"Please?" Beth all but begged, clasping her hands together as she stared up at Daryl with those puppy dog eyes he had yet to get the hang of saying no to. "Do this one thing for me and I'll never ask you for anything else I swear!"
Daryl snorted as he shoved a chunk of hair out of his face. "That's what you said last time."
"And the six times before that!" Merle cried with a laugh at his brother's predicament from across the garage.
Beth shot Merle a glare but Daryl ignored it as he wiped his hands on the dirty rag he was holding and looked her up and down.
"Why can't Zack go with you?" he tried to keep his disgust about Beth's boyfriend out of his tone. It wasn't his place to judge her boyfriends after all. They were just friends, no matter what private thoughts he might have of her.
Beth's mouth dipped into a frown as she suddenly found her nail beds very fascinating. "We broke up a few weeks ago." she mumbled.
Inwardly Daryl breathed a deep sigh of relief at the news even though a part of his brain wondered why he was just now hearing about it. He had never been a fan of Beth's pretty boy boyfriend although he was a far step up from the hipster Gareth she had been dating when they first met. Shoving the rag back into his pocket Daryl tried to think of what a friend would say in this situation. He didn't have a lot of friends period, let alone girls as sweet as Beth Greene. Of course, she was the one who saw him as a friend. He didn't know what the hell he thought of her but his thoughts were often very far from friendly.
Before he could settle on something to say Merle crept up to Beth, throwing one arm around her shoulders causing her to look up at him with raised brows. That was one of the things that drew Daryl to her; she didn't take shit from anybody, not even him and Merle.
"So you single now huh? What do you say you and I-" Merle started with a laugh as Beth slipped out from underneath his arm with her noise wrinkled in disgust that Daryl personally thought was only partially feigned.
"You stay away from me Merle Dixon. You boys are nothing but trouble." she chided with a giggle as she crept closer to Daryl's side.
Merle laughed loudly while Daryl rolled his eyes and tried not to take her teasing to heart. "When'd you say it was again?" he finally asked, more to draw his mind out of the dark place it was going than actual curiosity.
Beth's face lit up even though he could tell she was trying not to get her hopes up that he was going to say yes. "It's this weekend." she bit her lip as she shuffled her sneakered feet on the oil stained concrete of the garage, "I know it's short notice so I understand if you have plans." she muttered as she ran her hands up and down her arms.
"Nothin' that can't be canceled." Daryl admitted with a shrug, crossing his arms over his chest as Merle snorted. They both knew his weekend plans only ever consisted of sleeping and being dragged to bars by Merle and his buddies.
The joy that filled Beth's eyes then made it worth every bit of hell his brother was sure to put him through for this. "So you'll go with me?"
"Yeah sure." Daryl turned back to the car he was working on so that he would not have to see either of their smug faces as he accepted defeat.
"Oh thank you!" Daryl stumbled forward a step as Beth threw her arms around his waist, pressing her tiny form between his shoulder blades as she squeezed him tightly. Daryl tried not to flinch in surprise, he couldn't remember the last time someone had touched him without the intention to cause pain let alone the last time anyone hugged him.
He turned to glance over his shoulder as Beth all but skipped out of the garage as he tried to ignore the knowing look Merle was giving him. Finally Daryl turned to look at his older brother fully expecting the never ending torment to begin but all Merle did was shake his head with a smile.
"That girl has got you whipped little brother." He laughed, throwing a rag over his shoulder as he headed back to his section of the garage. Sadly all Daryl could do was nod in agreement as he realized with a growing sense of horror what he had just signed himself up for.
Folding a pair of pajama pants Beth silently thanked whoever invented speaker phones as she packed her bag for the weekend while trying to calm her sister down at the same time.
"It's just jitters, I think every bride gets 'em." Beth said soothingly, trying to act as if she had any experience in how brides felt when really her sister was the first one she had ever dealt with.
"But what if it's not? You don't think I'm making a mistake do you?" Maggie's voice was frantic on the other end of the line and Beth could practically hear her pacing the floor through the phone as she rolled her eyes at the question Maggie had already asked her twice.
"Mags you love Glenn. You've loved him since the minute you saw him that's what you told me remember?" Beth smiled as she repeated the words that three years later she could still remember Maggie whispering to her behind her hand, giggling like a teenager as they curled up on their creaky old porch swing.
Maggie let out a long sigh before she whispered, "You're right. Of course you're right." There was a brief pause before she whispered sadly, "I wish mom was here."
Beth felt a tug on her heart and she had to clear her throat before whispering, "Me too." she closed her eyes as a wave of pain that never truly ebbed flowed over her. "And Shawn. He'd kick you in the ass for even thinking these things. After all the work you've put into this wedding and you're thinking it's a mistake? He'd have a fit."
As a laugh bubbled out of her sister Beth knew she had said the right thing and that, for now at least, Maggie's jitters were under control.
"When will you be here?" Maggie didn't even try to hide the slightly pleading tone in her voice but it only made Beth smile in endearment. Maggie was so tough and ever since she was little she had acted like she had to do everything on her own. It was so rare for her to need anyone but when she did it was almost always Beth, a responsibility that she hoped would not change with her sister's marriage.
"We're leaving once I'm done with class." The zipper on her bag caught and Beth tried not to swear as she tugged on it.
"We?" she heard bed springs creak as Maggie sat down in surprise and Beth silently groaned at her pronoun use, that wasn't how she meant to tell her sister. "So you are bringing a date?"
Beth bit her lip as she straightened and tried not to think about Daryl as her date. He was just doing her a favor, that was all. Besides, Daryl wouldn't want to date her anyway. They were just friends, had been since the day they met at the dive bar her friends had snuck her into, fake ID and everything. He'd rescued her from a pack of extremely rough men (not that she really needed rescuing, she was doing just fine on her own, only the men were either to dim or to drunk to realize she was insulting them) and they'd been friends ever since.
Of course their friendship was built in the beginning on favors, he'd done something nice for her so she had felt compelled to do something nice for him which had started a seemingly never ending cycle. This was the biggest thing either of them had ever asked of the other, usually Daryl just asked her to work a few hours in the office of the garage he owned with his brother and she usually just asked him to give her a ride from campus somewhere since she herself didn't own a car. Not that Daryl did either, but his motorcycle was a far step up from her own rusty ten speed.
But what had started out as mutual favors had ended up in her nearly always being in that shop after she was done with classes and her own job. She would spend hours at a time curled up in a lawn chair next to whatever car Daryl was working on that day, passing him tools while she studied. Beth no longer even minded the crude jokes Merle and some of the other workers tossed at her (although those did lessen considerably after she brought Martinez cupcakes for his birthday and now they just pestered her to bring them more treats which she happily obliged to) if it meant she got to spend more time with Daryl.
Of course, none of those things meant that him accompanying her to Maggie's wedding was actually a date. For it to be a date Beth would have to admit to Daryl the feelings she'd been trying to deny by dating other people, a task that failed miserably. She had finally admitted to herself that the only person she was interested in being with was Daryl but she had yet to gather up the courage to tell him that. Beth wasn't sure what he thought about her and she was not willing to risk burning the bridge of their friendship on unrequited feelings.
Beth realized suddenly that Maggie was still talking and she sat on the edge of her bed as she tried to shake thoughts of Daryl from her mind.
"Sorry Maggie, what was that?" she asked as she dropped her head into her hands.
"I asked, is your boyfriend coming with you to the wedding?" Maggie repeated patiently.
"Uh yeah." Beth said, distracted as her phone vibrated as it received a text. Maggie's voice was cut out for just a second before she came back, squealing in delight.
"I'm so excited to meet him! I really ought to let you sleep now Bethy. I'll see you tomorrow!" As the line went dead Beth stared at her phone in growing panic as she realized what she had just done.
This was going to be a long weekend.
The air conditioner was busted in Merle's truck again which he neglected to tell Daryl until right when he was about to leave. Having no time to fix it and not wanting to make the nearly two hour drive from Atlanta to Senoia on his motorbike (he kept telling himself it was because he didn't want to make Beth ride the bike that long but really it was because he didn't think he could handle having her body pressed up that close to him without driving them off the road) Daryl simply rolled down all the windows before driving the few blocks from his garage to Beth's apartment complex.
And there she was sitting on the front steps, all smiles and white sundress as she bounded down the stairs towards his idling truck. Ignoring the angry honking from the driver behind him Daryl leaned over to pry open the passenger side door (it had a habit of getting stuck and needed to be opened just so) for Beth, who hopped in with a grin as she dropped her bag by her feet.
"Thought only brides could wear white." Daryl mumbled as he started off down the road again, the wind coursing through the open windows nearly drowning out Beth's laugh.
"Only at the wedding silly." Beth smiled at him as she rested her bare arm on the sill of the open window. "I won't be wearing this then."
Daryl swallowed hard and forced himself not think of her out of her clothes as he concentrated on the road, or tried to. He was already regretting his decision to go with her. It seemed that his self control was going for quite the test drive this weekend.
As they got on the interstate the air wiping through the open windows beat away the heat as it came although it made it harder for them to hear each other. Beth tried speaking a few times but when it became apparent that Daryl could not hear her insistent chatter she merely leaned over and cranked up the radio, surprisingly content to leave it on Merle's go to station of classic rock. In the end they spent most of the drive with nothing but the music and the open air between them. About halfway through the drive Beth leaned over to stick her barefeet out the window, giggling when the wind blew her dress up around her thighs. Daryl damn near jumped out of his lane at the sight of so much her creamy skin.
Eventually, Beth directed him off the exit towards a two lane road that would lead them through the small town where she grew up. As the speed limit decreased so did the volume of the wind and Daryl realized that Beth was singing along to the radio in her sweet voice. By the time she was pointing him towards the long dirt driveway to a large white farmhouse he himself was even humming along with the familiar music. Like always, Beth's good mood was infectious to him.
The driveway felt like it lasted ages and Daryl was suddenly hit by an overwhelming amount of nerves that only worsened when Beth pulled her feet into the car and began to bounce in her seat as they got closer to the house. A few people had been sitting on the porch and Daryl saw them all stand up as the truck puttered to a stop next to a few other cars. Taking a deep breath Daryl leaned over to jimmy open the passenger side door when Beth leaned closer to whisper in his ear.
He was so distracted by her breath on his skin that she was already out of the car and dashing towards a squealing brunette when her rushed words registered in his brain.
"By the way I kind of, sort of, told Maggiethatyou'remyboyfriend."
Oh this was gonna be fun.
By the time Maggie and her were done jumping around in their excitement for the upcoming wedding Beth could sense everyone looking over her shoulder where she knew Daryl had to be slouching. She could also tell from the looks on everyone's faces that he was nothing like they were expecting but she did not let that thought linger in her mind because she knew once they met him they would like him just as much as she did.
"This is Daryl." she cried happily, smiling and beckoning for him to come closer which he did with a further slumping of his shoulders. Her father smiled and gave her a quick kiss on the forehead before walking over and shaking Daryl's hand.
"Hershel Greene." he smile didn't falter even when Daryl didn't return it. "Thank you for coming."
Daryl looked at Beth awkwardly and she smiled brightly at him when he cleared his throat and muttered. "Thanks for having me."
"This is my sister Maggie." Beth said, prompting her sister to step forward and shake Daryl's hand. Beth pointedly ignored her when she mouthed a 'he's cute!' over his shoulder before continuing. "And this is her soon to be husband Glenn." He too shook Daryl's hand and Beth felt a surge of gratitude that at least the worst part was likely over.
"You're just in time for the rehearsal dinner. Everyone should be getting here soon." Glenn said with a smile as he held open the door for everyone to walk through.
"Bethy why don't you take your things up to your room." her father said, placing his hand on her shoulder and nudging her towards the stairs. "I already set up the guest bedroom down here for your boyfriend."
A blush began to spread across Beth's face at her father's silent implication that she would have wanted Daryl to sleep in her room with her. Casting a quick glance over her shoulder she thought she saw the faintest traces of pink on Daryl's ears despite his face being in its usual mask of calm.
From what Daryl understood the rehearsal dinner was more of a get together where everyone even remotely involved in the wedding ate a lot of food and told exuberant stories about the bride and groom. Maggie and Glenn seemed to enjoy it, at least as far as he could tell (although Daryl supposed he wouldn't be the best judge of figuring out if they did or not). Beth spent most of the evening sitting beside him on the couch and laughing with the others although she would often turn to him to explain some of the stories in a whisper. Daryl didn't bother to tell her that he still didn't get the point of most of the tales people were telling because he didn't want her to stop her near breathless whisper against his ear.
By the time people began to trickle out it was well past midnight and Daryl began to understand why they were having their wedding in the late afternoon. The last person to leave was Glenn, who Maggie spent what Daryl personally thought was an absurdly long time saying goodbye to considering they were getting married the next day. He rose to help Beth and her father clean away the mess, Beth shooing her sister off the second she tried to pick up a cup when she came back inside.
"You go rest. We've got this." she chided, taking the cup from her sister's hands and directing her towards the stairs.
Daryl may not have been an expert on families but even he knew that the hug Maggie gave her then had little to do with her cleaning and everything to do with the following day. He tried to busy himself with picking up trash as she kissed her father goodnight but he was forced to look over at her when she squeezed his arm.
"Thank you." Maggie whispered, smiling at him before she headed upstairs. Daryl only nodded, it was just trash after all, but as he caught Hershel's eye across the room he wondered if maybe that wasn't what she was thanking him for after all. He simply shook his head in confusion before tying off the bag in his hands.
"Have you written your toast yet Bethy?" Hershel asked as they finished clearing the room. Daryl looked over just in time to see a look of horror wash over Beth's face. Her father had his back to her and by the time he turned to face her she had pulled out a weak smile.
"Of course Daddy." she kissed him on the cheek before he turned to the stairs with a whispered goodnight at the both of them. The second they heard his bedroom door click Beth turned to face Daryl with a look of pure panic.
"I forgot to write a toast." she rose her hands to her head as she shook it frantically. "I completely forgot. The wedding is tomorrow!" she whisper cried as Daryl took a step closer to her and tried to pull her hands down from her hair. He had never seen Beth so out of sorts before and he had to force himself not to keep holding onto her hands once they were safely away from her hair.
"So write one now." he shrugged, not understanding what the big deal was. Weren't toasts supposed to be simple?
Beth look up at him with eyes wide in disbelief. "Write one now? What am I supposed to say? What do I even write about!?" she pulled away from him and began to pace the floor, biting her nails as she went. Daryl rolled his eyes at her antics and grabbed her arm as she walked past him the third time. He was going against his own rules about the distance he should keep from her but he could not stand to see her so upset over such a simple thing.
"It's a wedding right? Say some crap about love and everyone will be happy." Daryl shrugged as he placed his hands on her upper arms, forcing her to stay in one spot and look up at him. As her eyes met his Daryl had to swallow hard against the sudden lump in his throat. "Can't be that hard right?"
Beth scoffed and dropped her head against his chest suddenly. Daryl sucked in a breath of surprise at the contact and wondered if she could hear his heart speeding up. He had never been so close to her before and it was doing seriously dangerous things to his thinking. "That'll be a great speech." she mumbled into his shirt. "Love is nice. Congratulations Maggie and Glenn!"
Taking a deep breath Daryl rose his hand to her back, rubbing it soothingly like the way his mother did once when he was very young and very sick. "Might want to add a little bit more to it." he admitted causing Beth to groan against his chest and him to bite back a smile as she pressed her forehead closer to him. "Maybe say something about why their love works?" he questioned awkwardly, feeling very out of his element in the conversation. He had never seen the point of big romantic acts but maybe that was just because he'd never been in love. He was no good with the idea of love or romance in the best of times, let alone with Beth pressed up against him like she was.
Beth pulled away then to look up at him and Daryl shrugged sheepishly. "Everybody's love is different right?" he questioned, feeling his face heat up with a blush as she look up at him. He had never been more aware of the nerves in his fingers as they curled around Beth's upper arms.
"Yeah. Yeah it is." Beth whispered, not moving to pull away from him until they heard a door open upstairs and she bid him a quick good night before running up to her room.
"You look beautiful." Beth finished putting the last bobby pin in place and both she and Maggie leaned back to admire her reflection in the mirror. "Glenn's a lucky man."
Smiling Maggie reached up to roll the edge of her veil between her fingers. "You think so?"
"Uh huh." Beth smiled as soothed down a stray lock of her sister's hair as she stood behind her chair.
All of a sudden Maggie was sniffling, turning to throw her arms around Beth's waist. "I'm so glad you're here." she whispered and Beth knew from the tone of her voice that she was not talking about her making the drive down from school.
She could just see the scar on her wrist as she looked down at the top of her sister's head and whispered, "Me too."
For a moment they simply stood there, both of them remembering the people who should have been there to share the happy day with them while they tried to be grateful that at least they still had each other and their father. And of course, they were gaining Glenn.
"I don't want to mess up my makeup." Maggie joked as she eventually pulled away and ran her thumbs under her eyes. Suddenly she looked at up Beth in horror, "And you need to get dressed! What are you still doing in here? Go!" she waved her hands frantically causing Beth to giggle.
Still laughing Beth turned and fled from the room, waving at Rosita and Tara in the hallway to let them know they could go keep Maggie calm while she got ready. She had woken up early to do her hair and makeup before going to help Maggie so all that was left was to put on her maid of honor dress.
The soft pink material was silky against her skin as she slipped it over her head but Beth realized almost immediately that she had a problem. Try as she might she could not reach the zipper on her back. Beth simply could not get her arms to bend the right away behind her. With a heavy sigh she admitted defeat. Holding the dress to her chest with one arm she yanked open her bedroom door to go ask one of the girls to zip her up.
She never got the chance.
His fist raised as if to knock Daryl looked down at her in surprise causing a deep blush to form on Beth's cheeks as she realized that she was standing in front of him partially undressed. Forcing down thoughts of how she'd like to be completely undressed around him Beth cleared her throat as Daryl's hand fell back to his side.
"I can't reach the zipper." she mumbled. "Do you mind?" she swallowed hard and pulled her hair up with one hand as she turned around without waiting for an answer. In the mirror across the room she watched the shock roll across Daryl's features. Ever so slowly his hands moved to her back, his fingers just brushing her skin as he pulled the zipper up. Beth held her breath as Daryl's fingers fumbled with the hook closure at the top of the dress, biting back a smile as he whispered a curse before finally snapping it shut.
"Done." he whispered and Beth found it suddenly increasingly hard to breath at the rough tone of his voice. His hands still lingered on her shoulders as Beth slowly turned around, his hands sliding down to her arms as they stood in her doorway. His blue eyes were piercing on hers as Beth tilted her head up a little and his hands curled around her arms much like they had the night before. Only they were standing much closer than they were last night and Beth was all to willing to stand even closer. Her heart was in her throat as Daryl leaned down ever so slightly and she pressed herself up onto her toes. Their lips were only centimeters apart when a door at the end of the hallway banged open and laughter bubbled out into the hall.
Daryl pulled away from her like he was burned by her touch and Beth gasped as his hands left her arms. Rosita and Tara came out into the hall as Daryl turned for the stairs, casting one last lingering look at her over his shoulder as he went. Beth was starting to realize that maybe she didn't need to tell him about her feelings after all. It was beginning to seem as if he already knew.
The lawn had been transformed from the lopping green space Daryl had driven up to the night before into a scene he thought could be in one of those romance movies Beth was always trying to talk him into watching. Rented white chairs lined a makeshift aisle edged by pink flowers and there were tables placed behind them for after the ceremony was over. A wicker altar had been lent to the Greenes by a friend of the family and Daryl had spent half the morning helping Hershel and the owner, an older man named Dale, loop flowers through it. Some of his fingers were still bleeding from the thorns.
Daryl had never been to a wedding before so he had nothing to compare it to but he thought it looked pretty good. He couldn't help but grin at the near sick look on Glenn's face as he took his place at the altar, the preacher clapping his shoulder and whispering to him what Daryl could only assume was encouragement. The chairs were full of strangers and Daryl crossed his arms awkwardly as he sat beside a young blonde girl who kept whispering to her mother about how exciting everything was.
"Look Mom it's starting!" the girl whisper cried as the music started from the porch where they had dragged the Greene's piano last night. Turning his head Daryl saw she was right and the wedding party was beginning to make its way down the porch steps to the aisle.
"Hush Sophia." the woman whispered but Daryl could hear the smile in her voice as the group began to approach them. He didn't know much about the people in the wedding party but he was pretty sure he remembered their names from the night before, there were only six of them after all.
They were led by the girl Tara, the one Beth claimed taught her the yo-yo tricks she often liked to pull out whenever she was bored at the garage, and she was walking with a man Daryl had spoken to briefly last night who went by the nickname T-Dog. Behind them were Rosita and Abraham who were nice enough even if the one time he had met the man he had wanted to rip the mustache off his face. And behind them...
Daryl seemed to forget how to breath for a moment and from the corner of his eye he saw the girl Sophia looking at him knowingly but the fact barely registered. For walking down the porch steps was Beth, the sun shining off her hair which hung loose around her shoulders. While Daryl had already seen her in her dress he had been so distracted by touching her, by almost kissing her, that it had not fully registered in him how beautiful she was in it (the second the thought crossed his mind Daryl had never been more grateful that Merle as not there or a mind reader because he knew he would never hear the end of that one).
But she was beautiful, her face nothing but smiles as she walked down the aisle arm in arm with a man Daryl had yet to meet as he had not been at the rehearsal dinner. He thought her eyes seemed to be searching the crowd and he wondered briefly what or who for but then her eyes were on him and they didn't let go of his until she passed him on her way to the aisle. It took almost more self control than he had not to reach out and touch her hand as she passed by. Once she took her place at the front of the trio of women her eyes were right back on his and Daryl didn't even bother to turn around to watch the bride walk down the aisle. Even Beth's eyes only flickered away from his a few times but for most of the short ceremony they only had eyes for each other.
Her face hurt from smiling and it was not just because they had spent the last hour taking pictures of the wedding party. Beth had never been so happy for her sister as she was when she watched Glenn slip that ring onto her finger. She had met her father's eyes at that moment and she knew from his smile that he was living by the adage that he was not losing his daughter, he had simply gained himself a son.
Maggie and Glenn were all smiles and laughter and kisses as they took the pictures and it seemed most of the wedding party had caught the wedding high leaving it up to Beth and the best man Rick to try to keep everybody in line.
By the time they were finished with the photos Patricia and Otis had already lined the long table at the edge of the festivities with food and people were eating happily, everyone caught up in the joy of the newlyweds. Thankfully Maggie and Glenn didn't care where anyone sat so after giving Glenn a quick kiss on the cheek and her sister a tight hug Beth was able to slip away to sit in the vacant chair next to Daryl. She had a feeling it was only still vacant because of the surly look on his face even though Sophia, who Maggie used to babysit, was chatting at him quite happily on his other side.
"Beth! Your boyfriend is really nice!" Sophia called out happily as Beth settled in the chair, her feet nearly breathing sighs of relief as the weight was taken off the high heels she seriously regretted wearing. Beth tried to ignore the blush forming on her face as Sophia's mother, Carol, nodded in agreement.
"Quite the man you've got Beth." she said with a grin that Beth found hard not to return even though she was finding it very hard to look at Daryl at the moment. She was already unsure of where they stood after their near kiss a few hours ago, these compliments to his character were not helping her very much.
The sudden tapping of a knife against a wine glass filled her ears and Beth looked over to see Glenn standing up, Maggie smiling up at him from her chair. "We'd like to thank everyone for joining us on this great day!" he was practically beaming as he reached down and squeezed Maggie's hand. "It means a lot to us that you were all here to celebrate our love with us. So here's to all of you!" Glenn rose his glass with a smile and everyone joined him, taking sips from their glasses as Glenn sat back down.
Searching the crowd Beth found Rick who nodded at the question in her eyes and Beth took a deep breath, knowing that now was the time she had been dreading. He tapped on his wine glass for the crowd to fall silent for her and Beth stood with wobbly legs, suddenly very grateful for the table hiding her shaking knees. As if sensing her discomfort Daryl reached forward and squeezed her hand, to which she smiled down at him gratefully glad to see not a hint of awkwardness from the hallway. He only let go of her hand when she took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, as if she needed to physically prepare herself for what she was about to do.
"My sister is one of the most stubborn people I have ever met." Beth began, pausing as a few people let out laughs at her very true statement. She looked at Maggie and Glenn then who smiled at her as Glenn wrapped his arm around Maggie's shoulder. "She told me the day that she met Glenn she was going to spend the rest of her life with him. I think we should all be grateful he didn't put up much of a fight."
More laughter came than as Glenn pressed a kiss against a laughing Maggie's cheek. Taking another deep breath Beth looked down at Daryl who nodded for her to continue with a the slightest hint of a smile.
"The world can be harsh at times so when you find someone you love as much as these two love each other you make sure to hold on tight. I've seen these two go through the toughest of times and not a single thing has been able to tear them apart. Love isn't always easy but it can be worth fighting for. Worth holding on for." Beth had to clear her throat as she watched Maggie try to inconspicuously wipe away tears and she knew that once again they were thinking of the same thing, the same people they had lost only months after Glenn and Maggie met, and of everything that had happened after.
"So here's to Glenn and Maggie and never letting go." Beth finished quickly as she rose her glass. At the tables around her everyone did the same, calling out cheers for the married couple before taking swigs of their beverages.
Her speech finally over Beth sank down into her chair gratefully, smiling as Rick gave his toast. She didn't hear much of it as Daryl had reached over for her hand again when she sat down and she was to busy concentrating on his fingers wound through her own. She smiled at him thankfully and he simply watched her as Rick finished speaking to scattered applause before someone turned on the stereo.
Beth turned to watch with a smile as Maggie and Glenn began their first dance as husband and wife, not letting go of Daryl's hand. As the song ended more people began to make their way to the grass that had become the dance floor and Beth bit her lip as a ball of nerves settled in her stomach.
"Do you wanna dance?" she turned and asked Daryl in a rush, fully expecting for him to say no or that he didn't dance. Instead she sucked in a breath of surprise as he stood and offered her his hand before leading her out to the edge of the other dancers.
Try as he might Daryl could not ignore the way Beth fit perfectly in his arms. They merely spun in a small circle together as Daryl did not know any dance steps and even that small move felt like to much for him. This was his first wedding after all and he felt so at odds with its customs and his ill fitting borrowed suit but with Beth there in his arms none of it mattered anymore. He could dance with her for hours.
Beth pulled away from him then and he wondered if he had said his thoughts out loud but she only whispered a quick "Be right back." before running back to their table at the edge of the grass dance floor. Daryl ran his hand through his hair awkwardly wondering what the hell he was supposed to do but before he could worry to much Beth was running back to him only now several inches shorter. He looked down to find she had kicked off her heels and her bare feet were now curled in the grass.
"Those shoes were killing me." she admitted with a sheepish smile upon seeing his glance down at her feet and Daryl couldn't stop the laugh that bubbled out of him at that.
Beth smiled back at him before wrapping her arms around him and Daryl pulled her close to him, this time there seemed to be very little barriers between them as Beth pressed herself against his chest and Daryl rested his chin on her hair. Even in the growing darkness he could see people watching them from the tables but for once in his life Daryl didn't care. He had never thought he would get to hold Beth like this and he was not sure whether their sudden closeness was due to the general atmosphere of the wedding or if by some strange miracle Beth actually returned some of his feelings.
Beth's whisper drew him from his thoughts, "People are staring at us."
And Daryl didn't know what overcame him at that but instead of being embarrassed or angry he placed one arm carefully around Beth's back, the other clutching her hand as he suddenly dipped her towards the ground.
Beth giggled in surprise as he pulled her back up, wrapping her once more in his arms as he leaned down to whisper in her ear, "Let them stare."
Beth pressed her face into his suit coat and Daryl wondered briefly if she could hear the pounding of his heart. She was showing no sign of wanting to pull away from him and she seemed to be as content to be in his arms as he was to hold her in them. He was beginning to wonder what would happen if he were to kiss her right there on her front lawn, to finish what they had started in the doorway of her bedroom. It was only the watchful eyes of everyone present that stopped him. He didn't care if they saw them dancing but if he was ever going to kiss Beth, well he didn't want to share that moment with anyone.
Whether fast song or slow they did not change their tempo. He wasn't sure of how long they spun in their tiny circle at the edge of the world but far to soon her father was cutting in, spinning Beth on the dance floor with a smile that Daryl had never seen the likes of on anyone before. Daryl was not sure how but somehow Maggie conned him into dancing with her while her new husband and Beth seemed intent on breaking either a dance record or themselves with their exuberant dance moves. But no one else but those two men braved the task of stealing Beth from Daryl's arms for the rest of the night.
The next morning rose with the exact weather Maggie had been dreading the day prior, the sky thick with heavy dark clouds holding every promise of a storm. She and Glenn had left late in the night for the airport so they could travel to their honeymoon. Maggie had already sent Beth three different pictures of Glenn sleeping on the plane by the time she herself had woken up.
As she threw her bag into the pickup Beth silently wished she could stay at home another day but she had school to return to and Daryl had his job. Still it was with a heavy heart that she trudged up to the porch to say goodbye.
Her father held her for a long time and Beth clung to him just as tightly knowing they were both wondering what he was going to do in this now big and empty house.
"Come back soon alright?" he whispered as she pulled away. "You too." Beth smiled as he looked over her shoulder to address Daryl who nodded before stepping forward to shake Hershel's outstretched hand.
Beth gave her father one last kiss on the cheek before she followed Daryl to the truck, smiling to herself when he pulled open the door for her. She tried to remind herself it was because the door stuck but when Beth saw her father's smile as she climbed into the truck she silently promised herself she would never tell him about that.
Rolling down her window Beth leaned out of it to wave goodbye to her father until Daryl rounded the curve in the driveway and she could no longer see the farmhouse. Beth told herself she would have to come down more often than usual this summer, she would use anytime off she got from the diner where she waited tables to come visit the farm, as she rolled the window back up. She shivered and pulled her jacket closer around her as she whispered a silent thank you to God for holding off the storm until today. She didn't even want to imagine how Maggie would have acted if this was how the weather had been yesterday.
Daryl and her fell into a silence that was nothing like their usual comfortable one. Beth felt strangely on edge and she wasn't exactly sure what caused it. She didn't think it was their almost kiss or the dancing from the night before. She didn't even think it was caused by how they had stayed up half the night talking on the porch. Beth was beginning to think that they were standing on a line that once crossed there would be no coming back from, and they were both all to well aware of it.
Then again, it was Daryl. He'd told her himself he'd never had much of a home life. Merle was the only family he had and it had only been in the recent years that he had cleaned up his act to be much of a brother to Daryl. Maybe he just didn't like spending time with her family, especially since he had to pretend to be something he wasn't.
"I'm sorry about my family. I shouldn't have told Maggie you were my boyfriend, it was an accident really." Beth could feel herself beginning to babble and she didn't know how to stop it but thankfully Daryl did.
He shrugged as the clouds finally opened up and rain began to trickle down. "It's alright." he flicked the windshield wipers on as the rain began to fall in a force on them. "I kind of liked them." Beth smiled and rested her head back on the seat as Daryl whispered, "Liked seeing a real family."
She opened her mouth to say something, not entirely sure what, but before she could say anything the truck jolted sharply and Daryl cursed as it veered harshly off the road into the dirt shoulder.
Hitting his hands on the steering wheel Daryl turned to Beth quickly to make sure that she was okay. She nodded at him as she took a deep breath and feeling reassured Daryl opened his door, the rain soaking him almost the minute he got out of the car.
Approaching the back tire he could see the problem right away, it had blown out. Despite working in and partially owning a mechanic shop Merle took very little care of his own truck and he often rode his tires to the barest of threads. Swearing Daryl peered into the bed of the truck hopefully even though he already knew what he would find.
It was empty. Merle was never good at being cautious and the thought to carry a spare tire for emergencies like this had likely never once crossed his mind.
The sound of a car door opening drew Daryl from his sullen thoughts. He looked across the truck bed to where Beth was standing, her jean jacket pulled up over her head to shield her from the rain although it didn't look like it was doing her any good.
"Get back in the truck!" Daryl called, waving his hand as Beth continued around the bed to him.
"Does he have a spare?" she asked after taking one look at the blown tire.
Daryl shook his head no, touching her between her shoulder blades to push her back to the truck. Opening the driver side door Daryl let her slide over the bench seat before following after her, both of them dripping water everywhere as he dug his cell phone out of his pocket. He saw Beth bend down to dig hers out of her purse at the same time.
"No signal." he bit out before tossing his phone onto the dashboard in frustration.
"Me neither." Beth sighed before she shivered. "Storms tend to knock the cell signals out but they start back up pretty quick after the rain ends."
"Looks like we're gonna have to wait it out here then." Daryl sighed, leaning back against the seat. "Less you wanna walk back to your place?" he turned to look at her, his mouth falling open in surprise as she peeled the wet jacket off her arms. The pale yellow of her dress had been rendered nearly see through and Daryl swallowed hard at the sight of her bra through the thin cloth. He turned his head away quickly but could still hear the rustle of fabric next to him and finally he had to ask.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Don't want to stay in these wet clothes." Beth explained as he heard what could only have been her dress hit the floor of the truck. "If we're gonna be here a while we might as well change."
"What if someone drives by?" Daryl asked, forcing himself to keep his face turned away despite his heavy temptation to turn around. He knew the second he turned he would lose every ounce of control he had.
"No one uses this road anymore, especially not in the rain."Beth explained as he listened to her dig through her bag for dry clothes. "It's why I like it. Used to ride my bike up and down this road for hours."
Daryl had to force his eyes shut as she spoke he was so tempted to turn around and look at her. They were silent for a moment until Beth let out a gasp of surprise and her foot was suddenly pressed against his thigh. Daryl drew in a slow breath before slowly opening his eyes, trying to keep his gaze focused on the jeans bunched up around her ankle by his leg. It didn't work and his gaze began to travel up her body to her face.
"Sorry." Beth giggled, leaning up from where she had caught herself from falling off the bench seat with one hand thrown against the dashboard. "This is harder than it used to be."
Daryl nodded to let her know it was okay but he could not seem to tear his eyes away from her body. The knowledge that Beth was dripping wet and only in her underwear less than a foot from him was doing serious things to his self control not to mention his brain.
"Aren't you gonna change?" Beth's voice seemed to have dropped an octave and his eyes met hers again at the sound.
Her wet hair was clinging to her face and collarbone and try as he might to hold onto the single thread of control he had left one glance at the hungry look in Beth's eyes snapped it in half.
His breath suddenly seemed inordinately loud as Beth pushed herself up onto her knees and began to slide slowly across the seat towards him. The closer she got the more Daryl knew he should move away, if he touched her like this there would be no going back. He could never be able to handle being just her friend again. But Beth deserved better than him, deserved a man that could make her family proud. Daryl wasn't the type of man to make anyone proud especially since he did not move a muscle to turn away as Beth reached shaking hands up to cup his face.
For a moment both of them held completely still, not even their eyes moving as they stared at each other. And Daryl knew that this was it, if he was going to pull away he needed to do it now. But he didn't, he couldn't. There was nothing there to interrupt them, not this time. Not even him.
He couldn't even tell which of them was the first to lean forwards to press their lips together in a kiss that was anything but innocent.
Beth couldn't believe what was happening, that she was actually finally kissing Daryl. She felt like damn near singing as Daryl caught her bottom lip between his teeth lightly. His mouth was hot and urgent on hers and before Beth could even think the action through she was throwing one leg onto the other side of his hips. She felt him gasp against her lips as she straddled him and his surprise only made her press herself to him tighter. His white shirt stuck to her chest as he wrapped his arms around her, pressing her body into his.
Her jeans were tangled around one ankle and her hair was plastering itself to everything: her chest, his face, her neck, but none of that seemed to matter as Daryl wound his arms around her back. The coldness of his hands on her skin made her shiver and Daryl pulled away at the movement. Beth made a noise of protest and leaned forward but Daryl turned his face away.
A sense of horror washed over her as Beth realized how she must look to him and she moved to get off of him, hitting the horn with her ass as she tried to move. Her cheeks flaming with embarrassment Beth stilled on his lap and looked up at him, surprised to find he was not looking at her like they had just made a terrible mistake but rather like he was trying to hold himself back from drowning in her.
Beth forced herself to take a deep breath and think through the last few minutes. She didn't want to throw their friendship away because of one kiss, no matter how much more she wanted. Beth didn't even know what she was thinking, climbing onto him like that. Really all she had wanted to do was get out of her soaking wet clothes but it seemed that her feelings had been bubbling far to close to the surface lately. Well that and she appeared to have very little self control.
Daryl reached up to brush some of her hair back off her face as her cheeks slowly returned to normal color as he looked up at her reverently.
"You deserve better than this." he whispered causing her brow to furrow. "Better than my brother's truck in a rainstorm." Beth smiled as she realized he had pulled away out of care for her and not because he didn't want her like she feared. The smile quickly slipped off her face as Daryl looked away from her then as he muttered darkly, "Better than me."
Beth reached up to cup his face in her hands, forcing him to look back at her. "Don't talk like that Daryl. You're a good man." he began to shake his head but her grip on his face stopped him and he looked up at her eyes like no one had ever told him what she had just said. "You are. You're smart and you're brave and despite how you try to hide it you're kind." Beth took a deep breath as she let her hands fall down from his face before wrapping them around herself as she whispered the truth she had always known. "Any girl would be lucky to have you."
Daryl's hand was under her chin then, drawing her gaze back to his. She wasn't sure how much he believed her words but they must have had some effect on him because he whispered. "Don't want just any girl." before leaning forward and kissing her again.
This kiss was different than the other, it was a mere soft brush of their lips before Daryl pulled away and Beth leaned down to rest her forehead against his. Their breaths became the only sound in the truck as Daryl rose his hands to rest on her hips and Beth shivered again at his touch although this time was for a whole other reason altogether.
"I don't need better than this Daryl. I don't want better than this." Beth whispered, knowing that they were now at the point of no return. It was time to be brave. "I just want you."
She felt Daryl's fingers tighten on her hips as they stared at each other and for one heart stopping moment she was afraid he was just going to push her off of him and break her heart but then he whispered, "Beth, you've already got me."
And with that her mouth was on his again.
It was as if their previous two kisses had blended into one as Beth wound her hands into his wet hair and Daryl tugged her closer to his chest. Their mouths clashed together, all tongues and teeth as Beth ran her hands down his chest. Daryl's hands ran up her back and Beth wondered if he had been wanting this moment just as long as she had.
As her hands pushed up the hem of his sodden t-shirt Beth felt Daryl fumbling with the hooks of her bra, both of them knowing there was no stopping now. They had been tiptoeing and dancing around this for so long that now that they were both sure the other was on the same page neither of them seemed to want to have any barriers left between them.
Daryl finally got the clasps of her bra undone and Beth pulled her hands out from under his shirt long enough to slip the white cotton off her arms, tossing it to the other side of the truck without a care. His hands were on her chest then, the rough calluses on his fingers brushing against her bare breasts and making her gasp. She felt him smile against her mouth at the sound before he pulled away and began to kiss a trail down her neck as his hands began to wander lower. Beth's own hands were content to run over Daryl's torso. He flinched when her hands danced over a rough scar on his chest and Beth knew that it was the memory of how he got the scar that caused him pain not her touch. Her fingers ran over it again slowly as if she could make him remember those parts of his skin with a gentle touch instead of violence.
He pressed a wet kiss against her shoulder at the action and Beth pulled one hand out from under his shirt to place on the base of his neck, guiding his face up again to kiss her. As they kissed Daryl's hands ran up her thighs slowly before he wrapped his fingers around the waistband of her underwear and Beth nodded to his unspoken question. It took them some maneuvering to get the cloth pushed down over her hips and even more to push it off her ankles, one of which still had her jeans tangled around it. Several breathless frantic minutes later Beth was straddling him again, completely naked as her fingers made quick work with the buckle of his belt.
Beth pushed herself up on her knees to allow Daryl the room to push his jeans down one handed as his other hand was making its way back up her thigh again. Beth gripped his shoulders with a whimper as he slipped one finger inside of her before leaning up to kiss her again. Reaching down between them Beth wrapped her hand around his length, smiling against his lips when he moaned at the contact.
Beth pulled away from his mouth so she had just enough space to whisper, "Protection?"
"Check the glove compartment." Daryl whispered as he bent to press kisses against the corner of her neck, causing a tingle to go up her spine before she leaned over and dug through the absurd amount of paper in the small compartment. Beth was just about to give up with a sigh of disappointment when her fingers brushed foil and she pulled back with a victorious grin. She offered the small package to Daryl who took it from her with a smile and Beth promised herself that she was going to make Merle Dixon more cupcakes than he could eat for the rest of his life but then Daryl's hands were back on her and all thoughts of anything else fled her mind.
Beth was no virgin but when Daryl rose his hips up as she settled down on him Beth knew right away this was going to be different. This was not going to be a few quick thrusts hidden in the back corner of a hayloft or a rough tumble on the floor of someone's apartment. This was something entirely new to her.
It was not because Daryl was some expert love maker either. There were a few minutes of awkward positioning before they found a spot that didn't have Beth honking the horn with her ass at every thrust. Their awkward fumbling only made Beth's endearment for Daryl grow before they managed to scoot themselves far enough away from the steering wheel.
Beth cupped his face in her hands again and kissed him as Daryl clutched her hips in his hands, using his grip to give him better leverage as Beth began to move on top of him. It took them another few moments to find their rhythm but once they did they settled into it with increasingly ragged breaths. Beth kept her hands wrapped in Daryl's hair, tugging on his locks with a moan as he hit a particular deep spot inside of her. He began to kiss his way down her neck, stopping to suck on her pulse point. She wasn't sure but she thought she heard Daryl whisper her name breathlessly against her skin more than once.
What followed was frantic and rushed with more than one giggle as they had to try to readjust their position. Despite all that, Beth wouldn't have had it any other way. When she came undone in his arms with the help of his fingers after he had finished before her Daryl had kissed her with more tenderness than any lover she had ever had. Beth knew in that moment that she had been right, there was no going back for them now.
Once both of them had their breathing back under control Beth pressed a lingering kiss on his lips before slipping off of him and searching for her clothes from where they had scattered around the truck bed. She saw Daryl pull his jeans back up before she pulled her shirt over her head and she had just turned to him to ask him what they should do about the tire when there was a knock on her window.
Beth jumped in surprise and her and Daryl exchanged a horrified look before she turned and peered through the rain to see a familiar sheriff hat. Rolling the window down a crack Beth tried not to look to guilty as Rick peered through the rain at them.
"Got a call from your dad Beth, said you two'd probably take this road out. Wanted me to make sure you didn't have any trouble."
Relief surged through her that he wasn't there to arrest them for public indecency or something as she nodded frantically. "Our tire popped. We don't have a spare!" she called, smiling as she heard Daryl breath a sigh of relief behind her.
"Tow truck ain't gonna come out in this weather. Why don't you two hop in my car? I'll give you a ride back to the farm, you can wait out the weather there." Rick called, walking back to his car at Beth's nod of gratitude.
Pulling her wet jacket back on Beth turned to share a look of relief with Daryl, smiling as he shook his head at her.
"Nobody uses this road huh?" he scoffed, but the small smile he gave her took any malice from his words.
Beth giggled before she leaned over to press a kiss to his mouth, pulling away just far enough to whisper against his lips, "If we have to stay there tonight I bet I can sneak you into my room." She slipped out of the car and into the rain storm at that but not before she saw the hungry look in Daryl's eyes.
"You're gonna be the death of me ain't you Greene?" he called right before she shut the door. Beth simply grinned and blew him a kiss before racing through the rain to the squad car knowing without looking back that Daryl was right behind her.