My theory on what exactly happened with Beth.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but this idea I had on a whim. The Walking Dead would have had a lot more Bethyl if I did own it.
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
"Hey! Help! Hey!" Beth yells and pounds relentlessly on the door.
She hears a noise in the hall and slowly backs away from the door. Looking for a weapon, she reaches down to her wrist and yanks the IV needle from her arm and holds it out in front of her threateningly. The door opens and in walks a female, uniformed police officer and a tall, slender man in a white lab coat with a stethoscope around his neck.
"Everything is okay," The man says calmly.
The cop eyes the IV needle in Beth's outstretched hand.
"Put it down," She orders flatly. "Drop it right now."
The man wearing the white lab coat puts his hands in his pockets after Beth slowly lowers the needle.
"I'm Doctor Steven Edwards. This is Officer Dawn Lerner. How are you feeling?"
Beth, somewhat frightened asks, "Where am I?"
"Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta," says Dr. Edwards.
"How did I get here?" Beth asks, still confused
"The officers found you on the side of the road surrounded by rotter's," says Officer Lerner.
"Your wrist was fractured and you sustained a superficial head wound," explains Dr. Edwards. "Can you remember your name?"
"Beth," She answers immediately.
They gave her hospital scrubs soon after and Beth gratefully changed into them after discarding her patient's gown. She was allowed to roam around the hallway, but was accompanied by Officer Lerner and Doctor Edwards.
"If you get hungry, you can page one of us with the remote by your bedside."
She saw no one else on the level and wondered if she was the only patient here.
She frowned at the thought and touched the splint around her forearm only for her hand to be jerked away harshly. She looked up, surprised, into Officer Lerner's angry face.
"Don't touch that," She said harshly. Beth gazed at her, taken aback by the tone of her voice. Officer Lerner coughed and let go of her arm.
"You'll damage the splint," She said in a gentler tone. Beth blinked at her suspiciously and looked back down to her bandaged arm.
Something strange was going on here.
It was another two days before Beth saw someone other than Dr. Edwards and Officer Lerner.
It was a woman, with mocha colored skin and bandages wrapped firmly around both arms. She entered the room and was startled to see Beth and Beth was surprised to see her. The woman looked back and forth along the hall before quickly rushing to Beth.
"What're you doing here," The woman hissed to Beth after reaching her side.
"I—they found me and brought me here," Beth fumbled. The woman shook her head at the response.
"They don't just find people, girl. They capture us," She whispered harshly. Beth swallowed at the answer.
"What…what are you talking about?"
"You didn't look at your arm yet, did you?" The woman asked, eyes lingering on Beth's splinted arm heavily. Beth's hands flew to the appendage at her words. The woman nodded her head knowingly.
"Look at your arm," She told her and slid the door open silently. "My name is Megan."
Later that night, after Dr. Edwards checked her vitals and left, Beth carefully peeled away the splint on her arm*.
Numerous needle pricks stared back at her, each one weeping a dark, sluggish substance. Beth choked and gagged and almost screamed at that—as well as at the fact that her usually pale flesh was a sickly grey pallor, her veins standing out starkly with its pitch black color.
Dr. Edwards came to check on her vitals the next morning and Beth watched him blankly as he whirled around the room in his white lab coat. His stethoscope was cold as he pressed it against her back.
"Do you feel nauseous or sick?" He asked.
"Good, that's good." He pulled the stethoscope back and hung it on his neck. He gave her splinted arm a cursory glance before looking once more to her with a smile.
"How long before my arm is healed?" She asked and the man's smile became strained.
"Not for a while I'm afraid." Beth nodded her head slowly.
"I see," She mutters softly and then gives him a thin-lipped smile.
"What have you been doing to me doctor?" The man stills, smile becoming brittle.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Beth," He said calmly and there was a beat of silence before Beth grabbed the IV pole at her bed side and swung it against his head. It connected soundly and the man yelped as he crashed against the floor, head gashed open and bleeding.
Beth sat on his chest and pulled out the scalpel she found after rummaging through the drawers earlier that day.
"I saw my arm," She hissed and pushed the scalpel until it rested against the soft skin of his neck. His Adams apple bobbed under the blade as he swallowed.
"B-Beth, we can talk about this…"
"What have you been doing to me?" She yelled again and pressed the scalpel harder until a thin trail of blood appeared beneath it.
He shuffled underneath her nervously.
"Serum Z26…i-it's an experimental vaccine we've concocted. We've been injecting you with it."
"What's in the serum?"
He pursed his lips and Beth opened her mouth to ask again but stopped when she felt the brush of a needle against her lower back.
Dr. Edwards looked up at her pleadingly, eyes imploring her to see reason.
"Don't you see Beth?" He asked, needle poised at her side. The scalpel in her hand shook.
"We're looking for a cure, a vaccine, a repellant…we're looking for hope, Beth. And you're going to help us."
A sharp pierce against her skin as the syringe emptied into her bloodstream. Beth only had enough time to plunge the scalpel into his throat before the world tuned black around her.
When Beth awoke, she was in her room, laid out on her hospital gurney. Trying to sit up, she found that her good arm was hand cuffed to the bed rail. Looking down she saw the bloody corpse of Doctor Edwards and was alarmed to see that his skull was still in tact.
"You killed Doctor Edwards."
Beth jerkily looked to her side and saw Officer Lerner sitting stoically in the visitor's chair. Her mouth went dry at the detached look in the other woman's eyes.
Doctor Edwards's body twitched on the floor and Beth felt dread pool in her belly when the rasping noises that walker's made echoed in the room.
"Seeing as you're aware of the experiments we've done, you may now participate in the trials." She stood up then, face still strangely blank, and walked to the door.
"Let's hope that we're successful." And then she opened the door, walked out, and closed it with a firm click, leaving Beth behind with Doctor Edwards.
Beth jumped out the bed and dragged it behind her by her cuffed arm as she made a beeline for Doctor Edwards. The scalpel was still in his neck and she quickly pulled it out, a sluggish spill of blood following, and plunged it into his skull.
That was anti-climatic, she thought, before turning back to her cuffed arm. It took a bit of effort, but four hard strikes with her foot and the rail broke under the abuse.
She pulled off the splint on her arm as well and was shocked to see that it was back to its pale state, the veins no longer black. The only evidence of their experiments was the small needle pricks along her skin.
She ghosted a hand along her arm and clenched and unclenched her fist.
Frowning silently, she proceeded to the door after plucking the scalpel from Doctor Edwards's skull.
Testing the handle she found it was unlocked. She pushed the door open silently and inched her way into the hallway. The lights were off, the hallway empty of any occupants.
She crept along the wall until she located a map of the Hospital. There was the exit, at the first floor. Beth was on the fifth floor. She slid the map out from the display and folded it into her pocket.
Resuming her trek she soon came to the end of the hallway where the stairs were located. It was dark when Beth pushed the boor open but she braved her way down. She paused when she came to the end, the faint screams and cries of a woman echoing softly*.
She hesitated, looked at the door that lead to the hallway and then clenched her teeth and continued downward. In another life, she would've checked out the situation. But right now she needed to escape. She made it past the third and second floor before finally reaching the first floor.
She gripped tightly to her scalpel as she entered the hallway. She stopped as she saw a boy sitting at the side of the door, knees curled up tight to his chest. He was dressed in a hospital scrubs just like her.
She raised her scalpel threateningly and the boy curled further into himself.
"Who are you?" She asked.
"N-noah," He stuttered out. "I'm—I'm one of the test subjects." Beth swallowed at the words.
"Why are you out here?" She finally asked.
He looked down the hallway and it was only then that Beth heard the noises.
"Denise just turned," He said, looking stricken. "She attacked Officer Michaels."
"Another test subject," He said solemnly and Beth pursed her lips and looked to her arm nervously. She looked back to the boy.
"We need to leave," She told him and continued forward, not waiting to see if he was following. Rounding the corner, she saw the woman known as Denise munching quietly on Officer Michaels' neck. She gripped her scalpel tightly and inched towards them.
A quick strike to the back of Denise's skull and the woman toppled over onto Officer Michaels. Beth, grabbed the keys hooked to his belt and after testing them out, found that one was compatible with her hand cuffs. She quickly unlatched it and pulled it off.
"Well done, Beth."
Beth whirled around. Officer Lerner was standing behind her, hand wrapped around a small handgun. Beth could only stare back bleakly.
"Why are you doing this?" She finally asked after a long silence. Officer Lerner's placid expression morphed until she was faintly sneering.
"Every sacrifice we make needs to be for the greater good. In here, you're not the greater good. You're part of a system." She whipped her arm out to strike Beth and the girl cringed—
Noah collided harshly with the older woman, a golden nameplate sinking into the woman's belly. She looked down to it in shock before coughing up a mouthful of blood. She fell to her knees and toppled to her side, dead. Beth sunk the blade of her scalpel into the woman's head with a dull thunk.
"Take the gun," She ordered the boy softly and he did just that. They walked on wearily until they finally made it to the exit. The sun blinded them when they pushed the doors open. Beth went out first, Noah hesitating to follow her. They got maybe twenty feet out before the hidden swarm of walker's descended on them.
Beth sprinted hard, the walkers broken down until only four were trailing after her. She had gotten separated from Noah early. Faint cracks of gunfire lead them away from her and Beth felt pity for the other boy before fear consumed her again. She made it to the edge of the city where crisp white residential houses where located.
The beginning of the forest was there and the tall trees rustled tauntingly in her vision. She ran faster, breathe coming out raggedly as she pushed herself to reach the en—she tripped ten feet from it and cursed loudly.
A hand descended to her shoulder then and she screamed and struck out wildly.
A grunt and the tightening of the hand before, "Beth!"
She stilled, stark relief shooting through her like lightning.
"Daryl?" She whispered and then turned to see the crossbow wielding man above her. Tears welled in her eyes as she gazed up at him, but their reunion was cut short as the walkers finally descended on them.
Daryl killed one easily, his arrow coming through its eye and out the back of its skull. He notched another arrow quickly not seeing the walker that circled to his back.
"Daryl!" She screamed as a walker latched onto his shoulder. He wheeled around, ready to bash the corpse in the skull when another walker grabbed hold of his crossbow.
The walker at his back leaned forward towards his neck.
Beth didn't even think as she rushed the walker at Daryl's back and tackled it away from him. There was a dull squish of decayed flesh as Beth and the walker landed in a tangle of limbs. The momentum carried them some distance away and ended with Beth pinned beneath him.
She cringed away from its snapping teeth and pushed him to gain some distance.
Daryl bellowed her name and she heard the squelching hits of him beating his walker.
The walker above her snapped his teeth again and she kicked him hard. He toppled back and she quickly scrambled away. A palm-sized rock caught her attention and she quickly reached for it.
A clammy hand grasped her arm and she screamed as the walker leaned down and sunk his teeth into her arm.
She kept screaming, even after Daryl plunged his hunting knife into the walker's skull again and again. Blood arched up with his strikes, splattering his clothes and face but he ignored it. Beth only stopped screaming when her throat was raw and her lungs screamed for air.
Daryl didn't stop striking until the walker's head was caved in and dark blood oozed all along the ground grimly.
His ragged breaths mingled with her soft sobs and he turned to her abruptly, hands grasping for her injured arm.
The bite was minor—just a small break in her skin—but it bled bright red and signaled to the world that Beth had been infected.
"A knife," Daryl mumbled, eyes skittering across the pavement for his abandoned hunting knife. He never once looked at her face. "We need a knife. Need to cut off your arm."
Beth cried because she knew that Daryl's hunting knife wasn't sharp enough to cut through bone. Daryl knew that his knife couldn't cut through her bone.
But still he plucked it from the zombie's skull, fervently wiping the blood against his pants in a futile effort to sterilize it. His hands shook with his motions and the knife slipped from his grip and clattered to the ground. Beth grabbed his arm before he could reach for it.
"Daryl," She sobbed. "Daryl, stop."
He stilled and finally looked up to her. His eyes were narrowed in a deep rage, hands balled up tightly at his side.
"Why'd you do that?" He yelled, shaking her arm off. He paced around the road angrily and Beth watched him with watery eyes.
"Fuck!" He punched the wall of a nearby house and it crumbled under his fist. He continued his pacing and Beth watched his angry strides as they lead him back to her.
When he was close he whirled on her, hands darting out to grasp her shoulders, "I can take care of my fucking self! Why did you—why did you do that?"
Beth cringed under his anger but kept her eyes locked on him.
Her eyebrows tilted down with her own mounting anger, saline tears dripping down her cheeks to land on the bloody floor.
"I'm not sorry." She told him softly, boldly, and Daryl froze at her words. "I'm not sorry." She repeated and Daryl choked, eyes oddly shiny. He pulled her in close and Beth wrapped her arms around him as he pressed his face into her shoulder.
She sniffled loudly against his ear and he cried silent tears into her shirt.
When they finally stumbled out of the city, Daryl led her past the outskirts of the forest and they walked for a long while. Beth held his hunting knife in her hand, despite all her efforts to have him keep it.
He wouldn't—couldn't listen to her as she told him he would need it more than her. That when the time came, it would be better off in his hands.
"Take the damn knife," He had growled and forcibly wrapped her hand around the hilt.
Her other hand was occupied by his, his grip tight, unyielding, and desperate.
Desperate with the need to save her life. The one that was already lost.
She held back a sob and instead squeezed the hand gripping hers. He returned the gesture silently.
It was a while before they made it back to the road and to his beaten up car.
Carol, who had been hiding at the edge of the tree line, darted out to them, eyes filled with relief.
"You're okay," She cried, arms reaching out to wrap around Daryl. He hugged her with one arm, the other still holding tightly to Beth's hand.
"Where's your machete," He muttered when they pulled away.
She gave him confused look.
"My machete? It's back at the church." Daryl's mounting hope evaporated like mist. Carol's confusion soon gave way to horror after studying his face.
"Were you bit?" She asked, the panic clear in her voice. She ran her eyes over his exposed skin, searching for a bite that wasn't there. Daryl was silent as she prodded and shuffled his clothing and it was only moments later that understanding dawned on her.
Her eyes trailed to Beth and the girl tensed under her solemn expression. Her gaze traveled down to the hand still grasping Daryl's hunting knife where rivulets of blood trailed a sticky path and dripped off the blade.
She carefully took her pale arm and turned it in her grip to reveal the crescent shaped indents in her skin.
She dropped her arm and reached behind her to handle of the gun tucked in the waistband of her pants.
"How long?" She asked Daryl though her eyes never strayed away from her.
Daryl was silent, hand clenched tight around hers.
"How long?" Carol repeated.
"Three hours," Daryl finally said after a long silence.
Carol pursed her lips and pulled out her revolver. She aimed it directly at Beth's head.
"It's too late then," She whispered softly and Beth stared at the older woman and the gun pointed at her frightfully. Daryl growled at her side and moved to stand in front of her.
The barrel brushed against his chest and Beth reached up to grip the wings on his back.
"Put that away, Carol," Daryl rasped and Carol gave him a hard look.
"It's too late for her, Daryl. It's too late."
"It's not too late!" Daryl shouted, infuriated at her words. "It's not too late."
She shook her head at his words.
"Move." His feet stayed planted firmly in front of her. She cocked the gun and he moved forward until the barrel pressed firmly against his chest.
"You gonna shoot me, Carol? The world really turned you." Carol faltered at his words, face crumpling with hurt. Slowly she lowered her arm. She gave them both an unreadable look then, before turning away.
She was silent as she entered the car, engine sputtering to life under the turn of the key. Carol didn't look back as she drove away and Daryl silently let her go.
Beth tugged on his hand when Carol was finally out of sight and he looked over his shoulder to her.
"I'm not sorry," He said, throwing her words back at her. Beth's mouth quivered before she made a feeble attempt for a smile.
"Let's go home," She said softly and he tugged their joint hands until they were walking side by side.
The trek took most of the day and it was spent with Daryl observing her closely. When the sun began to descend and the sky was a hazy orange, he pressed his palm against the side of her face.
She was startled by the touch; rough callouses brushing against the soft skin of her cheek.
"Do you feel tired? Hot?" He asked and moved his hand to her forehead. His hand was warm against her skin and Beth knew he was feeling out for the inevitable fever.
Only, Beth felt fine. Tired from the walk but ultimately in good health. She blinked at the realization.
"I feel fine," She said and Daryl pulled away and gave her an indescribable expression. They continued walking until the daylight faded completely to inky darkness and Beth stumbled after Daryl silently.
They came to a point where they were too tired to continue on and stopped at the halfway point to the church. There was no shelter to be found but Daryl gazed up to the trees.
"The branches are sturdy," He commented and Beth looked up and agreed. "We can belt ourselves to a branch and sleep there for the night."
He unclasped his belt and looked to her when she stood motionless. He stopped when he realized that Beth no longer had a belt on her, the only clothing she had being the ones the hospital provided her. He tugged his belt off and looped it around her waist.
"What are you doing?" She asked stopping his motions with her hands. He untangled their hands silently and in one swift movement, swooped her legs out from under her until she was cradled bridal style against his chest.
Beth had a moment to blush before Daryl spoke.
"Lash yourself to one of the low branches. High enough where walkers can't reach you but low enough you won't get hurt if the bough breaks."
He tried to lift her up but Beth wrapped her arms tight around his neck and clung to him.
"Beth," He sighed exasperatedly. "Let go."
"I'm not going up there. I'm—" I'm already dead. She swallowed and continued, "You go up; I'm not."
He grunted and tried to lift her up but she held tight to his neck. He persisted and she held stubborn until he flung his arms in frustration. Her legs fell but she still held tightly to his neck so her feet dangled a foot off the floor as the result.
"Dammit girl!" Daryl roared. "Why are you so goddamn stubborn?"
"Must've picked it up from you," She sniped. It grew silent after that and eventually Daryl wrapped his arms around her waist. She pressed her face against his neck and inhaled deeply, the smell of pine and Daryl saturating her senses.
"I'm still not going up," She mumbled against his neck. He laughed and then sighed.
"Fine," He whispered softly and then dragged them both to the floor. Beth ended up curled on his lap as he shifted against the base of the tree. His arms never moved from her waist even as she tried to pull away from him.
"You're not leaving my sight again, girl."
"What if I turn?" She asks quietly and Daryl shakes his head and cradles her closer.
"Ya ain't turning," He says firmly, like a command. Beth, unable to argue with him, simply burrows her face into his warm chest and wonders if she'll wake up in the morning.
"We're looking for a cure, a vaccine, a repellant…we're looking for hope, Beth. And you're going to help us."
A sharp pierce against her skin as the syringe emptied into her bloodstream.
A hand ghosted over her face and she jerked up fearfully, hand scrambling for a weapon. Daryl stood above her, face scrunched worriedly. He relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief at her actions.
Beth dazedly looked to her arm—hoping, hoping it was a dream. The bite mark stood out starkly against her arm, dried blood crusted around it.
"I'm still alive," She said finally, flatly, unsure of what this meant.
"You're still alive," Daryl echoed back to her with what sounded like hope in his voice.
We're looking for hope
She shook her head and looked up to the sky and saw that it was approaching to noon.
"We should get going…I want to see Maggie," Before I die.
Daryl heard the unspoken words and nodded his head with a deep-set frown.
They ambled along the wildlife, picking berries and wild fruit along the way. Daryl was able to catch two squirrels and they stopped to roast it over a small fire. At one point a few walkers limped their way towards them and Daryl notched his cross bow in preparation.
Beth gripped tight to his knife and darted forward to stab the closest walker. It paused when it saw her, sniffed once, and then turned its attention to Daryl. Beth blinked, somewhat baffled, before plunging the blade into its skull. She went to another walker.
This one came close, but made no motion to grab her. In fact, its eyes stayed rooted on Daryl and never once looked in her direction.
"Daryl," Beth called after he killed his walker's. Only her walker was left and it stumbled its way to Daryl, completely ignoring her. "Daryl, look."
He turned and instantly raised his crossbow to bash it against the walker.
"Beth, what the fuck—"
"Look," She insisted and pushed herself to stand in front of the zombie. It grunted and tried to push past her, teeth snapping angrily. It was like he didn't even see her.
Beth had a second to marvel over this before an arrow sailed past her head to lodge itself in the walker's skull. It fell to the floor in a heap.
She turned to Daryl then, a reprimand at the tip of her tongue but faltered when she saw his face.
"Beth, don't ever do that again," He said sternly, face pale. Beth's mouth became dry at his expression.
"I—I just wanted to see…"
"Don't tell anyone about this," He said firmly before tugging her towards him by her bitten arm.
His old bandana came out of his pocket and he carefully wrapped it around her bite mark.
"No one can ever know about this," He said solemnly and Beth could only nod her head slowly.
They continued to walk in silence until day bled to night. Daryl consistently checked on her, hands reaching up to press against her face every hour.
The fever hadn't broke out but Beth was still wary. Daryl seemed to realize something, and his solemn demeanor gradually changed back to the one Beth was used to.
Hours later and they eventually made it to the outskirts of the forest, the dense foliage thinning out to flat land. A rustle made them pause and Daryl ordered her to stay hidden.
Beth, alone and thoughtful, gazed at the night sky. Two days had passed and she showed no signs of turning. A weight lifted from her chest at the realization and a small smile flitted to her face.
"C'mon out," She heard Daryl rasp.
She looked at her bandaged arm once more, and thought, 'It worked. They had done it.'
They had found hope.
She stepped out from the cover of the bushes and greeted the new world.
*How is this possible? It just is :P
*I cut out the scene where Beth holds down the woman and the scene where she enters through the elevator shaft.
For those of you wondering, Daryl is reluctant for Beth to show her new discovery because he fears people will try to experiment/capture her.
BABAM! Now Beth can't die :I