Waste of an Arrow
Disclaimer: Do not own, do not profit.
"They are so meant to be." Lizzie Samuels' voice was a whisper, close to his ear, and Carl felt his cheeks flush before glancing at the girl. She was a year younger, and somehow so much dumber than him. He rolled his eyes before turning away and ignoring her. For a second - because Carol's "Storytime" thing? It was a total waste of time. It was for the babies of the group, the kids who were scared and weak, who couldn't lift a gun and shoot it if their lives depended on it. Carl could, and Carl had. It felt stupid sitting in the stuffy library while there were more important things to do, like picking the walkers off the fence or walking the perimeter, the comfortable weight of his pistol in his pants, Dad's old sheriff hat perched on his head. But they didn't do that anymore. Not since his father lost his mind, and Carl killed some kid...
He shook his head and turned to Lizzie, deciding whatever distraction she could provide might be worth it. Better than dwelling on the past, at least. "Who's meant to be?" he whispered. Lizzie smiled and nodded towards the doorway, where Daryl Dixon and Beth Greene were standing, talking. It looked completely normal to Carl - Beth had her hip jutted out, bouncing Judith to placate her. Blonde hair in a messy ponytail, tangle of golden blonde and brown. Jeans and boots and a loose tank-top, her typical outfit - but it must have been laundry day, because it wasn't stained and dirty yet. Daryl had his crossbow strapped across his chest, and his tan arms were grimy. Looked like he hadn't had a bath in a week; greasy brown hair, smudged up cheeks. His blue eyes never stopped their icy chill, though. The man was always a mess, rarely not covered in guts and dirt and sweat and blood. He was a badass, like that.
"You're crazy," Carl said, shaking his head with a grin. He'd always kind of had a crush on Beth, mainly because she was a pretty girl and the closest to his age in the whole camp. She had been, before the Woodbury group had infiltrated their ranks and taken up residence in the prison. Now he had Storytime and Lizzie with her big brown eyes and giggles. She drove him insane - always lingering around, naming the walkers, being a brat. Now she was coming up with these outrageous ideas. Daryl was old enough to be Beth's daddy, and she was too sweet and gentle for a man like him... A man like Daryl was better suited to someone like Michonne, or even Carol, though she was a bit older than even Daryl...
"I've seen the way they look at each other," Lizzie said defensively, mouth puckering into a girlish pout. "I know what it looks like when people are in love, Grimes. And believe me, they are totally head over heels."
Carl cast another glance to the two in the doorway. Beth's cheeks were pink, and she was grinning up at Daryl. His fingers were white-knuckled on the strap of his Horton, but his face was the same calm mask that they saw every day. The man wasn't a conversationalist, and seeing more than a fleeting grin on his face was rare. Beth said something, put a hand on his arm, and they both chuckled. Huh. Carl didn't know what to make of that.
"I think it's sweet," Lizzie gushed. She sighed, dreamily. "It's like Romeo and Juliet, Bella and Edward, or something. Like they're total opposites, but they have so much passion for each other that they overcome it..." She sounded like she was talking about characters in a book or on a TV show (or at least what Carl could remember of the shows his mother used to watch, before), not people that he had come to know and think of as family. It was kind of surreal.
"I still think you're crazy," Carl said, glaring at the younger girl, before standing up and ducking out of the library, ignoring the concerned look that Carol sent him as he left. He brushed by Daryl and Beth, who both seemed too wrapped up in their conversation to notice him. That was just fine - maybe he needed some time alone, to contemplate things. And stuff.
"Thanks again," Beth said, grinning up at Daryl. "I swear, I just needed like... ten minutes to myself. I was going a little crazy." His expression didn't change, but Beth sensed the softness behind his piercing blue eyes. When it came to his Lil Asskicker, he was a big softy, all mushy and ga-ga for the little girl. It was completely endearing, totally lovable, and Beth felt a rush of - loyalty? Affection? She wasn't really sure, but there was a warm sensation that swept over her, from head to toe, seeing him with that baby. He was so good with her, and it was no secret that Judith adored the rough older man. Any time he was near, she was stretching her arms out, clenching her chubby fists for him. He rarely could deny her.
"'S no problem," Daryl replied. His voice was deep and rough, and Beth felt a rumble in her chest. Something about him... It was weird. When she looked at Daryl Dixon, there was something so manly about him, something that was just ridiculously attractive about his age and his demeanor, how he carried himself, how he behaved. He was a provider, a hunter, intense and aloof. He wasn't like Glenn, couldn't ramble on about nothing; his cool silence wasn't uncomfortable for Beth anymore. She almost preferred it.. "She's a little sweetheart, never mind having her around." Judith cooed in response, batting her long eyelashes up at him. "Little flirt."
"How are things on the battle front?" Beth asked, conversationally. She felt the urge to linger in his presence. Daryl sighed, shrugged, scratched the back of his neck - she deciphered it as, "I'm suspicious, but nothing much," which appeared to be his running state of conciousness. He was always worried, even with the governor long gone and their ranks growing more prepared by the day. There was comfort in numbers, and there were plenty of folks here that knew how to handle themselves. But Daryl was careful, mindful, and solely focused on taking care of his family as best he could.
"Rick doin' all right?" she pressed on. The corner of his mouth lifted, and Beth couldn't help but return his smile. "I'm glad. It's good to see him getting back into the swing of things... Feels like before, almost."
"Almost," Daryl echoed. Their eyes met for a brief moment, blue on blue, and Beth felt her cheeks turn pink. "Once I can get him 'way from them pigs, he'll be just fine." They chuckled, and Beth pressed her hand to his bicep. It was firm beneath her hand, and she felt him tense in surprise.
"You're doing a good thing, Daryl," she reminded him. It wasn't the first time they'd had this kind of conversation, one-sided as it was. But Beth didn't think he heard it too often - kind of like no one went around thanking Rick for being in charge, or Michonne for putting herself on the line all the time - support wasn't something people thought about around here too often. Maybe that was part of the problem.
To Beth's astonishment, his cheeks seemed to turn pink beneath to tan and grime on his face, and he ducked his head. "I better get going," he mumbled, and Beth dropped her hand from his arm, feeling foreign tingles in her fingertips.
"Yeah, of course," she replied. "I gotta get Judith fed and settled, anyway." She nodded, glancing briefly from his big, calloused hands to his face. After a meaningful (but meaning what? Beth wondered) look, he turned and swaggered down the cell block, headed towards an evening in the guard tower. Sighing, she turned and headed to her room, where Judith's make-shift bassonet set beside her bunk.
For some reason, though, she thought of those blue eyes for the rest of the evening.
Before traipsing up to the tower, Daryl stole into the kitchen to grab something to eat. Usually, someone would set them up with a little packed lunch to take up with them. It was a perk of being one of the chosen, he supposed - accompanied by a sarcastic grunt. He grabbed a brown bag from the little pile and headed out. It was beginning to cool off, the heat of summer only sticking around for the afternoons, where it could get sweltering still. But the nights were getting cooler, and he was glad for the flannel button-up he wore, sleeves still intact, with his trademark leather vest over top.
He knew he was long over-due for the shower, felt sticky and filthy, but another couple hours wasn't gonna make or break him. He settled in once climbing up the ladder, nodding in passing to Maggie before she disappeared. He didn't want to think about what she and her man got up to in the tower, ignored the sleeping bag he found spread on the floor sometimes. How those two managed to find time in the middle of hell, when the world had ended, was baffling to him. Not that he hadn't thought about it. Thought about her. But it seemed... safer, somehow, to keep his distance.
Seemed like when people got close to each other, started caring 'bout each other, thats when they died. Just ripped right out of this world, turned into a monster with a hunger for human flesh. That was worse than just dying. The injustice, the irony. Fighting so hard to cull their numbers, and when ya died, ya became one. If there was a God, which Daryl Dixon highly doubted, he had a morbid sense of humor. No sense of sympathy.
But Beth Greene, with her pale porcelain skin, big blue eyes, and small but plump pink lips. Yeah, he allowed himself to think on that sometimes, when it was late at night and particularly quiet. When he couldn't sleep, and he wasn't in the tower watching the perimeters, Daryl let his thoughts drift to the pretty young girl. She was eighteen now, not that it really mattered, as she was still young enough to be his daughter. But there was something about her... Her soulful, deep blue eyes and gentle, calm demeanor. She was light years beyond himself at eighteen - acted more like a thirty year old woman than a teenager, that was fore sure.
The way she looked at him, sometimes, made him feel like things were going to be all right. They had to be, because she willed it so. And how anything could go the opposite of how Beth Greene wanted, Daryl didn't know. He couldn't dream of telling that beautiful, sweet girl no to anything.
It was dangerous, thinking that way. So most of the time, Daryl didn't let himself. Once he started caring, even from afar... It was like signing a death sentence. He couldn't bring that on her, couldn't lose another person from their group. 'Specially not her. He'd keep away, watch her from afar. Keep her safe, the best he knew how.
At dinner, Carl found an empty spot beside Lizzie, and against his better judgement, he took it. Her little sister, Mika, was gazing into her dinner, looking somber and tired for a little girl. She was sweet - nothing like Lizzie, who was annoying and never shut up. He wanted to tell her that she was dumb for thinking that anything was going on between Daryl and Beth, wanted to point out that they weren't a realistic pair. But the expression on her face was enough to shut him up, and he ate his brothy soup in silence beside her.
"Patrick is sick," Mika said after a few long moments of silence. "I'm going to bring him dinner to his cell."
"Ya oughta stay away from him, if he's sick. Might catch it," Carl said, eyeing her seriously. Mika flushed and glanced back to her bowl.
"Don't need to be mean," Lizzie said, turning her nose up at him. "Mika didn't do anything wrong."
Carl rolled his eyes. He didn't miss the way her warm, amber-brown eyes flashed with anger. It occured to him that she looked kinda pretty, when that happened. "You're such a little kid," he teased her, finding a smile.
"Ugh! Am not," she whined, and he chuckled at her response. It was kinda fun, getting a response out of her.
"You're just being a brat, because I'm right about you-know-who," Carl said. He poked her in the shoulder, and she dropped her spoon with a clatter. "I been watching 'em all day, and they ain't even talkin' to each other. They're definitely not in love."
"How would you know?" Lizzie pressed. She tucked her honey-blonde hair behind her ears and glared at him. "You wouldn't know love if it came up and bit ya." She winked at her little sister, who was trying not to giggle at their confrontation.
"Neither would you!" Carl protested.
Lizzie sighed and shook her head. "Girls always know. It's the guys who have no idea..."
Isn't that the truth? So we begin our journey of love in the time of zombies. Welcome to my world! I hope you enjoy. This story will contain lemon, a bit of plot (nothing too heavy, I'm hoping - no promises, though), and some fluff and action. I really liked the Carl/Lizzie moments on the show, as well as her moments with Carol in last weeks episode and wanted to explore her character. It's AU, of course, because I didn't want to kill off people yet because I'm just getting a feel and easing into the story. It might wind up following the show, but for now, I'd safely call it AU.
I'm looking for pre-readers/betas. Please, if you're interested, let me know. I'm more than happy to return the favor! You can find me on TUMBLR as ' idreamoffrankie ' if you'd like to see personal updates and sneak peeks of the story. And lots of pretty pictures.
Review, let me know what you think. Greatly appreciated, ya'll!