"Maggie!!! Maggie!!!!" Glenn yells, feet frantically pounding the pavement.
Glenn is running for his life, sprinting really. Of course he is, he's the group runner. The fastest, the patsy, the bait, the errand boy, the pizza delivery guy. But this is not the time to open old, bitter wounds.
"Open, the door! Maggie, open it!!" Painful gasps burst from his lips, the stitch in his side worsening. He's almost there, he can make it - he has to, especially now. It's not about him anymore, or even Maggie, it's about what's in his arms. He can't full out sprint due to the carefully cradled cargo in his hand, one arm holding it secure against his chest, the other pumping furiously in a vain effort to gain speed. Adrenaline screams in his veins, heart thumping with a desperation he hasn't felt in a while; he needs to get this precious thing to safety.
He's a mere twenty feet away when the door whips open to reveal a wide-eyed Maggie.
"Glenn? What-" Slamming passed her through the doorway to safety, he catches himself on the wall, his sweaty hand sliding along before finding purchase.
"Lock it! Lock the door!" He rasps out.
"What is it? What's happened??" Maggie asks frantically, clicking the lock into place and whirling back to her trembling husband. She reaches for him then gasps as she spots what he holds against his chest.
"Is that? Did you...?" Her voice is pitched high and soft in shock.
"We have to get it to the room, Mags, now." Glenn pushes off the wall, the stitch in his side finally easing.
"You got it?"
Glenn looks down, cradling the object in his hands like a holy artifact, this thing that will most assuredly provide he and Maggie with riches beyond their wildest dreams (ok, that might be an exaggeration...). He starts shaking before massive snorts of laughter burst out.
"I got something even better."
Maggie's brow furrows. "What could be better..." she trails off as her eyes widen, "You didn't..."
"Yes!" Glenn clutches the camera in his hands and holds it above his head as if it was a Champion trophy, laughing with glee.
"Enough of that!" Maggie shoves at him, causing him to stumble in to the wall and then continues to push him down the hallway towards the dark room. "I gotta see this!"
Glenn's laughter echoes down the hallway as he and Maggie make their way to process the precious film containing the unbelievably rare images captured within.
“We’re totally gonna win, Mags,” Glenn says as he and his wife high five before moving to the basement door.
He'd done it, he'd finally caught them and now everyone was going to see it. The soon-to-follow physical pain would be 100% worth it.
Just as he thinks that, there’s a furious knocking on the front door.
Glenn gingerly lowers the ice pack from his face. His left eye is still quite swollen so visibility is limited, but he only needs one eye for what he's about to do.
A white Steve Madden shoe box sits on the coffee table in front of him. Tossing the now damp towel of ice to the table he lifts the lid off the box with a satisfied smile on his face, wincing when it agitates the swollen skin around his cheekbone.
Safe inside is a literal treasure trove of captured moments. The images precious for the normality they represent; brief moments of love, joy and happiness so rare in the terrifying and dangerous world they'd been thrust into a few years ago.
It had started after Glenn saw Aaron pull out the camera to snap a picture of Rick and Michonne walking the streets of Alexandria in their constable uniforms. He'd always had an interest in photography, once upon a time having dreamed of going to photography school. But then the dream died and nightmares came to life; yet he survived, they survived; they overcame, and they're here now.
There was a camera, and he wanted to put it to good use.
So he had ended up asking Aaron if he could take the camera and a few rolls of film to snap some pictures of his family. Naturally, Aaron eagerly obliged.
Glenn knew a bit more regarding the development steps and the chemical process for the film so his photos came out a lot better than Aaron's original attempts.
He had over 100 photographs of the family: Abraham dictating to the wall repair crew; Tara and Rosita with their arms linked; Maggie, Noah and Beth pulling a Charlie's Angel's pose; Sasha pushing at Tyrese's face with sisterly affection mid-laugh; Judith asleep in Carl's arms; Eugene staring blankly at the camera; Rick cleaning his python; Carol in the kitchen making her famous cookies; Father Gabriel at the lectern preaching; great shot after great shot but there was one person conspicuously missing from the collection.
Daryl Dixon was not a fan of cameras. If he was caught in any picture he was either halfway turned away, ducking his head, or had a hand up covering his face. There were quite a few shots with a blurry black and white blob halfway out of the shot. Glenn had resigned himself to the fact that Daryl would never willingly appear in a picture.
But then something extraordinary happened. Something that made wanting to capture the man on camera an irresistible temptation...Daryl Dixon fell in love with Beth Greene.
It was slow, awkward and extremely private but eventually everyone knew they were together, not in an obvious physical way nor was there some big announcement. There were subtle signs; Daryl's eyes zeroing in on her when she entered a room, Daryl taking her on hunting trips, Beth's hand on his arm, a smile brightening her face when he'd lean over and whisper in her ear. Teeny tiny blips of intimate moments that were gone in a flash and Glenn became obsessed with capturing them on camera but it seemed an impossibility. Every time Glenn would think to grab the camera, Daryl seemed to sense it and disappear or move away from Beth so that they couldn't be snapped in the same frame. He'd swear the redneck had a sixth sense about it.
So he tried to get clever, roping in other members of the group to try and catch them. But somehow that turned into its own animal and became a sort of competition and eventually stakes were made…high stakes. Sure, the ethics of a bet involving trying to capture a relationship on camera that wished to remain private were pretty much abandoned, but Glenn figured they’d get over it eventually. He knew bodily harm was imminent but he couldn’t and wouldn’t quit.
The winnings? Besides general glory at capturing the impossible; whomever snaps them together on camera at their most ‘coupley’ gets first pick on items brought back from runs and first shower dibs for 2 months. First pick at possible fresh fruit/vegetables and warm showers for 2 whole months? With that pot, competition became fierce; Daryl and Beth seemingly oblivious to it all.
And now, in the shoe box in a small white envelope lay the fruits of their labors.
Pulling out the envelope, safely buried on the bottom, Glenn slowly slips the contents out and flips through them.
There are several duds, blurry shots of Daryl's hand, part of his head (snippets of Beth's arm or hair peeking out from behind him), making his displeasure at being photographed known. Glenn smiles at the first clear image, lifting it to his one functioning eye to better inspect it.
The first person to catch them had been Michonne. It had been early in the morning, talking ass crack of dawn early and they were sitting on the front porch next to each other. It’s unknown if they’d been there all night talking (or just being with each other), but it's a safe assumption. Aaron had happened to hand off the camera to Michonne the night before having put in a new roll of film; she, having first shift that morning, was bringing it to his and Maggie’s house next door when she spotted them; and being the silent traveler that she is (second only to Daryl), was able to sneak up and get the shot.
Beth and Daryl's backs are against the fence, arms pressed against each other, her head resting at the curve of his shoulder, his signature angel wings peeking between the fence slats. It's a nice image, a calm, quiet moment captured of the two.
Not a second after the camera had clicked, Daryl was turning his head to glare at the intruder, nudging Beth awake and the moment was gone.
The next picture was taken by Sasha, and it was a definite keeper. Having been on watch in the tower, she saw them leave on a hunting trip and had called down to Carl to get the camera for her. She snapped them on their way back through the gates.
It shows Daryl, eyes covered in sunglasses, carefully maneuvering the motorcycle towards the gate (it’s clear he rides more cautiously when she’s with him). Beth's got her own pair of sunglasses on and her arms are wrapped tightly around him, pressing into his stomach, a string of rabbits and squirrels dangling off her left shoulder, her blonde hair flowing out behind her, Daryl's crossbow safely latched to the back of the bike.
Glenn can admit that they look pretty damn cool, imagining him and Maggie in their place and it just doesn't have the same 'badass' effect that these two have.
The third image up is another favorite that Tara got. It was captured surprisingly during a family meeting in Rick's living room. Surprising in that it was such a public space for them to get caught in. But it was a subtle, blink and you missed it moment.
Daryl was in his usual spot in the window nook and Beth sat in a chair brought in from the kitchen, placed in front of him; her notebook open in her lap, prepared to take the 'minutes' for the meeting. Tara had been leaning against the corner bookshelf, fiddling with the camera which she had gotten back from Rosita (she and Abe had decided to take a few risqué pictures together which continue to haunt Glenn to this day, seeing them firsthand as they developed...the places that mustache has been…). Out of the corner of her eye she had seen Daryl shift and she was surprised to see him staring fixedly at Rick who droned on and on about safety and newcomers and blah blah blah. The reason his apt attention was so surprising was because normally, Daryl was fiddling with something in his hands during these meetings, listening but always doing something else as well; cleaning the bow, sharpening his knife, picking at the dirt/blood crusted under his nails. But then Tara realized he wasn't staring at Rick, he was staring at Beth, specifically the cute braid Beth had weaved into her ponytail, the tail swishing over the back of the chair. Daryl's eyes had followed its movement like a cat and the fingers of his right hand twitched where they dangled over his raised knee. Thinking fast, Tara had subtly raised the camera, prepared to capture the moment she knew was coming. It was a rare instant, Daryl being so transfixed by Beth that he didn't notice the despised black box being raised in the corner of the room. She captured the moment he gave in.
His hand is reaching out, thumb, pointer and middle finger grasping the small blonde braid, a look of contentment clear on his face.
The fourth picture isn’t technically a Beth and Daryl shot but Glenn still wants to keep it among this group of photographs.
It’s a close-up shot of Judith dangling on Daryl's calf, one arm wrapped around his knee, the chubby fingers of her left hand clinging to a thick, dirt covered pointer finger. Judith's head is leaning back, a delighted smile on her face.
Beth had taken the picture, having been sitting in the grass, taking 2 or 3 shots of Judith as they played, but this picture (the best one) came about when Judith stumble-walked to Daryl upon his arrival and although the picture didn't capture it, Glenn can imagine the expression on Daryl's face warring between discomfort at the presence of the camera, but tenderness at Judith's delight. So although they’re not in the picture together, and although Beth is unaware of the wager, Glenn decides to keep this picture in the running.
The next one in the pile was taken by Maggie and in her mind, is the clear winner because one, it has hand-holding and two, it has a kiss, albeit a hand kiss. Quintessential couple stuff. Plus it's adorable (Maggie’s words).
Beth is slightly stooped, having raised Daryl's hand to her mouth for a kiss, Daryl's hand dwarfs hers but grips it tightly, his expression is slightly obscured by the sun and his hair, his head slightly bowed, eyes trained on the ground, but he's clearly affected by the moment.
Glenn can admit it’s a real nice shot, probably had the best shot at winning. Key word being had, since he got his today.
The next image was surprisingly taken by Rick. It's a bit blurry, Rick not being the best photographer and due to all the action happening in the shot. Apparently the story is Carol teamed up with Beth to try and convince Daryl to take his angel wing vest off for a wash. After words failed, Beth employed more interesting tactics, which eventually become a wrestling match of Beth and Carol against Daryl. Rick had walked in on a scene of an unhappy grunting redneck and two giggling women. The camera just so happened to be sitting on the kitchen counter, so it was fated.
The moment captures Daryl with his head down, hair obscuring his face (always that damn hair hiding the best part), Carol holding his right arm out using both of hers and Beth up on his back, her face close to his ear (Glenn putting money down she was whispering filthy things to him by the way Daryl's hand is gripping her thigh tightly, the depressions visible in her jeans. Her blonde hair cascades over his shoulder, as she's sort of half leaning half falling off his back to the left, Daryl's left arm is wrapped slightly behind him, either trying to keep her up safely or yank her down.
Glenn takes in a deep breath as he’s finally reached his own precious portrait, the pièce de resistance, the undoubted winner of this little contest.
“The white whale,” he whispers.
A day ago he wasn’t sure he’d even have a picture to submit. For some reason, while everyone else was able to get a shot he was foiled at every turn. He can admit that he was getting, in Maggie’s words ‘weirdly obsessive’ about it. It was probably because he didn’t want anything mundane. No, he wanted the grand slam, the whole kit and caboodle, the magnum opus.
He wanted to capture the kiss.
But what he ended up with was so much better. Sure, he might have used some dishonest tactics in obtaining it, but that’s photography people, you do what you gotta do to get the shot. His strategy involved getting Jessie’s son, Sam, to run into the house in a panic, followed closely by himself, keeping silent and hiding behind the front door, ready to strike.
He laughs maniacally at the image clutched in his hand.
The frozen image shows Daryl walking down the stairs, hair a mess (and not in the greasy, unkempt way he always has it, no this would definitively be classified as "bedroom hair", someone’s fingers having most definitely been running through it mere moments before), sleeveless shirt held together by only two buttons at the bottom, jeans dangling open and belt-less as if just thrown on. The clincher is what's behind Daryl, almost out of the shot, Glenn barely catching it in time. The only things discernible is a bare calf and flowing, wild hair disappearing around the corner wall at the top of the stairs.
He calls it, “Afternoon Delight.”
After getting the shot, Glenn had scampered out of the house to the sounds of Daryl yelling, Beth screaming and the pounding of feet on the staircase. He’s not sure he’s ever run that fast, even from insatiable flesh-tearing undead walkers. The punch that came shortly after was worth it.
Hot showers and first pickin’s, here he comes!
He tucks all of the precious pictures back into the envelope, safely placing them back in the shoe box. Tomorrow’s the big day and he can’t wait to be crowned the winner…
They’re all together in the kitchen, save for the pair they’re gathering for. Luckily Daryl and Beth are occupied with a spaghetti dinner over at Aaron and Eric’s so they won’t be privy to the goings on regarding a bet to capture their relationship on camera, the consequences undoubtedly severe.
For now everyone is worry free, the alcohol is flowing and various conversations fill the air until Glenn feels it’s the right moment to pull out the shoe box. The all gather around the kitchen island as Glenn dramatically lifts the top off with a flourish.
“Get on with it, kid, let’s see the goods,” Abraham grouses.
Glenn acquiesces and digs for the white envelope, pulling it out as if it's a fragile artifact made of the most delicate glass.
Maggie huffs before snatching the envelope from his hands and pulling out the pictures, spreading them out on the granite counter top quickly as everyone crowds in for a good look. There are various exclamations of delight and laughter upon seeing the results of their scheming laid out before them, some leaning in to pick up a picture for a closer look.
“Oh. My. God.” Glenn, who had been gazing down at his picture proudly swings his head over to see Maggie staring at something in her hand with a yellow post-it note on the back.
She bursts into laughter and Glenn reaches over and takes the mysterious item from her.
"What the hell is this?!" Glenn exclaims, holding the Polaroid picture up.
The shot is the elusive pair, very clearly kissing but the catch is the money shot is obscured by Daryl's large, meaty hand; Beth has a mischievous gleam in her eyes while Daryl looks entirely too self-satisfied. His eyes practically have “Fuck you, Glenn” written on them like ticker tape.
"Unbelievable!" Glenn crows, he flips it over to read the post-it note stuck there.
"Part of the betting pool, -D," is written in Daryl’s choppy scrawl.
Maggie plucks the photo from Glenn’s numb fingers and places it among the others.
“We ready to vote?” She asks in a delighted tone.
Daryl’s picture wins.
20 minutes later, Beth and Daryl show up to cheers and clapping. Daryl bows his head, uncomfortable with the attention but Beth smiles prettily, a blush spreading on her cheeks. The atmosphere is good natured as the couple look over the pictures, listening to the various sneaky techniques used to capture each one. Eventually all of the pictures in the shoe box are brought out (except for Abe and Rosita’s, those thankfully remain hidden), more alcohol is poured and the evening is calm but filled with enjoyment.
Glenn sullenly nurses his glass of wine on the front porch, pouting about the turn of events. The door opens behind him, momentarily allowing the noise of chatter, laughter and clinking glasses to overtake the silence of the night.
"Who do you think told them?" Glenn asks as he turns, expecting Maggie to be standing there but slumping when he sees who it is.
“You did,” Daryl grunts. “Been following me with that damn camera for a month. Knew somethin’ had to be goin on.”
Glenn tilts his head back in exasperation. Of course he was the one to give the game away. He’s always been shit with secrets.
“Got the details from Carl.” Daryl comes up next to him, leaning his back against the railing, facing a window looking into the kitchen.
“That little shit!”
Daryl snorts out a laugh.
After a few moments of silence Glenn sighs in resignation. “Allright, let’s get this over with.” He turns to the side, facing Daryl full on and shuts his eyes tightly, bracing for the punch.
It doesn’t come and after a few seconds, he peeks one eye open.
Daryl takes a drink of the whiskey he has in hand, a smirk forming on his lips.
“Think Beth got the best shot already,” he says, motioning the glass towards the swollen and bruised skin around Glenn’s left eye.
Sighing in relief, Glenn lifts a hand to the injury. “Yeah, who knew she had such a vicious right hook?”
Daryl’s smirk becomes a smile and Glenn turns to follow his eye line through the window. Who else would he be smiling at like that? Beth is there with two pictures in her hands laughing with Maggie and Sasha on either side of her.
Daryl glances down to the ground and breathes out a small laugh. “Come on,” he says, smacking Glenn on the back (with entirely too much force in his opinion) indicating they return to the gathering inside but Glenn remains where he is.
“They’re good, by the way. The pictures.” Daryl says as he makes his way to the door. He chews on his bottom lip before shrugging, as if it doesn’t matter to him either way that the pictures exist, but his next words belie his actions.
“S’Nice to have ‘em,” he says quietly before going back in to the house.
Glenn nods, understanding as a smile blooms on his face. He might have lost the bet, and gotten punched in the face by a girl half his size (the girl part is irrelevant, he's seen Maggie make a grown man throw up from a punch to the gut), but right now, looking at his family through the window, safe and laughing at various captured moments, it all feels kind of worth it.