AN: So this is a very AU fic. No Walkers here, and our stars are younger than they are on the show. It will eventually be a Caryl fic, but many of the characters we know as well as a few new faces will be playing large roles in it. It's going to take a while to get to the Caryl part, so shippers be patient!

Also, Carol does not have Sophia, I just thought I would let you know.

Some of the characters will be somewhat OOC, I'm adapting to them to my needs, and we're not exactly sure what they would be like pre apocalypse living in a place like Sweet Junction.

That being said, I do hope you enjoy. I'll try to update as frequently as possible without ignoring my other fics completely.

Please let me know what you think. I love reviews and I love hearing from you. However, if you're just some nasty little anon troll who wants to leave ungrounded mean and nasty comments without the courage to sign your pen name to it, your comments will simply be deleted.

I own nothing from the Walking Dead.

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Daryl woke when the truck came to a stop, lurching forward and rocking back on its springs. He opened his eyes, his forehead numb from resting against the vibrating window. He looked around for a moment in an attempt to get his bearings. They were parked outside some kind of hole in the wall with a flashing neon sign, the kind of place he was no stranger to, thanks to his brother.

"Wake up baby brothah," Merle called from the driver's seat. "Let's go in, get ta know the place we're callin' home."

Daryl didn't move for a moment, though he heard Merle open the creaking door of the truck and get out, slamming it shut. The damn thing wouldn't stay shut unless you slammed it. Daryl stirred then, sitting up. Another hole in the wall honky tonk in another shit town. That's what their lives were, a series of shit towns strung out along every god forsaken Georgia road imaginable.

They moved, it seemed, at least once a year when they were evicted from one nasty dwelling or another. It seemed like they were always trying to outrun themselves, trying to escape their legacy, but so far Daryl was sure that Hell and over half of Georgia knew who they were. Their reputations truly preceded them. Maybe if his good for nothing old man hadn't been such a womanizer, drunk, and cheat, they could have escaped it, but he'd pretty much made sure that the Dixon name was one that everyone cringed at.

Of course, Merle hadn't exactly done wonders for helping the image. It seemed that every time they relocated it was the same. Merle would end up friendly with the people that ran every sorry excuse for nightlife and entertainment that could be found. Anywhere that he could find enough booze to render him senseless or enough whores to fill up all the idle time he could have spent working a job so that they wouldn't get evicted from their shit apartments. Merle often ended up knowing the local law enforcement well, though their relationship was often less than friendly.

Daryl sighed and heaved the door of the Ford open, nearly falling out to his feet before slamming it shut and running his fingers through his hair. He blinked at the neon sign that was flashing. If it hadn't had a few letters burned out it would have proclaimed the fine establishment to be called The Watering Hole, but that could only be seen if you squinted at it. Right now it simply blinked "he Water Ho" which Daryl thought perhaps somewhat fitting.

Merle was already well on his way inside, and Daryl double stepped to fall behind his brother. He didn't care half as much for these kinds of places as Merle did, but since right now they only thing they had to call their own was a rusty old Ford with holes in the floorboards packed with cardboard boxes containing most of their worthless belongings, he didn't have much of a choice but to join his brother.

Merle saddled up to the bar as though he'd been in the place a thousand times. He banged his hand twice on the bar. Daryl fished in his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, shaking one out and lighting it.

"Don't think I've seen you 'round these parts," a heavier older woman with smut black hair said to Merle as she came to the bar to take their order.

"Well now, sugah, that's 'cause we just rolled inta town," Merle said, blatantly ogling the overly exposed breasts of the woman.

"In that case, welcome to Sweet Junction, first round's on the house," the woman said. "What'll it be?"

"Well…" Merle drawled, "that's awful nice a' ya…didn't catch ya name."

"Loretta," the woman said. "This here's my bar."

"How 'bout some whiskey for me an' my bruthah here. Somethin' ta put a lil' hair on his chest," Merle said. He winked at Loretta and took one of the toothpicks from a jar sitting near him.

"Comin' up," Loretta said.

Daryl shifted uncomfortably on the barstool. This place was what trailer park nightmares were made of. There were a few booths and tables that looked to be half decomposing. In one corner there appeared to be a poker game going on. There was, as was customary in every crappy honky tonk, a garishly lit jukebox with some drunk man in a wife beater hanging on it, as well as the customary two pool tables surrounded by some loud men that were laughing and cussing. Though Daryl was contributing to the smoky atmosphere he didn't feel bothered by it. The air was so thick with cigarette and cigar smoke that the entire scene in front of him nearly appeared to be something from black and white television.

"Here ya are, boys," Loretta said, putting down two shot glasses in front of them.

"I believe we gon' need tha bottle too there, darlin'," Merle said. He smiled at Loretta and the older woman seemed flattered. Daryl shook his head as she put a half empty bottle of whiskey on the bar.

"What was your name there, handsome?" She asked, leaning over the bar, her breasts nearly spilling out in front of Merle.

Daryl watched the scene with a little aversion. Merle most likely wasn't attracted to Loretta, at least not really, but he'd do anything to get in good with a bar owner that might allow him a tab larger than he'd ever be able to pay. Every time the Dixons ran away from their eviction notices, they also left behind a string of outrageous bar tabs that could have very nearly shut down a half dozen garbage heaps like this.

"Merle," Merle said. "An' this lil' piss ant's my brother, Daryl."

"How do," Loretta said.

Daryl nodded his head and took the shot that was sitting in front of him, hoping it might make the time they spent in the place he would forever think of as the "Water Ho" more bearable. Loretta immediately refilled the glass when he put in on the bar and he looked at the contents, holding off on his second shot though Merle was unceremoniously on his third or fourth already.

"My aren't you a cute lil' thing?" Loretta said. "You sure you're old enough to be drinkin'?"

Daryl tried to hide the expression that was creeping onto his face. He simply nodded again at Loretta and took the shot, hoping she'd go and talk to Merle, he was the Dixon with the most interest in talking to her.

"Boy's damn near mute," Merle said.

"Ain't fuckin' mute," Daryl growled finally, "just ain't got nothin' ta say. Where the hell is this anyway, Merle? Sweet Junction?"

"It's some damn place we ain't been ta brothah," Merle said, reaching over and plucking the pack of cigarettes out of Daryl's shirt pocket. Loretta had gone farther down the bar to tend to some of the others, likely regulars.

"Where the hell we gon' stay?" Daryl asked. He knew they had very little money left. If they were going to stay anywhere for long he was going to have to look for a job, and look for one soon. What they had in their pockets might get them a real shitty motel room for a night or so, but if he couldn't find something to do they were likely to be sleeping in the truck, though it wouldn't be the first time that had happened.

"Well, now, we'll find us a place, don't ya worry yer pretty lil' head about that Derlina," Merle said. He continued to scan the bar with his eyes taking shots from time to time. Daryl wanted to tell him to slow down, but he knew it was likely to just rile him up and he didn't exactly want to spend their first night in town getting to know the local law enforcement better.

Daryl sat at the bar chaining cigarette after cigarette. The drunk in the wife beater had come over to the bar now and slammed his beefy hand down demanding another beer. He squeezed his way between Daryl and Merle and Daryl looked at him. His eyes were half closed and he stunk worse than they did, which was saying a lot since they'd been without a working shower for almost a week now.

"Can I bum a smoke off ya there, boy?" The man asked Daryl. Daryl pulled the cigarettes out of his pocket and tossed them on the bar in front the man. He'd learned a long time ago that when he came into places like this he always left without his cigarettes. There was nothing like having a pack of cigarettes to make you new friends in a honky tonk.

Merle leaned around the man a bit to pour Daryl another shot and to catch his attention.

"Don't look now, Derlina, but ya got ya an admirer," Merle said. He ogled Daryl's would-be admirer, running his tongue inside his cheek. "Yeah boy, an' she's a nice piece too. Might do ya some good."

Daryl followed the direction of his brother's eyes and saw the woman that Merle was looking at. She was one of the barmaids, from what Daryl could tell, and she was leaning on the bar, her breasts falling out of the shirt she was wearing, waiting for Loretta to bring her some more beer.

The blonde was blatantly staring at Daryl, that much was obvious, but he wasn't interested. She looked like she'd seen her share of better days, and the way she was looking at Daryl just made him uncomfortable. He shifted a little.

"Wouldn't fuck her with yer dick," Daryl growled at his brother.

Merle chuckled, as did the man in the wife beater.

"Andrea?" The man in the wife beater said. Daryl wasn't sure how they were supposed to know the name of anyone in this place, but he didn't respond. "She's not bad, not bad at all. Always willin', if ya know what I mean."

Merle chuckled.

"Ah, hell, ya hear that lil' brothah? Ya could man up an' finally get'cha some, if ya weren't such a lil' girl about that shit," Merle said.

The drunk man chuckled again and elbowed Daryl. Daryl took another shot. It was the only way he was possibly going to make these two idiots tolerable.

"Don't tell me ya ain't never had no pussy?" The man said.

Daryl looked at him, but tried his best to ignore him.

"Nah…not Derlina here," Merle said, "first damn Dixon I ever met that was scared a' some sweet pussy. Ain't that right?"

"Man, shut up, Merle," Daryl protested finally.

The man in the wife beater laughed at him now, squinting at him downing half his beer.

"Ah hell, can't be like that!" He said. "Andrea! Andrea, come here! Got a proposition for ya!" The man called.

The blonde that had been ogling Daryl earlier turned back toward them, walking behind the bar with a tray full of empty beer mugs and shot glasses.

"Not tonight, Ed," she called. "Besides, ain't you got a wife to take care of that?"

"Not for me, it's for my little friend here," Ed said.

The woman called Andrea looked in his direction and smiled.

"I ain't for hire, Ed," she said.

"Everything's got its price, sweetness," Ed said.

When Andrea walked off with another round of beer for the rowdy men at the pool table, both Ed and Merle let their eyes trail after her. Daryl grabbed his pack of cigarettes and took another out.

"So ya got'cha an old lady, huh?" Merle asked, returning his attention to the bottle of whiskey in front of him.

"Got me a damn hussie's what I got me," Ed said. "'Bout can't beat it out a' her, ya know what I'm sayin'?" He chuckled. Merle half-heartedly returned the chuckle.

That was one thing that neither Merle nor Daryl did, they didn't believe in hitting women. Sure, there'd been plenty of times when they might have had to rough house a little with one of the drunken women that came home with Merle, but usually that was in self-defense. A drunken hell cat had to be controlled at the very least, but neither of them would ever take a swing at a woman, hell cat or otherwise.

"So how long you boys in town for?" Ed asked, accepting another beer from Loretta who stopped long enough to slam the mug in front of him and pour Daryl another shot.

"'Til they run us out, I reckon," Merle responded.

"I'm Ed Peletier," Ed said, holding his hand out to Merle. Merle took his hand in a hearty shake.

"Pe-le-tee-aye, huh?" Merle said, drawing out the man's name. "That French or some shit like that?"

Ed chuckled.

"I guess that's what the hell it is," he responded.

Merle nodded his head.

"Merle, Merle Dixon. Tinkerbell down there's Daryl," he said.

Daryl merely looked at them both in response. They sat there for a moment drinking before Daryl decided to throw himself into the conversation in the interest of information that they needed.

"Know anybody lookin' for work 'round these parts?" Daryl asked. His question simultaneously drew the attention of Ed and that of Loretta.

"I got my own construction place," Ed responded, talking more to Merle than to Daryl. "We're always short a few hands if ya want to stop by tomorrow. Ask directions to Route 3, the old McLeod place. We're puttin' up a barn for the old man. I might could pay you somethin' under the table 'til I know if ya gonna work out good."

Merle clapped Ed on the back then, smiling.

"Hey, hey, ya hear that, Daryl? Done got me a job. Sweet Junction might turn out ta be a sweet place after all," Merle said.

Daryl didn't much fancy the idea of working for Ed. There was something about the man's overall demeanor that didn't sit well with him. It was fine for Merle because Merle tended to get along with most anyone of questionable morals, but Daryl didn't think it suited him. Fortunately he had the attention of Loretta, her breasts spilling onto the bar directly in front of him.

"There's a farmer up the road that's been lookin' for a new hand," Loretta said to Daryl. "You just might fill the order if ya ain't scared of work."

"I ain't scared ta get my hands dirty," Daryl said.

Loretta winked at him. She poured him another shot.

"I didn't think you would be," she said. "Drop by there tomorrow. He's a man by the name of Hershel Greene. He and his wife Jo own a pretty big cattle operation, they're always lookin' for young men ta come and work for 'em. I'm sure you'll find ya a nice place there. He's got a pretty daughter too, prob'ly not much younger than you, just might catch your eye."

"Thank ya," Daryl said.

He glanced over and saw that Merle was lost in some kind of bawdy conversation with the Ed character. Daryl knew, especially now that he had a prospect for a job the next day, that they needed to find somewhere to stay for the night, and they needed to try and get to bed sometime before the sun came up.

"Hey Loretta," Daryl called.

The heavyset woman made her way back over to the bar and leaned in front of Daryl again. He tried not to stare at the crack between her breasts, but it was difficult when it was only inches from his face.

"There any place we could get a room 'round here?" Daryl asked. "We ain't got a place ta stay yet."

"Sweet Junction Motel's just about a half mile from here. They ain't clean, but they're cheap, an' that's 'bout all your gonna find 'round these parts unless you're lookin' ta rent," Loretta said.

"We'll be lookin' ta rent tomorrow," Daryl said, thinking about the possible income they'd come across. "Tonight we're just lookin' ta lay up for a whle."

"Sweet Junction Motel, cutie," Loretta said. "That's your best bet."

Daryl thanked her and looked back at Merle. He was still in conversation with his new found friend, Ed. Daryl glanced around the smoky room again and picked up the last shot he intended to take for the night. He didn't want to be hung over when he searched out this Hershel fellow for a job in the morning.

"Welcome the fuck ta Sweet Junction," he said to himself, tossing back the shot.