A/N: Unbeta'd. A Bethyl/Deth fanfiction. Takes place more or less at the end of S2 and from there events will be changed. This is not a fic that follows the original plotline, this is my own take on The Walking Dead after S2. There will be curse words and graphic violence (physical and mental) and a few "adult" scenes will be thrown in too. Let me know what you think if you have the time since I haven't written anything in years. Thanks for reading my fic either way.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything, only this plot.
From a young age her daddy had warned her that he would only give his blessing to a good man. She used to listen to her daddy with a smile and a wish in her heart that she find a man as good as her daddy portrayed men to be. Her daddy told her a good man would always take care of his own, that he would provide and care for his family before taking his own needs into consideration. He would be selfless and passionate and loyal and would willingly lay down his life to protect those he loved. He would be strong, a leader, and she would trust with absolute certainty that he would keep her safe.
In Beth Greene's eyes, her daddy was the epitome of a good man.
It was clear Hershel Greene loved his daughters fiercely. It was indisputable. He was overprotective to a fault and was a sight to behold if anyone dared to threaten his family. He had loved both his wives for very different reasons, but had loved them with equal devotion all the same. Hershel was affectionate and unafraid to show his gratitude for having his two daughters in his life. He had taken on another man's child, had raised him as his own son and had been distraught when Shawn had been bitten. He was resilient and firm in his beliefs and Beth knew without a doubt that he would die for her and Maggie.
For the first seventeen years of her life, Beth had not met another good man. Jimmy, as lovely and kind and gentle as he was, could not be categorised as a good man. Beth simply didn't see him as a man. He was just a boy with an easy smile and a comfortable personality and for some time now Beth had taken to seeing him as a brother she wished to shelter, to preserve his light hearted personality before the world outside the farm could taint him.
The night Rick Grimes came to their porch, bloodied and frightened, with a plea to save his dying son was the same night Beth had determined that Rick was a good man too. He had cradled his sons body as though he believed if he willed it enough, Carl would draw strength from him and open his eyes. He had been tormented over Carl's condition. And when he demanded more of his blood be taken whilst swaying on weak feet, he had firmly cemented his place in her mind as a good man. Even later, when his group had settled on their farm, she would watch Rick's eyes soften for his wife, she saw how he tried to protect his group and took on responsibility and her respect for him grew.
Shane was not a good man. Beth was unsure why she felt confident in her judgement of his character when he had given her no reason to believe him to be anything less than a good man. She felt guilty for knowing he was once a cop yet still she couldn't change her mind. It was something instinctual; it warned her Shane was unpredictable, perhaps unstable. That made him dangerous.
As for the other men in Rick's group, Beth hadn't given them much thought. Carl was too young, but she predicted with a father like Rick he would grow into a fine young man. But Beth hadn't spent enough time with the other men for them to make an honest impression on her. At times she wondered if she should take more notice of Glenn, but reasoned her sister was capable of taking care of herself.
Yet, when Daryl Dixon almost killed himself searching for Carol's lost little girl, when he went half mad from the despondency of the situation, Beth finally took notice of him.
All Beth knew of Daryl Dixon was that he was a redneck with impulse control issues. He angered easily, trusted no one and had terrible self esteem issues. These were not judgements of his character, these were facts. Beth had never bothered to find out more about the man simply because she had barely spoken more than two words to him. Her daddy had raised her better than to judge a person based on their socio-economic background and stereotypical views. Beth simply hadn't thought about the man, period. Shane was the only person she had ever judged before knowing him.
But now that Beth knew how hard the crossbow wielding redneck had pushed himself to find a child that wasn't his, now that she knew that, even whilst injured, he insisted on going back into the woods to continue his search, now that she knew he wanted to protect a person that wasn't able to protect themselves in this new world, he had Beth in slight awe of him.
And as startled blue eyes bore into her own, panicked and vulnerable, Beth was convinced Daryl Dixon was a good man and she wanted him to know it. And as she watched him work himself into a temper over his exposed back, she realised no matter what he insisted, nor what his actions implied, nor what he believed himself, he would never tarnish her new perspective of him. There was a good man beneath his gruff, troubled exterior. A man worthy of a place right next to her father.
Beth flinched at the rough bellow, the cutlery on the tray she held clinking together at the sharp movement. Daryl fought to support his weight on one arm in his weakened state as his other hand blindly clawed at his tattered blanket at the end of his makeshift bedding. Beth thought about telling him that she had already scrutinized every detail of his back while her daddy had tended to his wounds last night, but then speculated the confession would likely work him into more of a frenzy. Instead, Beth respectfully lowered her eyes away from his disfigured back.
'You deaf, girl? I said get out.' Daryl spat as he finally managed to tug his blanket over his broad shoulders. He glanced back at her hovering timidly by the entrance of his tent, his eyebrows set in a firm frown and his eyes narrowed. A muscle in his jaw ticked as he breathed heavily through flared nostrils.
Beth craved for a free hand so she could fidget with her sleeve, a childhood habit she had never grown out of, and was tempted to do as he demanded. But she took one tentative step into the tent instead. 'I-I,' she hated how her voice shook. Being a good man didn't stop his temper from being any less intimidating. 'My, my daddy told me to bring you your dinner, sir.'
He turned from her and hung his head. 'I don't need none'a'ya food.' His chest continued to heave in shame and anger . 'Jus' leave me alone.'
Beth's fingers flexed around the handles of the tray and she breathed in deeply for comfort. 'No.' Beth argued and she was proud that she sounded so firm. She crept further into his living space and observed the hunter from the corner of her eye. He bared his teeth at his bedding and she could see he was about to hurl abuse to get her to leave, so she quickly reasoned, 'Please sir, you're going to need your strength if you want ta find Sophia.'
Daryl's mouth snapped shut.
His eyes followed her then as she stepped over his ever present crossbow and knelt beside him and lightly placed the tray close to his head. In her peripheral vision she could see the tremor in his arms as he continued to hold his weight up, unable to relax with her in the room. He was no longer glaring, but his eyes were intense and guarded and Beth found she couldn't look at him when he watched her like that.
Profoundly conscious of his heavy gaze, Beth tried to subtly calm her nerves by slowing her accelerated breathing. There was a distinct musky, male scent in the humid air of the tent that she decided she liked.
She picked up a spoon from the tray and placed it in his warm broth when she heard Daryl sneer close beside her. 'I can feed maself, girl. I ain't no handicap.' Beth could feel a steady pounding in her head from the force of her blush. She felt embarrassed that he mistook her readying his meal for her wanting to feed him.
Beth clambered to her feet and made a hasty retreat to the entrance of the tent; she wanted distance between Daryl and herself. He watched her every move.
He truly was a hunter.
She watched as Daryl grunted from the effort it took to pull himself towards his meal one handed, his other hand clamped tightly onto his blanket. He wasn't going to risk her seeing his back again. Beth was ready to flee at this point, but she had a purpose to fulfil.
'What now?' Daryl sighed, exasperated, but he didn't turn his head to her.
Beth's hand found the hem of her sleeve and she ducked her head, shy. 'I-I just... I wanted...'
When Daryl did turn to face her, he seemed to be at his wits end. He huffed, impatient. 'What, girl? What'cha want?'
Beth was agitated with herself. She wanted the redneck to take her next words to heart, but he wouldn't if she couldn't even string a sentence together. She gathered her courage and found the strength to look into his irate eyes as she admitted, 'I know you probably get this a lot from your group, but, well, I... My, my daddy says I should always show my appreciation. So I just wanted to tell you that I think what you're doing for Sophia is... I think it's, well, admirable.'
One arm jerked and give out on him and Beth would have rushed to his side had he not turned, revealing a strong bicep, half a scarred chest and one pale pink nipple. Her cheeks glowed red and she willed her eyes to stay above his collarbone. Daryl did not look the least bit pained, only incredibly bewildered. 'Wha' you on about, girl?'
Beth scrunched up her small nose, utterly frustrated with herself, then stood a little straighter. 'I'm not making myself very clear, am I?' She was resolute in her decision to let Daryl know that she had noticed his efforts and those efforts were admired and respected, even if he was not the most pleasant person to be in the company of. ''It's just, there are a lot of people 'round that wouldn't do what you're doing for Sophia. They most definitely wouldn't almost get themselves killed for her. Wouldn't even think ta go looking for her. A-And I think that Sophia is lucky, 'cos if there's anyone in the world who'd be able ta find her, it would be you. I guess I just want you to know what a good person I think you are. One of the best.'
Daryl's face had softened in his disbelief, his stare hesitant and his body slack. Then he slowly blinked once, twice, then his breath hitched. He stared at Beth for a long moment, as though he had never seen or known a person like her, then his gaze lowered and the very apples of his cheeks flushed.
Beth could hardly believe the hardened hunter was blushing; that her words had made him blush.
There was a beat of silence in the warm tent. When it became apparent that Daryl was not going to respond, Beth stepped back and bounced inelegantly onto the balls of her feet. 'I-I'll just leave you then. I'll be back in an hour to take your dishes for you.'
Beth hoped Daryl understood that she was giving him a time frame so he knew when she would be returning so he could cover himself accordingly before she arrived, but she didn't receive a response. Daryl continued to stare at his bedding.
Beth tugged at a strand of her tangled hair and awkwardly whispered a, 'Goodbye,' then hurried out of the tent.
As the tent flap dropped into place behind her, Beth took a moment to breath in deeply. She had done it. It may not have been as eloquent as Beth had imagined it in her mind, and she wouldn't have minded a reaction from the man, but she had done it.
'Beth? Are you all right?'
Beth nodded at Andrea and gave her a sweet smile.
Yes, she really was all right.
Precisely one hour later found Beth inside Daryl's tent once more, only Daryl's back was now completely covered by his blanket and he breathed evenly into the crook of his elbow, fast asleep.
Beth was quiet as she crept along the cotton canvas flooring toward Daryl's resting form and almost knocked over his crossbow as she did so. Beth's eyes closed in relief; she had no doubt that Daryl wouldn't hesitate to kill her if she so much as touched his most prized possession. Beth kept her eyes solidly on him as she reached his side and knelt down beside him.
Beth didn't know his age, she was unsure if his own group knew, but she presumed him to be in his early thirties, no older than thirty five. But as she studied his sleep softened features, the lines on his forehead dulled without the frown he constantly wore when awake and his cheek pressed up against his tanned arm, she realised sleep gave him a more harmonious appearance. It made him look years younger. He didn't look thirty. His short, dark strands of hair clung to his sweaty forehead and a black smudge of dirt followed the straight bridge of his nose.
He's not the least bit intimidating when asleep, Beth thought and grinned. How disappointed he would be to learn that.
Beth turned from his peaceful features and reached out to pick up the tray, but froze.
Next to Daryl's dirty cutlery there laid a single picked daisy flower.
Beth reached out slowly and gently picked the tiny daisy up by the tips of her thumb and forefinger. Beth studied the simple white petals, the minute but healthy green stem and the sunshine yellow of the stamen and smiled. She twirled the flower between her fingers and it reminded her of simpler days, when she was just a little girl and she still had her mama and she believed making daisy chains for her daddy would make him feel special and cherished.
She looked to Daryl again and wondered who in the world would dare to give Daryl Dixon, the redneck hunter with a deadly crossbow, a flower and think that he would cherish the sediment. The thought almost made her laugh. Beth had heard Andrea could have quite a playful sense of humour when she wasn't so weighed down with her own grief. Or maybe Carl had placed it in here, although she wasn't sure he was quite brave enough. Honestly, she was amazed anyone would be brave enough to give Daryl a flower.
'Don't go lookin' at me like tha'. It's for you, idiot.' Daryl's voice, thick with sleep, startled her from her musings and she was surprised to see one drowsy, half lidded eye staring back at her, his other eye smooshed in the crook of his elbow.
Beth blinked stupidly as his words finally sunk in. 'For me?' She asked, astonished and slightly baffled.
Daryl grunted an affirmative.
Daryl had picked her a flower.
Beth had to give herself time to let things sink in again.
She glanced down at the small daisy in her hand, then smiled.
Beth could admit to herself that she had been a little bit disappointed at Daryl's lack of response to her speech earlier; she had been unsure whether she had pleased him or offended him somehow and that hadn't settled well with her. But now she knew. She was certain he had been pleased. A picked flower was the best response he could have given her. Daryl was a man who couldn't easily express himself with words, so to know he had gone out of his way, that he had risked further injury to his wounds, in order for her to see the magnitude of his gratitude said more than words ever could. The daisy meant more to her than he would ever know.
Beth turned back to him to find him tiredly examining her reaction. 'You really shouldn't'a been outside in your condition.' She admonished. She half expected a sarcastic comment and an insult, but instead he just grunted and raised an eyebrow. The look clearly stated that he didn't care, wasn't going to apologise and wasn't going to listen to her lecture.
Beth huffed, a little irritated by his lack of concern for his own well being, but decided she wasn't going to chastise a grown man over his health. Especially not one as moody as Daryl Dixon. Instead, she felt for the messy braid in her hair and weaved the daisy into the braid. 'There.' Beth declared, beamed at the man bedside her, then spread her arms wide at her sides as though she was showing him a whole new outfit.
Daryl stared at the daisy, then into her eyes, then back at the daisy before he dropped his eyes to his blanket. He shifted slightly, winced, then hummed. Beth wanted to ask if he was in pain but she knew he wouldn't welcome her mothering.
Beth touched the daisy in her hair. 'Thank you, sir.'
Daryl's blue eyes travelled back up to meet her own before he burrowed his head firmly into his elbow and Beth's heart twisted with sudden affection at such a human action. ''S nuthin'.' Daryl grumbled then added, 'And stop callin' me sir. I ain't no sir.'
Beth was quick to nod to placate him. She didn't want grumpy Daryl back just yet. She was enjoying tired Daryl, it made him slightly more mellow and he was less likely to lash out.
He was fighting to keep his eyes open now, though neither of them acknowledged his struggle. Beth instead hoped she was being subtle when she picked up the tray and announced that she was heading back to the house.
Beth retreated to the tent flap and chanced a glance over her shoulder to find Daryl had raised his head after her. One side of his face was reddened with indents from his arm and blanket and his short hair was wild on top of his head. She had to force herself to keep a straight face.
Beth smiled, thanked him again, then called out as she left his tent: