A little something I managed to whip up for "Summer of Bethyl"...this week's prompt was vacation and I kind of sorta followed it...maybe... :)
To say that this wasn't exactly how Beth planned on spending her summer vacation would be an understatement.
Then again, when Zack had suggested that the two take a small trip, just riding around Georgia for a week or so, she hadn't expected him to turn into some wannabe bad boy who thought that skipping out on the check at the diner that morning was awesome and driving like some Fast and Furious stunt double or something as she clung to the leather seat beneath her for dear life was fun.
"Zack!" she screamed, the panic in her voice all but slipping out with the wind through the open window as her hair whipped around almost violently. "Jesus, slow down!"
The man-child beside her just chuckled though, throwing her a smirk as he pushed down harder on the accelerator.
"Oh c'mon Beth, this is fun!" he laughed again and she glared.
"Pull over!" she yelled then, her tone firm.
"Beth," he sighed, rolling his eyes but thankfully releasing some of the pressure on the pedal. "Quit being dramatic."
"No you quit it!" she snapped. "I thought this morning was bad but this, this is just plain stupid! Are ya tryin' to kill us?"
Honestly, this morning still hung heavy in her heart and the guilt in her gut was even more prominent but she really couldn't do anything about it now. She was just coming out of the bathroom of the small diner when Zack had all but ambushed her, rushing her out of the door and practically shoving her into the car. She had been confused at first, until after Zack had peeled out of the parking lot, the smell of burning rubber filling her nose as she turned around, seeing one of the kitchen staff staring at them from the door and she had looked back, seeing Zack grinning and holding up what she now realized was their unpaid check.
She had given him a good cussing out for that, ordering him to turn around and let her pay the check if he was so unwilling to, but much like he was doing now, he was treating this whole thing like it was nothing, like breaking the law and being reckless was something they did all the time.
"I mean it Zack, pull over I want out of this car now!" she glared at him and he just scoffed.
"Where the hell ya gonna go Beth? We're in the middle of nowhere," he was laughing again and she was fuming.
Then, just as they peaked over the hill - Zack still speeding down the empty highway - her prayers seemed to have been answered as she noticed the sign for a gas station just about a mile away. It was one of those broken down ones that you can really only find on the open road but it was good enough for her.
"There, drop me off there," she demanded and pointed to the sign.
"You're fucking crazy," was his reply and when he made no move to slow down Beth sat up straighter and began to unbuckle her seat belt. "The hell you doin'?"
"Zack, I swear to God, if ya don't let me out now I will open the door and jump."
She wasn't serious, not really, but she had always been a good liar - even to the point where everyone in her family refused to play poker with her because she won, every time - but Zack didn't need to know that and just for added emphasis she reached over for the door handle. She wasn't suicidal, she wouldn't actually open the door and jump - that would certainly kill her even if Zack's driving wouldn't - but he must have seen something on her face because with another curse he suddenly slammed on the brakes and Beth had to brace herself on the dashboard in front of her so as to not go crashing through the windshield.
With the tires still squealing against the pavement they jerked to a stop and she wasted no time in opening the door. He hadn't even bothered to pull into the lot, instead just stopping right there in the middle of the road but she didn't care anymore.
"Happy now?" he snapped, shaking his head. "Jesus, I always knew you were a fucking prude but now you're just some damn saint too huh?"
That made her blood boil and she was seeing red as she climbed out of the seat, grabbing her bag from where it had been tucked between her feet and she already felt safer the moment she was standing on solid ground.
"Screw you!" she yelled and then pointedly slammed the door as hard as she could before turning around and walking toward the building.
"Hey!" Zack bellowed behind her, obviously not appreciating her care toward his precious vehicle.
Her only response was to throw her middle finger up behind her as she all but stomped her way across the pavement, thankfully noticing that there was only two vehicles in the lot - a motorcycle at one of the pumps and a faded red truck parked along the side of the store. She didn't look back as she once again heard the sound of squealing tires as Zack sped off, blaring his horn before the noise of his engine began to fade into the distance.
She finally made it to the building, tossing her bag down at her feet before she let out a long sigh, covering her face with her hands as she felt hot angry tears forming in her eyes. She would not cry over that asshole. She was leaning against the front of the building, trying to concentrate on her breathing and not breaking down in her frustration when she heard someone approaching.
"Hey, ya a'right?"
The voice was rough, like he had smoked too many cigarettes in his day or he just wasn't used to talking too much but either way, despite the small concern she heard in the stranger's voice she couldn't look at him, still clutching her hands to her face and shaking her head. Now that she thought about it, she couldn't help but realize what a scene her and Zack just made and now she had embarrassment to add to her list of emotions that were currently swirling around in her head.
"Just peachy," she finally muttered, dropping her hands and slumping her shoulders, she felt herself physically deflating.
She looked up hesitantly, seeing a man in front of her, he was older than her, with mused up shaggy dark hair and a scruffy face. He was wearing worn out jeans and a faded flannel, the sleeves torn off and she sighed as she finally looked up at him, seeing that small hint of concern she heard in his voice reflected in his eyes, eyes that were a startling shade of blue and it was only then she noticed the man's pursed lips, the raised eyebrow.
"Hell of man ya got there," he muttered then, his tone condescending as he lifted his chin toward the direction Zack had sped off in.
"He's not my man," she corrected, her own tone hard and she swore she saw the hint of a smirk pulling at the man's lips.
"Not anymore, huh?" he guessed and she watched as he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his front pocket.
"Not ever," she mended and it was the truth, even if Zack had been interested in her she made sure that he knew she was not, and it was one of things she made sure he had known before they ventured off on this disaster of a trip - had it really only been one day ago?
"Well, at least you ain't dumb then," the man said with a small shrug as he took a puff from his now lit cigarette.
Beth couldn't help the puff of a laugh that escaped between her lips. "Gee thanks." she said, a small smile somehow forming on her lips.
The man just nodded slightly, quietly staring at her as she bent down to pick up her bag and began to rummage through it, searching for her cellphone.
"Ain't gonna get no signal out here," the man said once she had finally pulled her phone out from the clutches of her bag.
"Figures," she muttered and brought her hands up to frame her face again, shaking her head slightly before she let out a small groan. "I guess it wouldn't do much good anyways, no one would be able to get here before he comes back, and he will, Zack might be an asshole but he wouldn't just leave me stranded here like this." She sighed again and leaned back into the building behind her, letting her body slump against the cool brick.
She looked up at the man again, still smoking his cigarette but now just staring over at the road and she figured that while she has him here, she might as well try and get some information from him.
"Hey, you don't happen to know how far the closest town is from here, do you?" she asked and then picked up her bag again, slinging it over her shoulder as she stood straight.
"At least ten miles or so that way," he said with another tilt of his chin his only form of direction.
She nodded and let out a long sigh before she looked out toward the road again. "Well, I guess I better start walkin'. Thanks."
She only managed to take a few steps before she heard his voice again.
"Wait," his voice is gruff and she turned around, seeing him looking almost hesitant. "I can give ya a ride if ya want." He tossed his finished cigarette away and he immediately brought his hand up to rub at the back of his neck. "'S'gonna be gettin' dark soon," he said then and Beth finally takes notice of the setting sun and she wonders how this man would react if she just sat on the ground and started to cry. "Ain't exactly safe to be walkin' along these roads at night." he finishes with a shrug and she looks him over.
"Why would you do that?" she asked curiously, wondering why this rough looking man was even still talking to her.
The man just shrugs again and it isn't until she noticed the tips of his ears turning red that she realized he seems just as unsure of himself over saying that as she is.
"Just headed that way is all. Look I ain't gonna force ya to do anything," he shrugs again and she gets the feeling that he is trying to assure her of more than one thing here. "But I ain't gonna stick around all night so if ya want a ride, it's there, if not, have fun with that prick when he comes back."
The man turns away again without another word and before she is realizing what she is doing she's turned around and following him.
"Wait," she mumbled and he only paused long enough to allow her to catch up to him before he started walking again and it takes her longer than it should to realize that he was leading her to the lone motorcycle parked at the pump. "Oh." she said as they stop and he glanced up at her before he climbed on effortlessly.
"Ya ever been on a bike before?" he asked, obviously noticing her hesitation.
"My brother had a dirt bike. I rode with him once." she shrugged and bit down on her lip.
This time the man does smirk as he leaned back slightly in the seat. "Kinda the same I guess."
"He made us crash into a tree," she said, her tone blunt and she felt her lips lift in a smile when the man actually released a chuckle.
"What's your name?" he asked as he gripped the handle bars in front of him, flicking his long hair away from his face.
"Daryl Dixon." he responded just before he brought the bike to life, the roar of the engine actually causing her to jump a little. "And Beth," she looked up from where she had been looking down at the bike to see him staring at her, his eyes gleaming in the reflection of the setting sun. "I promise you'll be safe with me."
She took a deep breath and she wasn't sure why but something in his tone makes her believe him. So with hesitant steps she walked forward and swung her leg over the bike, mimicking his movement from earlier and she hesitantly wrapped her arms around his middle and she had to hold back a shiver when she felt his own hands wrap around her wrists and placed her arms tighter around him, obviously hinting that she was not holding on hard enough. She takes his hint and squeezes his middle in turn and it must have satisfied him enough because he released her wrists and began to lead them over to the exit of the lot.
"'Sides," Daryl said, revving the engine as he looked over his shoulder at her, a small smirk on his lips. "Ain't exactly too many trees to hit 'round here."
Her own answer was too let out a small squeal as he turned onto the road, immediately gaining speed and when she heard him chuckle again, she squeezed his middle once more and she couldn't help the laugh that burst from her lips when she heard his small groan of protest.
It wasn't long before Daryl pulled into the parking lot of a small motel, his guess of there having been another town close by having been correct but the place was a ghost town at best, most of the buildings boarded up and they had only spotted a few people milling around and without a word to each other they had continued on, the motel had been the first thing they had seen in almost an hour so Beth wasn't surprised when she felt him slowing down, gliding his bike up to a stop in one of the open parking spaces.
With a small nudge from his hand Beth climbed off the bike on shaky legs and she saw Daryl trying to hold back a smile as he kept close, seeming to be prepared to catch her if she were to fall. She sent him a glare but there was no bite behind it and he finally smirked before he nodded to the front entrance.
"Ya got any money on you?" he asked as she pulled her bag around her front and once again went searching for her phone.
"I have some," she responded just as she felt the smooth case of her phone and she is grateful in that moment that she had the thought to grab her purse before she stormed out of Zack's car - she may not have any spare clothes or toiletries but at least she had her phone and some money.
"Should probably stop for the night, I've been ridin' since this mornin' and don't know when the next stop will be," he said and she noticed his voice was once again hesitant.
"I understand," she nodded and then pulled out her phone. "I have enough to cover a night for myself so you go on, I'm just gonna try callin' my sister first."
Daryl nodded and then looked toward the door then back at her, seeming to not want to leave her out here by herself but she just waved her hand at him, encouraging him away and with a small nod he turned and headed for the door. She turned her attention to her phone then and couldn't help but smile with relief when she saw that she does in fact have service here. She ignored all the missed notifications from Zack and quickly dialed Maggie but sighed when she got no answer, and not wanting to explain everything over a voicemail and have Maggie frantic she just informed her to call her when she gets a chance and hung up. She tried dialing Shawn too, but she is less surprised when his phone goes straight to voicemail - he never could figure out how to keep his phone charged.
She was just about to start walking toward the door when she saw Daryl come out and something about his face instantly caused her to frown.
"What is it?" she prompted as he held up a lone key.
"There was only one room available," he muttered out and Beth couldn't help but let out a small whine.
"Of course. And of course my brother and sister didn't answer and there is no way I'm callin' my parents."
She let out a long sigh and squeezed her eyes shut, wondering just how this day could get any worse, really, if Zack were to pull into the lot right now she wouldn't even be surprised. She felt Daryl's eyes on her though and when she looked back up at him, she saw him staring at her, his face once again hesitant and she cocked her head to the side, silently hinting him to speak what is on his mind and he cleared his throat awkwardly before he shifted on his feet.
"Ya know, I meant what I said earlier," he must have noticed the confusion on her face because he cleared his throat again and continued. "You'll be safe with me, I won't try nothin' or anything and the room was a double so, if ya want..." he just shrugged then and Beth got the feeling that he honestly couldn't find it in himself to finish that sentence.
"You offerin' to share your room with me, Mr. Dixon?" she helped him out with a small smile and he just shrugged.
"If ya want. I mean, I figure it's better than sleepin' outside."
"Oh please, you act like you wouldn't have just given me your room if I asked." She can't help but tease him as he narrowed his eyes at her.
"You sassin' me, girl? Maybe you're forgettin' that I'm still holdin' the key," his voice was stern but she can tell that he wasn't being serious, not at all.
"Fine. My apologies," the sarcasm was thick in her voice and she grinned as she began to curtsy, hearing Daryl's snort of amusement before she glanced back up at him. "Please, lead the way."
He rolled his eyes then but walked toward one of the rooms and she followed behind, an almost giddy skip in her step though she couldn't understand why. She would admit - it was awkward those first few minutes they were in the room and even if there are two beds, they are still two strangers who met by complete chance and somehow ended up tangled up in the other's lives but once they are both in their respectable beds, the lights turned off and the only sound being the slight hum of the air conditioner Daryl had turned on she couldn't help but smile just a little.
"So, who was that guy anyway?" She heard Daryl suddenly blurt out, followed immediately by a muffled curse and she let out a small laugh.
"He was just one of my friends I met in college. I finally got my nursing degree and have plans to start working once the summer is over but I just wanted to get away one last time before I start settling down I guess. One last hoo-rah." she giggled when she heard him snort from across the room. "And Zack brought up a road trip and I somehow got it in my head that it was a great idea. Didn't realize he would be such a jerk once it was just the two of us and he didn't have to make an impression on anyone though." she couldn't help but let out an unamused laugh. "Some summer vacation this turned out to be, huh?"
Daryl was quiet and for a moment, she didn't expect him to respond but she finally heard him clearing his throat and she glanced over to look toward him - it's too dark to see for sure but she thought he just might have been looking at her too.
"You still wantin' to continue that roadtrip?"
She shrugged. "Don't really see how that's possible."
"I'm supposed to be meetin' a friend of mine. He lives out in King County, says he might have a job for me but...I ain't exactly in any kind of hurry or nothin'."
"Huh." she let out a small laugh and she could practically feel Daryl's confusion. "I'm from Senoia, it ain't that far from where you're goin'."
He seemed to consider that for a moment before he spoke again. "Guess we're headed in the same direction in the end, huh?"
"Seems like it," she nodded and then pulled the covers closer to her. "Really, it makes sense for us to stick together then," she tried to keep her tone nonchalant but by the small hum he gave her, she had a feeling he picked up on the hopefulness in her voice.
"Right," he finally answered, his voice low and just like on the bike, she had to hold back a shiver. "Get some sleep, Greene."
"Yes sir, Mr. Dixon."
She heard him grumble something intelligible and Beth bit her lip against the smile that formed as she turned over in bed. No, this wasn't exactly how she planned on spending her summer vacation, but, she couldn't help but wonder if it was the start of something much more memorable.