Parenthood (Daryl Dixon imagine)
imagine: when it is revealed that your son was put in extreme danger, daryl’s paternal instincts kick in. (2,164 words)
an: someone requested a part 2 to fatherhood and i also really wanted to write it so here it is!!!! (PART ONE HERE) hope u enjoy daddy!daryl and angry!daryl all in one ;))) - gabby
I’m sure the last thing Daryl expected when he arrived at Alexandria Safe Zone was to be awkwardly reunited with an ex-girlfriend and his nine-year-old biological son. At first I thought he’d run away again, the same way he did all those years ago, but I was surprised to find that in actuality, he was more than willing and almost excited to take on his fatherly role.
He’d never verbally admitted it to me, but he really wanted to be a good dad. This was evident in the way he beat himself up over every small mistake he made, like when Nathan broke his bike and he raised his voice at him. He’d only ever spoken to Nathan in soft tones since then, terrified of making his son cry again.
Every parent makes mistakes, though, and for the most part, Daryl was an amazing father to Nathan. Occasionally I’d catch him giving Nathan piggyback rides around Alexandria early in the morning, my son’s gleeful squeals ringing out and reaching my open bedroom window from where I watched, still dressed in pyjamas past 9:00 AM for the first time in nine years. Then, if I was lucky, I’d catch sight of them playing with action figures as they ate breakfast, Daryl trying to hide his crimson face as he poured a bowl of cereal for me, mortified that I’d caught him putting on funny little voices for each character.
It had taken multiple nights of accidentally falling asleep together on my couch to realise that Daryl may as well move in with us. And similarly, it had taken multiple nights of accidentally falling asleep together in my bed to realise that Daryl didn’t need to be sleeping on the couch. Nathan accepted Daryl’s new presence in our daily routine as though it had always been the norm, even to the extent where he wouldn’t brush his teeth unless Daryl brushed his alongside him. They’d both stand in front of the mirror, baring their teeth as much as they could, and I’d watch and shake my head in amusement. I’d wipe the toothpaste out of Daryl’s beard as he made his way out to meet Aaron, and couldn’t help but feel elated at how normal our relationship was. We weren’t just putting it on for Nathan, either; it was totally natural.
Daryl went recruiting with Aaron and I had a daily two hour shift on watch now that Sasha had taught me to shoot. I enjoyed sitting alone, watching over the scenery that lay outside the gates; Jessie watched Nathan for the duration of my shift, allowing me a couple of hours of serenity. It was as though we were ordinary parents, and I loved it.
Nathan had been acting strange since I picked him up from Jessie’s. Usually the two of us would kick a soccer ball around Alexandria or play a board game, but all Nathan wanted to do was take a nap. So, I read a book in silence before getting started on preparing dinner, something Nathan and I did together while we waited for Daryl to get home. The absence of Nathan meant that I couldn’t shake the idea of Daryl never returning; the thought always prodded the back of my mind but today it was more intrusive than ever. I knew Daryl loved recruiting and it was the perfect job for him, but I couldn’t help wishing he could remain safe inside the walls every day. That way he would always be there and his introduction into our lives wouldn’t be a waste. Of course I hadn’t admitted it to him yet, but each time I looked at Daryl I regressed back into that naive nineteen year old girl who had fallen in love with him all those years ago.
“Hey,” a familiar voice called out, accompanying the slamming of the front door. “Y’alright, Y/N? Where’s Nate?”
“I’m okay; he’s upstairs,” I replied, chewing on my lip as Daryl pulled me in for a limp hug. “Something’s up with him, but he won’t tell me.”
“I’ll ask him,” Daryl replied with a small yawn, placing a gentle hand on my shoulder. I smiled anxiously and glanced at his slightly parted mouth for a second, somehow still tempted despite the dry blood ground into the cracks in his lips. The beeping of the oven distracted us, and Daryl made his way upstairs to find Nathan.
“You’re quiet tonight, lil’ man,” Daryl asked Nathan as we sat at the dinner table; he had been uninterestedly pushing his food around his plate for the past ten minutes, listening silently as Daryl and I discussed our days. “Got somethin’ you wanna talk ‘bout?”
The unnecessary scraping of silverware on Nathan’s full plate was the only response to Daryl’s question. I watched closely as Nathan reached underneath the sleeve of his shirt to scratch his arm, and even more closely as I noticed a small trickle of blood making its way towards his elbow.
“Nathan, why are you bleeding?” I asked, throwing down my cutlery and grabbing his hand in mine. Pushing his sleeve up, I revealed a small but deep cut on the soft skin of his upper arm, and a lump formed in my throat.
“Where’d ya get this, buddy?” Daryl asked, his tone of voice soft and encouraging, although there was an hint of alarm in the way his voice wavered. “You ain’t gotta keep secrets from us.”
“I went outside and cut it on a wire,” Nathan replied timidly, his gaze avoiding ours and focusing on his nervous hands which lay on his restless legs. Our confused expressions encouraged him to keep talking. “Outside of the gates.”
“You what?” I exclaimed, shuffling closer to the edge of my chair and closer towards a terrified Nathan. “Why would you do that, Nathan?”
“Ron and Mikey made me,” Nathan sobbed; upon switching my attention to Daryl briefly I noticed his face was reddening. “There was a walker and it… it almost got me, and they laughed at me.”
The legs of Daryl’s chair scraped loudly across the floor, the harsh noise enhancing the livid look on Daryl’s face as he stormed out of the door and towards the Andersons’ house.
“Daryl, wait!” I yelled, the whole of Alexandria surely hearing me as I dragged Nathan out of the house. “Daryl, stop!”
“What’s going on?” Aaron asked from his porch, but I ignored his question and chased Daryl down the road, a bewildered Nathan in tow.
Daryl’s furious knocking on Jessie and Pete’s door lured pretty much everyone out of their houses, and they joined me and Nathan in watching from the sidewalk. Denise came up beside me and rested her hand on my shoulder; her presence calming me only slightly. Tara ruffled Nate’s hair in an attempt to cheer him up, but I was too focused on Jessie finally opening her door to thank her.
“Daryl, what’s happening?” Jessie asked, nervously glancing around at the waiting crowd.
“What’s happenin’?” Daryl exclaimed, throwing his arms up in the air. “Your prick of a son has scared the shit outta Nate, that’s what.”
“Excuse me? I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jessie replied, her voice barely audible from this distance.
“Maybe you should ask this little shit here,” Daryl spat, gesturing bitterly towards Ron who had come to see what all the commotion was about. “Wanna tell your mom what you did to Nate today?”
“Daryl, calm down,” Jessie urged, taking a step closer to Daryl, who was quickly shuffling his weight between his feet as if he were stood on hot coals.
“Nah, I ain’t gonna calm down,” Daryl hissed; I squeezed Nathan closer to me as I realised he was clinging onto my waist. “Nathan ain’t ever seen a walker before, an’ today your kid almost got him bit by one.”
Jessie went to open her mouth to reply, but Daryl took a step closer to her, his face threateningly close to hers.
“I ain’t ever trustin’ you with my son again, you hear me?”
Daryl practically flew down the porch steps and towards us, battling through the crowd of people asking him ‘what’s happened?’ and ‘are you alright?’. Once he reached us, he exhaled deeply before grabbing me by the back of my head, hastily kissing my forehead and scooping Nathan up into his arms.
“Come on buddy, let’s get outta here.”
Although I was facing away from Daryl, I was sure of the fact that he lay awake staring at the ceiling, the same way I was vacantly boring my eyes into the wall. Just as I was about to turn to face him, he threw the covers off and got up, sneaking quietly down the hallway towards Nathan’s room to check on him for the umpteenth time. I switched the light on and propped myself up, groggily rubbing at my eyes and waiting for Daryl to return.
Once he did, he flopped lazily onto my chest, draping one arm across my torso. I ran my fingers comfortingly down his spine and rubbed his back; something I recalled as always calming him down during the numerous teenage fights with Merle. He grumbled incoherent words and I shushed him gently, smiling to myself at the small romantic gestures we’d been using more frequently.
“You’re an awesome dad, Daryl,” I whispered, and he exhaled in amusement, slowly turning to lay on his back and look up at me. “You are.”
“Awesome dads don’t go yellin’ at other people’s kids,” he scoffed, rubbing excessively at his face with the rough palms of his hands.
“Awesome dads stick up for their kids, and that’s what you did,” I replied, daring to run a hand through his slick, long hair. “Even if you did get a little angry.”
“He coulda died, Y/N,” Daryl whispered, his voice a little choked. “They shoulda kept a closer eye on him.”
“I know; we’re lucky he’s safe now,” I breathed, letting my thumb roam over his cheek and towards his lips. “I’m so glad you’re a part of Nathan’s life.”
“Really? Seemed to do fine without me for nine years,” Daryl murmured, sitting up and yawning.
“I spent so long hating your guts,” I laughed, letting my head roll back and rest against the headboard. “I always thought you’d be useless and I was better off without you. You’ve proved me wrong.”
Daryl abruptly sat up and clumsily pressed his lips against mine; the kiss was slow and passionate, distinct from the rushed, lustful kisses we’d shared so far. His hands settled on my hips and mine reached for his neck, a squeal of a laugh escaping my lips as he unexpectedly pulled me closer and onto his lap.
Of course, one obstacle of parenthood is never being able to share a moment without being interrupted by your kid. A knock on our bedroom door disrupted the intimacy; I was virtually thrown from Daryl’s lap as he darted towards his side of the bed.
Nathan poked his head around the door and I gestured for him to come and sit between us. He clambered over Daryl, giggling when Daryl pretended to shove him back off. He lay between us and pulled the covers up over his small body.
“D’ya have a nightmare or somethin’ lil man?” Daryl asked; I admired how similar they looked. Glenn was right, Nathan really was a mini-Daryl.
“Walkers are scary,” Nathan whispered, flinching as I dimmed the light.
“Tell me ‘bout it,” Daryl replied. “Almost as scary as your mom when she first wakes up in the mornin’.”
I rolled my eyes and couldn’t help but grin at Nathan and Daryl’s laughter. I grabbed a pillow and threw it at Daryl, which soon proved to be a bad move as I now had two immature boys ganging up on me. Once the pillow fight came to an end, Nathan boldly snuggled into Daryl’s chest, something very new for all of us. Daryl’s body went visibly rigid, and he shot me a panicked look, his hands awkwardly floating in the air. I widened my eyes and nodded, prompting Daryl to cuddle him back.
Daryl hesitantly wrapped his strong arms around Nathan and he almost immediately relaxed, resting his chin on Nate’s head and closing his eyes. I lay on my side and admired the pair of them, the image before me being one that, nine years ago, I never thought I’d see. I was reluctant to turn off the light, never wanting to stop witnessing the moment.
We were all slowly drifting into sleep when Nathan’s quiet voice broke the nighttime silence.
“Daryl?” he asked, to which Daryl jumped back into full consciousness with a sleepy grunt.
“Can I call you dad?” Nathan asked, and Daryl happily exhaled, a smirk visible on his dimly lit face as he protectively wrapped his arms tighter around his son.
“’Course you can, Nate.”