Ok guys! This is a Bethyl fic all the way, if that isn't your thing I would retreat now. It's set after season 3, it differs from the TV show in the way that in this story the group have had to flee the prison and have gotten separated in doing so. The story will have bits of fluff and possibly smut...who am I kidding there's definitely going to be smut! This is totally unbeta'd unfortunately. I have checked and checked again but I sincerely apologise if there are any typos. Thanks for reading!
Welcome to Maycroft.
An evening breeze blew though what was once a hotel lobby and Beth instinctively pulled Judith closer in an attempt to shield her from the cold, but the child's forehead still felt worryingly hot to the touch.
They had been on the road for three whole days since losing the rest of the group, and once the euphoria of once again finding that they had gotten out of an unimaginably tight spot had worn off, reality had hit them hard.
Beth had been caught in the chaos with Judith in her arms, the others had fled ahead of them, perhaps Maggie and Glen assumed that Beth and Judith had left with Rick, Carl and Hershel, and vise versa. Either way when the Governor's lackeys had attacked the prison they'd had no choice but to scatter, Beth had thought her number was finally up, surrounded by walkers somehow the little bundle in her arms gave her courage she never knew she possessed. She stabbed walker after walker in the skull making her way towards the SUV, Daryl had seen her approach and driven nearer, opening the doors only at the very last minute for her to climb aboard.
They'd driven as far as they could with the intentions of meeting back up with the group further north but a massive wildfire had caused them to divert. With gas and food supplies running low they had no options but to look for shelter. They had sought out the old hotel only thinking of it as somewhere to raid for supplies but when they got inside it was clear there was some kind of infrastructure there, they were met at the entrance desk by a middle aged mixed race lady who introduced herself as Jeanette.
"My word look at you three!" she had exclaimed upon sight of them,"I'm guessing you guys got diverted from the interstate? From the wildfires right?" she said knowingly, as though others had arrived there the same way.
"Yeah, we were meaning to regroup with our friends and family further north but we got cut off from them by the fires, we have an SUV but we're pretty much outta gas. And I'm not sure but I think maybe Judith here's running a bit of a fever. We were wondering if maybe we could trouble you for some gas, maybe some food, I'm sorry to ask..." Beth explained nervously.
Jeanette cut her off as though she understood their predicament, "Oh we can do better than that honey, we've been working to keep things secure here for a while now, we have a community within these walls. Y'all should stay a little bit, get some rest and something to eat. We have a couple of residents here with medical training, I'm sure one of them will be happy to take a look at the baby if you're worried."
Beth shot a questioning glance over to Daryl, wondering if they ought to take the lady up on her hospitality. Daryl was cautious but they were stuck, he was incredibly tired and his stomach was growling, they couldn't go on without a rest first, so he nodded curtly in compliance.
"That would be great, thank you." Beth smiled thinly at the woman.
"Excellent, welcome to The Maycroft!" Jeanette lifted a hand and gestured to the shabby looking surroundings,"Can I just take a few details first? It's policy, helps us to keep track of everyone now we're growing in numbers." she looked down at her clipboard, clicking the top on her pen.
"Beth Dixon" she stated flatly, trying to ignore the sharp intake of breath Daryl took beside her.
"And this is Judith, did you say? Such a pretty, traditional name." the kindly woman gestured to Judy who was resting on Beth's hip,"She sure is, Judith Dixon. And this is Daryl Dixon" she nodded to the sullen looking man by her side, for the most part he seemed resigned to letting her do the talking.
"Age?" Jeanette's suspicious glance was not lost on Daryl, she clearly knew he was much older than Beth, who appeared for some reason to be charadeing as his wife!
"Twenty two..." Beth absently pointed a finder in her own direction, smoothly telling her lie without a hint of guilt, she drew a shaky breath and gazed over Judith's head to Daryl, she really didn't know how old he was but for the purposes of their story she quickly assessed him, he could pass for thirty eight right? "...Daryl's thirty eight and this one here, she's four months." Beth concluded.
Jeanette's eyes narrowed, assessing Beths lean figure," Oh, you forget how everything just springs back in to place at your age..." she said knowingly,"...I had my eldest at twenty one, I was back in my size six jeans the week after, Lord those days are gone!" she spoke with a slight sadness and Beth wondered for a moment what had happened to Jeanette's eldest, the woman clearly mourned more than her size six jeans.
"Come now, we'll put you in room 210, do you guys have crib for the little one?" the older woman asked. Beth shook her head,"No, to be honest we don't have a whole lot more than we're stood up in, we didn't have much time to pack." she looked down to Judith feeling wholly inadequate. "Oh not to worry, 210 has a couch, and I'll see if we can't find you a travel crib or something." Jeanette reached out a hand to tickle under Judy's chin.
"If you guys want anything to eat the kitchens are just down the hall, make yourself at home. Of an evening we usually all eat together in there, s'were we get all the gossip." she playfully leaned in to Beth and she couldn't help but warm to the woman, she seemed so genuine and friendly. She'd been holed up in the SUV with Daryl gradually becoming more and more surly with her as the days drew on, she longed for a kind word or a little comfort.
Not a word was spoken between the two of them as they made their way to the room, but she could almost feel the anger radiating off Daryl. They got to 210, as soon as the door slammed behind them Daryl threw his bag to the floor and pointed an accusatory finger in Beth's face,"Care to tell me what the hell you're doin' girl?!"
Beth opened her mouth to explain but before words would come Daryl was in her face,"We've just lost all of our people and you think this is a good time to play house?! Did you see how that woman looked at me, she thinks I'm some dirty old man! WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING? WHY WOULD YOU EVEN THINK TO SAY WE WERE MARRIED?!"
Something snapped in Beth, thankfully she had placed Judith down on the bed, the little girl had more or less nodded off and was oblivious to their quarrel.
"AND TELL THEM WHAT DARYL?! THAT I'M EIGHTEEN AND TRAVELING WITH A BABY THAT ISN'T MINE AND SHE ISN'T YOURS NEITHER AND WE HARDLY KNOW ONE ANOTHER?!" she leaned up, almost on her tiptoes to meet his gaze,"THEY'D TAKE HER AWAY FROM US YOU IDIOT!" she jabbed a boney finger right in his chest.
It was now Daryl's turn to be spoken over, without missing a beat Beth leaned in once more,"And for the record I have no desire to play house with you..." she wiggled her fingers in mock quotation marks as to emphasise his,"playing house" remark, man that had hit a nerve." ...I just want to keep what's left of this sorry excuse for a group together, unfortunately for all of us at the moment that amounts to you, me and Judith! Have you forgotten what we just ran from?! Hell, we don't know that this place isn't run by the governor too? You think we should just trust them with all our real details? They have all this stuff, power generators, food, heating, that Woodburry place had all that didn't it? Something tells me Jeanette's not knocked this whole place up on her own. We have to be careful and we have to stick together, the best way to do that is for them to think we're a family!"
She blew a wisp of blonde hair out of her face, quite exhausted from her tirade, Daryl Dixon had gotten on her last nerve these past few days. She braced herself for the mouthful she would no doubt get back.
"You quite done now kid?" he bit out in a calmer tone than she was expecting, she merely glared back in response.
With a huff he battered the door to the bathroom almost off it's hinges. In a few moments she heard the patter of the shower.
Once he was showered and dry he pulled on his pants and a fresh vest out of his bag, he walked gingerly back into the room to be greeted by the sight of Beth and Judith curled up fast asleep on the couch.
He felt like shit. The kid was right, she'd thought on her feet the way she'd been told to do countless times back at the Farm and in the Prison. She'd exercised caution and seen danger when he was too tired to notice it, and what had he done? He'd yelled at her for it. As if it wasn't enough that she was stuck in the middle of no where being a teenage mom to a baby that wasn't even her own, with no one but a grouchy redneck for company. She must be having a ball.
Riffling through the closet he pulled out a musty smelling blanket and placed it over the two of them, letting his hand rest on Asskicker's head for a moment, Beth was right, she did feel hot. They'd have to watch that.
His stomach rumbled unceremoniously and he decided to make his way down to the kitchens to make them both something to eat. He found them to be better stocked than the Prison or even the farms kitchen had ever been, somehow the façade of normality made him uneasy, kitchens didn't look like this no more, not now. Pushing his concerns to the back of his mind he made them a couple of sandwiches and took a kettle of hot water to warm Judiths formula.
Back in the room Beth was awake and setting up a travel crib that Jeanette had had sent up for them, she looked up at him with a shy glance, "Hey."
"Hey" he muttered. "Peace offerin'" he said as gently as he could placing the sandwich on the table next to her and taking a bite of his own. Beth considered turning her nose up at the food, to make some kind of point but she couldn't. Her mouth watered at the thought of eating something that wasn't gram crackers.
She dropped Judith's bottle into the hot water to warm between bites, inwardly searching for things to say but it was Daryl who broke the silence.
"I bin thinkin'" he started, not looking up from his food,"What you said, about pretendin' to be a family, keeping us together, we're gonna have to get our story straight." Beth knew instantly that that was the closest she would get to an apology.
"What do you mean?" she looked up absently from testing the temperature of Judith's milk.
"We gotta have a back story, if someone asks me how we met and then they ask you, we gotta say the same thing ya know?" he shrugged licking his fingers clean of the mayo that had gotten on them.
Beth nodded offering the bottle to Judith, smiling down as the little girl drank greedily," Hmm I guess so, what you got?"
"I dunno, gonna have to explain the age difference, I'm pretty much old enough to be your Daddy."
"They think I'm twenty two and my Daddy's old enough to be my Granddaddy, it never mattered none." Beth spoke quietly, the thought of her father made her chest ache, she missed him so bad.
"That still doesn't help our credibility none." Daryl tried to get the conversation back on track, seeing the sorrow colour Beth's face.
Beth gazed down at Judith and then back up as though milling through possibilities in her head, "You could have come to help Daddy with the horses maybe, we had people do that sometimes." she mused.
"'Cept I don't know nothin', about horses, not much anyway." Daryl dashed the idea and Beth's lips curled slightly at the memory of Daryl's short encounter with nervous Nelly.
"Oh yeah, I forgot that."
"Dumb fuckin' horse" Daryl spoke under his breath, knowing full well the incident they both recalled.
"You could have been my tutor maybe? Teaching me how ta use a crossbow or somethin'?" she pondered.
"And how exactly does that help my not being dirty old bastard credentials?"
"Daryl! Baby ears!" Beth chided, placing her hand over Judy's ears, half mockingly. She was relieved that the atmosphere was less tense between them now, almost playful.
Holding out his hands for Beth to pass the child over to him to hold, Daryl sighed,"I'm sorry Asskicker, come 'ere."
"Ok, you were a friend of the family and I seduced you!" Beth's blue eyes lit up with mirth,"I'm a regular old Lolita type, you saw me on the porch in my Sundress and fell hopelessly in love, didn't stand a chance! My Daddy didn't approve but we eloped anyway." Beth rolled her eyes theatrically and threw herself back on the couch.
Daryl couldn't help but let out a low chuckle at Beth's silliness, he'd not seen her so much as smile in weeks,"Sounds like a damn Springsteen song!"
Beth clapped her hands together and nodded pointing in his direction, giggling her agreement," I know! S'the best I got, sorry." she sat back amused.
Looking back down at Judith he grabbed a hold of her tiny hand," Ya hear that Asskicker, she seduced me!" Beth chuckled at the absurdity of the situation, even in a world where the dead rose up to feast on the living being shacked up with Daryl Dixon still seemed absurd.