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PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

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Where do I begin? Paul sat staring at his computer screen. He needed to write, felt it in his bones. The heartache that consumed him screaming for a release. “This is shit.” He whispered to nothing. Nothing because the apartment was empty. As it has been for the past two weeks. No matter how many times he has told himself that Daryl wasn’t coming back, he still expected him to walk through the door. Dirty as all hell, carrying a string of squirrels and cursing to himself over thei-- his neighbors. Dammit! It had all went down terribly. Not even his quick wit and soothing tone could calm that storm. Those raging blues were set.

Paul rose to his feet and went to take a shower. When he got out he heard loud, hurried banging on his door. He ran to his room and put his white shirt and black pants on. “Hang on a second!” Looking through the peephole, he saw his buddy Rick. He unlocked the door and swung it open. “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Is Daryl okay?”

“Uh..Wow..You shaved. I haven’t seen you shaven since.. Well, never really.”

“Rick what’s going on?” Rick looked at him with a sadness in his eyes. “He told me..” Paul hung his head.. He knew it was bound to happen. Rick is Daryl’s best friend. He also figured that since Daryl left, he had probably gone hunting and then went to Ricks. “I came to talk to you about it..”

Paul pulled the door open further to let the other man through. Rick sat on the couch and began to speak. “We had quite a few beers the other night. Started talking about life and that's when he said you..." Rick moved his hands in a 'continue' kind of motion. "Paul.. I know it’s none of my business but I care about Daryl and I care about you. He--He’s falling apart in a manner of speaking.” At that Paul’s eyes shot up and sought out Ricks. “What?”

Ignoring his question, Rick continued “Why did you wait so long to tell him? How did you keep it hidden for so long?” Paul took a moment to gather what little thoughts he had that didn’t involve Daryl still caring about him.. Of course he’d still care. Why would he think that he wouldn’t? Daryl loves him. And a love that comes from that man is not easily thrown away.. My thought process is ridiculous.

Paul’s eyes were downcast. His fingers lazily playing with the fabric of the beat up old couch. “I didn’t want things to change. I knew how he’d get if he knew. Knew that he’d be angry. Mother hen me a little. I wanted things to stay the same..and..I just didn't know how to tell him. With the way my family was, it ran through their bodies too and a lot of them didn’t survive.. Honestly, I was scared. Thought that he’d just leave because he couldn’t handle it. And he did. He left.”

Rick’s brows furrowed, “He only left to cope, Paul. You basically told him you were dying, in so many words. What kind of a reaction did you expect?” Rick laid a hand on Paul's knee as an act of sympathy. “He loves you. More than I’ve ever seen him love or care about anyone. He just needed some time to process things. I think he’s planning on coming over today..” Paul perked up a little. Rick raised his hands “Now I don’t know when or for sure but he’s getting to be the way he normally is if he stays in one place too long, especially if it’s not his home.” Rick pointedly looked into Paul's eyes on the last word.

 

Later that afternoon Paul began cooking dinner. Figured if Daryl was coming over, the least he could do was make him some food. He was anxious. He had an idea of what Daryl would say. What he would ask. He just wasn’t ready for it. He tried to distract himself by focusing on the meal in front of him.

Just as he set the table he heard a hesitant knock on his door, followed by a more brave knock. Paul smiled to himself and began to walk over. His nerves were going haywire. This will be the first time he’s seen Daryl since the day he left. Wonder what he looks like now. Jesus, Paul. It’s only been 2 weeks at most! Paul took in a deep breath and opened the door.