Disclaimer: This story is for entertainment only. I do not own The Walking Dead or any of the characters from either the TV show or the graphic novel.

Zen. He can't remember exactly where or when he picked up that word. He always thought it meant something along the lines of sane, calm, logical. Around the group and how crazy things would get at times, he usually felt like he was the only one who was.

But right now, with Beth's hand in his hand as they stand by a stranger's grave, the word has a new meaning.

It's this. Whatever he feels inside of him and in the space between his fingers and hers – this is Zen. Finally, a word to use to explain the way his heart slows down and speeds up all at once whenever she's around. A word to explain how easily the mess in his brain just goes away when she's there. This is what it means. Zen.

He's not dumb enough to think it means anything. He's not dumb enough to think she means anything by holding his hand. The grave obviously only reminded her of Hershel and she took his hand because she was sad. And he finds himself letting her because she's Beth and she's always doing stuff like that. Hugging you or trying to make you laugh. It's just how she is and he tells himself that's all it is.

There's no way in hell she that meant anything by it. Not for a Dixon. Not for him.

But he feels it again when she's playing the piano. They're in a damn funeral home and he's lying in a damn coffin and the situation is weird as shit but as she sings and he rests, he feels it again. All over him and around him. Zen.

He never lets anyone get too close and it's always served him well. Even now, it's only for survival and that's the one thing he knows how to do. But this girl is hell-bent on breaking through the wall he's built so carefully his whole life. And for the first time, he finds himself okay with the idea of letting someone in not just for survival. (Although he tells himself it still counts as such since as far as they know, they're the only two people left.) If he can't trust her and she can't trust him, there's no chance in hell they'll get much farther. So, he tells her to play the piano and he finds himself actually wanting to hear her sing.

He tells himself that the feeling – the Zen – is just a version of trust growing between them. Before the attack at the prison, he'd never spent too much time with her, so it was natural to be happening now that they'd been together alone. He had it with Rick. With Carol. That level of blind trust that makes it second-nature to fight beside someone as easily as offering them a hand.

He ignores the voice telling him that it feels different this time. That's all it is and the only reason it feels different with her is because he wasn't used to trusting people.

And he certainly wasn't used to people trusting him. Least of all, someone as kind and pure as Beth.

But he tries to let the trust in.

They eat together and he lets her have more than him. He tells her to stay back when he goes to investigate the noise at the door and crosses his fingers that the dog comes back, just because she wants to see it.

When she writes a note trying to thank the home's owner, he doesn't scoff like he would have before. He promises her that they'll stay.

He feels it so clearly, just sitting there next to her at the table, that he does something stupid. Something he's never done before.

She asks him what changed his mind about there being good people in the world and he almost tells her the truth. But she's Beth so she looks at him with those huge, honest eyes of hers and asks him again. And he knows that he can't say it. Then she knows he can't say it. And then she understands it for herself.

And he wants to leave, evaporate, run far away from the way she's looking at him in that moment.

He doesn't deserve to be looked at like that.

And then it happens. The noise at the door. The dog barking.

He thinks, she'll be so happy.

He doesn't think, maybe I should check before opening the door.

He doesn't think, but he tells her to run ahead so she has a chance. She has to live, because this world needs people like her.

He doesn't think and that's why she's gone, in a car, going who knows where.

He doesn't think.

The one night he doesn't think and tries to feel instead –this is where it gets him.

The world takes her away from him just as soon as he decides to try finally, finally let her in.

A/N: Please review! I might update with Beth's POV as well :)