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A South Wind

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PROLOGUE

Nobody knows how it happened. Everyone is tucked in for the night, except for Rick, who is taking first watch. His yelling wakes everyone up. They all scramble out from their beds horrified to find that the farmhouse is engulfed in flames. They race forward to, somehow, try to help but before they are able to get close enough to even feel the heat, they freeze when they see what else awaits them. Walkers. An army of them.

"We need to get out of here!" hollers Shane. "Now!"

Rick hesitates, staring at the nightmare in front of them, but then he is corralling everyone toward the vehicles and away from the horror show in front of them. Everyone follows, except for Glenn.

"Maggie!" Glenn shouts, heading for the house.

"Glenn!" screams Lori.

But before Glenn gets more than a couple steps, Daryl grabs him around the middle and drags him away from the scene.

"No! Nooo!" Glenn cries, squirming to free himself.

The walkers are getting closer but Glenn doesn't care.

"No! Maggie!" he calls in desperation. "Maggie!" He struggles with all his might, but Daryl's arms are steel bands.

The rest of the group has made it to the RV. Shane is suddenly there with the pickup.

"Come on!" yells Shane from the driver's seat.

As soon as Daryl wrestles Glenn into the flatbed, Shane guns the engine and sends up a shower of gravel as he swings the truck up the driveway and onto the tarmac of the road, the RV already ahead of them.

"No! God, no! Maggie," Glenn pleads, still fighting to get away and somehow get to the house even though it is more than apparent that there will be no survivors. "Please…please!"

His arms still locked around Glenn, Daryl feels the fight slowly leave the young man as they put more distance between themselves and the house. He finally loosens his hold and Glenn slides away from him. Surprised by the movement, Daryl catches his shirt, worried he is going to make once last effort and throw himself over the side of the moving vehicle. But Glenn just sits up against the corner, staring at the unnatural orange glow that is lighting the treetops.

He doesn't cry. He doesn't move. He just stares, even after the light disappears altogether.

Once Shane feels they are at a safe enough distance, he stops the truck so they can get out of the back and move into the cab where they can ride more comfortably. Daryl jumps over the side of the truck ready to claim one of the seats but notices that Glenn doesn't move.

"Come on," says Daryl, gently.

Glenn won't even look at him. Daryl and Shane exchange glances, Shane's brow furrowing in frustration.

"Let's go, girls. In or out," barks Shane.

Glenn just stares off into the distance.

Daryl climbs back into the truck bed and barely has time to find his seat again before Shane is speeding off in irritation.

Chapter Text

They drive for nearly an hour in an effort to get as far away from the walkers as possible, without going too far. They know they will have to go back.

That night they drift off here and there but nobody sleeps for very long. They fear a sea of walking dead has somehow discovered their new location. And they close their eyes and see Herschel and his family, gone so quickly. It's hard to wrap your mind around it.

They return to the farm the next day and are grateful to find that only a few walkers have lingered. They are dealt with quickly before they go about reclaiming their possessions.

Despite its many resources, the farm is no longer the safe haven it had once signified to them. And the sad and tragic events that had occurred there are too raw and painful for anyone to want to stay.

While everyone else is busy packing up their meager existence, Glenn stands away from the group, staring at the pile of smoldering ash that had once been a quaint, country farmhouse.

When it is finally time to leave, Lori and Rick finally approach him. Lori slides her hand into Glenn's and gently pulls him away from the scene. He doesn't resist.

They pile into their vehicles and head back out. Shane has once again brought up the topic of Fort Benning and it is agreed that they should head in that direction. But since the highway they need is blocked by the traffic jam of the dead, they are left to use backroads and have to go back toward Atlanta a ways before they find a road that is clear enough and smooth enough for the RV. And even that isn't enough. The RV breaks down again. With a load of heavy swearing, they pull off the road in the middle of nowhere.

They immediately go about setting up their camp so that it will be as hidden as possible but defendable if worse comes to worst.

They have food that will last them for a good little bit. What they need is a thermostat for the RV. They need a couple people to go back into Atlanta to find the part. They need Glenn, urban scavenger extraordinaire. Unfortunately, he is in no condition to go anywhere.

Shane and T-Dog take the Hyundai into the city and come back with some food and supplies but no thermostat.

For the most part they leave Glenn alone, letting him deal with his loss in his own way. He barely speaks. He barely eats. He lies around but doesn't seem to do much sleeping. No one pushes him. They treat him with kid gloves.

Until a week goes by and Daryl has had enough.

Early one morning while the group is going about their daily routines, Glenn is slouched in his usual spot at the firepit when a backpack hits the side of his head. He blinks in shock and looks up to find Daryl standing over him, crossbow in hand.

"Let's go," orders Daryl.

Glenn stares at him in confusion.

"We need food," continues Daryl, gesturing towards the woods. "Come on."

"Go where?" asks Glenn.

"We're goin' huntin'? 'bout time you learned. "

Daryl walks towards the woods, obviously expecting Glenn to willingly follow. Glenn looks around at the others to see their reactions but everyone either avoids his gaze or meets it with a compassionate smile or nod.

"Let's go, Panda Express!"

Suddenly irritated with all of them, he finds himself grabbing the backpack and following Daryl into the trees.

They walk for nearly an hour before Daryl says a word to him. He motions Glenn to stop as he cocks an ear to listen to something.

"Hear that?" says Daryl softly.

To be honest, Glenn hasn't been paying attention.

"No."

Daryl looks at him speculatively for a minute before turning away and continuing their march.

It's another hour before they speak again. They walk for miles, up and down hills and through brush when, in his exhaustion, Glenn trips over a root hidden under some leaves.

"You are shit at this," comments Daryl. "It's like walkin' through the woods with an elephant. I've got alarm clocks that are quieter than you."

Glenn tiredly pulls off the backpack and takes out a canister of water.

"Well, I don't know what I'm doing," Glenn responds in irritation.

"That's very clear."

"I thought you were going to teach me."

"You don't know enough to know you gotta be quiet?"

"You didn't say a word. How am I supposed to know what to do?" growls Glenn.

"Do you even want to learn?" Daryl growls back.

"No!" yells Glenn, throwing down the backpack.

This is not the Glenn they knew, the hopeful optimist. No, this is someone else. A heartbroken boy who doesn't know how to feel anymore. Doesn't want to feel.

Daryl remembers reading somewhere about the stages of grief. He didn't pay much attention at the time. He isn't a shrink. But he does remember one of those stages. Anger. And hell if he wasn't going to give it a nice little push.

"Then why'd the fuck you come out here, Pokemon? Take a nice walk? Write some poetry? A nice little ditty for your dead girlfriend?"

Glenn's eyes lock on Daryl's fiercely.

"Shut the fuck up."

Daryl knows he hit the nail on the head.

"You got balls," goads Daryl. "She's dead! The bitch is dead. Get that through yer melon. She ain't never coming back!"

"I hate you so fucking much."

Daryl carefully sets his crossbow down, not sure how things are going to go.

"Yeah?" continues Daryl. "Well, I don't give a fuck. I'm just sick of your sorry ass sitting around all weepy-eyed for that girl."

"Her name is Maggie!" Glenn's eyes are wild and his voice breaks. It won't be long now.

"Maggie shmaggie. Don't matter. Don't make her any less dead."

Glenn charges Daryl and knocks him to the ground. Daryl was expecting it but he didn't quite realize just how angry Glenn is and before he can get a grip on Glenn's arms he gets a couple fists to the jaw. The kid is quick. They grapple for a few minutes before Daryl is able to rise up and knock his shoulder into Glenn's chest, effectively knocking the air out of him. Daryl is then able to immobilize him by wrapping his arms around Glenn, much like he did when he pulled him away from running toward the burning farmhouse.

And suddenly the fight is over, all the anger leaving Glenn quicker than the life of a lit match. Trying to catch his breath and unable to move, Glenn collapses against Daryl. His forehead drops to Daryl's shoulder as he begins to sob for the first time since the fire.

Daryl sits there holding him, and lets him cry.

--------------------

Several hours later Glenn wakes up to find himself lying on a blanket with the backpack as a pillow. He is disoriented because he doesn't recall going to sleep much less pulling out a blanket from the backpack.

He turns his head to see Daryl crouched against a tree and staring back at him.

Glenn sighs and sits up, running a hand through his hair. "Do you ever sleep?" he grunts.

"Someone had to stay awake and watch over your scrawny ass."

"Well, I'm up now so if you want to rest at all, feel free."

"I'm fine."

"Have you seen the bags under your eyes? It's not pretty," Glenn informs him as he stands up and straightens his clothes.

Daryl has to admit that he is tired. And it would be nice to sleep for a little bit while someone else worried about the walkers. He didn't have that luxury when he hunted alone.

He finally gets up and walks over to the blanket, settling on it and laying the crossbow on the ground next to him.

Glenn's brow furrows. "Don't I get the crossbow?"

"No."

"What? Are you scared I'm gonna shoot you?

"You were mad enough earlier."

"What if there's a walker?"

"Wake me up!" commands Daryl, turning on his side, back facing Glenn.

"We'll see," mumbles Glenn, taking Daryl's spot by the tree.

Daryl closes his eyes and, much to his surprise, falls asleep fairly quickly. He wakes up barely an hour later but is embarrassed to have slept so long. Glenn hasn't moved an inch.

Daryl gets up quickly and shoves the blanket back into the backpack before throwing it back at Glenn.

"Let's go. We need to get moving before it gets dark," says Daryl.

Glenn again follows quietly behind him, basically only staring at the ground under his feet. At one point he isn't even aware that Daryl has stopped before he's nearly running into him.

He looks up to see Daryl holding out his crossbow. Glenn just stares at it for a second and then back at Daryl.

"Go on, take it," says Daryl, stepping closer to Glenn. "You're bringing back dinner tonight or I'm not the Dixon I think I am."

Glenn takes the crossbow and feels its weight. It's not like he's never held it before. But for some reason this seems different.

He takes the lead while Daryl follows close behind, quietly giving him instruction on where to step, how to track, what to expect from certain animals. It's Hunting 101 and Glenn is a pretty fast learner. He misses every squirrel that he shoots at but he is finally able to bring down a raccoon. Granted, it's a fat and very slow-moving raccoon but it's something. Daryl teaches him how to field dress it, which is pretty disgusting but Glenn feels pretty damn proud when he walks back into camp able to provide some meat for everyone.

"Wow. That's a good-sized coon," comments Dale. "Did you get that, Daryl?"

"Nope, that was all Glenn," replies Daryl matter-of-factly. "Kid's a natural."

He looks over at Glenn, who is looking back and obviously surprised at Daryl's praise. What Daryl doesn't understand is why he looks like he's fighting another batch of tears. They both look away, having had enough awkwardness with each other for one day.

There's no mention of the rest of the trip. It's not anyone's business. The conversations revolve around the usual subjects of chores, the RV, and the need for supplies. Glenn still doesn't join in like he did at one time but he does appear more engaged, more alert. It's a good sign.

Chapter Text

A couple days after their hunting expedition, Daryl is sitting at the entrance to his tent, lacing up his boots, when a backpack hits the side of his head. He looks up, scowling at the person who threw it.

"We're going into the city," states Glenn. "I need someone to watch over my scrawny ass."

Everyone is happy to see that Glenn is coming out of his grief-stricken haze and are equally glad to know that Daryl is his backup for going back into Atlanta.

They take the truck and park it in a neighborhood that appears to be void of walkers. They get out to move on foot, Daryl with his crossbow at the ready. Their primary objective is to find a thermostat for the RV. It's not a common vehicle to find in the city under normal circumstances but, since these aren't normal circumstances, it's as good a place to look as any. There are lots of vehicles in the city.

Since finding the part for the RV is their number one priority, Daryl is less than pleased to find that Glenn is distracted by other things.

"Hey, Daryl," calls Glenn. "Look at this."

Daryl glares at him, gesturing for him to lower his voice but Glenn doesn't seem to be paying attention. He is pulling a desiccated body from the front seat of a Hummer.

"Zombieland!" announces Glenn, excited about his find. "I've always wanted to drive one of these. I wonder if it runs."

Meanwhile, Daryl is spinning around, wielding his crossbow just waiting for the geeks to hear and descend upon them.

Suddenly the engine roars to life and Daryl turns around to see Glenn sitting in the driver's seat with a wide grin on his face.

"The fuck you doin'?" growls Daryl.

"Come on," calls Glenn. "Let's take it for a spin."

Some walkers appear, obviously having heard Glenn's less-than-quiet pronouncement. It's alarming how quickly some of them move and they are getting close real quick. Daryl doesn't really have an option except to climb into the passenger side.

At first Glenn doesn't do anything, he just sits there and waits for the walkers to get closer.

"What is wrong with you?" demands Daryl, in disbelief. "Get us out of here!"

He notices a glint in the younger man's eyes. It's not quite the look of a sane man.

Glenn suddenly peels out and right into a group of walkers, crushing them under the huge vehicle. He takes a hard left and heads for another group, jumping the curb as he runs them over as well.

"Jesus, kid!" says Daryl, grabbing for the handhold on the ceiling.

Glenn just laughs and floors it as he finds open road in front of him.

"This is just like Grand Theft Auto, man. Only better," declares Glenn, looking like a kid in a candy store. He's got his foot to the floor.

"Slow the fuck down!"

Glenn slows down slightly but only because he is turning onto a street that takes them into the heart of the city.

There are geeks everywhere now and Glenn is having a field day running over more of them.

"Yeah! Take that, bitches!"

Daryl doesn't remember the stage of grief that turns someone into a crazy-assed lunatic but he's sure that it's related somehow. He just holds on for dear life, hoping it doesn't end like he thinks it might.

"Glenn!" he tries once more, as he pulls at his seatbelt and clicks it into place.

Glenn takes a hard right and the car handles beautifully, barely losing any speed. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to go since there is a group of abandoned cars directly in their path.

"Shiiit!" Daryl swears as Glenn slams on the brakes. They slide another hundred feet into the back of a Mercedes, deploying the airbags.

Daryl's ears are ringing and he isn't sure where he is for a minute until he swivels his head around and sees Glenn, lying face down on the floor.

"Glenn, goddammit," Daryl says weakly, taking off his seatbelt and getting out of the vehicle. He goes around to the other side and carefully pulls Glenn free, propping him up against the side of the seat. He is conscious but bloody.

"You still with me?" asks Daryl, checking Glenn over quickly for broken bones. When Glenn doesn't respond, Daryl uses both hands to gently force Glenn's face up so he can get a better look at him. His pupils aren't dilated, which is good, but he's not making eye contact, which is not so good.

"Fuck," he murmurs and then looks around the surrounding area to see what they have to deal with. He sees walkers but at least they are still some distance away. They need to move now. He slings Glenn's arm over his shoulder and starts moving. He needs to find a place for them to hole up and deal with their injuries. He hauls Glenn into an alleyway and tries some doors but they are all locked, until finally he finds one that is propped open with a small piece of plywood. They get inside and Daryl kicks the plywood out of the doorway so it can latch and lock. Once the door shuts, they are in complete darkness. He gently sets Glenn down and fishes a flashlight out of the backpack.

He aims its light around and sees that they are in a stairwell that looks like it goes up pretty high. He can see a little light that looks like it's coming from the very top. As much as he doesn't want to, hearing the tell-tale groans of walkers outside, he knows the best chance they've got is to go up.

He hoists Glenn back up and they take the slow trek up the stairs. On each floor he tries the door but it is locked so they continue to climb. At their slow pace it takes over a half an hour to get to the top. The light is coming through another propped-open door, and when Daryl opens it, he can't believe his eyes.

They are at the entrance to a luxury penthouse.

He stands there for a minute just staring at the marble-laden opulence. A fifteen foot metal sculpture greets them at the door, a spiraling staircase leads up to a second floor where there is more artwork, and just to the left is an amazing panoramic view of the Atlanta skyline.

It takes him a minute to take it all in before he remembers what they're doing there. He carefully deposits Glenn in a very stylish chair and takes out his crossbow to check the place out. The open floor plan on the first floor makes it easy to see if anyone or any 'thing' is hiding. The second floor is a little more complex. There are five bedrooms and just as many bathrooms. Seven bathrooms in all, counting the ones on the first floor. It made Daryl's head spin.

He is grateful not to find any walkers or dead bodies. As he is checking out the strange-looking sink in one of the bathrooms, he catches his profile in the mirror and notices for the first time the bruises on his face that must have come from hitting the airbag. He realizes he needs to go check on Glenn and see how he's doing.

When he finally makes it back downstairs, he is surprised to see Glenn standing, in front of a mini-fridge, struggling to open a bottle of champagne.

"I've got a headache," declares Glenn, as if that's the perfect explanation for what he's doing.

Daryl just blinks at him in disbelief, not sure what to do, and then finally turns and goes in search of a first aid kit.

When he returns he sees that Glenn has thankfully abandoned the bottle and is searching the cupboards for food.

"Don't rich people eat?" Glenn asks, opening one bare cupboard after another.

Daryl steps up behind him and turns him around.

"C'mere for a second," says Daryl.

Glenn turns around and winces when Daryl swabs at his face with a damp cloth, wiping the blood from his nose and cut lip.

"You hurt anywhere else?" asks Daryl.

"I don't think so," Glenn says quietly, looking like he feels awkward at Daryl playing mother hen. "I do have a headache."

Daryl finishes cleaning him up. "Headaches are sometimes God's way of telling you you're a dumbass."

Glenn just stares at the floor, silently acknowledging his dumbassery.

Daryl is glad of the fact that Glenn is moving around and talking. It looks like his injuries might not be as bad as Daryl thought. He hopes so anyway. He can do band-aids and splints but head trauma is outside of his pay grade.

"Why don't you sit down and take it easy," suggests Daryl. "I'm gonna take another look around and see if there's anything of use here."

Daryl takes another loop around the place, this time with the more critical eye of a scavenger.

It's hard to ignore all the lavishness but he gives it a try. He goes through each room, setting anything aside that looks like it might be useful back at camp.

Besides all the artwork, there are also a lot of pictures. They are obviously the people who lived there. The pictures show a young couple with their two young boys - posing happily, playing at the park, blowing out birthday candles.

He can't help but wonder what happened to them. Where they went. If they are still alive.

He doubts it.

He loses track of time and only notices when he has trouble reading something because there isn't enough light. Daylight is fading fast. He heads back downstairs to grab the flashlight, panicking when he sees Glenn slumped on the couch with his eyes closed and his mouth hanging open, looking for all the world as if he is dead. Daryl races over to him.

"Hey," says Daryl, shaking his shoulder.

Glenn opens his eyes wide, sucking in a deep breath.

"What? I'm okay," Glenn insists, acting as if he just got caught sleeping in class. He sits up as if to prove how 'okay' he is. "I'm okay."

Relieved, Daryl takes a breath and runs a hand through his hair, trying to get his heart rate to slow back down. Part of him wants to smack Glenn for nearly giving him a heart attack for about the third time that day. Instead, he just takes another deep breath.

"What did you find?" Glenn asks, nodding at the laptop he's holding.

Daryl forgot he was holding it. He sets it on the coffee table, hits the power button, and turns back to Glenn.

"Wanna watch a movie?"

Daryl had found the laptop and, on a whim, turned it on to discover that, incredibly, it still had a charge.

They go in search of DVDs and Glenn finds some in a cabinet underneath the eighty inch flatscreen. They're all Disney movies. Daryl doesn't really care which one they watch so he lets Glenn make the decision. He sinks back into the large, comfortable couch as Glenn pops in 'Aladdin'.

It's amazing how something that was once such a common, everyday thing - watching a movie - is now the greatest and rarest treat. As soon as the opening song begins, a grin appears on Glenn's face and it doesn't fade.

It is the remembrance of a better time. Of childhood. Of family and friends. Of innocence. And it abruptly ends less than an hour into the movie when the battery finally gives out, plunging them into darkness.

Neither of them speaks. Daryl considers whether they should attempt to get to the truck and back to camp but immediately discounts the idea. It's too dangerous. One, they'd have a hell of a time finding the truck in the dark. And, two, he still isn't real sure of Glenn's condition. The others would just have to worry for one night. They're safe where they are. And hell if that wasn't a comfortable couch.

He slouches down a little further and then becomes aware of a sound. It takes him a second to realize that it's coming from Glenn. Glenn's trying to be quiet but Daryl recognizes the unmistakable sounds of someone crying.

Something clenches in Daryl's chest and he sighs heavily in frustration. He doesn't know what to do for Glenn, so he just continues to sit there next to him, preparing himself for a long, sleepless night.

Chapter Text

Much to everyone's relief, Glenn and Daryl return to camp the next morning. Neither feels like giving all the details of their trip but they can't hide the bruises and cuts they've acquired. They give a watered down version of what happened. They don't want to worry anyone unnecessarily and Glenn, thankfully, doesn't seem to have suffered any permanent damage from the accident.

Glenn seems to be finally getting back into the daily routine of life at camp. Much like before, he tries to keep busy. Unfortunately, once the chores are done, there's not always a lot to keep your mind occupied.

He is wandering around, looking bored, when he finds Daryl using his knife to sharpen the end of a stick.

"What are you doing?" asks Glenn.

"Don't seem to have any luck finding more bolts for the crossbow so I figured I'd try to make some."

Glenn watches him carefully test the sharpened end to see if it's to his liking.

"Can I help?"

Daryl hands him a stick from the pile he's accumulated.

"Get yourself a sharp knife," replies Daryl.

They sit and work on their project, Daryl instructing him on where to cut, what to tie, how to make it fly straight.

"How's that?" asks Glenn, holding up his first attempt.

"It'll do."

When they finally have pile of a dozen or so, they decide it's time to give them a test run.

"We need a target," says Daryl, who glances briefly at Glenn's hat, considering the idea.

Glenn notices and isn't amused. "Don't even think about."

"Wouldn't dream of it," smirks Daryl.

"There's a box in the RV we could probably use," suggests Glenn.

"That'll work."

Glenn immediately walks over to the RV but it's ten minutes before he comes back with the box.

"What took you so long?" inquires Daryl.

Glenn sets the box down, pulls out a Sharpie, and starts drawing on the box.

"Dale wasn't real excited about offering up his box for target practice," explains Glenn

"What changed his mind?"

For a second, Daryl isn't sure Glenn is going to answer. He seems more intent on his drawing than responding to the question. Daryl isn't sure why that is, until he hears the answer.

"I think he's worried…about me…like I'm going to go crazy or something." Glenn stops drawing for a minute and looks up at Daryl, opening his mouth to say something but apparently changes his mind and turns back to his drawing.

Daryl isn't sure he disagrees with Dale. Though he's not sure how Dale has cottoned to the idea. He certainly hasn't seen the worst of Glenn's recent erratic behavior. And since Daryl has been keeping pretty close tabs on the young man, he's not sure what Dale would have seen to prompt the notion. Although, the man does seem to have some uncanny knack for knowing all that goes on around camp. It's irritating. Anyways, Glenn seems to be doing better.

Daryl reconsiders that thought as he looks at the zombie face Glenn has drawn across the cardboard. It's good and more than a little disturbing. The head is split open and an eyeball hangs dripping from its socket. Of course, it's a zombie. What did he expect?

"That's pretty good," remarks Daryl.

Glenn sits back to look at it for a second.

"You one of them starving artists?" asks Daryl.

"Starving, yes. Artist…I don't know about that." He gets up and dusts himself off. "Where should we put it?"

"Hang on," says Daryl. It's his turn to disappear. He returns with a blanket and small shovel. "Let's give it some weight."

He shovels some dirt into the box and sets it a reasonable distance away, shoving the blanket inside to give it some padding.

"I hope that's not Dale's," says Glenn, as they walk back.

"S'mine," replies Daryl. "Blanket's too hot anyway. Been meanin' to give it some ventilation."

Daryl loads the crossbow with one of the newly made bolts and then hands it over to Glenn who looks up only briefly before taking it.

Glenn aims it at the target, takes a breath, and lets it fly. It pierces the cardboard right at the dangling eyeball.

"Nice shot," Daryl chuckles.

Glenn smiles, the first honest one Daryl has seen in a while.

They take turns shooting bolt after bolt into the target. Some don't work as well as others and are discarded. You don't want an iffy weapon when your life is on the line.

They work until it's too dark for them to see anymore, finally calling it a day. They eat dinner with the rest of the group, talking about refining their new equipment and getting up early the next day to go hunting and see how they fare in actual practice.

Daryl wakes up before dawn the next morning to get ready for a day of hunting. He is surprised to find Glenn already up, drinking coffee and fiddling with something.

Glenn smiles when he sees him. "Hey, you're up."

"What'cha got there?" asks Daryl.

"I had an idea and I couldn't sleep. I wondered if a piece of tent pole would make a good bolt."

"Whose tent did you take that from?"

"Mine."

Daryl looks over to see one corner of Glenn's tent sagging.

"I'll fix it later," says Glenn. "I cut a piece of tin can to give the tip a little more bite. I've been waiting for you to get up so we can give it a try."

"Knock yourself out," says Daryl, handing him the crossbow.

As they walk over to where they set up their target, Glenn loads his new arrow into the crossbow. He takes aim, lets it fly, and it sails so far beyond the target that it's a good bet that they'll never find it.

"Dammit," mutters Glenn.

"It had good speed," critiques Daryl. "Just a little too much movement. Not bad for a first attempt."

Glenn seems to perk up after that.

"We should go back into the city. I want to find some more tent poles."

"I thought we were going huntin'."

"Oh, right. You ready?"

"Yeah," answers Daryl, wondering how much caffeine Glenn has had.

"Cool, let's go."

Glenn immediately heads toward the woods, not bothering to grab his backpack or give the crossbow back to Daryl.

Daryl opens his mouth to argue the situation but then closes it again, grabbing the backpack and following.

They come back around mid-day with enough meat to last them for a while. Glenn has still got his head full of ideas about weaponry so he insists they head into Atlanta that same day, with the understanding that they will be staying overnight and returning in the morning. No one objects so they take the truck into town.

They find the tent poles and other supplies they need before climbing back up to the penthouse. Daryl makes a quick run through to make sure it's still safe. He finds nothing to suggest anyone has been there since they last left.

When he circles back around to the first floor, Glenn is sitting on the couch already working on separating the pieces of tent pole. Daryl leaves him be and wanders over to the patio, opening the large sliding glass door to let in the cooler air. To the right is an elaborate gas grill. He picks up the propane tank and is happy to find it nearly full.

"Hey," calls Daryl. "What did we bring to eat?"

"Sandwiches, I think," replies Glenn. "Maybe a couple cans of soup. Why?"

"Damn," mutters Daryl, closing the grill back up. "Next time we gotta remember to bring something we can grill."

"We cook over a campfire for almost every meal. What's the difference? Squirrel tastes better on a grill?"

"Everything tastes better on a grill." Beneath the grill are a few cabinet doors. One of which is to a mini-fridge full of alcohol. "Jackpot."

He grabs a bottle of beer but it's hotter than any bottle of beer has a right to be. Disgusted, he tosses it back inside. Of course, now he has a hankering for some alcohol. He knows he's seen some before on his way through the place. He's just got to remember where.

It doesn't take him long. There's alcohol all over the place. He finds a bottle of The Glenlivet and takes nice long swig. Glenn watches him and winces for Daryl when he doesn't.

"You want some?" Daryl offers, holding out the bottle.

"I'm fine, thanks."

"Yeah, this might be too much for ya," chides Daryl, looking through the rest of the alcohol. "Ah, here's something that's probably more to your tastes."

It's a bottle of Chardonnay.

"Very funny," responds Glenn, holding out his hand. "Gimme the scotch."

Daryl hesitates from handing over the bottle. "You don't have to drink it to just prove a point. In fact, I'd prefer if you didn't. More for me."

"I'm not proving a point."

Daryl hands over the bottle. Glenn takes a similarly long swig, and regrets it immediately, coughing up a storm.

"Take it easy there, Tiger," says Daryl, giving him a couple unhelpful pats on the back. "I'll open that wine for you."

Very quickly the tent poles are forgotten and the two of them are lounging on the patio, sipping their drinks, both pleasantly buzzed. Daryl is sitting with his bare feet propped up on the stone fireplace. Glenn is draped over the railing, looking down at the swimming pool some twenty stories below.

"Too bad there are dead bodies in the pool," comments Glenn.

"Mmm," agrees Daryl.

"There's probably another pool somewhere in the building. We should go look for it."

"Not gonna happen."

"Why?" Glenn's at that stage of drunk where he wants to do something.

"Because." Daryl's at that stage of drunk where he wants to do nothing.

Glenn sighs and looks out over the city. It is just past dusk and the wind is picking up. It's weird to look out at what was once such a bustling city and not see any lights. No cars. No sirens. Nothing. It's eerily quiet.

"I wonder how many people are still alive down there somewhere," says Glenn.

Daryl doesn't say anything.

"Do you think Merle's still in the city?"

"Fuck, I don't know," growls Daryl, taking another swallow of scotch.

Glenn turns to look at him. "I'm sorry about your brother. We never should've left him there."

Daryl stares back at Glenn and it suddenly occurs to him that had they never left Merle there, they sure as hell wouldn't be here right now. Just the thought feels like a betrayal, never mind what else it suggests. He gets up from his seat and staggers back indoors, slumping onto the couch so he can pass out in peace.

Glenn stays on the patio, not really regretting his words but regretting that he ran Daryl off with them.

It begins to rain and he has to laugh. Looks like the swimming pool came to him.

_______________________________________

Both a bit hung over, they make it back to camp the next morning and lie low for most of the day. The next day is a different story. Glenn is back on his weaponry kick. In fact, he has branched out in his thought processes.

He and Daryl are trying out his new and improved tent pole bolts, which are working very well, if he says so himself.

"What else could we use to shoot?" Glenn wonders.

"I think we've got enough to keep us going for a while."

"I know but I'm thinking…I'm just brainstorming…for worse case scenarios. What if we ran out at a critical moment? What else could we use? It's something to think about."

Daryl shakes his head, a little exasperated with Glenn.

"What?" asks Glenn "You don't think so?"

"No, you're right," agrees Daryl. "It's something to think about."

Glenn seems to be expecting more of a response.

"I'm thinking about it," shrugs Daryl.

"Historically…like when ships didn't have cannonballs left, they would shoot whatever they could find. Silverware. Human heads. Cheese."

Daryl chuckles shortly. "Where the fuck do you learn this stuff?"

"School. The internet. Cable TV. Fine, laugh. I'm just saying, if we don't have any arrows, or weapons, or whatever, we have to improvise."

Daryl decides to play along. He looks around on the ground and finds an acorn. As Glenn looks on encouragingly, Daryl sets it in the firing mechanism of the crossbow, takes aim at a tree, and fires. The acorn slings forward, ricochets off the tree, and back at Daryl's head. He ducks but it still manages to catch him in the forehead.

"Fuck," mutters Daryl, rubbing the spot where it hit.

Glenn looks like he's trying not to laugh but when he sees that Daryl is more irritated than hurt, he stops trying. He is bent over at the waist, laughing his ass off.

Glenn slowly straightens up and looks at him but the red welt and cartoonish scowl on Daryl's face is enough to send him into another fit of laughter.

Daryl isn't quite as amused. He finds another acorn on the ground, loads it into the crossbow, and aims it at Glenn.

"Aw, come on," says Glenn as he sees what Daryl is doing. He holds his hands out in defense. "Come on, man, I can't help it…the look on your face… Daryl, come on…don't."

"We'll see how funny it is now," says Daryl. The acorn flies and catches Glenn in the hip.

"Ow, fuck, that hurts!" exclaims Glenn, rubbing his hand over his flank. "Okay, okay. Cease fire."

Daryl has got his own smirk going on now.

"You sure?" says Daryl, who's already got another acorn ready to fire. "Maybe this would be a good training exercise."

"No, no, come on…" says Glenn, backing away from Daryl. "That's not fair. I don't have a weapon."

"Improvise!"

Glenn turns and takes off through the trees, Daryl following not far behind.

They don't go too far away because the others are still able to hear them.

"You better find a weapon. I'm coming to get ya."

"Oh yeah? Take that, asshole!"

"Fuck! You little…"

"Ah, God damn...how is it possible for you to hit me in the same fucking spot?"

"Put the fucking stick down."

"You put the crossbow down!"

"If you hit me one more time…"

"Ow, fuck! Goddamn it! Stop fucking shooting me!"

Rick considers intervening but none of it sounds too threatening. In fact, the grunting and rustling makes it sound like they've given up weapons altogether and have gone for hand-to-hand combat.

"You think your scrawny ass can take me?"

"Ow, okay, fuck, you win. Get off!"

They finally quiet down and eventually wander back into camp a short time later, both scowling and disheveled but with no serious-looking injuries.

Andrea watches them with curiosity. Glenn is using his hat to help brush the dirt off of his clothes. He's even got a few leaves stuck in his hair. Daryl doesn't seem to care about the dirt on him. Although, he's walking with a slight limp. She chuckles at the sight of the two. If she didn't know any better, she'd have thought they looked like two people who just had a tryst in the woods.

Glenn notices the amused glint in Andrea's eye. "What?"

"Nothing," shrugs Andrea.

Chapter Text

It's mid-morning and the sun is finally starting to burn off the dew. Everyone is moving about in their morning rituals, with Daryl providing the percussion to their chores with each crack of the axe, adding to their small stash of firewood.

Most days now Glenn and Daryl will either go hunting together, drive into the city for supplies, or whatever else needs doing. So it's safe to say that they've become quite a team.

Of course, it depends on how you say it.

"Where's your boyfriend?" Shane asks Daryl just as he finishes splitting a chunk of wood.

Daryl looks up sharply in irritation. "What?"

"Glenn," Shane sighs, clarifying. "Where's Glenn?"

"How the fuck should I know?"

"You're usually two peas in a pod. Just figured if anybody'd know, it'd be you."

"I don't know where the hell he is," Daryl replies cagily, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

He doesn't appreciate that little knowing smirk he's receiving from Shane. And, of course, the fact that he's lying to Shane pisses him off all the more. He knows Glenn has gone off with Dale to help get water. He props another piece of wood up for splitting.

"Well, when you see him," says Shane. "Let him know I'm looking for him."

Daryl brings the axe down with a loud crack and the wood pieces shoot to the side. He looks up at Shane briefly but doesn't answer him. He picks up the pieces of wood and tosses them over on the stack with the others. Shane just walks away, shaking his head.

Daryl's hands clench on the axe, just itching to wing it at Shane's head. He's only about halfway through the woodpile but he's too agitated to continue. He buries the axe into the tree stump and grabs his crossbow.

"Goin' huntin'," he snarls on his way out of camp.

He misses the look of concern in Carol and Lori's eyes as they watch him disappear into the woods.

A short time later, Glenn and Dale return with the water they've collected. Most of the group is around camp. Glenn sets down his container and immediately notices Daryl is missing. "Where's Daryl?"

"He left to go hunting," says Carol.

"What? By himself?" asks Glenn in shock, already reaching for his backpack. "Which way was he heading? How long ago did he leave?"

"Glenn, you're not going to look for him," says Lori, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder. "You'll never find him."

"It's dangerous for him to be out there alone," Glenn insists.

"It's too dangerous for you to go look for him," Rick affirms.

"Someone should have gone with him."

"He's a smart man," says Shane, stepping up to redirect Glenn's focus. "He'll be fine. He's gone by himself before."

"But…"

"He'll be fine," repeats Shane. "In the meantime, I think you and I should go into Atlanta."

Glenn looks at him in confusion. "For what?"

"Guns. Ammo. I've been thinking…and I'll just bet some of those nicer homes in Buckhead…I bet they've got hidden stores of weapons. The more ya got, the more ya want to protect it, right? What do you say? Need a good backup man on this."

Glenn doesn't appear to be totally sold on the idea but he still relents. "Yeah, okay."

With one last glance towards the woods, Glenn sighs shortly and follows Shane to the truck.

__________________________________________

Daryl is so distracted that he isn't even aware that he is stomping through the woods, scaring off all the animals. He can't get his mind off of what Shane said. At this rate, he wouldn't be shooting anything unless he comes across a suicidal squirrel.

Fucking Shane. Yeah, he and Glenn had been spending more time together, but it was because someone needed to watch out for the kid. Everyone else was distracted by their own bullshit so, yeah…so maybe he stepped into that role. So what?

Boyfriends? Jesus. It wasn't like they were even friends…were they? It was hard for Daryl to gauge. He'd never really had any friends. He'd worked with guys, drank with 'em, smoked with 'em, but he never considered any of them a 'friend'. To be honest, he wasn't real sure what defined a friend. He supposed Merle was the person he had been closest to but even Daryl knew he wasn't much of a friend. He was pretty sure friends weren't supposed to treat you like crap on a regular basis. No, that's what siblings were for. Friends were supposed to make you feel good, he thought anyway. Make you laugh. Make you want to spend time with them.

So, Glenn…well, he doesn't know how to define Glenn. He likes the kid. Feels protective. But, really, they were just thrown together under shitty circumstances, depending on each other for survival. That's all it is. And Shane…well, Shane was just being a dick, plain and simple.

It takes him a good hour to rationalize it all well enough to calm himself down. It takes him another couple hours to find some game so he doesn't come back empty-handed. But he finally ambles back into camp about mid-afternoon.

He sets his kill on the makeshift table they have sitting near the fire. He casually glances around, immediately noticing that Glenn is missing from the group. After counting heads, he realizes Shane is missing as well. Well, no worry. He's sure they aren't too far away. He isn't going to worry about it. They're two grown man, aware of the many dangers they all face on a daily basis. There was no reason to worry.

His 'not worrying' is noticed by Andrea who decides to put him out of his misery. "They went to Atlanta."

Daryl is surprised by the news. "What? Who?"

"Glenn and Shane. They went into Buckhead, to look for guns. Shane thought they might find some in the mansions."

Daryl figures he must have looked worried for her to offer up the information without him asking. He tries to reel in the initial panic that shot through him at the news.

"I'm sure they'll be fine," continues Andrea. "They said they'd be back by sundown."

He takes a breath. She's right. They're adults. They'll be fine. There's no need to be worry.

He spends the day distracting himself with different tasks, each one more mundane than the next. But as it gets closer to sunset, he climbs up on the RV to take over watch for Dale. He trains the binoculars just below the horizon, where the road first makes itself visible, and waits for the familiar truck to come up over the hill.

But it doesn't.

And as the sun goes down, his panic goes up as he continues staring at road, trying to blink away the darkness.

Carol brings him something to eat but it lies untouched at his feet. He is nauseous with tension and she is the last person he wants to see. He doesn't want to think about what she represents. How many times had he told her that they'd find Sophia? And look at how that had turned out. Just the thought that something similar has happened makes Daryl want to be sick.

The fact that Glenn is out there somewhere with Shane watching his back makes him feel equally queasy. He thinks of Shane's questionable account of Otis' demise and comes to a conclusion. If Shane comes back without Glenn, he isn't going to wait for an explanation. He's just going to empty the rifle into Shane's chest.

The night plods on at a snail's pace. Every once in a while he remembers that he's also supposed to watching out for walkers so he scans the area quickly but then locks his eyes back on the road, waiting for a pair of headlights to appear.

At one point Rick comes up to take over watch but Daryl refuses to leave.

"When sunup comes," says Daryl decisively. "I'm goin' to find 'em."

Rick sighs. There are still a few hours until sunrise. That means that there are a few more hours before that decision needs to be made. He isn't going to argue about it now. He heads to his tent to try to get a little sleep before what he is sure will be a stressful day.

As day finally breaks, Andrea takes over watch while Daryl gears up to head into the city. No one else is stirring. Though everyone had spent most of the night awake along with him in anxious worry, he is annoyed to see that they had somehow found slumber.

"Rick!" yells Daryl, not feeling any guilt for his loudness. "Where are the Goddamn keys?"

Everyone stumbles out of their enclosures, all looking worse for the wear, but Daryl doesn't give a shit.

"The keys," Daryl demands when Rick exits his tent, pulling on a sweatshirt.

"Now, Daryl, just hang on," Rick responds calmly.

"What's going on?" asks Dale. "What are you doing?"

"I'm gonna find 'em. Gimme the keys."

"How the hell are you going to find them?" inquires Dale.

"Daryl, let's just think about this for a minute," adds Rick. "Let's make a plan."

"They were heading for Buckhead…" says Daryl.

"Do you know how big the area of Buckhead is?" continues Dale.

"Daryl, come on," says Rick. "Let's just sit down for a minute."

"No! I ain't waiting no more."

"You can't just run off…"

"Shut up, old man!" Daryl takes a threatening step toward Dale. T-Dog steps in with a firm hand to his chest so Daryl turns back to Rick. "Give me the fucking keys!"

"If you give me just a minute," says Rick. "I'll go with you."

"Hey!" yells Andrea from atop the RV. Everyone looks up at her. She's pointing towards the road. "What's that?"

They all move forward to try to get a better view.

"What the hell is that?" asks Dale, squinting.

It's hard to make out. Something is coming up the road toward them but it's not the truck. It's not walkers either. It slowly gets closer and closer.

"You've gotta be kidding…" says Andrea, looking through the binoculars.

After a minute they can all finally see what she sees. They just can't believe it. Shane and Glenn are pedaling a tandem bicycle and pulling a bicycle trailer behind it.

Glenn is in the front, smiling. He rings the bell as they steer up the last fifty yards into camp. Rick and T-Dog grab the bike as they practically collapse in their obvious exhaustion.

"Lord, you're a sight for sore eyes," says Rick, helping Shane from the bike. "What happened?"

"Walkers took over the truck," explains Shane. "We were gonna wait 'em out in a sporting goods store but more came, then we ran across this beauty."

"You biked here?"

"All night long," adds Glenn, crumpling into the grass. "Thankfully the moon was out."

"You've gotta be exhausted," says Lori.

"Oh, God yes!" exclaims Glenn.

Everyone laughs in relief.

"Did you find guns?" asks T-Dog.

"Found a few," replies Shane. "Then we just filled up the trailer there with whatever we could find."

Glenn's still smiling, but it falters when he sees Daryl, who has been lingering in the back of the group.

Daryl's relief lasted all of two seconds. It's that smile that put him over edge. He's furious. Here he was panicked with fear all night long, running on no sleep, and then Glenn and Shane show up riding a fucking bicycle built for two, happy as you please, like it was a fucking Sunday in the park.

He turns and stalks away from the welcome party, takes his crossbow into the woods and fires a bolt straight into a tree, pissed as hell. The bolt splits and breaks, which pisses him off even more. He rips it out of the bark and then turns around. Glenn is standing there. He's holding something that looks like a piece of clothing.

"What's wrong?" asks Glenn, brow furrowed.

In the back of his mind, Daryl knows that there is no good reason for him to be so angry with Glenn. But he's never been good at controlling his emotions and he's just about to bust.

"Don't ever fucking do that again!" he roars, chest heaving in fury. "I can't sit here and wait for you not to come back!"

They're both stunned by what he's just said, no one more so than Daryl himself. But it's the truth. And it about knocks all the anger clear out of him.

Glenn blinks at him in surprise for a minute before responding. "It goes both ways ya know."

"Huh?"

"You took off hunting all by yourself. At least I had someone with me."

"I can take care of myself," growls Daryl, suddenly on the defensive.

"Oh, yeah, we've seen that. Or did you forget how you fell off your horse, impaled yourself on your own weapon, and decided to stop and make some jewelry for the Tim Burton collection?"

Daryl recognizes the hypocrisy but his emotions are too much for him. Anger is about all he can handle at the moment. "I ain't dead, am I?"

Glenn's shoulders slump in exhaustion. "I'm too tired for this. But feel free to yell at me again once I've had a good night's…day's sleep."

He turns to walk away and then glances down at what he has in his hands and turns back to Daryl.

"Oh, here, this is for you," he tosses the garment to Daryl. "I know it's not your style, it having sleeves and all, but I thought you could use it since the nights are getting colder."

Daryl catches it. It's a brand new North Face jacket, the price tag still on it. Glenn stands there for a second waiting for Daryl to react, but Daryl is still fighting with his anger and doesn't seem to know what to say. Rolling his eyes at Daryl's lack of gratitude, Glenn walks away, shaking his head.

____________________________________________

By the time Glenn wakes up, it's dark and nearly everyone is in bed.

Glenn looks out the entrance to his tent and sees Daryl sitting at the campfire. Sighing, he pulls on a hoodie and walks over to him. When he gets close enough to get a good look at Daryl, he freezes. Not only is Daryl wearing the jacket that Glenn had gotten for him but he has obviously cleaned himself up. Even from ten feet away Glenn can smell the floral scent of shampoo. His goatee appears more groomed than usual, and his hair actually looks like it's been combed.

"Who the hell are you?"

Daryl snorts sharply. "Found some shower gel in your recent haul and figured it was about that time of year."

"That time of year," Glenn echoes in amusement.

The truth is Daryl felt like he should clean himself up before he put on the clean jacket. It would inevitably get dirty like the rest of him but he figured it gave him a reason to clean himself up a bit.

Glenn sits gingerly down in the camp chair next to him.

"Thanks." Daryl clears his throat, looking away briefly. "Thanks for the jacket."

"Oh, yeah. No problem." Glenn shrugs it off. "I've lost track of how many times you've saved my ass so we're nowhere near even but…you're welcome."

They sit quietly staring into the glowing embers.

"Are you the only one up?" asks Glenn.

"Shane's been up for a while," Daryl replies with a frown. "He's on watch so he's slithering around here somewhere."

"I'm surprised I slept so long."

"Shit. Almost forgot," says Daryl, getting up from his seat. He comes back and hands Glenn something wrapped in tin foil.

"What's this?" asks Glenn.

"Small group of turkeys nearly walked right through camp earlier. I got one. Andrea got another. Saved you a leg."

"Are you serious? Turkey? Oh my God," Glenn exclaims, unwrapping it and taking a bite. His eyes roll heavenward. "Oh my God."

"It's not a Butterball or nothing but it's not too bad."

"Oh my God. This is so awesome. I could kiss you."

They both freeze on his comment, awkwardly avoiding each other's eyes.

"I mean…" stutters Glenn, face going red. "It's good. It's…"

Daryl isn't sure why he's so warm all of a sudden. It was just a silly comment. Not like he meant it.

"Andrea's shot woke up Shane," explains Daryl, trying to change the direction of their conversation. "Surprised you didn't wake up."

"Oh," says Glenn, thinking. "I think I did. Must have just gone back to sleep."

"Could've been walkers," replies Daryl in a tone that is slightly admonishing.

"Yeah, but I was pretty tired," shrugs Glenn, taking another bite of turkey. "We biked a long way, all fucking night I might add. Sitting down is not going to be fun for the next couple days. My legs are still wobbly."

He takes a couple more bites before seeming to lose interest. He swallows and looks sideways at Daryl for a second before continuing. "Besides, you wouldn't have let them get me." Glenn looks over and meets his eyes. "Right?"

Daryl stares back, chest tight and face heating up more than before, unsure of what would come out of his mouth right then. But he is spared the trouble because Shane takes that moment to make an appearance.

"What are you boys up to?" asks Shane with a smirk.

It is too dark to see the flush that crawls up both their necks. Daryl is irritated by Shane's presence but more so that it's made him feel like they were caught doing something.

"Hey, Shane," greets Glenn cordially.

Shane notices the turkey leg in his hand. "There anymore turkey?"

Glenn opens his mouth to offer some of his but Daryl beats him to the punch.

"No," states Daryl firmly, daring Shane to make an issue of it. They stare each other down for a minute before Shane relents.

"Glenn," says Shane. "You mind taking over watch while I get a little more shuteye?"

"Oh, no. That's cool," replies Glenn, getting up from his seat.

"Must be the food that's getting to me," yawns Shane as he hands off the rifle to Glenn. "What's the name of the stuff in turkey that makes you tired?"

"Buckshot?" deadpans Daryl.

Shane's face twists up into a sardonic smile. "Right. Buckshot."

Glenn juggles the rifle and his turkey leg so he has a handle on both. He then looks between Shane and Daryl like he's not sure how to act around their obvious hostility.

"See ya," he says to both, but mostly to Daryl.

Daryl watches him disappear into the darkness before turning back to find Shane staring at him. He glares back.

"You got a problem?" growls Daryl.

Shane snorts a short sigh, shaking his head.

"You smell good," comments Shane, chuckling quietly to himself. He then turns and walks away leaving a very dumbfounded Daryl in his wake.

Chapter Text

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…"

"Yeah, yeah."

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.

"What?"

"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."

"Sorry, sorry."

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.

Chapter Text

Once back at camp, Daryl and Glenn try to act as they normally do, while secretly sneaking into each other's tents, going out 'hunting', or sharing lingering, heated looks across the campfire.

And, unsurprisingly, Daryl and Glenn begin to go into town much more frequently. In fact, Daryl is just grabbing his stuff and is about to head over to Glenn's tent when he notices that something is up.

Glenn is zipping the entrance to his tent closed when he turns to find the rest of the group standing there facing him in what looks to be a confrontation. The only people who are missing are Lori and Carl. Not a good sign.

Daryl hangs back a second.

"Uh…hey guys," greets Glenn casually. "What's going on?"

Rick is, of course, the spokesperson for the group. He's looking uncomfortable, having a hard time meeting Glenn's eyes.

"Glenn," begins Rick. He then takes a breath and continues with authority. "This thing with you and Daryl…it can't go on."

Daryl and Glenn are both shocked by the statement.

Daryl walks over. If there ever was a moment that Glenn would drop his sorry ass, this was the opportunity. Of course, he wasn't going to just stand by and watch it happen.

"There a problem?" interrupts Daryl.

"Consider this an intervention," says Shane, leaning the rifle against his shoulder.

"You've got no right," declares Glenn.

"This isn't up for discussion," adds Dale.

Daryl steps forward, brandishing his weapon. "Whose business is it of yours?"

"There's no need for that," asserts Rick, gesturing towards the weapon.

"How come he's got his?" asks Daryl, nodding at Shane and his gun.

"I'm on watch, dumbass," responds Shane.

"This is between me and Daryl. It's got nothing to do with you all," says Glenn.

"Of course it has to do with us," insists Dale. "We care about you!"

"If you cared, then you'd be happy for us," reasons Glenn. "Not try to force us to be apart!"

Shane laughs shortly.

"What? That's not…" stutters Dale, brow furrowing.

"I'm in love with Daryl," declares Glenn passionately, surprising the hell out of everyone. Especially Daryl. "And your prejudices aren't going to change that. It's…it's not going to change who I want to sleep with."

"Nobody cares about that," insists Rick, looking supremely uncomfortable.

Glenn stares at him in bewilderment. "What?"

"For crying out loud," interrupts Andrea in frustrated amusement. "No one's trying to break you up. What they're trying to say is that we just don't want you two going into the city anymore for your booty calls. Driving into a population of zombies isn't exactly practicing safe sex."

Shane snickers again.

Both Glenn and Daryl stand there blinking owlishly, their mouths open in shock, trying to digest what's going on.

"You… just don't want us to go into the city?" Glenn asks for clarification.

"Right," replies Rick.

"We've known for a while what you've been up to. You haven't exactly been subtle," says Andrea with a smirk. "And it was kind of obvious the last time you went into the city and about all you brought back was hickies."

Glenn turns beet red. Daryl can't look at anyone.

"We just didn't know what to do about it so we sat down and came up with an alternative," explains Dale. "Not just for you two, but for any couple when they feel a need to…'go to the city'. The RV. You can have it for the night."

"Anyone who wants it will have an opportunity to use the RV. It will be private," explains Rick. "But most of all, it will be safe."

"What about supplies?" asks Glenn quietly.

"We'll deal with that as we need to," replies Rick. They all stand awkwardly again for a minute, looking anywhere but at each other. "So…any questions?"

Glenn shakes his head. Daryl stares at the ground, ignoring their existence.

"Okay," says Rick. "That's it then. As you were."

The group slowly disperses and Glenn, still in shock, walks over to Daryl.

"I feel like my parents just told me I could have sex in their bed," says Glenn. He notices Daryl is acting fidgety. "What's wrong?"

Daryl swallows, finding it hard to look at Glenn. "Uh…what you said…"

It takes Glenn a second to realize what Daryl is referring to.

"Oh…yeah," says Glenn, looking self-conscious. "Um, well…you know I care about you. Obviously. I mean…you're my best friend."

The statement hits Daryl square in the chest.

"You don't have to say anything back," continues Glenn. "I mean, I don't expect you to feel the same…"

Daryl quickly steps forward and plants one on him, which Glenn happily accepts.

"Get a room," hollers Dale, from across camp.

"Speak for yourself," says Andrea with a wicked grin. "I don't mind one bit."

She looks at Carol to gauge her reaction. Her blushing smile says it all.

"Amen to that," says another deeper voice.

Andrea turns around to find Shane was the one who made the statement.

Everyone gawks at him. Everyone that is except for Rick, who strangely doesn't seem phased at all by the comment.

Shane just smiles.

"Shane," says Rick. "You got that crescent wrench?"

"Be right there." He winks to the crowd before heading off towards Rick.

Meanwhile, Glenn has pulled Daryl behind a tree, his hands finding purchase in the lean muscles of Daryl's sinewy frame. Daryl presses into the younger man, hands taking their customary route into Glenn's soft, dark hair and pulling him forward for a heated kiss.

"Mmm," groans Glenn. "I'm going to miss the penthouse."

"Don't matter, does it?" breathes Daryl against his lips.

Glenn smiles blissfully. "No."

They kiss again, hot and deep, and with a new sense of freedom.

It's strange how they fit together, like two pieces from different puzzles that somehow join perfectly. A time before all this and they would never have met, would never have found each other.

Thank God for zombies.