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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.
Warnings:  None this chapter.
Rating: Eventual M
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 How by Maroon 5.
All Chapters Here


Fall Right In
Chapter 4 - You Cut Out All the Noise


*~*

Eventually, although Beth dreaded facing the dreams again, her eyelids grew heavy and she struggled to keep them open. With that and the warmth of Daryl beside her, she kept drifting off, only noticing when her head lolled forward and she jerked awake. Each time, she bumped his shoulder with the back of her head, and after that had gone on for a while he let out a little rumbled laugh.

“Go to sleep, girl, before you fall on your face.”

His voice, low and rhythmic in the dark, was almost enough on its own to lull her to sleep. Her whole body craved it; she wasn’t used to the sleepless nights like Daryl was, like she suspected he had been long before world ended. But once she slept she knew she would dream, knew she couldn’t avoid them even after confessing her fears to Daryl over baked beans and pig’s feet.

Daryl tapped her leg lightly with his fist, just enough pressure to be purposeful before pulling it away. “Sleep. I’ll wake you up.”

Of course, he had her all figured out, the intuitive Mr. Dixon. She wasn’t the only one who suffered nightmares; alone with just the two of them out here, she couldn’t help but be aware of that. The terror was still there, throbbing in her chest no matter how much she tried to ignore it, but if he said he’d wake her, he would, she could count on it. So Beth curled up on her side on the ground, her back toward Daryl, using her pack as a makeshift pillow. She missed the warmth of having him right next to her, and wondered at that, what it meant, if it meant anything at all beyond the innate need for basic human contact. And with those thoughts tumbling around her tired mind, Beth quickly drifted off into a floaty, pre-sleep haze.

She and Daryl stood side by side at the edge of the clearing, watching the walkers below clawing at the bank, snarling up at them while they fought and failed to climb the steep, crumbly slope, fingers leaving deep furrows in the damp earth. Knowing they couldn’t make it up, Beth put her back to them and approached the headstone, staring at the words written there.

HERSHEL GREENE
Beloved Father

Daryl stepped forward to drape the loop of rotten bowel overtop of the granite, arranging it just so before returning to her side.

Beth reached out to take his hand. “Don’t you think that’s beautiful?”

His fingers tightened around hers and the walkers behind them snarled and wheezed but they couldn’t get up the bank, so they were safe.

But then Daryl’s grip on her hand tightened, fingers pressing hard until his fingernails pierced her skin. She tried to jerk away, but he wouldn’t let go, and thick, heavy fog rolled in around them. Out from between the headstones, which stood tall like a forest of stone trees, the walkers started coming. One of them picked up the fly-ridden loop of bowel and fastened it to his pants like a pair of suspenders, and when the walker looked up, milky dead eyes stared back at her from Daddy’s face, blood caught in his beard and dribbling down from the wound in his neck.

“Thanks, doodlebug,” the Daddy-walker said. “I’d forgotten where I left that.”

And then he came at her, snapping his teeth, snarling with hunger, beady eyes darting about in his pale, dead face. She tried to warn Daryl, but no sound came out, and she tried to run away but she couldn’t move.

But she knew what to do, and she raised her gun, shot the walker coming at her, but then there on the ground where the walker should’ve been was Daddy, blood pouring from his mouth, choking him as he struggled to breathe his last breath. And she screamed, screamed until her throat went raw but still couldn’t make a sound. She struggled to drop down at Daddy’s side to hold his hand while he died, but couldn’t fight past the shadow holding her motionless and stealing her voice.

So she drew her gun and fired blind, desperate to rid herself of the monster at her back.

They were in the clearing again, in the dark, when she spun around, smoking gun in her blood-soaked hand. Shafts of moonlight shone through the trees, illuminating the body of Daryl Dixon, dead in the dirt at her feet. She knew he was dead, could see the ground through the steaming hole in his head, already crawling with maggots. But still he spoke, said her name, over and over.

“Beth... Beth... Beth...”

Her eyes flew open, to a different dark clearing shot through with slivers of moonlight. A clearing where Daryl Dixon wasn’t dead on the ground, but instead shook her awake with a hand on her shoulder, his real life voice speaking her name to break into the dream. Beth turned onto her back, rolling into Daryl as she did but rather glad for the reminder of him, warm and solid and alive. She took in great, shuddery breaths of cool night air, hands pressed to her eyes to keep the tears at bay, willing away the sob ready to burst out of her chest.

It’s okay. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t real and you’re awake now. It’s okay. It’s okay. Daryl’s here. It’s okay.

Daryl brushed his fingers over the back of her hand, where she held them to her eyes. The touch felt hesitant, like he wasn’t sure he should, but Beth caught his fingers in hers before he could pull away, needing that contact suddenly more than she needed oxygen. And he let her, let her lace their fingers together and hold them to her chest until the threat of tears dried and she could breathe without her whole body shaking. When she released him to pull herself up, Daryl slid over to make room for her against their tree.

“Thanks,” she said, tipping her head back into the rough bark, hating the way her voice shook even in whisper. And she didn’t think that simple word adequate enough to express her gratitude for keeping his promise, either, for having her back in this as well as everything else, but it was all she had.


“Ain’t nothin’,” said Daryl, like he always did even when he knew damn well it was something. But that was Daryl, wasn’t it, never making things like that into a big deal, and maybe a simple thanks was more than enough.

Beth locked her trembling fingers together to try and still them, and tipped her head to look at Daryl, but the moonlight didn’t reach their spot under the tree and she could only make out a vague silhouette. “How long was I asleep?”

She felt Daryl’s shrug where their arms met, felt his eyes on her even though she couldn’t see. “Couple hours. You were okay for a while, then you weren’t.”

A shudder rumbled through her, flashes of the dream still lingering in her mind. Daddy choking on his own blood and she unable to move to get to his side. Daryl with a bullet hole through his head and she holding the gun. Beth clenched her fingers tighter. I think it was the worst one yet.”

“Mmhm. Hard to wake you up, that time.” Daryl paused and took an audible breath, and Beth could feel the barest hint of tension in his shoulder. “You, uh, you wanna talk about it?”

“No,” she said, because she didn’t, but him asking in the first place soothed away some of the lingering dread, like drawing a new quilt up over cold feet. But talking about it, letting the images in her mind come to life through her words, would only make it more real when she wanted to forget it. What she really needed was a distraction. “Tell me a story.”

He chuckled, a warm little sound she hadn’t quite heard before. “I look like a storyteller to you?”

But his voice was light, a teasing tone hiding in his usual gruffness. Beth leaned her head onto his shoulder, like she had before her disastrous attempt at sleeping, again feeling him shift to accommodate her slight intrusion. “Please, Daryl? Just... tell me anythin’. First story that comes to mind.”

He didn’t answer, but the silence didn’t have the air of tension she would’ve thought. Remnants of the lingering dream tried to draw her thoughts back down, but Beth focused her mind on the good things. She was alive, so was Daryl. They hadn’t been separated at the funeral home, and they hadn’t been bitten by walkers today. It wasn’t so cold out yet that they couldn’t sleep—or not sleep—under the stars without freezing. Her new boots had better ankle support, and they fit perfectly, too. It was a game she used to play in those months after the farm, before the prison, to keep from dwelling on all the losses. She hadn’t thought of it again before today, but she needed this. Needed to coax her mind away from the bad things, even for a little while. Not to forget them—because she couldn’t, not ever—but to remind herself that something else existed beyond death and loss and this world gone to hell.

When Daryl spoke, after a long period of silence, Beth had almost forgotten asking for a story. He used that same tone of voice as when he told her about Merle and the tweaker and what he really was before all of this. Something lighter and more fluid than his usual clipped sentences and grunts, even though his words had hardly painted a pleasant picture.

“This one time, I was just a kid, maybe twelve or thirteen, you know, when you think nobody knows shit about nothin’ ‘cept you?”

“I remember,” Beth said, smiling in the dark as she recalled many times sassing her mother over makeup or clothing or wanting to do something she’d been denied permission for, and how anyone that old couldn’t possibly have understood how hard it was to be thirteen. “I was terrible."

Daryl snorted, but didn’t comment on what he thought about that particular idea. “Merle was long gone by then, and mom. My dad—he was gone in a different way, I guess. Had no food in the house, not for days. Tried huntin’ but couldn’t even bag a squirrel. So I just started walking.”

He paused there, and while Beth couldn’t help but feel awful about the conditions of Daryl’s childhood, he didn’t want her pity and she wouldn’t offer it. So instead she took the bait he intended and asked, “Where did you go?”

Again, she felt rather than saw him shrug before he continued speaking. “Just walkin’. Found a couple bucks somewhere, not much, enough for a plate of fries at the diner down by the highway. And I was hungry, ain’t really eaten in days, so I go inside—just some dirty ass kid from up in the woods.”

Beth tried to picture Daryl at that age, building the vision using Carl as a reference. But each time she tried, she kept picturing the Daryl she knew now, all dirt and leather, watchful eyes and guarded expressions, only in miniature. Yet the image matched what Daryl seemed to be telling her, that he didn’t fit there.

“So the waitress takes one look at me and her eyes go all wide, like she can’t decide whether to shoo me out or give me a bath,” he continued, more or less confirming Beth’s suspicions. He didn’t seem bothered by it now, almost sounded amused, but Beth wondered if he’d felt differently about it then. “But she lets me in, hides me in a little booth over by the kitchen.

“I say I want fries, and the waitress, she crosses her arms and raises her eyebrows like she’s waitin’ for something, but I’m half starved and impatient so I lean up on the table and yell loud enough that the whole diner turns to look, ‘I said, I want fries, woman!’”

That was bad, but Beth couldn’t help the giggle that tumbled out of her. She quickly covered her mouth to muffle the sound until it passed. “You didn’t!”

“I did,” Daryl said, clearing his throat a little.

When he didn’t go on, Beth tapped his foot with hers in encouragement. “Well, what happened?”

Daryl cleared his throat again, and when he spoke Beth could almost hear the hint of a smile on his face. “Fry cook himself comes charging out from the back, tells me to apologize to the lady or the only thing gonna get fried is my redneck ass. So I slide outta the booth, stand there like I’m tough shit, right, this scrawny little kid next to a guy the size of Tyreese, puffin’ my chest out and all, and I say, ‘I ain’t sorry for nothin’, and I want my goddamn fries.’”

“Oh, Daryl…” Beth brought her hand up to cover her mouth again, partly horrified, partly amused. “You really said that? Weren’t you scared?”

Daryl huffed quietly, and she felt the brush of his chin against her hair as he leaned over to whisper, “Terrified.”

Ignoring, for now, the sudden closeness of him and the weird, breathless feeling in her chest, Beth asked, “Then why?”

Daryl shifted back away from her, until they were again sitting as they had been much of the evening, now, Beth’s head tipped against the curve of his shoulder, her arm tucked in just behind his, separating where their elbows bent away from each other. Beth didn’t try to read into it too closely—after her emotional day, the bit of physical contact was a comfort and maybe it was to Daryl, too, even if she’d known him to be the type of man to avoid being touched. He was different, though, one on one, when you got to know him. He’d been part of her life, her family for a long time now, technically, and yet it felt as though she hadn’t truly met Daryl Dixon until the night they got drunk together on moonshine and burnt the shack to the ground before running off into the night like a pair of wild things.

What he said next, not in the lighter tone Beth had decided to call his storytelling voice, but the gruff whisper he used more often, caused a little pang of sadness to pulse in her chest, both for the boy he used to be, alone and threatened all because he was hungry, and the man he was now who had all that to look back on.

“Learnt by then I had to get in the first blow, I guess.”

Beth had suspected, from what little she knew of Daryl’s father, that he wasn’t a good man, and as vague as Daryl’s admission was, it still sent a shard of ice through her chest at the thought of any man hurting his own child. She didn’t say anything, because she didn’t know the right words, or if there even were any. So she reached over instead and wrapped her fingers around his arm, just below where her head rested, letting them linger there while Daryl took deep breaths in the dark.

After a minute, Daryl hummed and seemed to sit up a little straighter, and Beth let her hand fall away.

“But that’s not the story,” he said, his tone light again. “Just the background.”

“I knew it!” Beth poked him in the side with her finger before she could stop herself, barely suppressing her laughter when he twitched beside her. “You are a storyteller!”

“Careful, Greene,” he said, pushing her invading finger away but not before giving it a little squeeze first. “Gonna give me a reputation, talkin’ like that.”

Storyteller,” Beth whispered, a fluttery mixture of excitement and bravery flooding her veins.

Daryl’s warm chuckle washed over her and time seemed to slow around them, there alone in the forest, teasing words between them despite the weight of their situation, of the world. The air held a surreal quality to it, suddenly, thick and dreamlike though she knew she was awake. As quickly as the sensation arose, it faded into the background, but Beth could feel it there, softly pulsing away in time to the beating of her own heart.

If Daryl noticed, he didn’t let it show in his voice. “So after that, I’m thrown outta there on my ass—”

“With no fries.”

“Not even one,” he said. “And now I’m hungry and mad, so I go out back, thinking there might be something in the trash to either eat or throw at the windows, when I hear somethin’ rustling between the cans.”

“Oh, God,” Beth said, choosing to ignore the thought of little Daryl going dumpster diving for food. “I know it couldn’t be, but for a second I was expecting it to be a walker. How sad is that?”

“Nah, no walker. Good job bein’ prepared though,” he said, and nudged her boot with his. “Was a dog. Just a pup, licking the grease off some of that chequered paper they serve the fries on.”

“Aww!” Beth pictured a little hound dog, all long legs and big ears, and at the same time remembered another dog, the one from the funeral home they hadn’t been able to save. “Poor thing must’ve been as hungry as you were.”

“Mmhm. He sees me and growls, too, like I’m gonna steal his paper stash,” said Daryl. “So I find some scraps in the bin and call him over.”

“Did he come to you?”

“Yeah, he did. Waggin’ his tail so hard he wagged his whole body, too.” Daryl’s voice held a note of excitement at the memory and Beth felt herself smiling in response. There was definitely something about Daryl Dixon and dogs.

“Did you get to keep him?”

“Nah, didn’t try. Knew my dad wouldn’t want no dog around.”

He didn’t say, but Beth could almost hear the unspoken companion to that sentence—any more than he wanted me around.

So what’d you do?” she asked, hoping to steer him away from those types of thoughts. “You wouldn’t just leave him there.”

Beside her, Daryl let out an amused little huff. “Wouldn’t I?”

And though he couldn’t really see her in the dark, Beth tipped her head to look over at him, narrowing her eyes. “Daryl Dixon, you don’t fool me.”

She couldn’t see him, either, could only sense the movement as Daryl turned his head to look back at her before speaking, his words like breath on her face. “Even if I tried.”

But before Beth could wonder what that meant, he turned away from her and continued, picking up the storytelling tone again as easily as he slipped on is winged leather vest.  “I packed that pup all through town, knockin’ on doors asking if anyone’s missing a dog.”

That didn’t surprise her in the least, but she stopped herself from saying so, not wanting to start a debate with Daryl about what sort of person he was. She knew how he thought of himself, knew it even better since his breakdown and then their talk on the porch the night of the moonshine, and the last thing she wanted was to cause him discomfort when he was only telling the story because she asked. But him trying to find the owner of the dog was just so much like how he’d been when he first came to the farm, searching for that little girl he didn’t know was already gone.

So instead she simply asked, “And did you find them?”

“Mmhm,” he said. “Real nice lookin’ lady, with two li’l girls. Tidy white house and one of them white picket fences. Thought she was gonna just shut the door in my face. Instead she watches her girls lovin’ on that dog, and asks if I’m hungry, would I like some supper.”

Beth smiled. “Did you remember your manners that time?”

“Hell if I was gonna screw that up.” Daryl snorted softly again and pressed his elbow back into hers. “I said, ‘yes ma’am, please and thank you.’ Was damn good food, too.”

Beth laughed, this time letting her soft giggle out into the darkness between them. “Reminds me about that old saying, you know? How you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

Daryl grunted something non-committal under his breath, but Beth got the feeling he knew what she meant, even though he hadn’t told her the story to inspire some tired old cliché. She suspected—and knew he’d deny it if she tried to call him on it—that Daryl picked this story because he wanted her to remember about the good people, the ones she had somehow managed to convince him still existed. That the good people who survived were like the kind of good people who showed kindness to lost little boys who barely knew what kindness felt like. And though he never would, not out loud, not since he knew she understood without him needing to, Beth could practically hear him saying it in his low, gruff voice.

You were right, Beth. There still are good people.

That last thought settled heavily in her belly, but Beth tried not to consider it too deeply tonight. After what happened, after she’d had to kill that man, Beth didn’t feel particularly good, but Daryl’s words, both real and imagined, echoed back to her again. She truly hadn’t been given any other choice, she knew that, but knowing it and feeling it in her heart were two different things.

Chewing on her lip, Beth remembered Daryl’s whispers from before she fell asleep, let the sound of his voice in her mind settle over her doubts like a blanket—not destroying them completely, but covering them up for a while.

You’re good, Beth.

Daryl thought so, and if what she saw in his eyes back in the kitchen was true, he knew it in his heart too, in some way maybe he didn’t even understand. That counted for a lot, and made her feel a little dizzy when she thought too long on it. So maybe, maybe someday she might believe it, too. As for her heart, well…

Beth glanced over at Daryl, just visible now as the night began to wane, unsurprised to find him looking back at her. And she decided, right there, to forget the bad things for just a little while longer, at least until the sun came up. The dream’s details were all but gone, leaving behind the sense of unease a particularly troubling nightmare inspired. But she could put it away. After all he’d done for her today, he deserved at least that much from her. So she laid her head back on his shoulder, letting her eyes drift shut, hearing his voice in her mind keep her demons at bay, imagining the light press of his cheek on her hair as the day dawned around them.
*~*

End notes:

I think it might be super narcissistic of me to have a paragraph I wrote for this story inspire me to write a totally different one, however that’s totally what happened and it resulted in one of my favourite things I’ve ever written.

...it felt as though she hadn’t truly met Daryl Dixon until the night they got drunk together on moonshine and burnt the shack to the ground before running off into the night like a pair of wild things.

This line was the thing which inspired my Bethyl one-shot, Wild Things, which can be found here for anyone who hasn’t read it and might want to.

to be continued in chapter 5 >>

Comments

( 2 have spoken — take the speaking stick )
slaymesoftly
Feb. 27th, 2015 01:57 pm (UTC)
Okay, so I know nothing about The Walking Dead (except having recently seen a picture of Daryl and... yum) but I feel like I know these two characters now. Well done. You captured the scene beautifully - put me right there in it.
abelina
Feb. 28th, 2015 06:52 am (UTC)
Ah yes, my friend and I on facebook were sending each other random Daryls/Normans because yes, yes he's nice to look at (good arms and oh, the smouldering eyes)

Anyway, I think it's awesome that you decided to read this even knowing nothing about the show or the characters! Thanks for that, and for those nice things you said.

Edited at 2015-02-28 06:53 am (UTC)
( 2 have spoken — take the speaking stick )

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