Daryl heaved an agitated sigh as he ran the mop across the tiled floor of the Arts Center entryway. He glanced over his shoulder to the doors, checking to make sure they were locked up tight for the night. Daryl hated this job but he needed something to do while waiting for Merle to get back out of prison. He hated having to clean up after people but a job was a job and it gave him something to do when he wasn't out hunting, plus it gave him some money to spend on whatever he wanted.
The man's ears suddenly picked up the sound of a piano being played and he cursed aloud, realizing he had forgotten to make sure the place was empty before he had begun cleaning. Annoyed, he slammed the mop back into the bucket and stomped his way down the halls, fully intending to berate the person who was still in the center after hours. Daryl followed the music to the auditorium and he realized the music was coming from a CD player on the edge of the stage.
His blue eyes moved from the CD player to the person on the stage, his mouth opening to yell out at them. His words died in his throat when his eyes fell on the beautiful blonde pirouetting on the stage. Her movements were graceful, fluid and perfectly timed to the notes of the music. Her long blonde hair was tied back in a messy ponytail that flowed behind her as she rose on her toes in her pointe shoes.
Daryl felt his anger dissipate and he found himself leaning against the doorframe, watching the dancer as she ran through her routine flawlessly. The ballerina's eyes moved to the empty seating in front of her before her eyes focused on him and she stumbled in surprise, her ankle twisting harshly, making her fall with a loud thud to the stage. The hunter moved quickly towards her, an unusual concern filling him as he launched his body on to the stage beside the injured blonde as she lay on her back, groaning in pain.
"Are you alright?" he asked, his eyes taking in the swelling of her ankle. "I didn't mean to scare you…" guilt filled him and the blonde nodded, biting her lip in pain.
"Yea, I'm…fine…hurts…" she admitted and he nodded.
"Can you move it?" he asked the blonde, his hand gently taking her injured foot in his hand. She rotated the joint slightly, gasping in pain as she did. "Seems like a bad sprain…" he told her as she eased herself to sitting up, her eyes finally meeting his. If Daryl had thought the blonde was beautiful from far away, she was gorgeous up close. Angel-like in her beauty and grace.
"I'll be okay…" she told him. "I'm Beth…"
"Daryl, come on, let's get these shoes off. The first aid kit has some wraps in it, we'll wrap your ankle." Daryl leaned over and turn off the CD player before helping the ballerina unfasten the ribbons wrapped around her ankles and sliding the pink pointe shoes off her feet. He eyed the strange gel contraption wrapped around her toes and she laughed at his confused expression, her pain momentarily forgotten.
"They help provide cushion against the glued fabric in the toes," she explained. Daryl eyed the shoes before glancing at her, his eyebrows quirked in an unreadable expression.
"What do ya mean, glued fabric in the toes?" He tapped the toes of her shoes with a finger, feeling the wood-like stiffness of the material. "Feels like it's made outta wood."
"It does, more so when you're standing on it. It's really just a bunch of layers of fabric stuck together with a special kind of hardening glue." Beth eased herself to stand, testing her ankle before grimacing and leaning slightly. Daryl quickly wrapped his arm around her, supporting her weight as they walked slowly off the stage and to the break room.
"What are ya doin here so late?" he asked as he fought the urge to rush the blonde along. She was walking really slowly. Guilt continued to grow as he chastised himself for wanting to rush her. It was his fault she was hurt, he could bare being patient. Beth looked around in surprise and Daryl realized she must have lost track of time and hadn't known that the Center had closed for the day.
"I didn't realize it was so late. I'm sorry; I'm keeping you from going home, aren't I? I'm really sorry, I was so wrapped up in preparing for my recital…" her blue eyes looked down at their feet in shame and Daryl had to bite back a bitter chuckle. He still had a couple of hours to go before the end of his shift.
"Nah, I've still got stuff to do. Was about to come yell at you for still being here when I saw ya dancing." Beth blushed slightly and Daryl cleared his throat.
"Snails move faster than you, girl." She laughed slightly.
"I'm goin as fast I can, Daryl!" Daryl didn't know what possessed him to do it; all he knew was that he liked the feel of the blonde's touch. He stopped them, bending slightly as he wrapped an arm under her legs and lifted her easily off the ground, carrying her bridal style the few feet to the break room. She let out a laugh, her dainty arms wrapping around his neck as he carried her into the room and set her down gently on top of a table. Embarrassment filled the man as he turned to grab the first aid kit, taking a deep breath as he mentally berated himself for doing such an intimate act for the woman since he barely knew her while he pulled out the ACE bandage and opened the plastic bag that held it.
"Thank you," Beth told him softly as he returned to her side and sat down in one of the chairs beside her and wrapped her ankle. Daryl's eyes met hers briefly and he nodded, refocusing on wrapping her ankle.
" 's no problem. My fault anyways for scarin' ya like that…" he mumbled. Her earlier words came back to him as he fastened the wrap. "When's your recital?"
"It's not for another month, but I get really anxious before them and feel the need to practice as often as I can…."
"You don't need to," the words left his mouth before his brain could stop them and he closed his eyes angrily. He was just determined to make an ass of himself in front of the girl it seemed. He forced his eyes to open and he met the beautiful blue eyes of the angel in front of him. Her cheeks were pink and she looked away nervously. "Be anxious, I mean…you…did good. Before…" he gestured nervously to her ankle and her cheeks reddened more.
"You…think so?" she asked, her voice cracking as her nerves rose. He nodded mutely and the two sat in silence for a moment.
"Do you…would you…be interested in coming to my recital?" she asked, her voice soft as her hands fiddled nervously with the hem of her shorts. Daryl blinked at her in surprise and she immediately backpedaled. "Of course, you don't, you don't even know me and you probably have a girlfriend or a wife and better things to do then watch some strange, clumsy girl…" she rambled and Daryl found himself distracted by her before her words sank in.
"Nah, I don't have a girlfriend or wife." Her eyes widened and she blushed.
"Really? I figured a guy like you would have someone…" Daryl stared at her in confusion. Part of him wanted to feel insulted. A guy like him? What the hell did she mean by that?!
"A guy like me?" he asked, his agitation making his voice sound like a growl. Beth shook her head.
"No, I meant…you're…." she looked away awkwardly, "attractive…figured you'd be taken." Daryl's heart gave a painful jump. The gorgeous blonde thought he was attractive? That was a ridiculous thought. He must have misheard her. There was no way a woman like Beth would find himattractive.
"Nah, I ain't…"
"You are." Her eyes met his and he saw the sincerity of her words in them. Daryl found his thoughts become a train wreck in his head and he nodded dumbly.
"It ain't everyday a pretty girl asks you to come see her perform…I've never been to a recital before. What do I do?" Beth's face split into a beautiful smile and Daryl felt his breath still in his lungs at the sight of it.
"Nothing. You just come, sit and watch me perform. It'll probably be boring for you but I could treat you to some ice cream or something afterwards as a thank you." Daryl nodded, though he decided he would definitely be treating the blonde to an ice cream or whatever she wanted after her recital. "It could be a date…?" Beth mumbled and Daryl stared at her in surprise.
"Yeah?" she nodded at his question and he grinned slightly.
"Why wait a month for ice cream?" he asked her and she smiled again, chuckling slightly. "I gotta finish up some things, but I'll treat ya to a sundae or something. As an apology for getting ya hurt."
"It's a date," she eased herself off the table as he stood. "I'll get my things." Daryl nodded, following the limping blonde out of the room and watching her make her way to the dressing rooms.
He smiled slightly as he returned to the mop. Damn, he hated this job…
But it had just gotten him a date with the most beautiful woman he had ever seen so maybe it wasn't that bad.