Anyone who knew Daryl knew he wasn’t a talker. His philosophy was something along the lines of, “you can’t hear what’s going on around you if you keep running your mouth.” Whether he was hunting or hiding, from an early age, Daryl was always the quietest of the Dixon clan.
And so, when the prison fell and he found himself running with Beth following closely, just the two of them, a knife, his crossbow, and an empty gun between them, and the clothes on their backs against the world (that is, what was left of the world), he was sure the universe was playing some kind of joke on him. The girl who sings paired up with the guy who only talks when necessary.
Except she didn’t just sing. Apparently she had to try and fill every damn silence. She would either yammer on about finding the rest of the group or her feet would stumble along even on the simplest paths Daryl could find, snapping twigs under her boots and brushing up against every shrub she could find to make the leaves rustle against each other.
It was infuriating. As if he had any patience to begin with.
Eventually, Beth began to take the hint that he didn't exactly want to carry on a conversation. That wasn't exactly true. Daryl had conversations with people. Rick, Carol. Hell, he'd had discussions with Beth's old man. But what the hell did he have to talk about with the cute little blonde teenager. It's not like they had a whole lot in common.
Except that they'd both lost their home and their family in one fell swoop. Not exactly topic for friendly conversation.
Beth learned quickly to keep quiet, even with her clumsy feet. Any noise out in the woods could either scare game or attract walkers.
Wouldn't it be something if that were all reversed? It'd sure make his life a lot easier.
Yeah, because that's how the world worked.
It was her talking that kept him going, though. That and her blind faith that they would find everyone, or at least most everyone. Even when he didn’t respond, she had talked herself into such a frenzy that she up and left, convinced she’d be able to find tracks or something even in the middle of the night. Daryl only grumbled once she was out of ear shot while he put out their small campfire before following her, more to make sure she didn’t find any trouble than to actually look for anything.
It was a day and a half before they had their first hot meal since they had to run - charred snake and warm water out of an old soda bottle they'd found along side the road. It was better than nothing, but not by much. Beth had been quiet since they waited out the storm and the small herd of walkers in the trunk of that car the night before, and Daryl thanked whatever lucky stars he had left for that. Apparently a full stomach recharged her need to talk, so she was going on about wanting a drink, and she didn’t mean water.
He ended up following her to a country club golf course where she was convinced they’d find some kind of booze. When that was a bust (save for some peach schnapps which was completely unacceptable to have as a first real drink), he led her to the shack he and Michonne had found, knowing just what would be hidden there.
Before drinking, Beth babbled like a little brook. Moonshine was apparently the key to opening the floodgates. He wasn’t sure exactly how she’d done it, but she convinced him to play some stupid game. Daryl knew it was her way of trying to get him to talk, but he was pretty sure she didn’t really want to hear what he’d have to say.
Twenty minutes later, he’d proved himself right. They weren’t just talking; they were up in each others’ faces screaming and hollering, slinging whatever barbs they could. No matter what he growled at her, how he’d insulted her, she ended up winning in the end. Daryl had finally opened up, releasing all the guilt and anger and regret that he’d been harboring this whole time. Not only had she succeeded in getting him to open up, when he broke down, she was there to hold him together, her slim arms wrapped around his waist, her forehead resting between his shoulder blades.
It took until after the sun had completely set before Daryl had truly calmed himself down. With all the crap he’d unloaded onto her, he could finally just...talk. He wasn’t sure if it was the moonshine, or the lack of hostile feelings he usually kept bottled up, or if it was just being in Beth’s presence, but once he started, he found it was easy to keep conversation going, even when the topic started to turn dark again.
As the days passed, he found it easier and easier to talk with the young blonde, sharing things he hadn’t thought of since...since he could remember. Daryl found that Beth was a very attentive listener, and she would never judge or question or make fun of him, so he felt free to carry on his side of any conversation.
Well, except for the time he shared his story of unknowingly using poison oak as makeshift toilet paper. She’d had a pretty good giggle at his expense on that one. He didn’t really mind, though. If it’d happened to anyone else, he’d probably have laughed his ass off, too.
Over time, he didn’t really mind when she would talk just to fill the silence. More often than not, they walked together, not him leading her like he’d done when they first set out from the prison. Her soft voice became part of the normal ambience rather than a disturbance. Her dulcet tones, whether she was speaking or humming some little ditty to herself, still distracted him, but in a completely different way.
They’d found that funeral home, and the piano hiding within it, and she’d begun to sing again. Really sing. Daryl wasn’t sure he’d ever heard a sound as sweet as Beth singing to him, whether she did it intentionally or not. They carried on, just the two of them, almost forgetting about the world outside.
Until that night when Daryl actually did forget about the world outside. The night he opened the door without looking through it first.
The night he lost her.
The night that would lead to him finding everyone else.
The night that would lead to him finding her again only to lose her moments later.
Now he’d give anything to hear her voice again.