Chapter 1: Almost broken promise
Ch. 1 - Almost broken Promise
Merle blinks as he slowly comes to. The warm fuzzy feeling of alcohol and the high from last night's line of cocaine, have slowly faded and left him with a numb feeling in the pit of his guts. At least, this place is dark and warm. Wherever he is, he has no clue how he came here, his mind is still sluggish and refusing to reveal the details about last night. With a grunt, he curls up into a protective ball and half-heartedly listens to the music playing in the background. Easy Street...not exactly the kind of music he prefers, but he can roll with that while trying to remember how he got here.
“Hey baby boi, hey asshole pig!“, he retrieves a can of cold beer from his crappy fridge then plops down on the couch, his usual bed, in the cabin he and Daryl share on the old Dixon property. Daryl rolls his eyes but smiles, while Grimes huffs and says nothing, knowing Merle all too well.
“Ya dunt’ave ta like'im ya know? But stop actin' like a bitch bro!“ Daryl screamed out in aggravation.
“Or what Darylina? Get in 'ur heels already an' dun ferget ta put on some make-up, least ya c'n do's look all nice'n pretty while he's bangin' yer nice lil ass!“
Now it was Rick's turn to say something and didn't Merle just love waiting for that pig to act like a fucking knight in shiny-ass armor?
“Merle, we're just going out as friends, is it so hard to accept?“ Rick asked.
Taking a big swig from his can he burped loudly, his steely blue eyes boring holes into Rick's forehead, his lips forming what was either a crooked smile, or the beginning of a feral snarl. God, how he hated that damned asshole!
“Now listen, Officer Friendly! Just 'cause ya think ya saved my life and got into ma baby brothers panties, doesn't make ya a fuckin' part of ma fuckin' family, 'kay?! So watch yer mouth, ain't ma fuckin' business what'cha two love birds do to each other, I just fuckin' hate ya’s all!“
Rick was taken aback by that and Daryl, knowing all too well about his older brother’s outbursts took Rick's arm and led him to the door.
Officer Friendly, was no stranger to either of them, he had arrested Merle several times, mostly to keep him in the drunk tank for a night, surely thinking that, if he pulled that “good cop” shit, he could get into his baby brother’s pants and to his horror - into Merle’s private life. It worked somehow, after his...seventh (?) time, where Daryl had to pick him up from the Sheriff's department. He had lost count, but last time, when he was released from drunk tank it was over. Cupid the bastard had drew his bow, there Rick was asking Daryl out for a drink and that sealed the deal.
He dared ask Daryl out in front of ‘Ole Merle. Why Daryl said yes, was still a mystery to him and now that fucker was here, getting on Merle's last nerve as he sat too close to his little brother...
Merle’s mind wanted to block out some other events involving Rick, but he was reminded of a promise he gave Daryl some weeks ago. Still he didn't feel good about the situation so he drowned his feelings with a steady flow of booze. His train of thoughts were interrupted, as Daryl came back to give him a gentle hug, pushing his weight against him in an attempt to reassure Merle.
“I’m a big boy, ya know? C'n take care of ma'self so dont'cha worry!“ A quick kiss landed on his cheek, then his brother followed Rick out to his car, Merle came after him, standing on the porch. Rick wanted to say something but was stopped by Merle, he flipped him off and looked as annoyed as possible.
“Have fun, baby boi!” He called out to his brother and watched them drive away.
Well, that was all he remembered clearly. His other memories from the previous night came back in small, agonizingly slow droplets and snippets.
He left his home in the woods, that was clear and he was totally determined to go out and have some fun himself, after weeks of staying home. He remembered drinking heavily, a hooker with nice tits, at the club he was in. That brought a broad smirk to his face. Easy Street was on repeat for the sixth time now, as he laid in the room and didn't bother to move. He lost his sense of time while his mind drifted between sleep and consciousness and slowly, very slowly, he opened his eyes again to let them adjust to his surroundings.
He was in, what must've been a bathroom once. A toilet, a small sink, a shower at the wall and a small window, that was pasted over with foil to keep the room darker at full daylight. He laid on a tiled floor, curled up on a ratty rug as he stared at the bars that were installed instead of an actual door. It took him almost another half hour, before he finally sat up and got to his feet.
Rubbing his eyes and yawning, Merle took in his miserable reflection in the broken mirror over the sink. He was hung over, the effect of the cocaine his little one night stand gave him had long worn off and he looked wasted, tired and too pale.
No one was here with him. There was a desk on the other side of the bars with a computer, a radio and some old, metal closets he guessed must be for documents or other stuff. It looked like some sort of small office space adding to the mystery, but not a soul was there. It seemed no one had been here for a long time. The only proof that someone definitely was, was that radio, playing Easy Street for the almost twentieth time on repeat.
His eyes drifted over to the shower head on the wall and he shrugged. He could care less why he was here for and whoever the dickhead was, who locked him up here would show himself soon enough. Not that he was okay with this, mind you. But since he was going nowhere, he could at least shower, he didn't give a flying fuck if someone saw his white ass. Served that fucker right and he hoped he'd just go blind!
Merle smirked. Make yourself at home and see what comes next, right? He quickly stripped, leaving his clothes in a pile on the rug and turned the water on.
The luke warm water helped. He closed his eyes and sighed with pleasure, though his head still hammered and he was shaking slightly from withdrawal. Good...now he needed to remember the rest of his night and the water seemed to do the trick. The woman came back to his mind. Blonde hair, at least fifteen years younger than him and clad in a small, glittery top and tight hot pants. A drink in her hand, a smile on her beautiful face and she was flirting with him, the music in the club making it almost too loud to hear a word exchanged but they managed. Next thing he remembered, they shared a line on the hood of some car and he bent her over to fuck her senseless. Okay, until now, his head didn’t ache straining to remember....
He continued his mental journey through the night and his next stop, was a biker bar somewhere in an industrial area. Then came a huge blank and he felt his head spin. Too much for now...but he had to focus his mind a little more, remember how he landed in this cell.
His head was pounding, his body shaking even more from the absence of drugs. Merle turned the water colder, shrugging the cool droplets off, panting for air. That bar. There was quite a crowd in there, most of the other bikers he didn't recognize. God he was so drunk, a real miracle that he'd still been able to ride his old Triumph and not kill himself in an accident.
There was a guy talking to him, flirting relentlessly and Merle flirted right back, laughing at the silly jokes the man made. He was attractive, he remembered. Maybe it was the cocaine that lowered his own moral bounds, or maybe he just wanted to get fucked by a good looking stranger, Merle didn't know. He remembered a black leather jacket and hands on his hips, the man said something, bought him a drink or two...the fuck!
“Nice ass, Mr. Dixon!“ A gruff voice behind him said, amusement clear in his tone. That voice.
He turned around and frowned, but had to grin as he stared at the man from last night.
“Mr. Dixon was ma old man and he weren't nice ya fuckin' bastard!“ Merle yelled out.
Chapter 2: Loud and proud
The night before…
The Dixon’s were a bunch of loud and feral rednecks. Everyone knew that and most people chose to avoid them whenever possible for many reasons. They were violent and ruthless, easy to anger and Will's son Merle Dixon was no exception. Negan dragged him out of the bar into the makeshift holding cell, he built in the basement of his house, when he picked up his business. Looking through Merle's personal criminal record, was fascinating and scary at the same time. Negan found the same patterns time and time again, not only in Merle’s extracurricular activities but throughout the Dixon’s entire family's history.
It was almost ironic, that the Dixon family was one of the oldest, along with the Greene’s who live on the borders near their property in the woods. They started off as miners and laborers, who came with the first settlers from Ireland and were nothing more than poor bastards who worked day and night to provide for their families and were never able to even afford a place for themselves or anything extravagant. Then came the prohibition and the Dixon’s took that chance without looking back. Soon they became one of a notorious families, brewing the finest moonshine
and rising up until nothing was too hard for them to acquire.
They were good at what they did and kept at it even when the ban was lifted. Smuggling, brewing, and keeping to themselves from generation to generation, they owned a great portion of the forest and the land surrounding the western foothills. But Dixon’s weren't known for investing and profiting, just squandering and what Will’s grandfather built his sons and grandchildren lost quickly through gambling, whores, and debts. Will Dixon sold almost half of the property to repay his gambling debts and nowadays the old territory of the vicious family stretched out into the woods, the foothills and was bordered by the river that ran through the small valley.
Negan watched the man in his cell sleeping peacefully and thought it was strange. Merle had not move an inch since he left him on the old rug. If he wasn't breathing one might think he was dead, but he wasn't high enough to overdose and the mixture of cocaine tranquilizers he put into his whiskey was safe. The drugs should slowly subside during the night and it was best to let him sleep it off and take him to the Sheriff's Department in the morning when he was able to walk again.
Merle was known to be a typical Dixon, as his father and his uncles before him. He was incarcerated in juvenile detention centers five times, mostly for his violent outbursts and in jail twice, for similar reasons. He would hold the official record for most stays in the drunk tank if not for his father and was mostly seen in the bars at the outskirts of town, or drinking in one of his buddies houses, where he was also mostly picked up by the cops. He was loud, crude, violent and when he was drunk, he was always the one to start a fight. A troublemaker through and through...
But at least he wasn't like his father, because he had no family. Will Dixon was a real asshole and for a long time, everyone thought that Merle was Will's only son and they all knew how much he hated the boy, blaming him and his mother for ruining his life. He beat them both and Merle had missed so much school because of his father and for being in juvie when he got older.
Then one day, Will just disappeared, only two years after Jolene Dixon died in their burnt down house in the middle of the woods. No one knew what had happened, but rumors spread that he ran off with another woman, or was killed for his debts, leaving Merle to deal with it all by himself.
The older Dixon boy was no stranger to the town's gossip. But then there was Daryl, the younger son of Will, who practically came out of nowhere, when Merle went off to join the army. He was a surprise to everyone including Negan and it was hard to find proof that he even existed. He was registered when he was seventeen. Up till then no one knew that Will had a second son and he is rarely seen in town, it was almost creepy. He was creepy...Daryl almost never talked and kept to himself and out of sight, hiding in the woods. He looked nothing like his brother, with his long dark brown hair and an almost unnaturally beautiful face. A master in hunting and a good mechanic too, often seen around the farms helping maintaining the machines in harvesting seasons and working odd jobs. Many women are interested in him but he's never been seen with a girl and there were no rumors about his love life. Unlike Merle, who was notorious for his insatiable lust and his habit to fuck around without thinking about the consequences. Be it men or women, the older Dixon went for everything as long as the face was appealing enough. It was a wonder that he hadn't knocked up any of his one night stands by now. Merle had what the older folks called the Dixon charm and he used it to get what he wanted and it worked most times. Merle was an asshole but women still seemed to be drawn to him like a moth to a flame. Outlaw blood, rumors, those haunting blue eyes, it was a mystery on its own...
Negan smiled to himself as he looked up from his computer and turned it off. Lucille would have loved to hear those stories about a family of sinners and their tragic history.
Leaving Merle sleeping, he climbed up the stairs into the house and prepared for the night. Merle wouldn't try to escape, he was sure, even if he was strong and relentless. Merle was a Marine once but these days he was too busy drinking himself into oblivion and doing drugs. To Negan he wasn't a threat anymore...a pity because rumors also stated he was a perfect soldier. Fearless, precise and almost impossible to tame, he was like a war dog, always ready to attack. Those times were over though.
Most of the pictures of Lucille were gone. He took them down and rearranged them in their bedroom on her side on the nightstand and her old dresser. It was strange to look at them, knowing that she was gone forever. It was almost five years now and he still had the silly hope that someday, she would just come home, greet him with a kiss as if nothing ever happened. But the truth was, that he'd almost forgotten her voice now, he has forgotten how she smelled when he woke up to her in the morning and the smiles she gave him, when she stepped out of their bedroom to take a quick shower. Time made him forget those things he loved about her, but it never made the pain go away, or heal the wounds from her loss. He sat on the edge of the bed and looked at one particular picture that she put in a fancy frame with angels and hearts. She was smiling broadly, wearing his black leather jacket and a red paisley scarf, a baseball bat with barbed wire in her hand, that made her look like a little hooligan. Their last Halloween...
Lucille always loved everything that was strange. Creepy relics, horror movies, gloomy places, she loved dressing up to take pictures of herself, looking morbid and creepy. Halloween was her favorite holiday. She was gothic at heart, ever since they first met in high school. He never believed in love at first sight, but she took his breath away and Negan knew she was it. They were the high school dream team and inseparable ever since. Lucille had always worn black, even when they married and it never bothered him. It added to her charm and her dark sense of humor, her pragmatic way of thinking and also to her ability to speak out the things he feared the most.
“I want you to marry again, if anything happens to me. If I am in heaven, I want to see you being happy again with someone who loves you as much as I do, you hear me Negan?“ She has told him once.
She was a profound thinker with a deep, troubled mind, buried behind an innocent smile and an easy going auro. They often talked about 'what ifs’, as if nothing could ever tear them apart until one day it did. Five years had passed where he never thought of dating again, the pain still too fresh within his soul. He kissed the picture in his hand and put it back on the nightstand. Tomorrow was a new day and he was so tired of it already. It wasn't as if he wanted to kill himself, but he couldn't find a good reason to live either. Maybe dating wouldn't be so bad, but since Lucille's death, even Negan knew how much he'd changed and there were days when he wouldn't even recognize himself anymore. He still felt numb and hollow and his life centered around his job and staying at home and doing nothing, missing calls from friends and family members, ignoring his feelings and pretending that it was okay that way. He knew it was not, but it was too hard to change it on his own and he was too stubborn to ask for help.
Pulling the thin blanket over his shoulders, he tried to sleep. Tomorrow would be a new day…
Chapter 3: New day
Negan woke up to his phone ringing and stared at the name displayed, he wasn’t fully awake when he hit the button to accept the call.
“Good morning my beautiful sunshine, what brings me the honor Michonne?“
He grinned as he imagined the woman smiling and at the same time rolling her eyes because Michonne knew him and his silly antics all too well.
“Just making sure you’re okay, Negan. I haven't heard anything from you in a while now, are you alright?“
She was too kind a soul. Always worried about him and making sure he wouldn't drown in his work and self pity. He turned in bed, facing the open window and put an arm over his eyes to block out the bright sun. It promised to be a warm, sunny day and the folks outside of town would soon start the harvest. Time seemed to rush by while he missed it all.
“I’m fine. Business as usual, but I miss you so damn much Darlin'. Need a good partner by my side, someone like you.“ Michonne laughed and he heard a toddler's high pitched, happy shriek.
“You know the answer, I can't come back to help you. Andre needs his mom and I can't risk my life, or my family's safety anymore. It was never meant to be a long term job anyway.“
“But you were damn good at it. You don't have to come with me for the outdoor missions, just...do the paperwork for me, please? I fuckin' hate it, can't manage all that chaos, not like you.“
Michonne had the best organization he had ever seen. That woman made paperwork look like child's play and fuckin' magic at the same time, while Negan managed to come up with serious murder fantasies, when his computer fucked him over time and time again. He wondered how he'd ever been able to keep all that shit running properly, before she agreed to help him. It was a damn mystery.
She was not just a great help with work in general and all that paperwork, but also a shoulder to lean on, after Lucille died. Those two were best friends since high school and he knew how much his wife's death affected her. Michonne and him went through their mourning together but she moved on and he was still here, trapped in his own never ending grief.
Michonne decided to quit when she found out she was pregnant. She and Mike had tried for years and Negan knew there was no way she would stay in the business, now that her wish for a child had been fulfilled.
“Negan, you know what I will say. I can't do that any longer, I want a proper job as a lawyer and have quality time with Andre. He needs a mom whose there and not running after felons with a drawn sword! That's not a proper upbringing for him!!“
She laughed and Negan joined in as they both remembered that day. He would never forget it, seeing Michonne cornering one of their targets with a drawn katana in hand and the look of pure terror on that guy's face.
“That was fuckin' badass, darlin' he almost pissed himself! I'd be proud of that, you were absolutely terrifying!“
“Oh Negan, stop now!“ she chided playfully and he heard her rustling around in the house, probably preparing Andre's breakfast.
“I really miss you beautiful lady.“
“You can come over anytime you want Negan. We will have coffee and cookies, catch up. You could have visited me last Saturday, you know? Andre walked his first steps and you missed it.“
It was Michonne’s way of telling him, that he was too busy working and hiding at home,missing the real world outside his four walls. Andre reminded him of the things he would never have and it hurt like hell, watching Michonne and her happy little family.
“I didn't feel like it. Sorry...I was busy and you know I...“ She cut him off.
“When was the last time you had a talk with your sister, Negan? I’m little worried, you seem like you haven't talked to anyone in a long time.“
He went silent and tried to find the right words. But truth be told it was too long and he couldn't work up the courage to call Carol. After her ugly divorce which had a hand in. He still felt guilty about it even though it was the right thing to do.
“She needs some time to herself and Sophia. Didn't have the heart to disturb her...was my fault anyways...“
Michonne clicked her tongue and sighed.
“It isn't and you know it. Carol would have never turned you down, you need help. When was the last time you left your house and had some fun? You can't hide behind your work and stay cooped up, it will crush you sooner or later. Luc always wanted you to be happy and live again, please Negan, you can at least try. You can talk to me anytime you feel down. Come over. Don't hide, that makes it even worse and I’m really worried about you.“
It hurt that he made Michonne so concerned, a knot formed in is stomach. It was stupid and he was fully aware of it, but he couldn't find a good reason to leave his house, except for his job.
“I know.“ Was his simple answer and again Andre squeaked happily, demanding his mother's attention.
“Promise me you will talk to Carol. I need to take Andre to daycare then I got a yoga lesson and an interview today.“
“Yoga huh? Does it...uhm, help?“
She chuckled and he heard her sitting down on the couch with her little boy. Michonne started feeding him, trying not to make a mess, while Andre laughed. He was so cute and Negan hadn't seen him since his first birthday, that was shortly after Christmas.
“Yes, of course it helps. I’m less stressed and it gives me inner peace, why don't you try it?“ She asked with a singy-songy voice, before she said goodbye and hung up.
He finally got out of bed, dressed and walked to the bathroom to start his day. When he took a glance at Merle, the man was still sleeping peacefully, curled up on the rug in his cell and snoring softly. He would wake up soon but there was still some time to take Michonne’s advice and leave his house, maybe get some breakfast at the cafe nearby.