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Stories and Secrets

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“Tell me a story about my dad.”

Daryl expected the question every time he came to Alexandria. Another reason why he didn't like coming back. The memories he shared with Rick were… private. Neither breathed a word, but maybe they should have. Would have made losing him a lot less painful.

Glancing out from the corner of his eye, his gaze went to the Stenson hat atop Judith's head. Then to the blue eyes that weren't Rick's, no matter how many times Rick claimed otherwise. There were times where a flash of pain crossed Rick's face when he looked at his daughter, quickly shoved away.

“You got enough stories from yer ma,” Daryl rasped.

“I want one from you.”

Daryl huffed something that could have been mistaken as a laugh. His mind swirled with memories that were his only companion. Late nights in the prison watch tower. Out by the shed in Alexandria. Even the barn right before the storm blew through. Then it all changed.

“Yer dad was a shitty hunter. Couldn't track nothin’. Tried to shoot a squirrel with his gun once. Blew the fucker up.”

“I'm still a kid, you know.”

A smirk twitched on his face. “Yer Rick's kid. Gonna hear a shit-ton worse.”

There was shuffling beside him, but he ignored it. She got squirrely sometimes. Most kids did. Maybe he should…

No, it wasn't his job to teach her to hunt. That was ‘Chonne's. Her Mama. Not the crazy outsider who lived at the end of the territory who searched the river night and day for six years.

“Long time ago, the group got split up. Rick thought you was dead. When he saw ya again, never saw him that happy b'fore.” Daryl's voice quieted. He stared out into the water, letting the silence take over, until he felt a tug to the back of his head.

“The hell you doin’ back there?” Daryl grunted, but didn't turn.

Judith just giggled, “Keep going. I want more stories.”

Daryl furrowed his brow when he felt more tugging against his hair, but as long as she wasn't yanking it out, she could do what she wanted. “What you wanna hear?”

“When'd you meet?”

“Way before you were born,” another tug, another section of hair, “he found your big brother and your birth mama in my group. I threw squirrels at ‘em.”

“Why squirrels?” Daryl could clearly feel the twisting of his hair, and tried to not roll his eyes. But he didn't stop her.

“‘Cause it's good meat. You gonna tell me what you're doin’?”

“Only if you stay long enough to let me finish.”

Damn, she was smart. Didn't get that from Rick.

He knew people were watching, whispering, but he'd show them later that he could still kick their asses, braids or not.

The fingers paused on his hair, then she turned quiet. “Why won't anyone tell me how he died?”

“‘Cause I ain't ready to tell it. Story don't got an ending yet.”