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Wasn't Born an Angel

Chapter 37: Simple Man

~Author's Note: Hey guys, sorry about the delay in the update for this chapter. I just had to write the follow up chapter to "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" because that cliffhanger just couldn't stand. Anyway...this chapter is kind of soft for this story, but it kind of needed to be. Also, I know I said last time that this would be a Beth focused chapter, but it didn't really come out that way. Sorry for that. So, as always, I hope you enjoy this chapter, even if it is mostly quiet. Thank you for reading! ~

He looked so young...no, young was wrong...Daryl looked innocent, free of worry laying beside her in bed. Sleep washed away everything that weighed so heavily on him. Beth didn't need more sleep, but somehow with Daryl beside her, she had been drawn back into the world of slumber. Waking up beside him...finally really waking up, she was warm and safe and protected. This was life. He hadn't moved in the night, still sleeping on his side just where he drifted off, shaggy hair hiding some of his serene face. His black eyes were almost healed...almost...Daryl so close to how she remembered him back at the prison. So slightly parted, Daryl's lips were asking to be kissed, Beth reaching out hesitantly, just wanting to brush the tips of her fingers over their softness. But she stopped, retracted her hand. This was Daryl; he would snap awake the moment she touched him, and the spell would be broken. She would have to content herself with watching him...being near him. Even in fear of waking him up, she shifted closer, hoping that some instinct in his sleep would make him take her in the safety his arms and hold her...but now, it was just one small step at a time...Beth wishing Daryl could knowthe difference he was for her. She had to make him believe.

Thinking about it, she couldn't ever recall a moment watching Daryl sleep...not like this, but not that she had many moments where she would've had the chance, so up close and personal. To be honest, since being reunited with him, she had been too sick, too hurt, too afraid, or too consumed with herself...her demonsto even notice. Beth hated herself for neglecting Daryl. And then, Daryl just didn't ever sleep, did he? It never seemed like it.

For the next few moments though, Beth was going to savor this sweetness, the first time waking up in bed beside a man...beside Daryl. Sliding her hand up to his where it rested on the sheet between them, Beth let her fingers barely brush against it; he stirred, not waking, but his fingertips did come to rest on top hers, making her wish they could just stay in bed here forever. She always thought she would be more self-conscious waking up in bed with a boyfriend...was that even what Daryl was? He meant so much more in her heart than that little word could ever mean. Being self-conscious, at least in the way she used to imagine, didn't even matter anymore. Daryl had already seen her at her worst...seen the worst of her. All of their time together...everystep of the way, she had been at her worst, thought there was no way she could fall even further until she hit absolute rock bottom, when Death's hold gripped her so tightly. Now they were just Beth and Daryl...they were alive, and Beth was starting to believe that when he woke up...when he looked at her, he wouldn't see the mess that she was but would see who she was...the person she could be, coming back to life because of him...for him.

Beth thought she would have been more shy too...in bed with Daryl, but somehow, the world they were having the chance to live in changed all that, at least in the little things like just laying next to him, waking up with Daryl, and watching him sleep. That didn't mean there weren't butterflies fluttering around in her tummy, because there were, but it was more because of the life she wanted to start living with him, not the debilitating shyness in small moments.

But Daryl, last night after he carried her to bed, Daryl who almost always seemed self assured when choices were being made, so steady in his course...he'd been so beautifully timid. He had just been standing there, beside the bed, looking at her so shy...almost saying something, but turning away at the last moment. Beth had no idea what was going on with him...what he wanteduntil one possibility hit her. Daryl had already rejected her once...but that wasn't really a rejection; he had his reasons...and now he was asking to sleep beside her, something she had wanted for so long. Smiling all shy to herself, Beth should have known where this was going all along...Daryl sweeping her off her feet, carrying her to bed. There was an implicit promise made there, even if it was just to sleep beside her and even if Daryl didn't realize it as the unassuming person he was. At his core, as a man, he had to know that deep inside. No matter how innocent the intent, a man carrying a woman like that...Daryl carrying Beth could never be entirely innocent even though it might be innocent love for both of them.

Beth lifted the covers for him, not wanting to spook him by saying the wrong thing, and maybe the tiny fear of rejection inside telling her it wouldn't feel so devastating if he said no and she hadn't actually said anything. But it wasn't rejection...he didn't say no, stashed his handgun under the pillow, something she would have shied from in her life before but now gave her comfort. When he finally came to bed, just sitting on the edge, trying it out, Beth moved away to give him the time and space that he needed until he was ready to have her near. He stopped her though, told her to stay close. Somehow, this was all so momentous for Daryl, being so close to someone...but they had been close for a while. They had to be to survive. Maybe there was just such intimacy tied to a bed...a bed where he wasn't sitting up holding her because she was sick or hurt or comforting her, but sharing it with her because she was his, or as close as she could be to that for him without having...shared that yet. Thinking back, trying to forget the sting of that first rejection, Beth remembered how painfully awkward he had been, telling her why...

I ain't never slept with a woman. Daryl had stopped, fumbling with his words. Shit...that's not what I mean...I've never slept beside anyone, beside a girl...in bed. I've never shared a bed with a girl.

It was who Daryl was...a part of himself he never gave to anyone else, just like sharing the scars on his back. When he finally laid down, finally turned to her, he gave Beth that part of his innocence...

Nobody's ever owned my heart before. I told you it was yours...This is a one time deal for me.

...and it was absolutely beautiful.

The sun was warm and welcoming, but the air was crisp and cool, a refreshing combination as Beth stepped off the porch, warily scanning her surroundings for any sign of danger before breathing in deep and letting herself enjoy. Contemplating Daryl while he slept only worked for so long before she got restless, needing him, but if Daryl was still sleeping, he needed it. Instead, Beth knew the fresh air, bright sun, and the outside would do her a world of good. She found herself in the cemetery...not a place of sadness but a place of peace and remembrance, a monument to all the people they had loved and lost...even those who never got a final resting place.

There it was...maybe she had beenlooking for that one all along, the marker where they had stopped...where Daryl put those yellow flowers. She liked to think he did that to remember Daddy. It was where she took his hand for the first time. Holding hands with Daryl Dixon, in any world that seemed like a dangerous proposition, but she did, and he didn't pull away. Beth sat down in the grass close to the headstone, just looking at it for a moment.

November 12, 1837
December 10, 1874
Beloved Father

He'd been such a young father...too young to die. It was a brief moment of sadness for someone she didn't know, but somehow she knew he had been loved just like she loved her Daddy.

And it wasn't her Daddy's marker; he would never have one of those, but it reminded her of him just now like it had that first time with Daryl. Daryl...her thoughts jumped from Daddy back to Daryl.

When she found him last night, he was out on the road...punishing himself...torturing himself. It was like as she got better, started really coping, began letting go of it all, as Daryl brought her back to life piece by piece, he got worse, sacrificing parts of himself she didn't understand for her. Could Daryl only heal her if he killed himself in the process? Somehow Beth knew it was something...a weight...a burden he didn't want to share with her. How could she make it go away? How could she inspire just a little hope in him? How was she supposed to accept and try to put everything behind her in the past where it belonged with Daryl's spirit dying? Now she was feeling real joy and faith again...that there was happiness in her future...with him, an actual future, but Daryl was breaking.

Even though she knew Daddy couldn't actually answer her, that didn't mean that Beth wasn't going to...didn't need to talk to him, remembering her dream...her hallucination about being back at the farm with Daddy alive while she had still been sick...held captive. It felt so real that Beth liked to pretend those were the actual last moments she spent with him...the last time she saw Daddy, because the truth of it was too horrible to bear. In her dream, Daddy said she didn't need him any more, but that was so very far from the truth...she needed him now.

"I was fighting for something...someone Daddy, for him...for Daryl. And he is worth it...worth everything."

Beth bit back some emotion, remembering that there should be no more tears...but this sadness was for Daryl and something in him she didn't know how to fix.

"You were right. He needs me. I'm still fighting for him. I just don't know what to do because he's hurting, and nothing I do or say seems to be enough..." Swiping away an unbidden tear...


Daryl squinted his eyes tight as he came to consciousness, became aware of the sun shining in on them. The sting of squinting with black eyes wasn't so bad since they were finally starting to heal up...were just a little achy and scratched more than anything, but they were still sensitive to the sun...that and waking up. The sensations threw him into reality though...an immediate reality that he was more than willing to live in, feeling the corners of his lips turn up. If his body was sore from anything, it was from sleeping too long in a comfy bed...and he remembered what...who he was waking up to. He reached up to carefully rub the sleep outta his eyes, and when he was finally able to open them and focus, he reached out for Beth...but his hand just fell in the empty space beside him, fingers brushing across the soft white sheet covering the bed. So empty...Beth was gone. Daryl shot up in a panic...a dream...had it all be a dream? Did he never find Beth...never save her? Was he gonna walk down those stairs, have Merle at the kitchen table eating pancakes, telling him how it was, that he needed to go out there, find Beth, and kill whoever hurt her just so he could fail again...not make it in time? Were Joe and Len going to be standing over her bloody body, taunting him as he fell to pieces...Daryl being forced to drive his knife through Beth's skull?

No...no...How could that be? The funeral parlor...they were at the funeral parlor. He remembered carrying Beth to bed, laying down beside her, reaching out and touching her...she was real...she had been so real. That was real...their reality. In his dream with Merle, Daryl knew he was in a house he thought was his, not this place...this hadn't been it.

I'm Death...no angel...just Death..

You are Beth's death...

Was this his house? What was a mortuary if not a house of death...


"Beth!" Daryl jerked on his boots, grabbed up his crossbow calling for her before flying down those stairs.

This couldn't just be one revolving cycle of dreams and nightmares...he wouldn't accept that...

The house was empty...boarded up and empty...barely any light coming through the downstairs windows like Beth's light had never touched it...never lived here...like it had never touched him or his sorry soul. He was alone. Daryl didn't know what to do, standing there, turning in slow circles, digging his palm into his forehead...defeated. Defeated again. He fought so hard. What he saw after he finally opened his eyes again...maybe that was an even worse reality...nightmare...whatever all this was. The front door wasn't barred anymore. Someone had gone out. Was she gonna be on that road again, stolen right out from under him before he even knew what was happening?

"No...I can't..." an unintelligible whine escaped his mouth. "I can't..."

Knees weak, he just wanted to crash to the floor, give up, 'cause that's all he was gonna do anyway. If it was just a nightmare...if getting Beth back had just been a dream, he couldn't do it. He couldn't run and fail again, but this time, his body wouldn't let him give up, made him go out that door...made him look and see what was still real...Beth sitting in the grass at the far side of the graveyard, sun shining down on her, in her hair, making her look even more ethereal than she already was. He needed to tear into, drag her back in the fucking house, chain her to something so she wouldn't be stupid like this, going out where she could get hurt or killed...but he couldn't, didn't have it in him...not now. He couldn't feel anything in his heart but relief, and there was no way he could break the serenity of this beautiful moment.

Daryl wasn't trying to sneak up on her, just moving quietly...that was natural, and there was no need to go announcing himself and ruin whatever she was doing. He was just looking out for her and maybe just needing to be near her for himself. He didn't mean to listen...shouldn't have...but her voice...he couldn't help it.

"...I was fighting for something...someone Daddy..." God, she was talking to Hershel...another one of his failures. "...for him...for Daryl. And he is worth it...worth everything."

Beth's words were broken, and it wasn't bad enough that he was listening in on her private moment with Hershel, but now she was talking about him. He should back off, but he couldn't...

Some of her next words were taken by the softness of her emotion...he couldn't make them out, but what came next...

"...I just don't know what to do because he's hurting, and nothing I do or say seems to be enough..."

No...it wasn't her...it wasn't her that wasn't enough. It was him. How could she even begin to think that? Daryl couldn't let her keep on talking...not without her knowing he was there. It wasn't right. So he sat down in the grass beside her, Beth not noticing until he was literally right there, spooking, and going to jump up.

"You're fine.." Settling her with quiet words.

There was a bit of silence, Beth going a little awkward, probably 'cause she knew he heard something, and he was more than a little awkward having invaded her moment with her father. Beth finally looked over at him, like she got herself pulled together, a small sweet smile for him.

"I wish we could've buried Daddy here. I think he would have liked it. It's so beautiful. He would have been at peace here." If there was sadness in her voice, she was doing good at hiding it.

There was no way that Beth was unaffected by her daddy's death...not with the way Hershel went. Was that just more trauma, more she was internalizing? Hell, even he wasn't unaffected. It was Daryl who took her hand this time.

Daryl couldn't save Hershel. Didn't even try. Didn't even take a shot. Then they all just left him there...left his body to rot...left him.

"I would've...if we could've gone back...I would've buried him for you..."

Of all the graves he dug at that prison, he couldn't dig the one that really mattered. Hershel...he'd been one tough som'bitch...and Daryl...he...

Daryl remembered the first time he realized just how tough, that night the farm fell...

You gonna take 'em all on? They'd been watching that herd come their way. He'd been more cynical back then, and truthfully, they didn't know how to fight 'em then like they did now.

We have guns. We have cars...

Are you serious?

This is my farm. I'll die here. At that point, Daryl realized that Hershel had balls...but now he realized how much more it really was. Hershel had something to fight for...his family...his home.

All right. It's as good a night as any. Daryl hopped that porch railing knowing if Hershel was going to stand, so was he.

Dammit. Here he was getting all fucking emotional again.

"I...I loved him too.." Daryl watched Beth's baby blues light up so bright at what he said, eyes going all watery...not sad, but like she heard something that touched her heart.

He could feel his bottom lip quivering, so he bit into it, chewing on it to cover. What had to come next was no easier. Beth was worried about him, thinking she wasn't doing enough...didn't know what to do. He'd walked up on that conversation, no denying it now. Daryl knew they had to talk...he had to make her. He didn't know if that would heal him...stitch up his torn soul but it was the only way forward. But going into this, how could he expect Beth to share the worst parts of her trauma if he didn't spill...didn't tell her how broken he was? He had absolutely no fucking right to make what happened to her about himself...but she knew he was hurting; maybe if he told her, she would talk to him...not fight him on it...go into it willingly.

"I'm having nightmares...I'm not weak, Beth...but I can't get it outta my head..." He couldn't look at her and say it, but she turned to him now, eyes on him, and there was no going back.


"About what happened to you. Even when I'm awake, I see it...like you're living it again...I see everything you went through. Everything he did to you..."

Beth was on her knees now, in front of him, hand laid softly on the side of his face, trying to get him to look at her.

"What can I do...for you...for us?"

"I need to know, Beth...you need to talk to me...tell me what happened. All of it. It's gonna hurt like hell, but we have to...we have to talk about it."

Going all hesitant when he finally looked up at her, it took a long moment...a moment he almost lost hope of not having to force her...but she gave him the answer he needed, nodding.

"Whatever you need to hear, I'll tell you, but I need today...just us today..."

Daryl could give her a day, for whatever reason she needed it.


It became a lazy day...a happy day considering...maybe even a normal day although Daryl really had nothing solid to gauge normal by. He napped on some kind of fancy couch he was sure wasn't called a couch after Beth swore up and down she wouldn't go no where, wouldn't leave the house if he fell asleep, amusing herself with albums full of antique pictures that she found stashed away under the coffee table. They gorged themselves on diet soda, peanut butter and jelly, sharing the jars, Daryl even putting in the extra effort to use his spoon and apply the napkin Beth gave him liberally. When dark fell, more than just out of habit...out of survival instinct...Daryl went and checked the door, Beth having disappeared when he came back for her, but it didn't take much to figure out where she was.

Standing in that doorway was like déjà vu...not like a nightmare, but getting to relive the most beautiful memory, Beth perched at the piano, playing a soft little tune, but not singing...not yet. Into the coffin, the soft padded satin lining...it was now the second comfiest bed he'd had in years...if he got the chance to live this moment all over again, there was nothing he would change about it.

"Daryl...no.." the music stopped, Beth going to get on him about laying in the coffin just like he knew she would.

"Hmmph." Chewing at the side of his thumb to hide his wry smile at the corner of his mouth.

"Daryl..." Beth tried again, but she wasn't gonna win.

"You taking requests?"

"Umm...what do you want to hear?"

That caught him off guard. He'd just been saying it to get her to start playing again, maybe even sing...didn't think she would actually offer. And now that she did, thinking on it, she probably didn't know anything he did, but it didn't hurt to ask.

"You know 'Simple Man'...Lynyrd Skynyrd?"

"I...I've heard it..." Beth went all hesitant. "I don't know it all that well..."

"Nevermind..." He felt stupid for asking.

But he watched Beth ignoring him, closing her eyes, listening while she tried out some keys on the piano. Pretty soon, Beth sounding out notes turned into a familiar melody, a false key here and there that Beth cringed at, but her playing was absolutely beautiful, not a sheet of music anywhere in front of her. Her music came form inside.

"Mama told me when I was young, come sit beside me, my only son, and listen...listen..."

Beth stumbled over the words, Daryl watching her try to shake it off...try to recover, but she was perfectly imperfect.

"I...I'm sorry..." She apologized, all embarrassed.

"No, please...keep going..." It wasn't almost a plea.

"Mama told me when I was young, come sit beside me, my youngest son..."

Daryl heard that...that change. Beth didn't know the song very well, but she knew it good enough to get the lyrics right the first time around...only son. Even though she stumbled, she went all the way back to the beginning, not just picking up where she left off...and she change the words for him...made it about him...youngest son...

"And listen closely to what I say, and if you do this it will help you some sunny day. Take your time...Don't live too fast, troubles will come and they will pass...." Beth hesitated at those lyrics like she was especially feeling them...but he was too.

"Go find a woman and you'll find love, and don't forget son, there is someone up above..."

Well hell, when he picked this song, asked her to play it, it was just something he remembered liking a lot, back when there'd been radio. He didn't know it was going to be the freaking story of his life...their time together.

"And be a simple kind of man. Be something you love and understand. Baby, be a simple kind of man. Oh won't you do this for me son, if you can? Forget your...hmm-mmm...hmmm-hmm.."

Beth didn't have the words, didn't know the lyrics. She just kept playing, humming her way through shyly, but he didn't need her to sing. He could hear her singing in his mind. Looking up at her from where he laid in that coffin, contemplating her, he saw his future...his life laid out in front of him...in her.

"Boy, don't you worry. You'll find yourself..."

Truth was, Beth found him...showed him who he was...who he could be.

"Follow your heart, and nothing else..."

His heart would lead him anywhere with her. She held it in her hands...gave it to her a long time ago.

"You can do this, if you try..."

Was that true? He tried and failed before, failed so much. If he tried...could he heal her? Could they heal?

"All that I want for you my son, is to be satisfied..."

Beth's song was still there, but it faded into the background of his thoughts...beautiful thoughts of her. This place...he wasn't lying...he would've stayed here with her forever. When they first came here, he knew it was a place that was worthy of her...somewhere she could be happy, where he could protect her and love her and provide for her. They both knew that couldn't happen anymore, but they still had a chance. Going home...going back to his old man's place in the woods, it was a place he knew...the land was his...he could make that place theirs with his own hands. And Beth, if anyone could make a place home, it was her. She knew where they were headed and she was willing...okay with it even though part of him never wanted her to see that past, to see where he came from. What would happen there? Life would happen there. He would love Beth there. Maybe even the world would let them be...forget they existed. If he wasn't out there fighting the world, maybe the world wouldn't fight him. What if one day there was a boy of his own...if she would give him that...a boy to teach to hunt and track. Or...a little girl...Daryl's heart clenched. She would be the end of him.

He stopped those thoughts, that fucking fantasy right there. What if they were too damaged for that kind of life?

No...not now...he wasn't gonna go bitter and hopeless. The days at the funeral parlor, from before Beth was stolen from him...and even today, a redux of what they started together...they were the happiest days...moments of his life. If they could just somehow forget...erase what happened in between, it would be how it was supposed to be.

The room had gone quiet; the music stopped, for how long he didn't know, realizing now that Beth was staring at him...contemplating him. He wondered what she saw...what she thought about him...their future.

When she got to her feet, left that piano, he climbed out of the casket, not knowing how things went next. Was she tired? Was she going to bed? He'd thought last night that it became his bed too, their bed...and having slept beside her once, he wasn't willing to give it up now, but did he have to wait to be invited? Did he have to ask? He'd never shared a life with someone, and it still scared the shit outta him...one wrong move...

"What would've happened? She stepped in close...so very close, her word's capturing him. "What would've happened that night? What would you have...what would we have done?"

Daryl just looked away, shaking his head, avoiding, not knowing how to answer. Beth got up even closer, little hand sliding down his side going to rest on his hip just above his waistband, cheek laying against his chest. When she sought comfort in him, it made him feel like he was the man he wanted to be for her.

Truth was though, Daryl didn't have an answer for her question. He hadn't been thinking about sexthat night. Hell...he couldn't even function...couldn't even spit his words out, understand all he was feeling, much less consider what came after. But now, thinking back...he would've. If Beth offered, he would've. Maybe she wouldn't even have had to offer...he would've gone where ever the moment took them. And maybe that wouldn't have made him a huge prick...maybe it would've just been because he...they realized how short and precious life was, how fleeting their chance.

"You would've regretted me, Beth," Daryl rasped. He would've tried to have been good to her...didn't know how, still didn't. He would've tried, but she would've regretted it. "I don't wanna be your regret..."



Thank you so very much! I am happy to be back!

Aireabella Aireabella

So glad you are back!

Grimesgirl63 Grimesgirl63

Thank you so much!

Aireabella Aireabella

Cliffhanger!! Love it!

Loul461 Loul461

Yeah, the cliffhanger! Thanks! And thank you so much for reading and loving my stories. It means the world.

Aireabella Aireabella