Title: In Your Arms
Rating: M for some language, violence, and normal adult behavior (no lemons, though!)
Disclaimer: The Walking Dead and its affiliated characters do not belong to me. I mean no copyright infringement. I only use them as a means to de-stress myself.
Summary: After the prison falls, Beth and Daryl are on their own. When they find the funeral home, they think they have found a safe haven. After Beth is taken, Daryl will do anything to find her. But will he be able to help her after the trauma she's been through? Will they ever be able to find their way into each other's arms?
Spoilers: All episodes through season 4's "Us."
Author's Note: The idea for this story came immediately after I saw the episode "Alone" so that's where I decided to start the story. I did add some of my own scenes to the episode and changed some of the scenes around to fit my story. It will include some scenes from the episode, "Us," but mostly I decided to take my own spin on season 4 (i.e. no Terminus). My intention never was to post this story, but after a spark of inspiration, I decided to put it out there for all of the other Bethyl fans. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for reading and please don't forget to review!
He could see her out of the corner of his eye from his position in the coffin. He could hear her voice, lulling him into peacefulness. Her back was to him, but he could make out her fingers skillfully flying over the keys. Her long, blonde hair tied back in a messy pony tale. He wondered what it would feel like to run his hands through her long locks.
When the song ended, Daryl felt a sense of loss. He wanted to hear just one more song even though she had been playing and singing for over an hour. He closed his eyes tightly as he saw her begin to turn on the stool. He didn't want her to know he had been watching her. Even though he could no longer see her, he felt her eyes on him. He wondered what she thought of him. He knew her opinion of him wasn't very high when they started their journey together, but he hoped she was starting to see the new him. He was changing. Everyone was changing.
"Daryl?" She said in a half-whisper.
"I…" She didn't quite know what she was going to say. Thank him for getting her to such a safe place? Thank him for the piggy back ride or for wrapping her ankle? Convince him that they should stay there or try to convince him that they should move on to continue looking for the others even though she knew they were most likely dead?
He opened his eyes to look at her. He could sense something was wrong just by the emotions written on her face. She was tired, scared, and in pain even though he knew she would never admit it out loud. She had toughened up, which most would assume was a good thing. Daryl, though, hated that the right to have emotions was taken from her.
"What is it, Beth?" He finally asked, prompting her to go on.
She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. She really didn't know what she was going to say.
"I can take first watch," she finally blurted out.
He scoffed, knowing that wasn't what she was going to say at all.
"I've got it," he responded.
"You've been stayin' up most nights. There are the two bedrooms upstairs, you can take one and I'll stay down here. I'm sure the beds are more comfortable than that coffin and…"
"That ain't gonna happen. You need to rest that foot."
"It's not like I'm gonna keep watch the whole night standin' up," she insisted.
"You need sleep to heal."
Beth rolled her eyes. "It's just my foot!"
"Which is a pretty important part of your body when it comes to runnin' away from the walkers."
Aggravated, Beth crossed her arms. She was trying to do the right thing, the brave thing, but he wouldn't let her. He was always treating her like a child; like she wasn't capable of keeping watch as well as he was. Sometimes protective Daryl was cute. Sometimes it was annoying.
"Might find some clothes or somethin' in that girl's room upstairs."
He sat up and was about to climb out of the coffin when Beth stood up. She took one step and nearly fell. She had been sitting for so long, the pressure on her foot and the pain that shot up her leg took her by surprise.
"Let me help you up the stairs," he said.
"Your foot got stuck in a trap, Beth. You shouldn't be…"
"I don't need your help!" Beth yelled.
Daryl threw his arms up in defeat and slunk back in the coffin. He immediately closed his eyes, trying to show that he didn't care that she had brushed him off. The truth, of course, was that he did care. He wanted her to need him.
Beth hobbled out of the room. Cursing Daryl under her breath for not trusting her to keep watch, she climbed the stairs slowly. By the time she got to the top, she was panting. It had been hot downstairs, the Georgia heat taking its toll, but upstairs was practically unbearable. Beth could feel the sweat pouring down her back.
Wiping the beads of sweat from her brow, Beth made her way to the girl's room Daryl had mentioned. She had seen it earlier when she and Daryl had searched the place from top to bottom. Beth had to admit that the bed did look incredibly inviting. It had been too long since she had last slept in a real bed. The cots at the prison had been fine, but nothing beat a bed with a real mattress.
Before allowing herself to try out the bed, Beth looked over the room more carefully. It was strange how untouched the girl's room looked. It was as if someone had been living in it up to the moment she and Daryl had arrived. The bed was neatly made with bright red pillow cases and blankets. There were posters and pictures hung neatly on the wall. The girl obviously loved the color red, hearts, and horses.
Beth picked up a small, realistic-looking plastic horse on the girl's desk. It made Beth miss the horses she and her family had once had on their farm. As she replaced the horse, she saw a book lying out on the desk with a pen placed carefully next to it. Beth opened the cover of the book and found it was as she thought. It was a journal. The first page was full of a young girl's handwriting. Beth looked at the words, but didn't actually read them. She knew how angry she would be if someone read her journal, but who knew if this girl would ever return. Beth turned the page and found it blank. She flipped through the book. The only page written on was that first one.
"I'm sorry," Beth whispered. Somehow she knew that if the girl were still alive, the journal would have been full. The fact that there was only one page written on was not a good sign.
Beth tucked the journal under her arm and turned her attention to the girl's closet. Beth quickly looked through all of the brightly-colored clothes. Judging on the style and size of the clothes, Beth guessed the girl couldn't have been more than eleven or twelve. So much for finding something else to wear, she thought. As she was about to give up, Beth saw a suitcase tucked into the back of the closet. She pulled it out and opened it. It was full of men's clothes. She pulled out a T-Shirt and a pair of basketball shorts. They were going to be too big, but anything was better than the dirty clothes she was wearing. Beth stared at the suitcase for a moment, wondering why there would be men's clothes in a little girl's room. As she dug further into the suitcase, she found a few bottles of water, a first aid kid, and a handful of granola bars. It was a getaway bag. Whoever left it obviously hadn't had the chance to take it with them before they left.
Beth quickly rid herself of her zombie gut-stained golf shirt and her tattered jeans. She threw them on the floor and pulled the T-Shirt and shorts on. Although she was sure she looked ridiculous, Beth hobbled over to the bed and made herself comfortable. She placed the journal she was still holding next to her on the bed. For some reason, she just didn't want to let it go.
Beth turned to her side, hugging one of the pillows close to her body. It still had a faint floral smell. Beth guessed it was from the girl's shampoo. She breathed it in, having not smelled something that good in a long time. Beth closed her eyes, trying to ignore her throbbing foot and the sweat pouring from every spot on her body. Her mind immediately went to Daryl. She wondered if he was still awake. Even though he said he'd keep watch, that didn't mean he wouldn't fall asleep by accident. She wondered what he had been thinking as she played the piano and sang. Was he annoyed? Did he like hearing her sing? Was he thinking about her the way she was thinking about him?
Beth sat straight up. She knew she would never be able to sleep. It didn't matter that she was in a comfortable bed. She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep in a room without him. She hadn't slept alone in months. Even though she had her own prison cell, she always knew there were others around. Having Daryl downstairs was too far.
Grabbing the pillow in one hand and the journal in the other, Beth slowly made her way out of the room and down the stairs. She stopped at the entrance to the room where Daryl was still lying in the coffin. Assuming he was asleep, Beth quietly tiptoed into the room. She placed the pillow on the floor and sat down. She opened the journal and thought about what she might write.
"Bed wasn't comfortable?"
Beth nearly jumped.
"I thought you were sleepin'," she gasped.
"I told ya I'd keep watch."
"The bed was comfortable, but…"
Beth didn't quite know what to say. She couldn't exactly admit that the reason she couldn't sleep was because he wasn't with her.
"It's too hot up there," she finally said.
"What the hell are you wearing?" Daryl asked.
Beth looked down at her clothes. She forgot she was wearing an over-sized T-Shirt and bright blue shorts.
"I found them in the girls' closet in a suitcase."
"They're better than wearing a shirt you splattered with zombie guts."
"You found a journal?" Daryl observed, looking at the book she held in her hands.
Beth felt her cheeks turn red. She knew Daryl knew she wrote in a journal. Most everyone in the prison knew, but suddenly it mattered to her what he thought about it. Did he think it was dumb?
"Yeah. It was in her room. I feel bad takin' it, but it only has a page written on. Figured she wouldn't mind."
"It's good. That you write."
"Keeps track of what's goin' on. You know, in case somethin' happens to us and someone finds it. It's good." She smiled. "What?"
"I just…I thought you'd think it was dumb."
"It ain't dumb."
She smiled again. "I never thought of it that way. Keepin' track of what we're doin' in case…you know. It's just not why I started writin'."
"Then why'd you start it?"
"Maggie." He could hear the sadness in her voice when she spoke Maggie's name. "She's the one who convinced me to start writing. Back when my dad was drinkin'. Told me I should put down my feelings instead of keepin' them all inside. It sounds stupid now, but..."
"It ain't stupid."
Beth took a deep breath.
"I can't stop thinking about her…Maggie. I know she's…gone, but…" Beth cut herself off. She knew if she kept talking, she would cry and Beth did not cry. "Could you do it?"
"If they really have turned into walkers. If you saw Maggie or Glen or Michone or Rick or Carl…if you saw them as walkers…if they came after you…could you kill them? Could you shoot an arrow into their brain?"
"I'd do what I have to do to survive."
"I couldn't. Especially not Maggie. I'd rather…I'd rather turn into a walker myself."
"You don't mean that."
"If they're gone…if they're all gone, what's the point? What's the point of survivin'? To live one more day? One more week? One more month if we're lucky? What's the point of carrying on when there's no one left to carry on for?"
"Because that's what they'd want us to do. Survive. It's the only thing we can do." Daryl paused. "You should get some sleep."
"How 'bout we both sleep? You said this place was secure. If walkers get anywhere near this place, we'll hear 'em."
Daryl sat up. "Feel like I should be a gentleman and offer you the coffin."
"When have you ever been a gentleman, Daryl?"
He lay back down.
"I wouldn't want to sleep in a coffin anyway," Beth scoffed.
She rested her head on the pillow she had brought down from the bedroom upstairs. Beth snuggled deeper into the pillow. She closed her eyes, trying to put aside the usual fear and uncertainty that always plagued her when she tried to fall asleep. She lay still for a few moments before her foot started to throb. She turned her foot slightly, but that only sent a sharp pain shooting up her leg. She turned the other way, but that didn't feel much better. She tried to shift quietly, not wanting to disturb Daryl. It was rare they both had the opportunity for a good night's sleep.
As Beth went to shift once more, she heard Daryl hoisting himself out of the coffin. She mentally berated herself for going back downstairs in the first place. If she had just stayed upstairs, Daryl would be able to have a restful nights sleep.
Beth was about to sit up and tell him she was going to go upstairs despite the sweltering heat when she heard Daryl approach her. She opened her eyes as Daryl tenderly lifted her ankle. He slid the pillow he had been leaning on in the coffin underneath her foot and gently laid her foot back down.
"This should help," he said.
Daryl's fingertips lingered on her ankle before he lay down beside her. Their bodies were only inches part. It was a familiar scene, but somehow it felt different. Beth closed her eyes and fell asleep with a slight smile on her lips.