NOTE: This was written in the summer after season 2, so it cannot be held responsible for any canon developments that occur thereafter.

Hello, all! I do hope you enjoy this new offering- it should be at least ten chapters long. It is called "The Blood Done Signed my Name" after an old, southern folk song. It will tell the story of Daryl and Merle's flight from their home- overrun with walkers- their life on the run together, and their discovery of the brave new world in which they must survive. It will figure just the two brothers, for the most part- and I guess you could call it a love story. It will hop between the perspective of the two- starting with Merle. Now that I'm trying to get to know him, he has had a lot of interesting things to tell me about who he is. Probably someone only a mother- or brother- could love, but I'm finding his mind has some interesting caverns to explore. I'll bring my flashlight.

This is continuation of my previous fic, "Little Janie Reed," in which I introduce Daryl to the zombie apocalypse in as traumatic a way as I could possibly think of. While you don't precisely *have* to read it to get this, I would recommend it. It sets up the situation and I think will make the experience a better one.

Thanks! And please review- I could really use the support!

Part One: She Was Dead

When he heard the first gunshot, Merle was staring at his bedroom ceiling. He'd been lying there, breathing in and out, for hours. Listening to his breaths, and tracing the cracks in the plaster above his head. He was coming down from a wild time the night before.

All at once, there was a flurry of noise from the room next to him. A slamming door. Daryl. Running out of the house like a bat out of hell—running towards the noise of that shot. But Merle didn't entirely register what that shot was. Or why Daryl had flown out of the house towards it.

He sat up, winced. Took a moment to reassemble the night. His head was aching.

Billy Tucker. He'd come by last night from next door. Wanted to go out to the roadhouse and pick up some women. Daryl came along- though it was like pulling his fucking teeth out to get him to do it. And when they got there, all he did was stare holes into the backs of their heads all evening—staring in that irritating way he had that made Merle want to beat him over the skull with something blunt and heavy.

And Merle had taken some girls home. How many had there been? Three. Three girls. And Billy. And some of the heroin he'd been stashing since he got on the stuff in prison.

Predictably, Daryl sat out on the porch and ignored them the whole time. Sat out there staring into space like he was stupid.

Merle sat up, swung his legs around to the side of the bed. Looked around. There was a bra sprawled on the floor, on top of some of his dirty clothes. He picked it up. Flimsy, with purple lace on the edges. As he recalled, the bitch didn't fill it out too well.

He tossed it in a corner, tapped his feet. Sighed. The house was irritatingly quiet. The walls were closing in. Time went by and he felt himself just twitching with the urge to do... something. Just something—He wasn't sure what. It was just that familiar itch beneath his skin—the one with no outlet. It came back every day when he woke up. It kept him up at night unless he had something to snort or swallow or shoot up or fuck. He could never really wrap his head around it.

An explosive sound filled the air. This time, Merle turned towards it. Out past the house, near the Tucker place. The doublewide trailer that shared this dead end dirt road with the fine and beautifully appointed Dixon homestead.

That was a gunshot.

All at once, Merle realized that the other sound—at least a half hour before—was also a gunshot. Moments later, two more rang out.

Merle got up from the bed.

He pulled on his pants. Walked out through the living room while absently pulling on his shirt. Leaned out the door while stepping into his boots, squinting over at the Tucker place. The shots had to have come from over there.

Growing disquiet started to climb up in the back his mind. His eyes narrowed.

Daryl was over there.

Merle was about to step off the porch and check on what was happening when Daryl walked out of the doublewide trailer.

As his brother approached, Merle could see that he was completely covered in blood.

"Hey bro."

Merle said it casually, while he looked Daryl over-confirmed for himself he wasn't shot. He seemed ok, as far as that went. Wasn't doubled over and bleeding. But his face… the look on it. Merle had never seen anything like it.

"What's this?" Merle asked, looking into Daryl's blank expression. He looked completely stiff. Far away. He tried to bring him back the only way he knew how.

"You on the rag or somethin'?"

But the barb didn't land. Daryl didn't seem to even hear it as he drifted to Merle's side. He was absolutely splattered with blood. His arms, his chest, his face. And his hands—his bloody hands were shaking.

"Little brother…"

He trailed off. This was getting nowhere. The longer Daryl stood there, the deeper Merle's disquiet grew. He reached out and clapped Daryl on the arm. Tried to pull him out of whatever place his mind had fallen into.

"Stand and fucking deliver, Bro. What in the name of hell is goin' on?"

Still nothing.

"Daryl," he said, leaning forward, "I heard shots."

Daryl turned away from him. Leaned on the porch railing. His back was as coated with gore as the rest of him. It was in his hair, smeared on the back of his neck, and worn deep into the fibers of his shirt. Like he'd been pinned down in a pool of it. Grappled with someone on a bloody floor.

But he didn't seem hurt. Didn't have a scratch on him. This was someone else's blood.

The thought was broken when Daryl finally spoke.


He choked on the word. Cleared his throat, then nodded in the direction of the road.

"Merle… look."

So Merle looked.

Four figures, walking towards them. Stiffly, awkwardly. They were too far away for him to see their faces. Still, it was obvious there was something wrong with them.

Merle squinted at them. He didn't know what he was seeing.

He would soon enough.

As the figures reached the doublewide and came more clearly into view, one turned towards the pair of them. It paused, looked at the two of them for a long moment, and started heading steadily towards them in a straight line.

Daryl suddenly sprang to life.

He grabbed Merle's arm, tugged him into the house. Shut the door, locked it. Then he flew to the windows and pulled the blinds—thick with dust and practically stuck in place from long years of disuse. Merle could see that his hands had left a little smear of blood on one of the pulls.

Merle wanted to grab his brother by the shoulders and shake him. Clearly he'd gotten himself in some kind of trouble. Why would he go rushing off like that towards a goddamn gunshot? He was always doing things like that. Stupid things. And it annoyed Merle. Made him nervous.

It must have been on account of that little girl—the neighbor girl—Billy's wife— whatever her name is. Daryl'd been running off to play hero. Make sure that gunshot wasn't aimed at her.

She was a real pretty little thing. He'd noticed Daryl had a bit of a hard-on for her. That must have been why.

"What happened over there?" Merle asked, "With Billy and—and—"

He couldn't conjure the name. Daryl looked at him sharply.


Daryl stepped forward, gestured incoherently with frustration. His own bloody hands caught his eye. He stopped, stared at them.

"Her name was Janie..."

His voice was quiet, but Merle caught it immediately.

"… was?"

"They're both dead, Merle," he said, still looking down at his hands.

"Billy—he's shot. In the head. Killed himself. And she… she was dead."

He kept staring at his hands.

"She tried to kill me, Merle… and she was dead. She was dead before she went at me.

Merle stared at his boots. Daryl kept talking. Kept repeating himself.

"Merle, she was dead. She was dead and she wanted to kill me."

"Wait… wait, Daryl."

"Daryl—you sayin' that tiny neighbor girl—the one gone 'bout seven months pregnant—tried to kill you?"

"Wasn't… wasn't her. She was gone."

"Was somethin' else. In her body—runnin' it around like a goddamn puppet. She was dead."

He paused. Then calmly said three words Merle never expected.

"I shot her."

Merle looked up. Daryl nodded.

"Straight through the heart."

Merle looked into his brother's face-couldn't say anything. He knew as sure as sky was up and dirt was down that there was no possible way Daryl would ever do anything like shooting the little pregnant neighbor girl. The one, apparently, named Janie.

"I'm tellin' you she was dead—and just kept on comin' at me. Had to shoot her in the head to get her to stop."

Merle looked out from the corner of a blind. There were eight now. More in the distance, down the road. Nine, ten… twelve. More. Walking aimlessly, in clusters. Milling around in the dusty, afternoon sunlight.

He leaned forward, looking out over the porch from the dusty window.

A hand pressed against the glass.

Merle jumped back, dropped the blind. Saw a silhouetted shadow walk falteringly past the window, leaning on it as if for support. It was on the porch, pacing back and forth by their front door. It hadn't seen him.

But he had seen it. He'd seen its hand. It was grey. Bloodless. It was missing fingers.

Like something- someone- had chewed them away.

To be continued! Please do me a favor and review! And if you're writing anything you think I'd enjoy, let me know!