Disclaimer: Don't own or claim to own AMC or any of its characters. If I did I'd have found a way to keep it on the air.

*Just a random for the heck of it AU fic revolving around my OTP of T&D. Please R&R but please be gentle with me. Been awhile since I've had a chance to write anything but term papers.*

I looked at you like the stars that shined
In the sky, the pretty lights
And our daddies used to joke about the two of us
Growing up and falling in love and our mamas smiled
And rolled their eyes and said oh my my my

Take me back to the house in the backyard tree
Said you'd beat me up, you were bigger than me
You never did, you never did
Take me back when our world was one block wide
I dared you to kiss me and ran when you tried
Just two kids, you and I...
Oh my my my my

-Taylor Swift
"Mary's Song"

(big thanks to aarent for the new song inspiration, and for the reviews!)

"It is okay my little chicken. You see, I think all lovers should start as friends."

-Tad Martin

Even though he didn't dare admit it, Tad Gardner was scared. Really scared. He'd been nervous on the car ride, and even more nervous before it, after seeing his dad Ray yell at his momma and scare her and Jenny out of the house.
When Tad tried to follow them out, Ray grabbed him by the arm, and with a sneer told him they were going on a trip. After they got in the car they drove all night, only stopping for gas twice. Now they were in, where was it...West Virginia?

Tad wasn't sure. All he knew was he shouldn't have mouthed off on the ride here. Ray had gotten mad at him, started calling him names, and Tad slipped up and got mad right back.
Now he wished he hadn't said a word. If he'd kept quiet maybe Ray wouldn't have pulled over, broken his arm and pushed him out of the car and into the woods. Where he'd been wandering now for what felt like hours.

Sleepily he sat on a hollow log. His feet were sore, his arm was worse, and all he wanted was to be at home with Jenny and his momma. A tear slid down his face but he wiped it away with the sleeve on his good arm. Nine year old boys weren't supposed to cry after all. Standing up he kept walking. Maybe if he got lucky he'd find a cabin or some kind of shelter before it got too dark. He only made it a few feet though before he spotted it. It may have been a snake or a tree root, he didn't look long enough to know for sure, but it was big. And it scared Tad so much he ran in the opposite direction and tripped over his own two feet. Landing flat on his face he cried out in pain. Now he hurt worse than before.

"C'mon! She went this way, I know it!"
Slowing her pace before she reached the hill so she didn't tumble down it, Dixie turned around, hands on hips and stamped her foot impatiently. Where was he?
"Ugh..Will? Will!"
After waiting at least five Mississippi's for her nowhere near fast enough brother, rolling her eyes she ran down the hill and then stopped in a clearing. Looking in each and every direction for her pet rabbit.
"Shoe! C'mon out Shoe!"
Dixie had given her a pink ribbon for a collar, pink since she was a girl rabbit, kept her cage clean, and fed her breakfast, lunch and dinner. Why her pet had run off she didn't know, but she hoped she could lure her from hiding with some carrot sticks.
"C'mon, I brought ya some carrots, your fav'rite!"

After waiting a few moments, Dixie sighed and kicked a pebble with her foot. The sun was starting to set and she knew she had to be home soon. But she wanted her rabbit back.
Sitting down on a nearby log, she held the carrot out still hoping it would attract Shoe. But still there was no sign of her.
"Dixie! There you are!", sighed Will.
"C'mon kiddo we gotta get home, it's late."
"No.", Dixie pouted.
"Not without Shoe."

Shying away when Will tapped her shoulder, Dixie kept staring out at the trees. Hoping if she watched close enough she'd see a streak of brown and white fur run between them.
"Well I can't let you just stay here in the woods! Momma's gonna go crazy."
Shrugging, Dixie stayed put, before she heard a noise and saw something move in the distance.
"Shoe!", she squealed, running into the forest without thinking twice.
"Wait you can't just run out there! Dix..DIXIE!"

Hearing voices, panicking Tad stood up set to run wherever his feet led him, until..
"Hey...hey wait!"
Getting closer, Dixie realized what had moved through the trees was not her pet rabbit. It was a boy with curly brown hair, who looked about Will's age. He was wearing torn jeans and a short sleeved green t- shirt, and looking at his eyes she noticed they were bright blue like hers. And they looked nice. Nervous but nice.
"Hey!", she greeted, running up to him.

"Who are you?", Tad asked shyly. The little girl looked about Jenny's age, with bright blue eyes and honey colored hair pulled back into braids. She had on a white shirt and faded jeans and she was smiling at him. Smiling like he was her best friend in the world.
"That's your name?"
"Yeah.", she giggled.
"What's so funny?", Tad frowned.
"Nothin.", she blushed.
"No, what is it?"
"You just talk diff'rent."
Raising a brow Tad snorted.
"I talk different?"
"Uh huh. Not like ev'ryone else in Pigeon Hollow."
"Pigeon Hollow?"
"Yeah. That's where we are. You don't know where we are?"
"I, uh..I dunno.", Tad mumbled, dropping his head in embarrassment. Leading Dixie to reach up and lift his chin. He was taller than her but if she stood on her tiptoes she could reach him just fine.
"Well now ya do.", she grinned, dropping her hand when his eyes met hers again.

"So what's your name?"
"Uh..I'm Tad."
"Tad what?"
"It's Tad...just Tad.", he answered. Ray's last name was Gardner but his momma didn't use it. And after what had happened today, he didn't want to use it anymore either.
"Tad.", Dixie repeated.
"I like it! Hi Tad."
"Hi. So uh, what are you doing here anyway?"
"I live here."
"In the woods?", Tad teased.
"No! In a house."
"Up the road. How 'bout you? Do you live in the woods?", Dixie smirked as Tad laughed in surprise. She was quicker than he thought.
"No. I just, wound up here.", he answered. But when his smile turned sad, Dixie noticed and bit her lip.
"Oh. Well, I wound up here 'cause I thought you were my rabbit."
"Do I look like a rabbit to you?", laughed Tad.
"No! But she, Shoe's her name, she ran away and so I ran out here to look for her, and then I saw somethin run through the woods and even though it was you I thought it was her..and.."

Pausing to catch her breath, Dixie caught Tad's smirk and frowned.
"What! What's so funny?"
"Nothing, you just talk fast. Really fast! You always do that?"
"Oh! Well, I dunno! Urgh! Stop makin fun of me.", pouted Dixie.
When Tad kept laughing at her, frustrated with him she hit him on the arm. But she didn't realize it was broken until he winced and turned away from her.
"Tad? Oh I just, I'm sorry! I didn't mean for it to hurt I just.."
Walking up Dixie tried to reach for him but he backed away from her.
"No c'mon, lemme look." she insisted. Reaching more gently this time, she saw it and gasped at the bruises and swelling beneath his shirt sleeve.
"This looks real bad, Tad."
Quickly Tad pulled away from her, keeping his arm pinned at his side.
"I..it's nothing, I'm fine."
"No, you're hurt! And if you say you're not you're being a real stupidhead."
"Stupidhead?", Tad repeated, trying not to laugh.
"Yes! Now c'mon, we can go over to my house and my momma can just..."
"No!" he yelled. He didn't want just any momma taking care of him. He wanted his own and if he couldn't have her...
"Look, just leave me alone okay! I..I never asked for your help!"

"Hey!", Will barked, running over to his sister.
"What the hell you think you're doing?"
"I..", taken aback Tad tried to back away, but Will grabbed him by the shoulders.
"Nobody yells at my sister like that, you understand!"
"Will let go of him!", cried Dixie, but her brother didn't listen and kept shoving her friend. This led her to push her way in between the two boys and push them apart.
"Leave Tad be!"
"Why! He was yelling at you and coulda hurt you!"
"He only yelled 'cause he's hurt, Will! And he needs help, not you tryin to hurt him more!"
Watching Dixie jump to his defense, Tad was stunned. For a little girl she was protecting him as well as his mom ever had.
"What's wrong with him then?", asked Will bitterly.
"His arm's hurt. Real bad."

Frowning, Will went to take a look for himself but Tad backed away angrily.
"Don't you come near me!"
"You don't let me see you're not goin back to my house!"
"Hey!", Dixie interjected.
"It's my house too, Will! And Momma's and Daddy's and Della's. And I want them to meet Tad and help him. He's my friend!", she spat, in that stubborn way of hers her brother knew better than to argue with.

"Alright kiddo just settle down."
"I will when ya let me help Tad!"
"Okay..okay we'll help him. We'll help him."
"You promise?", she asked, needing to know for sure.
"I promise. Let's just go home alright. And you're following me this time."

After Will climbed up the hill, looking behind him, he saw Dixie take Tad by his good arm, and coax him into walking beside her.

"You know, you don't have to hold my arm like that."
"I know, I just want to.", smiled Dixie as she led him up the hill towards the road.
"Why are you being so nice to me?" Tad asked curiously.
"'Cause, you're my friend! Now be quiet and walk slow, maybe Shoe will follow us home."