A/N: I own nothing of The Walking Dead but I love this show so here's my first attempt at a fan fic for this group. I'm a huge Daryl fan so I pretty much love anything with him in it! Be kind and let me know what you think!
Beth awoke to a terse shake at her shoulder. She blinked awake, searching the dim light of the morning dawn. Daryl was no longer touching her but near and peering out the window through a slit in the thin drapes. His body tense; his crossbow held deftly in one hand while the other pulling the drapes back slightly further.
"Daryl?" she questioned, sitting up slowly from her bag and rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"Shh," he hushed lowly. "Men."
It had been three months since the attack. Just the two of them, Beth and Daryl, for those three months of running, searching, hunting and surviving. Three months of uncertainty, hunger, exhaustion, sadness and anger.
Somehow as the heat of summer had faded into a crisp and lingering autumn, Beth and Daryl had managed to etch out an existence of survival. They were nomads, moving from place to place daily. It had been a struggle for the first part, Beth having to learn a lot about being out in the world. The safety of the group and prison had not been conductive to her learning to take care of herself in this new reality. Daryl was an effective but hard teacher and Beth had needed to learn quickly.
They spent most of their time focused on food and safety. Little time was devoted to what they both wanted to do - looking for their family. Neither knew if their friends and family had survived the onslaught. The uncertainty was a constant quiver under the fatigue and starvation. Both kept their eyes open, searching for any and all signs that someone was alive from their group. Some of the family had to have survived. But nothing. Three months and neither had found anything.
The pair had stopped at this particular house two days prior, just before evening fell. The nights had begun to grow cold and fires could be a dangerous attractant to both the living and the dead. Winter was nipping at their heels and shelter was becoming increasingly more important with secure shelter difficult to find. The house was a large white Victorian with open full windows spanning both floors with a large wrap around porch encompassed with thin white railing in an intricate twisted design. The house would have been considered grand and airy if the neglect of the past year and half had not begun to show, leaving it with a haunted feeling. As they had come upon it, Beth felt twinge of homesickness settle into her stomach. She shoved it away quickly knowing if she entertained the thought it was consume her. There just wasn't time to reflect. Safety and survival always come first, a lesson learned quickly on the road with Daryl. The pair had worked fast to clear the house finding no lurking creatures, dead or alive. It had taken time, but now the duo had come to work well together. Once cleared, they found the home had been search before and there where limited supplies. A couple of jars of pickled tomatoes and a bottle of soda had been their plunder after a swift search.
As the sun begun to set, Daryl had decided the garage was the better option than staying in the house. It was set away from the house a decent distance, closer to the woods, with a workshop of sorts above the two car garage. The house had the more natural appeal to someone who might happen to wander by. Humans were now just as dangerous as the dead. Beth and Daryl had been lucky so far – they had found signs of other groups but had not come across any living since the prison fell.
They had moved their supplies and loot into the work shop, setting up in the East corner close to the door and a window. For two glorious nights, Beth knew four walls, a ceiling and a floor. She hadn't had that since the prison. Even Daryl relaxed from his hyper vigilant state and allowed Beth to take an extended watch, sleeping an uninterrupted eight hours. For the first time in months, they had a small sense of security and a chance to give their travel worn bodies a day of rest. The first night and day had been just that, rest for both and time to check weapons and supplies. In late afternoon, Daryl had suggested they research the house for more supplies. They had found some heavier sweaters and a cap for Beth for the upcoming winter, some matches in the basement along with a flash light and batteries. The best was the bag of long forgotten Halloween candy. A bag of snack sized Snickers. Heaven, Beth had decided, pure heaven. She had even gotten a half smirk from Daryl when she proudly shook her find to him. He had been so quiet, so withdrawn in these three months it warmed her to the core to see the fleeting smile on his face. A wonderful dinner of Snickers and the last jar of tomatoes had followed joyously.
Any and all good feelings from the past day had been stripped away by Daryl's quiet words.
"What? How many?" Beth asked rushed as she struggled the rest of her way out of the sleeping bag.
"Six, I think," mumbled Daryl as his blue eyes pierced the view of the house.
Too many, thought Beth sickly. She crawled next to Daryl at the window, her own eyes searching the scene below. One man, holding a crossbow like Daryl's, was stationed at one end of the yard while other sliver haired man was on the porch by the steps. Beth reached a hand up to the curtain, wanting a slightly better view than the slice currently provided. Where were the other men?
Daryl's hand shot out and gripped her wrist. "Girl, don't," he growled and released her. "They're in the house." He turned and grabbed his pack. "We need t' git. Now."
Despite being irked by being called 'Girl', Beth knew better than to question Daryl. He was honed for survival and if he said it was time to go, it was time to go. She reached for her sleeping bag, starting to roll it.
"No," Daryl snapped. "We don't have much time. They'll be done searchin' the house soon." He crept over to the door and opened it slowly, peering out the door. "Grab your pack an' move." The door opened down into the garage and from there was another door that led out the back towards the woods. If they hurried, they could leave without being noticed and gone before the group of men knew any different.
Beth groaned softly and reached for her pack, following Daryl down the stairs quietly. She loved that sleeping bag, having found it a couple of weeks ago. She stopped behind Daryl as she reached the bottom of the stairs, adjusting her pack to her back. She grabbed her knife and kept it readied in her hand, Daryl had trained her well. He was peering out the small window in the door. All the men were up at the house, the coast was clear.
Daryl slowly opened the door and looked back at her, nodding to her. Beth nodded back. Same drill they had done time and time again. Daryl took the first step out the door, crossbow held ready and aimed. Beth followed quickly, she took in the surroundings quickly and ran toward the cover of the trees.
"Hey, where ya off to?" a voice shouted out from behind her just as Beth reached the first tree. It made her breath catch and she whipped her head behind her. Daryl was a couple of paces behind her, his eyes wide with the acknowledgement of the deep male voice.
"Go," he ordered brusquely.
Beth sprinted followed closely by Daryl, her heart pounding in her chest with fear.
"Gonna check out the garage. Keep it down," came the response. It came from the house area, between two men. Whatever it was, they weren't troubled with the escaping duo at the moment.
"Wait," was the last bit Beth heard before she was too deep into the woods for the voices to carry. Relief eased into her body and she slowed from her pace. She want to turn and stop to talk with Daryl, but as if anticipating her want Daryl roughly nudged her shoulder and gruffly muttered, "Keep goin'."
Daryl over took her in the run, shooting her a look for even considering slowing down. Beth let out as long as a breath as she could afford at this pace and wondered, not for the first time, how deep her reservoir of patience went. She followed as she always did, cursing his longer legs as she always did.
The pair continued at a rapid race until there were several miles of distance between them and the house before relaxing to a slow jog. "We should stay close," huffed Beth as she slowed her pace.
Daryl shot her a glowering glare. "What?"
"Our sleeping bag and a couple other things. We can go back for them," Beth countered as she came to a sudden stop. She was growing tired of months of scowls. "We can wait nearby. Then when they leave, we can get our stuff back."
"No," Daryl commanded, slowing to a walk but not stopping with her.
Beth furrowed her brow. "Yes!" she shot back. "We need those sleeping bags. And my jacket is back there." She gestured her arms out wide, modelling the fact she was wearing only a hooded sweatshirt over her clothes.
"Keep your damned voice down, girl," he growled back at her as he sent her another fierce glare with his hooded blue eyes. "Keep movin'. We need more distance between them and us."
A couple of cool drops from the grey clouds fell coldly onto her cheek as she clenched her fists into tight balls. "I'm not a girl," she snapped back.
Daryl snorted his disagreement and set his gaze up to the cloudy sky. "Ain't nothin' else that I can tell. Can't even grab your own damn jacket." He turned his attention back to her. "We need t' keep movin'," he repeated coolly and started walking away.
Beth gritted her teeth and bit her tongue. She wanted to argue. She wanted to smack him. Daryl was trying under the best of conditions but three months alone might have just secured her qualifications for sainthood. He would lead and she would follow. What else could she do? More cold drops fell from above as she fell in step behind him, angrily. She griped tightly to the straps of her pack as she sneered snidely at the angel wings in front. Daryl was the furthest thing from an angel in her mind right now.