"You're gonna miss me so bad when I'm gone, Daryl Dixon." - Beth Greene (Walking Dead)

Like a dozen times before, he sat down on the grass, staring out at the azure sky as thoughts of the past came rushing back like sweet memories. She had been taken from him, stolen in the night. He would have done ANYTHING to have brought her back. He had vowed never to give up. He'd find her no matter what, because there was so much he needed to say to her. Thankfully he had let nothing stand in his way. He had found her in that Atlanta hospital where she was imprisoned and abused. After all, she had quipped that Daryl Dixon would be the last man standing. There was nothing in the world that he would have let stand between him and Beth, so he found her. He found Beth and he brought her back to him...

When he discovered Beth in the hospital in Atlanta, he had to fight his way inside to save her. He had his friends at his side willing to help him rescue her. "Beth!" he cried out, finding her lying in a hospital bed, wounded and stitched up from the abuse and torment she had endured.

Tenderly he stroked her cheek, just under the jagged flesh that had been so carelessly torn. The wound was angry and festered, held together with haphazard stitches. Beth had a slight fever. All he knew and all he could think about was that he had to get her out of there, that crazy, messed up fortress of a hospital. He had to tend to her wounds. He HAD TO heal her.

"Beth, it's me. It's Daryl."

She spoke his name, looking up at him with eyes which were like the bluest of skies. He had missed those eyes of blue and the sweet melody that was her voice.

"You're gonna be alright. Rick's here. We all are. We are taking you with us."

She wrapped her arms around him as he lifted her out of bed. She was so weak that she could not walk. He couldn't imagine the horrors that she had been through.

She rested her head against his strong, muscular shoulder, feeling safe at last - content. She was going home... and home was with Daryl and all those they loved.

"Is everyone okay? How's Judith? Did everyone make it out? Where's Rick and Carl?" she questioned in classic Beth-chatter. Daryl couldn't help but smirk a little. He had missed her talking and all her incessant questions.

"Everyone's just fine, Beth. It's you I gotta save now. Hang on tight."

"I knew you'd come for me. I just knew it," she said as she hugged him even tighter.

"I would have walked to the ends of the earth for you," he quipped as he looked deep into her eyes. He would have said more, but now was not the time or the place. He had to get her to safety. Then they'd have all the time in the world so he could say all the things he had been longing to tell her.

It was a bloody battle on the way out, but Daryl had his friends to back him up as the hospital staff tried to block their path. The enemy was defeated, but this time it was not the Walking Dead, but the living that had caused so much agony and destruction. Sadly, Beth had been taken prisoner by them and torn away from the ones who loved her. Maggie, her sister wanted her back along with the rest of her "family." They were a tight knit group and Daryl was one of the most loved of the bunch. He had was as tough as they came, but it was a young woman with golden hair and eyes like the sky that had ministered to his deepest wounds and gave him a new sense of purpose.

After they made it out of the hospital, Maggie was thrilled to see her sister. "Beth!" she cried out as she and Glenn came upon Daryl who was carrying Beth from the facility.

"Is... is she alright?" Maggie asked, seeing that Beth's head was lying limp upon Daryl's shoulder.

Daryl shifted his precious burden, looking down at the young woman in his arms with tenderness. "She's hurting... but she's gonna make it. I think she just went unconscious."

Maggie looked worried as she touched her sister's cheek. Her little sister Beth felt feverish. "What in the hell did they DO to her?" she gasped, seeing the gruesome wounds on Beth's sweet face.

"She's going to make it," Daryl said again, this time his words so much stronger. He'd come this far. He had saved her. He wasn't about to let

anything happen to Beth now. There was so much he needed to say to her.

Daryl and his friends got Beth to safety. They found an old abandoned house and set up for the night as the darkness fell and Beth began to regain awareness. She found herself all alone in a room with Daryl.

"Where's Maggie? Where's everyone?" she asked as Daryl gently cleansed her wounds with a damp washcloth.

"They're all here. They can't wait to see you," Daryl whispered.

"I can't wait to see them, too. I missed everyone SO much. Is Maggie alright?"

"She's just fine. She and Glenn are going to have a baby."

"A baby?!" Beth said with so much happiness. She was beaming with radiance. She looked just like a precious angel. "I am going to be an aunt!"

"You are..." he said as he placed the wash cloth aside and tenderly brushed the stray tendrils of golden strands from her bruised cheek.

"Daryl, I'm so sorry-."

"Why? Why would you be sorry?"

"Because we got separated. I didn't listen to you, so-so they grabbed me..."

"It's not your fault," he said gently. "If anything, it was mine. I shouldda protected you. I shouldda..."

She reached out and touched his face, her caress as light as an angel's wing upon his calloused skin. "You saved me. You searched until you found me... just like I knew you would."

He reached for her, taking her in his arms again. He didn't say a word as he just held her, so thankful that she was alive.

"Daryl, I have to tell you something."

His heart stopped. He was staring into her eyes by the light of a single dancing candle. "I love you. So much."

She clung to him then as silent tears pricked at his eyes. She had just said exactly what he had been needing to say since the moment she was taken which was the very same moment that he realized it was true. Somehow, someway, he had fallen in love with Beth Greene. She wasn't like other girls - or so she had told him.

A single teardrop fell on her face, landing upon her wound as it gently grazed and caressed it. "I love you, too, Beth. This whole world is crazy and fucked up, but I know that more than anything - I love you and I am never gonna let you go again. I swear it."

But as he held her, as he felt her sweet touch, she began to fade away from him slowly, until second by second, she had faded into nothingness. In the space of a few heartbeats, she was gone.

"Beth," he whispered plaintively.

*Come back to me. PLEASE come back.* his heart cried, but as he sat next to her grave, she didn't return. She never did. There were only the should-have-beens and the could-of-beens that his sorrowed mind dreamed up. If only he had gotten to Atlanta sooner. If only...

As it was, Beth was murdered by her captors right before his eyes, in the exact same moment they were reunited after all those months he had spent searching for her. Her blood spilled out on the floor in a crimson rush as he destroyed the one who killed her. Then he reached out, taking Beth in his arms. For a blessed minute, her body was still warm, but her eyes were frozen, forever open - staring but unseeing. She would never see again. Beth was gone.

He clutched her to him, weeping openly as her blood soaked his bronzed skin. Now he'd never get to say the words. Now he'd never get to tell her how a beautiful angel with golden hair, sky-blue eyes and porcelain skin had managed to awaken his raged heart. He'd never get to tell her that her sweet melodies had soothed all the rough spots inside his tortured soul so he could be free and whole again.

"Beth," he murmured brokenly as he carried her out of the facility and into the glaring sunlight to Maggie who wept openly as Glenn held his pregnant wife.

All he cared about then was getting her away from that dreadful place, so she could have a proper burial. He longed to send her off to a better place, so she could be with her loving father who had also met a cruel and unjust death. Hershel would be reunited with his youngest daughter now, his precious Beth, but Daryl could feel very little gladness in it. As selfish as it was, he wanted her with him. There was so much he still had yet to say.

So everyday since that fateful one in Atlanta, he sat at her gravesite, holding her pocket knife in his hand. It was the only tangible thing he had left of her. He'd stare down at the words he had engraved into his arm. BETH He had cut those four letters into his flesh with her own knife, because he never wanted to forget her... as if he ever possibly could.

As he sat there on the grass day after her day, playing over the memories, he would think of how things might have been had Beth lived -the things he would have said and the life they could have had if he hadn't lost her. His friends ached with him. Everyone had loved her. She had been an angel on earth... and now she was one in Heaven. He could feel her presence with him... even now as he mourned.

It was as if she was speaking out him with those words she had said - "You're gonna miss me so bad when I'm gone, Daryl Dixon."

*I do, Beth. I do,* he responded to her, but only in his heart.

He looked up as footsteps approached. It was Maggie; Glenn at her side. She held her baby girl with dark hair and rich brown eyes in her arms. The child looked just like her daddy. The name they had given her was Elizabeth in honor of her Auntie Beth.

Elizabeth held out her tiny arms to Daryl. She had a special bond with her honorary Uncle Daryl. The little girl's toothless grin brought a rare half-smile to Daryl's smudged face.

Lovingly Maggie reached out, touching Daryl's shoulder. "She's watching over us, you know," Maggie said softly. "She's still here with us."

Daryl held sweet Elizabeth in his arms, cooing to her softly. As she stared at him, he thought he could see Beth's reflection in her tiny gaze. She'd never leave her family... not completely. A part of her was always with him and that was forever.

"You're right, but I sure do miss her," Daryl said, laying a hand on his heart. It hurt so much with every aching beat. That is how he knew he was still alive - as Beth had said, 'he would be the last man standing.'

Daryl: I was with Beth. We got out together. I was with her for awhile.

Rick: Is she dead?

Daryl: She's just gone.

The End