Author's Note: Why don't we forget Coda? Let's go back to Alone and fix this before it even started, shall we?
Paint the Silence
Daryl watched helplessly as the black car with a white cross took off with his everything.
He couldn't have it – wouldn't have it.
The weight of his crossbow was immense as he pointed it at the car. It was a long shot, even he knew, to hit something so low, fast and hard. But he had to try. Tried so hard that he was gaining access to the car by his own two feet and he was on his last bolt.
Had the roads not been covered in random debris and tree limbs, Daryl wasn't so sure that he would've been able to get this close. He needed to make this count; needed to make this count for the blonde trapped in that damned car against her will. He needed to make this count for their family, her father - him.
He needed her.
The last bolt made contact with the rubber of the tire, a deep thunk, and he watched in horror as the car veered; hard. It veered so hard that the person driving must have been immediately killed by the impact of the tree ahead.
The sound the car made, the crushing metal, it was deafening.
Oh God what had he done?
His body was numb as he hauled open every door, finding two sorry ass looking men, but not her. Until he heard a thumping from the trunk and shoved the wrecked guy out of the way to pop the button on the driver's side floor.
Out sprang Beth with tiny white fists wrapped in lengths of rope, wild eyes connecting with his; and what followed next felt like some sort of hijacked movie.
She jumped, her bound arms awkwardly landing around his shoulder to keep herself on him, legs going around his waist. And he couldn't even process the need to push her away at the uncomfortable embrace, because he had done it. For once in his life, he had finished what was started, he had put things to an end before it could really be started. He clutched onto her like the dying men would come back and take her again.
Because no one on God's green, decaying Earth, was taking Beth Greene away from him.
No words were needed as she dismounted after an unbelievably long time, and after he swiftly cut her restraints, the look they shared was enough words for the both of them.
She was clutching her arm, swearing as she started kicking her way to the passenger side door. The dash was crushing against the abdomen of the passenger who was deliriously gazing over at the driver, the man who had a tree branch sticking clean through his windpipe.
And Beth. She fucking smiled.
A delirious smile. A wild smile that he knew held no happiness behind it, because she of all people, didn't like to see others hurt. Didn't fit in, not in this new world, because she was too good. Too good for all this shit.
Her laugh, it was humourless.
"I am strong." she said with conviction, picking the weapons one by one off the injured man who watched helplessly. He had crushed metal surrounding him, his breathing quickly becoming laboured, hands pinned.
The last thing she pulled from the car was a shotgun that just didn't suit her, so she threw it backwards to him without a glance. All he had to do was extend his hand, the rifle falling easily into his outstretched palm. She knew where he would be, always.
He watched on as Beth crouched down, obviously favouring her sore ankle and what now seemed to be her right forearm, looking almost curiously at the man who was clearly still alive and aware, but stuck. Stuck in the same damn car that she had almost been stuck in, going God knows where.
Daryl watched on as Beth cocked her head, began talking.
"It didn't need to be like this." She shook her head at the man who was now captivated by her, his brown eyes shifting back and forth between the two of them.
Of course, until his counterpart reincarnated, coming back to life with dead eyes and really no life at all. The passenger immediately started to fuss, starting to squirm as his partners hands began grabbing at him.
And Beth, God Beth.
She shook her head at him sadly, tears pooling in her eyes. Daryl couldn't move, paralyzed as he watched her continue to grow more and more upset as the passenger struggled. This world didn't deserve someone as pure as her.
"I'm sorry," she said, standing up and away.
The screaming was muffled by the door she shut with a bang, turning towards him once again. He looked her up and down, before turning around and offering his back.
And this time, this time she didn't ask if he was sure.
"What do we do now?" Beth asked, breaking the silence since it had happened – since the men in the black car with the white cross tried to snatch her up and take her away to God knows where. He couldn't even think about it – couldn't think of the endless possibilities that could have played out.
So very thankful for how things did turn out.
"Don't know," he answered honestly, because at this time in their survival together, there was no point in trying to hide anything. No point in trying to give her the false sense of security when he couldn't really fathom where they should go or what they should do.
They had agreed that they were going to stay in the funeral home – they had decided that they would make it work. And without word, they had postponed finding other members from the prison, had started to look for what could be now and tried desperately to forget then.
With everything pulled from under their feet, and the nagging feeling that someone would eventually come to find the men in the car, he knew nothing. He just didn't know at all – where to go, what direction to go in. Everywhere they turned there was something almost claiming them. Something or someone trying to rip what little they had left away.
She was still on his back and though she was tiny, she was solid. He hadn't made it as far away from the disaster as he had hoped, but knew that they needed to stop. She was gasping in pain every time he had to adjust her. He knew she was trying to hide it, and he couldn't take it any longer.
He walked away from the road they were travelling, a little ways into the cover of the trees before depositing her softly on the mossy forest floor. He noticed that she immediately clutched her wrist, the one that had gotten noticeably swelled and purple.
He knew her ankle still keened by the way she favourited it, but boy that arm was a mess.
"I-I think it's broken," she stuttered, eyeing him with a flash of worry in her eye. She masked it well, he noticed, but he was worried regardless. "I broke it before."
Daryl nodded, it was her body and he trusted her more than he thought he could ever trust someone. Maybe other than Merle, and even he had been spotty when it came to being there for Daryl. Trust was not something that came easy to him, and it never had. The months on the road had been good for them – they had bonded unexpectedly and he had to push the thought of the 'Oh's' out of his head because he needed to focus.
The darkness that surrounded them wasn't helping, and it was making him feel watched.
The backpacks that they had found were legit, and Daryl only had to think for a minute before he had his knife out and was cutting the back support rods out. They were thin but they were sturdy and it would be a lot safer and cleaner than wrapping her arm around sticks.
He glanced at her and she was watching him, still clutching to her arm that was steadily growing in size. Freezers no longer existed and they were in Georgia. He knew he wasn't about to find ice and he didn't even know where he was going to find anything relatively cold.
Beth's wide eyes watched him, the shade of them hard to see during the dead of night but he was pretty sure that she was starting to realize the headiness of the situation they had hardly escaped. And it wasn't like him at all, but he felt the need to reassure her.
He ripped off a section of an extra flannel that he had in his bag – the arm, actually, so it would not be wasted. And then he crouched in front of her, finally looking at her for more than just a glance. He looked straight into her eyes with his hand extended.
She gingerly passed her arm to him and he quickly got to work wrapping it as best he could. He'd broken bones before without getting them set – hell his old man surely wasn't paying the medical bill for some dumb kid when there was alcohol to be bought and consumed. But this was different – Beth was different.
"Hey," he called as softly as his voice would allow him, grabbing the bobby pin that she pulled out of her hair so he had something to secure the makeshift stint with. "It's gonna be okay."
She looked terrified, and it was gut wrenching to him.
Because he still had it out, and there was another sleeve that he preferred gone anyways, he ripped that off and tied it securely around her neck to keep her arm snug to her chest.
All he wanted to do was go back in time and take back those words – tell her to stay right where she was with him. Maybe those jackasses wouldn't have ran her over – maybe they would've backed off when they saw the likes of him.
He knew first hand that men like that didn't like to play with people their own size.
When everything was taken care of, and his now droopy pack was back on, he stood and looked around himself. They were still too close, and though exhaustion never bothered him before, he felt a sharp pang of regret that their plan to stay in the funeral home didn't pan out.
"C'mon," he coaxed, helping her stand by the pits of her arms when she struggled, noticeably embarrassed. He felt none of that embarrassment though, and knew that she was a tough son of a bitch if she was keeping herself contained over a broken bone. It was enough to make a grown man cry and he was once again amazed at the little blonde spitfire that was her. "Gonna walk until daylight. I wanna get us as far as I can from here."
She nodded, and though it was dark he could see the delirious look of pain wash across her when she moved her arm. He needed to get her somewhere safe, and fast. He needed to go on a run and get something for her – he couldn't stand to see her in pain like this. Something to take the swelling down, at least.
He kneeled and he tried to ignore the pain of guilt that twanged in his gut as she tried to hold back a groan of pain – did she think she needed to act tough for him?
"Okay," Beth breathed, her voice smaller and quieter than it usually was. And even if Daryl knew what it felt like to have her screech in his face, he would have preferred that – he would kill for that right now, rather than to see her in this sort of state. "Let's go."
He was true to his word when he said that he was going to walk until daybreak, and he hadn't gone back to the road where it would have been a lot easier to carry her. The terrain was rough and stumpy, and even Beth wondered how he carried on without as much as a falter.
She worried for him, but then her arm would move slightly and the searing pain would take her breath away. White hot pain was something that she wasn't accustomed to, not even something that she had to experience since the world ended.
Admittedly, she had been kind of sheltered before the prison fell, but had to step up immensely since her survival with Daryl. And though she would never admit that to him and let it go to his head, she knew it was thanks to him.
It was all thanks to him that when he deposited her on the ground as softly as he could, she found the strength inside herself to cover the gasp of pain that ricocheted around her skull in white hot pangs. They had been up for around twenty odd hours, and the pain was starting to make her delirious.
"Shit," he cursed as he noted her state, her far away eyes and pained expression. He had walked all night and he didn't feel like they were any further ahead. The deserted road stretched on for as far as he could see and there was nothing in the surrounding woods. No houses, no shacks, no cabins. It was pretty clear that they were in a lapse of communities, miles and miles out from the next according to the signs Daryl had stored away in the back of his head.
She slumped over where she was, and all Daryl could do was string together another line of curses.