I have a slight love affair with donuts (they're my fifth food group) and I had this image of Daryl Dixon going into a doughnut shop and from there, another AU story took root and I have been developing an outline. This is just the prologue so it's a little short but the other chapters will be longer.

Chapter One. Long John.

Daryl Dixon liked going to the doughnut shop when he got off his shift at the warehouse. His shift ended at four in the morning and that's when the shop down the street was just opening up for the day. He was usually the only one there except for the cook in the back, downing cups of coffee to wake himself up while making dozens of fresh donuts, and the waitress in her pink uniform with tired bags under her eyes but she always did her best to smile at him when she came towards him.

"Good morning," she said tiredly. "Coffee?" She asked, the question finishing with a yawn.

He wondered what time she went to bed and what time she woke up to get to work.

He nodded his head and turned over the white porcelain mug with the chipped handle at the corner of his paper place-mat and she filled it from the steaming pot she was holding. She then set the pot down and pulled her order pad from the front of her apron and she patted her pockets as she did every morning. Without a word, he sipped on his black coffee and pointed to the pencil she had shoved in her hair.

"Thanks," she laughed softly as she did every other morning they did this. "Do you know what you want?" She then asked.

"One of those chocolate long johns," Daryl answered like he did every morning and every morning, she wrote it down on the order pad as if it was something different every day. He wondered how big of orders they got here where she actually had to write them down to remember them.

"You got it," she said and gave him another tired smile before turning and heading towards the cases behind the counter and a moment later, came back with his doughnut on a plate and set it in front of him. She then headed out back and he knew that she was taking her first smoke break of her shift.

He sat there, sipping his coffee, eating his doughnut and looking down at the ads from local businesses being advertised on the place-mat. Painting and plumbing and carpet steaming services. A coupon for a dog's free nail trim at the grooming place in town. A family in need of a babysitter during the day. A woman offering piano lessons. His eyes floated over all of them, none catching his attention or his needs, though he really didn't have that many needs. He had a small place of his own without Merle there to trash it. He had a steady job that paid him enough. He had food in his stomach and a bed to sleep in every night. He didn't need more than that.

The door opened then, bringing in a gust of the cold dawn air along with a small woman with blonde hair, pulled up in a ponytail but most of it falling out. Despite the weather outside, she was wearing a dress and cowboy boots and he could see her shivering as she went to the counter. Her arms were crossed over herself, hugging herself as she rubbed her bare arms up and down with her hands. He heard her sniffle and he wondered if she was crying or if she had a runny nose from being stupid enough to be out there without a coat.

Daryl sipped on his coffee as he watched the cook come out from the kitchen, his spoon still in hand. "Can I help you with something, miss?" He asked.

"I was wondering if I could use your phone. My ride… I don't have a ride and I need to call someone," she said and it sounded strong but Daryl had sharper ears than most and he could hear the watery tone to it. Girl had definitely been crying.

He recognized the tone well enough. He had heard it enough in his life and though he hadn't heard it in years, he still could remember the instant he heard it again as if it had just been last night since the last time. His old man would have just slapped the hell out of his mom and her face would be bloody and bruising and the phone would ring and she would take a deep breath and one last sniffle before answering it with a hello as if nothing had happened and the sun was shining particularly bright upon the Dixon house that day.

Daryl took a bite of the doughnut and couldn't stop from looking at the girl. She was mostly turned away from him so he couldn't get a good look at her and he wondered why he wanted to. Whatever was going on with her, it wasn't any of his business. He was just here to eat his doughnut and then go home and sleep for a while.

The waitress came in from her smoke break then and paused for a moment, looking at the girl standing at the counter, the shop's phone in her hand, pressed to her ear, and her whole body shivering more, as if responding to the wind picking up outside, howling against the diner windows.

"Hi, I was calling for a cab," she spoke once someone finally picked up on the other end.

The waitress went around to the other side of the counter as the girl spoke with the cab company and she poured a steaming cup of coffee, putting it down in front of her.

"Theodore's Doughnut Shop," she said. "Yes, I'll be here. Thank you." The girl ended the call and put the receiver back in the cradle. She then looked to the waitress and the cook. "Thank you so much," she said. "And I'm sorry for just bursting in here."

"No need to be sorry. We're open. You're not bursting anywhere," the cook said and then pushed the cup of coffee closer to her. "On the house. I'm Theodore but you can call me T-Dog. I own the place. And this is Rosita," he said and the waitress smiled at her.

"I'm Beth," the girl said, wiping at her cheeks. "And thank you again."

T-Dog had just opened his mouth to probably tell her that she didn't have to thank them for anything but before any of the words could leave his mouth, the door was ripped open and a guy stormed in. Daryl looked at him and he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on edge. He didn't know this guy and yet, he did. Merle had sold enough shit to guys like this. Their dads were lawyers and doctors and they wore polo shirts with popped collars and they thought they could do anything in this world with no consequences and could walk over anyone to do it. Daryl had always hated guys like this and seeing this guy walk in here, clearly pissed off and heading right for the girl named Beth, it made Daryl put his doughnut down and watch the scene closely – even as he reminded himself that none of this was his damn business.

"Beth, let's go," the guy said in a tone as hard as rock.

"No," Beth said firmly, turning herself away from the counter and towards the other guy that had joined all of this, giving Daryl a better look at her.

She was young but she was definitely a woman. She didn't have much of a chest that he could see – not that he was looking for one – but she had the slightest shape of hips and he didn't understand how someone so little could have long legs like she did. Her skin was pale and her eyes were huge and Daryl wasn't usually the one to ever notice the opposite sex but for some reason, he was looking at her and definitely taking note of her.

"Beth. Let's. Go." The guy's voice was even harder now, firm as if he was giving a command to a stubborn dog, and he reached out, grabbing her arm.

Daryl took one look at Beth wincing at the grip and before he realized it, he was getting to his feet. He didn't know what the hell he was doing and he knew that if Merle was there, he would be watching this scene like an entertainment hour and telling Daryl to sit his ass down. And Daryl told himself that this was none of his business. He had just gotten off of work, he was eating his doughnut and then he was going home. He didn't have the time or energy to deal with anything else; especially something like this.

"No, Zach," Beth said as she tried to wiggle her arm free. "I'm not going anywhere with you."

Daryl glanced to T-Dog to see what the stocky cook would do and he could see his fingers tightening around the handle of his spoon as if he was about to slug the guy with it and Rosita was pulling the phone closer to her, ready to pick the receiver up and make the call.

"Yes, you are," Zach said and Daryl could see his fingers digging into Beth's pale skin.

"She said she isn't going with you," T-Dog said, coming around the counter. "And I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"No offense," Zach turned his eyes on T-Dog and his grip never lessened from Beth's arm. Daryl could see her still struggling to get away but the guy was too strong and Daryl could see the redness forming on her arm from his hold. "But this is no one else's business except mine and my girlfriend's."

Daryl told himself that for once, an asshole like this was right. It wasn't any of their business. Especially his. Just go back to your booth and finish your doughnut, Daryl, he told himself even as he continued to stand there, his eyes watching every move being made.

And then, Beth's head turned and her eyes fell on Daryl. He felt himself freeze at the sight of her eyes. A shade of dark blue like the sky right before the sun started to rise in the mornings and right now, there were unshed tears making them look like they were sparkling under the fluorescent lighting of the doughnut shop.

Suddenly, Daryl was seven years old again, looking at his mom with the same tears in her eyes, ready to get yet another beating from the old man and Daryl had stood there, not able to help her, not able to do anything except run to his closet and hide and cover his ears even though he was still able to hear his mom's shrieks and her tears as she pleaded with the old man to stop and told him again and again how sorry she was for whatever small infraction she had done this time to make him so mad.

Daryl knew this girl in front of him wasn't his mom but she could have been her sister or daughter or aunt and Daryl couldn't be seven years old again. He wasn't. He was a forty-year-old man who could easily take on this preppy asshole who was making this girl cry just like his old man had made his mom cry.

"Beth, come on," Zach tugged on her arm with such a force, she stumbled towards him.

Daryl had seen enough and still without saying a word to any of them, he walked right up to Zach, brought his fist back and collided it with the asshole's eye. Instantly, the grip he had on Beth's arm was gone as he fell back to the floor. Beth gasped in shock and her eyes widened as she turned them to Daryl.

Daryl glanced at her, wondering what he was expecting to see. Was she one of those girls who would defend the guy beating her up against everyone? Would she fall on her knees next to Zach and make sure he was okay and apologize to him for everything?

Daryl almost held his breath to see what she would do because for some damn strange reason, it was important to him that she wasn't one of those girls. Don't make him regret getting up and coming to her aid if she was just going to turn around and make him out to be the bad guy. This is why he always stuck to his own business. Most people didn't deserve help and the world had disappointed him too many times before he just turned his back on the whole big mess of it and kept to himself.

Beth sniffled and wiped at her cheeks. She then turned to Zach, still groaning on the floor, his hand cupped over the eye that Daryl's fist had met, and she swiftly kicked him in the leg, making him release another pained groan.

Daryl almost felt his lips twitching as if he was going to smile but he controlled himself.

"Thank you," Beth said, looking back to him and he could hear the kindness in her voice that made him want to squirm uncomfortably and Daryl shrugged as if it wasn't a big deal and to him, it wasn't. Was just something that had to be done.

Without saying anything to her, or to any of them, Daryl turned and returned to his booth, half-eaten doughnut and now lukewarm cup of coffee. He could still feel Beth's eyes on him but he didn't look at her again and instead, went back to reading over the ads on the place-mat.

Thank you so much for reading and let me know what you think so far! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!