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Title: Fall Right In
Author: Abelina/Abby/Abelinajt
Fandom/Pairing: The Walking Dead - Beth Greene/Daryl Dixon (Bethyl)
Setting: Season 4, Alone-divergence.
Rating: E/NC17
Summary: If Beth hadn’t interrupted him when she did, calling him back with the melody of her voice, he might’ve done something dumb like opening the door for a doomed dog and maybe dooming them both while he was at it. Beth and Daryl escape the funeral home together. An Alone-divergence Bethyl story.
Notes: Chapter title taken from lyrics to Title by Artist.

All Chapters Here
Fall Right In
Chapter 21 – Dance with the Devil Inside of Me

*~*
She tasted like squirrel. Of all the thoughts that could’ve been in his head while he was kissing Beth Greene, the first of them was the taste of squirrel on her lips, her tongue, her breath as it puffed outta her mouth and into his. Any other thoughts he mighta had crumbled to dust, leaving only the heat of her mouth, the wet slide of her lips, and the way she sighed, soft and feminine but with an edge to it, an edge that sliced down inside him and stirred up that fluttering in his chest so violently he thought he might explode with it. This couldn’t be happening, he must be dreaming, musta died in his sleep because never in a million years—except he was wide awake and kissing Beth and nothing ever felt as real as this.

Beth slipped onto his lap sometime after pausing to breathe and them surging together again like oxygen didn’t matter. Her legs pressed in on the outsides of his thighs and the hand that was at her waist now lay flat across her back, fingertips sliding beneath soft flannel to graze even softer skin. He had a handful of hair he didn’t remember reaching for and one of Beth’s hands tugging at his. If she got any closer she’d feel just how bad he was burning for her. Feel it again and Daryl wasn’t all that sure he’d wanna stop it this time.

And oh, she was fire, this woman, a blaze unto herself. Magic. He never kissed like this in his life, never thought he knew how. Never thought he wanted to try until Beth Greene wandered in, unzipped his sternum and made a home for herself in the chambers of his heart. It beat for her, with her, into her beneath the weight of her palm, the press of her fingers.


Beth’s teeth sunk into his bottom lip again and he groaned as she tugged, a sound unlike anything he ever remembered making before. She released him to press their foreheads together, sitting there on his legs like the little ball of flame she was. His brain failed to grasp the task of finding words, with his lungs on fire, his heart pounding so hard he could taste it in his throat. He clutched at her instead, with the hand at her back and the other in her hair, and her breath shuddered out, hot as it washed over his face.

Daryl,” she whispered, between deep, ragged breaths. “Daryl.”

“Fuck, Beth.”

He felt the rumble of her laughter, silently shaking through her body into his, and she pulled back, the weight of her resting atop his thighs. Daryl dragged his eyes open, blinking against the blinding orange of the sun pouring in from the east.  How did he miss the sunrise? Then his gaze focused, sharpened, landed on Beth.

Beth, lit up like a candle, the whole one side of her bathed in that intense orange light, making a shining, burnished gold halo of her hair. Of her, like some sorta statue, but alive. God, so alive, all flushed up to her forehead and down her neck,  lips red and glossy, glistening in that fiery light as brightly as the thin ring of blue left in her eyes.

“Beth.”

He needed to speak, to say something, but even her name caught in his throat now and wouldn’t budge. Needed to tell her—tell her something, anything. Couldn’t just kiss her like that and say nothing, but what did he say, what could he say, and his words vanished into the vortex of his thick head, his useless, short-circuit of a brain. You ain’t worth shit. Ain’t nothin’ good about you. He was going to fuck it all up if he couldn’t speak and if he could it would be all wrong anyway, ‘cause he didn’t know, and Beth. Beth.

Oh, God, Beth.

“Daryl.”

Both her palms pressed against his cheeks, and he only realized he had looked away when she dragged his face up to look at her.

“Daryl,” she said again, voice so soft yet it hooked right in to the back of his skull and pulled tight, until he couldn’t fall away from her again if he tried.

Her eyes hooked in, too, the blue intensity of them boring right into his. She wasn’t gonna let him shrink away. God, she knew he was trying, not because he wanted to but because his stupid ass head didn’t know what the fuck to do with this. But she wasn’t letting him go. Was gonna keep him right there with her.

Girl like that ain’t interested in no worthless redneck. Whatcha got to offer her anyway? Nothin’ she wants, ya sorry excuse for a—

“Daryl.”

His name again, and this time, finally, the word tossed the voices out of his head, thawed his frozen limbs, relit the flame in his belly burning so hot for her. He curled his fingers in her hair and into the skin of her back and watched her face as her parted lips formed a smile. What else was there to do but haul her in and taste that smile and let it spill over into him. Beth giggled against his lips and he swallowed it down until it filled his chest with its lightness, and he wanted to laugh, too, but he wanted to kiss her even more than that. So he let it linger, let the feeling build up as the kiss deepened, until he thought he might float away with Beth in his arms and her tongue in his mouth and he was a goddamn kiss-drunk fool but there were far, far worse things to be.

The sun was even higher when they dragged apart again, after an amount of time that passed in seconds and hours and days all at once. He was shaking again, a rolling tremble starting at the core of him and spreading out in little waves that only deepened when he looked at her. Beth’s eyes were opened so wide, wider than he thought he had ever seen them, and it was too much, everything simmering there. Too much to take when his own head was still trying to catch up, when a plague of voices, gone silent for a time now hovered again in the periphery, just waiting to inflict their particular brand of torment. Sensing that, maybe, ‘cause she could probably read him like a flashing billboard about now, Beth leaned forward and let her forehead rest against his again, both her hands sliding down to lay on his chest.

Daryl stroked her cheek with his thumb, let his fingers curl into her hair, into her scalp beneath, and Beth leaned into his palm with a little sigh. It trickled right through his nerves, covering over the buzzing edges of them and he let out a sigh of his own in the soothing aftermath.

Oh, he could get used to this.

After a long time of sitting there, motionless aside from their synced up breathing, Beth pressed her fingertips into his chest and brushed her nose across the tip of his. “We gotta go, Daryl.”

Sun was up. They’d lost some travel time, and he should care, he should, but the part of him that bothered with that sort of thing had taken a hike with the first glide of her tongue on his lips. Same time, though, she was right. They should go, now, use the day for travel like they must, no matter how much he ached to just stay right here and spend another hour or two getting lost in kissing her.

“Yeah,” he said, dragging the word up and out, reluctant and raspy. “Got a lotta ground to cover.”

She slipped away, sliding off him to stand over him a moment, casting him dark in the shadow of her legs before she stepped away. He watched her back as he stood, adjusted himself in his jeans while she was busy with her pack and crossbow. He’d gone to sleep hard, woken hard, no surprise kissing her made him harder still and he wondered that he had enough blood left in his brain to even think. In truth, both his spinning head and his aching cock were full of the same thing. Heart too, still pounding beneath his ribs like a heavy metal backbeat even though Beth was half way across the clearing.

No way and no desire to be away from her, but he knew he needed to pull back from these desperate edges he kept climbing toward, least while they travelled. Daryl took a moment to look out over the lightening landscape below them, to breathe and remind himself that the world was more than just Beth even if she was the most important goddamned thing in it.

His head spun, just a little harder, in the wake of that thought, but before he could let it rock him too hard, before the voices in his head could interject, Beth’s knuckles brushed the back of his hand. It pulled him back down, that little slide of skin on skin as she came to stand beside him, like last night but in reverse, and this time he was the one to turn his hand and twine their fingers together. She squeezed tight and he felt it in his chest, too, like her fingers, maybe all of her, wrapped around his heart.

Beth wore the tiniest of smiles when he looked down at her, but the sort of thing that lit up her whole face despite the subtlety of it. He let his shoulder bump into hers and her smile widened, and Daryl couldn’t keep the same stupid grin from sliding onto his face, too.

Yeah. A damn romance novel, all right. Fuck.

Beth lifted her arm to point out toward the first of a series of gaps in the otherwise solid expanse of trees. “Think we can make that clearing today?”  she asked, the wobble in her voice suggesting she was still just as stirred up inside as he was no matter how calm she looked on the outside.

Daryl had spent a relatively brief time yesterday considering that very thing, making for what looked like it might be farmland there at the edges of the road. They’d lost some time—not that he was willing to give it back—but they could, the two of them, cover that kind of distance in a day, if nothing happened to slow their progress.

To Beth, though, he gave a quick nod. “Mmhm. Whatcha thinkin’?”

Her smile changed, just a bit, and she squared her shoulders, standing a little taller even while still half leaning on him. She’d never say, but he knew what it meant to her, him asking her to lead them, deferring to her decision making as he was right now. Could see it in her eyes, that confidence, that spark of pride in herself. He’d do what he could to keep it there.

Beth took a deep breath and cast her gaze out into the distance again before sweeping back to catch his eyes. “I think it’s a farm.” She brought her arm up again to trace in the air the suggestion of fences and fields there in the distance. “Even if we don’t find any food or a workin’ vehicle, it might mean shelter for the night at least.”

There were other points to consider, since nothing these days was simple or easy or certain, but she was probably already thinking about some of that anyway. Most of this was about trusting her to get there on her own, to get used to thinking this way, relying on her own knowledge and trusting her own instincts. Like she done when she set out to find him, after the storm, and later with their daily hunting trips, he knew of no better way for her to hone her skills than to dive head first into it, to be the one making the calls for both of them. She was smart, Beth, and she was good. Not perfect, but just the right kinda naturally observant that she took to it fast and learned even faster, lapping up every drop of knowledge he had to give her, figuring a lotta shit out on her own, putting all of it to use like she’d been doing it her whole life.

“All right,” he said to her, glancing down at her again while she was still looking out over the terrain below. “Lead the way.”

He attempted, at first, to focus on the journey. To put his mind to descending the hillside once the sharp ridge gave way to a gentler slope, settle into the woods as he had done all his life, and leave the ledge and everything that happened there behind. Awareness of his surroundings wasn’t something Daryl could turn off, ingrained as it was in the fibre that made him, but his mind wasn’t on the woods, not the way it should be. They’d barely reached the bottom before he gave up any pretence of not letting his focus shift onto Beth Greene. Not, as he might’ve once tried to tell himself, just ‘cause she was leading the way.

Some ways it was a good thing, walking behind her. Following, able to watch her without her knowing it, admiring the lean grace of her, the purposeful sway of her hips and the curve of her ass in those tight as hell jeans. Taking in the strength of that lithe little frame that a person might miss if they didn’t know it was there. Hell, replaying every second of kissing her without having to worry about what his face was doing. No risk of spilling open and bleeding out everything there in front of her when he walked in her shadow.

Two days.

Two days since it hit him, since he came to understand what it meant to feel this way. To feel this way about Beth. Two days, but it might as well have been a lifetime with how deep the truth burned into him. How solid it stood alongside every single thing he knew. Not a new thing, after all, just a new understanding of something that had been coming on for a long time. Made it easier, the unwavering nature of it, to accept it. To let himself feel it, the ripples of it coursing pleasant through is veins. To be able to look at Beth and know that it was her, out of all the people in the world, before and after it went to hell, who caught his heart. Who dug her delicate fingers down into the depths of his fucking soul.

He couldn’t say why she would even want that blackened old thing, withered and rusted. Anemic. Atrophied from lack of use. Barely able to beat from being buried so long beneath the demons of his past and the ones of his own making. But it was hers all the same, whether she knew it or not; now that he’d given it away it wasn’t his to take back.

She said once that he was good to her. Once not so long ago yet it felt like years had passed since that morning in the cabin. He felt it then and felt it even more deeply now, the desperate, aching need to be the good she thought him capable of. Never be good enough, but maybe. Maybe if she—if she showed him how, he could be. He could be that for her.

That girl’d just as soon drive her knife through your thick head as a fuckin’ walker. ‘Bout as good to her dead as ya are alive, ya piece a shit…

Wasn’t true. On some level he knew that. On a lot of them, maybe, ‘cause for once in his life he wanted to argue with the voices rather than just letting them tear into him. As hard as it was to shake off the mental commentary, he’d gotten used to thinking without it somewhere along the way, before the demons of his past started poking holes in the box he’d buried them in. Now that familiar lead weight in the back of his head battled with the fluttering warmth in his chest that was all Beth’s doing, pulling him in opposing directions, stretching him apart inch by inch.

Beth, though. He swore she glowed, even outside the bits of sunlight starting to filter in through the tree cover. Walked on like her feet were made of clouds or something, light as air, breezy though he had no clue what that even meant. And every time she glanced over her shoulder to look at him, her eyes bright and her smile soft, his heart squeezed in his chest and the warmth in his belly deepened. He didn’t know how she did it but she made it look effortless, just existing as she always had despite the flurry of changes, and he wanted to reach out and borrow some of that for himself. Soothe his head and figure out how he was supposed to do this now that he knew how she tasted.

Daryl couldn’t go back to pretending any part of this was platonic and he didn’t think Beth could either. Wasn’t just about kissing her. Wasn’t about how he burned for her all the time, how she got him so hard without ever laying a hand on him. Wasn’t about Beth’s dream that was not a nightmare, how she’d called out his name before he woke her, or what she got up to in the woods after when she fled his arms in desperation.

Ya know she ain’t after your heart, ya pussy. Ain’t gonna want the rest of it either once she knows how useless it is. Dick’s limper than a dead catfish. Hell, catfish prolly knows what to do with a woman better than you do, Darylina.

Pain burst in his palms where he’d dug in his broken, bitten nails. No. Merle—Merle’s fucking ghost—was wrong.

He wanted her. Was a slow-starter of a revelation and he should’ve figured that out sooner, but it ain’t like he’d ever wanted anyone before—as Merle never tired of reminding him—not like this. Not ever like this. Even now he burned for her, a heat like a volcano boiling in his belly just waiting to erupt, and he wasn’t hard but it wouldn’t take much to get him there. And Beth, Christ. No maybes about what her desires were, not after last night.

But it wasn’t just physical, this thing between them. Not even by half, though he couldn’t really separate it out like that. There was overlap. Mixing. Emotional and physical and everything else all tossed into a blender on high. Daryl couldn’t trust his brain to tell him the truth, not with something so important as Beth Greene, not when old demons took particular pleasure in fucking with his head like this. But he could trust Beth.

He only needed reason to look for it, reason to want to see what was right there in front of him. To see her.

Reason hit him two days ago, when he finally got it through his idiot brain what it meant to feel this way. Sitting with Beth on the steps and lying wrapped up with her in bed, traveling through the day yesterday and looking back over the past weeks while he held her at the ledge—he saw. He knew. It was all there in her eyes whenever she looked at him. Shit, it was there in everything she did and every word she said.

I still have you, Daryl.

Didn’t make no sense, him and Beth, but he suspected this sorta thing never did.

The real Merle would’ve taunted him for it and never let up, this shit about feelings, damn romance novels and beating hearts. Merle’d never had a shortage of women in his life but Daryl knew his brother had never felt like this. ‘Cause if Merle had he’d’a known how good it was, falling for someone like Daryl had fallen for Beth and feeling all of it shining back at him from her big blue eyes. Warmth and fluttering and this thrilling sort of energy, zipping through him all the time, even with the quicksand he was stuck in right now. Daryl never knew he could be as caught up in another person as much as he was with Beth. Beth and her smile, her voice when she sang, her small hand in his, the fire in her eyes, and the strength in her heart. He just hoped she knew that it was both of them feeling this way. That she wasn’t alone in any part of it.

There was something there to reach for. He couldn’t quite make out the shape of it but it was there in the distance, and that’s where his certainty ended. Their lives were already one complicated knot, the two of them woven together out of necessity, somewhat, but he had enough brains, if not the experience, to know that a lot of that weaving happened because they wanted it to. A morning’s worth of kisses, as incredible as it was, was only one shining thread amongst many. They were standing on the cusp of something massive, only Daryl had no clue how to get there or where to start.

What was so easy before, actions taken on instinct, in the midst of emotions too powerful to control, now impossible when considered with intent. It felt like he toppled off the high of this morning’s kiss and landed at the bottom on the wrong side of a wall. He could see her. Could touch her if he reached for her. Knew where he wanted to be but he couldn’t coordinate his arms and his legs to get him there.

Daryl ploughed into Beth’s back, almost knocking her forward but she planted her feet and he caught her by the arms. So lost in his head, he hadn’t seen her stop, and he was about to question her on it when he saw the water. A meandering section of a small river swung out into their path, the same one Daryl had noticed from the ledge last night. Though the trees grew thick right up along its banks, he’d seen enough of these to recognize the pattern of the water woven into the canopy from above. Beth, clearly, hadn’t expected it.

As he moved to stand mostly beside her, Beth pressed her shoulder back into his and craned her neck around to look at him. “You know this was here?”

She gently tapped her fingers against the back of his hand, a little one-two-three-four count, repeating until it occurred to him what she wanted. He caught her fingers and held them, pulse racing a bit at the contact. And it was stupid but he couldn’t help it, with that or the little weight of breathlessness in his chest when he leaned close to her ear. “Mmhm. You’re slippin’, Greene. Shoulda picked that out last night.”

Daryl almost didn’t recognize his own voice. Hadn’t planned on saying any of those things, they just sorta rolled out, all full of grit.

Beth shivered in response and pressed her shoulder back a bit more, tipping her face up until her eyes found his and held.  “Mmm. Must’ve been distracted.”

That mighta been an understatement, if he ever heard one. Weren’t just her, though, distracted last night. Distracted right now. Weren’t just her at all.

Beth lingered there with him a few minutes before giving his hand a firm squeeze and stepping away to kneel down at the water’s edge. In the swift current she rinsed her hands, then splashed some of the chilly water on her face. Daryl got down beside her to do the same, cupped some into his hands and drank. When he lowered his hands, she was looking at him, waiting for their eyes to catch and the moment they did, she flashed him a small smile that set his heart fluttering like mad.

Then she flicked her hands, speckling his face with a little shower of cold river water. He gasped and she started laughing, getting in another shot before she was up and running away from his potential retaliation. All he could do, though, was watch the motion of her legs and ass as she ran, gaze up the grin on her face when she spun around to look for him, a faint pink tinge to her cheeks. He got to his feet as she trotted back, still giggling, not really breathless from the short sprint but breathing hard anyway. Lightness filled his chest, like laughter except it just stuck there and held instead of busting out, and he was sure with the way she grinned at him that all of that must be showing on his face.

He shook his head at himself, at how ridiculous he was being and how much he didn’t care. Oh, this woman.

Daryl,” she said, her tone teasing as she stepped up in front of him. “You were supposed to try to get me, too.”

The laugh did rumble out now, just a bit, and he couldn’t resist reaching out to tuck an errant curl of hair behind her ear. “Maybe I’m just waitin’ til you don’t expect it.”

Again, these words, coming out of some previously hidden corner of his brain, a part devoted to making Beth Greene blush, given the way her already pink cheeks darkened.  She curled her shoulders forward, lowering her head with her lip caught between her teeth. As quick as she did she looked back up at him, still flushed but grinning now, and she reached out to plant her finger square in the center of his chest.

“Oh, you’re on, Mr. Dixon.”

He didn’t think he could feel any warmer inside, but the heat rose anyway with the rasp of her voice and that goddamned Mr. Dixon. Beth’s grin hadn’t quit and he wanted to kiss it right off her face. Wanted to reach out and slide his hand into her hair and pull her in, taste the hint of squirrel on her tongue, feel the bite of her teeth in his lip and maybe try a nibble of hers. He held back, uncertain if he should. If he could. If this was something they did now that they’d done it once or if there was a procedure, a set of rules to follow and him, the clueless jerk who didn’t know.

What, I gotta fuckin’ show you what to do, baby brother? Christ, man, I sent her to ya on a goddamn platter…

That shard of memory spread a vein of ice through the warmth in his belly, stopped him from moving, and he wanted to say something but he choked on the words before they could even form, forced them down while his brain battled itself. But Beth just smiled, sweet and warm as she stepped forward to hug him, her arms sliding around and beneath his pack so her palms lay open over his wings. She nuzzled into his neck, the tip of her nose just grazing his raging pulse, and he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and just held on, already second guessing his second guessing. Trying to shove Merle back out of his head and keep Beth in it, Beth and the ledge and all of this...

“Daryl,” she whispered, pressing her nose in just a little bit. “I can hear you thinkin’.”

He sighed, the sound rattling out of him like one of their camp alarms. “You got no idea, girl.”

The breath of her answering laugh washed over his throat, warm, tickly. “I know it’s, like, your natural state to worry, Daryl. But don’t, okay?”

It shouldn’t surprise him anymore how well she could read him. Walking ahead of him for hours and she knew. She always fucking knew. He shifted his hand to cradle her cheek, thumb stroking across the warmest part of it as she pressed her face even deeper into his neck. “Beth.”

“Just don’t worry,” she said, lips moving against his skin.

Maybe they weren’t ready to talk about things yet. They hadn’t, not really at all. Still weren’t except they kinda were, in a way. He let her words, few as they were, seep inside him. Let them repeat on a loop in his head as Beth slipped out of his arms and gifted him with one of those soft but luminescent smiles. Told himself to listen to her, ‘cause if she told him not to worry, she meant it, and when she grabbed his face in her hands and leaned in to brush her lips across his he thought he just might manage it.

She didn’t linger. Didn’t deepen the kiss at all, just stroked his cheeks with her thumbs and smiled again as she stepped away. He couldn’t keep his eyes off her as they continued walking, first skirting the curve of the river before resuming their northward course. Couldn’t stop reaching for her whenever they stopped, that brush of knuckles she seemed to like, the press of his hand low on her back where maybe he might draw his fingertips across a strip of bare skin. Same as before, same as it had been except now that a morning of kissing lay between them it wasn’t the same at all. Christ, there was so much to think about he could barely keep track of all of it. Lines of thoughts like roads on a map, crossing and joining up, all leading back to that centre point, that gold star, that destination that was Beth.

He never did this before, been in anyway involved with a woman outside of half-hour windowsMerle’s goddamn platters and times he was just too out of it to say no. He endured those moments but never wanted them in the first place and would just as soon forget they even happened. That wasn’t Beth, none of that. Beth was a creature unto herself and she meant the fucking world to him—would, still, even if she wasn’t the only one in it anymore—and the only thing more frightening than that was the thought of getting this wrong and hurting her.  Ain’t like he had any stunning examples of this sorta thing to go by, never in his old life and not in this one, either, unless he counted Glenn and Maggie—and they were not Glenn and Maggie.

Beth looked back over her shoulder at him as she walked, just long enough that he caught the flash of her soft smile before she faced forward again.

Naw, they weren’t Glenn and Maggie. Weren’t anyone else but them, but they were something, him and Beth. They were definitely something, all on their own, without even trying.

Maybe—maybe this was one of those things that just needed to happen. Maybe that’s what Beth meant when she told him not to worry.

So he watched her. He reached for her. He thought he might drive himself clear round the bend with how completely insane he felt, trying to figure out his head. But he knew his heart, that broken, blackened old thing beating steadily back to life to the tune of her name, picking up the rhythm of her strides as she led them through the woods.

He’d follow her anywhere. Was pretty sure wherever she took them, it was right where he’d wanna be.


*~*
Dance with the devil inside of me
I'm longing for a second chance
And taste what seems to remind me
of all my skulls and skeletons


Linking again to my meta on Daryl’s sexuality, for those who haven’t read it or might want to, or maybe want to read it again.
The tl;dr here is Daryl is demisexual (though I don’t believe that’s a word he knows), meaning he doesn’t feel sexual attraction until he’s formed an emotional bond as he has here with Beth. He’s had sex before, mostly due to Merle’s meddling/pressure, but it’s not something he ever particularly enjoyed or wanted.


to be continued in chapter 22 >>

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