The first time you met Daryl Dixon, his crossbow had been aimed at your head.
It was 100 degrees in Georgia and you were half-delirious, mistaking his figure for a hallucination... that is, until the end of his crossbow poked you in the forehead, grabbing for your attention.
"What the hell're you doin' out here?"
You froze like a deer in headlights. Usually hallucinations don't talk.
"You fuckin' mute?"
You dropped the berries in your hands and bristled even further, preparing to dash off in the opposite direction. The man noticed.
"I'll shoot ya, girl," He warned, "Now, you gonna answer me?" He brought the weapon up to his face, gazing down the sights.
"Spit it out-- I ain't got all day!"
"Christ! I was collecting berries, okay? Like, to eat!"
Your voice was alien. It had been so long since you'd actually said words out loud. And his forceful interrogation wasn't doing you any favors.
He eyed you, squinting, and began to walk around you in a circle.
He looked absolutely backwoods-redneck-insane, and probably more nuts than a fox. He wore a raggedy olive green shirt smeared with blood and dirt. Actually, everything was smeared with blood and dirt, and you were no exception.
His Georgia accent was gruff, "You alone?"
"Yeah.... I'm alone." Grimacing at the sudden gravity that statement held, your shoulders dropped.
Alone was definitely the most accurate term to describe your situation. You were on the road when these reports started coming through, driving from Texas to Atlanta to visit family. Within a few days, it seemed like civilization had collapsed. Riots littered the streets, people were taking up arms, panicking, the military was herding citizens out like cattle... It was insane.
You had laughed to yourself wryly, hoping that it was some sort of sick, nationwide prank. Your first encounter with the dead was while driving. It had been only a few short days since the first broadcast and you were getting further into Georgia. The highways were blocked off so you had to travel on smaller roads. The sight of it terrified you. Houses were ablaze, stores were looted, the street was empty when suddenly a car alarm rang out and what seemed to be a person ambled out from behind a tree.
The sight of it was enough to make you vomit.
"Hey, Berries girl!" The crossbow tapped your on the temple again, effectively bringing you out of your reverie. What kind of asshole does that?!
"How long you been out here? Huh? Eatin' nuts and wipin' your ass on leaves an' shit." That kind of asshole, you suspected.
He didn't seem to catch your the annoyed twitch your lip gave, but you supposed you had to answer him anyway-- sooner or later that crossbow was going to give your temple a nice, big, bruise.
"I don't know. A week, max." You avoided his gaze.
A low growl brought your hand to your stomach, not-so-quietly reminding you of your seemingly eternal hunger. How many days has it been sice you've eaten?
Your older companion narrowed his eyes.
"You run into them walkers 'round here? They take a bite out o' ya?"
What kind of stupid question was that? You were starting to feel aggravated, and being suddenly reminded of feeling starved half to death wasn't helping your attitude.
"Yeah, I literally ran into one." You snapped "I ran away, though. Then by the good grace of God, I run into you too."
The man raised an eyebrow, pulling his neck back as if your insult had swiped at him. That comment was a little sassy. You were afraid maybe too sassy. After the world went to shit, you hadn’t really had much room to be yourself anymore, and after spending a lot of time alone wandering around the forest, you’d thought maybe you’d lost yourself forever.
But strangely enough, that comment made you feel like your old self again. Although it might have very well been your last; he was armed, after all. He could put you down at any time.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the stranger lowered his weapon and turned, motioning with his head for you to follow.
"Good grace is fuckin' right."