A/N – this story flashes back to parts of S2&3, but it is set at the end of S3. All that mushy stuff that happened in "Still" S4.E12 has not happened in this world. So don't think that all that touchy feely crap that made Bethyl lovers swoon has anything to do with this. Yes, this is a Bethyl story, but inspired well before 'Still'. I own nothing of TWD *sigh*.
This story came about by a seed planted by the lovely Siarh. A thank you to Buster's Jezebel for R&Ring for me, I wasn't so sure about this one.
"If Daryl falls in love with you, he going to love you the rest of his life." Norman Reedus
Beth was warm in Daryl's arms, the sky was cloudy but the sun was trying to peek through. Daryl looked up the sky, it was just sunny enough to make him squint. He rocked her and she was quiet. He could smell her hair, she must have washed it earlier today, the clean scent filled his nose and he wanted to smile. He stroked her hair, it was soft, it was always soft. He trailed his hand down her arm, just his fingertips on her skin. He loved the feel of her soft skin compared to his which was always rough. Daryl brought his lips to her forehead and kissed her gently, she is still the most beautiful women he had ever seen. From the moment he had first seen her at the farm amidst all the chaos of that first day, she had been the most beautiful women had had ever known. She laid in his arms and he tried to figure out how they had gotten to this moment. Through the months of chaos, fear and all the changes that this new world had brought on. How had they come to this one moment in time together?
By the time they had left the note and food on the hood of the car for Sophia, Daryl was edgy and ready to drag everyone by their hair to this farm house, where ever the hell it was. Who was that women on horseback that dragged Lori away and how the hell did Carl get shot? Daryl hated being so blind to much needed information but he would have to wait till they got down the road for answers. He led the way through the maze of cars back to the turn off and down the rural road he wished they had taken the first time. Sophia would still be with them, they never would have gotten jumped by a herd of Walkers and Carl would be okay. Fuck he hated caring about people. He should have gone off on his own when he had the chance.
When they pulled up to the farm house the commotion had already calmed, Carl was stable but tentative and the plan for saving him was already in motion. He needed medical stuff that this Hershel guy didn't have. Shane had that all under control. There wasn't much for Daryl to do and that drove him nuts. Even if Carl was stable, Sophia still needed someone to find her. Carl had his parents and some make shift doctor, Sophia didn't have anyone but Daryl who could save her. He knew he couldn't just stand around, it wasn't in his nature, he and Andrea were off on the search again, gone for hours till they came back empty handed.
Daryl paced around evaluating what was going on at the farm, six or seven people. The doctor and his kids, some outlying family or friends, he couldn't tell. The blond daughter was quiet but seemed to buzz around helping her father, trying to keep everyone happy. She brought juice and food to Lori and Rick and generally stayed out of everyone's way. But Daryl saw her, watched her tiny frame flit around taking care of everyone practically ignored by everyone around her.
That first night fall and the blond came out to check on them, all of them. Those staying in the camper, those in the tents, she came to Daryl's tent but only buzzed by as she saw he was talking with Dale, well listening to Dale, sometimes you couldn't get a word in edgewise. He saw the girl pass twice and wanted to ask her what she wanted, ask her what her name was, but her cute little ass was gone before he could get a word out. Didn't matter, he was too shy to ask anyways, even if she had given him the time of day.
He spent days off the farm looking for Sophia, lost in the thick woods. Everyone else may have given up, but he didn't. She was a tough kid, with a tough mom. And though her dad had been a doucebag, she learned how to be tough because of him. If anyone could survive in the Georgia woods, it was someone like Sophia. Daryl grabbed a horse and went out looking again. God he hated horses but he had to go out further this time, it just made sense, well it did till he got bucked off, lost his footing, fell down a rock bed, took an arrow to his side, passed out, woke to fight off a Walker, climb to safety and then dragged his sorry, beat up ass back to the farm with nothing to show for his hunt but a necklace made of Walker ears and Sophia's doll. Hell, it was all worth it when he limped back and felt that doll on his hip.
Damn a bath in some cold water was gonna feel great he thought as the farm house came into view. Considering how far he had come already today, Daryl was amazed at how far the house seemed as he cleared the tree line. He legs felt dead before, but now with the prize so close he felt more like he was dragging two logs. Just a little further, just five more minutes. Fuck, this was gonna be easy after everything else he had just been… shit, fucking and Rick and Shane. Daryl watched as they sprinted across the field. T-Dog and Glenn right there with them. What kinda welcome party was this?
Daryl just kept dragging himself, god those two pissed him off, he just wanted to get the farm house. It happened fast, guns drawn, people yelling and that fucking Sherriff with a gun in Daryl's face, again. There was shouting and panic followed by more yelling and… BOOM!
The sound rang out and filled Daryl's ears more than the sting he felt in his head. He dropped to the ground. What the fuck?
It was the only time Daryl had slept in the house. He had taken to the spare bedroom and he had fallen asleep reading a book. Beth had snuck into his room late that first night, she cleaned up his dinner plate and dropped off a glass of water. He was bandaged and sort of clean for the first time since anyone here had met him. The house was quiet that night, almost too quiet considering all the people who were there. The sound of a squeaking floorboard woke him instantly.
Daryl woke to the sound but he never moved, simply opened his eyes and focused on the skinny blond women near his bed. The light by the bed was now tuned on, his blue eyes held her gaze and she smiled at him. "I just brought you some water." She whispered, almost too quiet to be heard but he heard her. He nodded. He saw the water then looked back to her face. "Daddy says it's not as bad as it looks." He had only been grazed by the bullet and the bandages were a bit excessive. But that hole in his side was more serious.
"Tha's usually the way." It was actually the first thing Daryl had said directly to her. They had never spoken before, never been properly introduced. She seemed so out of place in this world, she smile, often, even if it was just because she is was shy and trying to fit in.
"Can I," she caught the squeaky board again and stepped off of it, "Can I get you anything else?" No one had sent her into check on him, but she was drawn to helping him. Carol had brought him his dinner but no one else seemed to care that he was here.
Daryl pulled the blanket up his bare chest, he realized he was a bit too under dressed to be around a stranger. "Nah, 'm good." He shook his head to her and gave her half a smile.
"Okay then. Light on or off." She stepped over the squeaky board to the night stand.
"I'll read a while." He fixed his pillow.
Beth headed for the door and looked back at him, he was laying on his back with the book on his chest as he got comfortable, his face wincing as the wound at his side pulled a bit. "Night Daryl." She smiled one more time.
"Night Beth." He shifted from her face to his book.
Beth walked out into the front room and paused. Daryl smiled, she seemed surprised that he knew her name. Beth, it was a pretty name.
Daryl had been full of rage. He was pissed that he was the only one in his group that could get things done, he was angry that Randall had forced him to beat him so badly, and he was still raging over the fact that Sophia had been turned and all his searching was in vain. He had beaten Randall far more than he needed to and it scared himself on some level that he was capable of doing what he had done without much though behind it all.
Her hand felt good and that didn't make Daryl feel any better. She washed the cold water over his knuckles and wiped away the blood gently.
Beth had caught up with the raging man a few minutes earlier while he was pacing behind a barn as she was carrying a bucket of water to the chicken coop. His anger stopped her in her tracks but she didn't turn away, she watched as he made a fist and hit the side of the barn. He tried not to look at her as he paced but she finally moved past him, paused and turned to him. The blood was dripping off his hand now.
He stopped when she was getting too close, he figured his scowl would drive her away but it didn't. She continued to him and took his bruised, bleeding hand in hers. She looked at both sides of it then put down her bucket of water. His blood smeared on her skin. She let go and rinsed her hand in the bucket as she knelt down next to it. She motioned for him to kneel next to her, he stared blankly for a minute then gave into her, "'s fine." He spoke low. She motioned him again this time with a stern look of her own. He obeyed this time. He got down on one knee across from her and she took him by the wrist and dunked his hand into the icy cold water. It was shocking at first but instantly felt good. He let his hand sit in it for a while.
Beth's hands joined his in the bucket as she gently washed the blood from his skin. Even in the cold water he could tell how soft her skin was, not in a lazy way but simply she was soft. Not hardened yet by this world. Her touch felt good and that made Daryl uncomfortable. He tried to draw his hand away but she simply kept working. She was focused in the bucket but he was focused on her face. Her pale skin, doe like eyes and her pale skin. He noticed it all. But it all also confused him. He wasn't used to someone being so gentle with him, especially one that looked like she did.
She finally took his hand from the water and wiped it with the rag from her belt loop. He was still going to bleed a bit but it was better. Might even get an infection but he was a grown man, if he needed something he could ask for it. "All done." She finally looked to his face and she smiled, reassuredly he thought. Her smile made him smile, well sort of.
"Thanks." He kept the rag and turned out the blood skimmed water onto the ground. They stood up and he handed the bucket back to her. "Thanks Beth."
"Yup." She turned and walked back the way she had come, she had to refill the bucket for the chickens.
Beth had been bitchy for days before they were forced to leave the farm, everyone had joked it was PMS but Daryl somehow had figured it out. The poor girl just needed to get laid, Daryl recognized the feral energy radiating from her. He felt bad, she had no one to be with. But he understood and sympathized with her dilemma.
The herd had come through, the barn had burned, people had been lost and they were all on the move. It had been a warm Georgia day when he and Carol had been scouting for supplies. They were all hold up at a house they had secured, crammed together for a few days as they worked a new game plan to find shelter after the farm. Carol had spotted it and motioned for him to pull in, an adult video store that took bolt cutters to get into. Apparently Daryl didn't know that sex toys generally came supplied with their own batteries, but Carol knew this. The raid had filled their back packs with mostly AA and C cell batteries. Daryl had been uncomfortable in that place, especially with Carol plucking through the toys like such a pro. And back at home base neither of them would divulge where they had procured the supplies from.
Now, a few days later, Daryl jumped on his bike telling Rick he just needed to get away for a while, he knew that they hadn't picked the store clean. It was hours later when Daryl was on watch and Beth was pacing that he handed her a small vibrator and two extra AA batteries. They were alone as handed her the lipstick sized toy. He wanted to tell her to conserve the batteries, he didn't know if he'd ever be able to get her more. Hell, he wanted to ask if he had read her right, that this is what she needed to calm down. She looked down to the toy, up to his face then down again as she turned beet red. She nodded in answer to the questions he never asked as she jammed the gift into her pocket.
They parted company and over the next day in their usual fashion, they never spoke of it. She would smile and he would acknowledge her but they never spoke. It was two days after that when out of the blue, in front of Rick, she walked up to Daryl and hugged him for the first time. She had wanted to wait to do it when they could be alone, but that never seem to be happen. She barely came up to his chest and she wrapped her arms around him. He was obviously uncomfortable but she didn't care.
He hugged her back and mumbled 'welcome', he knew exactly what the hug was about. He had seen the shift in her personality. Rick just watched not understanding any of it. But Daryl and Beth always seemed tuned into each other.
Daryl had been on watch on top of a turned over bus when Carol brought him up dinner. She always did. Everyone knew that Daryl wouldn't eat unless everyone else already had enough. This was the first night that they would be safe in a long time, since they had left the farm. Safe because they were inside sturdy fences, because Rick had patrolled the grounds and Daryl was on watch. Daryl had been watching the group down below, most Beth actually. He watched her sitting by Maggie, they were all safe tonight and he was relieved.
Daryl picked at the dinner Carol had brought him and they bantered in their own way. Rick was going to do another lap around the perimeter and Daryl wanted to go with him. They climbed down together laughing as they went. He made sure she had rejoined the group safely and smiled as he heard Beth and Maggie singing. Rick caught up and they walked. Another lap around the area making sure everything was safe. They walked in silence as they rarely needed to talk. Daryl glanced back over his shoulder when he heard the small footsteps behind him. Beth was following. They paused and waited for her to catch up before the made the final corner.
"Hey, it's cold out here, why aren't you by the fire." Rick was always in dad mode.
Beth looked warm enough, she had an extra sweatshirt if she needed it. "I'm fine, just wanted to walk."
Rick's eyes shifted from Beth to Daryl then back again. "I'm gonna check on everyone. Watch Daryl's back?" Rick looked worn out, more than anyone else. He carried the burden of caring for this group. She nodded. It was more like, 'keep Daryl company', there was no way she could be considered one to watch anyone's back. They watched as Rick walked out of the moon light and over toward the bend in the fence than out of sight. Daryl started walking the other way and she followed two steps behind. He stopped and she did as well.
"Jus waitin' for ya ta catch up." Daryl didn't like it when she walked behind him, there was no reason for that. She nodded and caught up then they walked side by side along the fence line. He was making mental notes of security concerns, Walker placements, and how she lengthened her stride to keep up with his. He shortened his pace a bit. "Like that song ya sang." He didn't know what it was but she sounded good and it was a breath of fresh air in their crap ass world. Under the moonlight she had sung to the group and it had made him feel like things might someday become normal again.
"Thanks." Beth tried not to beam at the compliment. She knew he was he was too old for her and that he barely noticed her most of the time. Still, the attention from Daryl made her want to sing even more. "Think this place is safe?" She wasn't questioning Rick's judgment as much as fishing to hear his voice.
Daryl nodded. Safe enough to keep them all safe. Keep Beth safe he thought. She had gotten tougher over the months, but she was the one he worried about the most. Carl had survived a gun shot. Carol survived the loss of her daughter and ended her own husband, Andrea was tough all on her own, Maggie had Glenn and Lori had Rick, even if it didn't seem that way all the time. Beth only had her dad and though Daryl liked Hershel, he wasn't strong enough sometimes. There had been a few encounters with Walkers on the road where it had been a close call. If Daryl hadn't been watching her as much as he did, she would have gotten bitten, she was fighting so hard with the one in front of her that she never heard the one behind, he dropped it with an arrow and she never even realized it had happened. Daryl didn't register how close the call was till the Walker dropped and he could feel his own heart beating again.
They got to the end of the fence line and stared out into the Georgia woods. Lightning bugs twinkled in the distance. Beth took Daryl's hand in hers, she had a soft touch. He paused at first, then gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "Should get back." She nodded this time, they turned and held hands for five or ten paces before he let go to adjust his cross bow. They walked quietly in the moon light.