Warnings for OOC, creative licensing, language, fluff, and some naughty things in future chapters. Story and chapter titles pulled from Old Crow Medicine Show songs.


Oh no, the trouble that I'm in
Good times are over I got whiskers on my chin
And there's a long lonely road, boys
I'll be travellin'
So long, tell my troubles to the wind

"Oh, shit."

Daryl Dixon would never be able to figure out how he got himself in this mess. For all of his tracking and killing experience, he never would have thought he would be the one in the middle of the path of what he guessed to be about twenty walkers, and with no one to back up his escape. The ammunition in his gun and all the arrows he could find wouldn't save him from this one; there were just too many.

Of course, that didn't mean he would just give in and give up. No, he wasn't the type for that. Daryl darted out of their path, hiding behind a nearby boulder. He loaded an arrow into his crossbow, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.

He stood up and took aim at the walker right at the front of the herd. God, there were a shitload of them. Daryl figured if he could use the bow and gun on most of them, he would be able to take out the others up close.

Just as the arrow sailed through what was left of the skull and brain of that walker, another fell towards the back of the pack, then another. He hadn't heard a gunshot but the way the second walker's head burst – no way it was anything else.

Daryl wasn't going to ask questions right away. These days, it was survive now, ask later. Between himself and the sniper, it took just over a minute to cut all the walkers down.

When he was sure they were all dead, Daryl stood up and looked around. Where the hell was this person sniping walkers like it was a day job? He had just about given it up when he heard a pair of boots hit the ground.

"You hurt?" a female voice asked.

Shitfire, the person who had saved his life was a woman. He raised his brow and pointed to the trees.

"You mean to tell me you're the one who sniped them sons of bitches?"

The young woman frowned. "I asked you a question, damn it. Did any of those fuckers get at you?"

Her Southern accent was an unexpected comfort. Her hazel eyes searched over him for any sign of injury as she pushed a lock of hair out of her face. Daryl could see it was naturally dark but had been bleached by the sun.

"I'm fixin' to snipe you next if you don't answer my fucking question," she warned, aiming her gun at him.

Daryl held his hands up in surrender. "They didn't touch me."

She considered him momentarily before lowering her weapon. She threw the rifle over her shoulder and nodded before turning and walking in the other direction.

"Hey, wait," Daryl said, running to catch up with her. She spooked when he touched her shoulder, spinning fast and decking him across the mouth. "Hot damn, woman! I'm not trying to attack you!"

With a sigh and a flustered roll of her eyes, she dropped her bags and knelt down beside him. She pulled a rag and a bottle of water from her pack and wiped the blood from his mouth.

"I'm sorry. My daddy had a habit of putting angry hands on me. Fiancé did the same thing. I was never smart enough not to fight back." She handed him the bottle and he took a deep swig from him. "Name's Macyn. Macyn Ballard."

Daryl dropped the empty bottle and held out his hand. "Daryl Dixon. You on your own out here, Macyn Ballard?"

She nodded, gathering her things and offering a hand to help him up. "I am. What about you?"

"Came ahead to scout the area. Those walkers came out of nowhere."

Macyn nodded. "They tend to do that. Your group is following?"

"We're right here," another man spoke up. "You all right, Daryl?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. This is Macyn Ballard - she helped me out when this group came through. Macyn, that's Rick and Lori Grimes, their son Carl. Dale, Andrea, T-Dawg, Carol, Glenn."

Macyn nodded a greeting. "Where are y'all staying?"

Rick shrugged. "Wherever we can."

Macyn considered the group, then a smirk pulled one end of her mouth up. "I've got a place for you."

The group had a silent discussion before nodding and following Macyn. It was a good thirty minute walk, but they finally came to a clearing where a small farmhouse stood. Macyn walked right up the steps and into the house. The others followed.

"This is your place?" Dale asked.

"Kind of," Macyn answered flatly as she moved them towards what looked like a basement door. When she opened it though, there was a metal door that required a code to open. "Five-six-one-two. You've got to have it to get out, too."

They followed her down the stairs, Glenn making sure that the door was shut tight behind them. There was another door at the bottoms of those stairs and beyond it - utopia.

It was like an underground mansion. Television, radio, kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms. They all walked around in awe, trying to figure out how they had lucked out on crossing paths with Macyn Ballard.

"There's an air filtering system through the vents, so nobody dies of contaminated air. Water - hot and cold - works like it was just installed. Better hope that doesn't go out because I don't really know how it works. There's electricity, and all of the DVDs, CDs, and books you need to keep you busy. Game console for the kids."

"Why are you doing this for us?" Andrea asked.

Macyn shrugged. "Never been much good at being alone. Fiancé went out over two weeks ago, looking for anything that would give us meat. Never came back, so I'm guessing he's dead." She hopped up on the kitchen counter and let out a deep breath. "He was a doomsday prepper. We have enough energy and food - all of that kind of thing - to last ten people for five years. Willy Slater has been preparing for this time since we were fifteen. I thought he was crazy. When shit first hit the fan, he looked me straight in the eye and said, I told you so."

"What about the other eight people? They show up, they're going to be angry you took on others," Rick advised.

"They won't be coming," Macyn assured. "My daddy did himself in before it even reached our county. Mama was already dead, since I was a little girl. Willy's parents, his three brothers and his mama's parents were supposed to be coming up from Alabama, but they didn't even make it into North Carolina before the dead overtook the highway they were on. We saw it on one of the last broadcasts they sent out."

This woman had literally lost everybody she had left. At least the people in the group had each other. After thanking her again, Macyn encouraged them all to pick a room and make themselves comfortable. She went about fixing some supper while the rest of them got cleaned up and settled in.

They told brief versions of their stories around the dinner table. Macyn listened with earnest, unaware of a pair of blue eyes casually staring at her from across the table. Daryl was grateful for what she had done in the woods, no doubt about that. Still, he had questions - like what that petite person was doing out in the woods on her own, and how she had survived this long with little to no help. He didn't know why, but it was irritating him.

He waited for everyone to be in bed; the questions kept pinging around in his brain. Finally, Daryl pushed himself out of his bed and made way for her room. He knocked lightly on the door, and she answered it a few seconds later.

"What were you doing out there? You've got everything you need right here, so why would you go out there?" Daryl pressed her.

Macyn opened the door wider and walked back to sit on her bed. "First of all, there's no sunlight down here. The air is healthy but it isn't the same as the fresh air outside. Like I said, we don't have any meat down here. And, you know, I thought maybe I would find Willy on his way back - if not Willy, anyone else so I wasn't alone."

Daryl's nagging questions were answered, and with no sketchy answers. He leaned in the doorway, arms crossed over his chest.

"I don't think I ever thanked you, for saving my life today."

Macyn shrugged. "It was the right thing to do."

"Just the same," Daryl answered. "Get up with me in the morning, we'll go find something for meat. Squirrels, rabbits, deer. Something."

Macyn nodded but didn't say anything. Daryl pursed his lips like he had something else to say, but instead he shut the door behind him, leaving her alone for the night.

.&.

It was barely light out when Macyn knocked on the door to the room Daryl had claimed for his own. She waited a few seconds and, when he didn't respond, she slowly turned the knob and walked into the room.

The light was still on; she couldn't blame him for that one. She still slept with a small lamp on, but it had taken her a couple of months to get down to that after everything started going to shit. He was laying on his stomach, one arm hanging off the bed and the other folded up under his head. He was shirtless, but it looked like he at least still had pants on.

"Daryl," she called loud enough for him to hear, but soft enough for it to not be a rude awakening. "It's mornin'."

He groaned a little bit before burying his face down in the pillow. Macyn swallowed and ventured closer to the bed to put a hand on his arm. She caressed gently, telling him they could go out the next morning if he wanted to sleep longer. Daryl rolled over, his hand catching hers as he went and pulling her into the bed with him.

"You smell good, darlin'," he whispered just seconds before she again heard the deep even sounds of breathing, signaling that he was asleep.

Macyn was frozen in place. Obviously Daryl had no idea what he was doing – he was too far gone into sleep for that – but she couldn't help but feel safer than she had in years there with his arm draped possessively over her hip. She couldn't stay here, like this. She'd fall asleep, and there'd be too many questions to answer the next day.

Slowly, Macyn crept out from under his arm and away from the bed. "Daryl."

This time he heard her and shot up straight in bed. "The hell …"

"Sorry," she swallowed. "Was trying not to wake you up too harsh. Are you up for a hunt or you want to sleep?"

"We can go," Daryl told her, sitting up and rubbing his hands over his face.

Macyn nodded and told him she would meet him at the door. She left a note on the table for the others, grabbed her equipment and tried to shake that feeling of being close to a man who wasn't hurting her. She had always wondered how that would feel, just never knew until now.

"All right," Daryl said, dressed and ready to go. "Let's find some meat."

One of the things Macyn had gotten used to over the years was men doing the things they do and then acting like it didn't happen, but she was still trying to decide if Daryl was aware or not of what had happened in his bedroom. He was acting so cavalier; her father and Willy Slater would usually have that cautious look in their eye after a good beating. By the time they walked out of the house, she decided that Daryl had no idea that he had pulled her into bed with him and held her close.

"You wanna keep daydreaming or are we going to talk about what we're looking for here?" Daryl asked with condescension.

Macyn narrowed her eyes at him. "I'm sorry, I thought when we talked about hunting for meat it was clear what we were looking for."

"I'm just saying, keep your eyes open. I'm not tryin' to return any favors today."

Macyn clammed up after that. No point in arguing when he was, in an irritating kind of way, telling her to be safe. The walk was quicker with just the two of them, and before long they were back in the woods.

"Not many deer come through," Macyn told him quietly. "Rabbits and squirrels mostly."

Daryl rolled his eyes. "That would be what I wanted you to tell me when I said let's talk about what we're looking for."

"You want to argue about this now?" Macyn challenged. She nudged him to their left where a deer was nudging around some brush. "We got lucky today."

Daryl seemed to wait for her to take aim, but she motioned for him to go ahead. He smirked an appreciation and loaded his crossbow. The deer stepped into the perfect line of sight; a few seconds later, the animal was dead on the ground.

"Ha, it's going to be a great supper tonight. You know how to clean one of these things?"

Macyn nodded. "Yes. I had a brother once – he taught me a lot."

"Good. Let's get this done so we can get back to the house."

Between the two of them, they managed good time in cleaning the deer and butchering it. They each loaded up with different pieces and made way back to the house.

"How is it that you don't seem to have any walkers around here?" Daryl asked.

Macyn shrugged. "They come through every now and then – more at night, of course. That group we took down yesterday was the biggest I've seen in this area. There isn't much around for miles. Everybody's dead or walking. Guess they figured that out."

Daryl looked her over once more. In the daylight, when he wasn't seconds from death and could take a decent look at her, Macyn Ballard was even easier on the eyes. The more she talked, the more at ease he felt. She certainly wasn't the first woman who had ever made him feel this way, although never under these circumstances. Daryl was a firm believer that survival was number one now, and anything else was simply a distraction.

That didn't stop him from glancing down to where the low v-neck of her shirt dipped between her breasts. For a small woman, she was very well proportioned – he could tell that from the front and the back view.

Daryl was fighting that cell in his brain that told him it was more than good breasts and a tight ass pulling him towards this woman. Maybe he hadn't realized at first what he was doing when he pulled her into that bed next to him, but even once he did, he hadn't wanted to let her go. The way she smelled, the way her body fit against his – he wanted her there with him.

Oh, shit.


A/N: I just started watching TWD - I'm at the beginning of the second season but I'm entirely addicted. If I could ignore work and school and just catch up on the series over the next couple of days, I would. In the meantime, I'll be writing this little story. Keep in mind the warnings at the beginning of this chapter! Thanks for reading.