The bad weather had forced everyone inside today and Beth was surprised to find how happy it made her to see their home full of her family. Sometimes it felt stifling when the kitchen was crowded with too many bodies or they were seated four to a sofa; but today there were spread throughout the house and it was nice to find someone you loved in every room. Carol was baking bread and the smell flooded the house, adding to the cosy, homey feel. Best of all was the sight she walked in on in the small living room off the landing. She’d heard the soundtrack to a childhood favourite of hers playing and was surprised to open the door and find Daryl of all people bouncing Judith on his knee as they watched Dumbo together. An enormous smile broke out on her face as her heart swelled at the image.
‘You like Dumbo?’ she asked, directing her question at the baby but it was Daryl who answered.
‘Used to have this on VHS, my Momma, she used to sing Baby Mine to get me to sleep at night.’
‘I can’t imagine that at all’ she said
‘I was a kid. Long time ago, but I was. I wanted Little Ass Kicker here to watch him to.’
‘She likes it’ Beth said. The baby hadn’t seen a lot of television and was always mesmerised by the colours on the screen and today was no exception.
‘She is due a nap though, otherwise we’ll never get her to bed tonight.’
It’s the reason she’d come hunting for Judith to begin with.
Daryl handed the baby over ‘we’ll finish watching another time’ he promised her.
Beth left the room and placed the baby in her crib. It took her about ten minutes to settle but once she finally fell asleep Beth went back to the living room. She found Daryl still entranced in the film, watching as Timothy Mouse gave Dumbo a pep talk.
‘Can I join you?’ she asked but sat next to him before he had a chance to answer. She didn’t get Daryl to herself very often these days and she missed his company. Sometimes they stole away to the roof, but they’d realised early on that finding the two of them alone made others uncomfortable and in turn that had made Daryl awkward around her. She pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her head on his shoulder.
‘I used to watch this with Maggie and Shawn.’ She whispered.
‘My Dad had taped it off of the TV and all these old commercials would play through it. It never seems right if it’s not interrupted to try and sell me a Happy Meal’
‘Doesn’t feel right if Merle’s not ribbing me for watchin’ it’ Daryl replied.
Beth playfully elbowed his ribs ‘I can give you crap for watching a kids movie once the kids gone to bed’ she said then softened her voice, ‘except its really sweet’
‘I aint sweet’ Daryl replied
‘Sometimes you are’ Beth said, snuggling back in against him.
‘You going to stop talking so I can watch?’ he asked
She nodded her head and they watched in silence as the animated elephant became the hero.
The credits started to roll and Daryl went to stand up.
‘Don’t’ Beth pleaded.
‘Don’t just get up and leave. Please’
Daryl turned off the screen but sat next to her.
‘I just miss you is all’ she said
‘You live with me’
‘It’s not the same. You know what I mean.’
‘This is what you wanted right? Good people, somewhere nice to live.’
‘Yeah but it’s still been a change. I never thought I’d miss the road but sometimes...’
‘It was easier’ he finished.
In the days after the group had saved Beth from Grady she’d hardly left Daryl’s side and nobody said a word. She’d sat with him on watch, slept next to him, been his shadow and nobody had said a thing. It was just one of those things that happened on the road, like eating dog or taking a piss behind a tree. Now they were here though, everyone got civilised real quick. Maggie had pulled her aside on the first day.
‘You’re a lot younger than Daryl and he looks rough, to them. Just be mindful of that’ she’d warned. Glenn had given her a similar talk after he found them asleep on the couch together one morning.
‘I didn’t think that was still happening’ he’d said before giving a rehash of Maggie’s speech.
Beth knew nobody in their group really minded but they were suddenly worried about making a good impression, well except for Father Gabriel who had asked if there was anything she wanted to confess and did they need to have a discussion about healthy relationships. That had pissed her off.
She knew adjusting to Alexandria was harder for Daryl than it was for her. He’d never lived anywhere like this before so as alien as it all felt to Beth, that feeling was only intensified for him.
‘Sometimes I wish it was just us here, that we’d found it and didn’t have to fit in with the others’ she said wistfully
‘others would have come anyway’
‘yeah, but we’d have been in charge. Well not me, but Rick, you and Michonne.’
Daryl didn’t say anything.
He looked over at Beth and sighed. He knew he had feelings for her and he didn’t think it was wrong, after everything they’d been through together but now they were here, he was second guessing himself and he hated that. Once they’d been reunited he’d been worried about her welfare. He’d seen the scars she’d acquired at Grady and saw a slight change in her. She was stronger but less trusting of anyone new. He didn’t want to take advantage of the fact she trusted him.
She held her hand out to him and smiled when he took it.
‘I miss this’ she said, raising their hands for effect.
He responded with one of those grunts she’d become accustomed to. She interpreted this one to mean ‘me too’.
She rested her head back on his shoulder and he leaned into her too.
They didn’t really need to say anything. She moved her thumb in small circles around his hand.
The smell of fresh baked bread filled the room and the rain began to beat harder on the roof.
‘It’s easy to forget the world ended on days like this’ Beth said quietly.
‘world didn’t end’ he replied squeezing her hand.
He inhaled the smell of her hair, citrus shampoo and that underlying scent of her, the smell you only got from sniffing someone’s scalp.
‘Are you sniffing me?’ she accused in a playful tone ‘like we’re dogs’
‘You’ve sure smelled worse’ was his only reply.
She let go of his hand and turned face him front on
‘You can talk’ she said pointedly
And then she threw a leg over him, so she was straddling him
‘Beth’ he breathed, a gentle warning to his voice
‘screw them’ she said as she leaned in
She pressed her lips to his and had to bump his chin to encourage him to reciprocate. Slowly she felt his mouth move against hers and even slightly open.
It was short but sweet. She pulled away before it could become anything else and buried her face into his neck.
‘Sorry’ she whispered.
‘Don’t apologise’ he said ‘We both...’
He could feel her nod her head against him.
‘I don’t want to feel ashamed’ she said quietly ‘Maggie, Glenn, they’ve got not idea’
He began stroking her back.
‘As long as it’s what you want’
He felt her nod again.
He kissed her head.
She pressed herself hard against him and he tightened his hold on her.
Eventually she moved herself until she met his lips and they kissed, slow and deep and long and she knew that this was different than anyone else she’d ever kissed, that he was so much more important to her than any other boy she’d kissed had been.
They broke apart and he held her face in his hands.
‘You sure you’re OK?’ He asked
She smiled and nodded
‘More than OK, I’m happy’
‘Me too’ he confessed.
‘Afternoon tea for anyone who wants it’ Carol called from the kitchen
‘Come on, let’s go down’ Beth said standing up, then she grabbed his hand and added ‘together’.
So they walked down the stairs, hand in hand, two parts of a whole and Beth knew from then on, regardless of what anyone said, they would be together.