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Beth Amber

FIC - The Walking Dead - Moonlight and Forgotten (Re-write) PG

This is an expanded version of the drabble I posted for last weeks drabble challenge Moonlight and Forgotten.

Title: Moonlight and Forgotten
Characters/Relationships: Daryl Dixon, Beth Greene, Bethyl
Rating: PG
Summary: Starts with the fire at the end of "Still" and is an extension of that episode.

Moonlight and Forgotten

The dark recesses of live oak and cottonwood disgorged walkers. Moths drawn to the inferno he and Beth had created. Daryl’s spirit had soared with the flames that leapt and danced in the deep Georgia night, rising skyward, flickering fingers of redemption. The acrid smoke from incinerated plastic, insulation and memories burned his nostrils but cleansed his soul.

Beth stood in the guttering light and scorching heat, irreverent finger raised like some bastardized Statue of Liberty, grinning broadly as she nudged his arm. He hesitated a moment, then joined her. Middle finger pointing skyward in one last moonshine salute. In that moment, he felt curiously free for the first time in his life, of the weight of his past. He owed that to this bit of a woman standing next to him, who had battered at his defenses until he had finally succumbed to the resilient force of her inner spirit shining brighter in the gloom than the raging fire before them.

Had he been less drunk, Daryl Dixon would have been scared to death. In one night Beth had breached then shattered the fortress he had spent a lifetime forging around his heart. Every brick, stone and daub of mortar now lay as dust at her feet. But he was no fool. Come morning she would once again become Hershel’s youngest daughter. And he would begin rebuilding that fortress to protect his battered soul.

But that would be tomorrow. Daryl knew it was no longer safe here tonight. They were both too drunk to put up a decent fight if the walkers decided they were more interesting than the flames. Daryl reached out and gently turned Beth away from her conflagration, pushing her deeper into the woods. The smallest smile touching his lips as he turned his back on the old shack, forsaking all the nightmares this place had dragged screaming into the light. .

They needed to put distance between themselves and the walkers. He had to push Beth as far as possible. Though he had drunk a bit of ‘shine, it was nowhere near what he used to put away in the days before the turn. This buzz was manageable. He was more concerned about Beth. She had done pretty good for someone who had never had alcohol, but as soon as the night air hit her, her drunkenness intensified. They needed to hole up somewhere so she could sleep it off. Maybe burning their only shelter had been stupid even if it had felt good. He just hoped all the walkers in the area were drawn to the fire and not them.

Stumbling, but never quite falling Beth had allowed him to lead her into the darkness. They were maybe a half mile into the woods when Beth suddenly stopped. He turned and she looked at him with a shit eating grin on her face, and seriously unfocused eyes.

“Girl, you are lit,” Daryl said softly as he took her by the shoulders and leaned her against a tree, hoping she wouldn’t fall over.

“Lit on moonshine,” she slurred. Beth giggled, as she tried to look him in the eye and failed miserably, staring instead at a point somewhere around the middle of his chest.

Daryl couldn’t believe how quickly she had gone from coherent to not.

“Does that make me moonlit…or moonlight?” She seemed very pleased with her wordplay, poking him with her index finger to emphasize each word.

“What it makes ya should probably be forgotten,” he answered as he gently helped her slide down the trunk until her butt hit the ground. “Lucky you ain’t done nothing really stupid, so you won’t be too embarrassed in the mornin’.” Unlike some of us, he thought.

“Forgotten,” she repeated dreamily. “Moonlight and forgotten. Should be a song.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Maybe you should write it.”

Beth tried to look at him again, the smile gone from her face. “The trees are spinning. And I don’t feel too good,” she muttered right before she leaned over sideways and was gloriously sick to her stomach. Daryl wrapped his arm around her middle, supporting her and putting gentle pressure on her stomach. He knew from past experience how much that would help once the dry heaves started. She was holding herself up out of the mess by leaning on her arms, so he used the other hand to gather her hair and hold it out of her face.

“Tha’s a tru’ frien’,” she mumbled. Holdn’ my hair while I puke.”

When her stomach was finally empty and no longer cramping she pushed herself backwards until she was sitting on her heels. He heard her take a deep, unsteady breath. Rummaging through his pack, he pulled out a bottle and handed it to her. She held up one hand to ward it off.

“I’ve had enough,” she said.

“It’s water. You need to drink.”

Beth took the bottle and drank half before handing it back.

“Now you need to sleep,” Daryl added. “Sleep it off.”

“It’s not safe here.” Beth speech was no longer slurred. Puking your guts out did have a way of sobering a person up.

“As good a place as any. I’ll keep watch.”

“Need a clean spot,” she said.

Daryl could almost hear embarrassment in her voice. Nothin’ to be shamed about, he thought. Beth got to her feet, shaky and swaying. He grabbed her by the elbow to steady her then led her to about fifteen feet to where the ground was covered by spongy moss. With his help she slowly sat down, leaning back against a tree trunk, her eyes closed. He could imagine her world was still trying to spin. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, then patted the ground beside her.

“Gotta keep watch,” he told her. He wanted nothing more to sit beside her as they had done earlier in the evening. But that wasn’t his place and he knew it. Whatever had happened while they sat on that falling down porch had gone up in flames with the porch. And if he were smart he would never again think about it, or dream or hope. Because being with her could never be. She would never want him. Not in the clear, sober light of day. Even if he were the last man standing, she deserved better. Not some redneck asshole.

“You can watch from down here just as easy as up there.”

Beth’s eyes were dark in the moonlight, wide and expectant in her pale face. There was enough light to brighten her wild halo of hair, and still hide the dirt and blood, enhancing her ethereal beauty. Like a fairy tale wood nymph she beckoned to him patting the ground again. With a reluctant sigh, he lowered himself to the ground, his back against the tree beside her. He could hear from this position as well as standing.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

Then much to his surprise, she slid closer to him, leaned and rested her head against his shoulder, wrapping her hand around his upper arm. He reflexively tensed, wary of her touch. Beth must have felt his muscles tighten because her hand automatically moved up and down his arm, as she made a soothing shushing sound. “’t’s okay,” she said as she yawned. “It’s okay,”

Beth’s hand stopped its calming motion, and he felt her slump bonelessly against him. In time her breathing fell into a slow steady rhythm. He told himself he should move, lower her down on the ground and get away as fast as he could. This couldn’t be. All his defensive walls were down. He had never felt this vulnerable. Yet part of him wanted to absorb every second of her closeness. To suck the memory of the feel of her into his heart, and build it a room of its own before the fortress of his soul rebuilt itself. Dawn would soon be here. He had until dawn to create a memory, to fabricate a dream. A dream only he need know about or understand. Dawn would be here soon, and so would reality. And his reality should not include her. With infinite care he brushed a stray strand of hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear. Dawn would soon be here, and with it his life.

He took a deep breath, then carefully covered her tiny hand with his own. While his inner demons told him he was wrong to imagine, his heart kept asking, if this was wrong, why did it feel so right?