Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 38: Fall Away
~Author's Note: Hey guys. Sorry this chapter is a bit late. A lot has been building to this one, and I hope I did it justice. It's been a long time in the making. Thanks for reading!~
"I did regret you Daryl...I regretted everything we didn't get to do together."
Snuggling just a little closer to him, he could feel her breathing, right where she belonged. It comforted him, but her words left Daryl with a confusing knot of emotions in his gut...sadness, hope, love, anxiety...
"When I thought it was the end...I was dying...during that storm when you kissed me...that...you were my regret...my only regret." Beth choked up; the memory of that night left him in pieces too.
"Beth..." Daryl didn't know what he was gonna try to say. Was he gonna tell her she was wrong, what she felt wasn't good for her? Who was he to tell her what she should feel? He just needed to say her name.
"No. Don't make me regret life because you think I'll regret you." Pulling away, Beth looked up all fierce, this little creature, stronger than he was, schooling him in the ways of love. "You hear me, Daryl Dixon?"
What else was he supposed to do besides nod his head? They weren't going there anytime soon, but when they did, maybe there wouldn't be any regrets. Maybe she loved him enough that everything he used to be, every way he failed her, all his shortcomings...maybe they wouldn't matter. There were so many things he wanted to believe, but every time he did...every time he started...something happened that threw him back into darkness. He just needed to believe it and hold onto it. Daryl's belief in himself...his faith, it had always come from her. And Beth was standing right there in front of him; she was right there with him.
So you do think there are still good people around. What changed your mind?
You know... That's what he said, his 'I'm too fucking afraid to tell the truth-how can you not see this without me having to say it?' cop out, but his answer had always been You even if he didn't say it then. She knew it now; that was what mattered.
She saw goodness in him from the beginning, when there was no goodness to be had...goodness that he didn't know existed.
You're a good man, Daryl Dixon...
That's what she said...what she thought, and he was trying. He followed her without thought, without over thinking, seeing her turn back on the stairs making sure he was following. Did she actually doubt that? But he did think...remembered carrying her to bed, hoping one day when they were healed, hoping he would get to carry her to bed because she was gonna be his. Something burned deep in his cheeks, forcing Daryl to turn away quick so Beth couldn't see. Fucking hell, he was flushed. What was he thinking? He wasn't made to be one of those heroes on a book cover. Damned romance novel...Pfft! That was him now.
He needed to check the door anyway. It wasn't just to cover, or even out of habit; it was survival. Needed to make sure it was tight enough too that not only nothing could get in, but Beth couldn't get out. Maybe one of these days, if he was sleeping in that bed, she wouldn't wake up and run, and he would get to see what it felt like waking upwith her.
"It's secure, Daryl."
Nodding his head before he turned around, buying himself a second, it was pretty damned close to her saying Come to bed. She left him behind though, tiny feet creaking on the old steps that even he couldn't move stealthily on. She must have sensed he needed some time.
Beth was perched on her knees in the middle of the bed, fluffing pillows when he made it up there, watching her from the doorway, fluffing his again, Daryl contemplating the absurdity of her having to get his pillow just right. Pillows hadn't been anyone's priority for a good long while...but she was doing it for him. And it looked like there was a bit of nervous energy there too that she was trying to get out, fluffing that one last time before she went to slide her sweater off her shoulders, maybe not even noticing he was there. He should look away...it was the decent thing to do...shouldn't be invading her privacy like that, but he didn't.
Dammit, it's just a fucking sweater. Get a hold of yourself.
Going to Beth on that bed was hard...didn't know what she expected from him but knew he had to touch her...just touch. Reaching out for him when he was standing steady at the edge of the bed, she looked like she wanted to draw him into it with her, but he just captured her wrist, thumb brushing over the blue veins threaded beneath the translucent surface of her silken skin. Even the golden glow of the oil lamp didn't warm the pale porcelain of her complexion. His thumb hesitated over the scar...his eyes finding it where it raised from her wrist. Beth didn't seem to notice, but he thought on it, that small vertical scar that Hershel had stitched so carefully for his baby girl. It shouldn't be there...wasn't natural...but it wasn't a flaw neither. It was a testament to Beth's strength, the woman she'd become.
"I don't even know how to touch you, you're so fine and delicate...like I'm gonna break you..." Daryl wished his touch could be as soft as his voice came out...wished he could be soft for her.
"I won't be broken...hurt forever..." Beth's promise was self-conscious, encompassing the tragedy of every wound she'd suffered...everything she'd been forced to endure.
"It ain't 'cause you're hurt; it's who you are. You're perfect, and I'm..." Daryl stopped it right there. Wasn't nothing he was going to say that she wouldn't fight him on.
He just needed to man the hell up and come to terms with Beth being his. It wasn't his choice. She chose. He would've protected and loved her 'till the day he died with nothing from her. And Beth knew who he was...what he was. Didn't have nothing to hide from her anymore, and she was still with him...still wanted to love him despite everything. Beth took his hand in both of hers...took both of hers to contain his...his scarred, busted up hand that he wasn't even bothering to wrap anymore. They were healing the best they were gonna. Turning it over, her fingers brushing against his palm, just a soft little touch sending all sorts of feelings coursing through his body. Beth's touch...why would a girl like her ever want to touch him?
"I got rough hands..." Stupid...so stupid. He was just so awkward and self-conscious that it rasped out.
Beth nodded; she wasn't gonna lie to him, but she leaned down, warm moist lips pressed against his upturned palm.
"Strong, protective..." just whispers against his skin before kind eyes raised and locked on his. "The hands that held Judith the day she was born, the hands that fought for me, saved me, wiped away my tears..."
Beth sounded like she was feeling it...and the images were trying to capture his mind, but he remembered Beth's plea.
Just us today...
Just us tonight, Daryl told himself, fighting back, battling for just a little peace...a small piece of sweetness. He could allow himself that, couldn't he?
Beth was pulling at him, drawing him to her, and hell, he wasn't putting up a fight...didn't take much coaxing at all...just wanted to drown himself in her. But he stopped himself...only allowed his knee to sink into the edge of the bed, other foot planted firmly on the hardwood floor.
"The hands that gave me my life back...bringing me back to life...showing me what it's supposed to feel like..."
Her words, they were everything he needed to hear, her hand guiding his to her body, begging to be touched.
"The only hands I want on me ever..."
His fingers found her collarbone, trailing across, up to the smooth column of her slender neck, Daryl pressing his free hand against the fluffy comforter on top the mattress, balancing himself, but he was far from steady. People liked to say that to really live life, you had to live like you were dying, but he and Beth, they'd been doing that for so long, feeling death with every breath and step they took. God, Daryl just wanted to live with her, nice and slow, experience everything life had to offer, all the things he never got the chance to do before. He wanted to live like they were living, not dying.
Cupping the back of her neck, Daryl drew Beth to him, to the edge of the bed, knowing his boundaries, the lines he wasn't gonna let himself cross if he could help it. Her lips...they tasted like they were dripping honey, and both of them...both of them still shy and new to this world of intimacy that wasn't driven by danger, fear of death, pain...just love for the sake of love. Dragging the tie out of her ponytail, freeing her hair so he could thread his fingers in at the back of her neck, Daryl buried he face in the soft silken mass. Beth gasped when his mouth found her neck, clinging to him, pulling at him, her desperation to have him near making him scared of himself...scared of scaring her even though he knew he had enough self-control not to do anything.
But one of those boundaries...one of those lines he told himself he wasn't gonna cross, it got blurred, their world going horizontal pretty quick without him even realizing...not even having the chance to stop himself. There was nothing but innocence ...no intent of nothing. Since he was already there, Daryl just stayed leaned over her, resting on his arms, appreciating her before he went in for her lips. But he couldn't kiss her, not just yet...her eyes on him killing him...trying to get a read on what she was feeling. She was looking at him so damned innocent, it shook him to the core.
"Please be gentle..." Her fingers caressing his cheek, it brought him to her reality.
Wait...what? Shit. Daryl actually realizing what she said. Did he hurt her...?
"Sorry...I didn't mean to..." But looking down, how did he hurt her?
Chest inches away from her, still braced on his arms holding all his own weight...hadn't moved. He hadn't even touched her. "Sorry..."
He started to pull back anyway. It was a line he hadn't wanted to cross in the first place.
"No...I...you didn't..." Beth couldn't find her words either. They were both so inexperienced in love...but her hand pressed against his back begged him not to move away.
She was so painfully awkward though.
"Just...I mean, please be gentle when we...when you..."
It took him a second to realize.
No. That's where she thought he was going? And Beth...she thought she had to beg him not to hurt her? She was afraid of him...
Pushing off the bed, biting back a pained whimper, there was no fighting it now...no playing the fucked up little game of forget to remember. She was afraid of him...had a right to be after being raped. He made himself think it, see the word in his mind, the letters burning red and angry...that word...what he always tried to avoid to protect himself. Raped. Why in the hell should he get to protect himself when he couldn't even protect her...couldn't save her? There was no avoiding it now. Pacing beside the bed, wanting to run but knowing he had to face their demons.
"Daryl?" Confusion replaced the awkwardness in her sweet voice...so sweet...she was so sweet and good...she didn't deserve it...
"I'd never hurt you Beth...never hurt you on purpose. I'd saw off my own hands before..."
...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!
Those words...Abe's words from before the beginning of his journey to find Beth...they stung now more than they could ever have then because they were true. He needed to pound someone...something...see the blood flow, feel that physical pain...but there was no one. No one but him and Beth and the truth.
"Daryl..." Crawling to the edge of the bed, Beth sat there on her knees, reaching out for him...but he couldn't...
"No..." He backed away, couldn't let her near, almost turned his back on her.
Please be gentle...Beth's words had been so soft, but they were thundering in his head like a percussion grenade went off, blurring everything...everything except the pain that gripped him to the core.
She thought he was a monster too...thought he was a monster that was gonna rip her apart.
"I ain't him, Beth...I'd never hurt you like that...like he did. I ain't him..." A sob wracked his chest...couldn't stop it no matter how hard he tried...how hard he fought it.
Beth had no idea where the night was going to. Such gentle intimacy of touch lead to kissing and clinging, and the pulling desperation of her needing him near. But when Daryl eased her back, laying her in the bed, coming down over her...not on her, but close enough it didn't matter, that's when Beth realized where they could be headed, and she was more than happy for it. She would give to him and follow where ever he lead. Daryl would never be her regret. Maybe it was too soon...maybe she wasn't healed enough, sides still sore and achy on a good day. And both of them were far from healed inside, but maybe this was what they needed to heal together. Beth was healed enough...enough to know what she wanted...remembering the feeling she'd experienced, that fear and pain knowing it was too late for them when they were separated and even when they were reunited, thinking it was over. They both thought that night was their last together, and there was nothing to be done about it except say the things that were in their hearts. Now, this chance...this time...being in this place, the way it should've been...it was too precious to waste. In their world, nothing was too soon.
Three little words...just three little words she had to say, had to get Daryl to understand, and the thought of saying them made her heart shiver a little.
"Please be gentle."
At first, Daryl thought he was hurting her even though he wasn't even touching her...hurting her because she was still hurt. That was good...well, not good that he got all self-conscious, but it showed he was mindful of her injuries and would be aware of himself moving forward, not so lost in a moment he would forget. That wasn't what she meant though...not what she needed for him to realize.
"...I mean, please be gentle when we...when you..."
It had come out a lot less graceful the second time around, but Beth was just feeling so shy of telling him, just coming out and telling him that she had never been with anyone before. Did he already know, and would he think she was stupid for telling him, spelling it out? It was probably absurd...it was nothing in the scope of things...and Daryl, well, Beth didn't know much about that part of his past, but any experience he had was far more than she had...it was no big deal for him. But it did mean something to her, that piece of herself she could only share once. Beyond just being nervous and the little bit of fear...reasons she would want him to know...to go slow and be careful if he could...with everything they had been through together, the good, the bad, the tragic, and the beautiful, Beth wanted Daryl to know that it meant a lot to her, and it was him, no one else that she wanted to give that part of herself to. Even if it really was nothing...this was Daryl, and if it meant something to her, it might mean something to him.
But hearing it and actually understanding what she meant...it sent Daryl to a dark place, shooting up off the bed like it was burning wildfire, trying to get away from her. With what Daryl shared with her about his abusive past and the way he was with her...it wasn't hard to imagine the kind of relationships...well, women, Daryl had in his life, probably nothing as complicated as her...she knew it wasn't going to be easy for him. Beth just had no idea he would have such a hang-up about the prospect of being with her. She thought it could heal them, but instead, Daryl looked like he had been condemned to his own personal circle of Hell.
"Daryl?" She didn't understand.
He was pacing now, pacing and trying to hide a groan. Pain...he was in pain...more wounded animal than man.
Please...please God, help me bring him back to life. Don't turn your back on us...him. Beth said her silent prayer.
"I'd never hurt you Beth...never hurt you on purpose. I'd saw off my own hands before..." He rubbed his eyes so hard with his palms it seemed like he was trying to rip away his sight. Was it her he couldn't look at...didn't want to see?
"Daryl..." Offering him her hand from the edge of the bed, not wanting to get any closer than that in fear of driving him further away.
Beth knew...hoped if he would just take it...if she could touch him, she could bring Daryl back to her, but her soft plea did nothing.
"No." Daryl snapped, stopped pacing, his body stressed and rigid, not knowing if he should face her or go.
She should have never said it, asked him to be gentle. He thought she was doubting him...insinuating he was going to be rough with her...hurt her. Beth was silently cursing herself, remembering that morning not so long ago, sharing breakfast with him, kissing him for the first time since he thought she had been dying. He had grabbed her rough in the heat of the moment...realized...then he said it himself, I can be gentle. She didn't need to ask him to be, he already knew...already questioned himself more than he ever should. Now she just made it worse.
"I ain't him, Beth...I'd never hurt you like that...like he did. I ain't him..." Daryl's eyes, they were pools of sadness. He'd seen too much sadness and pain in his life...shoulders slumped forward in defeat.
Beth just wanted all the pain and sadness to go away. If she could take it from him, she would.
I ain't him...? He had to be talking about the bastard who ripped her from her world of happiness, beat her, sliced her up...tortured her...but how could he ever think that she saw him that way...feared him like that?
"I know...Daryl...please..." Getting frantic now, she needed to go to him, needed to reassure him, but she saw in his stance that he would push her away.
This was something more...something even deeper for him than what happened that day at the moonshine shack. He wouldn't let her hug him through this one; it wouldn't be enough. But now more than ever, she needed him to believe her love, believe in himself because Daryl was on the verge of self-destruction.
"You gotta tell me. I already know, but you gotta tell me. You can't leave it like this." Daryl's torture was so excruciating that it was destroying her too.
They were back to him saying...insisting that they needed to talk, but what was it that he already knew that was eating him alive?
She realized then...it broke her...tears came because of Daryl's pain...putting it all together. Where they were...in bed. What they had been doing and what it could have lead to...what she had said... please be gentle when we...when you...
Oh...God, no...This is what he had been carrying with him all along?
Beth covered her mouth quick, trying to hold back the sob before she could even attempt to speak...set everything right.
"Please...please don't think of me like him. I ain't him. I couldn't save you...couldn't get to you in time, but I ain't him." Daryl literally had to stop...stop talking, stop pacing...so he could breathe, Beth seeing just how labored and ragged the rise and fall of his chest was.
"He didn't...he didn't...rape me." That word...it hit her so hard because that could've been her fate...it could've been the truth. She feared it every day while they were separated.
Her hesitation gave Daryl room for doubt. Beth could tell that from the way his head dropped.
"Daryl, come here...please, just come to me..." She still couldn't go to him...was too emotional now herself to face rejection.
"No! Don't lie..." He was caught somewhere between belligerent and broken. "Don't lie to protect me. You ain't protecting me from nothin'. I already know...I already know..."
"You don't know anything!" Beth shot back, angry that he wouldn't believe her, knowing how hard she fought so she could keep that piece of herself. "I fought...I fought him every night."
Well, her yelling at him, getting all worked up brought him to a calmer place at least, but it wasn't about him actually believing or being more steady. He was trying to check his emotions because they were starting to impact her.
"I know...you were so strong. It's on me, all on me. I didn't make it in time...didn't run fast enough, didn't track far enough, didn't fight hard enough. Never enough, and your the one gets punished for it. You fought as hard as you could as long as you could...It's my fault." Daryl looked straight at her this time, not avoiding, took a step forward, but stopped...saw she was on edge now.
Did he really believe she fought? Was he just patronizing her? But she did. She was strong. She fought for herself, fought for Daryl and what she wanted with him even though she thought she could never have it. She fought thinking she was dying...fought to die as she was, and now he was calling her a liar.
"Dammit Daryl! Listen to me. I fought him. The more I fought him, the more he wanted to break me, but I didn't break, not in that." Beth's cussing actually seemed like it made him stop, take pause, and think about what she was saying. "He cut me...he cut me every night I said no...every night I denied him..."
The growing tension in her body caused a timely sting on her back, taut skin pulling at the healing wounds...the freshest that she still felt, reminding her of her strength. He might think she was weak, that she gave up and didn't fight...didn't fight hard enough, but she knew...remembered the warm feel of the blood dripping down her back.
"I know...I'm so sorry, Beth." She didn't want his damned sympathy, she just wanted him to believe her.
And how did Daryl know? He'd seen the cuts, but she never told him why they happened. Rick...that's how he knew. She confided in Rick when he came to talk to her while Daryl was out hunting, when she told him things that she couldn't tell Daryl. Of course Rick told him, but how exactly did Rick interpret what she said and especially what she didn't say?
"I'm so sorry you had to give up...sorry you lost hope...didn't know I was coming for you...I'm sorry..." He started to come to her in earnest this time, no hesitation...that's what she wanted all along, but she shook her head violently.
Beth wasn't going to take his comfort until he actually heard her...believed her. Frustrated, Beth realized pleading with him didn't work, yelling at him...fighting him wasn't working either. It all just became a painful push and pull of emotion and aggression, aggression and emotion. Maybe cold hard logic would make him open his eyes.
"Do you know how many times he cut me...how many scars I'm going to have?" Beth tried to temper her emotions, erase the feeling from her voice even though saying it, she knew it was going to tear Daryl apart, and it hurt her inside knowing that.
Ten nights...nine cuts...no mark the first night...
"Nine..." Daryl's hand came up to the center of his chest as he rasped out his answer like his heart shattering beneath was a real and tangible thing...like he was attempting to hold the pieces together. "Nine. They're scored in my head...I seem 'em when I close my eyes...'cause I know what they mean. I see it too...what he did to you...everything...because I know...you fought and it didn't matter 'cause I failed you."
"I fought, and it did...it did matter." Beth was fighting now too, like her life...their life depended on it, and maybe it did. "Every night after the first night...every time he cut me, I used it as my defiance, my strength, holding onto myself and how long I fought...every day counting in my head. 'Two nights...one cut...no mark the first night; Three nights...two cuts...no mark the first night; Seven nights...six cuts...no mark the first night'. That last night before you came, 'ten nights...nine cuts...no mark the first night'. That count, it was one of the only ways I kept who I was. It was my tether to reality...my reality. Ten nights, Daryl. The ten nights we were apart...I remember them."
Beth was so coherent, so sure in her words and what had been her reality that there was no way Daryl could doubt her...not see the truth of it.
"Fifteen." Daryl's voice went so gentle with her...so sad. "Fifteen days...that's how long it was, Beth. Fifteen days at least...fifteen days I'm sure of. Things got a little blurry...time was messed up for me when we were at Terminus...captured by Gareth's people...but fifteen days I'm sure of."
Fifteen days? It didn't make sense. She knew. She counted and had the marks on her back to prove it, like days ticked away on a prison cell wall. Then Beth realized...remembered the things she knew happened but didn't remember...
Daryl carrying her away from the church.
Leaving the first house after they sheltered there that first night during the storm.
Bob tending to her wounds.
The broken mirror Beth knew shattered under the force of Daryl's fist, but she didn't remember when or why.
Those were all moments that happened after Daryl came for her that she had no memory of...and before...before Beth remembered praying for the darkness to take her away from the pain. Sometimes it did...sometimes her prayers were answered. Beth finally understood that her missing moments weren't just moments. They were huge chunks of time...missing days.
"When I was sick, I was out some..." It was the truth, but it wasn't convincing at all; it probably wouldn't have convinced her if she was in Daryl's place.
And she could put it all together...exactly what he saw in his nightmares. Nine cuts. Fifteen days. He knew what those marks meant from the moment Rick went and told him. He did the math. For each night there wasn't a mark, Daryl was tortured by images of things he thought happened to her but never did...saw her being raped, maybe fighting, maybe just giving up and laying there and taking it because who she was was gone. It wasn't just Daryl's imagination working on its own...he derived the facts from the partial story she told Rick and the truths she refused to talk to Daryl about because they were too painful...but nothing was more painful than this. All the times Daryl tried to talk to her and comfort her, all the times she denied him...leaving him in the dark, not being open with him...it wounded him so much more, and now here they both were, broken. Beth couldn't stop the tears streaming down her face; it was all just too overwhelming. All she could do was hold her head in her hands, knowing Daryl was never going to believe her now...knowing the mess she'd made of their lives and not knowing how to fix it.
"Beth, you don't gotta hide it anymore. You don't gotta be strong to protect yourself from this. I'm here...I'll hold you...I'll protect you from it. And you don't gotta hide it to protect me." Daryl inched closer.
She didn't see him, but she could sense him...and she let him touch her, Daryl's hand finding the back of her neck. It was a warm and steady comfort, his calloused thumb caressing her skin. Beth took his comfort and let herself break down. It wasn't doing the situation any good. He thought she was crying because she had been raped and was finally purging all of her emotion, but she was crying for him and everything he suffered. All the pieces...they were all coming together now like a tragic puzzle.
That day she stood at the window waiting for Daryl to come back from hunting...when he came to her and wouldn't touch her...that was the day Rick told him.
And the things Daryl said to her...the things he said...she never understood the full extent of what he meant...what he was feeling...how bad he was hurting...suffering.
I know you're mine, but I couldn't protect you. I know you're broken, but I don't know how to fix you...
Everything that happened to you matters 'cause I wasn't able to stop it...nothing that happened makes me think you're flawed...damaged...'cause I love you.
Even though Beth knew the scars on her back carried a deeper meaning for Daryl, that they would be a visceral reminder of the guilt he felt, she had been petty enough to believe that Daryl would find her ugly because of those scars...only now knowing just how naive that belief was. Daryl thought she was scarred so deep inside that she'd never recover...and knowing what she did now, Beth wished for more cuts...more scars, one for each day they were separated so Daryl would have no doubts...know how hard she fought.
But there was more, so much more...there weren't enough tears in the world, realizing the true depth of everything Daryl had been through...suffered through silently. That day, that day in the garage where he'd been fixing his bike up...they'd had such a beautiful moment. They had been so close, Daryl looking her in the eye through every single word he said.
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. It'll be our baby...my child. He'll have my name.
Beth was crying so hard she could barely suck in a breath of air to keep breathing, and she couldn't look at him. Not now. How had she been so stupid? How had she not seen then? She had been living in a fairytale...a fantasy world, all warm on the inside thinking Daryl was talking about their future...eventually wanting a baby with her. But he was sacrificing himself for her...thought she could be pregnant...showing her just how honorable he was. He would raise her child...a child of rape...as his own to protect her and it. That's how much he loved her. That was the full guilt and weight of the burden he had been carrying. It was unbearable.
Cheeks raw and burning from her salty tears, she couldn't hide from him any longer...couldn't hide from the pain...pain she felt, pain he felt, pain she caused...pain they had to get over. Daryl was with her...right there with her...the strongest man she knew...strength for her...with tear tired eyes and wetness on his cheeks. Words were never going to be able to fix this. The truth might as well have been a lie. Words would never be enough. She had to have more than words.
Had she been repressing the memories of what happened all along? She fought him so hard to keep believing it never happened, and he was the dick that made her remember. Daryl thought she was broken before...now, now she was really and truly breaking. This wasn't what he planned...how he meant it to happen, but what else did he really expect with all the trauma? He was selfish to try to force her to talk about...make her remember...cruel to yell at her and call her a liar 'cause he was hurting, and these were the consequences. Beth didn't even want him near, but there was no way that he was gonna leave her there, crying on her own, feeling like she was alone in the world when he was the one who broke her. She wasn't alone...wasn't never gonna be alone again.
Rubbing Beth's neck, being there in the only way she would let him, Daryl realized it was best to just let her cry it out...not try to stop her or even say nothin' to her. Just wished she'd let him hold her, wrap her in his arms, the only protection he had to offer her. When her sobbing quieted and Beth sounded like she was able to breathe normal again, Daryl had no idea what came next. He couldn't make her talk...not now...not ever. It was already gonna take forever for this to start healing if it ever did. Rick was right all along...should've listened...
What happened to Beth, none of it's changing how she sees you or what she feels. She might never talk about any of it, but you can't let it change how you see her...how you see yourself.
Wished he would've wiped the fucking tears away when Beth looked up to him...needed to be strong for her...but he didn't, Beth seeing him as he was. Brushing the last of her own tears away, when she climbed off the bed, all he had to do was encompass her...she was right there...so close, but she saw the slightest twitch in the muscles in his arms and shook her head no. It was a gentler refusal this time, Daryl accepting it but not backing off. Beth's fingertips pushed against his stomach, creating the smallest amount of distance between them...distance he didn't want...her hands lingering between them a second, but not on him. When she captured his hand, laid it flat out against the soft expanse of her stomach, Daryl froze, not taking his eyes off hers, not making to move...confused. She trembled under his touch, and the look in her eyes...she was trying to steel herself for something, but for what he had no idea.
Her hand pressed firm over his guided him past where her jeans should have been buttoned but weren't anymore, his hand spanning the distance between her hipbones. Daryl went even more rigid...tried to pull away...couldn't comprehend what was happening...what in the hell she was trying to do when his fingers slid under the top edge of her panties feeling the soft down of her curls. But she held his hand fast, her eyes pleading...begging him not to pull away.
"Beth...what are you doin'..." Daryl rasped, knowing it was all wrong.
"It's the only way to show you." He didn't know what she was trying to prove, but he was trying to listen. Hadn't been doing such a good job of that tonight. "He didn't rape me..."
They were back to this...again...this denial? He couldn't take it.
"No..." She wasn't gonna let him finish. "It's the only proof I have."
Her eyes went shy, cast away from him, refusing to look, teeth raking over her bottom lip to hide her nerves...whatever she was feeling, but her hand on his was bold, trying to slid his touch closer to...her. He was so fucking lost, but so exhausted from the emotional toll that he didn't know how to fight her anymore, just stayed still...wouldn't be pushed. He had strength enough she couldn't move him if he didn't want to.
"I know you don't believe me...but he didn't. I'm a...I've never...I've never been with anyone...a man before. Please...feel...just be gentle..." Her voice was broken all the way through what she said, totally faltered at the end.
It all hit him...like a bolt through the heart, his hand shaking as he drew it back, Beth letting him go when he refused...
Her proof...what she wanted him to feel...
Her words...the words that broke him...set him off...please be gentle...had nothing to do with what he feared, that she thought he was the same as the man who brutalized and raped her.
I mean...please be gentle when we...when you...She was afraid of him, but her fear didn't come from a past trauma that would always haunt her.
It was the fear of what she'd never done...what she'd never known.
Beth was a virgin...something he'd never even stopped to consider before.
That was her proof...the truth she was trying to show him.
And her truth broke him down, crashing to his knees, knees that were so punished that they shouldn't even work anymore. But he didn't feel the pain; he didn't feel nothin' but wrapping his arms around Beth, burying his head in her soft center, on his knees in front of this girl where he belonged Crying his eyes out, bawling like a baby, but not caring...it all had to come out...he couldn't hold on anymore.
"Shhh..." Beth was trying to calm him, running her long, slender fingers though his hair.
All his strength was gone, the pent up emotion flooding over him, sending him to his ass on the floor. Beth sank down to her knees in front of him, pulling him close, pulling his head to rest between her breasts where he could hear...feel her heart beating so rapidly, comforting him through it all.
"Let it fall away." Beth's sad, sweet voice was barely a whisper, but he heard it. It reached in and soothed his sorry soul. "Let the guilt fall away."