Chapter 1….Mural in the Sky

Howdy everyone! I have NO business starting anything new, but this Merle story came to me and well, I had to. I usually only write Daryl and Carol stories and they will show up sooner or later. But this story is about Merle and Ann. I hope you like it.

This story was inspired by the Stevie Nicks classic, "Landslide"; it is a song that I think speaks to both Merle and Ann throughout. They are both in a place in their life where they are weathering great changes. We all know what Merle looks like, but for my OC, Ann, in my mind she looks like the wonderful Kat Dennings.

Now when we pick up our story Merle has been brought in by the governor's men. He has a bad infection in that hand and he's detoxing from the drugs. And our story starts…..

-Landslide-

Ann woke in her room twisted in her sheets, a thick sheen of sweat dripped from her body. Ann remembered the dream it was always the same one. She was watching Mike getting ripped limp from limp by a horde of walkers, while Phillip watched on and smiled. She shivered as she threw her legs over the side of the bed. She sat there staring off into the darkness, listening for any sign of movement in the town hall. Reaching underneath her pillow she grabbed the butter knife she had taken from dinner and slipped it into the back of her sleep shorts.

She quietly crept to the door and opened it just a little, when she knew she was alone she made her way down to Phillip's room. She took a deep breath and lightly knocked on his door. When she heard nothing she tried the door, once it was open she checked the bathroom making sure that he was still out on 'city business'.

Ann made her way down the front stairs and to the basement door. Her heart beating hard in her head, she took a deep breath and opened the door making her way down the basement steps. As soon as she hit the bottom step the smell of rotting flesh hit her nose. She swallowed hard and turned on the light.

The creature in the corner pulled at its chains, sent into a frenzy from her scent. Ann moved forward staring at the thing that use to be her daughter, Penny. Hardly any trace of the bright eyed ten year old was left. What stood before Ann was a rotting beast that craved flesh.

A single tear slipped down Ann's cheek as she pulled the butter knife out and gripped it in her hand. She knew that her daughter would never get better. Ann knew that all she wanted in this world was to put her daughter to peace. As she slowly advanced toward the creature a hand gripped her wrist hard making her drop the knife. Ann was spun around and stared into the furious eyes of her brother, Phillip Blake, the governor of Woodbury.

The governor snarled at her, "What the fuck are you doing down here?"

Ann swallowed hard, "I just wanted to do right by her, Phillip. It's not right to leave her locked up down here."

The governor slapped her hard sending her to the ground, Penny moaned louder as the blood flowed from Ann's mouth. He stood over her pointing at his sister, "You ungrateful bitch! After all I've done for you. I always said you were a piss poor excuse for a mother. We are close to a cure you dumb gash!"

Ann curled up in a fetal position; she figured she would take a bad beating for her betrayal. This wasn't the first time she had tried to help her daughter. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on what Penny had been like before. She braced herself for the beating, but instead Phillip pulled her up from the ground. "Go get dressed Dr. DiLauro needs you in the clinic."

Ann nodded nervously as he pushed her toward the stairs. She caught herself before her head hit the bottom step. Before she could stand up Phillip grabbed her hair pulling her to her feet. She let out a low whine as he turned her to face him. His face was an eerie calm that he wore when bad things were about to happen, "If you ever try this again, sister or no sister I'll feed you to her. Do you understand?"

Ann nodded, blinking back the tears, she won't cry in front of him, not this time. She took one last look at her daughter and he released her. She scurried to the top of the stairs, but Phillip yelled out for her, "HEY! Say good night to your daughter."

Ann stopped and leaned her forehead on the door, her voice was shaky, "Good night sweetheart sleep good."

She glanced down at Phillip who smiled up at her, waving her to go, "Go on now help DiLauro. I'll sit with Penny." Ann nodded and made her way to her room changing quickly. Her hands were shaking as she buttoned her shirt. By the time she opened her door she was greeted by the sinister smile of Axel White, her brother's head of security.

Axel smiled at her, his hand brushing down her arm, "Well hello there Ann. The governor wants me to walk you to the clinic. We could stop by my place."

Ann pushed passed him, "Fuck off Axel." The man snickered from behind her as they made their way to the clinic.

-Landslide-

Merle had been in and out for days. He knew he was on something, because the pain in his stump had gone down to a low throb. He remembered a dark haired angel leaning over him and smiling at him, but her blue eyes were sad, haunted almost.

When he finally let his eyes open all the way he saw the angel slumped over in a chair near the bed he was in. He went to speak but his throat betrayed him and all that came out was a series of rough dry coughs.

Ann bolted up and stared at him for a few minutes, "Let me get you some water."

Merle nodded, she soon returned with a cup and a straw. She pressed the straw to his lips and he felt relief as soon as the cool water hit his throat. He looked up at the woman and she smiled, "You gave us a real scare. My name's Ann Blake, you're safe here in Woodbury. What's your name?"

Merle let the straw drop from his lips and stared down at his hand which was covered in white gaze. "Merle, name's Merle. What the hell did you do to my hand?"

Ann set the water down on the table next to his bed. "You had a really bad infection; we had to clean it out. The doctor took some skin from your inner thigh to cover the stump. How's your pain? We noticed you were detoxing so we didn't give you too much drugs. The governor won't allow drug addicts to stay in Woodbury."

Merle leaned back his head hitting the wall, "I don't give a shit what this governor bastard says, old Merle does what he wants."

Ann frowned, her voice was low, "I won't tell him that if you want to live."

Before Merle could answer her a well dressed man walked in flanked by two well armed men. The man put an arm around Ann's shoulder and smiled at Merle, "Well it looks like our newcomer is awake. So Ann what's the doc have to say about him?"

Merle noticed how the woman's face changed. Ann stared at Merle, "Dr. DiLauro said that he should make a full recovery. He's strong and the doc has one of the weapons men working on a cover for his stump."

The governor sat down and slapped at Merle's leg and smiled, "Well that's wonderful news. Just wonderful and what's your name soldier?"

Merle cleared his throat, "Merle Dixon, who the hell are you?"

The governor laughed, it didn't escape Merle that Ann cringed at the sound. "Well I'm Phillip Blake, but people call me the governor of our little town of Woodbury. I see you've already met my beautiful sister Ann. She's the one that's been sitting by your bedside for the last five days. Now want to tell me what happened to your hand son."

Merle shifted in the bed, "Well governor, I seemed to piss off the wrong people. And I haven't been called SON since my daddy was alive."

The governor laughed and stood up, "I like you Merle. If you can follow orders I think you could really do something here. I run a tight ship. Everyone pulls their own weight, takes care of their own shit. If you do that you will have everything you could ever dream of. Now I'm going to have you moved to the town hall with me and Ann. That way she can keep an eye on you while you finish your recovery. Sound good to you?"

Merle nodded, "Sure. Not in much of a position to protest am I?"

The governor laughed again and headed toward the door, "That's funny Merle. I'm going to enjoy having you around. See you at dinner tonight." Merle watched as the men left, he stared at Ann who was still staring at the floor, something didn't seem right here, but he did owe them his life. That was more than those other sorry bastards did, leaving him on that rooftop. He'd find them and his brother and have a little talk with them, oh yes he would.

-Landslide-

Merle felt like shit. He had been moved that afternoon to the town hall. He could tell that his room had at one time been an office. He slept on and off all day, only waking when Ann appeared with pain meds or water. He was dozing when he heard a soft knock at the door, he sighed pulling himself up to sit on the edge of the bed, "Come in."

Ann came in and smiled at him, a pile of clothes in her hands, "I had to guess at the sizes. I can help you change if you want."

Merle sighed, "Can't I eat here?"

Ann shook her head, "Phillip wants you to dine with us tonight."

Merle chuckled, "I ain't ever been one to DINE with nobody sugar tits."

Ann sighed, her eyes pleading with him, "Please can you please just come to dinner. It would mean a lot to him."

Merle reached out and grabbed her wrist and the woman flinched. He let her go like he was burnt on a hot stove, he frowned, "I ain't gonna hurt ya sugar."

Ann nodded looking at the clothes in her hands, "Please let me help you change."

Merle heaved a sigh and nodded, "Alright but don't get fresh, unless you can finish the job. Old Merle ain't in tip top condition just yet."

Ann gave him a nervous laugh as she helped him with his clothes. She wasn't about to tell him that she'd been the one giving him sponge baths.

Forty-five minutes later Ann helped Merle into the small break room in the back of the town hall that served as their dining room. She sat him down, "What would you like to drink? I have ice tea and lemonade."

Merle snickered, "Got some beer?"

Before Ann could answer the governor appeared from behind Merle and clapped his shoulder, "Man after my own heart. Ann make it two."

Ann nodded and went into the small kitchen and returned with two beers. Merle took a long gulp of his and looked at the governor, "So what do you have planned for me around here?"

The governor leaned back in his chair, "Well you seem like a man that's good in a fight and if you haven't noticed we have a shit load of things to fight out there. Not to mention the bad people that pop up from time to time."

Merle nodded, "I'm not sure how long I'll stay. I'm looking for my dumbass kid brother, Daryl. We got separated."

The governor nodded, "I know all about family. That's why I have Ann with me. Keep your family close Merle, they're all that matter in this fucked up world."

Merle took another sip of beer and watched as Ann brought in what looked like pork chops and sat them on the table. She passed the plate to the governor first who took the largest. Then Ann set to cutting up Merle's meat and making his plate. While she was cutting the governor grabbed her wrist, "Ann, he didn't ask you to help him."

Ann looked up at the governor terror on her face, "I'm sorry Phillip I was trying to help. He's still healing."

The governor tilted his head at her, "Tell him you're sorry."

Ann looked at Merle tears threatening her eyes, but she won't let them fall, "I'm sorry Merle."

Merle could sense the tension in the room right away, he gave the governor a small chuckle, "Damn women are always fussing. Ain't no big thing. I like a woman that makes a man's plate."

The governor let Ann's wrist go, Ann seemed frozen until the governor barked at her again, "Well go on girl, make the man his plate you heard him." Ann nodded and finished up Merle's plate. She set it in front of Merle and the rest of the meal went off with a hitch.

-Landslide-

Merle was lying in bed staring at the ceiling. He wondered if those stupid fucks from the quarry had let Daryl live. His kid brother drove him fucking crazy, but the boy didn't deserve to get a bullet in the back of his head just because of the stupid ass choices Merle made. Merle just hoped that Daryl was safe where ever he was.

Ann knocked lightly on the door. She heard Merle tell her to come in and she smiled as she closed the door behind her. "You must be exhausted. It's been a big day for you. I brought you some pain meds for the hand and I need to check the dressing."

Merle nodded watching her as she retrieved the supplies from the bathroom. She came back and sat on the bed. When she took the last of the bandages off Merle hissed. Ann looked up at him, "I'm sorry. I have to clean it. The doc will be by tomorrow to check on you."

Merle stared straight ahead he didn't want to look at what was left. He blew air out of his mouth hard, "Talk to me about somethin'."

Ann looked at him questioningly, "What do you want to talk about?"

Merle sighed, "Anything to quit thinkin' about my god damn hand."

Ann nodded, "Tell me about your brother."

Merle laughed, "You want to hear about Darylene? He's a pussy. My kid brother he's too good for his own good. Let's fuckers take advantage of him, always had a soft heart that one. Even when our daddy would beat him, he always forgave the sick drunk bastard."

Ann sighed, "Do you think he's alive?"

Merle nodded, "Yeah, only thing that can kill a Dixon is a Dixon. He's a tough sonofabitch. He's out there taking care of his shit."

Ann finished up the bandage, "All done. If you need anything I'm right next store."

Merle nodded and watched her as she made her way to the door. He had to admit her sleep shorts did make her ass look fine.

Ann stopped at the door and looked at him, "Thank you for what you said at dinner."

Merle looked at her, "He's not very nice to ya is he?"

Ann shook her head, "He's different now. He wasn't always like this."

Merle nodded his head, "This shit changes you. Don't worry about it sugar tits. Call us even for you savin' my sorry ass and all."

Ann gave him a small smile and closed the door quietly behind her. She was walking to her room when she heard Phillip behind her in the hall. She turned to smile at him, "Good night Phillip."

Phillip stood in his doorway and glared at her, "Stay in bed tonight Ann, unless you're helping Merle."

She nodded softly, as she entered her room she turned and looked at him, "Please tell Penny good night for me."

She saw his face light up, he came down the hallway toward her and grabbed her into a bear hug, kissing her forehead, "I knew you would understand and come around. That's a good girl."

She just nodded and watched as he went back down and shut his door. When she was safely in her room she slid down the door and sobbed into her knees. One thing was for sure she had to get out of here. It was just a matter of time before Phillip killed her. She would play the game for now, but she had to get out anyway she could.

Ok, be gentle! I'm just setting up the story. Let me know what you think. Hugs, Kaye