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Title: Wild Things (The Moonshine Poet)
Author: Abelina/Abby/Abelinajt
Fandom/Pairing: The Walking Dead – Beth Greene/Daryl Dixon (Bethyl)
Rating/Warnings: M/E for sexual content and language.
Summary: The night they burned the shack to the ground, Daryl Dixon has a revelation. Now they’re running through the night together like a pair of wild things, and when Beth Greene takes his hand, he realizes he never wants to let go. He wasn’t sure where they were goin’, but for the first time since the prison fell, he felt like they were moving forward, heading for something instead of just tryin’ to survive. And that, he knew, was entirely because of Beth Greene. An alternate timeline following the events of Still.
Notes:
This was written as a very long one-shot, clearly too long for LJ so I've broken into three pieces for posting, but it's meant to be read as one long fic, not concise individual chapters.
All Parts Here



Wild Things (The Moonshine Poet)

They were good at running. It was all they’d done since the prison. Running from the carnage, running from the walkers, running from each other and now running from the fire. But they weren’t just running away this time. The fire at the shack echoed the fire burning hot and wild in his breast, stoked to a frenzy by the fiery woman running beside him. Running with him, away from the blaze, away from the walkers, away from the past and toward something new. Something different. Something born from the ashes of his broken soul like a goddamn phoenix, its colours reflected in Beth’s eyes, in the gold of her hair and the brightness of her smile.

Maybe that was the moonshine talking, making a poet out of him when his defences were down. Maybe it was something else altogether, the same something which thrust ideas into his thick head, whispered that to put away his past and leave it behind all he had to do was reach out and take her hand and never let go. But she beat him to it, reaching for him instead and winding her slender fingers through his, laughing in a breathless way that brought a grin to his face, unbidden and uncontrollable and wild.

They ran until they couldn’t run no more, until her legs gave out and he caught her up in his arms so they fell together into the soft, wet earth at the bank of a river, roaring as loud in his ears as the blaze in his chest. Her laugher hadn’t quit and he couldn’t laugh with her, couldn’t make the sound because he didn’t know how, but he could feel it inside, bubbling and weightless and freer than anything he’d ever felt before. And Beth laid her head on his chest, her warm cheek to his racing heart, laughter slowly fading into great, heaving breaths which matched his own beneath her.

The world grew silent around them, though the fire still burned, both inside and out, fed by the weight of her, the heat of her where she lay over him, where his arms tightened across her back, where her fingers clutched at his shoulder and reached up to trace the line of his jaw, the flesh of his cheek.  He couldn’t see her, not in the dark, not with the trees above blocking the half-moon light, but she saturated his senses in a way he wouldn’t’ve believed if he hadn’t been living it.

She was soft curves and lean muscle, tangled hair that caught in his fingers and still felt of silk, and smooth skin beneath where the grime didn’t reach. She was the tang of sweat and the burn of moonshine, a hint of smoke and dirt and the walker filth that coated them both. She was little sighs and shuddery breaths, and a beating heart he’d thought was his own, but knew now was only ever hers. She was salt and earth and something sweet but spicy, something vital, something only hinted at as he touched his lips to her forehead, unable to stop himself even if he wanted to.

She gasped into the night, another sound to fill his ears and drown out the world, her fingers gliding around to cradle his jaw, thumb stoking, a soft but deliberate exploration of the contours and scruff beneath it. He whispered her name in the dark and she whispered his in return and lifted her head from where it lay on his chest. He felt the brush of her nose on his chin, felt the rush of her breath on his neck, and the all over tremble of her beneath his fingers.

And he heard the crash from the brush behind them, smelled the rot and the char and almost didn’t care, until the spike of danger penetrated the drunken haze and they sprang from the ground as the walkers tumbled out of the woods. And he was still drunk, drunk on moonshine and drunk on her, but he found her hand and she found his and again they ran, together, into the night.
*~*

Daryl woke with a groan and a splitting headache, to a sun barely peeking over the horizon, the first orange rays casting an odd glow through the hayloft window of the abandoned barn. He brought his hand up to cover his eyes, the one not currently holding a quietly snoring Beth Greene tucked up tightly to his side. He didn’t want to move, despite the headache, the foulness in his mouth and the urgent need to piss away last night’s indulgence.

Because he remembered all of it. Didn’t know what the hell he was gonna do about it or even what Beth might think when her belly wasn’t full of moonshine. But where it used to be getting wasted meant leaving the night behind in a fog of lost time and actions best left forgotten, last night was as clear to him now as if he hadn’t drank a drop. After the walkers disrupted the spell, the two of them had run until they found this barn, climbed up to the loft and passed out together in the musty hay. But he remembered everything that came before, and even more alarming than that, he still felt the fire crackling away deep inside.

It should’ve scared the shit outta him. Should’ve but it didn’t, because he weren’t that Daryl anymore. Weren’t some redneck asshole drifter or the Daryl who felt nothin’ ‘cause feeling nothing was easier than feeling weak or feeling guilty. But the burning in his belly wasn’t weakness. It was strength. It was life and everything he never knew he ought to want and goddamn it, maybe he was still a little bit drunk, or else Beth Greene was the strongest drug he knew.

He watched her while she slept, head pillowed in the indent where his shoulder and chest met. Her hair made a wild halo, backlit with the rising sun, arcing up around her like a flame touched with gold. Beth had always been beautiful, in as much as Daryl noticed things like that, but the way she looked now—he might be a moonshine poet, but he didn’t know the words for this, only knew how the sight of her there, sleeping and peaceful and tough, tougher than anyone even knew, herself included, made his heart beat a wild, foreign rhythm in his chest, stoked the flames inside until they overshadowed the burning shack, stole his breath clear out of his lungs and filled them full to bursting with longing more powerful than anything he’d ever felt in his life.

And fuck, the only part of it that frightened him was the part where maybe he had it all wrong, and maybe what he felt last night and this morning and what he was so certain she felt, too, was only ever him all along. But then he remembered her voice as she breathed his name, how she reached for his hand and pulled him in, and the electric touch of her skin on his. He hadn’t imagined that, couldn’t imagine it because he weren’t wired that way. He learned the hard way no good ever came from makin’ shit up, even in your own head.

The sun had come up fully by the time Beth stirred, rubbing her face into his shirt with a soft whimper, hand shifting from his stomach to his chest as she arched her back and stretched. The length of her lean body slid against his and he was suddenly grateful for the hangover, because without it he’d’ve already been in trouble; the low-grade ache in his groin, which he thought might’ve been there all along, was about all the reaction his body could manage.  Then she froze, face still half-buried in his shirt, and peeled one eye open, blinking against the bright light before settling her gaze on his face.

“Oh!” Beth said, her voice croaking out like her throat was full of sand. Her fingers swept through the little puddle of drool she left behind. “Sorry, I—”

Beth started to pull away, looking anywhere but at his face, and the little prickle of panic rose up in his chest. He’d been wrong and she hadn’t felt the flames licking at their heels, burning through them while they fled like wild things through the night. He tried to speak, tried to tell her—but tell her what? His dumbass fucking head stuffed full of useless words his tongue couldn’t handle, but then, then, his fingers at her waist tightened just a little, beyond his control, without his permission, and she stopped, frozen there with her palm pressed over his heart. She had to feel it pounding, had to—

Beth’s eyes sought his again and held, and something shifted in the air, like for a second when their eyes met the Earth stopped spinning and every bird in every tree suddenly fell silent. The she smiled, pained, sleepy, half confused, half relieved, but damn if that didn’t throw the universe back into motion. It made him dizzy and it brought a smile to his face, too, or more of one than he was used to. And his head pounded and his gut roiled and his whole body ached, and he could see the same misery reflected in the red heaviness of her eyes. But it all faded to the background when she lay her head back down on his chest, right back to her puddle of drool, and the tension melted right out of her.

“‘S okay.” He forced the words out past the sand dunes in his own throat, and Beth’s eyes fluttered shut.

She slid her thumb back and forth, slow passes over his collar bone, then breathed out a sigh into his chest.  “Mmm. Gotta pee.”

She made no further move to get up, instead wriggling back into the space she left vacant when she’d gotten up before. Problem was, her talking about that particular bodily function drew his attention to his too-full bladder. “Me too.”

Beth groaned a little and buried her face into his shirt. “You first.”

Neither of them moved for a long time, Daryl lulled to an almost-sleep by the motion of Beth’s thumb and her deep, steady breaths. But when the light got brighter, and the warmth of the day settled in around them—they were laying in full sun, now—Daryl knew they needed to move but it felt like the last thing he wanted to do.

But he eased his arm out from beneath her because if not he was gonna wet himself or die of dehydration, and she sat up with him, just as sweaty and sick as he was. “Gonna get water.”

Beth, one hand pressed to her forehead, gave a little nod and said, “I’ll help.”

They barely made it down the ladder before Daryl had to find a corner to piss in, and from the pink on Beth’s cheeks and the relieved look on her face, she’d done the same. Though the animals were long gone, a stack of metal milking pails sat in a corner of the barn, and the covered well in the pasture outside provided four bucketfuls of clean, cool water.  And it was a pain in the ass hauling them up to the loft, but even though they never said, they were gonna stay the day in relative safety and suffer the hangover without suffering anything worse.

So they sat in the shade in the hay, warm with the summer heat, drinking the cool water and avoiding the world for a while. And what came to life, the burn surging through Daryl’s veins, reflected back to him in little glimmers each time his eyes met Beth’s, when their shoulders touched, when her fingers brushed over his arm or the back of his hand for no other reason than she seemed to want them to. And though he didn’t think she was quite where he was, not yet—he pushed down the other voice in his head, the one who sounded like Merle, when it tried to whisper not ever—he couldn’t doubt her kindness, her friendship and empathy, her knowing where he’d been and sticking with him anyway, and he’d take it. He’d take anything she offered.

He didn’t know what it was, not really, and he didn’t know why—except he did, because it was Beth, Beth and her goodness and her words that got right up inside him, slicing like scalpels at the dead parts, cutting them out and leaving behind something new and delicate and so fucking poetic he could hardly stand to be in his own head. But he revelled in it, in the way it filled him up with lightness and stirred the heat in his veins each time she looked over at him and smiled.

Beth filled her little tin cup but didn’t drink, and nudged his shoulder with hers until he looked at her face. “I’ve never found a shack full of moonshine that I didn’t burn down.”

Daryl snorted, but lifted his cup and took a drink of the sweet, cool water. “I never met a Greene who ain’t a complete badass.”

Beth wrinkled her nose at him. “I’m not a badass. You drink.”

“You are.” Daryl nodded toward her cup, picturing her in front of the fire, middle finger raised like a great big fuck you to the past. “An’ if you don’t know that, you drink.”

But she left her cup where it was, an adorable pink flush colouring her pale cheeks and her smile shy, almost embarrassed.  And he felt the tips of his ears go hot, and knew he’d be pinking up, too, but he didn’t care because he’d said something right for the first goddamn time.

“Okay,” Beth said, giggling in a way that was more adorable than her pink cheeks or her little smile. “I’ve never tasted peach schnapps.”

“Playin’ dirty, Greene.” Daryl lifted the water cup to his lips and took a little sip. “I never wanted to taste peach schnapps.”

Beth narrowed her eyes and pretended to scowl at him before draining her cup. “I never had a headache as bad as this one.”

Daryl drained his own cup and said, at her amused look, “Done a lotta things, got a lotta headaches.”

The first time around, he’d wanted no part of this game, silly and meant for giggling teenage girls stealing their mama’s fruit wine and thinkin’ themselves grown up and rebellious. But it was different now, after, after the shack, after the tears, after confessions on the porch. After the fire, the fire still burning inside him. It was theirs, not just some silly waste of time, but something between the two of them now that meant so much more.

Daryl refilled his cup and waited until Beth did the same. “I never told anyone else who I was, before.”

Beth took her drink, but her eyes never left his, watching him over the rim of her cup. “I’ve never not kept a secret.”

Daryl didn’t drink, so Beth did, not once looking away from his face. “I’m not sorry I got out with you.”

“That—” Daryl’s voice hitched, and he swallowed it down, because he didn’t want to believe her but he knew she weren’t lying. He cleared his throat, still watching her, blue eyes shimmering, bottom lip caught up in her teeth. “That ain't how the game works.”

“I don’t care,” Beth said, breaking eye contact now to lean her head on his shoulder.

Daryl didn’t know what possessed him to shift so he could tuck his arm around her, but he didn’t question it when Beth curled up to his side like she had while they slept, only they were sittin’ up wide awake in a hayloft, drinking well water and hiding from reality for the day while their hangovers died a slow death.

He brushed the tip of his nose into her wild, golden hair, and maybe he imagined the way she took in a deep breath, or maybe not. But when he whispered his words into the tangled strands, and her fingers again drew slow patterns along his collarbone, he knew she believed him. Knew she understood the words for what they were.

“I ain’t sorry, either.”
*~*

That night Beth slept with her head pillowed on his chest and her arm thrown across his stomach, and when he wrapped his arm around her back all she did was snuggle closer. They’d secured the barn doors below and strung up alarms, pulled the ladder up into the loft and gave themselves an illusion of safety. Daryl could’ve slept, but he was so caught up in watching Beth sleep that his eyes wouldn’t shut, his brain wouldn’t stop thinking, writing poetry that should’ve made him wanna puke but instead just made his heart beat faster. He didn’t know how she’d thrown his world upside down and inside out in the span of one night, but he knew enough to understand how incredible that was, making him think about words like unlikely and miraculous and once-in-a-lifetime.

Toward dawn he drifted off for a short while, only to wake to the sunrise and the sight of Beth’s eyes open and watching him, instead. Without words, because he didn’t really need any and neither did she, they packed up and left the barn behind in the new morning light. He wasn’t sure where they were goin’, but for the first time since the prison fell, he felt like they were moving forward, heading for something instead of just tryin’ to survive.

And that, he knew, was entirely because of Beth Greene.

That night in the woods when they made their camp, Daryl took first watch and Beth didn’t hesitate to curl up beside him, laying her head on his lap and tucking in close. He let his hand settle on her shoulder and after a while he found himself running his thumb over the knotted muscles while Beth moaned and rolled her shoulders into his touch. And when he let his touch soften, to something like the way she’d brushed her fingers along his collarbone the night before, Beth drifted off to sleep right there beside him.

He was struck with the sudden thought that he would do everything in his power to keep her there.
*~*

“It’s no use. It’s too hard.” Beth’s arms shook from the effort of trying to draw the crossbow, which he’d already known was too much weight for her but let her try anyway.

He shrugged and took the bow from her, drawing back and not missing the way her eyes flickered toward his arms and the way the muscles flexed. “Don’t mean you can’t learn how to use it.”

“As long as you don’t mind reloading for me every time.” Beth took hold of the crossbow again, hefting it up like he’d shown her, almost perfect.

“Elbow out a little more,” he said, guiding her with his fingertips until she had it right. “Get good at this and maybe we’ll start looking for a bow of your own.”

That brought a smile to her face, albeit a distracted one, since she was sighting on the target he’d tied to the tree—a bit of rabbit hide he saved from supper a few nights back.  He stood behind her and sighted with her, hovering at her back while she breathed and waited to feel the shot, like he’d shown her.

She exhaled and loosed the arrow. It hit the target, imbedding in the bottom corner of the scrap of hide, which was her best shot yet. Beth lowered the bow and spun around to face him, trying not to look as excited as he could see she was, eyes wide but her lip caught in her teeth like she had a hope in hell of preventing the grin blooming there.

He grunted and pretended to be unimpressed, but Beth saw through it as easily as he saw through her, and she set down the bow and launched herself at him. Startled, he caught her around the waist as she hugged him close and laughed in his ear, and he relented and told her she’d done good.

The next day, she missed a rabbit by only a hair—and laughed after that she’d missed it by a hare, get it?  But two days later she got one, a good, clean shot, and afterward she’d skinned and gutted it like a pro—Otis hunted, Daryl, but who do you think did the cooking? And she sat there while he got it spitted and hung up over the fire, because that was only fair since she’d done the rest, blood on her hands and a smear of it on her cheek, lookin’ so damn pleased with herself he coulda kissed her right then and there.

The idea both surprised him, and didn’t. Because even if he didn’t know much about this sorta thing, whatever this was brewing inside him, the heat in his belly that came from looking at her, or hearing her voice, or saying her name, of course it was leading to this. To taking every chance presented to him to touch her shoulder, her waist, the back of her hand. To rub her aching shoulders or stroke her hair while she slept with her head in his lap. Only natural—he guessed, because he’d never felt like this before—for that urge to go deeper.

He didn’t kiss her, but he wanted to. And that night when he took first watch, and she curled up like she always did these days with her head on his lap, knee drawn up so her leg draped over his, he wondered, not for the first time, if the glint he saw in her eyes, increasingly more often as the days and weeks wore on, meant she was fightin’ the same battle inside. If she was, he wondered when she was gonna loose the fight, ‘cause he was damn close to that already, but it wouldn’t do him a lick of good if she wasn’t there with him.
*~*

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