"It's inconsiderate, Bethy," Hershel Greene is saying as Beth looks over the list Annette has written out for her.
"Daddy, it's no big deal." Beth turns her head and sets the list down when Lucy comes running into the kitchen, her bare feet slapping on the hardwood floor, the little girl giggling because she's stolen Daryl's trucker hat and it is so big on her head, it is covering her eyes.
As Lucy runs past her, Beth swoops the hat off her head and the three-year-old instantly turns on her, giving her a pout and trying to get the hat back.
"Mama," she begins to whine.
"You'll run right into the wall, Dot," Beth tells her and then looks back to her dad, who is still looking at her with a frown. Beth can't help, but let out a slight laugh. "Daddy, it's just a trip to Wal-Mart. I think me and Daryl are more than capable of handling it."
She is quite aware of Lucy still trying to get to the hat once again, standing on her tip toes and stretching her arms, and Beth pushes it further onto the counter so she can't reach it, Lucy giving a little huff in response.
"But you and Daryl would have to take the kids with you and that would be a pain for you. Your mom and I can go," Hershel continues to protest.
"Mom has a headache and I can see it on your face clear as day. You need a nap."
"Daddy!" Lucy exclaims when Daryl enters the kitchen. "Hat!" She stands on the tips of her toes again and points to the hat on the counter that she can't reach.
"'ve been lookin' for that," Daryl says as he picks up the hat and puts it on his head.
"Daddy!" Lucy whines.
"Stop," Daryl says before she can start. At three, she seems to be throwing tantrums over every little thing. He and Beth know they don't want to raise a brat who knows she can just scream and get what she wants, but at the same time, Daryl looks down at the little girl and he seems to have the hardest time having a backbone around her. "We'll find you a hat of your own when we go to the store," he promises her.
Lucy bursts into a smile and wraps her arms around his leg in a hug and he does his best to avoid looking at Beth, who is looking at him with a raised eyebrow. Instead, he looks down to the baby Bjorn he is wearing strapped to his chest and three-month-old Holly is fast asleep within it, despite the others not talking softly at all.
Daryl wonders if it's a good thing or not that the girl's barely been in this world, but she already is used to Lucy throwing fits. No, no, it's not a good thing and he knows that. The last thing he or Beth want to do is raise some spoiled little girl like the ones he sometimes sees in stores, screaming up storms because they're not getting something that they want and their parents are refusing them.
It's just damn hard saying no to his daughter, he's finding out.
"Alright," Beth says to Hershel. "Now, this is everything? You aren't forgetting something?" She asks.
Hershel frowns at his daughter. "I may be old, Beth, but my brain isn't. If that's the list, that's the list."
Beth does her best to not smile at the man's indignation. "Yes, daddy," she says obediently and folding the list, she hands it to Daryl, who slips it into the back pocket of his blue jeans. She turns towards Lucy. "Let's go get your shoes, Dot."
Lucy runs excitedly from the kitchen and Beth follows after her and Daryl looks down to Holly one more time before lifting his eyes to Hershel, the man smiling.
"We love having you here," Hershel then says.
"Yeah," Daryl smirks a little. "'cause you know me and Beth will run your errands," he says and he's teasing and Hershel smiles because he knows he is.
"Son-in-laws are good for one thing," Hershel says with that smile that makes his eyes twinkle and Daryl gives that little smile of his in return. "You want to keep Holly here? Might be easier to go to Wal-Mart without a baby."
"I'd rather leave Lucy here, if I'm bein' honest, but that girl won't like that much."
"She's a spitfire, that's for sure," Hershel says with that same smile.
"Is that what you call it?"
Hershel shrugs. "It's a phase. It won't last forever. You and Beth won't let it."
"Hope you're right," Daryl sighs. "'s hard for me to say no to her even though I want to and know I should."
"I wouldn't worry much about that, Daryl. That only lasts until she's eighteen or so. And then she's out of your house and then you just hope you raised her right enough to make good decisions while out on her own in the world."
Daryl feels all of the color drain from his face and Hershel chuckles a little.
"If it makes you feel better, I think you're doing a hell of a job," Hershel tells him and Daryl doesn't doubt him even if it sounds a little ludicrous to him because the man just swore and Hershel Greene never swears.
And hearing something like that coming for his father-in-law, a man Daryl respects a hell of a lot, it definitely does make him feel a hell of a lot better because every single day, he still wakes up and has no idea what the hell he is doing. What does he know about being a dad? Not a lot, in his opinion.
Just four years ago, he had never thought he would ever be a dad; never even interested in entertaining the idea for even a second and now, he's dad to not one, but two daughters and it's a miracle they've all made it this far without any obvious long-lasting injuries.
Holly begins to stir and Daryl looks down to the baby in the Bjorn. He puts a warm hand on her head and the baby tilts her face up, blinking up at Daryl, and he smiles down at her. He had thought that with the girls having two different dads, Holly might look different from when Lucy was a baby, but Daryl was there the instant Lucy was born into this world and he knows that Holly looks just like her sister.
He's joked with Beth more than once that she's got some strong genes.
Both girls have big blue eyes and Holly already has wispy blonde hair on her head. She's even got the same pale-lipped, bow mouth that both Beth and Lucy have.
Daryl never would have thought he'd have a hand in making such a beautiful baby, but here she is. He had been so excited when Beth had told him that she thought she was pregnant and she thought it was because – although she knew Daryl loved Lucy as if she was his own – he wanted a baby that was actually his own. But that wasn't it at all and he made sure she knew that. He was just excited to have a baby with her.
And three months later, Daryl still catches himself looking at Holly as if he still can't really believe that she's here.
After making sure the diaper bag is packed and Lucy has her shoes securely on and Daryl makes sure that he still has the list, Hershel thanking them profusely as if this is more like a trip up the Andes Mountains than just to Wal-Mart, they head outside to load everyone up in Daryl's black pickup truck parked in front of the farmhouse.
Beth takes Holly from the Bjorn to place her in her car seat and Daryl takes off the Bjorn before swooping Lucy up in his arms, making her squeal with laughter as he buckles her into her own car seat.
"Daddy! Music!" She exclaims.
"Hold on, Dot," he says as he buckles her in.
"Daddy, music!" She says, a little more forcefully.
"Lucy," Beth says sternly, double-checking on Holly's buckles to make sure she's secure. "Give your daddy and me one minute and then we'll turn on the music."
Lucy pouts – her bottom lip pushed out dramatically and her forehead furrowed – but she remains quiet and Daryl leans in, kissing her on the side of her head. Her forehead smooths out, but her lip remains out.
Daryl and Beth both close the back doors and then climb into the front. Lucy's music is a mixed cd of old Motown songs and when Daryl turns the key in the ignition, it is the cd still playing and "Where Did Our Love Go" by The Supremes immediately fills the cab. Lucy claps and cheers and then begins rocking side to side in her car seat.
Daryl drives down the dirt drive and turns onto the smooth paved road, heading towards the highway. He glances in the rearview mirror. Lucy is still rocking and "singing" along to the song, which to her, is just singing a bunch of words – some that are actual English and others that aren't. And Holly is quiet, looking at her older sister next to her with the utmost fascination. Daryl then looks over to Beth next to him, but her head is turned and she looks out the passenger window as he drives.
"You okay?" Daryl asks her.
Beth turns her head towards him and gives him a small smile. "Of course."
He knows its bullshit though, and she knows that he knows its bullshit, but he doesn't press her – for the moment. She's like this when they visit her parents.
Hershel and Annette come to the little town of Scott in southwest Georgia often to visit their daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters, but Daryl and Beth load the car up at least once every couple months, too, to visit her parents and the Greene farm. She wants their daughters to experience the same childhood that she had – being around the horses and running through the fields that seemingly stretch on forever beneath the Georgia sky.
And if they stay on the farm, Beth is perfectly fine, spending their weekend laughing and smiling and chasing Lucy around and going riding with her sister, Maggie, and baking with Annette in the kitchen. But anytime they have to go off the farm, that is when she gets quiet and a little tense and Daryl knows why even though she's never actually told him. But he's not an idiot. He's observant and he's always been able to read people – especially Beth. So even though she's never confessed to him, he knows she's scared that when they leave the farm and go somewhere in the surrounding area, she will run into Aiden.
Daryl thinks about running into Aiden, too; how it will be and what Daryl will do to him. Dixon men – hell, Dixon women, too – have a temper. Always have and probably always will. Daryl's temper hasn't been as volatile as some of the other men in his family – namely his older brother and his old man – but it's still there and he wonders if seeing Beth's ex will cause it to explode.
The man had been married and though Beth loves to blame herself for being too naïve to not figure it out sooner, Daryl's never thought to judge Beth for anything. Aiden had been the one who was married, not Beth. And Aiden had been the one to pursue Beth while knowing that he was married. Daryl remembers when Beth had first moved to Scott – scared and alone and pregnant. She had been so scared that Aiden would find her and want to take her baby away.
Lucy is his daughter as much as Holly is and over his dead body will Daryl ever let Aiden anywhere near her – if Aiden ever finds out about her and figures he wants her. He hopes that Beth knows that; that he'll do anything to keep all of his girls safe.
And even if Aiden ever did find out about Lucy, he wouldn't be able to do anything. Daryl is certain of that. His name is the one on Lucy's birth certificate next to Beth's.
At Wal-Mart, Daryl parks the truck in a spot he can pull through and this time, Beth puts the Bjorn on and then picks Holly up from her seat and putting her into the carrier, smiling down at her as Holly blinks up at her, and Beth kisses her head. Daryl hoists Lucy up into his arms and making sure the locks on the truck beep, they begin heading towards the massive store.
"Daddy!" Lucy begins to whine, wiggling in his arms. "Down, daddy!"
"No," Daryl says, tightening his hold on her. "You'll go runnin' off and get smacked by a car. It'll be a mess."
"I want down!" She exclaims.
"No, Lucy," he gives her a frown and she crosses her arms, pouting out her lower lip. He smirks a little and shakes his head. "And that ain't gonna work on me so you might as well stop tryin'."
Inside the front automatic sliding doors, Daryl carries Lucy over to a cart and sits her down in the front seat. Beth is standing nearby, her eyes looking over everyone in the surrounding area as if she is expecting Aiden to suddenly appear in front of them. Daryl pushes the cart up beside her and Beth turns her head to look at him, doing her best to give him a smile. Daryl slides a hand onto the back of her neck and leans in, kissing her on the temple.
"You be in charge of this," he tells her, pulling the list from his pocket and handing it to her. He then takes his hat off and drops it on Lucy's head. "And you be in charge of that," he tells her and Lucy giggles as she puts both hands on top of the hat as if she expects him to pluck it off again at any second.
"Let's start at the back and work our way forward," Beth suggests. "Plastic cups, paper plates and more Ziploc bags," she reads from the list.
Daryl nods and begins pushing the cart and Beth walks next to him. The store is crowded with other people doing their shopping, pushing carts in every direction, and kids running around, parents yelling after them to stop. Daryl almost cringes. What the hell is he and Beth going to do when Lucy is too big to sit in the cart?
"Daddy!" Lucy exclaims, pointing, and Daryl follows her finger.
"No, Dot," Beth is the one to answer as she looks to at the display in the middle of the aisle of big rubber bouncy balls. "You have a bouncy ball at home."
"Mama!" Lucy immediately whines. "I want that one!" She points to a hot pink ball as Daryl keeps on pushing the cart past the display.
"No, Lucy," Beth says firmly and gives her a frown. "You don't need it."
Lucy crosses her arms over her chest and huffs and then sticks her lower lip out.
"Hey," Daryl says and chucks a gentle finger under her chin. "You keep makin' that expression, it's gonna stick there for the rest of your life."
"No, daddy," Lucy shakes her head at that and Daryl shrugs.
"I wouldn' risk it if I were you," he says and from the corner of his eye, he can see Beth smiling a real Beth smile at that.
They get the plates and cups, Ziploc bags and more trash bags, dropping everything into their cart, before heading towards the snack food aisle to get potato chips and on their way, they pass the baby food aisle. Daryl pauses and looks to Beth and Beth looks to Daryl with an amused smile and raise of an eyebrow.
He lets out a sigh. "'m weak," he then says and she laughs at that. "Be right back."
He leaves Beth with the girls and the cart and he heads down the aisle. It takes him a moment of looking, but he finds it after a moment and grabs the container of toddler cheese-puff snacks that Lucy loves. As he walks back towards the cart, his steps slow a little as he looks at Beth. She's looking at something up the main aisle that he can't see yet. But he can see that she has gone completely pale beneath the store's fluorescent lighting and she has seemed to freeze in place.
Before he can even get a look for himself, Daryl knows what it is. Or rather, who it is, and he hurries back to the cart.
"Daddy!" Lucy exclaims excitedly when she sees the familiar canister in his hand.
Daryl follows Beth's eyes and he sees a man – dark-haired and pale-skinned and probably around his age – with a basket in his hand, looking over bags of pretzels that are in an end-of-the-aisle display. He then looks to Beth and it looks like she's starting to shake and she can't stop looking at the man. This is Beth's biggest fear and she has always been so scared of it happening, and now, it's actually happening.
Daryl looks at Aiden for another minute before down to Lucy, who's chattering to herself as she is trying to open the canister herself, still wearing his trucker hat. He then looks to Beth and he can see the tears welling in her eyes as she continues looking at Aiden. And he then looks to Aiden, who still hasn't seen them. He turns down one of the frozen food aisles, disappearing from their view.
"'ll be right back," Daryl says.
Beth's eyes fly to him, wide and wet. "Daryl-"
He cuts her off though with a kiss to her forehead. "How 'bout you go get the chips? I'll meet you in that aisle." And then, without sticking around for her to protest, Daryl heads off, going straight towards the frozen food aisle that Aiden had gone down, feeling Beth's eyes on him the entire time.
They aren't the only two in the aisle, but still, it's not crowded and Daryl's eyes are able to land on Aiden immediately. The man is standing in front of a door with frozen TV dinners on the other side, studying the selection offered. He doesn't notice Daryl and even if he did, it isn't like he would know him. He has no idea that Daryl exists or that he's married to Beth.
He's not wearing a wedding ring. Not that Daryl is expecting him to. Beth had told him once that Aiden never wore a wedding ring despite having a wife. But not only that, but he's holding a shopping basket and standing in front of the frozen dinners.
It's almost like he doesn't have a wife anymore.
Daryl would safely bet money on it.
He always thought that if he ever saw this guy, Daryl would want to punch him and do so without much thought. His anger would just explode and he wouldn't be able to help himself, but instead, Daryl is standing there and he's looking at this man and he feels as far from anger as a person can be. If anything, Daryl almost feels sorry for him because Daryl also thinks it's pretty safe to say that this guy is a complete loser.
Daryl wonders why he was ever worried about running into this guy and he'll be sure to tell Beth the same thing so she'll stop being so scared. There is no reason to be scared of this man.
This man isn't anything anymore.
He never was.
Daryl opens one of the freezer doors before Aiden can catch him looking at him and grabs a box of those Dove chocolate ice cream bars that Beth loves, but never buys for herself because, as she has said, if they're in the house, she'll eat the whole box in one night. He then leaves the aisle, amazed that he feels a little lighter. He never thought about that guy until they came here to see Hershel and Annette and even then, he knows he only thinks of Aiden because he weighs on Beth's mind so much.
Daryl guesses he could turn around again and punch Aiden in the face, but really, it wouldn't do anything and Daryl doesn't need to do it to make himself feel better.
He feels perfectly fine.
Beth is in the chip aisle, rocking herself slightly back and forth, comforting Holly in the Bjorn, who has gotten a little fussy, and she has opened the snack container for Lucy, who is happily munching on her puffs.
"Daddy!" Lucy exclaims when she sees Daryl walking towards them.
Beth's head immediately flies up to look at him and her eyes still seem a little damp and she still seems scared, and as Daryl sets the box of ice cream bars in the cart, he leans in and kisses her. And then he kisses Holly on the head and turns, kissing Lucy's head, too.
"Daddy?" Lucy is holding a puff in her hand, up towards him, and Daryl smiles, taking it from her and popping it into his mouth and she smiles happily as she takes another puff for herself.
Daryl sees the bag of potato chips in the cart and then looks to Beth. "Alrigh. What's next on the list?" He asks.
Beth looks at him and doesn't say anything at first and she's trying to read his face as to what happened with Aiden. And Daryl doesn't say anything and lets her look.
She takes a deep breath after a moment. "Ketchup, of all things," she says and he smiles a little at that, going back to the handlebar of the cart and beginning to push.
Beth comes to walk right next to him and she slips her arm through his and Daryl turns his head, kissing the side of hers.
"Daddy!" Lucy exclaims then and points to boxes of frosted animal crackers that they are passing then, but this time, Beth is the one to take a box and put it into the cart.
It's Daryl's turn to look at her with a raised eyebrow and Beth shrugs and she gives him a real Beth smile.
"I'm weak, too," she says and Daryl finds himself giving a full smile at that.
Thank you very much for reading and please take a moment to review!