A/N: A huge thank you to jazznsmoke for just being an incredible BETA and a wonderful friend. I was able to finish this chapter despite my partially broken hand (I broke my thumb, but the break is weirdly high and in part of my palm) and broken toe because of all her encouragement.
Disclaimer: I don't own TWD or any of its characters I'm portraying in my story. I also don't own the song Smother by Daughter.
Daryl couldn't believe he was standing inside of a courthouse. The idea that a courthouse was around even as the dead reanimated was a little weird in Daryl's opinion, but he was ready. He was ready for the biggest commitment of his life. Not only was he ready, he wanted this commitment. After the past few weeks the only thing Daryl knew was that without a doubt he loved Beth Greene and he'd never walk away from her again. Daryl thought back to when everything almost fell apart and he promised himself it wouldn't happen again. He wouldn't be repeating that mistake.
He could feel his hand almost brushing Beth's as the group headed towards this supposed safe zone that Eugene had been babbling about. Honestly, Daryl couldn't wait to be in the safe zone. The travel was wearing on him and he couldn't deny a little bit of privacy would be great. It'd be nice to not be on top of everyone in the camp. He knew he longed for privacy so he could figure out if things were more permanent with Beth.
He acknowledged that he loved her, but did she only love him because he was just someone to lean on? He didn't want to question Beth or the validity of her feelings. He just knew that he was a Dixon and Dixon's never got anything nice; especially not anything even remotely nice as Beth Greene.
His train of thoughts were broken when the group caught site of the safe zone Eugene and his company wouldn't stop talking about. The rest of the group seemed to dart ahead to this new place. Before he could even think of running with the rest of the group Rick motioned to him and Beth. He wasn't shocked that Rick had wanted to speak to the both of them. Rick had been giving them weird looks or would stare and smile at them like he knew their secret.
"What's going on between you two?" Rick asked getting straight to the point. Daryl looked over to see Beth tucking hair behind her ear, a nervous tick she had. What were they? Did they even have a definitive answer? He knew he loved her and that she believed she loved him, but they wouldn't ever be Maggie and Glenn proclaiming their love to everyone. With their pregnancy announcement, both Daryl and Beth had felt it better to just keep their relationship to themselves. How does one even explain that to someone they considered their brother?
"Actually, I don't need an answer to that. I know you two are together or something. I won't tell anyone else," Rick paused before continuing on with his mini speech, "Just know that I support whatever you two decide, just remember that relationships are dangerous now. I want you to be prepared for that."
In that moment Daryl knew he was referring to what happened with Lori and in general this world wasn't built to create healthy relationships. Daryl knew Rick never meant to cause panic or problems in their relationship, but he could feel the anxiety building in the pit of his stomach. That anxiety tripled when Beth gave one of the most breath taking smiles and graciously thanked Rick. He was a Dixon and Dixon's don't get happy endings.
It had been two weeks since they moved into their apartment. Daryl thought it was weird to refer it to it as theirs, but that is what it was. He had hoped his anxiety would lessen. Even after multiple conversations with Beth about the permanence of their relationship, even after reaching a new level of intimacy one night, he could still feel the anxiety in the pit of his stomach. Beth had given him her virginity and yet he still couldn't shake the feeling that she would walk away. He couldn't have that. Everyone he had ever loved had abandoned him, but maybe this time he'll be the one to walk away. It had to be easy.
Daryl assured himself that while initially she might be hurt there were plenty of people here that would love being with her. Just that morning he had watched the mayor's son, John or Jake, attempt to get her attention by giving her a guitar. Beth had graciously thanked him and took the guitar, but she didn't encourage his pursuits. Daryl had stalked off before he could hear their conversation. He was torn between wanting Beth to solely be his and walking away completely from her. He knew it was unrealistic to feel this way when she hadn't done anything to encourage that kid.
Beth had met up with him in their apartment carrying the guitar and smiling at him like he was the greatest thing she had ever seen.
"Can you believe it? An actual guitar! Maybe I can write you some songs! I haven't been able to write a song in forever," Beth told him excitedly.
Daryl could feel the anxiety that had been building in his stomach seize his heart. His mind kept screaming that he was a Dixon and Dixon's don't get happy endings. He tried to reason with himself that Beth loved him and had proven time and time again that she loved him. Maybe if he just told her what he was feeling they could work it out. Beth understood him better than anyone, but years of abandonment kept Daryl's lips sealed shut. He grunted his reply to her happy statement. It was hard to focus on her happiness while his mind waged war against old demons.
Beth seemed to sense his inner turmoil because she asked what was bothering him and stepped closer. Daryl didn't even think about the words spewing out of his mouth. He told her she was too young for him, that what they had between them wasn't right.
She tried to argue that age didn't matter at least not to her and that she didn't understand how what they had was so wrong. Daryl wasn't even connecting with the fact his words were clearly hurting Beth. The only thing he could even focus on was the terrible anxiety he had been feeling ever since Rick's conversation.
"Clearly something's fucked between us if we can't tell our family. It don't matter anymore. I'm sick of feeling smothered by you. I'm sick of talking 'bout feelings. I'm sick of this." Daryl had yelled.
Daryl knew in that moment he had fucked up. Beth didn't try to fight him or argue with him anymore. She just went into the spare bedroom that the rest of the group assumed was her bedroom. Once the door was shut he could hear her sobs.
Daryl punched the wall. He was pissed. Pissed at her for not telling him to shut up or fighting him. Mostly though, he was pissed at himself for even saying those things to her. This was for the best though. She would find someone better.
Almost two weeks had passed since their fight. Daryl busied himself with working security for their new home and scouting the surrounding area. He was gone mostly. He wanted to give Beth space.
The space did nothing to quell his guilt. The anxiety that had made him react so horribly was gone. In its place was regret and guilt. He couldn't really believe he wouldn't just talk to her. She let him in on some of her darkest demons. He was going to apologize and try and fix things; that is if she even still wanted him.
This would be the first time in three days that he was even back in the camp. He was ready to face the consequences of his words and actions. Before he made it to the floor he and Beth lived on he ran into Maggie.
"Hey, could you give this to Beth? I'd give it to her myself but I think she's on the roof and Glenn would flip if he knew I went up there." Maggie had thrust a bowl of soup into his hands, "Tell her sorry about the joke about her smothering me, I guess it wasn't as funny as I thought it was, but if I had known she was going to the doctor this morning I would've gone with her."
Daryl knew Maggie probably had more to say, but with the bowl of soup in his hands he shut their apartment door in her face. It was probably rude, but he had a million thoughts racing through his head. Why would Beth need to see a doctor? Would she forgive him? What if she had some sort of super flu and was dying? Did that mean he was losing the person most precious to him?
The fear was there. Daryl placed the soup on their counter and found the pull stairs that lead to the roof were down. Maggie had been right that Beth went to the roof. Daryl quietly climbed up the steps. Beth's back had been facing him, but he could hear her strumming cords on the guitar and then begin singing.
I'm wasted, losing time
I'm a foolish, fragile spine
I want all that is not mine
I want him but were not right
In the darkness I will meet my creators
And they will all agree, that I'm a suffocator
I should go now quietly
For my bones have found a place
to lie down and sleep
Where all my layers can become reeds
All my limbs can become trees
All my children can become me
What a mess I leave
In the darkness I will meet my creators
They will all agree, I'm a suffocator
I'm sorry if I smothered you
I'm sorry if I smothered you
I sometimes wish I'd stayed inside
Never to come out
Daryl had to swallow down the tears he could feel were brimming his eyes. The song had haunted him and he knew it was all his fault. He cleared his throat trying to rid the lump that had formed during the song. At the sound Beth jumped up and turned around.
Daryl could feel the guilt begin to eat him alive when he took in her appearance. Her eyes were rimmed with red and it looked like she hadn't slept in days. This was all his fault.
Before she could make an excuse to leave Daryl blurted out an apology.
"I'm sorry about everything. I'm sorry 'bout what I said, I'm sorry I left, but mostly I'm sorry I hurt you." Daryl couldn't stop himself once the ball got rolling. He admitted to the anxiety he felt after Rick's "talk" with them, how he believed that anything he loved would eventually abandon them, how seeing the mayor's son sucking up pissed him off. He listed off everything that caused him to blow up.
"I could seriously punch you. We could have avoided this altogether if you had just told me this from the start." Beth had told him.
Wanting to punch him was bad, but it was nowhere near as bad as not wanting him, Daryl thought. Before their fight he had gotten a necklace with a ring around it. He had gotten it the night after they were intimate. He figured after that it would be the logical next step, but it had just become an extra weight in his pocket.
"I owe you an apology too. I should've fought or made you listen. I gave up and that's on me. I guess we both have insecurities we need to work on for this to work- that is if you still want an us," Beth had motioned her hand between them when discussing the word us.
Daryl knew then it was now or never. He pulled the necklace from his pocket to give to her. The small silver chain had an arrow that had two rings surrounding it.
"I know that this is fast or whatever, but you are what I want. I know that now and I don't plan on walkin' away again," Daryl fidgeted. He normally never spoke this much and he had pretty much laid all of his cards on the table.
Beth pulled her hair back and motioned for him to put the necklace on her neck. It hung lower so most of her shirts would cover the two rings, but they would know she was wearing it.
"You'll be the death of me," Daryl murmured in her ear as he looked at her wearing the necklace.
"I thought only a Dixon could kill a Dixon," She giggled playfully. The stress of their fight melting away.
"Guess we will have to make you an official Dixon" the words were out of Daryl's mouth and he nervously played with the rings she currently wore.
Daryl could feel her eyes questioning him if that was what he really wanted and he nodded. He knew that he wanted nothing more than to be with her.
"Before, I give you my answer I need you to know that I went to the doctor this morning." Beth was biting her lip. Obviously whatever the doctor had told her made her nervous.
"You ain't dyin' or anything like that, right?" Daryl could care less about anything a doctor told her as long as she wasn't dying. He couldn't have that and he wouldn't allow it. He'd force Eugene to find a cure for her instead of working on the cure for the end.
"Not dying, but I'm pregnant"
The words pregnant kept repeating themselves in Daryl's mind. It was impossible. They had only been intimate a few times and the few times they were they had used condoms. Unless it was someone elses child, but that was unlikely. Beth wasn't the kind of girl who slept around.
"I thought I had the flu or a stomach bug, but the doctor confirmed it this morning with a blood test. He thinks we might've gotten expired condoms or something," Beth looked petrified.
Expired condoms? He had heard of guys talking about it happening before, but it was never something that crossed his mind. Was he ready to be father? He'd have to find out because he would be damned if he let Beth slip through his fingers again.
"This don't change nothin' you're still what I want, we'll figure the rest out as we go."
Beth smiled and kissed him. It was long and searching. The kiss said everything that needed to be said between them.
"I guess that means I'll have to become an official Dixon."
With that small statement Daryl couldn't stop the smile from spreading across his face.
Daryl braced himself as he heard the courthouse doors slam open. He saw Beth dragging a bewildered Rick behind her. He knew in that exact moment he had made the best decision of his life. In a few moments he would no longer be the last Dixon around.