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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: Adult language
Rating: 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 While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison.

All Chapters Here

Fall Right In
Chapter 9 – I Look at the World and I Notice it’s Turning
*~*
The first thing Beth noticed when she slipped gradually into consciousness was the way her pillow was moving, rising and falling like waves beneath her head. The second thing she noticed—remembered, really, when last night’s events flooded back in—was that her pillow was Daryl. The third thing she noticed, and this was probably the most important one, was that her Daryl-pillow was still asleep.

She couldn't quite see him from this angle, not properly in the dark of the cabin and not without moving enough to possibly wake him. What she could see, mouth relaxed around soft, breathy snores, the lines beneath his eye softened, made her hope he could stay asleep for a while longer. He got so little as it was.
It was also entirely possible she wasn't quite ready to give up the morning snuggle, and since they’d fallen asleep this way maybe she could let herself indulge in it this time, just a little. Beth expected Daryl to retreat the moment he woke up and she just wanted to cling a bit longer to the warmth of him, the unexpected comfort in the weight of his arm curled around her, in the spread of his hand over her shoulder and the steady beating of his heart beneath her cheek.

She’d asked a lot of him last night and waking to find him still sleeping surprised her, made her stomach flip a little that he was sleeping at all. Somewhere in the haze of her nightmare-fuelled panic Beth remembered the way he had gone still and breathless for a beat before wrapping her up and letting her hold on. Remembered the thunder of his heart when she laid her head on his chest. But he still let her, still tried. More than tried. Like he had with so many things since she met him, a thousand years ago now on the farm, Daryl just got it done. He saw what she needed and gave that to her at his own expense, and that stirred something deep and weighty inside her.

Daryl had walls around himself so thick in places that even he couldn’t always see what lay beneath, and that was never more true to her than whenever she tried to let him know that she saw the kind of man he really was. He didn’t believe it. Even when he put someone else’s needs above his own, in Daryl's mind he was just doing what needed doing and didn’t think that made him worth the praise for it. But Beth knew, beneath the gruffness, the sarcasm, the shield of anger he tossed up whenever he couldn’t handle his own feelings, lay a man with a heart every bit as caring, a soul every bit as gentle, as the late Hershel Greene. A little rougher around the edges. A great deal more broken, maybe, though Daddy had his own demons, too. Beth wasn’t always right about things, but she was surer about Daryl than anything else in this stupid world, and that was not a conclusion drawn lightly.

Any sort of comparison between Daryl and Daddy ended there for numerous reasons, not the least of which was the way the scent of him, soapy and male with a lingering trace of dirt, made her want to bury her face in his chest and just sniff. But she fought that urge, unsure where it was coming from, certain it wasn't something she should be even considering entertaining. Maybe snuggling Daryl Dixon was a bad idea after all, no matter how warm and comfy he turned out to be. Probably because of that.

Only a little time passed before Daryl did wake, and unlike Beth’s gradual slide into consciousness, Daryl’s body went from relaxed to full tension in a matter of seconds, his heart now pounding beneath her head almost as quickly as her own. Beth braced herself for whatever reaction he was working up to, but he just took in a deep breath, followed by another, and some of the tension eased out of him. He didn’t move except to tip his face toward her, and Beth lifted her head from his chest so she could see him properly.

Daryl said nothing, though his eyes seemed to search hers for a long moment before his lips curled up on the one side in a smile so subtle she’d have missed it, if she didn’t know what to look for. He lifted his free hand to trail his fingers over her arm where it lay across his chest, a little tingling path from elbow to wrist, before getting up and out of the bed. He didn’t run, he didn’t scurry across the cabin like a frightened animal, just stood by the chest stretching and spending a couple of quiet minutes studying their handmade bolts. Beth moved to sit at the edge of the bed and waited, giving him time to take whatever space he needed.

As she slipped on her socks and laced up her boots she took note of Daryl’s bare feet and pale ankles showing below the too-short sweats he had on. His boots sat over by his pile of filthy clothes and the water pail across the room, clean socks and long-sleeved flannel still draped over the counter. He must have barely got finished over there before he had to rescue her yet again from her stupid subconscious.

Daryl turned around to look at her, and Beth realized she had made some sort of noise to go along with that last thought. She shrugged and flicked her eyes in the direction of Daryl’s boots. “Just, what great timing I have.”

She didn’t wait to see Daryl’s reaction and instead reached out and grabbed a bolt of her own to study. The nightmare hovered in the dark corners of her memory and Beth tried to shove away the coil of dread winding in her stomach, but it crept in away, wiping out all traces of the warmth lingering from Daryl. She couldn’t keep doing this, but how did she fend off a monster that only lived in her head? Images of Daryl’s dead face, of his live one pleading with her even as she pulled the trigger, were almost more vivid in her mind than the faded black blur of his legs moving closer in her peripheral vision. The bed dipped a little as he sat down beside her. Beth didn’t look up at him, but she felt his eyes on her anyway, as tangibly as if he was touching her face with his fingers.

“Did a good job on these,” he said, reaching over to slide a finger along the bolt’s shaft. “Maybe we can try ‘em out later.”

He was trying to distract her, but knowing that didn’t make it any less welcomed, and Beth held on to the glimmer of excitement at the prospect of more crossbow practice. She did turn to look at him then, meeting his eyes which lately always seemed on the verge of searching for her. “What do you have to do today?”

“Need more firewood,” he said, with a little shrug of his shoulders. “Should hunt. Check the snares. Maybe see what’s left in the garden.”

“I can help with the garden, too.” Beth nodded slowly, thinking. “If I wash our clothes this morning they’ll have all day to dry and I can do the mendin’ by candlelight if I have to.”

“I’ll chop the firewood while you’re outside.” Daryl paused, fiddling with a loose string on the quilt. “Uh, ’less you need help with the washing?”

It was sweet of him to ask, really, and she knew Daryl wasn’t above a bit of clothes scrubbing, but she shook her head no. “I got it. I could chop wood, too, you know.”

Daryl’s gaze drifted to her arms and a little smirk slipped onto his face. “Way you cock that crossbow? Betcha could, farm girl.”

Beth felt the flare of warmth in her cheeks even before Daryl’s eyes caught hers again, and by that time she knew she was blushing good and hard at the unexpected compliment. She ducked her head and beside her, Daryl chuckled.

“C’mon,” he said, nudging her with his elbow. “Let’s eat ‘n get to work.”

After they finished off the rest of last night’s possum stew—which wasn’t nearly as good as rabbit—Beth gathered up the few dishes they’d used so she could wash them, too, piling them into the small washtub she found beneath the counter. The cabin had no plumbing at all. No well, either, just the metal pail and the nearby creek to fill it in. It was funny what a little perspective could do. A few years ago Beth would have found the whole setup primitive and annoying. Now she was just happy to have a creek and a pail.

She scooped up their clothes and dumped them into the tub on top of the dishes, startled by the stench of them. Objectively she knew they smelled, particularly hers, as crusted with filth as they were, but back to that perspective thing. She hadn’t even noticed until she got right up close after being away from it. Even teasing Daryl last night had been mostly just in fun—though her belly felt a little warm again as he paused beside her to don the socks and flannel she’d picked for him and she caught a hint of that soapy clean man-smell he was sporting this morning. It lingered in her senses after he slipped his arms into his winged vest, tugged his boots on and walked toward the front of the cabin.

“Take your crossbow with you,” Daryl said, as she grabbed the soap off the counter and brought everything over toward the door. He already had his bow over his shoulder, and he lifted the axe down from its hanging place on the front wall. “Get used to keepin’ it cocked and loaded and in arm’s reach.”

Beth set the washtub on the bed to reach her crossbow down from the wall above where she hung it last night, and turned around to face Daryl, who now stood just behind her. “Is that today’s first lesson?”

“Mmhm.” He tipped his chin up at her, eyes focused and narrowed. “Ain’t gonna cock itself, girl.”

Beth’s pulse kicked up a notch as the sound of Daryl’s voice, on the more gravelly end of the Daryl-voice-spectrum this morning, and she was grateful for the task at hand so she could avoid meeting his eyes and giving away her entirely inappropriate response to an innocent statement. Her ankle ached with the extra weight she put on it to cock the bow, but already after two days of light use it was feeling a lot better—not healed, but better. She loaded it with one of the bolts already in the quiver, but tossed a couple of her own bolts into the washtub, the few she had the broadheads screwed into, just because she figured she could.

“Good,” said Daryl, and Beth looked back up at him, pleased with the little smile on his face.

The sun had only just risen, and the yard remained shaded by the tall trees all around it. Chilly air licked at her skin but it wasn’t uncomfortable, more invigorating than anything after the closed-in warmth of the cabin. Beth navigated the stairs slowly but on her own this time, carrying the full washtub down, able to put enough weight through her ankle not to lose her balance. The path down to the water was a bit trickier, just a steep and crumbly dirt slope, and Beth let Daryl help with the tub only to avoid having to slide down on her butt.

“Got it?” he asked, passing the washtub down from the ledge.

Beth tightened her fingers around the handles, brushing against Daryl’s as she did. Their eyes met and neither of them moved, and a surreal sort of light-headedness washed over her, breaking like a sudden wave against an unsuspecting shore. She didn’t understand it but she couldn’t tear herself away, neither could Daryl, and as the moment ticked on, the air around her pressed in, thick and thrumming with an energy she couldn’t define, giving warmth to a morning that had yet to find its own.

After what felt like minutes but was probably only seconds, Beth pulled in a deep breath and gently tugged the tub from Daryl’s grasp. The roar in her ears faded to a hum. Daryl blinked and swallowed and let go, stood up but didn’t look away as she mumbled her thanks.

“I—” Beth cleared her throat, settled the washtub at her hip. “I’ll just get to this, then…”

A noise like tires on a gravel road rumbled in the back of Daryl’s throat and his eyes flicked away, toward the axe resting on the ground at his feet. He lifted it as he mumbled something about firewood and took half a step toward turning away, but before he left he looked back down at her, eyes hard and serious and something else she couldn’t put a name to. “Keep your eyes open, a’right?”

Beth nodded, forcing a smile onto her face since all her mouth wanted to do was just sit there dumbly. “All right.”

Heart beating rapidly in her chest, Beth turned away from Daryl to walk to the water’s edge. Her fingers shook and her head swam lazily through the thick morning air, too cool to have allowed the sweat to break out at the back of her neck. The chill of the water on her hands helped, more than it ought to, and as Beth filled the washtub to let the clothing soak, she focused on the bite of it. Nothing about what happened at the ledge made sense. Why in the world was her pulse still racing?

And when, exactly, had Daryl Dixon started looking at her like that?

She couldn’t describe the look itself, just what she felt whenever it happened—a heat like warm honey in her belly, a tingle across her scalp like gentle fingers combing through her hair, a swarm of thousands of tiny butterflies taking up residence in her chest, stirring her up inside until she couldn’t tell the beating of their wings apart from the beating of her own heart. It hadn’t begun in the kitchen, even though that was her first awareness of it. Daryl took his time with things and the conversation he tried to have before it all went to hell was something he’d been working up to for a while. Sure as anything that look had been following her that whole time even though she hadn’t noticed until that moment.

Good Lord, that man had barely been able to keep his eyes off her yesterday, sometimes just looking but lots of times wearing that look and not even turning away when she caught him at it. She didn’t know how he could possibly not have heard her heart thundering in response, so loudly it drowned out every other noise around her. Beth didn’t know what it meant, exactly, just that it meant something, something she suspected Daryl himself was still trying to figure out. Did he even know, though, how he looked at her—eyes full of a thousand things he couldn’t say and she couldn’t understand? Would he let her see him if he did?

The dishes—just two bowls, two forks, a couple of knives and the cast iron pot—took very little time to clean. Beth laid them out to dry in the patches of sun on the rocky creek bank and prepared to take on the clothing. She sat down cross-legged at the edge of the water, in front of a nice flat rock that looked good for scrubbing on since she hadn’t found a washboard with the washtub, and pulled out the first item—one of Daryl’s socks. It would be something of his, naturally, when her thoughts were full enough of him already.

Because it wasn’t just Daryl looking at her with loaded eyes that had her mind spinning. There was that other thing, the little spark blooming in her chest with Daryl’s name written all over it, bringing all her observations into question. It was just a glimmer, something she knew she was better off ignoring, but what if it was making her read something into Daryl’s look that didn’t truly exist? Except—she had eyes and she wasn’t blind, and part of her understood she’d have to be to miss whatever Daryl was throwing out there for the world to see.

Still. She felt balanced precariously on the edge of a knife, with these feelings in her chest. The ones which beat with gratitude for all he’d done for her, for the way he cared what happened to her, for the way he just cared. And then this other thing, separate from everything else, its own little entity pulsing away. She cared about the man beneath that armour, the Daryl she’d come to know in their time alone, beyond the way she had before. Cared what happened to him, and not out of gratitude. That much she was sure of, at least—that whatever this was, it wasn’t just being thankful. It wasn’t just being glad she wasn’t on her own.

Beth laid the sock down on the rocks and pulled out the next item—her bra—and started gently working the dingy pink fabric, all torn lace and bloodstains. Her pulse raced on and her muscles felt electrified, poised to jump and run, the sort of adrenaline-laced feeling she wasn’t as unfamiliar with as she tried to tell herself.

Who do you think you’re fooling, Bethy Greene?

Daddy’s voice would be in her head the moment she pulled Daryl’s underwear out of the pile, a pair of threadbare boxer shorts almost more holes than they were fabric, so faded she couldn’t tell what colour they used to be. Beth shrugged and started scrubbing. At the end of the world, what was a pair of underwear between friends?

Friends. That word seemed better suited for the old life. Nowadays people fell into two distinct groups—family and strangers. If a person was lucky, your family were people you liked. She liked Daryl, in several different contexts of that word. The one in question, well, she could try snuffing it out now or she could run with it, but chances were it was going to take her over anyway. She wanted to give in—feeling that way about someone felt good—but wasn’t all that certain it was the smartest thing to do. No matter what Daryl’s eyes were or were not telling her, that path was doomed before it began, and the last thing she needed was the distraction of some damned schoolgirl crush keeping her from being firmly rooted in the reality of here and now.

Beth kept scrubbing clothes and letting her thoughts wander, though they didn’t wander far, listening to the thunk – thunk – thunk of Daryl chopping wood somewhere behind her. A steady streak of dark red, a mix walker blood and general filth, travelled downstream from her washing place. As the items got dirtier, Beth had to get on her knees to have the leverage to scrub hard enough, using some of the coarse sand mixed in with the soapsuds. Daryl’s jeans changed colour completely by the time she finished with them and she added two more holes for her to patch later. Her own jeans seemed doomed to a permanent tinge of rusty pink on top of the pale denim. By the time everything was as clean as it was going to get without a washing machine, Beth’s hands were half frozen and her knuckles abraded from the sand and scrubbing against the rock.

She washed out the tub last, ridding it of the dirty water and clinging bits of filth, then got to her feet, rolling her sore ankle through the air to loosen the joint a little before taking her weight on it. All the wet clothes got wrung out and tossed back into the clean washtub, and Beth was just about to stack the dishes on top when a flash of motion upstream caught her attention.

A pair of walkers—no, three of them—ambled along the bank, stumbling over the loose rocks as they moved in her general direction, about thirty yards away. They hadn’t seen her yet, and Beth reached for her crossbow, keeping her movements subtle and fluid. Moving targets were different from trees, but they were far enough away to give her time and she already had her first bolt loaded and ready. Taking a breath, Beth raised her bow and sighted on the first walker along the scope mount, like Daryl taught her with his crossbow. The walkers weren’t moving quickly. She could do this.

Beth took her deep breaths until her arms were steady, adjusting her aim to the motions of the walker, finger resting on the trigger. One. Two. Three.

Her bolt went wide, sinking in halfway through the shoulder of the walker behind the one she tried to hit.

“Damn.” Beth set her foot into the stirrup, unrolled the rope-cocker, set the hooks on and stood up as she pulled until she heard the click and felt the string lock into place. She loaded another bolt, and surveyed her targets.

Luckily, the first shot hadn’t alarmed the trio and they still staggered unhurriedly on. Beth repeated her steps and watched the walker again, how it swayed. Last time she aimed for where she thought it would be, only to have it swing back by the time her bolt hit. Maybe this time if she reversed her strategy—

The second bolt missed, too, but only just. The target walker had a fresh ooze of dark, dead blood across the side of its head. Beth cocked her bow and loaded another bolt, and again took aim.

Her bolt lodged in just below the walker’s eye, but deep enough that it fell to the bank with a dull thud and a clunk of rock on rock. The walker behind it, the one whose shoulder still held her first bolt, stumbled over the fallen corpse, landing face first onto the rocks, high-centered over the body of the other and struggling a bit to get up, giving Beth some extra time. She cocked and reloaded her crossbow and lined up her next shot on the third walker, by now a lot closer than the first when it fell. It saw her, made to lumber forward to get her, but that only straightened out its trajectory and her bolt went through its left eye.

In the meantime the fallen walker had gotten to its feet and had seen her, too, and Beth set her crossbow down, not confident she had enough time to cock and load it and take aim before the walker reached her. She drew her knife and backed up a few paces, to a flat spot with surer footing, adjusting her stance and letting the walker come to her, hissing and snapping its teeth. Up close, this one was long decayed, its flesh drooping and falling off its bony frame, gender uncertain beneath the ragged scraps of cloth clinging to its shoulders and hips. And even though her heart was pounding with adrenaline, it was nothing, even with her sore ankle, to knock it down with a solid kick and plunge her knife through its skull.

She pulled her knife free just as Daryl jumped down off the ledge, crossbow in hand as he scanned the bank for more walkers.

A grin broke out on her face, wide and uncontrollable, and she turned to face Daryl, wiping her knife on the dishrag still tucked into her belt. “Did you see—?”

She stopped short, the smile falling away at the look on Daryl’s face, his mouth set into a tight line, eyes blazing and angry as he stalked toward her. “The fuck didn’t you call me?”

The back of Beth’s neck went prickly hot, and she shoved her knife into its sheath. She swallowed hard and stood facing him square on, hands moving to her hips before she even meant them to. “I handled it, Daryl.”

“Yeah?” He reached down and wrenched her first bolt free of the walker at her feet, using it to punctuate his words. “Let it get this close and you call that handling it?”

“It was—” No. Beth slammed her mouth shut around the explanation that wanted to spring out of her. She didn’t need to explain anything. Daryl wasn’t stupid. If he wanted to know what happened all he had to do was look. “It’s dead, isn’t it?”

“Damn it, Beth.” Daryl tossed the bolt on the ground and took half a step back before stepping forward again. “You shoulda called—”

Beth stopped listening, and the prickly hot feeling squeezed at her forehead and pounded in her ears. The sigh she let out sounded and felt like a growl, and she dug her fingers into her hips as her jaw went stiff. “Yeah, and what, Daryl? Make noise so they noticed me? Yelled for you ‘til a herd of them came out of the woods? I had it under control!

Daryl lurched forward, one arm held awkwardly beside him as the other made a pointed finger. “And when your ankle gives out? What then, huh? What the fuck then, Beth? Shoulda fuckin’ asked for help.”

Help? You wanna help?” Beth’s breath left her in a shaking rush, her whole body hot and spiny and vibrating, she was just. So. Angry.

How dare he, as if she couldn’t—as if she was still just another useless, helpless, dead girl and she wasn’t. She just was not and Daryl was supposed to know that. She handled it, handled it just fine and he couldn’t even bother to notice. Hot tears pricked at her eyes, blurring her vision as she glared through it at Daryl and his stupid face. Her fingers shook as she reached for the laundry tub, as they closed around the first wet thing she found.

Here.” Her voice broke as the word left her lips, but she didn’t care. The soggy shirt hit Daryl in the chest and he stumbled back a step, glaring at her from behind his hair. “You wanna help, you can help with the damn laundry.”

“Beth—”

“No!” The word tore through the lump in her throat, burning on its way out but she didn’t care about that either, and she reached back into the tub for something else. “You don’t get—” the sock hit him in the chest and fell to the ground “—to decide—” her sweater struck his stomach “—when I need—” and his jeans hit his knees and landed in a pile at his feet “—help!”

Beth’s ankle buckled, just like he said it would, and she swore at herself and bit down on her lip to keep from crying out at the jolt of pain lancing through the joint. Daryl stood there, breathing hard, not saying a word, and Beth wanted to shout at him, wanted him to shout at her so she could hold onto the heat of her anger, but it faded rapidly, settling into something cold and heavy like hurt in her belly. Daryl’s eyes had lost their hard edge and he was just looking at her, that look, and she wanted to wipe it right off his face. She threw the bundled piece of damp fabric in her hands and watched it wrap around his head.

Her bra. One cup covering Daryl’s right eye and the other over the lower part of his face, a strap hooked around his left ear and the other tangled in his hair. She couldn’t help it, the bubble of laughter erupted out of nowhere, and she was still angry, still hurt, but that was her bra on Daryl Dixon’s head, and oh Lord.

Daryl hooked a finger through the strap at his ear and lifted it from his face, eyes flicking over it first before settling back on her, lip quirking up just a little as though he wasn’t sure he was allowed to smile. But the anger was gone, mostly, and the way he stood holding her bra on one finger stirred an odd mixture of humour and heat in her belly. The hurt still stewed there, though, enough that she couldn’t ignore it.

Beth sighed, and opened her mouth to speak, but Daryl beat her to it.

“Sorry.”

That helped, it did, but— “Do you even know what you’re supposed to be sorry for?”

That look was back, and Daryl let his hands drop to his sides. He breathed in and Beth could see the way he shook with it, even from here, could read in the sudden stiffness across his shoulders that he’d rather be looking anywhere else but her face right now, yet he held the contact. “You ain’t helpless.”

Some of the tension in her belly unfurled, just a little. “You made me feel like you thought I was.”

Daryl bobbed his head, chewed his lip a little. She could see his fingers fiddling absently with the bra strap still clutched between them. “Didn’t mean to. I—” He paused, glanced down at his feet a moment and breathed deeply before dragging his gaze back up. “Your ankle’s fucked, heard you shootin’, didn’t know if it’s three walkers or three hundred…”

It wasn’t the words Daryl spoke that pierced right through her like a well-aimed bolt to the heart, but the words he didn’t. What he meant, what he couldn’t say. Daryl was scared, scared she’d been overrun or outnumbered or unable to get away, and she knew, of course she knew how Daryl handled fear. I ain’t afraid a nothin’. His anger made so much sense and Beth swallowed hard around a little whine of understanding she couldn’t hold back. The lump in her throat grew twice as thick at his not-quite admission, and she just nodded at him, trying and failing to keep her breath from shuddering out of her chest.

Daryl took a tentative step forward, cast a long look upstream at the two fallen walkers there and back to the one at their feet, before returning his gaze to her face. “Just a redneck asshole, remember?”

Beth sighed and shook her head, because no, he wasn’t, not really. He was a man who cared what happened to her, and that was far from being an asshole. Far from being just anything.

“No, you’re not,” she said, closing the gap between them and pulling him into a hug.

Daryl breathed her name, so quietly she wasn’t sure she really heard it, but the breath of a word trickled right down inside her, warm and soothing. He settled his arm around her back, pressed his chin into her hair, and Beth shut her eyes and leaned into him, breathing in the hint of sweat and leather now mingling with the soap and dirt.

“I’m sorry, too, Daryl,” she whispered, tightening her arms around him and smiling into his chest when he tightened his, too. And she was. Sorry for scaring him, sorry for not understanding that sooner. Sorry for assaulting him with the laundry even if that had been the thing to break the tension. “I just can’t take feeling like that, not from you.”

The pressure on the top of her head felt more like his face than his chin this time, a little puff of air tickling her scalp, and her belly fluttery warm at the thought of that. But both things were fleeting, and when Daryl’s arm loosened, Beth took the hint and stepped out of his space, though maybe not as far as she could have, and tipped her eyes up to meet his.

They stood like that for a long moment, far past the point where it shifted from looking to staring but she couldn’t move. Felt like Daryl couldn’t move either. As though some unseen force worked between them, acting as an anchor, a tether from which they couldn’t escape, and not for the first time. Beth couldn’t have said how long the moment lasted, but what finally dragged them apart was the sound of another walker hissing in the distance. They turned their faces upstream to watch its shuffling progress toward them.

Daryl brushed her wrist with his fingertips. “All yours.”

Beth reached for her crossbow, cocked and loaded it, feeling the warmth of Daryl’s eyes as he watched her. The walker fell to her first shot, and without another word Daryl jogged upstream to reclaim her four bolts.

“Tell you what,” Beth said, when he again stood in front of her.

Daryl’s eyes swept over her crossbow and up until he met hers again, that subtle little smile lifting is lips. “Mmm?”

“Let’s make a rule. Beth and Daryl’s rule number one,” Beth said, shouldering her bow before crouching down to load the scattered clothing back into the washtub. “You can take care of yourself, I can take care of myself, but we have each other’s back, okay?”

Above her, Daryl made the grunty, mumbly noise he liked to use when he agreed but otherwise didn’t have anything to say. When Beth stood back up, though, washtub at her hip, she was met with a smirk and twinkling eyes, like he had a secret he only just remembered.

“But, Beth...” He lifted his hand, her bra still hanging by a strap from one finger. “Don’t think it’s your back I got.”

Heat curled in her belly and rose up to fill her chest, not stopping until it reached her cheeks. A giggle bubbled out of her as she snatched the bra back from him, and Daryl’s smirk grew into something more like a smile, though the glint in his eyes as he swept them over her flushed cheeks only made her feel warmer.

“All right, you,” Beth said, face flaming, knees a little shaky as she tossed her bra in the washtub and nudged him in the side with her elbow. “Help me take all this up?”

“Yeah.” Daryl chuckled warmly and nudged her, too. “Now I got your back.”
*~*
to be continued in chapter 10 >>

Comments

( 8 have spoken — take the speaking stick )
slaymesoftly
Apr. 17th, 2015 09:52 pm (UTC)
Cannot believe how in love with these characters I am. And since I don't know the show, it's like I'm reading an original story. :)
abelina
Apr. 18th, 2015 05:13 am (UTC)
I can't believe how in love with them you are, either, but I'll tell you, IT PLEASES ME GREATLY. I guess it kind of would read like an original story, without having any prior knowledge. If you are ever confused or curious about any of the events/places/people mentioned, or something to do with Beth and Daryl themselves, just ask!
slaymesoftly
Apr. 18th, 2015 02:14 pm (UTC)
I will, don't worry! But, given that the premise is pretty obvious (ZOMBIES! OMG), and that this is so much about their developing relationship, nothing's come up yet that bothered me. I've even figured out some of the other characters from your shorter fics. Right now, having prior knowledge doesn't seem important to me, which may mean I'm missing important things I should know about their past activities, but so far so good. :)
abelina
Apr. 18th, 2015 04:39 pm (UTC)
I'm curious actually, since you don't know... If you had to guess, how old would you say they were, based on what you're reading.
slaymesoftly
Apr. 18th, 2015 09:21 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. Let me think. I'd say she's a bit younger than he is (or just led an easier life before). I'm thinking she's early twenties? Maybe a bit younger because of older sister's hovering, but maybe not. Daryl I'm assuming is late 20's or early 30's. Long since a grown man. Although perhaps he's just like that because of his background meaning he had to grow up fast?

How'd I do?
abelina
Apr. 18th, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
Pretty good actually! Beth is 18, had a good life but matured quickly over the two years since the apocalypse happened. It's not explicitly stated how old Daryl is in canon but mid thirties is generally the consensus, though I've seen some who thought late twenties or some who think even older (but that's because Norman Reedus is 46. I don't believe Daryl is as old as his actor.)
slaymesoftly
Apr. 18th, 2015 10:56 pm (UTC)
Yay! LOL And will admit to looking up WD on Wiki, but I'm pretty sure I like your version much better, so I'm going to just go "la la la" if someone tries to quote canon at me.
abelina
Apr. 19th, 2015 02:26 am (UTC)
Yes. As far as you are concerned I AM YOUR WALKING DEAD CANON. Just say no.
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