Disclaimer: Do not own TWD.
A/N: Wanted to try a Non Zombie Apocalypse fic so now that my finals are over, I wrote this little Non-ZA spin off of Look Alive, Sunshine. Just a tiny story of how things would have gone down without all the walkers lol let me know how you guys like this. Might keep going with it.
The front screen door of the Georgia farmhouse swung forth and snapped back with a loud slap that woke the entire house, alerting its residents that she was loose again. Little bare feet, pink and dirty, raced down the wooden porch and out on to the grass of the front lawn as fast as they could. Charlotte Greene didn't flinch when her small feet hit the course dirt of the main road that led to the house and picked up speed, heading down towards the main tree-clouded highway. The fresh spring breeze flew through her short light brown hair as she sped down the road to the entrance of the farm.
Charlotte Greene was awfully bright for a four-year-old but with a vigorous energy that often didn't give up, rendering her mother exhausted by dinnertime. On that day she had been waiting impatiently all morning to hear the sound of the familiar motorcycle coming up the dirt road to the Greene residence. The hours went by and finally by late evening she thought she heard that roaring beast and raced out of the house in a flash.
"Charlotte!" Her mother's voice came hollering from the direction of the house but Charlotte ignored her and continued down the road, picking up speed as she went along.
Beth Greene stood on the front porch watching her child dash down the road as quick as a jackrabbit. Worry crossed her brow along with a sense of sadness in her eyes mixed with a little bit of annoyance and a lot of anger for the person who had her daughter in a fit of excitement.
The screen door opened and closed again, softly this time as Beth's older sister, Maggie, stepped out and stood next to her. She placed her hand to her forehead, shielding her eyes from the setting sun and sighed, "No wonder Daddy calls her Rabbit. Look at her go."
Beth sighed, rather annoyed because she knew it to be the truth and after all, it wasn't the first time that she had taken off running towards the highway. The child was a true handful, taking more after her father than her mother even though she didn't see him as often. But alas, the apple had not fallen far from the tree.
Beth scowled, "Wait till I see him." She huffed and headed down the porch in a hurry to catch her child.
Maggie only smiled sheepishly and shook her head, heading back inside to tell their mother that the situation was under control.
"Charlotte!" Beth called after the little girl, catching up quicker than she thought, "Charlotte come back, now!" Charlotte was fast but she was little and Beth's long legs covered more ground.
"Daddy!" Charlotte cried out excitedly, "Daddy's here!"
Charlotte came skidding to a stop as the dirt road ended and she came upon the wooden gate. She climbed the gate and peered out into the highway, listening for the sound of the motorcycle she swore she had heard while she sat in the living room waiting. Her little heart thumped quickly against her chest and her cheeks were a brilliant rosy red. Her big blues scanned the highway for any sight of him but there was none.
When Beth finally caught up to her, she paused a yard away. All the anger left her body and was replaced by a sense of sadness she couldn't quite pinpoint. Beth felt like crying when she saw her little girl perched on the fence, her shoulders slumped in defeat and disappointment as she realized that the engine she had heard wasn't that of her father's but of a passing vehicle that had now disappeared down the highway. But Charlotte could have sworn it sounded just like her father's motorcycle.
Beth took in a deep breath and plucked Charlotte from the fence and sat her on her hip. "Lottie, what did I tell you about runnin' off like that?" She asked softly, not wanting to bruise her delicate mood.
"Where is he?" She asked Beth, looking at her for the answers she just couldn't fathom on her own.
Beth's features softened and she tried to smile for the girl but failed to do so. "He's not coming."
"But—but he said he was." Charlotte's eyes began to water as she looked out into the road.
Beth studied her child's fallen face. She had inherited all her looks from her father down to the shape of her feet. Her big blue eyes were the only thing she had gotten from her mother but they were filled with his same emotions and expressions. Beth often wondered why if the man wasn't always present. Nonetheless, the child adored him so and her pretty face fell with sheer disappointment when he didn't come to their scheduled visits.
"He's probably workin' late." Beth reassured her and rubbed her back, "Come on, let's go back inside. Nana's got dinner ready. She made sweet corn chowder just for you."
Beth turned her back to the highway and started their way back home. Charlotte peered over her mother's shoulder to see if there was any sign of her father. There was none.
Beth felt all kinds of emotions when she made her way back up the road with the four-year-old in arms. When she had agreed to let him visit their daughter without going to court and working out a custody deal, she didn't expect it to be so difficult. She didn't know Charlotte would be so heart broken after every failed visit. It had been the third time that month that Daryl Dixon failed to show up. But Beth was going to have a good word with him when he finally did.
If he did.
When Beth reached the house, Maggie and her mother, Annette, were waiting on the porch. Maggie had her arms crossed and Annette had a hand to her mouth. A forlorn look of empathy crossed her soft features while Maggie only attempted to smile. By that time, Charlotte had rested her head on Beth's shoulder, having given up looking for her father.
"But I wore my prettiest dress…" She mumbled so only Beth could hear.
"I know, baby." Beth rubbed her back and went up to the porch.
"What happened?" Maggie asked but she could guess the answer.
Beth shook her head and Maggie just knew.
Annette sighed, opening her arms for her first and only grandchild, "Come here you. How's about you help me finish dinner?"
Charlotte turned around and let her mother hand her over to her grandmother to be taken inside. When the screen door shut behind them, Beth sighed heavily and plunked down on the porch steps, burying her face in her hands. Maggie sat next to her and placed her hand upon her sister's shoulder.
Beth lifted her head. "I'm gonna kill 'im."
Maggie chuckled softly. "No, you're not."
Beth frowned, "Why does he do this? Why does he get her hopes up just to let her down?"
Maggie wrapped an arm around her little sister, "I don't know. Some things are just the way they are."
"I just hate seeing her so disappointed."
"I know. Me too."
Beth took in another deep breath, thinking of the man that had fathered her child. He was still such a mystery to her. After all, he had been nothing but a stranger the night it had happened. Beth had been home for the summer after her third year in Georgia State when she agreed to accompany her friends to a seedy little bar in West End. The place was crawling with bikers and characters that would have otherwise frightened Beth. But she saw herself as a grown woman with no fears and followed after her foolish friends. She hadn't gone looking to drink since her father was sober and against alcohol but after a very difficult semester, she thought it be nice to just unwind and try something new. After all, she didn't need to drink to have a good time. That was until she met Daryl Dixon.
Six weeks after that night she found herself in the upstairs bathroom of the farmhouse with a positive pregnancy test in her hand. Beth swore she didn't feel anything when her knees hit the tiled floor in a nauseous daze. She couldn't feel anything. All she could think about was everything in her life that was about to be shattered to unfixable pieces.
Maggie smiled, "Hey, cheer up. If he didn't come then that's his loss. Not yours."
Beth managed to pull a tiny smile. "You're right."
"After all, it's not the first time."
Maggie was the first person Beth told about her pregnancy and how she had gotten there. Daryl Dixon was the last one to know. He hadn't taken the news very lightly either. After all, it hadn't come from Beth but from Maggie and only after the child had been born.
That point in Beth's life had been an utter mess. She could still hear the surprised cry that escaped her mother's mouth and the look of sheer downfall in her father's eyes. Shawn was in a fit and demanded to track this man down but Beth denied her family the man's name for the longest time. Beth returned back to Georgia State after the summer was over to finish one last semester. She never went back.
"Where's Daddy?" Beth asked, changing the subject.
"Out back with Shawn tending to the horses." Maggie answered, pulling away from their embrace, "Nelly wandered out of her pen."
Beth nodded not sure how she was going to tell her father and brother that Daryl hadn't shown up again. She knew she didn't need to. The look on Charlotte's face would be enough to inform them.
"C'mon, there's no point in sittin' out here waitin'." Maggie extended her hand to Beth and she took it, following her back inside.
No one mentioned the failed visit during dinner. Charlotte was awfully quiet and munched meekly on her sweet corn chowder. Charlotte was awfully fond of anything her grandmother made and was rarely picky about food. The only thing she seemed to dislike was wearing shoes and bonnets when they went to church on Sundays.
Hershel looked over at his grandchild and smiled. He knew her father hadn't come to visit and he tried to keep an open mind about it. He didn't approve of what Beth and Daryl had done but he adored his granddaughter and tried to advise her parents to do what was best by her.
"Hey Rabbit," He said to her, "Guess what hatched today?"
Charlotte peered up from her half finished plate to look at her grandfather. A tiny little smile danced upon her lips. He had gotten her attention. "Lola's eggs?" She asked.
"No." Hershel answered.
Maggie smiled and Beth couldn't help but to do so also. If someone could cheer Charlotte right up it was her grandfather.
"Um, Bette's eggs!" She answered with much more enthusiasm.
Charlotte pouted, sticking out her bottom lip in a pensive expression. "Oh! Abbie's eggs."
"You guessed it." Hershel turned to his daughters, "I was walking by the pond when I heard them."
"Can we go see them, Papa?" Charlotte asked.
"Not now." He answered, "Don't want ol' Abbie to chase you again, do we?"
Abbie was a goose that lived on the farm's pond. She had laid a few eggs that Charlotte was impatiently waiting for to hatch. However, Abbie was known to be a little short tempered and had chased Charlotte from her nest on multiple occasions.
"And promise you won't go harassing those goslings, Lottie. Ya hear?" Annette warned.
"Yes, Nana." Charlotte said and continued to eat her chowder.
Shawn chuckled, "Twenty bucks says she'll be over there by sunrise."
"Deal." Maggie reached across the dinner table to shake his hand.
"Please don't bet on my child." Beth said with a disapproving frown.
"No ones bettin' on anythin'." Hershel said with a warning. However, the two oldest siblings gave each other a look that the bet was on.
After dinner, Beth found Charlotte waiting out on the porch for Daryl. The sun had already set and night had fallen over the farm. When Beth saw Charlotte's little bare feet, she sighed, "Lottie, what did I tell you about being bare foot?" She sat next to her.
Charlotte extended out her feet, dangling them above the porch steps. "I losted my shoes, Mama."
Beth smiled. "And where did you losted them?"
Charlotte shrugged, "I can't 'member." After a moment, her tiny smile faded and she glanced over at Beth, "Why isn't Daddy comin'?"
"I don't know, baby." Beth answered, helping Charlotte onto her lap. "Maybe somethin' came up at work." But to be honest, Beth didn't know what Daryl did for a living. He hadn't mentioned it and she hadn't thought to ask.
Charlotte leaned back against Beth's chest, "Can we wait for 'im?"
"Do you want to?"
"Mhm." She cuddled against her mother, feeling comforted in her arms to the fullest.
"Then we'll wait." Beth wrapped her arms around her and they waited.
The wait felt like a long one and Charlotte had fallen asleep in Beth's arms by the time Maggie came out to fetch them. She said it was well past nine and there was no point in waiting. So Beth stood, hauling the little sleeping bundle in her arms and headed through the door as Maggie held it open. Just as she did, they both heard the roaring purr of a motorcycle approaching up the road. Beth glanced out seeing a single, round headlight in the darkness. She and Maggie met eyes.
"I'll take her to bed." Maggie said and took Charlotte into her arms, taking her inside and closing the door behind her before the sound of the motorcycle woke her.
Meanwhile, Beth turned around and took a deep breath, bracing herself for what was to come. So she mustered all her patience and strength and stepped down the porch to meet him.