Chapter 10 Beth Part 1 Daryl saves Beth and she's grateful.

A little light romance between Daryl and Beth. I've never written romance before so not sure.

(I've changed the time line from the series for my own purposes)

It started after Daryl saved Maggie and Beth from Randall's crew – the little bastard denied that he was involved, that he wasn't going to join in when he'd come back. But he obviously was, just had been on watch or scouting for potential enemies. He'd been coming back to join in the party with the two captured women. Daryl had seen it in his eyes then – the excitement despite his tearful protests when he was interrogating him. Or rather torturing him and beating the shit out of him. His youth hadn't saved him from Daryl's vengeance neither even though he only looked 20 at the most. But his eyes were old and his silvered tongue didn't work on Daryl.Because his keen eagle's eyes always saw through everybody's bullshit. Saw the truth behind his wide, apparently innocent eyes. Not that they would help him with Daryl who hadn't believed his lies – saw that he had done it many times before. Maybe he hadn't been like that before those people found him but he had become like that. Yeah, the Hunter thought, a good boy from a good family turned bad.

His choice.

Had allowed himself to be turned in the free- for- all that was now the Post-Apocalyptic World. Some people lost themselves completely or found themselves being what they never could have dreamt of with more freedom. They revelled in their new-found power and forgot that they were human beings.

In any case, Daryl needed to vent his rage at what happened to his brother. He couldn't get at the Governor right now but he needed someone to pay. And this little rapist who looked like a harmless, well-brought up college boy was as good an excuse as any. But Daryl saw Maggie and pretty Beth, hands tied, Beth's blue eyes, a mere shade darker than his, filled with tears and terror as the men loomed over her and her sister. Leering at them like they were such pieces of meat and making dirty jokes. Laughing about all the things they were going to do them. Maggie was whispering to her, trying to comfort her but Daryl couldn't hear what she was saying. Two of the men – a greasy, skinny blonde haired man and a short, dark haired man were already unzipping their trousers when Daryl just arrived in the nick of time. Luckily something had made him come to this area of the woods – the spoor of a buck he had spotted. Then he'd heard the men laughing and seen the campfire with the two women lying on the ground. Before they could get started and take turns. The blonde man was saying 'Hey, I want the young one first, can you take the other one?' And the girls began to scream and struggle when Daryl's crossbow pierced his throat and it spurted a small fountain of blood. He dropped his trousers to instinctively reach for his neck with both hands but he couldn't stem the flow. Then he fell down to the ground with his trousers tangled around his ankles. Way to go, asshole! Daryl chuckled humourlessly to himself. And they hadn't known what had hit them like a bolt out of the blue. A crossbolt actually from Daryl's crossbow. Next to die before he could even react in shock was the dark-haired man who fell with a one through his eye. Hewouldn't be coming back a Walker. Daryl was pleased with that one.

That just left three of the bastards who were made slow with all the beer they'd consumed. To build up their courage. Not that it would have mattered – Daryl was more than a match for all of them drunk or sober. The Hunter dispatched the nearest to him by slitting his throat, ear to ear with his hunting dagger before he even had time to react. But the remaining two had gathered enough wits about them by this time to try to tackle him but he was ready for them. He easily overpowered the first man who was lumbering clumsily towards him and wrestled him to the ground. Without looking back but sensing the other man coming up behind him, he kicked him away with his free foot, to buy himself some time. Then he stabbed the other in the eye – just like he'd done to Merle but Merle had been already dead and hadn't felt the pain (he hoped). But this bastard did – he screamed and had some kind of fit, making his whole body shake. Daryl just had time to stab him in the other eye through the brain – to make sure that he was down before he rolled away from the attack of the last man who was trying to punch him to the ground. He got up quickly, evading the man's clumsy blows because his reactions were far quicker and he was sober and got in to rapid right hooks that undercut the man's jaw. Then he kicked his legs from under him. He fell down and Daryl stabbed him viciously in the heart 3 times, pinning him to the ground. The bastard screamed in agony but then suddenly went still. They would have to deal with the ones who might come back, make sure they didn't. After Daryl had untied them and checked them to see they were unhurt, Maggie insisted on carrying out this task herself with a savage ferocity. She was only sorry that they already dead, she wanted to kill them herself. Painfully.

This image of Maggie and her sister but in particular her younger sister, trussed up with her pretty blond hair messed up and the terror he'd seen in her eyes fuelled Daryl's rage again against the bound prisoner. With his friends leering at her, their eyes crawling greedily all over her body and this prisoner in front of them who had belonged to them. So he swung back his fist as far back as it would go and slammed it again and again into the prisoner who screamed and groaned with the blood streaming down his face. Into his eyes so that he could barely see. Couldn't see where the next blow was coming from, adding to his terror and he begged for mercy. But it did him no good. But Daryl did change tack by brutally ripping off Herschell's bandage from the wound on Randall's leg. Then took out his hunter's knife and savagely stabbed the wound with it, 3 or 4 times, opening it up again when it had just started to scab over. And the blood gushed out and made a small puddle on the floor. Randall screamed in agony, wishing he had kept his mouth shut. 'Fuck you, fuck you, why are you doing this?' He sobbed. 'I'm innocent. I never touched no girls.'

'Yeah, right.' Daryl scoffed. 'Tell me about your group. How many?' And he took the point of the blade and just pressed it lightly but threateningly into Randall's wound again. Randall tried to buck and jerk his leg away but Daryl just pressed harder.

A warning.

'I said how many?' He snarled viciously, pushing him. And Randall began to stammer…'OK, there's about 20 of us... (Daryl pushed the blade in deeper, slowly) and he yelped and his voice began to rise in panic, ' No, I mean…about 30 of us.' He finally admitted and then trying to get Daryl's trust, 'There was this other time we found a father and his two teenage daughters, you know real young and real cute…' Incredibly, despite his pain and fear, Randall's eyes got a faraway look at this point and he unconsciously flicked his tongue between his lips. Like a snake, Daryl thought as his eyes narrowed in rage. 'And these guys…they ….um… (Daryl pressed the blade point deeper more viciously into his wound at this point and Randall screamed and tried to jerk his leg away again but this only made it worse) well.. well.. they did it in front of the father, made him w…watch, you know and they didn't even kill'em afterwards.' He stammered.

'But not you.' Daryl sneered. 'You just like to watch, right?' And he removed the knife-point from

Randall's wound. The boy, misunderstanding, nodded eagerly, hesitantly hopeful. 'You gotta believe me, I ain't like that.' He sobbed. 'I ain't like that.'

'Rape!' Daryl roared in rage. 'Raping teenage girls! Yeah, you are. Now I'm really gonna fuck you up.'

'Please.' Randall groaned.

And Daryl did and no-one came to stop him, not even Rick. 'Everyone has a choice.' He told Randall coldly before he really got going.

Afterwards, he met Dale outside the storeroom which they were using to contain the prisoner and brushed past his questioning look, staring down at Daryl's dripping red hands, slick with Randall's blood and flesh. He'd been listening outside the door towards the end before Randall finally passed out.

'What did you do to him? He's just a kid for God's sake.' He accused horrified. Staring at Daryl's bloody hands.

God, Daryl thought. Sometimes Dale just wanted to be too human to people who weren't even human. Would he feel the same way if Randall had attacked his daughter? 'Maybe he used to be but ain't anymore.' He replied defensively. 'Ain't been one for a long time. And I didn't do nothing to him that he didn't deserve. Do you know what he and his buddies were going to do to Beth and Maggie? And there's 30 of them out there with more ammo. As well as Woodbury. We're in som' serious shit. I need to go and tell Rick.'

'Maybe that's true. But you're a decent man.' Dale had told him. 'This ain't you, torturing people.'

Daryl drew back, surprised. A lot of the people in the group dismissed Dale because he was older and couldn't fight so well and hung around Andrea - the traitor. But he could see people, just like Daryl always could. Beyond the voice and the eyes and the words and their actions – really see them, see what they didn't always want you to see. And he'd always sought Daryl out and talked to him in the early days – when Daryl had been almost a shunned outsider. Mainly because of Merle, guilt by association. Had talked to him like he was a decent human being – one of them. Hadn't cared what the others thought – well Merle hadn't exactly helped them warm to him. The man's contribution to the group – his skills of perception and insight went unappreciated by most people except for Rick when he advised the leader. And Rick had listened to him. Daryl also remembered that Dale seemed to be the only other person in the group to see through Shane apart from him. Later, Daryl would be genuinely sorry when he had to put Dale out of his misery – the first time he'd taken over from Rick and done what he couldn't do. Helped him out.

'Sorry, brother.' He would say when he saw the permission in Dale's agony-filled eyes. Before he put him out of his misery. Because he knew that he would miss him afterwards.

Daryl realised that there was his Daddy and Merle in him who lived for and thrived on violence but he himself was different. He wasn't scared to use it when necessary but he didn't revel in it. Merle had laughed at him for that – called him Sweet Daryl. Well - normally that was. But this little shit Randall was an exception. For what he had been going to do to Beth.

And Beth was so relieved and grateful when Daryl untied them and checked that they were unhurt that she hugged him. He'd flinched at first but then hugged her back cautiously – after all he could see that she was shaking and her eyes were filled with unshed tears. That she needed the comfort after the ordeal they'd been through. And Daryl didn't miss the sharp look that Maggie gave her younger sister before he let her go. She also thanked Daryl but knew better than to try to touch him and they made their way back to the prison.

Maggie and Beth retold the story to the others who looked at Daryl with new respect. Herschell had shaken his hand and said that if he needed anything medical to just let him know. That he would always be grateful to him for saving his daughters. And Beth started looking at him differently, too with some other emotion shining in her eyes that he didn't recognise. For example, her blue eyes would light up whenever she saw him. And then it seemed like everywhere he turned she was there, at his elbow. That often when he came back from hunting she was waiting for him with a bowl of squirrel stew ready for him in her hands. Like she knew when he would come back. Although she never touched him again, it seemed like she had become his shadow. A part of him. He knew that he would normally feel threatened by this but found himself actually quite liking it and even expecting to find her there waiting for him when he came back from hunting or when they chatted over feeding and putting Judith to bed. Even started looking forward to these moments with her. They'd always been polite to one another – said 'Hi' in the corridors but there'd been a distance between them – she was 20 years younger than him for God's sake. Why did a pretty 17 year-old girl want to hang out with an old man like him? Not that she had much choice of playmates. There was Carl of course, he thought sarcastically. Although Daryl knew he didn't look his age, more like early thirties than nearly 40 unlike his brother Merle who looked at least 10 years older than his age. But then Merle had fought in wars and been in prison and hadn't been adverse to using drugs like crystal meth. Daryl on the other hand, had never felt the need to use drugs apart from the odd spliff or cigarette although he liked his liquor, especially his beer. When he could get it. And he'd always tried to look after his body – working out, keeping in shape.

The growing closeness between the two didn't escape the group's notice. Especially Carol who called Beth over when she was doing the laundry alone in the river. Away from the ears and eyes of the others.

'Hi Beth, can I speak to you for a moment?'

'Sure. What is it?'

'It's …um…about Daryl.'

'Uh…OK.' Beth said reluctantly, feeling a little embarrassed. Blushing a little.

'Now, I know that you two are getting close but I'm telling you to leave him alone.'

'Why?' Beth said guilelessly. 'We're just friends.'

'You don't have any …any other feelings for him?'

'Why? Just because you do?' Beth retorted.

Carol felt a sharp pain in her chest, where her heart was because the girl had hit the nail on the head. Because he didn't seem to feel the same way although God knows, she'd given him plenty of hints. Flirted with him numerous times but he just didn't seem to get it. And despite all the painful secrets they'd shared it seemed that it would have to be enough for her that they were just friends. But every time she wanted to spend time with him or catch up, Beth seemed to be there. The girl had even taken over his meals – making sure that he was eating enough. And Carol felt like she was intruding and backed off. But she missed her friend. And anyway, how could a dowdy woman approaching middle-age compete with a pretty, sassy 17 year-old with her whole life ahead of her?

'Look, Beth. I'm a lot older than you.'

'Yeah, you are.' The girl replied rudely.

'I mean…' Carol continued, ignoring her remark, 'He's not for you. Besides being too old, he's not like other men.'

'You mean you think he's gonna hurt me?' Beth asked fearfully. Everyone knew how he had nearly beaten and tortured Randall brutally to death. Because of what he and his people were going to do to her and Maggie.

'No, not that.' (Carol didn't mention that she thought Beth might hurt him.)

'Yeah, well it's not like I have a lot of choice around here. And with the whole End of the World Thing and the Governor who might come to wipe us out any day, I think I'll take my chances.' And with that she tossed her blonde mane and left Carol by the riverside.

Carol shook her head in frustration and thought Silly girl, didn't she know that she was playing with fire? She dreaded the outcome, felt that it couldn't be good. She on the other hand understood Daryl. How to handle him. What he needed. Anyway, how would Herschell feel? What would Rick and others think about Daryl, nearly 40 and a 17 year old? Barely legal.Or didn't the old rules matter anymore?

But Beth stormed back to camp, her mind made up by Carol's interference. Been reminded of how short life was – especially now. She'd had enough of waiting, she would make her move tonight.

They'd just finished putting Judith to bed with Daryl feeding her and burping her and Beth singing the soft lullaby that never failed to settle her down to sleep. Daryl was feeling relaxed, like he always felt after spending time with the baby but tired. Beth's sweet singing voice also had a similar effect.

'Right. I'm going to my crib. I'm whacked. See you tomorrow.' He said standing up, after they'd laid her down, yawning and stretching.

'OK. Night.' She replied. 'Sleep well.'

'You too.' He nodded at her.

But 30 minutes later she was at his open cell door (he could never close the bolted door, it made him feel even more trapped) in a flimsy white peignoir that she'd found in one of the houses on a run. He could almost see everything, through the thin fabric. Including the swell of her hips, the line of her youthful curves – rounded yet slim and her high bust. Her flat belly although he tried not to look. She was just a kid for fuck's sake. Didn't she know how dangerous it was to come into a man's bedroom at night? Jus' lookin' for trouble.

'Shhh…' she said, her finger to her lip.

'What…what are you doing here?' He asked half angry, half sleepily. He'd just been dropping off and she'd never come to his cell at night before. And why was she dressed like that?

She crept up to him although they didn't have to worry about waking up the others –typically, he'd put as much distance as he could between them and him when he was sleeping, when he was vulnerable. So they were in the wing of the prison most far away from the others. Before that, he taken to sleeping in the crow's nest because he couldn't bear to be shut up in a cell, in a cage. But he'd felt too exposed there – not enough privacy. He didn't much like being in the prison but had to agree with Rick that it was the safest place now with not only the Walkers but the Governor on their backs.

She crept nearer to him on tiptoe, her blonde hair was flowing down her shoulders like a thick shawl. It had got long.

'Go away,' he muttered and turned his back to her, facing the wall and tried to go back to sleep.

'I'm scared.' She whispered to his back, still not touching him.

That got his attention. 'Why?' He mumbled. Still not turning around.

'I had …I had a nightmare about those men.' Her voice wavered but it was a lie but she knew that this would get a reaction out of him. 'That they were going to hurt me again.'

'No need to be scared.' He drawled, this time sounding slightly more awake. 'Ain't gonna let nothin' bad happen to you. You're safe with me.' And he reached round with one arm and dragged her onto the bed. And then he drew the blankets up and over them. And they just about fitted onto the narrow lowest prison bunk – neither of them were big people and everyone had lost weight since the outbreak. Stress, lack of food and more physical activity such as going on runs and fighting Walkers and other humans. Fighting other human beings who were even worse than the Biters. They after all, couldn't help what they were.

She lay there for a while, enjoying the comforting weight of his arm around her – making her feel safe. She'd got the man who hated to be touched (why was that? she wondered) to put his arm round her! But she wanted more than this – a lot more. She was in her prime and her hormones were raging through her body. And she wanted nothing more than to have his lean body under her or on top of her. His muscular legs wrapped around hers. In any case, she wanted him inside of her. God, she was so sick of waiting. Was it her age? Is that why he hadn't made a real move yet? Or was he just too much of a gentleman? She giggled at that. No-one in their right mind would ever call rough, unpolished Daryl a gentleman.

Because despite what everyone in the camp thought, especially her father and Maggie, she wasn't some innocent little girl. She knew that her father would have a problem with Daryl – he wasn't exactly the boyfriend he had envisaged for her. Luckily, he had seemed oblivious to their growing attraction like everyone else except her sister who suspected and didn't judge. The rest of the group thought their growing friendship strange but never guessed the real mutual attraction beneath it. Passed it off as just something that came of looking after Judith together. And while Maggie respected Daryl and was grateful to him for saving them, they weren't exactly close but she was letting her sister make her own choices. Besides, she was too occupied with her own romance with Glenn and was never in their room anyway and their father, being the old-fashioned southern gentleman type, would never dream of coming to their room at night. So her absence could go undetected. And anyway, both of them had had enough of their father's overprotective interference in their love-lives although they knew that he always meant well.

Despite the fact that she knew Daryl was way too old, she couldn't help her attraction to him. Couldn't forget how he had saved her and Maggie, how when she was with him she wasn't afraid of anything. Not of the Governor, not of Randall or the Walkers. How powerful and strong he was, even if he were a little rough and a redneck. If a little scary and unpredictable sometimes.

She whispered softly. 'Daryl? Are you awake?'

'No.' he replied and she laughed. Then he pulled her closer to him so that her head was cradled on his chest and she could hear his heartbeat slowing down as he finally fell asleep.

Oh, well she would have to leave it for tonight. He was obviously exhausted and she had to let him sleep.

She hoped that he would let it happen again.