The rain came down steady. Daryl heard the light noise of the rain drops hitting the roof of the guard tower. It was a calming sound to him, always had been. When he was younger and he would be hunting with Merle, they would set up camp before the rain hit. Merle would go to sleep right away, pissed off that the rain had interrupted them, but Daryl never minded it. He would stay up and listen to the sound of the rain hitting the tent before drifting off.
Fall was approaching fast. Daryl felt the shift. In the last week, the air had cooled down and the weather began to turn crisp. People were beginning to get prepared for the upcoming winter season that would be there in a few months. Since the summer had been so brutally hot and humid, Daryl was expecting the winter to be milder.
He can hope, at least.
Winter would make hunting more difficult. It wasn't effortless to find animals these days; he would always get something but that was beside the point. There were more people at the prison now, which meant that they all needed to be on their A game when it came to searching for food, in the woods or out on runs.
Karen said she knew a lot about storing and drying foods so Rick enlisted her to help with the garden when she first got here. Karen and Hershel were both adamant about growing certain foods in the garden through the fall so they could have some back up dried vegetables during the long winter months. Karen had already gotten started with getting some of it to be shelf stable.
Mid-thought, Daryl heard the handle on the bottom of the guard tower latch turn so that someone could open it and enter the tower. It would be too soon for someone to be taking over for him so he hadn't a clue as to who would be coming out here in the rain.
He watched as a small hand pushed the latch open and over to rest on the ground in back of it. Beth's head popped over the now open space and she put her arms onto the guard tower floor. "There you are," she said cheerfully.
"Been lookin' for me?" He questioned in a low voice.
Beth nodded her head, grinning. "Everywhere. Of course I find you in the last place I look."
Daryl returned the smile she gave him. "You need something? Everything alright inside?"
"Everything is fine. I have some time off and I don't what to do with myself. I wrote in my journal for a while and then I decided to search high and low for you. Now I finally found you! You're a hard man to find, Daryl. Did you know that?"
"Well, what are ya waitin' for? Get up here before you fall back down," Daryl said, trying to ignore the warm feeling that he got from knowing that Beth had searched for him.
Beth climbed up the last several steps and pulled herself over the latch while she planted her feet onto the floor, closing the latch back up behind her. Daryl examined her. Beth had clearly been a victim of the rain's wrath.
The top of her hair and the ends of her ponytail were soaking wet. Her clothes were damp from the distance between the prison and the guard tower. She had to have run the distance or she would have been completely soaked otherwise. Her light colored jeans were now darker at the top, where the rain had hit. Her button down shirt that she had tied at the bottom was slightly see though and Daryl couldn't help but keep his eyes on the color contrast of her pitch black bra against her creamy toned skin.
It wasn't like it was overly obvious that her shirt was plastered against her skin and her bra. If it were anyone else, he would have ignored it entirely. Daryl tried to avert his gaze from her but his eyes stayed frozen in place, unable to look away.
He should feel guilty about that, shameful that he stared. It wasn't until Beth pulled at the shirt that it loosened up around her and hid what was underneath more easily.
Beth moved so that she was across from where Daryl was sitting against the wall. On the opposite side, she leaned down to put her hand on the floor so she could sit down as well. She let her knees bend up as she dragged her feet more towards her body. She crossed her wrist over the other so that her right hand fell on her left knee and her other hand fell onto her right knee, mirroring the exact position that Daryl was in.
"It's quiet up here. I see why you like being out here. It's a good place to think."
"That ain't always a good thing," he insisted.
"What does Daryl Dixon think about when he's up here all alone?"
Daryl had a moment of panic inside because the word 'you' floated around in his head. It was not a time to be honest. "Nothin' much."
What a lie that was.
"Did you know that Michonne knew Andrea?"
He looked over, confused. He had been unaware of that. Michonne had never given any indication that she knew who Andrea was before or after the funeral they had given her. "No. She never said anythin'."
"She told me yesterday when she was watchin' over Judith while I got her new clothes," Beth clarified. "She's okay. She needed some time to deal with it."
That explained the absence of Michonne around the prison lately. She had been working things out, dealing with the loss of Andrea. It made sense then. Andrea had been the friend that Michonne had left in Woodbury.
Beth looked around the guard tower even though there was not much to look at other than the lantern that sat in the corner along with the two sleeping bags on the floor with a pillow each. Overall, there was not much space to move around in. They were in close quarters, not that he's about to complain.
"I've never been up here before. It's not that bad."
Daryl cocked his head to the side. "Really?"
"Yes, really! I could be up here all day writing if I had the time." Beth pursued her lips. "I'm getting' low on room to write in my journal," she hinted.
"I'll be on the lookout for another one."
He actually already had one back in his cell that he was going to give to her. He just didn't want Beth to know that he had already picked another one up for her a while ago. It would seem like he was too eager.
"Okay, thanks." Beth shifted her position so that her legs were stretched out in front of her. "Hey, you wanna know what I was thinkin' about last night?"
"If any of us would have met each other if the outbreak never happened. Like maybe somehow some of us were destined to meet each other no matter what."
This caught his attention. Daryl furrowed his brows at her. "You mean like fate? You believe in that sort of thing?"
Beth laughed as she shrugged one of her shoulders. "I don't know. It seems silly to believe in something like that when the world is the way it is now."
Daryl never believed in anything like fate. It seemed beyond ridiculous—things happening that were beyond his control. Bullshit. Wasn't fate supposed to be something supernatural? Yeah, that sounded like a brainless idea. Thing is, he never would have believed that the dead were walking around wanting to eat other people now so, hey, anything was possible. He wasn't about to rule something out because it sounded absurd.
"I just don't see a world where Maggie and Glenn never met, you know? That would be…tragic. They love each other so much. I guess it's pretty stupid to believe in soul mates too. I don't know if I ever believed in that until I saw Maggie and Glenn together. They're perfect for each other, in every way possible. I'm sounding sappy now, aren't I?
"Just a lil' bit," he assured her.
"Sometimes I wonder what I'd been doing right this second if the outbreak never happened. If I'd be gettin' ready to go to college or stayin' on the farm with Maggie." She pondered it for a moment, deep in thought. "It's weird to think that. It's sad, actually, to think that we wouldn't all be together. That's…heartbreaking. Everyone here is my family now. We are a family. The thought of us all not being here, being together—"
Beth didn't finish her sentence. Daryl soaked in her words and contemplated what she had said.
A concept that was so unfamiliar to him. Until this point, that is. It was the first time that he had ever felt like he had a family, a group of people who all cared for the well-being of each other, and would do anything to keep each other protected. Daryl never believed that he would have something like that. He often wondered if he deserved what he had now.
"I know what you mean," Daryl said to her as he thought about it more.
From the way that Beth looked at him after he said that, Daryl could tell that she understood what he had meant by the statement. Their short conversation from the kitchen pantry from a long time ago about when he was younger must have come to her mind, that brief glimpse that he had given her into his childhood and what is had been like for him. Maybe one day he would tell her the whole story.
"It would seem so weird to not know anyone here. To have never met Rick or Michonne or Carol. Or you! I can't forget you on the list of people that I might not have ever met if it weren't for the outbreak." Beth pouted and battered her eyelashes at him. "That's even more tragic."
Daryl rolled his eyes at her and kept his eyes on the ceiling. "You'd probably be better off not knowin' me."
"What?" She sounded like Daryl had offended her. "Don't say that! Not one bit of it is true. Take it back."
Daryl glimpsed back over to her. He hadn't expected such a reaction from her. Beth stared at him wide-eyed, her light blue eyes searching his intensely as she waited for him to say the words she had told him to speak.
After a minute of that, he mumbled, "I take it back."
"Good." Beth lifted her chin and smiled, relieved that he had caved. "I choose to believe I would have met you no matter what. We live in the same state. It was bound to happen as some point or another. I'd be glad I met you in any way it happened."
Beth placed her head back onto the wall and closed her eyes, her head sliding a bit to the side. The quiet resumed between them, the only sound coming from the increasingly heavier rain that came down and battered onto the roof of the guard tower.
Daryl took the opportunity to watch Beth. What she had said before came back to his mind, that she had time off and came looking for him. It seemed to be a pattern, and he had not connected the dots before. She barely had any time to do what she wanted to, like the rest of them, and when she got time off Beth came and spent her valuable time with him.
Why? Why on Earth would she want to do that?
Daryl sure wouldn't want to spend time with him if he were another person hanging around the prison. In fact, he would be the last person on the planet he would expect Beth Greene to want to be around in her spare time. All to just come and chat with him? He couldn't put the puzzle pieces together with that one. It seemed like there was something missing from that equation which Daryl was not aware of.
His thoughts drifted elsewhere, into a territory he didn't want to think about again.
He tried to muster up the courage to ask her about Zach. A few days had gone by since Zach had proclaimed that he was interested in Beth. That still bothered him in a way he could not explain. He had theorized that maybe he had been tired that night and that's why he had been so annoyed by it.
Nope. He was dead wrong.
The feeling stayed with him. The curiosity surrounding it began to eat away at his soul, or so it seemed. Beth hadn't said anything to him and Zach had not been around in the last few days, which led him to be anxious along with a side of nervousness about what could possibly be going on. Such an infuriating feeling that was.
"You see Zach recently?"
That was a terrible start. Closed-ended questions could give him nothing other than one worded response. Luckily for him, Beth liked to talk and give explanations so he would get more than one word reply. That's how he would be able to tell if there was something to hide, if she kept her answer short and evaded giving any details. That's how he avoided answering question he didn't want to. He assumed that most people did the same.
"Yeah, he came by the other day when I was putting Judith down for a nap. He's funny. I think he was tryin' to see if I liked him or something. He acted really flirty. I don't know. It was hard to tell. I sent him in a different direction though."
She brushed it off like it was nothing. He considered that to be a good sign. It relieved him.
He knew why now, after much consideration in the past few days. He knew why the thought of Zach and Beth together ticked him off, made him feel like he could punch a hole into a wall. He won't admit it to himself entirely, no, not yet. He's convinced that the universe was screwing with him, pushing these feelings onto him on purpose to watch him squirm and try to avoid them.
"Why do you ask?"
Her question caught him off guard. He hadn't thought of an alternate plausible cause as to why he wanted to know. He sure isn't going to tell her the real reason as to why he was wondering.
"No reason," he decided to go with.
Beth eyed him suspiciously. He could have sworn that the corners of her mouth turned up before her pushed her lips together and turned her head in the other direction to look out the window.
The rain started to come down sideways and pummeled against the windows of the guard tower. There was little visibility through the rain that came down. It came down so heavy and so fast that it turned a more white color.
"Looks like I'm not going anywhere soon," Beth gathered while she looked out the windows with her head rested up against the wall.
He was pleased that the rain had picked up; it gave him more time with Beth. More time for him to spiral further down into a mess he could not get himself out of even if he wanted to.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I wanted to get this updated before I send my laptop in for repair tomorrow morning. What am I supposed to do without it until Monday?
Thank you to all my lovely reviewers and to all my wonderful guest reviewers. Everyone has the nicest things to say and it brightens my day!