Another day, another trip to Atlanta. Even though the sun is out, it is downright chilly. Daryl and Glenn don't run across as many walkers as usual, which makes Glenn wonder if there is a correlation.
"What? You think they're staying indoors?" asks Daryl. "Huddled up in blankets and sipping hot cocoa?"
"I'm just saying…" shrugs Glenn. "Maybe they don't do as well in the cold. Maybe we should be heading north, to like…Canada, not staying here in the south where they flourish. I don't know."
Daryl and Glenn have become pretty adept at outwitting walkers but it is strange that they haven't seen the usual large groups of them. Of course, there could be other explanations. Other scarier explanations, like the damn things are getting smarter. It's not something Daryl wants to think about. He likes to be on the streets as little as possible. Best to just get their shit and get moving. But it's the 'shit' they're looking for that's dragging things out.
With one thing left on their list to find, they are rummaging through a ransacked grocery store downtown. It's the sixth place they've been to.
"Christ, we're never gonna find any," complains Daryl. "Does she really need cali-whatever olives?"
The shelves are nearly empty save for a few things here and there, mostly broken jars of rotting food.
"Kalamata," supplies Glenn. "It's not like Lori'll hate us if we don't bring some back. I just said we'd try."
"Weird craving if you ask me." Daryl nudges a jar that no longer has a label. What's inside is unrecognizable so he decides to leave it alone.
"You think that's weird? My aunt lived with our family for a while when she was pregnant. She became addicted to potato chips. She would eat a couple bags a day. My dad said it was all in my head but I swear that my cousin Eddie smelled like Doritos for the first two years of his life."
Daryl snorts out a short chuckle.
"Well, she's just going to have to live without 'em," declares Daryl. "'Sides, who wants a baby that smells like olives?"
"I think olives are supposed to be good for the skin," informs Glenn.
Daryl turns to him with a look that is more of fond exasperation than the look of irritation he was going for, but Glenn plays along.
"What? I'm just saying…"
They start heading towards the exit when Glenn abruptly stops.
"Great," says Glenn.
Daryl turns to him with concern. "What?"
"Now I'm craving Doritos."
Daryl actually outright chuckles at that. And then everything goes into slow motion because suddenly, from God knows where, there are walkers grabbing Daryl from behind. He watches as a look of horror crosses Glenn's face as Glenn swings the barrel of his shotgun towards him. "Daryl!" But there is no shot to take. They're all over him. The crossbow is just as useless. He drops it and focuses on struggling to get away from the hands that claw at him, the teeth snapping to get a piece of him. It feels like there's at least a dozen. He already knows it's a losing proposition. But then Glenn is shoving the shotgun barrel into one geek's mouth and pulls the trigger, sending shards of skull and brain matter exploding backward. Despite the ringing in his ears, he is grateful to know that there is one less weight working to kill him. "Daryl!" He fights with all his strength while Glenn fires again and again at point blank range into their skulls. One last blast and Daryl can't hear out of his left ear anymore but Glenn is suddenly pulling him free and, grabbing the crossbow, they are running, running out of the store and into the street where there are more of them. Fuck. It's like the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade of walkers. They're running, sprinting for the side street they've come to know so well but they know they don't want to draw the walkers to their entrance. Normally their rambling, double-back route takes a little time to run but today it takes no time at all. With their adrenalin running at full bore they hop a couple fences with ease and drop into the alley entrance that leads to their refuge.
Once the door is secured and they are inside, the flashlight is on but there isn't enough light. They race up the stairs, stopping several times when their lungs rebel at their exertion. But even before they are recovered they are running again. They need the light. They need to know.
They're both sweating profusely and struggling for breath when they finally reach the top. Daryl's hands are shaking too much to bother with buttons. He rips his shirt off over his head and they're both frantically scanning his torso for the bite marks that surely must be there. His hands follow his eyes to confirm what he sees. Glenn checks his back.
"Where..?" chokes out Glenn, still unable to catch his breath. "Did you feel..?"
"I…don't know. Can you see..?"
Inexplicably, there are no bite marks. They check again. And again. But there is nothing. It's unbelievable.
They're both in shock. How is it possible that he made it through that unscathed? He stares at Glenn who can only stare back in wide-eyed disbelief.
Daryl feels like he's going to fall over. He leaves Glenn standing there and walks towards a chair but doesn't sit. He leans against it for a second, reeling from what just happened.
He shakes his head to try to collect himself but his brain is just not functioning properly. He looks down and remembers that he's shirtless. He suddenly decides that he needs a new shirt.
Although still a little unsteady, he climbs the stairs to the second floor and heads for the walk-in closet in the master bedroom. He scans through the shirts hanging in the closet without actually seeing them. He's still in too much of a fog. He shakes his head again, the ringing in his ears not helping matters.
He grabs an expensive polo and uses it to wipe the sweat out of his eyes. He drops it to the floor and reaches absently for another one. As he's buttoning the shirt up, he catches his profile in the full-length mirror and he uses it to check himself over again.
He just can't believe he wasn't bitten. Someone upstairs must be watching out for him. Then it hits him. Somebody down here was watching out for you, dumbass, and his name is Glenn.
Glenn. Jesus. He turns to go in search of the young man.
He stands at the top of the stairs but doesn't see Glenn on the first floor anywhere. He turns to check out the second floor. He finds him in one of the kids' rooms.
The room itself is decked out in a Toy Story theme, with Buzz Lightyear obviously being the child's favorite character. There are various incarnations of the Buzz Lightyear doll scattered about the room, Buzz Lightyear light fixtures, and even Buzz Lightyear bedding.
The room has a happy feel to it, which is the exact opposite feeling Daryl gets when he sees the somber figure sitting on the edge of the bed with his head cradled in his hands.
Daryl walks in quietly and leans back against the closet door. He takes a deep breath and crosses his arms over his chest. Normally, he wouldn't feel the need to say anything but there is one thing he needs to address.
He clears his throat before beginning. "If I ever get bit…"
"Don't," Glenn interrupts in a stronger voice than Daryl expects.
But Daryl isn't to be deterred. "If I get bit, I want you to…"
Glenn's head snaps up, agitated. "Don't you ever fucking ask that of me!"
Daryl is surprised by his reaction. "So, you'd rather…"
This time, Glenn jumps up from the bed and grabs Daryl by the collar, shoving him hard into the closet door.
"Don't you fucking dare ask me to put a bullet through your head!" shouts Glenn. "I won't do it!" Daryl watches as tears fill his eyes, and he clutches Glenn at the wrists where he is still gripping Daryl's shirt. "I can't," Glenn's voice breaks. He swallows and takes a shaky breath, trying to blink away the unshed tears.
Glenn gives him one last shove and pushes himself away. But Daryl doesn't let him. He tightens his grip on Glenn's wrists and holds him there. Startled, Glenn stares questioningly into Daryl's eyes.
Daryl isn't sure what he's doing, what he wants. Except that's a lie. A lie he's been telling himself for some time now because when he watches Glenn glance at his mouth, all Daryl can think is God yes. But when Glenn hesitantly moves forward to press his lips against Daryl's, Daryl doesn't respond.
Glenn pulls back from the chaste kiss and licks his lips, eyes pleading for some sort of reaction but Daryl is frozen with uncertainty. His body aches with need for this young man and it scares him more than any walker attack ever could.
Glenn is stepping back again, which is enough to prompt Daryl into action. Apparently, it is the thought of losing Glenn, no matter what the context, that acts as the trigger for Daryl.
He holds him in place, swallows down the rest of his doubt, and then gently pulls Glenn towards him. Their eyes are still open as their lips meet for a second time, the heat from their breaths mingling. Daryl inhales it in like the first drag on a cigarette after a long, stressful day of work. But it's not so much relaxing as it is exhilarating. Daryl's heart is beating out of his chest.
He closes his eyes and tilts his head, impatient to taste the sweetness he hasn't allowed himself to even imagine. His lips tug at Glenn's and he's already out of breath.
He releases his hold on Glenn's wrists as his arms wrap themselves around the younger man, one hand sliding up his spine and into his soft, dark hair. The other snaking around his hips to pull him closer.
What started out so innocently evolves quickly as their mouths slide together in a fiery tangle of tongue and teeth and body and, Jesus, neither of them are going to last long.
Daryl pushes forward and, without breaking their embrace, they are staggering toward the bed. The back of Glenn's knees hit the mattress and he drops back, pulling his shirt up and over his head as Daryl looks on longingly before mirroring the movement. Then it's the best kind of wrestling match, kissing sloppily and tugging at each other's hair and clothes and skin to pull the other impossibly closer. It feels amazing. And there is no more hesitation.
It doesn't take long before they are giving new meaning to the phrase "to infinity and beyond."
The next morning Glenn is driving them back to camp in the Hyundai. They haven't spoken about what happened at the penthouse, or at the grocery store for that matter. In fact, they haven't spoken much at all. They are about two thirds of the way home when Glenn stops the car in the middle of the road and turns the engine off. They sit there quietly for a minute before Glenn speaks.
"Um," begins Glenn. "I had a great time…"
Daryl would have laughed if he wasn't so freaked out about where the conversation was obviously going.
"I mean, ya know, with the bedroom stuff, not the walking dead stuff. Although, without one we might not have had the other so yay for zombies, huh?" rambles Glenn, which is not helped by the fact that Daryl continues to stare out the side window like he's not even listening. "Um, so, anyway, I just wondered if this was a one-time thing or if, ya know, it's something more than that or… Basically, I just want to know how we're going to handle it once we get back to camp. I mean, we don't like need to, ya know, shout it from the mountaintops or anything. It's nobody's business. That would be cool with me. Or…" He looks to Daryl for a reaction, any kind of reaction. His voice takes on a sad note. "Or we can always just forget it happened and never talk about it again?"
Daryl struggles with his emotions as he thinks back over the past twenty-four hours. It's not an easy thing for him to process so he doesn't know immediately how to respond. Glenn interprets his silence as a vote for forgetting the events.
"Okay," says Glenn in obvious disappointment as he reaches to turn the engine back on. But Daryl grabs his wrist before he gets to the ignition.
Daryl looks very seriously into Glenn's eyes for a minute, his voice rough with emotion. "I can't shoot you neither."
Glenn's eyes light up and he chuckles happily at the statement, which confuses Daryl a little.
"Only during a zombie apocalypse could that be considered romantic."
"I wasn't going for…"
Daryl is cut off as Glenn reaches over and kisses him. The tension leaves his shoulders and he can't help but moan, pulling Glenn towards him, across the gear console. Glenn goes happily, until his knee gets jammed into the cup holder. "Ow, ow, ow! My knee!" It throws him off balance and he tries to rectify the situation by shifting his weight to his other knee but, unfortunately, that other knee digs into Daryl's thigh.
"Ow, fuck," growls Daryl. "Don't…fuck…hang on."
They both shift and swear for a couple minutes until Glenn finally twists his body so that he is sitting on Daryl's lap with back against the door. They're both still wincing from the exertion.
"Stupid Hyundai," mutters Glenn.
Daryl chuckles through his grimace, his left hand absently stroking Glenn's knee. "I thought you were supposed to be the idea man."
"What do you mean by that?"
"There's a back seat."
Glenn smiles at him. "I sometimes get distracted," he explains, leaning in to give Daryl another kiss but Daryl breaks the kiss off abruptly causing Glenn's eyebrows to furrow. "What?"
"My leg is falling asleep."
"Oh, jeez, sorry," he scrambles out of the passenger side and Daryl is finally able to get up and shake his leg out a little bit, but it's not long before they're locked in a passionate embrace up against the car.
They never do make it to the backseat.