Title: What Isn't Shown
Rating: PG-13
Pairing/Characters: Merle Dixon, Daryl/Andrea
Warnings/Notes: AU, vague spoilers for season 3
Word Count: 784
A/N: For gagewhitney's prompt: Merle and Andrea have a talk about Daryl.

Set in the prison

Andrea's on late watch with Merle. He's silent, thank God, where he stands, looking out across the woods from the guard house window. Rick's on patrol below.

Winter has fully settled on to Georgia, and Andrea's fingers are numb. Her breath is a fog in the cold air. Her lips feel chapped and her eyes grainy. It feels like ages since she's gotten any kind of meaningful sleep.

Smoke from Merle's cigarette itches her nose, but it's almost comforting.

Unlike Rick, Merle won't ask her how she feels and he certainly won't watch her like he's the big brother she neither had nor wanted.

Normally she'd be on watch with Daryl, but Daryl's sick.

Not sick from a bite or scratch sick, thankfully, because she thinks she would have gone a little crazy from that. Just normal human flu sick.

Only he's so weak, drawn, and pale. He can't keep any food on his stomach and his sleep is fitful. Andrea's stayed up sitting beside him for what feels like weeks now - screw Daryl not wanting people knowing he joins her in her cell almost every night - and Daryl seems like he's getting worse not better.

She overheard Herschel whispering to Rick about antibiotics. She wishes she hadn't.

Andrea hears Merle's boots scrape against the concrete floor. "So, tell me, sugar tits, what made you 'cide to slum it with my baby bro?"

She bristles, but refuses to turn around and glare at him. "Don't call me that," she snaps. "And why do you think I'm doing anything at all with Daryl?" Merle's never seemed to pay much attention to her and Daryl's interactions.

"You think I don't know where he sneaks off to at night?" Merle chuckles. "Kinda impressed Darlena got himself some high-class pussy. Didn't think he had it in him."

Andrea's hands tighten around the rifle, and she grinds her teeth so hard it hurts. "I don't think it's any of your business," she says tightly.

Fuck. Maybe Rick's big brotherly concern would have been better.

"You let him fuck you yet?" Merle asks, in a way that makes her feel dirty. "Or you as big of cock tease as you look?"

Andrea turns her head slightly, just enough to see him grinning at her in the moonlight. She glares back. "How about you shut up before I shut you up?"

"Aw, c'mon honey, don't be that way," Merle says. She can hear the leer in his voice. "You've had the junior model, now how 'bout a taste of the real thing? I'll show you how a real man fucks."

"I said, shut up," Andrea hisses. She pulls her gun out of her thigh holster and puts it in his face before he can react. "Your brother might be dying, and all you can do if hit on me and insult him?"

Merle raises his intact hand and his stump. "Easy there, girly," he laughs.

She presses the gun into his skin. "Daryl was better off without you. You don't give a shit about him or anyone but yourself. And if you think for one moment that you're half the man Daryl is then you're out of your fucking mind!" She's getting almost too loud, but she can't bring herself to care. "I care more about your brother than you've ever tried too!"

Something changes in Merle's face. The grin drops and his jaw clenches. He pushes the gun out of his face and takes a step back from Andrea. "I love my brother," Merle says in a low, tight voice.

Andrea lets her hand drop. "You've got a funny way of showing it."

Merle turns away from her, and looks back out the window. "I don't give a shit what Daryl's girl thinks about me." There's a cold edge to his voice.

Andrea retreats back to her own window and shoulders the rifle again. "Clearly."

Silence fills the guard tower again until the sky starts to change to a greyish pre-dawn pink.

"Daryl gets sick easy. Always has," Merle says, almost too softly for her to hear. "Always pulls through."

"He needs antibiotics," Andrea says just as softly. She can hear footsteps on the metal steps, probably T-Dog coming to relive them. She glances towards Merle.

He nods his head once. "Then he'll get 'em."

Later that day, after Andrea's gotten a few hours of sleep - by will for Lori and Carol - she learns that Merle produced a bottle of antibiotics from somewhere. No one had been stupid enough to ask where he got them or why he'd only been handing them over now.

Andrea doesn't enlighten them.