Title: Further In

Summary: As the wild game begin to move away from the group, Daryl must follow them farther from the Prison. But uncharted territory isn't too kind to a solo hunter. Even one named Daryl Dixon. First fic ever! Rick/Daryl friendship.

Rating: T for some language and for a bit of violence later on.

Characters: Focusing mostly on Daryl, will feature Rick pretty heavily later on. Group characters are in it too. :)

A/N: Hey guys! So, this is my first piece of published fanfiction. Ever. I am really excited about it, and hopefully there aren't too many mistakes grammar-wise. I tried to catch most of them, but you know how that goes. :) So, leave me reviews it you read it. I'll even take one-worded replies, I just want to know how I did. :)) I am going to try and have a reasonable update pace, but I am a music major, and for those of you who don't know, that means my school/practice schedule is hell. Thanks for stopping by and reading! Enjoy!

Chapter One - In which nothing but conversations and observations take place.

The March wind was cool, and perhaps a bit nippier than it had been over the last couple weeks, as Daryl gazed out across the tree lines. He had been at his patrolling the perimeters for the last few hours and had not seen a sign of movement, living or otherwise. This wasn't an entirely good sign. It was great that there didn't seem to be any of the Dead around, but Daryl had also stopped seeing animals as well. Usually he was able to catch sight of a few scraggly deer, or even see squirrels scavenging, but as of late, he hadn't caught sight of anything. This unsettled the redneck a bit because it meant they were moving further away from the Prison, and that meant he would have to start hunting farther outside his original boundaries. It was about due time for another hunt as well. Daryl was pretty sure what meager meat that had been picked off the thin deer of his previous hunt was gone. He sighed. The winter had been too harsh. The animals hadn't gotten enough to eat, and in turn, that was now affecting the group. Daryl watched as the sky began to turn from the blue of day to the gold and purple of sunset. This marked the end of his shift.

As if on cue, footsteps began to sound from behind him. Daryl turned to see T-Dog heading toward him.

"You're good to go, man," T-Dog said, giving Daryl's arm a passing clap. "The girls got supper nearly ready, I think." He made a face. "Something out of a can again."

Daryl shared the look of distaste and gave the dark-skinned man a nod. "'Preciate it," he said as he began his trip back to the main cell-block the group had set up house. So goddamn dreary. Daryl reflected about the grey concrete walls and barred doors. He hated being cooped up in the Prison. He felt stifled and developed cabin-fever after a few hours of staying in the place. But, it was a roof over the group's heads, even if it happened to be a jail. Daryl passed Hershel's youngest daughter, who looked to be heading to the kitchen, and an eager Carl, who was at her heels. The boy was excitedly chattering about some thing or other, Beth's tinkling laughter floating along after them.

The redneck smirked. Hershel better watch tha' boy, he's one lovesick pup. In the past few weeks, it had become more than obvious that Rick Grimes' thirteen-year-old son was deeply enraptured with seventeen-year-old Beth Greene.

A chuckle sounded close by and Daryl turned his head to see the Sheriff himself leaning against the wall. "I'm thinkin' I'll have my hands full with him pretty soon. Hershel's been watching over Beth like a hawk, and he's not too happy with Carl's recent interest in her." He smiled as he approached Daryl.

Daryl gave a snort and nodded, looking towards where the two teenagers had just been. "I was jus' thinkin' the same thing." He gave an amused chuckle. "It's nice to see somethin' normal like tha' again."

Both men reflected on that statement for a few seconds before Daryl sighed and faced Rick once more. "T took over the watch. There's nuthin' out there."

Rick nodded. "Let's hope it stays that way."

Daryl pursed his lips in thought, recalling the absence of the game as well of the Walkers. "Ya know, I've been thinkin' it's time for me to go out huntin' again." He leaned against the wall. "I don' think Bambi fed us too well this time."

Rick sighed and nodded in agreement. "Everything's been so scarce. When do you plan on heading out?"

The hunter shrugged, "Probably tomorrow mornin' or the day after. The thing is, the animals aren't 'round here anymore. They're moving farther north." He turned his gaze from Rick to the cell bars. "That means I'm gonna hafta be moving further away when I hunt as well."

Rick eyed him carefully. "Daryl," he warned, "You know how I feel about anyone going too far off on their own."

Daryl narrowed his eyes. "Groups gotta eat," he replied.

"I know," Rick sighed, "And we are grateful for whatever you can bring in," he paused, "Are you sure that's what happening?"

Daryl gestured out with his arm. "When was the last time you saw a deer outside that fence?"

Rick fell silent. He didn't necessarily pay attention to that type of thing. Something that Daryl had an uncanny eye for.

"I don't know," the sheriff answered honestly.

"Exactly!" Daryl exclaimed, knowing he had won his case. "They've been moving back to find more to eat, and that's where I've gotta follow them." He gave a half-smile. "Jus' think of it this way, by the end of a few days, we might have us a good store of meat."

Rick shifted his weight to one foot and crossed his arms, a clear sign that he disliked the plan. He studied Daryl for a moment, and then nodded. "Alright," he said. "But you are still to be back by sun down, understood?"

Daryl curled his lip at Rick's authoritative tone, but dipped his head briefly in response.

"Dad!" The loud call came from the hallway.

Both men turned to see Carl rush into the room.

"Food's on!" he said, and proceeded and turn and hurry back from where he came.

Rick smiled after his son, and looked back at Daryl, "We'll talk more about this later," he said, motioning with his head toward where his son had disappeared. "But, let's go see what they've got made up."

Daryl grimaced as they headed to meet the rest of the group. "Somethin' outta a can again."

A/N: You made it to the bottom! Remember to leave a review! Seriously, don't leave yet! If you liked it, but don't know what to say, just type "good" in the review box and click submit! It'll mean a lot and help me get my bearings here as a writer! :)) Have a great day/night/morning/evening/tea time!