As everyone slept inside of the church, he took first watch and sitting on the front steps outside, he fought the urge to poke his head inside just to make sure she was still there. Of course she was still there, sleeping, surrounded by their family. She wasn't going anywhere. Never again. Not if he had anything to say about it.
She hadn't talked about what had happened to her but he had felt himself shake with building rage when he saw the deep cut on her left cheek, healing into a scar, and the bruises on her face and rest of her body. She had gotten herself out of that hospital just as Daryl had found her and Carol. He had been so unsure of how it would be when he found her. Things had been changing between them before she was taken and he had spent the weeks after with just two goals in mind. Stay alive and find Beth.
When he had seen her again, running from that hospital right towards him, it had been too chaotic. Too many walkers and people from the hospital, shooting, and he had pushed her to cover as he was preoccupied with making sure she got out of there safely.
At the church, everyone hugged her but she noticed immediately that Maggie wasn't there. He had been reluctant to tell her but she didn't need him to tell her anything. She figured it out. Her sister had only cared about Glenn and finding Glenn and even after Daryl told her that Beth was alive, Maggie hadn't seemed too caught up in finding her again. Not like Daryl. He had watched her face fall completely blank and after that, each time she smiled, he noted that it never reached her eyes. He didn't blame her. Even for as shitty as his and Merle's relationship was, Daryl had never forgotten about Merle when he had been out there, after cutting his hand off and escaping that roof in Atlanta. Maggie had basically took an announcement out to everyone that her own sister didn't matter much to her.
The door creaked open behind him and his head instantly turned to see that it was her. She had stripped from her scrubs and had burned them off in the woods before changing into clothes that Sasha had. She wore jeans and boots and a few shirts layered underneath a sweater. Her hair was swept up in a ponytail and he could see fading bruises on her neck, too, in the pale moonlight. He clenched his jaw at the sight of them.
Beth hesitated before she slowly lowered herself and sat down next to him.
"You need sleep," he said in a low, gruff voice.
She shook her head slightly. "I can't sleep inside four walls anymore," she admitted.
They were both quiet for a few passing minutes and Daryl wondered if he should say something. He had never been good with words and now, this was a situation that called for just the right ones.
"You alright?" He asked and regretted it immediately. Course she wasn't alright.
Beth lowered her eyes to her knees and nodded, not saying anything. It was a bit unsettling in Daryl's opinion. They had spent weeks on the road together and she had never been lacking things to say. He didn't like her quiet. It wasn't Beth.
"You were the only one looking for me. The only one who cared enough about me to look," she said in a soft voice, her eyes still on her knees. "I spent weeks, so worried and determined to find everyone in that church and no one gave a damn about me except you. Not even Maggie…" he heard her voice shake a little at the end and he knew she was trying to stop herself from crying. He couldn't blame her if she did though. After everything she had been through, hell. He might have found himself a little emotional, too.
She lifted her head then and looked at him and he could see the unshed tears brimming in her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered.
Daryl didn't know what to say so he sat silently.
He could lie to her and tell her that they had all wanted to find her but that wasn't the truth and they both knew it. Rick had agreed that they should find Beth but Daryl had a feeling that he had only agreed to it because Daryl had been so adamant about it. Daryl couldn't figure out why none of them cared. Beth was right. She had pushed him so hard to track everyone down and find their family. She had only cared about finding them again and no one had returned the favor to her. Daryl didn't understand it and if he thought about it too long, it just made him pissed off at everyone not sitting on that porch right then.
"When I woke up there, I asked where you were," she said. "I had no idea where I was but I thought that if you were there with me, I'd be okay. I was told though that they wouldn't have taken you anyway. You were too strong. They only ever wanted the weak ones."
"They chose the wrong girl then," Daryl finally was able to say something.
She turned her head to him then and a faint smile appeared across her lips. He couldn't stop himself from lifting a hand and brushing his thumb across the crude scar now marring her cheek. Her smile faded and without a word, she brought her head forward towards his. He felt himself freeze, thinking she was going to do something – maybe kiss him – but she didn't. Instead, she rested her head on his chest beneath his chin and he hesitated for a moment before putting his arm around her shoulders, holding her close.
He had never felt as relieved as he did in that moment to be able to touch her. But he should have known better. He should have known he would have gotten the chance. He had trained her well.
Beth Greene wasn't just another dead girl.
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