauma, but he's currently stable."

"Oh my god! Are you serious? Is he going to die?"

"It's a serious injury so we can't tell you how things will go at this point but the next 48 hours will be critical. We'll know more in that time as to his prognosis."

"We'll be right there!"

"Absolutely, please drive safely if you're rattled or consider taking a cab, Sir."

"Yeah, good idea. Thanks."

"I'll meet you here. My name is Kristin, I'm the nurse with him at the moment, and I'll get the doctor to explain his condition in greater detail."

"Thank you, be right there."

Merle hung up the phone, and his hands were shaking violently as he wrestled his legs into his jeans and tried to give Andrea information as well.

"Get dressed, honey...it's Daryl...call a cab...he crashed his bike or something..."

"Oh my god!"

"Yeah, he's got a serious head injury. They don't know if he'll make it!"

"I got it."

Andrea called a cab and told them to hurry it up. She certainly couldn't drive with wine in her system and Merle couldn't stop shaking. Merle and Daryl were best friends, and she knew this would be the hardest thing he'd ever faced no matter which way it went.

#######################

Kristin hated making these calls. This couple were just at home, living their lives, and she was forced to drop a bomb right on their heads. The sound of a family member's voice never got easy to hear. The dismay, fear, shock, sadness, and panic were torture to listen to. It was impossible for her to not put herself in their shoes. She had a daughter at home who just started driving in the last year, and many of the calls she made from ICU had to do with vehicle collisions. Gina was 17 now and out on the road, making these calls put it right in her face that it could happen to anyone. No life was free from the possibility of tragedy.

What made it all worth it were the times when patients were transferred from ICU to a less emergent part of the hospital and on the path to recovery.

Kristin wasn't even supposed to be working nights, she hated leaving Gina alone, but she was a very responsible almost 18-year-old. The ward was thankfully quiet, and at the moment all they had was an elderly gentleman and this younger man who, despite the injuries, she had a good feeling about.

It was both a blessing and a curse, but she always seemed to have accurate intuition when it came to patients. She couldn't tell anyone how she thought things would turn out but just knowing that someone wouldn't likely pull through was hard. In this case she just had a good feeling about him, and she was normally right. He was in bad shape, there was no denying it, but the feeling was there, so she trusted it.

Chapter Text


^Chapter Two

 

Staying 'with it' all night was a challenge for Kristin when her day normally started at 6:45am and had for years. She often covered shifts, everyone had to in this line of work, but it was seldom a graveyard shift. She drank her fourth cup of coffee and then returned to take over monitoring the new patient as she filled out some paperwork.

He still hadn't moved and he likely wouldn't for a good while. His face was swollen, and his eyes were black, she could already predict the expressions on the faces of his brother and his wife. His head was bandaged, and he looked nothing like his normal self. The paramedics found a picture of him and his brother in his wallet. They were both wearing Dixon's Contracting work shirts with their names embroidered on the front. They looked happy, and the older brother had his arm wrapped tightly around, the younger. You could tell, even from a picture, that these men were just like brothers should be.

She was also given their business card which clearly said at the bottom Brothers in business since 2007. It was, thankfully, easy to put together who his next of kin was even before checking his medical records.

Just as she was double checking the drip on his IV, the brother and wife stormed in.

“Where is he? Where's Kristin?”

“That's me, come in.”

The area was dim, due to the late hour, with only a light over the patient's beds to read monitors.

“Oh my god, Andrea! Look at his face!”

“This is quite normal with his injuries; the swelling will go down in time.”

“Can I even touch him with all these wires?” Merle asked.

“Yes, just be careful that none of them are disconnected. His arm is splinted right now because it's broken. They'll be putting a cast on it as soon as the swelling comes down a little.”

Andrea approached her and asked about seeing the doctor.

“I'll go call right away, and one of the two doctor's caring for him will be in as soon as they can.”

“Thanks.”

Kristin left the room to try and find a doctor who could give them the answers they desperately wanted although it really was just a waiting game at this point.

 

“Merle...honey...” Andrea offered softly, laying her hand on his back.

“Just look at him....Jesus....”

“I know...he's strong though, you know that.”

“Yeah.”

Merle sat next to the bed and touch his hand, it was cold and stiff.

“He feels....dead,” he said, his voice almost cracking. “How did this happen? He's a great driver.”

“I don't know, honey. Do you think I should call Meredith?”

“I guess so; he'd probably want that.”

Before she could call, Kristin appeared to fill them in.

“The doctor will be here in just a moment, sorry for the wait. Is there anything I can do?”

Andrea pulled out her phone and hissed.

“Damn it! My phone is just about out of battery, and I have to call his fiance, my charger is at home. We were in such a hurry when we left.”

“We have some here, a lot of people arrive with low charge on their phones. Come with me.”

“I'll be right back, honey.”

Merle just looked up and nodded.

Kristin took her to the nurse's station where they had a drawer full of chargers people forgot and never claimed and a few the staff had bought. It was a common request and this saved time and headache.

“Here,” she said, handing one over. “Go ahead and make your call and then you can plug it in next to Mr. Dixon's bed.”

“Thanks so much...is he going to make it? Never mind, you probably can't say anything anyway.”

“I really can't, but he is getting the best care possible.”

Andrea nodded and offered a little smile as she started to make the call.

Kristin went back to the patient's room to give her privacy and to check on the brother.

“Sir?” she asked at the door.

“Call me Merle, I ain't the Sir type.”

“Is there anything I can do, Merle?” she asked.

He looked at her, his face full of fear and sadness.

“No...I just don't want him to die.”

“We'll do everything we can; we have great doctor's here.”

 

#############################

 

“Meredith? It's Andrea.”

“Oh, hi....what's up?”

“Daryl's been in an accident.”

“What? When? Is he OK?”

“It's serious; he's in the ICU at the Pasqua.”

“Should I come?”

“Uh....yes. Why wouldn't you? You're engaged, and he might not make it, Meredith!”

“Of course, I'll be right there. Sorry.”

“It's on the third floor down the south wing. We'll be here. Drive carefully.”

“Yeah, see you right away.”

Andrea hung up the phone and walked, with the charger, back to the room and saw that the doctor had arrived. Unfortunately, she only gave them much of the same information they'd received from Kristin. They wouldn't know much for the next day or so and that he had a serious head injury and a broken arm that would be in a cast as soon as the swelling came down. It was all just waiting for now. He'd had a CT scan, but with the brain, it was anyone's guess what the next few days would bring. On the Glasgow scale, he was in the 9-12 window which meant he was in a coma and that he'd have physical and cognitive impairment that may or may not resolve in time. If he woke up, he'd need rehabilitation and possibly have memory problems.

Merle was broken and shut down for the most part.

Kristin completed some other work, but it was so quiet that she found a moment to bring them some coffee. It was the middle of the night now, and she was getting tired so focusing her efforts on the patient's family helped her to maintain her energy.

Andrea left the room to walk the halls and stretch her legs.

“I can't believe this, where is she?” Andrea asked of nobody in particular, dialing a number on her phone.

“Who?” asked Kristin, who happened to be passing by.

“His fiance, I called over an hour ago and she doesn't live that far.”

“I haven't seen anyone come in. What does she look like?”

“She's about your height, blonde hair, glasses. You know she actually asked if she should come? I almost hit the floor!”

“Maybe she was just shocked. Sometimes people aren't thinking straight when they get this kind of call; I've heard all ; the of things.”

“I guess so,” Andrea shrugged.

“Wait, is this her now?” Kristin asked as a woman entered the corridor meeting the description.

Andrea turned and shook her head.

“Where were you, Meredith?”

“Sorry, where is he?”

“Come here,” Andrea said, pointing to the room.

Merle moved so Meredith could sit down next to him.

“Oh god! He looks terrible!” Meredith exclaimed.

Merle and Andrea filled her in on what they knew, and she looked stunned. She cried a little and held his hand.

Merle and Andrea left her for a while to be alone with him, and Kristin pulled the curtain so she could have privacy.

“He's stable right now, but if anything changes just call me, my name is Kristin.”

“OK, thank you,” Meredith answered.

Half an hour later, Kristin came back in the room to do her routine checks on her elderly patient, and the curtain was still pulled around the younger man's bed. She couldn't help feeling awful for the woman, seeing her fiance that way had to be devastating.

Her elderly man was looking as OK as he could be and his vitals were steady, so she moved to leave the room, and that's when she heard something very curious.

“I'm sorry....Daryl, I'm so sorry....I should never have done that....this is all my fault....I'm sorry.”

It was soft and muffled, Meredith was sobbing the words to him.

Kristin heard all kinds of things at the bedsides of people who may or may not make it, but this was a little more unusual. It was none of her business and getting caught up in patient's lives was never advisable, so she tried not to think too much of it. It was a vehicle collision, how could she be at fault if she wasn't even present.

Meredith opened the curtain suddenly then and caught her confused expression before she could leave the room.

“I....did you hear that?” she asked, wiping her eyes.

Kristin didn't know what to say for a second, but she'd have to deal with this family every day for the foreseeable future, and additional drama was never a good thing.

“No, I didn't hear a thing. Are you OK?” she asked with a friendly smile.

“Yeah...I'm OK. He really looks awful.”

Kristin was a little dumbfounded how often she was commenting on his appearance although it had to be a shock to see a loved one in this condition.

“The swelling will come down, the next two days are critical though.”

“Will he remember everything?” Meredith asked.

“There's no way to know yet, but some memory loss is definitely possible.”

“I need coffee. Is there a chapel?”

“Yes, it's on the first floor down the hall to the right of the main entrance. There are signs when you get off the elevator.”

“Thanks.”

Meredith grabbed her purse and left the room without a second look, leaving Kristin confused and very curious. Everyone handled this kind of thing differently, but this woman had something on her conscience, that much was crystal clear.

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Three

"Merle, he's going to be OK."

"You don't know that. What if he dies, Andrea?"

"I don't know, babe. I'm sorry."

"He's my little brother, he ain't supposed to go before me. Why did I ever give him my bike?"

"Hey, you listen to me. This is not your fault, these things just happen."

"How am I ever supposed to live with myself if he dies?" Merle asked. He looked weak and tired and full of regret.

Andrea held him tight and kissed his forehead.

"It's not your fault; it's nobody's fault. He'll be OK."

#######################

Kristin finished off her paperwork and did her final rounds for the morning, she was exhausted and needed sleep. Graves were murder.

Andrea was still sitting next to the bed. She insisted on sending Merle home in a cab to sleep, and Meredith had gone home hours before. When she was finished at the chapel, she only came back for a while and then sneaked off without saying a word to anyone.

Andrea was sleeping in a chair, twisted up like a pretzel. Kristin winced when she imagined how sore she'd be when she woke up.

The man, Daryl, was as still as ever of course. He was still alive to fight another day for his life and his future, and it made Kristin happy. He was only 40 and had a fiance he still had to marry. She'd been married and divorced and didn't plan to try it again after the mess it was for her but she still believed in love for others. She hoped he'd recover and be able to go on and live the life he was meant to.

Kristin grabbed her coat and her backpack and left the unit to go home to bed. She was due back at work the next morning as always and hoped she'd see Daryl awake and talking to his family but it was a big hope at this point and very unlikely.

#######################

When she got through the door, Gina was already up for school and on her way out the door.

"Love you, babe. Drive safe."

"I will. Man! You look tired."

"Exhausted."

She stripped out of her scrubs, tossed them directly into the washing machine and got herself in the shower. Her work often involved other people's blood and bodily fluids, and she would never sleep without a shower, no matter how tired.

The hot water hit her shoulders, and she squeaked before turning the hot water down. Her mind drifted, as she washed her hair, to the fiance she'd met. She wondered why she'd left, but there could be a hundred reasons for it, and none of them should concern her.

She scrubbed the shift off her skin and poured her tired body into bed. The sun was coming through the blinds, and she wondered how the regular night staff did this every day. The traffic on the street was noisy, and she searched the nightstand for earplug and was delighted to find some. She blocked out the sound with the bright orange foam, wrapped herself in her quilt and fell asleep to the sound of her own heartbeat in her ears.

#####################

Day sleep was not the same as night sleep; it was unfulfilling. Gina got home from school, and by 4pm they were eating an early supper and chatting.

"Rough night at work?"

"You don't know the half of it. Please, don't fall for a man with a motorcycle."

"Ouch, accident?" Gina asked, wincing.

"Yep, a younger man too, only 40 years old."

"Will he make it? What does your intuition say?" Gina asked. She knew all about her mother's hunches and found it fascinating.

"I think he'll be OK, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him before he'll be walking down the aisle."

"He's engaged? That's so sad; I bet she's a mess. If anything happened to Michael, I'd lose my mind."

"She was surprisingly calm, but I really shouldn't talk too much about it."

"I guess not. So what's for supper?"

"Pizza? I really don't feel like cooking."

"It's always pizza; you never want Chinese or anything else."

"What can I say? Pizza's my favorite. Do you want something else?"

"Nope. Pizza's fine," Gina laughed.

Her mother was predictable with certain things, but that predictability brought with it a strong sense of comfort. Where her mom was someone she could count on, her dad was a flighty mess who never seemed to make it for his visitation. It didn't bother her though; they had a nice little group of people in their lives who were like family. She had her boyfriend Michael and some school friends; her mom had her friend Tara at work. They had all they needed just amongst themselves, for the most part.

They spent the evening stuffing themselves with pizza and just hanging out. Kristin had to force herself to go to bed on time because tomorrow she was back to her regularly scheduled shift that started at the crack of dawn.

#######################

The next morning, report didn't take very long. They only had Daryl on the unit now, but things could change at any time. Their elderly man had passed away peacefully while she was off the day before. Kristin and her best work friend Tara were left together on the unit while the other ICU nurse volunteered to assist elsewhere in the hospital until it got busy again.

Tara did some restocking of supplies and tidying while it was quiet, she filled out paperwork and got ready for when it was busy again. Sometimes it came in waves, and it had been busy until just the last week.

Kristin helped an aide get Daryl cleaned up while his brother waited to see him on the other side of the curtain.

"How was he yesterday? Anything change?" she asked the aide quietly.

"Not that I heard, yesterday was quiet. We just lost Mr. Daniels in the morning."

They washed him up and changed his gown for the day. He looked a little less swollen, and his bruises were changing color already, they finished up quickly so Merle could visit him.

"He's all yours. How are you holding up?" Kristin asked, rubbing his arm as he sat down next to the bed.

"Not good...did Meredith come while I was gone yesterday?"

"I wasn't here yesterday, so I don't know, sorry. Is Andrea coming?" Kristin asked, gathering up her things to leave.

"Yeah, she'll be here any minute."

Kristin left and went about her day. No change with Daryl was hopefully a good sign; she really hoped for Merle's sake that he'd recover and wake up soon. She liked Merle already and Andrea as well, she hadn't seen enough of Meredith yet to really say either way though.

##########################

"Do you have a key for Daryl's apartment?" Andrea asked when she made it up to Daryl's room.

"No, why?" Merle asked, wondering why on Earth she'd want one.

"I don't even know. Meredith called this morning and wanted to know if I had a key. I thought she would have had one," Andrea sighed, taking Daryl's hand and rubbing it gently. "He feels warmer, maybe that's a good sign, hey?"

"Why does she need a key? Where is she anyway? I didn't see her at all yesterday, and I was here almost the whole day except for a bit in the afternoon when I got something to eat."

"I don't know; she didn't say why. Don't worry about that now. Is there any news on him? Did the doctor come around?" she inquired.

"No, but no news is good news, right?"

"I sure hope so. His bruises are all starting to look different. Maybe they'll put on his cast today; his fingers aren't as swollen anymore."

"Yeah...but where the hell is she?" he asked again.

Chapter Text

^Chapter Four

By late afternoon Merle was still sat next to Daryl's bed and had pulled the curtain to be alone with his thoughts. Andrea needed to stop by work, but Merle left their staff to pick up the slack for the week, nothing else mattered but Daryl.

Hospitals and doctors always freaked him out and on top of worrying about Daryl he felt on edge just being there. The nurse who was always around made him feel better, she didn't ask a million questions and just gave him space to be sad and worried, he needed to feel it. There's nothing he hated more in a situation like this than people expecting him to be falsely cheerful or upbeat. His only brother and closest friend was seriously injured, there's no way he was going to plaster a fake smile on his face for anyone.

"You gotta wake your ass up, brother. You're really starting to scare me here," he said, softly.

He wasn't the 'talking to himself' type, but he thought maybe if Daryl could hear his voice he might wake up. It was a worth a shot.

Daryl looked smaller somehow, to Merle, and younger. He looked almost like a teenager again to him. Merle wanted to fix it but this was a problem he couldn't do anything about, he was helpless.

Their mom was in another state and too sick to travel, and their dad was long since dead, all he had was Daryl and Andrea. It was doing no good to sit and stare at him all day, but he wanted to be there when he woke up, or if he died. Just the thought of burying his only brother, his little brother, killed him. They were never the cuddly type or anything. They didn't say I love you to each other, but they didn't have to. Daryl knew how Merle felt; he didn't even worry about having not said it. They showed each other all the time; words were less important.

"Can you hear anything in there? You look pretty beat up, but Andrea says you're gonna pull through...and you know how she's always right about everything. You have to wake up soon and get better cause we were gonna to go fishing, remember? That boys weekend up at the cabin before you tie the knot. It was gonna be a blast, right?"

He broke down then, thinking about the rundown cabin at the lake they bought with their first profits from the contracting business. They fished up there and hunted and just escaped from the world. They'd always been best friends. Merle was 3 years older and always looked out for him. Nobody messed with Daryl growing up, nobody dared. Merle tried to imagine life without him, and it was too much to take.

"I don't know where the hell your woman is right now, but I never did understand her. Sorry, I know she's the one you picked but...never mind. Just wake up...please."

Kristin couldn't help pausing to listen, but she quickly moved on so he wouldn't feel intruded upon. Privacy was important, but it was hard not to become invested in the outcomes of her patients.

Finally, Meredith turned up before her shift ended and there was obvious tension between her and Merle. Kristin helped out the aide again since she had nothing else to do before leaving for the day.

Meredith stood on the outside of the curtain as Merle questioned where the she'd been since the night it happened.

They washed him up and changed his gown again. Kristin checked all the machines, and then the doctor arrived to look him over for shift change. The doctor said he was holding steady, and it was just a matter of waiting it out, but it looked good so far. He had a feeding tube and was being given oxygen through a mask, but he wasn't on life support. There was still every chance he'd wake up any time now, Kristin was hopeful.

She was a devoted health care provider. She cared about what she did and about seeing every person possible leave her care much better off than they walked in. It was ICU, so hardly any of them left on foot, but they left on a journey to become better and were at least out of the dark woods.

It was impossible not to hear every word that was said on the other side of the curtain, and she exchanged a few uncomfortable looks with the aide.

"I just don't deal with this kind of thing very well, Merle," Meredith said, shifting from one foot to the other and looking around the room.

"Who the hell does? I'm losing my mind here, Andrea is too, but you don't even show up for him?"

"It's not cause I don't care, Merle. It's complicated."

"No, it isn't. It's not complicated if you love him. You do love him, right?" he asked, trying not to raise his voice.

"Of course I do. It just hurts to see him like this; I feel bad," she said.

"Why?" he asked, looking dismayed.

"Huh?"

"Why would you feel bad? It was an accident."

"I...just do. I don't know. Should I go to his apartment and get anything for him?" she asked.

"Like what, his toothbrush? He doesn't need anything right now; he just needs support. Why don't you have a key anyway?"

"I..lost it."

"Well, I don't have a key," Merle answered.

Kristin and the aide left them to visit and just wanted to get away from the bickering. Unfortunately, serious injury could bring things to the surface that had been simmering in families. Kristin couldn't help feeling bad in general for everyone involved, especially Merle. He obviously loved his brother very much. It was hard to hear such a big, strong looking man so broken. She hated the sound of anyone crying, but somehow men were the worst to hear, she hated it.

Merle let Meredith see him alone since she had finally showed up. He needed to call Andrea anyway; something wasn't right.

######################

"Hey, Merle. What's wrong? Is he OK?"

"It's still the same, but something's not right with Meredith. She wants to get into his apartment, and I need to know why."

"She's still asking about keys?" Andrea asked.

"Yeah, I don't know what's going on, but you've met Daryl's landlady before. Can you see if you can get into his apartment? Just tell her about the accident and say you need something out of his apartment and that it's important."

"You got it. I'm leaving the office in an hour. I'll call you back. You doing OK, babe?"

"No, I don't need this shit right now."

"I know. Just hang on and keep her there. I'll take care of this. I love you, Merle."

"I love you too. Thanks, I'd have lost it by now without you."

Chapter Text

^Chapter Five

 

Andrea left her office and drove straight to Daryl's apartment complex. Not seeing his bike in the parking spot felt so wrong, it got her choked up again just thinking of him possibly never coming back here or back to them. Daryl was as much her brother as Merle's; she loved him. The whole time she'd been with Merle, she couldn't help but like him more every year.

Andrea knocked on the door of Daryl's building manager and waited, hoping she'd easily agree to let her in.

“Hello?”

The landlady was an elderly woman with a piece of crocheting in her hands and a quizzical look on her face.

“Hi there, my name is Andrea Dixon. We met when my brother in law moved in?”

“Daryl?” she asked.

“Yes. The thing is he's been in a serious accident, and I was wondering if you could let me into his apartment for a moment just to grab a few of his belongings for him?”

“Of course, dear.”

Andrea had the kind of face that few people said no to, she looked infinitely trustworthy and innocent.

The landlady offered her a key and told her to keep it as long as she needed to.

“Thank you so much.”

“Daryl's a nice boy; I'll pray for him.”

“Thank you, we all are.”

 

She walked up the steps to the second floor and slowly toward his door. She wondered why Meredith would ever want back in here; it didn't make sense.

She turned the key in the lock and walked in. Everything looked about normal in the front hall; nothing appeared to be out of place. She headed into the kitchen and almost tripped on his cordless phone on the floor. Now she could see something wasn't right; the room had been left suddenly. A cupboard door was open, and a half eaten-meal was left on the counter. Daryl wouldn't have left the house this way normally; he kept his home very clean for a man who lived alone. She went to put the phone back on the charger after sliding the battery cover back on. The phone had been thrown, that much was clear....but why?

She pushed the answering machine playback and stood, stunned, listening to the very reason he'd left so abruptly.

 

Hi, it's me...I know I was supposed to meet you, but I need to talk to you, and I can't do it in person. Go ahead and think I'm a coward but I just can't. We can't get married. I thought it's what I wanted, but it's not...and it is cause of Jerry. I know you suspected it a little and you were right...I'm sorry. I'll bring the ring back tomorrow. I never meant to hurt you, Daryl...bye

 

It gave her the shivers; it was so cold. Daryl was the sweetest man she'd ever met, including Merle. Merle could be snarky, dry humored, feisty and even a moody pain in the ass but Daryl was always sweet. The first thought going through her mind was smacking Meredith, but that was the last thing anyone needed with Daryl in such rough shape.

Andrea dreaded telling Merle about it and decided she had to tell him at home and not over the phone while he was at the hospital with Meredith, that was sure to end in a fight. If Merle thought for a second that Daryl getting this news over the phone contributed to the accident he'd lose it on her right in the ICU. She got out her phone and dialed the numbers.

“Hey, Andrea. So what is it?”

“Are you going home?” she asked.

“Why?”

“I need to tell you something, but not while you're at the hospital with her.”

“Just tell me.”

“Do you trust me?”

“Yes, but why can't you just say it?”

“Merle, I can't. We need to have this conversation face to face.”

“Fine. I'm heading home now then. They just did staff change here, and they say he's stable for the night, but I'm coming back in the morning.”

“OK. I'll meet you there right away. Love you.”

“Love you. Bye.”

 

 

############################

 

 

Things felt heated in the ICU, Kristin genuinely hoped the family could work out all the issues they had, it would be a shame for this man to wake up to turmoil. Her shift ended just as the evening staff took over and a heart attack patient was brought in, a woman in her 50s.

It wasn't a huge city, but it never stayed too quiet for long, and it changed daily.

She made it home in time to make some supper for herself and Gina, just a simple salad and garlic bread. Cooking was kept simple with all the hours she worked. Kristin wanted her daughter to have money for university, so she worked a lot but savored her time off.

“How was your day?” Kristin asked.

“Good, can Michael come over tonight?”

“Sure, he's always welcome you know that.”

“Mom? Can I ask you about something?”

“Sure.”

“What do you think about me maybe....taking birth control?” Gina asked, looking down at her plate.

Kristin was stunned in her heart as a mom but not intellectually surprised. She was 17, and in a committed relationship, it wasn't unheard of. It was just one of those moments as a mom when you think you have more time but then there it is, right at your front door.

“Uh...are you and Michael?...”

“No, no not yet. I just thought we...might at some point so just to be on the safe side...you know?”

“We'll go see the doctor as soon as I have a day off.”

“Seriously?” Gina exclaimed she'd been expecting at least a little battle. Her mom had her a little young and always talked about how hard it was to get through nursing school with a child, but that's why she wanted to be careful. Her mother was so strong to be able to handle it all, and she admired her more than anyone.

“You and Michael have been together two years; he treats you well. You trust him. I trust him. As long as you believe you're ready. I've been talking your ear off about consent and STIs since you were 14....so yeah.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“I trust you to know what's right for you, even if the idea of it is still really hard to get my head around. Thanks for talking to me about it, at least we can be sure you'll be safe.”

“You're the best, thanks for trusting me. I want to be smart about it, you know?”

Gina finished her supper and grabbed her phone to text Michael that he could come over. She headed off to her room, leaving Kristin at the table wide-eyed and stunned. It was a parenting moment where her head and heart had to do some catching up to each other. She trusted Michael; he was a bashful and sweet boy who brought Gina flowers for no reason. Somehow they hadn't had a fight in two years. Her daughter's high school relationship was more stable than any she'd ever been in; she was almost envious.

 

Michael arrived at the door half an hour later, and she smiled down at him from the top of the landing.

“Hey you, she's in her room.”

“Thanks. How was your day?” he asked.

“Good, you?”

“Good. I got an A on my science presentation, and my boss promoted me to supervisor at work!”

How could she not like this kid?

“You're too darn smart, Michael. Good job!”

“I worked on that project nonstop for a month, glad it paid off,” he said, running up the three steps to the main level of the house.

“You two go ahead and visit. I'm going to read and turn in early. I have to be up with the rooster yet again.”

“I'll leave at 10, I promise,” he assured her.

“I know you will,” she laughed.

He'd never been dishonest in two years or tried to sneak around Gina's curfew once. Kristin was grateful to have one less thing to worry about. If her daughter was going to take this kind of step into the adult world, she was glad it was with Michael.

She took a shower and curled up in bed with a good book for a while. Her big bed felt so empty; she hadn't dated anyone in ages, not that any of them got to sleep in her bed. She drifted off to sleep, wondering when she'd ever find time for a relationship of her own.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Six

 

Merle pulled up in front of his house and saw Andrea's car; he was glad he wouldn't have to wait for her. He left Meredith at the hospital with Daryl, but she didn't look like she was staying long.

He walked in the door and saw her standing there with what looked like Daryl's phone.

“Why do you have that? That's Daryl's isn't it?”

Merle was lost.

“I know why she wanted to get into his apartment now. She wanted to erase a message she left. He'd thrown the phone across the room, and it looked like he just up and left the moment he played it.”

Andrea plugged the phone into the wall and hit play. It only made sense for her to take it, Andrea didn't want Meredith to be able to pretend she hadn't done this over the phone. She didn't even blame her for breaking the engagement, she had every right to if that's what she wanted, but she was livid that she'd done it so impersonally. Daryl deserved better than this.

Merle listened to the message and Andrea could just feel the tension building up inside him.

“How? How could she do this to him?” he asked, stunned and agitated.

“I don't know. It's crazy, right? Why couldn't she just tell him in person?”

“That bitch!” he hollered.

“Honey, calm down,” she said, approaching him slowly.

“No! My brother's laying there all mangled up just cause she didn't have the guts to break it off in person? Why was she leaving him for her damn boss anyway? The man's married for Christ sake! Daryl treated her like gold!”

“I have no idea, but we have to figure out what to do about this.”

“I'm keeping her the fuck away from him, that's what!”

“Breathe, Merle! You're gonna have a damn stroke!”

He growled and slammed his fist down on the table.

“I need to go back to the hospital,” he said, grabbing his keys.

“No. You need to rest tonight, go back tomorrow.”

“I don't want that bitch anywhere near him!”

“Merle, stop. I'll go up and see him for a while. You just eat and go to sleep.”

“But I-”

“Listen to me; you haven't slept properly since this happened. I'll go be with him, and you take care of yourself for just one night, that's all I'm asking.”

“Fine.”

“Good man. I love him too; he won't be alone. OK?”

He wouldn't win a fight with her, that's why he loved her so much. He sank down onto a kitchen chair, defeated and she bent down to kiss him soft and sweet. He was hurting badly and she'd pick up the slack for him as long as it took.

“I just can't stand this,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and pressing his cheek to her belly.

“I know, me neither. We'll look out for him until he wakes up but I need you to take care of yourself too, babe.”

“OK.”

When she got back to the hospital, Meredith was nowhere to be found, and Daryl was still unresponsive.

She sat next to his bed and talked to him, holding his hand and wishing so bad he'd just move or open his eyes.

“She doesn't deserve you if she can't see how amazing you are, Daryl. You just wake up, and I bet you'll find someone who treats you like you deserve. Just open your eyes...we miss you.”

She stayed until well past midnight and then had to leave to get some sleep. He had a cast on his arm now, and she asked for a marker to sign it before she left.

Your brother and I love you so much, Daryl. Come back to us. Xoxo

 

########################

 

Kristin was up and out the door by 5:45am, early morning shifts never got easy but it worked best for her life as a mom. She peeked in on Gina before leaving and she looked peaceful and safe. Gina was driving herself to school now and so grown up and independent already. She'd be eighteen soon, too fast for Kristin to get her head around. She'd be turning 38 the same week and they'd share a party as always.

She got to work and found Tara at the nurse's station.

“Hey, babe. Here.”

Kristin handed her a coffee and Tara grabbed for it with eager hands.

“Guess what?” Tara grinned.

“What?” she asked, blowing on the surface of her coffee to cool it.

“Your favorite guy in bed 4 was groaning a little and twitching last night.”

“Really? Is his family here?”

Kristin was always happy to hear news like this; it was a good sign although he was hardly out of the woods yet.

“No, but his brother shows up pretty early anyway so I figured it would just be good news when he arrives.”

“True.”

She took off her coat and went to see if she couldn't get another response of some kind. She'd been doing leg and arm exercises with him and the aides had been doing them on night shift, maybe that would get him up. It was important to keep his body moving while he couldn't do it himself.

She pulled back the curtain, and his head was turned to the side. His eyes were closed, but he looked strangely worried like he was having a bad dream.

She turned on the lights and checked all his tubes and gave him his meds for the morning.

It was still only 6:30am and Merle wouldn't likely be in until 9 or so. Kristin was starting to see more of his real face. The swelling and bruising had gone down nicely, he was a fast healer. She gathered a basin of water and a cloth and washed his face gently.

She carefully pulled him toward her to undo the tie behind his neck to take off his gown, and he flinched, scaring the daylights out of her.

She slowly lay his head back down on the pillow, and his blue eyes were focused right on her face, but he was obviously lost.

He immediately started turning his head to look around, but he was groggy and not with it at all.

She paged the doctor and started to try and explain to him where he was and what happened.

“It's OK, Mr. Dixon. You're in the hospital. Your brother is coming right away,” she said softly, trying to orientate him to his situation and surroundings.

“Wha-” he began but then started to cough. He was just realizing he had a feeding tube down his nose and going into his throat; it obviously freaked him out.

“Just relax. I can take that out after the doctor looks you over. I know it feels weird. It's OK, just breathe.”

 

 

She raised the head of the bed just slightly and waited for him to get his coughing under control.

Finally, he was sat up slightly, staring at the cast on his arm.

It was obvious what questions he'd have so she tried to answer them without him having to ask.

“You were in a motorcycle accident, and you've been in a coma since Sunday night, it's Wednesday morning now. Your family and fiance know about it, and they've been here to see you. Your arm is broken, and the cast will be on for a month or so. My name is Kristin; I'm a nurse. Do you have any questions?”

“I..I just...Meredith...” he said in a soft, scratchy voice.

“She was here last night. I can call her and let her know you're awake; we have her number here.”

There's no way he was up to making a phone call, in fact, he looked like he might fall asleep.

“Yeah....Krissy...can you?” he muttered

She chuckled to herself about him botching her name but nodded.

“You just relax, and I'll call her and your brother as soon as the doctor gets here.”

Just then the doctor came in and looked happy to see him awake.

“Mr. Dixon! You're awake, I see.”

Kristin handed over his chart and gave the doctor a quick rundown before leaving to make the calls to his family.

Before she could even dial Merle's number, Meredith walked onto the unit. Kristin was surprised to see any visitors this early, especially the elusive Meredith.

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Seven

 

“Meredith,” Kristin called to her. She wanted to at least let her know before she walked in that he was up. “He's awake!”

“What? Really?” she asked, looking shocked.

“Yes,” Kristin smiled. “The doctor is just looking at him now. He asked for you already. It looks good.”

This was part of the job Kristin liked. Hopefully, they'd all work out their differences and Daryl could have his life back.

“So he remembers everything?” Meredith asked, with a panicked expression.

“I can't really say how much he remembers yet. He only just woke up but if he can't remember something right now, that doesn't mean it won't come back to him. It was a serious head injury, but he definitely remembers you.”

Somehow Meredith didn't look happy, Kristin had never seen anything like this.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“Yeah. Is Merle here?”

“No, you're pretty early. Merle doesn't usually come till about 9.”

“Should I go see him?”

“Yes, I'm sure the doctor won't mind at all. I just need to call his brother, and then I'll come in to remove the feeding tube from his throat, I don't think he's very happy about it,” she chuckled.

She'd never seen anyone look so worried to see their partner wake up from a coma; it was eerie.

Meredith walked toward his room, slow and hesitantly, as Kristin dialed the numbers into the phone.

“Hello?”

It was Merle, sounding very out of it and not yet awake.

“Merle, it's Kristin from the Pasqua Hospital. Your brother is responsive.”

“What?”

“He's awake. It's still early so he will likely need rehabilitation for the head trauma he sustained and we have no idea what impairment he may have at this point but he's awake. The doctor is with him now and Meredith.”

“Did you call her?” he asked, sounding a little angry.

“No, she just arrived on her own a few minutes ago. I planned to call you first, but she just showed up.”

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you.”

“It's OK.”

“We'll be right there. Seriously, I'm really sorry.”

“It's fine, Merle. See you soon.”

 

Kristin went back to Daryl's room, and Meredith was sitting next to him, everything looked normal between them.

The doctor told her she could remove his feeding tube but that he had to stay on fluids for a day while he got his bearings. He was going to be seeing a neurologist in the next day and PT. He'd be kept busy getting better for a while to come.

“Ready to get that out?” she asked, and he nodded like he couldn't wait.

Kristin laughed and totally understood it.

“You'll have to keep on the heart rate monitor the whole time you're here, but at least this is one less thing.”

Nobody liked tubes in their body, but he'd be stuck with the catheter for a day or two yet.

“I need to sit you up really straight, and it's going to feel like you're going to gag or choke for a second, and that is totally normal, OK?”

He nodded again.

“I'm sorry, Meredith. I just need to get closer to him here, and then you can have him right back.”

“Sorry.”

“Not at all, he'll be able to talk to you easier with this out of his throat.”

She sat the bed up at an almost 90-degree angle and removed the tape from around his nose and slowly slid the tube out of his throat. It was an unpleasant feeling; there were no two ways about it.

“OK, weird feeling....weird feeling, almost there....done!”

Sure enough, he gagged and coughed, and she lay the bed back a little and offered him some ice water.

She held it for him while he drank, he was obviously very thirsty.

“Not too fast, your stomach will be a little off for a day or so. I'm going to get you some juice and jello.”

He looked happy enough with that and said thank you.

She noticed his eyes were a striking shade of blue. He had nice, friendly eyes and a cheeky looking smile. He looked happy to be alive, and it made her day.

“He's all yours,” she smiled to Meredith. “I'll give you some alone time before I bring the food.”

Kristin carried on her duties and got familiar with a new patient, but she couldn't stop thinking of Daryl's eyes. His dark hair and blue eyes were hard to get out of her mind, but she pushed the thought away, engaged men who were also patients were obviously off limits.

 

#######################

 

“I thought you'd never wake up. You really don't remember anything?” Meredith asked.

“Not really...it's all fuzzy. I remember going to the concert.”

Daryl didn't know which way was up or what to think. Being told he'd been in a coma was terrifying, something he never thought would happen to him. For some reason, she still looked worried though, but he didn't trust his mind yet.

“That was a few days before the accident. I just still can't believe you're awake...”

She started to sob, and he didn't understand why.

“I think I'm OK....I'm in pain, but I think I'll be OK....what's the matter?”

She looked up at him with red eyes and shook her head.

“Nothing...I just...nothing...”

“Aren't you happy to see me?” he asked, reaching for her hand. She hadn't even hugged or kissed him yet, and he didn't know why.

“Of course.”

“Well, come here then,” he said, holding out his arms but she didn't come closer, and he started to feel stupid.

“Did I do something?” he asked.

He felt panic like he wasn't being told something and then he thought about being told there was an accident.

“Is somebody else hurt? Did I hurt someone?” he asked, trying to sit up in bed.

“No, Daryl. It's fine...I just need a minute.”

She got up and left the room. He sat alone in the bed, feeling sure that he didn't know half of what he should about the last few days. He wanted to know why she was acting funny and what he'd done.

Kristin watched as Meredith left the unit with her purse and shook her head, something was definitely off with her. She went back to check on Daryl until Merle arrived.

“Are you OK?” she asked, walking in the room. He looked lost, but that was pretty standard for anyone waking up after being out for a few days.

“Krissy, right?”

“Kristin.”

“Oh damn! I'm sorry, I keep thinking Krissy.”

“It's fine; I know you mean me,” she smiled.

“Did I do something?” he asked, looking perplexed.

“How do you mean?”

“She's acting funny like she's mad at me....did I kill someone in that accident?”

“No, you were the only one injured. It's OK. You didn't do anything wrong,” she assured him, laying her hand on his shoulder. He looked panic stricken, and getting worked up was not good for him in his state.

“Thank God...but then why won't she come anywhere near me?”

“I don't know, I'm sorry,” she answered, rubbing his arm without even thinking of it. He winced a little as he tried to move around in bed.

“Are you in pain?” she asked.

“Yeah, I hurt everywhere.”

“I'll get you something for that. Your brother should be here any minute.”

“Thanks, Krissy.”

She grinned and rolled her eyes, “No problem.”

It was not uncommon for people to mess up little details like names after head trauma, especially of people they were just meeting. She'd just have to be Krissy for him.

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Eight

 

Merle arrived shortly after Kristin had given him some pain meds, so he was feeling more comfortable.

“How is he?” Merle asked her when he passed the nurses desk.

“He seems to be doing OK. It'll be a long road till he's like his old self but he's awake, and that's the first step.”

Merle looked ecstatic to go see him but paused for one more question.

“Is she here?”

“Meredith? No, she just up and left a while ago and didn't come back,” Kristin shrugged.

Merle walked right to his room, eager to see his face again. Obviously, Meredith hadn't 'manned' up and ended it by the look on Daryl's face. That was just like Meredith to leave the hard stuff to others.

“Merle, hey,” Daryl said, weakly. He was a little drowsy from the meds and just being awake was somehow tiring.

“Are you a sight for sore eyes!” Merle exclaimed, tearing up. He didn't give a shit if this wasn't their normal thing, Daryl was getting a hug. He leaned down and very carefully hugged him, and Daryl raised his good arm to his shoulder and went with it.

Merle sat down in the chair next to the bed and just looked at him.

“You scared the shit outta me. I thought I'd never talk to you again.”

“Sorry. I don't even remember the accident at all. It's weird waking up and being told stuff you don't remember....is she gone?”

“Yeah,” Merle answered. He could see the hurt in Daryl's eyes, and for the life of him, he couldn't make it worse at that moment.

“Why? It's like she's mad at me, I don't get it. She wouldn't even hug me. Do I smell or something?” he chuckled softly. He still looked so beat up and weak. Merle just couldn't tell him, not right then.

“Just forget it right now, brother. Focus on feeling better,” Merle insisted.

“I'm trying to, but I can't help feeling like I did something wrong to her but I just can't remember. I can't really say sorry if I don't remember...”

“You didn't do a damn thing wrong, you just trust me on that. OK?”

“Alright.”

Daryl shifted a little and reached out for his water with his broken arm.

“Why couldn't I break the other one?” he sighed. Being stuck with a cast on his dominant arm made him feel even more helpless.

“Here,” Merle said, holding his water for him to drink.

“I feel like a baby.”

“Don't worry about it, man. I'm just glad you're alive so just let people help you.”

“Where's Andrea?”

“She's coming; she's just parking the car.”

“She signed this,” Daryl said, looking down at his cast.

Andrea made it up just in time to give Daryl a hug and a big kiss, but soon he was asleep again. Merle signed his cast with the marker Andrea had used, and they left to get something to eat after watching him sleep for a while. They needed to discuss what to do about Meredith.

“We'll be back in a little while,” Andrea told Kristin before they left.

“Sure, we'll take good care of him. We're so glad he's up.”

“So are we, he's very special to us,” Andrea smiled.

“I can see that,” Kristin nodded to her.

 

###################################

Daryl woke up an hour later, hungry and calling out like a baby bird.

“Krissy....Krissy...”

Tara laughed at the nurse's station and got her attention as she sat filling out paperwork with her headphones on.

“Hey Krissy, your baby is calling you.”

“Don't make fun; he just can't remember my name.”

“I'm not making fun; I just think it's cute.”

Kristin looked in, and he was trying to reach his water again.

“Am I allowed to eat more? I had jello, but I'm still so hungry,” he asked.

She came close and picked up his water to hold for him to drink.

“Sure, but it'll have to be pudding or soup, doctor's orders. I can get you something a lot better tomorrow, I promise.”

“I'd eat anything right now, I don't even care....uh...did she come back yet?” he asked, and it completely broke her heart.

For a man to be so physically beat up and to also have the look of rejection he had on his face was brutal to witness.

“No, I'm sorry, but Merle and Andrea are coming back in a bit.”

“Oh...OK.”

Kristin could hardly stand to look into his blue eyes with nothing to say to make him feel better; she had nothing real to offer. It was none of her business, but she wondered why his fiance would behave this way.

“Do you like chocolate?” she asked.

“Love it,” he answered with a little smile.

“Gimme a minute,” she grinned.

She left the room and told Tara she was going to the kitchen.

She went down two floors and walked the long corridor to the kitchen and found the man she was looking for.

“Axel, I need a favor.”

“What is it now? You always want special favors. What do I get in return?”

She grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed both his cheeks.

“Alright then! What do ya need?” he relented. 

“I need one of those special pudding things you used to make when I worked on the pediatric ward.”

“That doesn't sound like legit 'no solids' diet for ICU. You gonna get me in trouble with a doctor?”

“I have a very hungry man who's on restrictions. Just be nice, he's having a rough day.”

“Alright, alright.”

She brought back juice, the bowl of pudding and a few popsicles to keep in the freezer of their staff fridge for him.

“Here,” she said, walking in and pulling his tray over. She set the pudding in front of him and waited for some reaction.

“Wow, look at that,” he smiled.

Axel's specialty for kids was chocolate pudding, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry.

On instinct, he tried to reach for the spoon with his left hand but then just looked at her, feeling silly. He tried again with his right hand and then promptly dropped some pudding on his gown.

He sighed and said sorry.

“Don't be silly. May I help you?”

“Please...I feel like a kid, but I'm really hungry. I have to learn to do everything with my right hand I guess.”

She smiled and started to feed it to him. Occasionally he'd let out a soft Mmmmm, and she was glad something was taking his mind off of his fiance problems, even something small like this. 

Between mouthfuls, he looked at his cast and raised his eyebrows when he noticed Merle had written on it.

“Nobody signs this when I'm awake.”

She looked at the new writing and smiled.

Be more careful! love you brother.

“That's cute. He'd been so worried about you.”

She continued to feed him the pudding and wasn't really expecting him to finish it all, but he kept nodding that he wanted more until it was gone.

“Thank you so much; I needed that. Am I supposed to feel this tired?” he asked.

“It's normal. If you need to, just go ahead and sleep.”

“You're really nice,” he smiled, “Where were you when I was nine?”

“What do you mean?”

“I had my tonsils out, and I had a nurse who yelled at me cause I missed my mom and I wouldn't stop crying.”

“I won't yell at you, I promise.”

“Well, I'll try not to cry,” he grinned.

She helped him into a clean gown, and he grinned at her like a kid.

"Guess there's no point in being shy, you've probably seen it all," he joked.

"I have, yes, so you have nothing to be shy about."

Kristin gathered up the bowl and asked if he needed anything else, but he looked tired again, already.

"Maybe just sleep," she suggested.

"Good idea. Thanks, I was so hungry."

"Just push the button right there if you need me...then you don't have to yell for me. Your throat's probably still sore."

"Oh," he blushed. "Yeah, I will. Thanks."

 

#######################

 

"We should have told him," Andrea sighed.

“I couldn't...he looked so sad and then he looked kinda happy and....I just couldn't,” Merle answered.

“We have to, babe. So Meredith just left and didn't come back?”

Andrea hadn't had a lot of time to talk to Daryl before he fell asleep, so she was still a little in the dark.

“That's what I'm telling you. He thought he did something wrong and she wouldn't even give him a hug. The look on his face was gut-wrenching. How was I supposed to tell him she's been screwing around and dumped him?” Merle sighed.

“I'll tell him then. He needs to know, and if he finds out we kept it from him he'll feel stupid on top of heartbroken, you know how he is.”

“OK, but when?” he asked, knowing damn well she'd say as soon as possible.

“We should go tell him right away if he's up. He has a right to know. Believe me; I don't want to tell him either.”

“Let's call and see if he's awake at least, he was really tired,” Merle stalled.

“Fine.”

Andrea called the ICU and got Kristin on the line.

“Hi, sorry to bother you but me and Merle wanted to know if Daryl is awake right now.”

“I'll just have a quick peek, he is pretty tired, but that's normal.”

Kristin came back on the line again a moment later, “Nope he's off again.”

“We'll come back first thing in the morning then. We want him to sleep if he needs it.”

“Sounds good, Andrea. Hope you both get a good night's rest tonight. I know it's hard having someone you love here.”

“Thanks, Kristin. You're taking such good care of him.”

“It's my pleasure,” she smiled.

This is what made the hard parts of her job worth it, making a very difficult event just that little bit easier for someone and knowing it made a difference.

 

#####################################################################

This story is a slow burner so please forgive the slower pace:) My stories just come out how they want to and this one came out slow. lol

I'm on ch.26 right now and things definitely pick up so I hope everyone reading hangs in there with me.

Thanks for reading and for the supportive reviews:) Teagan xoxoxo

 

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Nine


Kristin got home that day feeling good about life and positive about the world. She decided she had to get out and she had to drag her daughter with her.

“You wanna go see a movie or something?” she asked over another simple supper.

“What's playing?” Gina asked while eating and working on her laptop. It was late spring, and she was knee deep in studying and university preparation.

“I don't know yet; I don't really care though we can see anything. I'm just in a good mood.”

“Yeah? How come?”

“Things just went well at work today. Some days I wonder if I'm making a difference and then others I know I am and it feels good.”

“You're an awesome nurse, Mom. Tara tells me all the time that you have 'the gift' for it.”

“That's sweet of her, it's not easy sometimes but so worth it. My patient from the motorcycle accident woke up, and his family is really awesome.”

“That's good. I can't see Michael ever riding a motorcycle, so you don't have anything to worry about there,” Gina laughed. She was right, the idea of quiet little bookworm Michael on a motorcycle was humorous.

They finished up supper and just decided to wing it and see where they ended up. They were both having birthdays soon, and Gina would be eighteen, she'd be thirty-eight. Kristin was proud of the job she'd done raising her daughter; she was smart, respectful and driven. What more could a mother want for her only child?

It was a gray cloud looming that she'd be leaving for university soon though, Kristin wasn't sure she was ready to let go or to be alone.

They saw a movie and walked downtown for a while to stretch their legs.

“I made an appointment for you, for the day after tomorrow. It's after work and school, so you don't need to take any time off,” Kristin informed her.

“You sure you're OK with this?”

“Of course, I've had some time to think, and you're a mature, intelligent woman. You aren't a girl anymore and, let's be honest, Michael is a good person. You really couldn't pick anyone better to be with than him.”

“Thanks. Michael says he terrified; I hope I'm not rushing him,” she laughed.

“Ah, so it's you doing the instigating? He he he,” Kristin chuckled.

“Kinda, he says he wants to he's just scared. I can't believe we can talk about this stuff. My friends really don't believe it,” Gina said, nudging her arm.

“I'm glad we can, honey. I'm not going to lie and say it's not scary for me sometimes, but you're growing up, and I trust you.”

“I love you, Mom.”

Kristin got a hug, from her nearly eighteen-year-old daughter, right in the middle of downtown and she knew she'd done something right. It wasn't easy to admit your child was an adult and going to have sex but at least she knew about it and could help her protect herself.

By the time they got home, she'd had almost the perfect day. Gina went off to bed to call Michael, and she sat up with a book for a while. She had to be up early again, as usual, but she couldn't wait to see her patient who loved pudding so much. She hoped his fiance would snap out of it and come back to see him. He looked so sad; it just wasn't right to do to someone who'd been through what he had.


#########################


Kristin got to work before Tara and checked on the 3 patients they had all before she arrived. It had picked up and was a little busier overnight.

“Wow! Sorry, I'm running a bit late,” Tara apologized.

“It's fine, pretty much everyone is still sleeping, and we only have one who's not looking so good at the moment.”

Daryl was still asleep, and his vitals were stable, he looked to be on the mend. He was seeing a neurologist in the afternoon, and he'd be starting some PT in the coming week if he held stable.

The morning was quiet, and she got through some paperwork and busy work before 8am.

She was surprised to see Meredith walk in again so early in the morning, but she looked off. Kristin didn't even know this woman, but it was obvious that something wasn't right.

It was against everything in her job description, but she just had to think of a reason to call Merle, and she needed to do it now.

Meredith made a beeline for Daryl's room without answering Kristin when she tried to stall her. She picked up the phone and called Merle.

“Hello?” he said, sounding groggy.

“Hi, so sorry to bother you this early in the morning. It's Kristin, from the hospital.”

“Oh hi, everything OK?”

“Everything's fine. Could you possibly bring a toothbrush for Daryl if you come and some personal items like that so we can get him feeling a bit more himself?...and...also Meredith just arrived.”

“Thanks for letting me know, be right there.”

It sounded like a completely bullshit reason to call, but Merle only seemed to hear that Meredith was there anyway. By the sound of it, he was already climbing out of bed before he hung up.

Kristin had no idea what it was about, but she just had a feeling he'd need his family. Meredith didn't even look like she'd slept all night and the way she walked straight to his room...something was going down.


##########################


“Daryl....Daryl...”

He groaned and turned slowly over in bed, moving with one arm was difficult, and he was still in a lot of pain.

“Hey....where did you go?” he asked when he saw that it was her.

“I just had to go, I'm sorry.”

“You OK?” he asked, looking for the button that would sit the bed up.

Finally, he found it and winced as the bed moved.

“Just a second,” he said before she could begin.

He pushed the button Kristin showed him and asked for some pain medicine.

“Sorry, I hurt everywhere right now.”

“You're not making this any easier,” Meredith uttered, looking down at her hands.

“Making what easier? What is it?”

“Daryl, there's something you don't remember from the night of the accident, and it's something you need to know.”

“OK, so tell me.”

“It's probably going to upset you though; it's not easy to say.”

Kristin knocked at the door, and Daryl looked up and smiled.

“I can come back with your meds.”

“No, please. I need it,” he answered.

“Sorry, Meredith. I won't be a minute,” she offered, feeling awkward in the obvious tension.

She added the medicine to his IV and quickly checked his vitals.

“Are you sure you're OK?” she asked him.

“I'm good, thanks a lot.”

Kristin walked back to the nurse's station and hoped he would stay that way. She prayed she'd been wrong, and there was nothing wrong between them; she didn't want to see him upset. She was always sensitive to other people's pain, which made her job especially hard at times.


“So, what is it? Did we have a fight? I'll say sorry, but you'll have to remind me what I did,” he laughed. He just wanted to see her smile, so then he'd know everything was OK. She hadn't smiled at him once since he woke up, not a real smile anyway.

“Daryl...it's over.”

He shook his head slowly and looked lost.

“What's over? You mean us?”

“I broke off the engagement...that's what you don't remember.”

“You did?” he asked, softly.

“I left you a voice mail. If I thought for one second that you'd just leave your apartment and drive crazy, I would have done it another way. I'm so sorry.”

He couldn't process it and then she was tearing up.

“But..why? I thought you were happy. I know there's things you don't like about me, but I could try to change.”

“Daryl, it's Jerry. I just couldn't lie to you anymore. I didn't mean for this to happen.”

He felt fragile and like he was inches from crying. He had tried to hug her the day before, and this was why she wouldn't, she didn't want him.

“Why are you crying if you don't love me anymore?” he asked, feeling stupid and small.

“I feel bad. It's my fault this happened to you.”

He looked down at his broken arm and then up at her face. He couldn't speak, he just felt physically and emotionally broken.

“Say something,” she pleaded.

“What am I supposed to say?” he asked. He could feel himself cracking and then she handed him the ring he'd given her.

“Say you forgive me?”

“I was never gonna be enough for you...was I?” he asked.

Merle arrived at the door at just that moment and looked at her sternly.

“I was just leaving. I'm sorry,” she said, standing up to leave.

Merle held back and didn't say a word as she passed by him.

“Daryl...” Merle uttered but had nothing to add to it. There was nothing to say that wouldn't sound wrong.

Daryl just didn't have it in him to try and look tough, and he began to crack under the weight of it all.

Merle sat on the bed and held him as he wept. Andrea stood at the door and shook her head. It took everything she had not to follow Meredith out of the ward and beat her to a pulp in the parking lot. Having Daryl in so much pain was horrible, he was family to her. She decided to give the brothers some space and walked to the nurse's station, trying to regain her composure.

“You OK?” Kristin asked, offering her a tissue. She looked like she was going to cry.

“No....you care for him a lot, right?” she asked.

“Yes, every day pretty much.”

“Can I talk to you for just a moment in private?”

“Sure, just come to the staff room. Tara, I'll just be a minute, OK?”

“Yep, go ahead.”

Andrea wiped her eyes and sighed heavily before starting to speak. Her pale blue eyes were set off by her red face, and a few tears fell down her cheeks.

“Please, from now on, don't let her on the floor again,” Andrea began.

Kristin just nodded and lay her hand on her shoulder when she sat on the staff couch.

“I don't want her anywhere near Daryl.”

“OK, I take it things didn't go well. I'm sorry, it's none of my business.”

“I think you should know, but please don't let on to him that you do.”

“Of course.”

“She ended it with him, the night of the accident, by voice mail. That's why he got in the accident in the first place, at least that's what makes the most sense.”

“Oh my God...”

“Yeah, exactly. He played it and then left his apartment and...well you know the rest. He doesn't remember the last couple days before the crash.”

“So she just told him again.”

Andrea nodded, with tears in her eyes.

“He's in there now with Merle, crying his eyes out. This is bullshit! Pardon my language.”

“I've heard it all, and I'm not easily offended. Swear as much as you like. I only just met him, and he seems very sweet and kind, he doesn't deserve this.”

“Definitely not, I just thought you should know so that you wouldn't be asking him where she is. You know what I mean? Can you let the rest of the staff know not to let her in? He doesn't need this drama when he's recovering.”

“Absolutely. Thanks for letting me know. I'd hate to put my foot in my mouth and hurt him more.”


#################################

“Daryl, it's gonna be OK,” Merle assured him. He wasn't good at comforting people, like Andrea was, and he wished he had the right words.

“I was trying, every time she told me something she didn't like I tried to change it...but then there was always something new.”

“She's just not the right one, man. The right one won't want you to change.”

“I'm 40 though, does the right one even exist for me?”

“You'll find her, just don't give up hope.”

Merle found himself feeling guilty for having Andrea; he wanted his brother to have someone too. Daryl was the kind of guy who wanted to get married young and was hopelessly romantic. He tried hard in relationships and wore his heart right on his sleeve, which got him walked on more than once.

“Does life get lower than this?” he asked.

“I don't know...but I do know it gets a lot better. Just hang in there brother.”

Merle heard all the complaints Meredith had about Daryl, and it was a big part of the reason he and Andrea didn't like her. Daryl was constantly trying to change to make her happy, and it infuriated them both.

As sad as Merle was to see Daryl this way he knew that getting out of this toxic relationship was the only chance he had at finding true happiness.



 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Ten

Merle and Andrea stayed until after lunch and Daryl met briefly with the neurologist, but he was in no mood to see anyone. He answered questions and did all the movements he was asked to, but he didn't care about his memory or physical abilities anymore, he didn't even want to be awake.

The doctor said he was cleared to walk with assistance if he felt up to it, but there's nowhere he wanted to go. He had cried in front of his own brother for ages, he felt like a child. He was so low; he couldn't imagine feeling good again.

When the doctor left, he just lay in the dark staring at the bed next to his, across the room. The bed was empty, and the room was quiet. He was in agony again after the neurologist had made him move so much, so he pressed the button for his nurse.

Kristin walked in and looked down at him, and he knew just from her eyes that she knew about Meredith. His nurse was nice to him and patient. She had red hair that was always pulled up in a loose bun and a kind smile on her face; he liked her smile. He didn't want anyone to see him in the shape he was in but he needed so much of her help, and he knew it.

"Pain again?" she asked softly, and he nodded.

She came back a moment later and gave him what he needed, she wanted to hug him, but that wasn't her job.

She sat down next to him for a moment though and asked if she could bring him food or anything else.

"I'm not hungry...but thanks, Krissy."

She lay her hand on his shoulder, and he closed his eyes, like being touched hurt and it made her sad.

"OK."

She decided he just needed to be alone, so she left him in peace until the end of shift when she had to check vitals. She read over the neurologist's report and looked down at him.

"It says you're off bed rest. Did you want help to get to the bathroom?"

"Nah. I don't want to get up right now."

"OK. They'll probably insist you get up tonight and I'll get the male nurse on tonight to remove the catheter for you. I can tell them to leave you until last rounds if you want."

"Thanks, you're the best. You finished now?"

"Yeah, I have to get home to my daughter, but I'll see you in the morning."

"You have a daughter? How old?"

"She'll be eighteen very soon."

"You don't look old enough."

"You don't have to kiss up; I'll still bring you pudding."

"I mean it," he insisted.

She laughed and waved her hand at him like he was being silly. She was just about to leave when he stopped her.

"Krissy?

"Yeah?"

"If I'm in a bad mood or I look miserable...I just want you to know it's not you. My fiance dumped me the night I crashed my bike...I just didn't remember it," he said, looking down at the floor.

"I'm so sorry," she said, not really knowing what to say. She knew all about it but had to pretend she didn't.

"I'm just feeling kinda worthless so don't mind me if I'm a bad patient."

"There's no way Merle and Andrea would be so worried about someone who was worthless," she smiled kindly.

"I still don't remember the accident... maybe I was trying to kill myself," he mused, looking up at her like maybe she had the answers.

"Good thing you can't remember then, you have to forget all about that idea."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. It's OK to be sad and even moody, scream if you have to, but please don't think of hurting yourself," she said, softly.

"OK."

She smiled and hoped like hell he'd feel better the next day; he was so easy to like.

###########################

Kristin texted Gina that she was going to the gym to unwind before coming home, she couldn't take too much home, or it would fester.

She turned up her music loud and ran hard until she forgot about the family of the heart attack patient she had to comfort, the other crash victim who came in who was on life support and wouldn't likely make it and Daryl's sad eyes.

It was already getting dark by the time she got home, and she saw Michael's car in her driveway. She smiled and then, on the way up the path, she noticed there were no lights on inside, and she furrowed her brow.

She unlocked the back door and was welcomed home by the kind of music that said something was going down. The Weekend, Wicked Game was playing, and there was no light coming from under Gina's door.

Damn it, Gina! Couldn't wait till tomorrow after school?

She felt partially like she was intruding in her own home and also like she should be busting the door down.

She decided to clear her throat loudly and then she heard the hustle and bustle of busted teens.

Gina opened the door to her room and walked out only a second later with some serious bedhead.

"Uh...Gina?"

"We weren't doing that, I swear!" she said, shutting the door behind her.

"What were you doing? Wait! I don't want to know...it's OK," she sighed.

"Sorry, Mom. I thought you'd be longer at the gym."

"It's OK. I need to run to the store actually. You two...just...uh...OK?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

"Is he staying for supper?"

"Yeah, is that OK?"

"Of course, I'll be back in a bit."

Kristin knew just what Gina was going through, at least she used to. It had been a long time since she'd gotten her hair messed up.

She drove around for a while and stopped at the store for a bottle of wine and some strawberries. She just wanted one glass of wine to help her deal with her thoughts.

She couldn't help wondering what her daughter was leading poor innocent Michael into; it was almost funny.

When she got home, he was sat at her kitchen table with his hands folded and bright red cheeks.

"Relax, Michael. It's OK."

"I'm sorry, Ma'am."

"Please just call me Kristin, like you always do. Nothing's changed," she laughed.

She made supper, and they ate together in awkward silence until Kristin insisted they just get over it.

"Seriously, you guys, it's OK. Just talk like normal, please. How's the promotion going at work, Michael?"

"Good, I got a raise, and I get to schedule my own hours now," he said, still not looking her in the eye.

"That's awesome! Right, Gina?"

"Yeah, Mom...it's good."

"You two are goofy," she sighed. "I'm going to read and have a glass of wine in the tub. Behave yourselves. He he he," she joked and got up to leave the room.

Kristin felt too young to be dealing with all of this and yet a little too tired as well. She was starting to feel like life was a lot of work and worry lately.

She drank her wine and, again, found herself thinking of Daryl all alone at the hospital with his broken heart. It was no place to be heartbroken, but at least he was alive.

She'd try what she could to make him smile in the morning. She was glad Meredith was gone if this was the way she treated people, he needed someone who could appreciate how sweet he was.

Chapter Text

^Chapter Eleven

 

Daryl didn't sleep well, he didn't have his phone, and it was probably a good thing cause he would have tried to call Meredith to check that she really meant it. He didn't now where his phone was, and he didn't really care.

Daryl had suspected her and Jerry but only mentioned it once. He had no proof, so when she said that he was crazy, he had no argument.

Merle and Andrea had come to see him the night before, and Merle brought him a bunch of his personal things from his apartment.

It was only 6am, and his nurse would be coming soon. He was starting to feel gross, just sitting in bed. The man who was working the night before got the catheter out and helped him to the bathroom which made him feel more human, but he really wanted a hot shower.

He sat up in bed and wondered how he'd get clean with the cast on; he was already tired of it. There were stitches in his head, and his head was still wrapped heavily with bandages.

The sadness over Meredith wasn't gone, but he cried until his head hurt and she wasn't coming back. There was nothing he could do, and he had all his health problems to think of. It wasn't so much even Meredith, deep down he figured she didn't really love him. What really hurt was the growing suspicion that he'd always be alone, that he'd never find what Merle had the way he'd hoped. He pictured himself as an old man sitting on a porch someday with nothing but a dog for company, and he sighed.

He was trying to turn the pages in a book, one handed, when Kristin peeked in on him.

“Hey,” she said, walking in with her friendly smile. She put a coffee and a donut on his tray, and he grinned up at her, he liked her already.

“Krissy?”

“Yeah?” she asked, putting the blood pressure cuff on his arm and her stethoscope in her ears. She had completely given up correcting him on the name front. He sometimes misused words, due to the head injury, but they'd all come back to him in time. Tara said he had called a towel a blanket, and there were a couple of other things, but it was all part of the healing process.

“I feel gross. Can I take a shower with this?” he said, holding up his cast. They had been washing him in bed, but nothing beat a proper shower.

Krissy was glad to hear him talking like this; she was worried he'd be horribly depressed today.

“Yeah, there's showers and baths. Do you need a shave too?”

“Merle brought me my razor, but I'm going to botch it with my right hand, I think. I'm left handed.”

“I can get it for you if you want?”

“Really? Yeah, OK.”

“I have to finish my rounds, and you can drink your coffee first and eat. I'll take you in an hour if that's OK.”

“Great. My head still hurts, and I feel dizzy if I walk too much, is that normal?” he asked, as she added his pain meds to his IV.

“Definitely, that's why you still need to walk with assistance. You still have a lot of recovering to do.”

She finished up her morning care and left him to eat and drink his coffee.

 

###########################

 

“Shouldn't we get to the hospital?” Merle asked.

“Not yet, I called Kristin, and she says she's going to give him a bath or something, so we'll go up in a bit,” Andrea answered from the bathroom.

“We should get her some flowers or something; she sure treats him good. He needs someone around to be nice after what that bitch did to him.”

“I agree, but can I maybe get a little of your attention before we delve into that for the day?” she purred.

Merle made his way to the bathroom where she was standing, facing the mirror.

“It's the right day to try if you're up to it,” she said, sliding her robe off her shoulders.

His eyes went wide at the sight of her bare back and ass.

“Oh yeah....” he exclaimed, moving up behind her and taking her breasts in his hands. She watched his hands on her in the mirror and grinned.

He kissed her neck, and she closed her eyes, taking it all in. He knew just what she liked.

His hand moved down her belly as he bit her shoulder gently. She groaned and moved her feet apart when she felt his hand creep down between her legs.

Merle spread the feeling out all over her body, his tongue on her earlobe, his hand holding her breast and his fingers working her clit in dizzying circles.

“Mmmm....Jesus...Merle...”

“Let's take this to the bed.”

She followed him to the bed and licked her lips slowly, watching him sliding his boxers down his legs. He was already rock hard and eager as always.

He sat down on the bed against the headboard, and she knew just what was up.

“My favorite,” she grinned.

“Come on, honey, ride me good.”

“Just a sec,” she giggled, and she grabbed her phone and turned on their song.

“Can you even fuck me without music?” he teased.

“Of course, I did last time. I just like music.”

She crawled onto his lap and teased his dick slow and wet with her pussy until he started to squirm.

“You wanna get flipped over on your back, woman? Do I have to just take it?” he growled.

Andrea loved how much he wanted her, ever since they first met it was always the same.

She sank down onto him then and took in the words of the song as she started to move. Marvin Gaye was the perfect music for lovemaking in her opinion.

 

I want you, the right way

I want you, but I want you to want me too...

 

He hissed and took her breasts in his hands and

sucked her nipples into his mouth. She grabbed him by the back of his head and rocked her body on his dick, desperate to get there hard and fast.

“You like it, honey?” he moaned.

“No, I fuckin' love it!” she whined.

He took her ass in both his hands and kissed her chest and neck as she fucked him senseless.

“Fuuuuck! You close?” he inquired, cause he was definitely almost there. He was always weak to morning sex and could never hold out long.

“Yeah....so close,” she whispered.

In only another minute he could tell it was beginning for her.

“Baby....Mmmm....”

She was so loud and desperate when it happened. She panted and rolled her hips on his lap so smooth and fast, and he clung to her, just letting her do her thing.

“Fuck, Merle! Jesus....Mmmm....Oh God!”

He grinned and slowly rolled her over onto her back.

“If this finally works you'll have to learn to cum quieter,” he warned.

“You'll have to gag me,” she laughed.

“Don't tempt me,” he growled, sliding into her and carrying on where she left off.

“Come on, baby....give it to me good,” she moaned.

 

Pretty soon it was over, and they were left, laying in the afterglow of the same great sex they always had. She turned over to the nightstand and marked it in her calendar just as always. They'd been trying to get pregnant for five years and been through two miscarriages. She was taking shots now, from the specialist. It was getting harder to stay optimistic, but she knew he was trying to for her sake.

 

“I got a good feeling, babe. This'll be the month,” he insisted, getting up to jump in the shower.

“I hope so,” she answered, listening to the water start to hit the tile.

“You coming?” he called.

“Yeah,” she smiled, getting up and walking into the shower to kiss him again. Even if they never had a child, she had him, and she was grateful. He was 43, and she was 36, it did feel like a ticking clock in a way, but she refused to let it take over their lives. What she and Merle had was precious, whether or not they got what they wanted.

 

################################

 

Daryl ate the donut his nurse brought him and drank the coffee. He wondered if this was the kind of thing she did for everyone or if it was cause she felt bad for him. In the end, he didn't care if it was pity, that fact that she cared enough to feel sorry for him was enough in his state.

Daryl felt a little nervous about the prospect of standing naked in front of her, he wasn't shy in bed, but this was different.

She saw people naked all the time, so maybe it didn't phase her at all.

As he lay in bed, going over and over it in his mind, she arrived and smiled at him from the doorway. He swallowed hard and tried not to look bashful.

“Hey, Krissy...”

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twelve


“You ready?” Kristin asked from the door to his room.

“I think so,” Daryl answered, grabbing his bag of toiletries and trying to get himself to the edge of the bed.

“Does your body still hurt a lot?” she asked, holding out a housecoat out for him to put his arm in.

“Yep, still feels like I was kicked down the road,” he groaned.

“I only ask cause we have some nice whirlpool tubs here and they'll make you feel like a new man. Might be easier to just hold your cast out of the water too instead of trying to keep it dry in the shower.”

“You're the expert,” he shrugged with a shy smile.

“Well, you said you're getting dizzy. Hot steam and a slippery floor might not be your friend right now.”

“True. You're a smart cookie,” he smirked.

She rolled her eyes, took his bag for him and grabbed a new gown for afterward.

“It's just down the hall. Do you need a wheelchair or do you think we can make it if I help you?”

“I think we're good.”

She put his slippers on his feet and got a hold of him around his waist as he pushed himself off up the bed.

“I feel so damn weak,  and my leg gets all tingly,” he said, leaning more of his weight on her.

“Did you tell the neurologist?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

She walked him down the hall to the bathroom and thankfully someone had left the chair in the room that she needed.

“Here, you sit for a moment,” she said, helping him down slowly.

She started the sink running and got the water nice and hot.

“What ya doing?” he asked.

“I figured we could shave your face and then you could have a soak, does that work?”

“Yeah, thanks a lot. I feel pretty useless right now.”

“Don't be silly. You're injured, and you're doing really well, all things considered.”

She washed his face with the hot cloth, and he moaned a little, the warm cloth felt good. She dug through his things for his shaving cream and got started shaving his face. He obviously kept a goatee, but the rest of his face was looking disheveled.

She held her hand under his chin and shaved his right cheek. She rinsed the blade between each stroke and tilted his head up to get his neck.

“Do you do this a lot?” he asked, trying to make conversation.

“Sometimes. I help a lot of people with all kinds of personal stuff. We usually have more aides around to help with this, but on ICU we like to do a lot of it ourselves.”

“Why?”

“Our patients are pretty critical a lot of the time, and they need special monitoring.”

“I'm not that critical though, right?”

“No, I just wanted to help you with this. That OK?” she grinned.

“Yeah, it's great. I like to limit how many people see my pale ass,” he laughed.

“There's nothing wrong with your pale ass,” she joked. This was bordering on inappropriate for work, so she made herself stop laughing and finished up his face.

“It never bothers your husband?” he asked.

“I don't have one, so no.”

“Sorry, I shouldn't ask that.”

“It's no problem. I don't mind admitting I'm single,” she laughed.

“I am too now, I guess.”

She squeezed his shoulder lightly and washed the razor off under the hot water.

“There, very handsome,” she said, handing him the washcloth to wipe his face.

“So handsome my fiance dumped me for another man over voice mail?” he sighed.

He looked broken, and she couldn't bear it.

“Daryl, I probably shouldn't say anything and I know it's none of my business but...what she did is not a reflection on you, it's a reflection on her.”

“That's a different way to think of it,” he said, sounding contemplative.

“I was left by someone too, so I've been there.”

“Oh, sorry.”

“I'm fine now, and you will be too, but you need to be patient with yourself.”

She started the tub running and asked him how hot he liked it.

“I like it really hot,” he answered, and she just nodded and turned back to the tub with a grin across her lips.

When the tub was full, she helped him out of his robe and gown.

"I have to take the leads off, and hopefully Tara won't come running in here to code you," she chuckled.

“Do I get mouth to mouth then?” he laughed. “Wow, that kinda sounded like a Merle joke, I really did hit my head.”

“I have heard that one before, but it's still cute.”

She grinned and pulled off the leads from his chest. She took the heart rate monitor from the pocket of his robe and lay it on the counter to keep it dry.

“Careful,” she whispered, leaning down and wrapping his good arm around her shoulder. She lay her hand on his waist, and he paused for a moment just to look at her face. Her kinky, red hair was right next to his mouth, and it smelled like some kind of flowery shampoo.

She noticed him staring and just smiled at him sweetly. This was the kind of moment he could easily get hard, so he needed to get his ass in the tub quick. He pushed up and leaned his weight on her to get to the tub as fast as he was able.

He held onto her and also a railing as he stepped into the water.

“Christ almighty!” he groaned.

“Too hot? Are you OK?” she asked, still holding him up.

“No, sorry. It feels good.”

She smiled, and he sank down carefully into the tub and closed his eyes. He'd have to watch himself looking at her too much while he was naked. It was a hell of a close call, but thankfully his semi hard dick was hidden under the surface of the water now. He held his left arm with the cast out of the water and rested it on the edge of the tub which was thankfully a good 5 inches wide.

“Good lord this feels good. Thanks so much.”

“My pleasure. I do have to stay in here just in case you have trouble, but I can pull the curtain if you want.”

“I'm good,” he answered. He still hadn't opened his eyes, and he looked totally relaxed.

She turned on the jets, and he groaned unapologetically, and it made her laugh. She watched as all the tension seemed to melt away, and he looked happy again for a moment. She just watched him for ten minutes straight, and he almost looked like he was sleeping.

The bandages around his head were already looking like they needed to be replaced and she wanted to check his stitches for infection.

“Do you want me to check your stitches? We can probably get rid of all those bandages around your head and go with something a lot smaller.”

“Really? That would be awesome; it's kinda hot having my head wrapped up like this.”

She pushed the bathroom intercom to page Tara.

“Hey, Kristin. What's up?” Tara responded.

“Can you bring the kit to a patient's room? I'm going to rebandage Mr. Dixon's head and check the stitches.”

“Sure thing,” Tara answered.

Kristin turned back to him, and he looked a little stunned.

“What's wrong?” she asked.

“I've been saying Krissy again, haven't I? I'm sorry.”

“It's OK, Daryl. You've been injured; I am not taking offense to it I promise you.”

“You've been so nice to me; I just feel bad. I don't want you to think I don't care about your name,” he said.

“Daryl, you've been through a lot in only a few days. You need to give yourself a break.”

“OK, Kristin. See? I got it.”

“I don't mind you calling me Krissy.”

She got up and walked over to remove the bandages from his head. She unwrapped slowly, and when they were off, it looked like everything was healing well. He had ten stitches in a neat row right at his hairline and some bruising.

“Looks good, no infection.”

She washed his hair carefully, and he hissed a little when the stitches got wet.

“Sorry about that.”

“No, thanks for washing my hair. I felt all dirty.”

When he was done, she drained the tub and helped him up. He was obviously strong, and his arms were huge, but he was still suffering the after effects of head trauma and needed a lot of assistance. He'd be bruised and sore and dizzy for a while yet.

It wasn't easy to not look at him, he had a nice body but he was a patient, and it was not OK to look at him like that. Making patients feel comfortable was her top priority, and she didn't want him to feel objectified.

He sat on a towel on the chair, and she dried his upper body first so he could get the gown on and then dried his legs.

“Thank you; I feel a lot better. Well....my body anyway,” he said, looking down at her.

She was drying his lower legs and feet and remembered what he was going through personally. He was putting on such a brave face that you'd never guess he'd just been dumped if he didn't tell you.

Kristin looked up, and she could see it was hurting him again.

“I wish there was more I could do,” she said, softly.

“You're doing a lot. I forgot that it even happened for a while there and then I remembered that I'll have nobody when I get home.”

“I'm sorry.”

“It's OK. I'm sorry, actually. I'm not trying to bring you down when you're working so hard,” he said, trying to smile but it looked phony as hell.

“You don't have to pretend to be happy, Daryl. It's OK to feel sad around me.”

“Thanks.”

She got him into his slippers and housecoat and walked him back to bed.

In no time she had his stitches covered in a smaller bandage that he looked happier about. He looked exhausted and closed his eyes, so she covered him with a blanket.

“This probably took a lot out of you so try to rest before your family comes. OK?”

“Thanks....uh...”

He obviously couldn't remember her name, so she decided to go with the name that he seemed to want to use anyway. It made complete sense that when he was tired his cognitive functioning would fail him more easily and she wasn't even remotely offended.

“Krissy,” she offered.

“Right, Krissy. You're an angel to me,” he sighed and then yawned.

She replaced the leads for the monitor and helped him roll over to his side to sleep. He seemed to like sleeping on his right side but had issues moving with the cast.

“Your hair smells pretty,” he said softly with his eyes closed.

Kristin smiled and turned off the light above his bed, and he looked like he would be asleep in minutes, he needed all the rest he could get.

She walked back to the nurse's station, and Tara was grinning at her.

“What?”

"It looked like your patient was flat lining, but I knew you had him in the tub, so I'm gonna note it on this asystole strip, so the doc doesn't go nuts on rounds today."

"Thanks, and I'm glad you didn't come running in with the crash cart."

“Is he OK?” Tara asked.

“He's up and down, but he should be OK. He just needs some patience and a little extra TLC if you deal with him.”

“Will do,” Tara noted.

Kristin had informed her about Meredith but told her not to let on that she knew and she promised she wouldn't.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Thirteen

 

The rest of the shift went smoothly. They were down to just two patients again, and because it was so quiet, the doctors wanted to keep Daryl on ICU due to his continued dizziness and high level of care.

The bath did seem to lessen his pain and brighten his mood, so she felt she'd done some good. As his nurse, she kept trying to think of anything she could do for him but it was a lot of little things like pudding, baths, and donuts. She'd offer him the odd pat on the arm or squeeze of his hand, but there was a line she tried to remain ever aware of. For some reason, that line was a more conscious thing with him than it ever had to be with any other patient. Maybe it was due to his emotional trauma over Meredith, but she felt drawn to him and compelled to make him feel better.

 

Merle brought Kristin a huge vase full of flowers when he and Andrea arrived, and she got an unexpected bear hug as well.

“Thanks for being so good to him,” Merle said, squeezing her hard and lifting her up a few inches off the ground. Kristin grinned at Tara over his shoulder and tried not to laugh. She'd gotten flowers from families before, but the hug was new.

“He's adorable,” Tara chuckled after they went off to Daryl's room.

“He really loves his brother, that's for sure,” Kristin sighed. “It's nice.”

“What are you up to after work?” Tara asked.

“Have to take Gina to the doctor.”

“What's up with her?”

“She's growing up too fast.”

“Uh oh! What does that mean?”

“She and Michael are entering into a more mature phase of their romantic entanglement.”

“The pill?”

“Yep. So we're keeping Mr. Dixon for a while then?”

“That's what I hear. He's doing well, but we're one of the slowest units now, and with a head injury, we may as well keep him here. He's still having memory problems, hey?”

“He's a bit muddled with some words and names,” Kristin answered.

“I don't know; he can always remember Tara. Why do you get a pet name, Krissy?”

“Stop,” she laughed and carried on with her day.

 

At the end of the shift, she stopped by Daryl's room to say goodbye to them.

“I'm off for the day, but I just wanted to thank you again for the flowers, they're beautiful.”

“What's this?” Daryl asked.

“I got your nurse some flowers for taking good care of you,” Merle informed him.

“Glad you liked them, Kristin,” Andrea smiled, reaching for her hand. “This has been really hard for us, but we can actually rest when we leave cause we know you're looking out for him all day.”

“Yeah, and now he smells all sweet thanks to you washing him up,” Merle joked.

Kristin looked at him and rolled her eyes.

“It was my pleasure,” she smiled. “Have a good night, Daryl, I'll see you in the morning.”

“Goodnight,” he said, with a grin.

 

#####################

 

The appointment was as awkward as she was expecting and by the end, Gina was ready to do woman things, and Kristin pretended to be 100% cool with it.

“Let's go get a coffee,” Kristin sighed when they finally got onto the street after filling her prescription.

“Thanks, Mom.”

“It's no problem, honey. Just remember they aren't good for a month though, right? You have to take them for a month and don't forget any.”

“I know. Come on, you need some caffeine,” Gina laughed.

“I think maybe I need a whiskey.”

They went for supper and then back home to watch a movie on the couch. They laughed their heads off at a movie they'd watched together a hundred times, and then it dawned on her that this was the same girl. Nothing would change, Gina would always be her girl. They'd been on their own since Gina was 11 and they'd become so close in that time that the idea of her leaving for school in the fall was making her feel desperate to hold onto her.

“I'm going to miss you so much, honey,” she said suddenly.

“Awwww, Mom. I'll be back all the time; you know that.”

“I know, but it won't be the same without you being just down the hall. I won't be able to look at you before I fall asleep or before I leave for work, I just...”

“Don't you dare cry, or I'll cry, don't do that...”

Kristin grabbed her and held onto her like she was five again.

“I said don't...” Gina sobbed.

“I'm sorry, honey...are we both getting our periods or something?” she asked, chuckling and wiping tears away.

She had no idea what her life would look like without Gina in it every day, but she'd have to think of something to keep her mind busy, or she'd lose it.

Kristin turned in for the night after a hot bath and her nightly glass of wine, any more than that and she'd feel like groggy crap in the morning. She lay back in the water and closed her eyes, immediately thinking of Daryl's happy face in the tub earlier that day. It was a small thing, but he looked at peace and, as a nurse, that's all she could offer him. He was an abnormally sweet man who had just almost died and been rejected by his fiance but was still concerned about being moody or forgetting her name.

It was a mystery to her how Meredith could have walked away from such a man. She'd never met anyone quite like him, and it was starting to scare her. She shouldn't have looked at his body the way she did, and she certainly shouldn't be thinking of him every night before falling asleep. Something about his sad eyes and sweet disposition made her want to make him smile and feel better, but it was starting to blur the lines of her job.

 

#########################

 

She woke up to her alarm and groaned, feeling stiff and in need of another twenty minutes but she didn't have that. She got up and into her clean scrubs, grabbed a coffee, checked on Gina, and was out the door.

Again, she picked up a donut for Daryl cause it made him smile the day before and he needed to smile.

The unit looked quiet, and Tara was sat at the desk taking report from the night staff when she got there.

“Sorry,” she whispered.

“Your guy had a seizure last night,” Tara informed her.

“Is he OK?”

“Yeah, just one so far. He's sleeping now.”

“Did you call his family yet?” Kristin asked.

“No, I thought you'd want to. You have a good rapport with them.”

“OK. I'll leave it a couple hours and let them know. It's Saturday; I'll let them sleep in if he's stable.”

Report ended, and she checked on him right away.

He was asleep and looked the same as yesterday but his brain was still recovering and seizures were a common step in that process. He looked so peaceful, and she found herself thinking she could watch him sleep for hours. She left the donut on his tray and got busy with work until he woke up.

Within the hour he was calling for her on the intercom.

“Good morning, you. I hear you had a rough night,” she said, standing next to his bed.

“So they tell me,” he groaned.

“Pain?”

“Yeah, just a headache,” he nodded.

She brought him medicine and a hot cup of coffee.

“You OK?” she asked.

“Yeah, I'm just getting a little bored being in here all day.”

“I know what you need,” she grinned.

“What?”

“It's a surprise. Eat your breakfast and drink your coffee and I'll be back in a little bit.”

He still had his hospital breakfast that was delivered to him, but he seemed to like donuts so she'd keep bringing them, it was worth it to see his smile.

“Surprise, huh? Nice!”

 

Kristin double checked with his doctor that the surprise was allowed and she said it was.

After her morning paperwork and checking the other patient she phoned Merle and Andrea and filled them in on what happened.

“It's normal with this kind of injury, and we're watching him closely. I don't think it's any reason to panic, but you should know it happened and it may happen again.”

“Oh god! But he's OK?” Andrea asked.

“Yes, he's as stable as ever. He says he's feeling bored though so I was thinking of taking him out to the balcony here on the third floor in a wheelchair for some fresh air. Is that OK with you?”

“That's nice of you. As long as he's safe, it's fine with us. Merle and I worry about him a bit too much, like he's our kid or something...but he's older than me,” Andrea admitted with a laugh.

“I understand, he'll be completely safe. I just thought some sunshine might boost his spirits.”

“You're the best. We'll be up in an hour.”

“Great! See you then.”

She walked back to his room with a wheelchair and grinned.

“Is your headache gone? You ready for your surprise?”

“Yeah, I think so,” he shrugged.

She helped him into some sweatpants Merle brought him and his housecoat and slippers.

“Where ya taking me?” he asked.

“Somewhere nice, that's the surprise.”

He could walk but this was a little further than he could make it and with his seizure, she wasn't taking chances.

A few minutes later she was pulling him backward through the door to the balcony that had a whole bunch of bright colored flowers and few small potted trees. The view extended out across the whole city and the sky was bright blue with puffy white clouds. A warm breeze was blowing, and there was nobody on the balcony but them.

She pushed him a little closer to the rail so he could enjoy the view and watched as a smile slowly lit up his entire face.

“I know it's not much but I can't take you out dancing or anything. Do you like it? ” she asked.

His mouth twitched like he didn't know what to say and he looked up at her and she had her answer. He took a deep breath of fresh air and was still squinting at the bright sun after being inside for so long.

“It's perfect....I think I really needed this. Thank you.”

Kristin lay her hand on his shoulder, and he leaned his cheek against it for a minute before looking back at the view. At that moment she knew there was something going on, something that shouldn't be.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Fourteen

 

The next day would mark a week since the accident and Kristin was happy to see him smiling more often than he was looking sad. She'd still come in his room and find him contemplative and looking blue at times, but he didn't seem at risk for self-harm or depression, the fresh air had done him good. She was amazed at how he was dealing with everything but suspected he was probably hiding some of the pain from the people around him. A hospital was not a nice, private place to get over heartache.

 

At the end of the shift she took his vitals, and the doctor came to look him over again.

“It's my day off tomorrow,” she said, as she helped him into bed after the doctor examined him.

“Oh...who'll be here? I'm so used to you now.”

“Tara and another woman called Tammy will be here. She's like everyone's grandma and an excellent nurse. She'll be good to you, just watch out cause she's super forward. Just go with it,” she shrugged.

“I guess you do need time off,” he laughed.

“Yep, I have a lot of laundry, cleaning, and sleeping to catch up on,” she sighed.

He looked a little like an abandoned puppy, and it was the first time she ever felt bad about having days off, ever.

“You wanna sign my cast before you go?” he asked with a grin.

“Seriously? I'm honored,” she squealed.

She sat down on the edge of his bed and emptied her pockets onto his night table to find the whiteboard marker she used for the communication board.

“Hmmmm....” she mused, thinking hard of what would work.

“Anything you want,” he said.

“OK.”

She uncapped the marker and picked a spot where he'd be able to read it easily.

I wish we could have met under better circumstance, but it's a pleasure getting to know you. Nurse Krissy XO

It was only borderline 'not OK, ' but she couldn't see anyone complaining.

“Thanks,” he said, after reading it and smiling up at her. “I always wanted a cast when I was a kid.”

“Me too, but then I got one, and I didn't like it so much,” she laughed, putting the marker back in her pocket.

“What did you break?”

“My wrist. I was trying to race a boy on the monkey bars, but his friend cheated and lifted up my dress while I was hanging by my arms, and I fell on the gravel. I broke my wrist when I punched him in the face.”

Daryl laughed then, a real genuine laugh, and she knew it was worth telling an embarrassing story to hear that laugh, it made her day.

“See you on Monday then,” she said, squeezing his forearm and looking down into his eyes.

“Yeah, make sure you come back though...I think you're making me better.”

She smiled and blushed just a little.

“I sure hope so.”

 

#################################

 

Kristin got home from work and made herself some supper, canned soup and a piece of toast. Easy peasy.

It was Saturday night, and Gina and Michael were out, she wasn't expecting her back anytime soon. She checked the GPS on her phone and Gina was right where she said she'd be so she decided to unwind with some loud music. When she checked the pocket of her scrubs in the laundry basket, her iPod wasn't there. She growled in annoyance, her iPod had been a gift from Gina, and it was likely lost now. She had all her favorite music on it and all her carefully designed playlists, this was no good. She had a hot shower and settled on a CD to play as she lay on the couch.

Having the house to herself was still a bit odd, but Gina was spending more weekend nights out late with Michael and a close group of friends.

Gina was always home on time and didn't drink, so she saw no reason not to trust her.

Kristin turned up the music and had more than her standard one glass of wine, much more.

She had on a black tank top with spaghetti straps and sleep pants but after a few glasses of wine she was feeling kinda loose and even a bit sexy.

She cranked up some old Fleetwood Mac and drank her wine. She had nowhere to be, no dates. How could she date when she rarely got two days off in a row and rarely knew when they'd be? Her schedule was basically 'be here when we need you...and we need you all the time'.

She danced in her living room, just a slow kind of dance. She didn't have the energy for the bar or the patience, and she liked to dance. Her hips moved slow and precise to the music she'd been listening to since she was a child. She played Rhiannon as loud as her speakers would go and was sure the neighbors would bitch, but let them, this was her 'weekend.'

 

Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night

and wouldn't you love to love her?

takes to the sky like a bird in flight

and who will be her lover?

 

Soon she found herself on her fourth glass of wine, thinking of Daryl's arms and chest and decided she was free to think what she wanted to in her own home. He had a nice, tight ass and muscular legs and the man was packing some serious heat. She let her mind think all the things she wouldn't allow herself to all week. She'd never lay a hand on him, out of turn, but soon she was flopped on the couch, and her hand was traveling south with thoughts of his eyes, his body and his voice in her mind. She wished she could be the one to make him forget his pain, if only for a moment.

Her hand slid under the loose waistband of her sleep pants and into her underwear, and she felt it right away. It was a long time since she had even made time for this kind of thing.

She closed her eyes and could feel his skin against hers as she helped him stand to get into the tub. Her mind drifted to his ass as he bent down, clinging to the rail and the edge of the tub when he eased his body into the steamy water. In her mind, her hands were still touching his bare legs and drying his skin. She could still smell the earthy, natural scent of his skin and feel the warmth coming off of him in waves as he sat, bare before her, in the tub room. He was beautiful. She'd never seen a man so attractive or met a man so nice. Being nice was no small thing to her, it was maybe the most important thing. How any woman could treat him so coldly was beyond her.

She wanted to touch him, and for him to touch her, she wanted to kiss his lips and taste his skin. Kristin wanted it all and then.....drunk and stunned, she realized how deeply fucked she was.

Her fingers continued to move in swift circles, down where she needed it, she was too far gone to stop. She imagined him above her, holding her down, kissing her hard and looking into her eyes.

He looked like the kind of man who, properly motivated, could make her scream for more quite easily.

How the hell had Meredith ever walked away from him?

Just then she imagined his mouth where her fingers were, and it was just what she required to get there.

She came undone, and it was sweet, sinful and forbidden but silent. She'd gotten used to doing it silently and without fan fair from having a child in the house, a child who was now a woman.

She lay, panting and confused, on the couch wondering how she ever let herself want a patient this badly. If he'd only been physically attractive it wouldn't have been an so hard, she'd cared for many attractive men, but he was sweet and kind and funny too.

She texted Gina, after her personal indiscretion, to be sure everything was as it should be.

~ You OK, baby?

~ Yep, Michael is driving me home right away. We didn't drink or anything. We're safe.

~ You're the best daughter, thanks for not making me worry. Xoxo

Kristin crawled into bed but didn't let herself fall asleep until after she heard Gina come home. Once again it was Daryl's smile that lingered in her mind as she drifted off.

 

##########################

 

Daryl found it right away but didn't say a word, he knew it was hers, and he wanted to hold onto it. He'd seen her with it, nodding her head to the music as she worked. He wanted to keep it till she got back and he wanted to be the one to give it back to her. Her iPod was green, and she'd left her ear buds plugged into it, he was all set. Kristin had left it on his table when she emptied her pockets looking for the marker to sign his cast.

Thinking of Meredith made him feel like shit, but thinking of his sweet, patient, kind nurse made him feel warm and good inside. She didn't treat him like a pity case but she was still so sweet, it was a delicate balance that she had down to a science.

The last nurse had come along to help him to the bathroom, and he was back in his bed with a fresh dose of pain medicine in his system. He was getting bad headaches since the seizure.

The ward was quiet now, and he pulled her iPod out from under his pillow and turned it on as he prayed it wasn't password protected, and thankfully it wasn't.

She had pictures on it and music, and he shifted around in bed and pulled the sheets up high so nobody would find him with it.

He hit shuffle on her music and then instantly went to look at her pictures. It was low and sneaky, but he wanted to see her life, he wanted to know who she was.

A song started to play, nd he had no idea what it was so he just decided to let it play and look at her pictures.

There was a picture of a young woman and man. The girl had brown hair and wore a lot of jewelry, and the boy was obviously her boyfriend, he figured it must be her daughter. He kept going through, and there were about 6 picture of the couple at Christmas time, then there were three pictures of his nurse. She was in casual clothes and laying on the couch, reading a book. There were a bunch of pictures of her, and she looked so different out of her work clothes with her hair all over the place.

Daryl kept playing her music and looking at her pictures, thinking of her. He wondered if she felt sorry for him because he'd been dumped. He wondered if, at 40, he'd ever find someone who'd stay. He wondered what his nurse thought of his dick, he couldn't help it. He wondered if he measured up to other men, it was such a 'guy' thought but he couldn't help it. He wondered if he was her type and what her type was.

Meredith look at him with such indifference and coldness when she left him that he wondered how he'd ever loved her or if he ever really had. He still felt like shit to be rejected the way he was but after a good cry he actually felt better that she was gone. He'd rather be alone than spend his life with someone who could leave him over voice mail.

Daryl felt like less of a man lately, needing help just to go take a piss and getting bathed like a kid but she made it OK. His nurse made it OK. She didn't look at him like a boy; she talked to him like he was just another man and made him feel alright about being babied. She cared for him, even if she didn't care about him. He was quite sure she was just doing her job, but there were moments he'd get lost in her eyes and stumble over his words. She made him forget about his itchy cast, his sore head and broken heart.

He lay in the dark, playing her music and thinking of her. He wished he knew what she was up to at that moment.

 

Nobody knows it, but you've got a secret smile

and you use it only for me

Nobody know it, but you've got a secret smile

and you use it only for me

so save me, I'm waiting

I'm needing, hear me pleading
And soothe me, improve me
I'm grieving; I'm barely believing now, now


He listened to her music until the male nurse, Jack, came back for the midnight rounds and suggested he get some rest.

The last man to tell him to turn off his music and go to bed had been his dad, a million years ago, but he obeyed regardless.

“OK,” he said, tucking her iPod back under his pillow. Monday couldn't come soon enough; he missed her.

He found himself wanting to believe that she was treating him differently from other patients. He liked the idea that maybe her smile was just for him and maybe somehow different than the one other patients got.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Fifteen

 

“Meredith, I'm just not ready, and I told you that before.”

“You're kidding, right? You said if we were both single it would be different.”

“I know but I'm still married, and I need to find the right time to end it and the right situation.”

“Well, I'm single so what the hell is wrong with right now? What are you waiting for?”

“Meredith, calm down!”

“I'm perfectly calm, but I've been waiting for ages for you to leave her, you said you would. I'm starting to think you were just stringing me along. Am I right, Jerry?”

“I never told you to end it with Daryl. I just said if we were both single we could make a go of it...but we aren't.”

“Fuck you!”

“Calm down; you can't go screaming like this at work. This is why I didn't want to talk to you about this here!”

“Oh, I get it! You can fuck me here and screw with my head here but not talk to me here? This was just fun for you, wasn't it? You never had any intention of leaving her.”

“If we can't keep this civil then I can't have you working here anymore, Meredith. You have to just deal with this like a grown up. It's not my fault you broke off your engagement.”

“Screw you, Jerry.”

“Hey, do you want to keep working here or not?”

“I've been here since long before you were promoted. I'm not planning to go anywhere!”

“Then let's just end this amicably.”

“You're a coward, Jerry. I'll be perfectly amicable cause you mean nothing to me! Do you hear me? Nothing.”

“Fine. I do want you to stay working here but not if it's going to be a problem.”

“No problem at all, just don't think you can ever get me back.”

 

#########################

 

“It's adorable, he sounds all choked to have a new nurse today,” Andrea giggled.

“I don't blame him, that Krissy's a honey.”

“You ready to go? I just called, and he's done his PT for the morning.”

“No seizures last night?” Merle asked.

“Nope. Hopefully, that was it. He seems to be back on the road to recovery now.”

“Let's go then. We can pick him up something good for lunch,” Merle suggested.

“Good idea.”

Andrea's phone rang on the way out the door, and she sighed heavily when she read the name.

“Fuck!”

“What is it?”

“Meredith.”

“She's like a bad rash. Here.”

Merle took the phone from Andrea; he wanted to deal with it himself.

“What is it, Meredith?”

“I'm in the parking lot of the hospital, and they won't let me in, what's that about?”

“Are you kidding me? It's your fault he's in there! You just stay away from him, do you hear me?”

“Is this you talking or is it what he wants?”

“I saw the last text he sent you and so did you, stop playing games. You know it's done. What happened to your boss man boyfriend anyway?” Merle sneered. He could be evil when it came to protecting those he loved; he wouldn't take any of her shit.

“Merle, I just want to talk to him. I think I made a mistake.”

“Yes, you did. We almost lost him thanks to your bullshit. He's my blood, and you're not getting a chance to fuck with him again, ever!”

Merle hung up the phone and growled in frustration.

“Come on, babe. They aren't letting her in, it'll be OK,” Andrea said, trying to calm him down. He had a tendency to go 'protective papa bear' too fast.

He sighed and then nodded, she was right, but he was still pissed off.

 

##########################

 

“It feels sooooo good just to lay here,” Kristin groaned, pulling a fleece blanket up to her chin.

“You look cozy,” Gina grinned.

“It's been a long week at work, but it's going well now. That man who had the motorcycle accident had me all worried.”

“You get all into it, don't you?” Gina mused.

“It's hard not to. This man has been through the wringer this week, and yet he still has such a great attitude.”

“Is he cute?”

“Gina! He's a patient, that's not exactly appro-”

She was getting a look like she'd set off her daughter's bullshit detector.

“Yes, he's cute, but that's not the point.”

“What happened to him besides the accident?”

“I shouldn't really say but...his fiance broke it off with him the night of the accident and when he woke up, he couldn't remembering it happening, so she ended up coming to the hospital and telling him again but only after showing up a few times and taking off without saying goodbye.”

“Ouch! That's harsh as hell,” Gina exclaimed.

“I really shouldn't have told you that so don't tell anyone.”

“I won't say a word; you know that. So he's not mad?”

“I'm sure he is, and he is sad over it but he's still so polite, and he tries to hide that he's hurting. He's a really nice person; I like him.”

“So you can't go after a patient.”

“No, Gina, I really can't, and he's in no state for that, I'm sure. He has a lot of recovering to do yet.”

“Interesting...”

“What's interesting?”

“You said you can't, not that you don't want to.”

“Stop trying to get in my head, little girl,” Kristin laughed, throwing a piece of popcorn at her.

 

#############################

 

“I feel a little better but this new nurse is busting my chops about not drinking all my prune juice, and she made me do a bunch of exercises this morning.”

Merle laughed, he was happy to hear him bitching. It meant that he was feeling better if he could be complaining about silly things.

“How are you feeling otherwise?” Andrea asked, handing him his lunch. They brought him BBQ from his favorite restaurant and a piece of chocolate cake.

“Thanks, Andrea. Don't let Tammy see this though; she'll give me shit,” he joked. “I still feel shitty and kinda down but it's probably good that I'm stuck here. I'd just be shit faced and miserable at home anyway.”

“You'll find better than her, Daryl.”

“You think?” he chuckled, taking a huge bite of the pulled pork sandwich they brought him. “When?”

“Soon, Daryl, keep the faith.”

Andrea and Merle both decided not to tell him that Meredith had called, he needed to focus on himself and not her head games.

When he was alone again on Sunday night, he lay awake playing Kristin's music and thinking of her.

 

I don't need air
I don't need to breathe
And I don't need rest
I don't have time to sleep
'Cause I've got you... and you've got me
And that's all we need
When I get up, so do you
When you get home, I sleep right through
And on the road
I sleep alone
And I can't wait
Until I'm home
'Cause I've got you... and you've got me
Yeah I've got you... and you've got me
And that's all we need

He was still in pain, but he was happy about her coming back in the morning.

 

######################

 

Daryl was up early Monday morning and playing a few more of her songs before the battery died. She'd be there any minute but he liked her music, and soon he'd have to give it back.

“Good morning, you,” she said, cheerily as she walked into his room.

“Hey....I...uh....you left this here. I'm sorry.”

She grinned and shook her head.

“It's fine. I was just afraid I'd lost it forever, my daughter gave it to me.”

“I kinda used up the battery on it. I just had nothing to keep me busy while you were gone.”

“I don't mind at all, Daryl. Did you like some of it?” she asked, taking his blood pressure and then listening to his heart and lungs with her stethoscope.

“I liked all of it; it was nice having music. Merle says they have my phone, but he keeps forgetting to bring it. I just don't think he wants me to have it....I'm not about to call her though.”

“I'm sure he's just worried about you,” she answered.

“He's only 3 years older, but he's like my dad,” he laughed.

“I think it's sweet; I like Merle and Andrea.”

“They're pretty good to me,” he admitted. “Andrea keeps telling me my life isn't over and that I'll find someone to love again,” he shrugged.

Kristin looked at his hopeful eyes and smiled, “She's right, you will.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

^Chapter Sixteen.

 

It was beautiful weather, so Kristin took Daryl out on the balcony with Merle and Andrea for a while when they arrived to visit. It was still too far for him to walk, so Merle pushed the wheelchair. Kristin brought along another patient from the next ward over who could use some air as well, and they all chatted for a while.

She charged her iPod and gave it back to him to listen to, and she could see it was a good move, he looked overjoyed.

Andrea took her aside and mentioned that Meredith had tried to come visit and reminded her that they didn't want her coming on the unit to see him.

“So you really don't think he'd want to try and work things out?” she asked. She felt like she could talk to Andrea openly.

“Nope,” Andrea answered, pulling his phone out of her purse and showing her the text he'd sent to Meredith the night of the accident.

Kristin chuckled, “He said Merle keeps forgetting to bring his phone.”

“We took it the first night we came so it wouldn't get lost and then I found out about what she did. We kept it so he wouldn't call her and that's when I found the text. I don't think he has any interest in calling her anymore, but now I don't want her calling him, he doesn't need the stress of her head games. Daryl's too good for her.”

Kristin agreed and promised she wouldn't let her on the unit. She didn't like to interfere in this kind of thing, but it did seem like the best thing for him. Merle and Andrea went home by lunchtime, knowing he was in good hands.

In the last hours of the shift, she found a moment to sit with him, and he complained again about his pain.

“Will it ever stop aching?” he asked.

“It will, I promise. Can I get you some painkillers?”

“I just want to move into the bathtub and never get out. I haven't had a bath since I was a kid but the one here is amazing,” he laughed.

“Do you want to have another?” she asked.

“Can I?”

“Daryl, we only have two people on the ward at the moment, and you're the only one who's up for a bath. You can have as many as you like,” she insisted.

“I just thought it might take up too much of your time cause I need so much help.”

“I'm happy to help you feel better, it's kinda my job,” she teased. “Come on.”

Kristin removed the heart rate monitor first this time and helped him to the bathroom again but he looked different somehow like he had something weighing on his mind.

She sat him on the chair and began running the water as he took off his hospital gown.

“Thank you for being so nice to me, Kristin. Getting dumped and crying like a baby wasn't easy for me to do in a hospital but you never made me feel pathetic about it....it's really nice of you.”

She turned to look at him, naked except for a towel on his lap. He looked vulnerable and still a little sad, but she couldn't deny he was stunning too. His honesty and openness were refreshing but painful to hear.

“We all get hurt in love sometimes. You should never feel pathetic for the choices she made; it's clearly her loss. I think any woman would be very lucky to have you.”

Daryl looked up at her with a half smile.

“I know it's your job to be nice to me, but I still appreciate all the little things you've done for me....I just wanted you to know that.”

“I'm not saying these things because it's my job...actually, I probably shouldn't say these things because of my job.”

What did it all mean? Daryl had no idea, but he liked the sound of it. He still didn't know if her smile for him was special or if she was just really sweet, he felt so confused by her.

She walked toward him, and he looked up into her eyes, trying to imagine her body out of her scrubs and then immediately felt guilty for the thought. She bent down, planted her feet on either side of his to balance herself and lay her hands on his lower back as he reached up to put his good arm on her shoulder, it was becoming torture to have her touch him. For a split second, it felt almost like she was going to sit herself down on his lap and he swallowed hard trying not to think of how good it would feel.

Kristin helped him into the hot water, and he seemed to enjoy it just as much as last time. It was getting hard for her to keep her thoughts under control. Daryl lay back with his eyes closed and she wished she knew what he was thinking. His gorgeous face looked so at peace and she pictured just walking across the steamy bathroom and kissing his lips. She took a deep breath and shook her head; it was getting impossible to stop her mind running into trouble.

After a good half hour, he looked at his fingertips and said maybe he should get out.

She walked over with a towel over her shoulder and leaned down so he could put his good arm around her and pull himself up.

When he was back on the chair and dressed, he looked calm and pain-free again.

“Feel better?” she asked, gathering her things.

“I always seem to feel good when you're around,” he answered.

She looked down and him and smiled with her whole face and her cheeks turned noticeably pink. Her smile got to him, and he lost his head for a moment as it clouded his judgment.

Kristin bent down again to help him up in the same hugging position, and she felt his breath on her neck, but he wasn't trying to stand, he was just holding onto her waist with his good arm and breathing on her skin. The moment drew out like a blade, and she didn't know what to do, but she couldn't move.

Just when she was about to make a joke to break the tension, she felt his warm, wet lips just below her ear and she let out a soft sigh of surprise.

He froze, and she could tell he felt bad, she could feel it.

“I'm sorry....I'm such an idiot...” he said, but he didn't move.

“No, you aren't...it's OK,” she whispered. She could feel her body reacting everywhere at once. Suddenly all the blood in her body felt like it burning through her veins.

“I'm a mess right now. I didn't mean to make this weird for you.”

“You didn't....it's alright, Daryl.”

All she wanted was to kiss him back, but if she did, she knew she wouldn't be able to stop. She was clinging desperately to her self-control and knew she had to get away from him fast even though it was breaking her heart.

She took him back to his room and then spent the last hour of the shift kicking herself for what she should have said or done differently.

Kristin was just about to pack up her things to leave for the day when she was informed that someone would have to stay for a double.

Tara had a 4-year-old at home, so Kristin took the bullet for her.

“You go ahead, and I'll stay. I just need to grab some supper at the cafeteria and text my daughter.”

“I love you so much, do you know that?” Tara gushed.

“Yeah, yeah....it's no problem.”

She had the super special at the hospital which really wasn't very special and texted Gina to make sure she'd be OK for the night.

~ hey honey, I'm stuck doing a double tonight. Are you OK or do you want to ask a friend to stay over?

~ Nah, I'm good. I'm just going to watch TV and go to bed.

~ you can order out if you want or I think we have a casserole in the fridge still.

~ Pizza it is. Love ya, mom

~ love you, lock the doors and be safe. Xoxo

~ yep:)

 

############################

 

Kristin came back onto the floor and sat through evening report, staring at Daryl's door.

It was only her on the floor for the whole night, but she had backup on-call from the next unit if things got crazy. She only had two patients now, so it wasn't likely to be a problem.

By 7pm it was just her, Daryl, and a man on life support. She needed to talk to him and explain that it wasn't him, it's just that this kind of thing couldn't happen even if they felt some kind of attraction.

She walked to his room and entered quietly. He was laying down, listening to music and staring off into space. He looked really low, and she felt awful about how she'd left it.

“Daryl?”

“What are you still doing here?” he asked, looking stunned.

“I was asked to work a double tonight. Look, I think we should talk,” she began, approaching his bed.

“It's OK, Kristin. I know what I did, it won't happen again. I caught Nightingale Syndrome I think...I'm just sitting here alone all the time and you're so pretty and so nice to me...I just took it wrong. You probably make all your patients feel like they're the only person on the planet. I just got my wires crossed, and I thought maybe you liked me too.”

She sat down on the edge of his bed and wished that he wasn't saying all of the things that she wanted to hear. She looked down at her plain, white nurse's shoes and sighed heavily, trying to think of what to say. She always followed all the rules, but he was making it so hard.

“Maybe it's cause I hit my head, but I kinda thought you wanted me to kiss you....stupid, huh?”

“No. It's not stupid at all,” she uttered.

He sat up in bed, and she could feel him then, right next to her.

“Daryl....”

“Yeah?”

“I did want you to.”

Kristin closed her eyes, and she knew he was inching closer, she could sense it all over her body.

She felt his hand on her elbow then, and her heart raced like a rabbit running for its life. His lips brushed her neck, and she shuddered. She was about to cross a line that couldn't be uncrossed. He lay three soft kisses on her neck, and her head moved a little to the side, granting him better access to her skin.

“Should I stop? I'm not trying to get you into trouble,” he claimed, but then his hand touched her face pulling her closer. His voice was a low growl that tore down her defenses and made her body ache with need.

 

Daryl didn't know what the hell he was doing, but he wanted to touch her so badly and was out of strength to stop, not unless she said so.

He had to see her eyes, so he turned her face to his. She looked panicked, and he understood that she was taking a huge risk, but he had to kiss her lips...just once.

He felt more for her in a week than he ever felt for Meredith and he couldn't contain it. She could make it all better, he just knew it.

“Can I kiss you?” he asked.

“....yes.”

He moved toward her slowly, giving her every chance to stop him, and kissed her. Her lips were soft, and he moved in closer, wanting more contact.

He could feel her nerves and her fear. He knew it was selfish of him to push it. He had nothing to lose, but she did.

The tension was so high he could feel adrenaline racing up and down his arms. He turned his head and let his tongue drift across her lips and then she was kissing him back harder and more fervently.

He never felt anything like it before, just one forbidden kiss and he wanted to give her his entire life and everything he had.

“You're so beautiful....” he whispered, between breathless kisses.

She felt herself being drawn to him by something far stronger than logic.

“Daryl...don't be sad anymore....”

“Just tell me you want me, Kristin.”

“I do...I want you so bad...”

He pulled her down on him, and she went willingly. With only the use of one arm and unable to even walk unassisted he still could have led her anywhere in that moment. Her mouth moved hungrily to his throat, and his skin tasted just like it smelled, an earthy and masculine taste that only made her crave more.

It would have to stop soon, and they both knew it, but just for the moment, they weren't able to tear themselves away from each other.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Seventeen

It was like some kind of dream. There she was over him, kissing his neck and wrapping him up in her warmth. She was being careful not to put any pressure on him, but he wanted her body pushing against his, hard. One of her hands was resting on his thigh, and he wanted her to touch him so badly he was aching for it. With his left arm in a cast, he couldn't even relieve himself; it was brutal to have her so close but not be able to go that far. No matter how beat up and incapable he was, his body still wanted it.

Daryl's hand moved down the back of her neck, and her stethoscope fell to the floor, startling her.

"It's OK," he said, pulling back. "It was just your...uh... thing."

"Stethoscope." she smiled. "All those words will come back, no worries."

"I don't know if I can't remember that or if I ever knew it in the first place," he laughed.

She sat back a little, this couldn't keep going, or she'd lose her job cause what she really wanted right now she couldn't have.

"I didn't see this coming," she said, trying to start a conversation.

"Me neither...I thought about it though, Saturday night and almost all day Sunday," he admitted.

"I may have thought about it Saturday night too," she grinned. "Is this a bad idea? I mean you are just fresh out of a relationship and everything."

"That's over."

"Are you sure? Maybe you shouldn't make big decisions like this right now."

"I see your point...but she didn't love me, and now that she's gone I know that it was mutual. Do you not want to do this?" he asked.

"So you wouldn't think about it...even if she changed her mind?"

He thought about it for a moment, and she was actually really glad he was thinking instead of just spitting out the first thing that came into his head.

"Meredith always made me feel like she was doing me a favor just being with me...I didn't see it when we were together, but I see it now. Being with her made me feel unworthy, that's not love. She used to tell me all the things that were wrong about me...pretty soon I believed it all, and I thought I didn't deserve better."

"I can't understand her not wanting you just as you are; I really can't."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I've been trying really hard not to feel things for you, but I like you a lot just as you are. I really shouldn't be saying these things to you, and I definitely shouldn't be touching you, this isn't easy for me."

"I understand."

He really was fragile; she could see he was taking it as a brush off, so she had to get that right out of his head.

"Hey," she said, coming in closer to kiss him again. "I really do like you. We just have to be very careful till you get released, and I just didn't want to rush you."

"Can I see you when I get out of here?"

"Yes, we just have to keep it a secret while you're here."

"Even with Merle and Andrea?" he asked.

"I'll leave that up to you."

She leaned down and kissed him again, and he wished so bad he wasn't injured and that he had her back at his place.

They agreed to keep it friendly until he got out of hospital but they both wondered if they'd be able to keep their hands to themselves.

Daryl still had her iPod, and she told him he could text her phone and gave him the number. She wanted to be able to maintain contact with some kind of privacy; he could be in another week or more. They'd probably be transferring him to another floor soon since he wasn't having any more seizures or issues.

###########################

Kristin never kept anything from Gina, but this is one thing she wanted to keep secret, it didn't set a very good example. She could always say they started getting close after his release from the hospital. She was still surprised by her own actions with him; her restraint went out the window with him.

In the morning she managed to sneak in to say goodbye to Daryl. He'd slept most of the night; he needed the rest in order to recover. She locked his door behind her and woke him with a quick kiss on the forehead, and when he turned over to her, she kissed his lips.

"Crawl in, you," he uttered, in a sleepy voice.

"That's more tempting than you know," she whined softly.

"See you tomorrow?" he asked, reaching for her.

"I'll be back in the morning," she whispered before stealing a last kiss.

The drive home had her heart beating fast and her mind racing, this wasn't like her at all. She'd be sleeping all day after the double she pulled and would be out of it until nearly suppertime very likely.

She said goodbye to Gina on her way to bed and couldn't wait to be under the covers.

There was already a message from Daryl on her phone. She was excited and nervous all at once; her livelihood was how she and her daughter made it in the world. If she could keep her hands off of him, she'd be OK, but it wasn't easy.

She read the message and grinned before pushing the earplugs in her ears to block the world out.

~ sleep well. I miss you already.

~ I miss you too xo

#########################

Daryl felt a hundred different things inside, and none of them had anything to do with Meredith. Merle came by for an hour and asked what had him looking so chipper. Daryl wanted to tell him about Kristin, and how nice she was, he wanted to brag that he'd gotten to kiss her and that she liked him back but he kept his yap shut.

"Where's Andrea anyway?" he asked.

"At the doctor again," Merle answered, noticing the iPod. "Where did ya get that?"

"My nurse lent it to me so I'd have music to listen to. Nice, huh?"

"Yeah...real nice," Merle mused.

"Yep."

Daryl was bad at keeping anything from Merle, so he tried to change the subject right away.

"You two any closer to having a baby? What's going on with the doctor?" he asked.

"Just another ultrasound. Checking all her baby making lady parts."

"Sounds very technical," Daryl laughed.

"Shut up, you! I gotta hear these medical words all the time and sit in office after office lookin' at pictures of pregnant ladies and medical posters."

"It'll be worth it," Daryl said, feeling bad for them. They had wanted a baby for ages, and it just wasn't working.

"I'm thinking I'm not meant to be a dad. I really wanted it too, Andrea would have been a great mom. We did that home study the adoption agency wanted us to do 8 months ago, and we passed, but then we never heard anything. It's pointless."

Daryl and Merle had built their little business from the ground up together, they were close as any two people, and it killed Daryl to see him like this.

"It'll happen, Merle. Just might take more time."

"I keep trying to sound positive for her but I don't think it's in the cards for us, we've tried everything already. Anyway, it's not your problem. How are you feeling today?"

"Pretty good. The doctor said they're moving me down to another floor for a week and then maybe turning me loose."

"You're gonna need help around the house though; you should come stay with us for a while when you get out."

"I don't wanna be in the way."

"You won't be."

#########################

Kristin woke up feeling completely jet lagged. It was 4 in the afternoon, and she yawned and stretched laboriously. She reached for her phone to see if Gina was going to be home soon and there was another text from Daryl.

~ hope you slept well if I text too much just say. I'm sitting here staring at the walls and thinking about you.

She smiled and imagined him back on her floor, thinking of her.

~ It's fine:) I just woke up.

~ They're talking about sending me to another floor

~ When?

~ they didn't say. I got PT now. Ttyl?

~ definitely, have fun;)

#########################

After getting her laundry caught up and cleaning the house, Gina finally walked through the door but something was off, and Kristin could tell it would be a long evening.

It took some time, but eventually, she got it out of her. Michael was having cold feet about taking things to the next level and was considering a different University that had become interested in him. Michael had the best grades in the school and could easily get in anywhere he wanted to. Young people drama.

Kristin shook her head and knew just what Gina was thinking. How did she end up with the one 18-year-old guy who wasn't ready?

"You know it's nothing to do with you, right?"

"How am I not supposed to be insulted, Mom?"

"I don't know. I get what you're saying but maybe he's just worried, it is a big step. He probably just needs more time."

"Now he might go to a different school, and we'll both end up with different people. I feel like I wasted the last two years."

"Are you guys actually fighting? That's so sad."

"No, I just left in a huff and told him I need to think."

"You two have something special, just be patient with it, and I'm sure it'll work out. I know it hurts though."

"Ugh! I need ice cream," Gina said, flopping on the couch.

"That, I can do. I'll run to the store, and you find something to watch on TV, OK?"

"Thanks, Mom."

By the time she came back from the store with Gina's ice cream, she was kissing Michael on the front steps again. Young love was all over the place, and it confused the hell out of Kristin, but that's the way it was.

She got a call from work, just as she was planning to turn in for the evening, asking if she could work another grave and she could have screamed. She was happy to work a lot, but she wished they could just keep a schedule straight and this new trend of getting her to work graves and doubles was exhausting her.

At least she'd get to see Daryl though. She needed something to look forward to and seeing him again was definitely at the top of her list.

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Eighteen

 

“Hey, Tara. They didn't rope you into graves too, did they?” Kristin asked, feeling exasperated with work lately.

“Yep. I talked to them though; this has to stop. We can't give good care if our schedules are all messed up.”

“Tell me about it, I feel like a zombie right now. I need coffee.”

“I'll get it,” Tara said, on her way off the unit for their nightly supply. “We have 4 patients; two are on life support, one is an elderly woman who's nonresponsive and the other is your guy, and he's leaving tomorrow.”

“Why do you keep calling him that?”

“I don't know; I just think it's cute that he calls you Krissy.”

“He stopped doing that,” Kristin laughed.

She checked on all her other patients before going to see Daryl. She wanted to make sure all her duties were taken care of before she went to see him.

 

######################

 

“Hey,” she said, standing in the doorway. She still felt all kinds of nervous tension at what she was doing. She liked him so much, she was so attracted, but it was a delicate situation.

“I thought I heard your voice,” he grinned.

“So you're leaving me tomorrow,” she said, coming to sit on the edge of his bed.

“Not cause I want to, I could stay here and have you bath me forever,” he laughed.

“Sounds good to me.”

As bad as she wanted to see him every day it was probably better that he was leaving until he got released. Keeping it professional was getting harder and harder. He looked so good, and she knew what every inch of his body looked like, and that didn't help.

“I better go, but I'll be back before you go to sleep.”

“I look forward to it. You gonna tuck me in?”

“Behave yourself....maybe.”

 

She left the room and instantly his thoughts turned sexual. She was officially under his skin, and for some reason, her Snoopy scrubs were doing it for him big time. Whatever it was between them was already so hot it was killing him. That morning, as he lay in bed, he felt wound up and tried to take care of himself, but it was impossible with the wrong hand and with strangers in the hallways. His sexual frustration was starting to ache, and she was such a tease without even meaning to be.

A couple hours later he heard Tara saying she'd be back after her break and he wondered if Kristin would be in soon, but there she was the moment he looked up.

“Hey,” he uttered, sitting up straighter.

She looked a little troubled, and he figured he probably did as well. They both knew exactly what the other wanted; he had no doubts.

She sat down on the edge of his bed and sighed heavily.

“I should stay away from you...but I can't,” she said, turning to look at him over her shoulder.

“I don't want you to get in trouble over me, but I also want you in this bed. I'm sorry, I must sound pretty desperate, but I can't even touch myself, so that's not helping,” he smirked.

 

Kristin turned and looked at him; she was out of energy to fight it. She wanted to kiss him again, taste his skin and touch him and at that moment only divine intervention could stop her. She moved a little closer as he reached for her and that was it, they were fused at the mouth and grabbing at each other's bodies.

It would be fast, and she'd stop the second she heard anything, nobody would find out. These were all just excuses, but she was already laying her hand on his strong chest as he slid his tongue into her mouth. Her fingers drifted over the leads stuck to his skin for the heart rate monitor as she moved her tongue against his.

He pulled her down beside him, and things moved so fast she couldn't bear to slam on the breaks. He brushed his hand over her breast through her scrub top, and she moaned softly, surprised by how such a subtle thing could make her that crazy. The one hand he had use of was strong and knew what it wanted. He kissed her neck and started to whisper things into her ear that further weakened her.

“I want you so bad...I just keep thinking about touching you...I need you...”

She could feel the bristles of his goatee on her throat, and he pulled her so close as they kissed she felt enveloped in him. His hand moved up under her scrub top and his thumb teased across her nipple through her sports bra she breathed deeper, taking in the sensation. Right away she felt awakened by his touch, and her body craved him, she wanted him all over her.

“I'm better at this with the other hand, I swear,” he chuckled.

“It's just fine...trust me,” she whispered.

Her hand drifted down to his bare knee under the thin hospital sheets, and he flinched in surprise.

“Do you want it? I can help you,” she purred into his ear.

“Jesus yes...you don't have to but...”

She ran her hand up his thigh and under his gown as she kissed him deeper, with more fire than before.

Her hand worked it's way to his dick, and he hissed as she curled her fingers around it. He was hard as stone, and she could already imagine how good he'd feel inside her. His dick was hot to the touch, and she couldn't quite get her fingers all the way around it. She wanted it right then but couldn't have it; it was torture.

He stopped kissing her and closed his eyes for a moment, and she knew it wouldn't be long. He started to pant and clenched her scrubs in his fist, biting at her throat and moving his hips toward her hand.

“I gotta touch you...” he moaned.

He could barely get close enough to reach her body with his right hand, and she knew it, so she insisted he just enjoy it.

“It's OK....just you....we need to be fast.”

The need in his voice was obvious. He moaned and growled, squeezing the handful of her scrub top and leaning into her. She knew it was almost over and was still wondering what had come over her.

“I gotta have sex with you....tell me we will...” he groaned.

“We will...but right now you have to cum, Daryl...cum for me.”

Soon he was letting go and breathing heavy against her chest, trying to be silent. His body relaxed against her, and she held him for a short moment. After stealing a few more kisses, she got up off the bed. Just like fleeing the scene of a crime she felt the need to distance herself from him right away.

This was something Kristin never thought she'd let herself do. She felt aroused, guilty, excited and ashamed all at once.

“I better go,” she whispered, straightening her uniform.

“Will you come back later?” he asked, looking sad.

“Definitely, but not like this,” she laughed nervously. “This was...risky and crazy and...”

“Hot as hell!” he added.

“Yes, definitely hot as hell...but I can't do this again. It's not you but-"

"I understand, you don't have to explain. It was way too risky; I get it."

The way he smiled at her she knew he got it and that he wasn't offended and she was glad for that.

Kristin checked her patients, and they all looked just as they did before. No harm/no foul, she told herself, but she still felt awful. She got back to the front desk and sat down, trying to look innocent before Tara got back from her break. She checked her face in her compact and added some powder to her flushed checks; this was too risky for words.

Tara came in a few minutes later and told her she could take her break next.

“Thanks, anything good at the cafeteria tonight?” she asked, wanting to sound completely casual.

“Nah...same old shit...Wow, Krissy! Your guy was just tachy a few minutes ago! Is he alright?”

Tachycardia (increased heart rate) Shit! That damned heart rate monitor!

Kristin's mind raced, and she felt her throat closing up, she had to think very fast, or Tara would be onto her in a flash.

“Shhhh...he's fine.” she began, coming in closer to whisper. “I'm pretty sure he was just jerking off in there...so we don't want to embarrass him, right?”

“Of course not,” Tara nodded. “Poor guy, that must be rough.”

“Must be,” she agreed. “So I'll see you after my break, everything's quiet up here.”

“Yep! See ya. Don't have the fish, it's awful!”

“Got it.”

Kristin walked to the cafeteria, sweating bullets and promising herself that this risky nonsense was over. She'd keep her hands to herself till he was no longer a patient if it killed her.

 

#########################

 

“Shouldn't I go? It's pretty late,” Michael said, coming up for air.

“You really want to go now?” she asked.

She was already on her bed in only her skirt and bra; she thought this would be it. They were supposed to wait a month, but she had condoms, and she'd been taking the pills every day since she got them.

“I don't want to go; I'm just nervous. What if your mom comes back?” he asked, looking down at her.

“She won't be back till at least 7 in the morning,” she answered, touching his face. He looked apprehensive, and she didn't know why exactly. They had been each other's first for everything, and they'd already done everything except have sex.

“What are you so afraid of, Mike?”

Gina was the only one who called him Mike and only when they were alone.

“I don't want it to be bad, OK?” he finally sighed, “I love you, and I don't want it to be terrible.”

“How could it possibly be bad if it's me and you? We're made for each other, Mike; you know that.”

He smiled and kissed her softly.

“I guess I thought if it's bad....you might want to find someone new at University.”

Gina raised her eyebrows at him, and he knew she was about to get serious.

“That is the stupidest thing you've ever said. I only want to do it in the first place because it's you. I love you, and it has nothing to do with sex. I've never done it either so who says I'll be any good anyway.”

“You'll be perfect,” he insisted, kissing her neck.

“And so will you...are we done talking here?” she asked, pulling his shirt over his head.

Michael knew this was it and finally, he wasn't scared, she wasn't going anywhere even if it wasn't all it could be. She'd still be his tomorrow, that's all he needed to know.

“Yeah, we're done talking here,” he smirked, suddenly looking for the zipper on her skirt as she giggled.

She went right for his belt and soon it was a tangle of clumsy limbs and fumbling...but it was perfect.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Nineteen

 

Kristin had a long night, and she couldn't wait to get home and unwind before being thrown back onto day shift. It was getting hard to know if she was coming or going anymore. Between the emotional high of workplace shenanigans with Daryl, the worry about Gina growing up and the constant shift changes, she was a mess.

 

It was 7:15 and she wanted her bed so bad it hurt. She turned onto her street and saw Michael's truck pass and the kid didn't even see her. He had no business on her street at that hour, and it didn't take much to hear the penny drop.

She opened the door and walked into the kitchen, and she just knew, it was in the air.

“Gina?” she called.

Gina walked out of her room, and it was all over her face.

“I just saw Michael's truck coming down our road.”

“Mom, I...we fell asleep after.”

“Just tell me you at least used protection, the pills aren't effective right away.”

“We did, we were safe.”

“Are you OK?”

“Yes...it was perfect.”

There it was, what could she say? Her first time had been in the back of a car with a boy who wasn't half as nice as Michael.

“Come here,” Kristin said, holding out her arms.

She hugged her for a long time, and they both knew things were a little different now, but the important things were still the same.

“Be careful with your body and your heart, and if anything ever goes wrong, I'll be right here.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, baby. You wanna get pizza and watch a movie tonight? I'm not even answering if work calls today.”

“Sounds perfect. I'll come right home after school.”

“Have a good day, my girl. I'm going to bed.”

 

She showered, crawled under the sheets and checked that her alarm was set for 3:30 when Gina would be off from school and read Daryl's latest text.

~ I'm changing floors so I guess I won't see you when you come back. I hope you don't regret last night. I didn't tell Merle or Andrea, so nobody will know about it but us.

~ I don't regret it, even though it was madness. I'll miss you on my floor, but you should be home in a week, and then we can tell everyone if you want to.

~ I'll tell anyone who'll listen as soon as you aren't risking your job. Going to bed?

~ yep! I'll be thinking of you. I'll stop in and see you tomorrow on your new floor. Text me your room number when you know it. XO

~ definitely. Can't wait! Xoxo

 

##########################

 

“It's never going to happen, Merle.”

They had just gotten home from visiting Daryl and passed four different couples with newborns on the way out of the hospital. It was starting to get painful for Andrea so see it and not feel envious.

“We just gotta keep trying,” Merle answered, but his heart wasn't in convincing her the way it used to be.

“You don't believe that, Merle, and neither do I.”

He sighed and pulled her into his arms.

“I'm sorry...”

Andrea didn't say anything; she had just come to the realization that it was pointless. Five years had passed, and they were no closer to starting a family.

“Maybe the adoption people will call still,” Merle added.

“Maybe...they actually...never mind.”

“We'll do whatever you want, babe. I just wanna see you smiling.”

“I know. I just need to get used to the idea that it won't happen. I'm sick of the shots and the charts and taking my temperature. I just want to have sex with you.”

“Now?” he asked, with a grin.

“Now, and I'm not writing it down anymore. We're gonna fuck and then go to sleep and not think about babies anymore,” she said, standing up and pulling him by the hand toward the bedroom.

“This not making babies thing looks a lot like making babies,” he joked.

“I can't think about it anymore,” she groaned.

“Then don't, just think of what I'm gonna do to you,” he growled, laying her down on the bed.

 

#######################

 

“Hi, I was just hoping you could help me. I'm just looking for my fiance, he was in ICU, but it looks like they moved him to another ward.”

“Name?”

“Daryl Dixon.”

“Second floor, bed 7.”

“Thanks so much.”

 

#######################

 

Morning came, and Kristin woke up, still exhausted. She and Gina had stayed up till almost 11 watching a movie and having some girl talk.

She knew Gina was going to be OK and that Michael was a good man who could be trusted as much as any eighteen year old.

She arrived at work, knowing Daryl wouldn't be there. His bed was empty, and she'd never see that room the same way after what they'd done.

ICU was a little busier, and it was good because it kept her mind busy. She talked to admin about all the random grave shifts, and they said they'd do their best not to mess with her schedule anymore. She was happy to hear it because she felt only barely human after all the sleep disturbances.

She got to know the families of some new patients and kept on going, but she thought of him every time she passed his old room.

Kristin couldn't help stopping by to see him on her break; she had to see his smile and make sure he was OK.

“Hey,” she said, walking in with a donut and coffee.

“I was hoping I'd see you,” he said, with the smile she was looking for.

“How are you feeling?

She sat down on his bed, and he talked about his PT and the neurologist he would be seeing when he got out. He looked better every day, and she couldn't wait to hear when he'd be leaving so they could finally be alone.

Daryl couldn't resist holding her hand, and nobody else was in the room, so she let it happen.

“I'm getting my stitches out later today. They itch like hell.”

“Yeah, they do that,” she laughed.

“So, is your daughter going to be OK with you seeing me?” he asked, playing with her fingers. “I never dated anyone with a kid before.”

“She's not much of a kid anymore; she'll be leaving for university in the fall. She'll be absolutely fine with it, I've dated a little since her dad left and it's never been a problem.”

“That's good. I hope you let me meet her sometime soon.”

“I will. I just can't wait till you're home and then I can actually kiss you.”

“Me too, you have no idea.”

He looked around and grinned at her; she could tell he was checking if the coast was clear.

She leaned in and gave him the world's fastest peck kiss on the lips and then they heard the sound of a throat clearing behind them. Daryl looked at the door, and his face dropped.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

Meredith grinned and crossed her arms, just looking at them sitting so close.

“What's this?” she asked.

“Nothing, I was just checking on him,” Kristin answered, starting to shake.

“I thought you worked on ICU,” Meredith asked, her eyebrows raised high on her forehead.

Daryl wanted to tell her to get the hell out, but she had clearly seen them kiss and she was the vindictive type, that much he knew.

“Alright, Meredith. What do you want?” he asked.

“I just want to talk, if you aren't too busy playing nurse.”

Kristin could hardly breathe, and her hands were starting to quiver.

“I'm going,” she said, standing up and looking down at him. She could see it now, being hauled into a meeting with hospital admin for messing with a patient. She didn't need this mess.

“Wait, Kristin...” he called as she reached the door.

“I really have to go, Daryl. I'm sorry.”

Kristin left the room and headed straight for the elevator to get back to her own floor, wondering how she could have put herself in such a position.

 

Not long after getting back to her floor she got a message from him, and she hoped it was good news.

 

 

~ she's gone, Kristin. I'm so sorry

~ what am I supposed to do? Is she going to try to get me fired or something?

~ I'll take care of it, don't worry.

~ how?

~ I promise everything will be fine.

~ OK but I'm scared, Daryl. I need my job.

~ I know, everything will be ok

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty

 

 

“Merle, I need your help. I can't even think straight these days, and now I got a real problem.”

Merle sensed the panic, and it was new, Daryl was always fairly calm.

“What's up?”

“It's kind of a long story already, but me and that nurse, Kristin? We kinda started something.”

“Well well, little brother! I thought I saw your eyes on her. Can I call it or what? So what's the problem?”

“Meredith came to the new floor I'm on and saw us together.”

“You weren't nailing her in the hospital, were you?”

“No, Merle, Jesus! She just kissed me. Meredith basically said if I don't give us another shot she'll tell the hospital about Kristin and me. This kind of thing could get her fired, and I really like her.”

“Already?” Merle asked, a little confused by the whole thing.

“Yeah...I guess when someone is so close and taking care of you the way she did with me it's easy to fall fast. She's different...I can't let this happen to her.”

“Damn, this is serious.”

“I can't get her into trouble, Merle, I'd never forgive myself. What am I supposed to do?”

“Gimme an hour to get ready and think. I'll be up to see you in a bit, OK? Can I ask Andrea for ideas? She's a smart cookie.”

“Go ahead, whatever you gotta do. See you soon.”

 

#######################

 

“We got drama with Daryl,” Merle sighed, hoping Andrea would have some solutions.

Merle had no idea how Daryl had managed to pull a woman in the hospital while he looked all beat up and was spending all day in a dress with no back. That nurse was sweeter than he thought.

“What's the problem? Is he OK?”

“Yes, but he went and started something with Kristin and Meredith caught them together. She's threatening to get her in trouble or fired or something if Daryl won't give them another shot.”

“Why? She dumped him for Christ sake!”

“How much you wanna bet her boss won't leave his wife? It's not panning out like she planned, is my guess.”

“I gotta think for a minute.”

“Uh oh, this is dangerous,” Merle laughed.

10 minutes later she put down her coffee cup abruptly, said she had to make a phone call, and left the room. She slammed the bedroom door, and Merle knew something was going down, but figured it was best to leave her to it.

 

########################

 

“Hi there, can I speak with Meredith, please?”

 

“Hello?”

“Hi, Meredith, it's Andrea.”

“Hi? What do you want?”

“I'm just calling to see if everything's OK with you. Merle doesn't know I'm calling you. I know everything has been crazy lately and I was kinda wondering if you and Daryl were going to patch things up, he mentioned you came by.”

“We might be, except for that damn nurse.”

“Don't even worry about her, he did bump his head, right?”

Meredith laughed, and Andrea grinned, she was in.

Andrea liked Kristin more already than she ever liked Meredith, but she had to play the game.

“I do want Daryl back, he's a better guy than I ever thought and Jerry is an asshole. He said he'd leave his wife, but it was all a smokescreen.”

“Daryl's special, that's for sure. So you're still working there even though he's an asshole? That must be a bitch.”

“I'm not leaving if I can help it. This job pays too well, and I've been here forever, I have awesome seniority. I have five years more than the next paralegal below me. Also, I want him to have to see my face every day.”

“You're stronger than me; I would have killed him for leading me on like that.”

“I almost did, but then he pulled boss man with me and said I should calm down. Can you believe that?”

“Ugh! What an asshole! Well, I hope things work out with Daryl again, you two were perfect together.”

“I know, right? This is just a hiccup; he'll get over it in time, won't he?”

“Oh definitely.”

“Sorry, I better get back to work here but call me later.”

“Sure thing. Bye.”

Andrea hung up the phone and smirked. She had what she needed, information. She came out of the bedroom and just looked at Merle who was obviously confused.

“Well?” he asked, impatiently.

“No problem. Here's what you do...”

 

#########################

 

Kristin couldn't focus and only just made it through her work day; she didn't even dare communicate with Daryl again until after work. She felt like people were looking over her shoulder at her phone, it was plain old paranoia.

She got home from work and paced the floor, telling herself he'd be out soon and then what Meredith said wouldn't matter but until then it was scary as hell. Worse yet she couldn't tell Gina anything about it, it had been a silly thing to do, but it was hard to regret touching him.

Kristin was well liked and respected at work and the last thing she wanted after so many years at the same hospital what to be seen this way.

It was hard to focus on anything, and when Gina walked through the door she knew she'd seem off and distant, but she was waiting to hear Daryl's brilliant plan to fix it.

 

##############################

 

Merle was filled in on Andrea's plan, and it was simple but brilliant. A basic tit for tat routine but he still didn't want to be the one to confront her. Andrea insisted if she had to face her it would end badly, so he agreed to be the one to do it.

Merle waited in his car for Meredith to leave her office and he had to take a slow deep breath before approaching her. He walked across the street toward her as she was leaving with a group of work friends and stopped dead in her tracks the moment she saw his face.

“Merle, what do you want?”

“We have to talk.”

“Well, I don't have anything to say to you. This is between Daryl and me,” she answered, breaking away from the group she had been chatting with.

“No. There ain't nothing between you and him anymore.”

“Why don't you let him make his own decisions? He's a big boy now.”

“You think blackmailing him is letting him make his own decisions? Since you like to screw with people, I had my own proposition for you.”

“I'm not interested,” she said, rolling her eyes and walking away.

“I think you will be, cause there will be consequences for you if you don't leave Daryl and Kristin alone.”

“Are you threatening me?” she grinned.

“You want to keep your job right?”

“My job is just fine.”

“What if I told your bosses wife about the two of you? You think he'd keep you on then?”

“That's just your word against his, Merle, but nice try.”

She turned to walk away, and he smiled.

“We have the voice mail.”

She stopped then and didn't move.

“Just leave it alone now, Meredith. He's been through enough.”

“What if he wants what we had back? He doesn't even know that nurse,” she argued.

“It's over, you threw it away, and it's over. You mess with either of them, and I'll tell Jerry's wife. Don't think that I wouldn't do it.”

She shook her head, but he knew she saw the writing on the wall.

“You win, Merle, but he'll want me back. You just watch.”

“Anything's possible, but I doubt it.”

 

###########################

 

“You owe Andrea a nice dinner when you get out of here.”

“I do? What happened?”

Merle came and sat next to his bed and handed him the cold beer he had hidden in his coat pocket.

“Hey! You'll get me in shit.”

“Shhhh,” Merle insisted, opening it and pouring it into the plastic cup that came with the hospital water jug. “Shut up and drink it. Andrea solved your little problem.”

“Seriously? How?”

Merle told the story of how it all went down, and Daryl grinned as he drank the contraband beer.

“I'll buy her dinner anywhere she wants for this. I gotta let Kristin know; she's been losing it.”

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-One

 

Kristin was surprised to get an actual phone call from Daryl and even more surprised by the news.

“Andrea and Merle took care of it; it's gonna be OK now,” Daryl informed her in a giddy voice. “Also the doctor said I'll be out by the end of the week but I'm gonna need home care for a bit.”

“Wait...just a minute slow down, Daryl. How did they just fix it?”

He explained what happened and she sat, grinning on her bed like a Cheshire cat. It was really going to be OK.

Suddenly all she could think of was getting her hands on him again.

 

 

##################################

 

The week moved painfully slow but soon it was the night before his release, and she finally had to come clean with Gina.

“So....I met someone.”

“Really? That's great, where'd you meet him?”

“At work.”

“Another nurse or a doctor?” she asked.

“A former patient.”

“Is that allowed?”

“Well, he's not a patient anymore technically...he's actually the man I was talking about from the motorcycle accident.

“The cute one with fiance issues?”

“Honey, this is not something I ever would have walked into if he wasn't really special and different. His fiance left him and we...just hit it off.”

“Mom, I'm not judging you. It's good; you haven't dated in a while. I'm happy for you. Can you finally tell me his name now?”

 

Kristin filled her in on all the details, after putting it off all week. She was supposed to be joining Merle and Andrea to help him get home and settled the next night. Gina would be at a sleepover at her girlfriend's house, and Kristin definitely planned to spend the night with him. It was a little delicate, but Gina was old enough to know she would want an adult relationship, her dad was already remarried and had been for years. The beauty of maintaining such a close relationship was that Gina trusted her and knew that she'd always come first no matter what.

 

#######################################

 

The next evening after work Kristin couldn't get ready fast enough and jumped in the shower the minute she got home, she was bursting with excitement. It was Friday night, and she booked the next day off work just to have some extra time with him.

As she was drying off and getting dressed, she chatted over speakerphone with him, and she couldn't help feeling like a teenager, rummaging through her closet for just the right thing to wear.

She settled on a wine red sleeveless shirt and a pair of black dress pants. She wanted to look nothing like the overworked nurse he was used to.

“So you're meeting us at my place? I texted you the address, right?” Daryl asked.

“I'll be right there. I still can't believe we can finally be in the same room without worrying.”

“Yeah, I can't wait to get you alone, but Merle and Andrea will be here for a bit.”

“I've waited this long,” she laughed. “I can wait a little longer.”

“Hope it's worth the wait for ya, I'm still pretty beat up.”

“You might have to let me take over then,” she answered.

“Damn...sounds good to me!”

“See you in a bit then.”

“Yeah, see ya!”

Kristin hung up the phone with a cheeky grin, imagining being able to touch him with impunity.

 

“I'm leaving now, Mom. Have fun bringing your patient home,” Gina giggled.

“Stop!” Kristin laughed. “I booked tomorrow off. When will you be home?”

“Not until noon at least...so no hurry to be home early in the morning.”

“Hey!” Kristin huffed, pushing her into the wall playfully.

“Come on now, tell me I'm wrong.”

“Get out, little girl! I'll see you when you get home. Be safe.”

“I will be, we're just watching movies and studying for finals.”

Kristin hugged and kissed her goodbye and threw a few things in an overnight bag. She felt nervous. Would everything be the same now that he was home?

 

She got in her car and followed the directions to his apartment and saw Merle's car out front. She walked up the steps to the second level and followed the numbers to his door.

 

“Hey, you! Get in here!” Merle bellowed, pulling her inside moments after knocking.

“Kristin! Hey!” Andrea smiled, hugging her.

It felt so strange to be in his home, and she couldn't see Daryl anywhere. Kristin sat and made small talk, waiting for him to appear, until

they told her Daryl was getting changed in his bedroom and insisted she go and say hi cause he couldn't wait to see her.

“Ain't nothing you haven't seen anyway, right?” Merle laughed.

“Merle, hush your mouth,” Andrea smirked.

“Yes, Ma'am.”

 

Kristin made her way down the dark hall and felt the butterflies start to swarm inside her. She knocked softly and opened the door.

“Hey.”

He looked up from where he was sat on the edge of the bed and smiled at her. He was in only a pair of track pants, and he looked as good as ever but a little tired.

“Come here. God, I missed you.”

They had kept their distance since the Meredith incident and decided not to tempt fate, seeing him now felt long awaited.

She walked over to stand in front of him, and he took her around the waist in a possessive embrace, with one arm and one cast. She held onto his head, careful not to touch the areas where he'd been injured or where the stitches had been. She kissed the top of his head, and it hit her how much she felt for him already, it was inexplicable.

She found him a clean shirt, and they met Merle and Andrea out in the living room.

Merle was sat with his arm around Andrea, drinking a beer.

“I still have to do a lot of rehabilitation before I can get back to work,” Daryl mused.

“Don't even think of it. I took on that part-timer full time, and everything is covered. Don't come back until you're ready, take your time,” Merle insisted.

Kristin already felt so comfortable in the group and being around Merle and Andrea was always nice, they were obviously very much in love.

“You pulled off a miracle saving my job, thanks, Andrea,” she said. Kristin still hadn't had a chance to thank her for her quick thinking.

“It was nothing; I'm just glad it's worked out for you two.”

Daryl smiled at her, and she smiled right back, her cheeks feeling warm.

She had a glass of wine and explained some of his home care and rehab orders that were written out by the doctor.

The visit was pleasant, but in no time Merle and Andrea took their leave.

“He's in safe hands with you,” Merle grinned.

“I won't let any harm come to him,” she nodded.

“I bet!”

“Merle, hush,” Andrea scolded.

“Yes, Ma'am. See you two later,” he said, waving on his way out the door.

 

When they were finally alone, it felt completely new and instantly exciting.

“So....what do you want to do?” he asked, as he used a pencil to scratch inside his cast.

“What do you want to do?” she asked right back.

“I wanna take you to my bed,” he answered plainly.

She wanted the same thing, but she wanted him to say it first. She followed him down the hall to his room, and he left the light off, there was no question what was going on between them.

Daryl sat down on the edge of the bed and reached for her.

“There are so many things I wanna do with you, but I don't know how good any of it will be,” he chuckled.

“I just want to be with you; everything else will work itself out.”

He lay down on the bed and held his hand out to her, so she lay down next to him and wrapped her arm around his waist. Cuddling with a man in a cast was tricky, but they figured it out.

“Are you really happy with everything?” she asked.

Her face was pressed against his chest, and she listened to his heart beating against her ear instead of through her stethoscope.

“Of course, why do you ask?”

“For a while there I thought maybe you'd be going back to her like maybe the accident just threw you off.”

“You're the one I want to be with; I know that,” he insisted.

She raised up on her elbow and looked down at him. He was gorgeous, and she couldn't wait another minute to kiss him.

She moved close slowly and took his bottom lip between hers in a soft, wet kiss.

He reached up with his right hand and touched her face as she felt his tongue move against hers and the moment caught fire.

The room was dim, with only a sliver of light coming in from the living room down the hall. She rolled halfway onto him with his thigh between hers.

Daryl let out a low moan, and his hand slid south to her waist and gripped her shirt.

“I swear I'm hard as fuck already,” he sighed into her neck. “I don't even know what I can do for you in the shape I'm in though.”

“Are you still up for this if I do most of the work?”

“Hell yeah, but that ain't really fair.”

“Shhh....it's OK,” she whispered.

She kissed his throat and trailed her way to his ear and licked with just the tip of her tongue allowing the hot breath to tease his senses.

“Jesus,” he breathed.

Kristin pulled her leg over both of his then and continued to kiss him as she ground her body gently against his hardness. She could feel his dick beneath her, and she was teasing herself as much as him. Her panties were getting moist with need already, but she planned to work him over nice and slow if it killed her. She couldn't stop thinking of jerking him off in the hospital, the way he felt in her hand. He had been so hard and hot and anxious for it, and now, with no roadblocks, the desire was intense.

“If anything hurts don't hesitate to tell me,” she insisted, looking down at him.

“This definitely doesn't hurt,” he groaned.

She gently took off his shirt, taking the time to get it around his cast, then kissed down his strong chest.

“Take off your shirt too,” he begged.

She sat back on his hard dick through his pants and pulled her shirt over her head, and his eyes went wider in the dim light. He still hadn't seen any of her body until this moment, and he looked excited.

“Fuuuuck....”

“You like that?” she asked, as his eyes poured over her best devil red push up bra.

“I love it!” he grinned, reaching up and cupping her breasts on top of the lace. She indulged him for a while in just playing with her breasts and kissing her neck before sitting up again to pour kerosene on the flames.

“What about this?”

She moved her hands between her breasts and undid the bra, opening it before his eyes. Front closing bras were her favorite just for that one move, which she hadn't used in years.

“Fuuuuuck me,” he gasped. “Come down here to me, lemme taste.”

She tossed her bra on his bedroom floor and leaned down to kiss his lips a few times as he touched her. Soon he moved his attention to her chest and took her right nipple into his mouth and sucked softly. His hot tongue drifting over her skin and a desperate moan escaped her lips.

He rolled her onto her side a little and started fighting with the button on her pants.

“Damn it,” he hissed.

Everything was hard for him to pull off one handed, so she helped him and before she knew it his fingers were teasing her through her underwear.

She could tell he knew just what he was doing and, when he was firing on all cylinders, she had a feeling he'd be big trouble.

He moved from one breast to the other as he kept pushing the limits of her fortitude with his hand down her pants.

“I wanna see you....take it all off,” he pleaded.

She climbed off of him and stood next to the bed, pushing her pants down her legs and then her red panties.

She looked up and caught the lust in his stare, he wanted it, and that was absolutely clear.

Before long she was pulling his track pants down his legs and then his boxers.

“I wish I could do this justice for you, but I can't do much.”

“It's going to be fine, Daryl, don't worry.”

“I still want you to enjoy this; I mean as much as you can with me like this.”

“All I want is to be with you. I'll enjoy it, trust me.”

She figured the best way to get his mind off of performance anxiety was by distracting him with a little attention south of the border. She knelt down next to him and touched him as he closed his eyes. She teased his dick with her mouth, running her tongue up and down his length.

“Come over this way so I can touch you,” he said, pulling her hips toward the head of the bed.

She moved closer to his reaching hand and continued to suck him off slow and wet. Her breath caught in her throat at the sensation of his fingers moving slow and soft over her lips and clit; she needed it so bad now she was getting achy. His touch was insistent and skilled, and she was finding it hard to concentrate on giving a half decent blowjob very quickly.

His breathing had become heavier, and he was getting to the same point of no return that she was.

“Ride me, Kristin....please. I gotta be inside you,” he pressed in a low, insistent growl.

She grinned and asked where he kept condoms.

“Top drawer,” he pointed to his dresser.

Men always seemed to keep rubbers in their sock drawers, she noted.

“This isn't too romantic, but I'm hurtin' for you something fierce.”

“Trust me, I'm right there with you,” she concurred.

She grabbed one rolled it on for him cause he'd never manage it one handed. His dick was thick, and she'd been thinking of getting to this point for, what felt like ages.

Finally, it was on, and he motioned for her to get on top.

“Come on, you,” he smirked.

He was surprisingly cocky, for a man so unable to do anything, but she loved it. Sex should be fun, she always thought, and with a dick like his, he deserved to be a little cocky.

She threw her leg over his hip and slid her wetness slowly over him a few time allowing the tension to rise even higher.

“Please,” he whispered.

He was in need, and she couldn't wait to give him everything he needed.

She kissed him and looked into his eyes as she settled down over his hard dick. He was bigger than anyone she'd been with, wider at least, and she moved cautiously at first.

“You alright?” he asked, sensing the hesitation.

“Just taking it slow, you're....big.”

“Sorry.”

Finally, she took it all, and she moaned at the feeling of him inside her, her eyes rolling into her head.

“Mmmm....don't you dare say sorry for this,” she hissed.

When she began to move it was like nothing she'd ever felt. The sensation spread throughout her entire body and took her breath away. She rocked her hips in a nice, moderate rhythm and he pulled her mouth to his, kissing her hard.

She could tell that he felt it too, the intensity was mutual and just like heaven.

“Sit back just a little,” he panted.

She leaned back, and his hand moved between their bodies.

The tips of his fingers teased her clit as she rode him and she whimpered. He did it just right, hard enough she could feel it but not so rough it felt too sensitive. He knew what she needed somehow and exactly how she needed it.

She sat up tall on his dick and felt it so deep as his finger kept up the heat on her most sensitive spot. She raised her right knee and rested her foot on the mattress right next to his hip, and he groaned in approval. The 'one knee/one-foot' position was almost too much with him; she'd never felt it so deep.

“Fuck yeah....open your leg a little bit more...” he begged.

She obliged him, and he could see her whole body, as well as himself, moving in and out of her. The sight almost killed him.

“Jesus Christ almighty!” he cried out, he was inches away.

She felt it too, boiling up from deep within, and then it came crashing down like a waterfall all over her.

She moved back onto both her knees again and leaned down to kiss his lips as she came undone on him.

Her body, reaching its peak, set off the chain reaction and he came just after.

“Fuck! Kristin! Jesus! Fuck!” he gasped and groaned as he tried his best to meet her thrust for thrust.

“Mmmm....Daryl......Oh, God...” she whined, rolling her lips to take him as deep as she could until it all subsided.

She collapsed, panting and sweating right next to him and neither of them could speak. Something more than sex had just happened between them and they both knew it.

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Two

 

Falling asleep with no set time to wake up was heaven. Sleeping in was not her specialty though, and her eyes opened at 7am even though she wanted to sleep in.

Daryl's arm was laying over her waist, and she could feel his breath on her back. A Saturday morning in bed with a gorgeous man and nowhere to be for a few hours was something she could get used to.

She turned in his arms, eager to see his face and he was awake too.

“You're a great sight to wake up to,” he smiled, kissing her.

“You too. Very nice.”

“Feels good to be in my own bed,” he yawned.

“Definitely better than a hospital bed,” she agreed.

“Can you stay a while?”

“My daughter won't be home until noon, so I have a little while.”

Daryl rolled onto his back a little and looked up at the ceiling.

“What is it? You look all deep in thought.”

“Do I look too mangled to meet her?”

“You really want to?”

“Yeah...too soon? Like I said, I never dated anyone with a child before. Is this the kind of thing that should happen later..or?”

“No, today is fine. I think that's awesome actually. Did you want me to bring her here though, so you don't have to leave the house?”

“If you don't mind.”

“No, it's fine.”

Kristin was blown away by a man wanting to meet Gina so soon. None of the very few men she dated were ever eager to take that step.

“I don't really have any food in my fridge, are you hungry?” he asked, kissing her bare shoulder and sliding his hand under the quilt to touch her leg.

“I'm not too hungry but if you want I could run to the coffee place at the end of the block.”

“You shouldn't have to be doing for me; I should be doing things for you.”

“Don't be silly. The only way you'll get back to your old self is by taking it easy. You heard what Merle said, take your time.”

“Alright, alright but I'm making it up to you when I'm better. I wanna take you to my cabin for a whole week. We can fish and swim, and I can hunt for you. You should bring Gina too, does she like the woods?”

He got sexier and sexier the more he spoke. He wanted, not only to meet Gina but to spend time with them both and go places together.

She grinned and shook her head.

“Am I coming on too strong?” he asked, looking concerned. “Meredith was always telling me I'm too clingy.”

“No, not at all. I love that you want to get to know her. Everything you're saying is just so surprising, that's all. Gina's very important to me, and it's a rare thing to meet a man who gets that.”

“That's just how it should be. Do you think she'll like me?”

“Definitely, and also I want you to try to forget about everything Meredith ever told you.” she answered, kissing him and curling up under his good arm.

“I'll try,” he said, pulling her closer.

After a full hour of cuddling and chatting, she got dressed and left to get some breakfast. She walked to the end of his street and bought coffee, muffins, and juice. It was a quiet neighborhood, so she sat for a moment to text Gina on the bench out front.

~ Hey, honey! How would you feel about meeting Daryl today? He asked about is this morning.

~ Seriously? He wants to meet me? That's new

~ I know, he asked if you'd think he was too mangled looking after the accident and if I thought you'd like him. He's really sweet.

~ I'm not home yet, but I'll be home by noon then I'd love to meet him

~ he's still hurting and gets tired easy so do you mind if I bring you to his house?

~ this guy is different, isn't he?

~ he really is

~ that's awesome. See ya at noon then?

~ perfect, thanks, honey. Love you

 

She walked back to his house, and he was trying to load the dishwasher.

“Sit down, you.”

“I gotta be able to do something,” he protested.

“You can sit and drink your coffee,” she insisted.

Daryl got a call then from Merle and chatted for a minute as Kristin listened to only Daryl's side of the conversation.

 

“What's up?....yeah....pretty good.....shut up!....oh....is she all down again?....you still might get a call though, you never know......yeah, she's still here.....alright....talk to ya later.”

 

He hung up and smiled at her again.

“Do you have a brother or sister?” he asked.

“Only child.”

“You're lucky! Nah, just kidding. Merle's pretty great.”

“Is Andrea OK?” Kristin asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“I just heard you on the phone, sorry. Is she the one who's down?”

“Oh! That. She gets down every so often about not being able to have a baby, they both do,” he explained.

“That's so sad.”

“They've been trying for years now, they even got pregnant twice, but they ended in miscarriage. It sounds like they're giving up now.”

“Maybe they can adopt,” she mused, taking a sip of her coffee.

“They filled out all the paperwork and did the home study thing but still haven't heard anything.”

“That's a shame.”

“Yeah, they've both wanted to be parents for so long.”

“They are the cutest couple; I could sense it right away in the hospital how much they love each other.”

“That's how I knew things weren't quite right with Meredith, she never treated me like Andrea treats Merle. It's like I annoyed her just by being there...God! I'm so sorry. I shouldn't even bring her up, that's really rude of me.”

“Daryl, it's OK. It happened so recently, and you need to work through it. It's probably really healthy to think about what didn't work and why, that's how you figure out what you do want,” she smiled.

“I want you; I feel amazing when I'm with you.”

He had a way of saying things that cut right through the bullshit and got right to her heart. She leaned across the table and kissed him slowly, savoring it.

 

Kristin left at 11am to go home and meet Gina. By the time Gina walk through the door she felt anxious at bringing the two worlds together, she really wanted it to work. She had been alone for a long time and now that she found someone like Daryl she wanted all the pieces to fit.

“How was your night?” Gina asked with a smirk.

“Stop it, you.....it was good.”

“So where does he live anyway?” Gina asked.

“In the south end, near that good coffee place. You ready to go?”

“I think so; he really wants to meet me?”

“Yes, it was all his idea.”

 

They got in the car and Gina tied up her dark brown hair in a loose bun and put on some music. Kristin had finally gotten her iPod back from Daryl, but he'd written down most of the music she had on it to put on his phone, now that Andrea had let him have it back.

 

Daryl still got headaches and would have a home care aide coming every day to help him with things he couldn't manage and to check up on him. His balance could still be questionable, and he occasionally couldn't find words, but it was getting a little better all the time.

He stood in the bathroom, waiting for Kristin to come back, and looked at his face. He needed to shave, but he only had his right hand. Everything took longer now, just changing into a nicer shirt took him almost five minutes.

Daryl cut his face under his chin trying to shave with the wrong hand and cursed himself.

“Great! You made yourself look worse, congratulations!” he uttered, staring at his reflection. He wanted to meet Gina, but he was wondering now if he should have waited. He didn't look very impressive, and he wasn't even able to get around that well. When he was done he paced a little till he got dizzy and then decided just to sit and wait before he fell down. What were girls this age like anyway? It had been years since he talked to a girl who was almost eighteen, he'd been that age himself very likely.

He heard them knock at the door and he sighed heavily and hobbled to the door.

“Hi!” he said, sounding over enthusiastic due to nerves.

“Hey,” said Kristin, “this is my daughter, Gina.”

What do I do? I don't shake her hand, do I?

He leaned in and hugged her awkwardly.

“Hi, Gina...uh...it's nice to meet you.”

Kristin was proud to have raised an understanding girl when Gina hugged him back and acted like it wasn't weird as hell.

“Nice to meet you too?” Gina said in a surprised but sweet voice. “How are you feeling?”

He backed up and looked at Kristin as if to say Did I fuck this up already?

“I'm still pretty messed up, but your mom's a great nurse, so I'll be OK,” he answered. “Come in.”

He moved out of the doorway and Gina walked in and took off her coat. Kristin stopped next to him, and he shrugged his shoulders.

“You did just fine, stop worrying,” she whispered.

They got acquainted, and Gina started talking about university in the fall and Michael, the way she always did.

“What are you going to be taking?” he asked.

“Journalism. I applied for an internship at the local newspaper, but I'm still waiting to hear back.”

“That's impressive. I was never good at writing anything in school,” he laughed.

Gina liked him already, there was something very disarming about him, and he was obviously trying very hard.

“It's Gina's birthday on Monday,” Kristin said, looking at her fondly.

“And mom's on Wednesday,” Gina added.

“That's cool; they're so close. So do you celebrate them together?” he asked.

“Yep! Have to make it a good one this year since she might not be home next year for her birthday. We go to Gina's favorite restaurant; it's a tradition.”

“Well, I hope you have fun,” he smiled.

He found himself not knowing what to say at times. He wanted to make a good impression and show her that he wanted to get to know her, but he kept hearing Meredith in his head telling him he was like a puppy dog chasing after people too much.

“You should come too,” Gina spoke up, cutting through his thoughts.

“Me?” he asked.

“Of course. You're with mom, and it's her birthday,” she insisted.

“Sure, yeah...I'd love to.”

Kristin couldn't get enough of how adorable the interaction was. Gina kept the conversation going and overlooked all his attempts to find the right word. Kristin had never been so proud. Raising a kind daughter was what she always intended to do, the fact that she was smart and funny as well was just icing on the cake.

The first visit couldn't have gone better, and Kristin breathed a huge sigh of relief.

After an hour or so she decided to head home with Gina when his home care arrived. He ended up getting a male home care helper, and he seemed happy about that, his name was Phillip, and he looked about 50.

Gina went down to the car first so they could say goodbye and Daryl gave her another awkward hug before she left.

“Is that stupid?” he asked her, “I didn't know what the hell to do. I was gonna shake her hand, but that seemed even more stupid.”

“It was fine, relax. She's not the kind of girl to be judgmental of things like that. I think she likes you just fine.”

“Yeah? Whew! I was sweating bullets. So....maybe I'll see you tomorrow after work?” he asked, hopefully.

“Definitely. I'll call you tonight.”

She took his face in her hands and kissed him sweetly, while the home care aide waited.

“Nice to meet you, Phillip,” she called, before leaving.

When she got to the car, she looked right at Gina with questions all over her face.

“He's really sweet, Mom, just like you said.”

“He didn't know what to do. He was going to shake your hand, but then he second-guessed it,” Kristin explained.

“I could tell he was feeling awkward as hell, don't worry about it. He was trying, and that's all I care about.”

“You're the best, Gina.”

“Yeah...I know,” she laughed.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Three

 

It was a peaceful Sunday morning for Merle and Andrea. Life was calmer the moment they decided just to live and let the chips fall where they may. They had time now to sit and read the paper and chat. Andrea didn't have a thermometer next to the bed anymore to take her temperature the second she woke up and all sex was undocumented and much more frequent.

She had her legs draped over his lap and was sipping tea in her bathrobe. Life was sweeter than it had been in ages.

With Daryl out of hospital and dating a nurse, his immediate needs were met. It was perfect for a moment, and they needed it after all the stress.

“So he met her kid already?” Merle asked.

“Yesterday afternoon, he said he wanted to. I think it's really great. I thought what happened with Meredith might have scared him off of relationships for a while.”

“Huh! Hope it works out for him, he kinda jumped in fast.”

“True, but she seems really good for him,” Andrea noted.

Merle was hard at work without Daryl around their office, but he was managing and taking babies off the table for a bit was a relief. They got to have sex again just cause it was fun and that was the only goal, it was nice.

They left it in the hands of fate and just lived for the first time in years without thinking of a family; it was like a honeymoon.

A phone call broke the peace and Andrea picked it up despite Merle telling her to leave it.

“I can't leave it; it's Daryl. Hello?”

“Hey, Andrea. Can you do me a favor, please?”

“Anything, what do you need?”

“I need you to take me shopping.”

“Groceries?”

“Oh yeah, groceries!...and I need to buy some birthday presents. I got a party to go to tomorrow night.”

“With Kristin?” she asked.

“Yeah, it's her daughter's birthday, and hers is on Wednesday,” he explained.

“I'll be right over, OK?”

“Thanks a lot. I might be slow getting around just to warn you,” he laughed.

“There's no hurry, Daryl. See you soon.”

Daryl muddled his way around his apartment with the help of Phillip, and he was feeling just inches better as time went on.

He wanted so badly to be the man he was before the accident, but he'd have to be patient. All he really wanted to do was lift Kristin up into his arms and press her against his bedroom wall, but it would have to wait for when he was able. He wanted to have the energy to take care of his own house, go back to work and make love to his new girlfriend but he still felt like a very old man.

Andrea showed up, and Phillip left for the day. Daryl made it down the stairs to her car and sat in the passenger seat.

“Thanks a lot,” he said, looking out the window at where he used to park his bike. He'd be getting a new vehicle with the insurance money, but he'd miss the bike, it had been Merle's.

“No problem. So is the mall OK?”

“Yeah, I should be able to find something. I have no idea what I'm looking for yet,” he laughed.

She drove him to the biggest mall in the city, and they walked around for as long as he could bear it before he finally settled on something for Gina. It was really hard to find something for a girl he barely knew, but he refused to show up at her birthday party without a gift. He picked a laptop case for her since she was going away to university and would probably be taking her computer around with her to classes. He didn't really know if she'd like it or if she already had one, but he kept the receipt so she could take it back if it didn't work.

Andrea said it was very practical and she'd love it.

“You getting tired?” she asked.

“Yeah, but I gotta find something for Kristin.”

“You're really into her, aren't you?” she asked, with a wide grin.

“She makes it all better. I felt like nothing when Meredith dumped me, but she made me forget all about it so easily. She treats me like you treat Merle, I always hoped I'd find someone like that.”

Andrea couldn't like Daryl more if she tried.

“So, what are we getting your special lady then?”

He looked up from the bench where they were taking a rest and pointed to a window straight in front of them.

“What about that?” he asked.

“Wow! This is serious,” she exclaimed.

“I hope so. If it's just me feeling like this then I'm in big trouble,” he sighed.

“I think it's perfect, Daryl.”

She drove him home and helped him wrap up what he'd bought. He couldn't sign the cards with his dominant hand in the cast, so she did it for him.

“I'm going to go buy you some groceries; you're in no shape to be walking around anymore today.”

“No, I can't let you-”

“Yes, you can. I'll see you in a bit.”

 

#################################

 

Kristin left work and stopped at the store before coming home to check in with Gina. She was curled up on the couch with Michael, reading a book. They had finally settled on attending the same school and the end of the year was swiftly approaching.

“Hey, you two!” she said, dropping some grocery bags on the table.

“Hey, Mom. I'll get those.”

Gina walked into the kitchen and began unpacking the groceries.

“It was really nice of you to invite him to the party,” Kristin said, watching her put the milk in the fridge.

“He seems really nice, mom. He's kinda like Michael...awkward and sweet.”

Kristin laughed and started making supper. Work was about the same as ever, but now she had an extra reason to look forward to the end of the day. Talking to Daryl every night was something she loved now, she loved his voice. She had gotten stuck working late as usual, so they agreed to just meet up for the party the next night.

She spent the evening hanging out with Gina and Michael, watching TV, until she decided it was time to turn in and make her call.

“Goodnight, guys,” she yawned.

“Night, mom.”

“Goodnight,” Michael added. “I'll leave by-”

“I know, I know you'll leave by ten,” she laughed.

She crawled into bed, dialed his number and waited.

“Hello?”

She could hear him listening to one of the songs from her iPod in the background, and she smiled.

“You sound so tired, Daryl. Are you OK?” she asked.

“Yeah, I'm OK. I went to the mall with Andrea today and kinda wore myself out.”

“Why? That sounds like a lot for you right now.”

“I had to go shopping for you and Gina,” he explained.

“Oh no, Daryl. You didn't have to do that; we just wanted you to come.”

“I wanted to; it's your birthdays.”

“You're too sweet, but you need your rest, babe.”

It slipped without any thought attached to it, and she could hear him chuckle on the other end of the line.

“I like that,” he said in his sleepy voice.

“Good, cause it kinda slipped.”

He grinned, in his dark room all alone, thinking of her laying next to him.

“I really like it. I almost called you honey once in the hospital,” he admitted.

“You can call me anything you like.”

“Maybe I'll call you honey then...long as I can call you mine,” he added.

It felt like a teenage romance, powerful and new and all consuming.

“I love the sound of your voice...it makes me crazy to hear it when I'm all alone in my bed.”

“Jesus....I can't wait till I'm fit again. I wanna make love to you properly.”

“There was nothing wrong with it for me, it was incredible,” she insisted.

“You shouldn't have to do so much work though. I want to show you how I feel and not get sore or tired,” he laughed.

“I think I have an idea how you feel...hopefully, it's pretty close to how I feel.”

“If we're on the same page, feelings-wise, then this is gonna last cause I don't wanna let you go,” he said softly.

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Four

 

Kristin was just sitting down for her first coffee break when she had a brainwave. She picked up her phone and texted Andrea to see if she and Merle would like to come to the party. She loved being around a couple who genuinely loved each other; some couples were so obviously dialing it in and waiting for death but not them.

Andrea asked if she was sure and then accepted the invitation. The more, the merrier sounded perfect to Kristin, they didn't have a big social group and Gina's dad only ever made a phone call and sent a check for her birthday.

 

ICU was hopping, and she worked as hard as ever, but she was seriously considering cutting back her hours a little. Her home was modest, and Gina's university expenses were covered by a scholarship and her RESP so far. Kristin was just covering some of her living expenses when she moved, and Gina was getting a job to cover some of those as well once the summer began. The internship she ended up getting was only part time, so it allowed her to work as well.

Kristin wanted a little more time to take care of herself and finally have a bit of a social life.

The day sped by, and soon she found herself racing home to get ready. She was picking up Daryl at 6pm and wanted to look good when she did.

She hopped in the shower and shaved her legs, deep conditioned her hair and used her best smelling body wash.

She stood side by side with Gina later on, and they did their hair and makeup in the bathroom mirror. They shared all their favorite colors of eye shadow and hair accessories, Kristin would miss this.

“You're a grown up today! I can't believe it!”

“I know, tonight's gonna be great! I'm so glad you have someone new to share it with.”

“Me too. So you going out after with your friends?”

“Yeah, is that OK?”

“Of course, I figured you would be. Pretty soon you'll be going off to school, and you won't see the same group of friends anymore.”

“That's true...it's kinda scary. Michael is taking me there, are you picking up Daryl?”

“Yeah, he won't be driving for a while yet.”

 

#######################

 

Daryl asked Phillip for advice on what to wear to the party and went with his suggestions since he didn't know squat about clothes. He lived in jeans and his work shirt most of the time before the accident.

He had physiotherapy earlier in the day and had to take some pain meds to relieve the tension in his back, but he felt better now. Kristin would be over any minute to pick him up, and he tried not to let it bother him that he wasn't picking her up instead. Maybe it was just male silliness, but he wanted to be the one to take care of things, to take care of her. Someday soon he'd get to be that person, but until then it was still hard to let her do so much for him.

He put the presents in a bag and waited on his couch for her knock at the door and then suddenly there she was.

“Hi,” he said, leaning in to kiss her, there weren't words for how pretty she looked.

“Wow! Very nice,” she exclaimed. Apparently Phillip was right, and a golf shirt with dark jeans was good enough.

He stood back and looked her over with a grin. She had on a black dress and bare legs with sandals, and her red hair was up in a loose bun with a few clips in the shape of dragonflies. Daryl was already picturing taking out those clips and letting her hair fall all over her back. He wanted her dress on his floor and her on top of him.

“Wow...” He had nothing clever to say.

“You ready?” she asked.

“Yeah, I think so.”

 

He couldn't take his eyes off of her in the car, and he dared to touch her leg as she drove. She grinned but didn't take her eyes off the road.

“Is someone feeling cheeky tonight?” she asked, remaining focused on driving.

“Maybe....that dress is making me crazy,” he uttered, letting his hand move higher.

She took a slow breath, reveling in his warm hand creeping up her thigh.

Kristin took a long way and when she pulled up in the back of the restaurant, he leaned all the way in to kiss her. His tongue moved against hers, and his fingers trailed the rest of the way up her inner thigh to her silk panties.

She couldn't help moaning as he drew her closer with the teasing movement of his hand and the desperate rate of his breathing.

She could feel her body reacting already, and it was all she could do not to drag him into the back seat.

They both seemed to realize at the same moment that it had to stop before it got out of control.

“We better go, but are you are coming home with me?” she asked, her eyes focused on his.

“What about Gina?”

“She'll be out for the night. She's going to a party with her friends after this and staying at her girlfriend's house; she has no school tomorrow.”

“I'll go anywhere you take me then,” he winked.

Merle and Andrea pulled up, and they got out to meet them.

Soon everyone was in Gina's favorite restaurant, gathered around a huge table with Gina, Michael and a couple of her school friends.

The younger people ate and then started to play pool and chat amongst themselves.

“She looks just like you,” Merle noted, pointing at Gina across the restaurant with her friends.

“You think so? I never really saw it,” she answered.

“Sure, she's got your smile,” he insisted.

“They're playing pool, babe. Why don't you show them how it's done?” Andrea said, nudging Merle.

“Nah, they don't want me over there bugging them,” he laughed.

“Don't be stupid, come on. We'll wipe the floor with 'em,” Andrea laughed, and they headed over to play a game of pool with Gina and her friends.

“You having a good time?” Daryl asked when they were finally alone at the table.

“Great, you?”

“It's perfect; you look so beautiful tonight...here.”

He didn't want to give her the gift in front of everyone in case she thought is was too much. Maybe he was pushing too hard again just like Meredith would say. If this was a screw up on his part, he wanted to do it privately. 

“Daryl, I swear you didn't have to get me anything. I just wanted you to come.”

“I know that I just wanted to.”

She shook her head slowly and opened the box he handed her and then she did something she didn't expect, she teared up.

He'd bought her a necklace with a tiny heart pendant on it with her birthstone.

“Daryl...I...”

“Is it bad? I don't know what kind of things you like yet...I still have the receipt if it's not-”

She stopped him and pulled him close, kissing him hard, and she didn't care who was looking. When she finally pulled back, he was smiling at her and thanking his lucky stars that he hadn't crossed a line.

“I can't even put it on you,” he chuckled, looking down at his cast.

“Are you sure about this?” she asked, thinking it was a little much for how long they'd been seeing each other.

“Yeah, I saw it in a window, and it made me think about you so...it's OK right?”

“It's so beautiful, thank you.”

 

 

“What are you a pool shark or something?” Gina asked, watching Merle clear the table like it was nothing.

“Nope, just played a lot of pool in my life,” he laughed. “So you don't mind us crashing your birthday?”

“Nope,” she said.

Michael had his arms wrapped around her, and his face pressed into her neck, he'd been extra cuddly lately.

“You two are so cute together,” Andrea mused.

“Thanks, he's my boo,” Gina teased, before trying to take a shot and fight back against Merle's skills but it was no use.

All Gina's friends were impressed by how quickly the game was over, in two turns it was done.

Merle and Andrea stayed for a while longer, and Merle had a few drinks and got goofy before Andrea drove him home.

“Come and sit for a minute, honey,” Kristin called to Gina.

Gina came and sat down with Michael as her girlfriends continued to shoot pool.

“I just wanted to give you your present before you take off with your friends for the night.”

Kristin handed her the box and waited with bated breath, she'd saved for ages for it, and she was 95% sure it was the right one.

“Oh my god, Mom! This is too much...it's too much...”

“Is it the wrong one?” she asked, starting to feel terrified.

“No, but this is too much just for my birthday.”

The laptop she bought her was more than she'd spent on anything in ages but this was her only child turning eighteen, it was no small thing.

“It isn't, honey! You're eighteen and going to university on a journalism scholarship. I'm so proud of you...I want you to have it.”

They hugged it out, and eventually, Gina accepted that her mother was more than happy to spend this kind of money on her.

Daryl handed Gina the bag from the seat next to him and she looked at him confused.

“I just...it's your birthday,” he stuttered, “so...I wanted to get you something too.”

“You didn't have to,”

“I wanted to, but I hope it fits with what your mom got you...if it doesn't you can take it back,” he shrugged.

She opened the card and smiled.

“Andrea had to sign it cause I can't write,” he added, looking at his cast.

Happy Birthday, Gina

From, Daryl

She opened it and her eyes went wide.

“It's...perfect, Daryl. Thank you so much. Did you know what she was getting me?” she asked.

“No, I just thought you might need one for school to take your computer around with you.”

Gina got up and walked to the other end of the table and hugged him, much to his surprise.

“I love it but you really didn't have to.”

“It's no problem. I'm just glad you like it.”

 

Gina, Michael, and her friends left not long after and Kristin said she'd take her gifts home for her.

“You're the best, Mom,” Gina grinned and hugged her before leaving.

Gina had given her a gift certificate for a day at the spa, and she had no idea when she'd even have time to use it, but it was still very thoughtful.

Overall it was a perfect birthday.

“Did you still want to come home with me or are you too tired. I won't be offended if you aren't up for it.”

“I'll still come if you'll have me.”

“Definitely, come on.”

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Five

 

When they made it back to her house, he was obviously a little tired, but he was still very eager.

He sat on her couch as she left to use the bathroom and put on the necklace. She stood in front of the mirror and fastened the necklace behind her neck; it was such a sweet thing for him to think of. He almost didn't seem real to her, like there had to be a catch. She'd never met anyone like him before, and she couldn't believe her luck.

 

She was taking a while in the bathroom, so he started to fidget and picked up a photo album from the table in front of him and started flipping through it. There were really only pictures of her and Gina at various ages. There were no pictures of her ex or anyone else, just the two of them. He could see why they were so close now. He kept turning the pages and then settled on one that really caught his attention. It was a black and white photo, and Kristin was easily eight or nine months pregnant. She looked so different. Her hair was covering most of her face, and her arm was covering her breasts, she wore only a skirt, and the background was just a white sheet.

He'd never seen anything so beautiful; he was stunned.

“Oh god,” she laughed. “Don't look at that.”

She lit a few candles and turned out the bright light in the ceiling, she preferred candlelight in the evening, and with him, it would definitely be more romantic.

“I'm sorry, it was just sitting here.”

“I'm only kidding, that's just a very old picture. My girlfriend was really into black and white photography and conned me into taking my shirt off with wild stories about how beautiful pregnancy is.”

“I love it; it's a beautiful picture of you.”

“You think so? I do miss being pregnant sometimes, but I could never do the late night feedings again,” she laughed, sitting down next to him.

He touched her neck and looked at the necklace against her skin.

“Looks pretty on you. You really like it?”

“I love it,” she repeated and leaned in to kiss him.

He reached out with his good hand and touched her hair. She slid closer to him on the couch, and in no time the kiss became fevered, and they were moving faster and more insistently.

He buried his face in her neck and bit lightly at her skin. He wanted her all over him; he needed it now.

“Why do I need you so badly?” she panted, running her hand up his thigh.

“I have no idea,” he whispered, between burning kisses all over her neck.

He persuaded her, with is one arm, onto his lap. He wanted the weight of her right where he was burning. It quelled the agony inside him that had been simmering ever since she touched him last. He craved her more than he'd ever craved anyone. He knew he was feeling too much too fast and that Meredith would be laughing herself silly, calling him a clingy puppy dog, but it felt so good to love her. He wanted to say it, but he was also terrified.

The way she looked at him like he was somebody special, made all the words Meredith said to him quieter in his mind. Meredith had slowly and insidiously chipped away at his self-esteem, but Kristin seemed to believe he was more than what he believed, she made everything OK.

He couldn't wait till he could hold onto her properly and get the damn cast off but for now, it was resting on her lower back and pulling her tighter against him.

He tasted the salt of her skin between her breasts and got so thirsty for more. Daryl pulled the zipper of her dress down her back, and she squirmed out of the top half of her dress and started to unbutton his shirt.

They wrestled each other out of their clothes and soon he was sat, bare naked, on her couch and she prayed that Gina would have no reason to walk in early, but it was beyond the beyonds at this point.

“Lay down a minute,” he panted.

She lay back, topless and only in her panties, on the couch. He moved slowly toward her, trying to figure out where to put his casted arm as he came down and kissed her neck. Kristin pulled him closer with her hand on the back of his neck as he trailed his tongue over her chest.

She hissed and opened her legs beneath him, and he moved himself against her wet panties.

“Sweet Jesus...” he moaned.

“This looks kinda tricky for you, babe,” she began.

“I'm OK; you just lay right there. There something I wanna do for you.”

He managed to kiss his way from one breast to the other and then down her belly to the waistband of her panties, and she could feel the anticipation rise.

He put his right hand behind her knee and pushed her leg up and open and she nearly died. Apparently, he had some moves.

His hot, open mouth tasted inch by inch down her inner thigh and then she felt his breath through the crotch of her underwear, and she was inches from begging. Suddenly his lips pressed against the wet silk and she let out a desperate whining sound with her mouth wide open, and her eyes shut tight.

The sensation stopped, and she raised her head to look down at him.

“You're killin' me,” she groaned.

He smirked, and she couldn't take her eyes off him cause next he was pushing her panties to the side and licking her lips.

“Fuuuuck...” she whispered, drinking in the sight.

He didn't look up at her, he was focused on what he was doing, and it was blowing her mind. He rolled his tongue through her folds like he knew every single thing she needed.

She was getting close already, and she could feel it building.

“Breathe....don't cum yet....” he insisted.

She moaned as he touched her with the tips of his fingers and slid her lips apart, she'd never seen anything like it. Her head fell back, and she let her leg rest against the back of the couch, letting him do as he wanted.

“I wanna make you feel good,” he whispered, then teased his tongue over her clit.

Kristin ran her fingers through his hair and melted as he used his lips, tongue, and fingers to drive her wild.

Daryl loved the taste of her; she was sweet. When he could get around better, he'd show her what he was actually capable of, but for now, he was trying with everything he had.

He pushed his fingers into her and her back arched off the couch. She'd cum any minute, but he wanted her to cum on his dick so bad it hurt.

“Come here,” he said, sitting back up.

She whined in agony, inches from release.

“What's wrong?” she panted.

“Please....” he uttered, pulling her onto his lap again.

She grinned and lay her knees on either side of his hips. Sinking down slow, she shuddered and dropped her head to his shoulder. There was nothing in the world like his dick and the way it could take over every single sense she had. He clung to her and kissed her breasts passionately, as she rode him slow but insistently.

His hand moved down her ass, driving her on.

“Kristin....”

“Uh huh....” she breathed, taking him in over and over...just about to cum.

He knew he shouldn't say it now, maybe it would sound manipulative...but he was feeling it with every cell in his body. She came undone then and kissed him as she fucked a little harder, letting the orgasm flow through her completely.

The second she pulled back he blurted it out unceremoniously, “I love you.”

Kristin was out of breath and clearly stunned, but she brought her mouth in close to his ear and said she loved him too and he knew everything in his life would be better from there on in...

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Six

 

~ 1 Month Later ~

 

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the weather was hot. The sun was shining bright, and Kristin had another day off. She had given up her roster at work and applied for a set of shifts that had fewer hours. She had enough seniority to get a bigger roster back any time she wanted, but she desperately needed some personal time now.

Gina was busy with her internship and had graduated high school with amazing grades as expected. Michael was the valedictorian of their class, and everyone was very proud.

Kristin had become closer with Andrea and was heading over to her house for coffee and girl talk. She had on a flowery sundress and sandals, and her hair was up off her shoulders in a high ponytail. She felt like a woman again, not just a work donkey. It didn't hurt that her sex life had never been so good in her entire life.

Daryl was getting his cast off that day, and she couldn't wait to see him without it, he hated his cast with a passion. It had taken a while to heal, but he was back on his feet properly these days. Phillip didn't come anymore, and he only had physio once a week. He'd be seeing the neurologist annually for years to come though.

She rang the doorbell when she arrived at Andrea's house and was stunned to see Merle answer the door with a very small baby sleeping in his arms.

“Shhhh....” he whispered, and she walked in with a frown of confusion on her face.

Merle walked into the living room and sat down on the couch with the bundle and then Andrea appeared from the bedroom.

“Hey,” she said, pouring a coffee.

“Who's baby is this?” Kristin asked.

“My girlfriend's from work; she's going to the doctor for her 6-week check-up and Merle's nuts for babies so I said we'd watch him for her.”

Kristin took the cup of coffee Andrea offered her and looked through the doorway to the living room where Merle was cradling the baby and touching its tiny fingers. It was easily the cutest thing she'd ever seen, and it melted her heart instantly. Merle was a big man with a gravelly voice, but he looked like a gentle bear with the baby in his arms.

“He's in his own little world over there,” Andrea chuckled, looking over her shoulder at him. “Peg will be lucky to get her son back after this.”

“That's too cute,” Kristin grinned.

“It kills me seeing him with babies. I really wanted to be able to give him that,” Andrea sighed.

Kristin looked back at him, and he was smiling from ear to ear, wrapping the blanket around the baby again.

“If anyone deserves to be a father, he does,” Andrea sighed again.

“He really does,” she agreed.

“So, Daryl's getting his arm back today, hey? He's been bitching about that cast for ages now,” Andrea laughed.

“He's pretty excited, and now that he has his new car he won't be sitting still.”

Just then the baby let out a blood-curdling whining sound that steadily increased to a full on cry and Kristin fully expected Andrea to take over but Merle came in calmly and started digging through the diaper bag with his free hand.

“What's wrong with him?” Andrea asked.

“Just hungry, can you run some warm water over this for a bit?” he asked, holding out a bottle.

“Can't I just microwave it?” Andrea asked.

“Nope, Peg says you gotta heat it with warm water cause it's breast milk.”

“Ah! Got it, babe.”

Andrea heated up the bottle and handed it to him, and he took the baby back to the couch to feed.

“Wow! Back when Gina was a newborn, I don't think my ex ever voluntarily fed her.”

“Merle's 'baby crazy,' always has been. The last time we got pregnant, he read a bunch of books, and we made it all the way to three months before we lost it.”

“I'm so sorry,” Kristin said.

“It's OK. I still get a little sad around babies, but he's better with it. We tried everything medically we could and the adoption thing...hasn't quite panned out yet.”

“Hang in there; it's going to work out for you guys somehow. Have you ever thought of a surrogate?”

“I don't think we can afford to pay someone to carry our baby,” she laughed.

“What about a sister or friend?”

“There's nobody like that,” Andrea shrugged and then turned to Merle. “Are you ever going to let me hold him?”

“Nope. He's happy with me,” he answered possessively.

“See what I mean? He's greedy with babies!” she joked loud enough for Merle to hear.

“He said he likes me better than you, it's up to him!” he shot back.

Kristin laughed and shook her head; Merle was one of a kind.

 

#######################

 

By the time Kristin got home she was so excited to see Daryl without his cast that she called him right away.

They were going to be leaving in a few days for a week at his cabin, and he was thrilled to be able to fish and hunt and just relax with her.

Gina and Michael were coming up as well but just for the last two days, after they had a chance to be alone. Kristin planned to spend the whole time in bed if she could, but Daryl was rambling on about fishing and hiking and sleeping under the stars. Life was sweet, and she was overjoyed, but Merle and Andrea's situation was weighing on her heart.

She tried to imagine her life without Gina and hoped something would come through for them. Andrea looked so worn down by feeling that she had failed but Merle was still just happy even to hold a baby, they deserved to have a family.

Daryl finally answered the phone, and she could hear it in his voice how excited he was.

“I take it you have your arm back,” she laughed.

“Oh yeah! You gonna let me take you out tonight? I wanna celebrate.”

“You got it. I'm so happy for you. How does it feel?”

“Weird! The woman let me keep the parts that got signed though, goofy huh?”

“That's cool; I didn't know they'd do that.”

“Yeah, it's cool. Did you go and see Merle and Andrea?”

“I did, but I gotta tell you your brother kills me sometimes. Have you ever seen him with a baby?”

“It's not just babies; he's a big kid with toddlers and older kids too. They should have kids; it's just wrong they have all this trouble.”

“I know. Andrea was looking after her friend's baby today, and Merle was holding it and feeding it. Andrea was feeling down that they can't have their own, it was heartbreaking.”

“Something's gotta give eventually.”

“I sure hope so.”

“So you gonna come over and see my arm?” he laughed.

“Yeah, I'll be right over.”

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Seven

 

Kristin had waited patiently for Daryl to show signs of being like every other man she'd been with, and it never happened.

She could see that he'd been treated pretty badly by Meredith, but he was coming around and apologizing a lot less. With a little patience, she was convincing him that he had a right to an opinion and that he was fine the way he was. If Kristin ever saw Meredith again she promised herself she'd put her straight about how to treat people.

When she pulled up outside Daryl's apartment, there was a new sense of anticipation. Finally being able to have him hug her with both arms was something she'd been waiting for.

“Hey!” he waved from the top of the stairs with his left arm.

“Babe! Oh my god!” she hollered back, approaching the stairs.

She could see the joy in his eyes, he was feeling like himself again.

“I'm so happy for you, lemme see this arm again!”

“Again?”

“I saw it before they put the cast on.”

“Duh, I keep forgetting that you met me before I met you.”

Kristin laughed and lay her hands on his waist, waiting for him to hug her and then he did.

“Now, that's nice!” she moaned.

“You just wait till we get going on this trip, I can do all kinds of stuff two-handed.”

“I can't wait, but just keep holding me right now, I love this.”

He buried his face in her neck and lay both his hands on her back.

“This is perfect,” he sighed.

 

#############################

 

Andrea walked into the living room, more than ready to put up her feet and hear about Merle's day. It was 6 pm, and they were ready to do some serious relaxing. She handed him another beer, and he smacked her ass as she passed him.

“Someone's frisky tonight,” she grinned.

“You better believe it! So when are they coming back again?” Merle asked, stretching out on the couch after another long day.

“They haven't even left yet. It'll be a week babe, seven days.”

Andrea found it amusing how Merle didn't like Daryl going anywhere now. He even made Kristin promise she'd drive cause Daryl might get tired on the 3 hour trip out to the cabin.

She and Merle were happier than they had been in ages and were spending the evening curled up on the couch together. Merle was on his third beer and completely relaxed, running his hand up and down her thigh.

“So am I gonna get lucky tonight?” he grinned.

“You just might.”

Andrea's phone rang then, and Merle groaned, reaching for it.

“Who is it?” Andrea frowned.

“Margaret Jensen. Who the hell it that?”

Andrea jumped up, like a bat out of hell, and grabbed the phone from him.

“What the fuck, woman?”

She ran into the bedroom and slammed the door, and Merle shook his head and lay back down, she was nuts sometimes.

 

Merle was halfway through his beer and feeling loose when she came back out twenty minutes later.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” he laughed.

“Merle, that was the adoption agency.”

“Oh yeah? What do they want now? We gotta fill out more paperwork or something?”

“No...a couple chose us to be parents of their baby.”

Merle looked up at her and frowned.

“Are you serious?”

“Aren't you happy?”

“Is this for real though? I don't wanna get happy if they're gonna change their minds.”

“This is it, Merle. We're gonna have a baby. They actually called a few weeks ago and mentioned this couple, but they hadn't signed anything yet, so I didn't want to get your hopes up again, I didn't believe it myself.”

Merle jumped up and grabbed her, pulling her onto the couch as she laughed and squealed.

“When is this happening?” he asked between kisses.

“The mother is in the hospital right now. That's why I was on the phone so long, Margaret wasn't sure if we'd agree to this because of the short notice. The couple is very young, and the father took a long time to agree to it, but he's sure about it now.”

“Is it an open adoption?” Merle asked.

“Yes. They just want annual updates on the general welfare of the child, nothing more. These kids are only 16 so I think that's reasonable, it must be very hard for them.”

“Fine by me...Jesus! I can't believe this,” Merle sighed.

“Do you want to know the sex?” she grinned.

“Hell yeah! We gotta go shopping for baby stuff tomorrow, don't we?”

“We're gonna have a baby girl.”

“Nice! Jesus...five years!”

Andrea cried then, just thinking of all the years they'd been trying and all the hope and love they'd put into it. She'd finally get to be a parent with him, and she couldn't wait.

“Come on now, Mama, this is no time for cryin'.”

“Say it again,” she grinned.

“What? Mama? You like the sound of that, do ya?”

“Yes, I really do.”

“Should we call Daryl?”

“Call him tomorrow, you're all mine right now,” she insisted.

Andrea stood up and, out of nowhere, pulled her shirt over her head.

“Take your pants off!”

“Fuck! I love you all bossy like that,” he smirked.

“Stop talking and get 'em off.”

Merle did as he was told and yanked down her pants as well before pulling her onto his lap.

She kissed his mouth as he ran his hands up and down her back. She clung to him with all she had. Andrea was scared, excited and deeply in love, it was a whirlwind of emotion. 

“Come on, honey...” he pleaded, knowing full well she'd make him wait for a little.

“I love you, Merle,” she said softly, looking right into his eyes.

In the middle of all the heat and urgency was the love and she loved nobody in the world like him, at least for now. She had a feeling her love would be shared very soon.

They made love right on the couch, and it was fast and full of excited energy and apprehension. Not knowing how it would all pan out was terrifying but they'd waited so long, and they were ready for whatever was to come.

 

 

#######################

 

“Daryl, please don't get her eaten by a bear,” Gina pleaded.

“A bear? You've really never been camping?” Daryl laughed.

“Nope, I'm the indoor type.”

“Not after you and Michael come up in a few days, you're gonna love the great outdoors!” he assured her.

“Uh huh.”

“You wanna bet?”

“Sure! Stakes?” she challenged.

“You don't like it and I'll...admit I was wrong and give you $100 and if I win you have to come to the cabin again sometime.”

“Alright, deal.”

Daryl finished packing up the truck and shooting the breeze with Gina until Kristin finally appeared. Daryl got in the driver's seat, and Kristin stopped him in his tracks.

“He made me promise to drive, and I'm not breaking a promise to Merle.”

“Fine then, you have the directions?”

“Yep. Let's go. Love you, Gina, be careful.”

“Of course, you too! Stay away from bears!”

Daryl rolled his eyes and shook his head.

“She's not getting eaten by a bear, relax!”

It was bright and early in the morning, and the back of his new truck was packed with fishing and hunting gear and all kinds of camping equipment.

“You are going to love it out there!”

“I'm sure I will, I just can't believe I'm getting away from work for a while. Cutting my hours was the best thing I ever did.”

“I agree, now I get more of your attention.”

It was going to be five days of heaven, just her and Daryl alone in the woods. Kristin couldn't think of anything better than some privacy with him. She drove to Daryl's end of town to get onto the correct highway, and he had that peaceful look on his face as she pulled onto the highway, and then suddenly he frowned.

“It was raining....” he uttered.

“What did you say?”

“The night of the accident, I pulled onto the highway right here...and it was raining.”

She continued to drive, not really knowing what to do.

“You're right; it was raining that night. Are you OK?”

“Yeah....it just freaked me out then. I don't really want to remember it.”

“I'll be right here if you remember more. You're gonna be fine, OK?”

He reached his hand out and lay it on her knee.

“I know, thanks. You're really not going anywhere are you?”

“Not unless you want me to,” she smiled.

“Nope, I'm hoping I can convince you to stay with me forever.”

 

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Eight

It was a long drive, and Daryl got more excited as the minutes passed. The cabin he bought with Merle had been the kind of rustic, hunting/hang out place they idealized since childhood. Nothing fancy or pretentious, just a little place with two rooms and a living room with a fireplace. It had a shower and a toilet but nothing else fancy, it was right back to basics.

The cabin was at the end of a trail that wound through the woods and was easy to get lost on. Daryl let her know all the lefts and rights to take and then at last they were there. Right next to the lake in a clearing of trees was the little place he loved most. It was only 25 feet from the lake and had a short stretch of sand and a little dock for fishing.

“Oh my god, Daryl!”

“This is my favorite place,” he mused, just looking at it.

“Thanks for bringing me here then, it's amazing.”

Daryl felt overwhelmed in that moment; he was right where he wanted to be, and everything was perfect.

The last month had been hard, but she never lost patience with his limitations. She would do all his physio exercises with him and make sure he was getting rest; she kept caring for him every minute.

Daryl didn't know anyone could be like her. She brought him groceries, rubbed his sore back and sent him sweet texts in the middle of the day just to let him know she was thinking of him. All throughout their time together he never once felt the way he had with Meredith, and it was gone now. The feeling that he was talking too much, saying the wrong thing and generally in the way, it was completely gone. He knew Kristin wanted to hear every single thing he had to say and it made him feel amazing.

She got out of the truck and walked toward the water, and he just watched her take off her sandals and dip her toes in, he loved her like crazy.

His phone started to ring, and he frowned at anything taking him away from the moment but it was Merle, and he'd always answer his calls.

“What's up?”

Daryl laughed to himself as Kristin tread further and further into the water with her shorts on, getting wet well passed her knees.

“You are never gonna guess what happened to us!” Merle was almost hollering.

“Probably not. What is it, man?”

“We're picking up our daughter tonight!”

“What? How?”

Daryl sat up straighter in the truck trying to take in the information.

“The adoption place finally called, and there's a girl in the hospital now who just gave birth to a baby, and she's gonna be ours.”

Daryl could hear the emotion in his voice, and he loved it, they deserved this.

“Congratulations! Should we come back?”

“No, you two just do your thing and come back when you're ready. This week is gonna be a gong show anyway, but we'll send pictures, lots of 'em!”

“What are you doing now?” Daryl asked since Merle sounded so out of breath.

“I'm at the store with Andrea buying every single thing we could possibly need for a baby,” he chuckled.

“Merle, I'm so happy for you! You waited so damn long for this!”

“Don't I know it! You're gonna be an uncle!” he laughed.

Daryl finished up the phone call and got out of the truck. He walked toward Kristin who was already wet up to her shorts and trailing her fingers in the water.

“This water is so clear!” she exclaimed. “I've never been up to this lake before; it's beautiful.”

“Guess who's gonna be Uncle Daryl?”

She looked up with expectant eyes.

“Merle and Andrea are picking up their new baby girl tonight.”

Kristin took in the words, but they barely made sense for a minute.

“Adoption,” she muttered.

“Yep.”

He walked closer to the water, and she came out to meet him.

“Should we go back then?” she asked.

“He said we should stay cause this week will be madness anyway. We can give them a chance to settle with the little one as a family.”

“That's such great news.”

“I wanted this to happen for them somehow.”

“Me too,” she agreed, taking his hand and pulling him toward the water.

 

###########################

 

By the time 4pm rolled around Merle was sat on the floor of the spare bedroom cutting tags off of little baby clothes. Andrea walked in and caught him staring at a tiny pair of baby socks.

“Hey,” she said quietly.

He looked up and smiled at her.

“Do you believe this?”

“No. I really don't. Part of me is sad to think of what this girl is going through.”

“Must be awful,” he agreed. “Wish there was a way to make it easier on her. We'll send her good updates and pictures, hey?”

“Yeah, definitely. So have you thought of a name yet?”

“No. I don't mind what we call her; I just want to be her dad.”

“I don't have anything in mind either. We have to leave soon; I'm just finishing up sterilizing the bottles.”

“OK.”

Merle finished setting up the crib and putting on the tiny sheets so everything would be prepared. He stood in the middle of the room and smiled; this was his daughter's room now.

Andrea was quiet all the way to the hospital, and he knew she was deep in thought, so he let her be.

They met the adoption coordinator in the main hall of the hospital and discussed everything that they could expect.

They were going to meet the parents, and they already signed the final paperwork. The baby had been born very early in the morning and was in perfect health. They were given recommendations from the hospital to find a pediatrician as soon as possible.

“Any questions?” Margaret asked them.

“Is it normal to feel so guilty?” Andrea asked.

“Yes. It doesn't feel natural to take a child from its mother, but this was her choice. She's very young and raising this child would be a huge struggle for her. She and the father aren't together anymore, and she desperately wants her daughter to have a family where they have time for her. She still has to finish high school and has no job; she really believes this is what's best. You should expect her to be still emotional, but she has assured me this is what she wants.”

Merle rubbed Andrea's back and finally, they made their way up to the room. It was the most unusual situation and highly emotional for everyone involved.

The mother was a small girl with orange hair who looked exhausted. Her name was Karen, and she looked as sixteen as she was, scared and upset. She had been crying, and it was obvious this wasn't easy for her, but she was putting on a brave face now.

“Hi,” she said to them as they entered. Her mom and the father of the baby were all squeezed into the room, and Andrea didn't know what to say.

“Hi, Karen. How are you feeling?” Merle asked.

“Tired,” she smiled and looked over at the bassinet, where a little orange haired baby was fussing.

Andrea walked closer and sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at her for a moment and then Karen started to cry a little. Andrea held out her arms to her, and she leaned in.

“We'll never let any harm come to her; I promise you that.”

“I know, it's just hard,” she sobbed. “I read all about you guys from your profile, and I know you're the right parents for her, but it's still so hard.”

Andrea moved back and looked into her eyes and tried to smile.

“You're very brave to be able to do this. We'll be sure to tell her how much you loved her and how brave you are.”

“Will you?” she asked, looking hopeful.

“Every chance we get,” Andrea assured her.

“Do you want to hold her?” Karen asked them.

“We'd love to, thank you.”

Andrea held the baby first and smiled so widely down at the little one. She had fair skin, red lips, and orange hair. She was perfect.

“Oh Merle, she's beautiful. Just look at her.”

Merle smiled and looked down at the baby. Karen's ex-boyfriend, Josh, stood in the corner stone-faced but Merle could see he was upset.

Andrea handed the baby to Merle, and he nodded to Josh.

“It takes a man to do something like this, thank you.”

Josh nodded back but didn't say anything.

“What were you gonna name her, darlin'?” Merle asked Karen.

“It doesn't matter now,” she answered, looking down at her hands.

“We don't have any ideas yet, come on,” he pressed.

“I was going to call her Elise.”

Merle looked at Andrea, and they were on the exact same page as always.

“That's a beautiful name for a beautiful baby, don't you think?” he asked of Andrea.

“I love it,” she agreed.

“Yep! That's name's just fine as wine in the sunshine.” Merle said, holding the baby in his arms.

The young mother laughed then, much to everyone's surprise.

“Dad used to say that, didn't he?” Karen asked her mom.

“He did, all the time actually.”

“My dad died when I was 9, but I remember he used to say that,” she explained.

“She'll be hearing that one a lot from Merle, ” Andrea joked.

“Her name's Elise then,” Merle said, never taking his eyes from the baby.

Karen seemed happy that the name she'd chosen would stay with her daughter and Merle and Andrea had no problem with it. She and Josh said goodbye to Elise and then it was over.

Merle spent 10 minutes making sure his new daughter was buckled safely into the car seat they'd just bought as Andrea watched with a huge smile.

“How did we finally get here?” she asked.

“We just waited long enough. Look at that,” he said.

Elise was quiet and snuggled into her new car seat with a little newborn beanie on her head. She was small and fragile and beautiful.

“Let's go home then, Mama.”

 

Chapter Text

^Chapter Twenty-Nine

“This is perfect,” Daryl sighed.

He was laying back on a blanket on the sand and had his eyes closed to the bright sun.

“You always get this contented look on your face when you relax; I just love it.”

“Yeah?” he said, squinting over at her.

“The first time you were in that hospital bathtub, I couldn't stop looking at your face. You looked so peaceful I just stared at you the whole time.”

He smiled then, and she leaned over to kiss him.

“I'm a different person than I was before the accident and it's cause of you.”

“Come on,” she laughed.

“I mean it. You know the funniest thing?”

“What's that?” she asked, trailing her finger up and down his chest.

“Until I met you I didn't even realize how broken I really was. I thought nothing of myself from being with her. I didn't even get the way you were taking care of me; I didn't feel like I deserved it. You were so patient and sweet, and you did all these little things for me, and it really got to me. I swear I almost cried when you brought me that coffee and the donut and then you did it almost every day.”

“I just wanted to see you smile; I knew you were hurting.”

“When you had that day off, I just lay there listening to your music and looking at your pictures like an asshole, and I totally fell for you.”

“Daryl, I didn't mind that.”

“You don't mind anything about me, do you? I haven't been able to make you mad since the day we met,” he grinned.

“I don't get mad a lot, I think it's an occupational hazard,” she chuckled.

“How do you mean?”

“I've seen a lot of bad things. People's lives being unexpectedly interrupted by tragedy and it often doesn't end well the way it did for you. It's always in the back of my mind that we don't know how much time we have with the people we love. I want people to know I love them and I choose to let go of petty little issues cause none of that matters.”

“I love you,” he said simply, and they just lay and watched the clouds move across the sky for a while. Kristin hadn't been so relaxed in years.

“So, are you going to sleep under the stars with me tonight?” he asked.

“Will you protect me from spiders and bears?”

“Always.”

 

 

######################

 

Daryl knew just the right place to drag the sleeping bags, so he set to work getting everything ready after supper. He had gone fishing in the afternoon and caught some rainbow trout. Being able to do things for her now was a thrill. Daryl was sick of being babied he wanted to be her man now, not her patient.

“Can't I help?” she checked.

“Nope. You stay here; I got it.”

The clearing he had in mind had soft grass and wildflowers, and the best part was that they could see the stars above through an opening in the tree branches. He gathered kindling and got the fire going and burning bright. He lay the groundsheet and the fleece blankets on top and rubbed his hands together in anticipation. He'd wanted to bring her here for a long time, and this is just how he imagined it.

He sat for a minute and stared into the flames wishing he could hold onto the moment forever. He'd almost died and not only had he lived but he found a woman who made life worth living.

He pulled out the wine and lay it next to the fire and walked back to go get her from the cabin.

“Come on,” he said simply from the door and she just followed.

“I've never slept outside.”

“You'll love it,” he insisted.

“So there's no animals out here to worry about?”

“Nope, and even if there are I have my gun. You're as bad as Gina,” he laughed. “Me and Merle have been sleeping in the woods since we were little.”

“Brave boys,” she noted.

When they made it to the clearing the fire burning in a steel fire pit and the blankets were spread out on the soft grass.

“Wow.”

All she could manage was the one word. It was beautiful. He had a bottle of wine and two plastic cups next to the fire, and she shook her head slowly.

“It's perfect.”

The sun was setting, and she sat next to him on the blanket as he poured her some wine.

“See? It's nice, right?”

“I love it; the air is so fresh up here. I really needed to get away from the city.”

“Life's a funny thing,” he said out of nowhere, leaning back on one of his elbows and drinking his wine.

“What makes you say that?”

“In a way, crashing my bike and nearly dying is the best thing that ever happened to me. I would never have met you, and I'd probably still be stuck with what's her face now. It was the best thing that could have happened cause I got everything I ever wanted now.”

“That's a really strange way to look at it, but I guess you're right.”

He looked so good she couldn't keep her eyes off of him, and now that he had two strong arms she was excited to try him out.

“What?” he asked with a grin when he noticed her staring.

“I just can't get enough of your arms, must be nice huh?”

He stretched them both above his head and smiled widely.

“It's fucking awesome! I hope I never break anything ever again. That cast will haunt my damn nightmares.”

“So...” she began, crawling toward him. “You gonna show me what you can do two handed?”

“I don't know if you can handle me two-handed,” he grinned.

“Try me.”

“Stand up.”

She did as he asked and he walked toward her slowly.

He was too sexy for words as he took her in his arms, walking her slowly backward to the nearest tree. She held his face in her hands and kissed him frantically.

He lifted her arms over her head and held them against the bark of the tree and kissed her neck. Her mind went blurry, and she moaned at the sensation of his beard against her skin. She stared into the fire over his shoulder and knew he was the one for her, her soul mate.

He held her hands up with one of his and then trailed his other hand down her body, over her breasts and down to her ass.

“Mmmm....you're killin' me...” she hissed.

He grinned and undid her pants. Then, just to mess with her mind, he slowed it right down and took her cheek in his hand while licked her ear teasingly.

She felt his mouth move over her shoulder then across her chest, and she pulled his head closer.

“You think you get to tease me?”

“Yep, I've been waiting weeks for this, so you're gonna take every single second of teasing I have for you,” he informed her.

He knelt down before her and kissed her belly soft and slow. He slid her pants down her legs, and she stepped out of them, she was more than ready to get the show on the road.

“Are you sure nobody's out here?” she asked, looking around into the pitch black woods.

“Positive. The next cabin is almost a mile away, and they aren't up this week. You can scream as loud as you like, at least I hope you'll be making some noise.”

He pulled his shirt over his head and dropped his pants to his feet, and she wanted to touch him everywhere. He looked so damn good naked.

He slid back down to her panties and pressed his face to them, and she doubled over holding onto his head.

“Jesus, Daryl....I need it...” she pleaded.

He lifted one of her legs onto his shoulder, and she held on with all she had to the tree behind her as he kissed up her thigh.

His mouth was so hot and his tongue so wet. The firelight shined against their bodies creating a silhouette of them on the forest floor. She breathed heavier, waiting for him to pull the damn trigger but he'd get so close and then kiss back to her knee again.

“Daryl, please!”

He kissed her through the damp material of her panties over and over until she pushed his head back gently in frustration.

“If you don't do it soon, I'll do it myself and make you watch!”

“Jesus! That could be fun!”

“Oh yeah?”

She slid her panties down her legs and lay her foot on his shoulder and moved him back a few feet.

She kept her foot resting on his shoulder and let her leg fall open, and he groaned.

“Getting back at me?”

“You tell me,” she said, moving her hand down her body to her wet heat.

She slid her fingers down between her folds to spread the slickness everywhere, and his eyes became so hungry. She teased herself and let her head lay back against the tree bark as she did it.

Daryl took her leg and moved closer until her knee was resting on his shoulder instead of her foot, but he just kept watching from only inches away.

“That's so fucking good,” he hissed as she pushed her own fingers into herself and then continued with the slow, sinful circles around her clit.

He pushed her hand away then and dove in with his mouth, sucking softly and licking passionately till she was inches from falling apart.

Daryl stood up then; he was totally done screwing around. He wanted to rip her shirt off, but the bark of the tree would scratch her up with what he had in mind, so he left it on for the moment.

He grabbed her and lifted her into his arms and pressed her back to the tree and she moaned in anticipation.

Daryl held her up with one arm and lined himself up with her to complete the deal.

“Fuuuuuck!” she cried out into the dark.

“Like that?” he said, thrusting smooth and holding her up with ease.

“Mmmm....” she answered, melting into the tree.

Daryl had wanted to do this with her since the first time she touched him, and now he was going to make it good. His hips thrust faster and harder, and she dropped her head to his shoulder, weak with lust.

He grabbed her breast through her shirt with the one hand not holding her up and squeezed hard.

He was sweating now in the summer heat and with the exertion but he never felt so high before.

“Cum for me,” he demanded. “Come on, now.”

She could feel it inside, and it was definitely coming. The angle he was moving at hit a treasure trove of pleasure deep inside her.

“More....” she pleaded, and he fucked just that little harder, and it began to unfold.

She could feel her body contract around him then, and the tree was scratching the shit out of her back, but all she could feel was his dick inside her and her body clenching around it. Her feet were resting on the middle of his back as he fucked her and her arms wrapped so tightly around his neck.

“Fuuuuck, baby! YES! Mmmmm...Goddammit!”

There was nothing better than his body and what he could do with it. Kristin never experienced anything as intense as what he could throw down.

Daryl couldn't wipe the devil's grin from his face as he slowly set her feet down on the ground.

“Your back OK?” he asked.

“Oh yeah! Get over there and lay down. Now!”

He obeyed and lay down next to the fire as she asked. His dick was painfully hard, and he just knew she'd finish him off good. She crawled onto his lap immediately and settled her wet heat right down on his hard dick.

“Fuuuck me!” he groaned as she enveloped him in her tight, wet heaven.

“I plan to.”

She pulled her shirt over her head and promptly tossed her bra on the grass. His eyes burned up at her body as she rode him and leaned her breasts over his mouth.

“I fucking love you,” he growled.

She smiled and brushed a nipple over his waiting tongue.

She kept up the motion and the teasing till he couldn't take it anymore and grabbed her, rolling her under him.

“Enough,” he said calmly, plowing into her with the skill she knew he possessed.

Her back arched to take him deeper and expose her throat to him. Daryl bit at her skin and pulled her thigh up high around his waist and fuck her steadily till he broke.

“Mmmm...fuck....uh...fuck!”

Daryl collapsed against her chest and tried to breathe, but he was gasping for air like he'd run a marathon.

“Breathe, baby,” she purred, running her fingers through his hair.

“You're too fucking good....you'll make an old man of me yet,” he chuckled, laying down next to her.

The fire burned high and bright, and she pulled a fleece blanket over the both of them.

“Kristin?”

“Hmm?” she muttered with her eyes closed.

“What do you want in the future?”

“Like what? I just want Gina and you,” she laughed.

“What else though. Do you want marriage and babies?”

“Marriage sounds nice, but I'm not sure if I want babies at this stage of my life, that's why I started taking the pill again,” she added, hoping it wasn't a problem for him.

“I just thought with Merle and Andrea starting a family you might want that too. I kinda wanted to, keep you to myself, and I thought that might be selfish.”

“No, to be honest, I thought the next babies in my life would be grandchildren.”

“Maybe if I play my cards right I can do that with you someday,” he said, kissing her bare shoulder.

“Sounds good to me...I want you for myself too. I don't want to share you with a baby.”

He wrapped her up, so tight in his arms and she thought of the first time she saw his eyes as she lay his head on the pillow in the ICU. His eyes had gotten to her right away, and now he was hers and he was happy and proud of who he was again, it was just as it should be.

 

Daryl sighed, feeling completely contented. Nothing but the earth below him, a sky full of stars and the woman he loved in his arms. Daryl was healed by her and her love.

 

#########################

 

The first night was a blur and Merle didn't know if he was coming or going. Andrea was sat on the couch with the Elise sleeping on her shoulder, and it was 5am. He loved the look of it, Andrea with a baby was a beautiful sight.

“Is she finally happy?” he asked.

“For the moment, she's a fiery little redhead,” Andrea grinned.

“Here, I'll take her, and you go have a rest.”

“You sure?”

“Yep.”

Andrea stood up and handed him the swaddled baby and kissed him softly.

“You're the best.”

“I know, you too.”

It was warm and bright so he walked out onto the porch to go sit on the swing with the baby. He held her in his big arms and moved the swing slowly with his foot. She woke up and looked at him, and he expected her to start fussing but she didn't, she just looked at him.

“What do ya think, little darlin'? We doing OK so far? We waited a hell of a long time for you, Andrea and me. You were worth the wait though. You gotta meet my brother Daryl and his honey Kristin still; they're gonna love you too.”

Elise fussed softly, and he grinned.

“Shut up and feed me, Dad, right?”

When he stood up, Andrea was standing in the doorway watching him.

“Thought you were sleeping?”

“I can't; I'm too excited.”

“Me too.” he agreed. “I love you, honey.”

“I love you too.”

 

#############################################

That's all she wrote....AKA The End

Thanks so much for reading and for all the kind words and support. Teagan xoxo