She had never really talked to him one-on-one before. She had never really had a reason. He was Rick's right hand man, the camp's hunter and tracker. He brought them squirrels and raccoons and deer and without him, they would have starved to death so long ago. But they had nothing to talk about with one another.
The prison was flowing with people now and she saw the way he went hunting every day and went on more runs so he could make sure everyone within the gates was cared for. But he didn't really care about them on a personal level. Not like he did those in their original circle.
She knew that was the only reason he even would acknowledge her right now if she was to approach him. She was from the farm and those from the farm were the only ones he really cared about. If Walkers got into the prison and it was between saving her and saving someone from Woodbury, he would save her without thinking. She knew that and perhaps that was why she found herself able to take the steps towards him.
He was leaning against his bike near the entrance gates, smoking a cigarette and looking relaxed but she could see the ways his eyes darted around, always on high alert to everything going on in the yard and the surrounding woods.
She took a deep breath, her stomach fluttering, and she found herself wondering why she had never really talked to him before.
He saw her approach and he didn't move, exhaling a cloud of smoke out between his lips. She did her best to keep the shaking out of her fingers as she pulled a piece of paper from her pocket and she told herself that this was Daryl. There was no reason to be so frightened or nervous around him.
"I know you're going out on a run today," she said and was proud of herself for able to say it without stuttering.
"Need somein'?" He asked in his low drawl.
She swallowed and nodded her head. She held the piece of paper out for him. "It's actually for Judith. I know you're getting more important things but-"
"Anything for Lil' Asskicker," he said and took the paper from her. Their fingers made brief contact and she found herself slow to pull her hand away for some reason.
He looked down at the paper, reading through the short list she had made and then lifted his eyes to her.
"I just think a baby needs to play with something besides plastic cups," she was quick to explain as if she needed to explain everything to him.
"And this last one?" He asked, holding the list up, referring to something she had written down but then had done her best to scratch out.
"Oh." She felt a warmth in her cheeks. "That was something for me but don't worry about it," she quickly shook her head. "It's not important. And you don't have to get everything on the list. Just whatever you can or have room for." She turned to leave but then she stopped herself and quickly spun back towards him. "Thank you, Daryl," she said and he looked at her.
She realized that was the first time she had ever addressed him with his name.
He didn't say anything; just kept staring at her with silent, intense eyes. She opened her mouth to say something else but she didn't know what and she was finally able to propel her feet forward and she hurried away, back towards the prison.
She collected Judith back from Carol who was watching her for a few minutes when she had went to talk to Daryl and taking the baby, she returned to her cell, singing a soft song and smiling as Judith smiled up at her. She rocked the baby to sleep and turned her head towards the row of windows that poured sunlight into the cell block. She heard the faint roar of a motorcycle as the small crew left for their run and as she always did, she made a silent wish that everyone returned safe.
They returned at dusk.
Beth sat at one of the tables, Judith in her lap, and she was feeding the baby a bottle for dinner, listening to the exciting chatter of those around her, some going out to greet those who returned and see if they could be of help. Beth found her eyes floating towards the door every few moments before quickly looking back to Judith.
She was waiting for him but she knew he would be the last to come in; if he came in at all. She was so quiet around everyone – especially with so many people around all of the time – and she was able to observe. She learned so much about people – especially the people she had come to view as her family. And yes, Daryl was part of that family for as little as they spoke with one another.
She didn't know when he slept. If he wasn't out hunting in the woods, he was going out on a run or patrolling the fences or standing guard in one of the towers or doing whatever Rick needed him to do. As her dad said, they all had jobs to do, but it seemed as if Daryl carried the weight of having a hundred.
Judith finished her bottle and Beth turned her in her arms, making sure the rag was over her shoulder, and she stood up to begin gently patting the baby's back, burping her and walking in a slow circle around the room.
Everyone she passed, she exchanged smiles with as they looked at her and the baby, smiling in return. She knew everyone from Woodbury liked her. She knew they viewed her family as hard, cold, mostly untrustworthy and very tight-knit. But Beth was always so warm and friendly to everyone. She saw no reason not to be. They had all been through something.
Judith coughed and Beth smiled, kissing her head.
"Such a good girl," she said, hugging Judith close. She lifted her eyes and saw Daryl standing in the doorway, watching her. She kept smiling at him, it shrinking a little but her lips still upturned slightly. "Hi," she greeted to him.
He didn't say anything but he nodded his head slightly to her and then walked to the table, dropping a bag he had slung onto his shoulder down onto the metal surface. His crossbow remained strapped to his back. Beth approached him, bouncing Judith gently in her arms. For some reason, she felt a bit more relaxed around him when she was holding the baby. Perhaps it was because Daryl loved Judith so much. Perhaps she felt that Daryl wouldn't growl if the baby was around.
"I got what I could," he grunted and yanked the zipper of the bag down.
Beth almost gasped. "Daryl…" she looked at what he had brought.
She had asked for a stuffed animal. Perhaps even a toy. But Daryl had seemed to have raided the baby section of whatever store they had made their run to.
Beth couldn't say anything else. She stared at the stuffed animals – an elephant and a floppy-eared dog – and the toys. Toys babies had loved back when there was a world. She pulled out the elephant and smiled as she brought it close to Judith's face, the baby's hands immediately stretching out for it, having never seen anything like it before. Beth laughed a little as Judith opened her mouth and tried to bring the elephant's long trunk towards her. Beth lifted her eyes and saw Daryl watching the scene. She beamed at him.
"Thank you," she said.
Daryl grunted a reply.
Beth didn't mind though. She looked back to the bag and something caught her eye. She reached in and pulled out a board book of Goodnight Moon and Beth stared at it for a moment, feeling a rush of tears flood her eyes. She looked down to the baby she loved as much as if she was her own and then she looked back to Daryl.
"Thank you," she said again in a whisper. "This… it's like Judith will have an actual nursery now. The sort of nursery a baby should have."
Daryl didn't say anything and he kept his eyes focused on her.
"Somein' else," he then said, reaching into the front pocket of the bag. Beth watched as he held the small box out towards her and she felt herself go still. Daryl cleared his throat but his voice was still gruff; quiet. "You tried to scratch it out but I could make it out. I din't know which one you'd want so I just grabbed this one."
Beth's hand reached for it but it paused before she could take it. A bar of soap. Rose scented. Daryl had brought her something that she had found herself wishing for this morning while making out the list. It had been a fleeting thought. It had been just something little that she had wanted to make herself feel a little bit better. She knew it was stupid and silly and she could never ask Daryl to get her scented soap but she had written the list in pen and she had tried to get rid of it.
She didn't know what to say. She didn't know if she could say anything because suddenly saying thank you wasn't nearly enough. Not for Daryl. Not for everything he did and had done up until this very moment. He didn't have to do any of this. He could be like his brother and do things only for himself but everything Daryl did, it was for everyone else. Beth looked up at him. Did he ever get anything for himself on these runs besides cigarettes?
Daryl was beginning to shift back, his discomfort with her looking at him obvious, but Beth found herself not caring. Shifting Judith in one arm, she then stepped to Daryl and slid her other around his waist. He stiffened at her touch but again, Beth just didn't care. In that moment, she wasn't afraid or nervous. She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes and she hugged him for she didn't know how long.
It was Daryl's turn to finally get something.