A/N: I'm beginning to think that I'm turning into an obsessive fan of the Bethyl ship. I was actually a Daryl/Carol supporter until recent TWD episodes. Anyway, I came up with another Bethyl reunion fic again and hope you all like it. I thank you all who reviewed/read/favoured the other fic I wrote 'She Made It'. I considered making that one a multi-chapter but eh, my ability to maintain chapter fics are non-existent. I hope I haven't disappointed a few of you!
His eyes never leave her and hers never leaves his when she finds him in the crowd. She's being embraced by Maggie and all the others are around her. They're welcoming her home. They're checking if she's alright and they're all asking her a million questions. It wouldn't be right of him to push his way through them to be there with her no matter how much he might want too.
It wouldn't be right to push them away and check her himself and make sure that she was alright. It wouldn't be right of him to take her in his arms and hold her close right there in front of all of them. It wouldn't be right because it isn't. She wasn't his. She didn't belong to him. They never really had anything going on between them before she was taken from him. They just had a new found friendship and something else that he didn't really understand but yet felt when she had looked at him that night in the house before it all went to shit.
But now that the others were here and she was here and him too, it just wouldn't be right. They had many years between them and the others would never understand.
No, they would never get it. They will never understand the things that ran through his mind when he ran out there to the dirt road to see a car driving away and her things lying on the floor. They will never understand why he ran for as long as he did and why he collapsed between crossroads so hopelessly.
They will never understand why he didn't just kill those people; the ones that came across him and threatened him but yet took him in and survived with him anyway. They were not good people, he knew that much, but fighting them was useless. They would have overpowered him easily and he didn't have the strength to do that not after having run as far as he did.
With every night that passed he thought of her. He looked out for signs of her even though he knew it was worthless to even hope that she was still alive. He dreamt about her, saw her in his dreams and saw her every time he closed his eyes too. It came to a point where she almost became this little beacon of hope for him. He escaped the bad people the day after he realised that and it wasn't easy and it was difficult, but he thought that he'd rather die trying to find her than survive with those people.
He found Terminus three days later and found the others here too. But she still wasn't here. Maggie never blamed him and he knew the others didn't either. But he did and that was enough reason for him to stand here now far away from her keeping that distance that she probably wants from him because he failed her when she needed him most. He should have been there to keep her safe and protect her. He should have been there to shield her from the evil that the world had become. But in the end she stood alone on that dirt road in the night and was taken from him.
He hadn't saved her or found her like he was going to do or at least die trying to do. He failed her.
But it's funny now when he thinks about it because up until her eyes caught his she looked restless. She looked unsettled and worried and troubled even though everyone she thought was dead was alive and around her. He watched the way she looked around at all of them as if she were trying to seek someone out. It wasn't until she had found him standing there in the distance when she settled almost immediately as if he had that sort of an effect on her.
He saw the relief in her eyes, the joy and something else he doesn't quite know. But her eyes were warm and soft and she never tore her eyes away from his. She doesn't look away even when the others are talking to her and asking her a million questions. She blinks, he thinks, but it doesn't matter because the fact is that she's looking at him as if he's still her whole world. She's looking at him as if he's saved her and he hasn't, obviously because he's been here in Terminus for days and she's only just made it here.
She's looking at him as if she's still reminding him that he is still a good person. She's still looking at him as if nothing had changed since that night in the house by the graveyard. She's still looking at him as if she cares. She's looking at him as if she understands and knows of everything he went through after she was taken from him.
He wants to look away and tear his eyes away from hers. But her gaze has a hold on him like nothing he has ever felt before. Her blue eyes aren't innocent and young anymore. There's a storm in them, a certainty that he has never seen before and things that she wants to say to him but will not say right now until everything has settled.
But that is for another time to think about. Now there are far better things for him to be thinking about because in the span it took for him to think of how much he didn't deserve her attention to getting lost in her gaze, he sees her pushing through the others and making her way to him. They're all collectively surprized about her turn of attention but they all seem to understand when they see him and when they see her going to him.
He wants to walk away. He wants to run. But he stays there because this is Beth. This is the very same one that had somehow managed to crumble the walls around his heart. This is the same Beth who taught him how to feel something again. The very same Beth that calmed him down when he got angry and decided shouting at the top of his lungs for all the walkers to hear was a good idea.
And for the first time in his life Daryl doesn't care that he has an audience. He doesn't care even though he knows he'll have a million questions to answer later on. He knows he doesn't deserve all of this. He knows that Merle is probably rolling around in his grave at the thought of his baby brother being captivated by a woman. He knows that if Hershel were here he would greatly disapprove too. But in the height of the whole moment and the feeling and the strange warmth that's running through his veins, he doesn't have the heart to walk away from her.
He's sliding his arm around her shoulders and pulling her close before he really knows it. She's sliding into him and holding him and pressing into him as if this was where she wanted to be all along. His eyes are closed and he doesn't understand how something as innocent and as pure and strong as her could ever want to hold someone like him. But for now he lets himself forget that he doesn't' deserve this.
For now he lives entirely in this moment. He doesn't plan his next moves or thinks about whether he should tune his crossbow or sharpen his knife later. He doesn't think about making plans about going back out there to look for her like he had been earlier. He doesn't think about anything really at all other than how strangely right it feels to be finally holding her.
He isn't feeling the breeze blowing on his face or listening to the sound of familiar voices in the distance. He is only listening to the comforting sound of her evened breathing. He's letting himself feel everything that a man like him should not feel and should not deserve to ever feel.
But emotions and righteousness be damned, he is enjoying this moment. She seemingly doesn't intend to let him go any time soon and he is perfectly fine with that. He hasn't held a woman in the longest time and what little memories he had of holding women before the walkers were because he was about to bed them.
This was different though. This time he's holding a woman he actually cares about. He's holding a woman that he would die for. He's holding a woman that he'll strive to protect and keep safe and shield from every single danger that's left in this world. He didn't do it well in the past month but he will from now on or he'll die trying.
"'m sorry," is all he manages to say to her after the longest moments of silence of holding her.
"Was never your fault," her reply is as soft and simple as his apology.
He's standing outside the room where Beth is being checked over by one of the doctors for no real reason or purpose other than to stand guard for her because he feels compelled too. The others never questioned it and he didn't bother to explain. He had hoped that from their rather public embrace they would have understood.
Maggie being with her sister in the room eases his mind a little and he worries less but stands there straight and keeps an eye on everything. He knows that sooner or later Maggie will come to speak to him and he is partly ready for this but yet nervous all the same.
He's leaning against the wall and staring at the ground thinking about everything that has happened when Maggie opens the door to the room and walks out. She doesn't appear to want to talk to him at first which makes him think that she's just stepped out for a moment to let Beth dress or something. But after Maggie looks through the blinds to make sure that everything is in order she turns to him.
"You don't have to stand guard, you know," she tells him.
"Want too," he says it bluntly and shrugs.
She doesn't say anything for a while and he wonders if he should actually be the one to say something. But conversing like this isn't his sort of a thing or at least it isn't with anybody else other than Beth. He doesn't find it difficult to converse with Beth anymore.
"Beth's different," Maggie comments and her tone he notes isn't threatening. It's gentle and reassuring and strangely comforting too.
"Lots'a things have happened to her since the prison," he says and continues to stare at the floor.
Maggie doesn't say anything again and he progresses to stare at the space in front of him and not in anything in particular.
"I never did thank you properly," Maggie starts and he glances at her as she continues, "For looking out for her and keeping her safe after the prison."
That's when he looks away again and back at the floor again. "We both know I didn't do that so well."
"You did what you had to do," Maggie tells him simply and continues after a pause, "The walkers pushed in the door and you told her to run."
"I wasn't there when she needed me most," he admits quietly and looks to Maggie.
"She's here now," Maggie says, "She's alright and she made it here because of everything you taught her."
He shrugs but feels a momentary swell of pride at the thought that maybe he still had a hand in saving her even though he wasn't physically there to save her.
"That's got to count for something, right?" Maggie says softly and smiles at him.
He doesn't say anything but he nods and glances away.
"I never blamed you when you told me about her being taken," she tells him simply.
"But I did," he says simply.
"Well," Maggie starts with a smile, "She's here now and I'm sure she ain't gonna let you continue thinking like that."
He can't help but smile at that.
"Anyway," Maggie yawns and tells him, "I'm going to hit the hay. You'll be here to keep an eye on her I'm sure."
He nods. Maggie gives him a smile and turns and walks away. It takes a few more minutes until the door swings open and the doctor steps out.
"She alright?" he asks without waiting for the doctor to say anything.
"Other than a few cuts and bruises and that sprained ankle, she's all good," the doctor tells him.
"She wasn't…?" he asks, not really wanting to say it.
"No," the doctor shakes his head, "From what she told me, she escaped before any of that could have transpired."
He feels relieved but doesn't show it. He nods appreciatively at the doctor before the doctor walks away. He pushes the door open and finds her standing by the window staring out at the sky. He feels strangely like a boy again when he steps into the room and looks the back of her. She turns at the sound of the door and smiles when she sees him.
"Thought you might want some company," he says and realises that his voice sounds softer than it usually does.
"Thanks," she says quietly and turns back to look out the window.
He takes a step and then two and a few until he's beside her. He leaves a distance between them and leans against the edge of the window and glances out there. Terminus looks a little bit like Woodbury minus the Governor and the crazy things they did. It looked like a little self-functioning and proper surviving town that was safe. Safe enough for her.
It happens so fast that he doesn't really have time to react but when it does it takes him a moment to realise that she's closed the space between them and is leaning onto his shoulder. He can feel the side of her chest pressed into the back of his right arm. She feels warm and nice and she smells far too much like perfection that he doesn't quite know what to do with himself.
He stands there awkwardly and doesn't move, frozen by the mere contact. It takes him a moment to collect himself together before he curls his right arm around her shoulder and pulls her close. This is probably the most romantic and most domestic thing he has ever done in his life but it feels right. It doesn't scare him like he thought it would.
He's offering her comfort and a little warmth, he tells himself. He's doing this for her to keep her safe and let her know without really saying anything that he isn't going to ever let anyone take her away from him again. That's when he feels her arm sliding around the back of his waist. They're standing as if they've already established something intimate and he could only imagine what this would look like in someone else's eyes. But he can't find it in himself to move away or push her away.
"Sometimes," she starts quietly, "I wish we were back there again."
"The prison?" he asks.
"No," she murmurs, "That house by the graveyard."
He tenses but then her hold around his waist tightens and he calms considerably. "Why?"
"Cause now that the group is back together you're going to be all grumpy, moody and business-like again," she says and he knows she is smiling.
"After all the trouble I went too to make you relax," she sighs.
"I am relaxed," he tells her honestly.
"Not when you're with Rick and all of them," she tells him.
"The world's gone ta shit," he mumbles, "Someone's gotta keep their head focused."
"Well you weren't when we were in that shack drinking moonshine," she retorts playfully.
"That's different," he mutters.
"Because we were drunk?"
He keeps silent for a while and just listens to the sound of her breathing. He half expects her to say something but she doesn't or at least she doesn't until a few minutes later.
"I wonder if the others will understand," she sighs.
"Understand what?" he asks even though he already knows what she is going to say.
"This?" he asks and pulls back slightly so he can look at her properly.
"You don't feel it?"
He sighs as he slides his hand from around her shoulders because this shouldn't be happening. He mutters as he steps away, "I ain' right for you, Beth. You know that."
"You're the best that there is," she says, her tone low and laced with annoyance.
He runs a hand through his hair and sits on her bed. "I ain' a saint."
She doesn't say anything for the longest time and her silence slowly begins to scare him. But when he looks up he finds her looking at him. He watches as she takes a step toward him and stops just in front of him to place a soft small hand on his cheek.
"No," she murmurs, "You're not. But you're still a good man."
He feels a lump growing in the back of his throat and he doesn't know why he feels like crying. He doesn't know why he feels so weak all of a sudden and so vulnerable. He doesn't know why he isn't running away or why he hasn't walked away already. He doesn't know why he's still sitting there with her hand on his cheek and her eyes bearing down on him. He doesn't know why she would ever want to give him the light of day or why of all people she would want something like this with him.
He takes a leap of faith and slides a hand up the side of her arm and over her shoulder and stops when he's holding the side of her face. He presses his thumb lightly at her chin just below her lips and he looks up to her.
"Your daddy wouldn't have supported this if he were here," he tells her simply.
"Maybe, maybe not," she agrees, "But at least he'll rest easy in his grave now that he knows it's you."
"He isn't here t'judge," he tells her quietly.
"We'll never know for real so we'll settle with his unsaid blessing instead because that's all we can do," she murmurs and he finds that he can't quite fault her declaration.
That's all it takes for him to close the space between them and press his lips to hers. She's soft and warm and inviting and he still doesn't think he deserves any of this. But she kisses him back and slides an arm around his neck to pull him closer. She draws back after a while and presses her forehead against this.
"Your sister is going to kill me six ways to Sunday," he mutters to her.
She just smiles and presses her lips against his again.