Hi all!

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to those who have reviewed, followed and favourited my other drabbles. Thank you! It means a lot :)

I also currently seem to have a fascination with Merle's POV concerning Daryl. It's all I can write at the moment. I hope you're not getting sick of it yet!
But then again...I sure do love me some Dixon boys, so it feeds my own need for some good old angsty Dixon fluff.

I apologise for any mistakes you may find or if it seems a bit choppy. Although I do edit and read my work back over and over again, it can be hard to pick up mistakes in your own writing.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!

It usually started with an exhale of air. An action that was so innocent Merle didn't really understand how it could end so badly.

Daryl was going to cry again and there was something so pitiful about a hungry baby.

Merle watched the big eyes well up with tears, the hiccupping sniffle only adding to his fear that this was going to be a big one. For six weeks Merle had been listening to non-stop screaming and he just wanted it to stop. Now.

"Dixon's don't cry baby brother," he would whisper to the shaking form. Not that his baby brother ever listened.

He could already imagine his old man beginning to lose patience, that intent look on his face aimed at the youngest Dixon. Even just the thought put Merles nerves on edge. If Pa ever let those hands do anything but clench on empty air when it came to his baby brother, Merle didn't know what he'd do. But he'd promised to look after the tiny bundle, so that's what would have to happen.

Ma was good though; she knew exactly what to do. Whenever Daryl's gurgles turned to whimpers she would leave the room and go find Pa. At first Merle hadn't understood what she was doing.

'Please don't leave,' he would plead with her.

But, by the time Daryl was loud enough to draw their old mans attention, Merle finally got what his Ma's plan was. The two adults would be so engrossed in their own world that they couldn't hear anything over their own yelling and screaming. The sound of the tiny, hungry baby in the other room was well masked, no match for an angry man and a woman in pain.

Merle thought Ma was real brave when she did that. Some days he wished he was as fearless as her, but most of the time Merle couldn't imagine facing the old bastard on purpose, knowing what he'd walk away with. Or maybe walk was the wrong word. Ma rarely walked away from a fight with Pa; no-one really walked away from a fight with Pa. But that was beside the point. Sometimes something in Merle told him that he should be the one distracting Pa, not letting his Ma take the punishment. He was the man here. And besides, Daryl needed Ma much more than he needed Merle.

But Merle wasn't a hero like Ma, so each time Daryl started crying he watched her limp away while he stayed with the baby.

And, for now, Merle had another role. It was Ma's job to distract his father; it was Merles job to look after Daryl while she was doing it. He didn't really know what to do with a baby though, so his care was kind of hit and miss at best. He tried his hardest though.

But sometimes Merle just couldn't be bothered anymore. Sometimes he just got so sick of the noise that he would have to leave the room and the loud, smelly, annoying bundle who just wouldn't quit the noise no matter what Merle did. Sometimes Merle just needed to lie under his own bed with his pillow over his head and his hands pressed firmly over his ears to try and muffle out everything. And sometimes… Sometimes Merle just had to scream a little himself. Release whatever it was that he felt welling up in his chest; that heavy, sick feeling that felt like it was crushing him and which made it hard to breathe. Sometimes he just needed it gone.

And he always tried really hard not to yell at Daryl. But it was difficult not to let it all out, and Daryl was there and he couldn't yell back, couldn't fight back. So when Ma would leave again, stranding Merle with a half empty bottle of formula that he knew wasn't enough and a baby who just wouldn't stop, Merle couldn't always keep himself from letting the poison spill.

'Shut up!' He would find himself yelling. 'Shut up for once, you good for nothin' piece o' shit! Don't you know nothin'? We don't want ya, you're just makin' everthin' worse, ya useless baby! I wish you'd jus' go away!'

And afterwards Merle would feel better for a few seconds. The tiny bundle would go quiet for a moment, those trusting baby blues staring up at him in astonishment. And Merle would feel relief that the noise had finally stopped, a relief so warm and cloying, so addictive.

But then the miniature lips would pout, trembling as the eyes filled and then spilled crocodile tears, leaving clean tracks on the soft, downy cheeks. And as Merle watched this, the guilt would creep in.

So as Ma cried out in the living room, begging for Pa to stop, Merle would reach down and pick up his little brother. Rock him back and forth, back and forth, the motion and warmth soothing to both little boys.

Eventually the house would fall quiet again; sound would die out and the tears would dry. And for a moment, there was peace in the Dixon house.

Those clear eyes would close and a sigh would escape, signalling the end of this round. And, as the rhythmic breathing of a sleeping baby began, Merle would let himself relax, infinitesimally. For now it was over, he would tell himself, dipping his little fingers into an even smaller fist, fascinated by the strong grip that connected him to his little brother.

Back and forth they'd rock in a never ending loop. Back and forth, back and forth.

Merle and his baby brother, together.