Hey guys! Thanks so much for the friendly reviews!

As soon as I post this I'm going to watch the new Walking Dead ep, and this one will decide whether I'll lean towards a kidnapping in the near future. The fate of this fic rests in the hands of this episode!

Any thoughts on a possible kidnapping? Should I follow the plotline in the series or take it in a different direction? Review! x


9

"Yo, Greene, get your ass outta bed!"

Beth drifted slowly from her dreamy haze, sitting up in bed and running her fingers through her hair as the world solidified around her.

"I ain't gonna call you twice, Beth!"

She blinked her eyes and looked around. The dresser had been shoved away from the bedroom door, which was ajar. Daryl's pajamas were pooled on the floor. His crossbow was missing, as was his old clothes and leather vest. The poetry book, which Beth could've sworn she'd left on the piano downstairs, was atop Daryl's pillow, half hidden under the blanket.

"Beth!" Daryl's voice came from downstairs. Her first guess would be that there was danger coming, but his tone lacked urgency. It sounded like annoyment plastered over eagerness.

"Coming!" she called, pulling herself out of bed. Immediately, she regretted standing so quickly. Her ankle felt like complete and utter shit. It had swollen twice its size, evident even through the bandages, and every move felt like a muscle ripping her foot from the rest of her body. She winced as she tried to rotate her ankle.

To alleviate the pain, Beth pulled on her jeans. They were tight around her ankle and didn't allow for too much movement. She tried on the remainder of her daywear and was about to fix her ponytail when Daryl impatiently belted, "What're you doin' up there? Snoozin'?"

She rolled her eyes and hobbled as best she could to the top of the stairs. Daryl stood at the bottom, leaning on the railing with his arms crossed. Supporting herself on the railing, she began her slow descent, cringing at every misstep. Daryl hastened upward as if he had just remembered her injury and placed a hand on her side, half-carrying her down.

"What's the rush?" she asked as they continued downward.

"Most important meal of the day," was his reply.

"Bacon and eggs, hubby?" she asked, smiling.

Daryl had learned not to question the random times she decided to initiate the wedding game. "More like pigs' feet and frostin'."

"Gross."

"Don't give me that."

They reached the bottom of the stairs and she stopped him for a second, sitting on the steps and rubbing the area just above her ankle. He exhaled impatiently. "You gotta five star meal waitin' on you."

"My ankle's killing me," she complained.

Damn, Daryl thought, realizing that this would have been the perfect opportunity for breakfast in bed. He sat beside her on the steps and watched as she prodded her ankle, cringing. She poked one sensitively painful area particularly hard and gasped sharply.

"Jesus, Beth, quit touchin' it."

He let her grab her hand and helped her stand from the stairs. She inched down the hallway, limping slightly. The pace at which they moved only made Daryl more impatient. "I seen walkers faster than this," he said.

"I'm going as fast as I can," she replied.

In one move, he scooped her into his arms, carrying her bridal style. She released a squeal at the surprise and couldn't help but giggle as he nudged open the kitchen door and skirted around the table, setting her down gently.

He moved to the opposite end of the table and reached for his unfinished jelly jar. "Alright, let's dig in," he said.

Beth admired the setting. He'd put effort into setting up this weird mish-mash breakfast, and it was cute. She opened her mouth to tell him when there was a sudden rustle of cans coming from the front door. She froze and made quick eye contact with him. He was already grabbing his crossbow and scooting himself away from the table.

"Stay," he ordered, knowing full well that she'd try to follow. He disappeared down the hall.

Beth rose but the pain in her ankle restrained her from making any sudden movements. Begrudgingly, she decided it was better to obey his command.

Daryl approached the door and strained to peek through the boards. Seeing no walkers in his limited sight, he jimmied open the door and pulled it towards him slowly, feeling the trigger on his crossbow with his index finger.

To his surprise, a white dog stood alert on the porch, gazing up at him with one eye.

"Just a damn dog," he informed Beth from the front door. He considered shooting it; might make for a nice meal; besides, thing probably wouldn't last much longer in this world. Then he decided against it, realizing that blonde inside would never eat dog. Prissy.

Another thought ran through his head. A split second vision of him and Beth and the dog. Could give the thing a name, could train it, have it around for a bit. She'd like it. He imagined her face when he brought the thing inside, tattered but lovable. She'd be smiling at him with that face of hers, maybe he'd get another hug.

Daryl stooped down and put out his hand, urging the dog forward. "C'mere," he said in what he hoped was a gentle tone. The dog seemed to consider him for a second before spinning and zooming off the porch, disappearing round the house.

Daryl cursed inwardly and regained his feet, shutting the door.

Beth stood in the doorway, supporting herself on the frame. "It didn't want to come in?"

Disappointment and guilt knocked at the back of his mind, manifested through an aggressive tone. "I told you to stay," he confronted, advancing.

She didn't back down, merely blinked at him and smiled softly. "Yeah, but Daryl, you said there was a dog."

He calmed down then, gently guiding her back towards the kitchen. "C'mon. Maybe it'll come back later." He placed a hand on her arm to help her.

Instead, she reached up and took his hand in hers, interlocking their fingers. It was a feeling that always pleasantly surprised him. He was pleased that hand-holding was becoming a casual, regular thing between them; it meant that they could do this whenever he wanted.

"What'd you say to make it leave?" she asked, struggling to walk.

"Thing was half scared to death, wasn't my fault," he grunted.

She squeezed his hand. "When you were gone, I finished off your jar."

"Don't lie to me, girl."

Beth shrugged, grinning.

He eyed her for a moment before saying, "Tell you the truth, I was gonna cook the dog."

She widened her eyes and looked at him, shocked. "You're lying!"

He shrugged.

She crashed into him, hands still interlocked, and he almost stumbled. He snorted once he realized that in the process she'd hurt her ankle more. "Serves you right," he said as they entered the kitchen.

To his dismay, he found that she hadn't been lying about the jelly. He muttered to himself as he plucked another jar from the pantry and eyed her the whole time he ate, much to her amusement.

"So," she drawled. "Your hair."

He looked up.

"I think I'll just cut off an inch or two."

"You ain't touchin' my hair."

"You said I could just last night!"

"Eat my jam, feel the wrath." He scooped out a fingerful and licked it off savagely.

She crossed her arms. "You'll look better with that hair outta your face," as an added measure, she decided to implement the game, adding, "sweetie."

"What, you callin' me pet names now? Muffin?"

She giggled.

He leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. "Tell you what. I let you cut my hair, you let me do somethin' to yours."

Instinctively, her hand rose to her hair. "Like what?"

"I did it for a girl once," he said in that raspy voice once.

"What?"

He shook his head. "Uh-uh. You gotta agree first."

She studied him warily before giving in. "Fine. Anything to get that hair outta your eyes."

He stood then, scooting back his chair and gesturing for her to get up. "Good. Me first."


Daryl sat on the stairs just behind, a leg on either side of her. She had been sitting there for maybe ten minutes, feeling the tug of her hair as he did whatever he was doing with it. At points, he would curse quietly and her hair would fall back against her as he recollected himself to start over.

She couldn't see his face but she knew what it must look like now. Focused, concentrating, determined. The same expression he wore when she taught him piano. When he was about to make a kill. The cutest face she had ever seen thus far and treasured above anything else at the moment.

"Shit," he murmured, and she could feel the tug of her hair slacken as he released it. It fell against her back for the third time.

"Why do you keep giving up," she complained, reaching her hand back and squeezing his ankle, the closest body part to her.

"This shit's harder than it looks," he answered absentmindedly, his focus gone back into the task at hand. "Needs to be perfect."

She concealed a smile.

It was nice. Rough, rugged Daryl sitting hunched over her with his hands in her hair, trying his best to do whatever he was doing, and do it well. Do it to perfection. She was amazed at how their relationship had progressed to that point; before this, all this, back at the prison, they hadn't spoken more than when necessary. Now he was near her, letting her squeeze his leg, letting her hold his hand and kiss his cheek and hug him. With his fingers in her hair, doing something that was ultimately unnecessary and useless in the grand scheme of things. He wasn't killing zombies or hunting. He was passing time. With her.

He cleared his throat, drawing her from her thoughts. "Kay." He brushed the braid over her shoulder so she could feel it.

She snorted. "This whole time, you were just braidin' my hair? Took long enough."

"Watch yourself, Greene. That there's a class A braid. Would cost you real money."

Beth ran her fingers over it. It was a messy braid, with hair falling out of the strands, a little loose. But she beamed up at him nonetheless, pleased with the effort he had inputted.

He tried to shrug it off, to look casual, but she nudged him and the tiniest shadow of a smile seeped through his shell. So small it was almost nonexistent.

"Cute dork," she said without thinking.

Daryl looked at her questioningly.

"The braid's nice," she said, opting to change the subject. She ran her fingers along it to show him.

He shrugged. "You can take it out when you want."

She rolled her eyes and started to get up. He leaned forward to help her up, taking her hands in his, and together they moved to the front room. The boarded windows let in only some filtered light, just enough to see, and Beth located the scissors that she had placed on the piano earlier. Daryl eyed them warily.

She snipped them teasingly.

"Later," he said.

"Now!"

"Later."

Her hands hit the sides of her legs. "Why are you so stubborn?"

He studied her.

"Sit down, Daryl!"

He moved to one of the seats and sat slowly, begrudgingly. She sauntered forward, the scissors dancing in her fingers. He scolded her for holding them so loosely and she giggled.

"Don't worry," she assured, taking a lock of his hair in her hand and bringing the shears up to it. "You'll thank me when I'm done."