This story is set in the prison starting in late season 3. Shows the evolution of Beth and Daryl's relationship if things had gone differently. I got stuck on the idea and then more chapters kept coming to mind so I decided to roll with it so hopefully you all like a prison AU story! I don't have a specific point in season 3 that I'm starting from and there are going to be noticeable differences like the Governor isn't exactly a psychopath. It gives me way more freedom to write what I want to that way.

Carol had told Daryl that Axel would not leave Beth alone, even after she told him to keep away from Beth. She had walked outside to where Daryl had finished talking to Rick with this pissed at the world kind of look on her face. Honestly, it looked like she was going to strangle the next person to look at her. In all actuality, he didn't want to know what was making her so angry, but Carol was determined to let him know.

"You should do something about it," she carefully hinted. "He doesn't take my threats seriously. Tell him to step off. He'll listen to you."

Daryl looked back at the prison and then to her with squinted eyes due to the burning sun beating down. "And why's that?"

"Because he'll take you seriously! I could probably tell the guy I'd suffocate him in his sleep and he would still be thinkin' about putting his grubby hands on Beth!"

Daryl snorted. Carol would say something like that and do it if it meant protecting Beth. Hell, he'd do the same. He didn't really know the girl that well but that didn't mean he wasn't protective of her.

Carol folded her arms over her chest and sighed out of frustration. "She's only seventeen, almost eighteen but that's not the point. And Axel…well, he's been locked up a long time. Told me all about it. Sayin' how Maggie has Glenn and the only other option was Beth. Thought I was a lesbian and started with me when I told him he was wrong and set him straight—no pun intended." Carol took a minute and shook her head. "But I guess Beth is too nice to send him packin'. I'm not even sure he'd stop if she did. She's a beautiful girl. I'm just a bit worried. Don't trust the guy. He ain't gonna quit unless someone does something."

The more Carol told him about Axel's persistence, the more it became apparent that this guy couldn't take the fucking hint that Beth was off limits.

He decided that he needed to make it known to Axel that he would twist his arms off if he ever tried anything with Beth. He's not entirely sure if Axel would actually try anything, but just like Carol, he didn't trust him. Axel hadn't gained anyone's trust around here, not yet. It really isn't his job to be doing this considering Beth was not his blood or his good friend or his…girlfriend. But he felt the need to take care of it since Beth was too sweet and wouldn't tell the guy to fuck off.

It just so happens that when he rounds the corner of the prison that there he was right next to Beth who was holding Judith on her lap. Unbelievable. She looked so uncomfortable sitting there to the point where he felt the tension emitting from her all the way from across the room. From where he stood he could see that she was leaning away from him, staring at the ground in a daze.

He was talking to her, babbling on and on about who knows what. She was smiling but only out of politeness. He saw how her eyes glanced around the room, looking for some sort of escape route.

It rubbed him the wrong way.

He needed to tell Axel to stop perving on young women who are obviously taking care of infants and don't want his affections to begin with. Was he oblivious to the fact that she was unresponsive to him? Even Daryl could spot that in an instant.

"Hey!" His booming voice echoed throughout the walls as he approached the two of them who were sitting at one of the tables they used to eat at for dinner. Axel looked up like a thief caught red-handed, his eyes bulging out of his head. Beth on the other hand, glanced up wide-eyed with a relieved expression taking over her face since she was no longer alone with Axel. She smiled at Daryl, a real smile.

Daryl walked over to the table they where sitting at. The thing is that he hadn't thought about what to say on the way over here and his brain searched for a way to remove Beth from the room so he could get Axel alone.

Beth's eyes didn't move from his. She waited for him to say something, rocking Judith back and forth in her arms. Maybe she was silently pleading with him to get her out of there. "Uh, Carol needs some help outside, if you don't mind, Beth."

"I'll go too," Axel interjected, getting up from his spot at the table.

"You'll stay," Daryl sternly told him as he clutched onto the strap of his crossbow that was strung diagonally around his chest, the crossbow weighing down on his back. "Carol only needs Beth."

Beth gave him a look as if to say 'thank you, you just saved my life' before she got up with Judith and headed outside. She briefly looked at him again as she passed him, but his eyes were trained on Axel. Beth would find that Carol didn't actually need any help and that Daryl made it up. Part of him hoped that Carol would make something else up as well so it didn't look like Daryl was going around playing superhero and shutting up the bad guys.

Daryl turned his full attention to Axel, who had been watching as Beth left the room. Could the dude be anymore creepy? He waited until he heard the hallway door open and close shut, signifying that Beth was headed outside and was no longer in hearing distance. "What do you think you're doin'?" He started off, his voice laced with a hint of anger.


Daryl glared at him. "What? Are ya serious? I'm talkin' 'bout Beth. Carol told me what's goin' on and I don't like it. Can't be doin' that shit. Not here. It's not okay with me."

Axel's face fell, his eyes getting wide. He put his hands up in front of him as if he was caught by the police, which he's actually had some practice at doing, considering. "Oh. Oh. Sorry man, I didn't realize she was yours. Carol never told me that part. Didn't mean nothing by it, honestly. "

His? Where in the fucking hell did he get that idea from?

For some unknown reason, he doesn't deny it.

"Talk to her again, even look in her direction," he growled, getting right to the point of the conversation, looking Axel dead in the eyes. His hands balled into fists. "I'll put an arrow right through you myself."

He walked away, not waiting for any type of response from Axel. The look of terror in his eyes was enough to satisfy Daryl.

On his way to the door that would take him outside, Daryl began to think that maybe, maybe he took that a little too far. After all, he did just threaten to kill a guy because he was being too flirty with Beth. She's still seventeen, he reminded himself, making himself feel better about being so blunt with Axel. She still needed protecting. Who knew what that guy was capable of if left alone with her too much and too long. Daryl didn't even know why he was in jail to begin with, and he didn't care to know either.

Back outside, he saw Carol holding Judith while talking to Beth so he doesn't disturb them. He goes over to do fence duty with Rick and Glenn instead.

I didn't realize she was yours.

The words played over and over in his head. He can't seem to shake them, even as he impales walkers. And what the fuck was wrong with him? Why didn't he tell Axel that Beth wasn't his?

A week went by with Daryl keeping a close eye out for if he needed to make good on his threat. In all actuality, he probably wouldn't shot Axel. He would just have to take him out back and teach him that he was dead serious about him keeping away from Beth. Then he would need to consult Rick on what to do about him. The good news was that he had barely seen Axel in the past week. He was avoiding Daryl, which was a good thing. He was also avoiding Beth like the plague. Even better.

Mission accomplished. He had scared him enough for Axel to come to his senses and go bother someone else.

Daryl was in his cell on the bottom bunk examining one of his arrows when he heard light footsteps coming in his direction. He noticed the mess of blonde hair in a ponytail that came from around the corner before anything else. He already knew who was before he looked up and saw Beth standing there, leaning against the cell bars with a small, shy smile on her face.

"Hey," she greeted him in her soft voice.

It was nighttime, which meant that the moonlight was showing through the windows that were on the walls, illuminating Beth's blonde hair and pale skin from where she stood at the edge of the cell.

Daryl paused for a moment. "Hey."

"I wanted to say thank you. Carol just told me about how you told Axel to stay away and he hasn't come near me since. I was wonderin' why all of sudden he stopped, you know, flirting with me." She sounded uncomfortable as she said those last three words. "It's a relief that I don't have to worry about it anymore."

Daryl shrugged, brushing it off. He is under the impression now that Axel stayed away because he believed that there was something going on between Daryl and Beth. That was something he would never tell her or anyone, as long as Axel kept his trap shut. That was a situation he would like to avoid. "Don't need to thank me. Axel needed a reality check."

"But I do need to," she insisted, grabbing onto one of the bars and leaning her side against it. She offered him a sweet smile. "If it weren't for you he'd be following me around still."

He is about to rebuff her gratitude when he leaned back against the wall too fast and knocked his head against it. It jolted him, feeling the sting of the impact on the back of his head. He gritted his teeth together, keeping his mouth shut, and forced himself not to reach up and rub his head, fearing that it would make him seem like a wimp. He was already making himself look like a clumsy idiot for banging his head into the cell wall.

Smart move.

The embarrassment clouded over his mind. He needed to say something but no words were forming. Beth stood there, watching him with curiosity, probably wondering why he sat there with this weird ass expression on his face because the back of his head is fucked up out of his own stupidity.

Damn. Why was he like this? He was good at hunting with his skill with a crossbow, good at killing walkers and any other threat to the living, getting supplies the group needed, and yet he was the most awkward human being to walk the planet as soon as a woman was in the picture. Funny how things work out that way.

He is finally able to clear his throat, pushing the embarrassment away. He spoke up before Beth had the chance to ask him if he was okay. "He bothers you again, let me know. I'll take care of it."

Beth nodded her head. "Okay, I will."

Daryl shifted around, not sure what to do with himself when the silence between them persisted and Beth made no attempt to leave. She looked as if she wanted to say something else but was holding back. He dropped his gaze on her and settled for absently messing with his arrow that was still in his hand.

Daryl realized that this is the first time since they met that they have ever been alone together for more than a few seconds. He didn't know much about her other than the basics and she certainly didn't know much about him. But he wouldn't mind getting to know her. It was just difficult to get to know someone when dead people were walking around trying to eat everything living in their path. That and the fact that conversation wasn't his strong suit.

"Well," Beth said as she corrected her stance and moved so that she was headed away from his cell, giving him once last glance. "Thanks again. I owe you."

Daryl watched as she left, her footsteps falling back down the hallway. He felt weird about this all of a sudden. He finally saw why Axel had been bothering her. Sure, she was young, but damn was she pretty. He guessed he understood where Axel was coming from initially. If he had been locked up for a long time and he saw Beth for the first time…his thoughts wouldn't exactly be all that innocent. But he sure as hell would never be bugging her like Axel had been doing until he put a stop to that. And that didn't mean what Axel was doing was right. Beth clearly did not want his attention, and he had kept going at it. If she had responded to his attention then maybe things would be different. That thought alone made him cringe.

His thoughts traveled back to Beth. There was a certain allure to her that he couldn't quite place his finger on. The image of her leaning against the cell bars entered back into his head. Was it the mixture of her blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin and petite body?

Her body.

Shit. He couldn't be thinking about that. He caught himself in the thought, pushing it out of his mind. That made him almost as bad as Axel. And Daryl Dixon was not a hypocrite. But at least he wasn't acting on his thoughts like Axel was, flirting with Beth and making her extremely uncomfortable.

Daryl leaned back onto his pillow and stared at the top of the bunk above him, setting the arrow down next to the crossbow that was leaned up against the bed. He could really use a cigarette right about now but was unwilling to get up and go outside. It was going to be another long day tomorrow of killing walkers that were gathering along the fences so he needed his rest more than he needed a cigarette. Besides, if he got up he ran the risk of running into Beth again. Getting her out of his mind was hard enough without her presence.

A/N: What do you think? I'll be updating probably on the weekend since I have my Statistics final test at the end of the week and my final project for cognitive psychology due Friday. College summer classes are a nightmare sometimes.