Chapter One –
"Dammit, Merle, I thought you said you'd found a house or cabin for us to stay in. Not some damn apartment," Daryl growled out as he followed his brother up the stairs of a tall apartment building.
"Calm down, Darylina. It's just a temporary place to stay while I…take care of some things," his brother replied. "Besides, a friend said we could stay here while he was out of town, said he had rent taken care of and everything. Free roof over our heads!" Merle stopped on a landing and slid the key into the keyhole of the door numbered 4B immediately next to the stairs. Daryl looked around the empty, wooden stairwell before his eyes landed on the only other door on their floor, 4A. There was a simple white flower taped to the door and a slip of paper that had "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BETH! See you tonight, Mags and Glenn" written on it taped next to it.
Merle opened the door and Daryl took his eyes from the flower and note and looked into his new place of residence. It had the bare minimum in furniture but it was clean and warm, despite the cool Fall air blowing outside. Daryl heard a guitar being played outside and Merle snorted.
"Oh yeah, we have to share our balcony with the neighbor…Just what we wanted, a yoddlin' neighbor…" Merle shook his head and disappeared around the corner of the living room to where Daryl assumed the bedrooms were.
"Claimed!" Merle shouted as he dropped his bag on a bed in one of the rooms. Daryl shrugged his duffle bag of clothes and his crossbow off his shoulder and on to the couch. He was more curious about the neighbor, Beth if the flower and note on the door were correct about their name. He assumed their neighbor was a she, since their name was Beth. Whoever she was, she could play the guitar very well. Daryl walked to the door to the balcony and unlocked it. The door gave a loud click as it opened and the guitar playing stopped. He didn't even get the door opened all the way before he heard soft footsteps moving away and the other door opening.
"Sorry," was all he heard from a soft female voice. He popped his head out the door and saw blonde hair disappear into the open door that quickly closed and locked. Their neighbor was awfully shy, he guessed. The balcony was larger than Daryl had expected. Their neighbor had a couple of chairs sitting outside their door, along with a couple of potted flowers and a small vegetable garden that looked to have strawberries and something else growing in it.
Next to Daryl and his door sat two chairs exactly like his neighbor's with a small wooden table between the two chairs and an ashtray on the table. He sat down in one of the chairs and pulled out a cigarette and began smoking. He could hear Merle moving around inside their new apartment. He sounded like an elephant moving around. The sound of blinds moving to his left brought Daryl's attention back to his neighbor's balcony door and he saw a handwritten note taped to the glass.
I'm sorry if my playing disturbed you. I didn't know anyone had moved in next door. I'll be quieter from here on,
The handwriting was neat and obviously feminine, but not girly. It didn't have curls or hearts. Just neat print. Daryl frowned at the part of her being quieter. Compared to how Merle was moving and throwing things around, their neighbor was a mouse. Daryl finished his cigarette and put it out in the ashtray beside him. He glanced briefly at his neighbor's door and saw the note was gone and a flash of wide blue eyes and blonde hair before the blinds fell back into place.
Daryl sighed and shook his head before returning inside, sliding the door closed with a click.
Beth had been working on a new song on her balcony when she heard a voice yelling in the apartment next door. She immediately stopped playing and listened to see if she had been hearing things or not. That apartment had been empty for almost three months now so the fact that there were voices in it surprised her. When the door clicked and began to open, nerves hit her stomach and she bolted to her apartment. Normally she was much friendlier and would have stayed outside to greet her new neighbors but the yelling voice didn't sound friendly. They sounded annoyed and rude. Beth had had enough of angry people for one day after her shift at work and had decided to immediately return to her own space to avoid dealing with anymore people.
Through her blinds she could see a tall, very fit man standing and looking around at their shared balcony. His brown hair was somewhat long, reaching to the tops of his shoulders with bangs that hung in his eyes. Even from where she was, she could see his startling blue eyes. His face had a rough look to it that she found extremely handsome and she watched as he ran a hand over the stubble growing on his chin. His button up was sleeveless with frayed edges, meaning that he had probably torn the sleeves off himself. His arms were well muscled and Beth couldn't help but think that he could lift her off the ground in his arms easily. Beth was startled from her observations by a loud ruckus going on in the strange man's apartment. She could see the man on the balcony close his eyes and something akin to anger or frustration crossed his features. Whoever he was living with was loud and they obviously annoyed him.
Remembering that she had been playing outside when they had arrived, Beth decided to write her apology for the disturbance and taped it to her glass door. She watched as the man lit his cigarette and took a puff from it before looking her way and reading the note. A look of confusion crossed his face and he shook his head as his roommate made more noise and yelled something Beth couldn't understand.
Maybe my playing isn't the worst thing he's had to listen to today. Compared to his roommate, I'm a mouse… Beth thought to herself and she saw him turn to put out his cigarette. She took her note down now that she knew he had seen it. She raised her head and saw the man staring right at her and quickly moved away from the door.
Beth could hear her neighbor return inside his apartment and sighed. She'll have to welcome the new neighbors to the building another time, maybe when they weren't so loud and angry sounding? She made a note to welcome them properly before the week was over. Beth was startled from her thoughts by a sudden knocking on her door.
Did my neighbor think I was being a creeper and want to talk to me about it? What a great first impression he must have of me now…"Hi, 4B, let me introduce myself. I'm Beth and I promise I'm not a creeper or a stalker, I was just enjoying looking at you! Beth snorted to herself and shook her head. What a great way to introduce myself. I'd be better off never leaving my apartment again…
"Beth, come on! We have dinner with daddy soon! Open up!" came the muffled voice of Maggie and Beth released a breath she didn't realize she had been holding. She walked quickly to her front door, unlocked and opened the door. Maggie stood in front of the door, a huge smile on her face as she lunged at Beth and hugged her tightly. "Happy birthday, sis!" Maggie practically screamed as she held her.
Beth's blue eyes turned to Glenn as her sister began to squeeze the air out of her lungs. Glenn just smiled and gave her his best I'm sorry, but you should be used to it look.
"Maggie, keep it down. I have neighbors now," she replied as she held her sister tightly to her and then pushed her away to breathe.
"As if they can hear anything over the ruckus their making," Maggie huffed before reaching to pull the flower and note off the door. "You didn't see this but it was supposed to surprise you. Here," Maggie handed the flower and note to Beth who took it graciously, enjoying the sweet fragrance the flower had before putting it in a cup of water.
"Thank you, it's very beautiful," she replied with a smile. "Are we ready? I'd hate to keep daddy waiting," she asked as she pulled on her boots and tucked her jeans over them. Maggie ran a hand quickly through Beth's long hair to smooth it down a little and then put her hands on her sister's shoulder.
"Hard to believe you're twenty-two already, Bethy…"
"Happy birthday, Beth," Glenn interrupted, hugging her quickly now that Maggie had moved to let him in. Beth thanked him and grabbed her wallet and keys before ushering the couple out of her apartment and locking the door.
"Everyone! My sister is twenty-two years old today!" Maggie shouted in the stairwell and Beth blushed furiously.
"Seriously, Maggie! Keep it down!" Beth chided as she glanced around to make sure no one was going to pop out of their apartment and yell at them for being too loud. "Has she had anything to drink, Glenn? She acts like she's drunk…"
"Sadly, she hasn't. But she has been very excited for tonight. She's missed you and your dad very much," Glenn replied as they headed downstairs.
Daryl picked up his duffle bag of clothes and took them to his bedroom. Merle was still making a ruckus in the kitchen and living room doing whatever he was doing, making Daryl sigh in annoyance. Just then he heard a female yell in the stairwell.
"Everyone! My sister is twenty-two years old today!" which was quickly followed by "Seriously, Maggie! Keep it down!"
So 4A has a sister and turned twenty-two today? Interesting, Daryl thought to himself. He was surprised he even found himself thinking about it. Something about the quiet and shy, guitar playing neighbor had him intrigued. He decided to do something extremely unusual for his personality and grabbed a piece of paper.
When Beth stumbled up the stairs, laughing softly with an equally drunk Maggie and a poor, sober Glenn, she was surprised to hear silence coming from her neighbor's apartment. She giggled and put her finger to her lips to tell Maggie to keep it down.
"I'll take her down to the car once I know you're in safely," Glenn told her. The two drunken sisters had kept him highly amused for the past hour after they had had a wonderful dinner with their father and then the decided to hit the bar on the way back to Beth's apartment. Beth nodded and quickly got her keys out and tried to unlock the door, missing on her first attempt. This set Maggie off on another round of giggling, which then infected Beth. Glenn smiled and shook his head at the two before helping guide the key into the lock and opening the door for Beth.
"Thank you, Glenn. You'll be the best brother-in-law I could ask for. Now just…pop the question already," Beth told him with a giggle. Glenn blushed and coughed slightly while Maggie laughed even harder.
"Goodnight, Beth," he said quietly before guiding Maggie back down the stairs and to his car. Beth closed and locked her door, dropping her keys and wallet on the floor by the door and pulling her boots off with next to no grace as she stumbled and almost fell in the process.
"You're drunk, Beth," she told herself with a laugh. Her eyes made a sweep around her apartment, her alcohol-riddled brain telling her that the couch looked super comfy for sleeping on and she walked happily to it. Right as she was about to drop onto the plushy surface, her eyes fell on her balcony door and the piece of paper taped to the outside of it.
She walked as best as she could to it and squinted her eyes at the small, sloppy handwriting.
Happy birthday, 4A.
Beth smiled and opened her balcony door to remove the note. She caught the smell of a cigarette and turned. In one of the chairs by her neighbor's door sat the attractive, fit man from earlier. His blue eyes watching her curiously. A blush rushed up Beth's neck and onto her cheeks and she stumbled slightly. She giggled and held up her hand when her neighbor stood up to help her.
"I'm okay…I mean, I'm drunk, but I'm okay…" she laughed out and she saw his lips quirk into a small smile as he watched her. She cleared her throat and forced herself to stand up straighter. Alcohol-riddled or not, she knew this was the time to introduce herself to the man. "I'm sorry about earlier, my playing that is. I didn't mean to disturb you. I'm Beth, Beth Greene," the words practically tumbled out of her mouth and she saw her neighbor's lips smirk at her drunken speech. Beth could feel her face get even hotter.
"I'm sorry, I should wait to introduce myself until I'm not drunk. I talk a lot and it's awful. This is awkward. Oh, you're not awkward, I'm awkward. You're attractive…Oh god, I'm sorry, I'm leaving now!" Beth slapped her hand over her mouth and turned to leave. Her neighbor gave a deep chuckle and she turned to face him, mortified.
"Daryl," he said around his amusement, "my name's Daryl Dixon." Beth could feel her mortification decreasing and smiled, holding out her hand. He stared at it for a moment before hesitantly reaching out and grasping her hand and giving it a soft shake.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Dixon."