Friendly Fire – Daryl/Connor, Shane/Murphy, past Daryl/Rick (In Progress)

Chapter One

Five days. That was how long Connor had been staring at the man who had stolen his brother’s face. The two men had barely spoken to each other, save the typical salutations which were only reserved for when they were in front of the rest of the group. But Connor could just not believe what his eyes were seeing.

“Connor, what exactly is ye obsession with that fucker wit’ me face?” Murph asked when they were in the woods alone.

“I don’t know what yer talkin’ ’bout, Murph,” he replied, continuing to pick up the needed wood for their fire that evening. It was a simple task that the brothers had taken on when they joined the group at the rock quarry, stumbling upon Daryl out in the woods. Aside from being extremely awkward around the redneck given his face, he deemed them not a real threat and offered to take them back.

“Ye can’t stop staring at ‘im. I see ye, ye know.” Murphy bent down to grab a large branch, nearly dropping everything he had already gathered, but he wouldn’t let the topic drop.

Connor shrugged. “He looks exactly like ye, Murph. How could I not stare? It’s like he could be yer twin ‘stead of me.” Really, he just found the other man fascinating and he wanted to know more about him and his damn crossbow, but it was so much more than that and he couldn’t tell his Murph that.

 

Murphy stopped walking. He could feel his brother thinking, a never-ending curse of their being twins. “Ye interested? Because he has me face, Connor? Ye think about him like that?”

He stopped, turning to look at his brother for a split second, arms full of fallen branches and sticks. The answers to every question Murphy hadn’t dared ask were in that look of shame as Connor looked from him down to the ground and back up at the trees around them. “We should be getting back, yeah? They’ll be lookin’ fer us soon.” Connor couldn’t answer his brother’s question vocally, but he knew he’d feel his answer in his soul and there was nothing he could do to stop the hurt that would encompass his heart.

Later that night, Connor lay awake in their tent, staring up at the nylon ceiling. His brother was burrowed into his side, sleeping peacefully with his head on his chest. He counted the breaths Murphy made against his sensitive skin, thanking God that they were both still alive and had been found by this group of decent people. At the same time, he wondered about the magicalness of it all. Running his hand down his brother’s nude back, he knew what they wanted was a sin and they had taken every course of action to be “together” without actually being together, but a heavy makeout session and mutual masterbation does not satisfy what they really want. Was Daryl’s existence a gift from God? Would they run into someone who looked like him for Murphy?

Granted, homosexuality was also a sin. Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman and all that jazz, but why would God put these impure thoughts in his head so consistently and put matching ones in that of his brother?

Murphy stirred on his chest, rubbing his face along his skin before sitting up. “Stop ye thinkin’ so fockin’ loud. Some of us are tryin’ to sleep,” he grumbled before rolling over onto his back, mimicking his brother’s pose. “Whatcha thinkin’ about anyway, Connor?”

“Daryl,” he answered honestly. “Gift sent from heaven, aye? Maybe now we can find a Connor-lookalike for ye.”

“Fock off!” His brother shoved him playfully, growing quiet again for awhile before asking, “Ye thinkin’ about makin’ a move on him?”

Connor shrugged. “Don’t know if he’s into the whole…” he motioned his fingers between the two of them. “But it wouldn’t be a gift from God if he wasn’t. Suppose that’s the only way to tell if he’s heaven sent fer me.”

Murphy shifted awkwardly on their makeshift bed. “Don’t ye love me anymore more?” he asked softly. “Is it not enough for ye? I told ye I’d be willin’-”

Connor sat up on his elbow to look down into the matching blue eyes of his twin, interrupting his declaration. “Aye, I do love ye. More than me own life. ‘S why I feel like this is a blessing. That way yer saved from the firey pits of hell from our sinful lust, Murph.”

“I don’t want to be in heaven without ye, Connor. I love ye too fockin’ much to let ye go to hell by yerself. I’d gladly take the punishment with ye.”

Connor shook his head. “No, ye need to be with Da. Who knows? Maybe Ma made it to heaven. She’s probably waitin’ on ye to do some chores, ya lazy focker.”

Murphy hit him again, eliciting a push and shove match between the two brothers before a voice from another tent called out to them to knock it off. At that point the other survivors of the group had grown used to the twins fighting between each other and either ignored them or told them to quit, much like their ma had done during their childhood.

The next morning, Connor decided he would at least attempt to make his move. He was the first person up and was brushing his teeth when Daryl appeared from his tent. They both nodded a short greeting as the hunter stalked off into the woods, coming back only a minute later. “Oy,” Connor called out to him as he went back to his truck. “Goin’ huntin’ this morning?” Daryl just nodded. “Mind if I join ye?” He smiled brightly, leaning against the picnic table Daryl had stopped at to adjust his crossbow. He really was shit at this whole flirting thing, but he knew how to interact with other people to get them to trust him. Connor MacManus was a professional charmer.

Daryl just looked at him before returning to his quiver and crossbow and slinging them both onto his back. “Better on mah own,” he gruffed and headed towards the woods.

“Aye, ye might be, but who’ll watch yer back while yer sittin’ on some squirrels, eh? I’m as quiet as a church mouse, ye know that. Plus I need to get out of this fockin’ place.”

Daryl huffed, looking over towards the Grimes’ tent as Rick and Lori crawled out, leaving Carl to sleep a bit longer. A silent look was passed between the two men, extending longer than Connor thought customary, but a short nod was shared between the two after a minute. Daryl then turned back to Connor, “All right, Irish. But if ya scare off the game, I’m tellin’ everyone to complain to you instead of me.”

“Sounds fair.”

Minutes after Connor disappeared into the forest, Murphy poked his head out of the tent. “Oy,” he called out to T-Dog who was walking past. “Ye seen me brother?”

“He went into the woods with Daryl just like 2 minutes ago, man. You barely missed him,” he told him, still continuing on his way towards the RV.

Murphy hissed, disappearing back into the tent to get dressed.

For over an hour, Connor stuck to Daryl’s back, knife out and poised and his gun holstered on his leg. So far, they had just come across a few rabbits, but they were both thankful for those and no stray walkers. They walked in complete silence; their footsteps and all actions mirrored. Both men took in the sounds of the forest, making them a part of their being and relishing in the feeling of nature around them. Connor inhaled deeply every time a breeze would pass them by. The scent of the woods was something he would never get tired of, though it made him long for the smell of the moors in Ireland. He and his brother would probably never make it back there now, if indeed it was even a place worth going back to at this point.

Daryl stopped suddenly in front of him, turning his head slightly to angle his right ear up towards the sky. Connor stopped behind him, swiveling his body around, hand poised with his knife still, ready to strike should they be ambushed by any threat. “I think there’s a stream over there,” Daryl whispered to him, pointing to his front-right. “Let’s go find it. Maybe we could get some fresh water.”

Sure enough, a bubbling brook that they could stand in knee-deep had called to them in the forest. “Oy,” Connor gasped. “There’s fish in here.”

“Ya know how to fish, Irish?” Daryl asked, splashing water on himself before filling up a water bottle he must have taken from a pocket.

Connor shrugged. Hell no he didn’t know how to fish. Now drink like a fish, that was an expert skill he possessed, but catch a fish? Surely he could come up with something though… Quickly he looked around, locating a sturdy stick. Now he needed a string and a hook or something to catch the fish in. Or maybe a net instead of a pole. Shit, what the hell could he possibly use? Ah, a shoelace would be a good string, but now what about a hook? “Aye, I do, but I need a hook. I use can this stick as a pole and a shoelace as a string, but I need somethin’ sharp to jab the fucker with.”

Daryl chewed on his thumbnail for a minute, looking on himself as if he was considering all of their supplies in his mind. Connor busied himself with pulling off one of his shoestrings and fastening it to the pole. Just as he was finished tying the knot, Daryl touched his shoulder softly. Looking up, the other man had his wallet open and was holding out an old and rusted fish hook, looking almost sheepish. Connor took it with a nod, threading it onto his shoe lace. “Now I need something to entice the fish with…” Placing his pole on the bank of the river, he took his black tshirt off, leaving his rosary to dangle around his neck against his bare chest. In a swift move, he had the shirt tight between his hands and open enough that when he swiped it through the water, catching a few minnows in the cotton. Triumphantly, he beamed up at Daryl as he put the largest minnow on the hook and set the others in the wet tshirt on the river bank. “And now, we fish,” he smiled, climbing back up on the bank and gesturing for the other man to join him.

It felt like another hour had passed before either man said anything. “Why’d ye carry a fish hook in yer wallet? And hell, why’d ye even still have yer wallet?” Connor asked, side-eyeing the hunter.

Daryl shrugged, laying prone next to the Irishman with his forearms behind his head. He had been staring up at the trees, watching the branches blow in the breeze. There had been no sight or smell of a walker the entire morning so he stole this moment, especially knowing that the other man was a damn crack shot should the need arise. “Always prepared. Sometimes ya can’t find a meal in the woods but streams almost always have fish.”

Connor nodded as if that was the most natural answer in the world and he was an idiot not to think of it, but the deeper meaning behind it made him cringe. “Ye grow up poor?”

“Poorer than dirt. Ma ne’er worked and Dad drank his paycheck. Merle usually drank his, shot it up his arm or took it in pill form.”

Connor looked over at the redneck. His eyes were closed and face completely relaxed as if he told this story every day of his life. Hell, Connor figured he lived it so he didn’t know any different. “Aye, suppose it’s a good skill to have to be able to provide for yerself no matter what. Me brother and I ’bout starved when we first came to Boston. Nobody wanted ta hire two Micks. Took us awhile to find a job.” Connor turned back to his line in the water, dancing the hook along the surface, trying to make it look enticing to their potential lunch. “Least Murph and I bathe regularly,” he snarked, smiling slightly.

“Don’t make me shoot ya in the ass with an arrow. And I fuckin’ bathe, Irish. Soap is just scarce now.”

“Murph and I would be happy to share ours with ye. Bet yer fockin’ handsome beneath that filth.”

 

Chapter Two

Daryl snorted, opening one eye to look over at the Irishman. “You’re just sayin’ that ’cause I look like your brother.”

Connor smiled down at the other man. “Aye, that’s part of it I suppose.”

“What’s the other part?” Daryl asked, eyebrow arched as he stared up at him. The day had turned into any other lazy day that he would have had before the dead started walking- roaming the woods looking for game and sitting by the side of a river fishing the hours away. On a rare occasion Merle would join him, but he would be running his mouth the whole time. Connor was actually good company, which surprised him. He wasn’t forceful or too talkative and he was damn good at being quiet in the woods.

Connor shrugged, dragging the line back over top of the water, feeling the other man’s gaze linger on him. “Nothin’. Hey, wait,” he snapped his head back over towards the hunter, blue eyes blown wide. “If ye had this fockin’ hook in your wallet then ye fockin’ know how to fish! Why’d ye ask me if I knew how?”

Sitting up, Daryl laughed, pointing at his crossbow next to him on the grass. “I bag the game, you bag the fish. I think that’s fair.”

Connor scoffed. “I thought I was supposed to be watching yer back!”

“I think you were watching more than my back and you are absolute shit at fishing,” he answered, looking down in the water as the fish just swam right by Connor’s line.

“I want to see ye do better then!”

Daryl just scoffed and laid back down in the grass. He wasn’t ready to get up yet though he knew that they had a group of hungry people they needed to feed back at the camp, but life had settled into an almost simple routine. With the addition of the MacManus brothers, their chores became easier in a way. Murphy charmed the ladies by helping them with some of their chores and Connor helped feed the group and even built them a little firepit. Both men were keen on machines and weaponry which thrilled Dale to no end when he discovered they could help with the RV. This river could probably sustain them for a bit along with the game in the woods. With this knowledge of comfort, Daryl settled into the cool grass.

“Ye lose anyone close in the turn?” Connor asked him, bringing him out of his thoughts. It was really a pointless question because of course he had, everyone had, but the undertone of his question did not go unnoticed.

“Ya mean like a girlfriend?” Daryl scoffed. “Don’t give a shit if my dad is still alive or walking around eating people. It would serve his rotten ass right to be stuck in the mud starvin’ to death somewhere. We lost my brother in Atlanta. That fucker is out there somewhere tormenting another group of people. But ain’t never really had a girlfriend and I think that ya need one to lose one.” Daryl paused, looking out over the river and down stream just a bit. “What about you, Irish? You’re a long ass way from Ireland.”

“Aye. A very long way. I miss it every day. We lost our Da long before this shit went down. Fairly certain our friends are gone. We’re not quite sure ’bout our Ma though… She was crazy and crazy seems to survive a lot longer than ye think possible.”

“Well ya got your brother. Leave behind a girl? Any hot little Irish redhead?”

“Never did have any real girlfriend either to leave behind. But aye, I got me brother,” he nodded, looking down into the water. “Fine piece of work that one is too. Love ‘im with everything I am.” Connor looked back down at Daryl, an earnestness in his eyes, begging for understanding. “Everything. And ye look just like ‘im. Fuckin’ handsome devils the both of ye.”

Daryl blushed slightly, turning his gaze away from the blondish Irishman, not entirely knowing what to say to the compliment.

Connor snatched up the line, realizing that his bait fell off and tried to attach another of the dead minnows to the hook, casting a side glance at the lounging hunter. “I noticed you and Officer Rick staring a little hard at each other there. Anything we God fearing people should know about, eh? That the reason why ye ne’er had any girlfriends? Too busy wit’ the boys.” he chided, hoping to get more information out of the redneck.

“Nah. Ain’t like that ‘tween Rick and I. He’s our leader. I go by his word.”

Connor’s voice was small as he asked, “Do ye want it to be?”

Daryl abruptly stood up, snatching up his crossbow and nudging Connor’s ass with his foot before walking by him. “Come on, Irish. Gotta get some squirrels and make it back to the camp. We’ve been gone too long as it is.”

“Aye, suppose we have been. Murph will be wonderin’ where I got off to,” he said standing, brushing off the back side of his pants as he carefully took the hook off his shoelace and relaced it. Catching up to Daryl, he tapped him on his back, handing him the fishhook. “Just in case we ever need it again.”

They walked on in silence, Daryl putting the hook back in his wallet and keeping a steady pace heading back towards the camp. Connor followed behind him, noticing that the hunter’s guard was back up with his squared shoulders and loaded crossbow, but he had a feeling that it had to do far more with their conversation than with the potential in food or danger. “Thanks for sharing that info with me,” he said quietly. It even sounded hollow to his own ears.

Daryl turned his head back towards the other man and gave a one-shoulder shrug, but kept walking in silence. Connor watched the other man’s back, keeping his ears open for any looming walkers. At this point he couldn’t care less about game. He felt as though he had really pissed off the man he was trying to get closer to and had been making such strides. Now they were right back to where they had been when they happened upon each other in the woods.

Until Daryl asked, “Does it freak you out that your brother and I look alike?” He didn’t turn his head or even really raise his voice to make sure he had been heard.

Connor misstepped at the simple question, nearly falling forward onto the other man as he stopped, bending over to inspect some tracks in the dirt. He knew enough to stay quiet in order not to scare off whatever might potentially be around and he was thankful for the distraction at the moment. Continuing on, Daryl looked back at him, signaling that it was safe to answer.

“No. I love lookin’ at ye ’cause of it,” he answered honestly. “Wasn’t lyin’ when I told ye that ye were a handsome devil.” Daryl didn’t respond, just kept walking ahead of him. “Does it bother ye that ye look like my Murph?”

Daryl didn’t respond right away. In fact, he made no motion indicating that he even heard the Irishman’s question before raising his crossbow and pinning an owl with a single arrow. Collecting his bounty, he cleaned off the arrow and looked back at Connor. “It was a little weird at first. Guess I’ve gotten used to it now. You don’t look nothin’ like Merle.”

Connor smiled at the intent of the joke. “Aye, I suspect that’s a good thing they way e’ryone talks about ‘im. Probably smell a lot better too.” Daryl snorted, continuing on their way, owl and rabbits hanging at his side. “Should tackle ye down and hose ye when we get back ta camp.”

“Ya sayin’ I stink?” Daryl asked, a slight smile on his face.

“Nah, smell like a bed o’ roses,” Connor answered with a smile, glad that they were back to light flirting. “Dipped in mud.”

Daryl’s semi-easygoing nature and joking stopped when they returned to camp, Shane approaching both men as they appeared out of the forest, hands on his hips as he nodded his head towards the brothers’ tent. “You might want to go tame your brother. He’s been throwing a temper tantrum ever since you left.”

Connor nodded, giving Daryl a single look before returning to his tent. He could feel the other man’s slitted blue eyes watching his back as he walked away.

Shane nodded at Connor as he walked away and asked, “He do all right out there?”

Daryl shrugged, pushing past him to go pluck and skin their catch. “We’re alive ain’t we?”

Shane nodded, accepting that was the only answer he was going to get but decided to stick around the area when he heard the MacManus brothers start up on their fight that everyone knew would be coming. The way Murphy had been stalking around the camp for the past few hours since Connor had left surprised the entire group, though they had never seen the brothers apart. Shane probably figured this was why Connor left when his brother was still asleep, so he didn’t have to put up with this childishness. However, he did have to admit, Connor’s choice of new friends was questionable. Though, as an Irishman with such a thick accent and all of those religious tattoos and a whacko for a brother, Shane figured he was used to be on the edge of society. Hell, maybe he hung out with people like the Dixons wherever the hell it was they came from.

“Murph, you’re fockin’ insane!” came the shout as Murphy flew out of the tent, accusatory index finger instantly flying into his brother’s face as he followed him out into the open air.

“You’re a lyin’ asshole!” Murphy shouted back even louder. “Ye fockin’ planned it! I know ye did!”

Connor looked nervously around at the people in the camp who had stopped to stare wide eyed at the brothers. Shane took a single step closer to get on the periphery of his vision, making a calming motion with his hands and pressing a finger to his lips. Connor understood him completely. They didn’t want to bring any walkers to their camp with the loud screaming. He just nodded, grabbing a reluctant Murphy by his elbow and yanking him hard towards the dense forest. Murph twisted out of his grasp, turning violently, searching for Daryl. The accusatory finger pointed at him as he sat around the fire circle, skinning his first rabbit, trying like hell to be uninterested in what the two brothers were arguing about but knowing fully that it was him. “You!” he shouted. “Stay away from me fockin’ brother!”

Daryl just raised a defiant eyebrow in response, not even bothering to look up at his accuser while everyone’s gaze shifted over to him from the brothers. Connor looked back at Daryl, concern lacing his face. They had come so far today and enjoyed each other’s company in the middle of the woods without any distraction. He didn’t want his brother, his love, his life, to set them back.

Shane watched as Connor manhandled his brother out into the woods, still kicking and screaming about being a liar and a cheat. He shook his head as he walked by Daryl, feeling safe enough to let down his guard as their shouting got farther away. “Makes it sound like you’re stealing his girlfriend,” he mumbled only loud enough for the other to hear.

Daryl snorted, well into skinning and gutting the second rabbit at this point, but he had to admit… Shane had a point. Looking out at the woods where Connor had disappeared to, he thought back over their conversations from that morning.


Connor slammed Murphy up against a pine tree, the impact sending bark shingles falling to the ground around them. “What te fock is your problem?” he hissed, getting up in his brother’s personal space.

“Did ye fock him out there? Huh? Did ye enjoy the experience ye won’t let me give ye?” Murphy screamed.

“Oh focking hell, Murph,” Connor sighed, stepping away from his brother and running his hand through his hair. “We just talked. We sat by a river and talked.”

“Bull.” His brother’s voice was harsh, blue eyes ice-hard.

Connor stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Murphy and bringing his stiff body into a full body embrace. “I promise ye, Murphy,” he whispered before daring to brush his lips over the anger-pursed ones. And just like that, the anger seeped out of the younger MacManus, his body molding into that of his brothers as he answered the kiss with a fervor. Connor supposed it wasn’t fair to manipulate his brother’s emotion-driven responses like that, but hell sometimes you had to play dirty to get your way. “I love ye, Murphy MacManus. Even if ye are a jealous focker.”

“Fock you,” Murph breathed, resting his forehead against his brothers.

“Ye want to,” Connor snickered, grinding his hips against Murphy’s.

Banging his head back against the tree, Murph let out a loud groan, tightening his hold around his brother’s shoulders. “Fock yes I do.”

Connor’s kiss was hard enough to sting, teeth nipping at his bottom lip as he pulled away, grinding his hips against him again. “Do ye want ta…?”

“Aye,” Murphy growled. “If ye won’t give me what I want, then at least give me that.”

Connor’s hands tore at his brother’s clothes as their mouths battled for dominance. Shirts were tossed to the forest floor, fingernails raking down chests. “Fockin love ye,” Murphy groaned. “Connor, please.”

“No, Murph. We can’t. Ye know we can’t.” Connor stroked his brother’s hair. “I love ye too much to damn ye like that.”

Murphy grunted and groaned as they kicked off their pants and boxer briefs, sitting down next to each other against the tree, eyes still locked on the other’s body.

Connor’s heart burned with sinful lust as he watched his brother’s hand wrap around his own cock, stroking it slowly until he saw his brother’s hand take up his cock. Together, they jacked off, watching the other’s hand expertly work their cocks. Connor hissed as Murphy’s other hand tried to reach over. “Murph, don’t.”

“Please, Connor,” Murphy whined. “I need ye.”

“I’m right here.”

Murphy groaned out in frustration, stroking his palm over the head of his cock. “Ye such a fockin’ asshole.”

“Ye dream ’bout me asshole,” Connor snickered, watching as Murphy’s hand rolled over the head of his cock, spreading his precum as he stroked back down his shaft.

“Aye. And your cock up mine. Want to feel ye, Conn, movin’ above me. I want to give ye everything.”

Connor shook his head, his chest tightening as his stomach fluttered. “I’d take it, Murph, and give ye everything as well. Want to be inside ye,” he groaned back. “But, fock, we can’t…” he grunted as long streaks of cum fell to the forest floor.

Beside him, Murphy groaned out his own orgasm, white, warm cum coating the leaves and grass in front of him. “I know,” he sighed. “‘Cause it’s a sin. Don’t mean I can’t still want it.”

Connor snorted, leaning over and kissing his brother. “Aye, it does, Murph, just means we can still be saved.” The brothers slowly collected themselves, kissing languidly as Murphy apologized for his outburst earlier, needing to feel Connor against him.

Neither man was aware of the silent figure that slinked away back towards their camp, square shoulders slumped as he tried to hide amongst the trees.

 

Chapter Three

Murphy watched his brother watch Daryl across camp as he cleaned his catch. It had been two days since Connor had disappeared into the woods the whole morning and part of the afternoon with the redneck and Murph could tell he was just itching to go again. Connor had tried to get away, but his brother had attached himself to his side, unwilling to let him go anywhere alone. He could feel the frustration growing in his twin, but he didn’t care. He didn’t trust that redneck one bit. The man showed no interest in any of the women in camp, but enough interest in a few of the men, his brother included.

Murphy watched as Connor and Daryl would exchange glances over the fire during meal times or before everyone turned in for bed. One or the other would look away with a slight smirk before glancing back again. He was sick of it and if it weren’t for Connor holding his heart, Murphy would tell Daryl to go fuck himself. He knew if he did, Connor would hold a grudge against him and possibly stop their entire relationship or whatever shitty form of a relationship they had.

He realized he too was always watching the hunter now, trying to figure out if he actually had an interest in Connor in any unclean way. Thankfully most of Daryl’s attention was distracted from Connor by Rick. Murphy didn’t mind Rick. The man lead with his heart, which was where Murphy lived. Connor lived through his mind and at times it drove him crazy. He watched as Rick sat down next to Daryl as he was skinning his final squirrel, a map in his hand. He pointed over some X’s he had drawn and motioned around the camp, words running fast across his lips. Daryl nodded along, barely even glancing back at the map. Rick stopped speaking, listening to Daryl’s soft and few words before looking over at the brothers, brow creased in thought.

Connor sat next to him, carefully stitching something together in his hands. Murphy couldn’t quite tell what it was, but he could tell what it wasn’t and that was clothing. Heavy bootfalls approached them, causing both brothers to look up as Rick nodded down at them. “Daryl is going to go on a run to town to check out a few stores for any supplies. He wanted to know if you’d be willing to go with him, Connor.”

“No,” Murphy breathed, looking back over at Daryl who had completely disappeared from his spot.

But Connor was just simply nodding eagerly. “Yeah, sure. Anyt’ing to help out.”

“He said y’all worked well together in the woods and thought you’d be great to take on scouting runs.”

Just then Daryl stepped out of his tent, crossbow and quiver on his back. “Irish, drop that doll and let’s go.”

Murphy looked down at the mess of fabric in his brother’s hands. Fuck it was a doll. How the hell did he know that at first look?

“Oy, don’t say that too loud! It’s a present ya dope,” Connor chided with a grin, standing up to toss the half finished doll into their tent and grab his knife and gun. “We taking te truck?”

“Nah, motorcycle. We can get in and out faster. We’re just scouting around, making sure it’s worth wasting the gas to bring a larger group and vehicle in.”

Connor nodded, following the other man to the other side of camp before Murphy’s fingers on his arm stopped him. “Con…”

“Murph, I’ll be back.”

“‘S not it. Don’t…”

Connor looked over at Daryl before turning back to his twin. “He asked fer me. That’s gotta mean somethin’. I love ye, Murph.”

“I love ye too, Con. Be careful. With everythin’.”

Murphy’s body burned with jealousy as he watched his brother climb on the back of Daryl’s motorcycle, his front fitting perfectly along the other man’s back as he wrapped his arms around his waist. Daryl gave his interlocked hands a pat as he smiled back at the other man before starting the Triumph and roaring away down the road.

“Ya gonna start another tantrum cause Daryl stole your boyfriend again?” Shane asked as he walked up behind him.

Murphy whirled around, to the older man, upset that someone even had the gall to mention this moment to him. He threw a stiff right hook. Before his left arm could even swing he was down on the ground, face first in the dirt with the larger man on his back. He let out a single pain-filled wail. The way Shane had his arm twisted behind his back was nothing new; Connor used that dirty trick when they were wrestling. He closed his eyes, letting his tears get caught on his eyelashes as the thought that it took his brother leaving him for another man to finally feel the weight of a man on his back and a cock pressed against his ass and it was from this asshole Shane.

The times Connor had been on a motorcycle he could count on one hand, but no experience could match this feeling. Wrapping his arms tighter around Daryl’s waist, he buried his face in the other’s neck, inhaling his scent. The feel of the other man’s warm body against him was unparalleled in this world or even the old world. He wanted to let his hands roam, place a kiss to the pale skin exposed to him beneath the neck of his shirt. Connor wanted to rip the damn vest off of him to feel more of the warmth from his body.

His cock was starting to stiffen in his pants and Lord, this was not the time. Being hard around this man was difficult enough when he wasn’t plastered to his back for dear life. Shifting uncomfortably, he tried to adjust his hips so his problem wasn’t necessarily pressing insistently against Daryl’s ass. Of course he would notice.

“Ya all right?” Daryl shouted over the roar of the motorcycle engine, barely turning his head back at him to be heard.

“Aye,” Connor answered. “More than all right.” He grinned, dropping his head down to the other’s shoulder again.

He felt the muscles of Daryl’s face twitch as one hand left the handlebars to pat his hands on his stomach. Connor flattened his hands out, feeling the muscles quiver beneath his touch. Moving his lips up to his ear, Connor said huskily, “How much longer?” making sure to let him feel the heat from his breath on his skin, barely licking the outer shell.

Daryl’s body shuddered slightly against him, doing a little shifting of his own. “Not too much longer, maybe 15, 20 minutes.” Connor smiled against his skin, pulling back in close and melding his body against the redneck’s.

Shane held Murphy down on the ground, pulling at his hair to turn his head and allow him air. His hand on his back was barely holding him down, but pain was etched across the darker haired twin’s face. “Hey,” Shane coaxed, “did I hurt you? Ya ain’t broken, are ya?”

“Aye, I’m broken. Fockin’ broken,” he wailed again.

Shane hauled him up on his feet to inspect him. The man was like jelly in his arms as he tried to stand him up. “Hey, man. Stand on your own two feet. You’re all right.”

Murphy let out another sob, attempting to throw another swing at him. At this point people were starting to gather. Rick came over and put a hand on Murphy’s shoulder, but he shrugged him off, turning away from him. “Murphy? What happened?”

“Ye fockin’ boy just stole me brother!” Murphy yelled at him, pointing in the direction that Daryl and Connor drove off in. “Ridin’ on the back of his fockin’ motorcycle like he was already his bitch!”

Rick shared a look with Shane. “Let’s go for a walk, Murphy. I don’t think people around here need to be all in your business,” Shane whispered to him. Murphy finally looked around him at all the concerned and interested faces. He heard the whispers between some of them about him getting into Merle’s stash that was still in his truck or asking each other if he had some alcohol hidden somewhere that the brothers weren’t sharing. They wereIrish after all.

With a single nod, Shane and Rick led the younger man off to the woods, Shane’s strong hand holding his upper arm just in case the other man fell again. They walked silently until they came across the spot where Connor had shoved Murphy up against the tree just a few nights ago after he had confronted him about Daryl. The Irishman let out another wail, shaking off Shane’s strong grip and leaning against the tree.

Running his hand through his hair, Shane looked to Rick for some sort of direction on this one. If this twin wasn’t mentally stable, then they needed to know about it. They needed to make a decision and it was going to be a hard one. “Look, Murphy-”

“I don’t want to fockin’ hear it, okay?” He slumped against the bark, sliding down the tree until he sat down on the ground. “I know everythin’ you’re gonna say. He’s all I got left.”

Rick sighed, crouching down to the younger man’s level. “Ain’t no one gonna take your brother from you, okay? We would never try to separate you two, but you have to understand that you can’t be together all the time and that’s okay too. Connor will come back to you. Daryl is one of my best men. You think I’d send him out there alone thinking he wouldn’t come back?”

Murphy turned his face up towards Rick. “Do you love him?”

Rick looked up back up at Shane before back down at Murphy. “He’s like a brother to me.”

Murphy howled with laughter. “Aye, like a brother. Like me and me brother. Probably exactly like me and me brother. Do ye have dreams about fockin’ him when you’re asleep? Do ye yearn for his touch that he denies ye? No, probably not. Probably the other way ’round. He dreams about you-”

“Murphy!” Shane’s harsh whisper shut him up. Rick stood up, pacing around their small area. “So you’re sayin’ you and your brother are…”

Murphy shook his head, wrapping his arms around his bent knees. “No. He won’t touch me. Says its not God’s will. ‘S unnatural since we’re born of the same womb and its in te Bible that a man shall not lay with another man as with a woman. He doesn’t want ta condemn me ta hell with him.”

Shane snorted. “Look, little leprechaun. God ain’t here. If He was here do you think the dead would be walking?”

Murphy stood up, standing toe to toe with the larger man. “Aye! I do! Tis the beginning of Judgement!”

Shane laughed at him, spreading his arms out wide and turning in a circle before getting in the Irishman’s face. “Then welcome to Hell, Leprechaun! Might as well bare your ass to the world to be fucked!”

“Shane! Now is not the time!” Rick chastised. “Look, Murphy. Daryl isn’t trying to come between you and Connor-”

“The hell he isn’t! Ye haven’t seen te looks they give each other! Connor… he…”

“Okay, okay,” Rick said calmly, trying to sooth the younger man. “So they may be interested in each other. But would Connor condemn himself to hell, as you say, to be with Daryl?”

“Aye. He would. Says Daryl is a gift from God.”

“Jesus fuckin’-”

“Lord’s name!” Murphy chastised Shane but the man wouldn’t back down.

“So what if your brother and Daryl want to bump uglies, huh? We’re in hell now, Murphy! Might as well get your freak on! I say good for your brother not wanting to fuck his own brother! If you need to get fucked, then get fucked by someone not related to you! Pretty sure that’s in the Bible too!” Shane roared. Rick tried to get between them, placing his hands on Shane’s chest to get him to back down but Murphy just came up against him shouting back in retaliation.

“Fock you! Ye don’t know what yer talkin’ about!”

“Bet you’d like that wouldn’t you! Want to bend over for me? I’ll ram you nice and good!”

“That’s enough out of the both of you!” roared Rick. “All you’re doing at this point is calling walkers towards us and that is the last thing we need. When Daryl and Connor get back we need to have a calm discussion about this. Let us talk to them first, Murphy.”

Murphy sighed, slinking back against the tree, the fight finally leaving his body. “Aye, ok.”

Rick placed his hands on Murphy’s shoulders. “I can tell you that we will do our best to make sure that your brother stays alive whenever he is with us on runs. But you cannot throw these fits when he leaves. It’s detrimental to the group.” Murphy just nodded his assent. “Okay, let’s head back to camp.”

“If ye don’t mind, I’d like to stay out here a little while. Need to clear me head.”

“Actually I do mind. It’s dangerous for you to stay out here alone.”

“I’ll stay with him,” Shane sighed.

“Shane, I don’t think-” Rick started.

“Tis fine. Don’t mind him.”

Rick just nodded, looking at both of them pointedly before walking away back towards camp.

Daryl pulled the motorcycle through the strip mall parking lot as Connor took out the walkers with his gun, silencer in place. Once the lot was cleared, he came to a stop right outside a CVS. “We can pull any leftover medications and see what else there is that’s left before we scope out the other stores.”

“Aye, sounds like a plan.” They moved as one, clearing the store of walkers as they moved about the shelves. Many items had already been scavanged. A lot of the food had already been picked over and cleaned out; the cold cases had melted ice cream and no doubt soured milk. Both men wandered around the cold medicines and bandaids aisles. Rounding an endcap, Connor called out, “Oy! They left the lot of condoms!”

Daryl chuckled. “Got high hopes there, Irish?”

Connor smirked. “Maybe I do.”

“Which lady? Carol maybe? I know ya ain’t gonna try with Lori…”

“Nah.” Regardless, he still stuffed a few boxes in his bag.

Daryl peeked at him around the corner of the aisle, a wrist brace and bottle of Advil in his hands as he shoved them into his bag. “Your own right hand then?”

“Thought maybe that Sheriff with the 70s Chips hairstyle could use ’em when he fucks the other’s wife. Maybe he’ll share some with ye. Surely ye plan on gettin’ some action.”

Daryl snorted, disappearing again around the corner. “Told ya before, ain’t no one I’m interested in.”

Connor followed him around the corner, stepping closer than necessary as he reached over him for some antibiotic ointment. “No one, male or female?”

Daryl coughed, stepping away to go behind the counter. The silence fell between them, the question Connor posed going unanswered. He thought perhaps he had overstepped his bounds and left the redneck alone. They cleared the rest of the store, taking a mental inventory of what they could come and get the next day with a truck. Connor kept a mental note of where Daryl was, making sure that he would have his back in the event of a stray, unnoticed walker. Although he was certain that the day Daryl Dixon didn’t notice something would be the day that hell really had taken over the world.

Stepping out of the store, Daryl stopped to light up a cigarette as they perused the block, contemplating which store to hit next. Connor stood next to him, wondering if there was a bar anywhere in the area that might still have some liquor in it. “I saw ya. You and your brother I mean. Thought ya should know.”

“Aye. We see ye all the time in camp.”

“I meant In the woods.”

Connor paused. “In te woods?”

Daryl blew out a strong line of smoke. “Yeah. I followed you thinkin’ that I could maybe talk with Murphy since he seemed to have a problem with me. Guess I kinda know what his problem is now.”

 

Chapter Four

Connor wished he still had a pack of cigarettes hidden somewhere in his pockets. Daryl fidgeted next to him slightly after his admission, the two men left in an awkward, stretched silence. “Look, I wasn’t stalkin’ ya or anything,” Daryl mumbled, awkwardly trying to defend himself against the non-existent attack.

Connor shrugged. “Wouldn’t mind if ye were, honestly. I guess its no secret now, but how much do ye know?”

Daryl looked out over the rest of the strip mall that hadn’t been cleared yet. “Let’s finish this job first,” he said, walking away before the other man could even protest. Silently, they moved in tandem through each store, downing stray walkers and taking inventory of the items left that might be of use. They worked as well together as Connor and Murphy had in another life; part of that pained him to think of Daryl in the place of Murphy at the moment, but really, wasn’t that what he ultimately wanted? He wasn’t trying to replace his brother, just his lover. Murphy would always be his only brother, his other half, the second part of his soul. But if he could have something truly meaningful with someone that reminded him of the same brother he lusted after, how could that not be fate?

What felt like hours later, they had a nice small haul in their packs as they made their way back to the motorcycle. “Oy, Daryl,” Connor called, tossing the other man a melty candy bar that he had found. “Here’s our hazard pay.”

Daryl smirked, ripping into the chocolatey goodness. “Even melted its still good.”

“Aye. Some things are better than you remember them if you haven’t had them for awhile.”

Connor shifted on his feet as the silence once again stretched out between them. He didn’t like how awkward this situation was getting between them and what it could potentially mean for his chances with Daryl. “So, about what we were talkin’ about earlier…”

Daryl looked down at the wrapper of the candy bar before licking it clean. Connor watched as his tongue sought out all the dark patches of chocolate on the reflective material, darting into the creases. Daryl licked his lips, the tip of his tongue darting out once more at each side. He took his time on answering still and when he did, he spoke slowly, as if he were weighing his words. “I saw ya kiss him and then ya both…” He made that jack off motion with his hand. Connor could only nod once, ashamed of himself once again for doing that with his brother. “Look man, it ain’t my business what ya do with your brother. I just wanted you to know that I saw ya but I won’ say nothin’. Not anyone else’s business either. Y’all have been real discrete about it.”

Connor’s thought processes paused, thinking that maybe Daryl hadn’t actually seen, or rather heard, everything. “It’s not like that with me and Murphy.”

Daryl stood up straight, tossing the candy wrapper to the wind. “Look, like I said, ain’t my business.”

“Aye, it kinda is if ye didn’t hear the conversation that went before it.” Connor shifted, debating whether he wanted to out himself and his motives to Daryl already.

“Naw, I wasn’t close enough to really hear ya. Wasn’t even meanin’ to stay around as long as I did. Just surprised me is all, I guess.” Connor ran his hand through his hair, tossing his own candy wrapper. “We should be gettin’ back. I’m sure your brother is throwing another fit since I took ya from him.”

“Yeah, that’s the thing…” Connor ran his hand from his hair down to his neck, shifting awkwardly on his feet. “When I said it’s not like that with me and Murph, I didn’t mean we don’t want to… but it’s a sin in the Lord’s eyes.”

“So you’re not fuckin’ your brother, but you want to?” Daryl looked at him sideways, squinting in the afternoon sun.

“Aye. I love Murphy and he loves me, but its a sinful love in the eyes of our Lord. I prayed daily for him to send me someone so I wouldn’t condemn Murph to hell with me for havin’ these thoughts. And I believe he answered me prayers.”

Daryl stood stock still, staring sideways at the Irishman. Wiping his palm on the pocket of his jeans, he cleared his throat. “Whatchu sayin’ Irish?”

Connor sighed. This was not the way he was wanting to tell Daryl about this whole situation. “I had just finished praying in the woods when we met ye. And ye look jus’ like him, Daryl.”

“Hate to disappoint you, but I’m not gay, man.”

“Neither am I. I don’t look at other men. Hell, I don’t even really look at women. But I’m just asking ye, let me woo ye and ye won’t be disappointed,” Connor pleaded. He knew he was damn good with getting his way with Murphy. Maybe the same tactics would work on Daryl.

“Look man, I’m flattered, really, but there’s nothin’ you can say that will make me reconsider. Now let’s get back.” Daryl climbed on the motorcycle, wrapping his bag around his front so Connor could slide on behind him.

“‘s that why ye always look at Rick the way ye do? I’m not accusin’ anyone of anythin’, man. I just want a chance. I’m not climbin’ on that bike until ye at least give me a chance to prove meself to ye.”

“Then you’re gonna have a long walk home, Irish.” Daryl started up the motorcycle and Connor crossed his arms over his chest, sitting down on the curb. With a shake of his head, Daryl kicked up the kickstand and sped off down the street, turning the corner. Within seconds he had doubled back, stopping the motorcyle right in front of the still motionless Connor on the side of the road. “You were just gonna let me drive off and leave ya?” Daryl bellowed at him, cutting the engine and getting off the bike. “Are ya outta your mind?”

Connor looked down at his feet, slowly shaking his head. “Aye. Completely out of me mind. If ye aren’t willin’ to give me a chance, I’ve already condemned me brother to hell, what good would I be then?”

“Oh for fuck’s sake man.”

Murphy sat on the ground, eyeing Shane where he stood watching over the younger man, hand on his gun at his hip. “You ready to go or what?” Shane asked. “Cause I’m gettin’ tired of sittin’ out here for walker bait.”

“Ye can go back if ye want,” Murphy muttered.

“Look man,” Shane started, stepping closer to Murphy as he still sat at the base of the tree. He leaned down and talked softly to him, as if he were approaching a timid animal. “I appreciate your Godly views and how devoted you still are, but man… we’re in the last of our days, brother. I don’t get wanting to fuck your brother, but I think you should do whatever is going to make you happy. As long as you don’t put anyone in danger, fuck as many men as you want.”

Murphy eyed him for any judgement behind his words. “Just like ye enjoy focking yer best friend’s wife behind his back?”

Shane stood up. “I don’t have to defend myself to you. I thought… Rick was dead. I had to get Lori and Carl out and shit just happens man. Which is exactly what you should let happen. Do I regret sleeping with Lori? Some days I do, but most I don’t. Neither one of us knew that Rick survived so you can’t judge me for that.”

“Yeah, just let shit happen. I try to make shit happen, but Connor won’t touch me. I love me brother and I know its wrong but God wouldn’t let me have these feelings if he didn’t approve.”

“Maybe he’s just testing you.” Shane shrugged. “I’m just saying, I wouldn’t want to die knowing I ain’t fucked anybody. Or I guess in your case was fucked by anybody…. I’m assuming you…uh… you’d….” Shane ran his hand through his hair before dropping both hands to his hips as he stood up out of the other man’s space. Murphy just looked up at him and nodded, answering the question that he couldn’t voice.

“Aye. I’d lay down for ‘im.”

“I wouldn’t want to die pining for only one person and gave up just because that person didn’t want me. I mean, isn’t there someone else that you’re attracted to? What about anyone else at camp? T-Dog? Glenn? I ain’t gonna insult you and say Dale.”

Murphy just shook his head. “Ain’t puttin’ yerself in there, Mr. Sheriff?”

Shane laughed awkwardly, taking another step back. “Naw. I wouldn’t.”

Murphy stood up, smelling the small amount of fear from the other. “What if I said I’d fock ye? Ye said earlier ye’d ram me nice and hard. What if I took ye up on that offer? Bend over for ye right here and now.”

Shane stepped up to him, puffing out his chest, making himself look large and menacing. “Like hell you would. You’re too hot and heavy for your brother. And I ain’t a fucking fag.”

“I bet ye might be. Ye ain’t gotten laid since Rick came back.” Murphy took off his shirt, tossing it behind him, moving his hands down his chest to unbuckle his pants.

“The fuck are you doing, leprechaun? I told you-” Shane started backing up away from him, looking like he was seriously just ready to make a run for it.

“Ye told me I need to give up on pinin’ for just one person. I think ye were offerin’.” Murphy dropped his pants, stepping out of them carefully. “I’m down to me boxers, Officer.”

Shane stood gaping at the younger man, practically naked in front of him. He did have a nice body, even with all of the tattoos, but that didn’t mean he’d want to fuck him right here and now. Murphy suddenly stepped closer, his hands reaching out for the other’s belt and undoing it slowly, never losing eye contact with Shane’s brown eyes. “I’m sure ye miss gettin’ laid. Being all ball deep in somethin’ nice and warm.”

Shane’s mind stopped processing and the world started to move slower as Murphy’s hands finally reached his belt. He saw the other man’s lips moving, smirking at him as his hands worked. He could feel them brush against his stomach and then his thighs as his cargos were taken down. Fingertips brushed over his lower abdomen, pushing his black tshirt up farther on his stomach until he subconsciously raised his arms for it to be taken over his head. A warm hand on his cock brought him back into reality; everything speeding back up to its actual pace. Murphy’s words finally reached his ear as he was whispering to him all the dirty, dirty things he wanted to do.

In a swift motion, Shane pulled the same maneuver as he had on him back at camp, grabbing his wrist and pushing him face first down on his knees in the dirt. “I’ll fuck ya if you’re wantin’ it so bad, but I’m driving this.” He tightened his hold on the other man’s arm until he saw the head nod soft words of assurance. Shane let him loose only to grip the band of his underwear and tug down. It wasn’t going to be finesse and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be pleasant for the other man because he didn’t have anything to help him get inside except for spit and precum. Using his knees to knock Murphy’s legs apart, he spit on his fingers, bringing them down to the tight hole. “Don’t tense. It will be way worse if you do.”

“Ye sound like ye done this before,” Murphy growled bringing a shoulder down to the ground so he could get a hand between his legs and slowly stroke himself.

“With girls a few times. I’ve never been with a man before so I don’t know if it will be any different.” Moving his hand back to his own cock, he stroked it hard and quick, squeezing some precum out and wiping it off with his fingers. Rubbing the cum over Murphy’s hole, he pushed in one finger then two, finger fucking him slowly. To be honest, he wasn’t entirely sure if this was the other man’s first time with everything or just with a man and he didn’t want to be a complete dick about it- no pun intended.

Murphy groaned, spreading his legs even wider as he felt Shane’s fingers enter him. Closing his eyes, he sucked in air, holding his breath as he felt the fingers move, fucking him slowly. “Fuck, that feels so good.”

Shane grunted his approval as he began to stretch his pucker a little more, adding in a third finger and moving his hand faster until Murphy was a begging, wanton mess in front him, pressing his hips back into him to try to maintain the feeling. “What t’e fuck are ye waiting for?” he groaned out, a hand reaching behind himself, trying to grasp at Shane’s leg.

“Okay, okay. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to kill you.”

“I’m gonna blow me load without ye if ye don’t get on with it, ye ass,” Murphy grunted.

Shane grumbled inwardly about the man on his knees in front of him being an impatient will imp who should be thankful he’s even getting anything as he lined his cock up, brushing the wet tip over the entrance before pressing inside. Murphy bellowed as he pressed in, feeling the tightest. Shane’s hand instantly went over his mouth. Pressing his cock all the way in and leaning over the other’s body, he whispered harshly in his ear, “You want to bring every walker and the people back at camp out here?”

Murphy grunted, thrusting his hips back. Shane groaned, dropping his head to the other’s shoulder as his hands fell loose and down to the ground. He gave a few experimental thrusts before setting a steady rhythm. For his part, Murphy was an active participant, thrusting back against his lover, grunting out approvals and words of encouragement everytime his shaft would hit something special deep inside him that would send shivers down his spine. Shane sat up, gripping the pale hips in front of him tightly as he started to really drive home. Closing his eyes, he tried to picture Lori bent over in front of him, even his exgirlfriend from the month before the turn hit, anything really to not think about how the person he had his dick buried deep into was a man. An annoying shit of one at that, but hell maybe this would shut him up. Thrusting harder still, listening to the grunts of mixed pain and pleasure of the man beneath him, he watched the tattoo of Jesus’ feet on his back danced with their movements. Shaking his head, he tried not to think about God, Jesus, and religion right now, but for some reason he hoped Connor and Daryl were fucking the hell out of each other right now. Maybe if both McManus brothers were getting laid, then they would be a lot calmer.

The end was a fizzle compared to other orgasms he had had in the past, which he was surprised about because Murphy had been right- he hadn’t slept with anyone since Lori. Who else was there to sleep with anyways? However, Murphy mewed out his release, howling like a cat in heat. Shane reached a hand in between his legs, massaging his balls slightly as he shot out hot streaks of which onto the forest floor. When the Irish man’s body relaxed, Shane pulled his cock out, reaching over for his clothes and tossing Murphy his own.

Murphy rolled over onto his back, lewdly spreading his legs in front of him as he tried to catch his breath. “Fock, that was everything I wanted it to be.”

“There, you got your cherry popped. Now quit complaining about your brother wanting to fuck Daryl. I seriously doubt that’s going to happen anyhow.” Shane finished dressing and stood up, looking down at the still nude man. “Hurry up and get your clothes on. We gotta get back to the camp before Rick comes lookin’ for us.”

Less than an hour after Shane and Murphy returned from their “talk” in the forest, Daryl and Connor pulled back into camp on the Triumph. As Daryl cut the engine, Connor allowed his hands to slowly move down the others body, giving a slight squeeze before letting go and getting off the back of the bike. No one noticed it seemed, but Murphy and Shane.

Connor grinned brightly, opening his backpack and handing stuff out as the group came up to them. “We got a few things of interest and cleared out a bunch of walkers. It’s definitely worth t’e trip o’er there with a truck,maybe two.”

Rick turned to Daryl for confirmation. “He’s right. It’s worth it. Every bit of it. That CVS even still has a decent amount of crap on the shelves, not much food though.”

Still, Rick nodded. “All right. First thing in the morning, we gather a group together and ride out and clear it. Good job, guys.” He turned and walked away, back towards his tent where Lori and Carl were standing, waiting for him. Daryl watched him go, completely unaware that Connor was directly beside him.

“Ye know, ye can do better than a married man. I’m standing right here.”

Daryl looked at him pointedly before shaking his head and walking back to his tent. “See ya later, Irish.”

Connor grinned wickedly as he made his way back to his tent, cradling the candy bar he had saved for his brother. Unzipping it, he saw Murph laying on his sleeping bag, fiddling with the zipper. “Oy,” he called, tossing the candy bar at him. “Gotcha somethin’.”

Murphy’s breath hitched as he moved awkwardly to catch the flying chocolate. He half hoped his brother wouldn’t notice. The other half wanted him to be so blindingly jealous that it was like he had his old Connor back with the horrible plans and ideas for things.

“Hey, what happened to ye while I was gone, huh? Why ye movin’ like that? Ye hurt?”

“Ay, a bit. But I’ll be all right,” Murphy played it off. “Thanks for the candy.”

“What did ye do? Chop some firewood? Its about time ye got up off your lazy ass.” Connor flopped down on his own sleeping back directly next to his brother’s. Gently he pulled the other man to lay on his chest, just like they did every night. Placing a soft kiss at the crown of his brother’s head, he sniffed. “Murph, ye smell different…” Murphy tensed in his arms. “Ye smell like…” Connor paused considering, sniffing one more time for good measure. “Sex and Shane.”

 

Chapter Five

Murphy lay waiting for his brother, his mind rolling over what he had just done in the woods with Shane. He was terrified and broken, yet he felt free. Now that he had been sodomized, taken by someone else for his first time, he just knew Connor would want him. There would be no more fear of saving him from Hell. He had condemned himself to the pits along with his brother. Murphy hoped that if nothing else Connor would be so blinded by rage that he would try to reclaim what was his.

The Triumph roared into their camp. He could hear Connor laughing over the roar of the motor. Peeking his head out from the tent, he saw his brother dismount the bike, running his hands sensually down Daryl’s chest and around his hips before throwing his leg over and pulling his backpack off. Connor missed the look Daryl shot him, his back being turned from the hunter as he dug through his backpack to hand out his finds to the held out hands, but Murphy didn’t. It was a look of interest, blatant curiosity about the other person. Connor had made his move and it was evident the hunter accepted the pass, or at the very least was considering it.

Murphy zipped the tent back up, laying back down. He wondered what Shane would do if he snuck into his tent that evening after everyone had gone down for the night. He wondered if Connor would even care or notice that he was gone. When Connor zipped open the tent, he considered feigning sleep, but the sound of his brother’s voice always enveloped his heart in a warm cocoon. A candy bar was tossed at him and he made every attempt to not move awkwardly but secretly he hoped Connor had caught the motion. He wasn’t disappointed.

“Hey, what happened to ye while I was gone, huh? Why ye movin’ like that? Ye hurt?”

“Ay, a bit. But I’ll be all right,” Murphy played it off, torn between wanting to tell him what happened and suddenly feeling nothing but shame about what he had done. “Thanks for the candy.”

“What did ye do? Chop some firewood? Its about time ye got up off your lazy ass.” Connor flopped down on his own sleeping back directly next to his brother’s. Gently he pulled the other man to lay on his chest, just like they did every night. Placing a soft kiss at the crown of his brother’s head, he sniffed. “Murph, ye smell different…” Murphy tensed in his arms. “Ye smell like…” Connor paused considering, sniffing one more time for good measure. “Sex and Shane.”

Connor’s arms tightened around him. “Murph… you didn’t….,” he whispered. He ran his hands over the other’s back and up to his hair, kissing his temple as he squeezed his eyes shut. “Tell me you didn’t.”

Murphy sniffled into his chest. “Ay, I did. ‘Twas good, Connor. Felt so good.”

Connor was still as he held onto his brother tightly. He wanted to go out and swing on Shane, bring him down to the ground and beat him into a pulp for touching his brother when he had worked so hard to keep his brother from this sin. “Why?” was all he could ask.

“Cause ye won’t,” came the soft reply.

“So ye went and focked another man? I been tryin’ ta say ye from hell, Murph! And ye just throw that away!” Connor whispered harshly, keenly aware that it was the middle of the afternoon and everyone was milling about the camp still.

“So ye went and focked Daryl!” Murphy wasn’t quite as keen on keeping their voices low. Connor cursed at his brother’s fiery temper, flipping them over and pinning his brother down on their sleeping bags.

“Shut yer mouth! People are outside ya brat! And Daryl and I haven’t focked.”

“But ye touched him like yer lovers when ye got off that fockin’ motorcycle. Don’t tell me nothin’ happened, Connor. I ain’t stupid.”

Connor sat back, letting go of his brother’s upper body. He ran his hand down his face as he contemplated what he could tell his brother. “Ay, but nothin’ near what ye think. He saw us out in t’e woods but he didn’t know what it was about. He thought we were fockin’ so I told him why we weren’t and why I thought he was a gift from God. He told me he wasn’t gay but I asked for a chance to woo ‘im. It took a little convincin’ but he finally agreed.”

“So ye have to do the dance just to get ‘im to pay attention to ye? Fock Connor, I’m right here. I’d move heaven and earth just for a kiss from ye. What’s wrong with me?”

Murphy’s heart was breaking and Connor could see it on his face as the lines deepened in his brother’s brow and the creases around his mouth. “Nothin’, Murph. You’re perfect. Absolutely perfect but ye have one flaw. You’re me brother. The Lord says that’s wrong and its wrong for a man to lay with another man as he does with a woman-”

“Ay!” Murphy interrupted. “The Lord also says thou shalt not kill! How many men have we killed?”

“That doesn’t count, Murph. We were doin’ the Lord’s work,” Connor tried to argue.

“Ay, Lord’s work. Don’t ye think if the Lord really wanted them dead, He could have just struck them down on His own?”

“Ye heard the call just as well as I did! We were the hand of the Lord! He ordered us to kill those men!”

“Did He choose them or did we, Connor? We’re already goin’ ta Hell!”

The tent flap was nearly ripped open behind Connor. Rough hands were pulling him out, leaving him flat on his back on the dirt as he stared up into Shane’s angry face. “What the hell are y’all goin’ on about in there? We can hear ya clearly out here!”

“Then ye should fockin’ know what we’re goin’ on about!” Connor swung up at him from being on his back. “Stay away from me brother!”

At the sound of Connor’s angry voice, Daryl emerged from his tent, tossing the arrow he had been working on back into the space before running towards the now fighting men on the ground. Rick and Daryl met the two men at the same time with Murphy peaking his head outside of his tent. Angry words were being spewed between the grappling men on the ground, most of which were in Gaelic coming from Connor with Shane shouting at him to at least cuss him out in English. Daryl and Rick looked at each other before each grabbed a man. Daryl drug Connor away, barely missing a flying fist. Rick had Shane on his back, hands holding him down on the ground as he hollered at Daryl to take Connor away.

Daryl grabbed a hold of Connor’s arm, dragging him down towards the lake. Connor shot one last look at Murphy before he ducked inside and zipped the tent back up. “What the fuck was that all about? I mean, I know Shane’s an ass, but ya can’t just go around pickin’ fights!” Daryl fussed at him quietly. “Ya got blood all over you and your face is starting to swell. I bet your left eye is gonna swell shut ya dumbass.”

“Aw, look at ye carin’ ’bout me,” he answered snidely. His charming side was gone for the moment.

“Irish.” Daryl stopped, turning around to face Connor. “If ya start fights, Rick might kick both you and your brother out, especially since Shane is like his best friend.”

“He’s been fockin’ his wife,” Connor muttered as he brushed past Daryl and continued down to the lake.

“Yeah well, I don’t know if Rick knows that and ain’t no one gonna tell him. That’s up to all them. But I don’t want ya to get kicked out.”

Connor turned as he approached the edge of the lake, grinning widely at Daryl who shuffled his feet as he approached the edge of the woods. “Oh, ay? Ye warmin’ up to me, eh?”

“You’re a lot better to have around than a lot of people. And…,” he hesitated, looking out over the lake and back down at his feet before he muttered quietly, “it’s kinda nice to be wanted.”

Connor took that for what it was, stilling grinning like a fool, he nodded. He knew that Daryl had a rough past and that his brother had been a complete ass. He had heard the stories around the campfire and no doubt so had Daryl. He knew that he would kill a fucker for saying anything against his brother. And for that man to actually touch his brother in that way… He stripped bare and stepped into the lake, splashing water on himself as Daryl sat down by the riverbank, placing his knife beside him. “So you gonna tell me what had ya swinging on him?”

“He focked me brother.” Connor dipped his head down underneath the water, enjoying the coolness on his overheated skin. One thing he hated about Georgia in comparison to Boston or Ireland was the heat. When he came back up for air, the look on Daryl’s face was almost comical.

“You’re shittin’ me. Shane fucked Murphy?”

“Ay. While ye and I were out playin’ cowboys and indians, risking our lives for some candy bars, me brother was bending over for that cop. Said it was cause ye and I focked.”

Daryl hung his head. “So this is ’cause of me?”

“No. It’s cause of me. I shouldn’ta told him that I thought ye were a gift from God. I shouldn’ta said anythin’ to him about anything and maybe he would have never noticed.” Connor stood in the lake, looking up at Daryl on the shore. “Oy, yer filthy yerself. Don’t ye think ye should get some of that off?”

Daryl looked down at himself and shrugged. “I’m all right. Been worse.”

“Aw come on. Ain’t like I’m gonna hit on ye.” With that Connor winked and waded closer to the redneck sitting on the shore line. His naked body glistened as he slowly stepped out of the water, shaking his hair out, making sure to get as much water on the other man as possible.

“Fuck off!” Daryl laughed, standing up to get away, but Connor was faster, grabbing his hand as he stood and bringing the other man in close.

“Come on, Daryl. I promised ye I’d help ye bath when we was out in the woods.”

“No. Ya said you’d share your soap with me.”

Connor shrugged and started walking backwards, tugging on Daryl’s wrist as he went, effectively dragging the other man in with him. “Ye better take off your clothes or they’re going to be wet. Then again, they could probably use a good wash too.”

“Ya callin’ me dirty again?”

“Filthy.”

“Bastard,” Daryl muttered, desperately toeing off his boots before they made it to the waterline. Socks were next, but he would be damned if he was taking anything else off.

“Come on, Daryl. I won’t bite hard, I promise,” he said with another wink as he yanked hard on the other’s wrist, bringing him closer. His hands went to his belt and pants as the hunter tried to wiggle away, but Connor was faster. He twisted, flinging the other man into the water. As he stood up, shaking his head and wiping the water from his eyes, Connor laughed at him. “I told ye to take off your clothes!”

Daryl grunted, taking his pants and vest off in the water, but leaving his shirt and underwear on. He flung the wet clothes at the bank. “Fucking, Irish,” he grumbled, dipping back under the water and scrubbing at his hair. Coming back up for air, he wiped the water off his face, taking the dirt streaks with it.

Connor waded closer to him, tugging on the bottom of his t-shirt. “I feel outnumbered here.”

“Ya should. I ain’t takin’ nothin’ else off so don’t try it.”

He relented, raising his hands in the air in surrender. “Fine fine. Still feels nice to be in t’e water. ‘S a lot better than this heat.” Daryl nodded his agreement, swimming away a little before ducking under again.

Coming back up, he noticed Connor had swum back to shore and was laying out in the sun. Daryl waded back up, sitting down next to him. “Ya think Murphy and Shane are gonna start a thing?”

Connor shrugged, looking over at him. “Dunno.”

“I think it’d be good for him. Dunno about with Shane. He’s kinda an asshole, but he kept the group safe.” Daryl stared out at the lake. He really did think it would be good for Murphy to have someone else to be attached to other than Connor. Hell, it’d even be good for Connor. The fairer twin had tried to associate with everyone in the group. He had become friendly with several people, not just Daryl. The group was accepting of him, but Murphy was a wild card and they all knew it. They saw Connor as the only person that could control the darker-haired twin and if something happened to Connor, Daryl was afraid of what that could mean for Murphy.

“Ay, suppose you’re right. I just don’t like the idea of him pawing all over me brother, especially when he showed no former interest. Murph gets attached to people. He’s… emotional.”

“Yeah, we all noticed. He flips a switch apparently when you’re not around. Ain’t never really seen much of it myself, but that’s what I heard.”

“Yeah well, he does that when I’m wit’ ye. He’s jealous of ye, ya know. Thinks yer out ta steal me.”

Daryl snorted at that. “Ain’t stealin’ nothin’.”

“He’s me brother. I love him. I just can’t love him the way he wants me to.”

Daryl nodded his understanding. It would have been weird if Merle had wanted to start a sexual relationship with him. He shook his head at the though, a cold chill moving its way up his spine. He didn’t understand the twins’ relationship and there was no way in hell he’d even try.

“So was your brother as bad as everyone says he was?”

Daryl thought a moment, looking out over the still waters. “Nah. He was an ass, don’t get me wrong. He’d done a lot of bad in his life, but I think some of it got twisted around in his head that he was doin’ good. He did all right by me as a kid when he was there, but he wasn’t around a whole lot.”

“Ay…” Connor thought back on his former life as a Saint and wondered if what Murphy had said was true. They had both felt the calling, but was it them that chose their marks or the Lord? Shaking his head at the thought, his ears perked as a loud shriek echoed from back at the camp. Connor and Daryl looked at each other before scrambling with their clothes. More screams filled their air as gunfire began to erupt. Connor started running, only half dressed screaming for his brother.

 

Chapter Six

It felt like minutes, a mere string of seconds conveniently pieced together, but as Connor leaned on the handle of a shovel, he knew it had been just under 24 hours. They had lost the camp. They knew it the second that herd of walkers came across their line of tin cans. There would be no ending this. Now they could smell where their little group was hiding and it was on some sort of walker radar.

Daryl stood next to him, downing a bottle of warm water. How he longed for the days with ice. “Should be the last of it, ay?” Daryl just nodded as he picked up his shovel again to keep throwing the dirt over their lost loved ones. The bodies of the herd were burned but that Asian kid, Glenn, insisted upon burying those they knew. Connor and Murphy said silent prayers over the dead bodies as they laid them to rest. It was the very least they could offer to the unfortunately departed.

Murphy had tamed in the past 24 hours, though he noticed Connor taking more comfort in the presence of Daryl than himself. Shane almost subconsciously stood close to him. Murphy wondered if it was out of the fear that he would tear into either Daryl or his brother or if it was some sort of newly developed protective streak since their little encounter in the woods. Murph had intended for it to be a one-time thing, though he didn’t actually think the former deputy would go through with it.

A few hours later found them all on the road, headed for Atlanta. It was the hell hole that the MacManus brothers remembered it being, though significantly more creepy. There was the added horror-movie style factor of the entire city being abandoned with cars everywhere. Windows in business buildings were smashed open. Clothes were left on the sidewalks and streets. Anything that people dropped while running away was just left to nature to take over. Connor figured that was God’s plan. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust until we rise again. He just didn’t think the Bible had meant rise in this way. So if this was the way God had intended for the dead to rise, then were he and Murphy and the rest of this ragtag group really being punished?

When they arrived at the CDC, battered, broken, and barely holding on to hope, Connor decided that yes, they were being punished. This was their purgatory. They sat outside, listening to Shane and Rick scream back and forth at each other; Rick begging the camera that he swore moved to let them inside. Connor sat down, his back to the building as he watched the herd of walkers they had avoided close in on them, and he prayed. His brother sat next to him, rosary in hand, murmuring the words that they both knew by heart.

Closing his eyes, Connor considered praying for a quick death instead of salvation. At the very least, to let him not see his brother and Daryl die. He couldn’t bear to see that happen and not be able to do a damn thing about it except for give himself up with them. Opening his eyes, Connor saw the walkers closer; he could smell them as their hands stretched out, reaching for them, their jaws working in anticipation of their meal. Closing his eyes once more, Connor waited for them, reaching over and taking Murphy’s hand in his own. He was ready for death.

The door opened behind them, metal creaking as it slowly moved up. Quickly their little group dove underneath it, sighing in relief a they made it through just in time to avoid the walkers. Connor grabbed Murphy, checking him over to make sure he hadn’t been bit, scratched, or anything else. Murphy grunted with the inspection before being passed off. Connor grabbed Daryl next, lifting his shirt and turning the man around. Daryl grunted and pushed away, pushing his shirt down over his chest again, while looking nervously at Rick.

Connor sighed, running his hands through his hair, turning to look at the man who had let them in. Rick stepped up to him, introducing himself and everyone else in their group. “Thank you for letting us in.”

Daryl watched Connor walk around, inspecting everything. He ran his fingers over the instruments and blinking lights as Jenner introduced himself and told them that there was no cure, but he could offer them safe haven as long as no one was infected.

Three hours later, everyone had been blood tested and the group was sitting around the table, eating real food and blissfully drinking their problems away. Murphy, Connor, and Daryl all shared a bottle of whiskey. The rest of the group killed multiple bottles of wine. The merriment lasted far into the night as stomachs grew warmer and hands started travelling. The women were the first to leave, excusing themselves to bed or to get their children ready for sleep. They finally had real beds with hot showers and clean clothing. Shane stalked off after Lori. Connor didn’t miss the way his brother’s blue eyes followed after the other man. Daryl’s hand on his arm stopped the chastising words in his throat. What a hypocrite he would be to say anything to his Murph when the mere warmth of Daryl’s hand ignited a fire in his body.

Turning to face Daryl, he smiled lazily. “Allow me to escort ye to your room,” he said. Murphy snorted snidely next to them.

“Nah, I’m all right,” he said before standing. “And just to be sure ya Irish asses don’t finish this without me, I’m takin’ it with me.” He grabbed the bottle, swayed slightly, and stumbled off towards the dorm rooms.

“Ye aren’t givin’ up are ye?” Murphy asked quietly.

“No,” Connor whispered to him, looking across the table as Rick eyed him through his glassy, drunk gaze.

Rick turned to Jenner, thanking him profusely for sharing his wealth with them before he stumbled off himself. Murphy and Connor sat with the rest of the group awhile longer, enjoying the stories that everyone was telling in their moments of drunken looseness. Their group was strong as a cohesive unit. Deep down, Connor knew they could survive this purgatory together as long as they all stayed strong and dedicated to each other. They had developed this little family and he wasn’t going to let anything tear it apart. He regarded Jenner through his fuzzy mind. The man looked withdrawn, not exactly partaking in the merriment that everyone else was enjoying. He looked…. almost depressed.

Murphy stood up next to him, stretching before excusing himself for bed, giving his brother a subtle glance. Connor stood up with him, with the intention to see his brother to bed and to find the hunter. “Come to bed wit’ me, Connor,” Murphy smirked as they came to their door. His brother’s hands reached for his hips. Connor smirked, running his hands down his brother’s arms.

“Ay, I’ll be in soon.”

“No. Don’t go to him tonight, brother. Stay with me.” Murphy pulled on him, bringing his drunk warm body crashing into his. His mouth found his cheek, kissing it wetly before trailing down to his lips. Connor didn’t take the pleasure in the kiss as he had before. His mind strayed to the other man. Closing his eyes, he could almost imagine the mouth on his being Daryl’s and he responded to it, even grinding a bit into his brother’s touch, eliciting a deep moan from the darker haired twin. “I can be everythin’ for ye, Con, if ye let me.”

Connor opened his eyes, pulling back from his brother. “No, Murph. Ye can’t.” He pulled away completely, opening the door behind his brother. “Go ta bed. I’ll be in soon.” He left him standing there in the hallway as he went on the search for the hunter. Turning the corner, he stumbled into Shane. Grabbing the other man for balance, he saw the scratch marks on his neck. “Ye all right?” he asked, gesturing towards his neck.

Shane put his hand up to where Connor motioned, pulling back to see small traces of blood. “Yeah, man. Just got into a fight with Lori. I’m all right,” he smiled and continued on down the hallway.

Connor eyed him as he went, something seeming just a tad off about him. “Oy, ye seen Daryl?”

Shane stopped, bracing himself against the wall. “Yeah, he was talking with Rick in his room just down there.”

Connor nodded and continued on his way as Shane turned the corner. As he neared the open door, he could hear their low voices. Stopping just out of sight of the open doorway, he listened. “Nah, man. I dunno… it’s nothin’ really.”

“Sure don’t seem like nothin’, Daryl.”

“Ain’t anythin’ ya need to worry ’bout, Rick. Ya already said your piece to me. I get it, okay?”

“I just need you to understand-”

“I understand perfectly. Ya got your wife and your kid. Ain’t nothin’ else ya need to say.”

“I just feel like I need to explain-”

“Look, I get it okay?! Ya don’t need ta tell me everyday that ain’t nothin’ goin’ to happen. Was just once. I get it.”

“Murphy is a loaded cannon. Just be careful with Connor.”

Connor rounded the corner right then. If he was going to be the topic of conversation, he felt like he had the right to be involved. “Ay, be careful with Connor,” he said.

Rick startled, turning around to see him in the doorway. “I just meant-”

Connor raised his hands. “Ye don’t need to explain yourself there, Sheriff. Daryl should be careful with me, but I can assure ye I only have the purest intentions with your dear hunter there.”

Rick nodded, looking down at the floor, his hands on his hips before looking back up at Daryl and again at Connor before pressing past him to leave. “What was that all about?” Connor asked him.

Daryl shrugged his response.

“Ye knew I was listenin’ didn’t ye?” Daryl just nodded. “Sounded like ye had somethin’ goin’ there with that Sheriff.”

Daryl snorted. “Wasn’t nothin’.”

“Sounds like it mighta been somethin’ to ye,” he said quietly. He knew he was treading on thin ice here, but he felt like he needed to know. “If ye want me to back off, just say t’e word. I thought… I didn’t know it had gone that far with ‘im.”

Daryl snorted, retreating farther into the room to grab the bottle of whiskey. “What do ya want, Irish?”

It was Connor’s turn to shrug. “We’re both a bit drunk. Why do ye think I was lookin’ for ye? Put me brother to bed and denied his advances. Kinda seems like your officer friend is a bit jealous, ay?”

Daryl chugged a healthy amount from the bottle. “Ay,” he answered, and let out a short laugh.

Connor grinned at the mimicked response, taking the bottle from the other’s hands. “Does he have reason to be?” he asked, chugging from the mouth of the bottle himself. The amber liquid burned as it went down, settling warmly in his stomach.

Daryl’s face scrunched up as he swayed slightly. “What are ya askin’ me, Irish?”

Connor’s feet seemed to move on their own accord as he closed the distance between them, setting the bottle down on the closest flat surface. He was surprised when Daryl didn’t move away as he wrapped his arms around his waist. “Can I kiss ye, Daryl? Been wantin’ to.”

Daryl just stood still, his drunk mind clearly processing the situation as Connor leaned in, brushing his their lips together chastely. Pulling back, he noticed the hunter’s blue eyes had darkened, his face taking on an almost sinister aura. “Should close the door if you’re gonna do that.”

Connor released him long enough to retreat back to the door, closing it as instructed. His blood thrummed in his body, warm from just enough alcohol to make bad decisions seem right. Daryl’s hands were on him before he could even turn back around, pushing at clothing, trying to get his hands underneath Connor’s shirt. In a quick move, he pulled his shirt over his head, pulling Daryl’s hands up to his toned chest.

Daryl growled in his ear as Connor turned, feeling the drunk-warm body against his front as their lips found each other again. A cacophony of elicit moans and grunts filled the room as they rutted against each other, pants still on and Daryl still in his shirt. “Could make this easier,” Connor whispered, running his hands down to the waistband of the other man’s pants.

Daryl grunted, slamming Connor back against the door hard, a hard glare serving as a warning. “Ye want to…. admit it. I can feel it. Its okay, Daryl. We don’t have to do anythin’, just kiss me.” Connor continued to try to use his words to soothe the savage, drunk beast in front of him that he wanted to lay down on the mattress.

“Ain’t admitin’ nothin’,” Daryl grunted, releasing Connor from his grasp and stumbling back towards the whiskey bottle and the bed. “Ya should go back to your brother. If its so okay, why dontcha go fuck him?”

Connor looked down at his feet, putting his hands in his pockets as he leaned casually against the door. “‘Cause incest is illegal and he needs to move on.”

“Oh? Gonna let him fuck that steroid cop?” Daryl flopped back onto the mattress, his body strewn across it so lewdly Connor wondered if he did it on purpose. Subconsciously, his hand started to stroke his stomach as he spoke, the Irish blue eyes watching every movement and glimmer of skin as his shirt was pulled up.

“Ay, if it makes him happy. He seemed okay with ‘im. ‘Sides,” Connor sauntered up to Daryl, straddling the other man on the bed before leaning down and stealing a gentle kiss. “This is where I’d rather be right now.”

Daryl snorted, but responded to the kiss, his hands clutching at his own clothes but making no move to remove them. Connor snaked a hand down his chest as his lips traveled down the prickly jaw to suck on the hunter’s sweet, tender neck. Daryl moved as he bit down slightly, using his tongue to sooth the bite. His hand cupped his hard cock through his pants, causing the other man to buck up against him. With firey eyes flinging open, Daryl’s scream echoed in the small room. “Fuck off, Irish!” Seconds later, Connor found himself on the floor, his ass aching from the sudden impact.

“Oy! Ye need to get your fockin’ head in the game! Don’t be leanin’ in to me touch and then tellin’ me to fock off in the next breath!”

Daryl sat up on the bed, bottle of whiskey leaning against one thigh as he held his head in his hand. “Fuck off back to your room, back to your brother.” His words no longer held the vehement anger, but more a sad exhaustion.

Connor stood up, adjusting his clothing before stepping up to the redneck and risking running a hand through his hair. Daryl barely flinched at the touch, almost as if he were expecting it. “Get some sleep, Daryl. I’ll be around the corner if ye need somethin’ warm to cuddle with.”

He made no move as Connor walked towards the door, giving only a single glance as he turned the knob. Daryl wanted to shout at him. He wanted to tell him that he wasn’t gay, he didn’t do those things with men, he wasn’t interested in him or any of them for that matter, but at the same time he wanted him to stay. He was wanted, not needed for any of his skills. Hell, as far as Connor knew, he was shit in the sack with a small dick to match. For a split second Daryl allowed his eyes to meet Connor’s, almost begging him for forgiveness and just more time. He needed more time.

Connor just smirked at him, blowing him a kiss before walking out the door, closing it behind himself. He listened for a moment, but he didn’t hear any movement on the other side. Daryl wasn’t coming after him; he didn’t shout for him to come back. With a sigh of slight disappointment, he turned, intending to go back to his room where Murphy was no doubt waiting up for him. That is unless he went looking for his sheriff friend.

“Connor.”

He froze in midstep. Turning around, he was met with the angry face of an inebriated Rick Grimes. “Can I have a word with you?”

 

Chapter Seven

Murphy sat alone in the room that he would be, nay should be, sharing with his brother. He had taken the liberty of pushing the twin beds together in the hopes that Daryl would still push him away and Connor would come crawling back, drunk and horny.

So he sat. He watched the patterns that he would draw in the carpet with his toes, trying to make little animals or shapes and fairly succeeding. Looking at the clock, he realized it had been over half an hour. Standing up, he quickly walked across the room and opened the door, hoping to find his brother slumped against the wall next to it, too ashamed to come inside.

Instead he was met with emptiness and quiet. Murphy sighed, refusing to acknowledge the thought that his brother had succeeded in working his way into Daryl’s bed. The hallway was dark save for the one doorway down the hall. The door to the room down the hall was open, so he crept down, peeking his head in, trying to remember who had taken this room. Shane lay prone on the bed, staring up at the ceiling, still fully clothed. “Oy,” Murphy called out. “Why are ye still awake?”

Shane lifted his head up to look at the Irish man down the length of his body. “Could ask you the same thing. Why don’t you go on back to your brother?”

“‘Cause he’s with Daryl.” Murphy’s head hung as he walked all the way into the open doorframe.

“Fuck,” Shane breathed, closing his eyes. “They’re really gonna start somethin’, ain’t they? Well shit.”

Murphy shrugged. “Well he hasn’t come back yet. Maybe they’re just playin’ checkers.”

Shane snorted, sitting up on the bed a little too fast. Pressing his hand to his forehead, trying to still the swirling motion of the room, he motioned for the Irishman to come in. “Close the door wouldya? I’d hate to think I could hear the sounds of your brother and Daryl fuckin’. The last thing I want to hear is that redneck get off.”

Murphy tried to ignore the hurtful remarks of the other as he stood awkwardly just inside the room. “Ye coulda closed the door when ye walked in ye know?”

“But then you wouldn’t have stumbled into my room, wouldya have my little lucky charm?” Shane motioned him closer, looking at him hazily through lowered eyelids and booze-blown pupils. “You’re my fuckin’ lucky charm now, ain’tcha?”

“Ain’t yer fockin’ anything,” he stated simply, not moving from his spot on the carpet but bracing himself to stand his ground.

Shane stood up on his shakey legs, pointed finger aiming for Murphy’s chest as he stumbled closer to the other man. “Now, now. I broke your little cherry. You said it was better than you thought it was going to be. Don’t lie to me, little Lucky Charm.”

Murphy couldn’t deny that. Shane had taken him and it was better than he thought it ever could be. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest, carefully regarding the other man. “Aye, ’twas.”

Shane’s arms came around his waist, pulling his hips in against him. “Let me treat you real good then. We got some stuff we could use as lube. I can make it even better. And since Daryl is entertaining Connor tonight, seems like you’re free.”

Murphy wanted to punch him. He wanted to just beat the snot out of him for even suggesting it, but the thing was… he was right. Connor had clearly moved on, even to the point of pulling away from his touch. The brother’s had never pulled away from each other’s touch before tonight. And Shane was right. The last thing he wanted to hear was Daryl’s throes of passion with Connor’s name on his lips.

However, Shane’s lips found his earlobe, kissing a wet trail down his neck and back up. “I can make you scream little lucky charm. Make Connor realize what a fine piece of ass he’s missing.”

“Ay, Rick. We can talk right here.”

“I’d rather go into a room.”

“And I’d rather not.” Connor stood his ground, crossing his arms over his still bare chest. He didn’t want to get pulled into a room where it could turn into a potential physical confrontation if he didn’t have to.

Daryl opened the door on their Mexican standoff, peeking his head out and looking at them both. “If y’all are goin’ to have this argument, do it in here so ain’t no one else that can hear ya. Fuckin’ embarrassin’.”

Connor smirked at being allowed back in Daryl’s room, hoping that he could get Rick to leave and they could possibly continue what they had already started just a few short minutes ago. Daryl reached down to the floor, grabbing the crumpled up black fabric of Connor’s shirt and tossing it at him before stumbling back on the bed with his bottle of whiskey. “Don’t know what y’all’d be fightin’ for anyway.”

Rick side-eyed him as he watched Connor put his shirt back on. “Not fighting, Daryl. I just want to have a simple conversation. Perhaps its time the MacManus brothers move on.”

“And leave this posh place? Get the fock out. This place is a gold mine. Warm running water and booze? Officer I think me brother and I have found a right nice home.”

Daryl watch the two men closely, standing in front of each other, one staring the other down. “Rick, ya can’t be serious. Ya know ain’t no one can survive on their own now. We barely even made it here.”

“I think Connor and his brother survived well enough before they came up on you in the woods a couple weeks ago.” Rick walked a step forward into Connor’s space, daring the other man to make a move.

Connor looked defeated as he stared hard at their supposed leader. He knew what this was about and it wasn’t fair to either him or Daryl. “Look, if ye want Daryl to yourself, all ye have to do is say t’e word. But I think it should be up ta Daryl. He’s not your fockin’ lap dog that will do what ye say all t’e time. There’s no reason to be punishing me brother for my feelings towards someone else.” Connor looked at Daryl before looking back over at Rick. “If he chooses ye, then I’ll go.”

Daryl scoffed, “Now ya want me to fuckin’ choose between the two of you? Fuck, man.” He looked towards the ceiling before looking back at both men who still stood by the door. Rick’s face held the look of determination of keeping what was his. Connor already looked defeated, like he knew there was no way he was going to win this. But you know what? Fuck that. He was Daryl fuckin’ Dixon and ain’t no one owning him. “Rick ya already done told me that ya don’t want me. What we did that one night… it was just that. One night. You keep makin’ it fuckin’ clear that it was one night. Connor… he’s done right by me. He ain’t pushy and he’s real good at helpin’ me hunt and go on runs even if he is an Irish pain in the ass.”

Rick said nothing. He just nodded once before giving Connor a final look, turning and walking out the door once again.

Connor let out a breath of air, feeling like he had just been saved from a bullet. “I have a feelin’ that isn’t over,” he whispered, mostly to himself, but he knew Daryl was listening. “Thank ye… for that. Ye didn’t have to-”

Daryl waved him off. “That was shitty of him to say to you. Ya ain’t done nothin’ to him ‘cept watch his back and bring back candy bars for his kid.”

“Ay, well apparently flirting with ye is off limits. You’re forbidden fruit, Daryl.” Connor nodded at him and turned the knob on the door to leave him once again, but Daryl’s soft “wait” stopped him.

Daryl cleared his throat and looked awkwardly away, motioning towards the bed with his chin. Connor couldn’t tell if it was the alcohol or a light blush that colored his cheeks, but at this point he didn’t care. “Ye askin’ me ta stay?”

“Just… for a bit.”

Connor smiled softly, walking over towards the bed and sitting down next to Daryl. Wrapping an arm loosely around his waist, he leaned over, pressing a soft kiss against the drunk warm cheek. “I’ll save the gloating for ye choosin’ me for tomorrow when we’re both sober.”

Daryl snorted, leaning into the Irishman slightly. “He wasn’t right to kick ya out ’cause of me anyways. The group wouldn’ta went for it. They like ya too much.”

“What about ye? Ye like me too much ta see me go?” Connor kicked off his shoes as Daryl yawned, his eyes drifting closed. Reaching down, he pulled off Daryl’s boots and socks before laying them both down on the bed.

“Yeah, somethin’ like that,” came the mumbled response as the hunter buried his face into the soft fabric of the pillow, eyes closed as he inhaled the scent of clean, fresh sheets on a real bed. Connor lay behind him, propped up on his elbow to look down into the other man’s face. Carefully, he brushed a finger along his jawline and into the scruffy goatee. “Ya got a thing for touchin…”

Connor jumped slightly at the softly spoken words. “Thought ye were asleep.” Wrapping his arm around the other’s midsection, he laid down on his side, front pressed against Daryl’s back. He pressed a kiss into the back of his neck. “If ye don’t want me ta touch, just tell me.”

“You’ll know.”

“Is this okay then?” Connor asked, tightening his grip slightly to let Daryl know what in particular he was talking about.

The answer was a little delayed, as the hunter mulled over his response. “Yeah, ‘s all right. Just don’t get any ideas when I fall asleep.”

Connor smiled against Daryl’s clean hair. “Only molest ye when you’re awake. Got it.”

Daryl snorted, but gingerly placed his hand over Connor’s on his stomach before closing his eyes.

Murphy wasn’t exactly sure how he ended up naked beneath this man a second time, but he was thankful that they were actually on a bed and they were facing each other this time. Shane hand’s were warm and sure, moving against his skin as they kissed languidly, as if they had all the time in the world. Murphy’s heart broke a little when he remembered how he and Connor had used to kiss like that, especially on Saturday mornings. They would wake up with no plans and nothing to do and just spend hours holding each other, kissing, and discussing stupid, inane things about the world.

But that was gone now. Connor was down the hall with another man. Someone who looked just like him and it was fucking frustrating. Shane was here instead, moving above him, grinding their cocks together in a delicious swivel of muscled hips. Murphy moved his hands down Shane’s chest, reveling in the ripple of muscle as his fingertips ghosted over them. He was more built than Connor, more toned. Murphy admired the man on top of him as he moved against his body. His lips were moving, but Murph couldn’t hear was he was saying. Tuning himself out of his head and back into the moment, he heard the whispered words of encouragement and flutters of approval roll off Shane’s lips. Muttered words of “so beautiful,” “so perfect,” mixed with “yeah, move your hips like that,” and “fuck I love the way you touch me.” Connor never said any of those things.

Murphy decided to let himself go.

Reaching his arms around the other’s broad chest, he pulled him down, kissing him with a new fervor. Shane met his eagerness, moaning into the kiss as his hips continued to press down into the other’s, creating a delicious friction that was going to get him there before he could ever enter the Irishman.

Pulling back to catch his breath, Shane sat up, reaching for the lotion on the nightstand. “Gotta slow down, Lucky Charm. You’re gonna make me cum and I ain’t ready yet. Fuck you’re so beautiful like this.”

“Like what?” Murphy breathed, as Shane’s hand moved between his legs, two fingers circling his hole before pressing in. Murphy’s back arched off the bed, his lips forming a perfect O.

“So open. So wrecked. So needy. You need me, Murph? Huh?” Shane’s voice deepened as he slowly worked his fingers inside him. He took his time now. They had a room with a locked door and a bed. No forest floor and no Rick threatening to come back out and check on them.

Murphy groaned at the sound of his name on Shane’s lips while they were like this, with his fingers deep inside, stretching him, opening him. Fuck he could cum just like this.

“Want ye inside me, Shane. I want to feel ye. We got time now,” Murphy breathed, spreading his legs wider.

Shane nodded, taking his hand away and adding more lotion so he could lube himself up. “Yeah, we got all night, baby, my little charm. Just for you.” Murphy tensed slightly as he felt the blunt head of the cock at his entrance. Shane trusted shallowly, pressing the head in slightly. “Let go baby, it’s okay. I got you. Don’t tense on me now.” Shane’s arms came up around his shoulders, holding him in place as his lips found purchase on Murphy’s pulse point on his neck. With a gentle nip and suck on his neck, Murph loosened up with a moan, allowing Shane’s cock entrance.

His hands tightened on the strong back, fingernails dangerously close to leaving marks as he felt the shaft press all the way in. A string of mumbled curse words in various languages tumbled from the Irishman’s mouth as Shane held still, allowing him to get used to accommodating his girth. “Tell me when I can move, Murph. God, you’re so beautiful like this.” Taking a hand, Shane brushed dark hair out of blue eyes, kissing his swollen and panting lips while he both praised and cursed him in a language the other would never understand.

Shane pressed his hips in slightly before pulling back, creating an agonizingly slow rhythm as Murphy still tried to hold on to the outer reaches of his own sanity. On one pull out, his cock head brushed against the prostate, sending a wave of pleasurable mini-convulsions throughout his body. “Fock, do that again,” he breathed, wrapping his legs around the other’s waist.

Shane grinned down at him, looking down into those beautiful blue eyes as he tried to find that spot again, slowly speeding up his thrusts. Quiet grunts filled the air as they moved together. Shane wrapped a hand around Murphy’s cock, using a mix of remaining lotion, spit, and pre-cum to stroke him semi-in time with his thrusts.

Murphy’s moans slowly escalated in volume as he moaned out what sounded like prayers in Gaelic. In a desperate move, he hooked a leg through Shane’s and flipped them over, sinking himself all the way down on the strong cock still inside him.

Shane grinned up at him, grabbing his hips and thrusting up hard. Murphy threw his head back and screamed as he pressed his hands into the chiseled chest beneath him for balance. His orgasm surprised him as it rushed through his body, screaming out Shane’s name to the rafters as his whole body convulsed with the force of it, cum spurting all the way up onto the other’s chin. “Shit, Murph. You all right?” Shane asked, with a slight smirk.

“Holy fockin… fockin’ cum all ready ya jackass,” he groaned out as Shane started to thrust into him again.

“Workin’ on it,” he grinned, flipping them back over and pounding himself home. His second orgasm with the Irishman was eons better than the first. He felt his balls draw up against his body, allowing him to control his thrusts to draw out the build-up sensation as long as he could. With a muffled shout and stout thrusts, he spilled his hot seed deep within Murph.

As he lay against Murphy, petting his hair gently, the Irishman whispered, “Ye like cumming in me ass, do ye?”

Shane smirked, pulling out and rolling over to grab some tissues from the nightstand to wipe them both off with. “Always better to come inside than out. It’s still warm inside.” Shane stood up to toss out the soiled tissues. Turning off the light, he climbed back into the bed, still naked. Pulling Murphy over to him, they wrapped their arounds around each other, Murphy’s head instantly finding Shane’s shoulder, exactly like how he had sleep next to Connor for so many years.

Sighing in contentment, both men started to drift off into a peaceful sleep, but one thought kept rolling through Murphy’s head that just begged asking. “Would ye let me fock ye?” he asked quietly.

 

Chapter Eight

Connor wasn’t sure what time it was when he woke, but he knew that he was warm, in a soft bed, and had a hand around his hard cock. He groaned involuntarily as a thumb swept over his dripping head, bringing the precum down the shaft to make the motion easier. Connor squeezed his eyes shut, working his tongue in his mouth to get enough spit together to tell Murph that they just can’t and why can’t he get it through his thick skull… But when he opened his eyes, before he could speak, he found the tanned, clean face of his hunter over him.

Connor lost his words in that moment as his hips thrusted up into the loose grasp. Daryl was here. He had let him stay the night and woken him up in one of the most wonderful of ways. “Daryl,” he groaned out, hooded eyes watching as the bright blues of the man above him came to focus on his face. Connor pulled him down by the back of his neck, kissing his lips tenderly as his body tensed. “Fuck,” he breathed against Daryl’s lips. The hand on his cock had paused at the sudden kiss but picked up again with fervor now that his target was awake. It took seconds for Connor’s body to release in hot spurts of fluid across his abdomen. Trying to regain his breathing and regular heart beat, the Irishman brushed the growing hair out of his hunter’s eyes, bringing him down for another soft kiss. “Well that was a great way to wake up this morning,” he smiled, his body sated in more ways than one.

Daryl snorted, rolling back over and giving Connor his back. “Couldn’t sleep with that poking me in the hip.”

“Aye, tis a monster that. Hand me my shirt so I can wipe this off?” Daryl reached down to the floor, tossing a shirt back to him, but never turning back around. Connor was careful to wipe himself off and tuck himself back into his pants before rolling onto his side, wrapping an arm around Daryl’s waist again. Warm lips found his shoulder as they travelled up to his neck, leaving soft kisses in his wake.

“Con- don’t-” Daryl started to protest.

“What? Ye think I’m just goin’ ta let ye jack me off and then let ye go back ta sleep? Ye were the one that said I liked ta touch.” His hand moved down the hunter’s chest, caressing him through the thin cotton of the t-shirt before Daryl’s own hand abruptly stopped him just above his waistline.

“Connor, don’t.” His voice was soft, eyes still closed to the world.

Connor looked down at Daryl’s face as it twitched beneath him. He couldn’t tell if the other man was scared, intimidated, or just really wasn’t interested, but he was going with the first two. So he intertwined their fingers at Daryl’s lower stomach, clutching his hand tightly as he pressed his body into his back. “I won’t do anything ye don’t want me to. Jus’ happy ta be here with ye.”

He didn’t want to sit here, arms wrapped around the man that had consumed his thoughts since he had met him, wondering what all that had just meant. Surely if his middle of the night hard on bothered him that much he would have awoken Connor and sent him on his way. Had he been hoping that Connor wouldn’t wake up at all?

He had forgotten how sleeping on his side as the “big spoon” was such a pain in the ass. This was why he now slept on his back and Murph curled into his side. His left arm that was horribly positioned beneath him was starting to go numb, but Daryl’s breathing had evened out and his sleep-warm body even started to relax back into his own. Connor shifted, cursing his own inability to ignore his body’s needs. Rolling over onto his back, he had to carefully remove his hand from Daryl’s. Sighing, he adjusted himself to be comfortable, trying to think of a way to get the other man turned around to face him.

“‘S wrong?” Daryl mumbled sleepily, reaching back blindly for him.

Connor startled at the sudden words, but quickly grabbed Daryl’s hand as it patted at him. “Me arm was fallin’ asleep.”

Daryl hmmphed once before rolling over onto his other side to face Connor, eyes still closed. “Oh okay,” he mumbled, placing his hand on Connor’s chest before relaxing back into deep sleep. With a soft tug, the hunter collapsed into the the warmth of the man beneath him, only opening his eyes momentarily at the new position. Connor wrapped his arm around Daryl’s back, adjusting them both into a more comfortable position, easing the other’s head towards his shoulder. Daryl’s body was heavy against his, his breath ghosting over his collarbone. He wasn’t sure what the morning would hold for them, so he lay, enjoying the moment with the warmth laying against him. Closing his eyes, he let his mind drift, thinking of the surprising softness of Daryl’s hand around his cock as he sank into sleep.

Murphy woke with a start, the strong arms around him tightening slightly. “‘S wrong?” Shane asked sleepily behind him.

Murphy’s heart beat fast in his chest as his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room, remembering why he was here. He relaxed slowly, trying to squelch the desire to return to his room to see if Connor had returned in the night. “Nothin’,” he answered.

Shane adjusted behind him, raising up on his arm to look down into the blue eyes. “You want to go see if your brother came back from Daryl’s room?”

Murphy bit his lip, but nodded. How could this man read his thoughts like that? Shane released his grip, running his hand down the other’s arm. “You can go. You can come back if he ain’t in there. If you want… you know.” He rolled over, giving Murph his back.

Like a shot, he was up and out of the room. Flinging open his door, he flipped on the light. The beds were still shoved together, blankets untouched from where he had left them. With a sigh, he flipped the light back off. Connor never came back. That could only mean that he had spent the night in Daryl’s room. He was tempted to just crawl in their bed and wait, but he knew that he would just be sitting there thinking, laying awake, waiting for his brother to stumble back into the room, which would probably not happen.

Reluctantly, he made his way back down the hallway, shutting the door to Shane’s room behind him. “Guess he wasn’t there.” Shane’s voice was muffled by the pillow, but he didn’t move.

Murphy stood by the door still, his anger and frustration beginning to grow in his chest. He took the closest thing to him- a shoe- and tossed it, enjoying the solid thunk sound it made as it hit the wall. Any object within his reach became a projectile as he destroyed the room, cursing his brother’s name and Daryl. Shane watched calmly from the bed as Murphy’s tantrum escalated, Gaelic words being thrown in with the English. When he was done, he stood, chest heaving with his efforts. “Ya done?”

Murphy had almost forgotten the other man was in the room. “Aye. Suppose.”

“Good, now get your ass back in this bed. It got cold when you left.” He lifted the sheets, waiting patiently for the other man to obey his request.

Murphy grunted, but slowly made his way over, realizing he had never properly redressed himself in the first place. The sheets had definitely cooled where he had laid, but the blankets were warm and smelled like Shane. “What do ye want from me?”

Shane grunted as he wrapped an arm around Murph’s waist, pulling the other man into his body. “Sleep right now. Hungover as hell.”

Murph waited, chewing on his thumbnail absent mindedly. “But what do ye want?”

Shane grunted again, realizing he clearly was not going to be allowed to go back to sleep until he assuaged Murphy’s worried mind. “I don’t know, Murph. I don’t. It just happened with you, okay?”

He snorted. “Ye call me Murph in front of Connor and ye might get a fist in your face.”

“Should I just call you my little lucky charm then?”

Murphy snorted again. “Might get more than a fist then.”

Shane sat up, looking down at the other man in the darkness. “We can just leave this like it is right now and once we walk out that door in the morning never look at each other again. Or we can figure it out as we go. Whatever the fuck it is, I’d like to go back to sleep.”

“I didn’t think ye were gay.”

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, how does your brother put up with you?”

“Lord’s name!”

Shane sighed. “I’m not gay. Didn’t think you and your brother being all religious would be gay either.”

“Ay… Connor… he says he doesn’t want me to burn in hell with him for these feelings, but I can’t help it.”

With a grunt, Shane pulled the smaller Irish man onto his chest, wrapping his strong arms around him again. “Now that we got that out of the way, how about we sleep? Makin’ my head hurt more with all your talkin’.”

Murphy squirmed around a bit until he got comfortable, but he would be a liar if he said he didn’t enjoy the feeling of the strong chest beneath him. He felt the arms loosen around him as Shane’s breathing evened out. Try as he might, he couldn’t stop his mind from racing. He wondered if Shane would be exactly what he needed to get Connor’s interest once again. Jealousy might be a sin as well, but he knew exactly what could get Connor going.

The morning was harsh for everyone. Bleary, red eyes stared down into the eggs that T-Dog was making everyone for breakfast. Real food and they would be damned if they weren’t going to eat it, but man did it not sound good at the moment. Murphy and Shane were two of the last people to join the group. Everyone asked about the scratch marks on Shane’s neck, but he waved it off as something he must have done in his sleep. Connor eyed him, knowing the truth but not calling him out on it.

Daryl nudged him with his elbow, flicking his eyes back up to Shane and Murphy. Both men knew what had undoubtedly transpired between the two, but who were they to really talk? At this point though, Connor knew that his Murph had gone farther than he had with another man and he wasn’t quite sure how he was going to take that knowledge. Their group eyed them cautiously, fully aware of the storm that could potentially be brewing between the brothers and their new love interests.

The day progressed slowly as they all tried to alleviate their hangovers. Jenner had asked that they gather in the main console room. He demonstrated how the infection spread, which was fascinating really, but instead of watching the screen, Connor watched the way his brother sat next to Shane. Shane’s hand casually rested on the back of Murphy’s chair, already claiming what had once been his and by all rights, still was. Murphy was still his brother and nothing was going to change that. His gaze shifted as Daryl stood next to Rick, already conscious of how close the other man was to someone that was apparently a former lover, even if it was only one night. That one night apparently meant something to their self-imposed leader, though he was apparently not willing to admit to it.

Looking over at Rick’s wife, Lori, he could see how the woman could be considered attractive to the officer. She was rail thin, but they were all eating less these days. Their boy was smart and coming into his teenage years. No doubt that was draining on their relationship in this fucked up world. Teenagers are a pain in the ass anyways, but worrying about surviving adding into the equation made it even worse, no doubt.

Suddenly, the whole group started screaming, shouting at Jenner. Daryl took off for the door, banging against it. Connor was lost. He had been so deep in his thoughts that he hadn’t caught what had been said. Shane was shouting; Rick was calling for everyone to go get their stuff as metal doors shut down on them, blocking the corridors.

T-Dog had joined Daryl at the doors, both men grabbing objects to throw and beat with, demanding that they open the doors. Connor immediately looked for Murphy in the mayhem, who was already on his way over to his twin. “Con, we got to go. This man is nuts. We have to find a way out,” Murphy whispered to him. Connor looked back over at T-Dog and Daryl banging on the doors as Shane raced over to them, grabbing Daryl and pulling him away. His protective instincts kicked in, grabbing Murph and racing towards Jenner. “Open t’e focking doors!” he shouted, Rick right next to him, demanding the same thing.

Jenner calmly told them that the doors were shut and it would all be over soon. None of them would turn. They would all be saved.

“Fock your savin’!” Connor screamed and randomly started pressing buttons on the console in front of him. Everyone started yelling again, the people closest to the console pressing buttons as Jenner shouted at them to stop. The countdown clock on the wall slowly nearing zero. “Should be our fockin’ choice how we go!” Connor continued, tears threatening to fall. His Murph… Daryl… they couldn’t go out like this. After last night… he wanted to see. He wanted a chance.

Slowly the door started to rise. Daryl was shouting for Connor, Shane for Murphy as the group started to run for safety. They blasted through the bulletproof glass with a grenade from Carol’s bag that she had confiscated from Rick’s bag of guns. The ground shook beneath them as they ran a hard run for the cars, dodging walkers along the way. With wide eyes everyone watched as the CDC burned after the blast. Connor climbed in the truck with Daryl, watching as Murphy sat in Shane’s jeep.

So that was how it was. Connor had to be content with Murphy being alive. Looking over the center console at Daryl, both men’s blue eyes were wide with horror as Daryl started the car and lead the charge away.

 

Chapter Nine

The air whipping through the trees was getting colder as the day wore on. Connor sat down next to his brother, pulling him in close. Murphy leaned into his brother, thankful for his warmth. Being on the road did not permit them the time alone that he desired to talk with his other half and as each new day dawned, he regretted not bringing up the relationship topic. “Tis a cold day in hell, brother,” Murphy mumbled.

“Ay, tis,” Connor smiled. He looked up as Daryl emerged from the woods, arms full of wood for a fire. They hadn’t yet talked about the night in the dorms at the CDC, but had gone on as though nothing had really happened. The looks may have gotten a little bit longer between them with small shared smiles, but other than that they were at a stand still. Connor felt like it was up to him to make the next move. Daryl had chosen him over Rick and allowed him to stay in his room that night, but deep down Connor knew that fight was not yet won. It had been a week of wandering the backroads of Georgia, searching for shelter, food, ammo, anything to keep them going. They were currently camped in a ditch a ways away from the road, treeline to their backs.

Shane made his way over to the brothers, dropping a pair of gloves in front of Murphy. “Put those on, Lucky Charm. Need your hands warm enough to shoot just in case. I don’t like being out in the open like this.”

“The fock ye just call me brother?” Connor stood up, standing toe to toe with Shane, fire in his eyes.

Shane smirked. “He’s my little lucky charm. Ain’t mean nothin’ by it, calm down there man.” He patted him on the chest before turning to walk away.

“Connor! It’s fine!” shouted Murphy but his brother was faster than his words. In a split second, he had caught Shane’s arm, twisting it around and tossing the larger man down to the ground. Angry Gaelic curses were thrown together with English phrases that everyone within a five mile radius would hear.

“Just because you’re fucking me brother doesn’t mean ye get to call him nicknames like that!” He shouted, followed by a hard punch to the jawline. “Fuckin’ keep your hands to yerself, why don’tcha? Pickin’ on me brother in a time of need, huh?” Another punch, to the cheek this time.

Daryl’s hands were on him, pulling him back, trying to shout over his slurs. Just as quick as the fight started it was over. Murphy pulled Shane up, inspecting his face, giving side looks to his brother in Daryl’s arms.

“This is getting ridiculous!” Rick stormed over to the small group, breaking apart the circle that had formed around them to watch the fight. “You guys need to figure this out or someone,” he said, looking at Connor, “is going to have to go.”

Daryl wrapped his arms tighter around Connor’s chest subconsciously, pulling him away as he watched Shane closely. Murphy ducked his head, knowing good and well the issues Connor and Rick were having were mostly because of him and Daryl. He figured his brother would be happy that he was moving on to someone else, someone who actually seemed to care about him. He swiped the gloves from the ground and made a show of putting them in while Connor was still watching before he turned to pull Shane away from the area.

“Why do you do shit like that?” Daryl asked him softly, untangling their limbs as he let him go.

Connor shrugged. “Focker shouldn’t be pawing all over me brother, calling him ‘Lucky Charm.’ Do ye know how focking derogatory that is?”

Daryl flung his hand in the direction they disappeared in. “It’s Shane. You know he don’t think things through. Don’t take anything by it. Your brother didn’t seem to mind it.”

“Yeah well, me brother doesn’t think things through either. He acts on emotion if ye haven’t noticed.”

“Ya know, you act on emotion sometimes too.”

“Oh ay? When would that be? Give me an example.”

“Telling me that you… that ya like me.” The blush that crept up his cheeks and down his neck was unmistakable even through all of the dirt and grime on his tanned skin.

Connor grinned devilishly. “Oh, ay? That was emotion? What about the night in the dorms, eh? You seemed to be acting on emotion there.”

“Hey, I just wanted to sleep.”

“And ye could have kicked me out of bed but you didn’t! Nooo, what ye did was much better.” His smile turned predatory but the look on Daryl’s face stopped him from going any farther.

“Connor, can I have a word with you?” Rick stood behind him, hands on his hips.

Looking between Rick and Daryl, Connor could almost sense a silent duel between them. Their blue eyes were locked on each other even though he was the person in question. “Ay, we can chat right here if ye want.”

Rick’s gaze shifted over to him. “You can’t be picking fights with Shane. We talked back in the dorms at the CDC. You’re on your last chance with us.”

“But did ye hear what he called me brother? Fockin’ Lucky Charm. That’s derogatory to our people! Ye want me to just accept that bullshit?!”

Rick rolled his eyes, shifting his stance. “Shane and Murphy seem to have started… something. It was a term of endearment that Murphy didn’t seem to take any offense to. You were the only person offended by it.”

“So that’s it? You’re going to defend Shane and Murphy’s relationship but since I happen to enjoy the company of a certain person that ye fancy yourself, I’m outcasted? Fock off, Officer.” Connor turned, stalking off into the woods. Behind him he vaguely heard Daryl mumble to Rick that he was taking Connor hunting.

He stopped when he heard Rick softly reply to him. “Daryl, you shouldn’t be starting anything with him. He’s bad news. He won’t be here much longer.”

“Then I won’t be either. Ya can’t kick someone out to be on their own cause they disagree with someone like that. He ain’t a threat, Rick.”

“Bullshit he ain’t a threat. He’s gotten into several fights with Shane and he’s turning you against us.”

Daryl paused, making Connor turn around to look and see what was going on. He was standing there, hand on his bow, looking at down at the ground before back up at Rick’s angry face. “You mean he’s turning me against you. You didn’t wanna be in my bed. He’s….” Daryl turned to look at Connor through the foliage, hiding him just enough that Rick couldn’t see him but he knew the hunter could spot him in an instant, listening intently to every word. “He’s a good man, Rick. Ya had a gun against my head a coupla times and ya ain’t kicked me out yet. What makes him different?”

“Do you like him, Daryl? Is it like that for you?”

His thumb danced over his lip before his teeth gnawed at the cuticle. Connor waited with baited breath for the answer to the question he had been afraid to ask. “Yeah… I think I do.”

“You think?”

“Fuck, Rick. We’re goin’ huntin’. We’ll bring back dinner. Him stayin’ ain’t a question. If it is, then me stayin’ is too. You know no one can survive on their own anymore.” Daryl turned and stalked off to the woods, walking right past Connor on his way.

They walked a ways into the forest before Daryl even started looking for tracks. Neither man said a word, too busy with their own thoughts. Coming up on a small clearing, Daryl stopped, turning sharply around to face the other man.

Connor looked down at his feet, sighing. He figured he knew what was coming. At least if Daryl was anything like Murphy he would get some kind of stern lecture with an added hissy fit and a lot of wild hand gestures. But Daryl wasn’t like his brother and that’s probably one of the things he loved most about this man. “I’m sorry,” he sighed again. “I shouldn’t have charged Shane like that.”

Daryl snorted. “Fucker deserved it.”

Connor grinned in spite of still feeling guilty about it. “Thanks for sticking up for me back there with your ex. I understand if they want me to leave.”

“That shit with your bro… is it over? Like are you still…” He made the jackoff motion with his hand before glancing away, blush taking over his cheeks again.

Connor shook his head. “No. The last time was in t’e woods when ye saw us. I turned him down that night in the dorms to go to your room.”

“So ya haven’t since then?”

“No, I don’t see me brother in that way anymore. I love ‘im, but he’s blood. It’s sinful in the eyes of God.”

“So’s this,” Daryl said, motioning between the two of them.

Connor nodded, bowing his head slightly. “Ay, but I prayed for ye, Daryl. Every day for years. Last time was in t’e woods right before ye came out of them.”

“I’ve never been called a gift from God before. ‘S kinda weird.”

Connor closed the distance between them, stepping into Daryl’s personal space. “How long has it been since Rick?”

Daryl shrugged. “Bout a week ‘fore I found ya’ll out in the woods.”

Taking a cautious step closer, Connor wound his arms around Daryl’s waist, causing the other man to stiffen but not pull away. He was also conscious of the fact that his hands never left the strap of his crossbow. “What happened?”

Daryl sniffed, trying to look everywhere but at Connor, inches in front of him. “I dunno. Just happened. We was talkin’ about the deer I had brought back. He kissed me. We went in my tent and that was that.”

Connor knew damn well that wasn’t just that. One kiss does not lead to sex so fast like that unless there are a plethora of other things, including feelings, involved. Possibly even a history of some kind of something happening before. “Do ye still love him?”

Daryl shook his head. “Wasn’t ever love. Respect him like hell. He’s a good man. A damn good man. But he’s got a wife and a kid. It could never be like that with him. He’d never leave Lori for someone like me.”

“Then he’s a damn fool. You’re a good man, too, Daryl. And I think I like ye too.” Connor smiled as he pressed his lips to the chapped one’s of the man in front of him. The response was hesitant at first, a slow return of the kiss. However, the enthusiasm grew as hands wound their way around Connor’s shoulders, pulling the Irishman in even closer. When it was over, they were both breathing hard, clinging to the other and felt as if they had shared enough spit that a bulldog would be jealous. “I don’t want ye to screw up being in a group ’cause of me. I promise ta behave myself from now on.”

Daryl let go of him as Connor unwound his arms from the hunter’s waist. Adjusting his crossbow, he smiled back at the blond, allowing it to go all the way into his eyes. “Ya better. I don’t want to haveta spank ya for misbehavin’.”

Connor’s eyebrows shot up. “Now that could be interesting. Ye think ye could really get me over your knee there?”

“Who said it would be over my knee?”

“Oh, ay? Goin’ to bend me over a large rock then? Or a table if we get one? I see your plan, Mr. Dixon. And I kinda like it.”

Daryl snorted out a laugh, looking down at the ground as he walked, watching for any kind of markings of animals along the way. The smile across his face surprised him. He hadn’t felt this relaxed around someone in years. Connor’s footsteps were light behind him, barely audible in the quiet of the forest. Daryl hadn’t lied. He did see Rick as a good man, and he deeply respected him. Maybe he could talk to him that night when he was on watch and everyone else was sleeping. Surely this was all a misunderstanding between them. Shaking his head slightly, he wondered how he had gone from zero to sixty on Connor so fast.

At first he had been completely flabbergasted when the other man had wanted to go hunting with him in the woods and he was actually good company. Then the whole jacking off with his brother in the woods thing… that was weird. Growing up, he had known one kid that fucked his sister, but that was a weird family thing and it had been completely consensual, he and his brother had made sure of that. Merle may have been a dick in general, but he had his good moments, even if they were rare.

Ah, Merle. Glancing over his shoulder at Connor, he knew that Merle wouldn’t exactly approve of the man. His brother had known that Daryl wasn’t exactly a straight arrow, but he didn’t float in a total circle either. He could be with a woman just as easily as a man, it just so happened that neither ever really fell in his lap. Ever since he got his ass kicked once for hitting on a guy at a bar, he had pretty much tapered down his bisexuality. He could hear Merle in his head now, asking him why he had to go Irish. Couldn’t he find an American version? He reasoned with the Merle in his head that at least it wasn’t the Chinese pizza delivery boy and Connor could shoot and hunt.

Connor’s gun with the silencer screwed to the end of it went off right by his head. Silencer be damned, he still heard that damn thing go off. “Oy, ye were just going to walk right by that rabbit? Biggest we’ve seen!” He walked over to retrieve his prey, holding it triumphantly up by the ears. It really was a nice plump rabbit. They’d be able to eat ok on that one, but he knew they need a few more for the size of the group. “Where’s your head, man?”

“On you,” Daryl answered automatically, surprising himself with the answer even.

Connor’s grin dropped slightly, almost to a nervous smirk. “Me, huh? What about me has ye so damn distracted that ye missed dinner?”

“Merle wouldn’t approve of ya since you’re Irish. He’d ask me why I couldn’t find an American to like.”

“Oh, I see.” Connor walked back over to their trail, rabbit still hanging from his fist at his side. “So since your lost brother wouldn’t approve does that mean you’re breaking up with me?”

Daryl snorted. “Ain’t never really broke up with someone before. They always broke up with me.”

Connor looked affronted, clutching his chest with his free hand as if he had been shot. “Break up with the handsome and devilish Daryl Dixon? What were t’e fockers thinkin’?”

Daryl snorted before turning to continue on the trail. Fingertips on the back of his arm stopped him though as he turned. “Are ye…?”

“What?”

“Breakin’ up with me. I mean, I don’t even really know what we have started, but I wasn’t lookin’ for it to end like this.” Connor shuffled his foot on the ground, looking nervously down at his boot. The autumn leaves were in the middle of their yearly change, many having dropped to the ground.

“Connor… I’m not breakin’ up with you.” Daryl stepped a little closer to the other man, looking at him straight on. “I don’t really know what it is either, but you’re the closest thing I have…”

“I like ye Daryl. Prob’ly more than I should. I don’t want ye to do anything ye don’t want ta.”

Reaching his hand out towards the Irishman, Daryl smiled slightly. “I want ta.”

Connor grinned shyly, taking the other’s hand and drawing him in. “Then I want another kiss.”

 

Chapter Ten

Rolling his eyes, Daryl complied to the request of a kiss. He leaned forward slightly, into the other man’s space, closing his eyes as they neared, lips brushing against each other chastely. Connor held him close, running his hand carefully over the strap of the crossbow before tugging at it. Daryl grunted his disapproval into the kiss before Connor brought their bodies flush against each other, thrusting their hips together. With a soft whimper, Daryl broke their kiss, looking deep into Connor’s eyes, trying to express his hesitancy without words.

Connor’s hand came up to his face, cupping his cheek softly. The hunter’s flinch at the touch was slight. He was slowly getting used to how handsy the Irishman seemed to be. “Jus’ a kiss, me Daryl. Don’t be so nervous.”

Daryl snorted, thrusting his hips back against Connor’s, brushing their hard cocks together through the confines of their respective pants. “Seems like more’n just a kiss.”

With a grunt of approval, Connor wrapped his arms tight around Daryl’s waist once again, keeping their bodies flush together. “Can be whate’er ye want it to be.” Fingers threaded through belt loops as their lips met once more. “We seem safe,” he mumbled against the other’s lips, slowly starting an easy grind of their bodies. The fire between them ignited as Daryl submitted to the game, hands grasping Connor’s ass as his hips gyrated against his own. It was sweet, caring, deliciously forbidden, and hot the way they felt grinding against each other, their pants catching buckles, zippers, and buttons as they moved. With a particularly hard thrust against the hunter, Connor silently wondered to himself how he was going to stop if Daryl suddenly decided this was too much too soon. The hunter was normally closed off around the group; a silent, stoic man who just did as needed but wasn’t exactly a warm, fuzzy, sexy teddy bear.

But Daryl just moaned back, pulling at the back of Connor’s shirt before finally exposing enough skin to get his hands on. “Ya like gettin’ dirty in the woods?” Moving his lips down, he kissed around his strong jawline, moaning as the Irishman’s hands found their way down to his ass once again, squeezing it hard.

Connor hummed his agreeance as he pulled back, pulling his shirt over his head. “Ay, ‘s quiet in t’e woods. Private.” He pulled Daryl in closer, chucking off his angel wing vest before working on the tattered shirt underneath it. “I want to lay ye down, Daryl, but not if ye don’t want to.”

He saw the caution in those blue eyes and the nervousness twitch through his strong, square shoulders before he was given a single curt nod. “Yeah. I wanna…”

Connor smiled, hands instantly flying to Daryl’s belt and pants. It felt like seconds before they were naked and down on the soft fall leaves. A soft shiver coursed through Connor’s body as a breeze rustled the leaves around them. Daryl’s hands wound around his shoulders and down his back, trying to warm the other man up as he ducked his head into the redneck’s neck, placing soft kisses along the dirty skin. Instinctually, he moved his hips against the hard cock pressing against his stomach.

“Fuck,” Daryl grunted, thrusting his own hips up against Connor’s. “That feels better than it should.”

Connor snorted, sitting up on his elbows over his hunter. “Ay, ’tis. Fockin’ angel from God, ye are,” he whispered, before leaning down and stealing another kiss, dominating the warm mouth as he adjusted his legs around Daryl’s hips, thrusting down against him. The blush crept down from the hunter’s cheeks, to his neck and into his shoulders. Connor nipped and bit where he saw the blush go, kissing back up the neckline to his ear. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered, flicking his earlobe with his tongue.

Daryl grunted and moaned as he wrapped his arms tighter around Connor’s body, clinging to the other man as he thrust his hips up. “Fuck, I’m not gonna last ya keep doin’ that.”

Connor chuckled, burying his face in Daryl’s neck again, biting and sucking on the tanned, salty skin. “Then let go, me hunter dear.”

Minutes later, Connor lay nearly passed out, spread lewdly over top Daryl, sexually sated and sticky as hell as their cum and spent cocks lay between their exhausted bodies. “”Twas not exactly how I wanted our first time ta be.”

Daryl snorted. “‘S all right.” He wrapped his arms tighter around Connor’s back, burying his face in his shoulder. “We should keep goin’ though. Ain’t gonna feed everyone on one rabbit.” However, he made no effort to move from his spot.

The leaves around them blew as a cool breeze swept through their section of forest. A shudder went through both their nude bodies, the warmth of their passion wearing off. Connor sighed, unwinding himself from Daryl’s arms and standing up slowly, grabbing a handful of leaves to wipe them both off before tugging on his shirt. Sighing as he got dressed, he couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed now that the act was over. It was both everything he had wanted and yet nothing at all, but to Daryl… the other man looked at him sideways and smiled softly at him before turning back. Connor felt his heart grow warmer just at the thought that their hasty and fairly crappy sex meant the world to him.

Back at the camp, Murphy dabbed Shane’s busted face with a cold, wet piece of ripped up t-shirt. “I warned ye not ta say anythin’ like that in front of Connor.”

Shane grunted, pulling away from Murphy’s administrations before waving him off. “It just came out. Plus, what should he care anyway? He’s fuckin’ that redneck piece of trash. His tastes have clearly gotten worse.”

Murphy grunted his agreeance, but he still felt the urge to defend his brother, even if it was just to Shane. “Ay, but I think Con really likes him.”

“Yeah, but Rick don’t like your brother none. You see, Rick had somethin’ goin’ with Daryl before y’all came in. He don’t realize I know that, but you can’t keep much a secret these days. I don’t know how its goin’ to end for your brother if he keeps sniffing around Daryl like that.” Shane looked over at Rick. His friend was fraying around the edges, that much was clear. Having the carpet ripped out from under them at the CDC had pretty much done him in. The group had been looking to him to be a leader, to keep them safe, and they thought they had found solace. The lies they found in the apocalypse seem to be bigger than any others.

Running his hand through his hair, Shane stood up from the bumper of the car he had been sitting on, pulling Murphy into his strong chest and holding him there. For a few moments, Murph just let himself be cradled in the warmth of the other, enjoying the heat radiating off his larger body. In the past week, Shane and he had been spending more time together, much to Connor’s chagrin. Murphy questioned himself frequently, asking himself if he was really developing feelings for the former police officer or if he was just in this for the touch and to make his brother jealous as hell. Either way, he had already condemned himself to hell so he knew that when his brother came back to him, he would be ready.

Shane watched Rick from over the flop of brown hair on Murphy’s head. Rick paced anxiously, going between the map, the road, the trees, and his family. He knew that look. It was the same look the man had gotten when they had lost a suspect somewhere and were in the search process. Releasing Murphy with a small kiss to his forehead, he walked over to his former partner. “Hey, Rick. Want to sketch out a plan? Maybe we could head to Fort Benning. I bet they got a lotta supplies over there-”

Rick stopped dead in his tracks, looking at Shane with a wild eye. “You think any place is going to be safe at this point Shane? You think any government run place is going to be safe? Look what happened to us at the CDC. I have to keep my family safe. I have to keep these people safe. I can’t just go wandering off to Fort Benning because it might be a good idea.”

Shane huffed, looking back over at Murphy, standing and watching the two men quietly argue. “Look man, I’m not accusing you of nothin’ and I don’t think anyone else here is either. I’m just saying Fort Benning because… well shit. It’s gotta be close and they gotta at least have some kind of firepower that can help us fight these fuckers off with.”

“Yeah, and us. What if they turn that firepower on us, Shane? We have women and children. I can’t risk it.” Rick ran his hands through his growing hair and down over his growing beard. The last good shave he had had was at the CDC. Who knows when they were going to get another one? Shane watched as Rick continued his anxious pacing. He figured he’d just let the other man wear himself out and he’d take over his watch for him that night. Maybe he could convince Murphy to stay up with him. Hell, with everyone asleep maybe they could get some kind of something something in.

The sound of laughter broke up the silence a few hours later as the group huddled down in the ditch over a small fire. Daylight was fading fast and a handful of people had asked where Daryl was. Murphy noticed that no one asked about Connor. Shifting on the stump he had been sitting on it made him uncomfortable to think that people didn’t like his brother now. People always liked Connor. He wondered what had happened between the quarry and now to make them turn away from him. If they kicked his brother out of the group… he shook his head. They wouldn’t. They knew they came as a package. If one brother goes the other goes and Shane wouldn’t let that happen. Somehow he needed to convince Shane that his brother was worth keeping around, but that also meant that he had to convince Connor to behave himself. Normally it was Connor telling him to be nice…

The grin on Daryl’s face as the two men approached the fire was unmistakable. He plopped down their load of rabbit and squirrels with a slight whoop of success. “Connor bagged half of ’em. Damn good shot with that pistol.” He nodded down at the other’s leg before dragging his eyes back up his body.

Murphy shook his head. Connor looked… disheveled… dirtier… different. He couldn’t place his hand on it until the blond walked by him. He recognized the smell of a few hours old sex on him. Fuck they finally did it. Looking over towards the truck, he saw Rick’s eyes follow Connor’s every move. Maybe that was the real reason why people didn’t like Connor now. They sensed the animosity between him and Rick and with Rick being the undeclared leader, they felt they had to choose a side. Well shit. There was no way he’d convince Connor away from Daryl fast enough to change everyone’s minds.

Connor’s grin lit up his face as he sat down on the ground next to his brother. “Daryl nearly walked by the first rabbit.”

“Yeah yeah, rub it in Irish. It was a nice shot, even if he did miss the next one he shot at,” Daryl chided from across the fire, pulling out his knife to start to skin their kills.

Within the hour, there was warm meat roasting over the fire. Their bullies rumbled at the smell of hot food cooking. Rick still paced the perimeter of their small encampment. Every man and Andrea remained armed and ready in the event of a sudden attack. All ears were perked at every sound with their belongings still mostly packed just in case they needed to make a quick and quiet get away. Taking the rabbit leg Daryl offered him, Rick finally came back towards the fire, eating the meat hungrily, licking the juices off the bones. Murphy saw this as his opportunity to get some time with his brother. “Oy, Con, let’s go get some more wood from the forest line right over there. Need to keep this fire goin’ durin’ t’e night.”

Connor nodded, standing up and toss the bones from his meal back in the fire. Murphy looked over at Shane, giving him a small nod and patting his weapon at his side to let the other know that he was armed if they came upon a threat. “Won’t be gone more’n fifteen.”

He saw Connor glance at Daryl much the same as he looked to Shane. The rest of the encampment hardly even noticed them stand up and leave. As they neared the forest, Connor looked to his brother. “What did ye want ta talk ta me about?”

“How’d ya know?”

“You’re easy to read, brother.”

“Shane says that Daryl and Rick had somethin’ goin’ before we joined t’e group. I just don’t want ye to get caught up in that nonsense.”

Connor was silent for a moment as he bent down and picked up some sticks. “Aye,” he said after awhile. “I knew about that. Daryl told me as did Rick. I’m already caught up in it.”

“Ye fucked him in t’e woods.”

Connor shrugged, but smiled his confirmation. “I promised him ta behave. Rick threatened to kick me out of t’e group. I’ll play nice and not beat up your boyfriend but I don’t like it when he calls ye ‘lucky charm.'”

Murphy grinned. “It’s his nickname for me. ‘S kinda nice to me.” Connor grunted as he bent to gather more wood. “Just… I don’t want anything ta happen to ye brother. Especially not over Daryl.”

Connor stopped and looked at his other half for a moment. Murphy saw the debate run through his mind on whether he wanted to take offense to that or not. “And I don’t want something ta happen to ye ’cause of Shane. That man isn’t stable, Murphy.”

“He’s more stable than ye think. I can handle Shane.”

“And I can handle Rick and Daryl. Don’t get yourself involved in that. Its more messy than ye think.”

“Ay. That’s what I’m worried about.”

That night, their group slept around them as Rick stood watch, python out and on his leg at the ready. His gaze settled over the cars where everyone slept, huddled under blankets and clothes. Worrisome thoughts ran through his head. What if he fell asleep? What if something happened that he couldn’t wake up in time to get away? What if something happened to him and no one knew? Daryl rounded the truck, crossbow slung across his back. “Why don’t ya go get some sleep with your family? I can take your watch.”

Rick snorted. “Nah, but some company would be nice.”

Daryl nodded, sitting down next to Rick on the hood of the car. They sat in silence for awhile, both men deep in their thoughts. Daryl side-eyed the other man sitting silently next to him before quietly saying, “Ya know, Connor ain’t a bad guy. He was just defending his brother, just like you defend Shane.”

Rick snorted and looked over at Daryl, challenge in his eyes before looking back forward. “Connor shouldn’t be your concern. Don’t know why you’re defending him so bad.”

“Cause I like him, Rick. He’s…” Daryl fidgeted slightly. He was never a man for words and the end of the world didn’t change that. The only people he ever found himself defending was his family and that usually ended up in a fist fight. “He’s a good man,” he just ended up repeating.

“Yeah, so’s Shane. So are you. Connor just incites violence in the group. I can’t have the group separated when all we have is each other.”

Daryl grunted. “I think Shane incites violence but you don’t see that cause he’s your best friend. Connor ain’t gonna be a problem no more. Just give him a chance. He’s a good hunter too. Can help me and keep the group fed. What if somethin’ were to happen to me, Rick? Where would y’all be then? You can’t hunt. Shane and Glenn can’t hunt. You gonna put T-Dog out there?”

Rick sighed. “Ain’t about that, Daryl.”

“Nah. I know what it’s about and you’re pissed but you need to be pissed at yourself. You turned away from me. Now I’m with Connor and you don’t like that.”

The statement hung in the air between them, both men surprised that it was finally and officially out in the open. “So its like that now? Y’all are together.”

Daryl sighed, looking everywhere but at Rick, hoping the other man couldn’t see his blush. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Tonight is his last night, Daryl. Shane and I already discussed it earlier. He’s a threat and I can’t have that around our children.”

Daryl felt as though he had been punched in the chest. “Then tonight is my last night.”

“No. You’re staying with us. You have no loyalty to him.”

“Ain’t got no loyalty to you either. You left my brother on a roof. The fuck I gotta care about you for?” He couldn’t help his defensiveness. He tried not to raise his voice but he couldn’t help it. There wasn’t much fair in the old world and it seemed to be that rule carried over into this world too. He knew that alone he and Connor would do okay, but it was safer in a larger group. There was more fire power and less of a chance they would be taken over by any other group of survivors or a large herd of walkers. More people meant they could fight off larger numbers. “What do I gotta do to get you to let him stay?” he asked quietly.

“Ain’t nothin’ you can do, Daryl,” Rick answered just as quietly.

“Bullshit.” Silence engulfed them once again, each man lost in their own thoughts. Daryl plotted what he was going to say to Connor. Should he go wake him up now so they could make their escape? Would Rick let them take a vehicle and some gas? Probably not. How would the group eat without the two of them? Could he really leave them like that, knowing that they’d probably starve to death? Looking over at Rick, the other man’s eyes were hollow; age lines that hadn’t been there previously were etched deep in his face.

He didn’t think his actions through as he dropped to his knees in front of the other man, allowing his crossbow to drop down carefully in the dirt. He pulled roughly at Rick’s legs, shoving them apart before going for the belt buckle and button. “Daryl, what are you doing?”

“What you apparently need. If I do this then you gotta let him stay.”

“Ain’t gotta do nothin’.”

“Then I tell your wife and Shane that you fucked me back in the quarry and then had me suck your cock to get Connor to stay.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Willing to place a bet on it officer?” Daryl licked his lips before pulling down Rick’s zipper and releasing his soft cock from its confines. Stroking it a few times, feeling it stiffen in his hand, Daryl knew he had won. Running his tongue over the head, he felt Rick’s hands in his hair. Looking up at him under too-long bangs, Daryl recognized the need in the other’s blue eyes. He had seen it back in the tent that day so long ago at this point. He knew the relationship between Rick and Lori was waning. There was hardly any time for them to get together privately so he knew Rick needed this release. He needed something and if it would buy Connor more time to prove himself then so be it.

He latched his lips on the head, sucking eagerly. In no time, Rick was hard as a rock and throbbing in his hand, a full participant now as he flexed his hands on the back of Daryl’s head, resisting pushing him down like he so obviously wanted. But Daryl hummed, keeping only the head in his mouth as he teased him, running his tongue around it before giving him a short suck. He knew they had to be quick in the event someone woke up. He wasn’t entirely sure who was supposed to take watch next or even when Rick was to be relieved. They were under a time limit and as much as Daryl wanted to torture him, he knew tonight wasn’t the night, especially with the delicate reason he was on his knees. Slowly, he took more cock into his mouth, sucking hungrily as his hands pulled Rick’s legs even farther apart.

Rick grunted, thrusting his hips up into the warmth. The delicious drag of his cock along the other man’s tongue was almost too much to bear, especially when the cool air hit the spit-moist cock as it slid out. With a stutter of his hips, the evidence of their deed was swallowed down Daryl’s throat.

Standing up, he rights himself, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth as he bends over to grab his crossbow from the dirt. “Connor stays.”

Rick nodded, shame coloring his cheeks. Daryl turned in front of him, intending to walk away, but Rick’s hand on his arm stopped him. Standing up, he seemed to falter on his words. Instead, he ran his hand down the other’s arm, interlacing their fingers as he leaned in, brushing their lips together in a chaste kiss. “I wish it could be different. With Lori and Carl… I just can’t.”

Daryl nodded, squeezing Rick’s hand in his own. “Maybe one day it can be different. Until then, let me have Connor.”

 

Chapter Eleven

Daryl sat in the cab of the pickup truck, leaning back as far as the driver’s seat would allow. Connor slept in the passenger seat, curled on his side, barretta still strapped to his leg. Wiping his mouth off one more time, he wanted to make sure the evidence of his transgressions was fully gone. Rolling his tongue in his mouth, using it to scrape this teeth, he gathered up a spitball. He opened the door, spitting the wad of what was left of the taste of Rick onto the ground. Daryl closed the door quietly, watching Connor out of the corner of his eye to make sure not to disturb the sleeping man. Finally back to the quiet of the cabin, he settled in, laying his crossbow and bows across his lap.

His mind drifted, back to their campsite only a few short weeks ago. He remembered the feel of Rick’s hands warm against his arm; the look of fear, anger, and betrayal in his eyes as he thanked Daryl for helping take care of his family. He wasn’t sure what had possessed him to do it, but he had asked if Rick wanted to go help him collect whatever was caught in his snares. It was an easy job, just go out and see if anything had wandered into his handful of simple, handmade traps, but it seemed like the other man needed time away.

That was when he had brought it up. He knew Rick knew. How he knew, Daryl wasn’t sure, nor did he really care. All he said was, “Look man, if you want to bitch about your wife cheatin’ on you with your best friend, ya can,” and it was like a floodgate had opened.

That was how the questions about his own personal life had started. Daryl just grunted most of his answers and Rick took what he wanted from those responses. When they got back, Rick barely left his side, with a gentle touch here, a rub of an elbow there. Then, that night, Rick had wandered into his tent, claiming he couldn’t sleep with his cheating wife anymore.

The next morning, Daryl wondered if it was just a revenge fuck. He pretty much assumed it was, but the fact that they had been together was never really brought out in the open until Rick told him that it just wasn’t appropriate until he and Lori could discuss things properly and fully end their marriage. Since then, Daryl had just watched Rick and waited. He learned better than to assume the best out of people. He just kind of limped along with relationships, assuming every fuck is a one night stand until he’s pleasantly surprised. Its easier that way for everyone.

But then came Connor. He still couldn’t figure out what this Irishman wanted with him, especially given his physical features resembling his brother so much. Reaching a hand over in the car, he stroked his tanned cheek softly, pushing his blondish hair out of his face. Connor shifted in his sleep, a small smile stretching across his lips with a whispered, “Daryl,” into the cab of the truck. This man wanted him. He had pursued him, fought for him, stood his ground against Rick. Daryl didn’t know what he could offer him.

A door slammed outside followed by heavy boots on the soft ground. Shane stalked by the cab of the truck and Daryl yanked his hand back from Connor’s face as if he had been burned. It was still ingrained in his head that what he was was wrong. You shouldn’t want men the same as you want women. Exhibiting these emotions could get you killed. He knew it was irrational at this point, especially since Shane and Murphy were rather blatant with their developing relationship. Murphy. That fucker. Pulling his feet up, he rolled over onto his side, facing Connor. He closed his eyes, listening to the soft breaths of his lover as he allowed himself to drift off to sleep.

Rick shifted as he saw Shane approach him. “All’s clear. Couldn’t sleep?”

Shane just shrugged, taking a spot next to Rick that Daryl had vacated what felt like hours ago but had been less than 20 minutes. “You really gonna do Lori like that, Rick?”

Rick looked over at Shane, giving him a soft grunt as he looked down to his Colt in his hands. “Not sure what you’re talking about.”

“You know damn well what I’m talking about. Just saw Daryl walk away from here wiping his mouth and you behind him zipping your pants up. Don’t take a genius to put two and two together there. You know I saw you back in the quarry a few weeks ago coming out his tent looking thoroughly fucked.”

“I did the fucking.”

“So that redneck is your bitch then? That what you’re saying? Because it seems to me that the reason you want to get rid of Connor is so you can have your playtoy back.”

“Fuck off, Shane. You’re the reason why we’re in this mess. You fucked my wife.”

“Don’t put this on me, Rick. We thought you were dead. I did right by you by getting her and Carl out, man. The whole thing with Lori… it just happened. Once you came back, we stopped.”

“What about this whole thing with Murphy? We discussed this, Shane. You were on board with kicking Connor out.” Rick sat for a moment, staring out into the woods, almost hoping for a herd of walkers to come ambling out at that moment to end this shitty conversation and then it dawned on him. “If Connor goes, Murphy goes. That it? You like Murphy that much that you’re not willing to let his asshole of a brother go. Connor punched you man because of your relationship with him. They’re both nothing but trouble and you don’t need to be getting involved with either of them.”

Shane sat silent. He had contemplated this whole situation, but he still had no answers. Murphy was an enigma that he wasn’t sure how to figure out or even where to start. He didn’t love him. No, he wasn’t gay. Murphy was just… convenient and a fun fuck. Glancing back over at the car he had just vacated where he left Murph sleeping in the backseat, he knew it would hurt him though if he left. “That’s why Connor isn’t leaving.”

“Shane, it’s not up to you-”

Shane turned on him abruptly. “It’s not your decision. Connor means something to Daryl and Murphy means something to me. So get over your fuckin’ schoolboy crush on Daryl. He’s moved on. You can’t have every fuckin’ thing.”

Rick set his jaw at Shane’s words. “Lori meant something to me. And you shit on that.”

“Is that what this is about? Lori? Dude, you can fuckin’ have her. I’ve moved on, man. Every time my dick gets hard I have a warm place to put it. Now so does Daryl. I think you’re jealous. Go fuck your wife, Rick. Leave Connor alone.” With his piece said, Shane stood, giving Rick one long stern look before returning back to his car. Opening up the back door, he climbed inside, clamoring over Murphy and resting his body down on top of the Irishman’s. Murphy stirred in his sleep at the sudden intrusion, surprised to feel Shane over him, but just wrapping his arms around the larger man and burying his face in his neck with a soft groan.

“Murph,” Shane cooed, running his hand through the Irishman’s growing brown locks. “My lucky charm. I need you.” He gave a small thrust against his lover, fully enjoying the soft sounds it caused him to make. “Everyone’s asleep.”

Murphy groaned, rubbing at his eyes with his fists. “‘M sleepin’, Shane.”

“You don’t have to do anything, just spread your legs baby. I’ll make sure you feel good. Wanna hear you scream my name.”

Murphy snorted, but fell into rhythm with Shane’s hips, thrusting back against him willingly. “Sure sounds like I’d have to do more than just open my legs.”

“Well, ok. So you’d have to enjoy it. Let me make you cum, baby.” Shane’s hands were working their clothes off, shedding Murphy’s outer layer first before ripping his shirt over his head and shoving his pants and boxers down.

Murphy lay on the soft fabric of the backseat of the car, stroking himself slowly as Shane loomed over him. The moonlight shone through the window, highlighting the younger man’s pale body and sleepy baby blue eyes. He had to pause a moment, taking in the sight, taken aback by the thought that this man beneath him was beautiful.

With an uneasy smile, Murphy ran his hands up and down Shane’s strong arms, holding him up above him. “Shane? What’s wrong?” Reaching down, he stroked his cock from root to tip, spurring the other man into action.

It had been days at least since they had had time like this together. Fumbling in the pockets of his discarded pants, he pulled out a small tube of lube that he had scavanged from a gas station from before he even started this thing with Murphy. In no time, he wordlessly had the younger man prepped and was sliding himself in. He watched Murph’s face in the moonlight, as the emotions and feelings played out, his back arching off the fabric, right leg tensing as it supported him on the floorboard. “God damn, stop being so fucking sexy,” Shane breathed, sitting up to adjust himself and succeeding in smacking his head on the roof.

Murphy giggled at him, but Shane thrust once hard, turning that giggle into a low moan. “We need a bigger car, ay?” he groaned out.

Shane just grunted his agreement before smacking his right ass cheek. “Turn over. I don’t think this will work with two grown ass men in the back seat of a car, no matter how skinny your ass is.”

Murphy snorted, but obeyed, groaning at the release of Shane’s cock from within his body, but he wasn’t without the warmth of the other’s body for long. Closing his eyes, Shane slid back into his body, sighing as the wet heat engulfed his cock. Rubbing his hands up Murphy’s back and down his arms, he lay his chest down against him, thrusting into his lover roughly. Murphy groaned, cowing his back to accept more of Shane’s length into him.

This was not the way it was supposed to be. Shane grunted as he thrusted ever harder into him, pulling out the harsh moans of a deep pain/pleasure combo. Murphy was not supposed to be the one under him, moving with him and groaning with each drag of his cock. Closing his eyes, he laid his head down on a bony shoulder, almost able to imagine it was Lori’s body beneath him, moving against him, but each slap of his balls against Murphy’s ass and balls solidified that he was most definitely fucking a man, a particularly loud one at that as the volume of his groans increased with each thrust.

Raising his head, he saw that the windows had fogged and the outside world was completely obscured. He knew the car was rocking with the power of his thrusts and he didn’t care. Fuck, he wanted it to rock. Let Rick know just how much he had moved on from Lori. Pulling Murphy’s hips back into him with every rough thrust, made thick hands reach for something to hold onto. Murph let out a small scream followed by a rough grunt as he clutched at the door handle. Shane chuckled softly, moving his hand up to the window, readjusting them so his lover was practically sitting in his lap as they moved together. Murphy’s hand was cool against the heated windows, leaving a blurry trail of clear in its wake. The whole camp would know what they were up to if anyone were awake as the sounds the Irishman were making grew louder with his impending release, but Shane gripped the base of his cock as he moved. “Not yet, baby. Don’t fall yet. Got plans for your pretty cock still.”

Murphy whined as he allowed his head to fall back, landing on Shane’s shoulder as he thrust in hard one last time, spilling his seed deep within the other’s body. Still with a strong grip on his cock, he allowed his body only a minute of rest as he slid out, immediately missing the warmth surrounding his cock. Gently, he flipped Murphy over before bending down and swallowing him down to the base of his cock and giving a long, slow suck. Hands were in his hair in an instant as Murphy’s body tensed, hips thrusting forward uncontrollably, accidently gagging Shane on his cock.

When he felt the body beneath him start to untense, Shane sat up, wiping his mouth. “T’e fock was that?” Murphy groaned, slumping against the door he leaned against.

Shane just shrugged. “Didn’t want you to cum all over the place where we’d be sleeping.”

“Already probably dripped. Fock, Shane,” he groaned, his body still thrumming from his orgasm. His underwear and pants were tossed to him to put back on as Shane redressed himself, leaving his shirt in the front seat.

“You say that like you didn’t enjoy it!” he laughed. “See if I ever put my mouth on you again.”

Even in the darkness, Murphy’s blush was evident. Quickly, he kissed him softly, still taking himself on his lover’s lips. “No, I fockin’ loved it. Just wasn’t expecting that.”

Shane smiled, laying down along the back seat and pulling Murph on top of him, wrapping his strong arms around him. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but he took solace in the warm body on top of him.

From the driver’s seat of the truck, Daryl saw Shane get back in the car to the right of them. The telltale squeaking of the shocks left little to the imagination on what exactly was transpiring in the backseat. He wasn’t sure if he was happy for them, completely pissed off, or what, but he wanted to know exactly what Shane said to Rick. When he stalked back to the car, he looked pissed off. But, of course, he had to know that if Connor was leaving, then Murphy would be leaving. Daryl snorted. Shane was staking his claim, knowing that Rick was watching. It was brilliant in a fucked up sort of way. He guessed Shane was on their side now.

The next morning dawned earlier than any of them wanted, but the night had been relatively uneventful. Only two lone walkers had wandered towards their encampment. By the time Daryl and Connor rolled out of the car, Carol was already starting a small fire to get some kind of food warmed up to eat. T-Dawg sat where Rick had been the night before, in the exact spot where Daryl had blown him. Shaking his head, he looked over at Connor who just smiled back at him. Grabbing his bow, he nodded to him and gestured towards the woods. Connor just nodded, patting his knife and barretta at his side. Unspoken words to form a plan and an agreement. Just as they were getting ready to head out, Murphy and Shane walked up. Shane looked to Rick and gestured for a private conversation. Connor looked between Daryl and Murphy before deciding to run over and talk to his brother real quick.

Murphy sat down gingerly on a log. “Ye all right brothermine?” Connor asked as he strolled up nonchalantly.

“Ay, I’ll be fine. Just a … long night. In the back seat of a car.”

“Ay. Are ye happy?” he asked. The question was unexpected, as evidenced by the surprise look on his brother’s face. “I mean, with goliath over there.”

Murphy turned to look at Shane as he talked quietly with Rick. “Ay. I am. I miss ye though. You’ll always be me other half, Con. Nothin’ is better than ye even if we never…” Connor blushed but turned away, looking towards Daryl as he waited for him on the edge of the woods. “Are ye happy, Con? With the redneck warrior?”

Connor snorted. Redneck warrior. He’d have to call Daryl that later to see his reaction. “Ay. Still believe he’s a gift from God.”

“Ye fockin’ head is broken.”

“Oh, fock off.” Connor watched as Daryl gave him a long look before walking toward Rick and Shane in their conversation. He gave him a questioning look as he watched worry etch across Daryl’s normally stoic features. Something didn’t feel right, but he waited and watched.

Rick stood silently, arms crossed over his chest as Daryl strode towards them after being called over by Shane. “Ok, so we discussed it last night. Connor can stay.”

Daryl just snorted, his body immediately relaxing from the fight he was certain he was going to have to have. “Ya mean ya just want Murphy to stay.”

Shane adjusted his stance, glancing back over towards the brothers quickly. “Not gonna lie to you, Daryl. Of course I want Murphy to stay. I think that’s obvious.” Looking squarely at Rick, he said, “I think they both bring a lot to the group. Connor helps you hunt and Murphy is great at the camp chores and keeping the women in good spirits.” Sure enough, a small burst of laughter erupted behind them as they saw the women gathered around the growing fire, Murphy tossing something into the flames, making small bursts. Behind him, Connor was tossing barbs, which Murphy responded to over his shoulder, making the women laugh again.

Daryl snorted, looking down at his feet and shaking his head. “Well Connor and I were going to go out huntin’ and scoutin’ around. We’ll be back in a few hours.”

“Why don’t Murphy and I go with you?” Daryl’s heart nearly stopped at Shane’s words. Why the fuck would he want to do that? “Just thought it’d be nice to see the brothers in action together.”

Daryl snorted at the innuendo in his mind, not entirely certain that Shane knew exactly what was going through his mind, but something flickering in his eyes suggested that he knew just that. “Yeah, all right. You got the camp, Rick?”

Rick nodded, not saying a single word during the entire interaction. He looked back at Lori at the camp. “Yeah, I got it. We’ll be good.”

Daryl nodded as he walked back towards the brothers sitting at the campfire, finally able to catch what had been making the women laugh. “-fockin’ idiot, ye are. That’s not how it went at all!”

Murphy laughed, his smile bright as he looked back over his shoulder at Connor before rolling his eyes for the women. “Yer fockin’ plans always got us in trouble, Con. Ye and yer fockin‘ rope that we got tangled in in that air shaft!”

“It worked out didn’t it?!”

“All right, you two,” Shane smiled as they approached them. “Murph, we’re going to go hunting with Daryl and Connor so grab whatever you need.”

Murphy nodded, standing up and bowing to his audience before returning to their car to get the rest of his gear. The ladies just giggled and waved as he strode away.

Connor still bristled at Murphy’s rendition of whatever they had been talking about, clearly storing the idea that he needed to clear up a few things later that night around the campfire. Daryl risked a hand on his shoulder to calm the other man. “Everythin’ all right?” Connor asked him quietly.

“Yeah. More’n all right. With your brother fuckin’ Shane, we have an ally.”

Connor snorted, looking Shane up and down, still wondering if he killed him in the woods if anyone but his brother would notice. But the fucker just smiled at him softly. “Look, about yesterday, Connor. I really didn’t mean anything by it.”

Connor snorted. Daryl shoulder bumped him as he walked by, towards the woods, a warning if Daryl ever gave one. “Ay. Just be good to me brother. He’s the only one I got.”

Shane nodded. Murphy sauntered up to them at that point, handing Shane a bottle of water and some beef jerky. Connor watched as they walked over towards Daryl waiting patiently by the woods. He wondered what was up with Shane offering for the two of them to go into the woods with Daryl and him. With a nod to the group of women around the campfire, he followed after them cautiously. The last thing he wanted was to be shot in the back by his brother’s lover.

 

Chapter Twelve

Daryl walked behind the other three men, Connor sticking close to him as they both eyed the backs of Murphy and Shane. It was odd that Shane would volunteer to come out into the woods to go hunting, period, let alone with them. Then again, Shane had stuck up for Connor, putting his foot down with Rick that the Irishman would stay with their group. Maybe he was trying to make an effort…

Daryl shook his head at the thought. Maybe he just wanted to see what Connor was really about away from the group. Or maybe he was just planning on killing both of them while they were out here, but Murphy would flip a shit about his brother… Daryl sighed. His brother may have been an asshole, but at least he knew what to expect from him. Shane… he was a different sort of asshole, but Murphy certainly seemed to be smitten with him.

Once they were fairly deep in the woods, the sound of birds all around them and the crunch of fallen leaves heavy beneath their feet, the foursome stopped, looking around for any dangers or, even better, food sources. Shane whistled at Murphy to get his attention, “Why don’t you and Daryl go on up ahead a little and scout around for some food?”

Daryl looked at Connor, who gave him a slight nod that he would be ok with Shane. Daryl knew that Connor felt no love loss for the man, so he had no doubt that if Shane drew his weapon, Connor’s would already be at the ready. Looking at the person that could pass for his twin instead of Connor’s he motioned him ahead, still holding his crossbow up, finger on the trigger. Nothing could be trusted, not even the men he had with him.

As soon as the two men were well enough out of earshot, Connor leaned against a tree, sizing up Shane and debating his options. “Going to shoot me here, Sheriff? So you can take me brother and give Daryl ta Rick and have everything be right with t’e world?”

Shane snorted, cocking his hip to the side. “Nah, nothin’ like that. Just thought I’d like to spend some time with the guy who’s ass I just saved from excommunication.”

Connor snorted, glancing at where Daryl and Murphy disappeared through the woods. “Ay. I ‘preciate that, even though I kicked your arse.”

Shane just shook his head, looking around at the woods, surveying for any potential threats. “If you didn’t notice, I wasn’t fighting back. You had every right to defend your brother. I do want you to know though, I didn’t mean that as a slur.”

Rustling to their right stopped their conversation, both men reaching for their weapons while trying to find the threat. The soft sound of the silencer went off on Connor’s gun as the rabbit poked its head out of the bush. Collecting his kill, he let out a small whoop of satisfaction, proud to have something to show Daryl. “Well then, looks like Daryl actually taught ya somethin’,” Shane smirked.

“Ay,” Connor grinned, putting his gun back in his holster on his leg. “I can be taught!” They sat in an almost amiable silence as Connor went about trying to figure out how to attach his kill to his body like Daryl did, giving up after a few minutes and just holding it by its ears. “So, can I ask what yer intentions are towards me brother?” he asked quietly. He had debated on asking this question, whether or not he wanted to know the answer, but he figured now was the best time. If he didn’t like the answer, Daryl would help him come up with a valid reason for shooting the asshole.

Shane shifted his stance, leaning back against a tree across from him, carefully gauging the other man as he chewed on his lower lip. “Honestly, I wish I had an answer for you. I like Murph. I’ve never been with a man before, was never ever interested in dick. I don’t know what’s so special about your brother. I really don’t, but I know I couldn’t stand it if y’all left right now.” He ran his hand through his hair nervously as he shifted his stance.

“So as soon as you get tired of me brother you’re going to cast us out?” Connor asked, purposely ignoring Shane’s use of his nickname for his brother, as they moved forward from their post, watching the woods for any signs of walkers or wildlife.

“Nah, nothin’ like that. Even if Murph and I decided to call off whatever it was we’re doin’ I wouldn’t cast you out. Y’all are contributing members to our group and Daryl likes you. A lot.”

“Ay. Feeling’s mutual.” Connor’s heart bloomed at the acknowledgement of their relationship and that someone else can see what they’re building. “And Rick…”

Shane shrugged as they came up on Murphy and Daryl crouched low. Both men stopped in their tracks, aware that the two were hunting something. “I’ll handle Rick. Just keep Daryl focused on you,” he whispered. Murphy looked back at them, grinning like a fool. Connor wasn’t sure if the grin was focused at Shane or himself, but he couldn’t help the deep burn of jealousy that rolled in his stomach.

That was his Murph. Shane had the audacity to call him a fucking “lucky charm.” But then Daryl looked back at them, locking their blue eyes together for mere seconds, but long enough to secure a small smirk from the hunter. The jealousy in his stomach did a flip and squelched. He was royally fucked either way he looked at it. Daryl turned back to what he was hunting, raising his crossbow. The muscles in his arm flexed as he adjusted his aim, sitting still for only a second before releasing the arrow.

“Fuck,” they heard him breathe as he stood up.

“Ye got it though,” they heard Murphy murmur, still crouched.

Suddenly a loud gunshot sounded to their left, in the direction that Daryl shot his arrow. Daryl went down in a heap, blood pouring from his chest. Connor was moving before he even realized it, panic seizing his heart. Murphy pulled Daryl’s body into him, grabbing at his clothes, searching for the wound, trying to see the damage.

Shane tore off in the direction of the shot, like a bull in a China shop, shouting for whoever shot to come out. Murphy’s hands were ripping at Daryl’s already tattered clothes, pulling his shirt up his body and over his head. Together he and Connor were able to wipe the blood from his body, locating the wound, putting pressure on it. “Ye fockin’ asshole, ye can’t die yet. Ye can’t die,” Connor shouted at him as Murphy held him tight in his arms.

“Ain’t dead, Jesus fuck,” Daryl grumbled, trying to right himself but grimacing in pain as Murphy just held tighter. Connor just applied more pressure, thanking God that he was alive for now. But he needed help and fast. He was losing a lot of blood.

Murphy was too stunned to tell him not to take the Lord’s name in vain as Shane charged back at them with a large man in tow, shotgun in hand, and a younger, stunned kid. “Fuckin’ missed the deer, dontcha think?” Shane shouted.

“Bring him back to our farm. We have a doctor. Shit we have a doctor,” the larger man said hurriedly, looking at all of them in turn.

“How far is it?” shouted Connor, looking back at the man, contemplating the many ways he could kill him right here.

“Not far. Couple miles. We can get there fast. We can carry him.”

“Ain’t bein’ fuckin’ carried. Can walk,” Daryl muttered, trying to get up again. Murphy let him go only to grab onto one arm, Connor taking the other and helping him up.

“We’ll help you,” Connor said, looking over at Murph who nodded. The trek back to these men’s farm took longer than they thought, nearly carrying a full grown man who passed out halfway through the trip. Connor’s heart was beating frantically in his chest as Shane took over for Murphy, bearing most of Daryl’s weight after he went limp in their arms.

When they came upon the farm the man they came to know as Otis, the shooter, ran into the house ahead of them, the younger man, Jimmy, hot on his trail. Both men were shouting for someone named Hershel. An elderly gentleman and three women appeared at the door as Connor and Shane huffed Daryl up the steps. “Get him up stairs. Patricia, get us ready for surgery,” Hershel ordered.

Jimmy led them up the stairs and to a bedroom. The women followed them, quickly bringing in lamps, cloths, and surgical equipment. Hershel appeared as they were laying Daryl on the bed, making sure to keep pressure on the wound with his now red shirt. The shirt was soaked through, letting blood drip down his chest and onto the white bedsheets. “You boys will need to step back. Does anyone know what blood type he is? He’s lost a lot of it and he’s going to need some more.”

All three men looked at each other. Blood type wasn’t exactly a topic that just came up in conversation. “Doesn’t matter,” whispered Murphy. “Me brother and I are both O negative. He can have ours. We can donate if ye need it.”

Connor breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn’t thought of that. Pulling his brother into him, he sobbed into his shoulder. His Murphy always came through. “I’ll give first. Ye ain’t in the condition brothermine.”

As they set Murphy up across the room, Shane looked to Otis and Connor. “We gotta go tell the others. They’re be waiting for us. We were supposed to bring back food.”

“I’ll go,” offered a pretty, tall brunette woman. “I got a horse, will be faster to get there and get back. Where are they?”

Shane told her about where their group was located along the highway, offering to go with her but she declined with a huff saying she was perfectly capable and knew the whole area.

Within a couple of hours, Murphy was woozy from his donation of a pint and a half. Connor was well on his way to over a pint himself, Hershel having used a whole pint of blood already and they were almost through with the surgery. The bullet fragments had been extracted, but Hershel was afraid there might be more that he couldn’t get to. Daryl was passed out through it all, thankfully.

The roar of engines outside alerted them to the rest of their group’s arrival. The woman they now knew as Maggie had been back for over an hour after giving Rick directions on how to get to the farm. She had said if they weren’t there for another hour, she would go back out and find them. Shane went downstairs to meet their group, still covered in Daryl’s blood.

The world stood still as he watched their people slowly approach him, questions on their lips. “Daryl got shot,” was all he could say. Rick came up to him, eyes wide with terror, looking him over, grasping his shoulders, moving his hands up to his neck and jaw. “I’m all right. Daryl… he… Hershel got the bullet out. Murphy and Connor are giving blood.”

“Is he… he’s not?” Rick asked quietly.

Shane shook his head. “Nah, he’s alive, but they said the worst isn’t over. He could get an infection. He needs to rest. He can’t be up.”

Rick nodded, looking back up at the house. “Can I see him?” Shane led him up the stairs, leaving the group down on the front lawn. Maggie and her sister Beth saw to them, telling them where they could set up camp.

Hershel greeted Rick as they approached the door, wiping his blood stained hands on a towel. “Your man in there, he’s a fighter, I can tell, but he’s going to need some rest to recover. The bullet wound was pretty bad, damanged a lot, but I got it all as far as I can tell. You and your people can stay here while he heals.” Rick nodded his thanks as Hershel brushed by him, retreating back down the stairs.

Rick looked to Shane before pushing open the door. Murphy was slumped in a chair by the window a bandage on his arm, rosary in his hand. Connor was sitting in a chair next to Daryl on the bed, a matching bandage on his own arm, hand firmly grasping the hunter’s, the rosary held tight between their palms. All three men looked pale.

Rick took in Daryl laying prostrate on the bed, his damaged body exposed for the world to see, a bandage covering the wound quickly turning red. Connor looked up at him as he entered, pain and exhaustion evident on his face. He didn’t have the energy for any kind of confrontation with Rick, but he was not leaving Daryl’s side for anything.

Pulling up a chair to the other side of the bed, Rick sat, taking Daryl’s other hand. In that moment, they weren’t enemies. They weren’t two men fighting for the same person. In that moment, they were equals. Two men both hurting, praying for the life of another.

 

Chapter Thirteen

Sitting still was not a trait that Daryl Dixon had in his body. Not participating in the upkeep of camp was also not in his vocabulary, but the other members of their group were rather persistent that he rest himself. Connor and Murphy were the two most persistent, followed by Rick. Shane pretty much let him do whatever he wanted, which was why Murphy relieved him of his Daryl-sitting duties when he walked into Daryl making more arrows for his bow. It was a harmless activity to his standards, but Murphy went into a tizzy because of the way he was bent over and how it was affecting his wound and bandage. He had moved out to sleep in his tent the day after his surgery, not feeling right sleeping in a cushy bed when the rest of his people were outside in the dirt. Hell, he was used to sleeping in the dirt. He did that before the dead started walking.

Rick was the most painful presence whenever he was around. He had that look, like he wanted to say something, but was either afraid of rejection or didn’t know how to put it into words. He knew when he woke up and found Connor on one side and Rick on the other, both men holding his hands that something had transpired while he was out cold. It was like a small truce had been started, but that wasn’t an entirely accurate way to put it either. It was more like a cold war between the two men. They were cordial to each other, but nothing more than that. When Murphy was sitting with him, he talked his ear off about the camp, the horses, the chickens, the two farm girls and how Glenn was making eyes at one of them. It was almost to the point that Daryl wished his look alike had gone back to hating him for stealing his brother from him just so he could get some peace and quiet.

But then there was Connor. Daryl hated that his stomach flipped when Connor would crawl in the tent next to him, feeling on his forehead to make sure he hadn’t gotten a fever since the last time he saw him, checking his bandages and giving him water. The fresh water from the wells on the farm property was like a Godsend. Having such a luxury at their disposal was amazing. Thankfully, his Dixon blood held out, mixed with MacManus blood, and it looked like he’d survive this bullet wound without any major fanfare. Once Connor was satisfied that Daryl was not going to die within the next 15 minutes, he’d prattle on about anything that came to mind or just sit in silence next to him, their shoulders and arms touching, but not daring much more with so many people around outside, very much unlike what they had heard coming from Shane’s tent just a few feet away on several occasions.

Daryl wanted to try at one point. He thought about how he would get it started, but he wasn’t even sure of that. Should he just lean over and kiss him? Nudge him maybe? Ask Connor to kiss him? Sit and look pathetic and hope that he got the idea? He hated that he was such shit at this. Three days after he had been shot, Connor let him sit at the picnic bench instead of lay inside the blazingly hot tent. Everyone came around at least to acknowledge him. Murphy plopped his ass on the other side of the table after having helped the Green family in the garden that morning, milked the cows, and helped feed the chickens. He felt as though his duties for the day were done and he could relax a little and for some reason he found Daryl to be pleasant company.

“Oy, ye feelin’ any better there?” he asked, guzzling some water from a bottle.

Daryl rubbed his side. “The bandage is itching more’n anything but I could do more’n what people think I can.”

“Yeah, Rick and Connor are sayin’ to give ye two more days of rest and then its light duty.”

Fucking hell. They’re collaborating on his well being? “Since when did they start gettin’ along?”

“Since Rick saw ye pale as a ghost on the bed, knowing that Connor and I saved your life. He should be thankful to me brother that you’re still around so I think he’s tryin’.” Murphy looked around at all the others. He knew Connor was off in the woods, having taken over the hunting duties since Daryl was out of commission, but Shane and Rick were over by the truck, trying to map out a plan of some kind. “How are ye and Connor doin’, since this?” he asked quietly.

Daryl shrugged, messing with a loose thread on his pants. “All right.”

“Ye know Con was beside himself until ye woke up. He didn’t sleep at all, constantly putting a cool cloth on your head, checking your temperature, your bandage, making sure ye were ok. He let Rick sit in the room with him, with you. I don’t know that they talked, but I don’t think they argued.”

Daryl hadn’t heard that part yet. He wasn’t entirely surprised that Connor nursed him while he was under. He was a mother hen without an illness or injury so he was kind of glad that he was asleep for the worst part of it. “Yeah, he’s gettin’ kinda annoying with this nurse crap.”

Murphy’s grin widened and he winked. “Oh ay? Adding that to your fetishes?”

Daryl blushed as red as the Georgia clay under their feet. “Nah we ain’t… we haven’t…”

“Hey,” Murphy’s hand laid upon his arm. “‘Sokay.”

The blush just deepened, spreading to his ears and down his neck. He knew that the brothers had some kind of weird fucked up relationship prior to them joining their group. Daryl wasn’t entirely certain where that left them now, considering how he and Shane had entered the picture, but the last thing he wanted to do was ruffle any feathers. “I mean, he’s your… brother… that you guys… had a thing…”

Murphy outright laughed at him which caught Daryl off guard. Here he was trying to be all careful and protect Murphy’s feelings and this fucker was laughing at him. “It’s ok, me Daryl. Ay, I still love me brother, more than I should, but I know he loves ye. But,” he narrowed his eyes, pointing his index finger at him accusingly, “the second ye do him wrong, I’m stealin’ him back.”

“What about Shane?”

“Ay. I haven’t figured that part out yet.”

“Ya love him?”

Murphy looked across the field to Shane bent over the truck hood. “No.” He knew in his heart he didn’t love Shane. He liked him well enough; he was admittedly smitten with the hulk of a man and he loved the feel of him above him, around him, everything, at night. But if he had a chance with Connor? Murphy shook his head. “Ye love Con?”

Daryl looked down at his hands. “How do you Irish jump to love so fast?”

Murphy just grinned at him. “We do ev’rything with passion.”

“I thought that was Italians.”

“They stole it from us. We’re really very passionate people.”

“About drinkin’ and shootin’.” Daryl was effectively steering the topic off and he was rather proud of himself.

“Ay. I miss drinkin’. Do enough shootin’ though. But, oy, ye didn’t answer me question.” Murphy stood up, grabbing another bottle of water and handing it to Daryl before sitting back down.

Daryl took the water, drinking from the bottle slowly. He could feel the blue eyes of his look alike boring into the side of his face, patiently waiting for an answer, so he sighed, setting the bottle back down. “I don’t know. Don’t really have much experience with love.”

Murphy just slapped him on his shoulder, standing up from the table. “Ay. ‘S all right. Ye goin’ to have plenty of experience with it with Con. Just don’t be afraid to talk to him. He can be a right asshole, but he’ll fix anythin’ that needs fixin’.” And with that, Murphy sauntered away, over to Shane at the car, hip bumping him to get his attention. Daryl stood up, wiping his hands off on his pants. He made his mind up to go and do something. His motherhens were all busy. If he could make it out of sight before any of them turned around, he might just be able to get away with it. Walking over to his tent, he grabbed his crossbow and snuck off into the woods at the clearing. Daryl was certain that he’d hear about this when he came back, but he didn’t care. This whole “healing” nonsense was driving his crazy.

It was two hours of blissful silence surrounded by what he truly loved. The way the tree branches danced in the wind, squirrels chasing each other in the trees, all of it just as if the dead weren’t wandering around looking to take a bite outta ya. Two hours had gotten him three squirrels and a rabbit. It wasn’t much but he thought it would be a good idea to stay at least somewhat close to camp so he could hear if they started sending out search parties for him. What he hadn’t been betting on was Connor wandering up on him, complete with a wild boar slung over his shoulders. “Oy! Daryl! What are ye doin’?!”

He admittedly felt a little guilty but that feeling didn’t last very long. “I ain’t dead. Ya’ll can’t keep me tethered to camp just ’cause I got shot in the shoulder.”

There appeared to be an internal fight going on in Connor’s head as he readjusted the boar on his shoulders. “Ay. Suppose.”

Daryl shuffled his feet in the dirt, torn between wanting to be out here longer and wanting to go back in with Connor. He looked between the deep woods and back at the camp through the trees.

Connor seemed to pick up on his thoughts, nodding back at the camp. “Why don’t I take this boar and those squirrels and rabbit back to camp and come back out to meet ye here?”

Daryl smirked, ducking his head and nodding. Untethering his kills from his belt loop, he delicately tied them around Connor’s. It felt like an hour until he saw him trek back through the woods. He could help the little smile that stretched across his face, but he quickly wiped it off. Connor, however, grinned widely, reaching for Daryl’s hand. The hunter tried to snatch it away, but the Irishman held on tightly, interlacing their fingers. Daryl was suddenly ashamed at the callouses on his hand rubbing against the smooth skin of Connor’s. “Well me dear, I suppose this is our first date.”

“Oh fuckin’ hell,” Daryl muttered, ripping his hand out of Connor’s as the other man cackled with laughter.

“Come on. There’s a place I wanna take ye. It’s not too far from here,” Connor smiled, genuinely at him. Daryl fell into step next to him, gently bumping their shoulders. “How are ye feelin’, really?” he asked him quietly.

Daryl grunted his response, shifting his shoulder slightly, feeling it out. “Shoulder’s all right.”

“Yeah but how are YOU,” he emphasized, putting his hands into his pockets as they walked.

Daryl sighed, thinking about his conversation with Murphy back at the picnic table. “I dunno, man. I don’t know what we’re doing. I don’t know what I even want to do with you. I mean… fuck.” Running his hand through his hair, he brought his thumb to his mouth, chewing on the cuticle as he watched his feet step one in front of the other. He mentally smacked himself. Words were never something he was good with, that was always Merle’s role. Now he had just fucked up whatever it was that he and Connor had going.

But whatever reaction he thought he was going to get from the Irishman, he didn’t get it. Instead, Connor chuckled softly to himself. Taking his hand out of his pocket, he pulled at Daryl’s until their sweaty palms pressed together, fingers interlaced. “Stop thinkin’, Daryl Dixon. Just feel and look up,” he whispered in his ear.

Daryl sighed, but did as told, casting his blue eyes up. Before them sat a small lake as a bird swooped down, snagging a fish before flying away. The afternoon sun was sinking behind the trees, rays of yellow and orange breaking through the foliage, reflecting off the water. The sounds of the forest seemed to amplify around them as they stood there, hand in hand. Daryl breathed in the earthy scent of the forest and the fresh scent of the water in front of them as he felt Connor switch hands in his. Connor stepped behind him, pulling his back into his chest and wrapping his arms around his waist. “Let yourself go,” he whispered in his ear.

Daryl sighed, leaning back into Connor’s chest, warm behind him. Let himself go. He had to figure out how to do that. Merle wasn’t here anymore. Murphy had Shane distracted and actually amiable. Connor and Shane were keeping Rick at bay and sane for the moment. He didn’t have to have the barrier up. People tolerated him and even liked him in camp. They respected him and his opinions and here this man behind him wanted him.

Let himself go.

It sounded so good. It sounded so freeing. Connor made it sound so easy, as if he knew what to expect when Daryl let down his barriers and just let himself feel and be the person he wanted to be. But Daryl just wasn’t sure. He knew the person that he was inside. If he just let himself go, would they like the man he would become? Would Connor still want to be with him?

“Oy, you’re thinkin’ loud enough to scare off t’e birds.”

Daryl snorted then sighed as he felt soft lips on his neck. “Wanted to ask you…,” he started, then stopped himself.

“Ask me what?” Connor asked, Irish accent deep in his ear.

Just the sound of his voice so close to his ear, breath and kiss cooling on his neck, sent a shiver throughout his body. “Ask you… in the tent…to…”

He felt Connor smile against his ear, holding him even closer. “Why didn’t ye?”

“I didn’t know how. Do you want to have sex just sounds so…. And I don’t even know how.” His voice was small, uncertain. He had to force the words out of his chest and just hope that Connor could hear them. In their close proximity, there was no way they could be mistaken.

“It’s ok. We can figure it out. And we can have a signal so its not awkward and no one else knows what we mean.” Daryl snorted. “Like, man I miss beer.”

“Ya’d say that anyway. We’d be fuckin’ every hour.”

“Maybe that’s why I chose that one.”

“Nah. How about…” Daryl thought back over their time together and their different stupid conversations. “Let’s make a plan for tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? Da fuck we got to wait that long for?”

Daryl sighed and laughed slightly. “Nah, I mean that could be our code. We could make plans anywhere and no one else wants to listen to ya yap about your stupid plans anyway.”

“Hey, ye always listen to me plans!”

“Yeah, I do. Ever notice how no one else sticks around and we never follow one of your plans all the way through?”

“Ay, I have,” Connor sighed, nuzzling his nose into his neck, breathing in his scent. “I always thought it was just because ye loved me.”

“Yeah, keep thinkin’ that Irish,” Daryl snorted.

Connor turned him in his arms, grin still plastered on his face. “So, Mr. Dixon, do ye wanna make some plans right now?”

“Ya think I put out on the first date?” Daryl scoffed.

“Well I was hopin’ ye did, but if ye don’t want to…” Connor’s eyes gave away his mirth. Daryl just rolled his eyes, leaning in for a soft kiss. “Its been awhile,” Connor murmured against his lips.

Daryl hummed into the kiss, wrapping his arms around Connor’s back, letting the rest of the world slip away. He poured himself into the feeling of having someone else love him, arms wrapped tight around his scarred back, knowing and not caring about his past. Let himself go. His own hands roamed Connor’s body, pulling his shirt free of his pants and discarding it from his body. Desire coursed through his bloodstream, taking over Daryl’s consciousness. His body seemed to act on its own volition, completely ignoring the screaming in his mind that this was a bad idea. They were out in the open, anyone could walk by, anyone could see them like this.

Connor laid him down on the small beach by the water, hands moving down to unbutton his plaid shirt, fingers flowing up until his chest was exposed. Smirking wickedly, Connor broke off the kiss. “Trust me, dear hunter.”

Daryl nearly forgot how to breathe as he felt Connor’s lips caress a nipple. The soft pink muscle of his tongue flicked the hard bud before his lips latched on and sucked. “Fuck,” Daryl breathed, his hands tangling into Connor’s hair, silently urging him on. Kisses were rained on his sternum as he trailed across his chest, tormenting the other nipple.

Opening his eyes, Daryl nearly laughed at the absurdity of the situation. Here he was, a Dixon, with a man, an Irish one at that, whose lips were getting closer and closer to his beltline. Suddenly, Daryl’s body seized, his heart speeding up as his body transitioned to fight or flight mode. “Connor!” he hissed, flinging the man off of him as he grabbed the knife from his belt, thanking God that he still had them on.

 

Chapter Fourteen

Rick shook his head at Shane and Murphy, watching them walk out to “check the perimeter” together. He would swear that was some sort of code, but he didn’t want to think too hard about it. The noises coming from their tent at night while he took watch was enough to get an idea of their relationship. He couldn’t say he’d blame them though. At least they found some amount of happiness in each other and what they had going had certainly calmed the wild Irishman down significantly. Rick was thankful for that.

Glancing back at the woods, knowing Connor had left early this morning to go hunting, he considered the other MacManus. To say he hated the man would probably be an exaggeration. He did have a healthy amount of respect for him. They all knew what the MacManus brothers had done before the Turn. No doubt they would be excellent fighters if and when the need arose. But he did hate the way Connor just sauntered into camp and swept Daryl away from him so quickly. He just needed time. Rick knew his marriage had been over for at least a year. The fact that Lori had been fucking Shane in camp wasn’t exactly a well kept secret. In a rushed confession, Shane had told him everything. He recounted from the moment he checked for a heartbeat in the hospital to the second he saw Rick step out of the truck with the others. Really, Rick had Shane to thank for saving his life probably. If he hadn’t of pulled that gurney in front of his hospital room door, who knows what would have happened to him? Lori, on the other hand, had been completely mute on the subject to this point. It was a blameless situation the way he saw it, but a little honesty on his wife’s part would be nice.

Rick watched as Lori helped Carol hang up laundry on the line. She smiled and laughed with the older woman, her thin frame a testament to their need to have two hunters in their group. With a deep sigh, he looked at the Dixon tent just a few feet away from Shane’s tent that he shared with Murphy. Even though the MacManus brothers were in essence “dating” other people, they still couldn’t be kept apart. Rick knew they would find their way back to each other and Daryl would be free again. Everything just takes time, but that wasn’t something that they had to spare these days.

Looking up at the sun, it had moved across the sky a significant distance since Connor disappeared back into the woods after dropping off the boar and other game. He sighed, running his hand through his hair, watching the treeline. “They’ll be back,” Carol said from behind. Rick pivoted, surprised that someone could read his thoughts without seeing his face. “Daryl and Connor are both good in the woods and they haven’t gotten to spend much time together since Daryl was shot. They’ll be back.”

Rick just nodded, his jaw working to explain why he was so worried but nothing came out. Carol just smiled at him, continuing to fold the laundry at the picnic table. “Shane and Murphy seem to be doing really well. Who knew Shane could tame that wild one?”

Rick smirked. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”

“And Daryl and Connor are quite a pair.”

That was what she was getting at. Rick sucked in a breath before responding. “That they are, Carol.”

“You know, Rick. Sometimes Daryl just needs his space from people. He’s been a Dixon all his life, but a member of this family for a short period. If you let him go, he’ll come back.” With that, she folded the last towel, grabbed her basket, and left him with a small smile.

Rick’s shoulders sagged. Was he that obvious? Lori came up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and putting her chin on his shoulder. “You ok?” she asked, concern lacing her voice. “You look like you have the weight of the world on you.”

“Some days I feel like I do.”

“We’re good now, here. If the Greens will let us stay,” she whispered to him, squeezing him slightly in her arms.

Rick thought on her comment. Yeah, they were physically good. Fresh water, food, relative safety… but mentally… “How long is it going to take you to tell me about Shane?” Her body tensed against his back, clearly caught. The world shifted in that one statement as Lori took her time to process it, come up with something to say. Rick made no move to leave her grasp or even acknowledge that he was waiting for an answer. He simply stood, poised watching the woods.

“We… we thought you were dead. He saved us, Carl and I. He came for us. We thought you were dead,” she stammered. “We haven’t… since you’ve been back. He told me you were dead, that you had no heartbeat.”

“Yeah, he told me that too.” Rick just stood still, his voice small, hands still on his hips, one palm poised over the butt of his Colt, looking out at the woods. “We don’t really need to keep up appearances, Lori. I know we were headed for divorce before I got shot. Why don’t we just pretend like those papers were signed?”

“Well, look here. Looks like we caught ourselves a couple of homos.” The shotgun was pointed at Connor’s chest but the panic seized Daryl’s heart.

Connor laughed slightly, clutching at Daryl’s hand beside him as they both lay sprawled on their backs. “Pickin’s are slim, what do ye expect when t’e world ends?”

“Hey! We got ourselves a leprechaun to boot! Jim look-a this!” Daryl estimated this man to be about his and Connor’s size, but the gun he held at Connor’s heart gave him leverage. The other man, Jim, standing behind the man with the gun was more portly, which made Daryl wonder just how big he had been before the end of the world. He knew they had all lost weight, but this boy still looked like he’d have a heart attack if Connor and Daryl started running and he had to give chase. That immediately counted him out. If they could get the shotgun, Daryl reasoned that they had a chance.

“Where’s your pot of gold, Leprechaun? Huh?” the man asked, poking Connor in the chest with the barrel of the gun.

“Ain’t got nuthin’,” Daryl supplied, pulling Connor closer towards him.

“Aw protecting your boyfriend, how sweet” Jim chimed in. “Where’s your camp, boy? We know ya got one ’round here. Y’all don’t have anythin’ with ya.”

“It’s just us. Decided to take a walk and explore the area a little.” Connor’s hand clamped onto Daryl’s, trying to convey thoughts through their palms.

“And leave your stuff unattended for anyone to take? Nah, that just don’t seem right.”

“Guessin’ they don’t have any ladies anyhow, Jerry, if they’re out here like this.” Jim rubbed his chin in thought. “But that is a mighty fine crossbow I see here.”

The second Jim’s fingers grazed the metal of his crossbow, that was when Daryl could truthfully say he snapped. In seconds he was on his feet, knife plunged into Jerry’s throat through his larynx. The shotgun went off, but Connor had rolled away, tackling Jim to the ground as he tripped over his own two feet to try to get away.

Daryl stood over him, grabbing his crossbow from his hands and loading it as Connor stared down at him. “Look, I ain’t got nothin’ against queers. It was just Jerry and I. We’re hungry, just wanted food. We didn’t mean any harm.”

“Pointin’ a shotgun at someone’s chest means ya ain’t gonna do ’em any harm?” Daryl asked, aiming the loaded crossbow at Jim’s head.

“That was Jerry! Ever since he found that damn thing! He don’t even know how to load it!”

“Oh ay? So that blast there in the ground just me imagination then? Coulda been me head.” Connor’s body was thrumming with adrenaline and fear. His heartbeat pounded in his ears as he watched Jerry bleed out painfully on the grass. Taking Daryl’s knife, he stabbed him twice- once in the heart and once through the eye socket, effectively ending his struggle and chance at reanimation.

“Oh shit man, please don’t kill me. I ain’t a bad person,” Jim begged.

Connor put his hand on Daryl’s shoulder. “What do ye think?”

“Think we oughta shoot him. Who’s to say he ain’t gonna come back here to find us?” Daryl readjusted his aim, finger twitching on the trigger, but Connor stopped him.

“Oy, ye goin’ to come back here and hunt us down with the rest of yer group?” Jim shook his head no vehemently. “Good, cause me boyfriend here will put a bolt in your brain and I’ll put a bullet through ye heart.”

Jim nodded, thanked them profusely and ran away back through the woods. Throwing some dead leaves on top of Jerry’s body, Daryl took the lighter out of his pocket, allowing the debris to catch on fire. They stood there in silence for a few moments, watching as the fire took hold of Jerry’s body. They let him burn long enough that he wouldn’t be appetizing to anything around before putting the fire out and throwing dirt on top of the remains. “Boyfriend, huh?” Daryl commented finally as they sat on the shore of the lake once again after washing the blood of off themselves, the sun sinking down beneath the trees in the early evening haze.

Connor grinned brightly at him. “Ay. Another few minutes and they would have gotten to know ye a whole lot better too.”

Half an hour later, Connor and Daryl emerged from the woods, looking no worse for wear. Murphy turned as they walked up, a wide smirk on his face. “Oy. Am I goin’ to be an uncle or what? Ye were gone fer hours!”

Shane grinned too as he draped himself over Murphy’s frame. “Well, nice to see y’all came back to us. We’re just gettin’ ready to take that pig off the spit you brought back earlier.”

Daryl’s stomach rumbled at the mention of food, but there was something else they had to do first. “Sounds good, but we need to talk to y’all and Rick first.”

“Just us?” Murphy asked, shifting in his stance, looking at his brother for confirmation.

Connor looked at Daryl then Murph. “Yeah, just you.”

“All right. I’ll go get Rick,” Shane said, walking off.

Murphy’s eyes bored into Connor’s, reading his mind with a simple look. “Ye all right, brothermine? Ye get hurt?”

“No, Murph,” Connor smiled slightly. “We’re all right.”

Rick’s face was laced with concern, looking over both men as he approached with Shane, clearly worried about what had happened in the woods if they needed to talk to him immediately.

“There were two guys in the woods that caught us off our guard. One had a shotgun,” Daryl motioned towards the gun that Connor had in his hand, “but we dispatched him. The other guy we let go. Not sure if he’s going to come back, but we wanted you to know.”

“He caught you off your guard?” Rick whispered, clearly not believing the story but Daryl nodded, looking sideways at Connor and he knew instantly what the hunter meant. They were caught in the heat of a moment. Rick nodded. “All right. We’ll be prepared. Make sure the fences are intact, maybe have two people on watch at night instead of just one. Do you think he’ll be back?”

Connor shook his head. “No, I don’t think he will be. Daryl made a pretty good show of force.” The other man grunted, looking down at the dirt then back up at Rick.

Rick nodded. “Just to be safe then, for a few days at least.” Carol called over to them that the boar was ready and she was handing out plates. The men dispersed, but Rick pulled Daryl’s arm to keep him back a step. “If you’re going to fuck in the woods, at least be armed and alert. I can’t lose you, Daryl. What if it had been a walker?”

Daryl grunted. “Won’t happen again. Can’t.”

“Damn right it can’t. We need you. And Connor.”

Daryl smiled a little at Rick’s admission, but hid it quickly. He was right, though. Daryl looked across the fire at Connor, his blue eyes watching his interaction with Rick carefully. Something like that couldn’t happen again.

 

Chapter Fifteen

Daryl hated it when he couldn’t get words out of his head. Boyfriend? Connor had called him his boyfriend. He hadn’t even had many girlfriends growing up let alone a boyfriend, but he supposed by all accounts that’s what they were. The other words rolling around his brain came from Rick, which happened often. Daryl admired Rick, looked up to him as someone to aspire to, so it wasn’t unusual that he would take something the other man said and try to commit it to memory to make it useful for himself. This time, however, the words bit to his core. I can’t lose you, Daryl. What if it had been a walker? He had no response to that other than it won’t. Hell, it can’t happen again. Looking over at Connor through the brush, he couldn’t help but wonder if this whole thing had been a mistake. But then Connor turned and flashed him that damn grin. Daryl wasn’t one for emotions, and this one especially he hated. It put him off his game every time Connor gave him that damn smile or brushed his arm. His heart fluttered like he was having a damn heart attack; his palms sweated more than usual; and he couldn’t help but respond in kind. Moments like this he fucking hated Connor MacManus and the power he had over him.

Two hours later both men returned with a few squirrels each and one rabbit. It was nothing fancy, but it could sustain them. Daryl nodded at Rick as he walked back into camp, quickly noticing that Murphy was without his counterpart. “Hey Irish, where’s your boyfriend?”

Murphy shrugged, looking back over his shoulder. “He’s been out there with her for a good 20 minutes now. They seem angry, so I’m not goin’ o’er there.”

Daryl looked over to where Murph’s gaze had landed and sure enough, in the far distance by the dirt road he saw Shane and Lori having what looked like a small disagreement. Shane’s hands were flying in the air with the energy of his argument but Lori just kept shaking her head. Daryl figured it had something to do with their affair. Given that Murphy and Shane were at it pretty hot and heavy fairly constantly, he didn’t think that Shane was begging for Lori back but who knew? The world had gone to shit, after all. He’d seen crazier things before the dead started walking, will probably still see crazy things long afterward too, down to his death.

Connor and he were still skinning their kills when Shane stalked back up to the main encampment. “Ye ok?” They heard Murphy ask him quietly. The only response they heard was Shane’s heavy footfall as he stalked away from the camp.

Lori came up after he had left, idly stepping in next to Carol to continue separating the laundry they had finished earlier in the day. Connor looked at Daryl and nodded in the direction of Lori, but Daryl shook his head, already knowing what the other man wanted to do and there was no way he was letting his… boyfriend… get caught up in that love disaster, especially when his brother was already involved in it. But Connor being Connor didn’t listen. Instead, he threw his freshly skinned squirrel into the pan, wiping his hands off on a rag to get all of the dried blood off. “Oy,” he called out. “Lori, ye all right?”

Lori looked up at the Irish man with a sad smile and nodded. “I’ll be ok, but thank you for asking.”

Murphy finished repairing what he had been working on for Carol before standing up and looking for his other half. He found him not too far away, checking through their gun bag and counting their ammo. He made sure to make his presence known before wrapping his arms around his waist from behind, tipping his chin up on Shane’s muscular shoulder. “Ye ok?”

“Lori’s pregnant.” It was a simple statement of fact, one that pierced straight through every fiber of Murphy’s being. “Says it’s not mine. Even if it is mine it would never be mine since she’s married to Rick.”

Murphy stepped back, his arms falling from the other’s body. His face told of his inner pain, if Shane had thought to turn around and look. “Do ye… do ye want it ta be yours?” he asked haltingly.

Shane dropped the ammo in his hands back into the bag, placing his hands on the hood of the truck he was working on. Leaning forward, he felt his body tense. “Doesn’t matter, now does it? Whether its mine or not, I’m going to protect it.” He turned around, slinging the bag of ammo and guns back over his shoulder, finally taking in Murphy’s posture. “Aw, Murph. Don’t. It ain’t gotta do with you, ok? I don’t want her anymore, but I will take responsibility for that baby, just like any real man would, ya hear?”

Murphy shrugged, trying his best to get himself visibly back together. “‘Course. Just like any good man. And ye should.”

Shane smiled softly, pulling Murphy in for a quick kiss. “Gotta figure out where we can get more ammo. I don’t wanna run the risk of running out. Need more supplies too. Think you’re good for a run with me?”

Murphy nodded, crossing his arms over his chest, mentally reassuring himself. Shane wanted him by his side. He was just doing his duty as the most likely blood father of that baby, that’s all. But he couldn’t help a small part of himself feel jealous of Lori. He and Connor in their old lives were all about protecting women and children above all else. It felt counterintuitive to be so judgemental of Lori just because she was pregnant. But a baby? In the apocalypse? They really were in hell.

Connor glanced sideways at Daryl after Lori’s response. He knew something was up but he didn’t have the relationship built with Lori to prove it. The Grimes family wasn’t exactly keen on his existence. He figured once Murphy found out from Shane, he’d find out as well and together the MacManus brothers could do something about it, if indeed there was anything needed done. Sure enough, after Murph had gone to find Shane, he caught his brother’s eye and motioned for him to follow him. “Oy,” he called quietly to Daryl. “Goin’ with Murph for a bit. Why don’t ye get some rest, sunshine? Yer wound still needs to heal.” Daryl eyed him through his ever-growing bangs falling in front of his eyes, trying to flip it out of his face so he could give the Irish man a proper glare, but failed miserably. Connor laughed softly, brushing Daryl’s hair away from his eyes. “Need to get one o’ t’e ladies to give ye a haircut.”

To that, Daryl did snort, but nodded at Murphy, waiting over by an old oak tree, fidgeting out his anxiety at waiting. “Go to your brother.”

Connor smiled down at him again before turning away, wiping his knife off on his shorts. Daryl could hear Carol scoff at the motion but she didn’t say anything. He supposed they could be kinder to the people who were washing their dirty underwear. Maybe he’d say something to Connor a little later, have him mention something to Murph about it too. Then again, maybe he wouldn’t. What did he care? They were alive weren’t they? Why’d they have to have clean clothes anyway? It’d be better if they all did start to smell like the walkers.

Daryl’s mind raced as he watched Connor and Murphy go about walking the fenceline, Connor’s hands in his pockets. “You know, you couldn’t stare at him harder if you tried.” Carol’s friendly voice pierced his inner monologue. She sat down next to him in the space Connor had vacated. “I’m glad you found someone, Daryl.”

He bristled at the words. Found someone? He snorted. “Speaking of finding, I’ma head out first thing tomorrow and search for Sophia. I know we ain’t been doin’ much for finding her. Shane said y’all lost her out there on the road when a herd came by.”

Carol smiled sadly, placing her delicate hand on his sunburned, work-dirty forearm. “Daryl, I think… I don’t think we’re going to find her. Maybe it’s best that way.”

Rage built up in Daryl’s chest at the very idea of Carol, Sophia’s own mother, giving up on her. It was the cycle repeating itself and he just couldn’t take that. Family wasn’t supposed to give up on each other. His dad gave up on him long ago. He gave up on finding Merle even though he knew he was alive in this world somewhere. Daryl shook his head. No. Family does not give up on each other. Daryl stood up abruptly, his body stiff with his anger. Words failed him in this feeling of betrayal. “You’re going to give up on your own blood? Your own daughter?”

“Daryl, it’s been too long-”

“The hell with that, woman!” he gruffed, grabbing his crossbow and stalking off towards the treeline.

Connor and Murphy rounded the fenceline. Connor waited patiently for Murph to start talking. He knew his brother was a constant swirl of emotion, always wearing them on his sleeve, and right now he say anger, sadness, and resentment on his brow. “Lori’s pregnant.”

Connor stopped dead in his tracks. “What?”

“Shane thinks its his. Hell, it probably is, but Lori is telling him it could never really be his because of Rick.”

Connor stepped up to his brother, wrapping him up in a hug. “What did Shane say?”

“He said it didn’t have anything to do with me and that he would protect it and care for it because that’s what he should do.”

“Aye. Makes sense. Is he… ye don’t think…” Connor didn’t want to ask it. He knew that was the question that was rolling around in his brother’s mind.

“No. He said he’s not interested in Lori anymore, just wants to take care of what’s his.” Murphy sniffled into his shoulder before pushing his brother away. They continued walking the fence before rounding back to their campsite.

“Whatever ye want to do, brothermine, I’ll be there for you.” Connor wasn’t sure what to say. Shane had seemed to really be doing all right by his brother. This had certainly rocked his brother’s feeling of stability in life. Glenn was on his way back from the house as they walked up. They greeted him and sat with him down at the picnic bench next to Shane who was currently cleaning all of their weapons. Murphy and Connor quickly took a few weapons and tools of their own to aid in the process.

Glenn fidgeted next to them. “Nervous to be close to so many weapons?” Shane asked him, side eyeing him in his anxiety.

“What? No… why would I?” He stood up abruptly and walked towards the RV, quickly busying himself with inspecting the engine, which was actually running fairly decently as of late.

“Something’s bothering that kid,” Shane mumbled.

“Probably something to do with Maggie. He’s been shacking up with her lately.” Not much got past Connor. He had seen the Asian sneaking around with the farmer’s daughter on more than one occasion, but to each their own. He wasn’t about to say anything about anyone trying to find some amount of happiness with another person in this new world. Speaking of which… “Where’s Daryl?”

He stood up and went over to their tent, checking inside, but there was no surly redneck. He checked around, but couldn’t find him or his blasted crossbow anywhere until he saw him stalking back from the treeline. “Oy!” he called out as he ran up to him. “What are ye doin’?” Daryl walked with a purpose back to their camp, barely acknowledging the other man as he ran up to him. “Daryl!” Connor shouted.

“What?!” Daryl wheeled on him, his anger finally finding a decent outlet. “You think I’m just going to sit in the tent and wait for your ass to come home like some good housewife? Well that ain’t me. I ain’t goin’ to be that! I’m fine on my own, dammit! I don’t need your Goddamn mother henning.” Turning back around, he made for the camp once again before Connor’s hands were on him, pulling him back around to face him. Daryl tossed his crossbow down into the dirt, readying himself for the fight.

“I’m sorry, okay! I just want ye to be okay! I don’t want to lose ye.”

Daryl’s anger dissipated in the fear and worry in Connor’s eyes, but he still didn’t lose his fight. “I’m fine. Always been fine. Will always be fine. Before and after you.” Turning back around, he grabbed his crossbow and walked back to their tent.

Connor stood in the open field, completely taken aback by the sudden reaction of his lover. He had to fix this but he didn’t know how. He walked back into camp as Daryl was coming back out of the tent, zipping it up before walking back over to the main group.

“Um, guys…” Glenn stood, hat in his hands as he fidgeted on his feet. He made sure to make contact with everyone before he spoke again. His gaze drifting from the men at the picnic table; Rick standing with Dale at the pickup truck; the women working on food for the day. Clearing his throat, he raised his head and tried to speak with the confidence he wasn’t sure he had. “There are walkers in the barn.”

 

Chapter Sixteen

Everything felt like it had happened in slow motion. Shane rose from where he sat, gun in hand, calling for others to pick up their arms. Rick panicked, walking next to him on the way to the barn, trying to talk the other man down. Murphy and Connor had risen with him, in silent agreement that something needed to be done. Betrayal shone in everyone’s eyes as they searched for any sign that this was a joke as some grabbed guns and joined the march.

The sound from within the barn once they got close enough was enough to tell them that it was not a joke. There were walkers in the barn and from the sounds of it, many of them. The door was opened and they came pouring out like flooded rats. The sounds of the first few shots brought the Greene family running, screams echoing between them and unheard by the shooters as more and more walkers came through the barn doors.

Rick looked between the Greene family and his own family and raised his weapon. There was no turning back now. The safety of his child was his first concern, always. He was aware of Daryl, Connor, Murphy, Shane, Glenn, and Andrea firing at his side but he couldn’t bring himself to look at any of them as the final lone figure approached the barn door. Rick shook his head in anger and denial at the cherub face, grey now with streaks of blood. It couldn’t be… All this time… He heard Carol’s shriek behind him and saw Daryl grab her as she tried to get past.

It had to be him. Rick walked up, raising his 22, and shot Sophia in the head.

The world came back to them then. The sounds of the aftermath. The Greenes were angry, crying and screaming for them to get off their land. But Shane had made his point.

That was probably the scariest part of it all. Rick looked at Shane, his bravado gone now that the danger had passed, forehead resting against Murphy’s as they appeared to be recentering themselves. He looked over at Daryl, cradling Carol in his arms as she sobbed into his faded plaid shirt. Connor stood behind them, gun reholstered, just taking in the scene of the bodies. Lori held Carl against her, tears streaking down their dirty faces as she stared hard at him, expression unreadable.

This was the moment that made Rick Grimes question when he had lost his damn mind.

The silence that took over the camp was frightening. The women went back to washing clothes and ensuring that there would be food for them to eat later. The men made a new check of their ammo after having just spent a significant portion of it. A handful of them took to the task of hauling the bodies away to be burned, but separating those of the Greene’s loved ones for a funeral. They were going to let the girls pick the spot to bury their kin the next day. Everyone just needed time to cool their heads and “come to reason” in Shane’s words.

In all the fray aftermath, Daryl had somehow managed to move his tent about 5 yards away from everyone else’s and set up his own fire with Connor’s noticing. Murphy’s hand on his shoulder made him pause in his conversation with Andrea. “Con… I think ye need to have a talk with Daryl.” He motioned over his shoulder at the other man, stoking his own fire, motorcycle on one side, tent on the other. “Rick and Glenn are going to head out to find Hershel. Ran off after the barn incident. Maggie says that she thinks he fell off the wagon. I told Glenn to bring us back a bot’le of whisky if he could find one. Shane and I are planning a run for tomorrow so if ye need anything, let us know.”

Connor sighed. He still wasn’t sure what that outburst was about earlier when he had confronted Daryl coming out of the woods and now he was certain this had something to do with it. Leaving Andrea to finish with the weapons cache, he went to check on Daryl.

“Oy,” he called out softly. “Yeh leaving me?” Connor pulled up a solid looking log and sat down on it across the fire, watching the flames dance in front of his lover’s face. Daryl just shrugged, not meeting Connor’s eyes as he leaned back against the tree he was sitting against. “Daryl… what’s wrong?”

“How’s your brother?”

Looking back over his shoulder at Murphy standing next to Shane, writing down a list of needs, he sighed. “I think he’s all right.” He turned back to face Daryl, still keenly aware of the other man refusing to look at him as they spoke. “Shane says that Lori is pregnant. Thinks its his. Murphy was a little upset by the surprise of it all.”

“Shane gon’ leave him, ya think?”

“Nah. At least not for Lori. He seems pretty done with her.”

Daryl thought back to the night that Shane made his point with Murphy in the backseat of a car when the rest of their group except for him and Rick was asleep. He was fairly certain that Lori held no power over him anymore. “Yeah…suppose so.”

Connor sighed, still staring across the fire at Daryl’s stoic face. It was like everything they had worked towards had regressed back to where they were before Connor ever made his first move. “Don’t do this,” he said, standing up and moving his log closer to Daryl. He tried to take his hand in his own but Daryl pulled it back. “What happened?”

“Nothin.”

“Oy! Ye won’t even let me touch you! You’re moving our tent away from everyone, unless you want to kick me out into the dirt. So something’s wrong!”

Daryl shrugged again. “You can stay if you want.”

“Gee thanks.” Connor sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. He watched Daryl try to push himself as far away from him as he could without falling off the log and wondered just what he did to piss off the other man to this point and so quickly. Had he been too overbearing? Murphy had told him that before, the many times when he had been hurt on one of their missions from God, mostly due to Connor’s own plans. But to his own credit, Murphy never followed a plan exactly as he laid it out…

Speaking of Murph, he slowly made his way over to them, two steamy bowls in hand. “Brought ye some food. Ye need to eat, both of ye.” After handing the bowls off, he went back to the group, slipping into his spot next to Shane.

Daryl looked down into his bowl, setting it next to him in the dirt, his mood still glum. Connor sighed dramatically, scooting his log closer and leaning into the dirty redneck as he ate… whatever this was in his bowl. Moving the spoon around he was trying to determine which of their kills made it into this mush but he couldn’t even determine a flavor that it had… “What do ye suppose this is?” he asked, knowing he was making Daryl beyond uncomfortable but not caring.

“Food, dontcha remember it? ‘S what we go out there in the woods for every day.” Daryl’s surliness was growing.

“Oh, ay, I remember it. Just can’t, uh, place the taste.” Slurping up the last bit from the bowl, he placed it down in the dirt next to him, leaning into Daryl’s warmth next to him. The sun was beginning to set around them, casting a beautiful scene over the farm fields. Nestling further into Daryl’s arm he wondered if they could convince Hershel to let them plow up a little land and make a garden of their own, contribute to the food supply.

“Hey, Irish, go find another pillow. I ain’t in the mood,” Daryl muttered trying to fidget his way out of Connor’s lean.

“But you’re comfy!” Now was the time for Connor to shine. Wrapping his arms around the other man’s torso, he bit gently into his shoulder.

“Ow! Mother fucker, you bit me!” Daryl stood up abruptly, the sudden movement throwing Connor down on the ground. “The hell’s wrong with you?” he asked as he rubbed his shoulder. “You turning into one-a them?”

Connor snorted as he stood up from the dirt, having gotten the attention from everyone else in the camp, most of whom were quickly going back about their business trying to pretend like they weren’t listening. “Ay, I bet ye. Got a reaction didn’t it?” he answered back. Stepping up into Daryl’s space he said quietly, “Now tell me just what the hell caused a move out here and what ye said to me when ye came out of the woods earlier.”

Daryl straightened himself up, steeling his face. Instead of answer, he reached down, grabbing his crossbow. “Be back,” he said and brushed past Connor towards the woods.

He watched him go, hands on his hips as he contemplated his next move. He felt Murphy approach him from behind, Shane directly behind him. “Ye goin’ after him, Con?”

Connor just shook his head ‘no.’ “Guess he needs some time.”

“He’s just a hard headed redneck, like his brother. Unlike his brother though, he’ll come back and be able to move past whatever’s bothering him. He’s been like this before, after Merle was left on a roof in Atlanta.” Shane’s insights into Daryl’s psyche were a little enlightening.

“Ye left his brother on a roof?” Murphy’s voice gave away his disdain.

“I didn’t. Rick did. Handcuffed him to a pipe cause he was puttin’ others in danger. They went back to get him and he was gone. Sawed his own hand off to get outta the cuffs.” Shane shrugged the carnality away. “Daryl ain’t been the same since.”

Murphy turned to face the other man, whispering fiercely just loud enough for Connor to hear. “If ye ever leave me brother anywhere, ye better pray that I show mercy on ye. I think he is doing well given the circumstances.”

“Ay. But something happened. I just need to figure out what it is.” Connor could not stop watching the small dark place where Daryl disappeared into the treeline. It was pitch dark outside. He wasn’t worried about Daryl getting lost or not being able to survive alone in the dark in the forest. No, he was afraid that the other man might not come back.

 

Chapter Seventeen

The sounds of the night were deafening to Connor’s ears as he strained to hear any snap of a twig or flick of a leaf as Daryl reentered camp. It felt like hours before the zipper on their shared tent was finally lowered slowly, a dirty Dixon stepping inside. Daryl huffed slightly as he shimmied his way out of some of his clothes. He’d taken to sleeping with less clothing now that there was another warm body in his tent that insisted on acting as a second blanket, but still enough to not be caught like they had been in the woods.

Connor stayed still throughout the whole ritual, barely opening his eyes to catch a glimpse and just enough to make sure that Daryl was actually physically okay. He figured if the hunter had waited so late to come back, then he had been waiting for them to be asleep. Whatever needed to be said could be done in the morning after a long night of restless sleep.

What he hadn’t been expecting was the whispered confessions as Daryl lay down next to him. First, he tossed and turned slightly, before sighing and giving up only to stare at the nylon ceiling. The first words came out slowly and so quietly that Connor thought he had drifted off to sleep and was dreaming but as Daryl went on, he gained confidence in himself and the idea that Connor wasn’t actually listening to him.
“We shouldn’t be doin’ this… I like you. Hell, I almost think I love you. Think I even told you that before. But this is dangerous. We were almost killed in the woods and Rick is right, that can’t happen again. I don’t want it to happen. I already done lost my brother. I can’t… It scares me so bad, the idea of losing you. Seeing Sophia come outta that barn like that…”

Daryl took a breath, reshifting again. “I’m not good at relationships. Hell, I ain’t even good at friendships. Never really had any friends ‘fore the world went to shit. Now I got a whole mess of ’em. And a boyfriend…” He sighed deeply. “I’d be upset if we lost any of y’all. I lost my brother because of a stupid decision. I can’t go losin’ you ’cause of the same. I just don’t know what to do. I’m sorry for runnin’ off…”

Connor considered saying something after he realized the other man had finished his diatribe only to realize that his words were replaced by soft snores. Rolling onto his side, Connor nuzzled into Daryl’s side, closing his eyes and inhaling his musky scent, smiling to himself with the realization that a surly redneck is a heartbroken, in love redneck.

The next day dawned bright and early, with everyone coming out of their tents to greet the day with heavy hearts. Lori worried her hands as she chewed Shane’s ear off about Rick and Glenn not being back with Hershel yet.

“Look, Lori, they probably just got caught up somewhere and had to wait out a herd or something. You know Rick, if anyone can make it, he can.” Shane’s dismissive words seemed to piss her off. She stormed over to Connor and Daryl as they sat down together at the table as Carol handed them a can of peaches to share for breakfast.

“I want you two to go find Rick.”

“People in hell want slurpees,” Daryl muttered, digging out a peach with his dirty fingers. He didn’t even bother turning around to look at her as he shoved the orangish fruit into his mouth.

“If he’s not back by the time we finish eating, we’ll drive around the main roads and see if we can tell which direction they went,” Connor offered, stealing the can from Daryl.

Lori seemed satisfied with that response, nodding her head in approval with her waifish arms crossed over her chest. “Thank you.” With that, she stormed off, pointedly looking at Shane, who just smiled back at her smugly.

“What’d you go and tell her that we’d do that for?” Daryl muttered, freeing another peach from the aluminum.

Connor shrugged, side eyeing the other man as he not-so-graciously ate his breakfast. “I think ye and I need some time together. Car is pretty safe. We can’t have what happened to us in the woods happen again, aye? I can’t stand the thought of ye becomin’ one of them.”

Daryl’s pause was minute, but present as he just nodded, not responding in kind. He wasn’t about to let out the emotions in the middle of camp with the sun shining overhead. No, those things are left for the dead of night when only the bugs are listening, and apparently Connor MacManus.

Daryl sat the empty can of peaches down on the picnic table. “Shane and Murphy are going for a run today though. Wouldn’t it make sense if they just looked for ’em while they were out?”

Shane took that moment to walk by them, already gathering up gear and bags to take on their run. “Got more important things to do than worry about some crazy old man who thinks walkers are just people needing an antibiotic. Rick and Glenn can handle themselves. It’d be a waste of gas to go after them.”

Murphy was wandering around gathering up the final few lists they needed from their group for their run. There were no guarantees, but he told them they would do the best they could getting the stuff they wanted. Daryl watched Murphy’s easy interaction with Shane. He was so surprised at their turn around that he couldn’t even fathom their relationship before Connor and he took that ride on his motorcycle. Shane’s hands snuck quickly around Murph’s slim waist, fingertips dancing along the top of his pants as he read over everyone’s wants and needs trying to decipher the best plan for their day.

In that moment, Daryl would admit to being jealous of Connor’s brother. He wished it could be that easy for him. He wished he would be okay with just going up to Connor and wrapping his arms around his waist. It was hard enough to hold hands with him in the woods when he knew there was no one else around to see them. There was no one there that would make fun of him, beat him down, call him a faggot and tell him he was worthless.

He knew that their moment in the woods when those two assholes rolled up on them had set their relationship back, especially with Rick’s words rolling though his head. But that was also the same moment when Connor had first declared him his boyfriend, which was equal parts weird and exciting. Connor wanted to try this with him. He’d stuck by him, but dammit if Daryl wasn’t absolutely fucking terrified of everything. He was so used to doing all of this alternative lifestyle stuff in the dead of the night, away from prying eyes, but especially far away from his family, in the form of sloppy one night stands.

But Merle was gone. Problem #1 eliminated.

Daryl’s palms were already sweating at the idea of any remote public display of affection in the middle of camp, even though everyone already knew that he and Connor were pretty much together. Two men sleeping in the same fucking tent was a giant clue. He watched Shane kiss Murphy on the forehead before kissing his lips softly and lowering the hatchback door. No one around them batted an eye at the couple. Although, this was tame compared to some of the deep grunts and breathy moans they’ve all heard coming from the Walsh tent.
That was another thing Daryl wanted to try, like really try.

He kept repeating in his head that Merle was gone. He wasn’t here to care. Even though Daryl missed his brother desperately, he didn’t miss the names, the degrading humor at his expense, nor the general assholish nature of Merle Dixon. In a weird way he was jealous that Connor and Murphy had such a deep bond, even if it was a strange one. He wondered if people had looked at Daryl and Merle the way they looked at Connor and Murphy.

Connor nudged him with his elbow, a look of concern etched in the fine lines on his face. “Ye okay? Want to go lay back down?”

Daryl shrugged. “I’m all right, just thinkin.”

“Care to share?”

“‘Bout us. You. Me. And my brother.”

Connor nodded, following Daryl’s line of sight over to his brother and Shane. “I heard ye last night… I wanted ye to know that. I like ye a lot too, Daryl and I don’t want to put you in harm’s way. I’d die if ye turned into one-a them.”

Daryl grunted his acknowledgement. He figured Connor had heard him, but he was glad that he hadn’t said anything last night. It wasn’t exactly a conversation hewanted to have. Reaching over, he cautiously took Connor’s hand in his own as Shane and Murphy stepped into the Hyundai in front of them, driving down the dirt road. Connor smiled and gripped Daryl’s hand tightly in his, knowing it was a giant step for his surly redneck. “So… want to go back to the tent?”

Daryl turned and looked behind them at everyone else going about their usual daily duties, paying them absolutely no mind. “Yeah… let’s go back to the tent.”

Daryl’s heart pounded in his chest as Connor took the lead, never dropping his hand. They heard the sounds of their camp all around them and the fact that everyone was still there and awake made him nervous. Was this going where he thought it was going? It probably was. His hands started to sweat, and not just from the Georgia heat. He desperately wanted to take his hand out of Connor’s and wipe it on his pants. He had the opportunity when Connor stooped to unzip the tent, allowing Daryl to go in first. It was awkward and uncomfortable as he laid down on their makeshift beds.

Connor stepped in, taking his boots off before zipping the tent back up, sealing them into their own world. “Ye okay?” he asked softly. Daryl could only nod as his hands nervously played with the hem of his shirt. Connor laughed, knowing that he wasn’t, but he just laid down next to him, like they do every night. “Ye know we don’t have to do anything. Can just lay here.”

“Want to. Want you.” Daryl’s voice was even quieter than he had anticipated, his nerves getting the better of him.

Connor turned on his side, looking down at his lover, eyes soft as a small smile played at his lips. “We can go slow. Can I touch you?”

Daryl nodded as Connor placed his hand on his chest, feeling the rapid heartbeat beneath his palm. “Calm yerself, me dear Daryl. You’re going to have a heart attack before we ever get started.”

“Best get going then.” He shifted uncomfortably. They had gone farther than this before so why was he acting like a scared little bitch now? But Connor just nodded, leaning down for a small kiss as he started to work his hand down lower. The soft feel of lips upon his spurred Daryl into action, activating his libido. The sounds from outside the tent died down to a dull roar as all of his senses focused on Connor above him and the heat of his body. Yes, they had gone farther than this before and Daryl believed he was ready for more.

He took control of the kiss, moving his hands up Connor’s arms to cradle the back of his head. Daryl felt him shift as he threw a leg over his own, now fully seated on top of Daryl’s hips. Connor’s hands worked their way under Daryl’s shirt, pushing it up towards his head as they kissed, tongues battling in a heated, passionate duel. They only broke the kiss to rid themselves of their shirts, Connor’s quickly following behind the dirty plaid. Suddenly self-conscious, Daryl tried to pull his lover back down to him, but Connor gently pushed against him, forcing him to lay down. Crossing his arms over his chest, trying to cover his scars, Daryl glared at up at matching blue eyes. “Relax. I’ve seen them and I don’t care. You’re still perfect to me.”

As he bent down to lap at a nipple, he heard Daryl mutter “‘slike a damn romance novel.” Connor snickered, but continued his administrations, tongue worshipping Daryl’s body. The temperature in the tent rose as his tongue danced around each scar, dipping down into his belly button before following along the happy trail. He didn’t ask permission. He didn’t even look up as he undid Daryl’s pants, pulling them and his underwear down off his legs. The sharp intake of breath was the only indication Connor had that Daryl was an active participant. His whole body was tense beneath him, hands clasped tightly in the sheets at his side, seemingly unaware of what to do as Connor licked along the shaft of his cock and up around the head, tasting the precum pooling there.

Sitting up, Connor shrugged off the rest of his clothes, reaching down and grabbing a small vial of oil from a pocket of his bag. “Ye ok?” Connor asks again as he climbs back up on the cot. Daryl looks like he’s either about to have a panic attack, with his chest heaving, splotches of redness showing on his skin amongst some pale spots, and his hands still clenched at his sides. “It’s ok, Daryl. We don’t have to-”
“I don’t know how. I’m sorry, I don’t know how. I’m such a worthless piece of shit… I can’t… I don’t know how.” Tears formed on the creases of his eyes but were quickly wiped away by clenched fists as if they had never been there.

“Calm yerself.” Connor knew that he needed to just sooth this beast before him. Straddling his waist, he held the tiny bottle of oil in his hand up so Daryl could see it. “This here is to make everything go easier. I don’t want ye to panic.” Slowly, Connor reached down, taking Daryl’s hand in his own and forcing the fingers to unclench. Carefully he laid the sweaty palm against his own chest. “It’s okay to touch me. Any way ye want. I just want to feel yer hands on me, ok? Ye don’t have to be scared. There’s no one else in here but us.”

Slowly Daryl allowed his other hand to come to rest on Connor’s thigh as they sat like that for a few minutes, adjusting to each other as Daryl’s pulse eased. Don’t fuck this up was the only thought running through his head, but in his heart, he felt like if he kept up like this he would fuck it up. Connor would get annoyed and leave and say to hell with it all. He could do this. They did it in the woods.

But the threat that Connor was not going to be around was still very real then. Now he knew the Irishman was going to be here for awhile. Perhaps that’s what scared him the most. Long term.

“I’m good,” Daryl croaked, drawing his hand down Connor’s chest and through the curly hairs at the base of his cock. Daryl had had sex before, that wasn’t new. It was the emotion, the meaning behind this time, the holy fuck this man might leave me feeling. Looking up into Connor’s crystalline blue eyes, Daryl decided that fuck yeah this was a man he wanted to be around for a long time so he needed to put up or shut up. Wrapping his hand around Connor’s cock, he stroked it slowly.

Dribbling some oil on his fingers, Connor let himself feel Daryl’s hands on his body, stroking his cock slowly. His lover seemed to have calmed down, and for that he was thankful. “Can I touch you?” he asked softly, motioning down with his oiled fingers. Daryl nodded, trying to spread his legs a little wider. Adjusting their bodies, Connor was able to get his fingers under Daryl’s balls, swiping at his entrance. With a little more oil, he pushed in one finger, then a second, massaging the entrance. Watching Daryl’s face slacken, as he worked him open, Connor felt the hand on his cock stall its motion as he spread his legs wider, lifting his hips up to grant him more access. “Oh, aye, like that do you?” he smirked.

“Fuck off and fuck me already,” Daryl groaned, focusing his blue eyes on his lover’s.

“Okay, turn over.” Pulling his fingers away, he took more oil and spread it over his cock.

“No. Like this. Want it like this.”

Connor’s face twisted in concern as he tossed the oil bottle back at his belongings. “It will hurt more like this. I don’t want to hurt ye.”

Daryl just shook his head, biting his lower lip as he worried the cuticle on his thumb. “Want to see you.”

Connor smiled. How could he deny the man that? “Aye, okay.” Stroking his cock, he lined himself up with Daryl’s hole, pushing in slowly. “So tight,” he moaned as he pushed himself all the way in. Daryl’s eyes were squeezed shut as he adjusted to the girth invading his most private area. Connor kissed his closed eyelids and cheeks before kissing his lips, settling himself overtop his lover. “Let me know when.”

In a matter of moments, Daryl wrapped his legs through Connor’s opening his eyes to his lover and nodding. They both knew they weren’t going to last long. They were finally here, in the heat and press of bodies they had been wanting since the woods what felt like so long ago. No words were exchanged, but neither man seemed to blink either. Heated kisses and soft moans were shared between them. Daryl’s hands clamped on Connor’s shoulders as he felt himself tensing for release. With a short nod from the Irishman both men just let go, loving the feeling of the shared experience together as they both came down from their high.

A short time later, they stumbled out of the tent, redressed and only looking a little disheveled from their tryst and nude dosing afterwards. Daryl’s heart had pounded when he realized they had fallen asleep naked with all of the scenarios running through his head of the things that could have happened and if someone had unzipped their tent flap they could have seen them…

But nothing happened and no one did. He tried to calm himself, but Rick’s words still rattled in his head.

Picking up his crossbow and Connor his guns, they made their way back out into the camp. Soft smiles were thrown their way as everyone had pretty much guessed what had been going on in their tent in the middle of the afternoon when they could have been out in the woods or helping with the farming. Lori came back up to Connor, placing a soft hand on the back of his arm. “They’re still not back yet,” she whispered to him.

“Aye,” he nodded, looking over at Daryl, who sighed and nodded back. “We’ll gather some supplies and take the bike to go look for ’em.”
Before they even turned back around, the car Rick and Glenn had taken into town to get Hershel came roaring down the road, back onto the property at a high rate of speed. Parking within feet of the front door, the three men rushed out of the car, Hershel and Glenn helping a fourth man up and into the house. Rick walked back over to the camp, wiping his forehead with a rag from his back pocket. “Daryl? A word?”

“Rick?! Are you okay?” Lori screeched as he approached, but he held up his hand to her as he walked by.

Connor stepped in with Daryl as they walked a ways with Rick, the former Sheriff making note with an annoyed glance, but not commenting.

“What ya want, Rick? Ain’t got all day,” Daryl gruffed.

Rick sighed, stopping in his tracks. Putting his hands on his hips, he looked out over the fields before back at Daryl, squinting in the sunlight. “There’s no easy way to say this, Daryl. That man we brought back… That’s Merle. Your brother is alive.”

 

Chapter Eighteen

Daryl’s heart pounded heavy in his chest as he stared at the front door of the Greene house. Glenn came back outside, throwing himself down onto a chair. Maggie followed him out, handing him a glass of what looked like water before walking back inside. He felt Connor shift on his feet beside him as Rick gauged both their reactions before continuing. “He’s hurt pretty bad. They ambushed us at the bar and he tried to jump off a building but lost his balance and fell.0 on a spike at the top of a fence. We got him off but he lost a lot of blood.”

Daryl spit in the grass, his hard demeanor returning as he shifted his hips to shoulder his crossbow higher. “So ya tried to kill my brother a second time? Thought I done told you that only a Dixon can kill a Dixon. He going to lose a leg now along with his hand?”

Rick sighed, looking up at the sky and back down at the grass. “That’s up to Hershel.”

“Aye, then. We should go see him,” Connor whispered next to him. “While he’s conscious.”

Rick shook his head. “He probably ain’t conscious right now. He was floating in and out in the backseat on the way here. He’s going to need blood though.” He looked between Daryl and Connor, knowing that both men could probably give and be willing.

“Ay. Tis the least I can do,” Connor nodded before throwing a side glance at Daryl and walking up to the house, rolling up his sleeves already.

Daryl watched him go, fidgeting on his feet slightly as Rick stood in front of him. Connor, his Irish boyfriend, was walking into a house to give blood to help save the life of his asshole, homophobic, racist brother. This could go one of two ways and Daryl knew which way it was going to go. Subconsciously, he brought his thumb up to his mouth, chewing on the side of it until Rick’s soft voice broke his thoughts. “Daryl, I know you and I haven’t been on the best terms lately, but I wouldn’t let Connor walk in there alone, even if Merle is unconscious or sedated. That’s like throwing a match in some lighter fluid and hoping a flame doesn’t start.”

Daryl grunted his agreement, nodded at Rick, and started for the house. Merle back in with their group was crazy enough to be true. Rick wouldn’t lie to him about something like that. All this time, he had been hoping, praying for his brother to be alive and that they could find each other. Of course it would happen after deciding he was thankful that his brother was gone so he could be free…

He heard Connor’s laugh as he walked through the door. “Ay, it happens that way when ye have type O negative. But anything I can do for Daryl and his kin. I’m sure when Murph gets back he will donate again as well.”

Daryl just stood on the other side of the door, listening to the conversation, hands braced on the doorframe. Connor had no idea the shit storm that was about to hit if Merle pulled through and Daryl had no real way of warning him. Taking a deep breath, he pushed the door open to find Connor across the room, needle in his arm with the red fluid of life flowing out into a bag and Merle passed out on the bed with Hershel working at sewing on his leg.

“Daryl, your brother is in a rough spot,” Hershel said, his eyes never leaving his needle. “He snipped a lot of arteries and veins but we’re doing our best here to save his leg. Connor has graciously agreed to donate blood for him. You wouldn’t happen to know what blood type he is, would you?”

“A positive,” he mumbled. The entire room seemed to be red. The bedsheets all around his brother were red with what Daryl could only assume was his blood. Cloths that had once been white were being thrown down on the floor, stained red. Silently he wondered if this was how he had looked when he had been shot, laying there prostrate on the bed, Connor and Murphy in the corner with needles hooked to their arms. The ironic part was now Merle was going to have Irish blood in him as well. You can’t be mad at a man that saved your life right? Even if he was fucking your brother… Shuddering slightly, Daryl grunted, “So he’s gonna live?”

“I’m fairly certain he will survive this, especially with blood donors. Whether he’s in one piece will be the question. Now are you here to donate or to sit with your kin?”

“Can’t donate. Don’t match.”

Outside, the crunch of rubber on gravel caught Daryl’s attention. Shane and Murphy were back with supplies. Through the window, he could see people running up to them for their stuff as Rick approached Shane, pulling him over to the side. Based on the hand gestures between his and Connor’s tent and the house, Daryl knew what was being said, but the look of sheer horror turning to complete disgust on his face was the icing on the cake.

He knew how the rest of the group felt about his brother and he had told them that they had every intention of robbing them blind and leaving them in the middle of the night. Now what with all of that out in the open? He could see the look of concern pass over Murphy’s face as he finished handing out the new supplies before joining their conversation. Daryl’s heart raced again, his palms sweating at the thought of the confrontation when Merle woke up from this, potentially without a leg. This was not going to go well for anyone. His instincts told him to run, but he looked at Connor across the room, laying his head back against the chair as Patricia bandaged up his arm after securing the donated blood to be dripped into Merle.

Seeing both Shane and Murphy start to make their way to the house, Daryl sat down next to Connor on the floor. He didn’t want to be able to see out the window anymore. He didn’t want to know what the outside world was doing. Daryl decided he lived in a fucked up reality, but at the very least he could control his world in this room, next to the two people that meant the most to him right now.

Murphy burst into the room, flinging open the door and rolling his sleeve up at the same time. “Oy, heard the donation center was open today. Thought I’d stop by and give me pint.”

Connor made a half-hearted attempt at a smart ass comment but he failed, instead placing his hand on the top of Daryl’s head, from where it was quickly shaken off. Patricia sat Murphy down in a chair next to Connor getting him set up to donate as quickly as possible. Daryl watched as Murphy eyed Merle from his chair, watching Hershel work as he tried to sew back together blood vessels, muscle, and tissue while possibly even mending the bone. Merle was going to be a bitch until he healed.

“Thanks,” Daryl mumbled, still looking at Murphy as his bag began to fill.

Murphy gave him a small smile and nod. “Ay. You’re me brother-in-law now basically, you’re family. I kill for family so I’d certainly save a life too.”

Daryl snorted at the thought of him being family to an Irish mick. He seriously doubted Merle would do the same for either of them. Hell, he’d probably spit on them as he was walking by too. Acting on impulse, Daryl reached up, taking Connor’s hand in his own giving it a slight squeeze. Connor squeezed back, eating the peach that Beth had brought him after his donation to try to bring back up his blood sugar with his other hand. He offered some to Daryl who politely refused.

Murphy grinned at his brother as his bag filled with blood, a whole story being passed between them without a word. Daryl hated that they could do that, but he knew what they were saying to each other, just based upon that shit-eating grin of Murph’s. Connor was telling him that they finally had sex, and then thishappened.

Fuck. Why couldn’t anything ever work out for him?

It felt like an eternity later when Hershel announced he was finished with the surgery, wiping his hands of his brother’s blood. Both Murphy and Connor had given more than their fair share of blood, making the entire Greene family weary of their condition. Shane came to practically carry Murphy back to their tent, while Connor insisted upon sitting with Daryl as he sat with Merle.

With everyone gone, leaving the couple alone with the unconscious man, Daryl sighed, running his hands over his face, biting on his thumbnail. “Listen…,” he started. “Merle ain’t gonna… He’s not…”

Connor smiled softly, closing his eyes as he leaned against the back of the chair. “Ay. He isn’t and he won’t, but its ok. I still love ye Daryl Dixon and I’m not going anywhere, even if ye have an asshole for a brother. I have me own asshole brother if ye hadn’t noticed.”

“Yeah, but your brother is actually a decent man. Merle ain’t done nothin’ for no one else his whole life.”

Connor shrugged, not being persuaded to think any differently. “Me brother and I used to kill those we thought were marked by God. There’s blood on our hands as well.”

“Just know, that he’s going to be pissed as all hell when he finds out, ok? Ain’t gonna be easy. Especially since Rick had handcuffed him to that roof and now he might lose his leg and all.”

“Aye. We’ll have to wait and see then. Perhaps my Irish charm can win him over as it did you.” Connor grinned cheekily at him, grabbing a pillow and blanket and throwing it on the floor.

“Ya better not. Don’t be hitting on mah brother,” Daryl smiled slightly despite himself as he watched the other man make a better for himself on the floor at the foot of the bed. “Whatcha doin’ Irish? Sleepin’ on the floor?”

“Tis better than that fockin’ chair and I ain’t askin’ your brother to move over. I feel blessed to know it’s one night we won’t be waking up with bug bites on our asses!”

Daryl snorted, watching Connor struggle to get comfortable on the wood floor before laying down next to him, pulling the blanket over himself too. With one arm wrapped round Daryl’s middle, Connor allowed his eyes to close, listening to the sounds of a house around him once again. It was a sound that they hadn’t heard for what felt like eternity. Daryl grunted his disapproval as Connor pulled him in closer, but made no move to get away.

Perhaps they could build a life here on this little farm with their ever growing family.

Daryl awoke with a hard jab to his cheek, not remembering even falling asleep. Connor grumbled behind him at his movement, shifting in his sleep and burrowing his face farther into the back of his shoulder. Grumbling and trying to release the death grip the other man had around his waist, he startled when he heard the gruff voice of his brother. “Wanna tell me what the fuck you’re doing laying with a man up your ass on the floor?”

 

Chapter Nineteen

Shane laid Murphy down in their tent, trying to convince the younger man that resting now was a good idea and no Connor and Daryl did not need him.

“Ay, but what if Merle needs more blood?” Murphy drowsily asked as he lay his head back down on the thin pillow. The sound of the night around them was soothing as the crickets sangs and there wasn’t a walker moan or stench to be had.

Shane scoffed at the thought of helping the elder Dixon any more than they already had. “Merle Dixon can rot in hell as far as I’m concerned.”

“Oy, that’s no way to treat me brother-in-law’s brother.” Murphy shifted, glaring at Shane from underneath droopy eyelids. His voice was venomless, but Shane knew that Murph really did care for Merle just because he was an extension of Daryl.

Shaking his head, Shane wondered how it would feel to be so innocent to the horror that was Merle. He figured the young Irishman would figure it out as soon as the beast woke up from whatever medication it was that Hershel had given him. “You don’t know the asshole that is Merle Dixon and the way he treated your ‘brother-in-law’ as you call him. He treated Daryl like complete shit, constantly calling him names and other shit. When Merle wakes up and finds out about Daryl and Connor, be ready to use your gun.” Fluffing up his own pillow, he laid down next to Murphy, adjusting himself on his side so he could look down on the other man, gently brushing the hair from his face.

“Well, Connor is there. He will put him in his place. It will be all right,” he relented, the feel of his lover close to him a comfort in his exhaustion. Murphy fidgeted for a moment, settling himself up against the larger man. “Ye don’t think Merle would hurt Con, do ye?” he asked quietly, words mumbled into the strong chest.

Shane sat silent. Yeah, he totally thought that Merle would destroy Connor if he even so much as had a fleeting thought in that thick skull of his that Connor “persuaded” Daryl to this lifestyle. But could he say that to Murphy? Hell no. He’d be running up there, gun drawn at the slightest thought of trouble. “Well, like you said, if there is trouble, Connor will put him in his place. And Daryl will stand up to his brother too, I’m sure. They’ve done a pretty good job of taking care of each other.”

“Aye. ‘Suppose that’s true.” Murphy sat silent for a few moments, his mind a continuous wheel of thoughts, none of them pleasant. Between his brother and Merle fighting it out over Daryl and Shane holding a baby in his arms telling Murphy that he can fuck off back to Ireland, he knew that sleep tonight was going to be delayed. “Shane?”

“Hm?”

How the hell do you ask someone if they’re thinking about leaving you? Murphy had barely had relationships and certainly not enough of them to worry about one of them leaving. “Nevermind.”

“What’s wrong, lucky charm? I can feel you thinking. Still worried about Merle?” Shane shifted onto his back, pulling Murphy to lay against his chest. Both men sighed deeply, settling into their new position.

Murphy contemplated asking a different question than he wanted to, something that wouldn’t set off a longer and probably deep conversation, but he knew Shane would figure him out. Shane would know immediately that wasn’t the intended question and bother him until he came out with it. “Ye goin’ to leave me to be a dad to Lori’s baby?” There. It was said. Out in the open now. Murphy cringed, waiting for the answer.

“Who told you that? I ain’t leavin’ you just because Lori is pregnant. And you and I both know she wouldn’t let me anywhere near that baby in the first place. You don’t need to worry about that nonsense. You been worrying about that since I told you?”

Murphy just nodded, still not entirely convinced.

“Aw, baby, don’t. It ain’t like that with Lori and I now. Not since before Daryl even found you and Connor.” Shane sighed into the darkness, clinging tightly to his lover. “I couldn’t leave you if I tried. Rick had wanted to kick out Connor before we came to this place. I knew you’d leave with him and probably Daryl too. I couldn’t let y’all go…”

Murphy sat up, looking down at Shane in alarm and anger. “Kick out Con? Why?”

Shane shrugged nonchalantly. “He took his redneck.” He couldn’t help but snort at that. “But Rick and I had a talk and I know Rick talked with Daryl… Y’all aren’t going anywhere as long as the two of us have a say in it. And if it does come down to it…” Shane paused. Would he leave Rick, Lori, Carl, and his baby behind to go be with Murphy? That was a huge decision to make…


“Don’t make me ask that question again, baby brother.”

Daryl’s heart seized in his chest. In the back of his mind, he knew his brother didn’t have any weapons on him and couldn’t do much real damage before Connor would wake up, but his training from his childhood sprung into action before his logic. His body covered Connor’s protectively, waking the other man instantly, as Merle tried to stand up from the bed on woobly legs.

“Ya turned into some kind of faggot boy? Huh? You bending over for men now? What? Couldn’t find a pretty pussy? Ain’t no one want your ass?”

“Oy!” Connor called out from under him. Daryl’s head turned around, hands fumbling trying to get Connor to shush, but to no avail. Covers were flown off as the Irishman made his presence known in this one way fight. “Ye can’t talk to him like that. He fockin’ saved your life and he’s your damned brother!”

“And he’s a fucking mick too, Darlena! Boy, wouldn’t our daddy be proud. He always did say you were going to turn out-”

Connor only slightly regretted the loss of blood coming from Merle’s nose and lip after his punch since it was most likely part of his and Murphy’s donation supply, but the crack of bone and thud as his body hit the floor was satisfying.

Heavy footsteps ran down the hallway as the door was flung open to their room. Hershel, Beth, and Patricia all stood there gawking at the trio of men. Connor standing in front of Daryl, flexing his right hand. Daryl stood, looking between Connor and his brother in clear shock. Merle lay on the floor, blood running down his check. Quickly the group picked Merle up and put him back on the bed. Hershel inspected the new wound as he looked between the two eerily silent men. Dabbing at the new wounds he asked, “So want to tell me what happened?”

“He’s an asshole,” Connor stated simply.

“Told ya,” Daryl snorted.

“Ay. We’ll have a discussion about this in the morning. ‘Til then, I think we should sleep back in our tent.”

Hershel nodded, saying that he believed that was a good idea so they wouldn’t disturb the whole house again in the event Merle woke up once more.

Connor put the pillows back on the chairs and folded the blanket nicely before walking out of the room, looking back only once to see if Daryl was following. They walked in tired silence until they were clear of the front door. Connor stopped just off the porch, turning to face Daryl. His head was hung low, hands on the strap of his crossbow, but still fidgeting nervously. “I told ya… he ain’t… he doesn’t…”

Connor sighed dramatically. “No, he doesn’t and he ain’t.”

“So I suppose this is it, huh?” Daryl turned and started walking back towards the tents.

“Oy! Ye can’t just say that and walk away from me!” Connor caught his arm, bringing the other man up close to him. Keeping his voice low so no one else would overhear them, he whispered, “No, it’s not it. What it is, is time for me and your brother to have a talk. Did he put those stripes on ye?”

Daryl shifted on his feet, head still hung. “Nah. Dad.” The side of his thumb found its way into his mouth.

Connor grunted, looking up above them at the stars in the night sky. With all of the electricity in the world pretty much gone, the skies had become more visible and beautiful. He silently prayed, asking for the strength to deal with Merle Dixon and protect Daryl while maintaining the safety of their relationship. He wondered if this had been the old world, would Merle Dixon end up on his and his brother’s list from God? “Okay,” he said, taking a deep breath. Pulling Daryl into him, he kissed the hunter’s lips softly, clearly surprising the other man. “A crazy family is not going to make me love ye any less. Ye clearly never met me Ma. Woman was fockin’ batty. Murph and I are bettin’ she’s still alive ’cause none of those fockers would be brave enough to take a bite.”

Daryl snorted, kissing his lover once again. “But Merle’s special. Just, let me handle him tomorrow, ‘specially since ya knocked him out.”

“Least he’ll be able to say your boyfriend has a good right hook.”

Daryl smirked as they started to make their way back to their tent. Laying down again for the night, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to sleep for fear of being plagued with dreams of Merle coming out of the house and assassinating him and Connor in their sleep. He should have known better than to let Connor stay in the room with him but it had just felt so nice to have him so close. Turning on his side, he wrapped an arm around his lover’s midsection, nuzzling into the softness of his shoulder.

Daryl stared into the darkness for hours, feeling Connor breathing softly against him. It wasn’t fair for the rest of the group to be submitted to Merle’s wrath because of Rick’s actions tying him up to the roof and Daryl’s being… well… with a guy. An Irish guy. And Connor and Murphy… He knew if Connor and Merle got into a fight, Murphy would join and if Murphy was there, so would be Shane. Holy fuck this would end up ripping the whole camp apart after they had just done so much to keep it all together.

Even with the fucking world ending, life still wasn’t fair. Daryl sighed deeply, clinging tighter to Connor than he had to anything in his life. He’d have to leave with Merle. That would be the only way to keep the group together. He’d leave and everyone would be able to go about their lives like they had been. Connor could be with Murphy. Shane could… do whatever the fuck he did before Murphy, though Daryl supposed that was Lori and that wouldn’t work out well for him now. Rick would probably say good riddance and be done. The world was better without Dixons anyways.

Burying his nose into Connor’s hair, he tried to memorize his scent. Running his fingertips softly over his arm, he tried to memorize how his skin felt under his touch. Daryl had never had regrets about running away before. Part of him hated himself and Connor for making him care enough to actually have it hurt. Connor didn’t know what he was getting into having a relationship with him, a Dixon. Dixons were always bad news.

That made it even more of a reason for him to leave with Merle.

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