R_S: So, it's really funny to me how much you guys were like 'omg, Maggie thinks she likes Merle?!' That implication was totally not my intention, but as soon as y'all pointed it out, I realized how much it seemed like that! Just proof that the characters have a life of their own and can really get away from you haha. I looked over this chapter to see if I could adjust it to fit that, but I didn't really see where to work it into the dialogue, so my bad on that haha.
Now... I recommend you brace yourselves...
Beth hummed quietly to herself as she strolled down the hall, on her way to play with Judith, who had been napping in a side room during dinner. One of the perks of making a meal was not having to clean up after it. A slow smile spread across her lips; she had done a good thing today, gone a long way to make someone feel included and make her boyfriend happy. It was a good feeling, one that warmed her to her toes and colored her cheeks. It made her laugh as she opened the door, shutting it carefully behind her. One one table was the L'il Ass Kicker bassinette, and on another were some guns that someone had been cleaning. She leaned and placed a kiss to the child's head, brushing a gentle hand over it as she hummed. Behind her, she heard the dull creak of the door opening.
"Thought I'd find you here." At his words, Beth turned to smile at Daryl. He made his way slowly down the stairs, watching her with an expression in his eye she had never before seen.
"Had the night free, thought I'd check up on Judith… I thought we were gonna try not to disappear at the same time so obviously anymore. Leavin' after dinner's pretty obvious." She teased but walked over to him anyway, brushing her lips to his. When she went to pull away, his arms looped around her, holding her in place as he buried his face in her neck.
"You ok?" She giggled, and he pulled back to look down at her, expression uncertain as he licked his lips.
"Beth… tonight at dinner, I-…"
She smiled up at him, brushing a strand of hair behind his ear, "I know. He may not be everyone's favorite person, but he does right by you… I hope that was ok."
"More'n." He whispered, lowering his lips to hers. It was sweet and soft, and she reveled in the warmth of him. His arms were her favorite place to be. One hand slid up around his shoulder, as the other drifted across the contours of his chest, and his hand lowered to a more intimate hold as he held her against him tightly.
"What the hell is this?!" Maggie's shrill cry cut through the cool air, a look of abject horror on her features from where she stood in the doorway.
Daryl had forgotten to shut the door.
He and Beth jumped away from each other immediately, but the damage was already done. The two exchanged uneasy glances, searching for excuses, for a way out. "Maggie… this- this isn't what it looks like, I-I…"
"No?" She demanded, stalking forward, "Then what is it?" She turned to Daryl, "Were you just kissin' n pawin' my sister? Grabbing her ass?" When he said nothing, she struck him, delivering a slap so hard his head turned and causing Beth to cry out.
"Oh my god, stop it!" The blond rushed forward, but her sister shoved her back, intent on continuing her abuse. For all his faults, Daryl Dixon would never hit a lady… but he would be damned if he let one beat the shit out of him. He caught her tiny wrists in his arms, turning his hip to her in defense, but it only made her buck like a wild stallion. He guided her away from Judith. They scuffled angrily, tripping back and slamming into furniture.
One of the guns fell from the table. Whomever had been cleaning them and putting them back together was new at the art, for the safety was forgotten, and the weapon went off as it hit the ground. No one was hurt, but it was loud enough to startle the trio, cause Judith to scream, and summon many others. Daryl and Maggie stared at each other for a moment, ensuring that the gun was an accident and their fight did not need to be put on hold for the good of the camp, but the only sound that pierced the air was Judith's cries. And Beth's soft tears.
Maggie's eyes narrowed, rounding on Daryl again and lifting her hands to push or strike him, "You son of a bitch-"
"What the hell is goin' on here?" Rick demanded, bursting in with others hot on his heels, guns ready.
"What the hell, Maggie," Glenn demanded, looking between the fighting pair, "what're you doing?"
"I want him gone!" She yelled, pointing an accusing finger at the older man, "I want this creep removed from camp!"
"Maggie!" Beth yelled, "You're overreacting! Let's just talk about this privately-"
"The hell I will!" She yelled back, "When everyone hears what he's been up to, ain't no one gonna disagree with me!"
"Girls, girls," Hershel called, ambling in, "that's enough. Now what's this fightin' all about?"
Heated green eyes turned on Daryl, who stood away looking shadowed and ashamed, only able to meet his brother's eye, "You gonna admit to what you done?" Blue eyes flickered up to her for a moment but dropped down, head turned away.
"Maggie," Beth tried again, "please-" She disregarded her sister's pleas and turned to the group, gesturing angrily.
"I just caught him pawin' on my sister. She's half his goddamn age!" Murmurs of shock and opinion spread lowly across the group, everyone peering around each other to get a better view of the drama.
"… Is this true?" Hershel whispered, sounding heartbroken but coldly monotone. Tears welled up in his youngest's eyes.
"Daddy… daddy, I…" He turned away from her to fix Daryl with an angry stare.
"I opened my home to you once, do you remember that? You took advantage of my hospitality, took my food, my horse. And now you take advantage of my daughter-"
"Daddy, daddy no, it ain't like that-" Her calls fell on deaf ears as he rounded to the younger man.
"Damnit, I got half a mind to shoot you dead right where you stand!"
"Hey!" Rick cut in, stepping between them, "There won't be none o' that!"
"Let 'em settle it!" A voice called from the group, one of the newer members, "Man's got a right to defend his family, ain't got nothin' to do with ya!"
"Shoot 'im!" Another cried from the back. Murmurs of varying agreement and uncertainty rippled through the room, which Glenn tried to quell.
"Enough! Hey, nothing to see here, everyone go back about their business! Everybody out!" He tried to push the crowd away, but people only lingered, taking no more than a step back.
"That's right; no one's shootin' anybody, ok?" Rick barked.
"Then he leaves!" Maggie growled, shoving Daryl once more. Merle stepped forward, anger evident on his face, but Glenn cut into his path, fixing the bigger man with a scowl.
"Now hold on just a minute-"
"Ain't I got a right to defend myself?" Daryl asked gruffly, but Hershel only glared at him, addressing Rick instead.
"Either he goes or we do, Rick. I'm the only doctor you got nowadays, but how many brainless redneck enforcers do you think you can find?"
"Alright, everybody's gotta just take a step back and calm down, now! I ain't kickin' anybody out tonight. You all go back to your bunks, we're dealin' with this- end of discussion. Maggie, Hershel, why don't y'all take your Beth to your rooms."
"No," the blond cut in, anger evident in her gaze, "I'm not going anywhere. I have a right to-" But no one got to hear her claim her rights, because Maggie grabbed her arm, dragging her past the crowd and away from Daryl.
"You ain't got a right to anythin' when you're not thinkin' clearly!"
"Who says I'm not?" Beth demanded, tripping as she tried to resist.
"It's pretty obvious when you let that redneck trash paw all over you. He hurt you?"
"Well Imma hurt him…"
"Maggie," she cried desperately, trying to wrench her arm free, "Maggie he saved me!"
"Honey, that don't mean you owe him anything."
"I know that!" They reached the cell where Beth slept (or was supposed to sleep), and her sister all but threw her into a seat on the bed, pacing before her, "But don't talk about him like some kind of a villain, because he has given everything for this family! He's a good man."
"Good men don't go preyin' on young girls and takin' advantage of them when they're all- all- I dunno, traumatized or delicate or- I dunno the word."
"He didn't, Maggie! This didn't happen until a long time after all that, and he wasn't pursuin' me or nothing. He was just there for me… when everyone else was walking on eggshells, he just talked to me."
"Yeah, well it seems like talkin' wasn't the only thing on that snake's mind. That backstabbin' little shit… I let him be in my weddin'! Hell, if I'd known what he was try'na pull, I mighta fed him to walkers myse-" The sharp crack of skin cut through the cell. Beth's hand tingled as she watched Maggie cradle her cheek.
"How dare you!"
"Beth Anne!" Hershel appeared just in time to see the strike, hobbling forward with purpose, "You do not raise voice or hand to your sister!"
"If you'd heard the horrible things she was sayin'-"
"Enough! Beth… Bethy, sit down. We need to discuss this."
Maggie's glare was fixed fiercely on Beth's form, "I ain't leavin'."
He sighed, "I'm not asking you to; you're a part of this family, and this is a family matter. I need you to make sure Beth stays for this, and I can't chase her." Beth winced at that, hurt he no longer trusted her.
"I wouldn't run from you, daddy… say your piece so we can be done."
"It's not that simple Beth. We need to have a serious talk about this, about what he did to you-"
"Stop, stop sayin' it like that!" She cried back, pulling at her ponytail, "It wasn't like that, was never like that… Daryl's nothin' like him."
Maggie snorted, "Could'a fooled me." Beth fixed her with a glare.
"Oh screw you-"
"That's enough! This is what I mean, Beth. You ain't yourself anymore, would never have said something so crass, especially not to your sister. Not before him."
"You mean Daryl taught me to stand up for myself? Cuz there's no shame in that." She countered.
"Did he tell you-" Beth cut Maggie off.
"He doesn't tell me anything. It's not like he came and found me some night; he didn't even want this all to happen. We just talked, cuz I needed someone to talk to, someone who wouldn't treat me like a scared rabbit, and we just… talkin' worked with us. I went to him, not the other way around, and the first time we kissed, he jumped away from me like he been burned. He never hurt me." Hershel stared at his daughter for a long moment, and she spoke more, just to fill the silence, "Please, you have to understand… and Maggie, Maggie how can you be like this after you and Glenn-"
"That's entirely different-" Maggie snapped, prepared to defend herself, but
"Beth… how long?"
"How long have you been hiding this, seeing him behind my back?" Beth stared back at him, tears spilling down her cheeks.
"… A few months," she admitted quietly, "the attempted raid on our prison."
"Holy shit." Maggie swore, looking appalled, and she spun around to deliver a solid kick to the doorframe.
Hershel's voice was like ice, "And yet you claim he did not take advantage of you? After something so traumatically similar to-"
"Oh my god, you have got to be kiddin' me. I'm not some porcelain doll, daddy! That attack didn't bother me any more than it would have before the Governor, maybe even less so, because I had Daryl with me!" She did not notice she had said the man's name for the first time in a year, too desperate to defend her lover as tears overcame her. "You have no right to dictate our relationship!"
"Relationship?! That-" Maggie started to scream back, but they were interrupted by clatter. Glenn had come to see how they were, but upon hearing the arguing, attempted to excuse himself from the awkwardness. Unfortunately, his gun smacked against one of the bars.
"S-sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. I was just coming to check on everybody… things over there calmed down."
"It's fine, son," Hershel sighed, "you're a part of this family now; you have an opinion."
Beth sniffled, "Where is he now?"
"You ain't seein' him!" Maggie cut in, fixing her with a glare, but turned to Glenn, wanting to know the answer herself.
Her husband shifted uncomfortably, "Cell Block F with Martinez and his brother… Rick dragged him down there to get away from prying eyes. With any luck, since the both of them are causing trouble, Merle'll be thrown out on his ass." He felt a slightly guilty at the venom in his voice when he heard his sister-in-law's cries. Really, he had respected Daryl, but after all this… it was just too gross.
'Dragged' had been the wrong word, Glenn's disgust coloring his interpretation. Daryl had walked with him wholly willingly, cut to the bone by the glares and judgmental staring of the rest of the prison. Rick looked older, as they marched, and it hurt to look at him and see the expression of utter disappointment on his face. Daryl kept his gaze glued to the ground until they got to the cell block.
Rick threw the door open, "Si'down."
Instead, Daryl leaned up against a table, "This is horse shit."
"Really, cuz there's an entire prison full o' angry folk that'd say otherwise.
He sniffed, "Ain't none of their business." Rick threw his hands in the air in frustration.
"Shit, Daryl… I dunno what to do with ya. I got people demanding you be kicked out; Hershel n' Maggie are madder'n anything I ever seen… You really pissed the shitter this time. Seriously man, what were you thinkin'?"
"It's none of your business neither!" He growled back, "She's a goddamn adult, and we didn't do nothin' any other adults wouldn't do."
"Oh what, that how you convinced her? Told her it was the adult thing to do?"
"It ain't like that… Rick, you know I'm not that guy."
"I used to think I knew that, now I don't know what I think." Daryl recoiled as though he had been hit.
"This wasn't me takin' advantage; I didn't force nothin'. I would never hurt her."
"Not meanin' to take advantage and doin' it are two different things, and they ain't mutually exclusive. She was held hostage and raped, Daryl."
"You ain't tellin' me anything I don't know!" Daryl snapped, kicking over a chair, "Hell I went an' got her. I saw her, saw what he did to her. You don't just forget something like that, Rick."
"No, you don't, so it goes twice that neither did she, so I don't care how long y'all waited, there was never a time when this was appropriate-"
"So what, she gotta let what happened dictate her whole life? That's why she came to me, y'know, to get away from all y'all who was hurtin' her worse by treatin' her like a goddamn wounded animal. We never did nothin' she didn't decide on herself, nothin' that hurt her."
"There was no way for you to pursue this without hurtin' her, whether you meant to or not, and damnit Daryl, I wanna believe you didn't meant to." Rick looked him in the eye, dead serious. "You need to tell me you understand this to prove you didn't mean to. I don't know that I can help you otherwise."
Daryl's gaze leveled with him, pride welling up, "I didn't hurt that girl, Rick."
"Shit," Rick turned and running his hand over his hair, "well you got plenty of time to think on it. You're stayin' here with Martinez n' your brother, it's the only way anyone's even gonna let you stay here at all. Hopefully it'll be 'nough to keep the Greenes here; won't survive out there on their own, n' that'd be on your head. Don't go breakin' anymore goddamn rules."
With an angry backward glance from the corner of his eye, Rick stormed out without another word.
R_S: Sad days for our favorite couple =(
Please let me know what you think about everyone's reactions and how you think it would all go down- I genuinely want to know!