Disclaimer- I don't own Walking Dead or any of the characters, but I like to play with and torture them at times.

Warnings- Rated M for cussing, nakedness, violence, improper English usage

Daryl finished securing the last of his belongings to Merle's Bonneville and sighed. He had a pounding headache and his whole body felt like it was staging a protest against being upright. Man, did he ache all over.

The sun was just peeking over the trees and it cast a rosy glow on the edges of the landscape as it chased the darkness of night away. The birds were singing and calling to one another as they greeted the sun and there was not a cloud to be seen in the sky as the darkness dispersed. The air was heavy with humidity and he wiped a trembling hand across his forehead that was already damp with sweat.

This was going to be another extremely hot and muggy Georgian summer day. He looked down the hill at the Greene's farmhouse. It was quiet down there and there were no signs of anyone being up and about at this early hour. He was glad of that. He didn't want anyone making a scene or trying to talk him into staying. Right, he thought, like anyone would want him to stay.

He had moved his tent and his belongings away from the others and secluded himself two days after the creature that had been Sophia had walked out of the barn. He hadn't been able to face Carol after that and he hadn't wanted to see or talk with anyone. His move away from them had appeared to concern some of the group members but after a couple of angrily thwarted visitation attempts to his new location by Rick, Andrea and Glenn, they had left him alone.

That had been a little over a week and a half ago. Carol, of course, had been devastated when Sophia stumbled out of the barn and although he kept a stiff upper lip, he had been crushed as well. He was so sure that Sophia was still alive and that he would find her. He would reunite her with her mother and there would be hugs and smiles all around and he wouldn't have to hear and be driven half mad by Carol's woeful sighs and quiet crying. He was deeply remorseful for the false hope he had given Carol and the others. He'd been a complete jackass, telling her that they were going to find Sophia and that she was going to be just fine.

Shane had reminded him of that last night when they had gotten into their little altercation. Little altercation? Hell, Shane had beaten the shit out of him.

"You asshole! I'd been saying for days that the search for Carol's girl should be called off; trying to prepare her to accept that her daughter wasn't coming back. Hell, trying to get everyone to pull their heads out of their asses and face the fact that the girl was dead!.. but you, Mr."Super Tracker Mighty Hunter" go and open your big stupid-ass mouth and spout off some complete bullshit about knowing that she's still alive and she's going to be fine! Carol grabbed right on to that! You gave her hope when there was none! Then you bring her that fucking flower and tell her a fairy tale that strings her even further along! What the hell are you, some redneck inbred sadist? She wasn't prepared in the least for Sophia's death just because you couldn't keep your mouth shut, you worthless piece of shit!"

Daryl grimaced at the memory of Shane's words. Shane had handed him his ass on a platter last night, but Shane's words had hurt far more than his physical attack had. Daryl hadn't meant to hurt Carol, but he sure had done a bang up job of it.

He put his leg over the motorcycle and sat himself down slowly. Shit, it even hurt to bend his fucking knees. He pulled in the clutch and shifted into neutral so he could roll the thing down the hill and hoped the momentum would carry him most of the way down and out of the Greene's driveway so he wouldn't have to push it too far before starting it and risking waking anyone with the noise.

Merle had the loudest Vance and Hines pipes he could get on the damned thing and Daryl shook his head and mumbled, "You dumbass attention whore, Merle." Then he felt a little guilty. After all, Merle didn't know that the dead would rise and walk the earth and that they would be attracted by noise, especially loud noise, when he put the damned things on the bike.

Daryl was able to coast the bike down a good part of the driveway towards the main roadway and then he pushed it the last hundred or so feet. He mounted it again and took one last look at the map he had in his inside jacket pocket before kick starting the old Triumph to life and heading down the road. He didn't look back once.

His plan was to head about forty miles west to where two small lakes sat deep in forested hills. The lakes were about twelve miles from the nearest town, which was a small town with a population of about two hundred, according to the tourist information so helpfully provided in the map.

The first lake, Forest Lake, was part of the Georgia State Parks system and was set up with camping sites, a public beach, fishing access and other amenities for the public.

The second lake, Mirror Lake, was surrounded by privately owned land and there was no public access available. The info on the map indicated that the lake was small at 133 acres, but it was deep, 112 feet and was a spring fed, glacially made lake. It sounded perfect. Daryl planned to see if there were any cottages or houses on the lake and if so, if they were occupied by anyone; well, anyone living. He was hoping that he might be able to find a place to settle into for a while. This place sounded ideal and fit the "Daryl Dixon Perfect Place to Set up Housekeeping" criteria list to a tee: fishing, hunting, peace, quiet, seclusion.

As he rode, and the road rushed under the tires of the Bonneville, his thoughts replayed the events from the day before culminating with his run in with Shane.

He had killed a deer early yesterday morning and had dragged it back to camp and spent the rest of the morning butchering it. Just because he didn't want to interact with the members of the group didn't mean that he was going to shirk his duties when it came to keeping them fed. He had continued to bring meat into the camp on a daily basis, although it was usually only squirrels or partridges as of late. Hey, fresh meat was fresh meat, right?

He had passed the meat off to Maggie and Beth when he was done and had hauled the unusable parts of the carcass out into the woods and buried them. It was a pain in the ass, as the remains had to be buried deep enough so that any predators wouldn't catch the scent of the kill and as Daryl hauled up another shovel full of dirt he wondered why the hell it was his responsibility to dispose of the remains. Hell, he hunted and killed the creature, gutted it, butchered it…the only thing he didn't do was cook the damned thing and what; he was expected to take care of the carcass, too?

He sighed. Maybe Merle was right and the others in the group were just using him. Then again, he certainly didn't make himself appear to be any too approachable if anyone had even wanted to assist him. It was the hottest part of the day and sweat matted his hair and ran down his face, dripping off his nose and down his neck. His sleeveless tank was wet with sweat and clung to his back and chest and his sweaty boxers kept riding up into the crack of his ass as he dug.

When he had finished, he swung the shovel over his shoulder and headed back to his camp site. He looked up at the sun and figured it was about three in the afternoon. The air was still and heavy with not even a trace of a breeze. He placed the shovel against the partial ruins of an old stone wall that he had camped near and then ducked into his tent where he pulled a duffle bag out of the corner and rummaged around in it.

Daryl found what he was looking for, an unopened bar of Ivory Soap. He grabbed a clean pair of jeans, some clean skivvies and a blue and black plaid sleeveless shirt from off the two neatly folded small stacks of clothes at the foot of his cot. He emerged from the tent and headed into the woods and down towards where the creek that ran through Hershel's property ended as it emptied into a river.

The creek became deeper and wider, forming a large rounded pool about thirty feet before it met the river and the steep slope along the creek leveled out making it easy to access the pool. There was a pea stone "beach" on both sides of the creek where the water ran deep and it reminded Daryl of an old swimming hole that he had frequented in the summer months as a kid.

He placed his clean clothing on a large, flat stone and placed the bar of soap on top of them. He then pulled his sweat soaked undershirt off over his head and dropped it next to the rock. He sat and untied his boots and wrinkled his nose when he pulled the first one off. Wow, what a stink. He could have sworn that he saw actual little stink waves coming out of the damned thing and rolling off his sock covered foot. He got his other boot off and shed his socks and for a second he wondered if walkers could possibly be attracted by the smell of stinky feet, but he shelved that thought almost immediately. He unbuckled his belt and pulled it from his pants and set it on top of his clean clothes, then dropped his pants and stepped out of them. He then pulled his wet with sweat, clingy boxers out of his butt crack and hauled them down. He pulled his left foot out of them, but they were damp and clingy and wrapped partially around his right ankle. He hopped around on his left foot, shaking his right ankle to shake them off and they finally came free, flying a few feet through the air and landing where his other dirty clothes sat in a pile. He snatched the soap off his clean clothes and unwrapped the bar, shoving the paper wrapper into the pocket of his clean jeans.

God, he felt gross. Daryl didn't mind being dirty and/sweaty, but there was a line between being dirty and being downright disgustingly "I-could-just-puke-being-near-you" filthy.

He waded out into the water and watched as the dirt on his skin was loosened and partially removed by the current, swirling and sweeping around him, making little dirty clouds in the water. He waded in further until he was in the water chest deep and bent to submerge his head in the cool, clear water. He then stood up straight and shook his head, droplets of water flying everywhere and he started scrubbing the soap into his hair. He massaged his scalp with his fingers as he worked the soap in and could feel the dirt and grime as he worked it out of his hair. He washed his hair twice and the phrase "lather, rinse, repeat", popped into his mind for a second, but was quickly dismissed. It was funny, sometimes, he thought, the stupid shit that popped into his head. After scrubbing the hell out of his skin and especially his feet, he swam quickly to the mouth of the river, chasing after the bar of soap he had accidently let slip from his hands, as it bobbed and bounced, racing to the river. Damned floating soap, he thought. He swam back up the creek near to where he had left his clothes.

Daryl trudged out of the water and stood on the pebbled beach, letting the water run down his chest, arms and legs and drip onto the ground. He could feel his hair on the back of his neck almost to his shoulders and where it tumbled down and stuck to the front of his face, it came down past the tip of his nose. When had his hair gotten so damned long? No wonder he'd sweat like a pig when he was tromping around in the woods. Maybe Shane had the right idea with the whole buzz cut thing he had going on.

Daryl scoffed to himself. He could almost hear Merle saying, "Yeah Darleena, you'd look jus' great with a big ol' bald head. Hey, boy, is that a dee-formed lumpy pa-tato sittin' on yer neck or is 'at your head? Hahahaaa!" God, he hated Merle's sadistic laugh. Imaginary Merle laughed and continued to mock him.

He squeezed as much water out of his hair as he could and shook like a dog to get as much of it off of him as possible. It felt so good to change into clean clothing, but dammit, he hadn't thought to bring any clean socks and he'd be damned if he was going to put the stiff, filthy and incredibly vile smelling socks that lay on the beach back on his feet. He ended up rinsing his dirty socks out in the water, peeking downstream to see if any fish had died and floated to the surface after being exposed to them. He mentally scolded himself immediately afterward. This wasn't a fucking cartoon.

Daryl walked back to his tent barefoot, holding his boots in one hand and his dirty clothes tied up in a ball in the other.

It was evening and he was sitting alone in his campsite on a log that he had put near the fire for that purpose. The air had cooled off but it was still warm. The sole purpose of the fire was for light and for cooking. He was tired from lack of sleep and from the work that hunting, retrieving and butchering that damned deer had entailed and while the swim and the bath had done him a world of good, it didn't help his fatigue.

He was also half way to being three sheets to the wind. He held a bottle a bit less than half full of amber colored liquid against the log as if to keep it from falling over.

On one of the group's excursions for supplies, he had come across a stash of liquor in the back of one of the cars clogging the highway. T-Dog had been happy to relieve him of the box of bottles, but Daryl had taken one bottle out before handing the box over to be loaded into the RV. Yukon Jack, the bottle's label read; "The Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors", it bragged. 100 proof. Wheee! Well how about that? Daryl had smirked. This was perfect, after all, wasn't he the "black sheep" of their group?

He hadn't opened the bottle until last evening and now it was more than half gone. It was damned good stuff, strong with a bite, but a slightly sweet taste to it. He bet it would be great over ice, but ice was a luxury not to be had, well, until winter anyway. He had just put the bottle to his lips again when he heard someone approaching his campsite from the direction of the farm. The steps were heavy, quick and purposeful and he squinted his eyes in the direction of the approaching footsteps. Shane stepped into the light cast by the fire and marched over to where Daryl sat, holding his bottle.

"Well, Daryl, isn't this a nice set up you have here." Shane said. Daryl couldn't tell if he was mocking him or just making conversation. "Sumthin' I can help you with, Shane?"

"As a matter of fact, yes, there is. "

Yeah, I suck, ending this chapter here. Sorry, but I'll have the next one up soon. Let me know if you love it, hate it, don't really give a hoot etc. Thanks!