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Now And Forever (A 'Pack' remix)

Chapter Text

A hand intertwines with his as the morning sun shines into their room. The body behind him shifts closer, hot breath of his alpha tickling the back of his neck. For a moment, he’s at peace, content in the arms of his alpha. But as all good things do, this peaceful moment comes to an end. Flashes of the past few weeks filter in, reminding him of the horror he and his children now live in, and the one thing that he hates most of all.

“This isn’t real,” the body behind him shifts again, and for a moment, he thought the world around him would fall away, and he would be alone. But it doesn’t, and the arms around him tighten, holding him close. Tears form in his eyes. “This is just a dream.”

His alpha hums behind him, soft lips kissing the nape of his neck. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you died,” a sob escapes him.

“Are you sure?”

He wonders, for a brief moment, why his mind has decided to torture him like this. He grips the hand he’s holding hard, knuckles turning white with the effort. “I can’t feel the bond any more. It faded the day you were shot and it just kept fadin’ til…”

“Mer?”

“The bond, I...Rick!” he turns to face his alpha. Rick smiles at him, a hand caressing his wet cheek. The sadness and fear leaves him as that dull, almost non existent flame bursts back to life. It leaves him breathless.

“It’s time for you to wake up now, Mer. I love you.”

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Merle startles awake just as the sun begins to rise on another hot, summer day. He can hear others outside his tent getting ready for the day. His hand grabs at his chest, clutching over the gold ring he wears on a silver chain. In the back of his mind, his bond hums, peaceful and true. With a new determination, he grabs his jacket and heads to leave the tent, glancing back to make sure his two youngest pups were still sleeping in the corner. He grabs his rifle, and asks Carol on the way to watch over his kids until their older siblings Daryl and Joanna return.

“Merle, where are you going?”

“To find Glenn!”

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He wishes he had just kept his big mouth shut. He had found Glenn, talking loud as ever, packing the truck for their trip into the city. It was just bad timing that he had mentioned going when Jo walks up.

“I should be the one going.”

“I’ll be fine mom. Besides, you need to stay here with the pups.”

He grabbed hold of his daughter's wrist, stopping from entering into the truck. “Just be careful, Jo.”

“I will, and I promise, one way or another, I will find him.”

He watches as the truck leaves the quarry, hoping that he hadn’t just sent his daughter on a suicide mission.

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He knows he’s being followed the moment he left Dale’s line of sight. He stops, the scent of alpha pheromones are heavy as his stalker draws nearer. For a moment, he wants to embrace it, but the moment is gone when he bunches his hand into fists, turns, and punches the alpha square in the face.

“You son of a bitch! You lied to me!”

“Mer, what the fuck!”

“You don’t get to call me that, you bastard!”

He goes to swing another punch when the alpha stops him, pulling
His arm around his back. “Let go of me Shane!”

“Not until you calm down! What’s gotten into you!?” He squirms in Shane’s grasp, trying to get free. The alpha is leaning over him now. “I said stop it, or I'll make you!” He stops his struggles, breathing hard as Shane finally lets go with a push. He tumbles onto the ground. “Now, are you going to tell me what the fuck you’re going on about? Or are you gonna try to punch me again?”

“You lied to me about Rick. You said he was dead,” he turned to look up at the alpha standing before him, and he could tell he had said something to make the other look on nervously. “Why did you lie?”

“I didn’t lie! And besides, you couldn’t feel the bond anymore, remember!”

“Yeah, well, I can feel it again. It’s there, stronger than ever,” he stands, looking the alpha straight in the eye. “So that means you lied. He wasn’t dead when you left the hospital.”

He sees Shane falter before the alpha looks away. “That’s what I thought. Keep away from me, and my kids.” He walks away, leaving the alpha fuming.

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He’s just about finished combing out his daughter’s hair when Glenn comes back to the Quarry, alarm blaring as he comes. He can feel the bond become stronger as he and his kids walk to the scene, and as he sees Jo and Rick come into view, his knees nearly give out.

He sees the twins run towards their father, the alpha bending down to catch them. The twins move to the side as Rick moves towards Merle, bringing him into a strong embrace. Merle doesn’t care that the others are watching them now, his family is back now, and that’s all that matters.

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He runs his hand down his alpha’s chest, tracing the scar left behind from the bullet that nearly took his life. “I’ve missed you.” He lays his head down onto Rick’s chest, listening to the steady heartbeat.

“I’ve missed you too, Mer.”

He can feel guilt welling up inside him, for everything that has
happened. For not trying hard enough to get him moved to another hospital. For believing Shane when he was told that Rick was dead. For...hands cup his cheek, bringing his gaze up to his alpha’s.

“Mer, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong alpha,” he curses himself, closing his eyes and
looking away. “Rick…”

“You only call me alpha when something’s wrong.”

“Or when I’m in heat.”

“But you’re not, so what’s the matter?”

His breath is shaky, tears beginning to fall. He doesn’t know how to
tell his alpha about his infidelity. He buries his face in the nape of Rick’s neck, inhaling his scent as if this was the last time he would. “I slept with Shane.” His voice is muffled, but he knows Rick understood him. An old fear fills him, body tensing as he waits for the hit he’s sure will come. But arms wrap tightly around him instead. “Rick, I’m so sorry.”

“How many times?”

A sob escapes him as he tries to bury himself deeper into his alpha’s
embrace. “Only once.”

“After you started going through bond withdrawal?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you for being honest Mer.”

“You’re not mad?” he looks back up at his alpha. There’s warmth and
love shining in Rick’s gaze. “Why aren’t you mad.”

“I am mad. Not at you, but at Shane. He should have known better.”

“But why…”

“Shane should have known better to not take advantage of a bonded
omega going through bond withdrawal.”

Merle looks on in confusion. “But, I did it...I did it willingly, I...I don’t.”

Rick leans down to kiss him softly on the lips. “It’s okay Mer. Just
know that my anger is not directed towards you. Let's just concentrate on us. I love you Mer. I always will, no matter what.”

Merle lets out an unwanted sob, “I love you so goddamn much Rick.”

“I love you too Mer. I always will.”

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“I don’t like the idea of you going back into the city.”

Rick packs the last of the supplies into the truck before turning to Merle. “We need the supplies Mer. We talked about this.”

“I still don’t like this. Something’s going to happen,” Merle’s eyes look towards Shane, who has taken to watching him in the shadows. It’s unnerved Merle ever since their fight. Rick notices and brings Merle close to him.

“I’ve told Dale to keep Shane away from you. I promise I won’t be gone long.”

“You better not be.”

Merle watches as Rick and the others leave, still wary of the looming threat hiding in the shadows.

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They almost arrive too late. Screams and gunfire echo through the hills as they hurry to race back to the camp. They get there as the surviving Quarry members finish off the last of the walkers. Jo is at the front of them, nursing a bloodied arm close to her shoulder. Rick looks around frantically, wanting to know where the rest of his family is. Daryl comes up from behind, running to his little sister.

“Jo, are you okay?”

“I’m fine Dar, just got cut on something is all. I’m not bit, I promise.”

“We need to get ya patched up.”

“We need to find mom. He went to hide the pups, but I don’t know where he went. Shane is gone too.”

That sent a cold feeling up Rick’s spine. He looks around frantically, hoping to see a glimpse of his mate and younger children. He spots Dale running up to them, Carl and Lucy behind him.

“Oh thank god!” The pups run up to him, hugging him tightly. “Where’s your mother?”

The twins look up at him teary eyed, both pointing towards the woods. “We hid in the RV. Mom was with us, but then Shane found us and dragged mom away.”

They hear gunshots then, and Rick takes off running, the others not too far behind.

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“Let go of me Shane!” he fights in the alpha’s grip as he’s dragged into the woods. “I need to get back to my pups!”

“The twins are fine. I made sure to lock the RV door before we left. I’m sure Dale or someone will find them.”

“Why are you doing this!?” Merle is thrown forward, falling onto the ground. Before he is able to move, the alpha is on him, pinning his wrists above his head with one hand.

“Because you’re mine,” Shane growls out his response, leaning in close. Merle begins to struggle anew when he feels a hand travel down his body, cupping him between his legs. “And I’ll show you just how much you belong to me.”

“Fucking get your hands off me!”

“Or what? You’ll stop me? Just like you tried to stop your daddy when...you bitch!” Merle scrambles out from under the alpha as said alpha falls to his side, clutching his now sore crotch. “I’m gonna fucking kill you!”

Merle is caught off guard when Shane grabs at his ankle, yanking him back towards the alpha. He tries to kick again, desperate to get away. Hands are on his throat before he has time to retaliate. “Fucking bitch, coulda just left here and be happy! But no! You have to fight the whole fucking way.”

“Shane...please…” he clawas at the hands squeezing his throat. “Please…”

“Now you listen whore, you’re gonna lay here, and you’re gonna let me do what I want, and then, when I’m knot deep inside that pretty, wet cunt of yours, I’m gonna bite your mating mark. Make you scream for me as you forget all about Rick.”

The grip on his throat loosens, and he takes the chance to take in a breath. His whole body is shaking, but he doesn’t dare move. Tears begin to fall when he feels hands loosen his jeans, a rough hand snaking inside.

“And if you fight, at all, I’ll kill you, and go back to camp, and rape that pretty little omega son of yours. I bet he’s still virgin tight. Now, are ya gonna do as I say, or is Daryl gonna have to pay the price?”

A sob escapes him, but he nods his head. There’s no way in hell he’d let this bastard touch his children. The hand inside his pants moves lower, fingers rubbing at his entrance. He sobs louder, trying to close his legs, earning him a slap to the face.

"None of that, bitch. You keep those legs nice and wide for…"

Blood splatters across his face, the hand tormenting him going slack. He's stunned, eyes wide as the body above him falls to the side.

"Merle? Merle? Come on, get up."

"Andrea?" The body is moved away from him as soft hands help him set up.

"It's okay, he's dead now. He's not gonna hurt you."

"I need...Rick...I need my alpha. Where is he."

"I…."

"Mer!? Mer, where are you!?"

The female alpha holding him mumbles something, before shouting into the distance. Before he’s able to comprehend what she's doing, he's wrapped in the warm embrace of his alpha.

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Soon after their departure from the Quarry, they lose Jim, the beta deciding to take his own life instead of suffering. It was a somber moment, the group saying goodbye before continuing their trip to the CDC.

Merle looks over towards Rick, who’s staring out the windshield at the scene before them. Bodies line the roads and grass before the CDC, some of the dead walking amongst the carnage. “What do you think?”

“We don’t have a choice. We have to take a chance.”

“I hope you’re right Rick. I hope you’re right.”

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He can sense Rick enter the room, but his gaze remains on the bookshelf before him, his eyes wandering from cover to cover. Arms wrap around him as he reaches for a book.

“Ever a bookworm, Mer. Find anything interesting?”

“Not really. Are the kids in bed?”

“Passed out as soon as their heads hit the pillow. Carol tucked them in.”

Merle turns in his alpha’s arms, and Rick takes his chance to lean in for a kiss. When the kiss starts to become heated, Merle has to stop Rick’s hands from wandering down too far. “We can’t do this here in the middle of the rec room.”

“Mm, I think we can. There’s no one here but us.”

“What if someone walks in? What are you going to do then?”

“Then I guess they’re gonna get an eyeful. Hey! What was that for!” Rick laughs as Merle swats the back of his head. He grabs hold of his omega, and brings him into one final kiss. “Why don’t we continue this in the bedroom, huh?”

“See, now you're making sense.”

Rick picks Merle up, carrying him bridal style back to their bedroom.

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After the fiasco at the CDC, the small pack continued on their way, lost and confused and not sure what to do anymore. Rick himself was unusually quiet, driving quietly down the highway.

“Do you remember the first trip we took as a family?”

Rick glances over to his omega, giving him a soft smile. “Yeah, I remember. It was on our first wedding anniversary, and you had just turned 19. I seem to recall a certain son of yours getting sick halfway through.”

“Dayle couldn’t help it. Poor thing never really been a car that long before, neither had Jo. It was amazing we made it as long as we did.”

“Hey mom, why don’t I remember that trip?” Merle looks back towards the twins sitting in the back seat, both looking curious at their parents.

‘Because, your mother hadn’t had you yet. Hell, I don’t think we were even thinking about having more kids at that point.”

“Nah, Jo and Dar were more than enough, but we’re glad we had you two too,” Merle feels Rick’s hand on his thigh, squeezing in reassurance. “I wouldn’t change any of it for anything.”

They continue on in content silence, until the RV stalls an hour later.

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It was luck that he managed to find a pregnancy test in one of the abandoned cars. It was even more of a miracle being able to sneak away to take it in peace. As he watches the test confirm what, in his head, he already knew, he buries the stick and box away. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he makes his way back to the highway, promising himself that he’d tell his alpha as soon as they begin moving.

Then, Sophia goes missing, and everything goes to hell.

Chapter Text

They wait in silence, the time ticking by with every ragged breath their son makes. He holds the small hand in his, thumb running circles over the top. He senses the tension in his mate beside him, Rick doing his best not to break down right there and then. His free hand grips his alpha’s, giving it a gentle squeeze.

“It’s gonna be okay, Rick. Everything will be okay.”

His mate turns his gaze towards him, a small smile playing on his lips. “You were always optimistic, even in the most trying of times.”

“Well, someone’s gotta be. It sure ain’t you right now.”

“No, I guess it ain’t,” Rick leans in to kiss him, light and gentle. “I love that about you.”

“Yeah, I know,” Carl lets out a weak cough, startling both of his parents, and sending Hershel into action.

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The longer time goes by, the more he convinces himself that something is wrong. Merle tries, very hard, to be optimistic, but Hershal and Patricia have been at it for a while, and he can no longer keep the panic from rising. Nausea overcomes him, and he rushes off of the steps of the porch, throwing up in the nearby bush.

“Mama, are you okay?”

Merle wipes his mouth on the already dirty sleeve, turning to look at his worried daughter. Ever since her twin brother was shot, Lucy had looked pale, almost as pale as her brother. More fear rises as he thinks of what could happen if Carl doesn’t make it, and the fact that Lucy may just die with him.

“Mama?” he doesn’t have the heart to answer. Instead, he breaks down and sobs. “Mama, it’s gonna be okay.”

“Lucy?”

“Jo, somethings wrong with mama.”

Merle senses both of his daughters now through the fog in his brain, but the sobs continue to the point he is hyperventilating. He only vaguely hears the rest of his children’s conversation until he feels someone wrap their arms around him. He doesn’t hesitate to move into the embrace, and he can instantly tell that it’s his mate, radiating a soothing scent that eventually ends the sobbing, and puts him into a more calm mood.

“Mer, it’s alright. Everything is alright. Herschel says our boy is going to live.”

It takes Merle a few seconds to comprehend what Rick had just said. “He’s going to live?”

Rick smiles down at him. “Yes, darling, he’s going to live.”

Merle collapses into his husband’s embrace, exhaustion finally claiming him.

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It’s morning when Merle wakes again, sun shining through the window. An arm is wrapped around his waist, a large hand cradling his stomach. He looks down, and it’s then that he realizes that the hand cradling his stomach fits perfectly around the barely visible bulge. He feels the panic starting again, until the soft hum of his mate calms him.

“It’s okay Mer. You don’t have to worry.”

“But, I didn’t…”

“You had your reasons for not telling me yet, and I understand that the baby isn’t mine.”

“I was gonna tell you, after we found Sophia, but then Carl got shot and...Carl! Is he okay?”

Rick smiles at him before kissing him on the back of the neck. “Hershel says he’ll pull through, thanks to Otis getting here on time with the medical supplies.”

Merle lets out a sigh of relief, snuggling closer to the warm body behind him. They lay like that for a little longer, until someone knocks on their door, telling them lunch is ready.

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Carl does recover in the end, growing stronger everyday until he is finally able to leave the bed. Merle keeps a close eye on him, refusing to let him out of his sight.

“Merle, Carl will be fine. He’s got his older siblings and his twin sister looking after him.”

“I’m not letting him out of my sight. The last time I did, he was shot, and I almost lost both twins,” Merle shudders at the memory of how pale and weak Lucy had grown the weake her twin became. “So, I’m not letting him, either of them, out of my sight.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a very stubborn person?”

“Rick’s mentioned it once or twice.”

Dale shakes his head, before leaving Merle to his thoughts.

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“Hey Merle, do you think you could do me a favor?”

Merle glances over to the beta woman. Carol is slowly hanging clothes next to him. “Favor?”

“Well, I figured after everything Hershel and his family have done for us that we could maybe cook supper for them.”

“Sure, I can ask, but why not do it yourself?”

Carol shrugs, “You’re Rick’s wife and omega. That kinda makes you our unofficial first lady.”

Merle lets out a laugh, turning back to his own basket of clothes. “First lady, I kinda like the sound of that. I’ll ask Hershel, and let you know.”

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Merle wants to punch Andrea in the face, and almost succeeds if it weren’t for his husband stopping his fist in time. “You son of a bitch!”

“Mer, you need to calm down!”

“Fuck that! This bitch shot our son!”

Merle watches as Andrea’s eyes go wide and her face turns even paler as Merle lunges at her again. “I’m sorry! It was an accident! I thought he was a walker!”

Merle growls in frustration, finally stopping his attempts to get to the alpha. “She stays away from Daryl!”

“Mer…”

“She stays away from our son!” Merle storms away before he hears
what Rick has to say next. He’s calmer by the time he reaches the room Daryl is in, opening the door to see his oldest still sleeping peacefully. Merle takes Daryl’s slack hand, tears threatening to fall.

He doesn’t know how much more he can take of this.

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Despite Merle’s best intentions of keeping it a secret, the truth always seems to come out. Once the pack knew, everyone began treating him differently, like he was some sort of fragile flower that could wilt at any moment. He isn’t sure who gave up the information, but whoever it was, Merle planned on…

“Mer, what are you still doing up?”

Merle is brought back from his musings when warm arms wrap around his waist. He’s pulled back into his Alpha’s chest, Rick snuggling closer to him. “Was just thinking about things, is all. No need to worry ‘bout anything.”

“Who said I was worried?”

“I know when you sound worried Rick, and I’m telling you I’m fine. Just thinking.”

A kiss is placed on the back of his neck. “I believe you Mer. You don’t have to explain yourself to me.”

Merle sighs, “I know I don’t,” Merle turns to lay on his back, now able to look at his Alpha directly. “I’ve just...I don’t like how everyone is treating me like some old piece of furniture that’ll break at any moment.”

“This about the twins accidentally telling the whole pack about the baby?”

“The twins did that?”

“I don’t think they meant too. From what Lucy has told me, she and Carl were discussing baby names when Andrea overheard them and put two and two together.”

Merle makes a mental note to really hit Andrea in the face next time he sees her. “Guess it’s all official now, huh?”

Rick smiles down at him, running a hand through Merle’s hair. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

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They find Sophia in the barn a day later. Glenn had discovered the walkers in the barn, adn Andrea had been the one to open it. The pack took aim and shot at the walkers leaving the barn. One by one they fell, until there were none left. Or at least, that’s what they thought.

Sophia’s corpse walks slowly into the light, and Merle holds tight to the twins, turning their eyes away as Carol sobs in Daryl’s arms.

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“Why does it have to be you?!”

“Because Mer, we need Hershel here, for Beth, and for you. He’s the only one with medical training.”

“He’s a vet Rick!”

“It’s still better than nothing. Stay here, Jo, Glenn and I won’t be long.”

Rick pulls Merle into a hug, kissing him before picking up his rifle and opening the door. “You better come back alive Rick. All of you.”

Merle watches them go, and hopes to God know one else gets hurt.

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It’s nightfall and they haven’t returned yet. The sinking feeling in Merle’s gut gets worse, and he knows deep down that something has happened. He paces, on the verge of a panic attack when Carol comes up to him, wrapping him in a blanket and leading him over to the fire.

“You need to stay calm Merle. This stress isn’t good for the baby.”

“How am I supposed to stay calm when my husband and daughter are out there…” Carol hands him a mug of tea. “I don’t know if I can take it if any more of my family gets hurt.”

Carol gives him a sad smile. “Your bond with Rick is strong. What does it tell you?”

Merle looks at her as he takes a sip of his tea. “It hums strong, like it always does. But that’s not going to make my nerves calm any.”

“I know it won’t, but at least you know that he’s still alive. They'll come back. Rick seems to have a habit of that.”

Merle gives out a short laugh. “I guess he does, doesn’t he.”

They sat in silence after that, staring into the fire, hoping that the rest of their pack would come home soon. It isn’t until the next day that they do, a little shaken, but whole. Something Merle is thankful for.

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(Trigger warning: Very vague mentions of sexual abuse to a minor.)

“I know it’s not really any of my business, but can I ask you something?”

Merle looks up at Maggie, the young beta woman watching him as he cuts up vegetables for supper. “Go ahead, ask what you want to ask.”

She hesitates, before finally speaking. “You said once that Daryl is your son. Yours and Rick’s but Daryl can’t be any more than a few years older than you.”

Merle sighs. He had been expecting questions like this, he’s just surprised that it took so long. Putting down the knife, he motions for Maggie to set down. “It’s a rather long story, but if you really want to know, Daryl is my son, I gave birth to him. I was thirteen years old when he was born, which is why we are so close in age.”

Maggie’s expression is one of horror. Merle can tell that the beta is lost for words. “Your parents, did they…”

“My ma died when I was young, so she wasn’t around. It was just me and my pops, until Daryl…”Merle trails off, and by the look of realization on Maggie’s face, he can guess she knows where the story is going.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have…”

“It’s alright Maggie. I made peace with my past a long time ago. He’s gone now, and I don’t have to worry about him, or any of his cohorts, again.”

The two sit in silence, both gazing out the window when they spot Rick and the twins. “Can I ask you one more question?”

Merle's gaze doesn’t leave his family. “You want to know how Rick and I got together? He rescued me from my pops.”

“Rescued you?”

“When I turned eighteen, I ran away with Daryl and Jo, but my pops
ended up finding me. He beat me to a pulp then took me to the hospital. Todl the doctors there that I had been whoring myself out and one of my clients beat me up when I asked for too much money. The young rookie there didn’t believe him.”

“That young rookie was Rick?”

“Yeah,” Merle smiles at the memory, even though it was one of his worst days, it was also his greatest. “Rick didn’t buy into my pops story. Said something didn’t feel right. I refused to say anything at first, but there was something about Rick that made me feel safe. The day I was to be released back home was the day I told Rick everything. After that, and a couple of DNA tests on my kids later, my pops was arrested. But I wasn’t going to be allowed to keep my kids, not without me having a home and stable income at least. Rick knew that, and offered to marry me so that I could keep my kids.”

“So it was a marriage of convenience?”

“Yeah, I guess you can say that. At first we slept in separate bedrooms and everything. Rick gave me an allowance and told me I could use his second car and such. But eventually we fell in love. Been like that ever since.,” Merle looks over to Maggie then, and notices the tears streaming down her face. “That touching huh?”

Embarrassed, she wipes away the tears, giving Merle a smile. “Sorry, it's just, it’s a true love story.”

“I guess it is,” Merle pats Maggie on the shoulder. “You know, you’re the first person I’ve told that story to in a long time.”

“Thank you, for telling me.”

Merle watches Maggie leave, before looking back out the window.

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Merle didn't care about the stinging in his hand as he pulled away from Andrea’s bloodied face. He distantly hears Dale ask him what the hell his problem is, and Jo keeps a firm grip on his arm to keep him from attacking Andrea more. Andrea herself is looking rough, setting up and wiping the blood from her face.

“I did what I thought was right Merle! Beth needed to make her choice!”

“She needed help! Not someone telling her it was okay to kill herself!”

The group around them is taken back, and all eyes fall on Andrea. Even Dale looks shocked. Andrea looks around the group, looking for anyone to help her. But no one does.

“You’re really going to take his side! Dale?!”

“Andrea I…”

But words go on deaf ears as Andrea makes her way away from the group. Merle watches as she goes, no longer being held back. It was then that he knew Andrea needed to go, and by the look of everyone else, they all knew it too.
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That very next night, Andrea is attacked and killed by a walker. Drunk and out of her mind, she stumbled out alone after another fight with Dale. Merle, thinking back, hadn’t realized how close the two were getting until it was too late, and Andrea lay in a puddle of her own blood, guts and entrails spilled from an opened wound as she slowly choked on her own blood.

Dale was distant after that, the omega refusing to eat or drink. Carol worried, they all worried, and they all turned to Merle for guidance. But he was at a loss as to what to do. After all, Andrea wasn’t Rick, she wasn’t coming back. The bond that had started building between Dale and Andrea was broken, and there was nothing anyone could do.

Merle keeps an eye on Dale as they bury Andrea next to the others they have lost. Merle hopes the other omega pulls through.

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It was by some miracle that they made it off the farm alive. Merle found Hershel with Lucy, the two defending off the oncoming horde that overran the farm. They find Dale shortly after that, the other omega still looking pale, but at least had a sense of urgency now. Something Merle was grateful for as Dale drove as fast as he could off the farm.

The sun is just rising when they finally make it to the spot that it all began. Nothing had changed since they all left the highway. The rations they left for Sophia were still there, untouched by anyone. They wait, hoping the others show up.

Eventually they do, and the pack moves on.

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They find a small alcove for cover that night, starting a fire and hunting for food to feed the pack. Everyone was down on their hopes, still shaken from losing the farm. Herschel and his girls huddle together, Glenn not too far off. Dale sits with Carol, still looking sickly, but at least eating now. Merle has the twins on either side of him, silently eating their own rations. He can sense his two oldest not too far away, standing guard like their father and T-Dog.

It’s silent as they stare into the fire, not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

Chapter Text

Nine long months of traveling from place to place, looking for both shelter and food has finally taken its toll on Merle’s weakened body. He sees the group talking about what to do next as he and Dale sit in the nearby cars. They’re both silent, too tired and drained of energy to hold a conversation. He feels the child within shift, putting pressure on his already taxed lungs.

“You okay?”

Merle grunts, “Yeah, as fine as I can be. I’m going to go see what the others are talking about.” He hears Dale mumble something in reply before the car door shuts behind him.

It’s only a few short hours after that that his son and husband find the prison.

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Merle knows that it’s Hershel before he even looks up from his spot on the bunk. He tries to set up, failing miserably.

“No need to get up, you need to rest. I just came by to see how you were doing?”

“Fine, I guess. Kid’s moving a lot anyways. That’s a good sign.”

“Yes, very much so,” Herschel sits on the edge next to him, placing a hand on MErle’s swollen belly. “Is there something worrying you, Merle?”

Merle doesn’t respond for a long moment, choosing instead to stare up at the top bunk. “It’s just, can you promise me something Hershel?”

“Of course.”

“If anything happens to me, during the birth, or if the baby is...promise me that you’ll put us down. Don’t make Rick do it. That’ll destroy him.”

Herschel gives him a sad smile. “Merle…”

“Please Hershel, we don’t know how this is going to go. Please.”

Herschel lets out a sigh, taking his hand away from Merle’s belly. “I promise Merle.”

Merle squeezes the beta’s hand, “Thank you Hershel, for everything.”

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The mission to find the cafeteria and medical facility goes sideways, and Hershel ends up bit. Rick and the others bring him back, unconscious and bleeding from the stump that used to be his leg. Merle rushes to help the best he can, telling the others to give him and Carol space. He hears Sam outside the cell trying desperately to calm her mother as Dale’s sobs echo throughout the cell block. Merle has to fight back his own tears as he hands Carol more clothes to hopefully help the bleeding to stop.

Merle's heart nearly stops when Hershel stops breathing, but his instincts kick in, and as Beth sobs in her sister’s arms, Merle attempts CPR in hopes to bring the beta back. And much to his relief, it does. It’s after that that Merle collapses against the wall, and silently cries to himself.

----------------------------------------------------

Merle tries to wipe the tears away when he hears Rick come into their room, the alpha looking pale and tired after having to burn the dead, and bury one of their own. They lost T-Dog today, the beta getting bit as he tries to get Carol to safety. There are no words exchanged as Rick removes his dirtied shirt before climbing into the bunk with him, arms wrapping around his distended waist. The tears begin again as Merle holds on tight to his alpha, hoping that he’ll never have to let go.

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Merle screams into the pillow as another contraction grips him, the pain intense as he feels something shift inside him. He feels a hand grip his own, and he squeezes back. It would be their luck that he and Dale both had to go into labor the same day at the same exact time.

Judith and Amy are born mere seconds apart. Judith is placed on his naked chest as he leans back into his alpha, Rick helping him cradle their newborn. He’s tired, they’re all tired. No one in cell block C got any sleep the past 24 hours, but at least the tears filling everyone’s eyes are for a jealous occasion, and not tears of sorrow for another lost comrade.

Of course nothing lasts forever. An alpha named Michonne shows up on their doorstep, formula in hand, and news that Maggie and Glenn have been taken by someone Merle thought he’d never have to deal with again.

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“They’re going to be okay Mer,” Merle looks over towards the other omega. Dale is sitting on the bed next to him, cradling his own son in his arms as the baby feeds on his bottle.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Hershel. You’ve become optimistic.”

Dale chuckles, “Someone’s gotta keep up morale in this place.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Merle looks down at his own daughter, who’s sleeping peacefully in her makeshift bed. “They’ll be okay. They’ll come back with Maggie and Glenn in tow and…” he pauses, and the panic comes back. If Blake finds out that he’s here, that Jo exists…

“Mer, you okay? You blanked out there for a second.”

Merle can feel the panic began to worsen, breathing becoming hard. “Can you...can you watch Judith for me?”

“Of course,” Merle makes his exit from the small room. “Mer, what’s…”

But he doesn’t hear what Dale says next. Merle is already gone.

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Rick and the others do eventually come back with Maggie and Glenn in tow, Glenn beaten and bruised while Maggie looks shaken, but at least they’re alive, something Merle is thankful for.

That night, after the meeting, Merle escapes to the watchtower outside, wanting to get away from it all. But he knows that his alpha will eventually follow, Rick never wanting him to go far. It’s only a half hour later that Rick finds him, wrapping a blanket around his shoulders.

“Something is bothering you. What is it?”

 

“Would you believe me if I told you that nothing was wrong?”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

“Figures,” Merle takes in a couple of deep breaths, trying to calm himself.

“Is it about this Governor? Is he someone you know?”

Merle gulps. He doesn’t know how to go about this. Deep down he knows that his lpha would never get angry with him over something he could not control, but they’re that part that his father instilled in him that still panics and waits for the invertible blows.

“Mer, you can talk to me.”

“I know,” he turns towards Rick, looking the alpha in the eyes. “I just, this Governor person, his name is Philip Blake.”

“So, you do know him.”

Merle turns away again, closing his eyes to try and calm himself. “Yes, I do. He’s Jo’s father.”

--------------------------------------------------

“He wants me to give up you and Jo in exchange for everyone else’s lives.” It’s what Merle expected when Rick returned from his negotiations with the Governor. “I won’t do it.”

“You’re not going to have much of a choice Rick! You either give me and Jo up, or he kills everyone and takes us anyways!”

“I am not sacrificing you and our daughter, and that’s final Mer!”

Rick walks away before Merle is able to reply. He knows what he has to do, and he’s going to do it because damn it all to hell, he’s not letting anymore of his family die.

------------------------------------------------

He sneaks out in the middle of the night, giving Judith one more kiss goodbye before leaving the prison behind, determined to make things right.

“So, he gave you up after all.”

Merle sneers up at Blake, “I gave myself up. I won’t let you kill anymore of my family Blake. It’s over. You got what you want.”

Blake smirks, “I don’t see Jo anywhere. That was part of the deal as well.”

“Leave Jo out of this! You have me, you don’t need her!”

With a wave of his hand, the gates to the town open. “Very well.”

--------------------------------------------------

Merle lays in a puddle of his own blood, the life slowly bleeding from him. But there’s a smile on his face. Blake is dead, no longer a threat to his family. He laughs, pain shooting from the wound in his side as he does, but he doesn’t care. The sun rises as Merle closes his eyes.

Chapter Text

The first thing Merle is aware of are the voices around him. Concerned, familiar voices that he can’t quite understand. When he opens his eyes, he’s greeted by the sight of his alpha, who’s holding his hand tight.

“Mer? Oh thank God you’re awake! Herschel!”

Merle looks around, now aware that he is back at the prison judging
by the smallness of the room. Awareness comes back, and he tries to set up only to have a hand gently push him back down. “I wanna get up.”

“You need to lay and rest. You have a pretty bad stab wound in your side.”

Merle stops trying, laying back against the bed once more. “HOw did you guys find me?”

“Daryl and I went after you when we couldn’t find you inside the prison. Figured you had gone out and done something stupid. What were you thinking Mer?”

“I was thinking I had a plan, and that there was no way in hell you’d
let me go through with it.”

“You’re right. I wouldn’t have, but you're back now, safe and alive.”

Merle hums in agreement.

----------------------------------------------------

A year passes without incident. The prison community grows with the more people Daryl and Jo bring in. It’s almost like it used to be, back before the world ended. Merle sits in the playroom, watching Judith walking back and forth between Lucy and Carl, the twins cheering their little sister on as the one-year-old falls giggling in her brother’s arms.

Merle quietly takes his leave, heading back towards his cell. He walks past Dale’s and Hershel’s room, the two talking quietly to themselves as Adam giggles in his playpen. Merle’ smiles to himself before moving on, hoping to find his alpha.

He finds Rick outside tending to the ever growing gardens. “Hey there sheriff, need some help?” He sees Rick turns, bright smile on the alpha’s face. Merle smiles back. Life was good, despite the moans of the undead outside their gates. He hopes it doesn’t change.

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Things go sideways after Patrick dies from an illness, turning and reeking havoc in his cell block. The counsel agrees that all sick must be quarantined, to try and stop the spread of the illness that is quickly taking over the community. But more people become sick, despite their best efforts.

Merle watches Rick pace back and forth. Merle knew that his alpha would not be happy with his and Hershel’s decision to enter the quarantine zone to help the sick, but he didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing. “I wasn’t going to not just do anything. You know me better than that.”

“Fuck Mer, we have young kids you need to be taking care of, not potentially dying from a deadly decease!” Merle winces at the alpha’s tone. Rick visibly softness, realizing his mistake. “Mer, I’m sorry, I just…”

“I know. You worry, but I’ll be okay. We’ll all get through this.”

“I hope you’re right.”

And they did, a week later, and many of the sick began to feel better, thanks to Hershel’s resourcefulness and Daryl’s and Jo’s run of antibiotics. Merle relishes the wind on his face as he holds Judith close, the one year old clinging to her mother. With the sick getting better and the gates more secured, Merle can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Only a short week after the end of the pandemic, a group of loyal Governor supporters attack the prison, wanting revenge for their fallen leader. Merle follows Dale and Hershel away from the prison, smoke and gunfire still ringing through the woods as they make their escape. Lucy follows behind, looking back at the ruins of their home.

“Lucy, we need to go.”

“But what about the others?! We can’t just leave them!”

“Lower your voice Lucy,” Merle takes his daughter's arm, tugging it to get the beta moving. “We have to have faith that the others got out okay. Please Luce, we have to go.” The beta eventually moves, storming up past her mother. Merle hopes that he’s right, and the others get out alive.

Chapter Text

After three days of wandering in the woods, Merle and his small group finally come across what seems like an old abandoned church building. Merle gives Dale and Herschel a sideways glance, the three adults silently agreeing they should take a chance and look inside. “Lucy, Stay here with the babies.”

“But mom…”

“No arguing, keep low and keep quiet. We’ll get you if it’s safe,” he gives his daughter a stern look before heading with the others quietly to the door.

-----------------------------------------------

“So, how long have you been traveling?”

Merle looks up towards Father Gabriel as the alpha sets off from the others in the church. They had found the Father during their search of the grounds, nearly giving the poor alpha a heart attack when they snuck up behind him. But Gabriel had been kind enough to let them in and give them some much needed food. “We’d been walking a few days before we came across this place. Had to...abandoned our previous camp.” Gabriel only nods his head as he continues to eat his soup in silence.

“Do you really think it’s a good idea to tell this stranger alpha things?”

“Dale’s right, we should be cautious.”

“If he wanted to hurt us, he could have done it by now. Trust me, I’ve gotten really good at reading people over the years,” Dale and Herschel don’t look convinced, but he hopes for their sake that he’s right.

-------------------------------------------

“Are you sure you don’t want us to come with you?”

“You have young pups you need to look after. I’ll be fine. I won’t be going far, I just want to investigate the explosion we heard, and hopefully find some food.”

“At least let my daughter go with you. She’s a skilled hunter,” Merle gestures towards Lucy, who smiles in return.

“Yeah Father, I won’t be any trouble. Besides, it beats sitting around here.”

Gabriel sighs, motioning for Lucy to follow. “All right then. We’ll be back.”

When it had been more than a few hours since their return, Merle was beginning to rethink his decision to let Lucy go. The omega paces back and forth, bouncing Judith in his arms as the toddler fusses over her mother’s concern. “I know Judy, I know, but I’m sure big sis is okay. She’s got to be.”

When he hears people talking outside, he doesn’t hesitate to run towards the door. His knees nearly give in as Rick wraps his arms around both him and Judith. His alpha’s scent washes over him as he cries in relief. He looks over Rick’s shoulder to see Lucy with Carl, both talking to Daryl and Jo. His family is finally backed together.

----------------------------------------------

The now large group celebrates coming back together as night falls and the candles are lit. The younger pups are now fast asleep, Carl and Lucy protectively forming a circle around their sister. Dale has Adam on his lap, the pup fast asleep as Dale sleeps against Herschel’s chest. The rest are scattered around the church, but Merle can’t help but notice how close Daryl and Jo are to newcomers Abraham and Eugene. Merle smiles as he draws himself close to his own partner.

“How did you guys escape? When I saw Judith’s bloody car seat, I thought…”

“Herschel got us out. I found Judith in the ca seat alone. Shortly after I found Dale with Lucy and Adam. We almost didn’t make it out, but Herschel found a way,” Merle takes his hand in Rick’s, holding it tight. “I’m glad you found us.”

“Me too Mer, me too.”

Merle closes his eyes, and lets sleep take him.

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It was only a couple of days later that they lost Beth and Tyreese. Beth had been a surprise, the young beta girl thought gone before another young beta named Noah came and told them that she was alive. Things were beginning to look up, now Herschel and his family are dealing with a loss that Merle couldn't even imagine.

Tyreese was a few days later during a botched mission to get Noah home. He’d been bit, something Noah has told the group he blames himself for. They bury the beta under an old tree, his sister looking on with a dead look in her eyes.

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“Rick, are you alright?” Merle can tell that there’s something wrong with his alpha. Rick walks like a defeated man, drained of his energy and without hope. It breaks Merle’s heart. “Rick, talk to me. Alpha?”

“I don’t know what to do Mer. We’re lost, without much food or shelter. We’re slowly dying and it’s my fault,” though his voice is quiet when he speaks, Merle still checks around them, seeing the others staring silently into the fire. They don't need to hear their leader talking like this.

“We’ll find our way, Alpha. We have to. The young pups in our pack need you to help us pull through this mess.”

“Mer, I don’t know what to do.”

“We’ll figure out something. Start with locating a place to stay? Even if it’s temporary, it’s at least a roof over our heads,” Merle holds out his hand, helping the alpha up. “Guys, we’re going to go search for some shelter. Stay together. We’ll be back soon.”

Merle smiles at his alpha as the two share a small kiss. He takes Rick’s hand in his own, and begins leading them away. It’s only an hour later that they find the barn.

----------------------------------------------------------

They don’t take long to get everyone moved to the barn. The pack packs inside, everyone picking a spot to sleep and unload what little stuff they have. Merle looks around the room, and is happy to note that everyone’s moods have improved. They’re still hungry, but at least they’re no longer in the open.

“We should think about safety, having a couple of people patrol
around the barn, just in case.,” Daryl has his crossbow ready, aimed at going outside.

“I’ll go with you, take a patrol in the back.”

“No,” Daryl and Abraham both stop before they reach the door.
“Abraham, take Gabriel and Sasha. Daryl, I need you with me. Don't give me that look Dar, I need you to go hunting with me.”

“Fine, let’s go, before night falls.”

They’re almost out the door when Rick speaks up. “I should go with you.”

Merle shakes his head. “I need you here to rest and watch the pups. Dar and I will be fine,” Merle kisses Rick on the cheek, “We’ll see you when we get back.”

“Last time I checked, I was in charge,” the smirk on Rick’s face lets him know that his alpha is amused by Merle taking control.

“You are babe, but you need rest. It's been a long couple of weeks.”

“Be safe okay,” Rick calls after them

That night, the room is silent as they happily eat the deer he and Daryl were able to hunt.

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Days pass before a devastating storm comes through. The winds howl outside as zombies begin banging the doors to the barn. It was Sasha who noticed it first, she hurried over to the door to hold it shut. Soon, many of the pack join in, all hoping that the doors hold. By the time morning comes, they’re all exhausted and wary, and not really ready for what came next.

--------------------------------------------

Merle watches Aaron from his spot opposite him, eyeing the beta as the stranger tries to plead his case to Rick. Rick himself isn’t convinced, Merle can tell. “Look, I can help you guys. Really, you just have to trust me.” Merle smirks at the comment. They’d all heard it before, and it never ended well. “I understand you guys have probably had it rough, but don't you want the chance to stop moving from place to place, constantly having to look for food. Wouldn’t you do it for your pups?”

“We can’t trust you,” Rick says, still pacing back and forth with Judith in his hands. “We can’t trust anyone not in our pack.”

In the end, Aaron is able to convince Rick to take the chance. Merle, at the end of the day, was glad the beta was able to convince his husband. Rick and Merle hold hands as they walk towards the gates of Alexandria, the laughter of children filtering from inside.

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Despite being accepted into Alexandria and given two homes to occupy, the pack agreed they should all stay together, at least until their alpha leader deemed it safe to occupy the second home. The Alpha leader, Deanne, had been surprised to see everyone packed in the living room, looking around and seeming more relaxed than they have in a while.

“Do you really think we’ll be safe here?”

“Are we really going to trust them?”

Questions irrupt around the room after Deanne’s departure. “Everyone settle down. For now, Merle, Dale, Herschel and I have talked it over and think that it’s a good idea to stay low and see how this whole thing turns out. As for can we trust them,” Rick glances over to him, and Merle nods his head. They don’t have much choice. They’ll have to play along with their games. “For now, we stick together. Everyone travels in pairs whenever possible. If one leaves the community, they need to tell one of us.”

The pack is in agreement, they lay low and hope for the best, and if things come to it, they’ll take Alexandria, and make it their own.

---------------------------------------------

Going to Deanne’s welcoming party was not something Merle was looking forward to. He puts on the nice suit that was left for him, and grumbles as he looks into the mirror. He misses his jeans already. “Well, this has been a hot minute.” Merle turns to see his alpha standing in the doorway of their bathroom. “You look gorgeous Mer.”

“If ya say so babe. You’re not looking to shabby yourself. I’ve missed the clean shaven Rick of the past.” Rick wraps his arms around Merle’s waist as the two share a kiss. “You know, we still have time before the party. We could,” Merle glances over at their bed. “Ya know, test out the new bed and all.”

Rick smirks, giving him another kiss before pulling away. “Later defiantly, but we need to attend this party, keep up the act and all,” Merle pouts, folding his arms in protest. “I’ll make it up to you later, promise.”

“Fine, spoil sport, but I’m making you keep that promise.”

Rick only laughs.

--------------------------------------------

A month goes by without incident. The pack slowly but surely falls into a new normalcy. Life was beginning to look like it could go back to the way it once was. Then Noah dies on a run, and everything starts to fall apart.

Chapter Text

Merle wipes away the blood from his husband’s face, the only thing illuminating the room were several candles lit throughout. He could sense the others in the other room as they all waited for an update on their son. Carl had once again been shot, only this time, he’ll have more than just a small scar as a reminder. Merle wills away the images of his son’s face, a gaping hole where an eye should be.

“Mer,” Merle looks up to see Rick watching him. He hadn’t realized he’d stopped what he’d been doing. “He’ll be alright.”

“I know Rick,” Merle wipes the last of the blood from Rick’s face, tossing the wet rag into the corner nearby. “He’s strong, but I still worry.”

“Like a mother should.”

“What are we going to do now? Deanne is dead, and the wall will need to be fixed.”

Rick takes his hand and squeezes, “We’ll figure i t out. We always do.”

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Merle finds Rick’s old friend Moran sitting outside their house. They hadn’t been able to properly introduce themselves. Not with all the chaos and all. “May I sit?”

“Of course,” Morgan scoots over, giving Merle room to set. “You’re Merle right? Rick’s omega?”

“Yeah, that’s right. And you’re Morgan. Rick talks about you from time to time. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“It’s great to finally meet you too.”

-----------------------------------------------

A month passed, and in that time, relative peace had returned to Alexandria. Crops were growing and the walls were fixed. Rick and the others had everyone training to defend themselves in case of another breech. It was something that he and Rick had hoped for when they first arrived in Alexandria, and now that is what they have.

The sun shines bright as Merle stirs from his sleep. He moves slightly, the arms around his waist making it difficult to do so. When he does get turned, he sees Rick’s eyes opening. “Good morning sunshine.”

“I’m not ready to be up yet.”

“Well, you’re not gonna have much choice. Judith will be up at any moment.”

Rick hums in response, bringing Merle into a kiss. “But she’s not up yet. We still have some time to…” he stops when they both hear the bathroom door open and bang against the wall before the sound of someone throwing up could be heard. “Is someone sick?”

“Yeah, uh, I think it’s Dale. He and Herschel are the only one’s still supposed to be home,” they hear more commotion outside before Merle decides to get out of bed to check, causing Rick to groan. “Hey, we’ve got plenty of time for sexy stuff later. If Dale’s getting sick, I wanna check in.”

“I know, I know,” Rick waves him off. “I’m going back to sleep.”

Merle had been right, It had been Dale. He found the omega setting on the bathroom floor, face soaked with tears as he dried his mouth off with a nearby towel. “You okay?”

“That’s a stupid question, don’t you think?”

“No need to get that way Dale.”

Dale sighs, leaning further back into the wall. “I know, I’m sorry, I just hate this.”

Merle sits next to him, “You think it’s…” Merle can tell by the way Dale is now looking at him that he knows he’s right. “Have you told Herschel?”

“Kind of wanted to make sure before I told anyone. But it’s not like there’s a doctor around or anything.”

“It’ll be okay,” Merle takes Dale’s hand and gives him a reassuring squeeze.

“I know it will,” Dale squeezes back.

--------------------------------------------------

It was by luck that a few days later Rick and Daryl ran into an omega named Jesus, who happened to be from another settlement not far from Alexandria. It was a perfect chance to begin building alliances. Rick, Merle knew, was wary of new people. Rightfully so, but they needed this.

But with everything, there’s always a catch. The small group that had gone to check it out returned, and not with news Merle was hoping for.

“Do we have to go through with this?”

“According to them, if we want to trade, we’ll have to take out Negan and his group first.”

“You’re talking about taking out an entire base of people, Rick. I don’t like the sound of that.”

“We don’t have a choice.”

Merle doesn’t speak after that. He knows that there’s no changing Rick’s mind.

-------------------------------------------

It’s been a few weeks since Rick and his group had taken out the Saviors. Alexandria and Hilltop were in the beginnings of negotiating trade when Dale became seriously ill. He, Rick, Heschel, and others all pack the RV for a trip to Hilltop in hopes to get Dale there to see the doctor in time before both he and the baby are lost. Merle helps Herschel make Dale comfortable as they head out.

But they were never meant to get there. At least, not all of them. They line the dirt covered ground, he and his friends on their knees as they wait for whatever fate comes.

“Are we pissing our pants yet?”

Chapter Text

Hey all, Just jumping on here to leave this note for you.

Sadly, I must announce that this story will be on hiatus until the beginning of the year. With the holidays coming up and some unforeseen events the last few days, I don't have much time to write anymore.

But, do not worry, I shall continue this once I have more time (which will hopefully be after the holidays).

Thank you for everyone who has ready so far!

- DrOmega101