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Title: Tomorrow is a Long Way Down
Pairing/Characters: Daryl/Glenn
Words: ~14,300
Rating: R
Summary: Glenn and Daryl and a motorcycle and an abandoned motel and some history and some futures. May contain spam and crossbows.
Warnings: References to racism, homophobia, past child abuse, non-paring character death (none are terribly extended or explicit and are not the focus, but they are there). Plus some of the usual nasty zombie stuff. AND SEX.
Spoilers: Picks up a little while after 2x07 with tiny bits of the 2x08 preview factored in, and I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that it's going to end up being completely AU from there.
Notes: Apologies to Josh Ritter and Bob Dylan for the (lame) title. Thanks as always to J. <3



The farm is a tainted memory behind them, up one road and down several more. Fort Benning's drawing closer at a weary crawl extended by frequent RV repairs, pauses for a few days when there's somewhere safe to camp for more than a restless night, and it seems like every time they stop it takes longer to catch their breath. They could be pushing on harder but they don't.

Their new normal is tenser and quieter, but it's slowly getting to where every random laugh isn't invariably followed by sidelong guilt and not every night watch has a soundtrack of Carol quietly crying. Glenn thinks maybe Rick sees this just as much as he does and is pacing them, dragging out getting there until they're all more whole again so whatever meets them at the end won't be such a shock if it isn’t good, and they all know there's every chance it won't be.

Today's been a good day, as days go now. So far nothing breaking and no surprises and everyone a little less doomed around the eyes because there's nothing for morale like a brace of squirrels that was nearly enough to fill everyone up last night. The hunting hasn't been good so far (either that or Daryl's been off his game, which Glenn can't really blame him for if it’s true), but yesterday Daryl came back to camp looking more like himself and even kind of smiled when Glenn told him about once upon a time flipping through The Joy of Cooking and wondering who would ever need to cook a squirrel.

Last night got them moving a little better, but then they have to stop way before dark because now Lori's so sick that every motion of the RV sends her into a fresh bout of vomiting up dinner and then breakfast and then stuff she hasn't got. She'd be green if she weren't so ghastly white. She protests about holding the group back but Rick's not having any of it. Shane isn't either, when their little caravan's stopped and he comes in with Andrea. Glenn's got a feeling Shane would feel differently if it weren't Lori, but he doesn't really care much because he's not sure how much longer he can suppress his own gag reflex. Andrea maybe does feel differently but she doesn't say, just stands there near the door watching with no expression at all. Glenn watches out the side window as Dale and Daryl have some conversation he can't hear over the motorcycle. Daryl gets off and goes and takes a piss in the bushes and then comes in, still doing up his pants and asking what's the damn hold-up. Carol's the one to tell him because when she talks to him he's least likely to fly off all crazy-eyed.

"You got anything in that drug stash of your brother's for a hell of a lot of puking?" T-Dog asks.

There's a moment of Daryl chewing his bottom lip, then he shrugs. "Got some smoke but I don't think you're s'posed to do that when you're knocked up. Just make her hungry anyway."

Glenn's read that kind of thing's not so bad early on, but he keeps quiet since he doubts Rick would go for it, and also he doesn't really want to be responsible for what could happen if he's wrong. "The sign for the next exit says there's a gas station," he says instead. "It might have some Pepto or something left. Anybody taking stuff might have mostly been thinking about gas and food." He'd more than once gotten through a delivery shift with whatever random cold or headache remedies could be found at the 24-hour convenience store. Little single-serving foil packets of aspirin or dayquil when neither blowing eight bucks at the drugstore nor missing work were an option, or when his free employee meal was his only one of the day and was too big and too greasy.

"Oh, great, so I can puke pink," Lori says, laughing shakily into the wet cloth Carol's handed her. She's stopped throwing up for the moment but she hasn't gone far from the little bathroom, just sitting by the door, and the whole RV smells like vomit.

"Good thinking, Glenn," Rick says with that appreciative cop nod of his as he stands up from crouching next to Lori. "You up for going?"

"Sure."

"Okay. You take a walkie and drive up on ahead in Shane's car, and the rest of us'll backtrack to that campground we passed. Water might still be on and we could sure use it."

Shane's about to hand him the keys and Glenn thinks of Maggie. Dead guy in the well? Send Glenn down. "I'd, uh." Everyone's looking at him. "We don't know what's up there and it's kinda far. Anybody wanna come as backup?"

"Hell," Daryl says, and pushes Shane's outstretched hand with the key back toward him, jerks his chin at Glenn. "C'mon, Korea. I'd rather do somethin'."

And that's how Glenn comes to be on the back of Daryl's motorcycle while everyone else turns around behind them to follow the bright yellow Yogi Bears on the KOA billboards. They get about a hundred yards before Daryl slows to a stop and puts his feet down. He doesn't turn all the way around, just enough to talk toward Glenn so he can be heard. "You gotta hold on or you're gonna be roadkill."

Glenn knows how annoying it was to have someone on the back of his scooter who wanted to hold onto anything but him, mostly acquaintances who needed a lift home and didn't want to wrap their arms around another guy, but he hadn't figured Daryl would want him to, however unbalanced it might make the ride. He does as he's told and holds on, arms cinched across Daryl's waist and a crossbow poking him in the chest. Daryl speeds off as soon as he's satisfied and the trees blur and Glenn thinks about a co-worker he once had, Hunter, who always put his hands as deep as they could go in Glenn's jacket pockets and who he never corrected on leaning the wrong way into turns and who'd finally, finally invited him inside and kissed him and told him he'd already quit and he was going to grad school in Milwaukee.

He hopes Milwaukee wasn't hit so hard, that maybe Hunter's doing something like this somewhere near there, or is eating beans in a comfortable shelter. Hunter had worn Abercrombie cologne that tasted like soapy roses on the side of his neck. Daryl smells like unwashed clothes and unwashed skin. that sweaty set-in B.O. that made you be able to tell who never took their uniforms home (Glenn always wore an extra shirt under his and let that be the thing to get stinky because he sucked at doing laundry and bleach spots that were okay on his own t-shirts would have come out of his paycheck on the work polos), but stronger, like all of them probably smelled, and Daryl's neck would probably taste like salt and dirt. Not that he's seriously contemplating it, not even when he watches the speedometer creep up to 75 and the only way to breathe without gulping random struggling gasps in the wind is to duck his head down and press his nose into Daryl's shoulder and filter it through the odor of dirty fraying cotton and his lips have no choice but to touch skin. Maggie's hair had smelled like roses too.

Daryl pauses on the exit ramp and shouts back to ask if he should go to the BP or the Pure. Glenn says Pure, banking on most people going to the BP because convenience stores at Pures always stank of fried food and had bums in the parking lot.

Three miles later, they pull up in a deserted gravel lot that's worn dusty and shared by the gas station and a motel. Daryl walks in front with his bow aimed, and Glenn struggles to follow with his legs turned to jelly by the road vibrations.

There aren't any lights on, the emergency power either dead or never existed, and the sign is empty of prices. The first thing they see when they wade through the knee-high reddish grass is the open door of an outside bathroom, the kind you (used to) have to get a key to and is (was) always either too cold or too hot. The toilet's been smashed so that it looks like it's got jagged teeth and a face, clownlike.

It doesn't smell so much of death here as it does of stale urine, no buzz of flies that says there might be bodies. Daryl nods at the shattered glass door of the store entrance and it squeals on stiff hinges when Glenn follows him in. There are ceiling tiles crumbling on the floor and overturned shelves and nothing that looks like it might contain even a random candy bar.

Daryl lowers his crossbow and says, "Dammit. Nobody's been here since long before the walkers."

"Check out the motel?" Glenn says hopefully. The last thing he wants is for this to have been useless.

They pick their way over. The motel's grass is even taller, going to seed and with weeds catching burrs on their clothes. The ground floor has an open door that reads 'game room' in big western-style blue and red letters. The bottom half's spiderwebbed through with a bullet hole and there's a random piece of fake Christmas tree stuck through the handle. Glenn looks at the windowsill outside the door and nearly jumps out of his skin because there are eyes looking back at him, a taxidermied squirrel wrapped up in a snake and swallowing its head, wires coming out of its back end and it's eyeballs are bugged out like it's choking. "Holy shit," Glenn says. Daryl's been looking into the game room and didn't see Glenn's startle. "Why is that even here? Like who would even do that?"

Daryl shrugs, pokes it. "Some dumbass kid, probably. Tail fell off, see?" He plucks one of the wires sticking out and it vibrates in a blur. "Don't happen if you know what you're doing." He's less interested now in the squirrel or the game room than in the propane tank between the motel and the gas station. He taps it with his fist and then knocks his hip against it. "Still got some in it. Motel's probably been empty as long as the gas station."

Glenn looks up, to either end of two rusting metal staircases forming a V at one end. All the doors to the rooms are shut. "If those doors are shut, I bet they're locked. Meaning no walkers and maybe some good stuff."

Daryl's already halfway up the stairs before the last sentence is out. "Could be hot water too if that tank goes to here," he says before he kicks a door in. There's a bunch of mattresses piled like they've been carelessly dropped from above, and an old cigarette machine blocking half the room, frayed cloth cord trailing behind it. All brands $3. It's musty and maybe moldy but the piss smell hasn't made it in here, and if there were ever any bedbugs or fleas they'll have baked to death because it's like walking into an oven. The bathroom's full of plastic chairs and there are wasp corpses in the tub, a wreath with a big red bow and a wire rack that says 'postcards,' a rake, half a dried-up sponge. Daryl tries a faucet and ends up having to kick it to turn it on. It coughs out rusty water that finally runs clear when Daryl's stopped looking at it and is flipping through the receipt book that's for some reason in the sink. Glenn's hoping to wait to call out till he sees steam, but even though it's turned all the way hot, it's still summer groundwater tepid. Daryl glances up like he's reading a newspaper at breakfast. "Pilot's probably downstairs." Like it's obvious. Maybe it is. You don't leave the gas on if you know you're leaving for good and you're not in a hurry, but in that case the water shouldn't be on either.

The game room's full of black mold mottling the atomic retro wallpaper, ancient chairs and rejected curtains and graffiti and empty beer cans. There's a lawn jockey, of all things, and a patio umbrella somebody's set up over a pile of stained orange cushions like it's a tropical cabana, one checker-print sneaker lying on its side dead center of it like it's waiting for prince charming. Daryl finds the utility closet like he knows where it is. "Maybe we should get the others down here." Glenn kicks aside a box of rusty tools so he can squat down where Daryl can hear him behind the water heater. "It's gross but it seems pretty safe."

"Could be. Shine a light over here." He can see half of Daryl's face weirdly shadowed, all angles and concentration. His teeth come out over his bottom lip as he swears under his breath when he burns himself, but he doesn't flinch. "Let's see if this place blows sky high first."

Glenn wants to take that as a cue to run like hell, but Daryl just gets up calmly and dusts his hands off, which only leaves smears of grease and dirt on his pants. He blinks at the hand held down to him for a second but takes it and lets Daryl pull him up. Even in the dark he can see a blistering red welt on Daryl's middle finger, can't help inspecting it. "You should put something on that."

"Later." Daryl jerks his hand away. "Let's go see what that BP's got. They won't wanna go nowhere if there's not medicine at the other end."

This time when they get on the bike, Daryl hands Glen his crossbow and it's just chest to back with nothing jabby in the way and it's almost comfortable. It's six miles and they're losing light fast, sky pink and purple off toward Atlanta. Glenn thinks making a joke about riding into the sunset probably isn't the thing to do, and Daryl wouldn't hear it anyway.

Glenn's got his sea legs a little bit better this time and doesn't stumble so much getting off the bike. The BP doesn't look like it was much to begin with but at least it was operational this century. It's pretty picked-over but there's stuff still, even some water and batteries, and a hell of a lot of beer. There's Pepto and Tums and Benadryl behind the counter, pretty much untouched, mixed in the display with trucker speed and condoms and herbal male enhancement pills and glass pipes that have a big orange TOBACCO USE ONLY sign.

Of course Daryl comes over with an armload of canned goods just as Glenn's reading the back of one of the 'male supplements' to see if it could maybe be good for anything else. He turns red and drops it like hot potato but Daryl's already smirking. "That's shit's just pixie sticks and caffeine. Knew a guy who made extra money fillin' up pills. Dudes who take that think they got herpes from the skank they used it with, but they most likely got it from shitheads like Rocky Buber not washin' their hands. So if you got a problem that ain't the solution."

"I don't have a problem."

Daryl snorts. "Good to know." He smirks harder when Glenn turns redder. But then his attention's on something else. Glenn looks up over his head, and it's a clock that's still ticking, one of those ones the beer companies give you that run on a 9-volt. It's got a date too. August 20. Glenn hasn't been keeping track. He knows in a vague way that it's been a couple of months but that's it. All Daryl says is, "Huh," and starts piling soup and Spam and Vienna sausages into Glenn's backpack.

"What is it, your birthday or something?"

"My brother's. Get those condoms." Glenn can't form words before Daryl rolls his eyes. "You want more people gettin' knocked up?"

"Fair point," Glenn mutters. "We can hand them out at lunch like it's high school."

"Hell kind of a high school'd you go to?"

"The kind with the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in Atlanta. It was ridiculous. The parents who had kids when they were sixteen were the ones protesting it the hardest."

Daryl shrugs. "At mine they just got married and dropped out. Nothin' wrong with it."

"I guess, if that's what you want." Maybe it was different when Daryl was in high school. He's somewhere between maybe 30 and 40 but Glenn's never been able to figure it out, because sometimes he acts like he's 12 and sometimes he acts like he's 800, and it probably doesn't matter.

They ride back the other way with food and water and drugs weighing down Glenn's back, the entire contents of the automotive section stuffed in the saddlebags (minus the air fresheners and truck balls) and a case of beer bungee tied to the helmet rack. The last bit of light's gone out of the sky when they get back to the motel, but it's still standing. Glenn raises the others on the walkie. He gets Andrea first and she tells him to get their asses back. There's a burst of static and then Rick takes over and tells them stay the night if it's safe, asks for directions when he hears how safe and that there's hot water and they've got some medicine, and says they'll all come in the morning.


"So I guess it's you and me and the squirrel," Glenn says with a weak laugh.

Daryl doesn't laugh. "You get any soap in that BP?"

"Oh, uh, yeah." He always gets soap because they're always running out. For people who can't take real showers very much, they use a lot of soap. Glenn digs in his bag and pulls out the handful of choices. Travel-size bottles of Old Spice and Dove, and a bar of Irish Spring. Bottles are better, less likely to slip out of your hands while you're lathering and float away down a creek, and don't end up with sticks and leaves and mystery hairs stuck to them.

Daryl kicks in doors till he finds a room he likes, which best Glenn can tell means not too much crap stored in the shower. The wasps seem to be a standard amenity. At least they're dead, and dead for real. Daryl scoops them up and sweeps them out onto the floor. Glenn takes the crossbow again and goes to stand by the door. Daryl takes a long time, or maybe it's just a long time to be half-siting on a rickety laminate desk watching nothing happen outside and thinking about walker wasps, about how AIDS had started in monkeys and maybe there'd been some kind of walker animal for decades without anyone noticing until it passed over to humans. Glenn privately thinks it might be some kind of fish, because what else started on the coasts and moved in, but he's kept that to himself because it's pretty much stupid, and he hasn't seen anybody get infected from eating fish yet so he might as well be blaming it on McDonalds, and this wasn't something you could treat, ever. This is the kind of stupid crap he thinks about when there's no immediate danger and nothing going on, but it definitely beats wondering what Daryl's doing in the shower for so long because there is no thing in existence that won't make Glenn's brain just completely gung-ho Go There and it's already been There and back because he knows what he'd do himself in a private hot shower where no one might happen to walk by.

When Daryl finally comes out he's just in his grimy pants, barefoot, smelling as clean and sparkling as the waterfall or whatever the hell the commercial used to say. It's dark, just one gas station candle that's supposed to smell like clean linen, but Glenn can see that some of the marks he'd thought were dirt when he'd been conscripted to fetch towels while Daryl was being stitched up from being impaled on his own arrow and shot by Andrea are actually scars. The newest wound still stands out angry pink and shiny and puckered. Daryl doesn't look him in the eye, just takes the crossbow and jerks his chin toward the bathroom.

The sink is full of floating cans of Miller Lite. The water's already bathwater warm. Glenn drains it and runs more cold in, remembering AP Physics and specific heat. Apocalypse ice machine. Of course he jerks off in the shower. Not really to anything, mostly just because he can. One of those former-life luxuries, same as he would down an ice cold Coke and a Varsity chili dog even if he wasn't hungry or thirsty (though he's usually both now). Daryl's not absent from it, because he's always there somewhere when Glenn's mind wanders, wondering about the stuff he never talks about, which is about 99% of everything. Daryl's scarred chest bleeds into Maggie's, rosy and clean, bleeds into Hunter's tattoos of roses, and the ink turns back into Daryl's angels and demons and unexplained names, turns into Cyn with the blue hair his first semester of college whose back was tattooed to look like the cello that she once played for him naked, turns into Daryl smirking at him and taking away the scavenged guitar to tune it right, strum a few chords and hand it back like a secret, turns into a guy named Zander who he hasn't thought about in years, a folk singer. Daryl's the only one he's sure is alive.

The nothing-but-pants logic is easy to understand now because everything else seems way too rank to put back on. He would if he had to, but if Daryl's not even wearing shoes, he's deemed it safe enough that they won't have to run. Between drying off with his shirt or the dusty stack of towels on the shelf over the toilet, he opts for none of the above and uses the one Daryl left hanging on the back of the door because it at least looks kind of white and won't have any possible surprises rolled up in it. The tile feels grimy under his feet and he half-laughs at himself remembering college and everyone showering in flip-flops.

Daryl's outside, leaning on the railing and looking out into the dark. His back's got scars too, random ones all over, but there's a series of them on his lower back that seem to continue below his waistband that look too neat to be accidents and give him a queasy feeling. They're white and long-healed but the weak wobble of the light from inside the room is hitting them just right. He looks at the tattoos instead, wondering if they're angels or demons, but he doesn't ask, just says, "Hey," and waits for Daryl to turn around and take the beer he's holding out.

"Don't you go gettin' all shitfaced on me," Daryl says.

"Dude, you were the one making me take shots of SoCo." Sometimes it's like too much bad shit has happened to be able to hold a catalog of it all at once, and a thing slips away now and then. Big drunk dinner parties disconnect from explosions and almost dying and almost losing people and losing people, and then they slap back together to knock the joke out of Glenn's mouth.

"I don't recall havin' a gun to your head at the time." Daryl only mutters it because maybe he's thinking the same. He pushes off the railing, which gives a little bit too much for Glenn's liking, and goes back into the room. "We oughta eat something," he says without stopping or waiting.

Eating's just a necessary evil when there's no fish or real meat or recognizable vegetables or fresh eggs to look forward to. Glenn sandwiches his half of the spam between saltines and squeezes on the little mustard packets from by the gas station's fly-infested hotdog bar. Daryl just eats his in plain chunks off the end of a swiss army knife and looks at Glenn funny. "What? It's-- okay, it's not good, but it sucks a little less." He offers out the one he's just made and Daryl's pronouncement is a 'you're not wrong' sort of shrug. "There was this one week I was so broke that I lived off Wendy's crackers with mustard and the sample stands in Publix."

"What, no pizza?"

"It was right before I got the job and right after I got fired from the one before it. Shittiest waiter ever. Seriously, I was so bad. I don't think there was ever an order I didn't screw up somehow. It was a PF Chang's which is pretty much the worst white-people Chinese food known to man. I think they only hired me because I looked authentic or whatever. One of the sous-chefs was from Taiwan and was just completely bitter that he had to make a living cooking this crap and he took it out on me. I know basically jack for Mandarin except for the stuff they say in Firefly and thanks to Lew, pretty much every insult ever." Glenn knows he's talking too much and Daryl would probably rather he shut up, so he does, and pretends not to notice that Daryl's been converted to saltine spamwiches.

"I thought you had some kinda fancy college degree," Daryl says after a while, with his mouth full, sending a shower of crumbs flying out. One catches in his overgrown chin stubble and stays there even after he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and licks mustard off his finger.

"I dropped out."

Daryl gets up and goes toward the bathroom and comes back with two more beers. They've been sitting with their backs against the dresser and the food between them on the flattened saltines box but now Daryl sits down facing him and leaning against the bed. The crumb's still there. He tries not to stare at it and ends up looking at Daryl's left foot instead. His last three toes are all crooked like they've been broken.

"Go on'n get it over with," Daryl snaps suddenly.

"What?" Glenn looks up and Daryl's eyes are narrowed, mouth in a hard angry line.

"Get your staring in." He gestures at his chest and spreads his arms open. "Seen you tryin' not to so just go the fuck on and do it."

"I--"

Glenn can't even get a word in because Daryl starts pointing at scars and naming them off. "Bar fight. Cigarette burns. Tenth-grade poetry contest award. Belt. Belt buckle. Boot heel."

"Daryl--" He's standing up, looming over Glenn, somehow shouting without actually shouting, he's saying the words so hard. Glenn kind of wants to cry or throw up or hug him or something, he doesn't know what, and Daryl keeps naming them off, surging forward and back like he's in a fistfight. Beer bottle, willow switch, fell off a motorcycle, pushed down the stairs, fell on an arrow looking for a little girl who was already dead and locked up in a barn, and now he's really yelling, eyes red and face redder and Glenn scrambles to his feet.

"DARYL," Glenn shouts over him and grabs his wrists and nearly gets his own broken, Daryl twists away so hard, but Glenn grapples to hold him still and gets shoved up against the dead TV with enough force to knock the wind out of him, and he hears the drywall crack behind it. Daryl's face is about two inches away from his and twisted with grief and anger and god-knows-what and they're frozen like that, Daryl's nostrils flaring and Glenn doesn't know if it's his hands shaking or Daryl's arms, and it's finally quiet. "I was trying not to stare because you've got some cracker stuck to your face."

He watches that sink in, listens to Daryl's breathing slow down and feels the tension start to seep out of his arms, and when it's gone enough that he thinks he probably won't get shoved again, lets one hand go and reaches up to pick that stupid fucking crumb away. There's a rough hitch in Daryl's breath and they stare at each other. Then Daryl shoves him back again, but not hard, just pushing off to get away. "Keep your fuckin' hands off me," and he's out the door.

Glenn sinks down with the TV scraping against his aching back and says 'fuck' a dozen or so times in rhythm with banging the back of his head against the screen until it hurts as much as his back and his brain. He doesn't hear angry footsteps banging down the stairs or a motorcycle starting. Daryl may be fucked up and angry but he still wants to stay alive, so that’s something.. Glenn stares at the crossbow sitting on the stripped mattress and downs half his lukewarm beer and counts to two hundred slowly, drawing characters in the carpet with his finger until he can't reach. Then he gets up (and can't help groaning) and takes the crossbow and Daryl's beer outside.

Daryl's sitting on the top step with his head between his knees. "Leave me be." It echoes loud on the metal below, thick and hoarse.

"'Kay," Glenn says, calmer than he feels. "I just thought you shouldn't be out here unarmed and you might be thirsty."

Daryl doesn't move except a tiny shift in the set of his shoulders when Glenn sets down the bow and the can behind him and backs away. The tattoos maybe are demons, or maybe the point's that you can't tell.

Glenn's almost back in the door but then he stops. "I dropped out of college because when I decided I didn't want to be an engineer, my parents didn't want to pay for it anymore. Or talk to me ever again. Which I guess is pretty tame by comparison but we've all got our shit." It's more lame than tame but it's all he's got.

"That s'posed to make it all better or something?"

"No. Just saying." Glenn waits a second in case Daryl's going to say anything else, but he doesn't, so Glenn goes back in the room and sits back where he was and starts thumbing through the Rolling Stone from three months ago, even though everyone in it's probably dead and none of it matters anymore. He used to wonder, when it was just him on his own running and running, before he met anyone he cared anything about, whether someday he might find Jack White scavenging beans from a grocery store, or save Zooey Deschanel from a walker and pledge to repopulate the human race together. Bullshit fantasies. So was however he thought this trip would go other than how it's going. It's not like they would have been braiding each other's hair and giggling.

His eyes want to close and he lets them. He doesn't realize he's been dreaming the second half of the article he was reading (the reality had been that guy from Boondock Saints talking about doing a Lady Gaga video; the dream had him segueing into confirming his dream-universe-rumored sexual relationship with the dude who'd played his brother in the movie) until Daryl's standing over him, and for a blurry confused moment he thinks Daryl's got an Irish accent.

"Huh?"

"I said, you gonna sleep there?" Daryl just sounds like Daryl and he's holding a blanket that Glenn recognizes from stuffing supplies in the bike saddlebags around it.

"I guess not." He can't hide a wince at his back protesting when he stands up, and he sees Daryl notice, drop his eyes and frown harder, but neither of them say anything. Glenn just takes the blanket when Daryl hands it to him and lies down on the bed, hoping vaguely he's right that summer heat will have baked out anything infesting the mattress, but really he's too achy and drained to care much about getting fleas or something, or to wonder what Daryl's doing rustling around in the backpack.

"Sit up a minute." That comes minutes or hours later. There's two ibuprofen in Daryl's palm and a half-full pint of Wild Turkey in the other hand.

"I thought you didn't want me all shitfaced," Glenn says when he's done grimacing at the burn of the whiskey washing the pills down.

"'s for the pain, dumbass." The edge of Daryl's lips quirk a little like he wants to smile. He wouldn't have thought Daryl would bother to apologize, especially not like this. He's already gone and running water in the bathroom before Glenn can get a thanks out. When he comes back he's holding a wet towel and says, "Turn over," in something between a grumble and a mumble. The towel's hot when Daryl presses it against his back, really hot, and Glenn hisses. "Too hot?" Daryl must be kneeling next to the bed because his voice is close and Glenn can smell the whiskey on his breath.

"It's okay." He means that to mean more than the heat but without looking he can't tell if Daryl gets that. Maybe he couldn't even if he were looking.

Daryl doesn't say anything for long enough that when he does, Glenn's been falling asleep. "Feel better?"

The towel's just warm now and with it plus the whiskey and the heat of the room, Glenn's really too hot, but his back feels less like it's tied in knots. "Yeah. Thanks." Daryl peels the towel off and the comparatively cooler air feels good on his damp skin. Glenn sits up against the headboard, pulling his knees up and bending between them to stretch his back. "Just so you know," he says, "next time you freak out like that I'm just going to punch you in the face." It's partway a joke but also not.

Glenn moves over to make space next to him, which Daryl stares at for a moment like it might be a pit of lava, but he eventually climbs onto the bed, even if he's as close to the edge as humanly possible without falling off. Daryl passes the whiskey over and their fingers catch on each other when Glenn takes it. He feels his face get a little hotter and looks off across the room. The door's chained and barricaded with the desk. When he looks back, Daryl's looking at him. Maybe just waiting for the whiskey. Glenn hands it back and this time and all Daryl's fingers brush against the backs of all of his, in a more than incidental way, and now Daryl's not looking at him, except kind of halfway from under his eyelashes as he takes a drink, and is this actually happening? Does he want this to be happening? Daryl's got crazy good hearing and can probably hear his heart absolutely flipping its shit. It at least seems to want this to be happening, and the longer he thinks about it, the more his dick starts to agree. His brain's another thing, because A, this might not actually be happening, and B, it could so end in tears. It could end in tears even if it's not happening, because now that Glenn's thought of it, he'll never get it out of his head. He lets his fingers slide slowly over Daryl's when he takes the bottle again.

"You drunk?" Daryl asks.

"Not really. Are you?"

"Take more than this. Bottle was half-empty already." So nobody gets to say later that they were drunk. If this is even actually happening. Another pass of the whiskey, another touch a little longer than the last. Daryl's looking straight ahead like there's something on TV. Glenn watches his throat as he swallows. Daryl can maybe see that out of the corner of his eye because he turns his head and looks back. "I got somethin' on my face again?"

"No. Just your face."

Daryl smiles, just a little, something like a laugh sounding deep in his chest. "I got my face on my face?"

"I didn't really think that through." The bottle's got about half a sip left in it, which Glenn shakes his head at when Daryl waves it in question. "It's all you." Score one for double meanings. Glenn was sort of thinking that once the whiskey was gone, Daryl would say something incredibly romantic like 'come here' or 'well?' and then they'd make out or something. But they're just sort of sitting here staring with nobody saying anything. So maybe he had it all wrong. Or maybe he didn't but Daryl's changed his mind now, or can't make it up. He was thinking it would be a bad idea for him to make the first move, in case he did have it wrong and got a new injury for his trouble, but Daryl's showing no sign of a move of any kind so maybe he's even less sure than Glenn is. Maybe he's silently having the Big Gay Panic. Or maybe Jack White's down the road stocking up on potted meat. But Daryl keeps looking at him. It's just been a few seconds but they seem to stretch into ten frozen forevers.

"So, um."

He doesn't really know what was going to come after that, but then Daryl shakes his head and snorts out a laugh and says, "Hell, this is fuckin' stupid."

"It's kinda fucking stupid." Glenn's laughing too and they're both moving toward the center of the bed and then they're there and the laughing stops and there's more staring, but a better kind of staring. Daryl's eyes flick down to Glenn's lips and he licks his own. "Yes?" Glenn asks, just in case, close enough to feel his breath echo back.

Yet again it doesn't go exactly like he was thinking-- he doesn't get a 'hell yeah' and porno-worthy tongue hockey. What he gets is Daryl's hand wrapping around the back of his head, slowly, with rough fingertips on the nape of his neck, and then Daryl's eyes closing as he nods and a press of lips that would border on chaste if it didn't stay there, lips catching between each other and tasting like whiskey and their teeth knock together like being clumsy in high school and Daryl's hair looks greasy even when it's clean but it doesn't feel that way.

Daryl tenses up a little when Glenn laughs against his mouth at the learning curve of figuring out how they fit and that's when Glenn realizes Daryl must be totally out of his depth here. Of course he is-- if his brother says the N-word and Chink and makes jokes about Jews and ovens, there were probably a million more about ass-bandits or butt-pirates or whatever and so any remotely un-straight thought or action could have been a Big Gay Panic every time and he feels like an idiot for that not occurring to him before now. One of those things that get disconnected. But there's no good way to get that across without stopping, which Glenn really doesn't want to do, so he works his other hand free from where he's been half lying on it and wraps it around Daryl's waist to pull him closer.

That opens some kind of floodgate that gets Daryl rolling on top of him and squeezing his ass and kissing deep and dirty and grinding down against him and teeth so very on purpose, and Glenn's going to come in his pants in about two minutes if they don't either slow down or get more naked, so when Daryl starts sucking on his neck he manages to say as much and gets a hot laugh against his ear. It's really too hot in here to be touching at all and there's sweat running down Daryl's face, skin slick and salty where Glenn mouths at his shoulder and his hands slip easily over the relief map of history on Daryl's chest and back. His own back's still smarting and sore but that's not what he's thinking about when Daryl's fingers dig into it, when he goes quiet and shudders and grips on hard enough to bruise as he comes over Glenn's hand and their stomachs. The way he kisses Glenn after is back to that strange sweet uncertainty that's mirrored by his hand being too gentle and kind of at a bad angle, but Glenn's too far gone for it to really matter.

Daryl smiles cat-like and smug when he wipes his hand off on Glenn's chest, and Glenn laughs and rolls his eyes. "Oh, thanks a lot, man." They wrestle a little while Glenn tries to get revenge, and it's fun and everything is completely fine and not-weird except for the little bit that Daryl flinches when Glenn gets the wet towel off the bedside table to clean them up with but even that seems fine in the end and they kiss a little, so he doesn't really think anything at all of it when Daryl picks up his pants and goes into the bathroom until he's in there for a long time, long enough that Glenn's fallen asleep and woken back up to the candle going out, a stale taste in his mouth, and his back absolutely killing him. That could have been just a few minutes, and even an hour isn't impossibly long when your diet totally sucks and you've actually got a real bathroom, but he knows about what time they came in here and however long everything else took doesn't add up to it starting to get light outside.

He forces his body to cooperate and puts on his pants and the bathroom door's not even latched. It creaks slightly ajar when he knocks on it. What little light's coming in through the window isn't enough to see anything inside and Daryl doesn't answer when he calls out, so he pushes the door all the way open. Daryl's sitting on the side of the tub and snaps up from where his head was resting against the wall. He scrubs a hand over his face and looks up at Glenn in a way that doesn't exactly seem overjoyed to see him.

"Uh, you okay?" Glenn asks, because there's nothing better to say when his footing's more unsure than ever. Mornings-after have never been his strong suit because he's so often wrong in one direction or the other on the What Last Night Meant subject.

"Fell asleep."

"Yeah, like all night. I would've come looking for you sooner but I kinda passed out."

"Thought you weren't drunk."

"I wasn't. I meant tired passed out." None of the stuff he wants to say seems like a good idea, and Daryl's giving him nothing to work with. "You're welcome to stay there but the bed's probably more comfortable and I really need to take a leak." Daryl doesn't move and Glenn just says screw it and lifts up the toilet seat and starts undoing his pants because he's frustrated and irritated and would really like not to fuck this up but he doesn't know how. He decides that maybe that's just what he should say but when he turns his head Daryl's walking out.

By the time Glenn's done, Daryl's hauling the desk away from the door and looking outside, and even half out of the room he still hears Glenn coming. "Others'll be here soon. Couple hours maybe to break camp and get here."

The scars stand out a lot more in the pale daylight, and now Glenn can see what he thought he'd felt, that the angels-or-demons are inked over one. He lets his hand hover a second before he actually touches Daryl's shoulder, so he'll know it's coming, and it occurs to him that he would kind of really like it if eventually Daryl would just assume it is. He doesn't move away, just stands there and lets Glenn run one hand and then two over his shoulders and back, and when Glenn slides his arms around him from behind, he shifts his weight and leans into Glenn but his hands are in a death-grip over Glenn's on his stomach. "You want to go back to bed for a minute?" Glenn asks.

Then he finds himself abruptly spun around and trapped between Daryl and the wall. Not shoved into it, but whether that's because Daryl was being careful of his back or it's just how it worked out, he can't really tell because Daryl looks pretty mad. More than mad; there's that twist to his mouth that reminds Glenn of how he looked when they found Merle's hand, or when Sophia came out of the barn (and isn't that the least sexy thought ever). Without shoes, Daryl's got less height on him because his boots are taller than Glenn's sneakers, but that doesn't make it any less obvious that Daryl could completely kick his ass if he felt like it. "Or, uh... not."

"What the hell're you doing?"

"Look, if you just want to say it was a one-time thing or a mistake or whatever, that's fine and I'll leave you alone and try to pretend like nothing happened, though fair warning, I kind of suck at the pretending part. But if that's how you want it to go you have to say so because you aren't giving me a fucking clue here and I could really, really use one."

"It's a big damn mistake. I got enough weak spots without you being another one." Daryl's words don't really go with his actions, which involve him pushing closer so that their chests are touching and he's half-standing on one of Glenn's feet. "I wasn't a fuckin' queer when I woke up yesterday."

It's not really a good position to be pissed off in. "Oh, yeah, not at all, not ever. You just suddenly caught the gay from me and got turned, right?" And actually, given the walkers, given what happened to Andrea and Jim and Sophia, that's the worst metaphor ever and Glenn feels like shit as soon as he says it, so he's already braced for the 'fuck you' and Daryl pushing his back to the wall before he stomps down the stairs.

The stairs weren't meant to be walked down barefoot even before they were disused and rusty, a punched latticework pattern with edges sticking up for traction, and so it's like running down a bed of nails. Glenn had a tetanus shot two weeks before everything went shit-house, because of a run-in with a customer's dog, so he's got nothing to worry about but pain, but he hopes Daryl's feet are tougher than his. Glenn finds him sitting on the concrete outside the game room, just under the horrible snake-squirrel. Maybe Daryl saw the sense in not walking over broken glass or maybe this is just where he decided to stop. Glenn sits down next to him, another brick wall rough against his back. "I shouldn't have said that. It was shitty."

"Hell, I've said worse."

Glenn watches a line of ants in front of them who have the luxury of not knowing the world has ended. Daryl's got his palms flat aginst the dusty slab, which is damp with dew, so when he doesn't fight away from Glenn taking his hand, there's grit between their skin."That doesn't mean it's okay."

They're quiet for a while and the end of the sunrise bathes everything pink and gold and some birds somewhere don't know the world's ended either.


Breakfast is beef jerky for protein and powdered donuts because there's only one packet and Glenn doesn't want to share them with everyone else. They haven't technically settled anything but it sort of feels like they have, if only for now. Daryl's moustache hairs get dusted with sugar and Glenn tells him he looks like a coke-head and then thinks maybe he shouldn't have because of Shane's harping on about drugs, but Daryl picks up the empty wrapper and blows all the loose sugar in Glenn's face. "Well, you look like an asshole."

"Man! You got a crumb in my eye." It's gone in a couple of blinks but Glenn keeps squinting because he's still got half a donut in his hand.

Daryl's too quick to get it smashed in his face when he leans closer (and grumbling) to inspect, snatches Glenn's wrist and tackles him. "You little fucker." Glenn doesn't really fight having his arms pinned to the carpet, just enough to be fun, and Daryl's actually smiling. "I'm gonna win so you might as well quit."

"I give," he says, because 'uncle' is kind of creepy with another guy half on top of you hovering close enough to kiss.

Daryl looks like he might, keeps looking back and forth up and down Glenn's face, and Glenn waits it out. Daryl surprises him again and goes for his cheek, where there must be a patch of sugar because he sucks on the skin just a little. Then a spot by Glenn's eyebrow, another on his chin, and it's actually ridiculous how much he likes it when he tries to get his hands free to pull Daryl's head down and Daryl doesn't let him. "You gotta learn how to fight better," Daryl says, but punctuates it by kissing him properly before Glenn can respond.

It occurs to him as there's sugary whiskers rasping between his lips that he's never kissed anybody with actual facial hair, but that's not the kind of thing he really wants to bring in right now. "I did Taekwondo when I was a kid," he says when he can. "I pretty much sucked but I remember most of it."

"How come you don't use it?"

"Walkers don't exactly bow and wait for you to center yourself."

"Fair 'nough." Daryl's kissing his neck and has just barely started to grind down against him when he stops, freezes, head turned toward the door. "Somebody's coming up the road."

Glenn can only hear it after he's groaned in frustration and Daryl's pulled him up by the hand and they're out on the balcony. Daryl looks through the scope on his crossbow and confirms it's their group, way cock-blockingly early, and goes for his shirt and shoes, so Glenn does too. "Hang on," he says as Daryl's heading for the stairs. There's some sugar on the side of his neck and Glenn brushes it away. "They'd probably be more likely to believe we had a big coke party than what we actually--"

"You planning on telling?" Daryl snaps, backing away.

"I wasn't thinking I'd make a big announcement but on a scale of one to poker face I'm about negative ten, so they're going to figure it out eventually if we keep--" Glenn really should have thought about this. "You can room with T-Dog or something, I guess."

They watch the road for a minute and the RV starts to creep into view.

"Fine where I'm at," Daryl mutters. "Just watch what you say."


Lori's so happy to see the two-liter of ginger ale that she gives Glenn a hug. Daryl's safely far away enough with Shane and Rick showing them the lay of the land that he can tell her it was Daryl's idea. Andrea's upstairs poking through rooms, T-Dog and Dale have gotten right down to changing the RV's oil, and Carol's pulling out people's backpacks and sleeping bags. Carl was with Rick, but he comes running over to Glenn, holding, of all things possible, the squirrel. "Did you see this? Daryl said I should go show you."

Glenn laughs. "Why am I not surprised?"

Lori's turning green again. "Carl, don't touch that." She doesn't check to see whether he minds her or not, just goes over to the steps with her hand over her mouth and sits down hard enough to make the railings clang against the support poles.

"Hey dude, why don't you go help Carol?" he says to Carl. "Um, maybe without the squirrel. Girls don't really get that kind of thing." Not that Glenn does, and he shudders and puts it down as quickly as possible when Carl hands it to him as he runs off.

"Tell me he didn't sit up all night making that...thing," Lori says when Glenn takes her the ginger ale. She takes a swig straight out of the bottle and lets out a wet-sounding and very un-girly belch. "Excuse me, good god."

"No, it was on a window ledge when we got here and I felt pretty much like you do. He probably told Carl to do that to mess with me."

"He didn't give you any trouble, did he? Because--"

"No." Glenn keeps his eyes carefully fixed on whatever Dale's doing under the hood. "It was fine. It's fine. Hey, do you need pills or anything? We found a whole bunch. I'll just get you all of it and you can pick whatever you need." He bounds up the stairs and mutters 'good job' at himself, and then not the world's manliest noise of surprise because when he looks up from digging in his backpack, he sees Andrea sitting on the toilet lid drinking a beer but that takes a second to register.

"Just me, don't shoot." She holds up her hands but doesn't sound like she was too concerned about that. "Looks like we missed out on a party."

"If like a beer and a half constitutes a party."

"In this world? It's Mardi Gras." Andrea kicks at the underwear Glenn didn't bother to put back on after his shower and raises an eyebrow. At least they're there for a totally innocent reason, but his face heats up anyway.

"I didn't bring any other clothes, okay? Get your foot out of my boxers. I have to go take this medicine to Lori now."

And if that wasn't weird enough, Glenn has to go stand next to Daryl while they all study the map for more places there might be supplies while they've got a safe-ish base, however long it lasts. Well, he doesn't have to stand next to Daryl, but that's how it ends up, and he thinks moving would look weirder than not. He has to reach over Daryl's arm to point at something and he stumbles over his words while he's second-guessing whether or not he'd usually avoid them touching. He doesn't chance actually looking at Daryl. There's a town down the same road they're on that's the easiest bet, and the state of this area does bode well for it being more or less okay. "I'll go," Glenn says. "You guys should shower and rest and stuff."

"We smell that bad?" T-Dog says.

Everyone laughs and Shane says, "Good man," and slaps Glenn on the back, just exactly too hard in just exactly the wrong place.

Glenn thinks he does a half okay job of not obviously wincing and that maybe the initial gasp was muffled in the laughter, but then Daryl's shoving Shane and growling, "Watch it!" and everyone's staring.

"It's fine," Glenn says, and stepping between them is probably a good way to get accidentally punched in the head, but it stops them. "I'm fine. Okay?"

"You get hurt, Glenn?" Rick's got his good-cop voice on.

"I bruised my back a little earlier. I'm fine. You couldn't have known," he says to Shane. "It's cool."

Daryl spits on the ground and picks up his stuff from the pile at the bottom of the stairs and slams up into the (their) room.

"I take it Daryl knew about this injury," Shane says. It's loaded in a way that Glenn thinks would have still pissed him off yesterday, but he's not sure. The fact that he's not exactly wrong gets pushed aside at him just assuming it was some kind of calculated hate crime.

"Who do you think made the hot compress? Climb out of my ass, I'm fine."

"You so had more than one and a half beers," Andrea says.

"Whatever. Everyone's fine, make your lists if there's stuff you want. I'm going to go change."

Daryl's slamming everything that can be slammed and some stuff that can't when Glenn gets inside. "Careful or we'll get charged extra when we check out."

The joke doesn't fly. "You shoulda just said what I did."

"It would've been pointless. They don't get it, they get mad, I have to go 'no, no, it's totally cool, because I said I'd punch him in the face next time and then we had sex,' and then nobody's happy." Well, that shuts him up. That or the fact that Glenn found some clean clothes and was changing into him while he was talking, and got to the end of the sentence about the time his pants came off. Either way Daryl's quiet and staring with a toothbrush halfway to his mouth. "What?"

"Nothin'."



It occurs to Glenn when they're back out in the parking lot that everyone's assumed Daryl's going with him, Daryl and himself included even though there's been no discussion, just Daryl pointing at the map that's still laid out and telling him to make sure he knows where they're going. It occurs to Glenn that he likes these assumptions.

Daryl's talking to Rick about something that Glenn can't hear because Dale's explaining about these insanely specific socks he wants if they're there, but no socks at all if they're not. All Glenn really catches is Rick nodding, and then Daryl going over to hand something to Carl, and Carl grinning like it's his birthday.

"Gave him that pocket knife we got out of the gas station," Daryl says without Glenn asking as they're climbing onto the motorcycle and Glenn's shouldering the crossbow and a shotgun. "Dull as shit but it stabs okay."

The sun gets really stupid really fast, blinding bright and Glenn thinks as an afterthought that they should get more sunscreen. Maybe sunglasses, which would also keep the road dust and bugs out of his eyes. Nothing about Daryl's body has technically changed since the last ride, but it feels different to be holding onto, maybe because he's kind of allowed to and it's not just out of necessity. His hands seem to fit better and he doesn't have to worry about how close is too close.

With the wind cutting past them on the road, Glenn doesn't realize how hot and still it really is until Daryl slows down, stops. Without the vibration of the bike he can feel Daryl's heartbeat under his hand. It's pounding. They're nowhere near anything yet, just one of those roadside picnic areas. There could be any number of reasons why they're stopped here, and 'Daryl wants to make out' isn't exactly top of the list of possibilities, but they get off the bike only for Daryl to lean back up against it and pull Glenn to him with an ass-grab that's as unsubtle as you can get. Daryl's already full-on hard and feeling that against him is quite frankly awesome. So is the look on Daryl's face when Glenn breaks off a kiss that was mostly breath and biting and kneels down, hands on Daryl's belt buckle and looking up for permission. Surprised, kind of, but better than that, eyelids low and his breathing fast and the permission is Daryl undoing the belt himself in a confusion of hands and leather and cloth, and he's still not wearing underwear.

The gravel digs into Glenn's knees and Daryl's fingers into his scalp, and this isn't exactly the safest place to have your pants undone and your mind on things besides self-defense, so Glenn skips most of the teasing and exploring he'd like to do. Daryl's so quiet that Glenn has to look up to see if he's enjoying it, and he's biting his lip and has his head thrown back. The only thing he says is Glenn's name in warning about half a second before he comes, not warning enough even if Glenn had any intention of moving away, and he doesn't until he can feel Daryl's cock starting to go soft in his mouth and his hands more stroking Glenn's hair than pulling it.

"You made your lip bleed," Glenn says when he stands up, touches a finger to it.

"'s okay." Daryl does up his pants and doesn't look at him.

"Hey." He tilts his head around to force it into Daryl's line of sight. "Not psychic here."

Daryl shrugs away from Glenn's hand on his face. "I don't suck dick, okay?"

Oh. There are probably volumes of conflict there that have a lot of potential for not very fun discussions, but for now Glenn chooses the easy way. "I obviously do but I wasn't asking you to."

"You fuck my head up," is mumbled into Glenn's skin during a fumbling handjob but at the end Daryl forgets he's trying to avoid tasting himself in Glenn's mouth and keeps kissing him long after it's over.


Continued in part 2
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