The first time he met little Beth Greene he was seventeen, sitting up in the hayloft, smoking a cigarette and waiting for Shawn to get home from work so they could go to Glenn's and he could get so drunk that he wouldn't be able to feel his bruised ribs anymore. Last night his old man had been the usual drunk ass and after waking up still locked in the bathroom this morning he quickly snuck out, stopped at the gas station to pick up a pack of smokes - because he knew the owner and knew he wouldn't card him - and then made his way to the Greene farm.
He knew Hershel knew what his dad did to him, damn right came out and asked him if he wanted a ride to the sheriff's station that first time Shawn had dragged him - practically carried him - into their house that night his dad had gone completely feral, whipping his back somethin' awful and he knew he couldn't just ignore these injuries this time. Hershel had stitched him up and Daryl never said a word, only telling him that going to the cops would be more trouble than it was worth and it didn't matter cause he only had two more years, two more years and he could get out of the god forsaken hell hole he called home.
Hershel didn't like it but he said he would trust the young man's judgement and then proceeded to tell him that his home was always open to him. Daryl preferred the barn though and Hershel never came out here when he was here - and he had a feeling the old man always knew when he was here - so he found himself out here more often than not. He had met Shawn after they had been partnered up in science class and after the two of them had nearly blew up the classroom together, the friendship just went without saying.
He knew Shawn had two sisters, had even met Maggie quite a few times but the youngest one - Beth - always seemed to be gone when he was around. She always had something going on, friends, school clubs, helping out at the daycare. She was the busiest fifteen year old Daryl knew. Well, knew of. Other than a few glimpses, a flash of blonde running out the door or a muffled conversation he heard going on in the room next to Shawn's - Maggie's room - he had never actually met Beth.
So when that barn door slammed open, causing Daryl to jump - though he would never admit it - he couldn't help but watch as he saw the little blonde thing stomp into the stables, muttering and mumbling to herself and even though Daryl couldn't make out what she was saying, he knew she was pissed off. He stayed silent, stubbing out his cigarette as she kicked her foot against one of the empty stalls, muttering some more and then she braced herself against the wood and he noticed her back arch as she seemed to take a deep breath before she stood straight again and then made her way down toward the occupied stalls, stopping at one that housed a horse called Nelly - one that had nearly given Daryl a heart attack that first night he snuck in here when it all but jumped the gate and tried escaping when he had accidentally knocked over a nearby shovel, causing a loud bang.
She walked inside, closing the door behind her and Daryl finally decided that he couldn't just sit up and watch the girl the whole time - he wasn't a creep. He silently - not intentionally, it was just a habit he had acquired after years of trying to sneak past his old man - climbed down the ladder and made his way over to the stable that she was in, eyeing the demon horse with a sour look as he got closer. She was brushing the animals back and when he heard her voice - all bells and honey - he thought that she had known he was there but she wasn't even looking at him, just focusing on the horse.
"I just can't believe her Nelly. She's so mean." she sighed angrily. "You don't think I'm a kid right?"
Daryl couldn't help himself.
"Nah but pretty sure talking to animals don't exactly make ya sane," he said, coming to a stop just outside the door of the stable.
The blonde girl jumped, letting out a squeal and stumbled back from the horse, tripping over a bucket and nearly falling down as she whipped her head toward him, eyes wide and face turning red and Daryl had never liked the color red much but watching that bright blush form on the tiny blonde's face made him want to reconsider.
"Jesus! What are you doin' in here?" she gasped, straightening herself out and placing her hand on the horse - who thankfully hadn't reacted like she had at the sudden appearance of the now grinning Daryl. "Wait, who even are you?" she asked then, popping her hip and staring him down and somehow, it made Daryl grin wider.
"'M Daryl," he said, leaning his arms up on top of the wooden gate between them.
"Oh, right. Shawn's friend." she said, furrowing her eyebrows and bringing her attention back to the horse. "Still don't explain why ya here, though."
Daryl just shrugged. "Didn't feel like staying at my place and yer Daddy don't mind." he supplied.
"Well next time a little warning would be nice. Nearly gave me a heart attack." she muttered and Daryl saw another flush of red color her cheeks.
Daryl just shrugged again and the girl huffed, rolling her eyes and he smirked. This Greene definitely had sass.
"So ya always talk to animals 'cause I might have to tell Shawn he should worry 'bout his baby sister." he held back a chuckle as he saw her eyes narrow, whipping her head to face him again.
"I'm not a baby and no one needs ta worry 'bout me." she huffed and Daryl's eyebrows shot up, a small smirk forming on his lips at the bite in her tone. He had obviously hit a nerve.
Instead of responding her held his hands up, palms out in a form of surrender before he reached into his pocket, pulling out his smokes as the blonde let out a sigh and gave the horse one more stroke before turning around and setting the brush on the shelf behind her. Daryl stepped back as she made her way toward the gate and he pulled out a cigarette and began searching for his lighter.
She wrinkled her nose as she stepped out of the stable, turning around to lock it back up just as he lit up his cigarette.
"Those thangs'll kill ya. Shouldn't be smokin'. No wonder this barn always smells like smoke." she muttered, making her way toward the door and Daryl followed a few steps behind, smirking as he watched her open the door.
"Whatever ya say, Baby Greene." he said and he stopped in his tracks as she took in a sharp breath, whipping around so fast to face him he nearly flinched.
He was waiting for a comeback but instead of saying anything, the blonde just gave him a glare that he was pretty sure wouldn't even scare Bambi and as she turned back around, slamming the barn door once again, he decided to make it his personal mission to see that glare as much as possible.
Daryl grinned as he let himself into the Greene home, hearing that familiar humming coming from the kitchen and he silently made his way through the house, stopping just as he entered the kitchen and leaned against the doorway. Beth had her back to him, hunched over the counter as she fiddled with something in front of her - probably some sort of dessert because the damn girl was always baking something and he was sure his clothes were getting too tight because of it - and as she stepped away, heading toward the sink Daryl saw his chance and quickly, but silently, crossed the room.
"Hey Beth!" he said loudly, bringing his hands up to poke the girl's sides and she let out a shriek as she jerked away from him, dropping a plate into the sink in the process, causing a loud clatter to echo throughout the kitchen.
"Dammit Daryl! What the hell?" she yelled, turning to face him with a furious look and a brilliant blush.
"Damn girl, ya kiss ya momma with that dirty mouth?" he teased, smirking as he hopped up on the counter.
And there it was, that glare that he loved so much - though he would never admit - and he grinned.
The blonde huffed. "What are ya even doin' here? Shawn won't be home for hours."
"Promised ya Daddy I'd help him fix up the barn," he shrugged, snagging a cookie off the plate next to him and narrowly missing a smack on his hand from the still highly annoyed girl. He grinned taking a bite and she just huffed again and turned around, going back to the bowl she had abandoned before.
"Your Momma also said I could stay for dinner," he goaded, hoping to get another glare from the blonde.
"Well good thing I'm havin' dinner at Jimmy's than," she said, a smug tone to her voice and Daryl's eyes narrowed.
"Who tha hell is Jimmy?" he asked, shoving the rest of the cookie in his mouth.
"My boyfriend," she said simply and Daryl just stared at her.
"Boyfriend huh?" he scoffed. "Yer Daddy know 'bout that."
She scoffed. "Please, I'm sixteen Daryl. Old enough to have a boyfriend and Daddy likes Jimmy, says he a respectable young man." she answered, turning to give him a pointed look and Daryl just rolled his eyes.
"Yeah well does he know ya still sleep with a night light and like to cuddle with yer teddy bear?" he taunted and there was that glare again and he just couldn't help but but laugh as he jumped down from the counter.
"You are such an ass Daryl Dixon," she muttered, her annoyance not reaching him as he saw her cheeks once again turn a bright red.
"Whatever ya say, Baby Greene," he said then, beginning to walk toward the back door and he barked out a laugh when a wooden spoon whipped past him, cluttering to the ground after making contact with the door in front of him.
Daryl heard the front door slam and he shared a look with Shawn before he sat up straighter, setting the ice pack he had been holding to his knuckles down on the table in front of him. Beth stormed her way into the room a few seconds later, her bright blue eyes wild with anger and Daryl had to work real damn hard to hold back a smirk as she glared at her brother before burning her eyes into him.
"Are ya two outta ya damn minds?" she all but yelled and Daryl couldn't help it then, letting out a small chuckle which just earned him another glare.
"Careful Bethy, Daddy's just upstairs," Shawn scolded teasingly and Daryl just laughed again.
"I can't believe you two!" she yelled, though not as loud as before. "You do know that no guy is gonna wanna date me after what ya pulled tonight."
"Good; you're too young ta be datin' anyway," Shawn said simply and shrugged.
"I'll be seventeen next month! Which if I remember correctly was how old you were when I walked in on you and Rebecca Dawson gettin' handsy in the barn, Shawn." she sneered and Daryl had to laugh as Shawn flinched at the memory.
"Will ya keep ya voice down Beth, damn. It ain't like we killed the kid." Shawn muttered, rolling his eyes.
"You broke his nose!" she all but shrieked.
"That was Daryl," Shawn said nonchalantly and her blonde hair whipped over her shoulder as she glared at him again.
"Hey, the kid was askin' for it. He shoulda known better." Daryl simply said, as if that was enough of an explanation.
Beth groaned. "God I hate you two! I'm not your problem and I don't need you two to protect me! Just leave me alone!" she yelled again, turning to stomp her way up the stairs and before she could get out of ear shot, Daryl spoke up.
"Whatever ya say, Baby Greene!" he called with a smirk and Shawn laughed as they both heard the slam of her bedroom door.
There weren't many things that could shock Daryl Dixon but seeing little Beth Greene in the lap of some guy, her tongue nearly down his throat and her ass being grabbed at like it was the last piece of bread was certainly one of those things. Before he even realized what he was doing he was across the yard and yanking her away, threatening the kid who all but sprinted away from him as he dragged Beth away.
"What the hell is your problem!" Beth shrieked at him, jerking her hand out of his grasp and stumbling behind him.
"My problem? What the hell was that Beth? Letting that guy put his hands all over ya like that?" he yelled back, not even sure why he was so pissed at finding her in that position.
"That ain't none of your business!" she screamed, crossing her arms and giving him that glare but this time he didn't find it amusing.
"'Course it's my business!" he retorted, crossing his own arms to mirror her posture.
"Why, ya jealous?" she countered, her eyebrow quirking in a taunting gesture and now he was the one glaring.
"Pft. Jealous? Of what? Hate ta break it to ya sweetheart but little girls ain't exactly my type. 'Specially annoyin' little blonde ones." he muttered out harshly.
"Screw you Daryl Dixon!" she said after a moment of hesitation and even though he could tell she was furious, he also heard a hint of something else, something that he couldn't quite put a name to.
"Yeah you'd like that wouldn't ya?" he smirked with a roll of his eyes, grabbing her arm again to lead them to his car.
"You wish," she muttered softly and he turned around then, pulling her close, knocking her off balance and causing her to crash against his chest, her hands gripping at his shirt to steady herself and he heard a quiet gasp as her big doe eyes looked up at him and for a moment he forgot what he was doing as he stared down into those sky blue eyes of her's but he quickly recovered.
"Whatever ya say Baby Greene," he whispered gruffly, pulling her just a little bit closer and then releasing her, leaving her standing there with a shocked look on her face and as he walked away, he rubbed his hand against his chest, right where her hand had been resting only a few seconds before.
When Shawn had called him that day he knew immediately something was wrong. He heard it in the way his best friend said his name and of all the things he could think of, hearing that Annette Greene had died was the last thing he expected.
He tugged at his tie around his neck, already knowing that it was now too stretched out to look presentable anymore but he didn't quite care at that point. His eyes were searching for that familiar blonde hair that seemed to have disappeared from the moment everyone started showing up at the Greene farm, dressed in black and bringing nothing but sadness as they all gathered to remember the amazing woman who had gone too soon.
After checking the house one more time Daryl made his way to the barn - it was the only other place he could think of where she would go - and as he finally caught sight of her, sitting on the swing bench just outside the back door, he let out a quiet sigh of relief. He didn't say anything as he made his way over and took a seat next to her and she didn't say anything as the swing swayed with the new weight, hell he hadn't heard her say anything the past few days.
She just stared ahead, her grip on the rope of the swing so tight he could see her knuckles turning white and he knew if she were to turn toward him he would see nothing but darkness and a void that would take a long time to fill in those big blue eyes that used to hold so much joy and life. This wasn't Beth Greene. This wasn't his Beth Greene and he wasn't sure what to do about it.
"You come to tell me that everything will be alright and that things will get better, it's just gonna take some time 'cause if I hear someone tell me that one more time I think I just might scream." she speaks up and Daryl is surprised but he's more surprised at how bitter and lifeless her voice is and he finds himself shutting his eyes, just trying to come up with anything he could do or say to make her feel better.
"Or did ya come to make some kinda comment about my hair or how my makeup is smeared all over my face 'cause I just can't deal with that right now." she says then, her voice so low he had to strain to hear it and he bows his head, wincing as he hears her voice crack.
"Naw Beth, I'm just here." he finally speaks up, his voice soft and he looks over at her, seeing her close her eyes and when he catches her bottom lip begin to tremble he swears he can feel his heart breaking.
"I'm fine," she manages to croak out.
"Sure ya are, Baby Greene," he mumbles but it doesn't hold that usually playful bite and when she sucks in a sharp breath it isn't because she's getting ready to shout at him, telling him off like she usually does.
She stands up then and begins to hurry away but he's faster and he grabs her hand, pulling her back to him and when she stumbles against him, her head falling to his chest and her hands gripping his arms like she was lost at sea and he was her only life vest, he doesn't say anything. He just holds her and wishing there was something, anything he could do to help her as her world crashes down around her.
He's worried about her. It had been a few months but Beth still wasn't Beth and he knows that it's gonna take time to get over something like that but something just feels wrong to him. She hardly speaks anymore and when she does, there's no life in her voice. Her eyes don't shine like they used to and he can tell by the dark circles under her eyes and the paleness of her skin that she doesn't sleep much more either. He's worried about her and he is absolutely pissed at himself because he doesn't have even the slightest clue on what to do to help her.
When he walks into the Greene house that day he gets a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. It isn't a good one, at all, and it makes his heart begin to hammer in his chest and he isn't sure why he suddenly feels this dark cloud of dread begin to creep over him.
The house is eerily quiet but he knows Beth is here somewhere because Shawn had specifically asked him to come by and check on her - Maggie was gone, escaping her sorrows by spending all her time with Glenn; Shawn was at work, pounding away his sorrows as he stayed later and later at the construction site; Hershel was lost, drowning his sorrows once again staring down the bottom of a bottle and Beth, well Beth was just here. Welcoming her sorrows and avoiding everyone.
When he hears the sound of glass breaking he rushes up the stairs, his heart now pounding so loud in his chest that he swears he can hear it echoing throughout the house. He goes straight to her room, pushing open the door and slams against the bathroom door, tugging at the knob and when he finds it locked, he doesn't hesitate, taking a step back and kicking at it until it shudders open, all the while her name is being screamed from his lips and he swears the world stops when he sees the scene in front of him.
The broken mirror, the pale girl, the blood, so much blood.
"Shit Beth," he whispers but he wants to scream as he charges in, ignoring the glass crunching beneath his boots.
"I'm sorry," she sobs, tears rolling down her cheeks as she holds her hand against her wrist but there is so much red and Daryl doesn't say anything as he reaches behind her, grabbing the towel and wrapping it around her wrist.
He doesn't say anything as he picks her up, cradling her to his chest and he tries to ignore how light she is, how fragile she seems to be as he carries her out to his truck and breaks nearly every damn traffic law he knows on the way to the hospital.
Hours later, after she is stitched up and resting in the hospital bed he holds her hand and he tries to ignore the way his heart is still pounding in his chest and as if she can hear it, she squeezes his hand and it's soft and hardly there at all but it still pulls at him and he finally finds his voice again.
"Don't ya ever scare me like that again, Baby Greene."
He takes a drink of his beer before he makes his way over the grinning blonde. She's sitting down on the porch steps, smiling at the party happening in front of her and he can't help but smirk at the red cup in her hand because he knows that clear liquid in there ain't water but he just takes a seat next to he takes another sip of his beer.
"New York, huh?" he finally speaks up, glancing over at her to see a sparkle in her eyes, something that a year ago, he was sure he would never see again.
"Yep. They have one of the best nursing programs in the country." she says, that same sparkle reflecting in her voice and even though he feels a pang in his chest, he can't keep the smile off his face.
"Ya sure it ain't because of all that fancy food Shawn keeps talkin' about. I know how much ya love to eat, girl." he teases, smirking when he hears that small musical laugh.
"You caught me," she says lightly, taking a slip of her drink and when he looks over to see her staring at him, a playful glint in her bright blue eyes he swears his heart skips a beat.
"What?" he mutters, gulping down his beer and trying to avoid her gaze.
She just laughs softly, shaking her head slightly.
"You're gonna miss me so bad when I'm gone, Daryl Dixon."
"Whatever ya say Baby Greene."
It's been five years since he's seen little Beth Greene and in all the times he imagined their reunion, this certainly was not how he thought it would go. His head is pounding and his arm is burning and there she is, all blonde hair and blue eyes stomping her way into his and Shawn's apartment like a pissed off cat who had just been dunked in water. Her hair is tied up in a messy bun and she's wearing short jean shorts and a tight tank top and there is a fire in her eyes and a scowl on her pretty face and that's when he knows he's fucked.
Baby Greene sure as hell ain't a baby no more.
"Ya gotta be kiddin' me. Not even back on Georgia soil for twenty four hours and I already get woken up at three in the morning to come save your sorry ass?" she says, an older tone to her voice but that is still his Baby Greene and he can't help but smile. At least he thinks he's smiling.
"I had no choice! He refused to let me take him to the hospital." he heard Shawn say from somewhere beside him but he only has eyes for the blonde angel in front of him and half of him wonders if he is even conscious at this point.
"Welcome home, by the way," he hears Shawn's voice again and when he sees that glare on her face - a glare he hasn't seen in five years - he decides he needs to get his shit together because he needs to see that glare directed at him.
"Jesus," she mutters, coming closer to him. "What the hell happened? Never thought Daryl Dixon would lose a bar fight." she mutters, kneeling down in front of him and dropping a black bag at his feet.
"Actually," Shawn says, his voice teetering. "He won."
As her eyes widen and he appreciates the view of bright blue skies in front of him and he is pretty sure he is smirking.
He hopes he's smirking and not drooling because there is a pretty good chance he could be doing that too.
"Well damn, am I going to be finding his opponent in the ER when I go into work tomorrow?" she mutters as her hands begin to flutter over him, dabbing at his cheek and busted lip before she turns her attention to his arm which is wrapped in a dishcloth and was the color blue at some point.
"I doubt it. Unlike that pussy, Daryl actually fought fair and didn't pull a knife on 'em." Shawn explains.
"My hero," she mumbles, sarcasm thick and dammit to hell if he doesn't feel like a fool with the way his heart is stuttering in his chest, though he could also probably blame that on all the blood running down his arm and no longer in his body, where it belongs.
It's quiet after that and the whole time she is patching and stitching him up he tries to find his voice, though there is a high possibility that it was beat out of him a few hours ago but he continues to keep his eyes on her, swearing up a storm in his head as he tries to pull himself together.
"Alright," she says, bracing her tiny hands on his knees as she stands up and suddenly something clicks and he's no longer in the thick haze he was in before but now he feels a whole lot more pain and he's wondering if it was really worth it.
"Take a few of these, they'll help with the pain and Shawn," she says, handing him a bottle of pills and glancing over at her brother. "Wake him up every three hours, I'm positive he has a concussion."
He hears Shawn say something but he's too busy trying to speak himself that he doesn't hear it.
"You are one of the dumbest men I have ever met, Daryl Dixon." she speaks to him again, placing her hands on her hips and shaking her head at him and he can see that playful glint in her eyes.
"I missed ya, Baby Greene." he manages to get out, his voice gruff and faint but at least he managed to say something.
It wasn't what he was planning to say. Not at all. He wanted to say something witty and sarcastic and earn himself one of those signature glares but when she let's out a small shocked laugh and her eyes shine and a breathtaking smile forms on her lips, he decides that he likes that look a whole lot more than her Bambi glare and now he has a whole new mission.
It's months later and he's working at the shop when she stops by, bringing him and Shawn lunch because she finally had a day off from the hospital. She's wearing a yellow sundress and her hair is down and she's wearing those damn cowboy boots that he's pretty sure she's had since she was fifteen but dammit if it isn't one of the most beautiful sights he's ever seen and when he drops the wrench he was holding and it clatters to the ground he blames it on the guy next to him and stomps away, after the blonde woman - he can't call her girl anymore because Beth Greene is sure as hell not a girl...he has woken up quite a few times with a very hard reminder of this fact since she returned home from New York - and he has to remind himself to not stare at her ass or the way her hips sway as he follows her into the office.
"Still can't believe ya guys own your own repair shop," she muses dropping the take out bags onto the desk and he, nor Shawn, hesitates to dig in, despite the fact that they are both covered in grease and oil.
"What are ya tryin' to say Greene?" he asks, narrowing his eyes at her before he takes a bite out of his burger and resists the urge to moan.
She smirks. "Ain't sayin' nothing," she says in voice that explains exactly what she's trying to say and Daryl rolls his eyes while Shawn snorts, both too absorbed in their lunches to come up with a witty comeback.
Later, when she's leaving he's following her again, this time carrying a quart of oil - once again trying not to stare at her ass, at least not for too long - because she says she's low and he stops in front of her car as she goes around to the door, bending over and pulling the hood release latch and Daryl swears that this woman is trying to kill him.
She comes back around to stand next to him and he checks her oil - finding out that she was in fact low - and he adds more and tries to ignore the way he can practically feel her body heat rolling off of her and into his side and when the wind blows and it ruffles her hair and carries her scent toward him he's pretty sure that he is in fact already a dead man.
She tells him a little of how her job at the hospital is going and he is trying to listen, he swears. Finally she says she has to get going and he is relieved - not because he wants her to go but because he's pretty sure if she stays any longer he just might collapse from oxygen deprivation cause not only is her scent surrounding him, smothering him, but he is having a hard time just breathing normally with her so close to him. Just as he is about to walk away though her voice catches his attention and he definitely hears what she's saying this time.
"So you just gonna keep appreciating the view from a distance or are ya finally gonna make a move and ask me on a date, Mr. Dixon?" she asks, her voice all sass and honey and sweet and her eyes shining and Daryl is pretty sure she is the damn devil at this point.
Daryl can't help himself, he really can't.
"What makes ya think I wanna take you on a date, Baby Greene?" he asks with a cocky smirk, crossing his arms over his chest.
She glares at him, that same glare that still couldn't scare a kitten and he's chuckling until suddenly he's not. Somehow - he's not sure how in the hell - she's got him pinned against her car and her body is pressed against his and she doesn't say anything, doesn't even do anything more that just press her perfect self up against him and she leans forward and he feels her breath on his lips and he swears he can just about taste her but just before she closes the distance she is gone and she is opening her car door before he finally gains his bearings back.
"I'll pick ya up at seven." he mutters out and she just smirks and lord help him.
Daryl Dixon is a dead man. A very happy dead man.
"Hurry yer ass up," he hollers and he smirks when he hears her cursing him out as he makes his way over to his bike.
He takes his seat and brings the bike to life just as he looks over to see her stomping out of the cabin, all blonde hair and blue eyes wild and a pretty little glare on her face.
"Don't know why yer in such a hurry," she huffs, stopping beside him to pull her hair behind her.
"Told ya, I got plans woman," he says simply, smirking as she rolls her eyes.
He thinks of that small velvet box sitting just inside his vest pocket and just before she moves to get on the bike behind him he's got his arm locked around her waist and pulling her towards him so he can bring those perfect - and sassy - lips to his. The kiss is far too passionate for what he originally intended and he has to pull away before they somehow end up finding a better use of this bike - which wouldn't be for the first time - and he instructs her to get on, holding her hand and guiding her behind him.
As her hands settle around him - thankfully too low to feel what he's hiding in his pocket but definitely too low to be innocent - he just smirks, shaking his head as he starts to pull away from their cabin, beginning to travel down the dirt road. He feels her place a kiss against his neck as those damn hands of hers drop even lower and he knows this is going to be one hell of a ride but he's determined and just as they make their way onto the main road he hears her voice over the rumble of the engine and the howl of the wind.
"So am I gonna like this surprise?" she asks, placing another less than innocent kiss to his neck, just below his ear.
"Yer gonna love it, Baby Girl," he says simply and when he feels her arms squeeze him just a little bit tighter, he can't help but grin.