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Many a Summer

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The summer that Daryl is fifteen, like all beneath the sun, the minutes melt into hours, and hours into days. Though the days are long, you never quite feel as though you truly seized them. The heat is torturous, and the air carries an odd vibe. Most days, Daryl finds himself reduced to a placid lump of flesh, or so he feels when curled up uselessly upon his bed. The sultry air constantly surrounding him brings about a sort of fatigue that he feels right through to his bones. And, for this very reason, he often isn't successful in his hunting, or in his fishing, for that matter.

In fact, the summer that Daryl is fifteen is probably the worst of his life. What with his brother constantly intoxicated and irritated by the humidity. He often enters the kitchen upon awakening only to find Merle with a can of beer already in hand, though it's only morning. And if his older brother isn't ranting furiously about one thing or the other, he's endlessly winding Daryl up. The boy learnt long ago, however, to ignore it until Merle eventually passed out somewhere. This was on the odd occasion that Merle was even home in the first place.

Though they were rare, on the days that the temperature was slightly lower and a light breeze broke through the heavy air, Daryl would mount his weathered ten-speed and ride into town. Mrs Parker, a kind housewife who often volunteered at school fundraisers agreed to allow Daryl to mow her lawn and complete the odd errand for her in exchange for a home-cooked meal. She would sit across from him and watch as he devoured the food, a sympathetic smile gracing her lips when their eyes locked. And, while it did bother him that she pitied him, he reasoned with himself that he relied on Merle to provide him with the necessities and that this was all on Merle.

Whilst the majority of the town’s teenage population is making memories, Daryl remains within the confinement of the empty trailer, the silence enveloping him almost deafening. And his senses are very much aware of his brother’s constant absence.

One particular morning, he finds himself curled up on the couch, watching but not quite registering the cartoon playing before him on the television. He blinks at it confusedly when the screen suddenly turns dark. After making several attempts to turn the appliance back on to no avail, he settles on throwing the remote control on the ground before falling back against the worn cushions of the old couch. He stares up at the blank ceiling, sighing rather loudly. Soon, he's mounted on his bike once again, and once again heading into town.

It's late in the afternoon when he returns, walking his bike down the dirt road leading to the trailer. He watches the front wheel as it turns, noting that the tire is all but flat. An unsettling feeling stops him in his tracks, and he cautiously scans his surroundings before his gaze drops upon Merle who is staring at him through the trailer’s screen door, half obscured by the shadows. His face is unreadable, though his eyes hold a strange sort of glint to them. Daryl’s heart leaps within his chest, startled by his brother’s sudden presence. He simply blinks at him from afar, fearing that the hot air had finally caused him to hallucinate. Merle simply turns away, disappearing back into the trailer and leaving Daryl dumbfounded where he stands.

Upon entering the trailer, he sees his brother seated at the dining table, counting money whilst a cigarette hangs from his lips. He doesn't acknowledge Daryl’s presence, much to the boy’s confusion. Figuring the possibility that his brother is high, he moves past him to retrieve the remote control from the floor where he had left it hours ago. He can feel Merle’s eyes on him as he bends to pick it up, and he has to suppress a shudder beneath his heated gaze.

When he turns to make yet another attempt at turning the television on, Merle immediately shifts his attention back to the money in his hands. Daryl stares at him, brows furrowed slightly in confusion at his brother’s unnerving behaviour. He places the remote upon the small television set before walking into the kitchen for a glass of water. He freezes when he feels his brother’s eyes on him once again. He swallows the almost painful lump in his throat before turning around, growing frustrated when his brother quickly averts his eyes.

Daryl watches as Merle slides a single note towards him. After a few moments of awkwardly staring at it, he grabs it and shoves it into his pocket, walking away and into the bedroom. Relief washes over him at the feeling of being in a different room to his brother.

The remainder of that particular evening is spent watching darkness fall upon the world from the small bedroom window. Daryl’s eyelids grow increasingly heavier by the minute, and he moves to lay upon on the unmade bed where he eventually drifts off into a deep sleep.

The following morning, he awakes only to find himself sprawled uncomfortably across the couch, the silent whir of electricity his only company. He sits up, moaning when his sore muscles protest against the movement. He rubs at his eyes in an attempt to erase the fatigue within them before standing up, turning to stare at the old couch in confusion. At that moment, Merle emerges from the bedroom, yet another cigarette hanging from his lips.

Daryl watches as he opened the fridge, no doubt in search of a beer, and it finally registers within his mind how odd it was that they were yet to speak to one another. Merle already appears to be intoxicated, but instead of complaining or winding Daryl up as he usually does, he simply sits down at the dining table, taking long drags from his cigarette whilst staring out the screen door absentmindedly. Daryl never takes his eyes off of him, and when Merle finally seems to notice through his drunken trance, he turns to stare right back at him. Something unsettling burns within his eyes, something that Daryl can't quite comprehend; isn't sure that he wants to.

He wants to ask Merle how he had ended up on the couch, but the words refuse to be voiced. In fact, no words are willing to fall from his lips. Not whilst Merle is staring at him the way he is, with an even more unsettling and almost mocking smirk settling upon his lips. Daryl averts his eyes, suddenly aware of the fact that he's fidgeting beneath his brother’s gaze.

Mere minutes later, he's outside, attempting to pry his bike from the abysmal darkness beneath the porch. Merle is seated upon said porch, his head cocked to the side slightly in amusement as he watches his little brother. Their eyes lock every few moments, but Daryl remains focused on the task at hand. His heart suddenly leaps at the sound of footsteps as they descend the porch stairs, and he squints up at Merle who towers over him, watching him. Always watching him.

Merle bends to grab ahold of the bike, pulling it free from its confinement with a single tug. Daryl stares down at the liberated bicycle before turning to stare at his older brother who takes another drag from his cigarette, exhaling the thick smoke in his face. Daryl is unfazed by this and simply proceeds to mount the ten-speed before riding off. He turns once, only to see that Merle hasn't moved, and is still watching him.

When Daryl returns that afternoon, he finds Merle upon the couch, staring at the blank television screen with a can of beer in hand. He mutters something about the electricity and a bill. He then turns to acknowledge Daryl before instructing him to grab a can of beer and join him on the couch. Daryl simply blinks at him for a brief moment before nodding obediently.

When he is finally seated beside his brother for the first time in weeks, his skin tingles and his entire body tenses. A sickening feeling settles within his stomach, and Daryl scans his surroundings out of instinct. Merle watches him do so curiously before chuckling lowly in his throat and shifting his attention back to the pitch black television screen. Daryl looks at him for a brief moment before settling back against the irritating material of the couch cushions. He stares down at the can of beer in his hands, shifting in his seat uncomfortably. Something about the situation doesn't feel quite right. Daryl supposes it's the fact that he simply isn't used to being in his brother's presence, but a more disturbing thought suggests that the vibes he's receiving shouldn't feel so threatening and altogether off, regardless.

He can feel his brother’s eyes on him, and the urge to run has never been greater. But, he doesn't. He stays, and circles the rim of the can with the tip of a finger, pursing his lips awkwardly.

Merle sighs loudly, taking a swig from his drink before eyeing the boy. Daryl jumps slightly, startled when his brother snatches the beer from his hands. He hears the all too familiar sound of the beverage being opened before Merle is pressing it back into his hands, telling him to drink.

He knows that, as he brings the beer to his lips, he's trembling, and that Merle knows that he's trembling. And he knows that his brother derives a sick sort of pleasure from watching him. Always watching him.

He sips his drink beneath his brother's intense scrutiny in silence, refraining from displaying his unease. The sickening feeling within his stomach intensifies, and Daryl has to close his eyes briefly in order to regain his composure; lest he wishes to spew all over his brother's lap. The room is spinning, and the shrill of cicadas basking beneath the summer sun is close to overwhelming.

He almost feels guilty. Feels guilty for feeling so distant, for almost allowing himself to disassociate Merle as his brother. For allowing them to grow apart and lose the connection they had once shared.

And then, he feels helpless. Feels helpless, because it feels as though he's holding onto something that hasn't been there for a long time. Feels helpless, because no matter how many times he watches Merle leave, he's always there to see him come back.

He sniffs, refusing to meet his brother's eyes, knowing that despite his efforts, his emotions are on display. He takes a swig from his beer before turning to stare at his brother who had thrown an arm around his shoulders. There is an unfamiliar glint within Merle's eyes as he watches his younger brother. Daryl continues to stare, his discomfort beginning to dissipate beneath his older brother's soft gaze.

He makes a poor attempt at smiling, and Merle smirks fondly at the awkward action. Daryl takes another generous swig from the can before gently placing it upon the ground when it's empty. Merle orders him to grab another one, and despite feeling slightly nauseous, he complies.

He opens the can and immediately begins to sip on its contents. Merle sips on his own drink, and Daryl finds himself strangely comforted by the silence that has settled upon them.

Soon, there are several empty cans laying at his feet, and he's struggling to see straight. Merle's arm remains wrapped around his younger brother's shoulders until he pulls the boy to his firm chest. Daryl lolls his head from side to side on Merle's shoulder, groaning as the contents of his stomach threaten to leave him. Merle chuckles deeply, taking a drag from the cigarette he had lit up, purposely exhaling the thick smoke in Daryl's face.

Daryl ignores his brother's teasing, focused on keeping the bile from rising to his throat. He barely registers the hand rubbing his side, but he knows that his brother is watching him as he always does.

Merle places his cigarette between Daryl's lips and watches him take a drag before exhaling the smoke. Said cigarette is soon discarded, however, and Daryl whimpers when he is pulled into his brother's lap. His eyes are drooping, and he's struggling to keep himself upright. He doesn't protest when Merle's hands find their way beneath his shirt, caressing the feverish skin over his ribs.

Somewhere, in the depths of his mind, Daryl finally comes to understand what was in Merle's eyes. Why he was watching him. Always fucking watching him.

The sickening feeling within his stomach returns when Merle buries his face in the crook of his neck, muttering unintelligibly against his skin, littering it with kisses. Daryl clutches his brother's shoulders, holding onto them for dear life. He can feel Merle's hands on his ass, can feel the way Merle's rocking against him.

The trailer is quiet save for Daryl's ragged breathing, and Merle's incessant whispering. Daryl doesn't know what he's saying, doesn't have to.

He lifts his arms when Merle begins to peel his shirt off for him. His exposed skin burns beneath his brother's gaze, beneath his brother's touch. Merle is nipping at his skin with a fervency that Daryl has never previously seen in him.

His head is spinning, and he's hard. Oh, so hard. Merle continues to touch him, to kiss him, and Daryl continues to allow him to. He whimpers when his lips are captured by his brother's in a searing kiss. Whimpers when he suddenly finds himself entirely naked in Merle's lap. Naked, vulnerable, and sohard.

He winces when a single finger enters him. It hurts, it burns, and he attempts to squirm away; but Merle is holding him in place, adding a second finger. Daryl grimaces, resting his forehead against his brother's shoulder. He must've tried to say something because Merle is shushing him and pressing sweet kisses to his temple. Sweet kisses that were intended to comfort him, but poisoned the atmosphere; poisoned Daryl.

He pulls away from his brother to stare into his darkened eyes through half-lidded ones. Merle's ministrations cease briefly as his eyes flit between Daryl's. The air is electric, overwhelming, and Daryl burns with the need to feel Merle, and with the need to push him away.

Merle resumes his ministrations, watching with morbid curiosity as his little brother's eyes roll back into his head. Daryl's mouth is agape, and Merle's heated gaze upon him fuels the need. After weeks of enduring his brother's absence, and after years of feeling distant, his body aches for Merle... aches for his brother.

The pain is almost unbearable, but he finds that his anguish is really the result of the pleasure. He wants Merle so bad; wants him to fuck him, to hold him, to have him. Wants to give him all that he has, all that he is.

When Merle is finally fully sheathed within Daryl, the heavens ignite. The boy's skin is aflame, and the stars he would climb and the moon he would steal for the one who sickens him. He's a whimpering, trembling mess beneath his brother's sweet torture. His senses are alight with this foreign feeling, never having been touched like this before.

Merle's groaning as he rocks into him, and Daryl's head is thrown back, his mouth open in a silent scream of ecstasy. His brother's lips latch onto his throat, sucking a mark into it—a mark that, despite the inevitable fact it would eventually fade, would forever stay with Daryl. As will the bruises Merle's fingers are leaving behind on his hips.

They kiss as though they are lovers, and when Merle attempts to pull away, Daryl grips the collar of his shirt, pulling him right back in. Merle is smirking against his lips, and Daryl is melting against his.

Their foreheads are pressed together. They breathe each other's air as their hips rock rhythmically. Merle's hand wraps around Daryl's neck, squeezing gently as he whispers things into his ear; Daryl flushes at the crude nature of his words.

Through his drunken haze, Daryl hears Merle mutter: “can ya feel me, huh? Feel me fuckin’ you?”

Daryl bites down on his bottom lip, the feeling of Merle thrusting inside of him intensified by the words.

“Feel this? Who's fuckin’ you? Come on, baby boy, say my name,” Merle coaxes, nipping at Daryl's ear.

Daryl can only nod, gripping his brother’s shoulders harder as he concentrates on the sweet tension pooling in his thighs. Merle thrusts up into him harder, faster, and Daryl can barely breathe. The pleasure he feels ensures that forming coherent thoughts is beyond him.

“Come on, baby, say my name," Merle whispers, hips thrusting at a frantic pace.

Daryl stares at him, brows furrowing slightly at the desperation in Merle's eyes, the need. Merle kisses him, hard, and brings their foreheads together.

“Come on, Daryl, say my name,” Merle pleads, closing his eyes.

Daryl is almost in awe of his brother, and Merle moans when he clenches around him. And then, the stars burst, and heaven is completely engulfed by flames, and Daryl comes, untouched. He throws his head back, close to screaming as he moans loudly. Merle continues to pound into him, even when he falls against his chest.

Daryl cups his brother's face, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth before whispering: “Merle.”

Merle grips his hips, forcing him onto his cock harder before groaning, biting into Daryl's shoulder as he comes inside him.

Daryl's tranquility is interrupted when his brother forces him off of him before leaping from the couch and running to the bathroom. He lays on the couch in a foetal position, closing his eyes as he listens to his brother vomit. The sound of the cicadas is almost deafening as Daryl trembles, the depravity of the situation finally settling upon him.

He feels sick to the stomach.

The warm afternoon breeze blows through Daryl's hair as he approaches the dirt road leading to the trailer. His head throbs painfully from the drinking he'd done the previous day. He has to stop for a brief moment when a thought reminds him that drinking hadn't been the only thing he'd been doing the previous day. He closes eyes, willing the thoughts away—and the urge to heave.

When the trailer comes into view, he once again stops. He glares at the vehicles surrounding it, and his stomach drops. He swallows the nervous lump in his throat before continuing in his tracks. He comes to stand before the porch, squinting up at the young woman standing upon it, staring at him. She takes a drag from her cigarette as she eyes him.

“Who’re you?” she asks simply.

Daryl blinks up at her. “I'm Daryl. I live ‘ere.”

“That so?”

“I'm Merle's brother.”

“Congrats.”

Daryl continues to stare up at her for a brief moment before ascending the porch stairs, moving past her to enter the trailer. The sight before him immediately makes him sick.

Merle is seated upon the couch with a needle full of meth within his arm. Thick smoke pervades the air, and Daryl watches Merle inject himself with the drug through the fog. He goes unnoticed by his brother and the stoners surrounding him. A rock ballad emanates from the old battered radio they possess, but Daryl is barely registering it, his ears ringing almost painfully. He feels as though he's rooted to the spot, unable to turn away, unable to run.

A sudden rush of adrenaline heightens his senses, and the colours of the world dance before him more vividly. His vision blurs slightly, and the painful pounding in his head intensifies. Bile rises to his throat and he turns to run to the bathroom. He bursts through the door, coming to a stop when he sees a girl upon her knees, blowing a man he recognises as Merle's supplier. He shuts the door behind him, panic gripping him as he struggles to stumble out of the trailer, out of the utter chaos that inhabits it.

The shrill droning of cicadas continues, unconcerned, as Daryl hangs from the edge of the porch, spilling the contents of his stomach upon the ground below. The tears that had gathered within his eyes threaten to spill, and he attempts to will them away as he mounts his ten-speed, riding off down the dirt road.

Hours later, he's seated in the parking lot of a convenience store, licking the stray droplets from his melting popsicle. The warm rays of the dying sun are dancing across his face, and he has to squint to watch said sun disappear below the distant horizon. The gentle breeze is akin to a whisper against his hot skin; a silent promise that all in the world would one day be right.