carole peletier

So, this has been some days in the making, a few paragraphs a day, and I’d like to thank everyone who has sent one or more of them for your patience with me and these prompts, you’re the best!

There’s only one point in the story where I see this fitting in, so we’re going back to early s3 and join Carol and Daryl on a run on day two after fleeing from the farm. Since this is Daryl, I slightly adjusted the language of the prompt, I hope that’s okay and you like it. Thank you for sending this in!


“I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I’m going to take care of you.”

After they had spent that first night in the wake of Hershel’s farm in a roofless ruin by the road, they took care the next day not to be surprised by such untoward events as running out of gas or having night fall miles from shelter again. Daryl, whose bike was more fuel efficient than any of their cars, scouted ahead for a place to spend the night with Carol behind him, who was holding two empty canisters tied together with a belt so they could take back gas for the cars in case they found a working gas station.

This was the first time they had spent so much time together without anyone else around, yet since for most of it they were sitting on the loud motorcycle, there was little opportunity for thanking him for saving her from the fire and the walkers - which for some reason she hadn’t wanted to do with the others listening in.

Only when he stopped the bike at a decrepit gas station and kicked down its stand with his left boot did she stand in front of him after getting off as he was still pulling the key from the ignition. He squinted up at her, tension in his posture and the lines on his face as if he were expecting criticism. She noticed that he was gnawing on his lower lip and realized, surprised, that he was as nervous as she was.

“I just …”

As soon as she had started, her heart in her throat, spots dancing in front of her eyes, she ran out of words again. How could she talk to this closed-off redneck trying his best to hide his good heart without scaring him away or appearing condescending?

He was swinging his leg over the saddle now, and she took a step back to give him room. Acknowledging this with a wordless nod, he reached out for the two canisters she was still carrying, and she handed them over. Turning toward the pump he had stopped next to, he unscrewed the cap of the first canister, took out the nozzle for high octane fuel, and pressed the lever.

Nothing.

Turning around, he frowned at the door of the little store where the cash registers for the station were probably located as well. The sign still gathering dust in the glass door read, “YES, WE’RE OPEN!” With a little grunt, he squeezed the lever again and waited patiently. After maybe a minute’s wait, there was a gurgling sound deep within the pump, and then the first drops started falling out of the nozzle.

“Didn’t shut down the place before runnin’ or we’d be screwed - that locks the pumps,” he muttered without facing Carol. “Sale’s room’s prob’ly open, too, maybe check it for motor oil and food?”

With a nod, Carol set out toward the door, but Daryl stopped her on her second step.

“Wait.”

The wheezing gurgle of the pump stopped as he set down the canister and put the nozzle back in its cradle. Looking back over her shoulder, she wondered if he was going to accompany her inside - but then he reached for his hip and drew his huge hunting knife from its sheath. Handing it over, he watched her take and heft it, then stepped behind her, shaking his head.

“Ya hold it like this,” he explained, plucking the knife out of her nerveless fingers as his hot body - was he running a fever again after getting injured only three days ago or did he just feel this hot to her? - pressed itself against her back. Holding the knife in his right hand, his left reached across Carol’s abdomen to grasp and lift her right arm, even as he lifted his own right arm, knife in hand.

Transferring the knife from his hand to hers, his own right hand enfolded hers, pulling her arm back and up until the knife was almost next to her ear. With his left arm still hot against her abdomen, holding her close so they would move together as if in a dance, her back still to him, he slowly started walking forward, making her move in concert with him.

“Ya hold it like this, and walk like this, minimal noise,” he murmured into her ear, his breath hot, his voice a low growl that would be impossible to hear just five yards away. Disconcertingly, she suddenly felt his heartbeat thrumming against her shoulder blade, and the bandage on the exit hole of his bolt in his left side. His smell of dust, smoke, and sweat was enveloping her and she wondered if he was as conscious of her body as she was of his.

“‘m makin’ tons a noise with that pump, so even if the place ain’t as deserted as it looks you should be good goin’ in there. Ya keep the knife up and ready, and if one a those things comes at ya, ya go for the eye, the temple, or the underside of the jaw, like this.”

He expertly turned her hand along with his so the tip of the knife was pointing at the sky while at the same time lowering both their forearms slightly, and then executed a fierce, quick stab upward and out that would have taken a walker of roughly her own height through the lower jaw, and driven the tip of the knife into its cerebellum. His movements - and hers along with them - felt fluid and choreographed, as if he had been taking out walkers for years. Decades of hunting, it seemed, had been the ideal training for the world they were now trying to survive in.

Stepping away from her, he seemed to realize only now how close they had been to each other - a blush started spreading from his neck up into his cheeks and ears, and he looked down at his boots. Her heart missed a beat.

“Ya used to handguns?” He was already reaching back for his saddlebag and she remembered the uproar over Carl stealing a gun from Daryl’s bike - probably Merle’s as well, like the bike itself.

She had turned back again to face him, and as she shook her head in answer, he lowered his hand again.

“Alright, if there’s people in there, with guns, ya try to run, and call out for me, an’ I’ll come.” He plucked his crossbow from its rack on the bike and leaned it against his leg before pulling out the gas pump’s nozzle again to resume filling his canisters. “Anything goes to hell out here, I’ll be comin’ in if there’s too many. If the place is empty, just check for food, oil, meds, batteries, first aid kits, maybe plastic bags, and come back out again. I’ll come in once I’m done here.”

She nodded and was turning away again when he seemed to remember something.

“You wanted to say somethin’, earlier.”

“Yes, I wanted to thank you for coming back for me at the farm, despite the fire and the walkers.”

Talking was easier this time - but why were her cheeks feeling so hot? Why was her heart racing?

Daryl didn’t look quite so distant and angry as he usually did as he lowered his head, avoiding her eyes.

“Anyone woulda -,” he began, then stopped himself as they both realized that this was probably not true, especially since the group had purposely abandoned Andrea to her fate without even checking if she was still alive. His hands fiddled with the pump nozzle and he shuffled his feet, careful not to tip over his bow. After one or two seconds of this, he was finally able to look up at her again.

“Look, I know I come across like an asshole, like a piece of trash, but … “ He managed to take a deep breath, looking down and to the side once more, before facing her again. When he continued, his voice was as soft and gentle as it had been in the RV during the legend of the Cherokee rose. “I know it don’t seem like that, but I’m gonna take care of ya, okay?”

And then, even more softly, “You’re not alone out here.”

With a quick jerk of his head, he looked down at his hands and focused exclusively on the pump nozzle and the canisters once more, blushing furiously.

Carol’s heart did a double take as tears shot into her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered, waited for his answering nod, and set out for the door.

The decision was made a long time ago, before any of us knew each other.  We were all strangers who would’ve just passed each other on the street before the world ended.  And now we mean everything to each other.  You were in trouble.  You were trapped.  Glenn didn’t know you, but he helped you.   He put himself in danger for you.  And that started it all, from Atlanta, to my daddy’s farm, to prison, to here, to this moment now.  Not as strangers, as family.  Because Glenn chose to be there for you a long time ago, that was the decision that changed everything.  It started with both of you, and it just grew.  All of us.  To sacrifice for each other.  To suffer, to stand, to grieve, to give, to love, to live, to fight for each other.  Glenn made the decision, Rick.  I was just following his lead.
— 

Maggie Rhee