Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 19: Missing Moments
~Author's Note: Hi Guys! I know...there was a super long wait between chapters again, but it was the holidays, what can I say... *hides head in shame*. Thank you to everyone who is reading. I can't fully express my appreciation. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year that is filled with all the good things that life has to offer.~
It felt nice to be in clothes again, regular clothes...clean clothes...well, as long as they stayed clean. Sooner or later, they'd be covered in blood. That seemed to be the way of the world. Beth pulled the fuzzy blue sweater on over everything, grateful to whoever grabbed it. It wasn't winter yet, but more often than not, she was cold. Daryl left early; the sky was still gray when she heard the door pulled closed behind him. Beth knew he had other things he had to do besides just sit with her all day. He always seemed to try to do those things when she was sleeping or otherwise occupied, but this time, she couldn't fall back asleep. There had been so much sleep. Bob said that she could get out of bed, walk around some, and she'd never left the bedroom. Beth wasn't quite sure where she was going to go or what she was going to do, but today was going to be the day she saw what was on the other side of that door.
Smoothing the sweater over her hips, Beth felt almost normal again...felt...now looked, that was an entirely different story. Dreading it but knowing she had to, Beth approached the mirror. But it wasn't a mirror anymore...well, most of it was broken. The shattered glass spiraled out from a circular point of impact. Reaching out, she traced the rivulets of blood that dried while dripping down the surface. It had splattered on top of the dresser.
Daryl...somehow she knew it was Daryl's blood. His hands were still wrapped in clean white bandages. Daryl punched the glass, shattering it into a mosaic of reflective stars. Why? And more importantly, why didn't she remember?
Beth stopped and thought about the moments she remembered since Daryl came for her. Seeing him at the window of the church, their reunion before he killed...no, she wouldn't even think his name...Daryl holding her in his arms in the car through that terrible storm, when Daryl said he loved her...kissed her in that moment she knew she was going to die. Those things...they had all happened in the same day...the immediacy that she felt, knew Daryl felt, and the storm, they were all tied together. But after that...Beth didn't remember coming to this place...and it wasn't the same house where they had rested the night of the storm.
I'm takin' you home Beth. Everyone's waitin'...Maggie, Glenn, even Judith...all of 'em...
That's what Daryl had told her that night. Clearly she was in a different place. Beth felt bitter, thinking about those words...Maggie waiting for her. Beth knew the truth, straight from Maggie's mouth. She' hadn't cared. But Daryl...he'd tried to protect her from that truth from the very beginning.
It didn't matter anymore. What mattered was she didn't remember getting here...having her hurts looked after...the mirror. She didn't remember Daryl smashing the mirror or what drove him to it. If she didn't remember those things...time...how much time had passed. And how much time had she lost when she was sick and alone? She'd been incoherent, there had been darkness...the blackness she'd prayed for. And hallucinations, there'd been those too. How many days didn't she remember?
Ten nights...nine cuts...no mark the first night...
That had been Beth's reality...the way she kept track, held on to what little she had left, but now Beth knew it was more than that. It had to be. Looking again into the shattered glass, she realized she should probably be grateful for the missing time...but Daryl...how much longer had he suffered?
Creeping silently down the stairs, Beth heard hushed voices. the only light in the house was from the early morning sun streaming through the windows. She hesitated before she moved toward the voices. It was her group...they were her family, but most of them had abandoned her. The world had put them on different paths...separated them. She didn't belong anymore, and that made the impending reunion awkward. She knew them though. Maybe it all came down to that...their shared past. But stepping into the doorway...Beth didn't know these people. A read haired bull of a man, a pretty but tough looking woman sitting close to him on the couch, and an average looking heavy set man who really didn't seem like he fit in the mix.
"Oh..." Beth was surprised. It wasn't who she expected.
They all looked at her, and that was the last thing she wanted. The redhead stood, and he was just as imposing standing as he was sitting.
She wasn't quite sure if it was a question or an acknowledgment.
"I'm Sergeant Abraham Ford, this here is my companion Rosita Espinosa, and that's Dr. Eugene Porter."
Beth appraised them, thinking about the Sergeant and Doctor titles that didn't matter anymore. Sergeant...all the men had to be soldiers now, fighters, to survive. The women had to fight too. Doctor...he must not have been a medical doctor or he would've been helping her instead of Bob. Bob was just a medic. Unless Daryl didn't trust him. That idea made Beth uneasy. And she'd heard about Abraham before, hadn't she? Maggie talked about him...Abe...
After we got away...it was so close...we got safe here. Abe wanted to push on to Washington D.C., and Glenn and I were in favor of going. After everything, I couldn't let myself believe you were alive only to lose you again, despite what Daryl believed. We knew Daryl was planning to go after you, but we...Glenn, Abe, Carol...I...tried to convince him not to leave...to let you go...
"We're friends," Abraham declared.
Glenn, Abe, Carol...I...tried to convince him not to leave...to let you go...
He was no friend of hers. Beth might not be one hundred percent well, but she wasn't stupid. And the part of herself that once would have allowed her to trust until that trust was broken didn't really exist anymore. It was survival.
"You looking for Maggie?"
"Daryl." Beth couldn't get away soon enough.
"He went into the garage. That way, door on the right," he directed her.
"That's Daryl's girlfriend? She's so..." Beth heard the woman start to comment as she walked away.
"That is natural selection hard at work." That must have been the other man, Eugene, who hadn't spoken but just stared at the healing bruises on her face. "Mother Nature is cruel to specimens like me who are superiorly intelligent but inferiorly attractive."
"It's got nothing to do with looks. It's called survival of the fittest. You're not the fittest, so if you want to keep surviving, I'd suggest you keep you're eyes and comments to yourself," Abraham warned. "She doesn't belong to you. And I ain't taking another beating because of her."
The only natural light in the garage was from the side door Daryl propped open and the light peeking in from the bottom of the garage door where it had been lifted a foot or so. Beth sat on the top step outside the door into the house, unnoticed, just watching...listening...not able to help the smile on her face. She couldn't see Daryl, he was sitting on the ground on the other side of the bike, but she saw the flashlight he was using, heard him mumbling, probably had the flashlight in his mouth while he was working. Beth wondered where he got the bike. Then, all of a sudden, a wrench pinged against the floor; the flashlight hit too.
"Mother fuckin' son of a...mmm...stupid bitch..." The motorcycle shook like Daryl kicked at it or hit it...which one she couldn't see, but he was clearly pissed. "Fuckin' piece of shit..."
Daryl wasn't a saint. Beth had heard him cuss before, but not in a long string of words like this. Daddy always used to say that even a priest cussed like a sailor when he worked on a car. The same was probably true of working on motorcycles. Beth couldn't help giggling, and Daryl popped up from the floor, shining the flashlight at her. She put her hand up, the intensity of the beam hurt her eyes...it was her first day out of bed...
"Beth?" She didn't know what kind of emotion Daryl was exhibiting...concern, maybe mixed with some shame for what she heard fly out of his mouth. "What are you doin' out here? You're gonna get sicker." Daryl went into serious I mean what I say mode.
"I just wanted to..." Beth paused. She didn't want to be clingy...a clingy girlfriend, Daryl probably wouldn't handle that well. Girlfriend? Was that even what she was? "I wanted to be with you." She decided the truth was the best no matter what. "Do you want me to go?"
"Want...no. But you should."
Beth stood to leave, but Daryl wiped the grease from his hands on his shirt, grabbed the blanket he'd been sitting on off the floor, folded it up all nice and neat, and came and laid it on the step where she'd been sitting.
"Cold concrete ain't gonna do you no good." Daryl looked her up and down.
It might have made her self-conscious before...should've made her self-conscious, but now, after almost losing her chance...he could still look at her after she was beaten and scarred...she wanted him to look.
"You look pretty..." his voice went all quiet.
Beth knew it couldn't be true anymore...but maybe that's what he saw. It made butterflies dance in her stomach. Daryl took a step closer...they were intimately close...the kind of closeness that under different circumstances, with other people, would be uncomfortable. He reached out, barely touched her side, then he seemed to remember she was hurt, his had finding and caressing the small of her back instead.
"So soft..." His fingers were stroking the sweater.
Everything about Daryl, the way he treated her, the way he touched her like he'd never touched a woman before, like just now, touching her like she was going to shatter...the way he looked at her with such a sense of wonder...it made everything worth it. Beth couldn't help wonder what Daryl was going to be like in bed. Not like she had anything to compare him to. It wasn't the time to think about that...but when was? Life was so finite...so short...you never really knew, and she wanted to feel that before she died...what she'd never done. How the world saw Daryl, what people thought about who he was...she imagined how they thought he was. But the Daryl she knew...loved...he would be something much different. She wasn't being naive. This wasn't a fairytale...Daryl was still Daryl, but sooner or later, Beth planned to find out for herself. As the images and thoughts flashed through her mind, and realizing Daryl was watching her, feeling how close he actually was, Beth blushed away. His hand was at her neck...his actions innocent in all ways, but it still made her tremble since her thoughts clearly weren't all pure. Daryl slipped his finger under the slender chain that held the heart pendant he'd given her, letting it travel over his knuckle until the heart was freed from beneath her shirt.
"No..." Beth blurted. Something about his actions made her frantic. She took the warm gold and tucked it back beneath her sweater, allowing it to fall to the spot where it belonged at the center of her chest.
"Sorry...you don't like it?" He dropped his hand to his side, defeated.
"No...I want it here, the heart from you over mine." Grabbing his hand, Beth guided it between her breasts, holding it close and tight where it mattered.
Please, just believe me, Beth thought, looking down and seeing the cuts and scuffs on his fingers, the parts not covered in gauze. "You're hurt again?"
"Nah, damn bike just bit me," brushing it off like it was nothing. "A man with soft hands ain't worth shit."
Daryl was right. His hands told the story of his life. He was a fighter, a survivor...very much a man.
"The blood...on the pendant...it's yours." She was just looking to confirm what she already knew.
"Mmm-hmmm." Nodding his head, he looked embarrassed. "I should've cleaned it up, but..."
Shaking her head, she pressed her hand firmer against his. "It's part of you."
Beth backed away from him, asking Daryl to follow with her eyes. Stepping up on the bottom step, she was nearer to his height. He inched closer. Raking her teeth over her bottom lip, she anticipated what she was going to do.
"Beth...nothin' good's gonna come of this..." The gravel in his voice didn't do anything to dissuade her, going in for the kiss before Daryl got a chance to finish.
He didn't say no. She'd kind of hoped that if she kissed him, he would eventually take over and lead, but he was nothing more than soft and timid when before he'd been possessive and almost aggressive once they started. It was intimidating kissing a man like Daryl...intimidating kissing Daryl because there was no one other man like him. Standing on the step may have put her almost on equal footing with him, but in experience...Beth had none. Daryl reached behind her, letting his hand rest on her...well, if she had just been standing on the ground, it would have been her back...but it wasn't. He'd miscalculated. She stiffened from surprise, letting out a breathy gasp as she pulled her lips away from his.
"Shit...sorry..." Daryl held both hands out at his side and stepped back, giving her distance.
Moving to avoid the situation, the embarrassment, he turned and grabbed his coat and vest off the back of the bike.
"Here...come on..." Daryl held it out to her.
"I'm okay..." Hesitating...they were so uniquely him, his...she couldn't.
He wasn't going to relent, so she let him slip the jacket on her, knowing that fighting it wouldn't do any good.
"Are you sure."
"Are you going to keep it?" Beth questioned, running her hand along the leather seat of the bike, moving past Daryl, feeling him watching her from behind.
"Don't know. Bikes can go where cars can't. They're faster, but they're louder...less protection too. I'll have to think about it...we'll have to talk about it." It felt strange but nice that he was including her in making decisions. "I don't even know if I can get it running. Haven't even tried to start it yet."
Beth looked at him, watching him from the other side of the bike, not understanding.
"Bike's been sittin' a long while. It ain't good to just start 'em. Things could be gummed up. Do everything I can before trying to start it, drain and replace all the fluids, clean the carburetor and spark plugs, all that to make sure I don't make anything worse." He was speaking a foreign language.
"How do you know all that?" Beth never understood guys, how they just dove into cars, motorcycles, anything mechanical and fixed it, but she never really had the chance to ask anyone without feeling like an idiot.
Daryl just shrugged a little, looked like he was thinking.
"Idonknow...my old man, he taught me a little, and Merle. Some of it, you just learn by doing. Most of it though, you just know."
"How can you just know?" Laughing a little, she just didn't get it. It sounded absurd.
"How'd you know how to take care of Judith? You never had a baby before..." Daryl went from smiling to his words breaking off at the end...cringing.
She understood...he probably felt bad for bringing up Judith, reminding her of the time she'd been away from the group, but that was okay.
"That's just instinct. I think we're...girls...we're kinda born knowing that." It was a lot different from cars and bikes, but she got what he was saying though. But something was wrong with him now...something weighing on him. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"Phhh..." This was going to be big...rough...if Daryl was fighting with it so hard. "If there's a baby...I'm gonna be there, Beth...for you, for the child. I can be a father...a good one I think..." He looked her straight in the eye through every single word.
"I know." She wanted to smile, but he was so serious. Moving back by him, Beth let her hand run down his side just to have contact with him. "I'd never doubt that...you. You're a good man, Daryl Dixon."
Daryl nodded, accepting. She had no idea what brought this topic to Daryl's mind...what he'd said about that kind of future. Beth never really imagined Daryl wanting children. No...that was wrong. She'd seen how he reacted the day Judith was born and Rick lost it. Daryl stepped up, risked his life to make sure that she lived. By no means was that out of character for Daryl, but what came after...Daryl taking care of Judith...he was the first person to feed her. Beth remembered just how tiny she'd been in his arms. How he'd talked to her all sweet and soft. He'd melted the heart of every person in the room that night, even the hardened criminals. And it had touched her on a very instinctual level, seeing a man like Daryl with a child. How could it not? The truth was, she'd never really had time to imagine Daryl wanting a child, but what he said showed he was thinking about their future...thought there was a future...or at least he had hope. He doubted himself, but she didn't doubt him.
"Are you going to keep it?"
Daryl was still trying to recover from his misplaced hand on Beth's ass, but he couldn't take his eyes off her as she looked at the bike, trailing her fingers across it as she circled around to the other side. She didn't even have to touch him to make him feel alive. He had an immediate answer, Hell Yeah!, but that answer was impulsive, selfish...not really taking into consideration where they were. But what he wouldn't give for an afternoon, an open road, no walkers, no worries, and Beth riding with him, arms wrapped tight around his chest. Things were different now. His priorities...much different, much bigger than ever before, so he couldn't just answer 'cause he didn't have one yet.
"Don't know. Bikes can go where cars can't. They're faster, but they're louder...less protection too. I'll have to think about it...we'll have to talk about it." Beth was still sick...hurt. A motorcycle probably wouldn't help her situation...well, he really didn't know, but he wasn't ready to rule any of their options out yet. "I don't even know if I can get it running. Haven't even tried to start it yet."
Beth looked at him, watching him from the other side of the bike, not understanding.
Daryl went through, explained to her everything he was trying to do, why he was trying to do it, realizing that she had no idea what he was talking about. How would she?
"How do you know all that?"
Just shrugging at first, he tried to figure out what the answer was. It was all just life experience.
"Idonknow...my old man, he taught me a little, and Merle." His life hadn't ever been pretty, but his old man and Merle, they taught him how to survive. "Some of it, you just learn by doing. Most of it though, you just know."
Daryl had been working on bikes and cars, all sorts of motors and mechanical shit for as long as he could remember...probably longer than Beth had been alive.
"How can you just know?" There was laughter in her voice 'cause she couldn't understand.
He was thinking, trying to put it in perspective for her. Something she could understand.
"How'd you know how to take care of Judith? You never had a baby before..." Oh shit...fuck me. What in the hell was wrong with him?
"That's just instinct. I think we're...girls...we're kind born knowing that..." Beth was so steady, so unphased. How'd she so easily accepted the possibility of her fate when he couldn't? She saw it in him...the pain "What is it? What's wrong?"
"Phhh..." Pull it together, Daryl. "If there's a baby..." It ripped his heart into little shreds just saying it out loud, "I'm gonna be there, Beth...for you, for the child. I can be a father...a good one I think..."
It hurt so bad, but he didn't look away. She had to see he meant every word he said.
"I know. I'd never doubt that...you." Her voice was somber and serious, but she came to him, resting her had against his side. It was a comfort...loving. "You're a good man, Daryl Dixon."
He'd said it, what he'd known he needed to say but couldn't. It was done, and Beth knew. She believed him...believed in him. But he'd forgot...the most important part...the assurance she needed...the assurance he wanted to give her...the security within their group. It was probably the hardest part for him to say because in doing so, he had to fully recognize his failure and the consequences of that failure.
"It'll be our baby...my child. He'll have my name."
If it happened, no one would ever have to know the truth. The truth would be what they made it. He caught Beth smiling up at him softly before he pulled her close...that face, her expression was breaking him. She needed to be held, touched...deserved the love and attention. In giving it to her, Daryl got something to...the feelings...the affection and closeness he still wasn't totally sure how to accept...if he was even worthy of it. But this...if he was the one giving, he could accept what he felt, what he got in return.
~Author's End Note: Well, Daryl told Beth what he needed to. He's still tortured by his truth, and Beth, after everything she's been through, she is being sweetly naive. Daryl has basically said the most painful thing he's ever had to say, and Beth is having a stupid moment, envisioning the possibilities of their future. They're getting closer to the same page though...~