For the purposes of the story here are the ages: Buck 54, Carol 34, Daryl 31, Merle 36, Beth 21

7 weeks after the wedding

Buck groaned as he got out of bed. For a man in his fifties, Buck was in good shape, but he could feel the edges of age setting in from years of physical work and substance abuse.

As he went into the kitchen to start the coffee, Buck could hear his sons waking up. It had become a tradition of sorts. Both Merle and Daryl were light sleepers, and woke quickly at the smell of brewing coffee. Daryl was quicker to wake up then Merle, who took a few minutes to actually wake up. Beth and Carol typically slept for a while longer, but the men were up early to hunt. rarely were all three Dixon men in the woods at one time, perfering to have Merle or Buck stay behind to keep an eye on things. Who ever stayed behind spent the morning in the horse barn, muking stalls and feeding the 3 horses. Daryl ocasionally used Buck's horse for hunting, but that was only when both he and Merle went hunting together.

Buck poured the coffee as Merle and Daryl sleeply trugged into the kitchen. Buck chuckled as he handed his sons their mugs as they all three sat down.

"What's the plan for the day?"

Daryl shrugged. "i was gonna head east. I laid some snares and live traps, hoping to snag some more rabbits for the hutches."

Buck nodded. "sounds like a good plan. Merle what are ya up to?"

Merle scratched his neck as he leaned back in his chair. "I'm gonna hang around today. Beth's still nauseous as hell. Last few days she's puked every mornin."

Daryl and Buck smirked at each other, Merle catching them. "What? What the fuck are ya smirkin' about?"

Daryl chuckled as he looked at Merle. "Beth was a virgin when ya got married right?"

Merle frowned. "yeah, what the hell does that have to do anythin'?"

Buck joined Daryl in chuckling. "and I can safely assume she's no longer a virgin?"

Merle glanced confused inbetween his father and brother. "she's married to a Dixon for fuck's sack. That should give you ya answer."

Daryl smirked at Buck. "been what, 7 weeks since the weddin'?"

Buck nodded. "yup, the timin' matches up."

Merle growled as he leaned forward, slamming his hand on the table. "What the fuck does this have to do with anythin'?!"

Buck chuckled as he leaned back. "well fuck me, you two certainly don't waste any time do ya!"

Merle glared at his father. "What the hell!"

Daryl laughed as he stood up and snagged Buck's coffee mug along with his own. "how long do ya think it'll take him to figure it out?"

Buck shrugged as he took back his now refilled coffee mug. "7 and half months i'd say."

Merle was furious, now standing over the table. "one of you two shits better tell me what the fuck is goin' on before I beat it out of ya!"

Buck smirked up at Merle. "i wonder if it'll be another set of twins."

Merle was confused for a moment before his face went still.

Daryl chuckled. "lightbulb."

Merle ignored Daryl in favor of counting on his fingers, before rushing out the front door, Buck and Daryl laughing as Merle took off.

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"Beth... baby I need ya to wake up."

Beth grumbled and turned over. All she wanted was a bit more sleep before another day of puking her guts out. She couldn't wait to be over this stomach bug.

"angel I need ya to pee on this."

that woke her up.

Beth turned and eyed Merle who was nervously holding out a small box. Beth took the box from his hand, sleepily rubbing her eyes before the words pregnancy test stood out. Beth froze and looked up to Merle, who was chewing his lip.

"you think I'm pregnant?"

Merle shrugged. "Buck and Daryl seem ta think so, and they have more experience in that then I do."

Beth thought as she sat forward. "i did miss last month..."

Merle nodded as he sat down. "go and take it angel. That way we know if its a stomach bug or somethin' more."

Beth shrugged. "suppose it couldn't hurt. But what if it comes back negative?"

Merle smirked at Beth. "then we get in more practice for when it comes positive."

Beth smiled nervously. "now?"

Merle pushed Beth towards the bathroom. "now!"

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Carol eyed Daryl and Buck who were smirking at each other. "what do you mean they'll be down in 2 minutes?"

Buck chuckled. "well lets put it this way, we'll know soon enough."

Carol opened her mouth to speak before the sound of stomping came from the stair case. Merle flew into the room, gasping as he grabbed onto the door frame.

"holy fuck I'm gonna be a daddy!"

Beth laughed as she came into the room, grabbing at Carol and smiling wide. "I'm pregnant!"

Carol smiled as she hugged Beth close. "Oh my god that was fast!"

Daryl laughed as Merle collapsed into a chair at the table. "must be a Dixon thing."

Buck chuckled as he stood and clapped Merle on the shoulders. "good on ya son!"

Merle laughed airly. "I'm gonna be a daddy."

Carol smirked at Beth. "i think you broke Merle."

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Beth walked into the padock, smiling as Penny trotted over. The mare was very sweet, and loved her sugar cubes. Drake was much less friendly, really only handlable by Merle. The stallion hovered a few yards away, quietly keeping an eye on everything around him.

Beth pulled a sugar cube out of her pocket, smiling when penny eagerly accepted the treat.

"sorry girl, won't be able to ride you for a few months. Did you hear? Merle and I are having a baby!"

"oh I heard."

at the sudden voice behind her, Beth jumped, turning quickly. Brandi stood a few feet away, a furious look on her face.

"You bitch!"

Beth was startled at Brandi's words. The woman had been cruel before Merle had proposed, but since then all she did was ignore Beth and attempt to flirt with Merle. Merle had caught on long ago, and avoided the woman like the plague. The few times Brandi had cornered Merle he had been very vocal in his refusals, and always told Beth when it happened. Due to this Beth had gone out of her way to keep both her and Merle away from the woman, but in a population as small as Strongfield, there wasn't much she could do.

Brandi stalked in front of Beth, slapping her across the face. Beth gasped as pain flare across her cheek, staring at Brandi as the woman ranted.

"that's my baby! Merle should be mine!"

Beth felt an anger like she had never felt before welling up, and before she knew it she had slapped Brandi back.

"Merle is my husband! What is wrong with you?!"

Brandi glared before she reached behind her back. "he's not your husband for long bitch!"

Beth gasped as Brandi pulled a gun from behind her back, pointing it at Beth's belly.

"once you can't have babies, Merle will never want you!"

Beth felt a rush of fear over take her. The threat at the tiny life growing inside her was very real.

"Brandi please! Don't do this!"

Brandi smirked. "who's going to stop me?!"

Brandi opened her mouth to say something more, before suddenly a whinny came from beside Beth and Brandi was flying thru the air. Drake roared as he bucked in front of Beth, having kicked Brandi into the fence. The stallion stomped his feet and pawed at the ground in front of Brandi who was gasping for air after the strong kick to her chest.

"Beth!"

both women looked to where Merle, Buck, Daryl and several other townspeople were running towards the paddock. Merle reached the paddock first, jumping over the fence and grabbing Beth close. Daryl and Buck vaulted the fence at the same time, Buck pulling his side arm on Brandi as Daryl grabbed Drake's halter, leading the stressed stallion away from the situation. Walt and Mike joined Buck, each grabbing Brandi under her arms as the woman struggled to her feet.

"that horse needs to be shot! He attacked me for no reason!"

Buck glared at Brandi, clicking the safety of his pistol off, causing Brandi to gulp. "he attacked you because you were pointin' a gun at a pregnant woman's belly."

Brandi pretended to be shocked. "i did no such thing! I was congratulating Beth!"

mike snorted. "nice try! We all saw you slap her, then pull a gun on Beth. You're out Brandi."

Brandi gapped. "out? What do you mean out?!"

Buck smirked lightly. "it means we give you a car and a weeks worth of supplies, and you get the fuck out of here."

Beth turned to Merle as Brandi was dragged away, kicking and screaming. Merle looked Beth over, taking in the shocked look in her face.

"Beth? Angel you alright?"

Beth nodded. "the baby, she wanted to kill the baby."

Merle nodded. "i saw ya slap her, but when she pulled the gun, fuck I thought I was gonna have a heart attack."

Beth smiled lightly. "Drake saved me."

Merle chuckled, looking over at the stallion that was now grazing across the paddock, penny beside him.

"i owe him one now."

Beth smirked. "maybe one day you'll have the opportunity to save one of his babies."

"i don't give a shit just get her out of here!"

Merle and Beth looked to where Buck had sent off Walt. Buck turned and walked towards Beth and Merle.

"you okay sugar?"

Beth nodded. "I'm fine."

Buck sighed. "I'm gettin' really fuckin' tired of assholes tryin' ta kill my grandkids before they're even born!"

Beth nodded. "i should have had my gun with me."

Merle shook his head. "ya had no idea baby, but from now on carry it with ya alright."

Buck watched as Merle walked Beth away. Buck froze, turning and listening. Something had happened. He wasn't sure what, but he could feel it. Something, or someone was coming.

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Michonne sighed as she watched rick walk away and she turned back to the group. After the governors attack they were a much smaller group. Hershel was sitting with Maggie and Glenn, having barely survived his encounter with the governor. Tyresse sat with Lizzie and Mika, having grown close with the two young girls. Sasha and bob were talking quietly to each other, while Carl sat in a corner with judith. No one else had survived.

As Michonne sat next to Carl, the boy turned to her.

"i hope we find Merle and Daryl."

Michonne turned to Carl. "you do?"

Carl was silent before he spoke up. "i think they would be able to lead this group better then my dad."

Michonne frowned. "your dad is doing the best he can."

Carl snorted lightly. "the best he can is no where good enough. At least if Daryl was here he could back my dad, and Merle always made my dad question his judgment, iron out the problems. Now, my dad just does what he wants to."

Michonne sighed as she turned to Carl. "i think they're to the south. I'll try pointing your dad that way."

Carl smiled lightly. "thank you."

Michonne was silent as she thought. Carl was right, with out the brothers to even rick out, his leadership flaws were becoming more and more apparent. They needed to find the Dixons before the group became any smaller.