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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: Language, violence, some potentially disturbin imagery. 
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 Darling Be Home Soon by The Lovin' Spoonful.

All Chapters Here

Fall Right In
Chapter 10 – While We Have a Few Minutes to Breathe

*~*
Beth dragged the bloodstained denim back and forth across the rock, but the stain was stubborn and didn’t want to wash out. No matter how hard she scrubbed, how red the water got, the jeans remained crusted and stained.

From upstream came the sound of walkers. Beth watched them picking their way toward her, splashing in the creek as they staggered back and forth past the sharp, jutting rocks sticking up like islands. She stood up to face them, reaching for her crossbow but finding only piles of wet blue jeans at her feet. When she tried to step forward, her ankles got tangled in the piles and she couldn’t move.

The walkers were closer now, and the sounds of the dead rose up all around her, a chorus of unholy voices drowning out the call of the birds and the rush of the water. Beth pulled and pulled but her feet wouldn’t move, the soggy piles at her feet hardening to bloodstained rocks, trapping her there as the threat closed in.

“Don’t let them get too close,” Daryl said, watching from the ledge, legs swinging back and forth, cutting through the air like blades, boot heels clicking together like the cocking of a gun before swinging apart again.
Swish-swish – click – swish-swish – click – swish-swish – click.

The walkers stopped in a circle around her, tilting their heads to look at her from beneath the brims of their hats, bony, rotting hands landing on their hips. Daryl disappeared, but she could still hear the clicking of his boots, except it wasn’t his boots, it was the gun in her hand, her thumb on the hammer. Cocked and loaded and she fired, dropping the walkers one by one but they were coming fast. Too fast. Beth squeezed her eyes shut and kept shooting.

A walker grabbed her shoulders and she spun around, ankles still tangled in laundry, trying to see the monster but she could only feel its breath on her neck.

Swish, and she swung her gun through the air. Click, and she cocked the hammer. Bang, and she fired, opening her eyes to a spray of blood amidst the scent of soap and leather.

At her feet, Daryl’s body, blood-soaked arms and legs wound round her ankles, eyes pleading up at her while his brains oozed out of the blackened hole in his forehead. The walkers on the rocks around her, whose faces were Daryl’s, Daddy’s, Maggie’s, Rick’s, Carl’s, Judith’s, all of them stared back at her, red-black tears streaking down their greying faces.

“Told you—not to—let them—get close—Beth,” they said. They all said. “Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth. Beth! Beth! BETH! BETH!”

Beth bolted upright, knocking her forehead against Daryl’s with a crack and a lance of pain through her skull. A growing ache pulsed in her lungs as she struggled to breathe, but nothing moved and she fell backward, vision blurring in the dim candlelight, chest burning, a weight pressing down so hard, so heavy, and she couldn’t breathe. The more she fought the heavier it got, the deeper the burn, and this was it—she couldn’t breathe—something was wrong—so wrong—she was still dreaming—she was dying—she tried to scream but nothing came out—

Daryl hauled her up, pulled her forward and onto her knees, one hand braced on her back as his other hand pushed on her belly, and a great, heaving rush of air flooded out of her chest. Beth sagged forward but planted her fists into the quilt, holding herself up on shaking arms, and Daryl’s hands stayed where they were, steady and firm against her violent trembling, fingers cool on her too-warm skin.

“Beth.” His voice, a low murmur, trickled into her ear. “Slow. Breathe slow.”

She sucked in a breath, but it caught at the edges of the burning and would go no further. Daryl pressed his palm into her belly again, not a push this time but an anchor, a focal point, pulling her out of her struggle, easing the bit of air back out.

“Slow, Beth. Slow.”

The pressure in her chest rose up again and Daryl repeated the words, hand firm on her stomach. He took in a slow, steady breath and Beth focused on the press of his hand, the pace of his breathing, trying to match it as she finally drew enough air into her aching lungs.

Her breath shuddered back out in a rush, and again Daryl pressed his hand against her, just as her body urged her to force another breath back in. “Slow.”

He inhaled, measured, gradual, and Beth followed along with him. “Count to three,” he said, before she could let the breath out, and it strained and pushed and begged to escape, but she held it, she listened, she counted to three.

“Like that,” Daryl whispered, as she exhaled slow and smooth. “That’s it, Beth, just like that.”

Beth let the sound of his voice and his even breaths guide her, and the burning eased, the ache faded, the weight on her chest dissipated with each steady breath out. When the rhythm became natural again, Beth sat back on her heels and Daryl’s hands fell away. He left the bed but returned a minute later with a cup of water and a damp cloth, which he pressed to the back of her neck while she drank.

“More?”

Beth nodded and passed back the cup, and pulled her legs from beneath her to sit on her butt, draping her arms across her bent knees and letting her head hang in the space between. The cloth on her neck felt wonderfully cool, and when Daryl returned with another for her forehead, she moaned softly and let him hold it there for a good minute before taking over the task herself. He gave her the cup of water and she finished it in little sips, pausing to take a few good breaths between each one.

The bed dipped as Daryl climbed back in, and Beth lifted her head from between her legs to look at him. He’d been awake when she curled up to sleep, sharpening knives at the edge of the bed, but must have settled in to rest at some point. His hair stood out everywhere and he had draped his vest and long sleeve shirt over the chest beside him, leaving his upper half clad only in the familiar and still-ratty, but newly repaired brown shirt with the sleeves torn away. He’d even taken off his boots, his big brown ones sitting next to her small black ones, a tidy row in pairs of two. His toes wiggled inside his socks, and Beth didn’t know why she was looking at that, why it should matter at all what his toes were doing, that he had toes at all, and she dragged her gaze back up to his face, to the eyes gazing out at her beneath the mess of hair.

A lump rose in her throat, delayed, unexpected, as the vision of a bloody, blackened Daryl, gaping bullet hole through his forehead oozing with brains, superimposed itself over the live, sleep-lined face in front of her. She tried to hold it back but the tears came anyway, sliding warm over her cheeks, salty on her lips, dragging with them a strangled sort of sob she couldn’t keep down.

She couldn’t see him, only a blur of dark and light moving closer, then the weight of a strong arm across her shoulders, tugging, reeling her in. “C’mere.”

Beth fell against Daryl, curling into the solid warmth of his body and the tight wrap of his arms around her, buried her face into his chest, into the pounding of his heart beneath her forehead as she cried.
*~*

Neither one of them slept after that, though Beth pretended to. Once her tears subsided, she didn’t want to let Daryl go and didn’t want to ask him to keep holding her, didn’t want to risk him saying no, didn’t know what it would mean if he said yes. So she closed her eyes and breathed deep and hoped she wasn’t being obvious. She was sure he knew. Daryl always knew. But his hold never slackened and his cheek rested against her hair, and he stayed there, tangled up with her until daybreak.

With the first hints of light seeping in through the blanket covering the little window, they moved together out of the bed, and Daryl didn’t say a word about not having to wake her, just looked at her for a long moment before turning away to slip on his layers and his boots.

A sort-of morning routine had taken shape in the few days they had been here. After getting out of bed they ate the supper leftovers for breakfast, something Beth and her stomach wouldn’t have tolerated in the old world, but apocalypse bellies were built of cast iron and food wasn’t something wasted. This morning they sat together on top of the counter, legs dangling over the edge while they nibbled bits of rabbit off the bone, ate chunks of fried potato from of the bowl between them with their fingers, and sipped water out of metal cups until the pail was empty.

Beth refilled the water pail down at the creek, able to carry it back full now, her ankle just that much better, while Daryl bundled up what little waste they had—guts, skin, bones—to bury in the forest away from the cabin during his morning trek into the woods to check for signs of walkers or people. They met on the steps as she carried the pail up and he headed out, crossbow over his shoulder just like she had hers, pausing there in the middle of the narrow stairs to share a small smile before carrying on.

It was a bright, cloudless morning, though cool enough to feel the chilly fingers of autumn through the knit of her grey sweater. After Daryl left, Beth gathered up the rest of the mending she hadn’t gotten to last night and sat out on the steps in the fresh air to finish, crossbow propped up at her feet. Her bra needed a bit more delicate stitching than she had been able to manage by candlelight, to fix the torn parts of the lacy overlay. It wasn’t practical, really, and she should probably just tear it off, but there wasn’t a lot about the world these days allowed to be pretty just for pretty’s sake, so she was going to save the damned lace.

She was more than a little anxious to put the thing back on, too, now that Daryl knew she wasn’t wearing it, and a bit of heat coiled inside as she remembered how he looked, standing there at the creek with this little piece of straps and lace dangling from his finger.

Beth sighed and slammed a mental full-stop down on that run-on-sentence of a thought in the making. She was certain she could perseverate on that moment indefinitely if she allowed it, being teased by Daryl Dixon for having thrown her bra at his face, but to do so would indulge the very thing she shouldn’t. Because it wasn’t embarrassment heating up her cheeks or trembling in her knees, and the resulting flutter in her chest, the little pulse of heat between her legs had made her feel more like a woman than she had in ages. And that was why she had to let it go, because that wasn’t fair to Daryl—to assume he meant more than he had by it—and it wasn’t fair to herself, either, to get carried away like that.

Mostly.

There was always the chance she could replace her stupid nightmares with something better if she did let her thoughts run wild—but knowing her luck, it wouldn’t help and her subconscious would only find more inventive ways to kill Daryl in her dreams.

With another sigh, Beth set down the bra, mended as best as it was going to be, and started in on Daryl’s denim jacket, which needed fixing long before he found it a few weeks back, after the weather turned. The chill hadn’t lifted this morning yet at all, though the sun glittered brightly over the water down at the creek and into the yard through the little gaps in the trees. It kept her awake though, after a mostly sleepless night, the crispness of the air in her lungs and the bite of it on her cheeks.

This needed to stop, this nightly terror, this waking up a complete, useless, sobbing mess. Daryl was so good about it, but he shouldn’t have to be. He didn’t see her as weak. She felt in her heart that yesterday at the creek really had just been about being afraid because she wasn’t at her best with her ankle hurt. It stung anyway, a little prick of unease at the back of her mind, a little jab of a knife in the centre of her chest, because he wasn’t totally wrong in worrying, not when she couldn’t even control her own mind. When she couldn’t even breathe on her own without needing his help. That aching bit of truth it sat there, sharp and bitter in her gut, reminding her that she wasn’t so tough after all.

Beth stayed on the steps when the mending was done, enjoying the fresh air even amidst her darker thoughts. Maybe if she played that game with herself again, the one where she looked for the good things and put the bad away for a little while, maybe that could ease away the gloom from her heart. They had clean clothes for the first time in a good long while, and that was at least nice, if not necessarily good. They had a cabin stuffed full of useful things for when they resumed their journey, and that was good. She had a crossbow—Beth stroked her thumb over the butt of it where it lay against her leg—which she still couldn’t quite believe, and as much as she loved it, Beth had her suspicions that Daryl loved it more. And that felt good in all sorts of ways. Daryl seemed happier, too, not that she would’ve ever thought of him as a happy person. Maybe happier wasn't quite right. Maybe he was just glad to be alive, and that was good, too, considering how he was before. Living, perhaps, instead of just surviving.

Maybe they both were, Beth thought, looking out at the sparkle across the water.

By the time Daryl wandered back into the yard, she had an honest to god smile on her face, listening to the birds chirping in the trees overhead, the rush of the creek nearby. Without a walker in sight, the cabin, the creek, the forest, it was beautiful. Beauty for beauty’s sake. She shouldn't let herself forget that again. Daryl stopped just a step or two into the yard when he saw her there, and Beth couldn’t stop her smile from widening as their eyes met. The left corner of Daryl's mouth turned up, then the right followed, and just before he ducked his head she saw a flash of teeth. He looked up again, the grin still lingering on now-closed lips, and he held her gaze for a long moment before moving to the woodshed to gather up an armful of firewood. That was one Daryl smile—and another good thing—to add to her daily total, and the day had only just begun. Beth slid over to let him pass on his way up the steps, her eyes drifting shut at the brush of his fingers over the crown of her head as he headed back down.

Daryl worked outside through the morning, pulling apart the stairs and porch out front to repurpose the lumber into a makeshift fence, to better protect the back yard and also make the front door more secure. Beth had wanted to help, but they only had the one pry bar, so she resumed the on-going task of cataloguing everything in the cabin’s many shelves and chests and the few hidey-holes she found in the walls, setting some things aside to possibly take with them. Daryl came in and out, wearing fewer shirts and more sweat each time, sometimes adding something to her take-with pile if it happened to catch his eye, other times watching her work while he took a break to drink some water and mop his face with a rag.

Having his eyes on her wasn’t anything new, not these days, but somewhere around mid-morning, when Daryl stood behind her crunching on a carrot, Beth turned to meet his gaze, because—not gonna lie—she loved the little flutter she got whenever she did, and saw something different lingering there. It took her a bit of time to figure it out, thinking on it during Daryl’s absences and reaffirming what she thought she saw whenever he came back in.

Daryl had become more open as the weeks had passed, little by little choosing to speak his mind when he had something to say rather than always keeping it to himself. Oh, she wouldn’t call him chatty, no, but there was a certain freedom to him now. An ease in talking with her that hadn’t existed before, even back at the prison when things were good—not with her, at least. But the way he was watching her now, in short flickers of contact instead of the steady stare she was used to, nibbling at his thumb or fiddling with something from the shelves while he did, meant Daryl had something on his mind that had him all clammed up again.

“What is it, Daryl?” she asked, when he wandered inside and almost knocked over her crossbow because he was so obviously not looking at her that he didn't see it lying there atop the chest. “You’ve got something you’re dyin’ to say, so out with it already.”

Daryl leaned his elbow on the counter, chewing on his thumb as he met her eyes, holding the contact for a moment before he nodded, just a brief jerk of his head.  “Just—don’t want you takin’ this wrong.”

Beth’s pulse kicked up a little and a prickle of nerves rolled through her belly, but she made sure to keep her eyes on Daryl’s as she answered, “I won’t. What is it?”

Daryl exhaled audibly, dropping his hand from his face to pick at a splinter of wood at the counter’s edge. “It—this’s about your ankle. Only about that, not—not anythin’ else, a’right?”

Beth moved toward him until the toes of her boots were just half a foot away from his. She leaned on the counter, too, forcing away the nervous flutter so she could show him she was listening. “All right.”

“Saw some tracks this mornin’, just out past the line. Deer tracks.” He paused, glanced down at their boots, shuffled his a bit against the floorboards before looking back up. “Got enough salt and wood here, we could hard smoke a good-sized one. Be an idea, havin’ that protein along, for when we go.”

It was a good idea, of course it was. Beth hadn’t thought about it, even when Daryl found the homemade smoker in the storage area beneath the front porch two days ago, built out of an old metal drum. She had imagined trying to smoke rabbits, or something, but a deer, a deer could be a lifesaver, literally.

“But, that’s good, Daryl. Isn’t it?” she said, not quite understanding the continued furrow of his brow, nor the return of his thumb between his teeth.

“This’s the part I don’t wanna get wrong,” he said, around his thumb. He tore it out of his mouth when he realized what he was doing and waited, glancing up at her in short little bursts. Beth nodded, urging him to go on, her heart pounding a little bit harder.  “Beth. I go huntin’ deer, means I leave in the morning and I’m gone all day. Maybe overnight.”

Beth let the words sink in, repeating to herself as she did what he said before. This’s about your ankle. Not anythin’ else. Still, that prickle of nerves in her belly tied itself into a knot full of doubt, even as she fought against it and tried not to let it show on her face.

Daryl must have seen, though. Of course he had, because his whole demeanour changed in a flash. His eyes met hers straight on and he reached out to circle her wrist with his fingers, pressing in tight, not enough to hurt but to drag her attention out of her own head. “Fuck, Beth, we’d go together if you weren’t hurt. You could shoot the damn thing yourself.”

“And leaving me here?” she asked, hating the way her voice wobbled. “It’s really just my ankle that’s the problem?”

“Be lyin’ if I said yes,” he whispered, still holding her gaze, thumb swiping across the inside of her wrist. “Don’t like the thought of either of us alone that long, you know?”

She thought she did. No, she knew she did, because she would never think Daryl couldn’t look after himself, but she was going to worry about him the whole time he was away, especially if he had to be gone all night. Maybe she had the cabin for safety, but her ankle made her vulnerable, and yeah, she could understand that. Aside from that, the only people they had in the world right now were each other, and the potential of losing that terrified her.

Beth nodded and swallowed the lump in her throat. “I think so.”

“You’re tough,” he said, giving her wrist another squeeze. “Don’t think I don’t know it.”

Viscous warmth seeped into her belly with the way he gazed at her, and a thousand tiny wings beat inside her chest.  Beth covered his hand at her wrist with her own, gliding her thumb along the back of his.  “We need this deer, don’t we?”

A little shiver travelled through Daryl’s hand into hers, and he whispered, “yeah, we do.”

Beth drew in a deep breath and nodded. “I promise I’ll be careful, I won’t take any unnecessary risks, but Daryl, you gotta promise me you’ll do the same.”

He just looked at her, looked at her, for a long time before nodding his head, whispering something that sounded like yes, only with a whole lot more hiding beneath it.

“You get us that deer, Daryl,” Beth said, heart pounding now for an entirely different reason. “And I’ll be safe and sound here when you get back.”
*~*

They spent the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon nailing reclaimed lumber to the trees lining three sides of the back yard, three roughly parallel rows starting at the height of Beth’s shoulders. It would keep walkers out, should any wander in from the woods. So far, aside from the one Daryl killed their first day here, the only walkers they saw were the four at the creek yesterday. Still, Beth felt better with a bit more of a barrier. It wouldn’t keep out a herd, but it was something.

Swinging a hammer reminded her of home, of the summer she spent helping Shawn build the new henhouse, and the summer after that when she built a new doghouse for Charlie all by herself. The memories settled in her chest like a little flame, stinging a bit right in the centre, but not burning like they used to. Something wistful must have shown on her face, because Daryl paused halfway through lifting a board, eyebrow raised in question.

“Just remembering,” she said, reaching for her end of the board to help move it into place. “It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to.”

Daryl wasn’t looking at her as he fished a nail out of his pocket. “Gonna share with the class?”

The put-on gruffness in his tone brought a smile to her face. “You really wanna know, Mr. Dixon?”

He glanced at her sidelong, lip and eyebrow lifting in unison, but he uttered nothing more than a bit of a grunt.

It meant yes, of course, because Beth could tell the difference by now between Daryl’s yes grunts and no grunts and I-don’t-give-a-fuck grunts. When she started talking she knew he was listening, tuning out the sounds of their hammer duet to hear her stories. They weren’t much, just simple things from a life long gone, but she liked sharing them. Liked sharing them with Daryl.

“...and Shawn couldn’t stop laughing, and Daddy was so mad I though he was gonna loose his head—” Beth swallowed hard, a pressure in her chest like having the wind knocked out of her, and Daryl stopped hammering to look at her.

Silence roared in her ears and Beth dragged a breath in, pressing her trembling palm to her sternum. “That—that still hurts,” she said, voice thin and wobbly.

“Yeah,” Daryl said, swallowing too, his own eyes a little glossy. “Was a good man, your dad.”

The sadness in her heart mixed in with all the other feelings living there, and Daddy’s death hurt, it did, but Daryl knew. Daryl understood, and a rush of warm affection for this good man beside her knocked the pressure right out of her chest. “The best.”
*~*

The sun had long set by the time they finished preparing for Daryl’s departure. It was a full day of hard work and that felt good, even if her ankle was a little sore, her arms and back, too. After a late supper, Beth pulled off her boots and flopped onto the bed, her whole body screaming for sleep. When Daryl joined her a few seconds later, landing on his stomach beside her and peering out at her from beneath his hair, she had a shiver of déjà vu for their first night in the cabin.

“Gonna leave early,” he said. “Before sunrise.”

The weight of that settled across Beth’s shoulders, a little heavier than before. “I guess it’s too much to hope the deer will come back?”

Daryl shifted his body until he lay on his side facing her, and Beth did the same. “That’d be too easy. Almost wouldn’t trust it.”

“You’d be back before night time, though, if they did.” Beth tried to keep her tone light, but a little bit of nerves crept in anyway.

Daryl tapped his fingers against the quilt, a faint little pat pat pat in the otherwise quiet cabin. “Gonna try to be, Beth. Can’t promise.”

“Then promise to be safe.” The words she really wanted to say, things like don’t go and I’m scared and please please please come back, hovered there beneath. She wasn’t all that certain Daryl couldn’t read it on her face like a flashing billboard, the way he chewed at his lip, gaze fixed to hers.

“You too.” He cleared his throat, fingers now tracing the quilt’s stitching, and she thought she saw written there on his face the same sorts of things screaming inside her—please be safe and I’m scared too and please please please don’t disappear.

“I’m gonna be fine, Daryl,” she said, unsure which of them needed more convincing. She would be, in the way Daryl was concerned about. She was also pretty much gonna be worried sick about him.

Daryl reached across the short span of quilt between them to brush a wisp of hair off her forehead, fingertips barely grazing her skin. “You better be.”

A long time passed where they stared across the quilt, just like before. Beth couldn’t look away if she wanted to, but she wouldn’t even if she could. Something whispered between them, thick like toffee, thrumming like strings on a guitar, carried on the currents of warm gazes and beating hearts. It spun her head, a weightless, excited sort of dizzy she could fall into face first and never come up for air.

“I’m goin’ west.” Daryl’s voice, raspy and low, broke through the haze but didn’t quite shatter it. “If somethin’ happens, and you need to go, head west.”

Beth swallowed, her throat parched. “Follow the creek,” Beth said, picturing in her head the path of the sun, the light playing over the features of this newly familiar landscape. “Then follow the sun.”

Daryl hummed his approval, fingers now clutching a handful of the quilt. “I’ll be back late afternoon, if I’m gonna be. By next day noon if not.”

He didn’t say, and Beth pretended not to think about the third option, about what to do if Daryl didn’t come back at all, but she could see the fear of it in his eyes all the same.

“Any walkers get in the yard or at the fence, I’ll get them from the door with my crossbow.” Beth traced her own fingers over the pattern of stitching, feeling the rough little loops of thread beneath her fingertips. “Leave them be if they’re down at the creek.”

“Don’t let them build up,” Daryl said, though he knew she knew that.

Beth spared a brief thought for the hordes at the prison fences, and crossed her heart. “Promise.”

A ghost of a smile flitted across Daryl’s lips. “We should get some sleep.”

An hour ago Beth would’ve agreed, and the desire for sleep tugged hard at the frayed ends of her tired body. Except she wasn’t near ready to say goodnight, knowing what morning would bring, and she knew she was tired when the thought crossed her mind that, if they just stayed up and kept talking, morning wouldn’t ever come at all. Daryl needed the rest, though, and when he lifted the quilt she got under it with him, watched him as he rolled onto his back, one arm up over his head, fingers curled in half way toward his palm.

Beth stayed facing him, turning a bit until she lay half on her stomach. “I’ll keep my crossbow ready. Bring it with me whenever I go outside. My knife and the gun, too.”

Daryl’s head tipped toward her just enough for their eyes to catch, and above that his fingers played with the air as they had with the quilt. “I know, Beth. You know how to use your head, I ain’t worried about that.”

“I just don’t want you to worry about me, when you gotta worry about yourself,” she said, tightening her arms around her pillow.
Daryl hummed a little. “Be glad when your ankle’s better.”

“Yeah, this is so not what I ordered.” Beth rolled the ankle in question beneath the quilt, sighing at the familiar ache, the stiff tug of lingering swelling.

Beth bit her lip, looking on at Daryl chewing at his. They could keep on the dismal train and go to sleep with gloomy thoughts in their heads, but maybe they shouldn’t. She snaked a hand out from beneath her pillow and poked Daryl in the shoulder. “You owe me a deer hunt, Dixon. And I’m gonna be such a badass with my crossbow, just you wait.”

“Gonna be?” Daryl turned over until he mimicked her pose, half on his stomach, arms around his pillow, wearing the smirk that always threatened to weaken her knees. “Fuckin’ hell, girl, you already are.”

Beth’s attempt to respond to that stuttered out in an incoherent giggle, and a little snorting laugh burst out of Daryl, and he was smiling, too, now, with teeth and everything. It looked so good there, so natural even if it wasn’t something he normally did. Beth wasn’t sure if he even knew he was doing it but that only made it better.

“I’ll track it myself, too,” Beth said, her own smile wide. Daryl’s faded, down to the soft one pulling at his closed lips, but his eyes, crinkly and warm, were more than enough for her. “I’ll be so good you won’t know what hit you.”

Daryl’s rumble of laughter washed over her, and she shut her eyes, letting it sink warmly right down inside, stoking the little ember burning there she couldn’t quite stuff out.

“Night, Beth,” Daryl said, squishing his face into his pillow, just the one eye gazing out at her, and a corner of smiling mouth.

Beth did the same, burrowing down into her pillow, too. “Goodnight, Daryl.”

The weight still pressed across her shoulders, but not as heavy, settling in like an old friend instead of an unwanted guest. This would be okay, it had to be. Daryl would get the deer and make it back safely, and Beth would have everything ready for when he returned. They could do this. A day apart wasn’t going to rattle them, not after all they had been through. Because the reality in which Daryl Dixon didn’t come back to her was one that didn’t exist, and Daryl was right—she was a badass. They were tough. They were Beth Greene and Daryl Dixon against the world, and the world didn’t stand a chance.

*~*

Come, and talk of all the things we did today
Here, and laugh about our funny little way
While we have a few minutes to breathe
Then I know that it's time you must leave


to be continued in chapter 11 >>

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