Disclaimer: I hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters and for The Walking Dead.
A wave of inspiration had me write this oneshot down. There's no special plot, but I really love Beth and Daryl just interacting; they really compliment each other in every way. I just need to explain that in this oneshot, they never had to run from the house. Basically, they just had to kill a few walkers and that's it. I hope you all enjoy this and hopefully you have some thoughts about it that you can leave in the review box.
Keep the Bethyl spirit high!
"The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved,
loved for ourselves, or rather,
loved in spite of ourselves."
- Victor Hugo
"Where'd ya learn to do that?"
He hadn't meant to sneak up on her. There just was no proper way to stealthily ask a question in the middle of her concentration without startling her. And if there was, he didn't know how. Beth jumped like he knew she would, fingers abruptly clamping down on the keys of the piano, sending the clashing notes reverberating through the room. She turned half way around to look at him, the display achingly familiar to the similar situation that had transpired the day before.
"Hey," she mumbled, her warm gaze running over him, almost like she was surprised to see him.
He didn't blame her. Yesterday had ended with an awkward tension between them, it had felt unfinished in a manner; there was still some business between them that needed to be sorted. Daryl almost swallowed at the memory of the conversation that had so quickly been interrupted by the dead on their porch.
Coming back to now, he shifted on his feet, casting her a careful glance. "Hey."
Her eyes ran over him again before she turned her attention back to the piano, resuming the slow, almost haunting melody she had previously been playing. She was out of practice but it was still the most beautiful thing Daryl had heard for a while.
"I used to play in church sometimes."
Taking that as an invitation, he slowly moved over to his space by the coffin, leaning against it. It gave him a better view of Beth and her fingers as they almost danced over the keys.
"Mom taught me. I used to complain a lot about it, back then."
"It take long?"
"Maybe a few years." She shrugged.
For a moment, he was content with just standing there, silent, listening, arms crossed over his chest and watching her between the slits of his eyes as she gradually shifted her whole body with the melody. He imagined her eyes were closed as she started humming.
He hadn't noticed he'd closed his own eyes until she stopped playing again. He instantly missed the soothing effect it had on him. He blinked. She was watching him with inquisitive eyes. It made him feel nervous.
She shrugged, an almost crooked smile spreading over her face. "Ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument?"
He scoffed. "Couldn't carry a tune to save my life."
His brows twitched together when her lips shifted into a knowing smirk and she patted the spot beside her on the long bench. When he realized what she was offering, he almost cringed.
"Oh, come here."
"Nuh-uh. No way." He braced his hands on the coffin, hoisting himself into it, settling down there with physically manifested determination. "I listen, you play."
"Daryl." She tried to use her no-nonsense voice but he could still hear the smile in it. "It's not that bad! It'll be fun!"
He kept silent, eyes closed and hands behind the back of his head, hoping she'd give up if he ignored her long enough.
"You're teaching me how to track, Mr Dixon, it's only fair I teach you something in return."
He scoffed again. "Nice try, Greene. Difference right there; you asked me to. Ya ain't seen me begging you to teach me how'ta press a few keys'n howl to it."
He could almost picture her rolling her blue eyes to that.
"Admit it," Beth pushed accusingly, something knowing and challenging in her voice. "You're afraid you won't be able to do it."
The coffin wiggled the slightest when Daryl shot up from the cushions, ears practically glowing pink. "That's a rotten lie, if ever I heard one!" He pointed at her. "Take that back."
She chuckled, tilting her head and raised her hands, something of a mock surrender. "I got a better idea. Why don't you come over here and prove I'm wrong?"
Jaws clenched, he held her gaze for a small moment. She was smirking but her eyes still bled of the innocence and wonderfulness he'd come to admire. "Just this once," she offered sweetly. "and I'll never bother you with it again."
His eyes narrowed in thought. "Never?"
She shook her head. "Ever. On my word as a Greene."
"Ain't much of a guarantee."
Her eyes darkened. "Well, I can guarantee you I won't stop talkin' about it if you don't take up on my offer now, Dixon."
He nibbled on his bottom lip, trying not to grin at how impatient she was getting. "Ain't much of a deal either." He gestured between them with a finger. "This here's extortion."
"Are you saying I scare you?"
Narrowing his eyes, he wondered how long she'd been this sneaky and how long he could ignore her before she lost patience, got up and came towards him. Something he definitely wanted to avoid. "Pfft," he mumbled and turned around onto his stomach, throwing his arms around the pillow. "Not hardly."
When she didn't answer, he turned his head and glances back at her with lazy eyes. She was just sitting there, head tilted, watching him as if she knew he was going to give in any second. It bothered him that the only word he could figure to describe the view with was cute.
"Fine," he groaned, burying his face in the pillow and Beth raised her fists into the air in victory. "Alright, alright," he said, waving his hand at her. "Don't get too excited. This time, and not ever again?"
She nodded confidently. "You heard me, Mr Dixon."
"Shit," he mumbled and jumped over the edge of the coffin. "Fine, damnit. Don't wanna hear nothin' about it when we're done, y'hear?"
He shuffled over and plumped down beside her, refusing to look at her. He stared down at the black and white keys and felt strangely misplaced.
"Okay," Beth said, a strong smile spread out over her cheeks. She was finding it hard to control her excitement. "Well, what you want to do is keep your fingers soft and light. Limber. Like this."
Daryl almost flinched when her warm, slender fingers closed around his calloused, tense hand and brought it barely resting against the piano.
"Whoa," she mumbled, kneading his metacarpals when she noticed how tense he was. "Relax. Can't play piano when your fingers are stiff as rocks."
He sent her a silent quizzical look at the metaphor and Beth shrugged. When she suddenly let go, the keys gave in to the weight of Daryl's extremity, producing an almost jarring sound that made his jaws clench. His eyes shifted to Beth when she started giggling. It made him blush and curse in his head.
"Alright," Beth nodded, bracing her hands on her knees. "We'll start easy. Seven notes, just follow my fingers. Yes?"
"I even get a choice in the matter?"
She arched a brow at him and nudged his shoulder with her own. He grinned. "Mean, 'yes, ma'am.'"
It started slow and rocky. He'd watch her fingers as they carefully and patiently moved between the keys, counting so he'd have time to see. Later he would self-consciously mimic her pattern, but like he expected, he pressed the wrong key more often than not. His shoulders fell and the blood rushed up to his face. He felt silly.
Beth reached over patiently, the gesture making her lean closer to him. "No, here," she said with a gentle, almost silent voice and arranged his fingers, pressing each on the right order. "This one… Then that one."
Biting her lip, she kept her fingers over his stiff ones as he repeated the sequence. Daryl tried not to think about how warm Beth's body was pressed against his side like this and he couldn't for the life of him convince himself he wanted to get up and leave.
"One- two… three. One… two… three-four," Beth counted, the tell-tale of a smile still on her face.
None of them objected to the comfortable silence that settled between them as they sat there for a small moment, the only sound that filled the air was the piano keys being struck carefully, almost uncharacteristically so by Daryl. He didn't notice when she leaned closer, her head was almost resting on his shoulder. He didn't notice when he stopped playing, either.
It was completely silent. But it was okay.
"Daryl." It came out almost as a whisper between her lips.
"Mmm." He was looking down at his hand, still covered by Beth's. It was strange how he hadn't noticed it was still there. A couple of weeks ago he'd have glared daggers at anyone who tried to touch him like this. But right now, he felt safe, like he was where he was supposed to be.
"You just played music."
He scoffed, the corners of his lips tugging.
"You did!" Her thumb brushed a long his sensitive skin.
"Maybe I should call you Mozart now."
"That's the stupidest thing I heard."
He was met by a set of giggles and somehow it made him feel good even though she made him feel embarrassed at the same time. "I ain't playin' it again!"
She only giggled more but didn't move from his shoulder. "I don't know. Maybe all you need is a little convincin'."
He glanced down at her as best he could without pushing her off, his stubbled chin brushing across her forehead. "You should play."
"I like it when you play."
This simple and innocent statement stunned him more than he thought it would. Trying to get him to play for the sake of the irony was one thing, but her enjoying it was something entirely else. Beth's eyes were closed, but she felt Daryl move against her. What he said next came unexpected for the both of them.
"I like it when you sing."
His voice was dark and raspy. The way he said it made it sound like it was a confession. It made her look up at him. The angle was awkward but he stared right back at her, something anticipating in his eyes, like he'd just revealed a big secret. Somehow the air had become thicker and warmer. It was getting harder to breathe and the hair on Beth's neck and arms stood on end. Both were suddenly aware of how close they were to each other. He was looking at her like he did yesterday by the table.
Beth licked her lips, trying to ignore the warmth that grew on her cheeks. She tore her eyes away from him and braced her hands on the keyboard. And then she started playing the calm melody before she sang.
Later that evening, getting closer to night, Daryl was lying on his back on the bed in one of the bedrooms. He'd flung his vest across the room, kept the shirt and pants, and kept the crossbow on the chair beside the bed (could never be too sure). Staring up at the roof, hands under the pillow behind his head, so lost in his own thoughts he hadn't noticed the presence in the room until the bed dipped at his side. With a start, his hand shot out and closed tightly around Beth's arm. She stared down at him, one knee on the mattress, eyes wide and her lips shaped like an o.
"What are you doing?" He let go. Wasn't much of an apology, but his eyes flicked briefly down to the place he'd gripped her. He cursed in his head when he realized she'd get a bruise.
"Goin' to bed," she responded matter-of-factly, placing a blanket beside him like it was the most natural thing to do and like he hadn't just bruised her.
He was silent but she was hyper aware of his eyes on her.
"Don't ya have your own bed?"
With a shrug, she sat down on the edge with her back towards him and combed her fingers through her dirty hair. "'Reckon there's one somewhere in the house."
She glanced back at him. "And what?"
"Ain't ya gonna go find it?"
No one had ever blamed Daryl for being especially charming or tactful.
She crossed her arms. "You're awfully pleasant today, have you noticed?"
"Don't change the subject."
"Daryl," she said, coming up to her feet again. "If you don't want to sleep with me, all you had to do was say so. Don't have to be all cryptic about it."
He visibly stiffened and Beth realized the way she had put it – her cheeks turned a darker shade of pink – but she quickly recovered and collected her blanket, refusing to regress and think of sex as something embarrassing. If he saw her as a child, she refused to give him an incentive to do so. To save the pride she had left, Beth raised her chin and turned around to walk away. Before she could get anywhere, Daryl's fingers closed around her wrist.
And she did. She looked back at him. Almost fidgeting, he looked like he was trying to find the right words to say.
"Iunno, it ain't…. it ain't that I don't… want to."
This was hard for him, she could tell.
"I just, you know… I just-… I - can't. Ain't sure what I'm supposed to say."
Beth shrugged with a gesture of her free hand. "The truth. I've been sleeping next to you in the mud for months, Daryl. We've been in trunks, in trees. What makes this so different all of a sudden?"
For a small moment it was silent. He swallowed, eyes flickering across the room before they landed on her again. "All a' those things, that don't mean the same. That was somethin' we had to do. To keep on survivin'. Ain't remotely the same." He shook his head and brushed a thumb across the inside of her wrist, struggling to look up at her. "I think it means somethin' different now, is all."
She quietly assessed his words and her eyes softened before she laced her fingers between his. A sudden streak of nervousness tickled in his body when she sat down on the edge of the bed and finally sunk down beside him. He wanted her to stay and leave all at once but his body moved naturally on its own; scooting to the side to give her more room and lacing his fingers with hers in return.
"I feel safer when I sleep near to you," she mumbled softly, head turned to him on the pillow gazing into his blue hues.
The corner of his mouth tugged and he grunted. The way he looked at her made her heart sing.
"Me, too," he finally said and squeezed her hand.
Enveloped with warmth and a strong feeling of safety and belonging, Beth closed her eyes, chin touching his shoulder.
"Can I teach you some more piano tomorrow?"
It was silent for a moment. Daryl sighed, shifting into a comfortable position that incidentally made more surface of their bodies press together. But it was okay. Beth felt his hot breath on her face before she felt a soft peck on her forehead. He'd pressed his lips on her.
The silence that hovered in the dark room felt pregnant.
"Only if you sing."
Hopefully, you liked it! I really do not mind any kind of review, just as long as you leave one! Thank you for reading long enough to get to this point, anyway!
The music I listened to while writing was:
~ 'Though the Dark' by Alexi Murdoch,
~ 'Wicked Game' by James Vincent McMorrow
~ 'A Wsisper of a Thrill' by Thomas Newman.
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