It all happened in fragments that, at first, didn't add up to a single, comprehensible moment. The glint of light off the surgical scissors in Beth's hand. The sound of the gun, a spray of crimson blood in a hall of dingy white. Her body falling to the floor like a puppet with its strings cut, so agonizingly slow, hair trailing behind her like a ribbon of sunlight.
And when the pieces came together, when time unfroze itself and he realized with a gut wrenching, sinking feeling what had happened—what he had just lost—Daryl Dixon felt everything that was holding him in the present disappear in a cloud of blinding rage.
I see red, everything is red. Everything I see is red.
Long ago, that's what Rick had told Daryl his friend had said. The one named Morgan whom he, Michonne, and Carl had found holed up alone in a town full of booby traps clearing walkers. Having lost the two people in the world who were most precious to him, the man had nothing left to lose but his mind, which apparently he had done with gusto. And when he confessed his misfortunes to Rick, the guilt and sadness practically ripping him a part at the seams, he had repeated that over and over like a mantra.
I see red. Everything is red.
At the time, Daryl didn't understand how loss could make a man lose his mind so spectacularly. He himself had seen enough dead and lost enough people even before the world went to shit that he thought he knew all about it. What it meant, what it felt like. How to deal with it or, in his case, how not to. It didn't make sense to him, how someone could let death dig its bony fingers in and control them like that. Even now, when death was less of a distant worry than a permanent guest at the campfire, Daryl knew it was possible to make room for the pain and live with it. He had pitied Morgan, because in the wake of his loss the man hadn't just let death push him over the edge of insanity but had made a home for himself in the free fall.
But he didn't know. Daryl realized in that moment, that excruciating moment where time stood still and the gun cracked with release and her body fell, that he didn't know a damn thing. He had never known pain like the pain he felt at the sight of her bleeding on the hospital linoleum, limp and broken. He had never experienced a loss so great that it gave birth to hurt that felt like a living, breathing animal with sharp teeth and claws inside of his chest, tearing him a part from the inside out.
So he raised his gun and shot without thinking, ignoring the wide-eyed panic on the cop's face and her pleas of innocent! accident! mistake! Because it didn't matter if she'd meant to fire or not, if she was honest or just trying to hold on like the cops they'd taken prisoner had claimed. The woman had stolen something from him that he knew he would never have again, had robbed him of serious piggy backs and kind blue eyes and more time.
The cop's head snapped back as the bullet entered her brain, a small black hole marring the white skin of her forehead and she fell to the ground as well, the look of panic frozen on her face. Distantly he was aware of the people that surrounded him, his family behind and the row of blue clad cops in front of him, of a woman's voice shouting that it was done, over. The air was palpable with their shock and disbelief and he could feel every single pair of eyes watching as he fell to his knees beside Beth. He didn't bother to hold back the hot tears that filled his eyes, letting them stream down his dirty face as a sob unearthed itself from the place deep inside that he kept under lock and key.
He had just found her, finally gotten her back, hadn't gotten to say so much as hello or goodbye or what he really wanted to say, which was that he'd missed her. His body shook with the unfairness of it all.
As far as he knew, no one had bothered to ask Morgan if the red he saw was from anger or sadness. If it was guilt or the thick crimson of blood leaking from his son's neck as he bled out onto an empty street that he saw. But Daryl knew it didn't really matter why or how or what shade of red it was he saw when he closed his eyes. The only thing that mattered was that it was all he could see.
What Morgan said, before?
He got it now.