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Starting Over

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Rachel

 

Class had just got out, And I had to grab my book for Economics. I started down the hallway when someone ran into me but kept running. I scoffed. These kids were the worst. I sighed and kept walking, glaring at the two boys running. As I turned the corner I saw a swarm of kids, all running towards the circle they had created. A fight. I rolled my eyes as I approached my locker and begin to open it. I hated it here, I hated everything about this place.

I looked over towards the fight when an old friend jogged towards me. Slightly out of breathe, he uttered, "It's Daryl." My eyes lit up but it was nothing new. I sighed, "Dammit." I put my books back into my locker and slammed it quickly. I wouldn't be needing them anymore. I ran over to the crowd and pushed my way through. I couldn't see much of what was going on due to my height, I elbowed my way in until I finally got to the center of it all.

Daryl.

His hands were up in a fight stance. His eye was already bruised and his cheek had a shiner; blood shown on his nose and his bottom lip. He looked hurt, but he wouldn't stay down. He never stood down.

I looked over at the other guy. Matthew, he had tormented Daryl since the 6th grade, but only last year had they really started fighting frequently. Asshole. Daryl managed to beat his other friends but could never keep Matthew down.

"Daryl!" I shouted at him over all the other chants and scream from kids. I was pissed. When I yelled, he heard me and glanced my way and- Daryl took another blow to the face.

I reacted fast and without thinking, I reached for Matthews's hair. I grabbed it and pulled his head back to face me. As soon as I did my fist slammed into his nose. I then forced his head onto the ground and grabbed him by the collar. He put his hands up defensively, preparing to block the blow that would come next. I scoffed at him and pushed his shirt into him, making him stay on the floor. The crowd had gone silent, with occasional sounds of amusement.

I quickly stood up and looked over to Daryl, he was panting and watched as he was getting up from that last blow he took. He looked furious, but his eyes said embarrassed. He lunged forward towards Matthew but I caught his arms. Not looking at me, he yelled at Matthew, "Fucking Prick!"

I got in front of his face, making him meet my eyes. "Daryl!" His eyes were red, clouded with anger. "Daryl." His eyes finally came to and some of his tension eased. "We need to leave now, c'mon!" I heard a teacher shouting and the crowd begin to break up and scatter. "Pussy! Having your bitch save you!" Matthew taunted. Daryl's arms tensed but I wouldn't let up.  "Hey! Now!" I said sharply and Daryl looked back to me and only nodded, yanking his arm out of my grasp. He grunted and I mocked him in return. We quickly made our way out the side doors, heading towards the parking lot.

 

Daryl

 

I was angry, so fucking angry. And embarrassed.. How could she do that? Why would she even think to humiliate me like that? Step in and rescue me like I'm- I'm never gonna hear the end of it. She didn't get it. Just another reason for those assholes to mess with me. With us. I stormed off ahead of her. I heard her yelling at me but I kept walking. I didn't want to hear it, especially not from her.

I heard her coming up fast from behind and when I finally turned around she grabbed my arm and pulled me back to stop me.

"You're bleeding dammit, just wait for a sec-" she started, beginning to pull her tissues out of her backpack. I huffed but waited. I was then hit with her pack of tissues as she shoved them into my ribs. I winced and she rolled her eyes. I was hurting bad. Hell if she knew why I was getting my ass beat in the first place. The prick was taunting me. I was fine, ignoring him, but he had to bring her into it.

We walked to her Dart and got in. She started the car and turned to face me. She held a cold glare for a beat and then shifted out of park. We headed out.

She was silent. I hated her silence. It was her way of being heard. Her silence could pierce ears, and she did it to prove a point, letting idiots sit on the shit they've made. And it always worked.

I felt bad for how I acted towards her, but my damm ego is way too big when it comes to her having my back. I appreciated everything, but I only wanted to defend her and of course she ends up defending me. The image of her punching Matthew played in my head over and over. And each time, it became more amusing and less irritating. After sometime I smirked. I looked over at her in amazement and let out a snort. She looked over coldly and I couldn't help but grin.

"What?!" She said sharply, looking annoyed and shit. I just shook my head and looked ahead, knowing it would get a reaction.

"What?!" She asked again - not as sharp, though even more annoyed.

I looked over at her and stared for a beat. God I loved that face.

"That was one helluva swing Matty took to the face.." I looked down smiling. Knowing she was trying to contain hers, I persisted until I could get it out of her. "Huh?" I pushed playfully and there it was. A prideful smirk crept at the corner of her mouth. I went say something else but I looked down at her hand on the wheel. It was red and slightly bruised. I looked back at her concerned. She noticed.

She shook her head. "Doesn't hurt.. it's fine, it felt great.." She was serious as she stared ahead, but when she turned to me she met me with a frenzied, yet tired smile. I couldn't help but smile back. Could never stay mad at her.. and I always got her to come around within a short amount of time too-

She frowned. "I'm still pissed Daryl. You can't keep doing this. You'll get kicked out or get really hurt. What would I do then? What would you do?" She was calm but very rooted in what she was saying. I could only listen. I didn't like it, fighting- but sometimes there's nothing else you could do but fight. It's all I've ever seen growing up. I knew what was worth fighting for, and she was at the very top of that list. I had nothing else but her. My brother left, I had only my dad- wasn't any good to me. Only her. Her family too. They were too good to me. I didn't want her mom seeing me like this again. I suddenly felt ashamed as we neared her house.

"They aren't home.. don't have to worry" She said softly. Crazy how much she could read my mind..

"Where's your mom?" I asked quietly.

"She's at my grandma's this morning with Layla.." she trailed off. I only nodded.

As we pulled up I looked at her, she looked at me for a sec then quickly got out and shut the door. I sat there for a beat. When I went to get up I gasped and grabbed onto the door. I wasn't looking forward to seeing what it looked like under my shirt. I knew she'd ask to see it too. I looked over and saw her watching me struggle to get out of the car. She scowled and turned towards the door; I sighed and followed her inside.

Once we got inside, she left the room. I walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge and took out a 2 Popsicles and compress. As she walked back in I motioned one to her and she shook her head. I jumped up to sit on the counter as she begin to poor peroxide onto a towel. It was a routine at this point.

She begin to wipe the blood off my face. For being upset, she was always gentle and calming. We both stayed silent in these kinds of moments. She had me hold the compress to my cheek. I looked around the room as she tended to my nose. When she begin to tend to my mouth I looked to her and her eyes. We both looked away as fast as we looked at each other. I was always too afraid of ruining moments or something- I don't know. When she moved her focus off my face I looked at her, for a moment her eyes met mine again but I didn't look away. For being brown they were pretty beautiful. Light brown eyes that matched her wavy hair. Her hair was something else. It was everywhere, but never looked crazy messy-

I flinched as she pressed her hand into my ribs.. I hit him good twice out of the other 15 swing and misses I threw. But I managed to be punched at least 7 times. Kicked twice..

She looked up at me, her face almost expressionless but I could see something else in her eyes. Pity. How awful. She could tell where my mind had gone so she moved her attention, looking up at me. She was so small, she still had to look up a ways. I gave a weak smirk, trying to break the tension? I couldn't tell what kind of tension it was so I just ignored it. Her mind had shifted when I did this. She looked back to my shirt and she finally spoke up.

"Lift it up." She demanded. I looked at her, silently pleading to leave it alone, but she stood her ground and kept with her hard stare. "S'nothin' Rache.." I promised, it being barely audible. She gave me that look and I sighed knowing that I lost this one. I lifted up my shirt a little past my ribs where I knew it was bruised. She let out a weary sigh and looked up at me.

"Was it worth it?" She asked calmly. I stared at her, for a split second I glanced down to her lips, then looked to the floor and begin to chew on my lip. Looking down, I saw the bruises on my ribs and I hated myself for always putting her in the position to take care of me. I brought my eyes up to hers. "Mhmm"  I sounded and nodded. She didn't say anything and continued to examine each bruise. I let my head hang down while she finished up with me.

When she finished she began to turn away. I jumped down from the counter I lightly grasped her wrist and she quickly met my gaze.

 

Rachel

 

When Daryl grabbed me I spun around to meet him. He stared down at me and I stared back with the same intensity. The look he gave me killed me, but I was upset with him.. I was. He stepped closer to me, only inches away.

"Thanks.." he said softly. His voice was low and raspy. My eyes softened and I went to speak but couldn't. I only nodded. He softly let go, letting his hand slide down past mine, and turned to throw the popsicle sticks away. I let out a breathe I didn't realize I was holding.

I couldn't ever stay angry with Daryl. It was impossible. But him getting himself into trouble was not okay. He would not turn out like his brother and father. He was so much better than that. He had too much heart to stoop to their low selves. Seeing him beaten like that hurt, especially knowing that he had been subjected to abuse since he was 10. Actually seeing it happen to him was too much. Daryl deserved better. It wasn't fair.

"I'm going to go clean up, get ready and we'll head out. Kay?" I said walking away and towards the hall.
"Kay" was all he said. I turned around and saw him biting his nails while pulling up a chair at the table. I walked into my room and begin to get ready.

I have wanted nothing but the best for him. I loved him. Of course I loved Daryl Dixon. He was my best friend. We had always been. When his mom died, things really changed for him and his family. His dad had always been a lowly human being, but after her death, he drank his days away. Gambled, sold the items that remained from the fire, stripped everything from those boys. Daryl had only been 9, his brother was already older and more independent. His brother Merle.. he took care of Daryl, but he was cruel and cold. He wasn't any good for him, but he's gone now.

I remember the day his mother died, I had seen Daryl following the other boys around the neighborhood. We were friends at school, so he looked over and saw me on my porch. We both waved and smiled... I remember hearing the sirens. My dad saying that there was a fire not too far.. I saw him come into class the next day. His eyes were dark and he kept his head down but still sat in his seat. He began to take his books out until our teacher saw him sit down. She had him go to the office. Once he left she had announced to he class that his mother had died the day before. She hugged him when he came back, he looked uncomfortable.

Daryl was always a pretty quiet boy but after that day, he kept only to himself. Everyone began to treat him different. They danced around him like he would break if they got too close. After two days of watching it all play out I walked up to him. It took him time but he eventually opened up. Once I had seen his scars, we put all our trust into each other's hands. Understanding what kind of world he lived in without his mom there.

He cried when it happened. I showed him how to flip and hang from the monkey bars. He hung upside down and his shirt fell. He panicked and tried to cover himself and he fell to the ground.. He insisted I could never tell, that it made him stronger and that one day he would be strong and old enough to where he could leave before his dad did anything bad to him, like Merle would. We had been inseparable since. Well at least up until we were 13.

We hit a bit of a weird season. I was changing in my room and I guess my dad told him he'd find me there. Daryl opened the door without hesitation and saw me shirtless. He froze, wide-eyed, he stammered, "shit!" And covered his eyes. I yelled at him about knocking and he stumbled out of the room. We didn't really talk throughout the rest of 7th through 8th grade.

He had his group of friends at school and I had mine during that time. He mainly just stood there silently while they goofed off. We had 3 classes together during that period and we avoided each other. Finally we were assigned to sit next to each other the first week of 9th grade. By the end of the first quarter, we were back to where we had been before the boob scare.

We had been great, but the past few months things begin to get out of control with him and the jerks at school. Being that he was a "poor, hot-headed, son of a drunk, redneck" who had a "soft spot" for me.. he was an easy target for them. The two of us had kept to ourselves most of sophomore and junior year. With one year left and with not much trouble we had been ready to just finish and get out of there. But for whatever reason, trouble has followed him- us since..

I changed and begin to fix my hair. I kept thinking about what just happened out there. Why things have been silently different between us.

This tension we've been having, it was fairly new. Maybe it's just a biological  awareness  that we are opposite sexes and were often alone or close. But I mean- it's Daryl... I'm Rachel. So why has this been a thing? How could we know if what we- well what I'm feeling is real? How do I even know if what I feel around him is more than what we had been? These feelings were obviously real and obviously made sense. We loved each other.. maybe now in a different way than how we had. It gave me a headache. It was silly. We have been more on edge with each other but whenever there might be something, it deflates. This stress ache was all Daryl Dixon. Everything was Daryl.

I took one last look in the mirror and sighed. I put on my favorite ball-cap, grabbed my things, and headed back into the kitchen to find him still biting his nails and lost in thought. Once I neared him he looked over at me. "Ready?" He asked. "Yup."