A/N This is a song prompt.. from myself, but in part inspired by gneebee's 'Almost Married'… If you don't figure out the song by the end it will be in the author notes there. It was so much fun to write! I hope you enjoy reading it!
The night is already in full swing when Daryl Dixon finds his way to the end of the bar. It's not his type of place. Not at all. But it's someplace to go. At least it used to be before Abe sold it and moved into Atlanta. Back then it had been the typical hole in the wall, biker bar on the edge of town. Locals and other questionable individuals had come in for a beer or a game of pool. It had been a pretty low key place with the occasional fight.
Then Glenn Rhee bought it, remodeled, put in a dance floor, started serving food and it became the hotspot on the weekends. It's no longer a quiet or low key. It brings in everyone from college kids to locals just glad to have somewhere new to hang out.
Daryl likes Glenn. Over the course of Glenn's visits to the bar before buying it, he and Daryl had become friends. He hired Daryl's construction company to do a lot of the remodeling. Daryl even designed and built the dance floor complete with a little stage for karaoke Tuesdays. Which he's come to regret. Drunk college kids are bad, drunk, dancing college kids are the worst. But somehow he ends up here a couple of weekends a month even though it's loud and the customers are annoying.
He's become the "unofficial bouncer", kicking out troublemakers before the trouble even starts. At least most of the time anyway.
Sasha, one of the waitresses slides a basket of garlic fries in front of him. Compliments of the establishment. And another reason he likes coming here. The garlic fries are the house special and they happen to be his favorite. Pickled eggs are also the house special. Daryl thinks they're disgusting. Glenn hates them, but his pregnant wife Maggie loves them. And keeping the pregnant wife happy is important.
"Determined to keep all women on the face of the planet away, eh Daryl?" Sasha enjoys teasing him and he enjoys glaring at her.
"Jus' the ones that come in here," he grunts. Shaking her head she hurries off to take orders from a rowdy bunch that just walked in.
The ladies might have thought he was intriguing in the beginning. But after a few of them tried taking the stool next to him and engaging him in conversation they quickly learned to keep their distance. Daryl Dixon can be menacing without even trying.
"I'm telling ya, man, it's the leather and that whole bad boy image you got going on. The chicks dig that shit!" His buddy Shane had had to explain it to him because he was clueless as to why these young, cute women wanted anything to do with him.
And to be honest he just isn't interested.
At least he wasn't until she walked in.
She's like a tiny blonde tornado. All curls and pale skin, of which she's showing maybe just a bit too much of. But he's not complaining. And it isn't even her short skirt or long legs, it's her damn smile. It's the brightest thing in the room and she isn't even smiling at him.
When she steps up to the bar a few stools down from where he's sitting he sees the colorful stamps on her hand. And he can pretty much guarantee she's been making the rounds. One town over is home to two nightclubs. But he's heard they get crowded and loud and usually end up closed even before the last call.
Tonight he doesn't mind at all if that's the case. If brought her here.
He watches as she leans across the bar and talks animatedly to Glenn who looks like he just swallowed a whole jar of those pickled eggs. He's nodding and then reluctantly pours whatever her request was. It's a little tray of pink and purple shots. Her friends join her at the bar and squeal as they reach for the shots. She just smiles though and he thinks to himself that she has to be the most beautiful girl he's ever seen.
Glenn makes his way down the bar filling orders as he goes and when he stops in front of Daryl he groans like he's dying. Daryl just chuckles. Glenn is a tad dramatic and it's really kind of entertaining.
"My sister in law is here! And she's a hot mess!" Sister in law? Maggie's sister? Maggie Rhee, who used to be Maggie Greene? That beautiful blonde is one of Hershel Greene's daughters? Daryl's afraid of very few people. His brother Merle is one and Hershel Greene, he's definitely another one.
Not that Hershel has ever done anything to Daryl. Because he hasn't. Daryl never met the man. But he's heard stories. Maggie Greene is only about 5 years younger than him. Back when they were younger, Maggie was kind of a wild child and she did her best to break every one of her daddy's rules and some laws too. Her daddy didn't like her behavior but he liked the boys she hung around with even less. There may have been rumors of shotguns and threats tossed around that Hershel would certainly never make good on but the boys in question never knew that. And pretty soon Maggie Greene's daddy became a legend as the meanest daddy in Georgia. Best to steer clear of that girl.
"She even old enough ta be in here?" Daryl asks and Glenn is nodding.
"She is. But she doesn't come in here. Not like this…" Glenn waves his hand in the direction of the blonde and her friends who are currently crowded around a table singing along (very badly) with the song that's playing.
"Didn' know Maggie had a sister," Daryl says never taking his eyes off of her. She's wearing heels and how she's walking around in them is a mystery.
"Because she doesn't do this! She's a good girl, a sweetheart…" Glenn groans again.
"Looks like she's comin' outta her shell." That doesn't sit well with Daryl. This girl is a good girl and she already looks to be two sheets to the wind. That's when things can happen to 'good girls'.
"Jus' keep an eye on her. Cut her off, water down her drinks. She ain't gotta know." Daryl has learned over the years just how to deal with drunks. Not that this girl is a drunk. That makes it even worse though. She probably can't handle her alcohol.
"That's a great idea! Beth is so trusting, she won't even know!" Glenn smiles at Daryl. One of those extra large smiles that's going to be followed by an extra large request for help. "You gotta help out man, just keep an eye on her. Please!" Daryl nods because it's really all he can do. Glenn is his friend. Gotta help out a friend when you can.
Beth. Her name is Beth and he's just been given orders to watch her.
Just watching her turns out to be extremely difficult.
Because when she gets tired of singing, she starts dancing. Bouncing around the dance floor with a grace he wouldn't think she'd have all things considered. This seems to be an invitation for every dumbass, drunk dude in the bar to take to the dance floor. And they all seem to gravitate towards her.
Which just gives him a reason to use his unofficial status as bouncer to bounce a few assholes right out the front door.
When Sasha takes over behind the bar to let Glenn go break up a fight on the other side of the bar, Daryl is leaning against one of the tall tables that are scattered around the dance floor.
"Dude! You're kicking out the wrong guys! Didn't you see the fight going on?" Glenn asks. "What's happening over here?" About that time another skeezy dork in acid wash jeans sidles up to Beth with a sinister grin on his shiny face. Daryl points as he starts to head over to the offender.
"You can't kick them out for dancing with her Daryl!" About that time all the spinning around on the dance floor and those pink and purple shots seem to catch up with Beth. Unfortunately, acid wash jeans is in the direct line of fire.
"Girl's got perfect aim!" Daryl chuckles.
"Oh great! Now she's- dammit! Beth! Hey Beth.." Glenn heads over to where she's leaning against a table looking done for the night. Daryl follows and hears acid wash complaining,
"Bitch puked on my pants!" Whirling around Daryl grabs the guy by the collar of his shirt and forces him off the dance floor and out the front door.
"I ever hear you call her a bitch again- Nah better yet if I ever see ya anywhere near her I'm gonna pound yer ridiculous jeans into the ground!" He doesn't even raise his voice. Just states the facts and whimpering, the guy takes off towards a car where three other guys are waiting, already halfway into the car.
Daryl heads back into the bar and for having kicked out at least ten guys the place is still packed. He finds Glenn behind the bar with her.
She looks a little like a wilted flower and she's swaying on her feet. Glenn has a wet towel and he's helping her wipe her face.
"She okay?" Glenn looks a little scared when he glances over at Daryl.
"Yeah. It's just, I can't take her home! This place is packed and Maggie's on bed rest and I do not wanna call her daddy!" Then he smiles at Daryl and it isn't an extra large smile, more like a, 'please don't say no', smile.
Daryl growls and shoves his hands in his pockets, "Ya want me ta watch the bar?"
"No. I was hoping you could take her home." Wait. what? She may be a hot mess but she's a perfect mess and she's still beautiful and Daryl has no idea what to do with that.
"Glenn I don't feel so good. I'm so sorry I messed up your dance floor." Her voice, it's soft and sweet and it does things to him.
"It's okay Beth. Daryl here is gonna take you home okay?" Pleading with not only his eyes Glenn starts in, "I trust you man, only you. You're a good guy and Maggie would agree with me. Just take her home, leave her keys there and I'll get her car to her tomorrow." Beth is looking at him now, at least he thinks she is. Her eyes aren't really staying in focus. She's also smiling a little.
Gotta help out a friend when you can. Dammit.
Beth is asleep even before he gets across town to her apartment building. He'd taken off his leather jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders before he helped her into his truck. Now she's curled up in it on the seat beside him. Her blonde curls are falling over the collar and even though she's been drinking and puked all over the dance floor, she smells like soap and flowers and he can't begin to wrap his head around the fact that he's noticing this.
When he saw those guys in the bar with her, only one thing on their minds, he's sure, he just felt like he should protect her, look out for her. So he did.
He doesn't want anything from her except to get her home safe.
Navigating the parking lot he follows Glenn's directions and parks in front of her apartment. He shakes her shoulder gently but all he gets in return is a soft sigh as she snuggles deeper into his jacket.
"Girl…" he grumbles.
She's heavier than she looks but he makes it through the door. The glow from a light somewhere in the back of the apartment guides him to her room and he lays her gently on her bed. She rolls out of his jacket and he covers her with a quilt that's folded there.
He wonders what happened that had her in and out of the bars tonight. Glenn said she isn't like that. He said she's a good girl. He hopes it wasn't cause of a breakup. Because the thought of anyone hurting her makes him angry. Maybe one of her friends is getting married and they were out doing the bachelorette thing. Whatever it was he's glad she's here now.
Taking one last look, he smiles a small smile and turns to leave.
"Thank you, Daryl," she murmurs. Looking back at her he thinks he had to be hearing things cause her eyes are closed and she's sleeping. Isn't she?
At the end of the hallway, he flips a switch, gives her some light in case she wakes up. He goes to toss her keys on the counter but changes his mind when he sees the notepad and pen lying there. Setting the keys down he leaves his number beside them. Just in case.
Checking the door to make sure it's locked he closes it and heads out to his truck.
He grabs take-out on the way home. A burger and fries that have probably sitting under a heat lamp for hours and will most likely give him indigestion. By the glow of his digital clock, it's 2 am. Closing time. There's another little shitty hole in the wall across the street from the burger place and he watches as the people walk out together just like they do when Glenn closes up his bar.
He doesn't get the whole hooking up thing. He's done it. It's easy when your drunk, but there's always the morning after and shouldn't you at least be going home with someone you want to wake up to?
He can smell flowers and soap and her on his jacket.
His apartment is dark but he doesn't need much light anyway so he turns on the TV and mutes the sound. He gets halfway through the burger before he tosses it. The walls are so thin he can hear his neighbor coughing. He really needs to move.
There are a lot of things he really needs to do.
But when he thinks about her, about that beautiful blonde tornado, he knows he did one thing he should've tonight.
He took Beth home. He made sure she was safe. And maybe tomorrow when she wakes up she'll know that not all guys are like acid wash jeans and his crew. There are still a few good ones left.
With his head still under the pillow, Daryl searches the bedside table until he finds his phone. Grabbing it he squints as he reads the time. 1:25. Shit! He's almost lost the whole day lying in bed.
On the screen beneath the time is a notification that he has a voice message. He doesn't recognize the number but decides he better listen to it. Old habits die hard. A few years back his brother would more than likely be the reason for an unknown call. Not so much anymore as he's gotten his shit together. Which is a good thing.
It's not his brother though. It's her. Beth and that soft, sweet voice.
"Hi Daryl, um it's Beth, the drunk girl." Her gentle laughter tugs at his heart. "I found your number, obviously. And I wanted to thank you for bringing me home last night. I, um, that's not me. I don't- gosh, you probably don't even need to hear all this so, um… Maybe you could meet me for coffee or something. Kind of a thank you for doing what you did. I know I said thank you already, but- um just call me ok?"
His cheeks are aching from the big smile he's wearing, and it's not really the size of the smile but more about the fact that he doesn't smile much. Not like he is now anyway.
She left him a message. She thanked him. She's kind and she's beautiful and she wants to buy him a coffee.
He checks the time, she called at around 11. Two hours ago. Dammit. The one time he would have welcomed being woke up and he sleeps right through the call. Tossing his phone on the bed he yanks his shirt over his head and heads towards the bathroom. But he stops in the doorway.
First, he's gonna call her.
Her phone is ringing and he's a bundle of nerves. Maybe she won't answer. Maybe she was just being polite by offering to buy him a coffee. Maybe-
"Hello?" He has to sit when he hears her voice. It's either that or walk around in circles.
"Hey Beth, it's Daryl."
"Daryl! I'm so glad you called back I was kinda- well I'm glad you called." She wanted him to call.
"Yeah I uh, I like coffee." Really? You like coffee? Dumbass! Daryl clears his throat and waits hoping she doesn't hang up.
"Me too." Her laughter again and he gets the sense that she's as nervous as he is. "Do you know the little coffee shop on Main, by the bookstore?" He's vaguely aware of it. He's never been in it. He makes his coffee at home or grabs a cup at the gas station.
"Yeah, I know where it's at."
"Want to meet me there in about an hour? I know it's not morning anymore but I can drink coffee all day! Especially when it's cold outside." She likes coffee a lot. And he'll drink it whenever she wants too.
"Ok. You gonna bring a jacket this time?" He cringes thinking she probably doesn't remember, but…
"What? You aren't gonna let me wear your leather jacket?" She remembers.
He takes a shower, combs his hair and brushes his teeth. Twice. He doesn't put too much thought into what he's wearing, just makes sure it's clean and doesn't have any holes. Except for the socks. One has a hole but she'll never see that cause you don't take your shoes off in coffee shops.
God, he's ridiculous. But no one has ever made him feel like this. Like he swallowed a beehive and he's buzzing everywhere.
There's a small parking lot across the street from the coffee shop and he pulls in and finds a spot. He has no idea if she's here already because he doesn't know what kind of car she drives. Scanning the parking lot he tries to guess as he gets out of his truck.
Definitely not the Minivan. Or the vintage Cadillac that needs to be retired to the junkyard. The jeep is a possibility but the, "My son is an honor student at Eastside Elementary" bumper sticker makes him think this is also a no go. That just leaves a motorcycle. A Kawasaki Ninja and while that is not at all out of the realm of possibility and kind of intriguing he doubts that she rode this.
"Daryl?" Then she's there on the sidewalk that runs parallel to the lot.
And she's beautiful.
Wearing jeans and cowboy boots and a big thick sweater. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail and her cheeks are flushed. She must have walked which makes sense because her apartment is right down the street.
Clearing his throat and joining her on the sidewalk he notices she is wearing hardly any makeup, not like last night and he thinks this is so much better. Realizing he's staring he looks back at the lot.
"I was tryin' ta guess which car might be yours."
"Oh yeah?" She seems delighted by this. "Well obviously I walked, but which one did you think?" He tries to see them through her eyes, which one would she think he'd pick.
"Well, I ruled out the Minivan and the Cadillac first off." She's nodding as if that's reasonable. "The jeep seemed like a good choice but Glenn never said nothing about you having a kid so…"
"Oh! No, I don't have kids." This makes her laugh and he decides he's going to try and be as funny as he possibly can so she'll keep laughing. And won't that be a feat? Daryl Dixon funny. That right there is funny.
"So then the only choice left was…"
"A motorcycle." She's looking at the motorcycle her brow furrowed. "I've never ridden a motorcycle."
"Never? Yer missing out." He's kidding around. Sort of. Riding his bike is one of his favorite things to do. But it's not for everyone. And maybe it's not for her.
"I bet it's amazing." Her eyes light up with something like anticipation. And maybe like he was hoping, it is for her.
"I got one. If ya ever think you might like to try it."
They finally make it inside the coffee shop and he finds out Beth likes coffee with chocolate and coconut and she wrinkles her nose at his. Black, just black.
"Black coffee just seems bitter!" she says stirring her weird coconut concoction with a little wooden stick.
"Yeah well, who the hell has coconuts in their coffee?" That makes her laugh and there he is being funny without even trying. The conversation turns to the bar and she's fiddling with the wooden stick and he can tell she's nervous.
"How's yer head feeling today?" he asks not wanting to pry. She doesn't answer him right away. Her face flushes a little pinker at his question.
"I'm not usually, I don't," huffing out a breath she looks at him and shrugs. " I went out on a date with this guy and then I found out he's married. Married! I didn't even really like him and I probably would have said no to a second date anyway, but… turns out his wife was following him and she confronted him in the restaurant we were at and I felt like such a fool." Her eyes are tearing up a little, he can see it and he hopes she doesn't start crying. He won't know what to do or what to say.
"I wanted to believe that there were still some good men out there. But, well that date was the worst one yet and last night was me trying to accept the fact that maybe there aren't any good guys left." He's listening. And watching her face and if anything Daryl Dixon is perceptive. She's not done yet.
"And you, well I was a mess and you took me home. Thank you Daryl. Now I'm thinking I might have been wrong." She's back to stirring her coffee and peeking at him through lashes that belie the fact that she's blonde. They're dark and make her eyes look deep blue, like the sky.
"Still think there's any good ones left?" he asks. She's biting her lip and nodding at him and maybe it's the caffeine or those damn hypothetical bees from earlier but he's feeling all kinds of things.
"What changed yer mind?" He doesn't have to ask. He knows. He already knows.
He took her home. He covered her up with the quilt that was folded up at the end of her bed. He left the hall lights on and he locked the door behind him when he left. Because that's what a good man would do.
A/N Did you guess? Tell the truth! Let me know in the comments if you had it figured out and where! I am extremely curious! The song is 'Drunk Girl' by Chris Janson. It's sweet and I like it and as I explained what it all meant to a seven-year-old this story started to unfold in my head! The only thing I don't like is leaving it where I did, I mean what happened after the coffee shop? Did Daryl ever give Beth a ride on his motorcycle? And what kind of car does she actually have? So.. a follow-up fic is a possibility!