I don't know if this will make much sense anymore. I'm startin' to think I don't make sense anymore, not even in my head, not even on your pages. Which there aren't many more of. This is the last book I'll have to write in till I don't know when. The way I see it, I can either keep a bunch of short entries about survivin' and running for my life... or I can write down everything I can remember from the good stuff that happens. Because I have to look at it that way. I have to find the good stuff and remember it and hold it close or else I'll lose what's left of myself. I'm not who I used to be and focusing on nothin' but survival and what I'm gonna kill next or how many Walker brains I impaled that day... that ain't no way to live. And I figure I may not make it much longer. I won't outlast anyone and who knows if I get bit tomorrow or I get trapped or a million other possibilities... I wanna have somethin' good to look back on, to remind me it's not all gone completely to hell. So that's what I'll fill this book with, just in case it's the last book I ever carry with me.
Traveling with Daryl has been a blessing in disguise. It's been a battle to convince him to help me find the others... and to get him to admit he cares. That he gives two shits about these people. Now I know. Somehow I always did, but the way he rejected every chance for hope, it made me so angry. I see now, though, that he just blames himself. He thinks he could've done somethin', like anyone could've known what was comin' for us in the prison and what we were actually up against. He acts like he don't care because he actually cares too much. Maybe he even wishes he could've protected everyone. I don't think I could convince him otherwise. But I realize now that God must've paired us together for a good reason. If we had to lose the prison and I had to separate from everyone, including Maggie, I'm glad now that it was with Daryl. He makes me feel safe, somehow. Even though he can be a stubborn pain in the ass. Seems like every time I turn around, he's lookin' over my shoulder for me. He's got his crossbow ready to shoot through anything I can't handle.
I even saw him cry... I wrapped my arms around him. I let him just be there. 'Cause sometimes you need to cry. He blames himself and I don't think anyone from the prison would've expected that. I don't think they realize how much he actually cares about all of us. He might seem like he doesn't and he sure had me convinced. But I see it now. He wouldn't have ran with me, or helped me hide in the trunk of an old car, or taken me on a stupid mission to have my first real drink. He wouldn't have yelled at me if he didn't really care... and even apologized afterward.
When we ran away from that burning house, the moonshine glowing in our veins, I turned around and caught a smile on his face. I can't say I've seen him smile too much, let alone a genuine one. But I saw happiness on his face. I've never burned anything down before, but settin' that place on fire made me feel... alive. In a world where I spend every day just tryin' to survive.
We ran away from that fire but the smell followed us for miles. Moonshine and ashes. Burnt wood and stale cigarette smoke. We got so far away that all we could see was the smoke rolling above the trees in the distance and a faint, orange glow. And when we finally stopped for a breather, I looked down and realized his hand was clasped onto mine, all dirty fingernails and dried blood. It was warm and protective, our palms sweaty and his thumb pressing into the top of my hand. I probably blushed but my face was already red from running so far. His smile was gone now and he let go of my hand like he didn't notice he was holding it. He took his crossbow in both hands and started lookin' around for Walkers so I took out my knife and did the same.
We found a little clearing between trees and decaying logs that looked about as good as any place to set up a camp for the night. Once the perimeter was clear, we gathered up some sticks and brush and made a small fire. For the first night in a long time, I was actually exhausted and sleepy at the same time. The alcohol was wearing off and I could already feel a headache developing as Daryl and I sat on adjacent logs around the fire.
"Here," he said, holding out our bottle of water for me to take.
I took it gladly and swallowed a swig of water. It was lukewarm but I knew I needed it if I wanted to be somewhat alert when morning arrived. I sat and stared into the fire, occasionally sippin' the water while I cradled it in my hands. I couldn't help but think of Maggie and Judith and Luke and Lizzie... All of them. I missed them and I couldn't help it. I knew they were out there somewhere. I could just feel it.
"You're crazier than I thought."
His voice startled me, I was so lost in my own thoughts. I looked up and gave him a small smile. "You're more human than I thought."
He furrowed his brow and for a second, I thought maybe I'd said the wrong thing. But then he shrugged and muttered, "Just 'cause ya never see me cry don't mean it doesn't happen."
I nodded. I wasn't sure what else to say. He sighed and slid down to the ground, stretching himself out and resting his head back against the log before he closed his eyes. Sleep sounded good. I laid down in front of the fire and rested my head on my hands, the bottle of water within close reach. I swear I only closed my eyes for a second, just to rest them for a moment.
I'm startin' to think being with Daryl makes me feel too safe 'cause I should've known not to fall asleep like that.
In my dream, I heard Lizzie and Luke calling my name. They were somewhere off in the distance and I was holding Judith in my arms, lookin' around for 'em. She started cryin', but it didn't sound right. It almost sounded like she was sick or she was choking on somethin' caught in her throat. I tried to quiet her so I could find Lizzie and Luke but she kept gettin' louder, and then reached up and grabbed my hair, yanking on it hard.
Then I felt the teeth in my neck.
I woke up screaming only to find somethin' worse than my nightmare. I was lying on the cold ground of the campsite Daryl and I had settled into. He was standin' above me with his crossbow aimed a few inches away from my head. The fire had mostly gone out except for a few flickering embers that helped me to see the scene around me that was only lit by moonlight. One of his boots was dug into the side of my neck, but he wasn't stepping on my neck... He was steppin' on a Walker's hand and its dirty, jagged fingernails only inches away from my neck. Its other hand was grasped onto a chunk of my hair and it was seconds away from biting into me.
From making me... just like it.
I was literally moments away from death, and I was frozen. I couldn't move. I just kept starin' up at Daryl with wide eyes. I'm sure I looked like a deer caught in headlights. But I could barely breathe. And he saw it. He saw that fear. He looked stone-faced, like he always does, but his eyes were wild and searchin' my face all over for some sort of reaction or maybe he wasn't sure he had actually saved me in time. He was breathing heavily and I realized his hands were kinda shakin'. I don't think I've ever seen him anything but steady with that crossbow.
My breath came back to me and I gasped it in quickly. I sat up as fast as I could and stood to my feet, turning around to face Daryl and the scene of my own near-death experience. The Walker was motionless, a bolt shot straight through its head. He finally lowered his crossbow and glanced around. We both checked for signs of other Walkers but this one... he was missing his bottom half so... we figured it got separated from any herds and just happened to get lucky enough to find us within crawling distance...
Now, the reason I wanted to write this down is because... well, it's something good to me. Before all this started, somethin' like this would be considered a terrible memory. "Traumatic." But I'm still alive. I got lucky once again. Wakin' up to Daryl standing over me and realizing he was lookin' out for me when I could've been dead... you don't wanna forget about things like that. Especially when you don't even know for sure if the last few people you know and care about are still alive.
I told Daryl he'd outlast me and everyone else... I don't think he believes me but I meant it. I really did.
The sun is comin' up now and I'm still here to see it.
A/N: This is my first Walking Dead fanfiction ever and my first fic at all in a long time. I have 5 chapters written so far and I'm not sure how many more there will be but I'll be posting them every couple of days or so, depending on the feedback. I've been watching TWD since day one but I just started shipping Bethyl after watching "Alone" (and I ship it HARD!). It inspired me like no other. I'm trying to be a productive member of the fandom so any and all constructive criticism is happily welcome. Any questions or comments, feel free to message me, I usually reply within a couple of hours. Thank you for reading :)