A/N: The song Beth sings is Cups, though I imagine Beth singing a slower rendition of it and adding her own flare.
Daryl wasn't sure how long he had been running. All he knew was that Beth was gone. He had tracked the car till the sun rose high into the sky and sweat ran down his back. His feet gave out beneath him and he dropped to the ground. One minute Dixon he told himself, you got one minute and then you get back up. His body heaved as he tried to catch his breath. The adrenaline that had carried him here was slowly fading. Beth he thought She needs you. This isn't walkers this is people. Beth needs you. Slowly he felt his muscles relax, his feet ached but he couldn't let himself rest any longer. With his crossbow slung over his shoulder Daryl picked himself back up and continued to follow the tracks of the car.
As much as he tried to push himself Daryl was tired. He had continued to follow the trail but he knew he'd need to take a break. "Alright." He told himself as he came to a slow. "You ain't gonna be no help to her like this." He turned towards the woods looking for anything. A squirrel to kill, a stream where he could get some water; but even that wouldn't help him, Beth had the matches he would need to purify the water and cook the squirrel.
He continued at a slow pace down the long length of road. A small patch of berries caught his eye and he plucked a few off the bush and examined them. He pressed the berry to his lips and waited for any sort of reaction; when there wasn't one he assumed they were safe to consume and began to pluck more from the bush. The berries could help him sustain some energy but not enough to continue the trail; he needed something with sustenance.
Popping a berry into his mouth Daryl continued to walk down the road. While in search for a place to scavenge or anything else that would provide him with nutrition or energy he started thinking about the funeral home; not what he had there with Beth, but instead what had happened there to separate them. A trap. That damn dog just a ruse to get me to open the door. They wanted us apart. He saw a small shack off in the distance; the top of a well barely visible. Two at most. He thought walking towards the well. Any more than that and they wouldn't have needed that damn dog.
Before he went to the well Daryl peaked through the window of the shack. It seemed abandoned but he couldn't be sure; what he was sure of was this wasn't the place where Beth had been taken. He tapped on the window and waited, nothing. He moved around to the front of the shack and pushed open the door. The room was pretty trashed but no walkers or people in sight. He grabbed a jar off the counter and ran his hand inside of it wiping the dust off as best he could before filling it up with some water from the well.
After downing the first glass he wiped his arm across his mouth and surveyed his surroundings. He still had probably a day's travel or more before he got any closer to Beth; and that was hoping that her kidnapper didn't take her far. As much as he wanted to keep going he knew he had to rest. He filled up another glass of water and brought it inside the shack. Daryl took his time opening drawers and cabinets checking the contents. He didn't hit the jackpot but he did find a few jars and cans with food contents. He started pulling his stash out of the cupboards when he saw the jar of grape jelly in the back. There are still good people. He could hear Beth's voice as if she were in the room.
She wasn't wrong. There were still good people, he could see that now; Beth was one of them. However, he was very wrong about that house. Daryl only had himself to blame for what happened there. He let himself feel safe; for a moment, he forgot about the type of world they lived in. He loved the time he spent there with Beth and that comfort left him with his guard down. He didn't regret it; how could you regret something that made you feel like that? He shook the thoughts from his head.
Daryl separated the jars; setting aside jars in case he'd have to return there. After consuming some of the food he looked out the window to see another day had slipped away from him. He pushed a chair against the front door and boarded up the windows before sitting against the wall. Without an alarm clock he had no way of waking himself but he knew he couldn't help Beth until he got some rest. With his eyes closed all he saw was her until he drifted into dreams.
His eyes opened to sunlight shining through the windows the brightness blinded him but he saw a silhouette seated across from him. He jumped to his feet and raised the crossbow before he got a good look at her. She had a cup in her hand and she was flipping it around, clapping her hands and tapping it on the floor in a rhythm.
"This ain't real." He said, the sun shining off her in a halo.
"When I'm gone," she sang, "When I'm gone, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone, you're gonna miss me by my hair, you're gonna miss me everywhere, Oh, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone."
"Why you gotta keep reminding me?" He asked. She was standing now; the cup nowhere to be found. Beth continued to sing as she let her body sway to the music. "What is this?" He asked, "Why're you here?"
"You tell me."
The crossbow dropped to his side as he watched her, "Cause I feel guilty?" She didn't respond but continued to dance, "Cause I miss ya—"
She turned towards him and reached out her hand, "Come dance with me Daryl."
"I ain't much a dancer." He said.
"I promise not to tell anyone." She wrapped her hand around his and pulled him towards her. His hands found her hips while hers wrapped around his neck. She cradled her head against his chest and swayed whilst humming.
"I keep thinking what I could've done differently." He closed his eyes feeling her against him, "and I keep thinking I wish I'd have told you how I felt."
She pulled away from him and looked in his eyes, "Sometimes not saying anything, says everything."
Her head rest against his chest again and he let himself melt into the moment. "Piece of me wish I could just stay here." He admitted, "It'd be nice not to have to worry bout walkers for a change."
"That's how it's suppose to be." She smiled, "Just like you said."
He inhaled and took in all of her, "I can't protect you from here,"
"Maybe you won't have to." She pulled herself out of his embrace, "Sometimes the things you love find their way back to you."
"What's that mean?" He asked her.
She leaned forward and brushed her lips against his cheek for a moment before her body faded leaving him alone in the sunlight.
Daryl jumped awake with a jerk. The room was empty and dark; a faded memory of a kiss lingered on his cheek. He gathered his belongings; which wasn't much, and left the shack taking his dreams with him.
He continued his travels down the road keeping a brisk pace. He didn't want to expend all of his energy but he had already been away from Beth for so long he needed to find her before it was too late. Out of all of the people Daryl could've been with after the attack on the prison he was glad it was Beth. She was the light he needed out of the darkness. There might not be a whole lot of good left in the world but she'd help him see there was still a little good; and maybe that little bit of good was worth living for.
The road ahead rose in an arch; he slowed allowing his muscles to push through the incline. When he neared the top he expected to see a home out in the field; a car with a cross in the back window in the driveway. What he did see was a figure out in the distance on the same road as him. Slowly it took one more step after another. He'd have thought it was a walker if he hadn't seen her lift a hand to tuck back that silly braid.
"Beth!" he shouted, he couldn't help himself. His pace picked up and he ran towards her. Her shirt was red, the yellow barely visible under blood and dirt.
When he neared her he saw a smile across her face. "Daryl!" she cried picking up her stride.
He rest his hands on her arms when he reached her. "You okay Beth? What the hell happened to you?"
She sank into his arms; her body finally giving in to the exhaustion. "I was waiting for you—," his arms wrapped tighter around her helping her stand. "And then something hit me from behind. I woke up in a trunk— drove forever it felt like—," she let out a small laugh, "When he opened the trunk I stabbed him, guess he should've checked me for a weapon." She pulled out Daryl's knife the hilt still stained in blood. "I climbed out of the trunk and saw an old man on the porch. I think his son was the one that took me." She trailed off looking at Daryl, "I couldn't kill that old man Daryl,—I got in the car and just drove, damn thing ran out of gas about 4 miles back."
Daryl looked behind her, "Any one come after you?"
She shook her head, "I think it was just the old man."
"You okay Beth? This ain't gone change you is it?" He asked. Killing people versus killing walkers was different, once you crossed that line there was no going back. He needed to know that his light; that her light, hadn't gone out.
"Killing's just a part of this world now, Daryl. I didn't want to kill that man—but he gave me no choice. Just like the people at the prison, I might've killed someone there; but I'm still standing cause of it." Daryl nodded and took a deep breath, "Besides I got you to remind me who I am." She smiled up at him.
"Can you walk?" He wrapped one arm around her waist.
"Been hobblin' my way here for the last few hours. Think I can manage a little bit more," she said, "But I think I might need one of them serious piggy backs soon."
"I think I can manage that." He smirked. "What's that you got there?" he asked finally seeing a crumbled up paper in her hand. She pulled the flyer from her hand and un-crumbled it. "Terminus- those who arrive survive." He read, "Where'd you get that?"
"I found it in the car after it broke down, thought maybe there'd be some food or water but this was all I found. What'd you think it means?" She asked.
"A safe haven? Or just the opposite."
"You think anyone we know is going there?"
"Only one way to find out." He leaned forward in front of her, "Hop on. There's a shack a few miles from here, it's got some food. I'll take you there and you can get some rest, then we head to Terminus."
She climbed up his back, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. "Thanks for coming to get me Daryl."
"I didn't do nothing, you saved yourself." He carried her to the bottom of the hill and set her down wrapping his arm around her waist again. "Let's get you up this hill and you can hop back on again."
They took the hill slowly, one step at a time. "You ever gonna tell me what changed your mind, Daryl?" Beth asked.
He looked at her, "If I ignore you again a horde a walkers ain't comin after us?"
"It's okay, if you don't wanna tell me," Beth smiled, and then he knew. It would be okay, but he couldn't go any longer without letting her know the effect she was having on him.
At the top of the hill he stopped, "It's you, Beth— changing me."
Beth tucked her braid behind her ear again and smiled, "You're changing yourself Daryl Dixon. I'm just here helping you along." She wrapped her arm tighter around his neck while they hobbled the rest of the way down the hill. "From now on we're on the buddy system right?"
"Damn right." He said crouching in front of her so she could jump on his back again. He felt the weight of her on his back and kept walking.
"So did you?"
"Did I what?"
"Did you miss me?" she asked.
"Every moment you were gone."