She didn't know, since how long she was already watching them, since how long she was watching him.
It was more or less just instinct, that made her following the first tracks she had seen, after she had woken up with a damn bad headache in that car trunk. First she was almost dazed from the pain and her eyes did hurt badly too, when her shaking fingers opened the lock and the bright sun beams got into her dark hiding place.
But slowly her brain began to work again, while she was looking around and finally caught the big building in front of her. Her mouth fell open and her eyes began to water in the second she got it what she had done. To herself, to her family, to him.
It was all her fault. It was her fault that the policemen had caught her, when she had followed his instructions to break a window to get to the road. It was so simple, but it was her fault, she had failed. She had let herself get caught from the men and let them take her away, away from him.
All the time in the hospital she saw his look in front of her inner eyes, he wasn't saying anything he was just giving her that annoyed and disappointed look. All the things he had caught her were for nothing, because she wasn't able to take care of herself. He had to help her again, even when he never wanted it the first time. But that was his code, even when he was so annoyed to watch out for her.
She wasn't even surprised, when one day he suddenly stood in front of her, their beloved family behind him. She had tried it herself to get free from this place, but she had failed. Of course she had. Maybe the police woman was right. She just wasn't made for this world, she was weak and she will always be somebody's burden.
She couldn't remember any more what was going on in her stupid head, when the police woman wanted to keep her new friend. To keep him to get her free. She didn't want to be the reason again, that someone will be be sad, unhappy or even get hurt because of her. She wanted to let them all know that she was strong, that she could take care of herself, that she could safe her family, she wanted to let him know.
The scissors in her bandage, she had just kept there for self defence, but suddenly she remembered about them again, when she had stepped in front of the police woman. She didn't know what made her finally doing it or how she even made it, but the last thing she could remember was how she threw the scissors with her whole power into the woman's chest.
That was all. She couldn't remember anything since that. She didn't know what had happened next, but she could see it in front of her inner eyes, could see their faces, could see his face. And it broke her heart every time. Everything wasn't her intention, but at the same time it was still her fault.
She never wanted to hurt them, hurt him. She never wanted to bring them in danger, to bring him in danger. She never wanted to give them needless hope, give him needless hope. She never wanted them to get the whole way there just for her, she never wanted him to get the whole way there just for her.
Now she knew that she wasn't made for this world, that she was useless for the other, no help, just a burden. But still she was breathing.
She had followed the first track she saw that day she had woken up. The tire tracks from the old, destroyed fire truck. She didn't know which tracks she was following or where they would lead her, but they were the first and only tracks she had. Without any weapon, she followed the tracks into the forest.
His voice was always in the back of her head, while she was following the foot steps on the soft forest ground. She could always hear his voice, about what she should do next, how she could get herself food or where she could find something to drink. His voice was always in her head, but he never said more, then the things he had already told her so often.
She knew that he was disappointed, maybe also a little ashamed, that she was so light-headed, so stupid, so inexperienced. She didn't even know why she was following these tracks, to whoever they belonged to, but it was the only thing, which made her going on. She had never believed, that she would ever find them.
There were cans, many footsteps, a forgotten blanket, still warm wood from a fireplace and one day a broken arrow. With shaking hands and tears rushing down her face she was watching the small wooden piece in her palms. It was his.
She never thought about what she would do, what she would say, if she would ever see them again. But the second her eyes caught the frames of their bodies from far away, she knew it. She won't ever be their burden again, she won't ever bother them. She just won't show herself them, because she will leave them again, soon.
But she also couldn't let go from them. She was watching them the whole time, hiding herself behind the trees and bushes. They were all looking the same like before, maybe a little powerless, but still the same, while they were going slowly on the empty roads. They weren't missing her, their lives went on without her. Probably even better. There were also new ones she had never got to know. But they were all looking kind.
And especially she couldn't look away from him. She just couldn't let go from him. She didn't know why, but he was looking so different. He was looking so sad all the time, so broken, so out of place, so weak. She was thinking about what made him feeling this way.
She got the need to get over to him and placw her arms around his middle and take off the weight from his shoulders, like she had done months ago. She wanted to cheer him up, to make him feel good again, to give him some hope.
But she couldn't, she just shouldn't. She wasn't allowed to get in their lives any more, to make their lives bad again. To get in his life again, to make his life bad again. While she was following them inconspicuous, she got the feeling that maybe she was just a ghost any more. That they couldn't see or hear her, that she was maybe really dead.
But she could still feel the hot sun beams on her skin, could feel the raindrops running down her arms and giving her goose bumps. She could still feel the warm of the campfire, she could taste the food. She could stop her thirst with the cool, clear water, she could feel her heavy heart, while she was watching him.
She was gone for just a few minutes, to get herself fresh water from the little river nearby, when she saw it on him. Her knife. The tears were burning in her eyes, while she was watching the light brown case moving by his hip. Why was he wearing it? Was he maybe missing her?
No. She knew that this wasn't the truth. It was even simple, it was just another weapon, that he could use. That's all. He wasn't missing her. Nobody did, they had probably already forgotten about her.
It had been days, since she was following them, but she just couldn't make herself turning around and leave them behind, to leave him behind. Watching them was the only thing she could do without hurt them, without hurt him.
But with every more minute she got curiouser what had happened to him, that he was feeling this way. What terrible thing had happened, that he wasn't himself any more. He wasn't speaking with the other, it almost seemed like his feet were the only part of his body, that were still working. They were carrying him as long as the other were walking, he stopped when the other did, he went on when the other did.
He always took watch during the nights, starred at one point somewhere in the dark forest. He was looking weak, he was looking bad, even thin. He didn't eat often and when not enough for his big, strong body. He was looking like, he could break down with every second.
The second day she was watching them, her sister was holding a dirty music box in her hand. She had tried it more than once to bring it to play, but obviously it was broken. Because of that she left it back by the campfire, when she got to bed that evening.
She had watched it, how he got slowly closer to the music box, when he started with his daily watch. Looking at it from every side, he finally took it with him. The whole night long he had tried it to make it work again and shortly before sunrise it was finally playing that soothing, quiet sound.
With an even more sad expression he was watching the little ballerina dancing in front of the small, dirty window. The second the music stopped, he started it again and again and again. Always looking at it with this sad, sorry look. What was he thinking now, she had asked herself more than once that night.
He was playing it till the other got up and finally gave it her sister back. She had taken it with a small smile and a thank you.
Yesterday when it suddenly began to rain, everyone was glad for the refreshment. They were all holding their faces against the raindrops, they were smiling, some even laying down on the ground to enjoy the wonder.
But he was standing there like a statue, his eyes on the ground. With the same sad look as always, while the drops were running down his face and she couldn't tell, if they were just raindrops or some tears too.
It was the third time he had refused the water bottle from his friend, when he finally left into the forest. She knew that it was wrong, that she shouldn't do it for his best, but she also couldn't stop her feet from following him.
With a lowered head, he was aimless clumping deeper into the forest. His crossbow secured around his back, his arms were lifeless swinging with his steps and she knew that something big had happened, because he was acting this way.
Suddenly he stopped and sank slowly on his knees. Nervously she was watching him, afraid of why he was doing this. He was staring at one random point on the ground for minutes, till he took his weapon down from his back and laid it powerless next to him on the forest ground.
Weak he began to dig a little hole into the soft ground, till he finally found what he was looking for. Between his dirty fingers he pulled out a rosy little earthworm. She was feeling so bad, because he deserved so much more.
He was watching the moving worm between his fingers for a few seconds, before he placed it back on the earth again. Watching it moving away, he had this look in his face again. She still didn't know what had happened, but whatever it was huge, because it had changed his life forever.
Without aliment or making his hands clean from the dirt again, he slowly stood up and went on. She was following him since minutes, wondering what his destination was, what he was doing here, because he obviously wasn't hunting or looking for water, like he had told the other.
His steps slowed down, when they reached a clearing in the middle of nowhere. Frozen he was staring at something again, which she couldn't see from her position. After taking a few more heavy steps, he lowered himself next to a tree. His back supported by the strong wood, he moved his legs closer to his body, so he could rest his arms on top of them.
She had moved with him and finally she could see it, at was he was staring since they got here. A barn. An old, broken barn. It wasn't even looking like the one the two of them had found such a long time ago, but still it was a barn and it brought so many feelings back in her.
Like him she was staring at it, like it was something special. But it was nothing, it was never something. Just his movements brought her back to life, when he was searching for something in the pocket of his vest.
Finally he pulled out some broken, old cigarettes, placing one of them between his lips, while he took the other back again. With a shaking hand he managed to light it up and inhaling one time deep inside his tired lungs, before he leaned back and stared at the barn.
It was almost looking peacefully. The birds were singing their songs on top of the trees, the branches donated some shadow from the hot sun beams and a warm breeze was blowing through her hair. But in his face she could see that he wasn't one bit peacefully. There was something inside him that wanted out so badly. But obviously he didn't know how to let it out and feel it.
Then he took the cigarette away from his lips and stared at it, like he didn't know why he was even doing that. The wave between his eyebrows suddenly loosened, like he finally got it what this between his fingertips was. Taking the cigarette to his mouth again, he inhaled one more time deeply, before he took it away and instead of staring at it again, he pressed the lightened part against the back of his hand.
Even when she wanted it, she couldn't hold back the gasp, while she was watching him harming himself. I'm sure as hell never cut my wrists looking for attention. But right now he did.
Obviously it didn't even hurt him, while he was still pressing it into his skin. After seconds he finally took the hot cigarette away, dropped it careless on the earth and watched his result with the same sad look as always.
She could watch it how his body language slowly changed. His shoulders began to fall, his hands were resting powerless on his lab, his legs sank to the ground, because he hadn't any power left to hold them up, his head was moving forward, while his face began to distorted.
It was breaking her heart, when a desperately sob filled the air. He was crying. Not like back at the barn, it was different, it was worse. The tears were rushing down his cheeks like little rivers, while his lungs were searching urgently for air.
She knew that she shouldn't do it, that she should just turn away and leave him, but she just couldn't bring it over her heart to leave behind him like that. He was lost, he was alone. And it probably was the wrong decision, but still she slowly stepped out of her hiding place behind the tree and got quietly closer to him.
"Daryl." She was whispering shy. Obviously he hadn't heard her, because his eyes were still pressed closed and his lips let out little whimpers. Moving even closer to him, she whispered again "Daryl. Please stop, don't hurt yourself."
Suddenly his eyes snapped open and he was looking at her with glassy, shocked eyes. He was looking at her for seconds, before he began to cry again and begged between sobs "Don't. Leave me."
Compassionate she was looking at him. She had known it before, he didn't want her back. She was feeling so bad for him and now she had made it even worse with showing herself him. But it was too late for taking it back, so she made one more step in his direction and whispered again "Daryl."
Quickly, almost hysterical he was pressing himself more against the tree, like he was in a trap. Between heartbreaking sobs he said "No. You aren't real. I'm just imagine you again. You aren't real. Leave me."
He was thinking that she wasn't real, that she was a ghost, like she had thought all the time, while she was following them. She didn't want to scary him even more, but she wanted to let him know that she wasn't a ghost, that she was still alive, still breathing. That he wasn't crazy.
Waiting like he will get some pain soon, he was whimpering and tried to hide himself from her, while she got closer and closer. "Shsh.. Daryl it's okay." She tried to calm him down, while she sank on her knees in front of him. The tears were running down his cheeks like never before, when he was shaking his head and told himself "No, you aren't real. I'm just dreaming again. You are gone."
With a soft voice she whispered "No, I'm here." To show him that she was really there, she took his hand, which he had harmed before, in her warm ones and slowly began to stroke it. His cries and sobs stopped abruptly, while he was watching her movements with big eyes.
Gently she was whipping away the ash around the burned cycle on his hand. Taking his cold, shaking hand to her lips, she kissed his wound like she could heal him with that. His skin still close to her warm lips, she whispered "I'm here Daryl. You aren't dreaming. I'm real."
His glassy, red eyes finally found hers and he was looking at her like she was his worship. Slowly he freed his hand from her grip and framed his palms instead around her cheeks. This gesture was so beautiful that she just had to close her eyes for a few seconds, before she moved her face a little, so she could kiss the inner side of his hand.
Moving almost afraid his thumbs over her soft skin, he finally whispered with a broken voice "Beth." Resting her hands on his lower arms, she answered "Yes, it's me Daryl."
With a big momentum, he threw his arms around her neck and pulled her closer to his body. Because this was all so unexpected, she suddenly found herself laying on top of him, only the tree against his back was supporting them.
He was crying all the tears he had held back the last weeks, all the fear he had inside himself the whole time long out of his body, while his face was buried into the place between her neck and shoulder. She couldn't stop her own tears any more, because only then she got it, that she had done the same the last weeks. She was wrong. She was the one, who had missed him so bad when she was gone.
She was probably just hoping it, but his tears, his arms around her neck, his body told her that this was because of her. That maybe he was missing her too. But she knew that this wasn't the truth. It wasn't about her.
Sliding her fingers through his way too long hair, she whispered into his ear "I'm here. I got you." And finally the need got too much and she placed a lovingly kiss on his sweating forehead. Sometimes he was like a little kid. He was lost.
Finally he pulled away from her, but just enough so he could look her in the eyes. With trembling lips he was begging her "Please, don't ever leave me again." She was confused then. "But you don't need me Daryl. You are better without me."
Tilting his head a little, he was searching her face for an answer. The tears were running down his cheeks again, when he answered her seriously "You think I don't need you. Hell Beth I have missed you so much the last weeks. I couldn't do anything without you. I can't live without you any more. I never could. I need you. You are my life. I need you."
It was all because of her. "Oh." was the only word, which was able to left her lips. He was watching her scared again, like she was a ghost. "Please tell me that you won't ever leave me again. Please tell me that you will stay by my side."
This time it was her, who was framing her palms around his cheeks and stroked gently his skin, covered from the tears. "I'm not gonna leave you. Ever. Like I have promised you." With trembling lips and a thankfully look he answered her "Thank you so much for coming back to me."
Giving him a little smile, she just had to ask him, even when she was so afraid about his answer at the same time. "Aren't you mad at me?" He was looking shocked at her, when he said "Why should I be mad at you girl?" Girl, how much she had missed this word coming from of his lips.
"Because it was all my fault. I was so stupid. Everything you have ever taught me was for nothing, because I didn't get it. I'm so sorry for everything you had been through because of me." Feeling how the tears were running down her cheeks, she tried to hide her embarrassed face from his look.
Gently he placed his thumb and index finger under her chin and made her so looking up at him again. "How could I ever be mad at you girl? Nothing what had happened was your fault. I'm even proud about you. You are strong, so strong Beth."
Unbelievable she was looking him deeply in the eyes to make that she had understood him right. "You really mean that serious?" She asked with a shaking voice. Pulling her closer, he placed a soft kiss on top of her head. "Of course. You are my brave girl."
Happy, powerless and overwhelmed she let herself fall against his chest. Her arms wrapped around his middle, while he was stroking gently her head and let his fingers slide through the tips of her long locks. She could feel and hear his heartbeat, because her ear was pressing against that part of his chest.
This regular sound almost made her fallen asleep, when they both could hear foot steps and voices coming closer, till they were all standing in front of them and were looking at her with opened mouths and big, widened eyes.
No one was mad or disappointed about her. In contrast everyone was just happy and glad to have her back again. Her sister had never hugged her that tight before in her life and she was also so glad and relieved to have them again, but the most important thing was the man, who didn't left her side the whole time long.
He was always standing close to her, to give her the feeling that he would catch her if she would fall. He won't get anything dangerous near her or let her feel alone for even one second.
He shared his less dinner with her, gave her even more than his own portion. Gave her his last swallow from the bottle of water. Always sitting close to her and looking at her, because he obviously still couldn't believe it that it was really her.
They had decided to made their shelter for tonight in the barn he had found, or with better words the barn, which had found him. After having dinner and calming down their nerves, they were all sitting around the warm flames of the campfire, the two of them cuddled in the corner.
When he suddenly stood up and just wanted to go away, he caught her worried look and said calming "I will be back in seconds. I just need to pick up something for you." She just nodded then, missing his body heat and touches already. But like he had promised her, he was back less than a minute, the old music box in his hands.
"Here. I thought that maybe you would like it." He told her, while he was handling her the little box. With her fingertips she was tracing the notches and finally the soothing sound of it was filling the air, after she had opened it. Giving him a sweet smile, she said "Thank you Daryl. It's really beautiful."
Taking his left arm around her shoulder, he pulled her closer to his side and whispered against her golden locks "Carl had found it some days ago in the ditch. He gave it to Maggie and she just couldn't bring it to play any more. I have tried it one whole night long, I could have just stopped, but the dancing ballerina.. she was.. she remembered me about you." Oh. Because of that he had that sad look that whole night long. "I just couldn't stop. I had to repair it. At least I had to do this. And when I finally got it, the sound remembered me about you too."
Placing a quick kiss on top of her head, he went on "The sound was so soothing like your voice. It hugged me, like you have done and brought me to another place, where everything was good, where you were next to me. I have missed you so bad girl." Looking up in his eyes, she could see that his eyes were swimming in his tears.
Lovingly she framed his rosy cheeks with her palms and whispered "I'm here now Daryl. You won't ever need something to remember yourself about me, because from today on I will always be by your side. You just have to turn around and I will be behind to you. You won't ever be alone. I promise you this."
Leading her hand away from his cheek and instead to his warm lips, he kissed the back of her hand softly and said "How could I even manage to breathe without you girl. I need you so much." Looking him deeply in the eyes, she answered "You are also the air inside my lungs Mr. Dixon."
Everyone was sitting around the campfire, but she wasn't in the mood to tell them her story or listen to the things, which had happened to them, all what she wanted was leaning her tired head against his shoulder and feeling his arms around her middle.
It was like they had done this since the very first day, it felt so normal, it felt so right. She felt so welcomed, so secure, so protective in his arms. It even made her almost falling asleep, but when her head fell forward she just caught it in the last moment, before she fell forward as a whole.
His lips close to her ear made her looking up at him. "You tired girl?" He asked her so only she could hear. Because she was already that powerless she couldn't give him an answer, instead she just nodded her head, closed her heavy eyes again and best she wanted to crawl inside his vest, even closer to his warm body.
"Come here girl." He whispered and before she could even do anything against it, he gently took her up in his arms and carried her over to the blankets, which were laying on the straw.
Supporting her head with his hand, he gently laid her down on the one blanket in the corner. Taking off his vest and pile it together, he lovely pulled her head a little up again, so he could lay the fabric under it to give her a soft pillow.
She just made herself comfortable, when he placed a big blanket on top of her body and made sure that the fabric was covering her whole body. She just began to worry if he would leave her now, when he crawled under the blanket too and closer to her waiting body.
"Come here girl." He whispered again, while their fingertips were searching each other bodies. Their legs were knotted into each other, nothing could bring them apart any more.
She had placed her head on his chest and held him close with her right hand on top of his belly. Her palm rose up and down with his breathing and it felt so soothing. Gently he was stroking her right arm with his rough palm, while his other fingers were sliding through her golden locks or were stroking gently her head.
"Promise me that you will still be there next morning girl." He whispered into the darkness of the barn. Lifting her head, so she could look him in the eyes, she answered seriously "I'm not gonna leave you. You don't ever have to miss me again Daryl Dixon."
Pulling her even closer to his body, he placed a lovely kiss on her forehead "Good night girl." Giving him a sweet smile, she whispered "Good night Mr. Dixon." Pleasant and tired she placed her head back on his chest, closed her heavy eyes and finally drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
Her eyes snapped open when a loud thunder was filling the air. A new lightening was following through the little slots between the wood boards from the barn. Yesterday she would had been damn afraid, because she was always afraid about storms like this, but now she was feeling saved, because she was still laying in his arms.
"Are you afraid girl?" Obviously he noticed that she had woken up. The big rain drops were pounding loudly against the old walls of the barn, the only thing she could still hear was his protective voice and his breathing. Lifting her head, so their eyes could meet again, she answered seriously "No. As long as you are by my side I won't ever be afraid again."
Stroking with his thumb over her upper arms he pulled her even closer, till they both were laying on their sides and looked deeply into each others eyes. "I won't ever leave you girl. My place is right next to you and no where else. I got you."
She was feeling so warm, so comfortable, so loved, while she was laying with closed eyes next to him and could feel his eyes on her. The storm outside didn't bother her any more, his breathing and his body heat carried her slowly into sleep again.
But before she could enter the world of dreams, she could feel something on her lips. It was so warm like a summer breeze hugging her lips. So soft like a silk fabric sliding almost untouched over her lips. And so beautiful like the impact of butterfly wings against her lips.
Dreamily and overwhelmed she opened her eyes and were looking directly into his dark blue ones so close to her. His lips still formed the little kiss, he had just placed on her relaxed mouth. He was looking so unsure, so lovingly, so addicted down at her.
"I love you my little lady bug." He whispered and the feeling of his breathing against her skin made her shiver. With big eyes she was watching his face, watching how he was waiting for her to stand up and run as fast as possible away from him, but she didn't. That wasn't what she wanted to do right now.
Carefully she stretched herself, till her soft lips were meeting his waiting. Like she had done before, he didn't move his lips, he had just closed his eyes and enjoyed it being kissed so lovely from her.
"I love you too my chaperone." She whispered between a second kiss, which he finally responded and gently pressed his lips against her's too. Gently she was moving her fingertips over his cheek and beard, till she reached their still kissing lips.
Pulling away a little, so she could trace his warm lips with her fingertips, she had never believed that they were that soft and gently. Finally he pulled his palm around her fingers and carried her closer with his other arm. Lovely he kissed the back of her hand, her forehead was following next, while their fingers were melt into each other.
Filling her lungs with his own, special scent, she slowly began to drift off again, his own breathing got deeper and more regular too. But before they both fell asleep, still into each others arms, he whispered "You and me forever girl."