A/N: I've started this right after episode 512 aired. It took me a while to finish it but here it is. I've been wondering so much about how Beth would have felt and behave in Alexandria so I kind of wrote my own version. It's a one shot at the moment but after watching Forget I kinda want to make her interact with Aaron (because I have a huge crush on him, he's my new favorite after Daryl). I really think it could have been amazing to see her becoming friends with Aaron and Eric. I don't really have time to write lately so it might never happen, I dunno, tell me if you'd like to read more of this.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this, feel free leave some feedback! I love to read them.
Thank you to my lovely beta Angie!
"What did you do before?"
"I was in high school."
"Did you graduate?"
She snorts for sole answer; her face remains closed and focused on the woman in front of her. Deanna, they said she is called. She was some sort of politician before and although Beth never actually met a politician, she can see it. She can see this woman hasn't really changed, she kept her habits, her way to talk, her way to move. It's somehow odd to be able to guess so easily what she used to be.
"How old are you Beth?"
"Does it matter anymore?"
"I don't know. Why don't you tell me?"
"I'm pretty sure you're not the kind of person to whom we tell things."
Deanna stays silent for a long moment, her eyes focused on Beth with a soft and reassuring smile on her features. A fake smile, Beth can only see how fake it was. That woman probably doesn't realize Beth can read into people like they are an open book.
"It matters. Who you were. It's important for us, to decide what you can do today."
Beth's mind wanders at her statement, her eyes leaving the woman to bore into the emptiness behind her.
You got to stay who you are, not who you were.
She thinks of Daryl, how he stormed out from this place after his "interview" with Deanna, passing right by her and not glancing a look to anyone. She saw his anger, his uneasiness. He walked too fast by her but she saw it anyway.
Did Deanna ask him the same question? What did you do before? It's all that matters to Beth right now. She needs to know how he is, what she told him. Beth is actually the only person alive now to know the answer.
You want to know what I was before all this? I was nobody. Nothing.
Her eyes drop on her lap. The woman is still quiet and not pushing, studying her.
"What do you do today then? In your group? You must have a role, everyone has. I'm sure you are a very valuable member."
Beth looks back at her, at her exaggerated benevolence all over her face. A slow rage is growing in Beth's chest ever since she walked in that room, ever since the woman laid eyes on her. She hasn't felt that anger since she was reunited with her family, with Maggie and Daryl and Judith. It seems like the constant fume surging inside her when she was at Grady was put down thanks to the people she loves. And now it's back.
Beth was brought in after everybody, it was just Noah and her waiting to be called inside. After all they both look the weakest. Too young, too fragile, too sweet. Isn't that why the cops at the hospital chose them ? History has an annoying habit to repeat itself.
They showed more interest in Carl because he is Rick's son and he's a huge part of the equation when it comes to their decision to stay in Alexandria or not. But her? Who could be suspicious of the cute blonde with big doe eyes?
"I take care of Judith."
"Isn't it Carl's job?"
"I've been taking care of her since she was born. Carl was too young then."
"You've been with this group for a long time right? Since your farm?"
Beth tries to keep her face still. Tries not to flinch and watch Deanna with wary eyes when she mentions the farm.
"Yes." She says with a dry voice.
"Maggie mentioned it. I'm sorry, I don't exactly know what you've lost but it must have been so hard."
"Yes. I-." She hesitates.
"You can talk to me Beth. You don't have to be afraid."
Like hell she is afraid in this way too clean house for this world. She is just weighing on how much information she can share with the woman for now. What she needs to know and what she should think of her. Back in Grady they all underestimated her and it worked. It damn worked. Noah escaped thanks to her. She made it out. She killed Dawn. Her blood soaking her hand and face when she stabbed her neck with the scissors.
But right now Deanna doesn't need to know that. She needs to see Beth as what she looks like, a young, weak and docile girl. She can't know what she is capable of. She uses the sweetest and most innocent voice she is capable of nowadays.
"I know I don't provide as much for the group as Maggie or Michonne. But I'm good at what I do. I care for Judith, I can protect her. I would protect her with everything I got. And Carl too. Well now he's older and stronger." She giggles softly. "But I used to take care of the kids. And I helped with feeding everyone, with Carol. We are a good team. It's not much but it's important I guess?" She isn't surprised when she is able to make her voice shake a little when asking this.
"I'm sure you are." Deanna's smile grows wider. "And please don't say you don't provide as much as the rest of your group. Children, they are our future and they need to be raised in the best environment we can offer them in this world. You will find it here. Your little Judith will be safe and she will grow up with other kids, protected from the outside."
Beth nods. She still isn't sure she can trust the people in Alexandria and especially not the one in front of her. But there is some truth in Deanna's statement. If this turns out to be safe, Judith could grow up here. They could all have a chance.
"What do you think about working at the school?"
Beth's eyes light up immediately. She was so sure Deanna was going to offer something in those books for her. Damn it's almost too easy. It's Beth's turn to fake the growing smile on her face.
"You have a school here?"
"Yes we do. There are a lot of kids in Alexandria. The younger children go in the morning and the older, most of them are around Carl's age, go in the afternoon. We have a teacher already, but I'm sure she'll be happy to have some help."
"Alright." Beth nods a couple of times, like she is thinking about this, her smile still on her face. "I'd like working at the school."
"Amazing! I'm sure you'll be just where you belong."
Beth can't stop watching Deanna, she is trying to see if the woman could have read into her. The politician might not be good at faking her kindness, she is however, skilled at not showing her game.
When Beth leaves the room and walks towards the door, Deanna tries to hug the younger woman goodbye. Beth can't help but dodge her gesture with an epidermic reaction at the thought of being touched by a stranger she doesn't trust. She looks at her with sharp eyes, incapable of hiding her uneasiness.
Deanna lifts her hands in surrender and smiles softly at Beth.
"I'm sorry sweetheart. I should have known better."
"It's- it's alright." Beth ducks her head and forces a smile, shoving aside her itching nerves after the woman called her 'sweetheart'. "I'm just not used to strangers is all."
"I'm sure you'll get there eventually. One step at the time." Deanna just brushes her shoulder while opening the front door so Beth can join her family.
Beth walks silently between Carol and Maggie. They are all watching their surroundings, the clean streets and fresh cut lawns. Very few people are wandering, most of them on work duties she supposes.
Aside from the clean streets, another thing that strikes Beth in that moment is the smell in the air. It's nothing like she has known the last couple of years. The dust and stale smell of the prison. The earthy scent of the woods of Georgia. The clinical and soapy smell of the hospital. The scent of decay and death that seems to follow everywhere they go. Here, the air is clear and healthy. Almost like before.
Carol is the first to break the silence.
"What did they give you to do?" She is addressing the question to Beth.
"Helping at the school." Beth answers flatly.
Beth isn't sure if Carol is glad because it isn't a physical or dangerous work, she doesn't have the heart to ask right now. Her mind is far too preoccupied by Daryl and his interview after not finding him outside Deanna's house with the others.
"Do you know where Daryl went?" She can't hide the hint of worry in her voice.
"He's probably at the houses with Rick." Carol looks down at her and notices how tense her face seems to be. "You worried about something?"
"I-" She starts and stops. She knows she can speak to Carol about Daryl. She's probably the only other person in the group to know him almost as well as Beth does. But how can Beth be sure the older woman knows what she does? She just can't tell around the confessions Daryl made that night in the cabin and the following nights they spent together when it was just the two of them. This isn't her place. This isn't something she wants to say anyway. Those are secrets he shared with her. Secrets of his past he felt confident enough he could tell her. He trusted her and she's not going to break that trust. And very selfishly she also doesn't want to share this with anyone else except Daryl. Because it's a piece of him she's the only to know, something that makes her unique in his eyes. From what's left of human beings alive on this Earth, she's the one he told. They share secrets, they share memories, moments, no one else has. She wants to keep that connection with him. It's what makes them special, what makes them a team, friends. Maybe something else, she's not sure, but maybe. They have time now, they have time to figure that out.
"I just didn't like how he stormed out."
"Some of us aren't made to live inside walls. Daryl more than anybody. I'm sure he'll come around. It might take time, but he will."
"That's if we actually stay here." Beth almost whispers.
Maggie speaks for the first time since they left the house. "You don't want to stay?"
"I don't know yet. There's… something about this place that feels odd. I don't trust them."
Maggie and Carol study the blonde for a short moment before Carol speaks again.
"What did you tell her in there?"
"Only what she wanted to hear." Beth answers in a hard tone.
"That's good. We don't want them to know what we are." Carol nods.
"And what are we?" Maggie squints her eyes at her.
Carol opens her mouth but is cut off by Beth. "Stronger. Stronger than anybody here." She whispers.
The women beside her nods and they fell back into a confortable silence, the three of them knowing what it means and agreeing in silence.
As she enters the house Beth feels anxiety slowly building inside her belly. It isn't exactly fear. It's more of a feeling of being completely foreign to her surroundings. She comes to trust her guts and here, now, it feels way too unfamiliar for her to be at ease.
Before she's able to find Daryl as she planned to, Carl appears from upstairs with new clothes and looking cleaner than she can remember seeing him in weeks.
He notices the surprise in her eyes and lets out a small laugh. "Yep showers are working. And the water is hot."
Her eyes widens as she takes in his statement and doesn't make a move even if she lets her eyes drift to the second floor.
"You should go before everyone learns the news." The boy's voice is warm and welcoming. He has been acting that way with her ever since they got reunited outside of the hospital, Judith in his arms and a pool of tears filling Beth's eyes at the sight. Ever since, they both have been sharing the task to keep and protect the little girl, with Rick occasionally stepping in to spend time with his daughter.
She's glad to be able to take care of the baby again. And really, glad isn't a strong enough word. She has never felt more alive and happy than when Judith was in her arms. Well, except for the brief moment when Daryl pulled her in for a hug just as strong as it was quick after they finally exited the building, blood sprayed on her face, Dawn's blood. After that she felt Maggie ripping her off from his embrace and she barely didn't let go for what seemed hours.
Beth has been recollecting her memories of that hug for weeks after. Looking at Daryl from the other side of the fire or when he was walking in front of her and all she could do was stare at the fading angel wings on his back. Those same wings she felt under her fingers when she dug so strong onto the fabric while she was in his arms.
After that, they lost Tyreese and they were barely surviving without any water and food. She usually followed him in the woods to look for game and anything that could help them survive. She was glad then to have Carl to look after little gateaways never lasted long, maybe an hour or two and they barely talked while it was the two of them but she could feel him almost relaxed at her side.
No matter how weak they were, no matter how beat up, she never lost faith they would make it. And the reason for that was because she was with him. He had found her and reunited her with her sister and Judith and her family. He had never stopped believing in her and she can only feel pride for it. Pride and strength.
Her eyes drift back to Carl who has an amused smirk on his face, but she can't help her mind to think about anything but the man with the angel wings.
"Do you know where Daryl is?"
"I think he's with my dad, checking the perimeter of the houses."
She nods. Daryl is busy with Rick and it's certainly not the right moment to ask him about the interview. She looks again upstairs and when the front door opens to let in most of the group, she turns to search for Daryl. But he's nowhere in sight, neither is Rick.
"It's my turn then." She says to Carl with a bright smile. The boy chuckles and shouts "Enjoy!" when she climbs the stairs two by two.
The warm water feels more heavenly than what she imagined. She can't repress the moan escaping her lips at the feeling of all the filth and grim flowing from her skin to the drain. She looks down and all she can see is brown tainted water and pieces of dirt and leaves. It's like a second chance, almost like a rebirth she thinks. And in that moment she can't help but hope for this place to be good. To be anything but a trap or the nightmare that Grady has been.
She tries to be quick and not take too much of the warm water, who knows how much there is and she doesn't want to deprive the rest of the group from the delight of a hot shower.
When she walks back downstairs everyone is getting familiar with the environment. It's odd, to be piled up in one place. Even if they practically lived on one another for weeks, they were still outside, in the wild. Not stacked inside like caged animals. And she can't help but wanting to go out to breath some fresh air.
That's where she finds him.
Daryl is sitting on the porch, next to what seems to be a stain of blood and guts. She looks down and hears his raspy voice. "Dressed the raccoon I caught earlier."
She chuckles at the mess it made on the wooden porch.
"Thank you. Once again, we owe you dinner."
He snorts. "I'm pretty sure they'll give us plenty of food for dinner. Don't look like they're starving here."
She sits down next to him and wraps her arms around her knees.
"They sure don't."
They stay silent for a moment, Beth keeps staring at the stain in front of her and when she finally turns her head he's studying her with one of his impenetrable stare.
"You're all cleaned up." He says quickly.
"Yeah." She breathes and closes her eyes while resting her cheek on her folded arms. "I almost wanted to stay in that shower and never leave. It felt so good."
When she opens her eyes, she notices his cheeks have taken a slightly pink blush and it makes her smile.
"You should go before they use all the hot water."
He grunts in response and shakes his head lightly.
"Did Deanna give you a job?" She asks with a small voice.
He shakes his head again, this time with more conviction.
"Did…" And she stops, not sure how to bring it up.
He doesn't talk either and the silence stretches.
"I lied to her in there." She's studying his face. "I didn't tell her who I was, who I am. They don't have to know."
"They'll find out."
"Not if I don't want them to."
Daryl is looking more and more curious, she can see it in the way he looks at her.
"It doesn't matter who we were." She continues. "She says it does. But it doesn't. Not really. I mean, not for everyone. I didn't have any skills, nothing useful back then and certainly not useful now. But today…" She smiles lightly. "Today I know what I'm worth, I know I'm strong and that's what's important."
"Yeah you are." He jerks his chin towards her. Her smile grows bigger.
"We're all important. That's all that matters."
Before he can drop his face to the ground she quickly sets her hand to cup his cheek. He jerks his head lightly before relaxing and boring into her eyes.
"You're important." She simply says with the most affectionate smile she can show to anyone nowadays.
No matter what Deanna asked him, no matter what he answered, all she wants him to know is that who he is today is the strongest person she has ever meet. The strongest and probably the kindest. He might not seem like it to the people that don't know him, but she knows. She knows he's everything to her. He has saved her countless times and not only literally. Because when she was alone in that hospital, when she was fighting to get out, all she had in mind was him. How he trained her, how he made her understand her value. How he made her realize she was strong.
For her today, it was all that mattered and all that was important. Being alive with him by her side.
She realizes then that if the people here are not strong enough, it's okay. It's okay because her, and him, and their family are. They will make it, together.