WARNING: HURT AHEAD. The direction my muses take often surprises even me in this fandom and this piece is one of them. Somehow, it just seemed a likely perspective on things that our Daryl Dixon would have. It hangs there, with no satisfying answer or end, but it is complete as is and I hope the muses stay away from this particular kind of image in the future.

Which Way, by MissMishka

DISCLAIMER: The usual warnings, I claim no ownership of these characters, they are simply borrowed with love and adoration from the original creators to have their stories embellished on a little more than the show may do. Not for any profit.

Daryl only had experience with this kind of thing from dogs. His own ma had bailed before he could really get attached to her and he'd not seen a lot of maternal loving in the women who'd passed through their lives after that.

But there had always been dogs around. What they had had may have all been shit, but his dad had felt the need to have it guarded at all times. There had been the hounds, too, for hunting when his granddad still lived.

For whatever reason that man may have had, there was always some bitch among the dogs and when she threw a litter it was like a lottery. One litter he might allow to be kept, pups reared into hunting or guard dogs and sold off, but then there was that litter he seemed to deem defective that he'd bundle into a bag after birth and toss into the river.

Daryl always sensed there was some underlying meaning to all that, maybe a telling of the boys that they were still there only because the miserable bastard hadn't been bothered to kill 'em at birth. Whatever the point to it may have been, the boys never really knew, but they'd been made to witness the lottery often enough. Merle had eventually taken to tossing the bag in, but Daryl'd never gotten the stomach for it.

It was the afterward for the bitch that had shown him something of a mother's love. Each one, after having had a litter taken from her, had spent days searching for the pups she'd known herself to have birthed. Their eyes had had such a look in them that had cut Daryl to the quick every damned time. Something lost and haunted and questioning.


Each dog had known that their babies were gone from this earth and he had sensed that they knew and blamed him for having had any part of those deaths.

After a few days passed, the animals began to change. Some turned mean, not letting a person or other dog near them without snarling and snapping viciously. His dad had laughed at those ones, enjoying their grief turned to murderous rage, and chained them up near the edges of the property to scare off trespassers. Others stopped eating, stopped caring, and eventually wandered off never to be seen again. Daryl had seen enough dogs crawl off to die to know that that was what those ones had done in their grief. Finally, there were the older gals who'd seemed to take the loss in stride. The bitches who'd seen enough of life on the Dixon land to know that some litters would stay and some would go, but either way there would be more of the babes to grow in their bellies and tear at their teats until weaned. Those were the breeders and Daryl had never much cared for them.

In the hours turning to days after Sophia's death, he kept a watchful, guarded eye on Carol, wondering which way she'd end up going.

And wondering if he'd just be able to accept it.

I know, I know. My Daryl!muses killed puppies. I'm sorry PETA!