"This is so stupid, Maggie! It's a print interview!" Daryl hears Beth exclaim from the bedroom as he sits on the couch in the living room, eating a sandwich and watching some old episode of Cops on the television.
"It's only stupid because you're making it so damn difficult!" Beth's sister, Maggie, snaps back at her. "Now try this one on!"
Daryl is wisely staying out of it. Maggie had come over two hours earlier to help Beth and the two sisters have been in the bedroom, bickering ever since. He knows this is a big deal, but he's kind of with Beth. No matter what that girl wears, she's going to look beautiful. She can take meet this reporter person in a potato sack and still make them speechless.
"Daryl," Maggie says, coming down the hallway from the bedroom and stepping into the living room. "Your wife is the most stubborn person in this entire world."
Daryl just smirks and takes another bite of his sandwich, still staying out of it.
If Beth is the most stubborn person the entire world, that would probably make Maggie the most dramatic, but Daryl isn't so stupid as to say anything like that. He's just going to keep eating his sandwich and watching Cops, taking it easy before his shift at the bar later.
When the show cuts to a commercial, Daryl is quick to switch the channel. These ads have been running nonstop lately and Beth's blood pressure spikes through the roof through each one. Even with her in their bedroom, changing, all she would have to do is hear the man's voice in their apartment for her to get to yelling. Because of his record, Daryl is not permitted to vote in elections, but even if he can, it isn't as if he would have a 'Phillip Blake for Governor' sign stuck in his window.
Maggie turns when the door at the end of the hallway opens and she smiles. "Perfect."
Daryl has gone back to watching Cops, but knowing that Beth is coming, he sits up and mutes the television and when he lays eyes on her, he feels himself go completely still.
Beth sighs heavily and tucks her hair behind her ears before holding her arms out to her sides. "Well?" She looks at them both. "Is this good enough for my print interview?"
Maggie rolls her eyes. "Stop being difficult. You look hot!"
Beth's eyes widen a little at that, as if she never could have possibly imagined such a thing, and she quickly looks to Daryl for confirmation. But Daryl's not too sure what to say; Maggie having said it all already.
She's wearing a black lace top and tight, dark blue jeans. Her hair – blonde as always – is worn down and there's something about the entire look that makes his body tighten.
His wife doesn't look like an author of a book about a serial killer, that's for sure. She usually looks like she teaches kindergarten and writes children's stories. She's small and almost fragile looking – though Daryl knows she is anything but – and people look at her and her blonde hair and beautiful face and probably think that there's not much going on upstairs even though Beth's the smartest person Daryl has ever met.
His wife always looks beautiful. She's honestly the prettiest woman – including women from magazines and movies – that Daryl has ever seen. Most days, he still has no idea what the hell she's doing with him.
But today, right this second, damn. Beth is hot.
And he's still not saying anything, but his face must be showing it because Beth smiles and blushes a little and then looks to Maggie.
"Fine," Beth sighs, almost reluctantly, to her older sister. "You were right."
Maggie beams. "Of course I was. Now, I have to get going," she says as she looks to the clock on their stove before back to Beth. "What time is your interview?"
As if suddenly remembering that that is the reason for all of this, Beth begins rubbing her palms along her jean-clad thighs. "Um, in a half hour."
Maggie steps forward and embraces her in a hug. "You are going to do amazing. Just pretend you're talking to me or Daryl or even Sophia about all of this and you'll do great."
Beth smiles and nods. "Thank you for all your help."
"That's what I'm here for," Maggie shrugs and smiles. "Don't forget to brush your teeth."
Beth's eyes widen and then letting out a little squeak, she slaps her hand over her mouth, turns and scurries into the bathroom. Maggie goes to get her coat and purse that is draped over the back of one of their kitchen table chairs and Daryl gets up to go and put his plate into the dishwasher.
"Is she doing the interview up here or downstairs?" Maggie asks him.
"I told her to do it up here, but she says she wants to do it downstairs where I'll be in case she needs to look at me or somethin' like that," Daryl shrugs, still not really understanding Beth's logic in it. He doesn't think giving some interview in some bar will be the best place for it, but what does he know? If Beth wants to give her interview down in The Pine Cone downstairs, there's not much he can say to convince her otherwise.
Maggie smiles though as if she understands it. "I think I'd be the same. If I was doing something like this, I know I'd want Glenn somewhere close."
She finishes bundling herself up. It is almost spring, but winter is still stubbornly clinging and he can hear the wind blow against their windows that early afternoon and the sky has been a heavy grey for about a week now.
"I miss the sun," Beth had said just two days earlier. "Don't you miss the sun?" She asked, looking to Daryl for confirmation.
Daryl had just shrugged though. "Got your hair to look at. Don't know if I need the sun as long as I got you 'round."
And Beth reacted to that as if she had never heard anything better.
She may be his wife, but he feels like he's still trying to figure her out most days.
Maggie leaves, calling out "Good luck, Bethy!" to the closed bathroom door, and with a glass of water, Daryl returns to the couch to finish watching the episode of Cops.
"Beth!" Daryl calls out when another episode begins and the Bad Boys theme song begins playing. Daryl turns the television off and returns the remote control to the coffee table. "We gotta go!" He stands up and goes to put his empty water glass into the dishwasher.
The bathroom door opens and Beth comes out with a frown on her face.
"Wha's the matter?" Daryl asks as soon as he sees.
"This is so stupid, doing this," Beth says. "No one cares about my book. It's not like I'm the next Ann Rule or someone like that."
"Not with that attitude," Daryl replies with a shrug and it's what he always says when she says she can't do something and it always gets her to smile; today being no exception.
She smiles now and exhales a deep breath and Daryl stands in front of her, his hands rubbing her upper arms up and down.
"'member what Maggie said. Jus' talk to this person like you're talkin' to me," Daryl tells her. "Except this person will prob'ly actually be listenin' to you."
Beth smacks his stomach at that and Daryl breaks into a smile. She then stands on her toes and with her arms around his shoulders, she meets his lips softly with hers.
"Will you make me a Shirley Temple downstairs?" She asks him, keeping her face close to his; her nose nearly brushing against his.
"Don't you wanna get somethin' with booze in it? Might help you calm down," Daryl says as his arms slide around her waist and he holds her close. It's still amazing to him, after all of this time, just how well they seem to fit together despite their differences in size and shape.
"I am not doing this interview with the smell of booze on my breath," Beth says. "Me getting drunk to get through our wedding was one thing, but I can't get drunk for this interview."
Daryl swaps playfully at her ass and Beth lets out a laugh before she skirts away from him and heads for the front door of their apartment, Daryl following behind her.
The Pine Cone usually has a pretty decent lunch crowd. Merle Dixon and his wife, Carol, have worked hard for their place to be more than just some bar, and having learned how to cook while serving his own sentence in prison, Merle has put together a pretty decent lunch menu. People on their lunch breaks from work come to the bar for hot sandwiches or the fish-and-chip basket – definitely their biggest seller.
But after the lunch crowd, there is a quiet lull in the bar's business from two to about six, when people getting off of work or out of class in the nearby college come in for drinks.
Daryl slips in behind the bar and sees that there's only one other customer still there – Joe, sitting on his usual stool at one end of the bar, working from his crossword puzzle book as always. Daryl gets the man another glass of straight whiskey as he always drinks and then starts making Beth's usual Shirley Temple. She stands at the bar, nervously drumming her hands on the bar top and looking over the door every few seconds.
"Relax. You sure you don't want some booze?" Daryl asks, setting her drink in front of her.
"Stop trying to get me drunk, Daryl Dixon," Beth says and then swallows thickly. "What am I going to talk about?" She then asks him as if he has any idea how magazine interviews work. "What if she asks me something and I don't know the answer?"
Daryl doubts that. Beth seems to know at least something about everything.
"You're gonna do great, Beth," he tells her because he's not too sure what else he can tell her. It's obvious to him. He just wishes that it was obvious to her, too. Of course, he's always thought Beth Greene-Dixon was amazing; ever since she first started coming into the bar, and nothing has ever swayed his opinion since.
The door to the bar swings open and Beth and Daryl turn their heads to see who it is. Even Joe has lifted his head from his crossword to see who it is.
A taller, willowy woman with long brown hair steps into the bar and the instant her eyes find Beth, she smiles and comes right for her.
"Beth Dixon?" The woman guesses.
Beth's head bobs up and down. "Yes, I'm Beth Dixon," she says and shakes the woman's hand.
"Hi. I'm Lori Grimes," the woman says, still smiling.
"Grimes?" Beth echoes. "Is there any relation to Sheriff Grimes?"
"Only slightly. He's my husband," Lori says. "When I told him who I was interviewing, he didn't seem surprised at all that the magazine was interested in you. He's read your book twice already, and now our son, Carl, has started on it."
"He helped me out once when my home was broken into a few years ago. He's very nice."
"Well, I'm not going to tell him you said that. He will be unlivable with that huge head of his."
Beth laughs softly. "This is my husband, Daryl," she says and Lori gives Daryl the same, warm smile and Daryl takes his turn to shake her hand.
There is a throat clearing behind them.
"And that's Joe," Beth says.
"Hello," Lori smiles at him as well.
"You want somethin' to drink? Or somethin' to eat?" Daryl asks her. "On the house," he then is sure to add.
Merle has already been sure to tell them that anything this lady wants, it's on the house.
"Oh, no, that's…" Lori begins to say, but her voice trails off when she sees Beth's drink. "That looks delicious," she then says.
Beth smiles and picks the glass up. "Shirley Temple, my usual."
"I haven't had one of those in years," Lori says, laughter in her voice as if she hasn't thought of that drink in that long as well.
"Comin' right up," Daryl says and begins to mix it up for her.
Once Lori has the drink in her hand, Beth gestures towards one of the heavy wood booths that line the wall across from the bar. Beth gives Daryl one more look from over her shoulder and Daryl gives her – what he hopes is – an encouraging smile. She does her best to return it.
"Now," Lori says once they are sitting across from one another and she has pulled out a manila file folder, a copy of Beth's book and a small tape recorder from her bag, setting them all down on the table. She hits the record button and Daryl can see Beth swallow from across the room. "Late congratulations on the wedding," she begins. "How long has it been now?"
"It's ten months this month," Beth says, smiling a little because the conversation is on her marriage and surely, that is an easy topic. "And we were together for almost two years before."
"And how has it been going so far?"
"Good, I think," Beth laughs a little. "He's been wonderful through this whole process. Writer's block and finding me still awake at three in the morning at my laptop. I had done so much research beforehand and when I finally sat down to begin writing, I had no idea where to begin and I even kind of had a little panic attack, not sure if I could do this at all. But he calmed me down and told me that if anyone could do this, it was me and I just started writing, reminding myself that if no one else except Daryl ever reads it, that is good enough for me."
Lori smiles at that and Beth smiles, too.
"How did you choose the Atlanta Ripper as your topic?" Lori asks.
Beth takes a deep breath. "Well, I didn't pick him initially at first. I was thinking of maybe the Boston Strangler or the Son of Sam. Something a little more in the present because I wanted to ensure that there would still be families of the victims who could remember these crimes. But I also knew that Daryl would be my unofficial driver and assistant and due to his work, we wouldn't be able to travel that far away for however long my research might take."
Due to his work.
Daryl is wiping down the bar and smirks a little to himself when he hears her give that explanation. Yeah, that's one way to put it. Not able to leave the state of Georgia due to him being out on parole probably won't sell as well and even though Beth seems to have no embarrassment being married to a man who served time in prison, he knows she won't tell the complete truth about him in this interview. Daryl doesn't want her to.
"So I began researching crimes that had taken place in our state and of course, there's plenty to choose from. Unfortunately, every state has so many of their own. But I came across the Atlanta Ripper and I realized that yes, while I knew of him, I had never read an actual book on him and that was just ridiculous to me because the man murdered twenty women and as time went on, everyone has just seemed to forget about him. Those women deserve better than that."
Lori smiles at that and even though she is recording, she is also making notes to herself.
"Do you know who Janice Ott is?" Beth asks.
Lori thinks for a moment and then shakes her head. "I'm afraid I don't."
"Do you know who Ted Bundy is?"
"Janice Ott was a victim of Ted Bundy's," Beth tells her. "I don't like that we live in a world where the murderer's name lives on forever, but the lives he takes, they're nothing more than passing blips in the story. They should be the story. They were people before they were murdered and they should be people after, too.
"And that's really why I wanted to write this. Because Addie Watts and Emma Lou Sharpe and all the others deserve to be remembered."
Daryl smiles. He doesn't know why she had been so nervous. Beth's being how she always is. Girl is so passionate about her views and her opinions, she speaks and that passion comes through for anyone to hear. Even if Lori doesn't agree with her, it would be hard to argue with her.
"How she doing?"
Daryl turns and sees that Carol has come out of the kitchen to come stand next to him, whispering to him as both look to Beth.
"She's doin' amazin'," Daryl smiles a little with pride. As if there was any doubt that Beth would be anything other than amazing in this interview.
"So, explain to me how the publishing all happened because I know that you self-published it yourself at first," Lori says.
"Yes. I did research on that, too, and chose a self-publishing company that I thought would be best. I had seventy-five copies made and this company actually sells it on Amazon for you, but still, I didn't think absolutely anything would come of it. So many publish their books. I was just so happy that I was able to do this and put a finished product out there.
"Of course, family and friends were giving me perfect five-star reviews on the website."
Lori laughs softly at that, her pen never stopping in her writing.
"But I went on there one day, just to look at it – I loved looking at it – and I saw that someone I didn't know had actually read the book and reviewed it and he gave it five stars, too. He's a criminology professor at University of Georgia, and he teaches a class on local crime as well.
"Professor Pitman contacted me and told me that he wanted all of his students to purchase my book for the upcoming semester. I had to tell him that unfortunately, I didn't have the money to print that many more books. Well, this man, bless him, took it upon himself to contact a friend he just happened to have who worked at a publishing company and he had him read the book and… here we are."
"And they've already contracted you to write another book, correct?"
"Yes," Beth says and she's blushing as if she's embarrassed.
"Have you thought of who this one is going to be on?" Lori leans forward a little into the table as if she's on pins and needles to hear Beth's answer.
"I have. I've decided to write about Willy Pickton and his victims," Beth says and then continues because she knows what Lori is going to ask next. "He was a pig farmer up in rural Canada who would pick prostitutes from Vancouver, take them back to his farm and kill them. They really don't know how many women there were because he would confess and then recant and they continued to charge him with murders, sure that he had done them even without the proof. Six total victims for sure, but maybe up to forty-nine."
"I've never heard of him," Lori admits.
"Daryl and I caught a two-hour special about him on television a couple months ago. I had never heard of him either, but it really stuck with me – just how terrifying it was. And of course, his victims being prostitutes and drug users, no one thinks they were worth anything much. I've already been in contact with one of the victim's foster mothers and she would love to talk with me. I'm flying up there next month. She's volunteered to be my guide, too."
"Will your husband be joining you this time, as well?" Lori asks.
"Not this time, unfortunately no," Beth says with a small smile. "My sister and her boyfriend are going to be coming with me this time."
Daryl hates that he can't go with her, but as an ex-felon, he has a snowball's chance in hell of getting approved for a passport. He's off of a parole now and his outstanding bills towards the state of Georgia for his room and board for those two years he was locked up are all paid up. He did his time and in the eyes of the state of Georgia, he's in the free and clear now, but his record is always going to be there and passports just aren't given out to guys like him.
He just already knows though that he's going to be here, thinking about Beth all the way up in Vancouver without him, going through a Vancouver neighborhood that's apparently just like Skid Row, if not worse, and he's going to be losing his mind until she's home again.
The interview goes on for a bit of time after that, Lori asking her questions on the research she did for the Atlanta Ripper and finding surviving family of the victims to interview and then Lori asks her if she can get a couple of pictures. The whole interview takes about two hours and when they both slide out of the booth, a few people have started to come in, getting off their shifts at work and wanting something to drink. Thankfully, it's not karaoke night.
"You were absolutely wonderful, thank you," Lori says once they both slide out of the booth and Lori leans over, giving Beth a hug. "It's going to be running in next month's issue. I'm trying to get the cover for it and if I do, I'll be in touch. We might need a few more pictures."
"Alright. Thank you," Beth manages to say, completely stunned by Lori's words, and then, with one more hug, Lori leaves with a general wave towards everyone.
Beth exhales a deep breath as if she had been holding it for the past two hours and she turns towards Daryl. He gives her a little smile and she comes towards him as he slips out from behind the bar. She comes right for him and her arms slip around his waist as his circle around her shoulders, holding her tight and close.
"You did amazin'," he tells her, his lips resting to the top of her head.
She snuggles in a little closer to him and tightens her own arms around him. "I think I need that drink now."
Thank you so much for reading and please take a moment to review!
Also, I made a note on my tumblr, but I know not everyone follows me on tumblr so I am putting this note here, too: I'm going to be trying to focus on one and two-shots at the moment because I don't think i'm ready to dive into another multi-chapter long story just yet. I've been writing this pairing constantly for so many months now and I'm trying to just take it easy for a little bit. Thank you!