A new story that I have been kicking around in my head for a while. This is just a short prologue to start things off and each chapter after this will be told from both Daryl and Beth's POV as well as a couple more character's occasionally thrown in. I'm a bit nervous to write this because I don't think writing the zombie stories are my strongest suit but I hope you all like this first chapter.
Chapter One. Prologue.
He stood near his bike, finishing up his breakfast, the bowl cupped in his hand and using his index and middle fingers to scoop the oatmeal up to his mouth. His eyes were sharp as he watched the fences, seeing the buildup of walkers that had developed overnight. They had to do something about that and sooner rather than later. The fences weren't going to hold forever but everyone who lived here was looking to him to make sure that they did.
His eyes trailed across the yard to see Rick bending down in the dirt of his crops, pulling weeds, Carl beside him, helping. He could ask Rick for help; tell him that he needed help with the fences to keep Carl and Judith and the rest of their family safe and Rick would probably look at him for a moment, tempted to refuse, but then he would sigh and nod and offer to help in any way that he could.
But Daryl didn't want to force him into it. Rick was taking time away from everything and Daryl understood that. His friend had been through too much shit and he needed a break. He deserved a break and Daryl wanted to be able to handle this without him.
His eyes went back towards the fences. He just had no idea how to handle it.
From the corner of his vision, he saw someone approaching him and he instantly turned his head towards the figure. It was Beth with Lil' Asskicker in her arms as the baby always was. Closest thing that baby had to a mother was Beth. Rick was there but he was distant and sometimes, there was Carl, too, but he was getting to be where he hated everything and wanted to be around kids his own age because no one else understood him. He didn't exactly have a lot of options though. Patrick was dead. Zach was dead. There were a few of the younger kids but Daryl figured Beth was probably closer to his age than anyone else in the prison. Carl never seemed to think of that though. No one really did. Daryl hated to admit it to himself but most people seemed to forget about Beth most of the time.
They had never talked much. There had been when Zach had died and Daryl had come to her cell that night to tell her. They had exchanged a few words – more words than they ever had – and then she had given him a hug that had made him jump. After that, sometimes their eyes would meet and he would give the slight head nod towards her and she would give him a small smile in return but other than that, things went back to how they had always been. She never talked to him and he never talked to her.
Daryl had no reason to talk to Beth. She was just that girl who had been part of their group for so long, she was part of the family. She wasn't like her old man or her older sister – both such intricate parts of the prison, Daryl didn't know if things would work without them. Beth did have an important job though no one, himself included, ever thought about it.
She took care of Judith every day and every night and some of the littlest kids, too, they had running around. And while it was definitely a job that someone had to do, no one really thought it was important when comparing it to going on runs or being on fence duty.
Beth Greene was pretty much invisible when it came to everyone else in the prison.
He found himself standing up a little straighter as she continued to approach him and his eyes never left her.
Beth gave him a smile – small and almost hesitant – as she got closer and Judith was trying to grab a hold of the braid in her hair, bringing it to her mouth.
"I heard you're going on a run," she said as she shifted Judith to rest on her other hip.
"Need somethin'?" He asked her though he figured she did because why else would she come here and ask him about it?
"Only if you can. Don't go out of your way for it," she said with a quick shake of her head.
She looked to Judith for a moment and then she settled her eyes on him once more. And it wasn't the first time he had thought it. The first time he thought it had been standing in the doorway of her cell that night, watching her stand there as she looked at him.
She had to have the biggest blue eyes on a person he had ever seen.
And he thought again how he didn't really like them resting on him. But he didn't shift or squirm. Nothing living or dead could make him uncomfortable and he sure as hell wasn't going to let himself be because of this girl. Still, weeks later and he couldn't forget the way she had come to him and hugged him as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.
"If you happen to see one, could you pick me up a baby book?" She asked and he must have looked completely confused because she let out a soft laugh then and gave her hand a shake. "I mean, a book about babies? The development and stages and stuff like that?"
"She okay?" He asked gruffly, his eyes going to the baby, now slobbering all over her fist. When she saw Daryl looking at her, she smiled a gummy smile at him and Daryl felt his own lips twisting upwards in response. It was no secret to anyone that he had a soft spot for her.
"Oh, she's fine. She's just growing and I have no idea what to do or what to expect. And I don't want to bother anyone else here, asking," Beth then added in a voice so soft, her eyes watching Judith now, that if he had been anyone else, he wouldn't have been able to hear.
But he had heard and that made his eyes settle on her, studying her. Before he could say anything though – not that he had the first clue what to say to her – Beth looked back to him and she was smiling again and he didn't know her well enough to know if it was an actual smile or a fake one. And for some reason, not knowing that bothered him even though he had no idea why it would. He had other things – bigger things – to worry about than whether or not Beth Greene's smile was genuine.
Unless her smile could fix the fence problem, he told himself he really didn't care.
He looked at her and gave his head a single nod. "I'll take a look 'round. See if I find anythin'," he said and this time, the smile that widened across her face, he knew that this was a true smile. He found himself looking at it and wanting to remember it.
"Thank you, Daryl," Beth said. "The prison library is definitely lacking in reading material."
"Hmmmm," he replied from the back of his throat and looked down to his bowl, not wanting to admit to himself that he didn't want to look into her eyes anymore. He scooped the last bit of oatmeal up and brought it to his mouth, sucking it from his fingers.
"I can take that back to the kitchen for you," she offered.
"Thanks," he mumbled and didn't look at her again as he held the bowl out for her to take and his eyes floated back towards the fence, watching the walkers and some of their people on fence duty. It didn't matter though. No matter how many walkers they stabbed through the chain link, there was always another one, eager to take its place, snarling and growling, their rotted hands reaching out, trying to get a hold of all of them.
"Thank you, Daryl," he heard her say again, her voice softer now. "Be careful," she then added and he looked back to her but she had already turned and began walking back towards the prison.
He couldn't help but watch the way her blonde ponytail swished back and forth and he could hear her gentle, slightly cooing, voice as she spoke to Judith but he couldn't decipher the words as she walked further away.
He exhaled a heavy breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. Something about that whole exchange had made his stomach tumble; as if he wasn't in charge anymore and he didn't understand it because he sure as hell never felt like that around people. He was always in charge; charge of this whole damn place and everyone in it.
He still thought about that hug sometimes. The way her small body had been pressed against his, her arms around his waist and her cheek on his chest, as comfortable as if she had hugged him a dozen times before then; as if they had even touched one another before then. Instincts had screamed at him to push her away. He didn't like to be touched by anyone and he sure as hell wasn't going to let anyone hug him. Carol was the only one who did touch him and who he didn't really care when she did but it wasn't as if he wanted it or even really liked it. It was just the kind of relationship he and Carol had between them. Couldn't really explain it.
So when Beth had hugged him, he had raised his hand to her arm, ready to push her away.
"I'm glad I didn't say goodbye," she then spoke and he could feel her cheek moving against his chest and he froze. "I hate goodbyes."
Daryl stood there and heard her words and felt the warmth coming from her body to his. She then moved her cheek slightly, almost like she was a cat rubbing herself against his shirt, and he felt his arm sliding down her arm to cup her elbow through her sweater. Light and unsure but he then felt Beth squeeze her arms ever so slightly around his waist – as if she could sense his uncertainty and she was letting him know that he was doing alright.
"Me, too," he had murmured back, his chin in her hair, rubbing against the top of her head.
He had never realized before how much smaller than him she was. She was delicate. Fragile. She pulled back then, looking up at him with those big blue eyes and she had moved the sweater back up that had slipped from her shoulder and he remembered, after the farm had been run over, the winter they all spent together, running around in circles before finding this place. He knew she wasn't fragile. She had killed her fair share of walkers but everyone forgot that. Everyone forgot that she had made it just like them. But there was just something about her that made them all think they had to protect her.
He watched her now, stopping in the courtyard when two of the little kids ran up to her, and began talking in excited voices, practically bouncing on their toes as their eager words overlapped the other's, and Beth stood there, smiling down at them and laughing gently.
The run group was just heading to a strip of stores that day and he doubted any of them would have what she asked for but Daryl found himself wanting to go out of his way to find it for her. She was eighteen – maybe even nineteen by now (who the hell knew time anymore?) – and she was the mother hen to a bunch of little kids that weren't hers.
Daryl took back his earlier thoughts. That was just as important of a job as any of the others. Probably even more so because while everyone else fought to keep this home of theirs safe, Beth was there with Judith and the other little kids, serving as a reminder to all of them as to why they fought so damn hard to keep their home safe in the first place.
Thank you very much for reading and please review!