Note: Hello everyone! This is just a small contribution for Bethyl AU Week that popped into my head while reading the prompts. This is for Day 6, where the theme was Rival AU and well, it's basically just a small one-shot where I suppose one could see Daryl and Beth as rivals. Either way, it was a fun thing to write and I know that Daryl might be a little OOC here, but keep in mind that this is a happier Daryl who is doing something that he loves and is passionate about.
I do hope you enjoy it though! :)
P.S. You can see the edit that I made for the fic on my tumblr, if you want. Oh, and sorry for any spelling mistakes that made it in there. Those little bugs always manage to sneak in...
Beth sighed to herself as she made her way into Karen's small diner. Her camera was in her hands, eyes glued to the display screen as she looked at the pictures she had taken. None of them were good enough, that was for sure.
She walked over to the counter and Amy grinned at her, "Hey, Beth! It's been a while since I've seen you here."
"Hey, Amy," Beth offered her a weak smile. "Classes have been killing me lately, so I haven't really had time to go out much."
"Oh, I understand," Amy nodded sympathetically. "Well, what can I get you?"
"Just some coffee," Beth answered. "Where's Karen?"
Karen had been the owner of the diner for about ten years now. She had started off as a waitress there but worked her ass off until she had enough money to buy the little place for herself. The woman had always had a passion for cooking, and she was a family friend since Beth's mama and she had gone to high school together.
"Karen's been taking a couple of days off," Amy explained. "She and Tyreese had their baby a couple of weeks ago and she just wanted to spend some more time with the little sweetheart."
"Oh, that's so cute," Beth cooed. "I can't believe I completely forgot to congratulate them. Tell her that I'm sorry when you see her next time?"
"Come on, Beth," Amy laughed. "You're just gonna have to come around more often and tell her yourself." She placed the cup of coffee on the counter and Beth inhaled the aroma she loved so much. "How 'bout I cut you a slice of raspberry pie? It'll make whatever caused your frown today go away for at least a while. On the house, of course, as long as you promise to come back again soon."
Beth grinned at the other blonde and nodded, "Okay. Raspberry pie sounds good." Amy served her up a slice and Beth placed her camera on the counter before sitting down on the bar chair. She quietly sipped her coffee before taking a bite from the pie, starting up her camera once again to look at the pictures once more in case she missed a good picture.
Disappointment filled her again and she suppressed the urge to just bang her head against the counter. The pictures weren't exactly bad, but they weren't really contest material either.
Beth had decided to enter the county's annual photography competition this year, wanting to do something with her hobby. She had always loved snapping pictures, catching moments in her life and the lives of the people around her. Her family was always joking with her that she kept hiding behind the lens, never letting people take pictures of her. She didn't mind getting her picture taken, so she didn't know why they went on about that, she just preferred to be the one taking pictures.
The little bell above the door rang and Beth lifted her eyes from her camera's display screen, turning her attention to the person who just entered the diner. Her breath caught in her throat when she caught sight of the man. He was wearing all black clothing; cargo pants, a simple shirt and a leather jacket. His hair was was almost down to his shoulders, dark strands sticking out in every direction, most likely due to the wind outside. Beth bit her lip when he shook his head slightly, running his hands through his hair, pushing his sunglasses higher up the slope of his nose. He was absolutely stunning.
He sat down in one of the booths on the other side of the diner and took out his cellphone, fiddling with it for a few moments until Amy walked over to him and asked him what he would like to order. Beth was embarrassed by the reaction her body had to his low and husky voice and she internally cringed at herself and the fluttery feeling in her belly when he answered Amy with his southern drawl, "Jus' some coffee. Black."
Beth once again chewed on her lip, lowering her gaze to pretend to be staring at her camera again. She managed to somehow take another bite from her pie and not choke on it while turning her camera on. Pressing a couple of buttons, and making a few alterations to the settings, she put her camera back on the counter before pressing the small button, taking a series of pictures before twisting it around so that she could look at them on the screen. She flipped through them, observing every move the man made in the picture, from looking at his phone again to offering Amy a polite nod to running his fingers through his hair again. The light coming in through the window was making him look even better and Beth took a sip from her coffee before repeating the action as discretely as possible.
It went on like that for a couple of minutes until Beth finally realized what she was doing. She was actually taking pictures of a man that she didn't even know, without his permission and the pictures were looking so good and natural, that she actually wanted to use some of them in the competition. She moved to take another bite from her pie when she realized that she had already finished it. Looking down at the coffee mug in her hands, she noticed that the coffee was gone too. It seemed like she didn't have another choice but to actually go and ask the man if he was okay with her using the pictures. If he wasn't, Beth knew that she would probably have to delete them too, so that he wouldn't press any charges on her for basically acting like a paparazzi.
Gathering her courage, Beth stood up from her chair and put the money she owed Amy for the coffee on the counter, as well as a small tip. She told herself that she would be back anyways and if she won the contest, she would have more money to give her kind friend. Making her way over to the rugged man, Beth stopped once she stood by the side of his table. It took him a moment to look up at her and when he did, Beth's mouth went dry when he lifted his sunglasses up on his head and his piercing blue eyes met hers.
"Can I help ya with somethin'?" he asked her, his eyes moving to give her a once over.
Beth realized then that she had been staring at him for quite a while, and quickly cleared her throat. "Eh, hey," she said her voice coming out quick and high-pitched. She nearly cringed again, but refrained from doing so when the man raised his eyebrow at her.
"Hi?" he returned, his tone questioning.
"I'm sorry to disturb you and I know that this is going to sound very stalker-ish, but I just took a bunch of pictures of you and I was wondering if you would mind if I used them for a project I am working on?" she blurted out before taking a deep breath. Mentally, she slapped herself, but she kept her eyes on the man who blinked up at her as he lifted his cup of coffee to his lips, remaining quiet. His eyes moved up and down her body again and suddenly Beth felt stupid for even trying. He was going to reject her, she was sure of it; he didn't exactly look like the kind of man who liked getting his picture taken.
"I don't mind," he finally drawled and it took Beth a moment to comprehend exactly what he had said.
"Really?" she grinned at him. "That's amazing–"
"'S'long as ya let me take some pictures of you too."
Daryl froze the moment those words left his mouth. When he saw the girl's mouth fall open, he silently berated himself for sounding so incredibly creepy.
"I didn't mean it like that," he was quick to explain himself. "I'm entering a photography contest an' first prize is a lot of cash, which I need," he said. "So, eh, what I'm askin' is if you'd be willing to let me snap a couple of pictures of ya, lookin' all natural an' shit."
Good God, was he awkward or what?
Fortunately enough, the girl smiled at him. "Well, that makes more sense," she said. "You didn't really look like the creep-type."
A melodic giggle rose in her throat and Daryl felt his own lips twitch into a small smirk. He held out his hand for her to shake, "Daryl Dixon."
"Beth," she introduced herself. "Beth Greene."
"So, what do ya say?" he asked her.
"We're just gonna walk around town and take a bunch of pictures of one another?" Beth wondered. "Two complete strangers?"
"Didn't stop you before, did it, Greene?" he pointed out. "You gonna show me those pictures?"
Beth took a seat across from him in the booth and switched on her camera. Daryl waited patiently, sipping his coffee as he observed her face. She really was beautiful; with a pale, angelic looking face and rosy cheeks and deep blue eyes.
Daryl's interest in photography had started when he had been around sixteen years old. Merle had broken into some store a couple of towns over and stolen a couple of things to sell and make easy cash. A small camera had been one of the few things that he hadn't been able to sell, mostly because the dealers he hung out with weren't interested in taking any pictures. Merle had come back home to their small cabin and then chucked the box at Daryl who had been laying on the couch and told him to go do something useful with his time. The rest was history. Daryl had started tinkering and experimenting with taking pictures of various things and photography quickly became his escape from the world. When his old man would stumble back home in the morning after a long night in the bar, Daryl would take the camera with him and go outside to let the bastard sleep it off. He would go out in the woods and take pictures of anything he could see and play around with the thing for hours.
When he got older and got a steady job as a mechanic, the first thing he did with his first paycheck was to buy himself a better camera, but his older one was still on his shelf back in his apartment, despite not working anymore. He had seen the ad for the contest in the local paper that they got every morning at the auto-repair shop and he hadn't been able to get his mind off of giving it a try. It wasn't as if he would actually mind earning a couple of hundred bucks extra by just doing something he loved.
"Here," Beth said, handing him her camera. He looked down at the display and began looking through the pictures. She'd managed to catch him when he wasn't looking, something which Daryl actually liked. The pictures were all about the interaction between him and the waitress and then some pictures of him, relaxing back. Normally, he wouldn't be comfortable with someone examining him in this way, but he kind of liked the fact that Beth had done it. He hoped she would let him return the favor because he could just imagine how she would look out in the park or on the streets of the small town.
"These are good," he told her. "Really good."
Beth blushed deeply but smiled at him, "Thank you."
"We gonna do this then?" he asked her again and just by the blinding smile she sent him, he knew that she was going to agree.
They ended up spending the entire day together. Daryl had been forced to make a quick stop at his apartment to get his own camera, but soon after that, they were walking around town and taking pictures of one another.
It was a strange thing to Daryl, that being with this girl came so naturally to him. Usually, he was more awkward around new people but Beth was kind and genuine and he found that he liked that a lot. He managed to snap a good couple of pictures of her but one of his favorites had been taken when she had been texting her sister to tell her that she wouldn't be home for dinner. He had snapped a string of pictures and Beth had laughed as the wind picked up again and sent her blonde hair flying. He promised her that he would send her the pictures as soon as he could and show her which ones he decided to send in for the competition.
Daryl had thought that he might feel uncomfortable with posing for Beth and following her instructions – He was a photographer, not a model for fuck's sake – but she had even managed to make that easy for him by laughing away the initial awkwardness. She had told him that she was happy that she had gotten the chance to take her pictures and repeatedly said that she thought he looked 'ruggedly perfect', which Daryl assumed was a compliment, despite not really understanding why would think such a thing of him.
Either way, the reason that she had told her sister that she wouldn't be coming home for dinner was because for some reason Daryl had decided to ask her if she would join him for some burgers and fries. He had never been very forward with women before though he enjoyed Beth's company and didn't want to go separate ways just yet.
As they ate, they talked about various things. She told him about college and he shared that he had never really been one for studying but that he picked up on a lot of things over the years. His main problem with school had been the fact that he had been forced to stay inside for too long. Classes had bored him but he had managed to sit through high school, which in his world was enough. He was a quick learner and he loved being outdoors too, mostly because of his upbringing. His father had taught him and Merle how to hunt and it was probably one of the only good things he'd taught them before he died. Either way, being out in the woods and experiencing nature had taught him a lot more than any book in school had taught him, so he wasn't stupid.
Beth shared stories from her childhood as well and he listened to her and actually chuckled when she told him the story of how she had thrown her sister's birth control pills in the lake when she had found them. Everything had been going fine, until he screwed it all up.
"This project you're workin' on," he said, pointing at her with a fry. "What's it 'bout? Besides takin' pictures of redneck assholes?"
Beth giggled at him and shook her head. "You're not an asshole, Daryl," she admonished playfully. "Maybe a little rough around the edges, but I kinda like that about you."
Daryl felt his face heat up, but he offered her a lazy smile as he ate his french fry. "The project?" he repeated his question and Beth smiled at him shyly.
"It's actually a contest," Beth explained. "The County's Annual Photography Contest?"
Daryl paused for a moment, "The CAPC?"
"Yeah," Beth nodded. "This is my first year trying it out, but I have a good feeling about the pictures I took today." She must have noticed the strange look on his face because her smile dropped. "What's wrong?"
"It's the same contest I was gonna enter with my pictures," he stated bluntly.
It seemed to take Beth a moment to realize what he was saying and then she laughed a little nervously. "That means that we're rivals, doesn't it? Competing against each other with pictures of one another…" She trailed off and Daryl kept his eyes on her face, but he was pleased to see that she didn't really seem that bothered by it. He knew that he wasn't.
"Can ya imagine the judges faces when they see our pictures?" he asked her, earning a laugh from her which made his stomach do funny things that it hadn't done in, well, ever.
"Oh God, this sure is some twisted game of fate, isn't it?" Beth laughed before stealing one of his fries. Daryl swatted her hand away which only made her laugh harder.
"Don't worry, though, you'll have plenty of other competitions to win." The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them and the instant he looked into Beth's eyes, he knew he had made a mistake by speaking them.
"What do you mean by that?" Beth asked, a frown appearing on her angelic face.
Daryl shrugged, "Jus' that you're gonna have plenty of time to win somethin' 'cause you're a kid an' all."
"'A kid'? What's that supposed to mean?" Beth narrowed her eyes. "You don't think my photos are good enough to beat yours?"
"'M jus' sayin' that you have a lot of things to learn," he said, trying to remain calm even though he had a feeling that he was digging his own grave. "You're young."
"What does my age have to do with my skills as a photographer?" Beth asked. "How old do you even think that I am?"
"I dunno," Daryl shrugged, looking away from her eyes this time when he saw anger flash in them.
"I'm twenty years old, for your information, Mr. Dixon," Beth snapped. "Besides, how can you be so sure that the judges are gonna like your vintage style of taking pictures?"
Daryl looked at her then, his own eyes narrowing, "Are ya implyin' somethin', Girl?"
"Just that you're old," Beth replied with a smirk. He could tell that his comment about her being young had bothered her and he would be lying if he said that her basically telling him that his work was outdated didn't bother him too.
"Oh yeah? We'll see 'bout that in a coupl'a weeks, won't we?" he said.
"Yeah," Beth agreed, "and you know what?" She stopped talking only for a moment so that she could dig through her shoulder-bag. Taking out a small notebook and a pen, she scribbled something furiously and then ripped off the paper, slamming it down on the table. "There, now you have my number so that you can call me and congratulate me when I win."
Daryl was fuming inside and he reached over, taking both the notebook and the pen, writing down his own name before shoving the notebook back at her. "Now ya have my number so ya can call me an' congratulate me when I win."
"Great," Beth glared at him.
"Perfect," Daryl agreed, smirk on his face. He knew it would irritate her and that was the only reason he did it now. There was just something about seeing her all riled up.
"May the best photographer win then," Beth said, holding out her hand toward him.
He only nodded and shook her hand.
A month later, Beth sat at Karen's diner again, searching for the announcement of the winner for this year's photography contest. She sipped her coffee and scrolled through the main page on the site before clicking the link. A frown etched her face when she didn't see Daryl's name in the winner's place. She kept scrolling, looking at the pictures of the winner, the runner-up and the third place winner.
Daryl wasn't in the top three and Beth just couldn't understand it. His pictures were amazing and she wasn't just talking about the ones that she had been in. He had taken some time to show her some of his other work before they had their argument and went separate ways and she had seen what he was able to do with a camera. When she had implied that his work was old school, she had only said so because she had been hurt by him thinking that she was some kid playing around with a camera. She just couldn't understand it because she had been certain that he already had the prize money in his hand with how amazing his photos were.
Beth didn't think twice before picking up her phone, dialing the number that she had memorized by now, despite never actually using it.
"Daryl?" she said, breathing out. She hadn't expected him to pick up on the first try. "It's Beth."
"I was wondering if we could maybe meet up? I need to see you," she told him.
"Uh, yeah, sure," he paused for a moment, "where?"
"The park? Where we took all those pictures."
"Yeah, 'kay. I'll be there in a couple of minutes," he told her.
"Okay, I'll see you then."
He didn't say anything else and Beth hung up the phone before picking up her shoulder-bag and paying Amy and Karen for the coffee. She walked to the park as quickly as she could because it wasn't really that far away from the diner and when she got to the small pond where he had taken most of his pictures of her, she saw him already standing there, smoking a cigarette.
"That's a bad habit, you know," she told him, making him turned around to face her.
He flicked some ash away and took another drag before bending down to stub out the cigarette. She watched him as he threw it in its designated waste bin and then he exhaled the last bit of smoke before shrugging at her. "Don't smoke as much as I used to," he shared. "Only when I'm nervous or upset."
"Which one is it now?" she wondered, stepping closer to him.
"Dunno," he shrugged again, not really meeting her eyes.
"I looked up the winners," Beth said, not seeing any sense in stalling. "Didn't see your name there."
Daryl snorted, "Yeah, that's 'cause I pulled out of the contest."
Beth stared at him, eyes widening. "You did what?" she gaped, surprised by his words.
"Pulled out," he repeated, looking at her this time. "Figured you'd have a better shot at winning the whole thing with one less competitor in the mix."
"But–" Beth cut herself off, shaking her head at him. "I pulled out of the competition so that you would have a better chance of winning!"
Daryl honestly looked shocked by her revelation. The two of them stared at one another for a moment before Daryl finally shook his head, chuckling. "Figures," he said. "You would'a won that one, Greene. I'm sure of it."
"No, don't say that," Beth shook her head. "Your pictures were amazing. You would have beat me by a mile, but I would have been happy with second place too."
"Maybe next year then," he said, still chuckling and Beth couldn't help but smile back at him and how silly the argument they had had must have looked.
"So," Beth said after a moment, pulling her hair behind her ear. "Would you like to maybe go for some coffee at Karen's?" She looked at him shyly, feeling those butterflies flutter inside her belly again, as if no time at all had passed from that first day that she had met him. There was just something about this man that made every cell in her body tingle.
"Why?" Daryl asked her. "I mean, I'm just an old man, right?" His tone was teasing, which Beth was thankful for. It seemed like he too wanted them to move on from what had happened.
"Well, to be honest, I've always had a thing for older men," Beth boldly stated, looking him in the eyes. This time, it was his turn to blush. "Besides, you're not that old," she added for good measure.
Daryl grinned at her then and Beth almost sighed at just how handsome he was. He brought her out of her thoughts by motioning to a motorcycle that was parked on the other side of the street. "How 'bout we go back to that restaurant an' finish our dinner?" he suggested. "Karen's can wait for another day."
"Are you askin' me out on a date, Mr. Dixon?" Beth said playfully, lightly smacking him on the arm.
Daryl rolled his eyes at her, but only offered her his hand, which she gladly took, allowing him to lead her away.
Note: See? (To those of you who read Endurance, Blink and Breath) I can write something sweet too. It doesn't always have to be angst, haha! I hope you enjoyed it and feel free to tell me what you thought.
Lots of love! xx
P.S. The contest is just made up. I needed a name and I couldn't think of one, haha! :P