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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 Black Heart Inertia by Incubus. Special thanks to Amy for her advice and support with this chapter. And once again I wrote too much and have to split it in two pieces. If LJ would just let me post things in the 8000-9000K range I would be HAPPY.


All Chapters Here
Fall Right In
Chapter 23 – You’re a Bonfire and I’m Gathered ‘Round You
Part 1/2
(Part 2/2 here)

*~*

Beth,” he said, voice grave and calm despite the panic rising in his belly. “Need that rope now. We got company.”

From the pit below, Beth groaned. “Shit.”

The sounds of rummaging got louder, and Daryl glanced down just quick enough to see her pulling the rope out of her pack before turning his focus back to the approaching walkers. The leaders were edging toward the border between the cultivated grass and this rougher stuff, moving with purpose, their hungry growls growing more intense by the second. They’d spotted him now. Smelled them both, likely.

“Beth...”

“I got—” She coughed, then sucked in a slightly wheezy breath. “Got it. How—”

“Like that harness you made. Get it under your arms,” he said, with another quick glance down. The walkers were moving quick now, closing the gap faster than that lumbering run should’ve allowed. “Toss me the end. Hurry, Beth.”


He had enough time to take out the closest one with a shot from his crossbow before Beth got the rope up to him and he threw the bow back over his shoulder. There was nothing to brace on, nothing near enough use for leverage, so he tied the rope around his hips and hoped to hell this worked.

“C’mon, Beth!” he called, not bothering to lower his voice. They were already coming and yelling or not yelling wasn’t gonna make no difference. “Get your feet up on the walls. Gonna pull you up.”

Beth grunted from below and gave the rope a sharp tug. “Go!”

The rope went taut, digging into him through his jeans, the weight at the end threatening to draw him down, but he dug his toes into the dead grass, into the crumbly dirt beneath it. Pulled against the bite of the rope, moving forward one heavy step at a time while behind him, the growls of the dead grew closer.

He couldn’t afford to look back. “Beth! Climb, girl, come on!

Beth tugged hard on her end of the rope, near growling as she called up to him. “Almost!

Daryl surged on, sinking his teeth into his lip when the rope jerked tighter. Amidst the walkers’ agitated growls, Beth let out a loud grunt of exertion, cracking toward the end into something more resembling a scream. Then the rope went slack, throwing him forward without warning, sending him face first into the ground. Before the pain could register he flipped over, dragged his body out of the rope, Beth a yellow blur in the foreground. Had to get up, had to get to her before they did. Get her into that barn, get that thick door between her and them and make damn sure she was okay.

“Beth!”

She’d gotten up as far as her knees, crossbow raised, rope still tied around her waist. Her bolt ripped through the skull of the closest walker and imbedded into the one behind it. Daryl reached her just as the pair of them fell, the leader crumpling sideways into the path of another still scrambling on. Both of them tumbled into the hole in the ground, landing with a pair of wet thumps, and Beth reached for him as he reached for her and between the two of them they got her up and free of the rope. With no time to reload, Beth swung her crossbow at the next rotting body trying grab at her, knocking it off balance before kicking it snarling toward the opening.

Daryl knifed another through the forehead and shoved it into the pair behind it, then grabbed Beth by the arm and hauled her back away from the edge. “C’mon!”

He tugged her toward the barn but Beth pulled free of his hold, shaking her head. “This way!” she shouted, shouldering her crossbow and tearing off across the yard before he could get a word in.

Running, not for the barn behind them, but straight into next wave of walkers waiting for them in the lush green grass.

Fuck. “Beth!”

But she was already gone, running headlong into trouble. All Daryl could do was run after her, catching up as she skirted a tight circle—too fucking tight—around the advancing horde, limping just enough that he noticed on that same ankle, but hardly slowed for it as she raced across the yard, angling toward the house. Only thing louder than his heart in his ears as he ran after her were the excited groans of the walkers, changing course to follow them, about to box them the fuck in between the house and safety, and what the hell was she thinking. It was only ‘cause he hadn’t caught her yet that he wasn’t hauling her crazy ass back to the barn.

Two walkers lumbered up close and Beth, her knife already clutched in her hand, took one of ‘em down with a well-aimed strike through the eye. The other grabbed at her, fingers like claws catching hold of her sleeve but she wrenched away and Daryl kicked out its knees, knocking it down. Before he could move, Beth slammed her boot onto its skull, flattening it with a sickening squelch of rotten bone and liquefying brains, and took off again. Daryl groaned and kept running, swiping his arm across his forehead as the sweat dripped into his eyes.

“Beth!”

Her ponytail whipped around as she spared him a quick glance over her shoulder. “The tree, Daryl!”

The tree. The big old oak standing up against the house. The house, with its wrap-around covered porch, three hundred and sixty degrees of high ground, second floor windows, and at least five ways out.

Well, shit.

Beth reached the tree seconds before he did, jumping up to catch the lowest branch. Daryl got his hands on her hips and shoved her onto it, climbing after her as she scampered up the branches like some sorta long legged monkey. A walker grabbed at his boots but he kicked its hands away and followed. Beth landed on the porch roof just as he reached the branch leading to it, had her crossbow off her shoulder and reloaded by the time he hit the shingles beside her. The straggling walkers were already gathering at the base of the tree and not much further out, the rest of them were closing in fast.

Beth got off her first shot as Daryl swung his crossbow off his shoulder and cocked it, swiped at the sweat dripping into his eyes again. He loaded a bolt took aim at one of the ones growling up from below, bolt striking the ugly asshole straight through the forehead.

“You okay?” Beth called, from somewhere just behind him. Her bolt sailed past his ear, out into the yard to take down one of the outliers.

He didn’t turn to look at her, just cocked his crossbow with a grunt and sighted on his next target. “Peachy. Keep shootin’!”

One by one, he and Beth thinned the group, emptying their quivers of bolts until less than ten of them remained. In his pack were the bolts they’d made at the cabin, the ones they tried to keep for hunting but there weren’t no other choice now, and Beth was already tugging at the pack to get them.

Four, five, half a dozen more, and the wheezy snarls of the dead fell silent. He waited, listening. Felt Beth hovering at his back doing the same thing. Distant growls came from the hole across the yard but nothing else made any noise aside from his and Beth’s heavy breaths and the rustle of oak leaves high up in the tree. Daryl slumped back against the wall of the house, heart still pounding, legs gone rubbery now that the threat was done and they’d made it out mostly unscathed.

Mostly. She’d taken a pretty hard fall and Daryl knew how adrenaline could mask an injury. Beth sunk down beside him just as he turned toward her, eyes raking her form for anything amiss. “You sure you ain’t hurt?”

Beth shook her head. “I’m alright, but—”

“Your ankle—”

“Daryl.” Just his name, in that firm, don’t-mess-with-Beth-Greene tone of voice. She leaned up on her knees and reached around behind her to pull his red rag out of her back pocket. “Daryl, it’s fine. I’m fine. You’re the one who’s bleedin’.”

“I—what—?” Just before she pressed the rag to his forehead, he caught a glimpse of his arm, a mess of blood instead of the sweat he thought he’d been wiping at. A stinging pain erupted in his forehead, somewhere above his left eye, and his mind flashed with the memory of landing face first in the grass. “Oh.”

“Yeah, oh,” she said, with a little laugh, letting go of the rag once he got a hand on it. “Like a stuck pig.”

Daryl peered out at Beth where she leaned against the side of the house wearing this adorable little smirk, all sweaty and flushed, hair an even bigger mess than usual. God, she was gorgeous like this, and he’d forgotten it with everything that had happened since but he remembered it now, Beth standing there in the moonlight, a pile of walkers on the ground around her. Holding her own and proud of herself for it, and he’d wanted to hug her even then. Wanted to do a lot more than that now but he settled for laughing with her as she giggled softly at him, at the bloody mess he must be with this forehead wound, no matter how minor.

“You’re fucking insane, woman, you know that, right?” he said, as the laughter filled his chest with warm relief.

“Maybe,” she said, with a shrug, her smile fading just a little. “Don’t think your plan was any better, though.”

Something about that coiled tight in his gut, pressed cool against the warmth from a minute ago, but before he could think too hard about why, Beth pulled out her knife and slid across the roof toward the window.

“Let’s go inside and get you fixed up.”

A little wood shim stuck out from the window, just enough to notice it from close up, and it left a gap just big enough for Beth to get her slender fingers in and push the unlatched window open. He’d imagined the farm girl climbing out of it before and now he followed after Beth climbing in.

Beth stood for a moment in the middle of the room, with its slanted walls following the lines of the rafters, looking around at the delicate white furniture and all manner of girly things strewn about the small space. He’d never seen her bedroom on the farm, never much thought about it ‘til now, but it would’ve been like this, he imagined. Soft. White. Feminine in this same simple way. She’d been that farm girl, once. Still was in some ways, and those were the parts of her he hoped she never lost hold of. But the picture she made now, the woman he knew her to be didn’t quite fit the image in his head, stood out stark against the backdrop of her past, and he didn’t know whether he ought to be sad about that or proud of her for it.

Beth didn’t speak, once she finished looking around, just caught Daryl’s eyes before she moved on to the narrow hallway leading to the second bedroom, and the steep staircase down to the main floor below. The farmhouse only had one bathroom, and that’s where she led him after they descended the creaking staircase. The little frosted window faced the sun, this time of day, lighting the room in a muted orange glow.

“Musta hit it on a rock, or somethin’,” Daryl said, watching Beth out of one eye as she wetted a ratty old towel with water from her bottle.

“I’ll stitch it if I gotta,” she said, nodding toward the toilet to indicate he should sit. He dropped his pack and crossbow to the floor and did as he was bid. “Kay, lemme see.”

A fresh warm trickle oozed toward his eyebrow when he peeled the rag away, and he shut his eyes as Beth swiped the towel over the area, more gentle than she needed to be, her other hand holding the back of his head as she worked, fingers curled into his hair. After a minute of that, she set the towel down and prodded at the wound, humming a bit under her breath.

“I gonna live, or what, doc?” he asked, reaching blindly for where he thought he might find her knee and closing his fingers around it when he did.

“It’s small but it’s deep,” she said, wiping again with her towel. “Bleedin’ pretty good, too. Don’t think it’ll stop easy on its own.”

He swept his thumb along the contour of her knee, smiling when she sighed a little above him. “Best get it done, ‘fore we lose all the light.”

Beth pressed the towel to his face again and Daryl held it there. He kept his eyes shut as she set down her crossbow and moved to rummage through her pack for the first aid supplies she’d found in the cabin. He didn’t remember ever seeing her stitch someone up before, but she must’ve, helping Hershel with the injured after every scrape they’d gotten into, and helping Dr. S, too. Didn’t doubt she could handle it now, whether she’d done it before or not. He didn’t much care about scars, anyway. Not this kind.

The snick of her lighter, another cabin find, drew his focus out of his head and back to the present, and he peeked out at her from beneath the towel, watching as she passed the curved needle through the flame.

Her eyes drifted to catch his once she closed the lighter. “You ready?”

“I been stitched up by sketchier hands than yours, Greene,” he said, no word of a lie.

Beth threaded the needle without trouble, black sewing thread on a suture needle but that didn’t matter. It’d do the trick. Daryl shut his eyes as she poured the last of her water over his forehead, rinsing out the wound as best she could, though the amount of bleeding it had done likely left it pretty clean. After one last swipe with the towel, Beth got to work. Didn’t hurt much; she was quick with her needle, no hesitation just practiced stitching on a wound already numbed by swelling and time. He barely noticed the prick of the needle or the tug of the thread, and just like that, it was done.

Beth sighed loudly, and Daryl opened his eyes as she wiped her bloody fingers on the red-stained towel. Something about the way she was looking at him tightened that coil of nerves in his gut again. In this light her eyes weren’t their usual bright blue, instead more of a grey as she studied him, her lips curled oddly into not a smile, not a frown, but something all its own and he wasn’t sure what it meant, just that the sight of it there made his heartbeat stutter in his chest.

She stared at him for a long minute, the grey cast to her eyes like little storm clouds blocking out the summer sky. That minute stretched on forever to the tune of his pulse rushing in his ears, until she leaned her back against the wall and slid down until they were face to face.

“If we’d gone to the barn, like you were tryin’ to, we’d be stuck inside right now with no light, no water, and a small herd of walkers tryin’ to get in.” She spoke in an even voice, her tone soft, but her words firm. “I get it, Daryl. I’m not mad, but you hear what I’m sayin’, right?”

He understood, all right, like a landslide of rocks sinking into the pool of his gut. His first thought, his only fucking thought, was to shove her back behind that solid barn door. Get her safe, no matter the consequences, while Beth looked for a way out, a solution, and made a plan that not only got them out of danger but gave them the advantage they needed to eliminate the threat. He should’ve seen it, but he didn’t, because his gut shouted at him to protect her and he listened.

That was the last thing Beth needed from him, as she just let him know in that kind-hearted way of hers. Should’ve torn a strip off him like he deserved. She was just so good, too good for this bullshit world, too fucking good for someone as broken as him, and she needed him at her back, at her side, fighting with her, not for her.

Daryl knew that, he did, but he’d lost his head in the moment and gave the reins to the rising panic. That was the kinda shit that got people killed, and he’d fallen right into it. He shoulda known better. Should’ve been better than that. The fist in his gut squeezed tighter, twisting his insides into knots, and he couldn’t look at her anymore.

His hands, covered in his own blood, clenched into fists in his lap, and Daryl stared down at them, forehead throbbing now where she’d stitched him back together.

One way or another it seemed Beth was always picking up the pieces of him. After the prison, after the herd, after every single trip down the wrong path in his head. And she was there now, too, right there in front of him instead of back by the wall, reaching out to take his face in her hands. Didn’t even need to coax him into looking up at her. Beth Greene was a magnet and he was as drawn to her in shame as he was every other waking moment.

Maybe it was a trick of the light, or maybe just his imagination, turning her eyes to grey before. They were blue again, her usual blue, bright and wide open, though a little wrinkle dimpled her brow above them. When she smiled, though, that subtle little one that did strange things to his insides, the fist in his belly loosened its hold just enough. Just enough that he could smile back at her. Just enough to let that fluttering of wings rise up in his chest, the flutter that was Beth’s, competing with his heart for which beat the loudest.

The little furrow in Beth’s brow smoothed out. “C’mere, you.”

She drew him to her, sliding one hand around to cradle the back of his head as he tucked his face into her neck. He wrapped his arms around her back and breathed her in, sweat and dirt and dried grass, warm and soft and alive and hell, that was close. Too fucking close, and he couldn’t shake the vision of her lying there motionless at the bottom of that hole, the walkers closing in on her. Reading his mind again, probably, Beth’s arm around his shoulders tightened, and she curled her fingers against his scalp as a little shudder rolled through her chest.

They stayed that way long enough for the throbbing in his forehead to bloom into a full-on ache, pulsing out from the wound with increasing intensity. Beth pulled away, easing slowly back, still in the circle of his arms and just far enough away for him to see her clearly.

“Beth and Daryl, remember?” Beth said, swiping her thumbs across his cheeks.

The grin that lifted his lips came easily on the heels of her words, which curled warm and rich in his belly. “Might need you to keep reminding me.”

“Oh, I plan on it.” Beth’s smile widened, just a touch, and he swore he saw a hint of pink creeping into her cheeks to match the warmth in his as she got to her feet. “Now c’mon. Help me loot this place.”





to be continued in chapter 23 part 2/2 >>

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