I'll never settle down,
That's what I always thought
Yeah, I was that kind of man,
Just ask anyone - Lee Brice (I Don't Dance)
For the life of him, Daryl couldn't figure out how he'd gotten roped into his current situation. Certainly, he'd found himself saying yes (while his brain was screaming no) to many a thing he'd never seen himself doing since he'd joined the group back when everything had gone to shit. Hell, he'd spent the better part of every day looking for Sophia, hadn't he? He had nearly gotten himself killed trying to find that little girl, only to have her come walking out of a barn later, turned into one of "them".
He still shivered when he thought of that day. Sometimes he thought that day had changed all of them. That was the moment that they'd all realized that inevitably it came down to "us" and "them", no matter if you were kin, no matter if you knew the person or not.
Everyone lost something that day. Carol had lost Sophia. The Greene's had lost their family members too, having kept them locked in the barn on some wild notion that they could come back from it. That they could somehow have survived and gotten well somehow. But that wasn't how it worked. Once they turned, they became one of "them"; there was no coming back from that.
He thought of who Beth had lost that day and how they had then almost lost her and he didn't understand it fully why that turned his shiver into a full body shudder, but he was grateful that they didn't lose her. He couldn't imagine what it would be like without her.
It was odd to him how before he'd gone to her cell that night to tell her that her boyfriend had not made it on their supply run, he'd just never really considered her all that much. He'd noticed her, sure. But she was just sort of there. She was kind of one of the people behind the scenes at the prison that made life so much better for everyone else. Like Hershel who tended to the sick. He could whoop ass with the best of them but where he was needed the most was off the front lines.
Beth had taken on the role of mother to many of the children, even the ones that had straggled in from Woodbury after the Governor lost his damn mind and killed many of his own in cold blood. And before that she'd taken on the role of mother to one of their own, Judith Grimes. Everyone knew Rick would have been shit out of luck if it hadn't been for Beth stepping into that role and no one could deny that girl loved Lil Asskicker as if she was her own.
That night in Beth's cell, he'd gone to her, and he didn't know why it was important that it come from him that Zac had died, but he'd insisted to Maggie that he be the one to break it to her. He felt responsible but somehow it was more than that. He felt he owed it to her. So he'd gone to his cell and dropped off his bow and removed his vest, unstrapped his sheath from his belt, placing his knife on the table by his cot. These were all things he associated with being the guardian of the group and tonight, he felt anything but a protector. He felt like he'd failed them and going to this girl to let her know her beau was gone, well it wouldn't seem right if he went there pretending otherwise.
Maybe that was how he had come to agree to take pretty Beth Greene to the prison dance. It had sounded ridiculous to him at the time; that they were going to have a "Prison Prom". It had been Beth's idea and after Zac died she declared that she didn't want to do it any longer but her old man had come to him.
"My daughter has been quiet lately and she says she doesn't want to have that dance any more but I know my Bethy. She was looking forward to that dance more than anything in the world. It's always been important to her to try to make things as normal as possible for everyone here and she thought it would help. More than anything, I know it would cheer her up just to hear the music again."
Daryl nodded to the old man mutely. He wasn't sure why he was telling him all this. He guessed he could see his point though. It would be good for the morale of the group to have something else to focus on, at least for a couple of hours. Something besides surviving, running, and keeping from dying. "But she doesn't want to have it?" Daryl looked at the eldest Greene, kind of at a loss.
"I'm an old man, Daryl. I'm not gonna be around much longer. Chances are I won't get to dance at my daughter's weddings. This might be the only chance I have. I've seen how you and Beth have gotten a bit closer and I can't think of anyone else who might be able to coax her into going. Least ways, not anyone I can trust."
He looked up at the man sharply. It was on the tip of his tongue to protest but there it was again. This undeniable urge to let his mouth go speaking for what his brain hadn't caught up to. So instead of saying no, he found himself nodding. He thought for a minute, waiting for his mind to catch up. "I'll see what I can do." He wondered then after Hershel walked away why he had picked him. He said he trusted him but he trusted Rick too. Of course, Rick still wasn't in the best frame of mind ever since Lori passed. He figured he'd be the same way if he was in his shoes, which was odd because Daryl had never before imagined himself to be in anyone's shoes in that capacity.
He shook all thoughts from his mind now as he finished getting ready. Maggie had gotten wind of the whole thing and went crazy with planning outfits for everyone and the last run they'd made, she had them swing around to a mall where she'd plundered the place for formal wear or at least something that passed for it. Not surprisingly, they had a full array of dress shirts and slacks and dresses to choose from as he guessed not many people had a need for prom attire at the end of the world. He looked absurd, he decided, as he looked in the mirror at his reflection. He wondered what his brother would say if he could see him now, in the makings "monkey suit" as he always liked to call them. Not that Dixons had any occasion to wear one, he was usually poking fun at someone. He'd certainly poke fun at him in what he'd modified from what Maggie had given him and they'd finally come to an agreement on. That woman was a force to be reckoned with and he didn't know how Glenn handled it.
He was wearing a white button up shirt and black slacks with a pair of the nicest shoes he thought he'd ever had, shiny black leather ones like the sort a banker or lawyer would wear. As he tried to finger comb his hair into some semblance of order, he thought over his conversation with Beth when he'd asked her to the dance. He'd thought he'd never get the words out.
"Your dad said you don't want to have the dance anymore." She'd stared at him for a long moment and nodded.
"It just doesn't feel right to do it. No one probably wants to anyway." She shrugged, her sweater slipping off the pale curve of her shoulder.
He thought of another time when she'd said that. When her old man had asked her to sing something the night they had taken the prison yard. "No want wants to hear", she'd said. But he had found that he had. He'd watched her that night; had watched all of them, just on the outskirts of the group, scouring the area for walkers, for anyone that threatened their safety. The others had all seemed surprised that Beth could sing, but he wasn't. He'd heard her several times as she'd tried to calm down Carl or once he'd stumbled upon her and Lori; Beth had been singing to Lori's ever-growing belly. He'd thought it was weird at the time but now he just recognized it as another one of Beth's ways of making their world better. So he thought of how her old man had coaxed her that night.
"Well, I want to do it." She had looked up at him, her big blue eyes gone wide with surprise and he'd smirked at her a bit because he'd known that would get her attention. It had at least brought a tiny smile out of her, even if it was in shock that the likes of him wanted to have a dance. The odd thing was that now that he was in front of her, he really did want to go. He held his breath and she looked down at the baby in her lap, pressing a kiss to the top of her head and looked back up at him.
"Why?" Her head tilted to one side, her expression one of open curiosity.
Well, hell. He should have known it was coming. For a minute, he was struck dumb and stupid because he'd never thought she would ask him for his motivations. He thought for a minute before he answered deciding to appeal to her sense of community. "I think it would be good for the group."
Everything we do has to be for the greater good of the group. Rick had said that countless times. Enough times that it had pretty much become their mantra.
She nodded at him. "Okay, we'll do it then."
What he said next surprised even him because he thought it would take half a day to get out the rest of what he'd come to say. "Will you go with me? To the dance, I mean." He waited for the rejection. Waited for the inevitable moment that she'd tell him that she changed her mind and she didn't want to have it after all. Because why would she want to go to this dance with him. She'd had a boyfriend and he'd died. A boyfriend that had been set to take her to this dance. Daryl knew he wasn't even anything close to that and probably never would be.
As he looked at her, a smile turned up the corners of her mouth and her face lit up like fireflies in a mason jar. There was a brief, flashing light all at once and then a muted smile slipped in place. "I'd love to." Her cheeks fired up in a blush that he thought probably matched his own.
And now here he was, a handful of sunflowers in his hand, ready to pick up sweet Beth Greene for the prison formal and he felt like he'd swallowed a lead ball and it had settled into his stomach awful and heavy. That is, until she parted the curtains of her cell and stepped into view.
There she was in a red strappy number that curved in all the right places and not for the first time he realized how Beth had truly grown into a beautiful young woman. Her hair was swept back from her face and cascaded down over her left shoulder, falling in a curtain of sun-bright wheat. The red of the dress highlighted the blush of her cheeks perfectly and he didn't think he'd ever seen her look so pretty. Hell, he didn't think he'd ever seen anyone look so pretty.
As his eyes met hers, he was nearly drowning in the blue of her eyes that reminded him of the color of that lake quarry back before they'd found the farm, shimmering crystalline sapphire in the sunlight. He extended his hand that held the flowers and prayed she couldn't see the gentle tremor in the leaves as his hands shook slightly. "These are for you."
"Thank you, Daryl, these are beautiful." There it was again. That brilliant smile that seemed to light up the whole room and he decided then that he was wrong before. This was the moment he was struck dumb and speechless. For the life of him, he couldn't put two words together so instead he held out his arm, just like Michonne had shown him. He'd had to ask somebody and though she'd teased him mercilessly, she'd kept her mouth shut. Daryl nearly held his breath as Beth slipped her tiny hand through his arm and as her fingers found purchase against his sleeve, gripping his forearm, he inhaled deeply.
The fact that she smelled like the wildflowers that he'd just brought her didn't really help much to squelch his nerves, but then she gave his arm a tiny squeeze. "Relax," she whispered. "This is going to be fun. I promise".
He glanced down at her and her face was turned up to his, her smile lighting up her eyes (and the whole damn corridor). He nodded, took a deep breath and actually felt the tension leaving his shoulders and that tightness in his chest eased just a bit. As they walked together towards the dining hall that they'd cleared for the dance, he couldn't help the tiny smile that crept onto his face. Maybe her smile was contagious, he didn't know.
Something about going to a dance with Beth Greene at the end of the world made things seem like maybe things would be alright after all. Maybe not forever, but for right now. And that was enough for him.
Well this little story has been floating around in my brain for nearly a year. I got a prompt from someone last year for "I Don't Dance" by Lee Brice. I have since lost the journal that it was written in so please if someone knows that they gave me this prompt, let me know! Lol
I highly suggest you listen to the song before or while reading this as it will really enhance it. Also, I've developed an obsession for Delta Rae and also listened to "Dance in the Graveyards" and also "Moonshine" by Sara Haze. All great songs and all Bethyl songs to me.
So this story has two more chapters; the next will be from Beth's POV and the next will alternate their POV. Hope you like this little ficlet and the accompanying edit. Be sure to let me know if you do (or don't) Until next time, xoxoxo