abelina: made by xtanitx (fool-on-the-hill)
[personal profile] abelina
Title: Fall Right In
Author: Abelina/Abby/Abelinajt
Fandom/Pairing: The Walking Dead - Beth Greene/Daryl Dixon (Bethyl)
Setting: Season 4, Alone-divergence.
Rating: E/NC17
Summary: If Beth hadn’t interrupted him when she did, calling him back with the melody of her voice, he might’ve done something dumb like opening the door for a doomed dog and maybe dooming them both while he was at it. Beth and Daryl escape the funeral home together. An Alone-divergence Bethyl story.
Notes: Chapter title taken from lyrics to Dig by Incubus, which I've already used for this fic but couldn't find anything better. Thank you to Maebe aka justkirstenb for reading this over and offering feedback.


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Fall Right In
Chapter 41 – We All Have Something that Digs at Us (At Least We Dig Each Other)

                                                                                                                               
*~*

The change in Beth was immediate, as though that bubble of quiet, that invisible barrier which kept the rest of the world away from their bed cracked down the centre and shattered to pieces the moment she stepped out of it. Nothing had been able to touch her there, nothing she didn’t want to let in as she spoke what was in her heart and coaxed the words right out of his. Confident. Unafraid. Comfortable in her own skin and nothing else and unbridled in her pleasure and in his. In theirs, in giving that to each other, all of her thrown wide open even as she wrapped herself around his soul.

In that bed, she was everything she had made herself into; everything brave and strong and bold and alive, but more than that. When the world wanted to make her hard, Beth Greene was everything soft and warm and sweet and beautiful, too.

Still was, in the aftermath. Afterglow, now that he knew what the hell that meant, standing there at the foot of the bed, her cheeks holding onto their deep pink flush. Naked except for her little heart pendant on its worn-out string, and the half-dried mess of his come smeared all over her belly. Seeing that did something pleasant and twisty to his insides, and he didn’t quite get it but he wasn’t sure he needed to. Because it’s us and it’s okay. It was all okay, but Beth wasn’t, and the cloud of orgasmic bliss faded as his brain finally caught up with what his eyes were trying to tell him.


An unseen weight pressed down across her shoulders, rounding them, making a hunched old woman out of her young body. Not just slight anymore but small, as she curled her arms around her middle and stared at the bathroom, eyes so bright and blue in this light except now all hints of softness had vanished. Hard edges crept in, closed her off to the world from the inside out.

She wasn’t gone. It wasn’t like that. Didn’t think it would be even though he could feel how much she didn’t want to do this, coming off her in waves that poked into his ears and shivered like frigid gusts of wind down inside. Behind the edges, her eyes were still hers, but watchful. Wary in preparation and he should’ve known it would be more than just wanting to stay in bed in a sticky pile of slowly cooling flesh. More than just hoping for a few extra hours of sleep.

Even through his own pain and delirium last night, he saw how hard she had to work at it. The effort it took to face that room, those people, after all that happened to her. Relying on borrowed faith built of equal parts adrenaline and desperation and hoping to hell it might actually do shit for them this time. Now those walls went back up, brick by brick. That armour she kept hidden inside bled through to the surface until he could almost see the way the plates interlocked. Layered over one another, protective, hiding away all the soft pieces so nobody knew they were even there. She needed this part of her, sure she did, but—but.

The shiver in his ears dripped down as he watched her struggle in silence, like icicles melting in bitter little splashes, rippling the surface of the warmth lingering in his belly. Before he could go to her, though, Beth straightened up, not quite sloughing off the weight but standing taller under it, and lurched into motion, headed for the bathroom. Walking slow like she was just as sore as him, now that she was upright. The pressure in his own bladder urged him up, too, and he dragged his uncoordinated collection of bruised and aching body parts off the edge of the bed and pointed it in the direction of the open archway to await his turn. Stepped through it when he heard the toilet flush and rounded the corner into a sea of blue-green walls, vibrant like peacock feathers. Too goddamn cheerful a shade for him to handle right now as he stumbled past the giant tub and angled around to the right just as Beth pushed aside the wooden screen blocking the toilet from view.

When all that was done with he found her standing at the sink back out in the main room, staring into the mirror with a damp cloth in hand but she hadn’t even started washing. Gaze turned inward, her eyes barely flashed with recognition when his reflection joined hers, two purple faces side by side.

“Hey.”

She started when he set his hands at her hips. Not much, just enough that he felt it in his palms, through his fingers where he pressed them into her skin, without seeing her move. Then her clouded gaze cleared and she met his eyes in the mirror, and more than anything she just looked scared.

“Oh, Beth...”

As her name fell from his lips, she shut her eyes tight, breath tumbling out in a shuddery rush that shook all the way through his chest when she leaned back into him. Melted there, like she did before but there was a different quality to it now, not like wax but something thinner, something that might end up in a puddle on the floor if he chose to step away. He wouldn’t, even if he wanted to, but he didn’t, and instead wound his arms around her warm body and pulled her closer.

She turned her head to lay it against him, her warm cheek pressed to his collarbone, and Daryl tipped his face down into her hair. “Talk to me, girl.”

A little tremor rolled right through her body, up from her toes and out past her lips in the tiniest of whimpers. “I just wanna stay like this, Daryl. Right here with you.”

Oh, sweetheart. He knew the feeling, heady and thick, deepened by looking into that mirror at the two naked bodies folded together in it. Like peering through a window into somebody else’s life except it wasn’t. This was his life and he was living it and there was Beth, living hers right alongside him, with him, and he wasn’t ready to put that away, throw on their armour and face the world at large when the world they made, just him and her, was the only one he needed. When the glowing warmth inside him felt like sinking into an ocean full of bathwater and all the pain, all the other shit would dissolve into nothing if only they could close their eyes and drift away in it.

Almost did. Eyes closed, thoughts swirling back to the bliss of waking up with Beth in his arms, and only her little shiver drew him back out of it. He caught sight of their reflection again in that spotless glass, Daryl and Beth and who they were, not who they used to be. Beyond the bruises, the wounds, just them, nothing to hide and no way to hide it. No need. No reason. Don’t you think that’s beautiful? Beautiful and so fucking real it caught, thick and heavy, in his throat, and all he wanted to do right then was haul her back to bed and bask in it with her, a tangle of naked limbs and beating hearts and soft little sighs like a secret language only they could understand.

Not head out to breakfast with a bunch of strangers, even strangers who helped them, who they at least owed the courtesy, or whatever, of joining for a meal.

Beth had opened her eyes again, too, and her chest heaved with another deep breath as she turned her head and met his gaze in the mirror. “I know we have to.”

They did, at least as far as the fact that they couldn’t hide forever in a room that wasn’t, strictly speaking, theirs in any sense of the word, no matter what marks they might have left upon it. Besides that, there was too much going on here they didn’t know and couldn’t exactly let slide. What few pieces they got last night didn’t make up the full puzzle and eventually they had to talk to these people. Make a plan. Decide what to do next with whatever options they had.

“Yeah.” He pushed his face deeper into her hair, until the pressure throbbed through his skull. Until the scent of her, dirt, soap, sweat and sex and that indefinable other that was simply Beth, filled his head and smoothed out the jagged edges of the ache.

“You gonna be okay?”

He barely spoke the words aloud, murmured down into her scalp and muffled in her hair, but she heard him. Shuddered with it as her hands came up to squeeze his wrists where he held her. A little sigh, like maybe she was grateful not have to explain.

“I don’t know.” Her eyes fell shut again, and she gripped his wrists even tighter. “I wanna be. I should be, but…”

But. That word again, knocking them back like a wrench through the spokes. Yeah, she kicked last night’s ass in too many ways to count, but not without putting everything she had into it, and now she didn’t even have the rush of adrenaline to back her up. All she had was her, exhausted, sore, worn down to the bone, and Daryl didn’t need to read her mind to know she was afraid that wouldn’t be enough.

He wouldn’t tell her it’d be all right. She didn’t want platitudes or absolutes he had no hope of promising, but he could give her this. “I got you.”

That brought a little smile to her face and the tiniest bloom of colour back in her cheeks. “Yeah. You do.”

Her words tugged at his lips, a little smile he couldn’t help but make. He had said the same thing to her the day he finally understood what was happening inside him, the first hints of just how much she meant to him. Now, Daryl pressed a kiss to her hair, and let her words take him back to their time at the cabin, the memories like a golden haze settling over the two of them. Beth’s eyes drifted open again but instead of meeting his, her gaze swept over the picture they made in the mirror and he couldn’t help but follow her. Beth in his arms, so slight against the bulk of him, bruised and battered in a way that made his heart hurt, a dull throbbing ache with a sharper one poking in from underneath, but she didn’t look small anymore. A bright little lantern in the dark, the beating heart at the centre of everything, at the core of him and of them and all of this, she was the biggest goddamn thing in that entire room and he couldn’t look away.

A glimmer shone in her eyes, moistened now where they were so dry before. Luminous little cracks breaking through that wary shield as she gasped, softly, and pressed her fingertips into the backs of his hands.

“Oh my god, Daryl…” Her voice hitched as she caught his eyes at last, as she tilted her head to press against his cheek. “Look at us.”

He felt the ripples of her words deep inside him. There were times, lots of times he wondered at the ways Beth saw the world, wondered how in the hell she could look at something so stark and inevitably find even the tiniest thread of beauty in it. But this, fuck, in this they were the same.

Look at us.

He never wanted to stop looking. Not until he breathed his last breath.

It would be so easy to get lost in this. In that mirror. In watching the way his fingers moved, big and dark, across the softest skin low down on her belly. Easy and pleasant and dangerous, the two of them there without a stitch of clothing between them, still wearing the remnants of what they did in that bed. As he thought it he swept his thumb in an arc across her bellybutton, felt her quiver beneath his hand and saw how her eyes drooped just the tiniest bit, how her nipples hardened just from that barest little touch. She leaned her head back against his shoulder, curve of her mouth hinting at a contented smile, and yeah, he could get used to this. If he let himself think too much on it, he could imagine all sorts of ways they might make use of that mirror.

Reading his mind, maybe, or arriving at the same place on her own, Beth gave his wrists one final squeeze, then slipped out of his arms and reached out to turn on the tap. She glanced sidelong at him as she held her hand beneath the trickle of water, waiting for it to warm, a little wrinkle forming again above her brow. “You’ll talk to them, right? Greg and the others, if—if I can’t?”

He hummed at her, stroked his fingers up her back, right along her spine how she liked best. Leaving her behind, even here, wasn’t on his list of smart ideas, and a pulse of warning beat through his chest, a reminder of what happened every other time he left without her. But still.  “You don’t gotta come, I could—”

“No.”

She turned her head now to look at him mostly straight on, and though her face hadn’t let go of its worried edges, its deep furrow in her purpled brow, he could see that she meant it.

“No, I do. I won’t—I don’t think I—” Her eyes flicked down and away as she took a deep breath. “I’m okay. But I’m not?”

There was a question there, left hanging as she returned to the task at hand, warming her discarded cloth beneath that slowly streaming water and wetting one down for him, too. He waited, drawing his fingertips between those two little dimples at the base of her spine while she nibbled at her lip and lathered both cloths with a little of that gritty soap.

He felt her shiver through his fingers just before she started speaking, still working the suds into the peacock-coloured squares. “You know how it is, when you did somethin’ wrong and you have to fess up to it? The part where you’re already caught and just waitin’ to hear about it.”

Not exactly the same, but he remembered, all right. Standing there a few feet away from her cell, out of sight while he worked up the courage to do what he had to. Staring at that little patch of light, like a welcome sign spilling out from the doorway except it wasn’t him she was waiting for. Wasn’t that kind of visit she was expecting that night. Knowing he had to go, had to tell her, that it had to be him no matter how many times Maggie tried to let him off the hook. Yeah, he knew what she meant. Felt the ghost of it prickling across his scalp and sitting like a ball of lead in his stomach, heavy and cold, a toxin inside just waiting to leech out and bring her down, too.

He shuddered, and tried to push the memory aside, stuff it back where it belonged but it lingered anyway, no matter that the Beth-in-his-head told him to put it away. “Mmhm.”

“This is kinda like that.” She nodded at the cloths, and with a little glance, passed him one. “Like dread, maybe? Chewin’ at me inside and it hurts.”

That last came out in a shaky little whisper, which melted into a little sigh when he stepped up behind her again, palm sliding around to rest low on her belly. “You scared?”

Without looking up at him, she nodded, a rapid bobbing of her head as she focused on the balled-up cloth clutched in her fist. “What if I do mess up? What if I was wrong about bringin’ us here?”

Wasn’t like she didn’t have a point, wondering that, no matter what else was at work making her worry. It didn’t seem like these people meant them harm.

But.

He lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “You heard him answer, same as me. The questions.”

This time when Beth nodded, it was slower, thoughtful. “I didn’t know what else to do.”

He’d have made the same choice she did, faced with the same damn scenario. Told her so, though she huffed and stared down at the sink, like she didn’t believe it or maybe didn’t want to give herself the credit.

“Quit that.” He tickled her belly with his fingertips until she twitched, until a smile tried its best to replace the tight line of her mouth. “Soundin’ like me.”

That made her glance up, finally, the smile winning out halfway, even though it hadn’t done a thing to take away that aura of unease. “This is so stupid. I used to be good at talkin’ to people.”

“Still are.” He slid out from behind to stand next to her at the sink. “Just ain't met much of anyone lately worth talkin’ to.”

The smile bloomed full, this time. Subdued from her normal one, but real, and she tipped her head over to lay it against his shoulder, meeting his eyes in the mirror. “Well. I guess maybe you have a point.”

“Ain’t stupid, either. You know that.” He held her eyes until she nodded, then covered her cloth-filled hand with his. “C’mon. Get washed up.”

“Yeah.” Another short nod, and then she glanced up at him again as she unfurled her washcloth to scrub at her fingers. “We gotta know. What this place is. Who these people are.”

“Yeah, and what they want from us.”

She didn’t respond to that, but she didn’t have to. The little edge to her gaze just before she refocused on her hands told him she knew exactly what he meant. They both heard Greg pass off his hospitality as gratitude for helping the boy and a favour to the child himself, but Daryl wasn’t counting on that and neither would Beth. Nobody wanted nothing anymore, and there was still the matter of Dane and his bunch of assholes hanging over them, and what part he and Beth might have to play in this scrap now that they had stumbled headlong into the middle of it.

And that meant actually joining Greg and his people for breakfast, no matter what he’d rather be doing, or how much the prospect of being around people was freaking Beth out.

So they washed, side by side there at the sink. Despite the anxiety prodding at her, rounding her shoulders, clenching so tight through her jaw her teeth must ache, Beth made no secret of wanting to watch him. Her gaze trailed over his naked body like the gentlest brushes of fingers, light, tickly, tingling down inside like warm bubbles, from the moment he touched the cloth to his chest. Leftover heat stirred inside him, not urgent, not insistent, just the right sort of pleasant that he didn’t ever want it to stop.

He gave into it, let it roll through him how she meant it to and tried to give it right back. To match her boldness with his own and admire her tits, the way they jiggled just so, the shape of her arms and how the muscles flexed, the dip of her waist and the little curve her belly made that he had, until now, never really got to see but which always felt so good beneath his palm. He watched her, and he stood tall and let her watch him, too, let her see him how he saw her, how she wanted to see him, not even turning away to wash the cock hanging soft and spent down in front of him. And Beth spread her legs and scrubbed between them, first those dark blond curls, then the pink flesh beneath without turning away either. Without taking her eyes off him.

It was weird, doing that. Doing that with her but he could and he did, he was. They were, and everything about this morning spun his head around like he was stuck on a carnival ride going a little too fast but he wouldn’t change it now for anything.

They finished up at the same time. Daryl set his cloth by the sink and Beth slid up in front of him, pressed her palms to his chest where the bruising wasn’t too bad and it was so easy just to slide his hands down her back, feel the way her skin erupted in goosebumps in the wake of his touch. Curl his fingers into those two little dimples and pull her to him. He shouldn’t be doing this, shouldn’t be tempting either one of them especially with how the feel of her bare body against his was already filling his belly with a slow rise of heat, like the tide coming in. But he couldn’t get past the head rush of being purposely naked with her—naked like this—and he wasn’t hard but he could be. Thought he could get there from just the play of Beth’s fingers through the sparse hairs on his chest, just from holding her there, so warm and so perfect, pressed to him like this.  She gazed up at him with the same glint in her eyes she had while staring into the mirror before, the warmth of her breath tickling his chin, and before he realized what he was doing he backed her up against counter.

She let out a small oof and the vision hit him at the same time as his hips pressed hers back against the rounded edge, exploding into his thoughts like a rocket, of lifting her up onto it and getting cozy between her spread thighs and fuck, this could be a problem. He groaned, long and loud, and so did Beth, her hands lying still now against his chest as she dropped her forehead onto his shoulder.

“Oh lord,” she whispered, summing it up exactly, but making no attempts to move away. “I guess we better get dressed, huh?”

Her hair smelled so good, when he pressed his nose into it. All of her smelled so fucking good. “Probably safer if we did.”

And yet, he wasn’t moving, stuck there with his face in her hair and his fingertips gliding up and down her back. Neither was she, except to push her face up into his neck, to poke at his quickening pulse with the point of her nose and let her breath wash over him, hot and damp and not at all helpful for what they needed to be doing.

Beth.”

“I know.”

Her lips dragged against his Adam’s apple as she spoke, and a little moan slipped out right after and shivered down into his chest. Made his heart beat that much quicker as she carried on down his throat, leaving a trail of fluttery wet kisses into the hollow there. He swallowed hard and she swept her nose along the line of his collarbone, then tipped back to look at him.

Her tongue darted out to wet her bottom lip and her eyes focused on his doing the exact same thing. “My face still hurts, but...”

But.

But he’d been wanting to kiss her from the moment he understood she was really there in that little stone room, that she wasn’t just another Beth-shaped figment of his imagination come to shield him from whatever fresh hell he was about to endure. That the real Beth had come for him instead, come to take him away from that place and fuck, his head hurt. The whole left side of his face throbbed whenever he breathed, raw and angry, and the way hers looked he knew it had to be the same.

That didn’t stop him from bringing a hand up to cradle her cheek, or from brushing his thumb just beneath the badly stitched wound, gliding along the border between freshly flushed skin and the splotchy purple-red bruise. Beth turned her face into his palm, curled her fingers into his chest and sighed so softly, the littlest of noises, warm like a shot of whisky trickling down through his body. This was a bad idea. A phenomenally bad fucking idea for an overflowing handful of very good reasons—but.

Beth leaned up a little on her toes, pushing her belly into his as their lips met. As they drew each other in, kissed slow and deep right then and there, still naked, still needing to be somewhere else entirely but he ignored all of that. Ignored the battle axe imbedded in his forehead, ignored the tug of stitches in his side and the spasm of warning in his back and drank her down, the feel of her, the taste of her on his tongue as he licked into her mouth until she let out that little noise that would forever taste of ripe peaches and the smell of old hay.

Kissed her until she moaned from somewhere deep in her belly, and the hands at his chest looped up around his neck and he stumbled, lurching forward, off-balance, head pounding, cock stirring to life against her still-damp bush. And this was a bad fucking idea right from the start but he would never in a million years get tired of kissing Beth Greene.

They wrenched apart, two naked chests heaving for breath. Beth gazed up at him, glassy eyes only barely clearing as she shook her head and shuddered hard, and when they finally came, her words tumbled out in a breathless rush. “Clothes. Now.”

Yes, yes that was smart, and they should’ve done that a long time ago but still, he didn’t want to let her go. Didn’t want to stop this time even though they had to and that new bold thing swelled up in his chest, beating fast and loud in addition to the thundering of his heart. Something which rasped past his throat in a voice he didn’t recognize.

“This ain’t finished.”

And she shivered, like the gentlest of ripples on a glassy pond, still staring up at him with those wide, wide eyes ringed with the smallest hints of blue. Her own voice raspy, like she hadn’t spoken a single word in years.

“That a promise, Mr. Dixon?”

Oh, it was. It so fucking was and he had no idea how he managed to pull away from her, with a groan like tearing fabric. Her little laugh, that breathy sweet one he wanted to find a million ways to bring out of her, followed him while he found his discarded boxers and pulled them on, and stayed there in his chest afterward, glowing warm as he found the pile of borrowed clothes and stuffed his body into them.

He watched Beth as she dressed in pair of worn blue jeans a little darker than her own and a faded yellow blouse the colour of butter, and fixed her hair into a low ponytail which draped over her shoulder in loose curls. He’d never tire of watching her, either. The way she moved, the way she breathed when she knew he was looking but pretended not to. It felt so good to want her like this, an indescribable good burning deep inside, set apart from the obvious other kind of good, and so what if it wasn’t the time to give in to the temptation of her. He could still carry this with him. This warmth. This longing that didn’t hurt as much anymore, knowing none of it was quite so out of reach.

Might even make breakfast-with-friends mostly sort of tolerable.

His new shirt was too tight across his shoulders like most shirts were, and he hated these jeans already, though he could grudgingly admit that they at least sort of fit, but only because none of his other shit was in any state to be wearing, ‘sides his boots, which he laced up by bracing each foot against the chair so he didn’t pull too hard on his stitches. When he straightened back up, Beth slipped in out of nowhere, arms wrapping tight around his middle—though mindful of the wound—to pull him into a hug.

He tightened his arms across her shoulders and she pushed her face into his chest, enough to muffle her words but not drown them out completely.

“Thanks, Daryl. You helped. You always help.”

Oh, my girl. Words he’d never thought before but now that he had, he liked how they tasted, and he dropped is face once more into her hair and breathed deep. Breathed her in.

“We got this. Together, a’right?”

“Together.”

Beth pulled back, not out of his arms but enough to meet his eyes. She swallowed hard and jerked her head toward the door in a stiff nod.  “I’m ready.”


*~*

To be continued in chapter 42 >>

Date: 2016-08-10 07:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slaymesoftly.livejournal.com
Still here! Still following my two favorite people. I hope they really have found some respite - at least for a while.

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