A/N It's the first day of kindergarten and the first time Daryl Dixon and Beth Greene meet. Let's go on a little journey with them.
For a prompt on Bethyl BFF Week on Ultimate Bethyl Fic List.
Trigger Warnings for Child Abuse.
The first day of kindergarten was the day they met and the day Beth Greene and Daryl Dixon became best friends forever.
When Mrs. Murphy saw his name on her list of incoming students it instantly took her back to 10 years earlier. His older brother Merle had been in her class then.
It wasn't that Merle was an inherently a bad boy; it was more that the cards were stacked against him from day one.
He had no school supplies, never had lunch, and his clothes were thread bare and mostly torn and ill-fitting. He could have received help in the form of school lunch and donated supplies, but his father a nasty foul smelling man told her gruffly, "Dixons don't take no charity." That had been that.
The next day when Merle Dixon came to school Mrs. Murphy suspected he'd been physically abused. During the school year she felt that way more than once.
She'd mentioned it to the principal, and she'd even talked to child services, but there was no physical evidence of it. He always wore long sleeves, long pants and the few times he'd been asked leading questions, he'd been tightlipped and stoic.
There was no reason to think his younger brother would be any different.
The good news was there was another student she was very excited to have in her classroom, Beth Greene. Mrs. Murphy was a member of the same church the Greenes attended and she knew the little girl.
She was a sweetheart. So innately kind, generous and always friendly. Beth Greene saw the good in all things.
The idea struck her she'd seat Daryl and Beth next to each other. Beth was just the little person to share her supplies with someone who didn't have any. At least it would be a beginning.
It started that very first day of school. The classroom was equipped with child-size two student tables. She and Daryl were seated next to each other at one of those little tables.
The teacher asked each of the students to say their name aloud, and each time one did the other students were all to say "good morning."
Beth was shy but also excited and she proudly said her name when it was her turn. When the teacher called on little Daryl Dixon he just looked down and mumbled inaudibly. Mrs. Murphy decided to leave it be for now.
But Beth had heard him and softly said to him, "Good morning Daryl."
He just nodded without looking at her.
The teacher wanted to assess just how much her new students knew. Each of the children was given a clean sheet of lined paper and told to write their name and their ABC's as well as they were able.
They all got out their pencil cases and Beth and Mrs. Murphy both noticed Daryl just looked down. Mrs. Murphy had every intention of giving him a pencil to use. But she saw Beth take an extra pencil from her pink plastic box and hold it out to him. He pushed her hand away and muttered, "Dixons don't take no charity."
The little girl had a hurt, sad and frightened look. The teacher quietly went to Daryl and told him to follow her to the only semi private place she could think of, the coat room.
"Daryl do you think you should try to be nice when someone is being nice to you? Beth wasn't trying to give you charity she was offering to share with you, to let you use her extra pencil. It's called being nice Daryl, it's not charity. Now you've hurt her feelings when all she wanted to do was be your friend. Maybe you should tell her you're sorry and thank her. What do you think?"
He shrugged his little shoulders and almost put his thumb in his mouth, but quickly pulled it away when he realized what he was doing. He went back to his seat and although he didn't look at her he did mutter, "Sorry n thanks I didn't bring a pencil today."
The little blond handed him the pencil and this time he took it.
At recess Daryl held back from the other children. Just quietly watching them play. Then he saw that bully named Shane pull her ponytail and tell her she was skinny and ugly. The hurt look on her face made Daryl unhappy and very angry. She was his new friend. His only friend.
He went right over to that bully, pushed him hard and said, "Don't ya be talkin' like that ta her an don't ya touch her no more. I'll knock ya on yer ass." Not the usual threat for five year olds, but Daryl Dixon wasn't living the life of most children his age.
It was probably a real good thing the teacher was out of earshot.
But Daryl had made his point and that was the last time Shane Walsh bothered Beth Greene. At least in kindergarten.
When Beth got off the school bus she ran as fast as she could into the big farmhouse, straight to the kitchen and Mama. She couldn't wait to tell her Mama all about school and her new friend. She was talking a mile a minute. "…and Mama Daryl didn't have a pencil so I shared, and a boy tried to be mean to me and Daryl didn't let him, and Daryl didn't have a lunch so I gave him my apple. He didn't want to take it but I told him if he didn't I was throwing it in the trash. And Mama Daryl didn't know how to write his ABCs. Can he come over after school tomorrow and I can give him an ABC lesson? Please Mama?"
Mama had caught on to just what the trouble may be with little Daryl. "I'll tell you what, why don't you ask Daryl if he can come over tomorrow. Tell him your Daddy needs help with the gate. When he's done helping Daddy you can help him with his ABCs. Daddy or Otis can give him a ride home."
After Daryl had "helped" Daddy fix the gate Daddy told him they could only afford to pay him with supper. Daryl didn't complain. For the first time in his short little life he had a full tummy.
That was the start of many, many visits Daryl would make to the Greene farm. He became like a member of the family and he and Beth grew closer and closer with each passing day and each passing year.
All through elementary school and middle school they remained best friends. Daryl came to the Greene house two or three days a week after school to do homework with Beth. She was good at reading and writing and he was good at math and history. They helped each other.
Daddy always made a point of saying, "Daryl if you'll help me with my chores I'll pay you with supper. How's that?"
And the boy was always willing.
Over the years he taught her how to bait a hook, cast a line, clean a fish. He taught her how to track a rabbit and a deer and how to shoot a bow.
She taught him how to saddle a horse, ride a horse and how to cool the horse down after the ride. She taught him how to make rock candy and the names of the flowers in the yard.
They had an undeniable bond. They'd promised each other many times that they had each other's backs, that they would never let anything or anyone ruin their friendship.
In their Junior Year of High School their strong friendship hit a rather large bump in the road. The bump's name was Shane Walsh.
Daryl had never been able to tolerate Shane Walsh, not since he'd pulled Beth's ponytail in kindergarten. Now that asshole was trying to be her boyfriend and Daryl didn't like it one bit. He didn't know exactly why he didn't like it, but it was making his blood boil.
His only other close friend besides Beth was Rick Grimes. Rick teased him just a little, "You know you like her in some kinda special way. You can keep trying to tell yourself ya don't, or you can admit ya do. Maybe then you'd be the one gettin' a kiss instead a Shane."
"You just shut the fuck up Rick! Beth would never kiss that prick."
'Oh yeah hot shot? Well I saw them kissing right behind the gym the other day and he might a been trying for more."
Daryl didn't speak to her for a month after that. He was hurt, angry, devastated. He just didn't know how to handle all those feelings. He didn't tell her any of it, he just shut down.
She was heartbroken. Mama couldn't help, she didn't know what was going on. Her friend Amy couldn't help, she didn't understand it either.
Finally Beth went to Rick one day at lunch. "What the heck is wrong with Daryl? He won't talk to me, won't look at me. He's just mean and crabby and I know his grades are slipping."
Rick could see she was shook up but hey, he and Daryl were brothers, he couldn't be ratting him out. "I don't know, why don't you ask him?"
"Don't be that way Rick, I know you know so tell me or I'm going to tell Lori you said she smells funny."
"I swear Beth if you do I'll never speak to you again! And I can't tell you but here's a hint, next time Shane Walsh is kissing you ask him if he knows why Daryl's mad at you."
It took Beth just a minute to digest that, and then she just said, "Oh."
She was supposed to meet Shane behind the gym and she'd decided when she saw him there she'd tell him it was over, she wasn't going to be meeting with him, or kissing him. He was getting too pushy anyway and it made her kind of scared. He just wasn't the right guy. He just wasn't Daryl.
When she got there Shane was nowhere in sight. It was Daryl who was leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette. His knuckles were bloody and he had a big mark on his cheek.
She had a pretty good idea of exactly what had happened. She went right over to him, she was angry, but also touched, flattered and really quite happy. But she wasn't ready to tell him that. Yet.
"Daryl Dixon what did you do?!"
He was obviously angry and hyped up on adrenaline. He did something he'd never done, he yelled in her face. "Ya wanna know girl? I'll tell ya what I done! I knocked that sumbitch Shane Walsh right on his big dumb fuckin' ass, like I shoulda done when we was in kindergarten. I told him then he better never touch ya again, I guess he didn't remember that. I had ta remind him."
"Daryl you're being such a jackass!"
"Oh yeah, what about you, huh? Did ya let him touch ya anywhere? Ya think that means he likes ya? He ain't never gonna really like ya. Just wants ta have his way with ya, like he does with every girl in school. Then he'll toss ya aside and move on to the next notch on his belt."
With that she started to cry, "You stop that Daryl Dixon! You don't get to talk about me like that! All the sudden you just stopped being my friend. You started being mean, ignoring me. We promised we'd always be best friends, that we'd never abandon each other, that we'd always have each other's backs. YOU'RE the one who tossed me aside!"
Her words hit him square in the heart. She was his best friend, and he'd promised himself a long time ago he would never hurt her. He was just so confused because he didn't really understand these new feelings he had for her.
He turned his back to her and she realized he was crying too. She moved closer to him, tried to reach out to him but he pushed her arm away. She stopped for a minute, but she wasn't giving up, she'd never give up on Daryl. He was everything to her.
She fully committed then, practically throwing herself into his back. She wrapped her arms tightly around his waist, her head resting on his back. She was quiet, she just listened when he began to speak.
"I'm sorry Beth. I just couldn't stand the thought a him kissin' ya, touchin' ya, yer my girl, ya always have been my girl from that first day a kindergarten. I want ya ta always be my girl. My best friend and my girlfriend."
And then she spoke, "That's what I want too Daryl, to be your best friend and your girlfriend, the person you always believe in. I just didn't know you had those feelings for me, didn't know you like me that way."
He said it low, but she heard it, "I love ya Beth, always have, always will. I'ma love ya forever. Ain't never gonna be be no one else for me. Never."
She smiled and said, "I love you too Daryl. I've loved you since the first day of kindergarten. You're everything to me. I never wanted Shane, I never wanted anyone but you. Forever."
It was then he turned around, he put his hands in the blond curls that framed her face and he kissed her.
A/N Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks so much for reading a long xo