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JOURNEY IN TO MANHOOD

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What a strange thing it is growing up. Even under normal circumstances. There’s body changes, voice changes, emotional changes. Plus, hair starts growing out all over your body. Even worse than all that, there are the desires.

You suddenly start noticing subtle things about others that you wouldn’t have before. Like the way they walk. Or how their hair clings to their neck when its hot out. That they grin well enough for everyone, but only showed their true smile for a select few. Your body seems to take over and you find yourself looking for them so you can be next to them or so you might learn a new subtle detail about them.

Is this what they call a crush? Infatuation? Love?

Either way, experiencing it for the first time is hard enough without the added strain of fighting for your life on a day to day bases. How was any one supposed to find love when one of you could be gone in the blink of an eye.

Sure people can do it, point and fact Maggie and Glenn had, but they were lucky. They found each other at the start of all this, were past adolescents, and old enough to have experience in the subject. So it was easy for them. However, the same couldn’t be said for Carl.

In his mind he was already at a disadvantage. Younger than the rest by at least 6 years, not as emotionally experienced, harden by growing up during the apocalypse, and worst of all missing an eye. All that didn’t change how he felt though. He had these feelings for someone in his group and didn’t know how to handle them.

Thankfully, when he was having problems, there was always someone he could talk to. Someone who didn’t judge him or treat him differently because of his age. Someone who would give his honest option no matter how much it might hurt him. Then again, that was his nature. Cold, harsh, uncaring of the options of others. Even still, he was loyal to a fault and eager to help when he could and felt comfortable enough.

After setting out, it doesn’t take him long to find the archer. He’s laying out in the sun with a bandana over his face blocking the bright light. Taking a break from his duties no less. So Carl decides to try and sneak up on him and catch him slacking off.

Recalling all the tips Daryl had taught him over the years, he creeps across the ground, careful not to step on any lose gravel or sticks. Daryl is only a few feet away and Carl thinks he’s finely been able to sneak up on the hunter. “The hell you doing, kid?” Carl freezes and tries to act like he’s not there. “Cut the crap. I know you’re there.”

Carl sighs, “Man, how do you always know?” he asks as he sits down next to the lounging Dixon.

“You’re still breathing out of your mouth.” Daryl says lifting the bandana to peek at him. “So what’s the problem this time?”

“Well,” he timidly starts plucking at the grass between his feet. “there is this person I like.”

“Bad idea.” Daryl interrupts.

“What? B-but you haven’t even heard the rest of what I have to say.” He laughs.

“Don’t care. Just know it’s a bad idea.”

“How so?”

“Because it always is.” Daryl groans as he sits up.

“Well, can you at least humor me and let me tell my story anyway?” Daryl takes a heavy breath and waves his hand for Carl to continue. “Alright, so there is this person I like. Thing is, I’ve never dated anyone much less liked anyone before, so I don’t know what to do. How am I supposed to go about it? Especially with this…” he points at his eye.

Daryl looks him over sympathetically. He knew better than anyone how scars can be off putting to others. He only had the benefit of being able to hide it under his clothes while Carl didn’t. “My advice is don’t, save yourself the heart ache. Just forget ‘em and move on. You got more to worry about then getting laid.” He answers bluntly, “That being said, I get that you want to feel connected someone. It can be lonely out here, even if it was the end of the world.” He too starts to pull at some grass as he ponders about what he should say. “Best I can say, tell ‘em how you fell. With some luck, it won’t ruin your friend ship.”

“Has it ever happened to you?”

“Yeah, but it was all so long ago it and they’re probably dead now anyway, so it don’t matter” He says shakes his head. “But what about this girl you like? Who is it? That girl, um what’s her name… Edith?”

Carl scrunches up his face. “You mean Enid?”

Daryl shrugs, “Whatever.”

Carl laughs and shakes his head, “No it’s not her. I mean she’s cool and all, but not my type.”

“Well who else is there?” he shrugs as he thinks about everyone he can. “I don’t know many of the Hilltop people yet. It is one of them?” Carl just shrugged and Daryl scoffs. “Alright fine then, don’t tell me, but to answer your question. Just do what you feel is right. If that means telling ‘em, then tell ‘em. If it means keeping it secret, then do that.” He stands up with a groan and dusts his pants off. “What you do, is up to you because only you will live with those choices, understand?” Carl sighs and nods. “Alright. Well, then….” He reached down and grabs his bow. “Good luck.” Daryl then starts to walk off leaving him sitting on the ground by himself.

Carl sits there for a little while, watching the people of Alexandria and considering his options. His biggest fear was that telling them would completely change everything. They wouldn’t able to hang out like they do now without it being awkward. Even worse, they might just avoid him all together. Then again, it could work out in his favor. Even if the chances were small, the thought warmed him. Being able to be with the one you liked and having them like you too. It’s what everyone want, even during the end of the world.

He weighed the risks for a little longer till he came to a decision. “Alright!” He jumps up full of confidence. “I’ll tell ‘em tonight.”

*

Later that night, as everyone got ready for dinner, Carl sat up in his room. How should he go about admitting his feelings? What should he say exactly? What would he do if they rejected him? What if they didn’t? Countless questions flooded his mind as he tried to plan out each and every detail. Yet, no matter how much he planned, it would still have to wait till after dinner.

“CARL! Dinner’s ready!” his dad yell from down stairs. So, with a deep breath, Carl pushed himself to stand and heads down to join them.

Dinner is none the less hectic than any other day. Rick tried to talk about his day and feed Judith who seemed to want to play with her food more than eat it. Michonne laughing at his attempts before taking over and getting her to eat. Carl would normally be right alongside Michonne laughing, but today he was distracted with his thoughts.

“Carl you alright?” Michonne asked as she put a spoon full in Judith’s mouth. “You’ve hardly touched your food.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. Not really that hungry right now, I guess.” Carl looks down at his still mostly full plate. “Would it be alright it I put the rest of this up and ate it later?”

“That’s fine.” Rick nods with a mouthful. “Just make sure you do eat it. Can’t be wasting food.”

Carl stands up nodding and takes his plate. He places it in the fridge and goes to give Judith a kiss on the head. “Night everyone.”

“Night Carl.”

“Goodnight sweetie.”

Carl walks calmly up the stairs, but darts in to his room once he reaches the top. He quickly, but quietly closes his door and locks it. Then rushes to the window and forces it up. Climbing out, he steps carefully across the roof till he gets to the back of the house where he can safely jump down.

Then, while using the cover of night, he runs alongside the wall till he reaches a place in the wall Enid had shown him was easy to climb over. He knows if his father knew what he was doing he would be furious with him, but at least he wasn’t going far. He takes one last look around before starting his climb up the inner walls. Once he’s safely on the ground on the other side, he looks around for any walkers but doesn’t see any so he takes off for the burnt church.

He moves quietly and swiftly so the night guards down see him. Last thing he needed was to be mistaken for a walker or something, and get shot. Thankfully thought, he makes it to the church without drawing any attention to himself and slips in side to head up to the steeple.

Carl tries to be as quite as he can, but the old wooden steps creak as he walks up. He figures that alone would have hinted to his being there, but it apparently didn’t. Because when he pushed on the off kilter door open, he spots something he never would have expected to see.

Daryl was sitting there on the floor with his hair covering his face. Even still, Carl could tell his cheeks were red and flustered and the fact he didn’t shoot him on the spot lead him to believe his eyes were closed. Below that, his shirt was pulled up in to his teeth, revealing his stomach with a sheen of sweat. His jeans were pushed down to his knees but his boxers were only pushed down enough to expose his hand moving a blur.

Carl wasn’t sure what he should focus on. Daryl’s face as it twisted in self pleasure, or his swollen and weeping man hood. Part of him wanted to reach out and touch him, to replace Daryl’s hand with his own. Yet another part told him he should get out of there. Daryl was known to get violent when he felt vulnerable, and what was more vulnerable than being caught with your pants down?

Against his better judgment, he starts walking forward. After all, he had come here with a plan in mind and wasn’t going to be deterred now. So with a pounding heart he steps gently on the wooden floor, closing the distance between them. However, despite his carefulness, one wrong steps alerts Daryl to his presents and in that split second before Daryl’s eyes are on him, Carl feels he’s made a grave mistake.

“Carl?! What the fuck?” Daryl yells as he tries to cover himself up. “Get the fuck out of here!”

“I’m sorry.” He whispers and takes a half back. “I just - needed to talk to you and umm...” he looks the older man over and feels his stomach knot with excitement. “I’m – I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“What the hell are you doin here anyway.” Daryl’s managed to pull his boxers up but his face is much rosier now from the embarrassment of being caught. “Shouldn’t you be at home in bed?”

Carl gazes at him thought the dark till his eyes linger down to Daryl’s still hard dick. He then looks back up at Daryl before slowly dropping down and crawling closer to him. “Carl?” Daryl’s voice trembles and he tries to back up, but hit the wall, “Carl what are you doin?” Carl doesn’t answer. Instead he reaches out for Daryl’s confined member and gently swipes his fingers over it.

The reaction is instant. The budge behind the fabric jumps, along with Daryl’s hips, and he lets out an almost pathetic moan. Surprised, Carl looks up for any sign of anger or silent notion that he should stop. However, when his eyes meet Daryl’s, and the older man is the one who looks away ashamed, he feels his breath hitch.

“What are ya doin kid?” Daryl whimpers while avoiding eye contact. “Ya shouldn’ be playin’ round like this.”

Carl licks his lips and using the same hand he touched him with, tenderly turn his head to face him. “Who says I’m playin?” Daryl’s brow furrows as he tries to understand. So Carl shows him. He leans forward enough to press his lips gingerly against Daryl in a chaste kiss. “Still think I’m playin?”

Daryl sits there quietly looking even more confused. It was clear he didn’t get his point across. “I like you.” Carl confesses. “Earlier when we talked, I was talking about you the whole time. You’re the one I like Daryl.”

“Wha- why?”

Carl didn’t even have to think about it. “Because when I had to kill my momma, you were the only one who actually tried to make me feel better. You didn’t walk on egg shells around me or act like I was a danger or damaged. Then, out on the road, you took a beatin’ to save my dad and me.” He has to stop and swallow back the tears. “You’ve always been honest and straight forward with me even when I was a kid. You didn’t sugar coat things for me to “spare me” like the others. And when my eye happened, you didn’t change how you acted around me. You still picked on me, rough housed with me, and let me tag along even when my dad told you not too. You’re the only one who treats me normally.”

“but… but you’re… and I’m…” he was still so disordered he couldn’t form complete sentences. “Carl, we can’t.” Wounded, Carl starts to pull away. “I mean, your dad, he’d kill me.”

When Carl realizes what it was he was saying and that not all hope was lost, he perks up. “He doesn’t have to know.” He states. “I mean, we could keep it secret from him and everyone.”

Daryl looks at him doubtfully before looking down. “You know as well as I do we can’t do that. It would only make shit worse if we got caught. Not to mention, I’m more than twice your age. How do you think people will react to that? Even now, there are somethings people just won’t accept.” He explains acting as the voice of reason. “‘M sorry, but it would never work.”

Carl sits back on his heels and laments. “Yeah, you’re right.” He weeps. “You’re always right. I just thought, with you, I’d have a chance at feeling normal.” He nervously chews on his lip for a second before standing up and walking away.

“Where you going?” Daryl asks from the floor.

“Home.” He says over his shoulder. “but, can you do me a favor?” Daryl hums in agreement. “Don’t- mention this to anyone. In fact, forget it happened, okay?”

“Carl, I-” Daryl stops short and sighs sharply. “Sure kid, whatever you want.”

“Thanks.” He mumbles before leaving the small room at the top of the steeple.

The walk home was slow and heavy. He didn’t want things between them to change, but he knew it was inevitable after what had happened. Not only had he lost a chance with the person he liked, but he also most likely lost his closest confidante.

He was able stop his tears for the saunter home, but as soon as he reaches his bed, he loses all control again and cries himself to sleep.

~*~

Daryl watched as Carl disappeared in to the darkness of the stairwell. He hated having to hurt the kids feeling but it needed to be done. He more than any understood what carrying around a stigma at that age could do to his future. Even if said future was already limited, there was no reason to risk what he did have for something like love. Especially with him.

With his mood sufficiently ruined, Daryl pulled his pants up and stands up to get back to work. In doing so, he inadvertently spots Carl as he climbs up the wall back in to the safety of Alexandrea. He slips around between the house till he reaches his own and climbs up to the second story. All in all, it was an impressive feat seeing as he wasn’t seen by any of the others on watch.

“So that’s how you got out here without Rick knowing.” Daryl chuckles as Carl close his window and cuts his light out for the night. “Well, good to see you put what I’ve thought ya to use.” He says pulling away from that window to look out of another.

The rest of the night Daryl found himself conflicted over a few things. For starters, why did he react to Carl’s touch the way he had. Was he really that desperate. Also what was with that kiss and why had it excited him even further? It was only a brief kiss but it left him hungry for more. Which was wrong --- wasn’t it?

Rationally, he knew it was wrong. Lusting after a 17-year-old boy and son of your best friend. He had practically watched and helped the kid grow up. So playing on his feelings, even to get his rocks off this one time, would have been sick. It’s why he said no. However, even knowing all that, a side of him was asking why not. Why couldn’t they have a relationship?

Carl was for all intended purposes a man now. He may have reached the physical age of manhood only recently, but he had mentally been one for a while. He had done as much if not more than most men twice his age to protect his loved one. So he wasn’t by any means weak or scared and understood the harsh reality of this world. In truth, Carl reminded him of how he was as a boy.

With that in mind, was how he feeling really all that immoral? They were both men. Men who knew what they wanted and liked. Was it wrong if they found it in each other?

It would come as no surprise to the others if he were to admit openly that he was gay. It was often the topic of many conversations in their earlier days of getting to know each other and was assumed true when he turned down any advances made by the women. However, it would defiantly come as a shock for Carl to admit and the fact he liked Daryl of all people.

Yet, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense that it happened this way. After all, when you are forced to put not only your trust but essentially your life in a stranger’s hands. You are bound to grow close to them as time passes. With enough time and closeness, the idea finding love becomes a possibility. It had proven its self over and over with Rick and Michonne being the first example to come to mind.

So again he asked himself, would a relationship between Carl and him be all that ridiculous?

By the time dawn broke and Sasha arrived to take over watch. Daryl was no closer to understanding his feelings or what he should do. If anything he had thought himself in to a deeper confusion. The one thing he was sure of was that this night was far being forgotten like Carl had wanted.

Exhausted from the events of the night, Daryl shuffled back to his room in the Grimes house. The thought hadn’t occurred to him that he lived under the same roof as Carl. It still didn’t happen to him as he walked in and saw Rick getting ready for the day. He was so tired and drained from over thinking that it’s not until he sees Carl’s bedroom door does he realize how truly awkward this will all be.

Luckily enough thought, the boy’s door was still closed signaling he had yet woken up for the day. Daryl was able to slip into his room without running in to him just yet. He wasn’t purposely trying to avoid him, but did feel it was too soon to start acting like he hadn’t caught him jacking off and then tried to touch him.

That memory, the one of Carl’s fingers stroking him, made him shiver. He never got to finish what he had started up in the church tower and now the effect of it were being felt. His flesh begins to pull tight, followed by that need release. He had planned on going straight to bed, but now with Carl’s longing look in his mind’s eye, Daryl frantically drops to his bed and pulls himself free.

With his hand wrapped tightly, he starts to stroke himself as deviant thoughts of Carl overflow in his mind. The younger boy’s softer hand instead of his, the sweet and forbidden taste of his lips, and his warm and eager breath against his skin. He’s suddenly filled with a hot passion, one that he hadn’t felt in a long time, as he imagines Carl’s smaller frame wrapped around him in a loving embrace. Their moans filling the room till they both erupt win waves of pleasure.

Daryl groans “Fuck!” and comes in his hand. Thick hot white streams spill out and hit the floor. He continues to pump himself till every last drop is stroked out and he is left hunched over and gasping for breath.

When he does catch his breath, he’s relieved but slightly disgusted with himself. “Damn it.” He looks over the stringy mess that is webbed between his fingers. “Rick’s gonna kick my ass.” Shrugging off his vest and pulls off his shirt to clean his hand off. He then tosses the soiled shirt aside and grabs a new one form his closet before climbing in to bed for the day.

~*~

Carl woke when the sun that shined through his window meet his face. He put off get up for as long as he could in favor of sulking in bed. However, when the sound of familiar boots rising up the staircase could be heard, his stomach flips and a knot forms in his throat.

He slips out of bed, crawling over to the door to press ear against and listens to them grow closer and louder till they stop. They stop right outside his door for a brief second before the sound of Daryl’s door opening and closing muffles them further. Discouraged, Carl stands ups and gets ready for the day.

He didn’t have a particularly busy day planned. All he needed to do was see Denise at some point to get fresh bandages and do a couple of hours’ worth of hand-eye coronation training to keep sharp. The rest of the day was free for him to do what he liked, but what he liked was to hang out with Daryl. Which thanks to his pathetic display last night, was now out of the question. He would just have to find something else to occupy his time from now on. Hopefully something that could help him forget his heart break.

Once dressed, he quietly leaves his room and starts to head down stairs. However, half way down, he jumps at the sound of Daryl cursing out loudly. He stops, looking back up at Daryl’s door, half expecting him to come running out with an injury or hear another disturbing sound forcing him to check on him. Yet, when neither happens, Carl pushes himself to turn around and go about his day.

“Morning Carl, feeling better?” his father asks as he pour himself a cup of coffee.

Carl was about to ask what he meant, till he remembered his lie from last night. “Oh, yeah, much better. Thanks.” He forces a smile, “Say dad, you didn’t happen to see Daryl this morning did you?”

“As a matter of fact, yeah.” He takes a sip of his coffee then uses it to point up the stairs. “You just missed him. He headed up to his room a few minutes ago.”

Carl moves around the kitchen to make himself something to eat. “He didn’t, I don’t know, say anything or act strange when you saw him, did he?”

Rick takes a moment to think. “No, can’t say that he did. Just- said morning and headed up to his room. Why do you ask?”

He shakes his head, “No reason. Just, thought I heard him yelling in his room on my way down. He sounded angry. so I thought something might have happened.”

Rick shakes his head as well. “No, if something happened, he didn’t tell me about it.”

Carl sighs in relief. If his father didn’t know anything, then it meant Daryl kept his word and didn’t mention last night. “Oh okay then.” He says taking a bite of his breakfast. “Guess it was just my imagination.”

Rick nods and takes another sip. “Well, I’m gonna be on watch at the main gate today. So, if you find out something has happened, let me know, alright?”

“Yes sir.” He mumbles with a mouth full. Rick chuckles and pats him on the back as he walks out to start his watch.

Carl sits alone, eating his breakfast and thinking about Daryl. What he had heard wasn’t in his imagination. Daryl had yelled about something up in his room and he feared he was the cause of his anger. He was angry about what Carl had did or said and blaming himself instead being angry with him. Further solidifying that their relationship was ruined in his eyes. The best he could hope for was that one day, later on down the road, that they could mend the relationship to some degree and salvage some sort of friendship.

After enough self-loathing to make himself sick. Carl cleans his dishes, puts them away, and then heads to find Denise.

*

The next few hours were busy enough to fill his mind with something other than Daryl. He got his bandages changed, done some training with ball catching and dart throwing, and even played with Judith some before taking her to Carol’s for lessons. However, now he was back in the same pit of despair and to make matters worse, on his way back home, he spotted Daryl coming out of the house, and Daryl spotted him.

“Morning kid.” Daryl said in his normal gruff tone. “Know where ya dad is?”

Carl doesn’t need a mirror to know his face is flushed red. He also knows he asked Daryl to act like nothing happened but he wasn’t expecting this level of disregard. “Umm he- he said he was g-gonna be at the” he clears his throat to steady his nerves. “He said he was gonna be at the main gate today.”

Daryl looks off in the direction of the gate and back down at him with a grin. “Thanks kid.” He flicks the brim of Carl’s hat and walks off.

Shocked and breathing heavily, Carl stands there in the middle of the street. He wasn’t ready to see Daryl so soon or have him act so normal around him. It only broke his heart more. Did he really mean so little to him that the night before didn’t faze him in the least? If that were the case what was he angry about this morning? Had he misjudged their whole friendship from the start. Was his attitude over the past few years his way humoring a younger child he was forced to associate with?

It all infuriated him.

~*~

Daryl forces himself to keep walking. He knows Carl is probably beating himself up over their brief encounter but there is nothing he can do about it right now. Yet, he had a plan to fix it, to fix it all, but he had to get permission first. As messed up as this situation is, or could potentially become, he felt it best to take the precautionary route.

“‘Ey Rick!” he hollers up at the small landing. “Rick?”

“Yeah?” Rick says leaning over the inner railing.

“Come down, gotta talk to ya.”

Rick groans some but comes down none the less. “Alright Daryl, what’s this about?” he asks as he jumps off the ladder.

“Wanted to discuss a quick run with you.” Daryl starts and Rick nods along. “And was wondering if this time, it would be alright to let Carl join me.” He can see the knee jerk reaction run through his friend.

“No, absolutely not!” Rick shakes his head and crosses his arms. “Why on earth do you think I would allow that? He’s got one eye now for goodness sakes.”

“I know, and that’s exactly why he should go.” Rick twists his face in misunderstanding. “Look, he can sit up in his room and bounce a ball or throw darts all day long. But until he gets back out there and really learns how to live, how to shoot and be aware of his surrounding with that missing eye. Then he’s just a boy playing games and that’s gonna get him killed if something were to happen.”

Rick’s cold expression starts to give and he groans, “Yeah—Yeah, your right.” He runs his hand over his face and exhales in frustration. “I’d been hoping we could avoid this for as long as possible, but I guess he’s been talking to you about getting back out there huh?” Daryl just nodded in agreement even though Carl hadn’t say anything to him. “Alright, he can go, but you’re not to take him to far out or be gone longer than a couple days. Understand?”

“Of course.”

“After that, we’ll see about working him in to more runs in the future.” Rick puts his hands on his hips and smiles. “You know, Carl asked me this morning if you had said anything to me. Guess this is what he was talking about.” Again, Daryl just nodded in agreement. “Well, where is it you were planning to go?”

“Was gonna cheek out a shopping center on the edge of the next town and maybe do some hunting.”

“When?”

“Doesn’t matter.” Daryl shrugs. “Can head out now or wait till morning. Whichever you prefer.”

Rick glances down at his watch, then squints up at the sky. “Well, I guess now would be alright. I’ll go tell him to pack his things while you get a car ready.”

Daryl nods. “Alright, meet you two back here in a few.”

~*~

Carl sat on the floor of his bedroom and bounced his ball off the opposite wall. He threw it much harder then was needed because it was either that, or crying and he was sick of crying. He wanted this pain to stop. The physical pain didn’t bother him much anymore; after all he had been shot twice now and after his mother… Well, he figured nothing could hurt him as bad emotionally compared to that, but he was wrong.

“It’s only been a few hours.” He tells himself in some halfhearted attempt to feel better. “You’ll get over it. Give it some more time.”

There’s a knock on his door. “Carl? You in there?”

“Yeah dad, come in.”

His father opens his door and steps in with an enormous smile. “Well, what did Denise say about your eye?”

He catches his ball one last time and holds it. “Said the healing was going good and it didn’t look infected. Still need to wear the bandage though.”

“That’s good.” He keeps smiling and Carl can sense something is off.

“What? - Why are you smiling like that?”

“I was wondering; how would you like to go on a quick run? Shouldn’t take a couple days, but I think it would be good for you to get out of this room.”

“Really?” Carl hops up grinning ear to ear. “You’re serious? I can start going out again?”

“Yeah, why not.” He shrugs and leans against the wall. “In fact, you’re going out now. So get your bags packed and follow me to the gate.”

Carl jumps over his bed, starts grabbing things he’ll need, and stuffs them in to his satchel. He doesn’t know where he’s going yet, but anywhere is better than here right now. Especially when he could run in to Daryl at any moment. At least now, going out on a run, he could clear his mind and focus on a job.

Once he was packed he followed his father out of the house and down the street. “So where is it we’re going?” he asks as he quickly checks his gun over.

“To a shopping center just outside the next town.”

“Uh-huh, and who all’s going?” He asks as a car pulls up to the gate ahead of them.

“Just you and Daryl?”

He halts. “What? Did- did you say Daryl?”

Rick stops too, and looks back at him. “That’s right? Why?” Carl’s heart starts racing. Why was his father sending him out alone with Daryl? Was this his idea or Daryl’s? “Carl, you alright?”

“Y-yeah, – I thought,”

“Do you not want to go?”

Carl looks at his father then towards the car where he spots Daryl climbing out. He’s moves to toss his things from the front seat to the back before turning to look at him and his father. Their eyes meet and Daryl give him a soft smile and jerks his head to motion for him to come on. Carl takes a breath and nods. “Yeah, I still want to go.”

“You sure? Cause when Daryl asked, I told him I wasn’t sure if you were ready.”

“No, no, I’m ready.” He assures his father.

“Alright then.” Rick smiles, “Let’s get going, Daryl is waiting.” His father and him, walked the last few meters to Daryl and the waiting car. “Here you go Daryl. He’s all yours.” Carl throws his things in the back along with Daryl’s. “Take care of my boy you hear me?”

“You got it Rick.” He says as they climb in to the car. Daryl then leans over, across the seats and says out of Carl’s window, “I’ll take good care of him.”

Carl feels his face grow warm. Blushing at Daryl’s promise to take care of him and at his close proximity. He was so close that if he dared, Carl could simply lean forward and kiss him, but he wouldn’t. Not in front of his dad and the others standing around.

“Okay, well I’ll see you two in a few days.” Rick says taping the top of the car. Daryl gives Rick a quick nod and leans back over in to the driver seat to drive off.

It’s a silent ride for the first few miles. Neither saying a word for their own reasons. Daryl, because he was focused on where he was going and his plan. Carl, because he was exceedingly nervous and uncertain of what Daryl had in mind. However, until Daryl told him, or said anything at all, he was left looking out the window and watching the world pass by.

Eventually Daryl came to a stop but it wasn’t anywhere near a shopping center like Carl was expecting. It was more like small town. Very much like the one he grew up in. “Umm Daryl?” he looks out at all the small suburban houses till he hears a door open and he turns to see Daryl climbing out of the car. “Daryl?” He doesn’t say anything as he fetches his things from the back. Or as he shoulders his bag and his bow, then heads off for the closest house.

Carl has to hurry to get out of the car and grab his things before Daryl could leave him behind. “Wa-wait. Where are we going?” he asks in a hushed voice when he catches up with Daryl. “Dad said something about a shopping center, but I don’t see one.”

“Aint no shopping center, kid.” Daryl admits, “Just something I told ya dad so he’d agree to let you come with me.”

“Wait, so you lied to my dad to get me out here alone?”

“Yep.”

Carl feels his stomach flip. What exactly did Daryl have in mind? Was he gonna hurt him as a way of getting back at him for what he had did? “No! Daryl isn’t like that.” He tells himself as he follows him into an abandoned house. “If he had a problem with me, then he would have said something. Not bring me out here to hurt me.” There had to be a simpler explanation, but he didn’t know what it could be yet.

“You check up stairs,” He blindly points up at the roof. “I’ll check down here.” Daryl turns to start his search thought the dining room, leaving him at the foot of the stairs. With a confused and slightly disappointed sigh, Carl heads up to check the second floor.

It was quick work checking the few room that were up-stairs. There were only 3 bed rooms and a bathroom and he had checked all but the last bedroom. The whole time wondering if this was Daryl’s plan the whole time. Force them to work together to get past the awkwardness between them but this was all speculation.

He steps in to the last room and notes it’s the master bed room. The bed was off to the right of the room and still neatly made. However, the rest was like the other rooms he had checked. Disheveled with clothes scattered about, closet doors and dresser drawers left open showing they were empty. Whoever these people were, they left in a hurry a long time ago. Leaving nothing but the musty smell of a forgotten home.

Off to the left he sees another door that was left cracked open. Peering thought the fluttering dust, he can see its most likely a second bathroom. Pulling his gun up, he carefully steps toward it and pushes it open.

It’s empty.

Carl feels a mix of relief and disappointment as he puts his gun back in his holster. The hope wasn’t to kill one of the dead, but to see if he still could with his new handicap. “Maybe next time.” He sighs as he then starts to look about the bathroom for any medicine or first aid kit they could bring back.

He’s rummaging through the cabinets looking for anything useful when he hears Daryl call for him. “Carl?”

“Yeah!” he yells back without halting his search. A few seconds later, he can hear Daryl come in to the master bedroom but stop short. “In here.”

Daryl walks the rest of the way in to the bedroom and stops at the bathroom door, “Find anything?” He asks as Carl pulls out a bottle of lube.

The two look at the bottle before looking at each other. “Uhh, n-no. I didn’t find any –anything.” he stutters, dropping the bottle back in the drawer it came from and pushing past Daryl to leave the bathroom. “What about you?”

“Just a couple cans of food. Look kid,”

“I guess we better check a few more houses then.” Carl has his back to him and goes through the night stands

“Carl…”

“After all, a couple of cans isn’t gonna feed anyone besides Judith.”

“Carl!” Daryl is forced to raise his voice to stop Carl’s nervous babbling. “Enough, alright?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t – I don’t understand why you brought me out here is all. After last night, I thought you would ignore me for a while. In fact, I was kinda hoping you would so I could at least attempt to move on, but you didn’t. Instead, you asked my dad if you can bring me out here, just the two of us. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I mean, you’re the one who rejected me and I know I asked you to act like it didn’t happen but I didn’t expect you to be so, so cruel!”

“Cruel?” Daryl questions as he steps forward.

“Yes, cruel!” Carl repeats as he loses what little control he had on his emotions. “Do you have any idea what is going through my head right now? What all I would like to have happen but I know wont! Just seeing you and being this close hurts!”

“What do you want me to do. Carl?” Daryl asks with an equally frustrated tone. “You want me to let you continue from last night? Want me to throw you on that bed there and have my way with you?” Carl starts to blush as he looks over at the bed. “Is that what you’re thinking about? A quick roll in the hay, that what you want?”

“NO!” Carl shouts.

“Then what is it you want Carl?”

At his wits end, and with Daryl in arms reach now, Carl lets go of all his resolve. He tightly wraps his hands in the leather of Daryl’s vest and pushes him on to the bed. The older man lands with an oomph and before he can take any action to stop the him, Carl climbs on top of him, pinning him to the bed.

“You think all I want is sex! That if I get that I’ll be happy, forget you, and move on?” Carl starts to cry but Daryl doesn’t fight him to sit up or to avoid his tears. Instead he just lays there trapped and lets Carl yell at him. “Why are you being so mean? Why are you doing this when it’s not like you? I thought you knew me better, that I actually meant something to you. So why?” Daryl doesn’t say anything. “Why, damn it!”

Daryl lays there looking up at the crying face of Carl. He didn’t want to take it this far but the kid didn’t react quite the way he was expecting. He wasn’t panning on making him cry even more. “Carl.” He kept his voice low and calm. “Carl stop crying.” He sits back and whips his face giving Daryl room to sit up some and wipe his too.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Daryl.” He whimpers from behind his sleeve. “If you hate me now I’ll understand.” He starts to climb off of Daryl’s lap, “I’ll go wait in the car.” but Daryl takes his wrist to stop him.

“Ya don’t have to,” Daryl whispers. “and I don’t hate you, I never could. I didn’t mean to make you cry but I had to make sure…”

“Make sure?” Carl shakes his head. “I don’t understand.”

Daryl sighs and removes his hand from Carl’s wrist and removes Carl’s hat. “That it wasn’t just sex you were after.”

“But I told you it wasn’t. In the church.”

“I know, but I’ve been lied to before.” He whispers as he leans in and kisses Carl as gently as the night before. “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” He gives him another kiss. “But please stop crying.” And another. Soon Daryl is kissing more than talking and rubbing his hand under Carl’s shirt and up his side.

Carl tried to fight it for the first few kisses, but quickly gives in and ran his hand up Daryl’s neck and into his hair. The over whelming urge to move takes over and he starts to grind against the bulge he felt growing in between his legs. This feels good enough till Daryl showed him something better.

The older man’s hands grip his waist firmly and lift him up with ease. He then turns to drop him on to his back with Daryl above him grinding down against him. His hot breath filling his lungs as their kissing becomes more desperate and his hands wondered over fabric looking for a weakness. Till they find what they are after and rip it open, exposing his heaving chest to Daryl. Carl feels the sudden sting of embarrassment at his pale skin and small stature and tries to hide it from Daryl.

“Don’t” he growls as he pushes Carl’s hands back above his head. “Let me see you.” Carl nods but Daryl still keeps one hand on his wrists as he leans up just enough to see in between them. Then using his free hand, he strokes his fingertips down Carl’s chest till he reaches the warped skin of his bullet wound scar. He lingers there for a second before sliding his hand farther down. Where he undoes Carl’s jeans with one hand, pushes them open, and slip past his boxers with no warning.

Carl moans and arches up in to his hand as Daryl starts stroking him gently. He twists trying to free himself from Daryl’s grip but that only caused him to grip tighter. “D-Daryl, please…” he pants as he tries to get away. “Please stop or… or…” he can’t finish his warning before he erupts in Daryl’s hand. “Oh God, fuck!”

Daryl keeps stroking him through his climax till the quivering stops and Carl’s breath steadies. “Feel good?” he asks nuzzling his face in do Carl’s neck and kissing him.

“Mm-hmm… but what about you?”

Daryl scoffs and pulls his hand from Carl’s jeans and wipes it on the bed cover. “Don’t worry. We’re nowhere near done.” He smiles as he then pulls off his vest and shirt. “Good thing about you being so young.” He helps Carl push off his jeans, fully uncovering his already half rejuvenated member. “You can go again and again before you can’t go anymore.” Daryl then hooks his arm under Carl’s legs and spins him around so he lays on the bed properly. “and I plan to use you up before taking you back home.”

Carl feels his lower stomach pull and he looks down to see he’s fully erect again thanks only to Daryl’s words. He looks back up to see that Daryl had disappeared in to the bathroom and was digging through the drawers. Once he finds what he’s looking for, he returns to the bedroom and tosses it on the bed before he starts to undress. “We’ll be needin’ that.”

Carl looks and notices he’s brought the bottle of lube. “Are we – Are you?”

“Only if you want.” Daryl explains as he crawls on to the bed with him.

“Can – can we try it?”

Daryl grins and nods, “Sure.” He reaches behind him and grabs the bottle. “Lay back for me.” Carl nods and lays back on to the pillows while Daryl squeezes a generous about of the lube on to two of his fingers before then tossed the bottle aside. He then places his fingers at Carl’s virgin entry and rubs the lube around. Carl’s hands fly up to his face as he tries to hid his embarrassment again but Daryl quickly corrects him.

“Nu-uh, put your hands down.” He orders the whole time still gently probing Carl’s opening. Carl whines but puts his hands back by his side like he was told. “Good, now, if this hurts, let me know.” Carl nods and Daryl gradually presses on finger in to him drawing out a dull moan. “You alright?”

“Yeah, just- feels odd.”

“It will get better I promise.” He starts to curl his finger and gently pulls it out before pressing back in. He does this over and over pressing deeper with each small thrust till he hits a bundle of nerves that cause Carl to arch up with surprised pleasure.

Daryl doesn’t give him time to think or to ask what just happened. He instead starts attacking the spot with soft rhythmic strokes drawing more cries of ecstasy. “Daryl Stop!” he begs as he tries to pull away, but Daryl is to quick and too strong for him in his weakened state.

The larger man pins him down, similar to how they were moments ago, and continues his assault on that spot hidden with in him. Soon adding a second finger to stretch him open further. He keeps working his fingers in tandem, till Carl is a sobbing mess begging for more.

“Pl-please Daryl,” he pants as he arches up in to meet his hand. “Please I need more.”

“You sure?”

“Yes. Yes. I’m sure.” Carl pleads wrapping his arms around him.

“Okay then.” Daryl says quickly easing his fingers out of Carl and positioning himself to take their place. He leans down to distract Carl with kisses as he steadily pushes in to his warm core, forever destroying their pure and innocent bond.

Carl pulls from the kiss gasping, “Daryl- never mind, I can’t…”

Daryl bites his tongue to stop himself. It’s been years since he’s felt anything this good and it was taking all his self-control not to thrust deeper in to Carl. He takes a deep breath to steady his mind and then focuses on his aching lover. “Yes you can, just breath.” Daryl coaches him, thought his words were for his own benefit as well. “Just breath through it. Can you do that?” Carl makes a slightly distressed face but nods.

“Okay, I’m gonna start moving now, remember to breath.” Daryl pulls out slowly till all that is left inside is his tip. He has to fight to ignore the sensation of Carl and how incredible he feels for a moment. He eases his way back in and starts setting a steady rhythm. Something he could enjoy without pulling too much stress on Carl’s untrained body.

Before long, Daryl can feel Carl relax and open up to him. His discomfort gives way to pleasure and his pained grunts to pleasant moans. He pulls Daryl closer and starts to push up to meet his each of his thrust. Daryl deepens his angle and Carl responds blissfully. “Yes, oh god yes Daryl.” He cries.

Daryl glances him over and it proves to be his downfall. The once pale skin is now flushed pink, his hair heavy with sweat, and his plush lips chapped from him chewing on them. Daryl drops his head to take those lips in a sweet and tender kiss. Savoring the taste for a moment he then whispers, “I can’t hold back any longer.”

Carl gives him a look, but Daryl ignores it and starts rutting in to him roughly. Shocked by the change, Carl’s grip on him tightens and he feels the young boy’s nails start to dig in to his back, which only prompts him to go harder. The inner walls of Carl start to flutter around him and he could have sworn it was like he was being swallowed whole. “Fuck Carl – I feel like I’m melting.”

“Me-too, God Daryl don’t stop!”

Carl’s panting next to his ear sends his steaming hot breath down his neck making him shiver. Add to that Carl throbbing around him while holding him like he dreamed he simply can’t hold back. He gives a few more quick, rough thrusts before the walls fall around him. “God damn it!” he howls as he milks himself inside Carl and his fingers dig into his slender hips tightly.

Hearing and feeling Daryl growl deeply against him, sends Carl over the edge for the second time. “Ye- ah ah yes, yes!” He moans as he shoots his load in between them.

After a moment of shakes and tremors, the two snap back to reality and start to laugh. “Just won’t work huh?” Carl mocks his earlier words. “Seemed to work pretty well to me.”

Daryl sneers at him. “Shut it kid.” He growls playfully followed by a kiss as he pulls himself from his young lover. Carl whippers at the sudden loss and tries to sit up. “No, don’t move. I’ll get something to clean you off with.”

He smiles and falls back in to the bed exhausted till Daryl returns with a towel from the bathroom. Yet to his surprise, Daryl doesn’t hand him the towel, but instead cleans his stomach off for him. “Thanks,” he mumbles as he watches.

Daryl hums then tosses the dirty towel on the floor before pulling the top quilt off the bed and doing the same it. He then climbs in to bed with Carl and pulls the reaming sheets over them. Once they were both covered to his liking, he relaxes in to the pillows with a satisfied sigh. “You alright?” he asks with eyes closed. “I wasn’t too hard on you was I?”

Carl shakes his head. “No, I’m good. Felt amazing.” He chuckles making Daryl grin and wrap his arm around him. “But now I’m wondering.” Daryl opens his eyes to look at him. “What do you think my dad will say?” Carl questions as he lays there.

Daryl looks down slightly bothered by the topic of his best friend. “To be honest… I don’t know. Can’t imagine he’ll be too happy about it. Might even try to put an end to it.” He yawns. “But let’s not worry about that right now. Let’s just enjoy the time we have and deal with that when it comes.”

“Alright then.” Carl grins and pulls the sheet tighter around them. “Night Daryl.”

“Night kid.” He mumbles against Carl’s hair as he pulls him closer.

*

The next day Daryl let him sleep in while he scavenged the neighboring houses. After he had gathered enough to make the run worth it in his father’s eyes. The two made love again and again just like Daryl had promised. He had lost count after the 3rd or 4th time but he was glad Daryl was true to his word. He felt used and abused but in the best possible way. The only down side was it was noticeable that something painful had happened to him so Daryl created a story for him to tell his father when he no doubt noticed.

“You remember what you’re supposed to say if your dad asks right?” Daryl stops to ask him for the 3rd time on their way home.

“Yes,” he laughs. “We were clearing one of the stores in the shopping center when I heard what I thought was you being attacked. I came running and slipped on a stack of magazines. I feel, landed hard, and that’s why I’m sore.”

“And what was the cause of the sound you heard?” Daryl questions.

“Two dogs out back fighting. You weren’t anywhere near them, but heard it too and came running thinking it was me in trouble. You saw me fall and helped me up before the walkers the dogs attracted could spot us. At which point you helped me to the car and brought me home.”

Daryl smiled and leaned over in the car to give him one last passionate kiss. “Good. Keep to that story no matter what your dad asks ya.” He leans back over on to his side and starts the car to finish driving the last half mile home.

When they pull up to the gate it’s not surprise to either of them that Rick is standing there waiting, and that even thought he had a smile on his face. There was still and underling look of worry hidden in him. Daryl pulled the car in and rolled the window down to talk to him as soon as they are past the gate. “Rick.”

“Daryl.” Rick leans down and smiles at Carl. “So how was it?”

Carl takes a glance at Daryl who is giving him an easygoing grin. “Felt good.” He smiles.

“Anything happen? Anything bad?”

Daryl shakes his head. “Nothing we couldn’t handle.”

“What does that mean?” Rick asks looking between the two of them.

“I’ll explain tonight,” Carl laughs as he climbs out of the car as steady as he could. “Think you’ll be alright to unload the car by yourself?” he asks Daryl.

“Yeah, I’m alright. You just go get some rest kid.” Daryl gives him a secret wink before pulling off, leaving him and his dad alone.

“You alright?” Rick asks looking him over, “You’re standing funny.”

“Sharp as ever old man.” Carl laughs and starts to walk down the road heading home. “but yeah I’m fine. Just lost my footing out there. No big deal.”

Curiously, Rick watches him walk away before looking in the direction Daryl drove off in. He doesn’t know why but something tells him the Carl he sees ahead of him isn’t the same as the one who left him yesterday. He can’t put his finger on it but if he had to guess, it was like Carl seemed to have matured in just the short time he was gone. He was somehow happier. “Guess he really did need to get out and stretch his legs.” He tells himself as he follows Carl home.