Author's Note: Hello readers new and old. This is just a quick one shot (maybe even drabble) of last night's Daryl/Merle scene. So heart wrenching. I just had to get this out. I wrote it in maybe 45 minutes (and then edited it, ha). Thank you to Pixie_Photos and AislingIsobel for reading it over for me! You ladies rock my world. Feel free to leave a review.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Walking Dead. If I did, I would be the only lady and the men would be doing many different (non-AMC appropriate) things for me. "Running Up That Hill" belongs to Kate Bush, although I prefer the Placebo version. Also, if you haven't seen episode 3X15, get out of here and watch it and then come back. I don't want to spoil anything for you!
"And if I only could... make a deal with God... and get him to swap our places... be running up that road... be running up that hill... be running up that building..."
Daryl had always expected how he and Merle would end. He always anticipated finding the stiffened corpse of his older brother. Merle lived a hard life, a life filled with drugs, bad decisions and the worst kind of people. If he was honest, he had been downright shocked when he had looked into the eyes of his brother in that arena at Woodbury after all those months apart, eyes of stone and fire, filled with life. But this…
"No," he choked out, his cheeks growing wet with tears.
With a snarl, the living corpse looked up from its' meal, those same eyes full of death and hunger, flesh hanging from its mouth as it slowly chewed. For a moment, Daryl was almost able to believe that deep down, his brother was still in there, that Merle knew who he was.
"Pleasepleasepleaseplease," he repeated in his head, pleading, his hand so tight on his crossbow, hoping for the impossible. That this was all a dream, his brother was just sick, he'd open his mouth and let out that dry scratch of a laugh and call him Rick's bitch and they'd go back to the prison. Or even better, that they would be in the cramped trailer they had called home before any of this had even started and Merle would be sleeping off his latest bender of cocaine and whiskey, the local whore under his arm.
But this wasn't a dream. The body dragged itself to its feet, those eyes still locked on Daryl, ready for a fresh meal, ready for a fight.
Daryl choked out a sob and stumbled backward, his eyes burning with tears, a lump lodged in his throat. The distorted image of Merle in front of him blurred as he rapidly blinked and his breathing became labored, his heart rate rising. Why? Why now? Why when he just found him? Why when he KNEW that his brother was changing? Becoming better? Why!?
The corpse shambled forward, growling hungrily, stumbling over the now forgotten first course. Fresh blood dripped from its' mouth, staining its' cheeks, catching in its' whiskers. It moved towards Daryl, arms outstretched, hands reaching...
The younger Dixon curled in on himself, trying to move away as the figure that had once been his older brother came closer. Merle just had to stop. He shoved him back, hard enough that the motion forced him backwards as well. If Merle would just stop, maybe he could save him, maybe this wasn't the end. He let Michonne go, right? There had to be some sort of hope. It couldn't all be for nothing.
Merle came forward again, fingers like claws, catching in the sleeves of Daryl's jacket, tearing at the leather. Daryl shoved him again with even more force, his heart shattering in his chest. Not Merle. Merle was all he had left. Merle was all he'd ever had. Not Merle.
The corpse spun, almost gracefully, turning back to Daryl, coming at him, lip curling. Daryl felt the grief melting to anger. How had Merle let this happen? No one could kill Merle but Merle. But he wouldn't have let himself come back as this. He wouldn't have let Daryl find him like this. What did Merle DO? He gave him another shove, his arm striking hard in the chest, the body cold.
With a flash of red behind his eyes, Daryl shoved his knife up into Merle's jaw. He tackled him to the ground with a warrior's cry and brought the knife down again and again and again. He stabbed over and over, letting out cries of despair and rage, trying to destroy the face of his brother, the face that he loved and hated each minute of each and every day. He stabbed until he was splattered with blood and matter and he was staring down at nothing but brains and cartilage, his wrist aching from the effort.
With another sob, Daryl threw himself off the body onto his back, his gaze fixed on the sky. He brought his head up and looked over at the body, the bile rising in his throat as another anguished cry tore out of his mouth. He forced himself to look away, but kept being drawn back to looking at his brother. What the hell was he supposed to do now? What hope was left? They were all going to die. There was no way to stop it…
Daryl looked at the body, his eyes lasering in on the bloodstain on his brother's chest. He rubbed at his eyes, smearing blood over his cheeks and took a deep, shaky breath. He forced his body forward, crawling towards the corpse, each movement weighed down with suffocating grief. He stared at the wound, reaching a shaky hand forward, his finger catching in the hole of the shirt.
"Gunshot," he thought, his eyes burning with tears of rage.
There was only one person that would have left Merle like this, that could have done this. The "Governor". That's what this had to be. No one else would have let Merle come back like this. No one deserved this. Merle had been a right bastard most of the time, but this wasn't what anyone deserved.
Daryl's lip curled into a snarl that would have made Merle proud. He was gonna end this. If this "Governor" wanted a war, he had just signed the approval.
"He ain't goin ta get away with this, brother," Daryl choked out, his voice thick with emotion. "Imma kill 'im for ya."
The younger brother, the only Dixon left in this joke of a world, gazed at the apparatus at his brother's stump. They were all going to pay for Merle's suffering. It was the least he could do.
Slowly… painfully… he forced himself to his feet, his hand curling over his crossbow, his knuckles going white. He was going to end this. For all of them. And if for once in his life he was lucky, maybe he'd see Merle soon.