A/N Good morning! Thank you for stopping by to check out my newest Bethyl fic. Although Daryl and Beth start off being quite young, we won't stay there too long. The pace of the story moves us right along.
A big thank you to Lotus11 for the prompt which will be revealed later as the story progresses. I hope you all enjoy.
A Little Warning. Just in case you're offended by this sort of thing. Although Daryl is only eight when we start, his language can get a little salty. It seems realistic to me since he's being raised Dixon.
His big brother Merle was eighteen that summer, Daryl had just turned eight. At his tender age he had no idea, no concept that it would be his most life-changing summer. It was the summer he met Beth Greene.
Merle had been back home with him for a few months now. They'd let his brother out of juvie when their Mama died in the fire. There were conditions to Merle's early release, he had to stay out of trouble, stay in school and graduate.
It was a surprise to most folks, including Merle, when he did just that. He even worked after school at the car wash. At least he worked there until a week before his graduation. That day when he came home and saw the marks on little brother everything changed. Merle knew then he wasn't leaving the boy home alone again, not if he didn't have to.
Merle was big, strong, capable and a tireless worker. Once he'd graduated there were lots of jobs he could have gotten, but not jobs where he could take little brother along. He didn't know what the hell to do. He had to take care of himself, he had to take care of the kid, he had to get them both the hell out of that shack and get them their own place. He had to find a legit job where they'd let him take a kid along, and there was no chance of that and he knew it. It was looking like he'd have to resort to something less than legit.
Then he happened upon that ad pinned to the bulletin board at the laundromat, "Farmhand Needed." Maybe they wouldn't mind if the boy came with him. All he could do was ask.
He and Daryl headed out to the place and met up with the farmer, a nice old guy named Hershel Greene. "See sir, I'm willing ta bust my back for ya all day but the thing is, I can't be leavin' little brother here home by hisself. I'd need ta bring him with me. He won't be no trouble at all, he can work right alongside me an he's a real good hand, an ya don't hafta pay him."
Hershel didn't let on, he had no desire to embarrass the two boys, but he knew who their Daddy was. He'd heard the stories that went around about Will Dixon, and he was pretty sure he understood why Merle Dixon didn't want to leave the child alone with their father. He decided to take a chance on the Dixon brothers.
"That sounds good, I get two working men for the price of one. Seems I'll be the one whose making out with this deal."
They started work early the next morning. Things were old school on the Greene farm and Merle was busting ass, tasked with bucking hay. To keep little brother busy and where he could keep an eye on him, he had him raking up.
Sometime around eleven thirty that morning the little guy got tuckered out, he just sat down and then kind of tipped over on a pile of that loose hay. Merle couldn't help a smile, the kid had been up since before five with nothing on his stomach but a bowl of grits, he didn't begrudge him a little nap.
Just before noon, when the Missus brought them lunch, Daryl was waking up. Annette Greene didn't miss that, she'd be discussing it with her husband later. For now she smiled as she handed Merle his boxed lunch and gave Daryl one as well. Merle protested just a little, "Ya ain't gotta feed him ma'am, I'll share mine."
"Oh no I wouldn't hear of it. He's been working hard all morning and a lunch is pretty cheap pay." She was a real nice lady and Merle didn't argue with her. He and little brother said in unison, "Thank ya ma'am."
That evening at supper Annette Greene told her husband he couldn't be having that young boy working out in the hot sun all day. "He's just a child Hershel, it's not right." Hershel agreed but they also agreed they needed to tread lightly, folks had their pride, even little folks.
When Merle and Daryl arrived the next morning Hershel went right to them. When he started off saying, "Good morning fellas, there's been a little change of plan," Merle felt the fear, he was sure they were being let go. It was a surprise and a relief when the man told him, "There's a lot of work that needs doing up at the house what with the garden, the chickens and all manner of chores. Mrs. Greene has asked if there's any way you could see your way clear to letting Daryl help her out with some of those things."
On the inside Merle was breathing more than one sigh of relief and for more than one reason. He wasn't losing the job and little brother was going to be so much better off. But he also saw the fire in his brother's eye. That boy could get his hair up in a hurry. "Yessir, that sounds real fine. Would ya mind if I had a talk with Daryl for just a minute 'fore I send him up that way?"
"No not at all. Daryl when you're done here you go right up to the kitchen door and knock, Mrs. Greene is expecting you."
Merle nudged his shoulder and Daryl muttered a barely audible, "Yessir."
As soon as the old man was out of earshot Merle asked him, "The hell's the matter with you kid?"
"I don't wanna be stuck up there at no house doin' women's work with a buncha ladies. I wanna stick with you, do men's work."
Merle snorted out a laugh, "Kid ain't ya heard the big news? There ain't no such thing as women's work, just like there ain't no men's work. All there is is just work, an your little ass is gonna be doin' plenty of it."
"Please don't make me Merle, I'm better off workin' out here with you an the other men."
"Ya listen now, I need this job so's I can get me an you our own place, an you're gonna wanna eat. Ya do like I say. Ya get up ta that house an ya mind the Missus, whatever she tells ya to do ya say 'yes ma'am right away ma'am.' Don't ya give no one no sass. I'll put the hurt on ya if ya do."
"Ya don't scare me, I know ya ain't gonna hit me."
"You're right, I ain't gonna hit ya but there's other ways a man can be hurt, all manner a ways an I know 'em all." There were few folks that could sound as threatening as Merle Dixon. "Now ya get your scrawny little ass up there an ya do like the Missus tells ya."
Daryl let out a loud huff, but he turned and walked that way.
He knocked on the kitchen door and it wasn't the Missus that answered at all. It was a little blond-haired girl. She was younger than him and real soft looking. Soft curly hair, soft blue eyes and the whitest skin he'd ever seen. "I'm Daryl n I'm here ta work for Miz Greene."
"Mama, Daryl's here." She even had a soft little voice.
Her Mama came in from the other room with a dust cloth in her hand and a smile on her face. "Good morning Daryl, it's nice to see you again."
"Yes ma'am, thank ya ma'am."
"Did you have your breakfast this morning?"
"Yes ma'am, had grits ma'am."
"Oh well good then, I guess we'd better get the day started. It's time to take the scraps to the chickens and gather eggs. Beth is going to show you how that's done, alright?"
"Yes ma'am, right away ma'am." This was even worse than he'd thought it was going to be, he'd be taking orders from a girl, a little soft girl.
He followed her out to the chicken coops and she just kept chattering away about everything from why she liked peaches to something about her big sister suddenly deciding she was too old for dolls.
He was already cranky and she was doing nothing but making him crankier. "Any a that got anythin' ta do with feedin' chickens an collectin' eggs?"
"No. I was just being friendly and talking to you Daryl. Why are you so mean?"
"I ain't mean. I just don't wanna talk ta some girl about dolls an whatnot. I'm a man an I'm here ta work."
"You are mean, but I don't care cuz I'm not mean and I'm gonna keep right on being nice to you." But she stuck her tongue out at him so he stuck his out at her. Then she said it again, "See there? You're mean."
Sheesh, this whole day was going wrong for him.
On the way home that evening was when little brother first mentioned her, complaining to Merle, "That little blond-haired girl is a real pain in my ass, she just kept talkin' ta me all day. Wouldn't leave me be."
"Is that right? Ya got ya some girl trouble do ya now? Well I'll tell ya what boy, most guys get mighty damn happy about a pretty girl wantin' ta talk to em. An watch your language or I'll be the one givin' ya a pain in your ass."
As he folded his arms across his chest the little boy just huffed, "I never once said I think she's pretty." Big brother managed to fight off a laugh.
Hershel Greene was there to meet them again when they got to work the next day, "Good morning fellas. Hey Merle I need to ask your permission about something. I'd like to take Daryl over to the pond today. My wife wants me to bring home some fish for supper and Daryl seems like the fishing kind."
Merle was pretty sure it wasn't really about the Missus wanting fish but he did appreciate the kindness being shown to Daryl. "Well that'd be just fine boss, Daryl is a good hand with a line, does real well." He could see his little brother was finally looking happy about something.
Until Hershel Greene added, "Yes my daughter Beth is very excited to show him the best fishing holes."
Merle took one look at little brother's face and stepped right in, "Would ya mind if I had a few words with Daryl before y'all go? I'll send him right up ta the house in a just a few minutes."
As soon as the older man was out of earshot Merle asked him, "The hell boy, now what's got ya all pissed off?"
"I don't wanna go fishin' with some dumb girl. I'd go fishin' with just about anyone Merle, ya know I would, but please, please don't make me go with that girl. Not her."
"Why's that? Ya scared that pretty little girl is gonna outfish ya? Gonna get showed up by a pretty girl? Ya just go on an go with her an her Daddy an ya be nice an ya be poilte an watch your damn cussin' too."
Before heading to the house, Daryl huffed, "I never said I think she's pretty."
Merle laughed after him, "Ya don't need to kid, I can tell by how mad she makes ya."
Things got better for just a minute. Daryl was pretty darn excited when he saw they were taking a four-wheeler, he immediately jumped up into the small cargo trailer. Then he was mortified when she asked in that soft little voice of hers, "Daddy can I ride in the back with Daryl?" And the Boss said "Yes." This was going to be the worst fishing day in the history of fishing. Sheesh, and Merle had always told him there was no such thing as a bad day fishing. Merle was just plain wrong.
To make matters worse, when her Daddy lifted her in the trailer that little blond-haired girl hurried and sat down right next to him. And as soon as Mister Hershel turned his head around she smiled real sweet, and then she stuck her tongue out at him. What else could he do? He stuck his out at her.
They pulled up close to the pond and Hershel told him, "You just follow Bethie to the spot, I'll carry the cooler over." He sure was getting tired of a girl leading him around, but he did what he was told. Merle would work his ass over good if he didn't.
She was carrying her pole and the tackle box, and he was carrying the pole Mister Hershel had rigged for him. In a not-so-friendly way he said to her, "Hand me that tackle box, I should be carryin' that not you."
"Cuz I'm a boy an you're a girl an that's how it's s'posed ta be. Anyone could tell ya that."
She handed him the tackle box, smiled and stuck her tongue out at him. Daddy saw it and he was not amused. "Beth Greene! You know better than that! I have a mind not to let you fish at all today."
Daryl was sure he'd lost his own mind because he quickly turned to her Daddy and he heard himself beg, "Please no sir. Please don't punish her. Not her. It's all my fault, I had it comin', I really did. I's a little jerk, you should be gettin' after me not her."
Hershel didn't know what was going on with those two kids but he figured they'd settle it between themselves, like kids do. "Okay I won't punish her this time. But Bethie, I better not see you act like that again. You're a good girl and that is not good girl behavior. You apologize to Daryl right now."
"Yes Daddy. I'm sorry Daryl." She looked so soft, and so sad and her voice was so little he could hardly stand it.
"That's okay, it was my own doin'."
Beth Greene learned something that day, she learned just how special Daryl Dixon was. She never did stick her tongue out at him again. Even though he whispered to her, real, real low, "You're a damn pain in my ass girl."
A/N Daryl's cranky little nature does not seem to be a deterrent to Beth. I think maybe she and Merle both have him figured out. I thank you for reading along and I'd appreciate a comment / review. Please do check out the chapter photo, you'll see a glimpse of their fishing trip. It's posted to my tumblr blogs gneebee and bethylmethbrick. This story will post on Fridays and I hope to see you back here next week. Until then remember, I love ya large! xo gneebee