Okay, so welcome to my first ever Walking Dead fanfiction! I must say, this was super fun to write and this will be a DarylxOC Female fanfiction. This has also been completely re-edited (or I'm in the process of uploading the new chapters, anyway) so things will possibly be a little bit different from the first version.
Disclaimer (only gonna do this once): I do know own the Walking Dead or anyone associated with the Walking Dead. If I did, then I wouldn't exactly be writing a Daryl Dixon fanfic ;). The only ones I do own are Tessa, Ethan and any other person you do not recognize.
Please read and review - No flames! - and I hope you enjoy! :)
PS - By the way, the Cherokee reservation that I used in this story (as far as I know) does not exist.
"You once told me, Daryl, that you didn't care how many children we had, just as long as I was their mother . . ." She swallowed hard. "Does that mean anything to you now?" Daryl gazed at her for a moment, his eyes expressionless but searching and eventually, he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
"That was then, Tess, and this is now."
The last person Daryl would have expected to stumble upon that warm summer day on his usual hunting trip into the woods was Tessa Nightrun. The last person he would have expected to find with her . . . was their son.
Or a kid she claimed to be their son, anyway.
And really, the more he gazed at the thirteen-year-old, impossibly gangly teenager that walked and towered over the short, petite woman of full-blooded Cherokee descent, the more he looked like he really could be their son. He had gotten his mother's thick black hair and dark skin tone but Daryl's blue eyes and – dare he say it – his disposition. The kid that walked alongside his mother didn't act like a normal thirteen-year-old – not at all like Carl or one of the other dumbass teenagers he had known back when the world was its normal self. This kid didn't talk and when he did, it was in nonsensical grunts and nods that only his mother seemed to be able to decipher. When he could be prodded into saying something that actually required forming syllables, his voice was deep and solemn – a voice that immediately had interested eyes flitting to Daryl.
Yup . . . by disposition alone, it was as clear as day that the kid had to be Daryl's.
When they had initially reached the camp, everyone seemed to freeze when they walked out of the woods first - at least until Daryl walked out behind them seconds later, his signature crossbow slung nonchalantly over his shoulder. He nodded to Rick, who nodded back and immediately stepped forward, where he extended his hand to Tessa, who smiled and shook it in return.
"I'm Tessa, and this is my son, Ethan." She replied, her hand moving to ghost over her son's shoulder, and Rick nodded as he nodded to the people behind him. He introduced each of them, one at a time and they either nodded a greeting or, in the case of the man named Shane, gazed at them a tad mistrustfully. Finally, when he was done, he turned his eyes back onto them, his eyebrows furrowing in slight confusion and interest as he did so. His eyes darted to Daryl hovering slightly protectively over Tessa's shoulder, but passed it quickly through his mind.
"So, where are you guys from? How did you happen across Daryl?" Tessa smiled.
"We're from the Cherokee Indian reservation on the other side of Atlanta. We were in the city for business when the walkers hit. We escaped somehow and fled into the woods, where we happened upon Daryl Dixon here . . ." She explained as she glanced back at the man standing behind her. Rick's eyes cast an interested look onto him at her words, a look that had Daryl's lips pursing in ever-so-slight irritation.
"Oh, we know each other. Well . . . me and Tess do, anyway. I've never heard of the kid 'till now, though . . ." His eyes lingered on the kid standing beside his mother and another pang of interest speared through Rick, especially when he saw the kid hold Daryl's eyes unflinchingly. Not many people could do that.
"Oh really; that's interesting. How so . . .?" He asked, and Tessa opened her mouth to say something, however, Daryl beat her to the punch.
"She's an ex. Girlfriend."
"I'm his ex. Fiancée!" Tessa corrected him as she sent a scathing glare over her shoulder at him before turning a much nicer one onto Rick. "And Ethan is our son."
The words alone were like a gunshot through the ears of everyone standing there and Tessa heard Daryl curse bitterly underneath his breath as he shifted his weight from foot to the other. Great – that was just great. That was just what he needed to make his life better – more drama!
Rick and Dale blinked stupidly a couple of times as they processed Tessa's words while the other's responses fell anywhere along the line of their mouths dropping open in shock like Glenn, to Shane's utter look of shock! Daryl scowled. Jesus Christ, by the looks on their faces, you would have thought that he had been a damn virgin!
Lori, ever the mediator of the group, smiled and darted forward, where she grasped Tessa gently by the shoulders. "It doesn't matter - of course Daryl's family is welcome here! You guys can stay with us as long as you like, honey!" A look of relief flitted across Tessa's face then as she opened her mouth to thank her, however, Daryl's 'tch' of anger interrupted her. Their eyes turned onto him, only to see the scathing glare that he shot Tessa.
"They're not ma family, Lori!" He grumbled as he moved past them towards his tent, bumping into Tessa unnecessarily hard as he did so. Lori gazed at him at stunned shock whereas Tessa rolled her eyes and crossed her arms in front of her chest.
"Don't worry about him, Lori. It's not every day that you find out that you've had a son for the past thirteen years of your life." She spoke, her tone somewhat bitter, yet totally sarcastic. It rose slightly as she spoke so that he could hear what she had said as he continued walking away, and he didn't reply. Hell, like his own son, he probably grunted a response! Her lips pursed slightly, however, she allowed herself to be led off to the Winnebago and the others by Lori and Rick, Ethan trailing slowly behind them. Daryl watched them go as he gently placed his crossbow in his tent within easy reaching distance.
But he did have to admit . . . Tessa did still look pretty good. Maybe this wouldn't be as bad as his mind kept telling him it would be . . .
"So . . . how many do you want again?"
Tessa grinned and she could practically see Daryl grin as well as she snuggled deeper into his arms and her freshly-washed bedsheets. Her head moved to lie on his bare chest as his arm came to wrap around her shoulders. Her finger absentmindedly traced the small tattoo on his right pec and she bit down on her bottom lip as she spoke.
"I want a boy and a girl, remember?"
"And what are their names again?"
"I want to have the boy first and I want his name to be Daniel Lee Dixon -"
"Damn, ain't tha' southern soundin'?" Daryl couldn't help but laugh as he rubbed his face with his hand, and Tessa grinned and let out a playfully indignant sound as she slapped him on the chest.
"I think it has a nice ring to it, so fuck you!" She teased and he laughed as well as she continued: "Then I want to have a girl and I want her name to be -"
"Daisy Duke Dixon?" Daryl offered with a shit-eating grin, and the look that Tessa gave him only made him laugh harder.
"Okay, now you're just being an asshole!" She told him and he nodded.
"I'm sorry, darlin', I couldn' resist! Now go - get on and tell me what our little girl's name goin' to be!" His tone was playfully stern when he spoke but it also held an underlying softness that Tessa couldn't ignore. Her eyes softened as she turned her beautiful and big brown bambi eyes up onto him and once again, whenever he gazed too long into her eyes, Daryl found himself stuck and breathless. He couldn't look away and when she spoke, her voice was quiet.
"Catherine Elizabeth Dixon . . . Cat Liz, if you're feeling spunky . . ." She murmured before smiling. "What about you? How many do you want again? Four?" She asked, wiggling her eyebrows in challenge, and instead of immediately hopping to her challenge, Daryl simply smiled a small smile and moved a lock of her dark hair out of her face and behind one ear.
"I don' care how many we have, Tessa, jus' as long as ya they momma . . ."
The memory that had accompanied those words, echoed in Tessa's head as she made a cautious way over to where Daryl's truck and tent was located. She immediately found the man sitting on the tailgate to the truck, cleaning his crossbow and his rifle, and when he glanced up at her as she made her way over to him, a scowl immediately darkened his handsome features, despite the plate of food she carried in her hand.
"I hope you're hungry!" She spoke up, somewhat cheerfully, as she finally closed the distance between them. "From what I remember, you always were. I hope this . . . situation hasn't changed anything." Daryl just grunted in response and glanced at her before nodding to the space on the tailgate beside him.
"Put it there, I guess . . ." He mumbled and Tessa nodded as she gently sat the plate down.
"Are we . . . are we ever gonna talk?" She asked him then, her voice as cautious as her movements were, and Daryl's body shook in a wry laugh.
"Don' exactly knows what there is to talk 'bout!" He shrugged. "Way I see it, Tess, is tha' ya walked out on me in tha middle of the night without a word - without a goodbye or an explanation or anythin' like tha'. So, figurin' tha', I don' suppose there ain' nothin' much for us to talk 'bout!"
Tessa's jaw hardened and when she finally spoke, her voice was hushed so that nobody else would hear them. "Don't you dare make me look like the bitch in this situation, Daryl! I would havekilled for you to have been there for our son before the whole world went to Hell, so don't you dare insinuate that I wouldn't!" Tessa hissed to him, her eyes growing surprisingly wet with unshed tears. She never would have thought that she would be driven to tears so quickly after meeting Daryl again, but she supposed even she had the power to shock herself. "But you have to understand that Merle made it impossible for me to stay! Every time I was there with him and you weren't, it was never 'Tessa' or even something along the lines of 'Daryl's girl' that I always managed to get whenever you were around! I was always the 'squaw' or the 'blanket-ass' or the 'bushnigger'!" She shook her head, her eyes wide and pleading through their tears. "Love can only handle so much, Daryl, and eventually . . . eventually, my love couldn't take it anymore!"
"So ya left me with ma kid in ya belly?" He hissed back, feeling his anger start to bubble to the surface as he turned his eyes up to hers. "Ya left me knowin' tha' ya were pregnant and tha' ya never intended on tellin' me?" She shook her head.
"I didn't figure out that I was pregnant until weeks later and by that time, I was too far away that it wouldn't even have mattered if you knew! For God's sake, Daryl, I was on the other side of Georgia on the Reservation - there would have been nothing that you could have done!"
"Was there another man?"
Tessa's eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "W-What - excuse me?"
Daryl's jaw hardened. "Was there . . . another man . . . tha' came around and raised ma son for me?" Daryl repeated the question slowly, his anger quickly starting to bubble again and Tessa could tell he was straining to keep his anger in check. She gazed at him for a moment, quickly assessing the situation. Daryl loved kids – he always had. Once upon a time, before the whole world went to shit in front of their very eyes, she remembered them lying awake in bed after making love, teasing each other about how many kids they would have. Hell, she had thought about it while walking the short distance between the Winnebago and his area of the camp! Knowing that, she knew how badly it would tear him up inside to know that another man had been there to raise his son when he couldn't – that he had been just as much of an absentee dad as his own father had been, and even though it had been completely her fault that he hadn't known!
She didn't want to do that to him, however, she also knew that she had to answer him, for this was not a question that Daryl was about to let go easily. She swallowed hard and looked away. She blinked back a few tears as she shakily whispered: "Yes . . ."
The look of agony that pierced Daryl's eyes immediately lanced her heart. She reached out to him but he recoiled from her touch just as her hand smoothed over his shoulder. In one swift, smooth movement, his crossbow was lying on the spot of his tailgate where he had been sitting, and he was up on his feet. "What was his name?" He asked her, his voice hard and bitter and his eyes unable to meet hers. They stayed pinned to the dark earth underneath them, instead, and Tessa's eyes became pleading as she shook her head.
"Daryl, please -!"
"What was his name, Tessa?" He demanded angrily through gritted teeth, his eyes moving to pin hers with a certain ferocity that momentarily frightened her. She swallowed hard and shook her head again.
"Sam Moon. He was from Vermont but moved to the reservation for a position as the highschool science teacher. The kids loved him – everyone did, in fact! And no one cared that he was one of the only white people on a Cherokee reservation," She shook her head. "Daryl, please understand how I was at that time before you pass any kind of judgment on me! I had just given birth to a child whose father I would probably never see again! I was a single-mother – a struggling single-mother -!"
"Oh, is tha' right Tess? And whose fault is tha', exactly? 'Cause it certainly ain' mine, let me tell ya!" Daryl interrupted her, his voice thick with sarcasm, and Tessa gave him a look as she continued:
"I was alone, I was self-conscious because I just had a baby – I needed help, both financially and mentally! Sam, he . . . he was kind and he didn't judge me and before I knew it, he . . . he had stepped so effortlessly into me and Ethan's lives that for a moment, it was almost like he had always been there!" She shook her head, her eyes wide and pleading again as she placed a hand gently on his chest. She could feel his heart pound underneath her palm and for a moment, she was speechless at just how hard it was pounding. "But I never stopped loving you, Daryl. And eventually, that put a hole in our relationship – a hole that we could not recover from. He started to find it impossible to compete with your memory and I -!"
Daryl interrupted her by shaking his head, in disgust or sorrow, she couldn't tell. "Tha's enough, I don' wanna hear no more," He grumbled before fixing her with another searching stare. "I'm guessin' by tha fact tha' I found ya and Ethan alone, tha' he's dead?" Tessa nodded and he nodded as well, eyes asking her a question that he didn't have the guts to ask.
"He died in Atlanta. We were surrounded in a tiny janitor's closet in some building we tried to find refuge in. The only way out was through a hole in the ceiling above us. He boosted me and Ethan up but couldn't get up himself. He died so that we could live," Daryl nodded and moved to go, the universal Dixon sign that the current conversation was over, but Tessa's hand shot out and latched onto his forearm. He turned his eyes onto her and quickly found himself growing tired of the pleading look that she was constantly pinning him with. "His name is Ethan – your son's name is Ethan - Ethan Daryl," She told him, the last ones coming out in a breathless voice and Daryl couldn't help but swallow hard. "Hate me all you want to, but please, treat him kindly!" Tears fell from her eyes at that moment as she shook her head. "He's your son, Daryl, whether you want to believe it or not and he deserves nothing but your kindness while I deserve nothing but your scorn and loathing! It was my fault you never knew him – not his!"
"I don' care how many we have, Tess, jus' as long as ya they momma . . ."
Tessa swallowed hard as her grip on his forearm slackened slightly. He didn't pull away and she took that as a sign that he was listening. "You once told me, Daryl, that you didn't care how many children we had, just as long as I was their mother . . ." She swallowed hard. "Does that mean anything to you now?" Daryl gazed at her for a moment, his eyes expressionless but searching and eventually, he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
"Tha' was then, Tessa, and this is now."
He said nothing more after that and instead, turned around, where he walked off in the direction of the dark woods. He needed to be alone.