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The light was still dim when Daryl stirred. He had to be up early to meet with Shane and Rick, so they could figure out how to search for Sophia efficiently. However, his sense of duty was currently being dampened by the body pressed up next to him. Glenn was still asleep, and Daryl could feel his warm breath blowing across his hand. The kid was holding onto it like it was a teddy bear. The older man sighed. If only it had been this way at the CDC, instead of the both of them hungover and him too scared to stay. The thought of being able to stay in bed, or rather in the cot, with Glenn cuddling sounded much better than having to get up.

The older man pulled his hand away, but remained lying down. These few moments were precious to him. However, the motion made Glenn wake up.

“You gotta head out today?” The younger man mumbled.

“Yeah.” Daryl nuzzled the back of his neck. The skin there was covered with very thin, downy hair.

“Be safe.” Glenn paused, then laughed softly. “Is that for me?” He pressed his ass up against Daryl's erection.

“Don't flatter yerself, it's just mornin' wood.” Daryl smiled. That wasn't entirely honest.

“Want me to take care of it?” Glenn turned his head back a little, trying to get a look at the older man's face.

Daryl considered it. It was still early, and it certainly wouldn't be unwelcome. “Yeah. I'll do the same for you.” He shifted so that Glenn could turn to face him. As soon as he did, he went in for a kiss. It was a comfortable kind of kiss at first, domestic and calm. Just lips meeting and lazily pressing up against each other. But they hadn't gotten the opportunity to do anything like this since the CDC, and physical need overtook any sense of calm.

Their tongues slid against each other, still clumsy from sleep. Glenn reached down and pushed Daryl's underwear down to get at his cock. Daryl did the same, fumbling slightly with the plaid boxers that the younger man was wearing. Holding each other in their hands, they stroked, slowly. There wasn't a lot of time to do it. Soon everyone else would be awake and they would both have to do the things they needed to do. That wasn't in the forefront of either of their minds though. All that mattered right then was their hands, and the fact that they were both aching for each other.

Daryl came first. Glenn's touch was still so thrilling that it barely took anything for him to reach completion. It would've been embarrassing, but it allowed him to wrap his arm around Glenn, holding him as close as he could, as he focused everything onto giving him the same.

The younger man held onto him, his breathing interrupted by intermittent gasps and quiet groans. It was taking much longer than what Daryl had anticipated. He couldn't clearly remember if it had taken this long in the shower. The light was starting to get bright now, and the sun was burning away the wet coolness of the morning. Not sure what else to do, Daryl got off of the cot. Before Glenn could ask what was wrong, Daryl had his cock in his mouth.

Glenn covered his own mouth with his hand to stifle himself. The older man was bobbing his head up and down, his concentration apparent. It was a clumsy blowjob, but the shock of the sudden gesture, combined with the gorgeous wet heat of his mouth was exactly what Glenn needed. After the initial crash of the orgasm, he sank into the cot, his heart beating fast. He looked at Daryl, who had kept sucking at him through it.

There was a flash of confusion across Daryl's face. The taste of Glenn's cum was salty and bitter, and the texture was raw, but he had no idea where to spit it out. Resigning himself, he swallowed it down. He'd have to make sure to brush his teeth carefully before meeting Rick and Shane. It was doubtful they could smell something like that on his breath, but you never know.

“You didn't have to do that.” Glenn reached out and stroked his hair.

“I didn't have no place to spit.” Daryl leaned in for a kiss, but then stopped, not sure if the younger man would be ok with it.

Glenn pulled him in and kissed him, his tongue slipping into his mouth. He could still taste the faint flavor of his cum on Daryl's tongue. He pulled away, smiling. “Next time you can spit it into my mouth if you want.” His smile turned into a laugh when he saw Daryl's cheeks flush.

“Yer one odd duck, kid.” The older man shook his head, and grabbed his pants. He looked down at himself. His underwear was stained with the evidence of their fooling around. “Shit. Looks like I'm goin' commando today.”

“You can take a pair of mine.” Glenn sat up with a stretch, his legs extending in front of him and his toes splaying out.

“Kid, yer tiny, I doubt yer underwear would be a comfortable fit.” Daryl stripped off the underwear, tossed it aside, and pulled on his pants. He dug out his metal cup, filled it with some water from his canteen, and brushed his teeth. When he went to toss out the water from it, he could hear that the others had risen as well, and that there was breakfast cooking.

“I gotta get goin'.” He turned to Glenn, who was still sitting on the cot, watching him. “What're you up to today?”

“I gotta chop some wood, and Rick said he wanted to make sure we all know how to fire the guns.” He scratched an itch on the back of his scalp. “Maggie and her sister said they wanted to learn, that Jimmy kid too.” The memory of yesterday's adventure at the pharmacy flashed back into his mind. “Dude, Maggie's kind of a badass. She totally iced two walkers with a crowbar yesterday.”

Daryl paused. “Maggie?” She didn't look like the type that could do that.

“Yeah. Don't tell no one about it though, she doesn't want it getting back to her dad.” Glenn sighed. “Shit, I shouldn't have even told you.”

“Don't worry, I won't tell.” Daryl crouched down, and kissed his forehead. “Well you be careful, don't accidentally shoot yerself in the foot or nothin'.”

Glenn punched his arm, then grabbed his shirt. “Jerk.” He kissed him again, before pushing him away. “Go be a badass or something. And watch out for walkers.”

“I will.” Daryl grabbed his crossbow and his knife.

“Daryl...” Glenn hesitated. The words he wanted to say were at the tip of his tongue, but getting them out was difficult.

The older man paused at the entrance to the tent, looking back at him. “Yeah?”

Glenn smiled. “Be careful.”

Daryl nodded and gave him a wink before leaving.

**

Rick had the map spread out and had divided it into a grid. He explained how they were going to go looking for Sophia, how this was the best way to do it. Daryl listened, and made a mental note of what ground he was going to cover today. The bliss from the morning sex with Glenn had faded, and had been replaced by familiar dread. He doubted it would go away, not until Sophia was found.

Daryl kept looking over at Shane. He looked exasperated, as if this whole thing was a waste of time. Daryl wished he could smack that goddamn look off of his face. His distrust of the man grew with each passing day.

As he was walking out to the woods, Rick stopped him.

“I need to talk to you.” Rick had that expression on his face that only cops had, and that Daryl hated. It looked like concern, but it came from a place of authority and dominance.

“What 'bout?” Daryl unconsciously averted his eyes. Even though neither Rick or Shane had any official authority anymore, he still felt like when he talked to them he was talking to cops. Experience had taught him that there was nothing cops hated more than to have their authority challenged.

“I saw that you and Glenn shacked up last night.”

Daryl rolled his eyes. “Not you too, I got the lecture from Dale yesterday, thanks.”

“What? That ain't what I'm getting at.” Rick sighed, trying to make his voice as even and his expression as compassionate as he could. “I don't think it's such a good idea for y'all to be doing that. Not where everyone can see.”

Daryl looked at him. He figured he was stronger than Rick, it wouldn't take much effort to shove him away and tell him to mind his own goddamn business.

“We're guests here.” Rick gesticulated towards the house. “And I won't have the safety of everyone else threatened by the fact that you're shacking up with Glenn.”

“The fuck you talkin' 'bout?” No, he shouldn't shove him. Punching him in the face would be much more satisfying.

“We don't know these people, we don't know their feelings about...that sorta thing.”

“That sorta thing?” Daryl scoffed. “I'm guessing if I'd shacked up with Andrea or Carol we wouldn't be havin' this conversation?”

“Daryl-”

“Don't worry Rick, I'll make sure to keep it hush-hush, for yer goddamn convenience.” Daryl focused all of himself onto not knocking the former cop to the ground and stomping the shit out of him for daring to talk to him about what was going on between him and Glenn. Talking like he knew what was best for everyone.

“You don't have to worry 'bout us faggots ruining things for the whole group.” He spit out the word that used to scare him beyond everything else with defiance, and shifted the strap of his crossbow. “Don't you worry about a fuckin' thing. I'll make sure to tell Glenn about how we can't share a goddamn tent because it might make our hosts uncomfortable.”

He stalked off. He heard Rick call after him, and he raised his hand with its middle finger extended at him. No one was going to tell him how to live his life. He'd move the tent out to the edge of the farm, like that him and Glenn could still share it. And if Herschel or anyone in that family had anything to say about it, he'd grab Glenn and his bike and get the fuck out of there.

He'd lived his life in secrecy, fear, and misery so far. Now that he had a taste for how good things could be if you said 'fuck you' to the fear, there was no way he was going back. Not just for himself, but for Glenn too. He deserved to be with a man who wasn't afraid. Daryl wanted to be that man, and if it took burning bridges, then he'd gladly pour the gasoline and light the match.

**

Jimmy couldn't shoot worth anything. Beth was slightly better, but everyone could tell that the gun made her uncomfortable. Maggie was the best out of the three residents of the farm. She focused and squeezed the trigger. Her aim wasn't the best, but she kept trying. T-Dog and Glenn both were impressed. Andrea was working with Shane, and from the sounds of it, it wasn't going well.

When she came over, she looked pissed. “I swear to fucking God, if I have to spend one more minute with that asshole I'm going to kill him, or myself.”

Glenn winced. “That bad?”

“Lets put it this way. If I weren't a lesbian, he'd make me swear off men. Not pistol whipping him or kneeing him in the groin was a struggle.” Andrea's gaze wandered over to Maggie. She looked like a natural with a gun in her hand. “Looks like she's doing good.”

“Yeah. Christ, you shoulda seen Jimmy. Trying to hold his gun sideways like some gangsta bullshit.” T-Dog shook his head. “White boys are crazy.”

Glenn chuckled at that, and Andrea nudged him.

“Why are you laughing, you're screwing around with a White boy.”

T-Dog snorted. “She's got you there.” He still didn't understand how Glenn and Daryl of all people had hooked up, but Glenn seemed happy enough. T-Dog figured to each their own, and if Daryl hurt the kid he'd be first in line to beat the shit out of him. Hell, Andrea would probably fight him for it too.

Maggie called out. “I'm out of bullets. Does that mean I'm done?”

“Yeah. Pack it in.” Glenn answered. “She's the best so far.”

“Well at least one of them can shoot worth a damn. It's better than none.” T-Dog sighed, and scratched at the bandage on his arm. The cut was healing, but it was itching like a bastard.

“Not bad for a country girl huh?” Maggie said as she handed Glenn the gun.

“Not bad at all, but I think you're better with a crowbar.” Glenn bit his tongue and Maggie glared at him.

“Crowbar?” Andrea looked at Maggie, expecting clarification. Instead, the brunette left them, walking back towards the house at a brisk pace.

“Nothing, it's, uh, nothing.” Glenn adjusted his baseball cap and checked the safety on the gun.

**

Daryl kept his eyes on the ground and on the vegetation around him, scanning for some sign of a trail. There was nothing. He'd been out for a few hours now, and his frustration was mounting. The talking-to Rick had given him had him riled up bad enough, and it was getting worse. He couldn't find a sign that would suggest that Sophia had passed through there. Every day they didn't find her drove home the worst potential outcome. Sophia hurt, Sophia dying, Sophia bit, Sophia no longer living, but still wandering the woods with clouded-over eyes and a hunger that could not be stopped.

Those images invaded Daryl's mind, and refused to leave. He tried to imagine their opposites. Sophia living, Sophia hiding, Sophia surviving. He'd never thought she was a likely child. She was strong, yes, but not enough to survive like this. Daryl couldn't help those thoughts. He told himself that if he could survive in the woods when he was her age, she could too. But he'd never had to deal with what roamed them now.

Still, he walked on, occasionally checking the map he'd gotten from Rick. He was almost to the edge of the section of grid he was supposed to cover today. Rick didn't want one of the few capable people in the group out too long. Daryl wasn't sure if he felt comfortable with that categorization. Useful people versus useless people. It felt like something his father would have said. The man had always been sure to remind Daryl that he was useless, and worthless. Daryl had heard it so many times that he actually believed it.

He was about to turn back when he came upon the roses. Cherokee roses. He remembered learning about them in school. They were the state flower of Georgia. They were named after the Cherokees that were driven along the Trail Of Tears. He approached them, reaching out to touch their tender white petals. Their scent was strong and spicy in the heat, invading his nostrils to the point where he could taste it in the back of his throat. He ran his hand across the flowers, down further to brush against their prickly stems. His eyes drifted down, and he saw the scrap of fabric. It was the same color that the shirt that Sophia had been wearing.

His breath caught in his throat, and he crouched down to pick it up. His eyes looked over the ground, there were some broken branches on the bushes. By the looks of it at least a day old, judging by how dry the edges were. His eyes followed the direction in which they'd been broken, and his stomach dropped. There was a tangle of blonde hairs on the ground, like they'd been ripped out of someone's head.

“Sophia.” He whispered. He couldn't call out to her. The trail was old, and the chances were that he'd attract walkers before attracting the attention of the little girl. If she could hear him at all. He carefully picked up the hairs, placed them in the scrap of fabric, and tucked it into his pocket. He had to head back, but this was more important. He walked out from that spot, keeping his eyes trained for any other signs. The trail went cold after a mile. Frustrated, he turned back. When he came to the roses again, he picked one. He'd give it to Carol. This was at least a sign that Sophia had been there recently. That was enough to keep him going, hopefully it would be enough for her.

**

Andrea sat atop the RV, looking over the property. Dale was tinkering with it down below, with the help of T-Dog. The help mostly consisted of the man handing Dale tools, and laughing at his corny jokes. The blonde smiled when she heard Dale ask T-Dog repeatedly if he was sure he was feeling well enough to be standing around like that.

“Now you're sure Herschel said you were well enough?”

“Man, I told you. He said as long as it's nothing strenuous I'm ok. Besides, handin' you tools ain't a strain.”

“That is true.”

“Not to mention, you need someone to supervise just in case the hood snaps down on ya.”

“Oh so you're my supervisor now?” Dale laughed. It was a good sound to hear.

Andrea tune out their back and forth joking and ribbing, and looked out over the fields. The barn stood alone by the woods. If they stayed here through the winter, Andrea wondered if they'd be allowed to take shelter there. It wasn't in use, she knew that much. No animals came in or out of it. Further away from it, she saw a figure moving. Raising her binoculars to her eyes, she realized it was Maggie. She was holding something indistinct, and she looked like she had some kind of important purpose.

“Hey T-Dog, can you cover for me?” She called down.

“Sure, what's up?”

“Nothing, just wanna check something out.” She set the binoculars aside and grabbed her gun. Despite Shane's criticisms of her shooting ability, she didn't want to go out into the woods without it. She climbed down the RV, and headed in the direction Maggie had gone. T-Dog took her place, wondering just what the hell was going on. He didn't say anything though, as he wasn't sure he really wanted to know. Everyone in their group had shit going on, and he didn't want to be part of it too much. He was content with minding his own business, and leaving the drama to everyone else. That's why he liked being around Dale. The guy was drama-free, and genuinely nice too boot.

Andrea crossed into the woods, but didn't see Maggie anywhere. She wandered, not sure which direction she should go in, when she heard the crack. It was a sound she knew by heart now. The sound of a skull being broken open. She turned to go towards it. It sounded again, and this time she heard a human grunt, followed by a whimper. That made her run.

She expected to see some awful scene, with Maggie being overtaken by walkers. Instead, she found her sitting on the ground by a muddy creek, trying to catch her breath.

“What the hell?” There were two walkers in the mud, both their heads bashed in. They were so messed up she couldn't tell what gender they'd been. Their bodies were emaciated, and they were both in hospital gowns.

Maggie looked up, panic in her eyes. When she saw it was only Andrea, she relaxed from panic into anger. “What the hell are you doing here?” She stood, her bloody crowbar hanging from her right hand. “Did you follow me?”

“Well-uh, yeah. Obviously.” Andrea had no idea what to make of the scene.

“Goddamn it.” Maggie sighed, rubbing her free hand across her sweaty forehead. “Alright, whatever, since you're here you're gonna help me get these out of here.” She pointed to the bodies. “That's what you get for being a creeper.” She wiped off her crowbar on the leaves on the ground before sliding it through her belt. “Well come on, time's a wastin'.” Pulling out a pair of rubber gloves, she snapped them on before handing a second pair to Andrea.

Andrea was still too shocked by the scene before her to protest. Squelching through the mud, she helped Maggie lift up the corpses. The smell was gag-inducing, to the point where she had to tie her plaid blouse over her mouth and nose. Maggie had pulled out a bandanna, and had done the same. Once they pulled them out of the mud, Maggie directed them further away from the creek. They walked through the trees, bringing one corpse, then the other to a ravine. It was a narrow spot formed by some ancient shift of the earth, dropping off abruptly from the trees. Andrea's initial shock was only magnified when she saw the other bodies down there. Her mind wasn't able to process how many were down there, not because of the amount of bodies, but because of what it suggested.

Maggie had been killing walkers. Alone. She brought the bodies and tossed them in there. Had Andrea paid close attention, she would have noticed that there were only half a dozen corpses, not counting the one's they'd brought.

Those bodies were tossed down without ceremony. Maggie stripped the gloves off, tossing them in alongside them.

“I need to burn them or somethin'. But that would make too much smoke.” She coughed, the charnel smell too much even for the bandanna. “Lets go.”

Once they were away from the hole, Andrea untied her shirt and put it back on. They walked in silence. The silence was as oppressive and strangling as the smell from the hole.

“Don't say anything about this. Please?” Maggie's voice was a welcome sound, even though she sounded frightened. Killing walkers apparently was no big deal, but the idea of being found out was.

“Why?” Andrea stopped. “You know what, you need to cut the crap.”

“What?” Maggie looked at her, confused.

“Start from the beginning. What the fuck is going on here? Does your family not know about this?”

The younger woman sighed. “No, they don't know. And they don't need to know. I don't want them to know.” Her big green eyes were pleading, negotiating. “Walkers wander close to here, and get stuck in the mud. I get rid of them.”

“Is that the whole story?” Andrea knew that it wasn't. It couldn't be, not judging by the way Maggie was acting.

“Yes...”Maggie averted her gaze briefly. “It is.”

“You're lying.” Andrea stepped closer to her. “I have no idea why, or what you're lying about, but you are.” Her voice was even, but cutting. It was the same tone she used to use in court when she was cross-examining someone.

“What do you want from me? I don't know you, I don't have to tell you anything goddamn it!” Maggie shoved her away hard enough that Andrea stumbled back, hitting a tree. It was a shock to the both of them.

“I'm sorry.” The younger woman whispered. She looked terrified. Whether it was by her own actions, or by the worry that Andrea might squeal on her, the blonde couldn't tell.

“It's ok. You're right, you don't have to tell me anything.” Andrea's head was still pounding from the smell. “I won't tell anyone about what I saw.”

Instead of thanking Andrea, Maggie did something that shocked her even more. She rushed closer and kissed her, hard. It was unyielding and desperate, her hands gripped onto Andrea's face like she was afraid she'd fall if she didn't. It wasn't so much a kiss as it was a bad decision, something that could lead them both down a road that neither of them should be on. But Andrea kissed her back anyways. She'd been without for too long to care where this was coming from.

Maggie sank against her, the heat of her body too much combine with the sticky heat of the woods. “Sorry. I don't know why I did that.” She murmured, but she didn't let go of Andrea.

The older woman let her hold onto her, eventually doing the same. She was too young, too vulnerable. She was the kind of woman Andrea would've avoided in the past.

“It's ok.” She kissed Maggie's temple, tasting sweat. The younger woman's hands slid down to her hips and Andrea stopped breathing.

“If you don't tell, I'll do whatever you want.”

“No.” Andrea pushed her away. “No, you're not gonna buy my silence with that. I'm not going to say anything to anyone about what I saw.” She tried to choose her words carefully. “You don't have to bribe me.”

Maggie nodded, her embarrassment apparent at having offered that.

“Lets get back before they start to miss us.”

When they reached the edge of the trees, Maggie spoke up.

“What if I want to do that with you.” She looked at Andrea. “Not because of what you saw, but because I want to?”

Andrea considered it. It was a bad idea.

“That's fine.” She cursed her own weakness, but Maggie had pretty green eyes, and she could still feel her kiss on her lips. “Just let me know when and where.”

“Tonight. The stables.” Maggie exhaled.

“Alright. I'll see you then. Maggie...”

“What?”

“At the creek...did you ever find a little girl. Short blonde hair, skinny?” Andrea hated that she had to ask her, but she had too. Sophia had been gone for too long for her to think she was still alive. Hell, she almost hoped that Maggie would say that, yes, she did find her, and did bash her head in. It would be a mercy. Then at least they'd know. At least Sophia wouldn't be suffering.

The younger woman shook her head. “No. I haven't found any children.” Andrea still couldn't tell if she was telling the truth. She hoped Maggie was.

“Alright.” Andrea sighed. “I'll see you tonight.”

The brunette took off towards the barn, leaving Andrea alone. The blonde wondered how many other secrets were being kept on the farm. She had one of her own now, and everyone else did too. Lori had the secret of having screwed around with Shane, even though everyone knew about it except for Rick. Dale had his. Glenn and Daryl didn't bother with that, which Andrea admired them for. If any of them had any sense, none of them would be so secretive.

**

Giving Carol the rose had been tougher than Daryl had anticipated. He didn't know what to do with her pain, especially knowing that the only relief would be to find Sophia. He kept reaching into his pocket to touch the scrap of cloth. It was both hope and despair.

Glenn had welcomed him back with a smile, which had fallen as soon as Daryl told him about his encounter with Rick. He could tell that the younger man was expecting him to say that it was over, that it wasn't worth the trouble. When Daryl told him about just moving the tent away, the smile returned. Glenn suggested that they leave his tent where is was, and just set up Daryl's by the crumbling wall at the edge of the field. Like that it would look like they were apart, even though they wouldn't be.

“Yer the smart one, that's for sure.” Daryl told him, as he started a fire at their new home.

“Thanks for noticing.” Glenn was sitting cross-legged on the ground. “Rick had a point though. What if Herschel's a massive homophobe and kicks us out?” He picked at his nails. Apparently he was picking up Daryl's bad habits.

“Kid, don't worry. As long as I'm around, trouble ain't gonna find you.” Daryl sat next to him, putting his arm around Glenn's shoulders. “We'd just hop on my motorcycle, and head somewhere nice.”

“Like Florida?” Glenn snaked his arm around Daryl's torso, his hand resting on his hip.

“Why the hell not. We could live on a beach, or move into Disney World. I've always wanted to go anyway.” The older man slid his hand to the nape of Glenn's neck. He gently squeezed it, and moved his thumb in circles over the knob of vertebrae that pushed against the skin.

“Sounds like a plan.” Glenn felt those words come up his throat again. Those three magical words he'd felt that morning, dancing on the tip of his tongue. Again, they couldn't come out. Tomorrow, he'd try to say them, because he knew for certain that they were real and meant something.

He was in love with Daryl. With each day that passed, he knew it for certain. As scary as it was, it was also the best feeling he'd felt in a while. Perhaps it was too soon, too quick. If things were normal, Glenn would not have let himself fall so quickly. He didn't have that luxury anymore. Good things were fleeting now, and if you didn't grab onto them, they'd pass you by.

**

The stables were dark, but it didn't matter. Not when Andrea was between Maggie's legs, her hand moving hard and fast. The younger woman was holding onto her like she had earlier, gripped on and desperate. But this time it was because Andrea had her on the edge of orgasm. When it happened, her legs wrapped around Andrea, knocking her down towards her on the bales of hay. Their kisses were just as hungry as they'd been in the woods. Apparently neither of them had realized how starving they were until they got a taste again.

It was over too quick for the both of them, but that was to be expected. Neither of them had been with anyone in a long time. Andrea left the stables first, her mind still swimming from the encounter. Maggie had insisted on making her cum first, and she still felt shaky from it. The sensation of the younger woman's tongue against her cunt still lingered. The next time, if there was a next time, Andrea would have to return the favor. That was something she could look forward to. Survival meant holding on to the smallest things to get you through each day. This was as good a thing as any.

Andrea made her way back to the RV. Despite being late, she knew she had to keep her promise to Carol. She'd promised to stay with her every night. It was until Sophia was found, but neither of them had added that stipulation out loud. Carol was asleep already by the time she got in. Andrea washed up quickly in the bathroom, then laid down next to her. She fell asleep much quicker than any other night before, thanks to Maggie. The sounds the brunette had made in the stables still rang in here ears, making a soothing lullaby for the blonde. She was so used to hearing nothing but pain, it was a relief to hear pleasure again.

Once she was sure Andrea was asleep, Carol opened her eyes and turned towards her. She stared at the other woman's face. Her eyelashes looked nice when her eyes were closed. Carol liked watching her breathe. It was soothing. As long as she was watching the exhale and inhale of air from Andrea's mouth, she didn't think about what was happening around her. She counted the other woman's breaths until she fell back asleep, trying to ignore the gnawing feeling regarding why Andrea might have been so late getting back.