Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 9: He Who Fights With Monsters...
~Author's Note: Hey guys, here is you're new chapter! Hope you enjoy! Thanks to everyone who is reading. I appreciate you all. You're awesome!~
Daryl was fucking done waiting. He'd found his likely point of entry at the back of the church...where he assumed Rick would let him in. Returning to his window after the congregation had cleared out and the two guards were at sentry again at the front gate, he saw the mad priest was still deep in discussion with Rick and Carl. He would move now. He wouldn't leave Beth in there another minute. He would slip in, nice and quiet like, find Beth, secure her, then go help Rick and Carl deal with the fucker who hurt Beth. They probably wouldn't need his help, but there was no way this was going down without him feeling the warmth of blood on his hands
He sat beside the back door, waiting, listening. He thought at one point he heard footsteps pass by. Then...it could've been his heart...the heavy, rhythmic, solid beating that was becoming all encompassing. Fuck...he couldn't tell the difference. He waited either way. If it was a person, he didn't want to lose his advantage of going in unseen, unnoticed. The door was unlocked. Apparently when you were cocky enough to believe you had God on your side, there was no reason to have to protect yourself. It couldn't be further from the truth. Daryl hadn't been raised on religion, but he'd picked up some things along the way...even remembered a few verses 'cause they fit his shitty life or he wanted to apply them to his existence.
God helps he who helps himself.
He'd been helping himself his entire life...maybe now...well, it didn't matter who was on his side...he was goin' now.
There was no one in the hall. Everything was white and sterile, the walls, the floors...only softened by the oil lamps that lit the corridor. People may have read it as heavenly or pure, but to Daryl, it just looked like a prison. That's exactly what it was...a prison...a hell for Beth...
It was either right or left down the hallway...all he had to do was choose...
"Please...I don't want to die!" That was Beth...he wasn't imagining.
Daryl ran to the right...the direction of the plea.
"No...no...please!" She was frantic. He was frantic. He wasn't gonna be too late...
"Beth!" He shouted. His yelling might bring every person in the compound down on them...but he didn't give a flying fuck. He'd kill 'em all. Beth had to know he was coming for her so she would hold on...keep fighting.
"Daryl...Daryl!" The terror in her voice was joined by frantic hope.
He didn't even try the door to see if it was locked. Daryl just set his shoulder against the wood, sending the panel door splintering open. Beth was on the floor, the man in robes standing over her turned towards him. Daryl didn't take time to assess the situation or the man, just cracked his skull with the butt of his bow, sending him crashing to the floor, unconscious. His first instinct was to stomp his skull, but Daryl put aside that need for instant gratification. He was gonna kill him...just not yet. He wasn't gonna get to go that easy...not after what he'd done to Beth.
Beth...she was there on the floor in front of him...alive...against all odds. Daryl was so struck that he didn't know what to do. She stared up at him with the same disbelief. They'd seen each other through the window...but this...this was real. Daryl was afraid to move, afraid to go to her or touch her...if he did, she would disappear and the dream would be over. But he couldn't not. He had to. Daryl knelt on the floor, fought his instinctual need to grab her...he didn't know what she'd been through...he knew it was bad, just because of what he could see. She might not even wanna be touched...want him near her. This was all his fault, everything...she had to know that...hate him for it. Maybe he should wait for Rick. Rick hadn't failed her. Maybe she would rather find comfort in him.
But then Beth brought her hands up to her mouth, staring at him until the tears came, burying her face in her hands. Daryl didn't know what in the hell to do until she met his eyes, reached out her hand, barely touching his chest, seeing if he was real. After that, Daryl couldn't wait. He grabbed her, pulled her hard to his chest. Beth let out a small squeak of pain, crying against him.
She was hurt...shit, he knew that...he'd seen her pain earlier. What kind of brutal prick was he, hurting her just 'cause he wanted to hold her. Daryl freed Beth.
"No...Daryl...please..." Beth's words were broken, but clear. "Don't let go..."
His name on her lips...it was everything...all the promise...all the reassurance he needed...
Daryl promised himself he would never let go again.
Her hands were clenching the shirt at his chest, her balled fists fighting the pain to embrace whatever she was feeling, allowing herself to be held. Daryl buried his face in her hair feeling her breathing shallowly against him. It wasn't all about her. He needed the comfort of her body too, maybe even more than Beth did. That was selfish, but he couldn't always be strong. She was so warm...Daryl wanted to soak in Beth's warmth, her light...she had everything he needed.
"Beth...I promise...I'll never leave you..."
He didn't want to, but he had to release her. Daryl had to deal with the evil that was rising off the floor. In one swift motion, Daryl had his crossbow back in hand, threw the prick against the wall, and aimed straight and true, pinning him to the white wooden wall panels with a bolt through the shoulder. The preacher didn't cry out, didn't make any noise at all...only brought his hand up, touching the bolt sprouting outta his shoulder, starring at him in disbelief. Daryl was feeling obliging. He reloaded and gave him another reason to marvel at him, sending a bolt through the man's other shoulder. He turned away, fighting his rage, his need to slice the monster to pieces, tear him limb from limb. What would Beth think of him if he did that? Would she think he was a monster? She was sitting on the floor, watching him, not judging him...waiting...maybe for him to exact vengeance. He would give that to her, but he decided he couldn't make her watch him torture someone, and they needed to get out anyway...he didn't have the time.
Daryl went for his hunting knife, holding eye contact with Beth...waiting for something from her. She nodded her head.
"Your wings...you disguise them so beautifully in the mortal world...but I see, I know what you are. The Lord Our God has given Us the gift, the ability to see what others cannot. You are of Heaven." What the Fuck. The voice was so calm, but he was delusional. There was nothing lucid about him. This fucker was driven by pure madness.
And what was he talking about wings? Then Daryl realized, his vest. He thought he was an angel?! Daryl turned slowly, freeing his knife.
"I know what you are...her brother...an angel sent from the Lord Our God to verify the welfare of his gift to Us. I assure you that We have treated her well, as she deserves to be treated...with the utmost respect and love."
Daryl took a step closer, balling his free fist, biting back his urge to act. It was gonna be slow, this death, and if he lost control, it would be over too soon. We've treated her well, as she deserves to be treated. Beth was beaten and broken...Daryl exhaled. He couldn't change the past...
"Are you the messenger Gabriel, bringing Us word from God...no...look at you, bathed in blood and glory. You are the warrior Michael, sent to protect Us...aid Us in Our holy quest."
Daryl was close enough now, so close that he leaned forward, only needing to whisper for his victim to hear.
Daryl felt the hot blood flooding over his hand where it gripped the hilt of his knife. He'd heard that if blades were sharp enough and inserted precisely and slowly, the person might not even feel it or their body sense it until the knife was removed. Daryl's knife was always razor sharp, and he'd slid it in as carefully as a man might enter his lover for the first time...not that he'd ever had a lover. It was a gut wound...the man didn't know it or feel it yet, but he was dead already...his death would be slow and agonizing. And Daryl had accomplished something even better. He'd dealt this man his death without subjecting Beth to more horror and blood than she'd already experienced. She wouldn't see him as a monster. The man looked in his eyes like he didn't understand what Daryl said, but he'd understand shortly. Daryl stepped back, carefully withdrawing his blade. The false prophet let out a grunt and groaned in pain, starring down with disbelief at the wound in his gut where his life was seeping out. He tried to grab at, cover the wound with his hand, but the bolts pinning his shoulders prevented any such action.
Looking down, Daryl could feel the rage boiling inside...he was losing the composure he'd been so carefully maintaining.
"The Angel of Death...I shall die and be reborn in the grace of the Lord Our God..." He coughed, sputtered.
Daryl could feel the blood that had spattered warm against his face. He made no move to wipe it away. Why? It was his kill. He watched as the crimson trickle leeched out of the corner of the preacher's mouth as death really and truly set in.
"No angel...just Death." Daryl stepped forward, closer again, shoving his fingers into the open wound at the man's gut.
He needed to feel the death more intimately...after what had been done to Beth. He screamed this time...shrieked in agony as Daryl probed the sliced flesh. It was what he deserved, but Daryl needed it to stop...didn't need to draw anyone down on them...although they were probably used to ignoring screams. Daryl clenched his eyes tight, imagining all the times Beth had screamed for help, pleaded while she was being beaten or...no one came to help her. He pulled his bloody hand from the stab wound, pressing it tightly over the fucker's mouth. The screams stopped, and the breathing became more labored.
"I wasn't born an angel...She wasn't born an angel neither!" Daryl pointed back towards Beth with his bloody blade. "But she was mine, and you stole her! Soon you'll die."
"Daryl..." It was Rick.
"Beth..." That was Carl. "She's burning up..."
Daryl turned to see Carl on the floor beside Beth, Rick in the doorway holding a stranger with his knife to his throat. Everything was blurry...was this what they meant when they said blinded by rage?
"Carl, get the door," Rick ordered.
He watched as Carl went and pushed the splintered door closed the best he could. Daryl scooped Beth up in his arms. He tried to be careful...she was hurt...he didn't want to hurt her more. But she didn't cry out, she didn't writhe in pain against his arms, she didn't move at all...she was limp, cradled against his chest. Everything was moving so slowly. He laid Beth on the bed. She was so still. She couldn't be dead...not now.
"Carl, the guns..." He barely heard Rick.
He heard the voices, sensed the movements, everything was blurred...moving so slowly, but at the same time, his instincts were overdrive. It made no sense. It was all too much of a contradiction. Daryl swung around defensively when he felt Carl grab at Rick's holster at his hip. He'd known it was coming, but he was driven by something much more primal than rational. Carl stepped back giving him space. Daryl unbuckled the gun belt holding Rick's Python and pulled Carl's gun from his waist, passing them to the kid so he could focus on what mattered. Beth. She was out cold, her hair clinging to her face. He brushed her hair back, smearing blood on her forehead. The red was even deeper against her skin that was now far too pale. Her burning brow was drenched with sweat. Daryl realized, when he'd been holding her, feeling her warmth, it was fever. Beth wasn't just beaten and broken...she was sick too...
"Let's start this again..." He heard Rick in the background.
"I told you...I'm a doctor. I was coming to check on the girl..." The voice was unfamiliar, but it carried the familiar hint of fear.
"Beth...Beth...Wake up..." Daryl spoke softly to her, shaking her gently, trying to get her to respond, leaving bloody handprints on the shoulders of her white dress. He couldn't wake her.
"Don't shake her. She's severely hurt." Was someone talking to him?
Daryl turned from where he sat beside Beth on the bed to stare down the bastard who presumed to tell him what to do. Rick had him at gunpoint now, Carl stood guard at the door. Then it registered with him...I told you...I'm a doctor...
"What am I supposed to do for her?" His voice came out sharp and desperate.
"Get the water from the pitcher on the table. Try to cool her face and neck with it. Don't get her too wet. She'll get a chill, and that will just make it worse."
Daryl moved into action, going to the pitcher, dipping his red bandana in it, watching the water turn red from the blood that stained his hands.
"When she wakes up, try to get her to take one pill from each of those orange prescription bottles."
Well shit...he could've told him that before he went and ruined the water. At least there was a partially full glass beside the pitcher. Daryl gathered up everything, returning to Beth's side. He took his soaked bandana, laying it across her fevered brow.
"Beth...Beth...please...come on...wake up..." he spoke loud enough for only her to hear.
"What's wrong with her?" He heard Rick ask. Daryl didn't want to hear, but he had to listen.
"She has broken ribs, not just cracked, displaced. I don't know if they started out that bad, but the beatings made everything worse. Her lack of ability to breathe properly because of the breaks and the pain brought on the pneumonia and allowed it to set in deep."
Daryl clenched his eyes tight, breathing deep, trying to hold it all together...for Beth. He let the cool water drip down onto Beth's neck and chest, following softly, wiping away the rivulets tinted by blood with the wet bandana.
"Beth...please...please come back to me...don't leave me..." He was broken. If they heard what he said, he couldn't give a fuck. All that mattered was that she heard.
"Will she live?" Daryl went still when he heard those words come outta Rick's mouth. He wanted to throttle him for even asking...but Daryl waited to hear the doctor's answer...
There was none...no answer that he could hear. The doctor must've shook his head. Daryl knew what that meant...he wasn't stupid, just broken. He grabbed Beth's hand, brought it up and pressed it against his face. Please Beth...please...He was too late again...Sophia...Merle...Hershel...but this time...Beth...his failure...this would be the end of him. Her hand in his, so soft and small...fragile. Maybe it was kinder...her pain was close to its end. But it wasn't kinder for him. Never was. Life was a cruel bitch. He was so tired of fighting...for what, more pain?