Note: Hey you peeps! This is my first ever Walking Dead fic! I'm a Bethyl shipper and as you can all guess, I was very upset with how the mid-season finale ended, so I decided to contribute with my own story of what happened after it. Hopefully, you'll like it enough to comment, but please be kind if the characters seem a little OOC (remember it's my first time writing them!).
Oh and this has the potential of becoming a longer fic, but I'd appreciate it if you told me if you want me to continue with it, even though I have a lot of things going on at the moment and probably won't be able to write it within the next week or so.
Edit: I went back and edited this chapter a bit, fixing minor mistakes and some other issues. Nothing major has been changed which could effect the story somehow. I'm going to keep fixing the other chapters up as soon as I have time. This chapter was edited April 13, 2016.
In The Blink of an Eye (Hear The Beat of My Heart)
He kept seeing it happen.
He kept seeing it, every single night that he went to bed and tried to fall asleep.
He heard the gunshot, saw the bullet exit through the back of her head, her falling as her blood sprayed and covered Rick's face.
He saw himself reacting, shooting the woman who shot her – Dawn – point blank, no questions asked, no more chances given. He saw himself, chin trembling, tears welling over, showing weakness in front of everyone in that damned hallway, as he knelt on the floor next to her and cried over her dead body.
He saw it every time he closed his eyes.
Saw her walking toward him after they had already traded Carol back. He still remembered the way his hand lingered on her shoulder as he pushed her back toward their group, never taking his eyes off the enemy as he did it. He kept feeling how warm she was and he remembered how he had allowed himself one moment of happiness at finally finding her and bringing her back.
But that moment was usually fleeting, because he then remembered how she had fallen and he felt sick once again.
It didn't matter that he still saw her late at night; that the memory of her death still plagued him in his nightmares. Sometimes, he was glad that he actually got to see her, just because he missed her, but the nightmares continuously reminded him of the fact that he hadn't been able to save her; another innocent that he failed to protect.
It didn't matter, because Beth Greene was still dead and Daryl knew there was nothing he could do to change that.
Maggie cried constantly after Atlanta.
Daryl understood that she was upset about her sister's death, because they all were, but he at times he wished that the woman would just shut up about it all and stop reminding him of Beth all the time.
After they buried the blonde that he knew he would never be able to forget, Maggie's eyes never seemed to dry and Glenn could do nothing but helplessly watch her as he tried to comfort her.
To be quite honest, no one seemed to know what to do next or how to function properly after what had happened, but they stuck together, like always, and began making their way through the state, looking for another safe place where they might be able to find a sanctuary, for a while at least. Abraham, Rosita, Eugene and Tara officially became a part of their family and Father Gabriel tagged along as well, even though Daryl didn't trust trust him very much.
Michonne had expressed her worries about the reverend when she had told Rick and Daryl about how the man's stupidity had lead to the downfall of the church they had been staying at before they had gone off to Atlanta. Daryl had almost gone livid when he had understood that the man had lead a bunch of walkers straight to the church where the Little Asskicker and Carl were at, and he had been ready to throw him out of the group right that second. Rick, however, had decided that they needed to give the priest another chance, because apparently, that was what Beth would have wanted.
At the mention of the blonde's name, Daryl had drawn back and left the others standing, not wanting to hear another word.
The other addition to their family, Noah, started following Daryl around about a week after they had buried Beth.
The younger man had still been a bit wary of the others, but he trusted both Daryl and Carol since they had been the first ones that he had encountered out of them all. Daryl was almost one hundred percent sure that Carol had put Noah up to the task of not letting Daryl have a single moment alone, and it annoyed him to no end.
He still couldn't stand Maggie's crying and he couldn't stand people looking at him like he had changed.
He knew he had, but he didn't need people constantly pointing it out for him.
All he wanted then was to be left alone; to mourn the girl he had grown to care for so much during the time that they had been by themselves. He wanted to mourn, forget and move on, but Noah was a constant reminder of what had happened and the kid didn't help much by casually mentioning Beth before breaking down in tears in front of Daryl, who would always end up patting him on the back, telling him that things would be okay eventually, deep down knowing that they never would be.
They never stopped moving.
For three months straight, they were on the roads, scavenging whatever they could find along the way, killing as many walkers as they could, never resting.
Daryl found himself another motorcycle, similar to the one he once had, and he distracted himself by tinkering on it every chance he got. He kept watch during most nights, needing the silence that surrounded them every night and the darkness, to cover up the fact that tears still slipped from his eyes every now and then, more often than he would ever like to admit even to himself. Beth still consumed him and every breath he took was a reminder of the breaths that she would never be able to take.
She wasn't there, but she was everywhere.
And it hurt.
He was keeping watch one night, six months after it had happened when Carol approached him.
Her injuries had healed and she was quicker on her feet again, but Daryl could still see the change in her. Before she was run over and taken to that hospital, his friend had been close to falling off the deep end. She had changed so much that she barely recognized herself anymore and back then, Daryl had tried to tell her that she was just going through something and that she would come back from it.
Seeing Beth killed so suddenly, tragically and supposedly accidentally, seemed to have brought back the Carol he had once known. The woman had found her place in the group again, knowing that she would never be able to leave them to go through that kind of grief, that kind of loss, alone. She needed them as much as they needed her, so she stayed and never tried to leave again.
Daryl suspected it also had something to do with him.
Carol had been his friend ever since the day he had gone out to look for Sophia and since then, she had always been there for him. Not romantically, but as family. The woman was the person he considered to be the mother of their group and he knew that whatever feelings he had for her were platonic and that she felt the same.
Carol had taken Noah under her wing, which had been a little bit surprising since she had almost shot him that time when he had stolen their weapons from them in Atlanta. She had been teaching him how to defend himself and how to kill walkers more efficiently and deep down, Daryl knew that that too was a way for her to move forward from everything that they had lived through; to try to move on from the loss of Beth.
"You can't keep doing this, Daryl," the woman said as she sat down next to him. They were sitting by the small fire they had put up in a small clearing in the woods. The others were already fast asleep and Daryl had offered to take the first watch since he couldn't sleep anyway; too many painful memories resurfacing every time he closed his eyes.
"I ain't doin' nothin'," Daryl muttered, glaring into the small fire. He refused to look at Carol, who he knew was staring at him, mostly because he doesn't want to break down in front of her, like he had done at the hospital when he had cradled Beth's lifeless body against his chest.
"You're distancing yourself," she told him, her voice not wavering. "If you keep going like this, you're going to get yourself killed, or worse."
"Haven't died yet, so..." he trailed off, still not looking at her.
She reached over and touched his arm, "You can't keep doing this." He looked up at her then, because she sounded broken and he didn't want to hurt others just because he was hurting himself. He shook his head, but clasped her hand, still not saying anything.
They sat together, watching the fire burn out in front of them as the sun slowly rose above the horizon, coloring the sky in a light pink and orange.
'Don't you think that's beautiful?'
Daryl swallowed down his tears as Beth's words circled around inside his head for the thousandth time since she had disappeared from his life.
Exactly a month after Carol had tried to talk to him, Rick seemed to finally have had enough of his behavior.
This time, they had found a bar in a practically abandoned town. They cleaned it out and secured the doors and windows, making sure that no light from the inside could be seen outside in case any walkers passed through the street at night.
Carol had gone to put Judith to bed and Carl too has already fallen asleep in the adjoining room that seemed to have been an office before. Michonne and Noah were still securing the back door with Abraham and Rosita, so only Glenn, Maggie, Tara, Eugene, Daryl and Rick were in the main room of the bar since Father Gabriel too decided to go to bed earlier. Sasha and Tyreese had been gone for half an hour, checking the perimeter from the roof, trying to get a better look at possible threats.
"Daryl, I need you back," Rick told him, his voice lowered so that the others in the room wouldn't hear him. "I need you back, brother."
Daryl turned away from the front door that he had been staring at and looked at Rick, whose eyes never wavered "What are ya talkin' 'bout? I'm here, aren't I?" he asked, crossing his arms.
"You haven't been with us for seven months, Daryl," Rick tried again, but Daryl only scoffed, pushing his way past the other man as he rounded the bar and reached for the abandoned whiskey that Tara had found a little earlier when she had looked through the shelves in the back.
He made a show of wiping one of the glasses with his red rag before putting it on the table, almost slamming it down. The noise caught the attention of Maggie and Glenn, who had been sitting huddled up close together, Glenn always whispering words of comfort to Maggie who had finally stopped crying.
Daryl poured himself a glass and the action took him back to that time in the abandoned moonshine shack where he had poured Beth her first drink. His throat felt thick all of the sudden, but he hid it by downing the entire glass, putting it back on the table, before filling it up again.
"Ya want one?" he asked Rick, pushing the newly filled glass toward the other man who only narrowed his eyes at him.
"You can't keep doing this," Rick told him again, much like Carol had a month ago. "Beth wouldn't want you to do this-"
Daryl slammed his hand down against the bar, the sound vibrating through the room and suddenly he was well aware of the danger he was putting everyone in by being so loud. Rick only stared at him and Daryl lowered his voice as he spoke so that he wouldn't draw any more attention from the dead that were probably wandering outside on the street, "Don't tell me what she would'a wanted me to do. None of ya know what she would'a wanted me to do!"
He decided that he was done being sad; done being upset. Now, he was just pissed off at everyone and everything; the world and himself.
Rick didn't back down as he took another step toward him and somewhere in his peripheral view Daryl saw Maggie, Glenn and the others stand up, as if they were afraid that he and Rick would start throwing punches at each other any moment.
"We all loved her, Daryl!" Rick snapped at him and Daryl felt himself faltering.
He glared at Rick, staring him down, "No, ya don't get it!" His exclamation was loud enough to draw the others closer, but not loud enough for the walkers outside to hear them.
Daryl felt the tears stinging in his eyes as he remembered how Beth had once spoken the same words to him. He didn't look away and he didn't move his eyes away from Rick's, trying to make him see.
Rick finally paused and took a small step back, appraising him from afar. Daryl noticed how the man's eyes moved from Daryl's tear filled eyes, to his balled up fists that remained resting on the bar counter and back up to his trembling chin.
Realization was there and suddenly Rick seemed to finally put the missing pieces together.
Daryl wasn't just mourning his friend or a part of his family, like Rick and the others were. Daryl was mourning someone who meant a lot more to him than they ever would have been able to guess.
Rick didn't tell him that his own mind traveled back to the time that he lost himself after Lori's death and how Daryl's behavior was so clear to him in that moment, that he didn't understand how he could have missed it before.
Rick ran a hand through his dirty hair, sighing loudly as his hand fell to his beard covered chin as he once again took Daryl in. "What happened when you two were separated from us, man?" he asked and Daryl could see in Rick's eyes that he truly wanted to know, while also not wanting to impose. "Something changed, Daryl. You can't deny that," Rick paused for a beat. "So what changed?"
Daryl blinked at him a few times, willing his tears away as he shook his head and finally looked down at the drink in front of him, "Everythin' changed."
The rest of the people in their group stopped asking questions after that night in the bar; stopped trying to get him to open up and talk.
They all knew that he would come around sooner or later and Daryl was happy that he finally got some peace and quiet, focusing solely on keeping everyone safe and killing as many walkers as he could.
At night, he still didn't sleep much. He was always seeing Beth's cerulean eyes looking at him as she walked toward him in that hallway in the hospital. He always saw the way she had looked at him that night at the funeral home, right before he had gone to open the door.
During daytime, Maggie came up to talk to him at least once, always around the same time. Thankfully, she never mentioned Beth or asked him what had actually happened between him and her younger sister, but Daryl knew enough to understand that Maggie had gained some kind of feeling of responsibility toward him. He would never really understand why though, because everyone knew that Daryl didn't need a babysitter, but he humored the woman, telling himself that if it kept her from breaking down and crying again, he could live with it.
They found a small gas-station and hoped that there would be something there that could be useful for them. They disposed of the three walkers inside without drawing any attention to themselves. Not that it would have made a difference though, since the gas-station was in the middle of nowhere, but neither of them wanted to risk making too much noise if a herd of walkers had been walking through the woods surrounding them.
"Look what I found!" Carl grinned, holding out a pack of smokes toward Daryl, who pocketed them immediately. He ruffled the kid's hair, silently thanking him, knowing that Carl had used the cigarettes to try and lighten the mood.
Michonne was walking around the store with Judith in her hands, looking for anything that the baby in her arms might like. Rick found two bags of chips in the back and threw them at Carl, who happily took them out to Carol and the others who were waiting outside.
They had decided to take turns going in, everyone looking for things of their own liking so that nothing would be missed.
As Daryl was crouching down behind the counter to see if there's any weapon hidden there they heard an awfully familiar noise.
A truck was approaching outside.
Daryl was alert in less than a second, and raised his crossbow as he jumped over the counter, following Rick out of the shop. Rick gave Michonne strict orders to stay inside with Judith and Daryl made sure to push Carl inside the station, even though he knew the kid could hold his own outside. He nodded at Noah and Carol, who went inside as well, taking Father Gabriel with them, leaving Sasha, Tyreese, Tara, Glenn, Maggie, the former DC-crew (minus Eugene who also scurried inside), Rick and Daryl outside.
It was just a single, old orange pickup-truck though, but they stayed to see to it that whoever it was that was inside the truck didn't get any ideas of threatening them. The man inside the truck parked on the other side of the street and stepped out of the car, his hands already in the air.
Daryl's finger itched to release the bolt he had nocked on his crossbow, although he waited for any sign that Rick might give him.
"Hey!" the man who approaches them called out. "Rick Grimes? That you?"
Daryl could only stare as Rick slowly lowered his gun, squinting at the man who walked toward them, hands still in the air.
"You know this guy?" Daryl whispered to Rick, who took a step forward, trying to get a better look.
"Morgan?" Rick finally asked, making the other man chuckle.
"Bet ya didn't think you'd see me again!" the man replied, stepping toward Rick.
"It's okay," Rick told them and they all lowered their weapons and watched as the man– Morgan– embraced Rick.
Daryl remembered the story Michonne told him about the crazy man that had saved Rick's life when he had gotten out of the hospital and wondered whether this was the same Morgan that she had talked about. He didn't seem too crazy, but Daryl wasn't willing to take any chances with him.
He kept his finger on the trigger, even though his crossbow remained lowered.
"You're still alive then," Morgan laughed, hands on Rick's shoulders as he took the rest of them in, whistling softly. "And you seem to have quite a big group goin' too! You got a camp set up somewhere?"
"Nah," Rick shook his head. "Still looking for a safe place."
Daryl felt the urge to tell Rick to shut up and not reveal too much to the man, but he refrained from saying anything. There was always a risk with people that they used to know. One could get blinded for a moment and miss the threats that might still be around them.
"You got anything set up somewhere?" Rick asked Morgan, who nodded.
"It's a farm," he said. "Been there for a few months now. Repaired most of the fences myself and so far I've only come across a few walkers, but they were all on their own, so I took care of 'em."
"A farm?" Maggie repeated, stepping forward. Behind her, Glenn looked down and Daryl immediately knew that he too was thinking back to the Greene farm where they had once been quite happy. "You're all alone there?"
Morgan considered Maggie's question for a while, before finally shaking his head. "Not alone," he answered. "Just me and Lady though, so there's plenty of room, if you're interested." He looked back to Rick, who seemed to genuinely be contemplating it.
Behind Daryl, the doors opened and Michonne stepped outside, her sword still by her side as she walked toward them. She recognized Morgan, it seems, because she looked over at Daryl and gave him a look that told him to be wary.
"More people!" Morgan exclaimed happily. "Strength in numbers, Rick Grimes. You should all come with me."
"Then what?" Daryl sneered. "Ya turn out to be a liar an' we risk our lives for nothin'? No thank you."
"Daryl," Rick said calmly. "We need to consider this."
"There's nothin' to consider, Rick," Daryl protested. "Ya told me 'bout this man when we were at the prison. Ya told me that he'd gone shit crazy in isolation."
"I'm better," Morgan said calmly, not looking the least offended by what Daryl had said. "I'll admit I fell off the wagon for a while, but Lady made me better."
Daryl shook his head again, despite what Morgan had said.
"We should vote," Tara piped up. "It's the fairest thing."
So they did.
Daryl voted no, along with Maggie who didn't want to leave him behind and Glenn who didn't want to leave Maggie behind. Michonne also joined them, telling Rick that it's too big of a risk and that they shouldn't risk Carl and Judith like that. Rick tried to tell her that they still had strength in numbers and that if anything seemed off, they would be able to get the kids out of there safely.
When Morgan suggested that a few of them come along with him to check the place out for themselves while the others waited at the station, they refused his offer, not wanting to get separated.
In the end, the decision was made and they got in their respective vehicles that they had acquired along the way and allowed Morgan to lead the way with his pick-up.
They arrived right before nightfall. Judith was already sound asleep in Rick's arms and Carl's head had dropped to Michonne's shoulder. The adults were all awake though and as they parked their cars in front of the house, Daryl looked at the big house that stood before them.
It would definitively have enough room for all of them, but he still wasn't too open on trusting this Morgan fellow.
"It's like we've gone back in time," Carol mused beside him and he agreed with a nod. The house looked almost like an exact copy of the Greene house, and the barn further away looked similar too. There was a big field around them, but the field itself was surrounded by a forest.
It felt as if they were back on Hershel's farm and it was painful to see, because it once again brought back all the memories of the older man and his youngest daughter.
"We should head inside," Morgan told them, leaving the keys inside the truck. "I always do that. In case something ever goes wrong you know, and I need to get myself and Lady out. It was her idea actually."
Daryl once again resisted the urge to tell Rick that the man that had brought them to the farm was crazy if he had been keeping a dog alive all this time as his only company and had been having conversations with the mutt. Although, he didn't say anything, but he followed the rest of his group inside the house.
It was quiet, but it looked homey.
There were a couple of pairs of shoes on the floor next to the door and Daryl swallowed as he saw a pair of Converse sneakers that he knew Beth would have loved to wear. Tearing his eyes away from the shoes, Rick signaled for him and the others to come with him to check out the living room.
"I should probably bring Lady downstairs so that you can all meet her," Morgan said thoughtfully as the more tired part of the group settled down on the sofa which was surprisingly clean and soft. Daryl stayed in his corner, eyes still narrowed suspiciously at Morgan.
The man walked over to the stairs on the other side of the room and called out, "Hey Lady! I brought some people back with me! Why don't you come down and meet them?"
The man is insane, Daryl thought, almost chuckling to himself at Rick's stupidity for convincing everyone else that Morgan was well enough to trust after having just one conversation with him.
Daryl expected the sound of pads to come from upstairs, but the sound that followed Morgan's call was not from an animal. The footsteps were human and Daryl's hand rested on his crossbow, just in case.
Whoever it was, the person descended the stairs slowly, or perhaps it was just time that slowed down around them?
First, the sock-clad feet came into view; a bright pink color that Daryl hadn't seen in a long time in this dark world. Then, the thin, but strong legs that were covered in jean-fabric followed. The light pink top came into view and Daryl could see the lean, pale arms that seemed to have at least a little muscle in them before his eyes fall on the blonde tresses cascading down the back of the girl who was stepping into their view as she came to stand at the end of the stairs, next to Morgan, looking over at them, almost shyly.
Daryl's breath caught in his throat and he wondered if he had gone crazy or if it was just another dream.
His ears were suddenly ringing, but he heard someone cry out and he immediately knows that it was Maggie. The woman in question stood from the couch and took a step forward, but she didn't get any further before she fell into unconsciousness, her husband barely having time to catch her.
Daryl stepped away from the wall he had been leaning against and stared open mouthed at the girl who suddenly looked frightened. Her blue eyes flickered across their faces before she turned her head toward Morgan, who looked confused at what was happening before him.
It seemed like the silence has been stretched out for years before Rick finally took a step forward and spoke. "Beth?" His voice was as shaky as Daryl felt, because he couldn't believe his eyes.
Beth was standing in front of him and he wasn't the only one who was seeing her, so it couldn't be a dream.
Beth was standing next to Morgan, alive and breathing.
There were two scars on her face and Daryl recalled the marks he had seen on her face in the hospital right before she had been killed in front of him.
But she hadn't been killed, because she was standing in front of him now.
"How is this possible?" Carol asked, breaking down into tears as she rushed over to the blonde who looked taken aback as the older woman embraced her, peppering kisses all over the younger girl's forehead while cupping her cheeks. Carol's body wracked with sobs and Daryl couldn't exactly blame her because he felt like crying himself.
Finally, Beth pushed Carol away slightly and frowned at her.
Daryl knew what was coming, because he couldn't very well be that damn lucky to have this girl back in his life again, after apparently cheating a most certain death. He braced himself for it as he watched Beth take a tentative step back from Carol, looking confused and maybe even a little scared.
"Who are you?" Beth asked, her voice sounding hoarse, and Daryl's world immediately fell to pieces because of her, yet again.
Note: Okay, before you say anything, let me explain: I've been reading a lot of "Beth Survives" theories on tumblr and to be honest, I'm probably in Denial Land, but hey, I can always write fanfiction, right?
So that is exactly what I decided to do!
In this fic, Beth turns out to be alive, but she is suffering from severe memory loss. I won't be jumping straight into the Bethyl relationship, because they will obviously need to build their relationship up again considering that Beth doesn't remember any of them. Be patient and please do comment and share your thoughts! :)
Thank you for reading!