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Fright Night

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The sun was starting to sink below the horizon while the strong wind stirred the leaves on trees. The shape of the full moon was now visible, breaking high in the sky, all bright and proud, lighting up the tiny avenues of Newborn, Georgia.

 

Newborn was definitely a small town with less than a thousand inhabitants; however, that day the streets were a lot busier than usual, filled with the sound of laughter, shouts and hurried footsteps from children, excitedly running around from one place to another, carrying their bags and looking for candies.

 

Meanwhile, in one of the houses in a quiet neighborhood, Beth was putting little antennas on her head, then stepped back so she could look in the mirror and smile at her reflection.

She turned around when she heard a whistle behind her and found Daryl leaning on the doorframe, both eyebrows raised. Beth’s smile widened and she turned again quickly.

“Well?” she asked, imitating his gesture, “Come on, what you think?”

 

“You do know Halloween is for kids, right?” he said.

 

Beth approached him to elbow him in the ribs, but he didn’t even flinch. “The kid inside you is an old grump,” she murmured, furrowing her brow and starting to walk away.

 

Daryl gripped her by her waist and pulled her close again. “I am and ol’ grump,” he whispered, so close to her ear that Beth shuddered. Daryl smiled against her hair, squeezing her, “Ya look real pretty.”

 

“Thanks,” she mumbled, almost breathless, stepping away from him. “Where’s Emily?”

 

“Daddyyyyyyy!” A child’s voice was suddenly heard from the other room, “My crown isn’t here! Daaad!”

 

Daryl rested his forehead against Beth’s and sighed resignedly. Beth started laughing.

“C’mon, let’s go,” she said softly, giving him a quick kiss “We can’t have a waiting royal.”

 

He chuckled dryly before he moved away completely and disappeared again. Beth turned around to check that she hadn’t forgotten anything and started messaging Maggie. When she turned around again, she froze for a moment, covering her mouth with her hand to contain herself.

 

Daryl was standing there, wearing a wolf onesie and Ray-Ban glasses, blushing deeply. “Don’t even think…” he grumbled, but Beth couldn’t help it anymore and started laughing hysterically, grabbing her belly with her hands to control the tremors, too caught up in her amusement.

 

She finally stopped when she felt little hands pulling the hem of her tulle skirt, and when she lowered her head she found her daughter raising her arms, trying to convince her to carry her. Beth bent down slightly to lift her up and Emily wrapped herself quickly around her, like a koala in a tree.

 

“Why you laughing, mommy?” asked the little girl, confused, while she fidgeted with Beth’s hair.

 

Beth just laughed harder. “Oh, nothing, sweetheart”, and gave her a loud kiss on the cheek before she lowered Emily again, “Did you find your crown?” Emily nodded energetically.

 

“But you still have to get dressed,” Daryl added, suddenly lifting their daughter up on his shoulders. Emily screamed in pure joy, grasping tightly to her dad. Daryl stopped in the doorway and spun around to glance at Beth one last time. “You and I are gonna have a little chat later.”

 

“I’m shivering,” she assured, even though she was grinning from ear to ear.

 

“We’ll see, Greene,” Daryl answered, smiling in a way that made her tremble. Sometimes she couldn’t understand how she was able to keep feeling like that after five years together, other than that was just the way things were. She still felt butterflies in her stomach when she opened her eyes in the morning and saw him sleeping beside her. Then he would smile at her in that way and…

 

Her cell phone chirped, interrupting her reverie, alerting her to a new message. Maggie and Glenn were also taking their kids for sweets, and both sisters hadn’t stopped sending messages about what was going on in each household. Glenn and Maggie lived in Atlanta, and even though Beth and Maggie they were an hour’s drive apart, they tried to see each other as often as they could.

 

That night, however, the sisters were keeping each other informed in real time about what was happening with their families.. Glenn had gone trick or treating with the kids, and it turned out that there were some caramels in their haul that reminded him of his childhood. Now he was heatedly arguing with their youngest son to see who would end up eating the candies. Maggie was sending little recordings so Beth could hear for herself how absurd the situation was. Currently Maggie’s husband was arguing with his seven-year-old son about who should take the last lollipop. Beth didn’t know if she would be able to make it through the rest of the night if she kept laughing like that.

 

Finally, ten minutes later, while Beth waited in the entryway, pacing the floor impatiently with her little pumpkin basket and her bee costume, Daryl appeared, carrying Emily in his arms. She was wearing a gorgeous little pink dress and a silver crown on her head, while she was gripping fiercely to Daryl’s neck, pressing her cheek against his. Beth felt like she could melt on the spot.

 

“Don’t move!” she ordered, planting herself so they couldn’t get past her. Daryl looked at her, confused, while Beth raised her cell and took a fast and surprising picture. Both father and daughter blinked a couple of times, blinded by the sudden light from the flash. Beth smiled goofily at the screen, “So cute…”

 

“Beth, erase that,” commanded Daryl immediately, but she just laughed.

 

“I’m just going to send it to Maggie. Oh, look how adorable you are,” she said, showing him the picture. Daryl frowned and tried to catch her cell, but Beth was too fast and slipped away from him, giggling, “Oh, come on! Don’t be grumpy. It’s Halloween!” she said excitedly, and Emily started cheering “It’s Halloween, it’s Halloween”, while she wiggled in her dad’s arms.

 

“If Glenn sees it…” he growled, rubbing his eyes.

Beth snorted. “Believe me, I have much worse pictures of Glenn,” she assured, opening the door and gesturing at it, “Well, Your Highness and…her wolf?”

 

“Enough” he muttered, walking by her, still carrying Emily. Beth giggled again, grabbed her coat and closed the door behind her.

 

They walked for a couple hours from one place to another, and the scene was always the same: the house’s owner opened the door, saw Daryl Dixon dressed up with a wolf onesie wearing Ray-Bans and holding a little princess in his arms, and suddenly all the candies were directly to their basket even before the little one could say “trick or treat”. Beth realized that in a most of the time, when a woman answered the door, the candies were more directed to Daryl than Emily herself, but she didn’t cared. Beth had never been a jealous woman, and she wasn’t going to start now.

 

Besides, they were getting tons of candy.

 

It was dark now and there were barely any children around Emily’s age still out begging for candy. Now all she could see were older kids and teenagers preparing jokes or looking for places to make out.

 

The Dixon family came to Grimes’ house, and Beth stopped to say hello. Carl had left a while ago with his friends – to look for sweets, according to his mom, to do some stupid thing, according to his dad – leaving Lori and Rick with Judith, who wasn’t really in the mood to go. The three-year-old toddler dozed softly in her baby stroller behind her mom.

Lori sighed, approaching Beth to give Emily a little caress, who had fallen asleep with her head on Beth’s chest. “Enjoy it while you can. Carl isn’t even interested in going with us anymore.” She looked fondly at the little girl, “She’s exactly like you.”

 

“Yeah,” Beth agreed, resting her chin on her little head, “except for her eyes. They’re just like her father’s”.

They sat in a comfortable silence for a few seconds, watching the sleeping little girl, both women almost drooling at the sweet sight.

 

“What about Judith? She’s bigger every day,” Beth commented, leaning slightly to one side to see the toddler, who frowned in the middle of her sleep.

 

“Soon I won’t have any babies to pamper. Do you know next week she’ll turn four?”

 

“Really? Already?” Beth was absolutely in love with Judith. A year before Emily was born, the Grimes had the little one, and Beth had been her babysitter until she herself got pregnant. Now, the families being as close as they were, Judith was like a niece for Beth.

 

“Yeah, it’s incredible how time flies...” Lori sighed. “We’ll have a little party with her daycare center friends. Emily’s invited, of course,” she pointed out, “and you too. It’s been a while since all the women have had a chance to get together.”

 

“That’s true,” Beth answered. “Well, I think we should get going. It’s getting late, and this one here is exhausted,” she added, gesturing to the little girl, who was snoring softly in her arms. Lori laughed and gave her a goodbye hug.

 

Beth rounded the house to find Daryl at the garage, where he was scanning something under Rick’s car’s hood. She cleared her throat gently and both men turned around.

 

“’M leaving” Daryl grumbled, giving Rick a handshake, “Take care”.

 

“You too”, Rick said, before addressing Beth, “You’re going to Judith’s party, aren’t you?”

 

“Sure,” Beth answered, smiling. “Good night, Rick.”

 

Daryl approached them and wrapped his arm smoothly around her waist, while they walked home. The streets were much quieter now in the neighborhood, practically silent except for the sound of distant traffic. Beth leaned a little more into Daryl’s body, and he held her tightly.

 

“I’m beat,” Beth yawned dramatically after a while. “I didn’t remember Halloween being this tiring.”

 

“We’re too old for this,” he said quietly, and Beth laughed. “Soon this little demon will want to go with her friends and we’ll get to stay at home and scare kids.”

 

“Well, I wouldn’t say that you can scare anyone with that costume,” she teased innocently, enjoying the way he blushed. “What’s more, I’d say you’ve received more attention than Emily tonight.”

 

Daryl snorted. “People see a guy with a crossbow and that’s fine. They see a guy dressed up on Halloween and it’s like I’ve grown a second head”.

 

“Being honest, you’re not any average dressed up guy,” she pointed out, leaning closer.

 

“Doesn’t matter,” he said absently, yawning quietly. “Did it once and I’m done.”

 

They arrived at their front door and Daryl pulled away to find the keys. Beth leaned against the doorframe, watching with a half-smile while she cradled Emily. “Not even for next year?”

 

“Why would I want to wear this shit next year, Greene?” he said, trying to find the right key. “Not even drunk.”

 

“That’s a shame, you know?” Beth began. “I mean, her little brother or sister will want to see their dad dressed up too.”

 

The keys crashed to the ground with a metallic sound, but neither of them seemed to notice. Daryl was still in front of the door, his hand frozen in place like he was going to turn the keys. He watched her for a few seconds before he blinked. “A-are… are you…?”

 

“Yes,” she nodded, with a grin spreading from ear to ear. She hadn’t even finished her sentence when she felt him squeezing her tightly, almost crushing her, but still careful so as not to not wake up Emily. Beth used her free arm to wrap herself around his neck, and they stayed like that, holding each other, while Beth tried to contain her tears of joy.

 

“How long have you known?” Daryl asked, moving away so he could look at her. Beth hadn’t noticed she was crying until she felt his hand wiping the tears from her cheeks. Beth moved closer against his hand.

 

“I took the test this morning. I didn’t know when would be the best time to tell you,” she laughed, relieved by his reaction. She still remembered the way the blood had left his cheeks when she told him she was pregnant with Emily. If it had been anyone besides Daryl, that reaction would have been even normal, but when it came to him, the toughest man she knew, Beth had been tempted to lay him down and bring him a glass of water to calm him down.

 

However, now Daryl was looking at her with absolute devotion, carefully placing his hand on her belly. He rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes.

 

Beth glanced at him for a few seconds, and then smiled again and leaned in slightly to steal a sweet kiss. Daryl sighed in her mouth.

 

“We have to go to the doctor” he said suddenly, with an alarmed tone, “and we need to know what…”

 

“Shh,” she interrupted him, kissing him again. “We have time. Calm down.” She lifted her hand and caressed his cheek, while readjusting Emily in her arm, which was practically numb. She moved away to look into his eyes and push his hair from his face.

 

“So, you’re not free from Halloween yet, Daryl Dixon. Don’t ever think about throwing out this gorgeous costume,” she warned him, trying to sound severe.

 

Daryl grinned, in that special way that made her heart skip a beat and speed up her breath. “You nuts? If I knew I was gonna get so much candy, I’d have worn it years ago,” Daryl answered before he kissed her.

 

And if there was any way of falling more in love with a person, Beth found it then.