This is just something I had to get down. I hope you enjoy it.
Contains a small scene of self-harm.
He hadn't known what heartbreak felt like until he held her weight in his arms and carried her from the hospital. He hadn't understood true helplessness until he had to leave her body in a car because there were too many walkers and the car wouldn't start to get them all away.
He squeezed her hand and leaned down right beside her ear. She couldn't hear him as he whispered his broken apology or see him as the first of many more tears leaked out of his eyes and dropped to the seat beside her.
Now, weeks later, he walked in a daze, her words on loop in his brain.
You're gonna miss me so bad when I'm gone, Daryl Dixon.
You're gonna be tha last man standin'. Ya are.
He wiped his brow and looked around at his group. The world sat heavily on all their shoulders, and the group got smaller with each step they took. Maybe not physically gone, but they were ending up like him, too lost in their own thoughts and the past to actually function.
Sasha hadn't spoken a word since they had buried Tyreese a few days earlier. Maggie cried at the drop of hat, and Glenn didn't know what to do for her. Carol had closed off completely. Carl walked with more purpose than any of them for some reason, and Rick hadn't left game mode since the church when he killed Gareth.
And Daryl just didn't give a fuck about the others. They weren't his people.
When the sun was starting to hang low in the sky, they started to set up camp for the night.
"I'm gonna go give it a look. See if I can find us some food," he muttered and didn't wait for a reply.
Hunting used to be something he loved to do. It was quiet and everything went back to normal for a few hours, but now, it all reminded him of Beth. He saw her tracking game through the woods, giving him sass about being better than him one day. If he closed his eyes, he could pretend she was setting up their camp with security wire and starting the fire.
If he could go back, if he could be in that moment again…
It shocked him what he would give up to be there and have her close. See her smile and hear her sing. To be in that coffin watching her through the candlelight and thinking that she might have been an angel.
Now, she was. She had to be.
That thought drug him down a little more because if there was a person on earth that didn't deserve to get into heaven with her, it was him. And he still couldn't seem to regret putting a bullet through that bitch cop's brain.
Daryl swallowed hard and slid down to sit at the base of a tall pine tree. His eyes filled with tears again as he saw the moment repeat through his thoughts. She had been right there, and he had let her step forward again. He hadn't stopped her when he had the chance. Her blood on his face, how his heart must have stopped the moment hers did because he was sure that he was just a shell now.
He didn't know what it was that he had felt until the moment he knew she would never talk to him again. Daryl had never loved someone or thought about the future, but he had with her. He could imagine them in the funeral home, eating pig's feet and peanut butter while she sang and he pretended he didn't like it.
She had knocked down his guard completely, and now he was exposed and without her there to try and tell him that things would be okay. That there was still good people out there, and he needed to have faith.
He had been right, he thought bitterly as he pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
The good ones didn't survive.
They had honor and a code, and they went out just as bravely as they lived.
But not him.
He still managed to escape death even when he begged for it. Beth, she had given up a little once, but she had changed her mind and moved on. He was so tired, though, and so ready for the constant ache in his chest to go away and the flow of tears to stop when he was alone.
He wanted quiet and peace. He wanted the funeral home again.
The cigarette dangled from his lips as he unsheathed his knife and stared down at the blade. Beth had worn this knife for so long, but it hadn't been enough time. Slowly, he lifted it to his forearm and pressed down just enough for the skin to break and small drop of blood pool around the tip.
"Just what do ya think you're doin', Daryl Dixon?"
His head shot up and there stood Beth, looking just as beautiful as the last night he had seen her.
"Ya ain't here," he muttered.
She shook her head. "No, I'm not, but that doesn't mean that I'm gone."
He pressed down harder and the sharp sting caused him to flinch. "I didn't get to say goodbye. I didn't get to tell ya what ya meant to me."
"And I didn't get to tell ya either," she whispered and took a few steps forward, but her image flickered a little. "Please stop. For me. Please don't do this."
"I don't wanna be here no more," he said through a sob. "I'm tired of bein' alone. I miss ya with me, and everyone's just done gone and forgot about ya, but I'm still here."
"Daryl, it's easier to try and forget than remember all that pain."
"I don't wanna forget," he whispered brokenly. "I think—I think I'm rememberin' your voice all wrong now, and I don't wanna lose it all."
All of a sudden she was right beside him, kneeling down. Her face was free of blood and stitches, and she smiled at him like she did when she wanted to burn down the shine shack.
"And we'll buy beer to shotgun, and we'll lay in the lawn, and we'll be good. Yeah, we'll be good," she sang softly.
Daryl dropped the knife and lunged for her, but he fell straight to the forest floor. He bled and cried and knew the pain he felt would never go away.
They kept walking day after day in the hot Georgia heat. No one asked about his arm, but he had a feeling that they knew. It didn't matter, though. Just like her, he hadn't gone through with it.
Life on the road got harder and food got scarcer. They lost Carol and Noah when a herd stumbled up on them one night, and just like that, he had lost his oldest friend. Another person he cared about, snatched away.
At least she had gone out protecting Judith.
He imagined that both Beth and Tyreese were looking down at her when she did that with a smile. She was at peace with herself now. Finally put it all back into balance.
It was just their luck that they found the safe zone the next morning. Had they just kept walking the night before, they wouldn't have lost two of their group, but that was what life was in this world now.
Hindsight was twenty-twenty.
Once they were welcomed and put where they were supposed to go, Daryl decided that he didn't like it. It was closed in, and they were assigned jobs and apartments. He felt like he was a prisoner.
Everyone scattered job wise, but they all lived in the same chunk of a run down apartment complex. Rick had asked if he wanted to live with him and Michonne with the kids, but Daryl shook his head and went into the small one bedroom apartment that had been offered to him.
The men he worked with on the wall didn't talk to him, and he didn't care. He was a lookout, meant to protect the people inside the wall from the bad shit outside of it.
If they only knew how many people he had failed in this same position, they would have put him someplace else.
One day, he sat in his apartment, staring at the blank television when Maggie knocked on his door.
She didn't wait for him to answer, probably because she knew that he wouldn't. He hadn't been good about visiting them beyond the quick wave he sent their way in the hall as he came in for the night.
"How ya holdin' up?" She asked as she sat down in the recliner across from him.
He shrugged and started picking at his nails. "Ya need somethin'?" He asked, hoping to get her gone soon.
"She wouldn't have wanted ya so lost, Daryl."
He met her eyes and shook his head. "Ya don't know what she woulda wanted. Ya hadn't seen her since tha prison fell, and she changed."
"Not so much as to want tha person she loved to cut himself and spend hours alone in his apartment."
Daryl snorted. "Ya don't know shit."
"I know that if you're this torn up about it, somethin' happened. Ya love her, and if ya loved her then she loved ya, too."
Tears started to fill his eyes, and he shook his head. "Just get out."
"No, not until ya admit ya need to start livin' again."
He glared at her and said, "It's easy to say that when ya got someone waitin' on ya back in your room. Now, get tha fuck outta my apartment."
"Daryl," she pleaded as she stood up.
Her eyes reminded him of Beth's and the sadness in them took him back to the porch when she talked about how much she had missed her sister then to earlier that day when he had yelled that she would never see her sister again, and he snapped.
"Get tha fuck out!" He hollered and kicked the coffee table over. "Don't want ya here!"
Maggie started to cry but walked to the door. "It's not helpin' ya to be here all alone."
"I'm always alone," he yelled. "It shoulda been me! Fuck all this shit!" He hit the wall and punched again and again. "She should be here! It shoulda been me!"
He didn't hear Rick, but he felt him pull him away from the wall and down to the floor. He pushed his fists into his eyes and sobbed, his bloody knuckles mixing with his tears.
"I know, man," Rick whispered. "I know."
Maggie kept away from him after that, but Rick came over every evening. He had bartered some bullets for a bottle of whiskey and they would have a glass each visit.
"I never got to fix it," Rick had said the first night. "I put it off 'cause I thought I'd have more time, but I didn't."
Daryl drained his glass and leaned back. "I was gonna tell her," he spoke quietly. "But we got overrun, and she got taken. I didn't keep her safe."
"Ya did tha best ya could," Rick said and finished his glass, too. "Now, we just gotta figure out how to survive it."
"Ya still have her," Daryl whispered. "She's in Carl and Judith." He paused and looked around the room and over his body. "I have nothin'. It's like she was never here."
Three nights later, Rick brought a friend with him to their nightly get together.
"Daryl, this is Jackson."
He nodded toward the man and took a drink as the man opened up a small case he had brought with him. Inside was full of different pots of ink and varying sizes of needles. "It'll hurt like a mothafucker," Jackson said. "If you're up for it, though, I'll do good work."
Daryl closed his eyes against the tears and held out his right wrist. "Beth," he whispered. "Just put 'Beth'."
In the end, he had her name placed there and a few nights later, a small 'c' on his trigger finger.
"Your wife?" A man had asked on the wall as he pointed to his healing tattoo.
"Nah," Daryl scoffed. "Girl coulda done a lot fuckin' better than me."
That was the first time he talked about her without feeling the lump in his throat. It was also the first day that he started seeing her regularly again. A flash of blonde hair, a smile, then she would flicker out.
Winter arrived and Daryl was making it day-to-day. He and Rick still talked every evening, and that helped him get it all out. They both had so many regrets when it came to the women in their lives.
On a terribly cold day, Daryl stayed inside while the others went out to play around in the snow. He had been invited, they always invited him, and he always said no. He might have gotten better, but he wasn't ready to be around every single person he had told her that she would never see again.
He was sharpening his knives when his front door banged open, Carl stood there huffing and puffing.
"What's wrong?" He asked and jumped up.
"Nothin'. Ya gotta stay here," he said. "Dad told me to get ya to stay here."
"Did tha fences fall?" He asked and went to the window. There was nothing he could see since he was almost in the middle of their safe zone.
"Nah, but he's on his way, but he didn't want ya walkin' around and run into ya by accident."
Daryl shook his head. "Did someone get hurt? Is Judith okay?"
"Everyone's fine," Carl said and looked away.
A few minutes later, Rick walked in and nodded for Carl to get out. Daryl watched as he slowly approached him, breathing a little heavy, but his eyes were red like he had been crying.
"I need ya to sit down," he said quietly and Daryl obeyed instantly. "It's gonna sound crazy, but we just got some new people at tha gate."
Daryl tried to think of someone who would show up that the group would act this way over, but he was at a loss. The only people he cared about where gone. His brother had been taken out by him, Beth had died and most likely in his arms, and Carol had been swarmed as she slammed the truck door behind Judith.
There was movement to his left and Daryl turned his head to see Beth standing in his hallway, smiling at him softly, her cheeks had small scars and there was one on her forehead. It was the first time he had imagined her so healed. He turned away from her to Rick.
"Who was it?" He ignored the figure getting closer until she stood on the other side of the couch. Daryl glanced at her again, but she didn't flicker like she usually did.
"Did ya hit your head while I was away?" She asked, but he didn't answer. It wasn't the first time she had talked to him.
"Daryl?" Rick asked quietly.
He finally looked back to Rick, and he saw that Rick was staring at Beth, too.
"No," Daryl said and started to back up.
"Daryl," she said softly.
"What tha fuck is this?" His back hit the wall and Beth rounded the couch. "You're dead. You were dead." He shook his head. "Am I dead?" He asked, looking between them. "Did I die?"
Rick clenched his jaw and tilted his head away. "No. We were wrong."
The air left his lungs and he hit his knees right as Beth stopped in front of him.
"It's okay, Daryl. I'm good. Everythin's fine."
He pressed his face into her stomach and cried, and she ran her fingers through his hair. Through it all, he heard the door click shut, and after a few seconds, she started singing softly, and he could breathe again.