Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 4: "Say It!"
~Author's Note: Here is the new chapter! Lots of bitter, angry Daryl, mad at himself and the world. For some reason, I kept going back to a certain song, "Does it Really Matter" by Theory of a Deadman, when I was writing this one. Musical inspiration I guess. I hope you guys enjoy! Thanks for reading!~
Apparently Daryl had been tired enough to fall asleep. Maybe it was because he had a concrete plan of action. Maybe it was his instincts, his body telling him that if he was going to be any good out there at all, he needed rest. Whatever the reason, Daryl went there, but he didn't come back untarnished. He woke scared, in a cold sweat. His hallway was deserted and the house was quiet, but he was haunted by the images of his failures...haunted by his nightmare...
I'm not gonna leave you!
Get out! Go up the road. I'll meet you there!
He couldn't keep his word. By the time he got to that road, Beth was gone.
Eventually, he'd left her. Well, maybe he didn't leave her, but he didn't run fast enough, didn't track far enough...should've chose to die instead of allowing himself to go with Joe's group when she would've stayed and died with him. He'd failed her just like he'd failed Hershel by givin' up his search for the Governor. If he kept this up, he would single-handedly be the undoing of the entire Greene family.
Well, he wasn't doing any good for anyone sitting in the hallway feelin' sorry for himself. The faint moonlight spilling in through the window far above where he sat showed dawn was still a while away. He wouldn't leave before dawn, but he could get ready. Daryl grabbed his crossbow and flashlight, heading out to the garage to see if the car was in working order. There were too many people with their group now for one car to make any difference, but for him, it would get him back to the beginning. And if Beth was still out there somewhere, it could mean the difference between life and death.
The noises and movement from inside the house jolted him back into reality. He'd sat down on the cold concrete steps inside the garage, lost in thought after he'd checked out the car. Apparently he'd lost track of time. Daryl jumped up defensively as the door behind him was thrown open
"Thank God...you were gone! Rick said you planned on leaving...I thought you left already!" Carol took a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief.
He didn't have time for this. Even if he did, he didn't want to. Since Terminus, Rick had been the only person he'd really talked to...for various reasons...and this conversation really didn't ever need to happen in his opinion. Carol was standing on the second step, looking down at him, waiting for him to say something...but he didn't give her anything.
"Daryl, you can't go. You belong here with us."
"I looked for Sophia," Daryl replied sharply. It was the only explanation he should have to give. Actually, he didn't have to give any explanation, but he did because of the friendship they'd shared.
"Exactly, you looked for Sophia, and you couldn't find her. With Sophia, you had a place to start. It's been too long. It's not your job to risk your life to go looking for everyone who is lost. You just need to realize, she is gone." Carol went into her "mom" mode, trying to tell him what he should and shouldn't do, what he should and shouldn't be. It struck him the wrong way...always had, but now even more...now that Beth was gone. Beth took him to places with out forcing him or calling him out. She'd understood him in ways that no one else ever had, ever been willing or able to.
You're gonna miss me so bad when I'm gone, Daryl Dixon...
"I looked for Sophia, and she wasn't even mine!" Daryl snapped. "I have to look for Beth!" He finished as he pushed past Carol into the house.
He'd been right last night in his thinking, that it was easier for people to just forget about Beth than to try to find her or even mourn her loss. That was fucking bullshit! Maybe Rick was really the only one who understood or even cared. Her family...they needed to feel this...Carol had started something she probably shouldn't have...but he had a few things he wanted to say to the others before he left.
"Daryl, I can't lose you too!" Carol's voice was edging on desperation.
That stopped Daryl dead in his tracks. It took him back to Hershel's farm, Beth's home. He'd been hurt, but he was willing to go back out, searching for that little girl...the little girl that wasn't even his. But her own mother stood in that barn while he tried to saddle a horse, and those very same words came out of Carol's mouth. I can't lose you too... She would choose a man she barely knew over her own daughter! Of course she would try to make him stay rather than him going back out and looking for Beth. Beth wasn't even her blood. Funny thing was, all his blood was dead...but these people where his family. Guess family didn't matter shit to people anymore. And he realized something in that moment, frozen in the hallway. It wasn't going to be the walkers that destroyed the human race...no, they were doing just fine drivin' themselves into extinction...they were losing their humanity. Daryl's eyes narrowed as he adjusted his bow over his shoulder just for something to do.
He looked back at Carol, contemplating how far they'd fallen since the beginning. Thing was, he might be delusional, but Daryl felt like, even if for the shortest moment, he'd found himself...he became the person he was supposed to be...with Beth...before it all came crashing down around him.
"I ain't yours to lose," He spat. "Ain't nobody's to lose..." Well that might not be true anymore, but he wasn't the one who was lost.
Daryl grabbed Beth's backpack from the hallway. He hadn't gone through it since she was taken...but he knew what was in there...he'd watch her pick it all up, all the little trinkets she found along the way that were a reminder of her life before or somehow gave her hope. Daryl never looked because they were her things, not his...he'd never had the right...but now...maybe just one thing. He reached in, pulling out Beth's journal. He allowed his hand to trace around the green cover. This...her journal...he shouldn't...this was no doubt one of the most intimate things she had. He opened it anyway, against common decency, and read a random page.
I know it's been a while. I'm gonna be honest, I forgot about you. After the farm, we were always moving. But something happened. Something good. Finally. We found a prison. Daddy thinks that we can make it into a home. He says we can grow crops in the field, find pigs and chickens, stop running, stop scavenging. Lori's baby is just about due.
She'll need a safe place when it comes. The rest of us, we just need a safe place to be. I woke up in my own bed yesterday. My own bed in my own room. But I've been keeping my backpack. Keeping my gun close. I've been afraid to get my hopes up thinking we can actually stay here. The thing is, I've been starting to get afraid that it's easier just to be afraid. But this morning Daddy said something. "If you don't have hope, what's the point of living?" So I unpacked my bag and I found you. So I'm gonna start writing in you again. And I'm gonna write this down now because you should write down wishes to make them come true.
We can live here.
We can live here for the rest of our lives.
Daryl almost lost himself to emotion. But the thing was, if he shut down, he was no good...no good to her. Nobody else cared. He closed his eyes tight, realizing how naive they'd all been. They should've let Beth and the others believe what they needed to believe to live their lives and have hope, but he shouldn't have, or Rick, or Hershel. They let everyone down by not being ready, by becoming complacent. Daryl shook it off, opening his eyes, back to reality again. He flipped to another page, why he didn't know, when he saw it. His name in Beth's handwriting. He closed the book quickly...he didn't want or need to know...he shouldn't have looked anyway.
All the same, Daryl slid the green journal into his back pocket. This was the piece of Beth he would carry with him. He would keep the best of her close at hand. And he would hold onto Hershel's words of wisdom to Beth. If you don't have hope, what's the point of living?
Maggie and Glenn were sitting together on the couch in the room the prison group had claimed. There was just enough light in the room from the sun coming up that he could see everyone, but Rick wasn't there. No one was really doing anything...there wasn't really anything for them to do at this point except rest, recover, regroup, and all share in the fact that, despite the odds, they'd all come back together...most of them. And Daryl was going to make sure before he left that Beth's family heard her name again whether they wanted to or not. He dropped Beth's backpack on the floor in front of Maggie and Glenn. They were startled. How they hadn't realized he was there, he had no idea. So much for survival instincts.
"This is Beth's. I thought you might want to have it seeing she's not around anymore!" Daryl's words came out more angry than he intended, probably because he was on the verge of losing control of himself.
"What is it?" Maggie asked hesitantly, not reaching for the bag or even moving.
Maybe she was affected by Beth's loss after all. She was suffering from something, just not enough to do anything about it.
"It's all Beth's shit." That came out too harsh, but it was too late to take it back now. "All the stuff she picked up while we were together, why I don't know." Daryl's voice broke off a little.
Maggie reached out and touched the backpack hesitantly before she drew her hand back.
"Daryl, you don't have to go after...she's probably..." Maggie couldn't say it, but Daryl knew what followed. Dead. And she couldn't even fucking say her sister's name. Beth...just say it...Beth.
"Daryl, you shouldn't go. We just found each other. After everything that happened..." To Glenn's credit, at least he just said "shouldn't" instead of "can't". Glenn was smart that way. The thing was, they didn't realize, that everything that happened to him happened with Beth. "She's not your responsibility anymore."
Responsibility?! She was a person. Beth was part of their group...part of their family...Responsibility?!
"You know Glenn, she ain't your responsibility 'cause she ain't your blood." The funny thing was, back when he chose to leave with Merle after they escaped from the Governor, Glenn had an entirely different idea about what tied people together.
My blood, my family is standing right here and waiting for us back at the prison. And you're part of that family, Daryl.
They hadn't been blood, but Glenn called him blood...called him family...now it didn't seem like that counted anymore...Beth didn't fit into that equation...
"You're only tied to her by law. And Maggie, she's your blood, your sister, but you don't need her anymore...you've got Glenn here to get all nice and cozy with..." He was sayin' shit he probably shouldn't say, but he couldn't stop himself.
"Daryl, that's not fair." Glenn put his arm around a despondent Maggie and pulled her close as he called Daryl out.
"Life ain't fair! You see any fair 'round here, 'cause I sure in the Hell don't." Their conversation wasn't private anymore, but it didn't need to be. He didn't care. Let 'em listen. Let 'em hear. It was a good dose of reality. "And I heard 'bout your little signs...the one's you left for Glenn. Guess it was too hard to write her name too. We're probably lucky though. If she'd ended up at Terminus, you wouldn't have done nothin' to save her!"
Glenn was uncomfortable. Maggie was cryin', but nobody made a move to stop him. Everyone else was silent.
"Come on, can't you even say her name? One syllable...just one...Beth...say it...Beth...the sweet little blonde girl you grew up with...Beth...called you her sister...Beth...Say It!"
Nothing...not even Judith made a peep in the background. And Maggie still wouldn't say it.
"To Hell with y'all!" Daryl spat, turning away.
"Why are you doing this?" Maggie choked through her tears.
That was a pretty broad question...but he had an answer he would probably regret later.
"She might mean nothin' to you, but to me, Beth's everything...she's all I got." Yep, he was gonna regret that later, not that he felt it, just that he said it.
"I wouldn't suggest..." So Rick finally appeared. Daryl thought at first Rick was talking to him until he knew he wasn't.