I'm trying a few new things in regards to this new story that I haven't tried before. I hope you like it! As with most of my other stories, this will alternate between Daryl and Beth. Beth's POV will be the next chapter.

Chapter One.

He makes Merle stay outside by the truck because if he comes into the house with him, Merle will just start some shit and Daryl's just not in the mood for that today. Or any day. Not since this whole thing imploded and sitting at the bar earlier with Merle, listening to his older brother rise swiftly to his defense, it makes Daryl feel good but at the same time, he knows Merle and Merle rising to his defense means that he'll probably get arrested. Especially since Daryl knows Amy has never liked Merle and will have no issue calling the cops on him if he so much as looks cross-eyed at her.

So, having Merle stay outside really is the best thing for everyone.

Right there in the living room, Amy already has his things packed away in boxes and Daryl knows that's only because he's noticed Randall's things are already moved in. It makes him wonder how long she's been sneaking around behind his back. He wonders how long he's been thinking about marrying this girl while she's stepping out with Randall.

Thank fuck he never did actually get around to asking her to marry him.

"This it?" He asks after it takes two trips back and forth to the truck, handing things to Merle for Merle to toss them carelessly into the back bed.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Amy asks and Daryl just stares at her because that's what Amy does. She asks questions she really doesn't expect anyone to actually answer. She sighs as if she's reaching the end of her endless patience for this entire situation and then holds a blue nylon leash out towards him.

Daryl blinks at it for a moment. "I bought 'im as a present for you," he says with a frown.

Amy pauses for a moment and he tries to read her face before giving up; wondering if he had ever been able to read it or if he had just convinced himself that he knew this girl.

After another moment, Amy shakes her head. "No, you should take him. Randall's allergic."

Less than five minutes later, Daryl's pulling away from the house, Merle across the bench seat and his hand on the head of the two-year-old chocolate Labrador, Louis, who sits between them with his tongue hanging out, excited for whatever is coming his way.

At least one of them is excited, Daryl thinks to himself as he heads down the street.

Paulette Dixon is in her mid-sixties and had been working at the diner for the past thirty or so years, where everyone calls her Paulie and people know that if they want ginger root or freshly grown mint, they go see her. Her backyard has a tiny greenhouse that Daryl had built for her years earlier – his first job that has kind of served as a calling card for everything else he does and can do – where she is able to grow all sorts of natural remedies to sell to the people in their small town.

She met Will Dixon when she was hardly a teenager and by fourteen, she was pregnant. She gave birth to her oldest son, Merle, when she was fifteen and for some reason, a reason her sons never understood, she and Will got married when she sixteen. She was twenty-five when she gave birth to Daryl and all of the time before that and for years after, Will liked to use his wife and two sons as his own personal punching bags.

The best thing that ever happened to any of them was when Will took off with some bar floozy for Reno and two months later, a detective came knocking, telling them that Will's body was found in the desert somewhere.

After that, Paulie tried to find work. She never graduated from high school and she didn't have that many skills but she had two boys she had to take care of. Merle brought home money but Paulie hardly ever accepted it, knowing for the most part where it came from. She wandered into the diner one day and spoke with the owner and she had no experience but she would learn, damn it. She had been serving three males their food for years now and this couldn't be much different than that.

Merle enters the diner first, followed by Daryl and he's got Louis with him, the dog trotting in at his side and sniffing at the black and white checkered linoleum floor. Dogs aren't allowed in here but Daryl knows Louis is the exception. The owner, Dale, has a little crush on Paulie and usually lets things slide with her and her own that he wouldn't put up with from others. Daryl's not trying to take advantage of the man. He just doesn't want to leave Louis alone in the truck and knows Dale won't tell him to get this dog out of here. He's not sure how long he and Merle will be here.

Paulie's behind the counter, refilling a man's cup of coffee, and she looks up when they enter, the little bell hanging above the door letting out a light tingle to announce their arrival. And when Paulie lifts her head and sees them, she instantly bursts into a smile but then she sees Daryl's face and Louis trotting at his side and her own smile fades.

"I didn' know you were gonna be doin' that today," she says, still holding the pot as she goes to where Merle and Daryl settle themselves on a couple of stools at the end of the counter.

Daryl shrugged. "Jus' wanted it done," he mumbles as he takes one of the laminated menus from between the kitchen and mustard bottles even though he knows by heart what the diner has to offer and the last thing he wants to do right now is eat.

He just has no idea what else to do at the moment.

He just has no idea what the hell has happened. He and Amy were together for two years. Two years. This wasn't just some hookup at some bar that didn't mean anything. They were living together. Daryl was pretty sure he was going to have a life with this girl. He wanted to anyway. When she told him that she had been cheating on him, she might as well have smacked him in the face with a frying pan. It wouldn't have shocked him more than that. Because not only was she cheating on him, she was cheating on him with Randall, the shitty drummer of the shitty band that played at their usual bar every Saturday night; a shitty band who thought they would get some record contract any day now even though Daryl has heard bats screeching in the woods sound better than Death by Destruction.

Amy had cheated on him with the drummer for a band who call themselves Death By Destruction. He doesn't know what is worse. The fact that he loved this girl and she had cheated on him or that she had cheated on him with that.

"You're so damn quiet, Daryl!" Amy had shouted at him on the night when she had told him and he had stood there, still reeling from the bombshell; still in shock. "Randall talks to me! And he listens to me, too!"

That had snapped him out of it. He frowned at her. "I listen to you," he all but growled.

"Then why didn't you hear how unhappy I've been lately?" She fired back and Daryl had no response for that one because no, he hadn't known.

He hadn't known she had been unhappy being with him. How long had that been going on? And if he hadn't heard it, he would have seen it. He had been hunting and tracking since he was just a little kid and few things were able to escape his attention. That was the truth but why the fuck couldn't he have seen something off about Amy's behavior? Not that she was unhappy. He didn't really believe that and was pretty sure she was just using it as an excuse. But about her behavior towards Randall. Amy wouldn't have been able to hide that from him. She's shit at keeping secrets. So how was she able to blindside him with this?

"Here, sweetie."

He looks to see his mom set a bowl of soup down in front of him. Cream of celery from the looks of it. His favorite. And the diner's soup of the day – every day.

But his stomach churns at the sight of it and without a word, he pushes it towards Merle, who is more than happy to take it off his hands and who is already reaching for the spoon.

"m' gonna go for a walk," he says, standing up from his stool, his hands still holding onto Louis' leash, starting to shake a little. He really needs a smoke. Or a drink. Or maybe he needs to go down to that bar and punch someone in the face. Randall wouldn't stand a chance against him but no, he won't do that. Punching people had always been more of Merle's thing than his. Maybe he could send Merle…

"Daryl…" Paulie starts to say after him but Daryl doesn't stop as he heads out of the diner, pushing the door open with more force than necessary, Louis trotting after him.

In the middle of the small town, there's a park called The Commons - for some reason - that's plopped down between two streets that run parallel to one another, and that's where Daryl and Louis walk once they leave the diner.

It's a nice warm spring day and the park is crowded with kids at the playground, people walking or riding their bikes along the path, and there's a game of basketball going on involving a group of high-school boys, girls of the same age sitting in the grass watching them, giggling behind their hands and whispering to one another.

Louis leads Daryl to the fountain in the middle of the park and immediately stands up on his hind legs, his front paws on the concrete edge as he always does, watching the goldfish who live in the fountain water lazily swim about. At the center of the fountain, there's a statue of Stonewall Jackson, which has been protested against plenty of times by people to try and get it removed but the curmudgeonly old people who run the town, Dixie pride still running deep in their blood, refuse to take the statue down so there it remains standing.

Daryl plops down on the edge next to the dog and releases a heavy sigh. He wants a cigarette and feels the familiar pack always present in his back jeans pocket but smoking isn't allowed in The Commons and he doesn't feel like bringing attention to himself. Small town and all of that. Everyone probably already knows about him and Amy and the last thing he wants is someone coming up to him, wanting to talk and try to offer him comfort.

Louis turns his head and looks at Daryl with his tongue panting from his mouth, looking like he's giving Daryl a smile, and Daryl almost feels his lips twitching in his own smile before he's able to stop himself. He just reaches a hand out and rubs it behind one of Louis' ears and the dog moves closer to him, plopping himself down in front of Daryl at his feet, facing him.

"So, this is it, huh?" Daryl asks the dog. "You and me."

Louis just keeps panting and smiling and when Daryl tries to move his hands away, Louis nudges his knee with his snout, demanding more. And Daryl's hands return to behind his ears, rubbing and looking at the young dog that had been bought on a whim from Hershel Greene, the veterinarian who lived on a farm just outside of town and who was the vet to just about every animal in the area. He was always rescuing animals; strays and animals that had been by their families on the side of the road or at rest stops.

Louis had been found at a rest stop on the interstate by Hershel's youngest daughter, who was going to college in Atlanta and coming back to town for a visit. Hershel had gotten the chocolate lab puppy back to perfect health and when Daryl had been over at the farm one afternoon, patching a section of the roof on the old Greene house that had been standing since the turn of the century, Hershel asked him if he ever thought about getting a dog. Chocolate labs were good hunting dogs.

And Daryl looked at the puppy and remembered that Amy had a love for dogs and had talked before about getting one because despite what she later claimed, he listened.

When Hershel had passed away three months earlier, the entire town had showed up for the funeral, the church not able to hold everyone and people had spilled outside.

Someone suddenly sits down next to him and Daryl suppresses a sigh. Here we go, he thinks to himself before turning his head, seeing that it's Rick Grimes, dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt and a stroller in front of him, baby Judy Grimes wearing a floppy pink hat to protect her head from the sun. It's obviously Rick's day off.

"Need a place to crash for a while?" Rick asks. "And before you say no, just know that Lori's already cleaning out the spare room for you."

Daryl allows himself to smirk at that and he goes back to looking at Louis, still rubbing behind his ears. "Nah," he shakes his head. "'m gonna be stayin' with my ma for a while until I can find my own place. But tell Lori I said thanks," he then adds.

"If it makes you feel any better-" Rick continues. "-most of the people are taking your side."

That gets Daryl looking at him again with a frown. "Didn' 'member askin' anyone to take sides 'cause it's none of their damn business."

Rick just shrugs and knows he's thinking the same thing Daryl already knows. Small town.

"Merle says it's 'cause she's younger than me," Daryl said. "Not tryin' to make excuses for her. Merle just thinks maybe she needs to sow more wil' oats or somethin' like that."

"She's not that much younger," Rick points out and Daryl almost hates how it has always seemed to him that he and Rick share a brain a lot of the time. Sometimes – most of the time – he feels like Rick Grimes – his best friend who's as close to him as another brother – understands him more than his actual brother.

Daryl shrugs and doesn't say anything more about it. He's already said more about it than he ever wanted to. It doesn't matter Amy's reason for doing what she did. The only thing that matters is that she did it. She was with Daryl and decided to go behind his back and be with Randall, too. The only thing that matters is he loved her and wanted to marry her. Live in a nice house with a nice girl and have a nice marriage and maybe start a nice family.

The only thing that matters is that he was stupid enough to think that Amy wanted all of that, too.

"Here we go," Paulie says with a smile as she pulls another blanket out from the closet and unfolding it, she spreads it over the bed.

"Ma, stop. I know where the blankets are if I need 'em," Daryl says from the doorway.

Paulie just ignores him and hums to herself as she fluffs the pillows as she turns the bed down for the night. The window in the bedroom is open and Daryl can hear the zapping of the bug light in the backyard as the mosquitos fly curiously into the blue glow. The next door neighbor has left his sprinkler on even though the air smells like rain and the neighbors on the other side are fighting with their windows open. They're always fighting.

Once Paulie stands up and looks to the bed with a smile, Louis comes running and jumping up, plopping himself at the foot.

"Now, what do you wan' for breakfast tomorrow mornin'?" Paulie asks her son.

He doesn't answer. He's a year away from being forty-years-old and it's bad enough that he has to move back in here and live with his mom because he needs the time to get back on his feet. He's not going to let her baby him with home-cooked meals and fresh bed sheets and towels in the bathroom.

Despite years of violent abuse from her deceased husband, Paulie Dixon still has remnants that show she was a beautiful girl once. Her hair is light – closer to being blonde than brown. Merle's hair is light like hers and Daryl's had been, too, when he was younger but as he got older, it got darker, just like his old man's. Her eyes are green and her hair has grey and her skin has wrinkles but she doesn't act like she's getting older and Daryl supposes that's all that matters. She walks with a permanent limp, favoring her left side – a leftover injury from when Will Dixon threw her down some stairs and she broke her hip.

"Don't be a stubborn ass. Reminds me too much of your dad," she frowns at him but her frown has no bite to it. "Biscuits and gravy and you best be at the table in the mornin'. I don't need you sneakin' out of here for work before gettin' somethin' in your stomach."

Daryl stares at her, trying to remain stubborn but sometimes – most of the time – with his mom, there's just no point to it. "Yes ma'm," he grumbles and Paulie smiles up at him.

She reaches up to him then a puts her hands on his cheeks, forcing him to look down at her. She's a little thing compared to her two sons.

"Everythin' will work out the way it's supposed to, Daryl Dixon. You just wait and see," she says and then with a pat on his cheeks, she moves past him, stepping back into the hallway, and with a good-night said over her shoulder, she heads into her own bedroom, closing the door behind her.

Daryl's not tired in the least but there's nothing else for him to do. He closes his door and without turning off the light, he flops back on the old double-size bed, still fully clothed. Louis turns himself around before flopping down again and resting his head on Daryl's stomach. Daryl absent-mindedly rubs him behind his ear as he turns his head and looks out the window, feeling the cool spring breeze blow through the screen.

He finally reaches over and turns off the light on the nightstand next to the bed, drowning himself in the darkness. He's still not tired though and he can't imagine himself getting to bed anytime soon. He can still hear the neighbors yelling. Apparently the guy used their rent money to buy some new video game and the woman is screaming her head off at him. If that's how he's going to spend their money, he can give the lap dances to men and make his own damn money to waste.

His mind goes back to Amy. Of course it does. The harder he tries to stop thinking about her, she's the only thing his brain will allow him to think about.

He and Amy didn't really fight with one another. They had a couple of disagreements but for the most part, whatever she had wanted, Daryl had just gone along with it, wanting to keep things smooth and easy between them. Wasn't that what he was supposed to do? Wasn't that what she had wanted?

He wonders if she's at the bar tonight, watching Death by Destruction. It's Saturday, the band's usual night to play, but only for an hour because the bar's owner, Joe, isn't an idiot and an hour is all he can afford to give them to drive his customers away. But he can't refuse them completely since the lead singer just happens to be his son.

Daryl imagines Amy sitting on a stool, wearing some short skirt like she loves, and sipping her usual Jack and Coke through a little black straw, as she gazes adoringly to the little stage at the back of the bar, watching that idiot drummer who can't keep a steady beat if someone was hitting his knees with a hammer.

He knows Merle is probably there tonight, too. Merle and Joe are close friends and Merle is almost always at the bar no matter the night. Daryl just hopes Merle is smart enough to not start shit with his now ex-girlfriend. Daryl doesn't need him to do that though he appreciates the loyalty Merle is expressing.

When Merle tells him that he's got friends who will be able to take care of Randall for a small fee, Daryl knows that his older brother isn't lying.

But Daryl's not interested. Not in the least. The sooner he can move on and forget all about Amy Harris – and all women alive still in the world for that matter – the better off he'll be. Besides, he now has more important things to worry about besides his ex.

Like how soon can he get himself moved the hell out of his mom's house.

Thank you very much for reading and please take a moment to review and let me know what you think so far!

I have begun working on my own original story so I won't be able to update this story as quickly as I have updated in the past. So please, just be patient with me!