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A Different Kind of Life

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It had been said what seemed to be hundreds of times. They just weren't right for each other. What could Beth possibly see in Daryl? She was young and beautiful. Smart as a whip. He was quiet and brooding and shaggy looking with that long hair and ratty clothes. Yes, Daryl grew up on the wrong side of the tracks with a drunk for a father while Beth grew up on a prosperous farm with a well known, well liked family.  And that age difference. That really had people’s tongues wagging.

He was all wrong for her. Everyone, except for a short list of people, thought so. Beth and Daryl knew what people said, what they thought. What they whispered behind their backs, or for a few people that actually had the gull, said to their (mostly Beth’s) faces. To Beth’s credit, she handled it well, always taking the high road. Daryl on the other hand, no one said anything outright to him. Just about everyone knew better. If they didn’t know better, they learned real fast.

Beth reassured Daryl it wasn’t anyone’s business what they did. Let them talk, she’d tell him. Daryl thought deep down it had to bother her though. He couldn’t help be agitated by everyone’s, her parents in particular, insistent need to have an opinion about what does not concern them.

Beth was over twenty after all. All grown up. Daryl was, well, he was older. Life with him wasn’t easy for her and he felt bad about that. She caught flak from her parents, from her sister, from her brother. And from anyone else that felt the need to throw their two cents in. All because of him.

Really, he couldn’t give a shit less what other people thought of him. Daryl Dixon didn’t prove himself to anyone. For Beth, though, and only for her, he tried numerous times to make it, okay, to make her family feel more at ease with the idea of the two of them together. To make them see he was there to stay and they may as well accept it. Accept him and Beth.

It wasn’t right. He wished he could just break it off with her. He’d be doing her a favor. It would definitely make things easier for her. She could date someone closer in age. Someone her parents thought to be more appropriate. Someone who had a nice comfy desk job with a fancy car and a big house. Not someone like him who worked the at local Refinery. It was good money, but not up to the Greene’s standards for their little girl.

What kind of life can he give you, Hershel and Annette had asked more than once. A different kind of life, she'd tell them in response, which did nothing to calm their worries. 

That old saying nagged at him; if you love someone let them go. But hell if he could break it off with her. Lord help him, he loved her more than he thought possible.

Before Beth, he didn’t believe in love. Never been witness to it. Matter of fact, he didn't know anyone with a good marriage. His parents seemed to hate each other until the day his mother died. His own brother was on his third marriage. Even if this one seemed a little more solid than the last two Merle and Carol still fought like cats and dogs.

When he was with Beth though, everything was different. He was different. She made him believe in things he never thought possible. If he allowed himself, he saw a future. It just wasn’t the future everyone else had planned for her, but a future they’d build together on their own terms.

What confused him the most was that Beth seemed to want a life with him.

He wasn’t sure what that meant. 'A life with him', but it sounded serious. It simultaneously scared the hell out of him and made him ache with want. He often wondered what life could he, a Dixon, give her? She deserved every little thing her heart desired. He wasn’t sure he could do that. He worked hard, always had and always will, still that probably wouldn't be good enough to appease her parents. And maybe even Beth.

Sometimes she made him drive through neighborhoods with huge houses, houses even bigger than the farmhouse she lived in with her family. Ooh-ing and Aww-ing over the humongous homes that he’d never, baring winning the lottery, afford. Or want for that matter. He was fine with his little cabin nestled in the woods fifteen minutes out of town. Beth seemed fine there too, she fit into his life there. Said she loved it. And best of all they could be alone there. Just the two of them, the way he liked it best. It confused him; if she claimed to love the cabin, why then did she get that dreamy look in her eyes whenever they drove through one of those neighborhoods.

The Greene’s weren’t swimming in money by any means. They weren’t hurting for cash either. And Beth being the baby, she got everything her heart desired.

Including him.

He’d never forget the day they met - or rather the first time he set eyes on her. They didn't formally meet for years after that. He was working for her daddy bailing hay. It was hotter than the surface of the sun and he and the other workers had come up to the barn for lunch break, to enjoy a few minutes of shade from a huge maple tree.

There she was on the porch off the house, talking with an older dark haired girl. Wearing cutoffs, showing off long, smooth legs, a cropped top teasing an inch or two of perfectly porcelain skin. To top it all off, she was wearing low lying pigtails, her hair trailing down over her shoulders on each side. Firggin’ pigtails! Completing his country girl fantasy. When he first caught sight of her, he stopped so abruptly, Shane, his friend who had gotten the job, ran right into the back of him.

Throughout that summer he’d catch glimpses of her. He’d be lying to himself if he said he wasn’t outright looking for her anytime he passed between the barn and house. Whenever he did see her she looked just as hot as the first time.

Who was she? Obviously, she belonged to the Greene’s in some way. How old was she? She looked young-ish. Probably too young. It didn’t matter in the end. He never got closer than the distance from the barn to the house to her.

But the next summer, when Hershel Greene hired him again for his work crew, there she was. Legs even longer, hair a little shorter, up in a ponytail most of the time. The few times he caught a glimpse of her when her hair was down his fingers tingled to touch its glossy smoothness

During that year, she had matured. Her body had more of a womanly curve to it. She was still probably too young. Because of that, he tried desperately not to look. He had other things to think about, had no time to worry about some kid.

The third summer working for Mr. Greene, he finally got up enough courage to ask Shane about her. Their friendship worked because while Daryl was quiet, Shane talked to everyone. Seemed to know everyone as well. Shane informed him that that “pretty thang” was the youngest of the Greene family. Her name was Beth. And she was only eighteen friggin’ years old.

If he thought he had a snowball's chance in hell with a girl like her, that last little bit of information was enough for Daryl to keep his distance.

It was a couple more years before he actually spoke to her. He’d never forget that night either.

. . .

It was a typical scene in a typical small town. Trucks gathered in a vacant field. A large bonfire blazing and a group of people milling about. Drinking. Talking. Same shit, different day.

He'd just landed a job working the graveyard shift at the refinery in town and working nights wasn't as easy as he thought it'd be. He was quickly growing accustomed to staying awake all night even on the weekends when he didn't have to work. The lack of sleep and lack of seeing the sun shine was wearing on his temper, leaving it short and strained.

When Shane asked him to go out and party with him, he reluctantly agreed. If he stayed home, he'd fall asleep, inadvertently screwing up his third shift sleep schedule. If he went out he'd at least stay awake until early Sunday morning.

They followed where word had it there was a party just out of town at somebody's daddy's farm. They'd been there a few hours and Shane had disappeared a while ago with some girl he'd probably realize soon enough wasn't near as pretty in the day light as he thought her to be here in the light of the fire with a half a case of Bud in his gut.

Always feeling the outsider, needing to get away from the crowd, his head beginning to throb, he wandered back to his truck parked further down the field (because if anyone hit it, it'd be a sad day for that individual). Leaning against the drivers door he lit a cigarette blowing a white train of smoke up into the nights sky.

Looking up at all the stars blinking brightly, the moon shining in full. He didn't think about much but was apparently so lost in thought that he startled when a pretty, feminine voice said, “Hey!”

His vision followed the voice and a blonde appeared out of the darkness, practically glowing in the moonlight. Wearing bleached almost white cutoffs and a sleeveless white blouse hugging her body. The bottom two buttons were undone showing off a perfect belly button if he'd ever seen one.

At first, he said nothing, his voice caught in the middle of his throat. It was Princess Greene. He hadn't seen her since last summer, he'd recognize her anywhere. Except now she had grown up. Grown up into the most beautiful woman he ever laid eyes on, if he could make such a claim in the short amount of time she stood in front of him. When his mouth caught up to his brain, he mumbled “Hey,” or something akin to that.

Then she giggled. For some inexplicable reason, it made him want to smile. Which, of course, he did not. Just looked down at his feet, fiddled with the cigarette between his fingers.

“Aww, you shy?” She questioned, taking a step closer, as if his lack of words made it some sort of challenge. He peered at her suspiciously out of the tops of his eyes when she came to stand next to him.

“Hey, I know you,” she exclaimed, excited now. “You’re that guy that daddy hired a few summers to help with hay.”

He nodded, his eyes going back to his feet.

“What’s a matter? Cat got your tongue?” She teased, leaning against the side of the hood of the truck, facing him.

What the hell? Who’d this girl think she was? Leaning against his truck, teasing him like she knew him.

If she was put off by his non talkativeness, she didn't let on. It seemed to intrigue her. Egg her on. Conversation wasn't his strong suit to begin with and if you put a pretty girl the likes of Beth Greene in front of him, he couldn't formulate two words let alone whole sentences.

“You gonna’ work for him this year?” She asked.

“Na’,” was his only answer. It didn't really matter. He doubted she actually cared. He kept quiet, figuring he was looking pretty close to an idiot either way, so he just continued to smoke. Acting like it was the most important thing he had to do right then.

She giggled again, “Well, why not?”

He rolled a shoulder. “Got another job.”

“Oh. That's too bad.”

“Why's that?” He asked, his curiosity peaked. Farm work was hard work. Especially that of a farm hand/grunt worker. Work at the Refinery wasn't much better. He figured he was doomed for a life of hard labor no matter what. The Refinery was the lesser of the two evils. There he was paid well, had insurance. Retirement. All the bullshit needed to be an adult.

She pushed away from the truck, stepped right in front of him. She was a foot shorter even in her cowboy boots. He was struck at how petite she was compared to him. How his hands could probably reach around her waist and overlap. He felt big and lumbering next to her.

“Because if you don't work for daddy I can't watch you from my bedroom window, that's why,” she practically purred.

Huh? He hadn't been expecting that. Her brazen admission had him more than a little confused about her.

Suddenly she was stepping away from him, and that was the last thing he wanted. Something similar to panic slithered in his gut. He reacted more out of reflex than brains and grabbed her by the wrist, pulling her back to him.

"Hold up. What'd you mean, girl?"

Now that he had her there, he wasn't sure what his next move would be. One thing was certain though, he liked the way the smooth skin of her wrist felt under his calloused fingers. The way her wrist bone jutted out just so and the way his thumb moved back and forth over it. The thump of her heartbeat bumping under his forefinger.

Her eyes drifted from his face to where his hand was clamped over her wrist, then back up to his face, arching an eyebrow. Amused.

He quickly released her wrist, but the feel of her skin stayed on his fingers.

“What does what mean?” She asked, a coy smile playing on her lips. “I just enjoyed the view of y’all in the field from my window.”

Was she flirting with him? She must be drunk. Flicking his cigarette a few feet from them, he scoffed. “Whatever,”

She shrugged her shoulders, rolled her eyes and mimicked him, mumbling  “Whatever”.

It made him chuckle. Daryl never thought of anyone as cute before. This girl was. Beautiful, actually. And so unbelievably out of his league it wasn’t funny. He shouldn’t even be talking to her. Yet here he was, talking to her. Not only talking to her, but not wanting her to leave him and go back to the party where she did belong. He couldn’t believe the next words coming out of his own mouth…

“Ya’ wanna’ get outta here?”

That surprised her, he could tell. It surprised him in return that he liked surprising her.

“And go where?” She asked, sliding her hands into the back pockets of the tight little shorts she wore. All sexy innocence.

“I dunno’. Away from here, away from that,” he answered, jutting with his chin to the crowd that was growing more rambunctious and loud by the minute.

Following his eyes, she looked over the crowd, wrinkled up her nose. She then looked back to him, her face lit up in the most beautifully mischievous grins he’d ever seen.  

To his bafflement, she said, “Sure”.

Just like that, Beth Greene climbed up into Daryl Dixon’s truck and they’ve been together ever since.