Beauty and the Beast - Richonne Modern Day AU
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. ~Helen Keller
“Ex-Yankees starting pitcher, Rick Grimes was never a vain man. Still, a near-fatal accident left him with enough scars to make him want to hide away from the world. Now the only beauty left in his blemished llife are his two grown kids, his weekly Sunday dinners with his daughter Judith and his beloved flower garden. Scarred, body and mind, he could not see beauty outside of those three treasured things.
For 23-year-old Judith Grimes, life was finally falling into place. Freshly graduated from journalism school and armed with a passion for fashion, she’s landed a coveted internship at the powerhouse fashion magazine, Rive. As assistant to the New York City’s most powerful and iconic editor-in-chief, Michonne Dumas, Judith is living her dreams and learning at the feet of a legend.
A global fashion tastemaker, former model turned magazine editor, Michonne Dumas had heard the word “beautiful” thrown around so liberally that it had started to lose its meaning. Ironically though, she knew as the originator of the coveted “Dumas Look”, she had created the unattainable fashion ideal of perfection that drove her and the whole industry. Secretly, however, she had begun to despair that she was becoming numb to all things physically beautiful. That is, until she notices the lovely flowers her new junior assistant has on her desk every week. Fresh blooms from Judith’s father’s garden, the bouquets continually seem to brighten Michonne’s day.
Before long, those delicate blooms from the amateur horticulturist become a welcome daily reprieve from her relentless pursuit of physical perfection. And when Michonne finally meets Judith’s mysterious father Rick at the company’s charity ballgame, as the young woman hoped, sparks do indeed fly. Though, to Judith’s chagrin, not the romantic kind. Yet, it is from that very first encounter that they both begin to learn —things of true beauty can also be things which are deemed imperfect.“
Tale as old as time…
Rick was already missing his garden. The sky was blue and cloudless. The sun was bright, but there was no humidity in the atmosphere. It was the perfect day for puttering around with his flowers. But he had promised his daughter, and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for her.
He was thankful that the baseball cap fit low enough on his head to cast shadows around his face. The throwing gloves he wore hid the patchwork, Frankenstein-esque scars on his hands. He could no longer run even a mile, but physical therapy made it possible for his limp to be hardly noticeable. Although, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with the fast strides of his daughter.
He held on to her forearm. “Judy, you know your dad’s an old man. Slow down some.”
People were milling around all over. He felt his chest tightening and his breaths coming out faster. He’d adapted to his solitude over the years, only welcoming the company of his children. Crowds of people made him nervous now.
Judy tossed her head back to look at her father. The bouncing curls of her chic bob haircut matched his greying curls perfectly. Always attuned to him, she recognized the apprehension in his eyes. She squeezed his hand, but didn’t slow down.
“Daddy, I wish you would stop calling yourself an old man. You’re not even fifty yet.”
Rick shrugged. “Forty-five is pretty near fifty.”
“You have to wait at least twenty more years to collect Social Security, so you’re not old.”
“My knees beg to differ. Why are we walking so fast? There’s still an hour until the game starts.”
“I know, but I want to make sure I’m not late in case I’m needed to help with any last minute details.”
“It’s just a charity baseball game. Should go smoothly. You worry all the time like your mother used to.”
She shot him a sad smile. “That’s what Grandma always says too. Guess it’s in my DNA. I just want to make a good impression. Show Michonne she can trust me with the details. She’s so great. I don’t want to let her down.”
“Michonne is your boss, right? Calling bosses by their first names in the office is a thang now? Back in my day—”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Judith cut him off. “Back in your day you rode cows to school. Grew your own wheat or whatever. I know Daddy. Maybe you really are an old man.”
Rick chuckled. “Actually, your uncle Hershel grew vegetables, not wheat on his farm.”
“What I said still applies, old man.” She pointed to a woman whose back was to them. Her locs were long and reached down past the middle of her back “There she is. Let me introduce you. And please be nice and personable, Daddy.”
Rick smirked. “Aren’t I always?”
Judith laughed and rolled her eyes. “Nope.”
His smirk faded as they walked closer. Having new people in his orbit unsettled him. He tried to pull his cap further down, but it wouldn’t budge.
Michonne turned around as she heard footsteps approaching her. Rick had seen her pictures in the fashion magazines Judith used to read as a teen. He always passively admired her beauty, but he didn’t expect the radiant women before him. She was dressed down in a custom baseball jersey with her magazine’s name written in gold letters on the front. Her black shorts showed off her shapely legs. Her smile was warm and sincere as she immediately pulled Judith into a hug. She smiled at him over his daughter’s shoulder. He looked down at his shoes as a wave of insecurity washed over him
Judith, not picking up on her father’s reluctance for once, pulled him in closer. “Michonne, this is my Dad, Rick Grimes.”
Michonne’s smiled widened making her even more beautiful than Rick first thought.
“Ah,” she said. “So this is the doting father who makes sure his daughter always has beautiful, fresh flowers on her desk. Very nice to finally meet you, Rick.” She held out her hand to shake.
He clasped her hand. He could feel the smoothness even through his gloves. “Nice to meet you too, ma’am.”
Michonne chuckled. “I missed that southern charm. Don’t get much of that here in New York.”
“Michonne is originally from Georgia too, Daddy. Atlanta, not a small town like you.”
“Yes, born and raised,” Michonne said. “I still get homesick for sweet tea, and my aunt’s sweet potato pie.” She pulled the young woman aside. “Judith, could you go help Sasha and Jackie with setting up the magazine display near the entrance?”
“Of course Michonne.” She kissed Rick on the cheek. “I’ll be right back, Daddy.”
He watched her rush off wondering when his little girl became a grown and responsible adult. He turned back to Michonne, who was still smiling at him. His nervous tick was to run his hands through his hair. He felt the urge to at that moment, but he thought better of removing his cap.
“So,” She took a step closer to him. “I didn’t put two and two together when Judith told me her father’s name was Rick Grimes. You’re the same Grimes that played for the Braves and the Yankees, right?”
Rick looked down as if he was almost embarrassed at her knowing who he was. “Yeah. That was me. Didn’t think anyone in the fashion industry would recognize an old baseball player.”
Michonne gestured her hand around the baseball field where they were standing. “Well, we are at a charity baseball game. Beside lots of fashion models date baseball players.” She whispered as if conspiring with him. “It’s a bit of a thing.”
Rick laughed. “That is true. Many of my teammates dated models. And playmates.”
Michonne chuckled. “I bet.” She tossed one of her long locs behind her shoulder. “Besides that, my own father was a huge Braves fan. I used to watch the games with him. David Justice was his favorite player, but you came a close second. He hated when you left and signed with the Yankees.”
“I almost regretted it. I missed home a lot when I moved up here with the kids. Though I did miss David most of all. He was my favorite too.”
Her smile radiated even more. “So you and my father will have lots to talk about if you ever meet.”
He nodded and laughed. “Yeah, our very own David Justice fan club.”
Her voice lowered a couple of octaves as she tilted her head to the side. “I remember reading about your accident, and saying a few prayers for your recovery.”
Rick nodded. “I appreciate that. God was looking out for me that day. My kids didn’t need to endure the cruelty of losing both of their parents.”
“Judith talks about her mom sometimes. She and her brother were both pretty young when you lost her, I remember her saying.”
“Yeah. Judith was barely out of diapers, and my son, Carl, was in the first grade.”
“Had to be tough to continue your baseball career, and raise two kids.”
“It was. Very grateful for my mom though. Couldn’t have done it without her.”
“I know all about the miracle of grandmothers. My mom died when I was young also. Spent so much precious time with my Granny. Judith and I have bonded over some shared experiences. She’s a great kid.”
He smiled. “I always thought so too, even if I’m kinda biased.”
“The best dads always are.” She clapped her hands together. “So, the game will be starting soon. I know you’re an all-star, future hall of famer, but I was known to hit a few home runs in pick-up softball when I was a kid. So don’t think you’re going to strike me out.”
Almost feeling like his old, cocky self when it came to his baseball skills, he crossed his armsover his chest and smirked at her. “Is that right?”
She winked at him. “All I’m saying is watch yourself.”
A woman with a short afro came up to Michonne and whispered in her ear. She nodded and told the woman she would be right there.
“Editor-in-chief duties call, but I’ll see you on the mound, Rick Grimes.”
He smiled a genuine smile for what felt like the first time in years at anyone other than his children. “Can’t wait.” (” The First Meet“ - Flash Fic written by @blacklitchick )