Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 16: Sins of My Father
~Author's Note: Good morning everyone! Here is the new chapter where Daryl is dealing with some of the ramifications of the events of the previous chapter. I think it further lays out the kind of character I perceive Daryl as. Also, just to make sure we are all on the same page and there is no confusion, I am including my endnote from the last chapter incase some of you didn't read it. It is important information to be clear on at this point:
I just wanted to make it really clear that Beth was not raped during the time she spent apart from Daryl. I can't do a rape storyline with Beth; that is just far too cruel. The thing is that Rick and Daryl think that she was. Beth was unconscious from being sick before Daryl found her which she never really realized (Being unconscious-she lost track of time), and even though the doctor told Rick that Beth had been unconscious before they left the church, the events there probably didn't lead to Rick remembering that little piece of information. Beth thinks they were only apart 10 nights, and she always made it clear when she was thinking about being marked that she was never cut on the first night (only nine marks). Daryl lost track of time a little bit, but he knows they were apart for more than two weeks. That time difference is where the misunderstanding is coming in...in Daryl and Rick's mind, there were several nights Beth wasn't marked. Rick didn't flat out ask Beth after she told him what the marks were for, that's why he asked Daryl how long they were apart, and Rick and Daryl did their own math from there. It was meant for the characters to be on different pages, living in different "realities" for the coming chapters. It's going to all play out. I could never really have that happen to Beth...so I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy!~
Outside the bedroom door, trying to gather himself, Daryl didn't even know how anything...how it worked anymore. He pressed his hand against the door, head down, hating himself. He'd kissed her. He'd been rough with her...hurt her before he left. He was no different than the bastard that took everything from her, and Beth let him kiss her...touch her. Even after Daryl grabbed her, Beth let him go on. Was that something she learned...not to fight...a mechanism to survive and avoid pain...avoid being beaten and mutilated...
...even if she isn't dead, she isn't yours anymore. She won't recognize you, and if she lets you touch her, she'll do it 'cause she thinks she has to to survive, not 'cause she wants you. You'll be just like any of the other dozen or more who've fucked her by now. Stupid redneck like you wouldn't be any different to her than those other men. And you probably won't know the difference either!
Abe's words came back to haunt him. How was it that Red had been right all along. Daryl was the same.
When he heard it, his thoughts stilled...it was soft, but it was loud enough he could hear the words.
"I'm finding my way back to sanity again..." Beth was singing.
After everything, she was still able to sing.
"Though I don't really know what I'm gonna do when I get there..."
Daryl's hand against the door closed into a fist.
"Take a breath and hold on tight...spin around one more time..."
He needed to pummel something, but he didn't. Instead he just listened to the sweet melody coming out from Beth's lips.
"And gracefully fall back to the arms of grace..."
He needed to channel his rage. Stand up. Be the man Beth needed him to be.
"'Cause I am hanging on every word you say and..."
Stop feeling sorry for himself. This was Beth...he loved her...it was about her, not him.
"Even if you don't wanna speak tonight that's alright, alright with me.."
Daryl couldn't just stand outside the damned door for the rest of his life. He had two choices, go in or walk away, and only one of those was acceptable. He'd never run away from his problems...even if he was afraid. That wasn't who he was. He should've knocked, but he didn't, turning the doorknob slowly so no noise followed. Stepping into their room silently, he found Beth standing at the window.
"'Cause I want nothing more than to sit outside Heaven's door..."
She hadn't hear him...just kept singing softly, looking out the window, and he didn't have it in his heart to interrupt her.
"And listen to you breathing, it's where I wanna be, where I wanna be..."
The sun was shining through the window onto her, her hair falling down her back in a wave of soft gold, her nightgown almost brushing the floor...he took in every detail of her. Her hand, holding back the filmy gauze of the inner curtain, in the sunlight, gave away just how fair her skin was...so pale. The image of Beth before him was hauntingly beautiful...she was otherworldly...didn't belong in their world full of pain and horror.
"I'm looking past the shadows in my mind..."
Daryl had admired long enough, closing the door so Beth would realize he was there. She broke off her song, not startled, just looking over her shoulder and giving him the smallest shadow of a smile. Her eyes were puffy from cryin'. Shit...his probably were too. He hoped she didn't see.
"What are you doin' outta bed?" It came out more demanding than he meant, but she didn't seem to notice.
Beth pressed her hand against the window pane like she was trying to reach the outside world, touch the sun.
"There was a time when I thought I would never feel the sun again...but it's so warm...even through the glass..."
Daryl crossed the room before she finished her answer, standing close behind her. He wanted to reach out and touch her...watched her body tense in anticipation, but he just couldn't...
"What are you doin' outta bed..." This time he gentled his question.
Beth turned, taking a small step back so there was enough space between that she could look up at him.
"I was looking for you...watching for you to get back..."
Beth had been waiting for him. Daryl couldn't even remember a time in his life where anyone had ever waited for him to get home...just for him, not what he brought with him. She raised her hand, reaching out like she was going to touch him. Daryl closed his eyes, waiting for her to make contact...a touch he knew he didn't deserve, but it didn't happen. When he looked at her, Beth had withdrawn her hand, confused...hurt...he couldn't read her, and he didn't know what to say. He just didn't have words.
"You're gonna get sicker, standing by this drafty window. You need to get back in bed." He might not be able to talk to her about what he was feeling or what she went through, but he was gonna do whatever it took now to keep her safe and well. It was the least he could do.
Beth shook her head no. "I'm a burden..." she wasn't sad, she just sounded like she believed it.
"What...no..." Daryl didn't know how much more heartbreak he could take...Beth thinking that way...believing that.
"I am. I need to get stronger, and I can't do that by laying in bed. We need to leave soon, and they're not going to wait for me."
"I will...I'll wait for you forever." He would. Daryl knew that, but there was no way it would ever be enough. It would never make up for...
What the hell? He sounded like some love sick teenager, and he sure in the hell wasn't Beth's high school sweetheart. He needed to fucking man up, quit trying to live in some half-ass romance novel, and do his job. Being like this was what made him fuck up in the first place, open that damned door, letting the walkers in, 'cause he was too consumed with what he wasn't able to but should've said to Beth. And where had that gotten them? The shit was real now. He could feel, but he couldn't act like a fucking idiot...not again. The stakes were too high, and he wasn't gonna be the reason Beth got hurt or killed.
Beth reached out to him again, and Daryl forced himself not to react this time. Her finger traced the pattern on his shirt.
"Flowers...Daryl Dixon in flowers..." He was happy she was saying something, anything that didn't have to do with the tragedy that was their life.
"Yeah...there's some barbed wire in that pattern too. I still got my sharp edge."
Daryl couldn't go soft. He couldn't let anything he was feeling get to him. Beth needed him to be the survivor, the fighter...she needed his capacity for violence. She deserved the best he had to offer...not the little pansy ass who cried at the drop of a pin.
"Beth, I ain't never gonna let a man touch you ever again. I'll cut off his hands before he even thinks of it, then I'll kill him six ways to Sunday." There was a hint of anger, danger in his voice, but that was good. It was what he needed. Like Rick said, he wasn't dangerous to Beth, he was dangerous because of Beth...that was gonna be the way he lived now.
Head resting on his hands, Daryl stared up at the ceiling from his sleeping spot on the floor beside the bed. He couldn't fall asleep for nothin', but he hadn't expected to neither. His head was just so full...images, thoughts, hate, guilt...things only a bullet would banish, but he wasn't one to eat a bullet. Never had been. If it had been any other situation, he would've gone and taken watch from someone, given them a chance to sleep since he couldn't. Focusing on the possibility of danger, needing all his senses engaged, being hyper alert...that really cleared his mind, but now Daryl's watches began and ended by Beth's side. So he accepted it, feeling the seconds tick by slowly even though there was no clock to keep time. The worst part was remembering that the beginning of his conversation with Rick...Rick telling him what happened to Beth...there had been more horrible reality to follow...
"No...no...no, no, no..." Daryl murmured, pressing his palms against his eyes so Rick couldn't see his tears...he was tryin' to be strong, but he wasn't fooling anyone. He had to be strong for Beth...she'd been the one who'd suffered...who'd been...he couldn't even think it.
"Daryl..." Rick wasn't done?
What else...he couldn't take much more. Daryl wasn't able to pull himself out of his own pit of despair to look at him, but that sure in the hell didn't keep Rick from talking.
"I just want to be real...make sure you're prepared for the possibility. Beth could be..."
Daryl had no idea what in the hell Rick was talking about. He lifted his head, looking at Rick who was watching him, waiting for his reaction to something he didn't comprehend. There was pain on his face...hesitation and a deep breath as he prepared to continue once he realized Daryl didn't catch on to what was apparently obvious.
"Beth could be pregnant."
It hit him like a ton of bricks. Daryl couldn't breathe. It wasn't bad enough...the world wasn't cruel enough already...Beth enduring what she did...but there was a chance Beth could be...He hadn't had any time for everything to sink in enough that he would consider that possibility on his own, but now...now he had to live with that knowledge. It was real...all too real. But there was one thing that trumped it all. Daryl loved her. He loved Beth and was man enough to do anything for her, no matter how much pain he was in.
"It's mine." Clear, solid, no hesitation.
Rick was trying to figure him out, measure what he was saying.
"You and Beth...did you...where you together before she was taken?" Rick danced around the question, probably not sure how he would react.
"Yes." It was a bald faced lie...came out dead serious, as serious as it needed to be.
Under any other circumstance, Daryl would've ripped anyone else's throat out for asking him something like that. Rick, he would've told Rick to mind his own fucking business, brother or not. But this, this was different. There was so much bitter truth floating around the room that Rick wasn't questioning the truthfulness of what he claimed, even if on a normal day he would realize Daryl was just saying it to protect Beth. But today, maybe Rick needed to believe him. Daryl couldn't do anything else to protect her, give her security...the small measure of comfort she deserved. If there was a child, he wouldn't have her endure the shame he knew she would feel, suffer the pity the group would have on her. If he claimed it, no on would dare say anything to her.
Rick nodded. "You would claim it, accept it as your own, even if there's a chance it isn't yours?
"What would you do, Rick?" Daryl started to snap. It was a low blow...because of Judith...Lori and Shane. It wasn't fair...but life wasn't fair, and Daryl was feeling the pain.
"Fair enough." Rick wasn't angry. He knew. He'd been there. He understood.
"Sorry...it's just, what kind of man would I be if I didn't? Didn't step up, protect her, protect what's mine." He never claimed to be as good a man as Rick, but that didn't mean he couldn't try. "I...love her...that means I love every piece of her..."
Rick came to him, laying a steady hand on his shoulder. That was when Daryl realized it was the first time he'd said it to someone else...told someone he loved Beth. His soul was broken open.
"I'm here for you, and I'm here for Beth...you're my brother. We're family, and we'll get through this together." In that statement, Rick did more for him than Merle did for him his entire life until the end.
Beth risked her life fighting, being beaten and abused, for nine nights avoiding...then she'd just given up hope and it happened anyway. She fought nine nights, and he hadn't been man enough to find her in time...spare her the worst of what happened to her...if he'd gotten there a few days sooner...
This sure in the hell wasn't the way Daryl imagined becoming a father...not that he ever really thought on it much. And especially with the way things were now...children, babies...they didn't fit into that equation, but he wouldn't have a kid growing up knowing he was a mistake. Accidents had been happening since the beginning of time, and parents...well, there were only really two kinds in those cases, people who were good and decent who treated their kid as a surprise and the parents who let their kid know their entire life they were a mistake. His old man had been the second kind. When he was old enough to understand, there wasn't a day that went by when his dad was around that he didn't remind Daryl he was a mistake. A fuck up that should've never happened.
Daryl had been really little when he first learned the truth about how much his old man hated him...didn't want him around. He was still at an age that no matter what, he was driven by instinct to love his dad and want his dad's approval. It had only been a spilled beer, a fucking beer dropped on the floor that sent his old man into a rage, laying into him. He'd been drunk already, so that really didn't help. After the stars in his head went away, he felt his nose stinging, tasted his blood in his mouth...Daryl saw his old man lookin' down on him where we was laying flat on the floor. There were salty tears burning down his cheeks...he was just a little kid. Daryl could still hear his voice in his head...
Look at you, bawlin' like a lil' pussy. You spill my beer...who do you think you are, huh? Who do you think you are?
Dad...sorry...dad...I love you...
You stupid lil' som'bitch. You don't even deserve my name. You ain't good enough you skinny lil' pansy ass...you're weak...you ain't nothin'. You could've been anybody's, but I was the prick who fucked your mom that night...got stuck with you...you shouldn't have been nothin' but a fucking stain on my bed sheet..."
Daryl hadn't understood some of what his old man said...he was too young...but he'd understood enough that it changed his world. He knew he wasn't wanted. There was no place for him. That wasn't how this was gonna play out. This kid would know love...would never have to know the truth. His truth would be two parents who cared. If there was a child, it would have a father and a name...a strong name.
I won't repeat the sins of my father.
That wasn't the hard part, coming to those conclusions. The hard part would be talking to Beth. Letting her know that he knew what happened to her. She clearly didn't want to tell him...share it with him. How did he tell her that he would claim her child if she was pregnant...that it would be their child, without making her feel like he was pitying her or making her feel ashamed?
Daryl needed some air, just a minute out in the open. Making sure Beth was soundly asleep, he grabbed his crossbow and headed downstairs. Whoever was supposed to be on watch wasn't doin' their job 'cause there was no one at the back door to stop him from comin' or goin'...but for the moment, it was better that way. Out on the back patio, the air was cool and sweet, the sky clear. He could feel the cold concrete seeping into the bottom of his feet. Daryl hoped the outside would give him a moment of relief...a moment of clarity...free of thought, but there was more...more he didn't consider.
Even if Beth was pregnant and he claimed the child as his, what did that really mean? Sure that would protect her...well, what little protection she needed from the group's judgment or pity, but what did that mean to her? If she had a child...it would be a daily reminder of everything that happened to her...she would never be free of it. And a baby...a pregnancy...they had no medicine, no hospital, no doctor...just Bob. They didn't even have a home. They were on the run with no food, no supplies, no stability, just fighting for their lives. What did that mean for Beth if she was pregnant? The only person they had with them who'd ever delivered a baby was Maggie...she delivered Judith...but Lori...Lori died...Beth could die. Daryl ripped that bastard to pieces, torn out his heart for what he did to Beth, even before he knew the full extent. The prick was dead...but in the end, he still might be the one who killed her...his child ripping Beth to pieces...
It was too much. The concrete was calling to him...offering what he needed...it was cold and honest. If he drove his fist into the ground, that hard honesty, the pain would be real. There would be blood, but that was something he knew how to handle...how to stop. The shit on the inside, that wasn't so easy to staunch. Daryl knelt, the ripped out knees of his pants provided no barrier between his skin and the hard reality of the concrete. He balled his fist, watching in the moonlight as his fingers reddened then went white, his hand shaking. He drew it back...he could imagine the first contact, the jolt driven back into his wrist. He knew the next blow, the second blow, would hurt more. Daryl would pound it hard, not pulling back, grinding his knuckles down until the skin ripped away, broke open, and the blood flowed. The next time...the next time the bones would start to chip. That was when the job would be almost done...almost...
But he dropped his hand, open...meeting the cold concrete, bracing himself. He couldn't...he couldn't beat away the pain on the inside...he wouldn't be able to stop. Daryl wouldn't stop until his hand was broken to bits. If he shattered his hand, he couldn't fight. If he couldn't fight, he was weak...weakness meant death, and because of Beth, he didn't want to die...
Daryl was on his ass cryin' like a baby...cryin' like he cried when he put Merle down, broken as bad as he was after the prison, as destroyed as the moment he knew he couldn't chase the fucking black car that stole Beth anymore. His crossbow slid off his shoulder, clattering on the concrete beside him. He tried to catch his breath...barely breathing... After a while, the tears were gone, but he wasn't okay...he just didn't have anymore.
"Uhmmph...why...?" Daryl looked up into the heavens.
He didn't know who in the hell he was talking to or if they could even understand his sorry ass. He didn't expect an answer, never did. Always figured he'd have to go it alone. If God was up there, he didn't have time to deal with all of Daryl's shit, or Rick's shit, or anyone else in the worlds shit...did he? He had bigger problems.
Please don't let Beth be pregnant...he prayed silently, just in case someone was listening, closing his eyes like he was some kid wishing on a fucking star.
Beth...he was a bastard for thinkin' it...but in their royally fucked up world, the universe had thrown him a bone that he would've given anything for back after they first escaped Terminus and everyone, everyone except Beth, was reunited...Beth...just having Beth back. The other alternatives...never seeing Beth again, Beth dying before he found her, Beth dying in his arms...those would have ended him. If he had a choice of having Beth back after she suffered through everything or losing her forever, he was the selfish prick that would've chose to get her back no matter what, even if she wanted to die. But she didn't. She wanted to live. Beth fought to live. She'd been fighting all along. Daryl calmed down enough, pulled his sorry ass together, was able to stand to take himself inside to where he belonged beside Beth. He stopped, turning back and looking at the starry sky.
"Hey God...J.C., whoever's listening. I ain't happy with you for what happened to Beth. She's good, sweet, so hopeful. She didn't deserve it...not Beth." Daryl didn't just think it in his head, he said it out loud. He didn't have nothin' to hide...needed to say it. "But thank you. Thank you for letting me have the strength to find her, bring her back where she belongs."
He and God weren't on good terms, but they were on terms. That was better than nothin'. Daryl had faith, and he found Beth. Maybe he should have some faith now. They had a chance, more time, and that was all anyone could ever really hope for...