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Hit Me Baby One More Time

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Chapter One- A Favor for an Old Friend

Daryl was woken up by his cell phone blaring The Blood of Cuchulainn, which meant the Big Boss was calling. The clock on his phone said it was nine-thirty in the morning; Daryl hadn't slept this late in years unless he had gotten shitfaced drunk the night before, which he hadn't this time.

"Hey, Hershel, what's up?" Daryl greeted him and dropped his legs off the bed.

"There's something I need to talk to you about, son. I know you're aware of the situation, and I'm bringing you in to sort it out. Can you meet me at the office in an hour? I'll call Maggie and have her send over some breakfast for us."

"Yeah, Hershel. I'll see you in an hour." Daryl yawned and stretched before standing from the bed. Stumbling down the hall, he stopped to take a piss, then went into the kitchen to start the coffee pot. Once the coffee was brewing, he stepped outside for a smoke. Daryl figured he knew what Big Hershel wanted to talk about; it had been going on for much too long in their town, and he was the only one willing to do something about it. Daryl would do anything for Hershel, but he was gonna need help on this one.

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Daryl walked into the office the same time as breakfast; delivered by Glenn Rhee, part owner of Rhee's Kitchen, and Hershel's son -in-law. "Hey, Daryl! Running late this morning? I thought you were usually up and at 'em a lot earlier than this." Glenn yelled at him.

"I usually am. I don't know why I slept so late this morning. Hershel called me, woke me up thank god, or else I'd probably still be in bed."

"Well, I got breakfast for y'all. Must be an important meeting, because I got a lot of food," Glenn said laughing.

"I think he wants me to do something about all these murders that have been going on. All the victims are minorities; you know how he feels about that."

"I do," Glenn said. "I'm glad he feels the way he does; not a lot of people would accept a second generation Korean immigrant into their family."

"Not around here, they wouldn't," Daryl added. "That's why I'm proud to work for him. I never thought I'd be a hit man for the Irish mob, but Hershel's a good man. I trust him with my life."

Daryl knocked on the big wooden door to Hershel's personal office. "Good morning Daryl, Glenn. Y'all have great timing, showing up together."

Daryl sat in the chair in front of Hershel's desk as Glenn took the Styrofoam containers from his delivery bag. "I knew this fucker was gonna have food with him, so I staked out the parking lot waiting for him," Daryl said.

"I'm surprised he didn't attack me and take all the food," Glenn replied, smiling.

"I know better than to take Hershel's food, Glenn. He'd string me up by my fingernails in the town square as an example."

All three men got a good laugh out of that. Everyone knew how easy going Hershel could be, especially if he considered you a member of his family, and Daryl was a member in good standing.

When Glenn was leaving, Hershel gave him a pat on the back. "You watch yourself out there, son. Bad things are happening, and if anything were to happen to you, Maggie would be broken."

"I know, sir. Nobody can take me away from her, trust me. I won't let anything happen to me."

After Glenn walked out of the office, Hershel sat down at his desk across from Daryl. "I know he's fully capable of taking care of himself and my daughter, but I think I'm gonna ask Noah to keep an eye on them for a while, at least until these murderers are taken care of."

"I assume that's what you wanted to talk with me about?" Daryl said as he dove into his breakfast.

"It is. You know how I feel about killing. It's against the Word of God, but he allows it in certain circumstances, but these aren't special circumstances. This is someone who is playing God according to his own beliefs. I can't tolerate that, Daryl. Not in my town."

"Alright, what do you want me to do?"

"I want you to take them out; as many as you can. I'm pretty sure all this is coming from Negan."

Negan was the "silent" part owner of a string of meat and three restaurants in four counties. He was wealthy, arrogant, and a bigot. Not many people knew about his prejudices or the fact that he was also the head of an organization that manufactured and distributed illegal drugs, but Hershel did.

"You have proof, or is that what you want me to do?" Daryl asked.

"That's what I need you to do. Follow his top three, get pictures or any kind of evidence you can. I know it's him, Daryl; you know it's him. We've had plenty of run-ins with him and his men. I know they've been harassing Theodore, Bob, and Tyreese. I'm not gonna let anything happen to them, or anybody else in I love and respect."

"Alright, I'm on it. Where do you want me to start?"

"I called an old friend of mine this morning. He heads the Jewish mob in Youngstown, Ohio. I asked him if he could help me out. You’re the best I got, Daryl, and I know you can get this job done, but this could end up being more than any of us can handle. Negan is an evil man and I can't predict what he would do if he finds out we're out to stop him."

"What's he gonna do for us?"

"He's sending his best guy to work with you. His name is Harry, and he's gonna be flying into Atlanta tomorrow. I want you to get him a hotel room, and pick him up from the airport. Come by the office afterward. I'll have a dossier on each of the men I want you to tail. We can have a little lunch and get Harry up to speed on all the details."

"What time does his plane land? I'll need to know the flight number too."

"Louis is going to call me when the arrangements are made. I'll let you know as soon as I do. Thank you, Daryl. You're the best man I have; I wouldn't trust this job to anyone else."

"Thank you, Hershel. I always give you my best; you don't have to worry about a thing. Just leave everything to Harry and me."

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Harry sat on the couch waiting for Abie to pick him up. He stared at the broken armchair across from him and thought of his mother. This was one of those rare moments since she had taken her own life that Madden wasn't around, and Harry was thinking of her with his own mind.

He savored these moments when he was alone in his head; since he had lost Kate, then Iris, he hadn't wanted to be Harry anymore. Madden would have been able to save them all, so Harry had let him take over. Six months ago, he had become a hardcore killer, not feeling the remorse that Harry had, and he had fucked every woman who had stood in front of him.

This morning, Abie had called to say that Mr. Varga wanted to talk to him asap; something about owing a favor, and Harry was going to help him fulfill it.

Usually, the knowledge that he would be seeing the Boss, or doing a job that day would have Madden in his mind the moment he woke up, but he wasn't there today. Harry wondered if that meant anything, but didn't question it too much; he was enjoying being himself again.

Abie was strangely quiet on the drive to the office; that worried Harry. He hoped neither of them was in trouble with Mr. Varga. That man had no tolerance for betrayal or fuckery. Harry had witnessed that many times during his employment with the organization, and always tried to stay on the man's good side.

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Louis Varga was sitting in his usual chair, reading the paper and drinking his tea, when Abie and Harry arrived. "Welcome gentlemen, come in and have a seat. There's more tea in the pot, help yourselves."

Both men sat themselves down on the couch opposite their boss and poured themselves a cup of hot tea. "So, Mr. Varga, you got something you need us to take care of?" Harry asked.

"I received a call from a very old, very dear friend of mine this morning. He heads up the Irish mob in some little burg outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He's having a little trouble with a group of white supremacists, and although he has a man who could take them all by himself, he has asked me for assistance in the form of a partner for this man; he asked me to send the best I have. The gentleman who runs this supremacist group is evil, and Hershel wouldn't put it past him to do something that would destroy everything he's built. Harry, I'm sending you down to help."

"I've made your travel arrangements, and your plane leaves at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning. This is going to be a long assignment; you could be down there for weeks depending on how complicated this becomes."

Harry was speechless. He knew he was good a what he did; Mr. Varga had told him enough times but never had Harry imagined he would be considered his best man. "Thank you, Mr. Varga. I'm honored that you think of me like that; I won't let you down. I'll do my best for Mr. Hershel, just like I do for you."

Varga laughed. "Always so humble, aren't you Harry? That's another reason why you're the best. Now go home and pack; Abie will pick you up in the morning. I want you to be well rested for your flight."

The three men stood and shook hands. "Thank you again, Mr. Varga. I'll make you proud."

"I know you will Harry. I'll call Hershel and tell him when your flight will arrive. I'm sure he'll have someone pick you up. Oh, and Harry, there are a lot of beautiful women in the South, don't let them distract you."

Chapter Text

Chapter Two- Getting Settled

Harry's plane landed at twelve thirty, at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. He was relieved to be on terra firma once again; never having been outside of Youngstown, flying to Atlanta had scared the shit out of him. He breathed a sigh of relief when the captain announced that the aircraft was at a full stop and the passengers could exit the plane.

Taking a gym bag from the overhead compartment, Harry followed the other passengers off the plane and into the terminal. Stopping as he came through the passageway, he looked around for Daryl. Mr. Varga had gotten a description of the man from his friend Hershel, so he was looking for someone around his height and weight, shoulder-length dark hair, probably wearing a leather vest with angel wings on the back.

Searching through the crowd, he saw a man holding a sign with Harry's name on it. Smiling to himself, Harry walked up to him. "Daryl?"

"Yep, you must be Harry. It's nice to meet ya," Daryl said and shook his hand. "Ya got any bags to pick up?"

"Just one; it's not that big. I didn't bring a lot with me," Harry answered and followed Daryl to baggage retrieval. "Mr. Varga didn't give me a lot of details about what you're dealing with down here."

"It's kinda complicated. After we get your bag, I'm gonna take ya to the office to meet Hershel; he's got some intel he's gonna give us to go over, then I'll take ya to the B&B so you can get settled and get some rest."

Daryl carried Harry's suitcase out to his truck and sat it in the backseat along with Harry's carry-on bag. "Hershel does his operation outta Marietta which is on the northwest side of the county. It'll take about thirty minutes to get there, give or take. I got you a room at The Blue and Gray, it's a bed and breakfast. It’s real nice, all of Hershel's guests stay there. You'll like it."

Harry listened to Daryl tell him about Hershel and what life was like working for him in a small community. Daryl pulled up to a two-story building which, according to the large neon sign, was an insurance company. Leaving Harry's bags in the vehicle, he locked it and escorted the young man around to the back and up the fire escape.

Daryl nodded and waved at all the men hanging out in the hallway and offices, and Harry did as well; he would be working with these men for the next few weeks and wanted things to go smoothly.

After knocking on the large wooden door of Hershel's office, Daryl opened the door and greeted the man with a handshake.

"Glad to see you had a safe trip, son," he said. "So you're Harry; it's nice to meet you. Louis has told me wonderful things about you."

Harry blushed at the compliment. "Thank you, sir. Mr.Varga's been like a father to me; he taught me everything I know." Harry shook Hershel's outstretched hand and took a seat next to Daryl in front of the desk.

"I hope you like Mexican food, Harry. I've ordered lunch for us, but I wasn't sure what you like," Hershel said.

Harry sat, slightly slumped in his chair, wringing his hands nervously. "That's fine; I'll eat almost anything," Harry replied.

Hershel let out a jolly laugh. "Well then, we're gonna have to fill you up with some good Southern cuisine."

Just then a knock on the door interrupted them. "Lunch is here, Mr. Greene."

"Come on in," the old man answered.

A young man came in bearing two paper bags filled with takeout. "Just sit everything on the desk here, Spencer. We'll take care of it." Hershel told him. Spencer did what he was told and soon left the three men to their work.

"I think we should get right down to business," Hershel said and took two manila folders from the top drawer of his desk. "This is all the information we've been able to gather on Negan's top three men." He said and handed each man a package. "You don't have to look at those right now. Take them home and look them over tonight. Right now I want to fill Harry in on what's been going on and why I asked for his assistance. Tonight, we'll have dinner and get to know you a little better; is that alright with you, Harry?"

"That sounds great Mr. Greene. I need to call Mr. Varga when I get settled; let him know I got here safe and how hospitable you and Daryl have been."

"I'm gonna have to give Louis a call myself. I never expected a city boy from the North to be so polite. Your momma must be proud." Hershel beamed as if the boy were his own.

"I think she was, sir." Harry looked sad at the mention of his mother, but neither Daryl nor Hershel made another comment about it.

"Alright then, in the last few months there has been a string of murders in our city. Most of the victims were African-American, but there have been other minorities as well. I employ as many minorities and refugees as I can in my various business’ and try to help them live a good life in our country. I don't want to see any of the people I love and respect, or any of the good people in this city lose their lives. I will not tolerate racism or bigotry.”

"Daryl is the best at what he does, but I think this is too much for one man to handle on his own; that's why I asked Louis for help. I want you and Daryl to take care of this and wipe these murderers off the face of the Earth. This community is already ripe with anger and fear, and I'm afraid that if these men aren't stopped, it will destroy the safety we’ve all grown accustomed to. My organization has worked hard to keep this community morally righteous; drugs, drunkenness, abusers, and thieves are our targets. I don't know if you've dealt with anything of this nature Harry, but if you're as good as Louis says you are, you're just the man I need to help rid us of this blight."

Harry listened intently to every word Hershel said. "It's what I do, Mr. Greene, and I'm good at what I do. I've worked with a partner before, so I don't see a problem with helping you and Daryl do whatever you think needs to be done. I'll do a good job for you, I promise."

"I have no doubt, son. If Louis trusts you, I trust you. I think you and Daryl are gonna make a good team." Daryl smiled at Harry. He felt good about this too. Harry seemed awfully young to be as good as he was being made out to be, but Daryl was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Hershel had done that for him, despite his name and upbringing, and he felt that Harry deserved it.

After the three men finished lunch, Daryl drove Harry to The Blue and Gray. It was a beautiful two-story Reconstruction Era home, with a wrap-around porch on the second level, and Magnolia trees shading the front yard. Daryl carried Harry's bags and opened the front door for him.

The interior was just as impressive as the exterior. Dark, hardwood floors, beautiful vases with sweet smelling flowers, and wallpaper with Cherokee roses sketched on it.

"Carol, you around?" He yelled into the empty room.

"Hold on Daryl. I'll be right there," she yelled from somewhere in the back of the house.

Carol walked into the room and immediately hugged Daryl tight. "I was so happy you called yesterday. It's been a month of Sundays since you've been around."

"I've been busy, ya know. How are the girls?"

"Sophia is gearing up for graduation; she's the Valedictorian of her class," she said with a bright smile. "Mika made the Honor Roll, again, and Lizzie's getting weirder by the day."

Daryl laughed. "It's just a phase, and if it's not, I'm sure she could work for Hershel when she's old enough."

Carol playfully slapped him on the shoulder. "Bite your tongue, Daryl Dixon." Looking over at Harry, she reached out her hand. "You must be my new guest. I'm Carol Peletier; it's nice to meet you."

Harry shook her hand gently. "I’m Harry Odom; it's nice to meet you too, ma'am. You have a beautiful place."

Carol led the two men to the check in desk and brought out her guest registry. "Thank you, Harry. My great-great grandfather built this house in 1873. After my husband died, I had it restored and turned into a bed and breakfast. And please, call me Carol."

After Harry signed the register, Carol handed him a set of keys. "I only have two rooms available in the house; Daryl knows which one is yours. I'll let him show it to you. I assume you'll be dining with Hershel tonight, so I won't be fixing a big dinner, but I have been baking cookies all day. You'll have to stop into the kitchen and have some when you get back."

"Thank you, Carol. That sounds great." Daryl and Harry then headed up the spiral staircase to Harry's room on the second floor.

Daryl chuckled and shook his head as they climbed the stairs. “What’s so funny?” Harry asked.

“You are too goddamn polite to not be a southern boy,” Daryl said as they reached the top of the stairs.

"Ma taught me to always be polite, no matter who I was around. She said it was the mark of a gentleman."

Daryl unlocked the door to Harry's room and walked in. "Are you sure you're as good as Louis says. It don't seem like you've got the personality for the type of work we do."

Harry sat on the edge of the California King bed. "Don't worry, Daryl. I always get the job done, and Mr. Varga has no complaints."

"I know that. From what Hershel told me, you're some kinda phenomenon. I'm just saying, it's a little deceptive; no one would expect you to be a hit man."

"That's a good thing, though, isn't it?" Harry asked. "They don't see it coming."

Daryl laughed. " I suppose you're right. I can't wait to see you in action. Well, I'm gonna get outta here and let you rest. I'll be back at seven to pick you up."

After Daryl left, Harry laid back on the enormous bed and wondered why Madden was still hiding.

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Harry took his cellphone from his gym bag and dialed Abie's number first. He was feeling lonely and a little uncomfortable being away from home for the first time, and needed to hear a comforting voice.

"Harry!" Abie said when he picked up the phone. "How was your flight? You use that bag they give you?"

Harry laughed. "No, but thank god it was a short flight, or else I would have. It was exciting, though; don't think I'll be as nervous coming home."

"That's good to hear. What do you think of the south?"

"It's beautiful here. You should see the Bed and Breakfast they put me up in. Looks like Scarlett O'Hara stayed here. The woman who runs the place has been baking cookies all day for Pete's sake."

Abie laughed out loud. "You're gonna steal me some of those cookies, right? You can't come home empty-handed."

"I'll see what I can do for you, Abie. You talk to Louis today?"

"Yeah, I called him after I left the airport, then went to the office for a while. He was worried about you, but I told him a damn plane couldn't take you out."

"I think I would have puked to death before we hit the ground," Harry said.

"So what's up with this Hershel guy?" Abie finally asked.

"He seems like a good man. They’re having some trouble with a white supremacist group. Lots of minorities getting murdered and he wants to stop it. He's real passionate about it. The guy he's got me working with seems pretty cool, too."

"Meet any girls yet?"

"Abie, come on. I got a job to do; I don't have time for that."

"Listen, I know you're still going through a pretty rough time; losing your mom and then Iris. You've thrown yourself into your work, and as much as Louis and I appreciate that you gotta start thinking about Harry. You deserve to be happy; do a little something for yourself while your down there. Live a little."

"I'll think about it. Listen, I gotta go; I should call Louis, let him know I got here safe."

"I'll call Louis. You rest and get ready for the job. Call me later this week and let me know how things are going, and Harry, remember what I said."

Harry hung up the phone and laid back down on the bed. He had a few hours before Daryl would be back to pick him up, and decided to take a short nap before going over the documents Hershel had given him. He needed to relax and clear his mind; he needed to make sure that Madden would come back before he was needed.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three- Making a Friend

 

Harry slept for almost two hours and felt energized and refreshed when he awoke. He had three hours before Daryl would be there to get him, so he decided to take a shower, and get dressed, then he would go over the information Hershel gave him.

While he was in the shower, Harry thought about what Abie said about his mom and Iris. He carried the responsibility for his mother's suicide, but couldn't help but think how pointless it had all been. Iris didn't know that Kate was dead; she left anyway. He had gained his freedom but lost the girl he loved.

Somehow, it had been easier to get over his mother's death, than Iris' leaving. Harry loved his mother, but he had let her control every aspect of his life. Iris had offered him a future, freedom, and love. His mother had always kept him trapped and made him dependent on her. Now that both were gone, he only had Madden, and Madden had gotten him through the last few months.

Harry pulled his favorite red suit from his case and laid it out with care. He used the lint roller on it and made sure there were no wrinkles. Louis and Abie had taught him to take pride in his appearance; he wasn't some punk gangster. He was to be respected and feared, and he needed to look the part.

After getting himself ready, he sat in the Victorian style chair in the corner of the room and opened the envelope Hershel had given him. He looked through the pictures and glanced at the information, but it didn't mean a lot to him. He didn't know Negan or his men and would ask Daryl to explain it all tomorrow.

Harry got bored quickly, not having a perspective on the situation, so he put the envelope away and went downstairs to wait for Daryl. He walked the first level of the house, not paying attention to where he was going, and ran into a young girl. "Oh, I'm so sorry," he apologized to the blonde.

"It's okay; I'm fine. You must be the new guest. My name is Sophia; I'm Carol's oldest daughter." She extended her hand for Harry to shake.

"Yeah, I'll be here for at least a couple of weeks. My name is Harry."

"It's nice to meet you, Harry. If you're looking for my mom, I think she's in the kitchen. You need to get some of those cookies before Daryl gets here; once he gets started on them, he won't even leave crumbs for a bird." The young girl's laughter filled the room as she walked past Harry and up the stairs.

Harry followed the smell of chocolate chips and found the kitchen with no problem. Leaning against the doorframe, he watched Carol mix dough in a bowl. "Do they taste as good as they smell?" he asked.

Carol jumped back in shock. "How long have you been standing there?" she asked as she tried to calm herself.

"Just a few seconds; I didn't mean to scare you. I met your daughter in the hallway and she said I'd better get a cookie before Daryl gets here."

Carol laughed. "She's right. That man has a chocolate addiction worse than any woman I've ever known. Don't worry, though, I made some for him to take home; there'll be plenty left for us."

The oven timer went off then, and Carol asked Harry if he would be a dear and take them out for her. Grabbing the oven mitt, Harry did as he was asked and sat the cookie sheet on a wooden cutting board on the counter. "I have some that have already cooled. They're in a Tupperware container in the pantry; help yourself."

Harry found the container and saw the most perfectly round, picturesque pieces of Heaven he could ever envision. "I'm gonna take three if that's okay."

"By the time I'm finished, I'll have about six dozen made. Take as many as you want."

Just then there was a knock at the front door. "That's gonna be Daryl. Why don't you grab a couple more and let him in?"

Harry took two more cookies from the container and put it back on the pantry shelf, then left the room to open the door. Daryl stood on the porch wearing a pair of dark dress pants and a light blue button-up. "Come on in; Carol's in the kitchen. Want a cookie?"

"Hell yeah I want a cookie," Daryl said as he stepped inside. "She's been baking all day, I bet; got that kitchen full and smelling good. I'll just go in and say Hi then we can go meet Hershel."

Harry grinned to himself as Daryl made his way to the kitchen. By the time he made it back there as well, Daryl was trying to charm Carol out of her wares. "You actually think that I wouldn't have some ready for you, Daryl?" She went to the other side of the counter and picked up a Tupperware container, same size as the one in the pantry. "This is for you, only you. Now take Harry and go have dinner. Tell Hershel I said Hello. "

Daryl gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "You know I will. He's been asking after ya. Come on Harry, he don't like to be kept waiting."

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Harry flipped out when he saw the BMW M2 Coupe in the driveway. "You have this and you drive that piece of junk truck?"

Daryl laughed. "This ain't mine; it belongs to Hershel. He likes his guests to ride in style. Get in, you'll like it."

The ride was smooth as silk, and Harry was impressed. "I don't even know what kind of car this is, but I want one."

"It's a high-performance German work of art is what it is. One of the reasons I came to work for Hershel in the first place. You have to admire a man who has good taste in cars."

"How did you come to work for him?" Harry asked, his curiosity peaked by Daryl's statement.

"I was just outta high school, hanging out with my brother one day, and this car breaks down on the side of the road. I worked as a mechanic, so I thought I'd offer some help. Fixed it, right there on the spot. Hershel was sitting in the backseat; I didn't know who the hell he was, but he offered me a job; be his mechanic. Gave me a retainer and everything."

"So, how did you go from being his mechanic to his number one hitman?" Harry asked.

Daryl sighed loudly. "That ain't my story to tell."

"Whose story is it?" Harry regretted asking as soon as he said it; it was none of his business, he didn’t want Daryl to think he was being nosey, but he was intrigued by Daryl's story, and what prowess he had shown to gain this kind of favor with the old man.

Daryl didn't answer right away, instead, he stared at the road ahead of them. "Carol's," he answered finally, as he pulled the car into the parking lot of Hershel's steak house.

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Daryl hugged the young blonde girl that greeted them at the door. "Hey, Amber. How are you? How's school going?"

"Just fine," she replied. "Hershel's waiting in the back. This must be Harry," she added. Her eyes darted over to the handsome young man.

"Hi, Amber. It's nice to meet you." Harry looked her up and down. She was very attractive, but he didn't have a stirring for her.

"You guys look so handsome; are you meeting some ladies after dinner?" She joked. Harry blushed.

"Naw, I just came into town today. I haven't met anybody yet." He responded shyly.

"Not true," Amber answered. "You just met me." She then turned and escorted them back to Hershel's table.

The old man stood when the two men entered the private dining room. "Good evening, gentlemen." They shook hands and sat down, while Amber took their food and drink orders.

"Do you drink wine, Harry?" Hershel asked.

"No sir, Mr. Varga doesn't like it, and I just never have."

"That's good to hear, Harry. How about I give you a little southern indoctrination and order you some ice cold sweet tea?" Harry nodded his head in approval and Hershel looked at Amy. "Bring a pitcher of tea and a bottle of House white. Harry, do you like steak?"

Again, the young man nodded. "We'll all have the six-ounce sirloin with all the fixins' and salad.” Hershel told the young blonde girl. “Thank you, sweetheart."

As soon as they were alone in the room, Hershel pulled his chair closer to the table. "So, Harry. Were you able to get settled?"

"Yes, sir. I must say Carol has a beautiful home. I've never seen anything like it."

"Thank you, Harry. That house has been in my family since the Civil War. I'm happy that Carol decided to take it as her own, and I'm proud of what she's done with it."

Harry was confused. "Carol said it was built by her great-great-grandfather?"

"Yes, it was, and he was my grandfather. Carol is my niece, you see."

A light bulb went on in Harry's head; now he absolutely had to know what Daryl had done for her that would gain him so much favor with the old man. "Well, it's a beautiful home, and she's an amazing baker."

Daryl hummed his agreement. "Best damn cookie maker in the county. I keep telling her she oughtta market that shit. She'd make an ass ton of money."

Hershel wiggled his finger at the man. "Only if she has enough left over to sell when you're done with them."

Daryl blushed and hung his head. Just then, Amber returned with their drinks and poured the wine and tea, standing so close to Harry that her skirt brushed against his arm. He looked up at her and she smiled sweetly at him. "I've put your orders in; it shouldn't take too long. I'll be back with your salads in a minute."

"Thank you," Harry said softly. He was feeling nervous being so close to her. It reminded him of the way he had felt the first time Louis had taken him to Madame Royce's house. Amber disappeared once again and Hershel took the opportunity to get to know his guest a little better.

"So, Harry; how long have you lived in Youngstown?"

"I was born there; this is the first time I've been out of the city limits," Harry said and took a sip of his tea.

"I hope you aren't too homesick. If there's anything you need, you just let Daryl or me know. Do you have family up there?"

"No, sir. My ma died a few months ago, and she was all I had. My dad left right after I was born; Ma said he went crazy."

"I'm sorry to hear that, son. It's never easy losing your mama; especially when you're young. What put you on the path to Louis? How did you get his attention?"

Amber then returned with their salads, still smiling sweetly at Harry and leaning over to place his bowl in front of him. He caught a whiff of her perfume and was reminded of Iris. He could feel Madden coming back and breathed in her scent, growling low in his chest. She disappeared quickly and he watched her go.

Hershel cleared his throat and Daryl smirked. "Harry? How did you come to work for Louis?" the old man asked again as he poured Italian dressing over his greens.

"I had a friend who worked for him; low-level stuff. Deliveries, driving, and occasional schlumping. I went with him one day and when the guy wouldn't pay up I kinda lost it; beat the shit out of him. One of Mr. Varga's men heard about it and wanted to meet with me. He liked me and set up a meeting with Mr. Varga."

Hershel laughed. "Sounds like you were in the right place at the right time; kinda like Daryl here.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

The steaks were amazing; perfectly done and juicy. The potatoes were covered with everything that could be dumped on them, and the mixed, roasted vegetables were seasoned to perfection. Harry had never eaten a meal quite like it and devoured the food like he hadn’t eaten in days.

Amber had been in and out of the room; taking plates, bringing extra napkins and butter, and refilling Harry's tea. He had finished the pitcher and had two more glasses on top of that. When the table was cleared, Harry excused himself to the restroom; he discovered that although he loved sweet tea, it went through him faster than a bullet train.

He looked at his reflection in the mirror as he zipped his pants. Staring into his own eyes, he remembered his first hit. He remembered the knife Abie had gifted him and his apprehension regarding what that gift meant. The feeling of slicing that fat fuck’s throat had been better than he could have imagined. Madden gave him the feeling and his adrenaline surged when he felt the power of taking a life. Madden had become aroused and Harry had gone straight to the office where he knew Iris would be. Harry regretted attacking Iris that night, but he knew that it hadn’t been him in charge. Madden had taken complete control of him, and Harry benefitted greatly from his “friend’s” presence.

As he returned to the back room, Harry saw Amber sitting in a booth counting her tips; Madden filled his mind, and sent Harry to her. "It was nice to meet you, Amber. May I sit?"

"Of course. I'm going to be leaving soon, but I have some time."

Harry sat across from her in the booth and smiled at her. "Are you related to Hershel too?"

She giggled. "Not by blood, but he became my legal guardian when my parents died. He's been watching after me since I was thirteen."

"So, you live around here?" He asked. Madden’s boldness was coming through and Harry was beginning to feel something stirring inside him.

"No, I live on campus. I drive back and forth on days I have to work."

"How far is the drive?"

"An hour if the traffic is good."

Harry cleared his throat and took her hand in his over the table. "Why don't you stay here tonight. I'm staying at Carol's. The bed is big enough for both of us."

Amber didn't think twice before she accepted Harry's offer. "I know you came here with Daryl, but I can drive us back. Let me get my bag and check out. I'll meet you out front."

Harry watched her go, then returned to the table where Daryl and Hershel were waiting. "I think I ought to be getting this one back to Carol," Daryl said and stood from the table.

"Alright boys, y'all have a good night and sleep well. Keep me updated on your progress." Hershel replied and shook their hands.

"Thank you for dinner, Mr. Greene. It was very good." Harry said. He was anxious to leave but didn't want to be rude.

"Thank you, Harry, for your help. It's much appreciated."

When they got to the front door, Harry could see Amber standing next to her little sports car. "Listen, Daryl, I'm getting a ride back with Amber. Is that okay?"

"That's fine,” Daryl told him, “but be careful; she's been around a bit. Make sure you cover your dick."

Harry smirked. "Don't worry about me, man. I got it taken care of."

Chapter Text

Chapter Four- There’s Got to be a Morning After

 

Daryl woke up to the melodic tones of Black Sabbath, which told him his brother was calling. He groaned out loud, torn between not wanting to move, but not wanting to put his brother off either; besides, Merle would just keep calling until Daryl answered.

"Hey Merle, what's going on?" His voice was low and scratchy; he wanted his brother to know that he had disturbed his sleep.

"Sorry to wake you, baby brother, but I'm getting ready to go out on a road trip. We're heading out to make a deal with some Irish out in Memphis, and I just wanted to check in with you before we go."

Merle worked for Hershel as well; he was living in East Tennessee and ran guns for the organization. “How are things with the old man?"

"Hershel's fine, always is. He's decided he wants to take care of these racist, murdering motherfuckers."

Merle audibly took a deep breath before he went on. "You gonna take them on all by yourself? He better bring someone in to help you on this."

"He did," Daryl told him as he got out of bed and walked to the bathroom. "He's got this friend in Youngstown, Ohio that heads up the Jewish mob. Asked him if he could send his best man down."

"And?"

"His name is Harry Odom; he got in yesterday. Damn Merle, he can't be any older than I was when I was fixing Hershel's cars, and he's been doing this shit for two years already."

"Sounds like this boy is hardcore. What's he like?"

Daryl left the bathroom and headed into the kitchen where he put on a pot of coffee. "He don't act like no stone-cold killer. He's quiet, kinda introverted, and he's more damn polite than any southern gentleman I've ever met."

"Maybe he's using the element of surprise," Merle said. "People won't expect someone like that to put a bullet in their head."

"That's the damn truth. We went to the steakhouse last night; Amber was on him most of the time and he ended up taking her back to Carol's. I don't know what it was, Merle. He seemed flustered half the time she was around, and he don't got no game."

"Everybody's gone home with Amber; ain't no reason he should be any different. You've had her too, and you ain’t got no game neither," Merle laughed.

“I got as much game as you do, so unless you got a woman in your bed right now, I’d say we’re in the same damn boat.”

"As a matter of fact, I did meet a woman,” Merle huffed. "She's a lawyer and mighty smart; been teaching me a few things."

"Bet you been teaching her a few things too," Daryl chuckled.

"Well, I try to help where I can." Merle laughed. "Listen, little brother, you take care of yourself. Make sure that Jew has your back."

"Harry ain't Jewish, he just works for 'em. And I know he'll have my back; he works with a partner up in Youngstown. He knows how it goes."

"If you and Hershel trust him, then so do I. I'll talk to ya next week. Love ya, baby brother."

"Love you too, Merle."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry opened his eyes and looked around at the strange room. He didn't realize where he was at first, then he saw the Tupperware container of cookies on the dresser. He remembered coming back to his room and seeing it on the bed, along with a note from Carol wishing him a good night's sleep.

He turned over in bed and saw Amber lying there, the sheet laying across her midsection. One hand was under her head, the other splayed across her stomach. Harry remembered everything they had done the night before and cringed a little. The sex had been amazing, but he felt unsatisfied for some reason.

He quietly got out of bed and went to the bathroom. After pissing for what seemed like years, he looked in the mirror. Harry had always been awkward the morning after, even when he was with Iris. He hoped that Amber would leave on her own while he was in the shower, but knew his luck wasn't that good.

After sneaking back into the room and grabbing clothes from his suitcase, Harry jumped under the hot spray. He thought about his job, and what he and Daryl would be doing that day. He had completely forgotten about the woman in his bed until he walked out of the bathroom and saw her standing beside the window, looking outside from behind the curtain.

"So, I guess round two is out of the question," she stated when she heard him come back into the room.

"Yeah," he replied shyly. "I have to meet Daryl this morning; we got stuff to discuss. I gotta call him; let him know I'm up."

Amber turned around, completely naked, walked over to Harry, and kissed him on the cheek. "You call Daryl, I'm going to take a shower."

She picked her clothes up from the floor and sauntered into the bathroom, still full of steam. Harry dressed quickly, then went downstairs to call Daryl.

Daryl had just gotten out of the shower when Harry called. He told Harry he would be there to pick him up in thirty to forty-five minutes and asked him to tell Carol they would be having breakfast there. When Harry returned to the room, Amber was dressed and ready to leave.

"I left my phone number on the dresser. You can call me anytime you need me." She said and kissed Harry's lips.

"I will," he whispered to her, knowing Madden had found his new toy. "You might hear from me sooner than you think."

Chapter Text

Chapter Five – Introductions

 

Daryl arrived at The Blue and Gray thirty minutes after he got off the phone with Harry. Letting himself in, he went straight to the dining room and was surprised to see Harry helping Carol and Sophia setting the table.

"Aren't you supposed to be in school, little girl?" Daryl asked Sophia.

"It's senior skip day. I took Lizzie and Mika, then came back to help mom. Beth and I are gonna go out later, but I promised mom I'd help her this morning."

"You're a good daughter, Soph. You make your momma proud."

"She sure does," Carol said as she walked into the room. She was carrying a basket of biscuits and a small tub of butter. "Did I tell you she's the Valedictorian?"

Sophia rolled her eyes. "You've told every person in town at least five times already, mom. It's a small town, you probably didn't even have to tell anyone with the way news runs through this place."

"I know, Soph, but I'm your mom. I have the right to be proud and yell it from the mountaintop."

Sophia walked past Daryl and whispered in his ear. "If she starts packing for a hike, I'm leaving town."

Daryl stifled a laugh. "She's got a bum knee, you know she ain't doing that shit, but if I see her heading into town with a megaphone, I'll stuff her in the trunk of one of Hershel's cars,” he whispered back conspiratorially.

Harry was pouring coffee and filling glasses with orange juice; Daryl patted him on the back as he sat down. "You have a good night?"

Harry blushed. "Yeah, I guess."

Daryl looked at him confused. How could you spend the night with a beautiful woman and not know if you had a good time? He leaned into Harry's ear. "We'll talk about it later." Harry looked at Daryl and nodded his head.

Everyone sat at the table and filled their plates; the conversation was light and mainly revolved around Sophia's plans for the day and whether Harry was enjoying his new environment.

As Carol and Sophia cleared the table, Daryl went with Harry back to his room to grab the envelope Hershel had given him. He noticed the unmade bed and tried not to think about what had gone on there the night before.

"Alright, I'm ready to go," Harry said.

"Okay, let's get outta here. We got some planning to do."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl drove them to a soccer park located on the other side of town. It hadn't been used in years; the grass was as tall as a toddler, and the only people that ever went there were either homeless or strung out. The two men sat in the truck and opened their envelopes.

Daryl started with the photographs before they discussed the intel. The first picture was of Fat Joey, and he looked stoned. Harry chuckled when he learned the man's name. "They call him that to his face?"

Daryl laughed. "I don't know; I sure would. Anyway, he's not very bright; gonna be easy to take him out, I think. We’ll be able to get him alone somewhere. He's a runner; does deliveries, picks up their damn lunch and shit, but I think Negan talks to him. I’m pretty sure he knows more about what’s going on than most people would think.”

“This next guy is Simon. He's Negan’s number two." Harry looked at the photograph; he looked as stoned as Joey did, but Simon had wild eyes and looked like he could snap at any minute and kill everyone in sight. Harry smiled to himself; he had seen that look on his own face many times.

"Simon is unpredictable. Rumor has it he's the one who supplies all the local dealers. He’s in charge of all of Negan’s covert operations; he may be directly involved in the murders or planning them himself under Negan's direction. Either way, he's dangerous; it may take both of us to get him down."

Harry began to get excited about the prospect of killing again. He could feel Madden lurking in his bones, and was eager to get this job underway.

Daryl noticed that Harry seemed to drift away for a moment, and snapped his fingers in front of the man's face. "You still in there?"

"Oh, yeah. Sorry, I was thinking about these guys. I haven't done a job this detailed in a while. I think I might enjoy this."

Daryl smirked. "Me too, to be honest. I grew up with shit like this. My daddy was a member of the KKK for a while. I'm gonna get a lot of pleasure doing this."

Harry would get pleasure from it as well, but he was sure it wasn't the same type of pleasure Daryl was talking about.

"This last guy is Dwight; he's a Grade A asshole."

Harry stared at the photograph. "What happened to his face?"

"He claims it happened in a house fire, but the rumor is that Negan burned him for breaking one of his rules."

Harry was shocked. Louis could be hardcore with people who crossed or betrayed him, but Harry knew the man wasn't capable of something that horrendous.

"This Negan guy is crazy. We're gonna kill these three, then him?" Harry asked.

"That's the idea," Daryl replied. "It shouldn’t be too much trouble taking care of these three, but Negan is gonna be hard to get. I've heard he never leaves his compound alone; always has an entourage with him wherever he goes."

"Is there any way to track him? Do you know where the compound is?"

Daryl put the photos back in the envelope. "Not exactly. It's hidden somewhere; there's a lot of abandoned factories and empty buildings around. Any one of them could be his."

"I think we should start off with the fat one. If he's as brainless as you say, it'll be one of the easiest jobs I've ever done."

"Alright then, I'll let you have him if you want. I'd like to see you in action," Daryl said, smiling. "I gotta know if you're as good as Louis says."

Harry blushed slightly. He knew it really wasn't him who did the work, but he wasn't afraid to take the credit. "I am; you'll see."

Daryl snickered. "I think we should wait until tomorrow to get started on this. There are some people I want you to meet. They're all on Hershel's payroll; just in case you need them while you're here."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl drove them to Big South Auto Detailers, twenty minutes from the soccer field. "This is where I was working when I met Hershel. He bought the place not long after that. Most of their business is detailing, but they do mechanic work too."

As they walked into the garage, Harry's mouth dropped open. It was huge and as spotless as an automotive garage could be.

"How is it so clean?” He whispered.

Daryl laughed. "Every person that works here is ex-military; it's ingrained in their DNA. Come on, let me introduce you."

They walked a few feet to the back of the garage where a big, hulking black man was searching through a toolbox.

"Hey, Ty," Daryl yelled over the noise.

The large man turned around and grinned. "Daryl, my man. What are you doing here? You looking for work, because I got a bike out back with your name on it."

The two men shook hands and slapped each other on the back in greeting. "Naw man, I just came by to introduce y'all to somebody."

Ty began banging a large wrench on the metal toolbox. "Y'all stop what you're doing and get your asses over here. Daryl's got somebody he wants us to meet."

Slowly, all the men put down their tools, slid out from under the vehicles, and gathered around the three men at the back of the garage.

"Guys, this is Harry Odom." Daryl began. "He's down here from Ohio to help Hershel and I take care of these damn white supremacists. Harry, this is Tyreese, he manages this shithole. These guys are Abraham, Bob, T-Dog, Axel, and Zach."

"It's nice to meet you all," Harry said politely as he shook each man's hand.

"Abe and I are ex-special forces," Ty told him. "T-Dog, Axel and Zack are all combat trained, and Bob was a medic. You need anything while you’re here, Harry, don't hesitate to contact one of us."

"Thank you, sir; I will," Harry replied.

"Damn son, you sure you're not from the south? You're more polite than a southern gentleman." Abe commented.

Harry blushed. "Born and raised in Youngstown. My ma taught me how important it is to always be polite."

All the men started laughing. "Boy, you gonna get laid a lot while you’re here," Axel joked.

"He's already taking care of that, Axel. Don't you worry." Daryl added.

"Why don't you take him up front, let him meet Rosita," Ty suggested.

Abraham turned to Harry and put his hand on the young man's shoulder. "I would advise you to keep the charm to a minimum while talking to my girl, or I will rip your sack off like a paper towel."

Harry's Adam's apple visibly bobbed as he swallowed. Doing what he did for a living, nothing really scared him anymore, but this giant ginger could have intimidated God almighty.

"Understood, sir." Was all Harry said, and Daryl quickly pushed him through the door to the front office, as he.

A beautiful, dark-haired Latina sat behind the desk, typing away on her computer. She pretended not to hear the two men walk into the room, even though she had heard everything that had been said behind the door.

"Good morning, Rosita," Daryl said and tapped the top of the desk.

"Well, hello Daryl," she replied. "How are you?"

"I'm just fine. I got someone here I want you to meet. This is Harry, he's on loan for a while; gonna help us take care of this shit going on."

Rosita looked Harry up and down, then stood and shook his hand. "It's nice to meet you Harry; I'm Rosita. I hope my big, scary boyfriend didn't intimidate you too much."

Harry shook his head with bravado. "No, it takes a lot more than that to scare me."

"Good. Abraham is full of hot air; enjoys the sound of his own voice too much."

Daryl laughed. "Rosita is a firearms expert; even Abe don't piss her off."

"He's smarter than he looks," she replied and sat back down. "You need anything blown up while you're here, I'm your chica."

Harry smiled shyly and thanked Rosita for her offer. After saying their goodbyes, Daryl and Harry went back out to the truck. "I got one more person for you to meet. Let me make a quick phone call, then we'll be on our way."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Forty-five minutes later, Daryl pulled into the city dump. He waved at the man who opened the gate and shook his hand. "Dawn is supposed to meet us here in a few minutes; keep your eyes out for her."

The man said he would and told Daryl to park by the shed at the back gate. "So who is this mysterious person?" Harry asked. "Why so much secrecy?"

"She's special. If anyone knew what she was doing for Hershel, for all of us, she could lose her job, or worse. We all protect each other; the only reason I'm letting you meet her is because she's so important. If nobody else can help you, she can."

Just then the gate opened and a black, Cadillac sedan drove through and parked next to Daryl's truck. A woman with dark hair pulled into a tight bun and stern features exited the vehicle. Daryl elbowed Harry and indicated for the younger man to get out of the truck. When Harry rounded the front of the vehicle, he found Daryl hugging the woman.

"Daryl, so good to see you. I was surprised to hear from you; what's so important?" she asked as she glanced at Harry.

"I got someone for you to meet. This is Harry Odom; a friend of Hershel's in Ohio sent him down to help us with … you know."

The woman shook her head but held her hand out to Harry. "It's nice to meet you, Harry. I'm Dawn Lerner, Chief of Police."

Harry smiled and shook her hand. "It's nice to meet you Chief."

"My mom and Hershel grew up together, dated for a while when they were young. He paid for my mother's medical expenses and funeral; I was indebted to him and all he asked from me was that I have his back. He may be involved in a lot of illegal things, but he's a good man, a man of God, and deserves respect."

"He's done good by all of us," Daryl added.

"I understand how Hershel feels about this. No one likes it, everyone wants to get these fuckers, but it's gonna be hard as hell to hide this shit. I know you Daryl; I know how good you are, but I wish he would let me handle it. This is huge, and a lot more people could die. If Negan gets wind of what Hershel's planning, you could all die."

Daryl put his arm around Dawn. "Listen, you know I'm gonna be careful, and with Harry here, watching my back and helping me, we're all gonna be fine."

Harry stood, unmoving, watching the interaction. "I'm gonna keep Daryl safe; I won't let anything happen to him, or anybody else. I'm not going to let anyone die, that doesn't need to."

Dawn smiled at him. "I believe you, but know that if you run into any trouble, it's my job to take care of you.” She paused before she added, “Both of you."

"We know," Daryl told her and stepped back. "We're gonna head back to the office, let Hershel know what's going on."

"Okay. Y'all be careful, and tell the old man I said 'Hi'. It was nice to meet you, Harry."

"Nice to meet you too, ma'am," he replied and shook her hand again.

"So polite; I bet your mother is proud," Dawn said.

"Yeah, she is."

Chapter Text

Chapter Six- What’s Eating Harry Odom?

 

After leaving the dump, Daryl and Harry went to the office to report to Hershel. "I meant to ask you, how did things go with Amber last night?" Daryl asked as he drove down the street.

Harry hadn't been paying attention to anything; his eyes were focused outside the truck at everything they were passing by. "Fine, she seems really nice. I don't think my mom would have liked her, though."

Daryl blinked, surprised by Harry's response. He had never heard a man react that nonchalantly regarding spending a night with Amber. Even Daryl himself had a good time with her, and he didn't even like women all that much.

"Okay. . . so, why wouldn't your mom like her?" he asked.

"Ma would say she's a slut; she thought all girls were sluts, and all they want to do is trap you into marriage or have a baby to tie you down with. She always told me to stay away from them or they’d ruin my life."

Daryl wondered what kind of a woman would tell her son something like that. It made him think of that girl from the Stephen King novel; the one that blew up prom. If Harry had that skill, this job would be over before it started.

"You've had a girl, though, right? I mean before Amber."

"Yeah, ma didn't like her; made her leave." Harry didn't elaborate on his statement, and Daryl didn't want to upset him, so he didn’t ask him to.

"If you see Amber again, be careful. She's a nice girl, but she's been around; slept with most of Hershel's guys. She's one of those girls that need attention, and sex is the only way she thinks she can get it. Just watch out for yourself and don't breathe a word to Hershel about it."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

When they arrived at the office, Daryl introduced Harry to all the people who worked for Hershel in an office capacity; people he had been too busy to meet the first time he had been there. Most of them were accountants, cooking books or working on Hershel's legitimate businesses.

As the two men rounded a corner, they saw the big man himself carrying a cup of coffee. "Hello boys, how are y'all today?" Hershel opened his office door for the two men, and they all went in and got comfortable.

"Doing fine. Thought we'd come by and let you know what's going on," Daryl said as he took two bottles of water from the mini-fridge and handed one to Harry. "We went over the info you gave us, and Harry decided that he wants Fat Joe all for himself."

Hershel grinned at the two men. "Jumping in head first; I like that, Harry. You've got initiative. Do you know how and where it's gonna take place?"

Harry cleared his throat. "No sir. I think we should follow him for a while, see where he goes and what he does. If the opportunity presents itself, I'll take it. If not, at least I'll know how to make an opportunity happen."

"You're very smart, Harry. It’s good to know that you’re a rational man. Before Daryl here, I had a man who, out of the blue became unhinged one day. He killed a cop and his family, but Daryl can tell you that story later.” Hershel took a sip of his coffee before he proceeded. “What else have you boys been up to?"

"I took him to the garage and introduced him to the guys and Rosita, then we met Dawn. I wanted to make sure Harry knows who he can trust and go to if he needed someone."

"What do you think of my crew, Harry?" Hershel asked.

"I think you have a very impressive group of people who have your back, sir. I certainly wouldn't want to mess with any of them."

"That's the idea, son. If this goes well, would you consider moving down here and working for me?"

Harry was surprised by the offer. "I don't know, Mr. Greene. Louis depends on me, and I enjoy working for him. I'd have to think about that."

"Don't worry yourself about it son. It's nothing you should think about now.” Looking at the clock on the wall, Hershel stood from behind his desk. “I hate to rush y'all, but I have a meeting in ten minutes."

"No problem Hershel. We'll get in touch when we find out something," Daryl told the old man, and after shaking hands and saying goodbye, Daryl and Harry headed out.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl drove them back to The Blue and Gray, hoping to get lunch. The men went straight to the kitchen, where they could smell freshly baked bread. "If I ever do decide to move here and work for Hershel, I’d love to live here, Carol," Harry said as he looked through the oven window.

The woman laughed. "Well, Sophia will be leaving for college in the fall; you can have her room."

"I'd make sure she got all the pink out of it first," Daryl offered.

"I can live with pink," Harry said. "I won't go hungry; that's more important."

They all laughed at that until they were interrupted by Daryl's stomach. "Would it be okay if we grabbed something to eat and take it upstairs?"

"Of course," Carol said, smiling. "What would you like?"

"If you have some of that bread already made, I'd love a sandwich," Harry said.

"There's a loaf in the bread box; it should still be warm. Help yourself to whatever is in the fridge. I have to go check on the laundry."

Harry and Daryl fixed themselves a couple sandwiches each, grabbed a bag of potato chips, and poured two cups of sweet tea; then loaded their lunch onto trays and headed to Harry's room. Once inside, Harry started eating immediately and Daryl smiled. "You mind if I ask you something?"

"Go ahead," Harry responded and washed his food down with tea.

"You look awfully young to be as good as you claim to be. And you've been doing this for how long?"

"I'm 20, and I've been doing this for two years. Louis says I'm a natural, but I got a secret weapon. I couldn't do this without him."

"Him? You bring an invisible partner with you?" Daryl asked, dumbstruck by the absurdity of what Harry said.

"Kind of; it's hard to explain, but he made me who I am. Before he existed, I could never have done this. I'm still me, but sometimes I need his help, and he's always there when it’s time for a job."

Daryl was confused, but didn’t press Harry to explain. "So, do I get to meet this miracle worker?"

"You will. When the time is right."

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven- Death of a Fat Man

 

The next morning, Daryl received a phone call shortly after waking up. He normally left his phone on the bedside table until he had coffee and a shower, but for some reason, he decided to take it with him to the kitchen. It was one of Hershel's accountants, Eugene calling; he heard about what Daryl and the new guy were doing and had some information he thought would be useful.

Eugene explained that every morning as he walked to work, he would see Fat Joey at Tara's Bakery on Ward Avenue. Every now and then, if he wasn't running late, he would stop in for coffee and a couple of donuts. Eugene and Tara had been good friends since elementary school and she never charged him for the coffee, on account that he did her taxes and she always got a hefty return.

He went on to say that the rotund gentleman had a habit of hitting of Tara, even though everyone knew she liked women. He had heard Joey say more than once that he would be able to change her mind. Eugene had laughed at that; Tara had been a cop in another county for a few years before moving back home, and Eugene had personally witnessed his friend reduce a mugger to tears with her ability to restrain and control him until the local police department could respond. He, for one, would not recommend messing with that woman.

Daryl thanked him for the information and finished his coffee. Going out to the back porch, he lit a cigarette and called Harry, who had just gotten out of the shower himself. Daryl told him what he had found out and Harry agreed that he could really go for a donut that morning, so Daryl said he would pick him up in thirty minutes and they would be on their way.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry hadn't slept well the night before. He wanted to do a respectable job for Hershel and show Daryl that Louis was right when he said Harry was a natural. The little time he had slept was full of strange dreams; his mother, Iris, Amber, and weirdly enough, Daryl. He couldn't remember a lot of it, and what he could was very confusing. He wasn't a person who put too much stock in dream interpretation, but he would have loved to know what that mess meant.

Carol poured him a cup of coffee and they sat in the dining area enjoying some small talk until Daryl arrived. Harry had refused breakfast, stating that he and Daryl were going for donuts, but that he would be looking forward to lunch. When Daryl arrived, Carol handed them both coffee in a paper cup and wished them a good day.

When Daryl pulled his truck onto Ward Avenue, they could see the fat man walking into the bakery. Daryl pulled up to the curb on the opposite side of the street so they could have an unobstructed view but not be obvious. He and Harry laughed as they talked about their target; Daryl making the comment that if Joey had gone to the gym occasionally, instead of stopping for donuts, maybe he would have a chance against them. Harry agreed and noticed, not for the first time, Daryl's enormous biceps.

"Do you work out?" he asked. "Your arms are huge."

"Naw, I hunt a lot; use a crossbow. That thing has a hundred and fifty-pound draw weight on it. Lifting and carrying a two-hundred-pound buck around doesn't hurt either."

"I've never known anyone who hunted before," Harry said, impressed with Daryl's explanation.

"Maybe after this is finished, I can take ya out; show ya how it's done."

"That would be great, Daryl, thanks," Daryl told Harry a couple of hunting stories while they were waiting for Joey to leave the bakery, and became so involved in them, that the two men almost missed him walking down the street.

Harry moved to open the truck door but was stopped by Daryl. "You ready? You gonna do it now?"

Harry turned to him; his eyes were much darker than they were before, like a shark about to attack. "You just sit tight. I got this."

Running across the street, he tried to keep Joey in his sights but not get too close at the same time. After a few blocks, the traffic and the pedestrians had disappeared. Harry observed his surroundings and guessed that they had entered a poorer area of town; the houses were worn down and the lawns needed to be tended to. He walked faster to catch up to Joey, and when he was within hearing distance, he made his move.

"Excuse me, sir?"

Joey turned around to find Harry standing only a few short feet away. "What do you want?"

"Sorry to bother you, but I'm not from here and I'm on my way to meet a friend, but I think I'm lost. Do you know where Church Street is?"

Joey laughed at Harry like a local asshole would. "You're going the wrong way, ya dumb shit. Go back the way you came and take a left when you get to the traffic light by the bakery."

He was too busy making fun of Harry and his ignorant tourist ass to notice that the young man had pulled a switchblade from his pants pocket. The reflection of the metal in the sunlight flashed across the fat man's face just in time for him to watch Harry take a step toward him. Everything happened so fast, he didn't see Harry raise the blade and push it into his chest.

Joey fell to the ground clutching his chest as Harry quickly pulled him into the nearest alley. Dragging him behind a row of dumpsters, Harry wondered if the blade had been able to penetrate the enormous amount of fat protecting the other man's heart.

Once completely out of sight, Harry stood looking down at his victim. He could see Joey's chest rise and fall slowly as blood poured from the wound and his mouth. Not trusting that he would die from the stab wound alone, Harry stepped over the body, straddled the fat man, and sliced his throat so deep, he was nearly decapitated.

When Harry returned to the truck, he was covered in blood. Luckily, he had not passed a single person on his return trip. There was a box of donuts on the seat and coffee in the cup holder.

Daryl looked up at him casually as he took a bite of a chocolate iced piece of perfection. "You got red on you," he said with a smirk.

Harry climbed into the passenger's seat and took a glazed from the box. "I guess I should clean up and put on some fresh clothes."

"Alright," Daryl said and started the engine. "We can go to my house; I'm sure I got something that will fit you."

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight- In Control

 

Daryl called Hershel while Harry was in the shower. He had found a clean pair of jeans and a tee shirt for the man and instructed him to get all the blood off him, then called Hershel on his private, secured line and said only one thing, "The fat man is on a diet".

Hershel was sad to hear that Joey was dead; he didn’t like the idea of more lives lost, but had requested it be done, and was therefore satisfied that the order had been carried out. They were well on their way to eradicating the enemy.

Daryl then sent Dawn a text with the same cryptic message he had given Hershel. He didn't expect a response, and never received one, so he grabbed his smokes and went out to the back porch. He always felt calm after a hit; the stress and anticipation nearly drove him crazy. As competent and skilled as he was, he worried too much.

He had nearly choked more than once when he first began working for Hershel, but no one ever knew that. Daryl always prided himself on his ability to keep a clear head; he rarely lost his cool, and when he did, it usually involved someone he loved or cared about who was in danger.

Harry had seemed almost giddy after killing Joey; he was smiling and exuberant, and ate three donuts in the fifteen minutes it took to get to Daryl's house. The killing, which would have exhausted Daryl emotionally, seemed to give Harry a jolt of vigor.

When Daryl went back into the house, Harry was standing in his living room wearing only Daryl's jeans, and towel drying his hair. The younger man didn't notice him standing inside the doorway watching him, and Daryl didn't let on. Harry had a beautiful body; strong, tight, smooth, and unblemished, and it stirred Daryl in a way he wasn't expecting.

"Hey! You in there?" Harry said as he stood inches in front of the other man's face. Daryl was snapped back into reality as Harry turned away to pull the shirt down over his head.

"Yeah, just thinking," Daryl responded vaguely. He hadn’t noticed that Harry moved so close to him.

"Thinking about what?" Harry asked.

"What the news is gonna say about Fat Joey. I always get worried that FBI or some shit is gonna get involved. Especially if they find out he worked for Negan."

Madden was still present in Harry's mind, and he felt as carefree as a young boy. "Don’t worry. You've been doing this longer than me, and Dawn has our back, right? She's not gonna let anything happen to you or me, and she's certainly not going to let any evidence lead back to Hershel; if it does, we can take care of that too."

Daryl shook his head. "I suppose we can, but I don't want to have to do that. I want this to be over as soon as possible."

Harry walked back to him and put his hand on Daryl's shoulder. "Nobody's gonna find out a damn thing. Our asses are covered." He looked Daryl directly in the eyes and smiled brightly. "Now, can you take me back to Carol's. I've got a lot of energy to burn, and I want to call Amber."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry said hello to Carol before he went up to his room, but didn't stay to have a conversation. Madden had one thing on his mind; the same thing he always had on his mind after a hit, and Harry had to call Amber as soon as he could.

The phone rang three times before the voice mail came on. He left her a message asking if he could see her tonight, maybe take her to dinner; a place that Hershel didn’t own. He ended the message by telling her how much he needed her, and he had some amazing plans for them that night.

Leaving his phone on the dresser, Harry laid on the bed while he waited for Amber to contact him. For the first time, he remembered that he was wearing Daryl's clothes, and noticed how comfortable they were. He never wore jeans and tee shirts, his mother said punks dressed that way, and Harry’s legs had never felt the roughness of denim.

He thought about the fact that Daryl's legs had been inside those same jeans, and Daryl's chest had been blanketed by the same soft cotton that was currently hugging his own bare chest. He was surprised by his thoughts and realized that Madden was gone. He panicked, but only for a moment. He was content to take it easy and think about his new friend and how welcome and accepted Daryl had made him feel.

Before he knew it, Harry had fallen asleep and didn't hear his phone ding when Amber's response came through.

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He was dreaming again; just flashes of memory, but his mind hit all the high points that brought him to where he was now. He saw himself at the club with Arnie; tits and asses shaking in his face.

Then he was at the police station, straddling Bill and beating his face into ground meat. He saw Iris in Mr. Varga's office the night of his first hit, and his mother as she laid in his bed next to him.

Then he saw Daryl; his mouth turned up into a smile as he was laughing. Harry reached out and touched the man's face, gliding his thumb across his cheek and telling him something that he couldn't understand. When Daryl responded by kissing his lips, Harry awoke and sat bolt upright in bed; his heart was racing and he was breathing heavily.

He turned his head to see his phone on the dresser and got up to check it. Amber's message was waiting for him and he opened it, hoping to forget the confusing images in his mind.

I'm so glad you text. I've been waiting to hear from you. My last class ends at two fifteen, so I'll go home and get ready after that. I'll meet you at the Gray and Blue at six. I can't wait to see what you have in store for me. ;)

Harry looked at the time; it was four thirty. He had slept longer than he thought, and he felt rested, but worried. He couldn't feel Madden. He never worried about it when he was working; if Harry knew only one thing it was that Madden loved fucking as much as killing. Madden had never abandoned him on a job, but his mood for sex came and went; it had happened before with Iris, and he didn't want to be embarrassed in front of Amber.

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Harry was downstairs and waiting for Amber by five thirty; Carol, Sophia, Lizzie, and Mika had decided to go out to eat when Harry told them he would not be there for dinner. When the doorbell rang, he opened it and gasped. Amber was wearing a black, sleeveless, handkerchief-hem dress that clung to her hips and breasts.

"You . . . look beautiful," Harry said, stumbling over his words. Her hair was down and framed her face like a halo; her smile a beacon in the darkness.

"Thank you. You look amazing yourself. I love a man who can wear a suit." Harry was wearing a black suit with his favorite red button-down shirt under a black leather jacket.

He shrugged his shoulders bashfully. "I gotta look good if I'm going out with a woman as beautiful as you." He was nervous but tried not to let it show. Taking her hand in his, he kissed it softly, then closed the door behind him.

He opened the driver's side door for her like his Ma had taught him and ran to the other side. Once they were on the road, Harry asked her where they were going.

"It's a little Italian restaurant about twenty minutes from here. It's called Mama Mia's. The owners immigrated from Sicily about ten years ago, and it's the best food I've ever had in my life."

"Sounds good," Harry replied. "I don't know much about Italian food except for pizza, lasagna, and spaghetti and meatballs."

"Don't worry, there are descriptions of the dishes, so you'll know what you're getting." Amber reached over and placed her hand on Harry's knee. He jumped in surprise, which made Amber laugh.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I thought this would be okay since we've basically touched each other everywhere there is to be touched."

"It's fine," Harry told her. "I just wasn't expecting it."

"Well, when we get back from dinner you can expect a lot more."

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Dinner went well; Harry had never had authentic Italian cuisine and savored each bite of his Chicken Marsala as if it were his last meal. The conversation was stilted; Harry being too bashful and nervous to talk about anything other than the food or weather. He found the humidity stifling and was amazed that more people didn't die of heat stroke every day.

Amber just followed along; nodding in agreement and adding little bits of cultural information when needed. She was a little put-off by Harry's shyness, considering how bold and aggressive he had been when they fucked. She wrote it off as he wasn’t much of a public person, and preferred to let himself go behind closed doors.

Harry paid the bill and escorted Amber to her car. "Why don't you drive us back to Carol’s?" She asked and handed over the keys. It was a nice car, not a BMW of course, but more than adequate for a college student. He opened the passenger's side door for her and then climbed in on the driver's side.

He smiled at her as he closed the door and put the key in the ignition. He got his license when he was seventeen, but he never drove much. His mom didn't go anywhere to warrant buying one, and most of the places he went were within walking distance.

He felt like a kid in a candy store; it wasn't much, it wasn't even exciting to most people, but Harry felt like a real man. He had dinner with a beautiful woman, was driving her home and was going to be fucking her soon after. Madden was still a no-show, but he felt more confident now and eager for what was to come.

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Carol was sleeping in the recliner with an open book on her lap when Harry and Amber returned. He took the young woman’s hand and they quietly went up the stairs to his room. Once they were inside and the door locked, Amber backed him up against it and kissed him. His lips moved with hers, and his heart was racing, but his dick had yet to join the party.

When their lips parted, he moved away from her and sat on the bed. She walked toward him slowly and got on her knees in front of him. Cradling his face in her hands, she smiled seductively. "I want you, Harry. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you; the way you touched me, the way you felt inside me. I've never been with anyone as passionate as you. You made me feel so good, Harry."

Harry didn't know what to say; he knew he should say something similar back to her, but his mind didn't work that way. He exhaled and stood up. "I gotta pee," he said quickly and ran into the bathroom.

He splashed cold water on his face and looked at his reflection. Closing his eyes, he thought about Iris; her face, her body, and how she moved on him. He stood there for at least five minutes just thinking about her, and when he opened his eyes, he saw Madden looking back at him. He grinned smugly, adjusted himself in his pants, and walked back into the room.

Striding up to Amber, he grabbed her by the back of the head and pulled her mouth to his. He kissed her hard and dirty, grinding his cock against her. "Let's have some fun."

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine- Be Cautious

 

Harry was still sleeping when Amber left the next morning. She had a nine thirty class, and with an hour-long drive, she was cutting it close. Arriving to class the same time as her professor, she sat next to her friend Sherry and immediately began taking notes. After class, she and Sherry were walking down the hall together. Both had a one period brake, and would usually go to the student union for coffee afterward.

"Okay, what’s going on?" Sherry asked. "You look like you just woke up, and hardly slept. How late did you work last night?"

"I didn't work, I had a date." Amber said.

"The guy from the other night?"

"Yep. His name is Harry, and he is hot as fuck. Oh my God, Sherry. I have never been fucked as good as he fucks me."

"Damn, wish I was you. I remember when I said the same thing about Dwight."

Amber laughed. "Dwight is the love of your life, and you know it. You two are gonna get married and have a house full of kids."

"Probably," Sherry said, smiling. "So, tell me about Harry; how big is his dick?"

"Sherry! I can't believe you!" Amber feigned shock as she filled her coffee cup. "It's very nice; he's got length and width," she said and winked at her friend.

"Okay, so he kept you up all night; I'm surprised you're able to walk straight."

Amber's grin was a mile wide. "He's better than any man I've ever had, I could really fall for him, but he was acting a little strange last night."

"What? You mean sexually? Is he kinky?”

"No, not like that. It was the way he was acting. The first night I met him, he was shy and awkward; I thought it was cute, but when we got back to his room, he changed. He took control; he did things that I never would have imagined. I expected him to be that same guy, especially now since we've fucked. I wouldn't think he would have anything to be shy about, but he acted like he'd never touched a woman before."

Sherry looked at her confused. "Did something happen? Between the night you fucked and when you saw him last night?"

"I don't think so. If something happened, he didn't say anything about it. What was stranger than that, he was still acting weird when we got back to his room, but then he went into the bathroom, and when he came back out, he was the same guy who had fucked me before. He changed, Sherry. It was like he was a different person."

"How much do you know about him? Did y'all do any actual taking?"

"A little, but nothing personal. All I know for sure is that he's from Ohio."

Sherry looked at her with worry. "A mood swing like that could mean he has a mental illness. I know he's great in bed, and all, but you need to be careful. There are a lot of crazy fuckers out there, and I don't want to see you end up as breaking news."

"I don't either, but I don't think Hershel would have brought him down here if he was unpredictable like that. He trusts Harry and so does Daryl. Neither one of them is gonna let anything happen to me; I know it."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry's eyes opened slowly; the rays of the sun hitting him in the face through the slats of the blinds. He was disoriented at first, but soon everything came back to him. He reached behind him to find the other side of the bed empty and breathed a sigh of relief. He couldn't explain his aversion to Amber; she was nice, kind, beautiful, and an amazing fuck, but for some reason, he didn't feel comfortable around her.

Madden liked her; he liked almost anything with a pussy. Blondes were his favorite, and he only took Iris because she was what Harry had wanted. The women he had since he lost Iris were all Madden's choice. Harry hadn't been attracted to any of them, but he missed Iris so much, he let Madden do whatever he wanted to keep his mind off her.

He hadn't met anyone he felt connected to like he had Iris; Abie told him that you never forget you first, and Harry didn't doubt him. He was riding the line between not wanting a second, and desperately needing someone to link himself to.

Finally crawling out of bed, he walked over to the dresser. His phone told him it was eight forty-five, and his stomach told him that he was waking up much later than normal. He was afraid that he had missed a call from Daryl, but the only notification on his phone was a text message from Abie asking how things were going. He quickly shot a text back saying things were good and he would call him later that day.

He needed to call Daryl; Harry thought it was strange that he hadn't heard from him and hoped that everything was okay. The phone rang twice and Daryl sounded groggy when he answered. "Don't tell me you slept late too," Harry said.

"I guess I did. Couldn't sleep last night," Daryl answered.

"Is something wrong?" Harry asked him as he rooted through his bag picking out clothes.

"Naw, just kept having weird dreams is all. It happens every now and then when I get stressed. Have you seen the news this morning? Any news about our fat man?"

"I just woke up too, haven't had a chance to turn the tv on. Give me a second." Harry grabbed the remote on the bedside table and the box in the corner came to life. The morning news anchor was talking about a man found with his throat cut. No witnesses had come forward yet, but the police were interviewing people who lived and worked on that block.

"I'm sure Dawn has a handle on it," Harry said.

"She always does. I don't know how she does it, but she takes care of us," Daryl agreed.

"So, what's on the docket for today?" Harry asked.

"I thought we'd check on Simon. I know where he lives so we'll drive by and see where it takes us. You gonna eat with Carol or do ya want me to pick something up?"

"I'm gonna eat here as often as I can. I won't eat this good when I get back home."

Daryl chuckled. "I understand that. Tell her to set a place for me and I'll be there in thirty minutes."

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As he was getting into his truck, Daryl’s phone rang again; this time it was Hershel. "Hey Hershel; I'm on my way to pick up Harry. You need us to come by?"

"No, no, Daryl; there's no need for that. I do need to speak with you privately, though. It's not urgent, but I've found out some information that you should be aware of. Maybe you could come to my house tonight for dinner? Maggie and Glenn are coming over; I know they'd love to see you."

"Sure, Hershel. I'll be there. Is there anything else you need from me?"

"I trust you saw the news this morning? I know Dawn has this under control, but you and Harry need to be cautious; watch your backs. I don't know if anyone will suspect we had a hand in it, but Negan's men are ruthless. If they see you or Harry and can associate either one
of you with what happened to Joey, well.... just be careful."

"I always am, Hershel. You don't worry about us."

Daryl couldn't see the old man shaking his head. "But I do, Daryl. You're like a son to me; you and Glenn both. I don't want anything to happen to either one of you."

"Harry's got my back; I trust him."

"I do too, son. I'll see you tonight; seven o'clock sharp."

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Daryl drove down the street where Simon lived. When he spotted the man's truck in the driveway, he slowed to a stop and parked in front of a house four doors down.

Sitting quietly, he took his phone out of his pocket and snapped a few pictures as he and his partner kept watch on the house. Not a word was spoken between them, and Daryl had the sense that something was troubling the younger man.

As they observed the house, Daryl thought about Harry's behavior the day before; the sheer happiness that he had seen on Harry's face after he killed Joey. It was as if killing had given him joy and confidence, and Daryl had been a little confused by the change he had seen.

It had given Harry energy to burn, the man told him, and he wanted to expend that energy with Amber. Daryl was hesitant to admit that had made him a bit jealous. He had hoped to spend the remainder of the day with his new partner; not doing anything but just being in his presence.

Harry nudged him in the ribs when he saw Simon come out the front door. The man paused to kiss his wife, climbed into the truck, and pulled out onto the road. Daryl snapped a couple more pictures, then started his own truck and followed him; keeping a safe distance behind.

Their stalemate of silence came to an end when Harry cleared his throat. "Can I ask you something? It's kinda personal, so you don't have to answer if you don't want to."

"Sure, go ahead," Daryl answered. He was very curious to find out what Harry wanted to know about him.

"You said Amber's been around; have you been with her?"

Daryl sighed. "Yeah, I have. She was having a tough time last Christmas and Hershel asked me to check in on her. I drove to Atlanta and took her to dinner; I ended up spending the weekend at her dorm."

"Did you like her? I mean, we're you attracted to her?"

"Amber's a beautiful woman, and she knows how to use that beauty, but she's not my type. She asked me to stay, and I did. I'm not saying it didn't mean anything; I do like her, but I wouldn't have done it if the circumstances were different. Do you like her?"

"No, not like that. She is beautiful and nice, and fun to be around, but I don't have feelings for her."

"So, you’re fucking her without feelings or emotions; that’s not a crime,” Daryl chuckled. “Have you never had casual sex before?”

"Yes, but . . . forget it. I shouldn't have brought it up." Harry was so confused. He was tired of Madden running his life, but he couldn't do his job without him. Harry didn't care about getting laid, just making Louis, and now Hershel, happy with his job performance.

The conversation died when Simon's truck pulled into the parking lot of a three-story office building. Daryl pulled up to the curb opposite the entrance and killed the engine. "What is that place?" Harry asked.

"I'm not sure, but I think it's Negan's headquarters; Sanctuary Corp is who he runs his restaurants through. I'm sure there's room enough in that building for both legal and illegal business."

"We can't go in there; neither of us knows the layout of the building or have access to any of the restricted areas I'm sure Simon will be using," Harry added.

"I guess all we can do now is just sit and wait for him to come back out." Daryl reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He took out a twenty and handed it to Harry. "There's a convenience store at the end of the street. Why don't you go get us some coffee while we wait

"Yeah, sure," Harry said and took the money from Daryl. Walking away from the vehicle he was resigned to the fact that he wanted and needed to be free of Madden, and somewhere inside him, he knew Daryl would be the one to make that happen.

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Harry and Daryl sat in the truck for forty-five minutes waiting for Simon to come out, and when he did, he wasn't alone; he had three other men with him. Daryl handed his phone to Harry to get some more pictures as he continued to follow him from the same distance as before. He almost lost him at one point, but Harry's eagle eyes were able to stay on him.

When Simon turned his truck onto an old dirt road, Daryl hung back even more. He crept along at three miles an hour until Harry spotted Simon's back bumper sticking out from some overgrown bushes. Daryl stopped where they were and pulled behind the tree line. They heard voices, but couldn't understand the words being said.

A couple minutes later, Simon's truck turned around and went back the way it came, but this time instead of four passengers, there were three. Then the sound of another vehicle could be heard; the two men saw a black Firebird Trans-Am pull out from behind the bushes and drive off in the opposite direction Simon had gone.

"Great!" Harry exclaimed. "What do we do now? Who do we follow?"

"Simon," Daryl answered. "He's still our target. We have to catch up with him and hope that he hasn't lost any more passengers."

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Daryl and Harry drove back to town, but never found Simon. However, they did hit a traffic jam once they entered the town square. It was lunch time and both men were starving. When they conceded that they wouldn't find Simon, they decided to grab lunch somewhere before calling it a day.

The truck moved at a snail's pace and neither man could see what was going on ahead of them. Police cars whizzed passed them and Daryl swore he saw Dawn's personal vehicle among them.

"Whatever this is, it's bad. I just saw Dawn speeding by," Daryl said.

"So, it's more than just a traffic accident, I'm assuming," Harry replied.

"More than likely. I'm kinda afraid to find out what it is." Daryl admitted.

Slowly but surely, the truck inched its way forward, and thirty minutes later they passed a group of police officers gathered on a corner surrounded by caution tape. Harry tried to see through the crowd, but there were too many people, news reporters included.

"Goddammit!" Daryl exclaimed. "Do you see what I see?" He asked Harry.

"What? The body bags under that man’s arm?" Harry asked as he pointed to an EMT turning the corner.

"Yep. Somebody else's been murdered, and I'll bet it all that it was Negan's doing."

When Harry looked around at the crowd that had gathered, he saw something familiar; a black Firebird Trans-Am parked across the street.

Chapter Text

"We gotta tell Hershel," Harry said once they were clear of the traffic and police.

"We're still not sure what that was back there. It'll be on the news; if it's what we think it is, then we'll deal with it. I don't want to get Hershel all riled up if it's not Negan." Harry agreed and accepted what Daryl said.

The two men ate greasy burgers and onion rings at a dive bar on the outskirts of town, then Daryl drove Harry back to the B&B. Once he was back in his room, Harry remembered that he needed to call Abie.

"Hey, Abie. How are you?"

"I'm doing fine, Harry. How's the south treating ya?"

"It's nice down here, too hot though. I can't wait for winter at home." Harry said, laughing.

"You'll regret saying that the first time it snows," Abie joked. "How's the job going?"

"Good so far. Got our first hit yesterday; he was easy. Let me walk right up to him."

"I love it when that happens. That's your talent, Harry; you're unassuming and quiet. You can get close to someone and they won't suspect a thing. Louis did good bringing you in."

"Thanks, Abie. We tailed some guy today, but didn't have an opportunity; then we lost him. Daryl didn't seem worried about it, though."

"How are things working out with him? You two getting along?"

"Yeah, Abie. We're getting along great. He's not a mentor like you, but he's real friendly; took me around town and introduced me to a few of Hershel's guys. I've had fun hanging out with him and talking."

"That's good, Harry. You need a friend closer to your age; I'm too old to hang with you young guys anymore."

"No, you're not Abie. I love hanging out with you too; you taught me everything I know. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you."

Abie laughed straight from his gut. "You're a natural, Harry. You could be your own boss if you wanted to. When Louis is gone, you could have the whole organization."

"I don't want that. I like what I do. Besides, you're his right hand; you'll take over when he's gone."

Abie didn't respond to that; he knew it wasn't true. Louis would put a hit out on him for less than a legitimate reason, but Harry didn't know that; he still thought Louis was a good, reasonable man.

"So, you get laid yet?"

Harry blushed. "Yeah, her name is Amber. She's beautiful and nice; she even let me drive her car last night."

"You don't sound too excited about her; she got a boyfriend or something?"

"No, she goes to college in Atlanta. Hershel's taken care of her since her parents died. She works at one of his restaurants."

"So, her tits not big enough?" Abie asked with a chuckle.

"No, they're fine; it's just that she's not Iris, is all."

Abie sighed heavily. "Iris is gone, Harry. She doesn't want to be found, and you're not gonna find her in another girl. Just sow your oats; enjoy life. If Amber isn't your type, keep looking. Ain't no harm in looking around until you find what you want. There's someone out there for you, and she probably won't look or act anything like Iris. You gotta keep your heart and your mind open for anything."

"Thanks, Abie; I know you're right, but I still think about her."

"And you will, but when you find the one, Harry you'll stop thinking about her. Listen, I'm gonna let you go; Louis wants me and Hyman to go check on some property he's interested in on the East side. You let me know how things are going, okay?"

"Sure, Abie; I will. I think I'm gonna take a nap; this heat's killing me."

"Alright, kid. Take it easy."

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That night, at seven o'clock on the dot, Daryl rang the doorbell at Hershel's home. Maggie opened the door and hugged Daryl before he could step inside. "How are you, Daryl? I haven't seen you in forever."

"Doing fine, Mags. How are you and that baby doing?"

Daryl followed her into the kitchen where she and Glenn had been setting the table. "I saw the doctor today and he said everything going well. I'm fourteen weeks and he said that we should be able to hear the heartbeat in a few more."

"We should be able to find out the sex in about five or six weeks," Glenn added. "I want to get started on the nursery as soon as possible."

"If you need any help with that, just let me know," Daryl told them. "I'm pretty handy with a paint brush."

"Thanks, man. I'm definitely taking you up on that."

"Alright, folks; looks like supper is ready. Let's say a word of grace and we can get to it." Hershel said as he took his place at the head of the table.

The meal was typically southern; fried chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade cornbread, and sweet tea with peach cobbler for dessert. Daryl and Glenn did after dinner clean up, including packing leftovers for Daryl to take home. At nine thirty, Glenn and Maggie decided to go home and get to bed; Maggie was exhausted, and Glenn had been working overtime training a new manager for when he would be taking time off after the baby came.

When they were gone, Hershel and Daryl went out to the front porch of his farmhouse to talk. Daryl lighting a cigarette, and Hershel carrying a bottle of scotch. "There are some things we need to discuss."

"Alright; talk to me," Daryl replied.

"I received a phone call from Louis this morning. He wanted to check up on Harry and make sure we were happy with his performance. I told him we were. I said that neither you nor I have any complaints or issues with him. I told Louis that he seems like a good kid; hard working and self-conscious. Louis told me I was right but asked me to keep an eye on his behavior."

Daryl felt that he knew where this was going. The change he saw in Harry yesterday was not a fluke incident.

"You remember Harry telling us that his mother passed away a few months back?" Daryl hummed in acknowledgment. "She committed suicide; poor Harry found her hanging from the ceiling in their living room. Louis said he changed after that; was talking nonsense all the time, but never seemed to mourn her properly; apparently, Harry and his momma were extremely close. He still lived with her and she pretty much controlled his life."

Daryl thought about what Harry had told him about the girl he had been with; his mother hadn't liked her and made her leave. Now, Daryl realized, the relationship between the mother and son had been more messed up than he had imagined.

"Louis seems to think he's ill. Harry was going on about being able to take showers now, but that he would miss bath time with his momma."

Daryl was highly disturbed by those statements. He saw Harry change after the hit but eventually chalked it up to him being so young, and his adrenaline getting the best of him.

"After he hit Joey yesterday, he was acting a little strange. He was excited and happy; almost seemed like he had more confidence but he seemed like a completely different person."

Hershel shook his head. "I don't know how serious this is, but keep an eye on him. I don't doubt his ability or his loyalty, but I don't want his actions to put you or him in danger."

"I understand, Hershel. I'm not gonna let it. I'm not going to let anything happen to Harry or me. I'll keep my eyes on him, I need him too much."

Hershel nodded, accepting what Daryl told him. "The other thing I want to talk about it what happened in town today; you heard a young black couple was murdered?"

That was what the commotion had been about when he and Harry were stuck in traffic; they had been right in their assumption. "We got stuck in traffic when we got into town; saw Dawn there and figured something like that had happened. Who were they?"

"All I know is that they were newlyweds. Did y’all see anything while you were out today?"

Daryl sat up in his chair and lit another cigarette. "We were watching Simon; followed him to Sanctuary. He picked up three guys and pulled off on that old dirt road that takes ya to the other side of town. He must've been hiding a car there, 'cause one of those guys drove off in a black Trans Am, which Harry and I saw parked across the street from the crime scene. I assume it was a drive-by."

"That's what Dawn suspects. Of course, there aren't any witnesses, but based on evidence at the scene, that's what she thinks."

"Do you think it's retaliation for Fat Joe?" Daryl asked.

"I'm sure Negan knows that Joe was a hit. Whether he suspects we were involved, I don't know. Things are heating up now, and I want you and Harry to step it up a bit. Try to find Negan, if you can. He's very cagy and isn't seen out in public typically. It'll be hard to track him down, but hopefully, Simon or Dwight will lead you to him somehow."

"I swear to you Hershel, Harry and I will get him; we'll get all of them. Doesn't matter what we have to do; we ain't gonna let any more innocent people die."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry sat bolt upright in bed; the dream he had still active in his mind. He was back in the house that he had shared with his mother, arguing with Madden about his mother and Iris. He told his alter ego that since they were both gone now, and he didn't want another woman, Madden could fuck off.

"You sure, Harry?" The imaginary man asked him. "You’ve been having a fun time with blondie, thanks to me."

"I want more than that, Madden; you've always known that. I let you in because I didn't know any better. I don't know where you came from or why you're here, but you helped me when I needed it, but I don't need it now. If I can't have Iris, I don't want another woman."

"You think you can do your job without me? You ain't got the guts to meet Varga's expectations; you'll run away like a bitch the first time you have to slit someone's throat."

"No, I won't. I've been doing this long enough, I can do it without you. I've got Abie, and now I've got Daryl. I don't need you anymore. GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"

That's when he woke with a start; sweating, shaking and feeling nauseous, Harry almost fell out of the bed. After gaining his composure, he checked the time; it was seven thirty. He had slept for at least six hours but didn't feel any better for it. He thought a shower and some food would make him feel better, so he got out of bed and headed to the bathroom.

Harry was on autopilot, showering and dressing in a fog, he then headed downstairs hoping to find food. Carol, Lizzy and Mika, were sitting at the kitchen table having dinner. "Hello, Harry," Carol said sweetly.

"Hey," Harry replied. "Sorry I slept so late. I didn't realize how tired I was."

"That's okay, honey. Do you feel like eating?"

"Yeah, I'm starving. I could eat a horse." Harry said as he sat at the table.

The two girls giggled at Harry's statement and got up to get him a plate and silverware. Harry filled his plate with Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus. He devoured his food in record time, then had a couple of cookies with milk.

"It's nice to see a young man with a good appetite," Carol said as she began to clean the table.

"You're an excellent cook, ma'am…I mean Carol. I could get used to eating like this every day," Harry said as he helped take dishes into the kitchen.

"Thank you. I'm going to miss you when you go back home. I don't have a lot of guests here, and wouldn't mind if you stuck around for a while."

"I miss home," Harry admitted, "but I really like it here. I feel more like myself around you and Daryl, and Hershel seems like a good man; a man you can trust."

Carol stopped what she was doing and took Harry's hand. "I'm glad you feel comfortable here. I know it's hard being away from home, especially after losing your mother. Hershel would do anything for people he loves and trusts, and I know he trusts you. If you decided you wanted to stay here, he would make it happen."

"Thank you, Carol. I've been thinking about it, but I don't know if Mr. Varga would let me go."

"He and Hershel have been friends since they were kids, and Hershel is a pretty persuasive man. If he wants you to stay, he can get it done."

Harry nodded his head. "I'm gonna go sit on the porch, get some fresh air." Carol nodded and kissed Harry's forehead and let him go.

Harry sat quietly, listening to the crickets and looking at the stars. His mind kept going back to his dream; it felt real to him, even now. He wanted to have that conversation with Madden; he wanted to be free of him, and knew with Daryl’s help, he could do it.

Harry's ringing phone drew him from his thoughts; it was Amber, and although he wasn't in the mood, he answered the call because he didn't want to be rude. "Hi, Amber. How are you?"

"I'm good. I've been thinking about you; would it be okay if I came over?"

He didn't want to see anyone right now but didn't want to keep thinking about the dream either. "Sure, come on over. I'll be outside waiting."

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry escorted Amber to his room when she arrived, and she wasted no time backing him up to the bed and kissing him hard and dirty. Harry tried to roll with it, but couldn't. Pushing her away, he stepped around her. "I was thinking that we could talk if that's okay?"

Amber got a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Either Harry was going to tell her that he didn't want her anymore, or he was about to flip the fuck out on her.

"What do you want to talk about?" She asked, nervously.

"I don't know; how's school? What are you studying?" He asked as he sat on the edge of the bed.

"You really give a shit about what I'm studying? Because, right now, that is the last thing on my mind." Amber answered, pushing Harry down onto the bed and grinding her core against his limp dick.

His hands instinctively went to her hips as she kissed him again. He gave it time, hoping against his own will that Madden would make an appearance, but he didn't. Finally, he pushed her off and sat up. "I'm sorry. I'm not in the mood."

"I can fucking tell. You don't like me anymore, or you just have a problem?" Amber stood up and paced the floor.

"No, it's not that, I'm just not in the mood," Harry replied, embarrassed.

"What do I have to do to get you in the mood, Harry. I thought you liked me."

Harry hung his head. "I need Madden," he whispered.

"Who the hell is Madden?" She yelled at him.

"He's my friend," Harry said, looking up at her sadly.

"Does he like to watch?" She asked as she grabbed her bag. "Sherry was right about you; you're a fucking mental case." The door slammed behind her and Harry fell back onto the bed.

It happened, just like he thought it would. He told Madden to leave, and he did, but Harry had no idea what he was supposed to do now. Would Amber go to Hershel and tell him that Harry was crazy? There was only one thing he knew to do and he hoped it wasn't too late to do it. Picking up his phone, he dialed his newest contact.

"Hello, Daryl? It's Harry; I really need to talk to you."

Chapter Text

"I really need to talk to you, please. It's not an emergency, but it's important," Harry begged.

Daryl had just left Hershel's house and was on his way home when his phone rang. His first thought was of his brother; he hadn't heard from him since he left for Memphis, and the late-night phone call scared the shit out of him.

"Are you in trouble? Are you hurt?" Daryl asked, now scared for a completely different reason.

"No, and I don't mean to worry you, but something happened and you're the only person I feel comfortable talking about it with."

"Alright, give me ten minutes; I'm on my way."

In what seemed like no time, Daryl knocked on the door to Harry's room. When it opened, Harry was wearing only a pair of sleep pants, and Daryl was both happy and regretful of his decision to come to the B&B.

"Thank you for coming over," Harry said as Daryl walked into the room. "I'm sorry if I woke you up."

"You didn't. I had dinner at Hershel's house; I was on my way home."

"Was it a business dinner?" Harry asked getting a bottle of water for him and Daryl.

"He wanted to talk about what happened in town today; we were right. An African American couple; newlyweds. We can talk about that later, though. Tell me what happened."

Harry took a drink of water and sat on the bed. "I've never had another guy to talk about stuff with. I had my friend Arnie, but we didn't talk about personal stuff. I have Abie, but he wouldn't understand."

"So, you think I'll understand?" Daryl asked, sitting on the opposite side of the bed.

"Probably not, but I feel comfortable around you; I feel like I can be myself and you won't judge me."

"I have no right to judge anyone," Daryl replied. "You don't have to worry; you can trust me."

Harry took another drink of water and cleared his throat. "When I got back to my room this afternoon, I took a nap and had this dream that Madden and I were arguing. I told him that I don't need him anymore and to get out of my head."

"Later, Amber called and wanted to come over. I didn't feel like seeing her, but I said yes anyway. I thought maybe we could talk or something. When she got here, she started kissing me and rubbing on me, but I couldn't get excited."

"She got mad; thought I didn't like her anymore. I told her that I needed Madden, and he wasn't here. She didn’t understand and now I'm afraid she's gonna tell Hershel I'm a nutcase."

Daryl was out of breath just listening to Harry explain his problem. "Okay, so what you're telling me is that you couldn't get it up because Madden wasn't here?"

"Yeah," Harry said and looked away from Daryl.

“Where was he?” Daryl asked.

“I don’t know; he’s always around for a job, and usually when there’s a girl around, but I don’t know where he goes when he’s not here with me. He was late the other night and he didn’t even show up tonight. I told him to leave me alone, but I didn’t think he’d actually do it.”

"Tell me about him; how did you meet?"

"My friend, Arnie worked for Mr. Varga; he was just a low-level thug. I went with him one day to collect some money at a strip club. The guy wouldn’t pay up and I lost it; started beating on him. I lost control; thought I’d killed him. I have no idea what came over me; after that, Madden showed up out of nowhere and he's been there when I needed him ever since."

Daryl thought about that but didn't exactly know what to make of it, so he switched tactics. "Have you ever been able to have sex without him, uh, being around?"

"Once Iris and I were together, he left me alone. He helped me the first few times, ya know, get my nerve up, but he didn’t like her. She had to help me out a bit, but I finally was able to do it without him."

Daryl was finally beginning to understand what Harry was trying to tell him, and he thought he understood what Madden was.

"Amber isn't going to say anything to Hershel. She doesn't want him to know she sleeps around. Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," Harry answered.

"Is Madden real?"

Harry looked like a deer caught in headlights. He knew Madden was a part of him, and that was all he had let himself realize about their relationship.

"He is to me. I know he's not a real person, but he's in my head. It's like he's another part of me; a part that I didn't know was there. Everything changed for me after he showed up. Abie and Mr. Varga took me under their wing, I had money, I had a girl. Things were good for me."

"When Ma died and Iris left, I was numb. I let Madden do whatever he wanted. He slept with a lot of women; I don't even remember most of them. He was like a machine; nothing but women and killing. I love my job, but I want to be myself again."

Daryl felt sad for Harry. He knew that traumatic events could cause a split personality, and ached thinking that Harry had gone through something horrible.

"Have you considered seeing a doctor? There has to be medications or therapy that can help you get rid of him."

Harry shook his head. "I can't. If Mr. Varga knew I had a problem like this, he'd think I was unstable and couldn't do my job; he wouldn’t trust me anymore. People like us aren't allowed to retire, you know."

Daryl did not like the idea that Louis would have a hit put out on Harry for something like this instead of trying to help him.

"Okay," Daryl said and scooted closer to Harry. "What does Harry want?"

Harry sighed deeply. "I know I'll never see Iris again, and I know I'll never find another girl like her. I was never attracted to a woman before her, and I haven't been attracted to one since."

Daryl wanted to ask the question that was running through his mind but didn't know if he should. He found Harry very attractive; not just his young, tight body, but the person that he was. His innocence, despite being a killer, was something Daryl had never seen before.

Harry had an infectious smile, and no one could help but smile when they were around him. He was sweet, kind and polite; more so than any southern gentleman he had ever known.

Daryl inhaled sharply and asked his question. "Have you ever been attracted to a man?"

Harry hesitated before answering. He thought of Annabelle, the whore he met at Madame Royce’s and the conversation he had with her. He had been sure then, but not so much anymore.

"I don’t know," Harry said slowly. "Someone asked me that before, and I said no. I'm confused; what am I supposed to do?"

Daryl didn't know what to tell him. When he had realized he was bisexual, Daryl was just as confused as Harry.

"I don't know. Do you want to know, for sure if you like men, or do you even want to go down that road?"

"I'd do whatever I need to do to know for sure. I just want Madden gone, I want to be me again; whoever that is."

Daryl nodded at him and moved closer. Harry didn't flinch when Daryl cupped his face with his palm and closed his eyes when Daryl's lips touched his own.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve- Too Late to Go Back

 

Daryl leaned in slowly and met Harry's lips with his own. It was only a chaste touch, but it was enough to set Daryl's body on fire. He wanted to deepen the kiss; open Harry's mouth and taste his tongue, but he pulled away instead.

He looked into Harry's eyes to gauge his reaction but saw no disgust or fear. There was a slight pink tinge to his cheeks and a smile on his face.

Daryl caressed the man's cheek with his thumb. "Was that okay?" He asked.

"Yeah," Harry answered. "That was very okay."

Daryl continued to stroke Harry's cheek and leaned in to kiss him again. This time Harry opened his mouth and let Daryl inside. Daryl kissed him slowly, taking his time to map out his tongue, committing the taste and feel to memory.

"How do you feel?" Daryl asked as they broke the kiss.

"Good," Harry replied. "I feel good. I feel...calm."

"I'm glad," Daryl told him. "I want to help you find out who you are, but I don't want to make things worse for you."

"You won't," Harry said. "I feel better already."

Daryl smiled and sighed. "I guess I should go home; you need to get some sleep," Daryl said as he reluctantly tore himself away from the other man.

"You don't have to leave," Harry said as he stood and followed Daryl to the door.

"I do," he replied. "I don't think staying would be a smart move right now. We both need to sleep; prepare for what's coming up. I don't want to risk a distraction when everything is on the line."

"I think it's too late for that," Harry said grinning. "Don't worry, Daryl. Nothing distracts me from my job. Just be careful going home."

"Alright, I'll see you in the morning." Daryl kissed Harry sweetly and walked out the door. He tried to keep the smile off his face but gave up. He liked the way it felt.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl didn't remember the drive home. All he could see in front of him was Harry's face and those soft, plump, wet lips that felt like heaven against his own.

Before he knew it, he was sitting in the driveway of his house, staring into space wondering how he got home without driving into a ditch. His mind was firing on all cylinders and although he was exhausted, he didn't want to sleep; he didn't want to forget what it felt like.

He unlocked the door, stepped inside and locked it behind him. Grabbing a beer from the fridge, he sat at the table. He knew he wouldn't be able to get that kiss out of his head, so he stopped trying. He told Harry he didn't want it to be a distraction for the younger man, but Daryl hadn't thought about how much of a distraction it would be for himself.

He needed to let Hershel know that the mission wasn't in danger; that Harry's mind was sound and focused on the job. But he had to do it without revealing Madden.

Daryl finished his beer and threw the bottle in the trash. He would think about Hershel tomorrow; right now, he wanted a nice, hot shower.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl let the steaming water fall over his body, and he wondered if Harry was sleeping. Part of him hoped that their kisses were still running through the other man's head like they were his. It had been a few years since he had been with another man; the last person he had shared a bed with had been Amber, and it hadn't been a dreadful experience, but one he was growing to regret more each day.

He wasn't jealous of her and Harry, well maybe a little of her, having been with Harry. Daryl assumed that Harry was like any other red-blooded American twenty-year-old man; he wanted and needed to get laid as much as possible, but now he knew that it wasn't Harry; it was Madden.

The person he saw after Fat Joey was killed, was Madden. Everything seemed to fit into place now, and Daryl admired Harry for the strength it took to endure it all.

He had been through quite a bit of hell in his own life and knew how hard it was to overcome the things that could weigh down one’s soul. He had Hershel and, reluctantly, his own brother to help him face his fears, and he wanted to pay it forward and help Harry do the same.

The kiss floated to the front of his mind again. Daryl missed a man's lips; not soft in the way a woman’s are, but strong and commanding; although Harry's were bashful and hesitant, Daryl still thought they were exquisite.

He lost track of time, realizing that he had been in the shower too long when ice-cold droplets hit his back. He quickly turned the water off and jumped out having forgotten to wash.

He cursed loudly, but wrapped a towel around him and stomped off to the bedroom. Flopping on the bed, he stared at the ceiling and took a deep breath. The kiss has set his body on fire and he could feel that heat returning the more he thought about it.

He wanted to kiss him all night. He wanted to kiss him everywhere; his lips, neck, chest and work his way down that beautiful body. Daryl opened his towel and reached down to touch himself.

He started with slow movements, up and down his dick. He pictured Harry's plump, wet lips and his hard, smooth body underneath him.

 

Daryl's hand began to move faster as he imagined grinding his hard cock against Harry's. His breathing became labored as he could hear the sweet moans and sighs coming from the other man's lips. Daryl was grunting and groaning, writhing on the bed as he heard Harry tell him how good Daryl's mouth and hands felt on him.

Daryl’s body shuttered as he came; he couldn’t speak but whimpered as he spilled over onto his hand and the quilt covering the bed. He covered his eyes with his forearm and tried to steady his breathing and heartbeat. “Fuck me,” he said in a strained voice. “What have I done?”

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen- Dwighty Boy and the Spy

 

Daryl woke up in the same spot he had fallen asleep; on top of the covers and barely wrapped in his towel. He was groggy when he opened his eyes and rolled onto his side to look at the alarm clock, which told him it was seven thirty in the morning. Daryl doubted he would be able to get back to sleep, so he got up and wrapped the towel around him securely.

After making coffee, Daryl checked the news on his phone. He only ever checked the local happenings; he didn't give a squirrel’s ass what happened outside his backyard. The leading story was the young African-American couple that had been murdered in town. The Chief of Police made a statement saying that the investigation was ongoing, crime scene investigators were looking at the evidence, and the police were combing through witness statements. There would be increased patrols in the downtown area and anyone with any information should call the police.

Daryl had to give Dawn respect; she was always able to remain calm and make the most ridiculous bullshit sound legitimate. After two cups of coffee, he took another shower. This time he didn't let the hot water get away from him and was in and out in five minutes.

He hadn't heard from Harry yet and didn't want to disturb him if he was still sleeping, so he took his time shaving and getting dressed; then went back to the kitchen to fix himself some toast and pour another cup of coffee.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl pulled into Carol's driveway two hours later. He had called Harry’s cell phone, but there had been no answer, so he drove over to see what was going on. He could hear Carol's laughter as he walked in the door and followed it to the dining room.

He found her sitting at the table with Maggie drinking coffee. "Hey Daryl," Carol greeted him. "Do you want some breakfast? I've got some biscuits and gravy in the fridge; I can warm it up for you."

"No thanks; I had something at the house before I came over," Daryl said as he sat next to Maggie. "You ladies have plans for today?" He asked.

"We're going shopping. I want to buy Sophia a graduation present," Maggie told him.

"And I'm buying stuff for the baby," Carol added.

Daryl laughed. "I'd be surprised if there’s any baby stuff to buy; I think Hershel's already bought out the whole county."

"Well, that'll give us an excuse to do more shopping," Carol said smiling. "It's been ages since Maggie and I have spent time together and even longer than that I've been shopping for a baby."

"Yeah, you ladies love that shit, don't ya?" He said grinning. "Is Harry upstairs?"

"He had breakfast with us, then said he was going for a walk," Carol said. "That was about an hour ago; I haven't seen him come back yet."

"Did he say where he was going?"

"No, just said he had a few things to think about and wanted some fresh air," Maggie said. "He seems like a great kid; I think Daddy made a good decision with him."

"Me too; he's good at what he does. Grateful that Louis was willing to lend him out." Daryl said. "I've been trying to get in touch with him all morning, but he never answered his cell. I guess he's been busy thinking all morning. I should go find him. Have fun and buy a lot of shit." Daryl hugged both Maggie and Carol and went back out to his truck.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl drove through the areas close by where he and Harry had been previously, but couldn't find him. He decided to try calling Harry one more time before asking Dawn to put out an APB. He breathed a sigh of relief when he heard the phone pick up on the other end of the line.

"Harry! Where the hell are you?"

"I'm at a park near Carol's. I took a left instead of a right because I hadn't been down this way. Have you ever been here? It's really nice; there's a walking trail and a playground; it's very peaceful here, a good place to think."

"You worried the fuck outta me, Harry. I was afraid something happened to you. Next time I call you, answer your goddamn phone."

"I'm sorry, Daryl. I just needed to clear my mind, a lot has happened since I got here," Harry said quietly.

Daryl felt like shit for being angry, but not knowing where Harry was or if he was okay had scared him to death. "I'm sorry, but you scared the shit outta me and I don't like that feeling." Daryl sighed loudly into the phone as he turned the truck around. "I'm on my way; pick you up in ten minutes."

Harry was sitting on a bench by the parking area when Daryl pulled in. He rose slowly and walked to the truck. Silently, he sat in the passenger's seat and buckled his belt.

“What if Negan or his guys know about you?” Daryl asked him, trying to sound concerned instead of pissed all to hell. “You don’t know your way around here, Harry. I understand that you have things on your mind; believe me, I have a lot of things on my mind too, but I would feel better if you told me, or Carol where you were going, or let us know where you are when you get there.”

Harry felt like a chastised child and for the first time since waking up that morning, felt unhappy by the thought of being close to Daryl. “I said I was sorry. I won’t do it again,” he said to the older man. He didn’t want to talk about this anymore and changed the subject. “What are we doing today?”

“We’re going to find Dwight; see if we can get some information somehow. He knows me, so we’ll have to be careful.”

“Do you know where to find him?” Harry asked. “Will he be at Sanctuary headquarters, or do you have any idea?”

“No idea, but we’re gonna start at Sanctuary. If his bike is there, we’ll stick around and do some snooping, if we can. If not, we’ll figure out something.”

The drive was a quiet one; neither man spoke, but Daryl was thinking hard about what had happened that morning. He wanted to find a way to make it up to Harry. The look on the other man’s face told Daryl that his words had hurt, and he felt like shit for having done that to such an amazingly wonderful man.

Daryl pulled into the same spot he had parked in the day before. Searching the lot across the street, he found Dwight’s motorcycle easily and pulled out his phone to take pictures.

Harry remained silent, still feeling both chastised and embarrassed by Daryl’s rant earlier. Luckily, they didn’t have to endure the reticent silence for long because Dwight and Simon came out of the building and walked around to the back.

“Let’s walk over there; see what they’re doing. Bring your switchblade.” Daryl reached over Harry’s lap to the glove box, pulled out two 9mm handguns and handed one to the other man. “Take this, just in case.”

“Alright,” Harry sighed. “Let’s go.”

Once they were in the parking lot, the men walked around the side of the building where they had seen Dwight and Simon go; stopping at the corner that led directly behind Sanctuary Corp headquarters.

Daryl and Harry stood stock still and listened to the conversation the two men were having. They couldn’t hear much, however, because Dwight and Simon were speaking in low voices.

“If we could get into the building, we could plant bugs in the offices,” Harry whispered.

That gave Daryl an idea. “We can’t get into the building, but we can bug the bike and truck,” he said and ran back to his own truck. Harry ran behind him and by the time he got there, Daryl was taking something out of the tool box in the bed.

“I always carry a few of these with me. I’ve never had the chance to use them, but thank God I didn’t get rid of them.” He handed two listening devices, each no larger than a dime, and two larger tracking devices, to Harry. “If we attach the trackers, maybe one of them can lead us to Negan’s compound. Have you ever installed one of these before?”

“No,” Harry told him. “Abie did it a few times, but he wouldn’t let me do it; said I was of better use doing something else.”

“I agree. You’re gonna be my lookout. If you see or hear ‘em coming, let me know.”

It didn’t take Daryl long to attach the bug and tracker to each vehicle; it had been a stroke of luck that Simon left his truck unlocked. Daryl finished in the nick of time too, because he and Harry could hear them coming around the building.

Running back across the street, the two hitmen jumped into Daryl’s truck. They watched as Dwight and Simon appeared from beside the building; Dwight with a cell phone against his ear, laughing. As the two men got into Simon’s truck, Daryl reached into the back seat and pulled a backpack to the front.

He took out two receivers, one small and one a bit larger with a screen. Handing them both to Harry, he started the truck and let it idle until Simon pulled out onto the road.

“The small one is for the bug. Turn it on and we should be able to hear everything they’re saying. The larger one is the tracker, which we won’t need as long as we don’t lose them.”

Harry flipped the switch on the side of the receiver and suddenly Dwight’s voice filled the air.

“I’m surprised nobody ganked that fat fucker before now,” Dwight said. “Negan is fucking pissed as shit though. I thought he was gonna start crying for a minute there.”

Simon laughed. “You know how many times I almost killed that fat fuck? Negan had to stop me more than once; he was a funny guy though.”

“He was funny because he was a dumbass,” Dwight responded. “Negan say anything to you about what he’s gonna do about it?”

“He wants whoever’s responsible, and he’s convinced it’s the damn potato heads. Told me this morning he wants you and me to talk to that friend of Sherry’s; see if she knows anything.”

Daryl followed Simon to a café a couple of blocks from Sanctuary, where the two men got out of the truck and sat at an outside table where a pretty brunette was drinking coffee.

Dwight sat next to the girl and kissed her cheek. “That must be his girlfriend,” Harry said.

Daryl hummed in the affirmative and began taking pictures with his phone. “Too bad we can’t hear what they’re saying now,” Harry offered. He didn’t like the silence or the thought that Daryl was still upset with him and tried to coax conversation out of the man.

“Mmm yeah, but it’s okay,” was all Daryl would say. The brunette looked familiar to him, but he couldn’t for the life of him place where he had seen her. He didn’t think he had ever met her face to face or been introduced, but he recognized her from somewhere.

Nothing much happened; Daryl continued to take pictures of the trio, who seemed to be enjoying themselves, smiling and laughing, while Harry stared out the window. When their lunch was done, the three parted ways, but not before Dwight practically sucked his girlfriend’s face clean off.

“I could have gone my whole life without seeing that,” Daryl said as he sat his phone on the center console.

“Me too,” Harry agreed.

Daryl was still racking his brain trying to remember where he had seen the brunette as he pulled out and resumed following Dwight and Simon. He could hear Harry talking, but his mind was focused on the task Daryl had given it.

It seemed as though Simon was driving around aimlessly, without a destination. He and Dwight were talking about the girl they had met for lunch, Sherry. Simon was toting the glory of marriage; it will calm you down, he told his friend, but Dwight was still unsure.

Following behind them mindlessly, Daryl noticed they were passing the steak house and without warning pulled into the parking lot. “Holy shit,” he exclaimed as he shifted the truck into park.

“What’s wrong? We’re gonna lose them.” Harry yelled as the truck bucked.

“I remember where I’ve seen that girl,” Daryl said as he got his phone out.

“Who? The girlfriend?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, I knew I’d seen her somewhere, but I couldn’t remember where until I saw the steak house. I remember seeing her in a picture Amber has tacked up on the wall of her dorm.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen- Rationalizations

 

Hershel’s assistant Jerry answered the phone when Daryl called. “Hey, Daryl! How’s it hanging man?”

“Is Hershel there?” Daryl asked quickly.

“No, man. He went home for the day. Is it an emergency? I can get him at home if you need him.”

“It’s not an emergency, but it’s important. Harry and I need to talk to him. I’ll just call him at the house. Thanks, Jerry.” Daryl hung up and immediately hit speed dial for Hershel’s house.

The old man picked up on the first ring but was unable to say a word. “Hershel, Harry and I got something we need to talk to you about. It’s important; we’re on our way to your house now.”

“Daryl? Are you okay, son? What happened?”

“We’ve been tailing Dwight and I think I may have found out something important.”

“Then get over here. I’m getting ready to eat lunch. I’ll have something made up for the two of you. We can set out on the back porch and talk in private.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Daryl had calmed down quite a bit by the time they arrived at Hershel’s home. The two men were welcomed and led outside where Hershel was waiting for them. After sitting down and having a plate of leftover fried chicken placed in front of them, Hershel got down to business.

“What exactly did you find out that is so important?” The old man asked as he tore into his leftovers.

Daryl cleared his throat before he spoke. “We followed Dwight today. We saw him and Simon at Sanctuary headquarters and were able to put bugs and trackers in Simon’s truck and on Dwight’s bike. Well, we followed ‘em when they left, and they met this girl for lunch. Turns out she’s Dwight’s girlfriend. She looked familiar, but I didn’t know where I’d seen her before.”

Daryl stopped and took a deep breath. He barely understood what he was saying much less how it sounded to Hershel and Harry. The insinuation he was about to make would hurt Hershel to his core; he wasn’t sure how Harry would react. Everything about his new partner was still new and unpredictable, and with the way Harry had been acting lately, anything was possible.

“We kept following ‘em when they left until it finally dawned on me where I’d seen her.” He took another deep breath, then continued. “That time you sent me down to Atlanta to check on Amber, I saw her in a picture on the wall of her room.”

Hershel cleared his throat and put down his fork. “Are you saying that Amber is friends with Dwight’s girlfriend? Are you suggesting that Amber’s loyalty is compromised? Daryl, has Amber betrayed us?”

“I don’t know. I can’t imagine she’d do that. Maybe she doesn’t know Dwight or who he works for. I ain’t accusing her of anything, but I thought you ought to know, just in case something happens.”

Hershel looked like his dog had just died. To say he was disappointed was an understatement. Amber’s parents had been good friends of his and he had felt an obligation to take care of their daughter. Hershel had made sure Amber had everything she wanted and needed; he had made sure she finished high school and paid for her to go to college. He couldn’t image her betraying him.

“I’m not a fool, Daryl,” Hershel said. “I’m not naïve enough to deny the possibility; Negan could promise her everything she’s ever wanted in exchange for information about me or the organization, but I won’t assume her guilt or innocence. She’s an adult and has the right to associate with who she pleases, but I still feel responsible for her. I won’t let her get hurt; I need to know for sure if she’s giving information to the Saviors, but that’s going to be almost impossible to find out. We’re not going to get that information from her.”

Harry cleared his throat and sat up in his chair. “We need to find Sherry, get her to tell us what’s going on.”

“She may not know anything,” Daryl offered. “Just because they had their picture taken together, doesn’t mean they’re best friends. Maybe they just have a class together or something.”

“Or maybe they hang out and talk, then Sherry tells Dwight what she knows.
It wouldn’t hurt to follow Amber, see where she goes, who she meets. She won’t know we’re around.”

“You boys find out what you can,” Hershel said as he pushed his chair away from the table. “If she’s spying for Negan, I’ll take care of it.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

As Daryl and Harry climbed back into the truck, Daryl realized that he was going to have to say something about the elephant in the room. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

“For what specifically?” Harry asked. He was still sore about getting yelled at this morning and now the more latest news of Amber’s alleged betrayal.

“I’m sorry I got so angry this morning. A lot’s happened since the hit on Joey and if they know about you, they’d have no mercy. I’m sorry about Amber too. I know we can’t prove anything yet, but if she talked to Sherry or Dwight, that puts you in even more danger.”

Harry could hear the angst in Daryl’s voice; the worry that permeated his inflection. “You don’t have to be sorry about Amber. I’m sure she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me now. I appreciate the apology, though. I never wanted to piss you off or make you worry. I just needed to sort out some stuff in my head.”

“I know,” Daryl agreed. “I got a lot of shit going on too.” He wasn’t confused by what had happened between him and Harry the night before, but he was sure Harry was. He had resigned himself to the fact that he was physically attracted to his temporary partner. Despite the confusion Harry was experiencing and everything Hershel had told him, Daryl knew it would be worth all the trouble to be closer to him.

“Are you doing anything tonight?” Daryl asked.

“I don’t think so. Why?” Harry got excited. Maybe Daryl wanted to spend time with him; maybe, Daryl wanted to kiss him again.

“I feel like shit for yelling at you this morning and want to make it up to you. Come over to my house for dinner tonight; I’ll order something from Rhee’s and we can talk if you want.”

“That sounds great, Daryl. I’d like that. I feel really bad for making you worry.”

“That’s not on you, Harry. I tend to worry too much, especially about people who are important to me.”

Chapter Text

Harry took a cab to Daryl’s house; despite Madden having been in control the last time he made that trip, he was able to remember the way there perfectly. He didn’t know what to expect from his night with Daryl, but he was ready for anything. He wore his finest suit; although it was too much for dinner at home, he wanted to look nice.

When the cab pulled into the driveway, Glenn was getting out of his car. Harry quickly paid for his ride and ran to help the man with the delivery. “Hey, Harry. Thanks for the help, man. Daryl ordered an awful lot of food.”

Harry chuckled. “Looks like it, and it sure smells good.”

Daryl opened the door before Glenn could ring the bell. His eyes went directly to Harry; he looked so handsome in his suit. Daryl wished he had dressed better; his sleeveless t-shirt and holey jeans made him feel like a schlub next to the other man.

Daryl caught Harry’s gaze for a second as he and Glenn walked through the door, but the moment eye contact was made, it was lost as the two men made their way into the kitchen. Daryl followed them closely, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket as they went.

“How much do I owe you, Glenn?”

The delivery man pulled the ticket from where it was stapled to one of the bags. “Your total is $37.54, plus tip,” Glenn said grinning widely.

“Here’s $38.00; my tip is to call Maggie before you go home; find out if she needs ice cream, or pickles or some shit. You wouldn’t want to make it home, just to have to go back out to get ‘em.”

Harry chuckled as Glenn took the money. “Good advice, but I learned my lesson the last time that happened. When I got to the store she kept texting me things to add to the list just to punish me.”

They all had a good laugh over that as Glenn walked to the front door. Following behind him, Daryl bid him goodbye and sent his love to Maggie.

When he returned to the kitchen, Harry had taken the containers out of the paper bags and had them open and cooling on the table. “This is quite a feast; you didn’t have to order so much.”

“I always order a lot; leftovers can last me all week, so I don’t have to cook,” Daryl replied as he took plates, cups, and silverware from the cabinet. “I ordered a bit of everything, southern delicacies, ya know. We got smoked turkey, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and peach cobbler for dessert.”

Harry took a seat at the table and looked over the bounty before him. “You and Carol aren’t going to rest until I’m too fat to fit in my clothes,” he said laughing.

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get plenty of exercise. You look too good in those suits to risk you getting fat.”

Harry looked at him with surprise and blushed. “Thank you.”

Daryl looked away quickly and began to plate up the food. He was embarrassed by what he had just said; he didn’t want to overwhelm Harry or himself with possibilities or expectations. They needed to discuss what was going on between them and Daryl hoped that Harry would be willing to talk about it.

The conversation was slow going at first; neither Daryl nor Harry really knew what to say. There was an elephant in the room, and neither man knew what to do about it.

“I’m sorry about Amber,” Daryl finally said. “Just because she knows Dwight’s girlfriend doesn’t mean she’s betrayed us.”

Harry shrugged. “It doesn’t matter; we’ve got a job to finish and she doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore. If she knows something and told Sherry or Dwight, we’ll have to take care of it. You heard what Hershel said; if she’s guilty, he wants it taken care of.”

“I hope she’s not,” Daryl admitted. “I’ve known Amber since I started working for Hershel. She was always such a sweet kid, and went through so much when her parents died.”

“I don’t know her as well as you do, and I’m glad I don’t. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about her anymore. I didn’t want to freak her out, but I suppose it was for the best now that we know about Sherry.”

Daryl still didn’t want to believe that Amber would betray Hershel, but he knew anything was possible. Dwight or Negan could give her anything she asked for and would not bat an eye. If it were true, he wondered if she was sleeping with one or both of them.

Daryl didn’t want to think about the Amber situation anymore. It was making him sick to think of her turning her back on them, so he changed the subject and told Harry what he had learned about the murdered couple in town. When they couldn’t eat anymore, Harry helped Daryl put the food away and load the dishwasher.

“I know you don’t smoke or drink, but I need a cigarette. Let’s go out to the back porch for a bit.” Daryl said. Harry agreed and grabbed a beer and a bottle of Coke from the fridge while Daryl slid his smokes and lighter in his pocket.

Once outside, they sat next to each other on the swing; Daryl lighting his smoke and Harry drinking his Coke. They sat in silence for a while; both men wanting to talk about what had happened between them, but afraid the other wanted to forget it.

Harry knew this was his only opportunity to find out why Daryl did what he did and if it could ever happen again. He felt that he was on the verge of a big revelation in his life and couldn’t let this slide by without finding out what it meant for him, and possibly Daryl.

He cleared his throat and turned slightly to face the other man. “Can we talk about what happened last night?”

Daryl was startled by Harry’s request. He was ecstatic that the man wanted to talk about it but worried that Harry would say that the kiss had made him realize just how much he didn’t like men.
“Yeah, Harry. We can talk about whatever you want.”

The younger man cleared his throat again before he spoke. “Why did you kiss me?” He asked shyly.

Daryl’s mind went into overdrive. There were so many reasons why he had kissed Harry, but didn’t know which one the other man would accept. He took a drag from his cigarette to buy time to collect his thoughts.
“You said you wanted to know who you are. You were confused and I wanted to help you; I still want to help you.” He shook his head; trying to find the right words was frustrating. He had to say this perfectly or risk ruining what he and Harry could have together, and possibly negate the effort they had put into the job.

“I kissed you because I wanted to kiss you; because I have feelings for you and hoped that you could have feelings for me too.”

Harry smiled at Daryl and took his hand. “This is what I was thinking about this morning. I didn’t sleep well last night because I couldn’t get you out of my head. When I woke up this morning, I felt happy and couldn’t wait to get up and get outside. I’ve never felt like this before; not before Iris, not after Iris, and never with Madden. I have no idea what this is or what it means, but I like the way it feels and I want more of it.”
Daryl was surprised by Harry’s response, but pleasantly so. Without a word, he let the smoldering cigarette fall from his fingers and fisted his free digits in Harry’s thick hair. Their mouths crashed together and Harry could barely take a breath before Daryl’s lips were on his. It was sloppy and rushed, and Harry had never been kissed like this.

Daryl tried to pull Harry closer, but their movements were limited by the swing. Abruptly ending the kiss, Daryl stood and pulled Harry up to his feet. “We should go back inside,” Daryl said as he rested his forehead against Harry’s. Harry smiled brightly and let Daryl take his hand and lead him back inside.

Daryl held Harry by the lapels of his jacket as the two men stumbled through the house, kissing and touching each other. At some point, Harry’s jacket ended up on the floor and before he knew it, he was on his back on the couch, Daryl staring down at him.

“Did you mean all of those things you said?” Daryl asked as he hovered above Harry. “Are you sure you want to start this?”

“I’m sure,” Harry said and placed his palms on Daryl’s chest. “I don’t want you to stop.”

Daryl sat back on his knees and pulled his shirt over his head. “Let me know if it gets to be too much. All you have to do is tell me to stop and I will.”

“I know,” Harry said. He sat up and unbuttoned his shirt, his eyes never leaving Daryl’s, then placed his hands back onto Daryl’s chest. “You’re a good man; that’s why I trust you so much, but I’m not gonna want you to stop. It feels too good.”

Daryl pulled Harry’s legs around his waist, causing the young man to fall back onto the couch. Reaching out, he caressed Harry’s bare, hairless chest. Both men sighed and their eyes closed. Harry’s heart was thumping and his dick was throbbing for the first time, of its own free-will, since Iris left him.

There was no question in his mind that this is what he wanted. This is what he had always wanted, but even with the woman he had fallen in love with, it had never felt this good.

Daryl moved his hands across Harry’s body, familiarizing himself with every hard muscle and graceful curve. Heat radiated from their skin and collected between their bodies, causing sweat to cling to them.

Daryl’s mouth followed behind his hands, kissing the spots he had touched. His hips grazed slowly against Harry’s and he felt the man’s cock grow from his efforts.

Harry moaned and mewled with every touch and kiss Daryl gave him; his fingers worked their way over Daryl’s arms and shoulders, up his neck and settled in his thick hair. His mouth hung open slightly; his lungs issuing shallow breaths that kept his brain functioning.

When Daryl slid his tongue over Harry’s nipples, the younger man shivered and gasped. Daryl smiled knowing that he was the cause of it all. His fantasy was coming true and he was losing his mind. His hips moved faster and Harry kept up with every thrust.

“Fuck, Harry. You are so beautiful,” Daryl said, his voice made hoarse by the herculean effort to keep himself from cumming. His pants were unbearably tight and his dick hurt. Keeping their pants on was a conscious decision Daryl made; his self-control was nearly destroyed as it was.

“Oh God!” Harry whined. “Don’t stop; I’m gonna cum.”

Those words were heaven to hear; Daryl increased his efforts and ground himself faster and harder against Harry, who was writhing underneath him. Daryl wrapped his lips around Harry’s right nipple and sucked as hard as he could.

“Oh God! Oh God! Oh God,” Harry chanted as he came completely undone beneath Daryl. His body shook violently, increasing the friction between them even more, causing Daryl to curse loudly as he came in sync with his new lover.

Daryl laid his head on Harry’s chest, the other man’s fingers woven between the strands of Daryl’s hair as they allowed their breathing to calm in silence. After a few minutes, Daryl sat up and smiled.

“How do you feel?”

Harry smiled back at him blissfully. “I don’t know how to describe it. I’ve never felt anything like this before.”

Daryl climbed off him and stood up. He felt the wetness in his pants and looked down to see the same wet spot on the front of Harry’s pants as well. “Why don’t you go take a shower? I’ll get you something to wear and wash our clothes.” He held his hand out for Harry to take and helped him to his feet. Daryl held Harry by his waist and pulled him close. “Spend the night with me.”

Harry wrapped his arms around Daryl’s neck and buried his face in the man’s chest. “Thank you. I want to stay.”

Daryl pulled Harry’s face up and kissed him slowly. “Good, because I’m exhausted.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen- Carol’s Story

 

Harry was smiling before his eyes ever opened. He was conscious and wrapped in Daryl’s arms. There had been no more physical activity last night; after each man took a shower, they crawled into bed together and kissed lazily until they fell asleep in each other’s arms.

His head was resting comfortably on Daryl’s shoulder and his right arm was slung across the man’s stomach. The rise and fall of Daryl’s chest made Harry’s smile grow and he lightly kissed Daryl’s skin in response.

Daryl stirred and turned his head toward Harry. “Good morning, beautiful,” he said drowsily.

Harry opened his eyes to see Daryl staring back at him. “Good morning,” he replied.

“How did you sleep?” Daryl asked as he ran his hand up and down Harry’s arm.

“No dreams, so I’d say I slept pretty good.” He snuggled deeper into Daryl’s body and sighed. “How about you?”

Daryl laughed. “Looks like I didn’t move, so I guess I did too.”

Harry sat up just enough to touch Daryl’s lips with his own. “What are we doing today?”

“I’ve got some errands to run; personal shit to do. My brother is on a job in Memphis, so I thought I’d try to give him a call. We can take the day off from business. Do you have any plans?”

Harry did not have plans. He had hoped that he and Daryl would spend their first day “together”, actually being together. “No, I assumed we’d do something job related, maybe go after Simon, but you do what you have to do.”

Daryl looked sad. He would have told Harry that he could accompany him on his personal errands, but these were activities he did not want Harry involved in. “I’ll call you when I’m finished. We can do something tonight; have you ever ridden on a motorcycle?”

“No. You have a motorcycle?”

“Yeah. I haven’t ridden in a long time. I keep it in the garage, but I’d like to take you out on it. We can pack last night’s leftovers and go to the lake for a picnic.”

“Never been on a picnic either. It sounds like fun.” Harry said, feeling a little better about the situation.

“It will be. There’s nothing like being on a motorcycle; you’ll want to be on it all the time.”

“I’m sure I will. Riding around with my arms around you sounds like the perfect way to spend a day.”

Daryl smiled. He’d been doing that a lot since he met Harry and decided that he liked it. “Come on, I’ll fix breakfast then drop you off at Carol’s. Our clothes should be dry unless you want to wear my clothes. You look great in them.”

“I’ll wear these, then; I like the way they feel.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry tried to enter the B&B as quietly as he could. It was mid-morning and he knew he wouldn’t be disturbing anyone, but Carol was a mother, and they had a sixth sense when someone was coming in after having been out all-night long.

He was half-way up the stairs when Carol called out to him. He stopped in his tracks and turned his head. She was standing in the doorway between the foyer and the living area. “Are you just now getting in?”

Embarrassed and slightly ashamed, Harry nodded his head. “Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry; had a late night so Daryl said I could stay at his house.”

She noticed immediately that Harry was wearing Daryl’s favorite Circle Jerks t-shirt and was carrying his suit across his arm. “Do I need to wash those for you?”

“No, ma’am. They’re not dirty; Daryl gave me these to sleep in. I didn’t have time to change before he brought me back.”

“Uh huh, why don’t you put those in your room and come help me in the kitchen? Unless you and Daryl have plans.”

Harry shook his head. “No, he has some things to do today. He’s supposed to call me when he’s done.”

“Good. I’m making pies today; do you like pie?” She asked grinning.

“Yes ma’am,” he exclaimed nodding his head.

“Then put those clothes away, meet me in the kitchen, and stop calling me ma’am,” she shouted as she walked back toward the kitchen.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry was stirring a bowl of dough for homemade pie crust and wearing one of Carol’s flowery aprons. He was on autopilot, having been unsuccessful in getting his night with Daryl out of his head, and had fallen silent to the conversation Carol was trying to have with him.

Finally, she stepped in front of him and put her hand on his shoulder to get his attention. “What’s on your mind, Harry? Did something happen with Daryl?”

Harry looked at her like a deer caught in headlights. Somehow, she knew what he and Daryl had done. He wasn’t ashamed of it but wasn’t ready to talk about it with someone he barely knew. “Nothing happened, why?”

“You’re distracted. I know something is going on in your head. I just thought it might have something to do with Daryl; I know he likes you a lot.”

Harry smiled hearing that. “I know. I like him too. I’ve just been thinking about something Daryl told me a few days ago.”

“What did he say? I hope he didn’t upset you.”

“No, no; nothing like that. I’m just curious about something, but it’s really none of my business.”

Now, Carol was curious. “What did he tell you?”

“I asked him how he came to work for Hershel and he told me about being a mechanic, but he wouldn’t say how he went from that to hitman. He said that was your story, not his.”

Harry looked up at Carol shyly. He didn’t want to pry, but he didn’t want to talk about Daryl either and this was the only thing his mind could think up this quickly.

“You want to know the story? Because I don’t mind telling you. The whole town knows about it and I stopped being humiliated by it years ago.” She pulled up a chair and sat beside Harry at the island. He continued to mix the dough as she began to peel and cut apples for the pies.

“I dated Ed all through high school. He was the star pitcher on the baseball team; set the strikeout record our senior year. Everybody loved him and he was offered a spot in the lineup on the local Single A team. I was going to go to college; I wanted to be a pediatrician.”

“Anyway, after he signed the contract, he asked me to marry him. He was convinced that if he spent a few years here, he’d be called up by the Braves and we could live the good life. So, I married him, and gave up on college.”

“We did well for the first couple of years. They won the championship the last year he played for them, but after the season ended, he was in a bad car accident. His pitching arm was damaged beyond repair and he couldn’t play anymore. He was so angry and full of hate after that.”

“About a month later, I found out I was pregnant with Sophia; that made him even angrier. That’s when he started hitting me, and it just got worse from there. He put me in the hospital a few times and Hershel wanted to put money on his head, but I wouldn’t let him. I was so scared; Ed had friends and if something would have happened to him, they would come after me; regardless of who my uncle is.”

“One night, not long after Mikka was born, the girls went to stay with one of our neighbors. Ed was supposed to be out of town at a business seminar and the woman who lived down the street, my friend Jacqui, wanted to me to have some time to myself. Thank God they weren’t at home because he came back early.”

“He had lost his temper and beat some poor hotel employee almost to death. The police were called and he was fired, but he was able to get out of the hotel before the police got there. Don’t ask me how, but he did. When he got home, he had a gun and started shooting up the house. He shot me in the stomach and beat me unconscious.”

Harry’s eyes were wide as saucers. He had never heard a story like this before and it made him angry. Even without Madden, he would have killed this man viciously.

“When I woke up, he was gone. I was conscious enough to call 911 and get to the hospital. They knew who I was and called Hershel, who happened to be in the garage with Daryl at the time. When Daryl found out what had happened, he rushed out to find Ed. Eventually, he did. I never asked for details; all I know is that Daryl killed him. It was very savage and very bloody.”

Carol fell silent. There were tears threatening to fall from her eyes, but she willed them back. Harry didn’t know what to say, so he stood from his chair and put his arms around her neck. “I know Daryl cares about you; I can see it in his eyes,” she whispered as she pulled away from him. “I would let him. I would let him love you and protect you. He’s very good at both.”

Harry wiped his own tears away and smiled bashfully. “He’s a good man and he makes me feel good. I feel normal for the first time in my life. I think I’m falling in love with him.”

Carol smiled brightly. “I’m so happy for you, Harry. Maybe he can convince you to stay.”

He quirked his eyebrow and smirked at her. “Maybe.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

By four o’clock, Harry had not heard from Daryl. He had spent the entire afternoon helping Carol in the kitchen, and had so much fun, Daryl had been pushed to the back of his mind.

When he realized what time it was, he became worried and called the man’s cell phone, which went straight to voicemail. He left a brief message for Daryl to call him as soon as he could and went up to his room to wait for Daryl’s call.

Jumping into the shower, he sat his phone on the counter top in case it rang. He was still feeling sad over Carol’s story but was proud of Daryl. He couldn’t have found a better man to fall in love with.

Harry finished his shower and put Daryl’s clothes back on. They still smelled like him and it calmed Harry when he noticed an hour had gone by and there was still no word from Daryl.

He called Daryl’s cell phone again and left another message, then decided to call the house. The phone rang and rang, but no one answered and there was no voicemail system. Harry was more than worried now; he wondered what those personal errands were and if any of them involved Negan or his crew.

He ran downstairs, his mind in overdrive and found Carol in the reception area reading a book. “Daryl’s missing. I’ve called his cell twice and left messages, then I called his house and no one answered.”

Carol sat her book on the ottoman and walked over to Harry. “Okay, just take a deep breath. Did he tell you what he was doing or where he was going?”

“No, he said that he had personal errands and that he was gonna try to call his brother. That’s it; I don’t know what he was doing.”

“Alright, I’m going to call Hershel’s office. Maybe Daryl stopped by for something.”

Carol went to the check-in desk and dialed Hershel’s office number. “Hello Jerry, it’s Carol. Is Hershel in his office?”

“Hey, Carol! He left about twenty minutes ago. He’s got a dinner meeting with Ezekiel at the steakhouse.”

“Thank you, Jerry. I’ll try to catch him there. Has Daryl been by the office today?”

“I haven’t seen him, but that doesn’t mean anything. I had to spend most of my day helping Eugene Feng Shui his office. Hey, Carol? What would it take to get you to make me a peach cobbler? I’ve been craving one.”

She laughed into the receiver. “All you have to do is ask nicely, and stop by tomorrow on your way home.”

“Please, Carol. May I have one of your awesome peach cobblers?”

“Yes, Jerry. I would love to make one for you. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay.”

“You got it.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Carol gave Harry the keys to her Jeep and he headed out to the steakhouse to see Hershel. He would have driven more carefully, obeyed the speed limit, but he was desperate to find Daryl, and he knew Dawn would take care of any tickets he might accrue.

Barely taking the time to put the car in park, he rushed into the restaurant, bumping into Amber when he crashed through the door. “Harry? Are you okay? What’s wrong”

“Is Hershel here? I gotta talk to him.” The words came out in a rush and Harry didn’t blink or breath as he spoke.

“Yeah, he’s in the back.” Harry pushed past her before she could say anything else and ran to the private room by the kitchen.

“Hershel, have you seen Daryl?” Harry busted through the door without pretense but stopped short when he saw that Hershel was not alone.

“No, Harry. I haven’t. Are you alright, son? Come sit down and calm yourself.” Harry was surprised and embarrassed but sat at the table with the other two men.

“Harry, I would like you to meet Mr. Ezekiel King. He’s a leader in the black community here in Marietta and a dear friend.” Harry shook the man’s outstretched hand; he had never seen a man like this before. He had wild dreadlocks with streaks of gray and a walking stick topped with the head of a tiger.

“It’s nice to meet you, sir,” Harry said. He was having a tough time catching his breath and his nerves were fried. He turned to Hershel and asked him again. “Have you seen or talked to Daryl today?”

The old man chuckled. “No, I haven’t. Is something wrong? Did something happen?”

“This morning he told me he had some personal stuff to take care of, but he’d call me when he was done. I hadn’t heard from him by four, so I called his cell phone; I had to leave a message, but he never got back to me. After an hour I called him back, but he still didn’t answer. No one answers at the house either.”

Hershel looked very concerned. “Do you know what his personal stuff was?”

“He was going to try to call his brother, but that’s all I know for sure. I gotta find him, Hershel.”

Hershel pulled out his cell phone and dialed a number he knew by heart. “Hello, Merle; it’s Hershel. Did Daryl call you today?”

“No, sir. We just finished up here in Memphis and are getting ready to head back home. Why?”

“Harry says he’s not answering his cell phone or his home phone. Daryl had said something to him earlier about trying to get in touch with you.”

“I haven’t spoken to him since before we left. Do I need to come down there?”

“I don’t know, Merle. I’m sure he’s fine; probably stuck somewhere without any cell service. I’ll let you know when he surfaces.”

“I’d appreciate that Hershel. If he needs me, I’ll be there in the blink of an eye.”

“I know you will Merle. Have a safe trip home.”

Hershel put his phone away and looked at Harry sternly. “Merle hasn’t heard from him. I’m gonna call Dawn and see if she can find him. Go back to Carol’s; I don’t want you in danger.” Harry was disappointed by Hershel’s orders but knew he had to obey them. He stood, said his goodbyes and left the room.

Amber was standing outside the door when Harry exited. “Are you looking for Daryl?”

He didn’t want to look at her, much less discuss Daryl with her, but he was mentally exhausted and had no other excuse. “Yeah, he’s not answering his cell phone or his phone at the house.”

“I think there’s something I need to tell you,” she said and walked to a nearby booth. Harry followed her at sat across the table. “He came to see me at my dorm this morning; I was walking to my car when he pulled up. He asked me if I was giving information to Dwight.”

“Are you?” Harry asked.

“No, I’m not. I would never betray Hershel. If he hadn’t taken me in, I would have ended up in foster care. I’ll always be grateful for that.”

Harry was relieved to hear that. He had a twinge of doubt that she was being completely truthful, but let that go. “Did he believe you?”

“He said he did, but I don’t know. He asked if I knew Dwight; I told him I’d met him a few times. Sherry took me to a party once and he was there.”

“Where was the party?”

“Out in the woods, about five miles east of town. There are a few abandoned hunting cabins out there.”

Harry knew, without a doubt that’s where Daryl had gone. “Thanks, Amber,” he said and stood to leave. “I’m sorry about the other night. I didn’t mean to make you angry.”

“It doesn’t matter what happened. I had a fun time with you, Harry.” He just smiled at her weakly and left the restaurant, climbed into Carol’s Jeep and headed east.

Chapter Text

Daryl’s entire body was stiff and sore; he felt as if he had been sleeping on barbed wire. He tried to shift his position but found his movements limited; by space and a shooting pain in his side. His eyes opened and slowly focused on his surroundings.

The bars of the cage were what he had been sleeping against; poking him through his skin like nails. Looking down at himself, he saw his shirt ripped and stained with blood. Lifting the material, he saw a bandage, stained with blood.

The space was large enough to fit his body, but not comfortably. He was forced to bend at the middle, which was putting pressure on his wound and causing it to bleed slightly. He had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there.

He remembered driving to Atlanta after dropping Harry off at Carol’s. He remembered talking to Amber and how upset she was when he accused her of betraying Hershel. Her adamant denial seemed legitimate, and he could tell she had been hurt by what he had thought.

He knew of the hunting cabins in the woods; he and Merle had spent many nights there when they were younger. When their father would come home drunk and high, they would run off to the woods to stay out of his way; it didn’t always work, but they would end up there eventually.

Daryl was sure that was where Negan had set up shop; probably kept an arsenal up there. He stopped at his house before heading out to the woods; grabbing as many weapons as he could, including his crossbow.

Once the cabins were in sight, he pulled the truck into some thick foliage to hide it. He didn’t know who was here, if anyone, and was sure they all would recognize it. He placed a nine millimeter in his holster and another in the back of his pants. The hunting knife he kept in the tool box slid smoothly into his boot and the crossbow laid against his back.

He snuck through the woods like he was trailing a ten-point buck. He could have found the cabins blindfolded, but had to stay alert and watchful; he knew Negan suspected that Hershel was behind Fat Joey’s murder and therefore would be looking for someone to come after him.

When the first, and largest cabin came into view, Daryl swung the bow across his chest and loaded a bolt. He couldn’t see any vehicles or guards by the building and crept closer. Looking through windows, he saw exactly what he thought he would. Rows and rows of automatic weapons, piles of handguns, and a wooden crate that looked like it was filled with explosives.

He imagined that one of the cabins was designated as a drug lab, but there were five other cabins to search and he didn’t want to spend too much time there alone. He had come to verify that this was Negan’s compound and possibly take out whoever was guarding it.

Daryl pulled his phone from his back pocket and took a couple quick photos of the cabin’s interior, then moved around to the front door. He turned the knob, but it wouldn’t budge; the pictures he took would be enough to prove that Negan was working out of these cabins, so he decided to go back to the truck and head home. As he stepped off the porch steps, he felt a searing pain in his side and fell to the ground hard.

He was brought out of his memories by arguing in the cabin; he couldn’t make out what was being said, but he was sure it was a man and a woman. Then, without warning, the door to the room opened and slammed shut.

“Well, Daryl fucking Dixon; been a long time,” Dwight said as he sat in a metal folding chair in the corner of the room; Daryl’s crossbow slung across his back. “Y’all were told to stay out of this, ya know. That stupid old man don’t know how to mind his own business.”

Daryl stared at him; flames coming from his eyes. He stayed silent, knowing that he was vulnerable in the cage without a weapon, and he didn’t trust Dwight not to use the crossbow on him.

“I know you’ve been following us; you and that kid. I tell ya, if I was queer, I’d fuck him in a hot minute. Have you fucked him, Daryl? Or are you waiting for the right time?”

Daryl’s anger was growing out of control and he gripped the bars of the cage so hard his knuckles were white. “Did you off Joey, or was it the kid? Doesn’t matter either way; you’re both gonna die. You know he’s gonna come looking for you, right? I’m sure by now he’s realized you’re missing. If Hershel doesn’t send him to find you, he’ll come on his own.”

Dwight stood up and hit the cage with the crossbow. “Negan’s gonna kill both of you; he’s just waiting for your boyfriend to show up so you can die together.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry didn’t know what to do or where to go. He wouldn’t stand down and wait for Hershel to find out where Daryl was. Convinced that the other man was being held in one of those cabins, he drove back to Carol’s hoping she would know how to get there.

“Did you find him?” she asked as he came into the house.

“No, but I think I know where he is. Do you know anything about a group of hunting cabins in the woods east of here?”

“Yes; it’s where all the kids go to party. Ed used to rent a cabin during hunting season every year.”

“Can you draw me a map, or tell me how to get there?” Harry begged.

“I’m sorry, Harry; I’ve never been to the cabins. I was never a party girl and Ed would never take me hunting with him.”

Harry was dejected. His heart rate was getting faster and his vision was blurring. He couldn’t think straight and had no idea where to go from here.

“The only person I know who could tell you how to get there is Merle, Daryl’s brother, but I don’t know where he is.”

“Hershel called him to find out if he spoke to Daryl today, but he didn’t. He’s on his way back from Memphis, but I don’t know how to get in touch with him. Hershel was gonna call Dawn to look for him, but I can’t wait around, I gotta do something.”

He didn’t hang around for Carol to respond; he ran upstairs to his room and slammed the door so hard the whole house shook. Pacing a hole in the floor, he tried to think about what the best course of action would be and realized that unfortunately, he really needed Madden.

He sat down on the bed and tried to calm down. Closing his eyes, he ran the situation through his mind and after a few minutes, knew exactly what to do. He took off Daryl’s clothes and threw on a pair of dress pants and button-down shirt. Grabbing his switchblade and the 9mm Daryl had given him he stashed them in his pockets. Looking in the mirror before he walked out the door, he saw Madden’s eyes looking back at him.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen- Song of Myself

 

Daryl had finally fallen asleep but imagined he hadn’t slept long when Simon burst through the door waking him up. Without saying a word, the man unlocked the cage and pulled Daryl out by the arm. His muscles were on fire and cramping so bad he couldn’t stand on his own, so Simon supported him as they walked out the door.

Daryl didn’t ask where they were going or what was going to happen to him. Dwight told him that Negan wouldn’t kill them until Harry arrived and with any luck, the young man would never come. Whatever Simon did to him, was nothing compared to watching the man he had fallen in love with die.

Simon led him to another cabin, one further away from the others on the outside of the perimeter and near the lake. He threw Daryl to the floor and kicked him in the kidneys. “You are a piece of shit, Dixon.”

“Not only are you a piece of shit, but you’re a stupid piece of shit. Your boss was told to stay out of our business, but his dumbass not only said fuck you but sent you in to take the punishment for his idiocy. And here you are, saving us the trouble of finding you, and coming straight to us.”

Simon kicked him again, harder this time. “You bugged my truck, you followed me, you think you have the upper hand? You think we don’t know you killed Joey? You think we don’t know you were gonna kill Dwight? Me? Negan? You think you and your Mick buddies can take us on?”

Simon pulled Daryl up by his shirt and punched him in the jaw. “Your deaths will be epic; everybody’s gonna come out for that show. Hell, I’ll bring the popcorn and beer. Negan is gonna have so much fun bashing your brains in; I’m getting hard just thinking about it.”

Pulling Daryl to his feet, Simon punched him again. “I’m gonna personally deliver your beaten, bloody corpses to that ignorant old man. Maybe then he’ll mind his own business.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry ran out of the bed and breakfast without saying a word to Carol. She heard stomping on the staircase and then the front door slamming and knew Harry had gone to find Daryl.

He jumped in Carol’s jeep and peeled out of the driveway going east. Pulling his phone out of his pocket, he dialed Amber’s number; she answered almost immediately. “Have you found him yet?”

“No, I’m heading out to the woods to find those cabins. You gotta tell me how to get there,” he said.

“It’s been a while, Harry. I’m not sure if I can remember exactly, but the turnoff Sherry took is down by the Farmer’s Co-Op; do you know where that is?”

“Yeah, Daryl and I were down that way a couple days ago.”

“There’s an old dirt road on the opposite side that takes you into the woods. If I remember correctly, the cabins are about five miles down that road. You gotta keep your eyes open though, that dirt road is hard to see.”

“I got it. Thanks, babe. Listen, Amber, I just want to say that I had a fun time with you. You were amazing.”

“Harry?” she asked confused.

He sighed into the phone. “Harry likes you, but not like that. You’re not his type, but you certainly are mine, sweetheart. It was nice knowing you.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter; I won’t be around much anymore. You won’t be seeing me again. Have a great life, Amber.” Harry hung up the phone and threw it in the passenger’s seat. His thoughts never went back to her; he was focused on finding Daryl.

Harry followed Amber’s directions and found the dirt road easily. He slowed down when he hit the tree line of the forest and drove quietly through the wood keeping an eye out for Daryl, his truck, or anyone else.

After driving about five miles, Harry could see the back bumper and license plate of Daryl’s truck. Daryl had hidden it in a grouping of bushes and overgrown trees, covering the remainder with broken branches. Harry coasted to a stop on the other side of the truck between more bushes and trees.

He used branches to cover the jeep best he could and made sure he still had the gun and the switchblade. Taking in his surrounding he verified that he was alone, for the time being, and began walking toward the first cabin.

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It had been two hours since Harry left the bed and breakfast without a word. Carol had spent that time fixing dinner and now she and her girls were sitting at the table. She hadn’t said much over the course of the evening and the girls were worried.

“I know something's going on, mom. You can tell us; you look worried about something,” Sophia said.

Carol sighed and laid her fork on the plate. “Daryl is missing; Harry thinks he went to find Negan on his own and went after him. It’s been two hours since he left and I haven’t heard a word from either of them.”

“Does Uncle Hershel know they’re out there?” Carol’s oldest daughter asked.

“Harry went to see him, to find out if he’d seen or talked to Daryl today, but he hadn’t. Knowing Hershel, he told Harry to stand down and he would send someone else to look for him. I think I’m gonna call him, let him know Harry’s out there too.”
Carol stood from the table and went to the reception room to call her uncle. It was late, and the man was probably in bed by now, but if something had happened to either man she would never forgive herself. The phone rang three times before Hershel’s voice came through the receiver.

“This better be damn good,” he said sternly.

“Hershel, it’s Carol. Harry left a couple hours ago to look for Daryl and he hasn’t come back yet. Were you able to get in touch with Dawn?”

“No, I wasn’t, but Merle called me earlier. He took a flight from Memphis and arrived in Atlanta about half an hour ago. Did Harry tell you where he thought Daryl might be?”

“He asked me how to get to the hunting cabins, you know, where all the kids hang out. I have no idea, so I don’t know if he ever made it out there or not.”

“I’m gonna call Tyreese, get him and the boys to meet Merle at the office. They won’t stop until they find them both.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen- The Deathwatch Beetle

 

A cardinal hurls itself
at my window all morning long,
trying so hard to penetrate
its own reflection
I almost let it in myself,
though once I saw
another red bird, crazed
by the walls of a room,
spatter its feathers
all over the house.

 

Harry quietly made his way to the first cabin. It was late and the sun had just fallen below the horizon, but the moonlight was enough to see where he was going. He could hear voices as he approached and took the switchblade from his pocket.

Peering around the side of the cabin, Harry saw two men with rifles standing guard in front of the door. Cupping his hands around his eyes to block any glare or shadow, he looked through the window and saw an arsenal. He wanted to get in there and take some of the explosives but would have to take those two assholes out to get them. His dick twitched at the thought of it.

Stepping as quietly as he could, and hidden by the darkness, Harry snuck up behind one of them. Grabbing him by the neck, he slit his throat and pushed him down the two steps that led to the door. The other man quickly raised his rifle, but Harry kicked his arm and the gun went flying from his hand.

He stabbed the man in the stomach, and he fell to the ground. Harry jumped on top of him and held the blade to his throat. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.” Harry didn’t like that response and held the tip of his blade against the man’s eye.

“I will ask you again. Where. Is. He? I know you know who I’m talking about. I will cut your fucking eyes out if you don’t tell me.” Harry outlined the man’s eye with the tip of the switchblade.

“He’s in cabin four. Negan’s got guards on him, you won’t be able to get passed them. They’ll see you coming a mile away.” The man was shaking and his voice broke as he spoke.

“You didn’t see me coming, did you?” Harry sat back and removed the blade from the man’s face. “And I think I got passed you dumbasses pretty good. You don’t know me, or what I’m capable of, but Negan will know me soon enough.”

Harry lunged forward and plowed his switchblade through the man’s eye, then slashed his throat. He moved to stand above him and watched the blood flow from his body. After wiping his blade on the man’s shirt, he stepped inside the cabin and grabbed two grenades.

Harry stuffed them in his pants pockets and stepped over both dead men on his way to the next cabin. This time, he took the 9mm from his waistband and held it ready. The second cabin was dark; there were no lights inside or out and he couldn’t see or hear anyone.

The moonlight showed through the side window but he saw nothing inside except trash and boxes. Moving on, he could see the third cabin in the distance, probably fifty feet away and made a beeline for it. Hearing footsteps and branches cracking, Harry hid behind a large Oak tree.

“Did you see that little hick bitch after Simon got done with him? I swear to God I couldn’t see his fucking face for all the blood,” one of the men said.

“I hear it’s gonna be a public execution; him and that kid. It’s gonna be a bloodbath,” the second man added.

Harry was enraged; pulling back the slide, he held the gun up and stepped out from behind the tree. One shot and the guy in the middle went down. The other two reached behind them to pull out their own weapons but were too slow. Harry fired three more shots; hitting one man in the head and chest, and the other between the eyes.

Harry knew the shots would be heard and jumped back behind the tree. Expecting to hear a swarm of men coming after him, he pulled his switchblade and stayed as quiet as he could, but nothing happened. He remained in that spot until he was convinced no one had heard him, he stepped out and continued to the cabin.

As he approached he saw a light coming from the interior and slinked up to the window. Peering inside, he saw Dwight, Simon, a man in a leather jacket and red ascot who he assumed was Negan and a woman; a woman he recognized as the Chief of Police.

Amber had been truthful when she denied giving information to the enemy; it had been Dawn all along. Harry had them all in his sights and could take them out from where he was standing, but hesitated. He was too focused on what was going on inside that he didn’t hear the footsteps approaching from behind and was knocked unconscious without warning.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry woke up slumped in a corner. He had a knot on the back of his head and was seeing double. He began to move but felt like he was going to throw up. “Just sit still,” said a voice from somewhere in the room. “You probably have a concussion.”

His vision was blurry, but Harry could make out what looked like a kennel cage in the middle of the room. “Daryl?”

“Yeah, Harry, it’s me. Why did you come here?”

“I came to get your stupid ass and take you home.” Daryl had never heard Harry curse and knew that it was Madden he was talking to.

“Does anybody know you’re here?” Daryl asked.

“Amber knows, and I’m sure Carol suspects. Hershel told me to stand down, that he’d call Dawn to look for you. I guess she found you before I did.”

“What do you mean? I haven’t seen Dawn.”

“I saw her in one of the cabins with Dwight, Simon, and who I assume is Negan. It was never Amber; it was Dawn the whole time.”

“Fuck!” Daryl exclaimed.

Harry’s eyes began to focus and he could see Daryl clearly. He saw the bruises and the blood covering his face and chest, and faintly noticed bandages around his side. “What did they do to you?”

“It was Simon; he beat the holy shit outta me, but I’m fine. Nothing’s broken.”

Harry didn’t like seeing Daryl like that. His rage grew white hot and he was pissed at Daryl for putting himself in this situation. “Why did you come here, Daryl?”

Daryl shook his head. “I came here to see if this was Negan’s compound. I wanted to scout it out and take out anyone who might be guarding the place. I came here alone because I didn’t want you to get hurt.”

“Daryl, when I didn’t hear from you and you didn’t answer your phone or call me back, I knew something was wrong. I was afraid you’d go after Dwight or Simon; if they killed you, I wouldn’t have anything left. I can’t take a fucking walk without a bodyguard, but you can risk your fucking life without back-up?”

Just then, the cabin door swung open. Simon came in first, followed by Dwight, Dawn, and Negan. Dwight still had Daryl’s bow across his back and smiled at Daryl like a jackass.

“Well, hello boys,” Negan said cheerfully. “It’s nice to finally meet you.” He had a baseball bat resting on his shoulder and both prisoners noticed the barbed wire wrapped around it.

He tapped the cage with the bat. “Which one of you fucks killed Fat Joey?”

Negan looked back and forth between Harry and Daryl waiting for a response, which he never got. “Alright then, let me put it this way. You guys have impressed me, which is hard to do. I’m willing to offer a position in my organization to whoever is responsible, and that is not an offer I make lightly.”

There was still no response from either Daryl or Harry. Negan walked over to Harry and stood over him. “What if I sweeten the pot? Whichever one of you is responsible, will not have to watch the other get his brains splattered all over the floor.”

Neither man so much as blinked at what Negan said, and Dawn stepped up to speak. “I told Hershel to stay out of this; I warned him that someone was gonna get killed, but that old man won’t listen to reason. He thinks he’s been appointed by God Almighty to take out the bad guys. I knew when I met you and Harry that day, you were gonna die. I don’t want that, but you wouldn’t leave it alone.”

Negan started swinging the bat in the air. “Alright, everybody was warned and no one listened, blah, blah, blah. Can we get on with this? I am getting boooorrrrreeed.”

He looked around the room and realized that neither prisoner was going to take the credit for Joey’s death. “I was personally offended by Joey’s demise. He was not the most badass son of a bitch, but he was loyal. Things will not be the same now that he’s dead, and that is a goddamn tragedy.”

He whispered something to Dwight and Simon, then walked to the far side of the room. Simon grabbed Harry and pulled him to his feet as Dwight unlocked the cage and yanked Daryl out. They were moved to stand in front of Negan.

“Get ‘em on their knees, boys.” Daryl and Harry were pushed to the floor. “I don’t care which one of you goes first; I could do ya both at the same time if that’s okay with you. That way you won’t have to watch your boyfriend die.”

Again, the two men were silent. Daryl looked at Harry; his face was rigid and showed no emotion. Harry returned the expression, and Daryl knew that it was Madden looking back at him.

“Alright then, I think I’ll start with Daryl here.” As Negan raised the wire-wrapped bat, Harry reached into Daryl’s boot and pulled out the hunting knife. When the bat came down toward Daryl’s head, Harry lunged forward, sending the knife through Negan’s thigh.

Daryl was able to roll out of the way in time to miss the barbed bat when it fell from Negan’s hand. Harry then stood and stabbed Negan in the neck effectively taking his life.

Dwight moved toward Harry with the crossbow, but Daryl moved to block him. Grabbing the crossbow from Dwight’s grasp, Daryl hit him with the butt of the bow, cracking his skull.

Simon was standing in the corner of the room with a gun aimed at the two men; Dawn was no longer there. She had run out of the cabin when the action started. Harry stalked toward Simon with the knife still in his hand, but before he could get close enough, Simon pulled the trigger, hitting Harry in the chest.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty- Black Hawk Down

 

Merle Dixon pulled up to the building where Hershel had his offices, at the same time Tyreese pulled up in his black van. “Merle, good to see you brother,” Tyreese said as he hugged the other man.

“Good to see you too, Ty.” Merle watched as all the doors to the van opened and the rest of the team filed out. They went to the back of the van and started pulling out military grade weapons; mostly rifles and one RPG. Abraham took possession of the rocket launcher and posed with it as a cigar hung from his lips.

“Looking good, Abe,” Merle said and shook the red head’s hand. “So, tell me what’s going on. All the old man told me was to meet y’all here and you’d fill me in. Daryl told me about the Negan job and the kid he was gonna be working with, but that’s all I know.”

“Daryl’s missing. He was supposed to be running some errands today and was going to call Harry when he was done, but Harry never got a call,” Tyreese explained as he helped the team get ready for the rescue mission. “He didn’t answer his phone when Harry called him, so Harry went to Hershel. We assume he went to find Daryl because Harry’s missing now too.”

“Y’all have any idea where they could be?” Merle asked.

“Hershel believes Daryl went out to the old hunting cabins in the east woods looking for Negan. You know that area, right?”

“Like the back of my fucking hand, my friend,” Merle answered. “Let’s load up and get the fuck out there. My baby brother is waiting for me.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Tyreese pulled over into the tree line three miles away from where the first cabin was located. Quietly, they all climbed out of the van. “Merle, Abe and I will check out the cabins; the most likely place they’ll be holding them. Zack, Axel, and T-Dog, y’all search the woods. Negan will have guards everywhere and I need you to take out as many as you can. Rosita, you set up the C-4 and Semtex around the perimeter. Everybody got their walkies?”

The whole team lifted their walkie talkies in the air, then clipped them to their belts. Abe balanced the RPG on his shoulders. “Let’s shove this shit back up their assholes.” The team dispersed and went to their assigned areas; Merle leading Abe and Ty to the first cabin.

They passed the area where Daryl’s truck and Carol’s jeep had been hidden but didn’t stop to look at the condition of the vehicles. Approaching the first cabin, they could see two bodies laid out in front of the door. Ty checked to make sure they were both dead, and Merle and Abe checked to make sure no one was hiding inside.

After it was confirmed no one was waiting for them in the cabin, they moved on. Checking the next cabin and finding it empty, they continued until they came across three more bodies. “You think this was Daryl or Harry?” Abe asked as he kicked one of the corpses.

“This wasn’t Daryl,” Merle said. “He wouldn’t have used a gun and risked being discovered. He’d have his bow or a knife. This must’ve been the kid.”

“Kid’s got talent,” Abe said and kicked the corpse again. “How many of these cabins are there?” He asked as they walked away.

“Six total,” Merle answered just before the sound of screaming permeated the air. All three men jumped to attention and held their weapons ready. When Dawn Lerner ran into Tyreese, she bounced off his chest and fell on her ass.

“What the fuck are you doing here, Dawn. Did you bring the fucking SWAT team?” Abe asked.

“He’s killing them!” she screamed as she struggled to get to her feet. “I told them to stay out of it.” Dawn was crying by this time, and the men knew something was very wrong with this picture.

“Where are they?” Merle asked desperately.

“Next cabin over,” she replied. Merle ran as fast as he could to get to his brother as Abe followed; Tyreese stayed behind to keep an eye on Dawn and hold her until they could figure out what was going on.

As Merle and Abe got closer to the cabin, they heard a gunshot and saw Simon run out and toward them. Abe extended his arm and stopped Simon with a clothesline as Merle ran up the steps to the door of the cabin.

When he burst through the door he saw his brother on the floor, hovering over who he could only assume was Harry. “Daryl, you alright, brother?”

Daryl lifted his head from Harry’s bleeding chest and looked up at his big brother with tears in his eyes. “He’s dead, Merle. He saved my fucking life and he’d dead.”

Merle set the rifle against the wall and knelt next to Daryl. “Are ya sure, baby brother?” The older Dixon laid his middle and index fingers on Harry’s neck and felt a faint pulse. “He’s alive, baby brother.” Merle then pulled out the walkie Ty gave him. “Tyreese, call an ambulance. Harry’s been shot.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Dr. Carson and his staff were waiting for Harry when he arrived. The doctor was Hershel’s personal physician and had been head of surgery at Grady Memorial Hospital before accepting Hershel’s retainer.

Tyreese had called Hershel next, letting him know what was going on and that Harry had been injured. The old man hadn’t wasted any time calling Dr. Carson and planning for Harry’s care. When the ambulance arrived, Daryl jumped in the back with his injured partner, refusing to ride with his brother who followed behind in the truck.

Harry was taken into a special surgical suit the moment he arrived, leaving Daryl and Merle in the waiting area to do nothing but worry. The brothers hadn’t talked to each other since Merle left for Memphis and he asked Daryl to tell him what had happened since the last time they spoke.

Daryl told him everything, from following the main players to the speculation about Amber, to bonding with Harry. He was hesitant to tell his brother that he and Harry had fallen for each other; Merle knew he was bisexual, but they never discussed details of their sex lives with each other.

Merle knew his brother like the back of his hand and knew that there was more to Daryl’s story than what he was telling him. The look on his face when he believed Harry was dead hit Merle like a ton of bricks; he had never seen Daryl cry and knew that his brother had grown to love the young man.

Daryl didn’t know what to do with himself; he paced the floor and smoked almost an entire pack of cigarettes in two hours. When Ty and the rest of the team showed up, it took Daryl’s mind off the fact that Harry was still in surgery and there had been no news on his condition.

Ty told the brothers they had made an anonymous call to the police stating that the people responsible for the drug trade in their town could be found in cabin number four in the east woods. They had restrained Dawn and Simon and secured them in the cabin with the bodies of Dwight and Negan.

An hour after Ty and the team arrived, Dr. Carson came into the waiting room. Daryl jumped from his chair, adrenaline pumping, and ran straight to him. “Is he gonna be alright?”

“I’m not gonna lie, Daryl; I thought we’d lost him for a minute. The bullet entered two centimeters to the right of his heart; he lost a lot of blood initially, but trying to get the bullet out and not nick an artery or puncture the heart caused him to lose even more. I’ve had him moved to another room and he’s still under sedation, but I think he’ll recover one hundred percent. It’s gonna take a while for him to get his strength back and he’s gonna have to do some physical therapy to strengthen his heart, but I expect him to be just fine.”

Daryl breathed a sigh of relief. He smiled for the first time since he had dropped Harry off at Carol’s the day before. “When can I see him?”

“My nurses are getting him settled in his room and hooked up to an IV. I’m giving him antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and a beta blocker to reduce his heart rate and alleviate the stress his heart is under. Once they’ve taken care of that, I’ll have one of them come get you. We can find you a cot if you decide to stay with him the rest of the night.”

“Thank you, Dr. Carson. I appreciate the cot, cause I ain’t leaving him here by himself.”

“I didn’t think you would, Daryl. I think you should let my nurse look at your wounds; I notice you’ve lost a bit of blood yourself and I think you need some stitches.”

“Sure thing, Doc; let me tell the guys what’s going on and I’ll let her patch me up when she’s ready.” Thanking the doctor again, Daryl shook his hand and went back to the group to tell them the news.

Everyone was relieved to know that Harry would recover; Ty and the guys left to go to their respective homes and get some much-needed sleep while Merle hung back to talk to his brother. “I’m glad your boy is gonna be okay.”

“He ain’t my boy, Merle,” Daryl said blushing.

“Don’t bullshit me. I saw the look on your face when you thought he was dead. I’ve been watching you pace and chain smoke for the last three hours; that boy means something to you.”

Daryl sat down and sighed. “I wasn’t looking for it, I swear; didn’t expect it, but he is the most innocent, most honest person I’ve ever known. He’s had a lot of shit happen to him and he felt comfortable enough to tell me about it. Nobody’s ever confided in me, Merle. Do you know how it feels to have someone trust you so much that they tell you things they’ve never told anybody else?”

Merle did not know how that felt, but he was happy that Daryl finally did. “Does he feel the same way about you?”

“I think so. He’s confused; had a girl back in Youngstown, but she’s not around anymore. He’s a little messed up in the head about it; that’s what he wanted to talk to me about. He wanted me to help him figure out who he is.”

Merle chuckled. “Well, little brother, just be careful. He saved your life, and I don’t want to see either one of ya get hurt ever again.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

After Daryl was seen by the nurse, stitched and patched up, he was allowed to see Harry. He looked so weak and helpless lying in the bed; his skin still pale from the blood loss. Daryl’s heart sunk seeing him like that; he wanted to scoop the man into his arms and hold him.

Dr. Carlson told him that Harry would probably sleep most of the night, so Daryl got comfortable on the cot. The sound of Harry’s steady breathing soothed him; the worry and fear melted away, and Daryl soon fell asleep.

A few hours later, Daryl was awoken by the sound of moaning. His eyes opened to see the sun coming through the window and Harry trying to sit up in bed. He threw his blanket on the floor and rushed to Harry’s side. Holding the man’s face in his hands, Daryl leaned down and kissed him. “Baby, you scared the shit outta me.”

Harry smiled weakly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I thought you were dead; I thought I’d lost you forever,” Daryl said, softly.

“You’re never gonna lose me, Daryl; I’m in love with you, and I don’t think I can live without you.” Harry ran his thumb across Daryl’s cheek.

Daryl closed his eyes and reveled in Harry’s touch. “I‘m in love with you too.”
Just as he was about to kiss Harry again, there was a knock on the door. “Harry, it is good to see you, son. You had me scared shitless for a while there,” Hershel said and shook Harry’s hand.

“Daryl said the same thing. I didn’t mean to scare everybody; I just wanted to keep everyone safe.”

“I am grateful for everything you did for me, my organization, and Daryl here. I respect and admire you, Harry. I do need to let you know that I spoke with Lewis before I came here and told him what happened; he’s very proud of you.”

Harry blushed. He was never good at accepting compliments, so he nodded his head accepting Lewis’ praise. “Hershel, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about if you have the time?”

“Of course, I’ll give you all the time you want.” Daryl pulled up a chair that had been sitting in the corner of the room. Hershel sat down and waited for Harry to speak.

“I just want to tell you how much I appreciate the opportunity you gave me. Working for you this past couple of weeks gave me my passion back. I love working for Lewis, and he’s a good man, but if you would let me, I would like to stay here and work for you.”

“Harry, it makes me very happy to hear you say that. I would love for you to come work for me; I’ll call Lewis as soon as I get back to the office. It might take some negotiating, but it will be worth it to keep you here.”

“Thank you. I’d appreciate anything you could do. I found something here that Youngstown doesn’t have, and I don’t want to lose it.”

Hershel looked at Daryl and smiled. “Well, son, I’ll leave you to your recovery. I’ll let you and Daryl know what Lewis says.”

Hershel rose from his chair and Daryl walked him to the door. “Thanks, Hershel. I appreciate it too.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-One- Farewell

 

Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me.
O, beautiful, and full of grace!
If thou hadst never met mine eye,
I had not dreamed a living face
Could fancied charms so far outvie.

If I may ne'er behold again
That form and face so dear to me,
Nor hear thy voice, still would I fain
Preserve, for aye, their memory.

That voice, the magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast,
Creating feelings that, alone,
Can make my tranced spirit blest.

That laughing eye, whose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; --
And oh, that smile! whose joyous gleam
Nor mortal language can express.

Adieu, but let me cherish, still,
The hope with which I cannot part.
Contempt may wound, and coldness chill,
But still it lingers in my heart.

And who can tell but Heaven, at last,
May answer all my thousand prayers,
And bid the future pay the past
With joy for anguish, smiles for tears?
Anne Brontë

 

Harry left the clinic seven days after he arrived. He was glad to be leaving, but dreaded it just as much. The news from Hershel had not been good. He tried as hard as he could; been willing to make promises he would never have made otherwise, but Lewis wouldn’t have any of it. He told his old friend that something had happened inside the organization and Harry was the only one who could take care of it. He was sending someone to pick Harry up the next day, and that was the end of the story.

It had put a damper on Harry’s emotional recovery. He had cried quietly to himself when no one was around, but Daryl shared his heartbreak and faced his own grief. They didn’t speak about it directly; they only said how much they loved each other and shared kisses and chaste touches.

The day Harry was released, Daryl picked him up. They were going to Carol’s to pack Harry’s belongings and then would go to Daryl’s house, where Harry would spend the night. Daryl had brought Harry a shirt and pair of jeans to wear home, the suit he had been wearing when he arrived at the clinic had been ruined and Harry wanted something of Daryl’s to make him feel happy.

When Daryl arrived at the clinic the first thing he did was wrap his arms around Harry. They held each other for a long time, fighting back the overwhelming urge to break down in tears.

Daryl sat on the hospital bed while Harry took a shower; he looked around the room and thought about what it must have been like for Harry to be stuck here all week. Daryl couldn’t have done it; it would have driven him crazy. Not for the first time since he and Harry had been rescued, Daryl thought about what the young man had done for him. He had killed six men, Negan included. He had saved Daryl’s life by risking his own, and had almost died because of it.

Harry stepped out of the bathroom, still dripping from the shower. Daryl thought he looked beautiful; his color had returned and his chest wound was beginning to heal. Daryl handed him the clothes he had brought and watched Harry dress. He hadn’t seen Harry completely naked, until now, and was mesmerized by what he saw. Harry’s cock was average length, but thick. Daryl ached at the sight of it, and couldn’t wait to taste it.

When Harry was dressed, Daryl got a wheelchair to take him to the truck. Once they were both buckled in and on the road, Daryl cleared his throat. “What time is that guy supposed to pick you up tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. His name is Robert; he’s supposed to call me so I can tell him where to pick me up.”

“Is he driving in, or flying?”

“He’ll be driving; Bobby hates to fly.” Harry answered.

“You hated it, but you did alright.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, grinning, “but Bobby is Abie’s age. He’s not going to try anything new at this point in his life.”

Daryl put his hand on Harry’s thigh. “I’m glad you did,” he said without taking his eyes off the road.

“Me too,” Harry replied.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Carol and her girls were all over Harry when he returned to the B&B. They hugged him as tight as he could stand it, and Mikka covered his face in sweet kisses. The two men were invited to stay for lunch before going on to Daryl’s house and they eagerly accepted.

Carol had washed Harry’s suits and hung them up in his room. Daryl began folding them carefully as Harry packed them in his suitcase. Harry looked at the bed he had slept in, the one he had shared with Amber and where Daryl had kissed him for the first time. He shook his head to keep the memory away; once he was back in Youngstown, he would have to forget all about Daryl.

Daryl and Harry helped Carol and the girls set the table for lunch. Carol had made a simple lunch of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with sweet potato fries. The adults kept the conversation light while the girls were around, but once they were finished with their meal and out of the room, Carol asked Harry how he was feeling.

“I’m good,” he said. “I’m still a little sore and certain movements hurt, but I’ll be fine.”

“That’s not what I meant. I know you wanted to stay here,” she said.

“I did, I do, but I have a responsibility to Louis. He needs me; got a job for me. I have to go back.” Daryl took Harry’s hand under the table and held it tight.

“We all wish you could stay,” she said. “The girls are gonna miss you; I think Mikka has a crush on you.”

Harry blushed. “She’s a sweet kid. I’ll keep in touch, I promise, and I’ll try to come back to visit when I can.”

When it was time to leave, Carol asked Harry to help her clear the table while Daryl took his bags to the truck. “I don’t want to overstep my boundaries, but
If you don’t stay in touch with Daryl, it’s gonna kill him.”

“It’s gonna kill me too,” Harry admitted. “There’s nothing left for me back home, except my job. Everything I want, everything I love, is here. I don’t know how to change this.”

“If Louis is in control of the situation, there’s nothing you can do. Hershel wants you to work for him and Daryl is in love with you. Those things mean more to you than Louis does, I know they do. You’ll figure out how to change this.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Harry left Carol’s with a kiss on the forehead, a tin of chocolate chip cookies, and an apple pie, which he promised to keep Daryl away from. “I’m really gonna miss her,” Harry said as they backed out of the driveway.

“She’s gonna miss you too; she likes you a lot.”

“She’s a great mom; her girls are very lucky. I wish she could have been my mom.” Daryl agreed. There weren’t enough years between him and Carol for that to have been their situation, but the sentiment was the same.

Daryl carried Harry’s bags into the house and sat them in his bedroom. When he came out to the living room, Harry was sitting on the couch staring into space. Daryl sat down next to him, but didn’t say anything.

“Good things don’t last, do they?” Harry asked him.

Daryl put his hand on Harry’s face and turned it toward him. “Don’t say that. This can last as long as we want it to; as long as we love each other this can last forever.”

Harry rested his forehead against Daryl’s. “I do love you, but being away from you, not seeing your face, hearing your voice, or being able to touch you is gonna tear me up.”

“We’ll make the effort; what we have is worth it. Whatever it takes. I’m not gonna lose you, and you’re not gonna lose me. We can call, text, do that video chat thing. We’ll make it; don’t give up on me.”

“I can’t give up; this is the first time I’ve been happy in my life. If I lose that, I’m afraid Madden will come back. I can’t do that again.”

“I’ll leave Hershel and move to Youngstown if that’s what it takes to keep Madden away. You don’t need him anymore.” Daryl kissed him sweetly, but it soon turned heated and hurried.

Daryl’s arm snaked around Harry’s waist and he pulled him closer. Harry’s hand landed on the back of Daryl’s neck and gripped it tight. “I want you,” Harry said in a strained and gruff voice.

Daryl pulled away from Harry and stood up; he pulled his shirt over his head and toed off his boots. Pulling Harry to his feet, Daryl kissed him again and ran his hands under Harry’s shirt, feeling the heat emanating from his body. Slowly, he pushed the shirt up and over Harry’s head and threw it on the floor where his own lay.

Normally, at this point, Daryl would ask Harry if he was sure he wanted this but he didn’t. If this remotely resembled a normal relationship, Daryl would have waited, given Harry time to adjust to his feelings; given him time to accept and acclimate to the new direction his life had taken, but Harry’s want and desire was evident. Daryl was tired, and knowing this would be his last opportunity to touch this man, increased his hunger ten-fold.

Daryl ran his hands down Harry’s body to the waistband of his jeans and flicked the button open with his thumb. Reaching inside, Daryl gripped Harry’s cock, provoking a gasp from the other man. The sound of Harry’s excitement sent a shockwave through Daryl and he needed to feel Harry’s bare skin against his own.

Daryl removed his hand and pushed the jeans down Harry’s legs, taking his boxers along with them. Pushing Harry down onto the sofa, he got on his knees and removed Harry’s shoes and socks, then pulled the jeans the rest of the way off. He laid his hands on Harry’s knees and pushed them apart, then scooted himself between them and kissed the head of Harry’s dick .

Harry’s eyes closed and his head fell back onto the couch cushion. Daryl seized the base of Harry’s cock with his hand and squeezed as he lowered his mouth, taking Harry down his throat. He sucked lightly as he moved himself up and down Harry’s thick shaft, swirling his tongue around the tip while massaging Harry at the base.

Harry grew harder inside Daryl’s mouth and the sensation was building inside him. After a couple of minutes, Harry couldn’t take it anymore and begged Daryl to stop. “Daryl, look at me.”

The other man moved his eyes upward without stopping his movements. Harry was enthralled by the look on Daryl’s face. Those plump, wet lips wrapped around his cock was a picture that Harry wanted to hang on his wall. “You gotta stop. I wanna cum with you inside me.”

Daryl didn’t want to stop; he wanted to suck Harry until he came, shaking and
swearing, down Daryl’s throat, but he wanted to be inside Harry more. Slowly, Daryl slid his mouth off Harry’s cock, and stood on his feet. “Don’t move; I’ll be right back.”

Daryl dashed out of the room and within seconds returned with a bottle of lube and a condom. He quickly took off his pants and sat down next to Harry, laying the condom on the side table along with the lube. He then took Harry by the hips and pulled him over to straddle his thighs.

He moved in right away kissing Harry’s lips and caressing his chest and back. Their cocks rubbed against each other and they moaned helplessly into each other’s mouths. Harry began to move his hips against Daryl’s erection and the older man couldn’t take it any longer.

He reached over and took the lube, snapping the top open and drizzling a generous amount on his fingers. Harry leaned further into Daryl’s body, wrapping his arms around the man’s neck and burying his face in the crook of his shoulder.

“Lift up a little for me,” Daryl told him, and Harry moved his ass up, giving Daryl ample room to reach his hole. Daryl swirled his middle finger around the tight opening and Harry held Daryl tighter in expectation of entry.

“Shhh. Relax, baby.” Daryl held Harry’s head and moved his fingers through the man’s hair. “Just breathe; it’ll be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll feel better once I get you open and loose. I’ll take it slow, okay?”

Harry relaxed his grip on Daryl’s neck and nodded his head. Daryl carefully pushed his finger inside and felt Harry’s quickening breath on his neck. The young man moaned long and low as Daryl continued to invade Harry’s hole. Daryl moved his finger in and out for a minute before adding a second, then a couple minutes later, he added a third.

Harry’s mind was trying to twist itself around what was happening. He had thought a lot about this during his week at the clinic, and he had imagined a lot of different things, but he had never considered how it would make him feel. It felt strange and uncomfortable at first, but as Daryl kept adding fingers and opening him up more, it became the most exquisite thing he had ever experienced.

Daryl brushed over Harry’s prostate a couple of times and it left him breathless and rocking himself into Daryl desperately. He needed more and was begging for Daryl’s dick. “Please, Daryl. I’m ready. I need you,” he said with a shaky breath.

Daryl was more than ready himself and carefully withdrew his fingers. “Sit up for me, baby.” Harry sat up and placed his hands on Daryl’s shoulders. Daryl reached out and took the condom from the table; Harry quickly took it from him.

“Let me do it,” he said and scooted back. Tearing the package open, he slowly slid the rubber down Daryl’s cock. Daryl watched Harry’s face; he was flushed with arousal and sweat beaded on his forehead and chest. He looked ethereal, and Daryl would have thought this a dream if he didn’t know better.

Once the condom was on, Harry lifted himself and began his decent down Daryl’s shaft. Daryl held Harry’s hips as he slowly slid down; when he bottomed out, Harry released a moan that made Daryl twitch inside him.

“You move when you’re ready,” Daryl said and pulled Harry down for a bruising kiss. Anchoring his hands on Daryl’s shoulders, Harry began to rock his hips back and forth, and it’s was Daryl’s turn to moan.

“Oh, Harry,” Daryl exclaimed as his lips moved to the man’s jaw and neck. “You feel so good, baby. I love you so much.”

Harry couldn’t respond. He had literally never experienced this before and his brain was misfiring. The feeling of Daryl throbbing inside him was overwhelming. Harry threw his head back; his eyes shut tight and his mouth hung open in pure ecstasy.

Daryl held him by the hips and guided his movements as he kissed and licked the other man’s chest. The pressure and intensity was building inside them both and Daryl moved his hips up to meet Harry’s, who began to bounce on Daryl’s dick as he moaned and mumbled.

“Touch me,” Harry moaned, and Daryl did. He reached down and took hold of Harry and stroked him in time with his hips. Their moans grew louder, their hearts were beating out of their chests, and neither could focus on anything but impending orgasm.

“Ah! Ah! O God!” Harry screamed and bucked as he exploded. Daryl stroked him through his frenzy with one hand and pulled him closer with the other. Daryl continued to move inside Harry until he couldn’t hold himself together any longer, and he came with a shudder.

Daryl held him tight and they kissed lazily as their bodies relaxed. Harry made no move to climb off Daryl, and Daryl didn’t take any action to move him. They just stared at each other with those stupid post coital grins on their faces.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Two- My Home and Love

 

Just Home and Love! the words are small
Four little letters unto each;
And yet you will not find in all
The wide and gracious range of speech
Two more so tenderly complete:
When angels talk in Heaven above,
I'm sure they have no words more sweet
Than Home and Love.

Just Home and Love! it's hard to guess
Which of the two were best to gain;
Home without Love is bitterness;
Love without Home is often pain.
No! each alone will seldom do;
Somehow they travel hand and glove:
If you win one you must have two,
Both Home and Love.

And if you've both, well then I'm sure
You ought to sing the whole day long;
It doesn't matter if you're poor
With these to make divine your song.
And so I praisefully repeat,
When angels talk in Heaven above,
There are no words more simply sweet
Than Home and Love.
Robert William Service

 

It had been three days since Harry went back to Youngstown, and Daryl was currently sitting at the kitchen table staring at an open pizza box. He had already eaten half of it and was contemplating one more slice. Instead, he went to the fridge and took out another beer; his fourth of the night.

He had left the house a grand total of two times in the last two days: once, to buy beer, and once to buy more beer and three bags of pork rinds. He wasn’t depressed, but he was very sad. He had spoken to Hershel a couple of times; the old man was concerned about him and told him to take a few days for himself to rest.

Harry had called Daryl as soon as he arrived back home. Daryl could tell by the other man’s voice that he had been crying; Daryl had done that himself most of the day. They talked until late into the night; wishing they were with each other, expressing their love, and making plans for when they would see each other again. He hadn’t heard Harry’s voice since that phone call, but they had texted each other on and off the last couple of days.

Harry reported to Lewis the morning after the returned home and told him everything that happened in Georgia, well maybe not everything. To celebrate Harry’s success, bravery, and safe return home, Louis, Albie and a few of the other guys took him out on the town, which ended with a visit to Madame Royce’s house.

Luckily, Harry found Annabelle again. She had been happy to see him and even happier to know that Harry had finally found himself, and love. He told her all about Daryl and how he had helped him find out who he is and what he wanted. When they parted ways, Annabelle wished him well and told him not to give up.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

On the fourth day after Harry left, Daryl was sitting in his recliner, eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, and watching the latest season of Supernatural on Netflix when he heard a car door slam. Looking through the blinds, he saw a cab backing out of his driveway. His heart skipped a beat thinking that Harry had come for a surprise visit, and he jumped up and ran to the door. When he opened it, Harry was standing on his porch, a bag in each hand, his eyes puffy and red.

Daryl shot out the door and engulfed Harry in a huge bear hug. “What are you doing here? Why didn’t you call me?” He asked as Harry dropped his bags and returned the embrace.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call; I left in a hurry. I thought the guys would be following me.”

“What guys? Why would they be following you?” Daryl led Harry to the couch, dropping his bags by the door.

Harry sat on the couch with his head in his hands. “He killed him. Louis had Abie killed.”

“What?” Daryl exclaimed.

“That was the job Louis had for me; the reason I had to leave. That was the job only I could do.”

“Louis wanted you to kill Abie?” Daryl asked, dumbfounded.

“Abie is an alcoholic, was an alcoholic. He hadn’t had a drink in years, but I guess something happened while I was gone and he started drinking again. Louis didn’t like that; he said Abie was a liability and couldn’t be trusted. He was afraid he’d get drunk and spill information about the organization or screw up a job.”

“Louis wanted me to take care of him, but I said no. He gave me a vial of something to put in his flask; said it would kill Abie instantly if he took another drink. He made me take the vial with me, but I didn’t use it. I dropped it in the trash on my way out of the building.

“He must have found the vial and realized I was serious about not wanting to kill Abie. The next day, I tried to call Abie, but he didn’t answer his phone. I drove to his house to check on him and he was already dead.”

Harry stopped talking then. He had seen a lot of dead bodies; men he had killed,
his mother, but Abie’s had been the most devastating. Abie had brought him into this business and taught him everything he knew. Harry didn’t think it was fair that he was the one who had to find him.

“I went straight to the office; I knew Louis would be there,” Harry paused for a moment and looked away from Daryl. “I killed him, Daryl; I slit his throat. I ran out through the back of the building, but the guys saw me come in and go into the office. They’ll know it was me. I went home, packed a bag and went to the bus station. I don’t know if they’re gonna come looking for me and I can’t run without you.”

“You’re not running anywhere,” Daryl proclaimed. “None of his men get near you. I will make damn sure of that. I need to call Hershel; you have to tell him what happened. You’ll stay here until we find out what’s going on; I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

“So, no walks in the park then?” Harry said, and smiled for the first time in three days. It made him feel good that Daryl was going to keep him safe.

“Sorry,” Harry apologized. He knew he had shocked Daryl with his sudden appearance, and the story of Abie’s murder would provoke a heated response.

“Harry, this isn’t funny. I will kill any man that comes for you. You stepped in front of a bullet for me; I owe you my life, and my life is worthless without you,” Daryl said. “I should call Hershel; let him know what happened. Maybe he can find out what’s going on up there,” Daryl added, and moved to stand from the couch, but was pulled back down by Harry.

“I haven’t seen you in three days, Daryl. Just stay with me; we can go see Hershel tomorrow. I’ll be safe here tonight, with you.”

Daryl brushed the hair out of Harry’s eyes and kissed him. “You should probably rest, get some sleep.” Daryl took his hand and walked him to the bedroom. “I’ll go get your bags,” he said as he turned to leave.

Grabbing Daryl’s arm, Harry pulled him back. “I don’t need it. I just want to lay with you for a while.”

“That sounds like a great idea. I haven’t slept well since you left.”

They both stripped and slid into bed together. Daryl scooped Harry up in his arms and laid the man’s head on his chest. “I missed you so much,” he said quietly.

Harry held his palm over Daryl’s chest. “I missed you too. If it hadn’t been for Louis and his goddamn job, I would never have left you. He fucking deserved to die for what he did to Abie, but I’m free now and I don’t ever have to leave again.”

Daryl chuckled. “Did you just curse, twice?”

Harry smiled. “Fuck yeah, I did. I’m my own man; I don’t have anyone to answer to anymore. Not my mother, not Louis. I’ll fucking curse if I want to fucking curse. Maybe later I’ll have a beer and a smoke.”

Daryl laughed. “Calm down, baby. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. You need to take it slow, but hearing you curse is hot as fuck.”

Daryl pulled Harry on top of him and kissed him hard. He sank further into the bed as Harry hovered above him. Pulling back, Harry peppered sweet, open-mouthed kisses across Daryl’s jaw and down his neck. Daryl held Harry’s head in place with one hand and ran the fingers of the other down the skin of his bare back.

Harry’s lips moved to Daryl’s throat and he sucked lightly on his Adam’s Apple, eliciting a deep moan from Daryl’s chest. Their hips moved of their own accord and their cocks grew from the friction. Harry was wholly focused on Daryl’s pleasure and could feel the man’s heaving chest against his lips.

Harry’s mouth worked its way to Daryl’s chest; he licked Daryl’s skin and moaned at the taste. Daryl’s body was on fire; he couldn’t control his hands as they roamed Harry’s skin. The younger man’s mouth and tongue left a wet trail down Daryl’s sternum, across his ribs, and below his belly button.

Daryl sat up suddenly and took Harry’s face in his hands kissing him senseless. “I want your mouth, baby.”

Harry sat back and smiled sinfully. Daryl had given him so much pleasure, and the only thing Harry wanted was to give it all back to him. He kissed and sucked his way back down Daryl’s body and nuzzled his face in the thick, short hairs that surrounded his lover’s thick member.

Harry’s fingers gently skated over Daryl’s thighs and up to his hips where he grasped him tight. Looking into the other man’s eyes, Harry lowered his head and licked the tip of Daryl’s cock. Daryl shivered and sighed at the touch and closed his eyes in anticipation of Harry’s next touch.

Harry’s mouth then descended onto Daryl. His right hand gripped the base of his cock and he began to move up and down, his hand and lips meeting in the middle.
He took his time, slowly moving on his lover, never taking his eyes off his face and the look of bliss that was on it.

Daryl began to move his hips up, forcing his cock deeper into Harry’s hungry mouth. The younger man sucked and slurped as he kneaded Daryl’s balls. “God, Harry! Don’t stop! I’m close!”

Harry hummed around Daryl and soon felt hot cum shoot down his throat. Daryl moaned his name like a melody and shook like a leaf as he released inside his lover. Harry swallowed every drop and when Daryl had emptied inside him, he lifted his head and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Daryl sat up, cupped Harry’s face, and brought him back down on top of him. Kissing him sweetly, Daryl caressed his body and whispered sweet words of praise in his ear. Harry got comfortable laying on top of Daryl and snuggled into his embrace.

Daryl ran his fingers through Harry’s hair, “Do you need me to take care of you?”

“I’m ready to take a nap; maybe after we wake up? We can talk to Hershel after.”

“Anything you want, baby. I’m just glad your home; I missed you so much and I’m never gonna let you leave again.” Daryl looked down at Harry; his eyes were closed and his breathing steady. He brushed the hair from the other man’s face and kissed his forehead lovingly. Closing his eyes, Daryl smiled to himself and fell asleep with his arms around the man he loved.

 

The End