I would like to first off thank any of you who have decided to visit and give this story a try. I'm a hardcore Bethyl shipper myself, but it's not until now that I've given an independent try. Otherwise I Beta for Steph2106's 'In the arms of the angel' which is a pretty good story, if I may say so myself.
This will be a very humble try at writing a modest romance between probably two of the most unlikely characters to ever form a romantic bond. Which means this story will not contain many chapters and the plot will be very simple.
A second and third part have read through my writing. Any mistakes that still may be found are surely that of my own.
"It is the still small voice that the soul heeds,
not the deafening blasts of doom."
William Dean Howells
Beth was sitting on the bottom bunk of her cell and Jude was bouncing happily on her lap. Beth was grateful for the sheet that was hanging over the opening, shielding them from any discomfort of prying eyes. It wouldn't have mattered, though. The only ones who bothered to go up this early were either Rick, herself…
Colour slowly rushed up to her face, giving her cheeks a darker shade of pink.
She couldn't help herself.
Lately Daryl had affected her in a manner she never thought he of all people would. It started a few weeks after the incident with Zack, after Daryl had tried to break the news to her as softly as he could. After that something changed. Every time he walked in, her eyes were pulled to him like magnets, as if nature's own laws demanded it. Every time he came close to her a strange, unfamiliar and tingling warmth gathered in her stomach and then spread out all the way to her fingertips. Every time he spoke to her his voice made her numb and the words he spoke seemed to mix together in her head.
She'd started noticing things with him she had no business noticing. The way he moved, and how his muscles moved under the taut, tanned skin of his arms, how much male he was compared to all the others. The thought often left her breathless.
Beth never felt as self-conscious as she would every time Daryl came near.
She couldn't help herself.
A soft giggle escaped from Beth when the lively baby in her lap gurgled and waved frantically with her arms. Big, interested eyes were staring up at her.
"Hey," Beth smiled warmly down at the little life that was now clutching at the blonde braid hanging down the front of her right shoulder. "Let's get you something to eat!"
Jude secured and supported by one arm, Beth swept the sheet over the opening to the side but halted in her step when a shadow suddenly walked by. It was Michonne. She was walking with purposeful steps and she was carrying a backpack.
"Hey," Beth called curiously, stepping out in the light. "Where you goin'?"
Her throat constringed when it appeared Daryl was walking in front of Michonne. She hadn't seen him there. They both turned around at the call for their attention.
"Catching the light while we can. Formula's running out. And some other stuff." Michonne shrugged slightly, hands around the straps of the backpack.
Beth's eyes bounced between Daryl and Michonne. The hunter shifted, arranging the crossbow to hang over his opposite shoulder. He looked almost nervous.
"Anyone else going?"
Daryl shook his head. "Just us."
For a small moment Beth wasn't sure about what to say and arranged Judith to sit on her left hip. "When will you be back?" She hadn't meant for the question to come out as hesitant as it did.
Beth wasn't sure, but she thought she saw Michonne's eyes narrow at her. Michonne was one of the few who treated Beth like she was an adult. Everyone else kept babying her but Beth didn't blame them. There was too much for everyone to take care of for them to notice that she wasn't a child anymore. But Michonne had realized since long that Beth was smarter and saw more than she let on.
Beth wasn't dumb. A simple run for provision with just Michonne and Daryl in the equation didn't sound quite right. They were going to do something they didn't want too many people to know. Something dangerous.
"We'll come back." Michonne smiled gently at her.
Beth flinched. She felt the familiar warmth spread through her body when she was suddenly hyper aware of Daryl's eyes studying her.
"Hungry. Was just about to get her some food."
With a soft, crooked smile the hunter swung the crossbow over one strong, defined shoulder and propped the weapon against the wall. "Here," he said, coming towards her with his hands out.
"Catch you by the gate, Dixon." Michonne disappeared around the edge.
Beth didn't notice. She couldn't help herself.
Her whole attention was on the hunter who swiftly relieved her of the weight of the child. He raised Judith towards the ceiling and she looked down at him with the wonder of someone who was seeing something for the first time.
"She's getting heavier." There was a youthful smile playing on his lips that was exclusively meant for Judith's eyes.
Beth chuckled. "Yeah. She's growin' fast."
"I reckon' at this rate she'll be runnin' around the prison garden once we're back."
A moment of silence.
Beth shifted on her feet. "Do you have to go?"
Quizzical eyes pinned her where she stood and the gentle smile that played on his lips faded.
"It's just that," she continued, averting her own eyes, well aware that he was studying her, "I've got a bad feelin' 'bout this one, Daryl."
Lowering the baby to rest against his chest, Daryl stared down at the young woman with the kind of loss for words he hadn't had for a long time. He knew she had placed an attachment on him, somehow, but she'd never expressed it in this kind of way before. He knew he had to tread carefully.
"Beth," he said, reaching a hand out, fingers going almost naturally around her elbow and he found himself pulling her a little closer. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to comfort her. "Beth, this ain't just for me."
Internally, she sighed. Was she being selfish?
She chanced meeting his eyes and a quick streak of warmth went through her again when she stared straight back into the round piercing blue hues. She cupped the side of the taut skin of his lower upper arm for support. She thought she felt him flinch.
"I know. I just wish it didn't have to be you all the time."
A chuckle rumbled from his chest.
"Girl, if it weren't me, I'd pro'ly go crazy from spending too much time between these walls, anyway. Ya don't gotta worry 'bout me."
He felt pleased with his effort when a small chuckle was elicited from her. Then her face changed and he thought he saw her cheeks turn a darker shade of pink. Had he said something wrong?
"'Sides," he continued. "Michonne's comin', too. I don't see ya fussin' over her. 'Sayin' I can't take care of myself?"
She punched his shoulder and he gave her a wicked grin.
"Knowin' you, Dixon, you're pro'ly gonna come back with wounds and scratches enough for one man to collect in a lifetime."
"Never stopped me before."
Silenced ensued and they looked each other again, both fighting the urge to shift under the scrutinizing gaze of the other.
Clearing his throat, he renewed his hold on Judith – who was currently completely fascinated by his goatee. "Michonne's waiting, Beth. Have to say good by –"
"No." The word came out stronger and more assertive than she had meant.
He looked nervous again. "What?"
"We don't say good bye." She held out her hands and accepted Judith from his arms. "You'll be back."
Something akin to understanding flashed through his eyes. He was proud of her then. He wasn't smiling, but there was still a soft, gentle touch playing on his lips. Suddenly he halted as if he'd changed his mind about something in the last second. Beth quizzically frowned at him, wondering if there was something more he wanted to say. He looked like he was trying to muster up some words.
Suddenly he stretched out a hand and tugged a lonely lock of hair hanging in the front of her face back behind her ear.
With a nod of acknowledgement, he turned around. The hunter swiftly swept the crossbow up from the ground before he, too, disappeared behind the edge of the wall.
Beth remained several minutes, playing the scene in her head over and over again, until the sound of Judith woke her up from her thoughts.
The corners of her mouth tugged into a smile. She couldn't help herself.
To be continued
Thanks to Ranon and Steph for putting up with the things I shove their way.
And thank you all for reading! Now, please review! I would like to hear your thoughts. Reviews are like presents at Christmas for a writer.
Until next time,