A/N: Thank you for reading and reviewing! It means a lot so thank you.
This chapter is a bit short but I wanted to update a little something.
"What? Ya gon' cry? That it?" Daryl looked down at the little four year old with the dirty face and the angry cerulean eyes that stood defiantly before him.
Her hands were clenched into tight fists and her little chest rose and fell with heavy breaths. Her eyes were red and tears were threatening to burst at any second. She stared up at him, unwavering in her anger. Charlie had too many feelings and often didn't know what to do with all of them.
The heat was heavy upon them, drenching them in sweat and mosquitos. They had not found a proper meal in days and were running low on water. The girl was hungry, tired, dirty and angry. She had grown irritated all morning and finally lashed out in a tantrum so big that it startled Daryl to his core.
"Huh? M' talkin' to ya." He raised his voice slightly. His patience had run extremely thin with her. Charlie sniffled but refused to answer. Her little legs and arms were covered in mosquito bites and scratches. Daryl nudged her, "Ya hear?"
Charlie snapped and pushed his leg with all the force she could muster but Daryl did not move back an inch.
Charlie turned to run away but Daryl grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her back. He knelt down on one knee to look her in the eye. "Stop! The hells wrong with ya? What I tell ya about runnin' off?"
"I'm itchy!" Charlie squirmed under his grasp but Daryl held her firm in front of him, "Leggo!" She tried to kick him with her shoe but failed.
"Oh, now yer gon' hit me? Ya gon' hit yer old man? Ya know what my daddy woulda done if I did that? He woulda beat my ass bloody and blue. Now stop yer squirmin'!" Charlie stopped struggling and looked up at him. The tears had broken and were racing down her cheeks. Daryl reached into his back pocket and grabbed his red bandana, using it to wipe Charlie's face. "Ya can't go 'round cryin whenever somethin' don't go yer way. Ya hear me? Answer me when I talk to ya."
"Yes!" Charlie snapped, finally squirming out of his grasp. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand and sniffled.
"Charlie, there ain't no cryin' in this world. It ain't gon do ya any good. Actin' like a fool...I ain't raise ya like that. Ya crazy ass girl." He shook his head and stood back up to his feet. "Dem walkers don't care if yer cryin'. They don't care if yer hungry or tired. They ain't gon coddle ya. All they gon' do is take a good chunk outta ya."
Daryl felt terrible for the words coming out of his mouth. Every angry word was like the burning sting of a branding iron on his skin. He hated himself for bringing that torn look upon her face. She looked up at him, tiny body trembling with anger and tense emotions. She bit back the tears but they broke free and rolled down her cheeks. "Shit…" he muttered and knelt down again. He extended his hand out to her, "C'mere."
Charlie's glare softened and she took his hand, letting him bring her into a hug. He forced himself to be hard on her so she would grow strong in a world that needed her to be. Every day he lived in fear that he would die and leave her alone. What would she do then? Who would she have if he was gone?
Daryl pulled himself from the memory. Things had changed so much since then. He no longer had to worry about what his girl would do if something were to happen to him because she had her mother now. She had Beth and Maggie and Rick and Michonne. She had Glenn and Carl and the rest of the group to watch out for her. Still, the guilt ate away at him with; remembering those wounded eyes staring back at him. She was so small back then and so impressionable.
The front door opened, letting the light from the living room shine onto the porch. Beth stepped out and closed the door behind her, locking up the light once more. She had just put Charlie to sleep and had grown worried about Daryl. She could tell by the mere hunched posture that he was upset about something. So Beth took a seat next to him out on the porch and looked into the night sky. She was sure the sky looked the same above Georgia.
"She sleep?" Daryl broke the silence.
"Knocked out like a light." Beth leaned back on one hand. The night breeze felt nice compared to the stuffy air inside.
"I was just thinkin' bout when she was smaller." Daryl admitted.
Beth tilted her head; a soft smile brushed her lips. She loved hearing about Charlie when she was little. All she knew was baby Charlie and older Charlie. She didn't know her in between. "Musn't have been a good memory by that look on yer face."
"This one time, durin' the summer, she threw this giant fit. Never seen anythin' like it before. Scared me...it was like, like someone' was stabbin' her." He shook his head, "She was angry 'cause the mosquitos wouldn't quit takin' a nip at 'er. And she was hungry…" His voice trailed off, "It was a hard summer." Beth placed her hand on his back and rubbed it softly. "I got really mad at 'er. Said a lot of mean things. She didn't deserve that…"
"Daryl," Beth's heart broke for them both, "Don't beat yourself up over it. Raisin' a child in this life, it's hard. You lose your patience, it happens."
"Just I was so mad at 'er, ya know? For screamin' like that. For pushin' me, for bein' a total brat. Wasn't like her. I just snapped." His voice grew into a mutter and he looked into the street, watching the shadows cast by the quarter moon. Alexandria was so silent that night.
Beth smiled at him an scooted closer, wrapping her arms around his. She leaned her head on his shoulder and exhaled a puff of air. "She doesn't hold that against you, you know that right?"
"Hmmm." He grumbled.
"Daryl, you're like a superhero to her. Like the ones in Carl's comic books."
"Yeah but now she can't cry."
Beth laughed, "She can she just fights it. We should talk with her once she's feeling better."
Daryl nodded, "Yeah. Sounds good."
"Charlie has seen a lot of things in this world. Sooner or later something was going to phase her."
"Mmm." Daryl muttered in agreement.
"Sometimes I wonder though…" Beth trailed off, eyes scanning the street, "I wonder what her life would be like if the normal world still existed. I think about the things she would like. You know, like sports or ballet or swimmin'. Sometimes I have dreams of picking her up from school or takin' her to the dentist." Beth shook her head, embarrassed and feeling a bit foolish. "It's dumb."
Daryl kissed her temple, "Nah. That ain't dumb."
Beth looked up to meet his gaze and leaned in until their lips met in a soft embrace. She smiled at him when she pulled away and stood to her feet, taking Daryl's hand to help him up. He could see the playful smile dancing along her lips and raised a brow, "What?"
She gave a little shrug, "I just realized we finally have some alone time to ourselves." She turned on her heels and led him back into the house, closing the door behind them shut.
Daryl sat on the sofa with Beth perched on top of him. Their lips pressed together while their clothes lay discarded on the livingroom floor. Beth had missed him terribly while he was away. She missed his presence, his strong arms, the sound of his voice and even his grunts and mumbles. She missed the way he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, the way he kissed her forehead before they went to sleep and the way he seemed to smile just for her. It would be a cold day in hell before she ever left his side again.
There was always a moment of sweet tranquility after they were intimate in where they lay in silence, taking it all in. Beth closed her eyes for a short moment, content and exhaled a deep breath. She then stood from the sofa and began to dress. Daryl watched her as she did, his eyes traveling down her body. Beth felt him staring as she put her bra back on.
She eyed him with curiosity, "What?"
Daryl shook his head, "Nah. Nothin'..." And he too stood to put his jeans back on.
"Rick is making a lot of changes…" Beth commented as she picked up her shirt from the floor. "Around Alexandria, I mean."
Daryl stayed silent but was listening.
"Like to better this place." She continued, "Do you think after what happened…"
Daryl stepped closer, reaching for her hand, "What?"
Beth looked up to meet his gaze, "After what happened with the walkers and with Charlie. Do you think we're safe here? I mean...really safe. For the long haul."
Daryl looked down to their hands; fingers finding one another. He nodded in response. Daryl believed in Rick. He truly believed Rick was capable of keeping them all safe. What had happened was a fluke, a slip up on their behalves but they would be better prepared.
"I don't want it to be like the farm. Ya know, when we felt safe and then had to leave again. I want it to be really real. I want our family to be safe here. In case of anythin'."
Daryl frowned at this, brows furrowed together in confusion, "If anythin'?"
She shrugged and laughed sheepishly, "Well, we haven't been the most responsible lately," She looked at the remainder of their clothes on the floor, "And Charlie wasn't planned…" She frowned, expression pensive, "I just want to be ready if anythin'."
Daryl nodded, "I get it." They agreed they would play it safe but their impulses got the best of them and he couldn't deny that when it came down to it, protection was the farthest thing from his mind. Daryl knew he was foolish for that but their luck had yet to run out.
Beth smiled and went up to him, wrapping her arms around his neck as she looked at him lovingly. "We're gonna get through this. We always do."
He nodded, "Yeah."
Daryl and Beth had fallen asleep on the sofa that night, entangled in each other's arms but were awakened by screams coming from upstairs. Daryl jolted awake, stumbling off the sofa and onto the floor. Beth jumped to her feet, heart pounding out of her chest when she realized that the screaming was coming from Charlie.
"Charlie!" Daryl called out and they quickly ran upstairs where they found Charlie in their bed kicking and squirming amongst the sheets. Beth hurried to her side and gently woke her from the nightmare she must have been trapped in. Charlie's eyes fluttered open with a startled gasp; she was covered in cold sweat.
"Holy shit, girl." Daryl pulled his jeans up. He and Beth were half dressed from their fun hours prior.
"Charlotte, what happened?" Beth asked, sitting the child up, careful with her cast.
Charlie looked from Daryl to Beth and then around the room, her eyes adjusting to the light. The tears streamed down her face and she pointed to the closet. "T-there." She muttered, her entire little body shaking.
Beth and Daryl both looked at the closet but saw nothing. Beth hugged Charlie to her chest and kissed the top of her head. She was trembling all over. "It was just a bad dream." She rubbed Charlie's back, looking at Daryl with worry in her eyes.
Daryl walked to the closet and Charlie began to panic. "Ey, ey! S'alright." Daryl opened the closet door, "See? Nothin'. No one."
Charlie seemed to relax and buried her face in Beth's chest. Beth and Daryl exchanged worried expressions. The walker attack and Sam's death had affected Charlie more than they originally thought. Beth continued to rub Charlie's back, whispering sweet words of reassurance to her while Daryl sat at their side.
Charlie peaked an eye from the safety of her mother's arms, looking straight at the closet where she had dreamed Sam was standing with dead pale yellow eyes and a bloody face. She turned from the closet and looked away.