They had been on the road for weeks, sleeping when there was no choice because of exhaustion, eating what they managed to hunt and walking as long as there was daylight. They had seen nobody and walkers seemed to be few and far between, it started to feel like most had joined others to form herds. Of course if caught by them it was dangerous but Daryl had started to wonder if there were ways to stop them? Maybe if they could find grenades they could find a way to kill the herds? Of course that was just a theory and though he thought about it often he had not yet said anything to Beth because he was sure it was a stupid idea.
He glanced over to her as they walked, her feet were dragging and though she had not complained once it was clear that she was exhausted. He looked down and sighed wondering if there could be a way to cheer her up, the weather was cold and he was sure it was December though knowing for sure was impossible. He glanced up at the sky and gave out a silent prayer for them to find somewhere safe to cheer her up and keep her safe for a few days. He had no faith in it of course, but she was rubbing off on him and though he would never admit it he knew he would also never wish for that to change.
She had bought him out of his shell and helped him to start to deal with his childhood and how it made him feel. That night drunk on moonshine and setting fire to a shack had opened communication between them and he had found himself talking to her about things that had happened. She always listened quietly rarely commenting, however she would often slip her hand into his and giving it a reassuring squeeze. She was a refreshing flash of sunshine in his life and he knew he was in trouble with how he felt but sometimes when he saw how she looked at him he hoped that maybe she would feel the same.
It was evening when he saw it, a house set back and hidden from the road by trees and an overgrown hedge. It was clearly a large mansion and had been hidden away to keep people being able to see it from the road. He paused a moment before seeing the look on Beth's face when she followed his gaze and saw it, that made it impossible to resist. With a soft smile he simply said "Come on" and she nodded before following him towards the home. Daryl was sure that it would have been ransacked before but he hoped that he was wrong and maybe his prayer had been answered...and he tried to ignore Merle's voice in the back of his head whispering he was not good enough for Beth or for prayers to be answered!
The two of them moved through the house like a well oiled machine they knew one another well now and moved through the rooms quickly. It soon became clear that the people who lived there had left early on and the photographs of a cabin in the mountains gave a clear indication of where they had headed to. Daryl paused as Beth ran a finger over the picture of the happy couple in front of the cabin and sighed, "I hope they made it there, do you think they did?" Daryl scoffed and she just rolled her eyes, "You need some faith Daryl Dixon!" and made her way through to the kitchen where she started taking stock of the food that was edible.
He had been making sure the doors were secure when he heard an excited squeal come from the kitchen, "Daryl it's a week until Christmas!" Unable to quite believe it mattered anymore he made his way through to where she was pulling things out of the pantry and clearly excited. She grinned up at him and he looked to see cans and packets that could all be used to make a Christmas dinner. he raised an eyebrow enquiringly "Think you can get us a turkey before Sunday?" she asked clearly hopeful.
Though he was not sure if he could he rubbed his chin, "Hmmm I guess I could get something that would make a Christmas dinner, you sure you want to stay that long?"
Beth grinned and nodded knowing right then that she had won her way, and he knew as he saw the smile on her face that he was in too deep to walk away. His feelings for her had been growing and he wished he had the nerve to tell her exactly how he felt. That night they both slept in separate rooms, Beth insisting he take the master bedroom and she took the guestroom which looked like nobody had slept in. Daryl was wearing fresh clothes she had found for him in the wardrobe and it felt good to be in clean clothes while she washed his.
He had just settled when he heard a soft knock on the door, "Yeah?" he called out hesitantly and his eyes widened as Beth stepped into the room. She was wearing pink fluffy pyjamas that she had found in a drawer and was holding her weapons in her hands.
She looked tired and tentatively, "Erm Daryl can I...I mean I can't sleep every sound makes me jump!" she shuffled on her feet and looked down "C-can I sleep in here please?"
Daryl frowned and knew he could not say no to her he nodded and her face lit up as she shut the door and left her weapons by the door. He expected her to grab a blanket and go to lay on the floor and when she did he was prepared to refuse to let her and to offer to rest on the floor. However she climbed into the bed beside him and snuggled under the covers before whispering goodnight. He didn't reply he was so shocked and he lay staring at the ceiling afraid to move as he listened to her breathing even out and she fell asleep.
He had been sure he wouldn't be able to sleep beside her but he woke just before dawn with a small blonde woman curled up against him with her head on his chest. Somehow during the night they had gravitated together and his arm was around her shoulders. He stiffened beside her, every muscle tight and he was afraid to move at all beside her, "I know you are awake" she said sleepily beside him as she sat up and rubbed her eyes. He looked at her like he had never seen anyone so beautiful and for a moment they were lost in one another's eyes.
Finally shaking his head he got out of bed and slipped on the shoes she had found by the front door, "Going huntin' need a turkey to find!" he muttered before heading out. He needed time to think and he left Beth in bed wide-eyed and wondering why he had fled so fast. Hearing the front door close behind him she yawned and rubbed her eyes before getting up and going downstairs. She heated some water for a bath and for the first time in a long time was able to soak in a small amount of lukewarm water before dressing in clean clothes left behind in the wardrobe.
Feeling refreshed she started to go through the spare rooms again and there she hit the jackpot! A plastic tree, tinsel, and every kind of decoration a girl could imagine! Excited to surprise Daryl she set to work putting up wreaths over the fireplace which thankfully was wood burning, putting up the tree and decorating it till it could not hold another decoration without falling over! It was a struggle and she was worn out, but the room looked amazing and she began to get excited for Daryl to return.
As night fell she began to worry until she saw a shape heading towards the door carrying something heavy. She headed to the door to see Daryl standing proudly with a large, dead turkey slung over his back. She smiled wide at him knowing that if she cooked it the next day it would feed them for the whole week including the day she was sure would be Christmas. He placed it on the kitchen table and started talking about dressing it and getting it ready but she was not listening, simply holding out her hand and waiting for him.
Looking confused his eyes narrowed before he slipped his hand into hers and followed her through to the living room. He gasped as he took in the decorations all beautifully lit by candles she had found in the pantry. They both knew they should save them but right then it didn't matter it was the gesture and it touched Daryl who had never actually celebrated Christmas. He sniffed and nodded, "Wow Beth it looks amazing, thanks" and she grinned and cuddled up to his side her hand giving his a reassuring squeeze.
The next few days went by in a flash and before he knew it Christmas morning had arrived, Beth had been staying with him in the main bedroom every night and they woke up snuggled up together. It no longer surprised him and if he was honest he loved waking up with her in his arms. He was about to cuddle closer to her when Beth sprang up excitedly and reached under the bed pulling out a package badly wrapped in a T-shirt that was held together by string.
Daryl sat up as she set it down on his lap, looking unsure and very surprised he opened it to find a camera there. He looked puzzled at her and she grinned "I found a printer for it too its battery powered and still works! I thought we could get dressed up and take a photo to keep?"
He smiled softly and nodded "Sounds good!" was all he could say as he looked at her and then back at the camera.
The morning went by as usual the two of them having found a simple routine that gave them both comfort in these days of uncertainty. By evening Beth had cooked a dinner of turkey, stuffing, tinned potatoes and vegetables, as well as a pudding she made with tinned peaches and cookie dough. It was not perfect but as close as they could make it, both dressed up in clothes they found in the wardrobe. Beth was wearing a black playsuit, covered in black lace and very short, where Daryl was in a soft grey suit, blue shirt and a bowtie. He knew his brother would have laughed at him, but Beth had picked it out and he would do anything to see that bright smile that had not left her lips all day.
Full and happy Daryl sat back in his chair "that was perfect, just like I always imagined a Christmas dinner could be! Plus it came with the bonus of not having any of my family being here!" He laughed until he saw her face fall and realised that she had loved her family and was away from Maggie and had watched her father be murdered. Gently he reached for her hand and gave it a soft squeeze, "Sorry I didn't think..." was all he could say as she shook her head and gave him a sad smile in return.
Deciding to change the subject he got up and pulled her to her feet, "Come on photograph time!" she smiled and followed him through to the living room. She lit the candles again while he set up the camera and made sure to set the timer, they quickly posed together by the tree and the camera went off. With a secret smile he hurried to the drawer of the sideboard he had rested the camera on and got something out without letting her see. He set the timer again and moved to her side just before the camera flashed he lifted the mistletoe he had found earlier that day and kissed her cheek. The sound of her giggling beside him warmed his heart and made everything worth it, for the first time he had prayed and it had been answered...maybe there was something to having faith?