After The End
Daryl squinted as sunlight filtered through Rosie’s half-transparent tent, hitting him right in the eyes. With an inward groan, he rolled slightly so he was laying on his back, the heavy breathing of the blonde next to him enough to tell him that she was still fast asleep. He watched her for a moment, admiring her. She was on her side, facing him, curled up with her blonde hair sprawled behind her head. He watched as her chest rose and fell with her breathing, her mouth slightly parted. He knew she would hate the fact that he was watching her sleep, but he found it incredibly peaceful.
After another few seconds of watching her, he slowly made his way out of her tent. He hadn’t bothered taking off his boots or even unlacing them the night before, knowing that he would want to make a quick escape in the morning. He didn’t want anybody knowing about him and Rosie, or at least knowing more than they already did. She was now his weakness and the more people that knew that, the weaker he would get.
He surveyed the area around him, his natural scowl making its way onto his face. His eyes scanned the RV until they rested on Andrea’s figure sitting on top, keeping guard. His stomach flipped as he remembered his conversation with Rosie last night when they’d entered her tent.
“So what are you going to tell Andrea then?” Rosie said quietly, a cheeky, amused smile adorning her face, however he could see how serious her eyes were.
“Huh?” Daryl grunted, looking up at her in confusion from where he sat on her blow-up mattress.
Rosie grinned at him and dropped down so she was sitting next to him. In an almost natural movement, he angled his body towards her, letting his hand fall on her thigh, sending shivers down her spine.
“Well, you told me you and her had a thing the other night-”
She glanced at him, raising her eyebrows. She laced her fingers through the hand that sat atop her leg and he had the sudden urge to yank it back, the touch of someone else being so unfamiliar to him. Instead, he rubbed circles into her skin with his weathered thumb, keeping his eyes on his shoes. It was difficult trying to train himself to relax under the touch of someone else, but every day he was becoming a little bit more relaxed under her touch.
“Oh?” Her soft, nervous voice pulled him from his thoughts.
He cleared his throat before speaking. “I was just… saying that,” he mumbled quietly, embarrassed at what he had said in that moment with the intention of hurting her. Shame coursed through him as he remembered her crumpled face when he’d told her he had kissed Andrea.
Rosie laughed softly, surprising Daryl enough that he looked up at her. His face softened when he saw the look of relief on her face, her beautiful smile lighting up the whole tent in that moment.
“That’s a relief,” she smiled at him and leaned forward to kiss his cheek, ignoring as he tensed slightly. “That’s one less ass I have to kick.”
Daryl laughed quietly at her words, imagining the tiny blonde girl trying to kick anyone’s ass. “Lucky her,” he joked, making Rosie laugh again. His heart swelled with pride as he looked down at the younger girl and felt her squeeze his hand, knowing that in some sort of way she was his now.
He took a deep breath before he spoke again, letting his eyes rest back on his dirty boots. “What about Shane?”
Rosie looked at him, confused. “What about Shane?”
Daryl shrugged, trying to seem nonchalant under her intense gaze. “Well, don’t you guys-”
“No!” Rosie’s voice rose accidentally and Daryl shushed her, worried that someone would realize she wasn’t in her tent alone. “Sorry,” she continued, whispering now. “But no Daryl! Is that what you think? That I’ve got something going on with Shane?”
Daryl shrugged again, embarrassed now. “S’just … obvious that he, you know, likes you, and-” he tried not to let his anger at the other man show, not wanting to seem possessive.
Rosie put a hand on his cheek, forcing him to look at her. She was so surprised by his behavior tonight and his honesty with her, and she only hoped that he wouldn’t turn around and be his normal grumpy self the next day.
“Daryl,” she whispered, hand still cupping his jaw. “Nothing’s going on with me and anyone. It’s only you.”
Andrea heard Daryl’s footsteps down below and greeted him. All he did was nod up at her, avoiding her gaze.
“Here!” She called and threw something down to him. He caught the granola bar with ease and nodded a thank you before she turned away. As he began his breakfast, he approached the hood of the truck that had unofficially become their planning station for Sophia’s search. Rick was already stood there with T-Dog, pouring over a map and talking quietly.
“Hey,” Daryl greeted as he approached them receiving nods from the two men as they began to brief him on their plans for the day. After a few minutes they were joined by Andrea and Shane, Glenn now keeping watch over the fields.
As Daryl filled them in on his plan to take one of Herschel’s horses and get a birds eye view of the entire forest, he yanked on a flannel shirt he’d come across in the early days. He ignored the jibes he received from T-Dog about the chupacabra he’d seen, instead going over his crossbow and making sure it was ready.
“Hey guys,” a soft voice sounded from behind him and he turned to see Rosie approaching them. Her long hair was pulled up in a high ponytail and she’d changed her shirt, now wearing a tight-fitting tank top that did things that made Daryl blush. She smiled sweetly at him as she squeezed in next to him, her thumbs hooked in the pockets of her jeans.
“Sleep okay?” T-Dog asked his friend with a smile.
“Best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while,” she answered, noticing as Daryl shifted next to her at her words.
“I like that top on you, Ro,” Shane spoke, smiling at the younger girl.
“Thanks,” she mumbled, looking away awkwardly. She didn’t miss how Daryl shifted his position again, this time moving closer to her protectively. “So what’s the plan for today? What do you need me to do?” She asked the group, squinting up at Rick.
Before he could answer the girl, Daryl was pulling Rosie by the arm away from the group, his crossbow over his shoulder.
“What?” She laughed as they stopped when they were out of earshot of the others.
“I want you to stay here,” he said seriously, his hand still gripping her arm but much gentler now.
“Hell no!” she began to argue. “I want to find Sophia just as much as you do, Daryl.”
Daryl sighed, fighting to resist his natural urge to insult her and leave. “Look, Rosie, it’s not safe. Just stay here for today. Okay?”
“No, Daryl,” Rosie’s voice turned pleading as she stared up at him, her eyes begging. “I’ll be safe if I’m with you. You know I can fight.”
“This ain’t about me not thinking you can handle yourself,” he said, impressed with himself. “But I want to do this alone and I don’t trust that you’ll be okay out there with anyone else.”
Rosie folded her arms across her chest, staring angrily down at her boots. Daryl smiled slightly at her mini-tantrum before putting a finger under her chin and lifting it so she looked him in the eye.
“Can you do this for me?” he asked, letting his eyes bore into hers.
Rosie watched him before sighing dramatically. “Fine,” she threw her hands up in the air. “I’ll stay home and wash clothes and make dinner for everyone like a good little woman.”
Daryl smirked at her, moving his hand from her face. “Thank you.”
He looked around him and, when he saw that no one was watching the two, he swiftly leaned in and kissed her forehead before turning to go.
“Be careful!” She shouted after him, her voice filled with worry as she watched him walk away.
“Always am,” he called back without turning around, making her roll her eyes.
“Daryl Dixon,” she muttered to herself. “You’re going to send me grey.”
Mid-afternoon, Rosie was sat on a swinging loveseat that hung from one of the big oak trees that adorned the Greene’s farm. Maggie had been sat next to her for the past half hour or so. Both girls knew that they were supposed to be helping around the farm, but neither could be bothered to move from the comfortable positions they’d found themselves in.
Rosie felt drawn to Maggie, most likely because of the similar ages they shared. She’d always been one of those girls who had a big group of girlfriends, and she’d missed the company she had been so used to maintaining from her former life. She missed the girly chats and the endless laughs, and she found comfort in that when she spoke to Maggie.
Maggie was telling Rosie about her first boyfriend and how Herschel had found them in the barn when she was sixteen, causing the girls to burst into a fit of laughter. Glenn was approaching them, his brows knitted together as he took in their childish giggles.
“Hey Glenn,” Rosie greeted her friend fondly, sighing as she halted her laughter, Maggie doing the same.
“Hey,” the young boy was fiddling with his hat nervously as his eyes drifted to Rosie’s newest friend. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
Rosie noticed Glenn’s eyes darting back to her and she took his hint immediately, standing up and clearing her throat. “I’m starving, gonna go find some food,” she smiled at Glenn before turning to Maggie. “I’ll come find you later.”
Maggie smiled at her and Rosie squeezed Glenn’s arm as she passed him, heading back to the group’s camp away from the farmhouse.
As she neared the group, her eyes narrowed and her heart rate sped up. Something was happening at the group. She glanced behind her to see that Glenn had also noticed and was now jogging close behind her. Rosie began to pick up her pace, falling into a run as she watched Rick, Shane and T-Dog head into the fields near the forest, adorned with weapons. Glenn began to take off after them while Rosie reached Andrea and Dale.
“What’s going on?” She asked, panicked.
“Walker!” Andrea shouted, her voice sounding oddly excited. Rosie looked up at her frowning before looking back to where the men were gathered around a body.
“Andrea, don’t shoot,” Dale warned the younger woman but she ignored him. “You heard what Rick said.”
“Back off, Dale,” Andrea spoke dismissively, now in a lying position so as to keep the rifle steady as she peered through its scope.
“Why aren’t they killing it?” Rosie wondered aloud as she watched the group surrounding the lone dead. Her thought was cut off by the sound of a gunshot. She looked up at Andrea to see the woman smiling proudly, but it faltered at the sound of pained cries.
Rosie’s blood ran cold as she looked back to the men and saw them gathering around the shot body.
“What the hell did you do?” Rosie shouted at Andrea before running down to meet the men, Andrea hot on her footsteps.
The two women and Dale reached them and Rosie’s hand flew to her mouth as she took in the sight. A dirty and bleeding Daryl was being held up by Rick and Shane, clearly losing consciousness.
“Oh my god, oh my god, is he dead?” Andrea was crying hysterically and it took all Rosie had in her to not attack the older woman.
Rick ignored Andrea, instead seeing where Rosie was rooted to the ground a few yards away, watching in horror with her hand over her mouth.
“He’s just unconscious,” Rick said to her, his voice panicked and worried. “She just grazed him.”
Andrea began to fuss over him, trying to justify herself as they all neared Rosie to reach the farmhouse. “I thought he was a walker, I swear!” She was crying now.
Fury filled Rosie’s entire body at the other woman’s cries and, without thinking, she lunged at Andrea, knocking her to the ground and falling on top of her. With an animalistic grunt, she shoved her fist into Andrea’s face before she was pulled away with ease by T-Dog.
“Get her out of here!” Rick yelled, but Rosie wasn’t sure which woman he was referring to.
T-Dog kept a tight hold on Rosie but she wasn’t struggling. Instead she just kept on staring at Andrea with fury, practically forgetting that Daryl was in critical condition, being carried up to the farmhouse. All she wanted to do was take out her anger and worry on Andrea.
Dale was helping Andrea up, both of them eyeing Rosie warily before they headed up to the house as well, presumably to clean up Andrea’s now bleeding face. Rosie was left with T-Dog, who finally released her.
“Who knew you could punch?” T-Dog muttered, mostly to himself, as Rosie began to calm herself down with deep breaths.
As she began to relax and adrenaline left her system, she started inwardly kicking herself at behaving so rashly, especially in front of most of the group. Tears filled her eyes as she suddenly remembered Daryl’s broken-looking body.
“Hey,” T-Dog placed his hand on her shoulder and she looked up at him in surprise, having almost forgotten he was there. “He’s gonna be okay.”
Rosie just nodded and wiped the tears before they could fall down her cheeks, although the man had already seen them.
“Let’s go up,” he spoke softly, moving his arm so it was around her shoulders comfortingly. “Daryl needs us.”
Once they’d reached the main house, T-Dog led the way to the room where the commotion was coming from with Rosie timidly following him. Her eyes were glued to the ground and her cheeks were pink with humiliation at her actions, however her insides were knotted with worry for the man that she’d been kissing just last night.
They both stepped into the crowded room where Rick, Herschel, Patricia and Shane already stood, surrounding Daryl who was still unconscious. His body was twisted slightly on the bed and she could see the rips in the side of his shirt where she was told an arrow had pierced. Her worry-filled eyes flew to the trickling blood coming from his head, where Patricia was holding a crumpled towel, trying to clot the bleeding. Wordlessly, Rosie stepped forward and put her hand on it, asking silently to take over. Patricia dropped the towel and stepped out of the room, muttering something about getting more thread.
“This room is too crowded,” Herschel spoke sternly, not taking his eyes off the wound as he began cut from the hem of Daryl’s tank top.
It was quiet and Rosie looked up to see Shane, Rick and T-Dog watching her. “I’m not going,” she stated firmly. Eventually Shane and T-Dog excused themselves, saying they’d come back when Daryl was all stitched up and conscious.
Herschel continued to cut the shirt and Rosie stepped closer to Daryl’s head to allow him access to the back. As the shirt fell open, Rosie couldn’t stop her eyes from widening at the sight. Thick, angry-looking scars adorned most of Daryl’s back, decorated with countless smaller, white ones. They had obviously been there for years and years, shaping to his body as it grew and Rosie could only imagine the torment he had suffered.
I guess this explains why he doesn’t like to be touched, she thought sadly, not being able to tear her eyes away.
She only took her eyes off his painfully scarred back when he began to stir, his brows pulled together in a disturbed frown. Herschel had begun stitching the wound on his side, causing Daryl to wake. With a jolt, he was fully conscious and trying to sit, but Rick gently pushed him back down.
“I’m almost done,” Herschel said, very obviously ignoring the scars just like Rick, however Rosie couldn’t help her eyes from darting back to them. They were right in her line of sight.
Daryl leaned back again, grimacing at the pain of the needle, before he began to properly take in his surroundings. He looked over at Rick, relief evident on his face when he saw no one was in the doorway, but his eyes grew furious when he noticed Rosie standing right by his back, still holding the bloody towel to his head.
“What the hell are ya doin’?!” He yelled angrily, causing her to jump. He was trying to roll onto his back while simultaneously grabbing at his cut shirt, trying to cover up his body. “Get the hell out!”
“I-I, uh,” Rosie stammered, surprised by his sudden anger especially after his good mood with her this morning.
“Get out, get out!” His voice was rising as he got more and more agitated, moving about while Herschel was still trying to help him.
“I think you should leave, Rosie,” Rick said calmly, sympathy in his eyes as he looked at her.
“Get the hell out!” Daryl shouted again until Rosie backed up and dropped the towel onto the bedside table.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her voice filled with shocked confusion and her eyes threatening to tear up again. She took hurried steps towards the door, not allowing herself to glance back at the injured man.
On her way out the door, she couldn’t stop the tears falling as she heard Daryl angrily call after her. “Stupid bitch.”