Title: Solitaire

Characters: Beth, Daryl

Relationship: Daryl/Beth implied

Rating: T (for language) and (situations in Chapter 2 – attempted rape, (not graphic), language.) If this is disturbing to you skip chapter two. The story should still make sense. Though better if you don't. The balance of the story is K+

"Oh," she said softly. The single sound was the barest exhalation of breath in the silence surrounding them. The pen in her hand froze mid-sentence and her heart began to pound as she realized exactly what his lack of words meant.

Half hidden in shadows cast by the candle's glow, he looked at her from under the shaggy fringe of his hair, eyes saying what his voice could not. That simple expression warmed her with its intensity and promise. Wordlessly, the unspoken barrier that had separated them had begun to crumble. There are still good people, Daryl Dixon, she thought. You're good people if you ever let yourself believe. The breathless space that stretched so easily between them was suddenly full of a sense of belonging. It was a comfort she had only hoped for in recent days. And though she refused to admit that the rest of their friends and family might well be dead, she knew without doubt, in that moment, that she and Daryl would be okay together. For the first time since the prison, since her father had been brutally murdered, she felt her spirits soar. Maybe they could stay here for a while, like he said.

She was about to suggest precisely that when an icy chill ran up her spine. The ominous metallic clatter of Daryl's 'zombie alarm', the collection of tin cans and trash strung across the front porch, caused every muscle to tense, her hand automatically finding the knife at her waist. Beth's reaction was mirrored in that of her companion until they heard the intruder on the porch bark.

Daryl visibly relaxed as he reached across the table for a jar of pig's feet. Cranking off the top he almost smiled as he said "I'm gonna give that mutt one more chance."

Beth settled back in her chair, eyes half closed as she imagined him coaxing the stray inside with a jar of pickled pig's feet and having the dog turn its nose up at the offering. The image made her smile.


She sat bolt upright. Something was wrong. She could tell from the tone in his voice. Reaching for his crossbow, she was halfway to the kitchen door when he called again.


And now she could hear them, hear the low guttural growl of a pack of hunting walkers. As she rounded the doorframe to the front hallway, she saw him, back against the door pressing his entire weight against it, the hands of the dead clawing around its edges in their mindless effort to gain entry. He waved his hand and she tossed the crossbow. He caught it deftly as he shouted for her to run.

"Get out. Pry open a window. Get your shit."

"I won't leave you!" she shouted back above the increasing clamor of the dead.

"Go!" he shouted again as he led the walkers away to give her time to hobble to safety. "Go out to the road. I'll meet you."

That was the last she heard as he was drowned out by the horde. She had grabbed her pack, managed to pull a board off one window, just enough space for her to squeeze through, and ran as best she could on her swollen ankle. Fear for his safety driving her more than fear for herself. She reached the road and was about to turn to see if he had followed her when she was blinded by the headlights of a vehicle not five yards in front of her. It had been hidden by the shadowed tree line near the edge of the road. Raising her hand to shield her eyes, she tried to get a better look at who might be behind the lights, when strong arms encircled her from the rear, pulling both her arms to her sides and pinning them. The image of a walker's teeth tearing into her flesh filled her with primal terror. She slammed her head backwards and was gratified to hear a low curse as she connected with her target.

"Lemme go," she commanded. "We're people. Like you. Not walkers."

The arms wrapped around her were incredibly tenacious. She wanted to call Daryl for help, but knew he had his hands full with the herd of dead that had entered the funeral home. She had to do this herself. Beth slammed her head backwards a second time, was rewarded with another grunt and a muffled curse. Stomping hard on the foot behind her she ground the heel of her boot into his instep. The grip never lessened.

"Little bitch," said a rough voice in her ear. "You're not getting away that easy. Get the stuff. Knock her out now." The last words were directed away from her.

Before she could smash her head into her assailant's face a third time, a rag was shoved over her mouth and nose. It was damp and reeked - a sharp chemical smell that seemed so familiar, she thought as she lost consciousness sagging limply in the arms of her captor.


Beth's head pounded. The vehicle's shock absorbers had long ago stopped absorbing shock, and the rear of the car moaned with each bump and dip in the road's surface. She had regained consciousness in the back seat of a car, blindfolded and gagged; her wrists and ankles tightly bound. For a moment she was disoriented then panic surged through her as she realized how totally helpless she was. No walker had ever left her feeling so vulnerable. Her heart pounded wildly with fear as she struggled to focus on the heated argument between her assailants. There appeared to be only two men in the car with her and she prayed that there were no others waiting at the end of their drive.

"We had a deal." The first speaker's voice was nasal and high pitched with anger.

She wriggled her wrists, testing the bonds that held her, looking for any weakness. The voices continued, unaware she was awake and listening.

"I told you I'd clear 'em out of your little house a horrors," the second man said in a low, coarse tone. A smoker's voice, she thought.

"You should have just let her keep running like we talked about. She would have been long gone by now. But no, you decided you needed her." There was a long silence.

"She could barely walk." The second man said. "She'd'a never have escaped. 'Sides, I can think of a few things I could use her for."

"She was on her way," the nasal voice continued. "You should have let her keep going right on down the road. If that friend of hers got out alive he's probably looking for her."

Beth's heart pounded when she heard these words. If Daryl got out alive he'll find her. He had to.

"Well we're gonna drive far and fast and hope to lose him," the second man said. "Then I'm takin' her back to your little spook house and you're gonna keep her there for a while. Til I figure out what better to do with her. Other than the obvious."

"You're not going to hurt her."

"Oh, no. I'm gonna have a little fun with her. And no one's gonna stop me. She's a pretty thing. As long as we have her…


"Look, I've been screwing your skinny little ass for months. You may enjoy it but I want some real tail. Don't sit there sulkin' like a jilted lover. You know I'm no queer. I was givin' ya what ya wanted so's you'd let me stay. I never promised to be your lover for the rest of my life. Not when there's better. Now take the left fork up here near the railroad tracks and we can circle round. Her friend's not gonna follow us back if he gets this far."

Beth struggled in the enveloping blackness. An icy chill rippled up her spine and into her soul. I don't think the good ones survive, Daryl said matter-of-factly in her head. She had tried so hard to convince Daryl that there were still good people. What if he had been right?