Bethyl Week – Day Five – Prompt word "Dream"

And song lyrics -

"You're completely off limits

For more reasons than just one,"

Wonder - Lauren Aquilina

This takes place immediately after the end of another of my stories Moonlit and Forgotten which can be found here On Tumblr - post/87757967496/are-you-still-taking-prompts-if-so-i-have-one-eyes To set the scene he first few paragraphs are quoted from that story. (Borrowing from myself.)

Dream a Little Dream

Beth's eyes were dark in the moonlight, wide and expectant in her pale face. There was enough light to brighten her wild halo of hair, and still hide the dirt and blood, enhancing her ethereal beauty. Like a fairy tale wood nymph she beckoned to him patting the ground again. With a reluctant sigh, he lowered himself to the ground, his back against the tree beside her. He could hear from this position as well as standing.

"Thank you," she whispered.

Then much to his surprise, she slid closer to him, leaned and rested her head against his shoulder, wrapping her hand around his upper arm. He reflexively tensed, wary of her touch. Beth must have felt his muscles tighten because her hand automatically moved up and down his arm, as she made a soothing shushing sound. "'t's okay," she said as she yawned. "It's okay,"

Beth's hand stopped its calming motion, and he felt her slump bonelessly against him. In time her breathing fell into a slow steady rhythm. He told himself he should move, lower her down on the ground and get away as fast as he could. This couldn't be. All his defensive walls were down. He had never felt this vulnerable. Yet part of him wanted to absorb every second of her closeness. To suck the memory of the feel of her into his heart, and build it a room of its own before the fortress of his soul rebuilt itself. Dawn would soon be here. He had until dawn to create a memory, to fabricate a dream. A dream only he need know about or understand. Dawn would be here soon, and so would reality. And his reality should not include her. With infinite care he brushed a stray strand of hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear. Dawn would soon be here, and with it his life.

He took a deep breath, then carefully covered her tiny hand with his own. While his inner demons told him he was wrong to imagine, his heart kept asking, if this was wrong, why did it feel so right?

Years of bow hunting had taught Daryl silence, stealth, and the ability to remain motionless for long periods of time. Sitting with his back to the ancient oak, Beth curled against his side like she was part of his body, he had kept watch through the night. Though the blackness of the woods around them had begun to lighten to shaded greys, the deepest recesses held on to the last vestiges of shadowed darkness.

He had marked time watching her breathe, holding his own breath each time she twitched in her sleep or cried softly caught in a dream, loathe to wake her to take a turn at keeping watch. He owed her that much. One good night's sleep. The night had passed in uneventful silence. Senses always alert for the sounds of approaching walkers, he had listened instead to crickets and hoot owls.

But the night would soon be over and when she woke he would step back. He had no right to imagine they would ever be anything more than travelling companions. He tucked the memory of her closeness into a part of his soul that she would never see. She had already seen too much.

When he felt her stir against him, Daryl very carefully pulled her hand from around his arm, sliding her head off his shoulder and lowering her to the ground. No need for her to know she'd spent the night sleeping tucked safely by his side. As he stood, stretching muscles that had stiffened from remaining motionless for so long, she woke up. Groggy at first, she pushed herself to a sitting position groaning as she did. Covering her eyes with the palms of her hands she sat for a moment.

"My head hurts," she said.

"Told ya to drink lots of water."

"Okay, this is the part of gettin' drunk Daddy never talked about." When she looked at him, she was still bleary eyed. "How do you deal with a hangover?"

"Just gotta let it wear off."

Beth groaned again.

"It'll pass." Daryl set the bottle containing the remainder of their water next to her. "Drink."

She took the bottle and drank greedily. When she stopped she said, "We need to find water." She reached her hand to him. He hesitated for a moment unsure of what she wanted. Then took her hand and helped her to her feet.

"Thanks," she said then began to blush. "I still feel a little dizzy."

"Ya need food. C'mon." There was more than one house in this general area. Maybe if they were lucky the next one had food instead of booze. If it didn't, and it was clear, she would be safe while he hunted.

As they walked Beth was unusually quiet. Which suited Daryl. He was still sorting out what had happened last night, uncertain and unwilling to read more into their conversation than he should. They hadn't travelled very far when Beth said, "I had the strangest dream last night."

Daryl wasn't sure if he was supposed to respond to her comment so he said nothing.

"It was about you and me."

Daryl glanced in her direction, but did not meet her eyes. He knew she would continue. She always did.

"Daddy too," she said in a lower voice. Daryl knew the subject of her father was still raw for both of them.

"And there was this big white house, clean and bright. Real comfortable. Like before. We'd had burial for Daddy, but somehow he was still there talking with us. Like he was watching his own funeral."

Daryl was listening to every word. He didn't believe dreams were anything but terrors that wouldn't go away. He knew a lot about that kind of dream. They never left. There was always some new horror to fill the place of the last one or to bring back old nightmares from ages ago. He never remembered having a happy dream.

"It wasn't scary. Daddy was smiling. He apologized for leaving earlier than he planned. He wanted to tell us he trusted us and that he knew we would make good choices. Both of us. What do you think it means."

"Mhm," Daryl shrugged along with his usual nonverbal answer. He really didn't have any idea. He figured it was just her missing her dad and not having had the chance to say a proper good bye. He knew how that felt. Knew too well.

"I think it means that eventually, we're gonna find a good place. Somewhere where we don't have to always be on the run. Scavenging. And that it will be like a home again."

"With me?" He regretted asking the question out loud. Wasn't sure what he wanted the answer to be. He was almost afraid of this girl and her ideas. Afraid he would never be part of them in real life. He had no right to even think of her and him in the same thought.

He quickly looked at her again and she was smiling. Not her usual big grin, but just a ghost of a smile. A contemplative upturn of her lips. She seemed far away imagining whatever special place the dream had conjured in her head.

"Why not," she said thoughtfully. "If we really are the only ones left, why not?"