A/N: After watching the promo for the season finale I was left feeling very numb and hopelessly hanging onto the edge of my seat as I wait patiently (not really) for the season finale to air. Because I'm quite desperate and quite literally bursting at the seems after reading numerous articles about the possibilities of Beth being killed off this season finale. I really just hope she survives at least long enough to be reunited with Daryl. I'm hoping it was the priest Gabriel or something or rather who 'saved' her. But eh, I'm not the patient sort and I couldn't help but imagine this fic up in hopes that this is how it all turns out for Daryl and Beth. It might spoil things if I mention now that the character 'Ben' whom you'll later read about down there somewhere is my own made up character. I won't say anything else least I spoil it before you even begin reading this. Anyway, enjoy...I hope you like! Again thanks to those who reviewed my other 'Give Me Love' Daryl/Beth fic!
Blue is all he sees. But it isn't all that he feels though. What he feels is something that resembles pink and maybe red; orange glow of warmth and everlasting. He doesn't do feelings though; doesn't do the sort of shit that a normal man did with a woman. Well, he didn't until Beth. He didn't until the world went to shit. He didn't until after the fall of the prison. He didn't until they got stuck together and spent the next few weeks together surviving and trying to keep it all together while they silently mourned the loss of their friends. It was all a waste of course but they didn't know that. But before they could make of sense of what they felt for each other someone took her and he ended up with a bunch of the worst kind of people on the face of the planet.
But that was a story for later. This, now and here was a moment that is theirs and theirs alone. This moment is for him to cherish and for him to keep in that part of his mind; the part where his memories ran deep and long and unending. The part that never saw the light of day again but casually will at times flash before his eyes when he sat to ponder about it. They were mostly filled of memories of her and them and everything she ever said to him that mattered.
He wasn't a man that was supposed to feel things like this. But the point is that he did because she was his exception. She was worth the fear, the uncertainty and doubt. She was worth the self-loathing, the brooding and the life he lived that was hard and difficult and filled with so much pain. She made every moment in his past worth it because without them he wouldn't have made it here. He wouldn't have had her. He wouldn't have felt.
And whilst he feared and doubted, it was her that gave him hope and certainty. He didn't hesitate but sometimes did question about how someone so perfect like her could want or even dare to love someone like him. But in time he understood. In time he believed and in time he saw and felt so many things he thought he never wanted to feel. Those were the kind of things that weak men felt or at least that's what Merle had told him.
'Baby brother, Darylina, you ain' some chick'n shit boy who feels, ya got me? Women, they're job is ta entertain' and us men, our job is ta sit back'n enjoy."
That's what his brother would tell him. That's what his brother did tell him once a long time ago in another lifetime before the world went to shit. That was the time when he thought drugs were good, drinking was better and bedding women after women was the right thing to do.
Merle couldn't have been more wrong. If only Merle was still alive so that he could prove his brother wrong. Feelings, they were what gave him strength. Feelings kept them alive and if he didn't feel, he wasn't really a man at all. Feelings gave him courage, it gave him purpose and gave him direction. Feelings gave him her and for that he'll feel until the end of his life. He'll feel until he cannot feel anymore because with her tucked securely in the safe confines of his heart, he was stronger. He was smarter. He was quicker and ultimately, he was better. Better than he had ever been in all of his life.
He fought for her. He killed for her. He survived because of her and he lived to the fullest as best that he could in this world because of her.
It was in those feelings and in everything that he felt for her that brought him to this moment. The moment that gave purpose to everything they ever did and every decision they ever made. This was the end for them. The end of a chapter but the beginning to a completely new one.
This was them. This was forever.
Those blue eyes; piercing stormy but yet grey and cloudy and so very real look up at him and all he does is stare. They were familiar but yet not. They were not hers and they weren't his. They were theirs. Those eyes held him there and in them he saw wonder. He saw hope and trust. He saw a life of hell and a life of pure beauty too. In those eyes he saw himself. Not the man that he once was but the man that he had become.
He was the man that was worthy of the powerful love of a woman; a blonde headed woman whose heart he cherished and whose body he could lose himself in for hours without ever really growing tired. The woman whom had taught him how to love and how to be so much better than he could have ever imagined. She was the woman that had found the way to open the door to seek shelter in the safe confines of his heart.
But it was the curl of those little fingers around his thumb that really brought his entire life crashing down on him. It was feeling that warmth and that soft little touch of affection that he isn't used too and should never be used too but yet loves and wants and can't help but finds so much sudden comfort in. It's then that he realises that nothing bothers him. Not the walkers. Not the high walls around the little military base they are in, in Washington DC.
The warmth of his woman brings him back to reality though and he really can't find it in him to fault her for it because where ever she is he always will be there. He will always keep one eye on her and the other on the space around them.
And that wasn't because she was once taken from him. That wasn't because he spent the next month with a group of bad people. He almost killed Rick with them. He almost pulled the trigger until he heard Carl's familiar drawl and Michonne's familiar laughter. He almost but didn't and instead crept around much to Rick's surprise, Carl's completely startled expression and Michonne's rare smirk at the mere sight of him. There wasn't a question right there about his loyalties. They were always with Rick.
They wounded the group he was with and they disappeared into the woods and into the forest and finally Terminus.
He will never really want to know what went down at Terminus because he will always see it written on the faces of Glenn and Maggie whenever they spoke to him about the weather, or Beth, or Judith, or whatever else it was they wanted to speak to him about. But he will never forget the little group they were once at the prison and the group that they became after Terminus. He will never forget the first night on the road when Beth found them and him.
He will never forget the look on her face or the little boy standing beside her with his little hand woven around her knee and eyes peering from behind her thigh. The little boy that she told him one night had given her a purpose to be strong and use everything he had taught her to help them survive. She told him that the boy had woken her in that room her kidnapper had thrown her in. The boy had been there for many days or weeks, she could never really know. But the boy had watched his parents die at the hands of their kidnapper and the sight of rotting flesh and the picture of the little boy's face in the hands of one of the bodies told her all she needed to know.
She told him how she had taken the little boy into her arms and how she had remembered everything he taught her to get them out of there. He had never felt more proud than in that moment. He had never felt so much for a person like he had that night when she sat against that tree holding that little sleeping boy while the others slept close by the burnt out fire. He was on first watch and she couldn't sleep. That was really where it all began for the two of them.
He told her his story after and then spent a while apologising profusely. He practically grovelled which was strange for a person like him and it took him a good while before he realised what he was doing. She never laughed at him or joked at him though. She only looked serious and understanding as he apologised. Then she took his hand in hers and told him quietly but yet simply that it was okay. That she never once blamed him because he told her to run and she did and shit happened and that she just somehow managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. She told him that she knew him well enough to know that he did everything he could for her.
Nights became days and days became weeks and months and eventually the familiar landscape of Washington DC met their very eyes. They delivered the scientist and Rick finally taught Judith how to walk. Carl learned how to laugh again and Michonne learned how to be happy. Glenn and Maggie never really recovered after Terminus. But they learned how to put the past behind them. They learned how to forgive and forget and live for the future. Maggie was who he sought council with when it came to Beth's hand. If their daddy were alive, he would have gone to Hershel instead. There was no hesitation in the way Maggie had smiled at him and told him that if only her daddy knew about this before he died then at least he could rest easy in his grave knowing that his Beth's hand would eventually belong to the great Daryl Dixon.
Tyrese learned how to look at Carol again and learned how to trust her too. Carol learned how to forgive herself and she became the sister he never deserved. She listened when he needed someone to talk too and she gave him wise advice when he sought out for some direction. She taught him how to be proper and it was her that had told him quite bluntly all those months ago that with Beth he didn't need to be anything else other than himself when he worried about whether he was a good man for her.
Beth. There were so many things that she became in those months they travelled to Washington DC. She became his confident. She became his purpose. She brought a smile to his face, warmth to his heart and a balm to his broken soul. It was the little boy who had in a way become their little boy that taught him patience though. The little boy named Ben who had given her a purpose and a sense of direction when she didn't have him to give her one. He would forever be in debt to that little boy because without Ben, she might not be here with him.
Ben changed the most in those months. It wasn't long after Terminus before Ben's little hand would curl around the back of his knee instead of Beth's. It was his hand that Ben would hold and swing on and laugh and his arms Ben would cry in too. But it was Beth who comforted him when he woke in the middle of the night shivering from another nightmare. Beth told him once that Ben and he were so much alike that when they were on the run from their kidnapper, his little serious eyes and odd peculiar stance brought the hope back into her veins that maybe she might find him again.
It was a week or two or three after they escaped Terminus, he couldn't exactly remember when Ben had woken in his arms crying that Beth had decided to throw her arms around the both of them. She fixed them somehow and in time, Ben didn't cry anymore. He didn't wake shivering in the night from nightmares. Ben became the little boy who finally one day when they were closer to Washington DC decided to call him pa and her ma.
He had thought about it long before Ben ever called him that. And he would have been fine with being called 'Daryl' for as long as Ben wanted. He would never be the kid's real daddy but he would be the daddy the kid should have looking out for him in this sort of a world. He was only warmed though when the kid thought of Beth as his mommy. It solidified what he had with Beth and it made them a family he never knew he actually wanted.
The others didn't even react wildly when Ben had hollered at his 'pa' and 'ma' when they made camp a ways away from the military base. Rick only smiled at him and nodded before calling first watch. Carl chuckled, Michonne rolled her eyes and muttered that he better look after the kid right or she'd knife him. Tyrese didn't offer much other than a solid hand and an offer to look after the kid if he needed a break. Carol offered her two cents worth and said to him that she was proud her 'pookie' finally found something right in both Beth and Ben. Glenn laughed and clasped his shoulder and wished him luck as the kid proceeded to roll his little toy cars around his and Beth's bags. Maggie looked at her little sister and nodded in what appeared to be great respect and finally looked at him and smirked.
Once upon a time it would have angered him to wake to the feeling of little toy cars rolling around his arms and stomach. But with a glance at Ben's little serious face and eyes fixed on the cars he just smiled, tighten his arm that was around Beth and went back to sleep.
But it wasn't until now, until here that he looked down at their little baby that he felt the full force of fatherhood being thrust upon him. Ben was easy enough as his make-shift kid. Ben could speak and talk and tell him what he wanted. A baby could not.
"Your pa seems lost in thought again," he hears her say from somewhere behind him.
"Maybe pa is gonna be sick," Ben's familiar voice murmurs somewhere close to hers.
"Let's leave him to it to think," she says softly and he hears the understanding in her voice. He knows that she knows that this is new to him and something that will take him a while to get used too.
"Carl found some toy cars for me," he hears Ben telling her.
"Oh, that's nice. Let me see," she encourages.
He drowns out the voices behind him when Ben begins to animatedly tell her about the little fire engine car and the police car and the million other cars Carl had found for him.
He looks down at his son. Not the son that's sitting behind him on the bed with her. But the son that's his and hers and theirs. The son that has their eyes. The son who became a possibility when she found them in the woods after they ran away from Terminus. The son that their little Ben could call brother.
"Merle," he says finally and isn't even sure if she hears him.
But from the silence behind him now he is sure she did.
"Who's Merle, pa?" Ben asks him and he feels the curl of Ben's little hand curling around his knee.
He smiles and glances down at the little boy. He scoops Ben up with his free hand, the other is still being held by their little baby. With a strong steady arm he holds Ben closely and looks at him before he glances at the little baby.
"I think that's a beautiful name," she says now beside him. He feels the rush of her warmth to his side and he loves her even more when she leans against him to glance down at their little son.
"Your brother," he tells Ben. "Ben, meet your brother, Merle."
"He's really tiny," Ben comments.
"He'll be big and tall one day," Beth says quietly beside him.
"Will I be big and tall one day?" Ben asks.
"You will," he answers.
"I'm gonna look out for Merle," Ben declares. "And be a good big brother like Carl."
Merle Dixon senior taught him many things and yet was never perfect. But Merle was his brother and he died trying to do the right thing. He died trying to protect the people he once hated. He died for them.
"Merle Hershel Dixon junior," he says the full name finally and looks to the side at her.
The smile on her face tells him he's finally gotten it right. She looks at him slowly and his eyes dip to her lips. He kisses her chastely and lingers long enough to look deep into her beautiful eyes. She's given him everything he never asked for and he's returned everything he never thought he could give.
It was incredulous to think that they had actually made it this far. That somehow by the strike of luck and the lining of stars and planets, they made it this far together. But the point is that they did.
They had Rick and Carl, Judith, Michonne, Tyrese, Carol, Maggie and Glenn. They are all alive and well. He had Beth and he had Ben and his little baby boy, Merle Hershel Dixon Jr.
It wasn't everything but for him it was enough.
A/N: I've actually started to draft a little fic about how Beth escapes her kidnapper with little Ben (and the thoughts of Daryl that she occasionally thinks about as she tries to keep both her and Ben safe) but I wasn't really too sure if any of you would even like to read that. Let me know!