Chapter Three: It's all gonna shift, it's out of our hands.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, except for the plot.
Pink water sloshed around in the bucket she was using. Her sleeves were rolled up to the elbows, and the water dripped down her wrists, trailing her veins. She scrubbed furiously at the blood on the wall. Noah was a good kid. He didn't deserve what had happened to him. "You okay?" Daryl asked quietly, as he wrapped the mangled body into the white sheets.
Beth began to nod, and she wiped the sweat from her forehead leaving a smear of dark red. She paused for a moment. "I've known for a while that walkers ain't the only bad thing in this world." She stared at Daryl as he continued to work. He began to tie up Noah's legs with one third of the rope he had. "I guess, in a way, people are worse. They know what they're doin'."
Daryl didn't know how to respond to that. Yeah, people were bad, but not all people. Some people could be saved. Like his brother, Merle. He watched her as she worked, her beautiful hair tumbling down her shoulders. She was scrubbing so hard, he could tell she was close to collapsing into tears. Yet she didn't, and he admired her for that.
They worked in silence for a time, and Beth dropped her towel next to the bucket. She sat down next to the wall, trying desperately to keep her composure. She was an adult now, and she couldn't let anyone see her so weak. She wasn't that silly little girl anymore. This world had hardened her. Daryl looked up, and it nearly killed him to see her in such disarray. He finished wrapping up the body, and he wiped his hands on his jeans.
"Did you know him good?" He asked. Beth shook her head, and she leaned it back against the clean part of the wall. He was one of Zach's good friends, and after Zach had gone… They didn't talk very often. "No." Daryl walked over, and he sat down next to her. "You can't just hole up your emotions like that." Beth let a small laugh escape her, and she dropped her head to his shoulder. "Hypocrite."
He laughed with her then, and he looked out into the night. "Yeah. I know." It was quiet as it usually was. They had strung up walker parts all over the fence. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective. The breeze had quieted from that morning, but that didn't take away the chill. "Thank you, Daryl." She whispered, and he felt the weight of her head on his shoulder shift.
He didn't have to ask for what. He already knew. He was there for her after her father died, when Maggie had curled up into herself. Beth had shut down completely, even worse than she had for her mother. He had to admit he was always jealous (if only a little) that she had someone to care for her like her father did.
That's the way it goes, it seemed. When Carl's mother had died, he was there for him when his father couldn't be. "I think little Carl has a crush on you." Daryl voiced aloud. Beth raised her head, and she swatted his arm in protest. "No way. He and I are like family. That's pretty much what the council is. Family." She laughed.
Daryl smiled down at her, and he shrugged. "Oh really? You gon' go and devastate the boy like that." Beth placed her head back onto the comfort of his leather jacket. "I guess I'm gonna have to. He's my little brother. Maggie's my sister. Glenn's my brother in law. Carol's like a second mom to me. Sasha, Michonne and Tyrese are distant cousins." She informed him, matter-of-factly.
"Oh yeah?" Daryl began, and he put lit up a cigarette. "Where does that leave me and Rick?" Beth slipped her hands around his arm, and she shrugged. "Well, Rick is like…" She paused. What was Rick to her? He wasn't her dad, that was her daddy alive or not.
"He's our guide. Like from right, and wrong. I don't know where to place him, but he's there. He protects us just like you do. And you? You're like a family friend that everyone loves. The bad kid in town with a heart of gold."
That piqued Daryl's interests, and he took a drag of his cigarette. "A heart of gold? You sound like some type of romance author." Beth nodded, and she smiled. An actual smile, no strings attached. "Doesn't matter if it's true."
Daryl finished his cigarette and he tossed it away against the prison. "You gonna sing tonight?" He asked. Beth shook her head, and she sighed. "I dunno."
Daryl looked down at her then, a burning fire in his eyes.
"Do you think it was one of our own?" He questioned her.
"Who else could have done it so fast?" came her reply.
Beth stood up suddenly, and she went back to her scrubbing. Daryl took the hint and he went back to Noah. He picked him up and he threw him over his shoulder. Moments later, Beth threw in her towel. The words had been scrubbed away, but there was a large splurge of red. She tossed the rest of the water onto the wall. It washed away the remainders, and it was almost as if Noah's tragic death had been erased.
"What happened out there?" Michonne questioned, leaning her chair back on two legs. Rick shook his head, and he sighed. "We got a message." Maggie furrowed her brows together, and she clutched onto Glenn's hand. "What kind of message?" She asked.
Rick shook his head once more, distraught at even the possibility of him. "It was from the Governor." Beth whispered, her eyes filled to the brim with tears. Gasps were heard through-out the room. Daryl clenched and un-clenched his fists under the table. "No. Beth. We don't know that." Rick snapped, and he took a deep breath. Beth laughed once, a cold unforgiving laugh. "Rick did you even read the writing on the wall?"
Michonne glared at something past the group. "What did it say?" She demanded, her fingers itching for her Katana. "The damn thing said, 'Eye see you'." Daryl growled, and he pointed to his right eye for emphasis. Glenn stood up, anger surging through his veins. "We need to find the fucker that did this." Rick held his hand out, and he stood slowly. "Glenn. We will find him." He said it with such vigilance that it made most of the group stop in their tracks. It was Carol's turn to laugh, and she rolled her eyes.
"Oh yeah? How are we going to do that? Wait until one of us is strung up on that wall?" Maggie touched Carol's elbow, and Carol snatched it away. "No, Maggie. Something needs to be done about this before someone else gets hurt." Maggie grabbed onto Carol's elbow, and she spun her around to face her. "How are we gonna do that when we don't know who did it?"
Beth and Michonne nodded. "She's right, Carol." Michonne declared. Carol ripped her elbow out of Maggie's grip. "Don't you dare touch me." She seethed, and she glared at her. "Carol." Beth protested, and Carol smirked as she pulled up her sleeves. "Oh shut up, Beth. This isn't something one of your damn songs can fix." She spoke coldly and without reason. Daryl stood, and he regarded Carol icily. "Carol, this isn't Beth's fault. Don't be putting her down." He warned.
Carol smirked, nearly at the end of her rope. "I will put down who ever I feel like, Daryl Dixon." Daryl fingered his bow, and he nearly brought it up to point at her. "Not. Her." He spoke, almost death-like. Beth placed a hand on Daryl's back, and he flinched. He looked down into her pleading eyes, and he breathed out in anger. "That's enough, guys." Rick demanded trying to take back control of the situation.
"We need to figure out who did this. Until then, we'll have watches put out." Rick ordered, glaring at the group. Rick thrust a piece of paper into the middle of the table. "Daryl. You and Beth go out to the tower closest to where Noah was killed, and you keep watch for tonight. Glenn and Maggie will relieve you in the morning."
Beth walked as quietly as she could down the echoing corridor. She picked up her gun, knife, notebook, pencil, flashlight, and a pillow. Certainly she and Daryl would take turns watching through-out the night. She hurried out of her cell, and nearly smacked into Daryl. She let out a small squeak and Daryl chuckled softly. "It's just me."
The walk to the tower had been quiet between the pair, and for the most part the night was quiet as well albeit the lowing of the walkers every once and a great while. When they arrived at the looming tower, Beth took a deep breath. Memories flashing to the forefront of her mind. Her vision darkened, and she held her hand to the wall to keep herself up right.
Daryl grabbed onto her, and he helped her to stand. "What's wrong?" He questioned, his brows creasing in their worry. Beth shook her head, and the darkness faded. "Nothing. I'm okay." She lied, still feeling a bit lightheaded. Daryl nodded and he released her. "A'right." He pushed open the door, and he lead her up the stairs.
They seated themselves in comfort. There were two rickety old metal stool with half of the polyester ripped out, blood smears decorated the floor, and the smell of death, musty and ancient, filled the stuffy room. Daryl nodded to the stool nearest the window, and Beth placed her things onto the window sill. "You ain't gonna get much writing done in the dark." He commented with a smirk.
Beth groaned. She should have realized they would have to be hidden in the darkness. No one other than the council knew they were keeping watch. She threw down her pencil and notebook. They clanged noisily onto the floor. Daryl stared at her pointedly, and Beth let out a nervous laugh. "Sorry." She mumbled.
A few hours passed, and the pair had exchanged childhood stories. Some good ones (usually Beth), and some frightening ones (usually Daryl). The conversation had begun to die down after a while. Beth was nearly nodding off at the window sill, and Daryl kept watch vigilantly. "Whatcha thinkin' about?" He asked, needing to do something to pass the time. Beth shrugged, and she curled up into her coat. "I guess, I'm just thinkin about how we're gonna get the guy who killed Noah, and how we're gonna distract the community."
Daryl leaned back, and he lit up a smoke. "We'll figure out somehow. We always do." Beth stood up, and she tried to shake off the fatigue. "Yeah. I hope so." She held the doorway and she stretched out her back. "I really wish we had coffee." She mentioned, smiling. She'd hated coffee, and in the old world she'd only tried it once. Does it taste differently when you're older? Daryl grinned, and he took another drag.
"I wasn't much one for coffee." Coffee was his father's beverage of choice when he was going through a monumental hangover. Which wasn't very often, because his father was usually drunk. Neither spoke for a few moments, dreaming of a world without walkers. Beth's vision was beautiful. She would still have her daddy and her momma. They would wake up early in the morning, play a game or two of cribbage, and have a pot of coffee brewing.
Daryl's was far more nightmarish, and he pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind. Daryl finished his cigarette. He crushed it against the wall, and he watched as a waterfall of embers fell to the floor. "I don't sleep too well anymore." Beth began, and she leaned against the windowsill. Daryl strode over next to her, and he silently agreed.
Feeling a rush of courage or stupidity, Daryl couldn't tell which, he asked her the question he had wanted to for months. "Is it you that cries at night?" Beth looked up at him in shock, and she didn't answer him. That, alone, was answer enough for Daryl. "Why?" He asked, looking at her intensely. Beth shook her head, and her gaze fell to her wrist.
The one she had tried to use as a vessel to the gates of Heaven, or Hell depending upon the religion you believe in. She rubbed her fingers across the sharp white scar. "I didn't know anyone could hear me." She admitted, and she looked back out to the horizon, past the prison and the trees. Past the existence of this cruel world she had come to live.
The sun was coming up over the hills and it made the air a bit crisper. Beth began to shiver, and Daryl chuckled to himself. "Women." He muttered, as he shed himself of his coat, and he tossed it over her shoulders. "Thanks." She whispered. He smiled down at her, and he was caught if only for a moment by the lure of her grey blue eyes.
Beth leaned into his side, and before he could stop himself. Before he could intellectually battle himself. Before he could even think. He leaned down to kiss her.
Their lips brushed together softly, and that's when Beth decided to pull away. She retreated back to her stool, and she left Daryl standing at the window. "Beth." He protested, going back to her. "What's wrong?" He placed his hands on her shoulders, and Beth shrugged him off. "Nothing Daryl."
Before they could continue their conversation, the large metal door clanged noisly at the bottom of the stairs. Beth delicately took off Daryl's jacket, and she held it out to him. He took it reluctantly, and he picked up his crossbow. "Wake up, Slackers!" Glenn's voice rang out through the tower as he burst through the door.
The morning was bright and misty down in the yard. The community began to drizzle down slowly for what could hardly be called a sermon. Noah's mother had died when the Woodbury Survivors had come to live at the prison. He had no one to call family. At least blood relatives. Where 'family' was concerned everyone had each other when the times were rough.
Rick's eyes swept over the 40ish people in their little community, meeting nearly each of their gazes. "Noah was a good kid. He didn't deserve what happened to him, but this is just a reminder to us all. The dangers are far from over." His eyes flashed over to Beth who stood between himself and Daryl. He touched her shoulder, and he nodded. "Go on." He sighed.
All eyes were on her and with slight hesitation, Beth began to sing:
"Love of mine, some day you will die,
But I'll be close behind.
I'll follow you into the dark.
No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white.
Just our hands clasped so tight.
Waiting for the hint of a spark.
If Heaven and Hell decide,
That they both are satisfied.
Illuminate the "No's" on their vacancy signs
If there's no one beside you,
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark."
All was quiet for a few moments, and one by one people lined up to throw dirt over the body. Beth threw her share of dirt, and she started up the path as Daryl followed close behind. "You gonna talk to me?" He asked, trying his hardest to keep his emotions intact. Beth shook her head, and she tried to walk faster. Yet years of chasing down walkers had given Daryl the upper hand. He swooped in, grabbing her by the waist and he pressed her against the shed. "Don't shut me out, Beth." He warned, his face inches from hers.
A/N: I don't really like to do these, because I think they take away from the story itself. But I want to thank all of you guys for reviewing, favoriting, and following my fanfiction. You guys keep me going, and you give me some brilliant ideas. Thank you.