Beth stood by the creek, rocking back and forth on her heels. She watched as Daryl splashed water on his face to wake himself up and tried to look a little more patient.
"Will you quit hoverin'?" Daryl looked up at and glared, already grumpy with her.
Beth had taken it upon herself to shake Daryl awake, vigorously, about five minutes go. He of course had not been too impressed by the lack of emergency surrounding them. If they were on the move so early in the morning it was because something was after them. Not because he told her he was going to start teaching her how to use his crossbow yesterday.
He had said he might before, the night after the moonshiner's cabin, but it was a week later and not a word had been said about it since. Beth didn't forget, but didn't push her luck. She knew that Daryl was taking his time deciding.
Then last night Daryl finally announced that the next morning her lessons would begin. Beth was so excited she hardly got any sleep. And then when the sun started to just peak over the horizon she decided that when Daryl said morning, he meant first thing in the morning.
He however had not meant first thing in the morning and was grumbling to himself as he got to his feet. Beth stopped rocking on her heels and took a step back.
"I'm sorry, we can do this later if you want," Beth offered. She didn't want him to be so upset with her that every other word out of his mouth was soaked with anger.
"No, I didn't wake up for nothing," Daryl walked over to the leather back pack sitting against one of the trees and open it so he could start stuffing items into it. "Pack up, then we'll start."
Beth helped Daryl untie the string of hubcaps, cans and other noisy objects from the trees that marked the perimeter of the camp and warned them about walkers. She was a little quicker about it than him, feeling even more excited now.
When everything was packed up and leaned against the tree again, Beth started rocking on her heels once more, eyeing the crossbow a few feet away from her. Daryl let out a sign and walked over to his weapon.
"Okay, get a good feel for it," Daryl held the crossbow out for her to take, with some reluctance. Beth took it without hesitation.
"Was it always this heavy?" Beth asked, shifting both of her hand to she could hold it up. She'd held it once before but she didn't remember it being that heavy.
"Are you complaining?" Daryl raised his eyebrows at her. "We don't have to do lesson."
"No," Beth tightened her grub on the bow. "I was just asking."
"Okay, good. Let's start."
Beth smiled widely, "Great! What are we practicing on? Do you have targets set up or..?"
"Wait, you thought I was gonna let you shoot it?" Daryl looked at her, almost with amusement.
"Well that's what a crossbow does, Daryl," Beth didn't understand what her was getting at, he said he was going to teach her. "It shoots arrows."
"And that is where you're already wrong, Greene."
"What?" Beth furrowed her eyebrows at him. Was he having a go at her? She thought it might be too good to be true. Daryl was just playing some big joke on her by saying he'd teach her.
"Crossbows," Daryl grabbed an arrow from the quiver and waved it a bit, "shoot bolts."
Beth opened her mouth to argue. But closed it again, deciding it was better not to argue with Daryl about technicalities. He was the expert and if she pissed him off about things like hunting, she'd never hear the end of it.
"Okay, okay," Beth took the arrow...bolt...she took the bolt from Daryl and carefully and put it back into its spot. "So what now?"
"So now, you're gonna sit here and memorized every single detail about this crossbow and how it works before you even think about shootin' it," Daryl sat down by the tree with the bags and put his back up against it.
Beth stopped herself from rolling her eyes and said, "Yes, Mr. Dixon."
. . .
"Oh that thing?" Gareth crossed the room and joined Beth. "That's a crossbow."
Beth knelt down and eyed the weapon one more time, just to make sure her mind wasn't playing tricks on her. But it wasn't. She'd spent countless hours memorizing that bow and asking Daryl questions over and over again just like she was told. The bolts, the stock, the stirrup, everything about the weapon was comfortably familiar to her.
Beth looked up and Gareth and asked "Why isn't it hung up like everything else?" pointing at the walls around them. "It seems like a good weapon to have."
"You'd probably think that, cause you don't know any better," Gareth was talking to her like she was a small child learning colours. "The thing has about three arrows and is heavy as hell."
Beth bit her tongue hard and dismissed her interjection, "Nothing."
Gareth didn't seem to care much about what she was saying anyway and continued on, "Anyway, we didn't bother hanging it up because it's not a first choice pick for anyone."
"I think I'd like to try it," the words came out of her mouth before she could stop herself, the crossbow didn't belong in this room.
Gareth look at her like she didn't hear a word he said, "It's a pretty complicated weapon Beth, you already know how to use a knife and gun, maybe you should stick with that."
Beth pressed her lips together and thought how she was going to get his crossbow out without bringing suspicious. The only thought that came to mind seemed bound to work though, since there was that whole infatuation situation.
After taking a few beats to think about it, Beth cocked her head to the side a bit and stepped so she was standing in front of Gareth. She put on her best puppy dog eyes and lifted her hand so she could tug on the long sleeve of his shirt.
"I really like a challenge though," Beth used her sweetest voice then batted her eyelashes for good measure.
Like she thought he would, Gareth smiled at her and moved a little closer, "I'm the exact same way."
Beth smiled and moved abruptly away from him and towards the crossbow. "Great, so I can have it?"
"Yeah, the guy it belonged to won't be missing it."
With those words Beth held her breath for a moment and then asked, "Oh, is he...was he...lunch one day?"
"Nah, but he might be soon," Gareth said, "When the fight wears out of him a bit more."
Beth had to keep her face emotionless, but she could feel her skin tingling and something build up inside her. Daryl was alive, in Terminus and still had plenty of fight left in him. And just like that hope started bubbling in her stomach again, like it had her first day there. If Maggie, Glenn and Daryl were all there anyone could be. Hidden in any of the train cars could be the missing pieces of her family.
"I really wish you'd take your hair out of that pony," Gareth changed the subject, not knowing or caring what he had just revealed to her.
"I think I'll keep it in," Beth shrugged and let her hand go up to her braid. "This is who I am. And I'd like to stay like that."
AN: I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22! Chapters that is...
It's very exciting for me to have gotten so far with this fic and to have so many wonderful people reading it. I say it a lot in my notes because I am truly so grateful! THANK YOU EVERYONE.