I'll make a soldier's decision to fly away
Load my gun paint my face call me Misery
I can see the sky light up and the ground explode
He was trapped.
Daryl curled in on himself, every muscle tensed. His normally crystal blue eyes were a dull colorless grey and gazed blankly at the walls of his tent.
He was trapped somewhere that no one could save him from.
Memories of burning sand and blistering midday suns. Of the coppery scent of blood and water flooding burning lungs. Of pain and the recoil of a machine gun and 'Just a few more days'.
Beside him, Merle watched him with sad grey eyes wishing he could reach out the man he had somewhat raised. He couldn't though, not after what happened last time.
A quiet whimper left his brother, who flinched violently and curled in tighter, his lean frame trembling even as his eyes began to clear.
Merle smiled softly, knowing it was safe to move closer now that the fit was over, and began to stroke the younger's soft sandy blond hair. Six months and Daryl's PTSD only seemed to be getting worse, especially with the end of the world happening.
"I'm here, Lil D."
"What happened? Did I have another episode?"
Merle nodded and sighed. "You're almost outta meds, Baby Brother. Need ta getcha some more when I go on that run."
His little brother shook his head, grey-blue eyes troubled.
"I have a bad feeling 'bout that run."
The elder Dixon scowled and gave stressed sigh. "Me too. Don' trust these people as far as I can throw 'em…but you need the medicine, Daryl. You're getting worse."
Daryl looked away guiltily and sat up.
"I know." He snarled in frustration and Merle gave him a sad smile, frowning as he heard Shane calling for the group heading into town. His brother frowned as well, then sighed.
"Be careful, Merle."
The elder Dixon smirked, trying to ignore the dread building in his gut that told him he wouldn't be coming home from this one.
Merle Dixon was a handful.
Rick couldn't help but scowl at the boisterous man as he cursed and struggled against the handcuffs binding him to the large metal pipe on the building.
"I'm fuckin' serious, Officer Friendly! Let me outta these things." The man snarled but the fear in his eyes was very real. Strangely enough the fear didn't even seem to be for himself, but for someone else. Someone back at the camp Glenn had told him about.
Beside the man sat a large Ziploc bag full of different bottles of medicine, which he kept trying to hide from the others. Of course, Andrea saw them and glared at him.
"You did all of that for some drugs?!" She shrieked and he sneered at her.
"You don' know nothin' so shut yer yap."
"I know you're a drug addicted, selfish asshole."
Merle ignored her and turned his gaze back onto Rick.
"Let me out."
The former cop stared at him for a moment, somehow able to tell that the drugs in the bag weren't for some recreational purpose. No, Merle was getting them for someone important to him, someone that didn't want anyone to know they were ailing.
"T-Dog, hand me the keys."
The dark-skinned man nodded and moved to hand him the keys only to trip over a nearby pipe. The keys flew through the air and Rick rushed to grab them only to watch dismayed as they fell down a drain for too deep for them to reach.
Merle shook his head in panicked disbelief and yanked on the cuffs so hard his wrists began to bleed.
"This ain't funny!" He cried. "Let me outta these things!"
The snarls of walkers reached their ears and grisly hands reached through the doors and T-Dog hurriedly grabbed an abandoned chain and bound the door, preventing the Walkers from entering the rooftop.
"We'll be back for you." Rick promised knowing it was much too dangerous to stay where they were any longer.
Merle continued to struggle, trying to force his hands free from their bonds.
"Please! Don't leave me here!" He yelled. "Don't leave me here!"
"I'm sorry." T-Dog apologized. "I'm so sorry."
Rick ushered them all through the other door, watching as Merle stilled and watched them with betrayal clear in his eyes. The older man collapsed back against the pipe, wrists bloody, and picked up the bag of meds, tossing it at him. He caught it deftly.
"There's a man at our camp named Daryl. Give those to 'im and tell 'im, I'm sorry."
"We're gonna come back for you." Rick promised but Merle snorted skeptically.
"You might…but they won't."
Hiding the meds in the pack Morgan had given him, he sent the man one last glance and left the roof. Later that day, as they were driving back to camp, Rick finally had a chance to ask the question that had been bugging him since leaving Merle on the rooftop.
"It's not too bad that you left Merle…I mean the guy was terrible and no one will really miss him," Morales tried to reassure him the paused. "Except maybe Daryl."
There was that name again. This was his chance to find out more about the person Merle obviously cared so much about. "Daryl?"
Andrea shifted uncomfortably. "Merle's baby brother. Real quiet guy, he doesn't really talk much. Spends most of his time hunting."
Rick's heart sank. A brother. He had deprived someone of what was probably their only living relative in this post-apocalyptic hell.
Morales sighed. "Bad temper though. Ain't never had a tongue lashing as bad as the one Dixon gave me when he thought I was 'bout to fight Merle."
Rick stayed silent and he could only hope that this 'Daryl' character would forgive him.
As luck would have it, when they arrived at the camp he was reunited with his own family, something that made him feel even worse about what he had done. He had left another man's family for dead only to be reunited with his own mere hours later. As they sat around the fire eating, he was informed that the younger Dixon was out hunting and had been since the group had left two days previous. His heart ached at the news as he realized that the man was expecting to come back to his older brother, alive and well and would only find grief. A grief the others in the group didn't seem to share if the barely hidden relief in their eyes was any indication.
Only the children and a kind woman named Carol actually seemed to think that Merle being left behind was a bad thing. It kind of made him wonder.
Just what kind of man was Merle Dixon?
Daryl Dixon was beautiful.
Messy sandy blond hair fell in disarray atop his head, falling into stormy grey-blue eyes, thin pink lips accented by the beauty mark near the left side of his mouth. He was lean and agile, full of a predatory grace that made Rick swallow thickly.
He'd just left the man's brother for dead, he shouldn't be checking him out.
The hunter's keen gaze danced across each of their faces, picking them apart mercilessly…then he looked around.
"Where's m' brother?" He growled, grip tightening on his crossbow and muscles tensing.
"There was a problem in Atlanta." Shane started and the younger Dixon glanced at him.
"Is he dead?"
"We don't know." Daryl scowled darkly.
"Either he is or he ain't!" He snapped, but the pain in his voice was so raw that Rick couldn't help but step forward.
That sharp gaze snapped to him immediately and he fought a flinch.
"Who the hell are you?"
Daryl's eyes narrowed. "Rick Grimes, you got something you wanna tell me?"
"Your brother was a danger to us all, so I… handcuffed him to a pipe on the roof. He's still there."
The blond stilled, his hands tightening around the squirrel line on his shoulder.
"Hold up, lemme process this. You're saying that you handcuffed my brother to the roof…and you left him there!" Something feral echoed in the man's voice as he snarled at them, stormy eyes flashing with something Rick couldn't recognize.
"It was my fault," T-dog interfered. "I dropped the key."
Daryl glared at him. "You couldn't pick it up?" He sneered and the other looked down guiltily.
"It went down the drain."
The hunter paced cagily, then covered his eyes, shoulders trembling. Rick's heart broke.
"To hell with y'all!" He yelled voice cracking and Rick swallowed thickly, jumping back as the hunter snarled and threw a rope of squirrels at him then lunged. Before he could reach him, Shane tackled him to the ground and had him in a chokehold.
Something akin to panic flashed in the man's eyes, his body tense as he struggled to get free. His skin paled to an ashen color but he fought not to let the panic take hold and Rick found himself amazed, when the man spoke. There wasn't a trace of panic or fear, only anger and indignation.
"Chokeholdin's illegal." He snapped and Shane smirked.
"File a complaint." He sneered and Daryl let out a wordless snarl, struggling harder and more vicious against Shane, who seemed to be straining to hold on to him.
Around them, the other members of the group watched, and Rick felt a small trickle of disgust for them. The man was grieving and he was lashing out just any of them would have. So why were they making it seem like he was being irrational.
"Hey," He called gently, drawing the man's attention.
"He'll let you go, if you listen to us rationally. Can you do that?"
Daryl relaxed in Shane's hold for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah."
Rick nodded and gestured for Shane to release the man. The older male did so with a sneer on his lips, but it went ignored as he went about placating the agitated hunter. Ten minutes later, he found himself in a van with said hunter and a few others, praying that Merle Dixon was alive. If he wasn't, Rick had a feeling that they would be discovering just how dangerous the younger Dixon could be.