Beth Greene keeps her eyes closed, pretending to still be asleep, as she listens to him moving around her bedroom, gathering his things and getting himself dressed again, all the while being as quiet as he can be so not to wake her. He's trying to sneak out and Beth can't help but feel an ache in her chest when she realizes it.
This is exactly what Maggie had wanted for her, dragging her out the night before to a bar.
"You haven't lived until you have a one-night stand, Beth," her older sister informs her – to which Beth promptly tells her that that is the dumbest thing she has ever heard.
But she goes with Maggie anyway because sometimes, going along with Maggie is just easier than trying to put up a fight. Besides, it is just a bar and she has only agreed to go out; not to have a one-night stand, which doesn't interest Beth in the least.
It still doesn't.
And she has told this man that the night before when he sits down on the bar stool next to hers and after they have been talking for a while. Apparently, his older brother has dragged him out for a little bit of fun and this seem to be the last place he wants to be, but like Maggie, sometimes – most of the time – just going along with his brother, Merle, is easier than saying no and starting a fight. Beth smiles at that, grateful she has something in common with someone else here tonight, because the other patrons in the bar seem just like Maggie with a single mission in their minds.
His name is Daryl Dixon, he's shy and he makes her stomach flutter.
Beth sits on her stool, slowly turning more and more towards him as they talk over the next couple of hours – he drinking two bottles of beer and Beth getting her Sprite refilled. Now, in the morning, Beth honestly doesn't even remember all of what they talked about. He is quiet at first, giving just one-word answers to random questions she thinks to ask him. Beth has always been a bit on the chatty side and Daryl's quietness doesn't deter her. She just keeps talking and eventually, it opens up something within Daryl and he starts to talk back using more than one syllable words.
And then he asks, "You wanna get out of here?"
Beth doesn't even think about what it means. She just smiles and nods quickly and he reaches over, taking her hand gently as he helps her slide down from her stool. He doesn't stop to find his brother and she doesn't stop to find her sister as they leave the bar together. She knows that both Maggie and Merle will think the same thing when they find out that their siblings are gone. And Beth doesn't mind that that's what they'll think because she walks with Daryl outside into the crisp, slightly cool, night and suddenly, the idea of maybe winding up with him for the night doesn't seem all that terrible to her.
"I know this one place," Daryl says as they start heading down the sidewalk and Beth keeps her hand tucked into his and she wonders if he even realizes that he's still holding it. But he must because every once in a while, he'll give it the barest of squeezes and it makes her heart do a little flip within her chest.
When he stops them in front of White Castle, Beth can't keep the laughter from spilling past her lips and she sees the way that Daryl's lips quirk upwards in an almost-smile.
He opens the door for her and she feels his hand on the small of her back, gently guiding her forward towards the counter. "You get whatever you wanna get," he tells her.
Beth knows it's silly, and she wonders what that says about the romance in her life up until this point, but Daryl Dixon telling her to order anything in White Castle at nearly eleven o'clock at night is the most romantic thing that has happened to her.
They aren't the only ones in there once they get their food and settle into a booth next to a window. A group of teenagers – being rowdy, but having innocent fun as they toss French fries into one another's mouths, trying to catch them. A couple with a sleeping baby in a carrier at the mother's side. Two men, tired and not talking, looking as if they just got off their shift at wherever they work. And there is Daryl and Beth and Beth wonders if they are being looked at by the others and it is just assumed that they are a couple, on a date.
Beth can't help but admit to herself that she likes how that sounds and she tries to remind herself that she has just met this man and it's too soon to have thoughts like that, but… why is it too soon? Every couple in the world started out as strangers who started talking with one another and spending time together.
Daryl is the one to talk first this time – asking her more about her job though she laughs a little and feels a blush on her cheeks. She's a yoga instructor. Not the most exciting thing in the world and she much rather wants to hear more about his job. He works for a company that shows people how to live extremely in the woods; teaches them how to build shelter and what plants are safe to eat and how to hunt. A lot of thrill seekers and people wanting to be more of the outdoors type pay him to kick their asses for a weekend – as he explains it to her. There's a reality show, too, filmed in Georgia that he has actually consulted on before; making sure the contestants don't inadvertently kill themselves and telling the producers when they're about to.
They eat their slider hamburgers and their cartons of fries and keep talking – favorite books and movies and music; he finds out she doesn't know any of the movies he mentions and she finds out he doesn't seem to know that much about the music she listens to. By the time Beth thinks to look at the time again, she's surprised – and not too surprised at all – to see that it's already a little past one o'clock in the morning. She wonders what is going to happen now.
She didn't come out tonight, looking for a one-night stand, and she's still not. She has just met him, but after talking with him and spending the past few hours with him, Beth finds herself really liking Daryl and the whole point of one-night stands is to be casual and noncommittal and Beth has never been either of those things when it comes to men.
She can't remember who kissed who first. She just remembers being shorter than him and Daryl grumbles something about her being a damn shrimp and she laughs as his arms bind around her waist and he easily lifts her off her feet so he can kiss her without bending himself in half to reach her lips.
It has been the best night of her life.
And now Daryl is leaving, not knowing that she's awake and can hear him, and she feels a burning behind her eyes because how can Maggie do this? How can Maggie just have sex with someone and then be perfectly fine with them walking out the door when it's done?
She feels used. She feels stupid. And most of all, she feels more than hurt. She's crushed.
Daryl finishes getting himself dressed and Beth keeps her eyes closed and a minute later, she hears him walk from her bedroom to the front door of her apartment and then he's gone with a tiny click of the door closing firmly in its frame once more.
And once he's gone and the silence drums in her ears, Beth feels a tear slip down her cheek.
She's an idiot for listening to Maggie and allowing herself to be pulled out last night. She's an idiot for telling Daryl that she didn't want a one-night stand, but sleeping with him anyway. She obviously gave him a conflicting message and he gave her what he thought she wanted. And she had wanted him. She just had wanted him for more than one night.
She clenches her eyes shut for another moment before pulling herself out of the bed. She doesn't dare look at the rumpled sheets or feel the cooling space beside her from where he has been sleeping for the past couple of hours. Her own clothes are still scattered on the floor of her bedroom, but his are gone and it's glaringly obvious in the sunlight that now is streaming through her bedroom windows, past the white curtains.
Still naked, Beth goes into the bathroom and takes a shower, desperate to wash herself and scrub herself clean until her skin is a light pink. As if that will help with the memories of Daryl's hands holding her and his lips kissing her and his body being inside of hers. And she pretends that she's not crying; that it's just water from the shower head streaming down her cheeks and soaking her skin.
She hears her cell phone ringing just as she steps out, wrapping a fluffy towel around her body, but she recognizes it as Maggie's designated ringtone and Beth chooses to ignore it. She stands at the sink and combs out her hair and tries not to look directly into her eyes as her reflection stares back.
More power to the women strong enough to do this, Beth thinks to herself.
She puts on a pair of short little pajama shorts with strawberries printed on them and a plain white tank-top, pulling her damp hair back into braid as she heads towards her yoga mat in the living room to do her usual morning routine, but on her way, there is a knock on the door. She thinks it must be Maggie, checking up on her to make sure she wasn't murdered since the sisters haven't seen one another since the night before in the bar, and again, Beth just ignores it.
But then there is a knock – soft and very un-Maggie like who likes to pound in rapid succession while calling out her name – and Beth approaches the door with curiosity, wondering who is visiting her this early on a Saturday morning.
Maybe it's her daddy. And if that's the case, thank goodness Daryl did leave because no girl wants their daddy to visit while a strange man is in their bed.
Beth opens the door and can't help but gasp when she sees who it is.
"Daryl," she breathes his name.
He's come back. And in one hand, there's a drink carrier with two cups of coffee and a paper bag. He looks shy again and slightly unsure as he looks at her. She wonders if her eyes are red and if they are, she wonders if he can see it.
"I thought you left," Beth says and she instantly regrets the words because Daryl's eyes drop down to the floor and he probably thinks that that's what she has wanted this entire time even though it's actually the last thing she could ever want.
"I won't stay," he is quick to say as he looks at her again. "Don't wanna be in your hair, annoyin' you. I just 'member you sayin' last night how much you love blueberry muffins and there's a bakery down the street so I thought I could get us breakfast."
Beth doesn't think about it. She thinks of just a little bit ago, she woke up to the sounds of him leaving and how heavy that made her heart feel.
She doesn't even know him, but she already knows that she hates when he walks away.
She stands up on her toes, throws her arms around his neck and kisses him. It takes a couple of seconds for Daryl's mind to catch up and be able to reciprocate, his free arm sliding around her waist, holding her close and tight to him.
Their lips slowly pull apart and her eyes slowly open to look into his.
"Stay," she whispers.
Daryl stares at her and then his lips slowly being quirking upwards. His arm tightens around her waist and Beth feels her stomach flutter and she smiles back.
Thank you very much for reading and please leave a review! I hope you all enjoyed it!