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Chapter One: Breaking

"We gotta go, Beth" his voice said oddly calm after all that had happened, it was a stark contrast to her distraught panicked self. "We gotta go" he said again. They exchanged a look and they started a fast jog. They were running from the prison, once their home, once a piece of mind, a place where she felt safe. Now it was filled with evil memories. It all happened so fast. And as they jogged away, she wondered if anyone else had made it. The bus was gone, so she assumed they had left them. But was Maggie on board? Had she gotten to Glenn? Rick and Carl did Michonne escape and reach the bus in time? Did Tyreese get out okay? What about the kids? Maybe Maggie found the kids and Judith. Or maybe none of them made it. She suddenly stopped when that thought crossed her kind, followed by the last time she saw her daddy. Then she wondered if The Governor had been killed. Was he still alive? She felt anger bubble up.

She was shaken from her thoughts when a hand gently grabbed her forearm and pulled her forward. it let go and she looked up to see those angels wings right in front as her legs suddenly picked up speed to keep up with the man. She decided she wouldn't cry, wouldn't be upset. She pushed forward and followed him.

She was thinking of everything that had happened and everyone as the hours ticked away. They hadn't uttered a word to each other the whole time; she hadn't even looked at him. But he kept a pace that she could follow; he was by her side the whole time. One thing she realized as their jogging turned into a walk, she wasn't afraid as he walked next to her. She felt like she was safe with him. They were walking through the woods, careful and steady. She wondered if he had a plan. They were without a vehicle, without any more ammo, supplies, water, and food.

She had been watching her boots crunch the leaves as they walked; she felt his presence so she didn't look up much. Her mind was somewhere else and then his arm was across her chest. She stopped and looked up. It was then that she noticed the sun was setting, the forest had cleared out a bit and they were standing before a small neighborhood. They'd been moving all day; the attack had happened in the morning, it was already evening. She was shocked.

Daryl looked over at her and she met his eyes for the first time sense they ran from the prison. he looked worn out, tired, beat, she looked around the area. "We'll see if we can stay here tonight" he said, she only nodded and he started to move again, she kept up. They entered a back yard and Daryl walked up the back steps where a sliding glass door sat closed. He tried the door and it slid open. He went in first Horton ready to fire. Beth followed him into the dark house. His flashlight was up lighting the way. She had shouldered her automatic rifle in favor of the small pistol Daryl had slipped her before it all happened.

She couldn't see anything, only the dull beam of his light and then she just focused on his angel wings again. She didn't want to lose sight of those. She was so focused on them that she ran right into him after he came to a stop. Daryl jumped from the sudden hit, she stepped back startled. "Sorry" she said sheepishly.

"S'okay" was his calm reply, they appeared to be in the living room and she was surprised that they hadn't encountered any walkers. She stood at the center as Daryl checked the kitchen and then walked back up to her. "looks okay, I'm going to shut that back door and check upstairs, you wanna check the kitchen for supplies?" he asked. She only nodded and he gave a small nod before handing her his flashlight and he quickly moved back into the dark.

She sighed and walked to the kitchen. Everything was quiet; she could hear her own heartbeat. A stark contrast of earlier in the day. She let out a heavy sigh, no she wouldn't think of that right now. She had a job to do. She quickly started to go through the cupboards and started pulling items from it. She was shocked to see so many canned goods; soup, chili, veggies, and some fruit. The house hadn't been ransacked. She wondered about the rest of the homes. She thought that maybe there were enough for their group.

Her hand froze on a can of peaches and she shook. It was only the both of them. And then she dropped the can. She realized that even if they found the others that her dad wouldn't be among them. He was dead, she watched it happen. She was frozen and felt cold and numb. She started to replay what she had seen over and over in her head.

"Upstairs is clear, we should stay down here though" Daryl's voice sounded so far. "Beth?" he asked when she didn't respond. He was a few feet from her. She spun around as if she was shocked to see him. Daryl took a step closer and she saw the look of concern on his features. She put her hands over her mouth and loud sob escaped. She dropped to her knees and fell back against the cabinet. She couldn't hold it in anymore. The tears flowed down her face and she couldn't stop them.

Daryl moved close and dropped to his knees before her. He reached his hand out reluctantly; he didn't know what to do. He rested his hand on her shoulder. "Beth-" he was cut off when she moved into his arms, a hand gripping his shoulder, the other around his back as she cried into his shirt. Daryl wrapped his arms around her as she kept crying. She pulled at him and squeezed him as tight as she could, trying to seek comfort. Daryl held her as best he could in the awkward position.

…..

Daryl wasn't sure how much time had passed. But he was still on the kitchen floor. His back to the cabinet, Beth cradled in his arms as her remaining tears and sobs subsided. She was gasping, trying to breath. Her head was on his chest, her hand gripping his vest. His hand was in her hair gently stroking it, his other around her waist. She was practically in his lap. When her breathing calmed enough, he gave her another squeeze. "I'm here Beth... I'm gonna keep you safe, we're going to find the others... I'm going to protect you" he whispered into her hair.

It was for her, but also for him. Because he realized she was his responsibility. He'd come to find his purpose in life was to protect those he cared for. And he would do that with Beth. He'd fight for her, kill for her. He wouldn't let anything happen to her. He was doing it for himself, and for Hershel. At the thought of him Daryl squeezed his eyes shut. He wouldn't break down. Not when Beth needed him to be strong. He huffed out a breath and realized he had squeezed Beth tighter.

…..

Beth sat quietly poking at the can of beans Daryl had handed her. They were in the living room; she was curled up on the sofa with a blanket around her shoulders. She wasn't hungry, she felt sick and weak. She was also embarrassed for breaking down like that, and in front of Daryl. He was quiet ever since she stood up from him and rushed to the other room to fix herself. Daryl was slightly stunned, but left her be.

Now he was sitting across from her, he was slowly eating something; he was obviously forcing it down as well. He had started a fire in the fireplace and he was watching it. She was watching him, "you should have left me at the prison" she whispered.

Daryl looked at her shocked she had spoken. So used to the quiet that had fallen over them for the last few hours. She wasn't looking at him, instead at the fire. Daryl heard what she had said. "Don't say things like that" Daryl stated. He shoved his can of food away and leaned back in the chair he was in.

"Why me out of everyone?" she asked, "I'm weak and pathetic... I'll only weigh you down" she added. She looked over at him and noticed his neutral features as he watched the fire. She almost thought he wasn't listening to her. She sighed; it was for the best she thought.

"You're not weak, Beth" Daryl said. She looked up and he was looking at her now. "Now I need you to be strong for me" he said before standing up. She didn't say anything, she could tell that he wasn't finished talking. When he continued, he was looking at the fire; a hand resting on the hilt of his knife, the other was near his mouth as he bit at his thumb. "Now you're allowed to grieve, cry, scream, fight, you do what you have to do Beth, and I'll be here for ya" he glanced over at her. "Being pissed off and sad isn't a sign of weakness, don't think you can't have emotions... it makes you stronger" he added. He looked back at the fire. "I'm learning that..." he added.

Beth didn't know what to say, she was still hurting and sad, but she was cried out. She felt sick and tired and her head throbbed. "I still feel useless" she whispered. Daryl knelt down on the floor in front of her; he leaned in and looked her right in the eyes. He just looked at her for a moment; as if he was trying to think of what exactly to say to her. She started to feel self-conscious under his gaze. But she dared not look away.

"We can't survive without each other, Beth" he said. "I need you and you need me, we need to have each other's backs and we need each other for support" he stated. She looked down and he leaned in further, his tone was gentle yet firm. "Hey, we're all each other has got, till we find the others, and we will find them" he emphasized that last part, "but we need to stay strong" he finished.

He waited to gauge Beth's reaction. She looked down and then nodded slightly. "Okay... Okay... Thank you" she wiped a stray tear from her cheek. Daryl watched her with this look that she couldn't place. His hand was on her knee and he gently squeezed it.

"Okay, let's get some sleep, we'll regroup in the morning, figure out our plan, where we go from here" he said.

He stood up and turned to where they had gathered the supplies they found in the house. Beth watched as he grabbed a duffel that he had found and started to sort and pack the supplies.

She was always fascinated with how Daryl worked, mentally, physically, emotionally. She had only recently started to converse with him. Recently got to know him, if only a little bit.

When the prison had settled down after they had picked up the Woodbury people. Daryl had adjusted, he'd become and leader of sorts. He'd quickly correct anyone who called him that. But even she could see that although they had the counsel, the people in the group, both original and new, all respected Daryl more than many of the others. It was how he carried himself, spoke and treated everyone.

He was far cry from the man she'd met at the farm. He still carried himself a certain way, but he was quiet, he had pride, but he wasn't a jerk. She wasn't afraid of him like she had been of Shane. Something about him she liked. It was why she was so upset when he'd left with his brother. She didn't feel safe without him there.

So when he started coming around more often and they started talking more she liked it. He never did anything he didn't want to, so she figured he liked it as well.

Maybe one day she'd ask him why he was the way he was. But for now she started to let sleep overtake her wary body. She had this feeling of fear as she drifted off. Afraid she'd wake up alone. But the day had been too much and soon she was dreaming.

Daryl watched her drift off as he packed the bag. He sighed and crumpled to floor. He shut his eyes and let out a shaky breath. He'd just been through so much. He watched as Hershel, a man he grew to respect and love, almost like a father, be killed in cold blood, by a mad man for no reason, he didn't know where any of the rest of the group were, their family. And Carol... He couldn't even fathom that one. He pushed that back in his mind to be dealt with another day. Too much had happened in the last 5 days, they'd lost so much, people changed and their once happy and peaceful existence was destroyed. All he had was Beth now. And he was going to keep her safe with everything he had left in him.

He finished packing up the bag and grabbed his Horton. He settled back against the couch and watched the fire.

..

So… yeah, how about that damn finale?! So I'm 100% aware that every fanfic writer is making this kind of story… there is only so much you can do to start with then you go off from there. In writing this fic I wanted to make them as in character as I could. Daryl will be how he is on the show; I don't see him snapping at Beth or being "gruff and mean" if even a little bit toward her. If anything from the few episodes we saw with him interacting with everyone. That side of him is gone. He speaks with people openly and honestly. From how he spoke with Michonne and even Bob when Bob was wondering why he was still alive and when he blamed himself for Zack being killed, Daryl was mad that Bob was thinking like that, but he stayed firm and caring. Same with Michonne, he was gentle with her and was nice and even smiled. I think since he went to tell Beth what had happened to Zack that they both had gotten slightly closer. So my Daryl is going to be the kind, strong soul you see on the show. But will also kill and beat the shit out of anyone who messes with his people.

And Beth… she's very strong, but she will have moments when she breaks down (as will Daryl) as we saw when she was talking with Maggie through the door. She said she didn't cry anymore, but she broke down and cried. So I absolutely think she will be emotional and sad. But Daryl will be there.

So expect them to bond, expect to see the others mentioned, and expect cannibals, chaos, death and whatever else I can think of… oh yeah… romance?! .I like these two, it should be fun. We shall see if this story can help me get over my writers block…