Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 8: Lucid
~Author's Note: Here's the new chapter. I hope you guys enjoy! Thanks for reading. You are all awesome. Stick around. It seems like there might be a reunion next chapter!~
Her dress was white. It was pretty. Beth apparently wasn't gong to be killed...that didn't seem like the plan, and she hadn't died on her own, so she would take whatever beauty in life she could get. Her lot had become a mixed bag of good and bad. She was sick...feverish, weak, but she'd been unchained, given a bed, medicine, the beatings stopped, and she hadn't been drugged. She wasn't quite sure why the sedatives had stopped, whether Brother Allerton was worried they would kill her in her condition or if he thought she was too weak to fight. Both were probably true. The medicine dulled her pain, helped control her fever, and would maybe help her survive. Why was she trying to survive now? Because of a dream...a hallucination...whether it was caused by fever or was just a dream...it was strong enough to give her a reason to fight. She didn't know if Daryl was alive or dead...how would he have escaped the herd of walkers at the funeral parlor? The thing was...Daryl died saving her, and she wasn't going to waste his sacrifice if she could help it.
She'd been allowed to rest in bed one day, allowed to miss one night of him parading her in front of his congregation. Even though the beatings stopped, Allerton still cut her, still marked her for rejecting him. It had been ten nights...nine cuts...no mark the first night. It didn't seem like the fact the doctor told him that she was probably going to die made a difference in his delusional pursuit of her affections.
Beth was still feverish but lucid. She didn't let Allerton know that though...she didn't want him to know she was fighting. He'd sat her in the front pew of the church like he did every day at this time, kissed her on the forehead before he went to greet his arriving flock. She had to force herself not to flinch away, not wanting him to know just how lucid she was. If she continued to act complacent, maybe he would let his guard down. If he let his guard down, maybe she could eventually escape...escape to what, she didn't know. And she would probably die out there without the medicine or because she was too weak to fight off the walkers or run from them. The thought of death really didn't scare her anymore...she had faith, always had...she just wanted to die on her own terms...free and fighting, like Daryl had.
She wanted to feel the warmth of the fading sun. Beth left her designated seat in the pew and went slowly towards the piano by the window, sliding onto the bench. She looked outside longingly even though she could see very little over the confines of the tall wooden fence that protected the church. Beth realized she would probably never feel the warmth of the sun on her face again, and that made her sad. There was nothing she could do about it now. She turned away from the window, staring down at the discolored keys of the piano. Her fingers went instinctively to the keys, but she didn't press them, only allowing herself to caress the cool ivory. That part of her life was over...it had died with Daryl that night in the funeral parlor. She'd stopped playing as soon as she noticed he was there, listening. He'd called her out on her singing before, and Beth didn't think she could take him ridiculing her for something she loved. But he'd surprised her.
Why don't you go ahead and play some more? Keep singing.
I thought my singing annoyed you?
There ain't no jukebox, so...
...and we'll buy a beer to shotgun, we'll lay on the lawn and we'll be good now, I'm laughing at my boredom and my string of failed attempts...
Daryl had laid in that stupid coffin, listening to her sing and play. He'd laid down in that coffin...then he'd died...God was cruel sometimes. Beth felt tears welling in her eyes at the memory. She reached up and quickly brushed them away.
Something tapped against the window. Beth hoped it was a bird. She would like to see a bird...a free bird. She was a bird in a cage.
Maybe she was more feverish, sicker than she thought because what Beth saw wasn't real. She turned away from the hallucination before she broke. There were more taps, this time a quick succession of louder taps. She had to look.
Daryl! How could he be there? He was dead. But there he was, outside the church window, black eyes and beaten face...bloody...no one had ever looked more beautiful. Was he real? Without thinking, Beth made a sudden move, standing to get to the window, the pain shooting up her side in punishment for her stupidity, forcing her to double over, her arms crossing her sides. Daryl put his hand up, signaling her to stay still, concern crossing his beaten face. He brought a finger up to his lips, telling her to remain silent. Then he disappeared.
Beth closed her eyes, trying to regain her composure. She couldn't do anything to jeopardize whatever Daryl was doing.
Beth felt alive again. Daryl had escaped death. He came looking for her...why? He'd once said that everyone was as good as dead because she would never see them again. But he tracked her, found her against all odds. Why?
Beth promised herself, if she ever got the chance, she would give Daryl a better reply than "oh".
Daryl sank down, out of the window, his hands forced to the ground to balance himself. He blew out a heavy breath, inhaling the cool air deeply to calm the nausea that was building in his stomach. He had to close his eyes. His head was swimming...
It was Beth. He'd found her. She was alive. He should be feelin' one thing...joy, happiness, relief...well, that was more than one thing, but the occasion seemed to call for all of 'em. Even though those feelings were there, they were overshadowed by rage, anger, the need to exact revenge...for someone to bleed.
When he'd first seen her through the window...for a second, he though God might've been merciful...given him the one thing in life he wanted...needed...given him Beth back. A chance to make it right, to say what he wanted to say in that funeral parlor before she was stolen...the words that had been haunting him every day since, no matter what they'd faced, who they were killing, who was tryin' to kill him...whether or not he was bleeding or it was someone else.
But then he looked at her, really saw her with open eyes. Beth's face was marred with healing bruises in varying stages of blue and green and yellow and brown, stages he'd known and felt his entire life. When they were fresh, she would have looked worse than he did now, and the fact that they were at different points of healing meant they hadn't be sustained in one injury, but through ongoing abuse. When he'd tapped on the window and she'd looked his way...her eyes were grey...dead, and he could see just how pale and drawn she was. And it was more than Beth not recognizing him, it was like she didn't even see him, turned away like he wasn't even there. When he knocked on the window again, more urgently, Beth saw him, recognized him, and her face and eyes came to life, but she was broken...badly hurt. As she tried to come to the window, she'd clung to her sides, doubling over, unable to stand. It broke him.
Daryl wanted nothing more than to bust through that window, guns blazin', taking out every fucking person in that church and carrying Beth out of her living hell. But he didn't...he couldn't...Rick and Carl were going in. Their lives were in his hands too. The only thing he could take comfort in was the knowledge that none of these pricks were ever gonna hurt her...lay a hand on her again. He'd signaled for Beth to remain still and silent, and she had enough sense about her to listen.
Now, Daryl's hands were clenched so tight his fists were shaking, his fingers were turning white, and his knuckles were cracking open again. The pain was good...distracting. It kept him grounded and alert.
Another deep breath...exhale...
People were gonna die...there was gonna be blood...and pain...
Daryl opened his eyes again. The light was fading fast. It would be time soon. He crept around the church, hunkered low, hand against the wall to keep proximity, determined to find his point of entry.
Beth forced herself back to her designated place in the front pew, praying that no one saw her move or caught a glimpse of what happened at the window. She closed her eyes tight, trying to breathe deeply. She was feeling short of breath, and she refused to let herself die now...not now. He was alive, and so close! Part of her that had lost all hope tried to convince her that it was all a dream...Daryl was dead. Beth would have been inclined to believe it was a dream, but her hallucinations were mercifully free of pain. There was pain now...a lot of pain...but she wanted it...it meant it was all real.
She was sick...that and the pain left her unable to focus on more than one thing at a time. As Beth let go of the pain, she heard a friendly commotion in the church behind her.
"Welcome friends. All are welcome here in the sanctuary that is the Lord Our God's house." Allerton's voice...would she never be able to escape him? Soon. She would escape him soon, one way or another...
Suddenly, Beth made the connection in her head. Welcome friends. That meant new people! She turned around, slow so as not to draw attention to herself or cause more pain; she had to see.
Rick and Carl...they were there, plain as day. Rick saw her, caught her eyes with his, holding them. He gave her an almost imperceptible nod. Rick and Carl were in the church...Daryl was outside. Her family cared enough to come for her...risk their lives for her. Daryl...she should have never questioned, even for the smallest moment, why he'd come...he'd been willing to die for her. She thought he did. He was apparently still willing to fight for her, die for her. And she was willing to fight for him, live for him. She may die another day, but not today. Beth was determined to make it out alive! And when Daryl struck with Rick and Carl, Allerton would have no idea what hit him...Hell hath no fury...
Beth sat still on the edge of the bed, trying to remain calm. She'd been brought back to her prison, the door locked behind, and the only thing she could do was wait...try to fight the anxiety over who was going to come through that door...Allerton, Rick and Carl...Daryl...She would go to Daryl if she could break down the door, but even if she wasn't sick, she would've never had the strength. All she could do was wait. Her fever was getting higher. She could feel the lightheadedness and blurry reality that always came when a fever was high. Beth managed herself to the table where the pills and her pitcher of cool water were kept. She touched each of the orange bottles gingerly. Neither had a label, just a name she wasn't able to recognize crudely scribbled across the bottle in black marker. One was to kill the pain, one helped her sickness...she couldn't risk taking the wrong one...the pain killer that dulled her senses and made her sleepy. She needed her wits about her...she needed to be awake, now more than ever. Instead she grabbed the Tylenol bottle, pouring out the pills in her hand, downing them with cool water that felt cold to her now since her temperature was rising.
Beth had to get back to the bed before she fell and did more damage. She made it just to the end of the bed, clinging to the metal bars of the footboard for support as her knees crashed against the cold, hard floor. She didn't feel it. Once again she was moving past the point of feeling anything. Bringing her hand to her forehead, she wiped away the beads of sweat before pulling herself to her feet and making it onto the bed...just before the door opened, was immediately closed, and locked behind.
"My Angel looked very beautiful tonight, as if the Lord Our God's holy light was shining down on her." Allerton laid his hand against her cheek when he reached her side.
Beth felt the strong instinct to flinch. Though his hands were now gentle, they so easily brought pain and damage...but she stopped...didn't give into instinct. Even though her fever was climbing, she was lucid, fighting to remain awake and alive. Allerton couldn't know that. Her face burned where his hand rested over the fading bruises. The pain was gone, but the memory remained.
"Your fever is high again...you must have your medicine. God wills you to live."
He went to the table where the bottles rested. She couldn't take them, so she lied. It came so easily.
"I already had them, when I got back. I was feeling poorly." Beth thought that in this state of high emotion...physical excitement...knowing Daryl and Rick and Carl were there to rescue her...it would be hard to keep her voice timid and unaffected, but there was no need to mask. Her voice came out weak and tremulous.
"Pills...pills won't do tonight..." Allerton's voice was uneasy now. "Our congregation has grown. We have new faithful among us. We wouldn't have them disturb Our angel's rest."
We...Our...Was he speaking of himself as one with God now? Beth was terrified. Was he suspicious of Rick and Carl or had he just lost it entirely? It didn't matter...when he turned, she saw her death in his hands...the syringe filled with the sedatives that would be her end in her condition.
"Please...no...I'll die..." Beth begged as he approached her slowly.
"We won't let you die..."
"Please...I don't want to die!" She raised her voice. She didn't know she had it in her.
Allerton grabbed her arm, squeezing tight. Beth fought, broke away with the last surge of energy she had, falling to the floor where Allerton loomed over her. If there was any justice in the world, God would strike him down. She was so close...so close to Daryl...so close to finding her way home to him...she couldn't...she just couldn't die now.
"No...no...please!" Beth screamed.
It was Daryl...it was him!