I don't even know what made me think of this but I knew I had to write it because it wouldn't leave me alone even though it's a baby fic and I write too many of them as it is. Hopefully you all like it anyways.
Warnings for miscarriage because it's a large part of the story and if you feel it may be a trigger for you than I suggest maybe not reading this story just to be safe.
It's in the quiet hours after Judith is born, when she's sitting in his arms and everything is soft and quiet and warm, that Beth looks at Daryl and he knows the time has come for them to decide whether they're going to speed up or slow down.
It's not something Daryl picks up on instantly, because Beth is pretty good about hiding things she doesn't want him to know right away, but he also isn't stupid and he's been watching her since he took Judith in his arms and he can tell by the way she's watching them (more specifically him) that she wants this too.
One of the first things she tells them when they meet is that she's always wanted a child and he thinks this probably would have scared anyone else away, because they didn't really know each other and she was young and her daddy was scary as hell, but Daryl didn't really care. He saw the longing in her eyes when she said it and he admired that; most of the girls in this town only got pregnant because they were newly married or wanted to keep their man around when things got rough and while Daryl didn't doubt that they loved their children there was something in Beth's eyes when she said it that seemed like so much more.
She didn't just want a child, she wanted love; that kind of unconditional love that a child has for its mother and vice versa and she tells him this much later that night as they're lying in bed, her back pressed against his chest as he toys with her hair and her voice no more than a whisper in the dark of their bedroom.
I want a baby Daryl.
I want a baby with you.
He lets out a low rumbling laugh, presses his lips against the shell of her ear and watches her shiver beneath the touch. "Figured as much."
Is that something you'd want?
He shrugs, because he's had time to think about this. "Wouldn't be the worst thing in the world."
And really, he thinks, it wouldn't be.
Beth gets pregnant on the first try.
She stops taking the pill a few weeks before and then they stop using condoms and it really doesn't seem like they're doing much of anything different though Daryl knows that's not true because in the early months of spring he comes home one day and the first thing he sees is a flash of blonde hair before Beth flings herself into his arms.
He barely hears the words it worked, I'm pregnant, because he's too focused on the plastic stick in her hand with the little pink plus sign but it only takes a few seconds for the shock to fade before he finds that he's actually happy about this and he reaches out to crush Beth against him as she weeps happily into his shirt.
They have their first appointment not long after they find out.
Beth looks sort of nervous as she lies back on the table and Daryl thinks he probably looks a bit uneasy too, because he's never liked doctor's offices, but the moment the doctor comes in and starts to talk Beth instantly relaxes and answers her questions, tells her about the morning sickness she's been having lately and practically bounces off of the table all together when asked if she'd like to see her baby.
The moment the little image flashes onto the screen Beth is crying. She's crying and holding his hand and Daryl forgets how to breathe for a moment because right there, on that little screen and no bigger than a jelly bean is their baby and even though it looks absolutely nothing like a person whatsoever he realizes that it's theirs and his chest tightens as he squeezes Beth's hand back and wishes he could stare at the screen forever.
Things go good, until they don't.
They tell Maggie, Glenn, and Hershel and there are tears and smiles and even hugs that Daryl is forced to partake in because Maggie scares him sometimes and he still feels guilty about the last time he sent Glenn home with a pissed off wife.
Beth continues to have morning sickness that actually seems to happen at all times of the day much to his confusion and he finds she cries a little easier so that makes him nervous because the last thing he wants is to have a sobbing, inconsolable Beth on his hands and no idea how to make it better.
She buys a book of baby names around the twelfth week mark, ignores his protests that she doesn't even know if it's a boy or a girl and by the end of the week she has a list of names a mile long and all Daryl can do is laugh and shake his head.
Things go good until they don't and Daryl wakes up to the sound of crying. It's only two in the morning and he rolls over carefully and finds Beth sitting up in bed and sobbing and he thinks it may have been a bad dream because she gets those a lot lately but then he looks down where she's got the covers pulled back and all he sees is red.
So much red.
And Beth is crying harder now that he' awake, keeps sobbing and saying the baby, the baby and Daryl thinks he's gonna throw up but he doesn't and instead he gets up and yanks on the jeans he took off before getting in bed and he tells her over and over it's okay, it's okay, even though he knows deep down that nothing in this moment is okay.
The entire drive to the hospital is filled with Beth crying. She's crying and clutching the door handle and trying not to look at him as he breaks every speed limit between them and the doctor and repeats it's okay, it's okay like a mantra.
And even when the doctor tells them what he already knew, that their baby is dead, he holds her face in his hands and tells her it's okay until his throat is raw and exhaustion finally lulls her to sleep.
It's only then that he finally sits back and lets the tears that have been burning at the backs of his eyes make their appearance.
They keep Beth over night because she bleeds a lot.
She mostly sleeps and occasionally she cries but she is always silent; hasn't said a word since they were still sitting in bed and there was blood everywhere and that's when Daryl starts to get afraid. He can see her start to slip away from him, like she does when she starts thinking about her mama and Shawn and she spends the next two days in bed without talking or eating, and he feels his stomach sort of knot itself up as he sits by her bedside and never lets go of her hand.
He brings her home the next day and helps her settle on the couch because the bed sheets are still covered in blood and still Beth doesn't say a word.
It takes two days for her to speak and the first thing she says to him is I'm sorry.
Daryl doesn't really know what to do with that (because why the hell is she sorry) but he knows she feels the need to say it so he lets her and then he tells her it's not her fault and she cries. She cries and cries and Daryl doesn't know if she's ever going to stop until she does and he spends the rest of that night holding her as close as he possibly can.
The doctor tells them they can try again.
She tells them it's safe if they want to try for another baby and for some reason that makes Daryl angry. Makes him feel like she wants them to replace the little life they made and lost and while he knows this isn't true that's what it feels like.
He doesn't tell Beth though, because he's expecting her to want to try again as soon as they can. Because she wants a child more than anything and they've been given the green light to move on with their lives and that's the way he thinks it's supposed to go.
Beth tells him she doesn't want to try again. Not right now anyways.
She cries a little bit when she says it but Daryl just wipes her tears away as gently as he can tells her it's alright and they don't have to try right now because all they have is time and for the first time in what feels like forever Beth kisses him and the world starts to spin again.
Lori asks them to babysit sometime in the middle of summer and Daryl immediately feels uneasy about it.
It's not that he doesn't want Judith around, because the kid is like his own, it's just that he doesn't know how Beth feels about it. Since they lost the baby she doesn't hang around Lori much anymore and Daryl knows it's because she's afraid of being around Judith. She' afraid of breaking down and going back to the way things were before and Lori gets that but she really needs someone to watch Judith and they're the only one's she trusts so of course Beth says yes.
For the most part he keeps a hold of Judith when she's not in her swing and Beth simply watches from the couch. He tries to coax her into holding the baby a few times but she declines with a simple shake of her head and some semblance of a half-smile before Daryl leaves her alone again.
It happens when he's fixing a bottle for Judith. He leaves the baby in the swing and goes to the kitchen to heat the formula and he can hear her crying and squalling because she's hungry and it's taking him longer than he'd like to admit but then he hears something else mingling with the loud cries and he nearly drops the bottle as he's taking it out of the microwave.
He knows the sound of her singing anywhere. Can pick her voice out of hundreds and often dreams about it when he's had a shitty day so he knows exactly what's happening before he can even make it back to the living room to see for himself.
Beth is standing, bouncing Judith in her arms and singing softly in her ear and the baby who was screaming just seconds ago is slowly beginning to quiet down as Daryl just stands and stares. He can see the tears leaking from Beth's eyes as she sings and cradles Judith but she never stops singing until the cries have completely dissipated.
And it's in that moment, filled with tears and lullabies, that Daryl thinks it may be time for a change of pace.
He tells her in the very beginning of their relationship that he's never left Georgia.
She doesn't believe him at first but he insists he's never been anywhere else so she tells him that if he wants they can see the world and it's not until now that he decides to take her up on the offer.
In the end they settle on DC rather than the world because he doesn't make a whole lot of money as a mechanic and she's only working part time at Hershel's clinic right now but to Daryl DC seems like an entirely different reality.
It's big and sort of loud and it's cold as hell because summer has already begun to melt into fall but he doesn't care. Because Beth is smiling and that's all he's really wanted in these past few weeks that were nothing more than silence and painful memories.
By the time they come back home Daryl finally believes that things are going to be ok.
It's not long after they get back from their trip that they lose Hershel.
Winter is anything but kind to him and he ends up with pneumonia after spending all night in the stables with a sick horse and it's not long after that that he becomes too weak and eventually he passes he in his sleep. Beth calls Daryl while he's at work the day it happens, she crying and wants him to come home and thankfully Dale lets him go as soon as he hears what happened.
Daryl spends the rest of the day sitting on the couch with Beth in his arms and it's all so familiar that it makes him feel sick.
Maggie and Glenn show up the next day. They've been driving all night and Maggie's eyes are red and swollen while Glenn just looks exhausted and unsure of what he actually feels.
Maggie ends up taking Daryl's place on the couch beside Beth and he takes Glenn to the kitchen, shoves a beer in his direction before he cracks open his own and takes a long swig as he collapses into one of their kitchen chairs. They don't really talk until Glenn finally speaks up what feels like hours later and admits he doesn't know what to do or say, he's confused and sad and he feels useless and Daryl wants to tell him he understands because that's exactly what he felt for weeks on end and even though it's not exactly the same he tells Glenn what he wishes someone would've told him.
"You just gotta let 'em lean on each other for a while and as soon as she calls you just be ready to be there. That's the best thing you can do right now. Just be there."
They end up moving into the farm house because Beth can't stand to let it go and Daryl thinks it might even be a good idea to fix the place up and hire a few farm hands.
The months following their decision to move are hectic. Between settling into the house and fixing up the things that began to fall apart as Hershel got older Daryl doesn't really think of babies or their failed attempts at starting a family anymore.
Then Beth is late.
She tells him casually over dinner though he can hear the way her voice shakes and he knows she scared because he's scared too but then he gently reminds her that it doesn't mean she's pregnant and he sees the way her body sort of tenses as if she can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing.
It ends up being a false alarm. The stress of losing Hershel and moving fucked up her periods and Daryl sort of expects Beth to be happy about this because he's still under the impression that she doesn't want a baby right now. That her heart is still too raw and she needs time but then she rolls over in bed that night and tells him she doesn't want to necessarily try but she doesn't want to not try either.
Daryl can't deny that the words make him the tiniest bit happy inside.
She gets pregnant in the early weeks of spring, just like before.
Daryl comes in for lunch one day and he finds the house seems to be empty, doesn't see Beth in the kitchen where she normally is this time of day, singing and cooking, and he sort of worries a little bit until he hears the sound of her crying and finds her sitting on the floor of the bathroom with three pregnancy tests beside her and instantly he understands.
They're all positive and he feels this weird sort of tightening in his chest, a mix of pure joy and fear festering inside of his heart because she's pregnant and they're getting a second chance but at the same time he can tell she's thinking about before and he gets it.
He gets it but he also understands that maybe it's time that they try to move on. Not that they should try and replace the baby they lost but that they should try and be happy again because this last year hasn't been easy and he just wants her to start smiling and talking and loving again.
And Beth understands this, he knows she does, can tell by the wobbly little smile she gives him before she kisses him like they haven't touched in years and he knows things are finally on their way to becoming normal again.
The first few months of the pregnancy are hard.
Even after they pass that point where the doctor tells them miscarriage isn't a big risk anymore Beth is paranoid. She pays attention to the littlest details and panics when she's thinks there's even a possibility something is wrong and it's not until he finally just grabs her gently by the shoulders one day and tells her she has to stop, that stress isn't good for the baby, that she finally begins to relax.
After that it begins to turn into a normal pregnancy and even though she still worries occasionally she glows and gets cravings and her feet swell beyond a point he thought possible; she cries at the drop of a hat (this part he remembers) and insists she's hideous the bigger she gets but Daryl puts a stop to that real quick.
Before they know it she's at the end of her pregnancy and it's all becoming extremely real extremely fast.
Beth goes into labor on a Monday night, wakes him up with a quiet whimper she's trying to keep to herself and he barely manages not to growl at her when he finds out she's been having contractions for hours at this point (first babies take forever Daryl, ain't no sense in waking you up in the middle of the night for nothing.)
Her labor is long and he is scared, as if it's just starting to sink in that this is it and in a matter of hours he will be a father and she a mother. He distracts himself by rubbing her back and kissing her face and even when she's sweating and screaming he tells her she's beautiful because it's true.
She spends most of the time leaning against him and burying her face in his chest as she squeezes his hand and he doesn't even say anything though he's almost sure she's managed to stop the blood from circulating through his fingers.
It's just after midnight when he hears their daughter cry for the first time and suddenly there's a red, wet baby on Beth's chest and she's screaming louder than Daryl thought possible but it doesn't matter because she is here and she's healthy and beautiful and quite possibly the most amazing thing he's ever seen before.
And Beth is crying too, touching their daughter's face and her fingers and toes, admiring the patch of downy hair on her head before she's looking up at Daryl with a tear streaked face and the most glorious smile he's ever seen.
We did it, we did it, we did it.
And in the haste of everything that's happening and all the things that have come to pass the only thing Daryl can do is smile and think yeah, we did it.