... Chapter 1 ...
I know... it's been a while. I'm going to be honest. I forgot about you. After the farm we were always moving. But then something happened... something good. Rick and Daryl found a prison. Daddy thinks that we can make it into a home. He said that we can grow crops in the fields, raise some pigs and some chickens. He said that we can finally stop running, stop scavenging.
Lori's baby is due any day now and she'll need a safe place when it comes. The rest of us… we need a safe place too. Yesterday I woke up in my own bed, in my own room. I've been afraid to get my hopes up because it's easier to be afraid than it is to hope.
This morning daddy told me something that changed that. ''If we don't have hope what's the point of living.''
So I unpacked my bag and that's when I found you. I'm going to start writing in you again. I'm going to write down all the things I hope will come true...
I hope we can stay here.
I hope we can live here for the rest of our lives.
Beth could feel the tears burn at her eyes as she tore the page from her journal. Seeing the words there in black and white, she could barely believe just how delusional she had been… how stupid. The entire book was full of the hopeful ramblings of a naive young girl, one who had blindly accepted everything she'd been told at face value. She had lived comfortably within the small bubble of security provided by her father and her sister and had never thought to question it past that. The world they lived in now had been quick to remind her that it was no place for such idealistic complacency. It was part of the reason why she found herself in her current predicament.
Crumpling the piece of paper into a ball, she silently tossed it into the small fire Daryl had created for them. More pages followed but she didn't dare to read them. If she did, she had no doubt that she would break down and cry.
Sniffling back the lump of emotion wedged firmly in her throat, Beth looked across to the other side of the fire to where Daryl sat completely unmoving. The two of them had barely spoken a word to each other since escaping the prison and to be honest, that suited her just fine. It hadn't taken long to realize that she was going to have a difficult time being out here alone with someone as cold and detached as the surly redneck. The man had barely looked at her sideways, making it clear that if she was looking for comfort she couldn't be stranded with a person more ill equipped to provide it.
Being stuck out here with Daryl only made her realize just how little she actually knew about him. They had first met on her daddy's farm, back when the boy Carl had been shot accidentally on the edge of their property. His parents and the group they were with had camped nearby while he recovered from his injuries, all of them going out of their way to be helpful and friendly. It had been enough for her father to allow them to stay on the condition that they gave a hand around the place and kept to themselves.
Daryl wasn't like the rest of them though and that had been apparent right from the beginning. He wasn't that old, maybe in his thirties... it wasn't like anyone had ever mustered the courage to ask. Although it hadn't been said outright, it had been made crystal clear that he was someone to be left alone. He had kept mostly to himself, even preferring to camp as far away as possible from those he had arrived with. Back then it hadn't much mattered to her... she had Jimmy, her farm and her family and couldn't much be bothered with someone who couldn't be bothered with her.
By the time they had made it to the prison, Daryl had taken on more of a leadership role amongst the group. He had replaced Shane as Rick's right hand man when the former had turned on his friend in more ways than one. When Lori had died, Rick had understandably fallen into a state of despair and had taken to disappearing for days at a time to not be seen or heard from by anyone. His extended absences had all but forced Daryl into the position, appointing him to a level of responsibility he had neither asked for nor wanted. He had risen to the occasion however and ever since then seemed hell bent and determined upon proving himself worthy of the respect he had earned.
That's what made his current despondant state so completely frustrating to Beth. Even now as she attempted to make eye contact with him through the floating embers from the fire, she could see that the expression on his face hadn't changed in the slightest. The man was just sitting there completely devoid of emotion as he stared down unseeingly at the flames. In the not so distant past she had seen him rage at the slightest perceived transgression, doing so without provocation despite how ridiculous it had seemed at the time. While she had never wanted to be at the brunt end of that anger, right now she would take it over this painful indifference.
''We should do something...'' She said quietly, needing to break the silence somehow.
''Daryl! We should do something!'' Beth repeated, louder this time. It was enough to get his attention.
Caught under the sudden intensity of his gaze, she swallowed hard and continued. ''We aren't the only survivors… we can't be! Rick, Michonne… they could be out here. Maggie... Glenn... they could've made it out of A Block.''
His expression remained a depressing blank slate, making it painfully clear that he didn't think so. She wasn't quite as willing to give up on their friends so easily.
''They could've!'' She stressed, trying her best not to get discouraged as she watched his eyes glaze over again.
She stood up, getting more frustrated by the moment. What the hell was wrong with him?! ''You're a tracker. You can track! The sun will be up soon! If we head out now we can get a head start on finding them…''
Beth stormed around the fire to where his knife was stuck in the dirt and she reached down to yank it out. ''Fine! If you won't track, I will!''
Turning on her heel, she stalked off into the surrounding woods, the palpable force of her anger urging her on until she disappeared from sight. Once she was out of view, she peered back through the tangle of the underbrush to see if anything she'd just said or done had sparked any sort of reaction from the man. Her shoulders fell to see him still just sitting there staring resignedly at the fire.
Really? She couldn't believe he would just let her wander off like that! He knew damn well that she couldn't track to save her life!
Beth bit down on the corner of her nail, now completely at a loss at what else to do. It didn't take long before cowering there alone in the dark began to play tricks with her mind. Everything around her sounded like it was trying to crawl, growl or slither her way and she glanced around... now seriously regretting not waiting until morning to make her stand. She was starting to get scared enough to give up on the point she was attempting to make, if only so she could go back to the fire where it was warm and safe. For some reason her legs refused to cooperate. Deep down, she was still hoping that Daryl would get off his ass and prove her wrong.
She almost could've cried when in the distance, he grudgingly pushed himself to his feet with a barely audible sigh of annoyance. Kicking some dirt over the fire, he snatched up the crossbow and headed over to where she was waiting for him in the wings of the trees. As he approached, Beth made sure to school the look on her face into a mask of general indifference, her jaw locking itself firmly in place. She briefly wondered how he knew he'd find her standing there but quickly concluded that it didn't matter. Instead she passed him over his knife when he pointedly held out his hand for it, not saying a word as he snatched it back and stalked off into the darkness. She was left behind to roll her eyes at his exasperating behavior before following in his wake.
The sun was beginning to rise in the distance and even though he was exhausted beyond belief, Daryl felt obligated to give a cursory glance around as he trudged along behind the girl. Like most of the terrain they had covered since the prison fell, the area was littered with tell tale signs that could be easily deciphered, small inconspicuous clues that the untrained eye would miss. He guessed it was just damn lucky for the two of them that he didn't possess the untrained eye.
Dropping down to his haunches, he swept his hand through the dead leaves at his feet until he found what was distinctively a set of footprints imprinted in the dirt. They were small but fairly clear. He was so engrossed in what he was doing that he didn't hear Beth creep up behind him to peer curiously over his shoulder.
''They could be Luke's… or Molly's...'' She whispered, causing him to start at her close proximity. If the girl noticed, she sure as hell didn't show it as she continued with, ''Whoever's they are, it means they could still be alive.''
Annoyed by both her and her presence in general, Daryl looked back down to what he was doing and ground out, ''Nah, it jus' means they could've been four or five hours ago, nothin' more.''
With the response not being what she was looking to hear, Beth released a huff of frustration. ''They're alive!''
Daryl didn't feel like arguing. What chance did a couple of fucking kids have when the two of them had already run for their lives twice already? Scanning the ground once again to be sure, he came away with a much better idea about what might have happened.
Ghosting his hand over the roughened patch of dirt, he brought it to her attention as if doing so could clue her in on what he considered to be obvious, ''Ya see that? They picked up tha pace right there an' tried ta get out in a hurry. Ya don't do that unless ya got a damn good reason. Them track over there... they're sayin' that it didn't matter. Things went ta shit much like they always do an' everythin' about this place is sayin' so.'' No need to sugarcoat it.
With his point stated with as much patience as he could muster, Daryl stood up and did a perfunctionary check of the surrounding tree line for walkers. He found himself doing that a lot since they had been out here on their own.
''You know, it wouldn't kill you to have a little faith.'' She groused in the aftermath, looking disgruntled for it.
Daryl had to bite down on the snort of derision that threatened to escape him. He realized then that he didn't know the girl well enough to know if she was being purposely childishly or just plain delusional. Only someone who was varying degrees of both could have the balls to talk to him about faith. Either way, he figured it was as good a time as any to remind her of the actuality of things.
''Faith? Pfft... faith ain't done shit for us. Sure as hell didn't do nothin' for your father.''
He had barely finished spitting out the contentious remark when Beth suddenly spun around to glare at him. It might have been overkill but Daryl couldn't bring himself to regret it. She had obviously been pampered for her entire life and he'd be damned if he was going to step in and fill the protective void vacated by her father and her sister. If this is what it took to make that clear... well then, so be it.
When her stunned gaze didn't waiver, Daryl was slightly surprised to find himself wishing in hindsight that he hadn't been quite so harsh. After all, she was stuck out here just as much as he was, why make it more miserable for either one of them when it didn't need to be? Of course, keeping his opinions in check would be a hell of a lot easier if she'd just keep her own to herself from this point on.
Figuring that was likely just wishful thinking on his part, he was spared the quandary of having to say anything further when she turned away from him in a huff to pull some berries from a nearby bush.
''They're alive.'' The strained voice that reached him was short and clipped, ''...and they'll be hungry when we find them."
The rigid set of her back was making it clear that the girl was just as unhappy as he was. They were both going to have to get over it though if they were going to make it out of this clusterfuck alive. In a lame attempt at a peace offering, Daryl dug his bandana out of his pants pocket and held it out to her, tapping her lightly on the arm to get her attention. Beth glanced over before taking the rag from him, seemingly suspicious of the hidden meaning behind the straightforward gesture. As she placed the berries she had collected in it, he walked away without feeling inclined to explain his sudden change of demeanor... not that it wouldn't have mattered anyway.
I am not a professional writer by any means but I do love all things TWD, especially the dynamics that existed between Daryl and Beth. The episode "Still" was one of my favorites and I always wanted see what it would be like if it was fleshed out some more - explore the thoughts that the two of them may have had over the course of the episode, add more dialog and possible circumstances in which they would find themselves. Some things have changed, while others have stayed the same… and in the middle, there is still only Daryl and Beth - two prison survivors who will find something kindred in a world that God forgot.
I do not own anything TWD and do not intend any copyright infringement. I'm just a fan.