The first time she really touches him is when he shows up in her cell, late one night, to let her know that the boy she's been 'dating' is gone.
She's been through much more than that, so she doesn't really cry like he expects her to, but he does let her hug him, his fingers grazing her arm just lightly while she tells him she doesn't want anyone else to die. It's easy to push all those scary feelings down. The anger, the shock, the denial. She's felt it all before, and she's used to hearing that people she knows have passed. Even though she liked Zach, she didn't love him, he wasn't her daddy or Maggie. He wasn't Glenn or Rick. He wasn't Judith or Carol. He wasn't Daryl or Carl. He wasn't her family, her people. That's why she doesn't cry, that's why she just hugs Daryl and tells him that she can't stand seeing people go. And yeah, maybe she lingers a little too long, but she pulls away with a "Thanks," and crawls back in to her bunk to fill a few diary pages in memory of the boy who they lost. It's the least she can do at the time, and when Daryl walks off, she feels her chest tighten a little at the thought of losing the next person. It's bound to happen. They're safe, but they're not safe forever.
After she fills a few pages in her diary, writing down every little thing to remember about Zach, she sits up, focusing on just how bad she feels at the moment. She tries to cry, almost begs her body to let go some of the precious drops just so she'll feel better, but then she realizes something. She doesn't feel sad. She feels bad for Zach, bad that he had to go out that way. She feels bad for the group that watched him die. She feels bad for their prison family, because losing people isn't easy. But honestly, she doesn't feel sad. Sad is reserved for much bigger things. Not for boys who kissed her behind closed doors and hugged her too tight, and got too cocky. With the world going to hell, she can't afford to let her emotions get the best of her. She knows there's going to be worse, and she's saving all her tears for then.
The next time she really touches Daryl is when they've ran for what seems like hours. She can barely breathe anymore, her lungs are burning from breathing in the cooling air, her legs are burning from trying to run in cowboy boots, her head hurts, and most of all, her heart is shattered. She just watched her daddy, the most important person in her life, die. She always thought he'd get real old, die real peaceful. He'd be surrounded by her and Maggie and their husbands and children, and they'd all say their goodbyes like they were supposed to. Except, she just watched his head come right off of his body, and she's still in so much shock that she doesn't really realize that it actually happened. She knows that the prison got compromised, and she knows that she has no idea where the others are. She knows that her daddy is dead and that Daryl is the only thing she has left of her life right now. They've been running for what feels like hours, and he still hasn't said a word to her. He's silent, except for the sound of his crossbow hitting against the leather of his vest, and his breathing getting labored.
"We gotta stop!" she finally cries out, sinking to the leaves beneath her. It's dusk, and she knows that the small clearing they landed in isn't the best camping spot, but if she doesn't sit down for five minutes, she might pass out. Daryl just stands there, looking at her. "We gotta move, girl. We got no idea where he is." She knows he means the Governor, and the thought of running in to him again scares the living daylights out of her, but she also knows that things are going to get bad if they don't take a small break. "Just sit for a second, Daryl. We can keep goin, but we gotta find water." He grunts and she thinks that means that he agrees, because he perches himself against the trunk of a tree and keeps his eyes moving.
Beth know she needs to get up and they need to move, but she's honestly so tired and she just wants to close her eyes for five minutes. Instead, she stands, her legs begging for mercy. "We might as well get goin," she sighed, looking up at the darkening sky. "We gotta find somewhere to stay before we can't see anymore." He jerks his head and stands, nodding. "Let's go, girl." She nods, and she's grateful when he just takes off walking. She could run, but she doesn't think she can run much more tonight.
They find a car because Daryl says rain is coming, and they need to get out of it quick. Her bright idea is to hot wire it, but it won't work, and then he's yanking her towards the trunk because they can hear the walkers coming out of the woods. She crawls in first, drawing her knife, and he climbs in last. After the trunk is tied shut, she glances at him, his crossbow drawn, ready for anything. But she can't help but yawn, especially when the rain starts to pour. It's her go to noise when she needs to sleep, and hearing it beating down over her head after running all day has her wanting to pass out.
She's not sure when, but somehow she's fallen asleep, and she's got her head on Daryl's hip. He's still sitting completely still, crossbow ready, his eyes trained on the small space that he left open. She's curled in to his warmth, and she knows he's probably extremely uncomfortable, so she rolls away and sits up, not saying a word. She knows he's not gonna say anything about it, and she'd rather not discuss why she'd used him as a pillow.
The third time she really touches Daryl Dixon is when she's wrapping her arms around him after he's torn her down, and torn himself down. They're a little tipsy from sipping on moonshine and she's pretty sure she's never heard him talk so much. She's also never heard him be so angry, but she knows he's finally letting go of some of the things that happened to him, to them. It's good for him, and she knows that even though he won't admit it, he needs someone. So, she slides her arms around him and holds him against her. Her cheek pressed against the angel wings on his vest, her hands still at first, but eventually stroking his stomach to get him to calm down. It works, and soon he's taking deep breaths and he's composed again. As soon as she feels like he might be back to regular ol' Daryl, she lets go, and he just grunts and barges back in to the house. It's understandable. She knows that he's not going to talk about anything else that's bothering him, and she knows that she just saw a rare glimpse under his skin. His messed up daddy, his stupid older brother, his crappy home life. Nothing was ever good for him, and Beth wonders if she can be good for him, if she can show him that there's something more out there than all the bad. Her hands tingle a little from rubbing at his shirt so much, and she's pretty sure she's never felt so remotely close to someone. Not in the proximity kind of way. He bared his soul to her. So in turn, she tells him things to make up for it. They sit on the porch and she can't help but look at him in a different light. He's not just Daryl Dixon, badass redneck anymore. He's Daryl, who's got failures and hurt. Daryl who's seen too much before the world ended. Daryl who needs someone to show him that there's still good in the world, even with all the bad going on. She brought her knees up to her chest, resting her chin on them as she studied him while he looked out in to the woods. He was rather handsome in the moonlight, and with all his story telling, she's absolutely captivated by his voice. It's like nobody she's ever heard, and it's raspy and deep. She sounds like a baby bird compared to how manly he sounds. Every time he takes a drink, his muscles in his arms and shoulders flex, and she watches with eager eyes, unsure of why she can't look down. Unsure of why she suddenly finds him so interesting while he looks at the moonshine more than he looks at her.
Then they burn it down. And she feels like she could conquer the world with him at her side. They're fighting more than just walkers together, and she thinks that maybe they'll be good for each other. His realistic, pessimistic look on life, his hunting and tracking skills, and his security will keep her safe ,and she's determined to help too. She'll do whatever she needs to do to get them to where they need to be. To get them to safety.
The fourth time she touches Daryl Dixon it's really unintentional. He's sitting on the opposite end of the couch, as far away from her as possible. He's cleaning his crossbow while she hums under her breath, trying to pass the time before he heads out to check their perimeter so they can try and sleep a little. They've been in this funeral home for two days, and she honestly thinks she can see herself staying here for longer. He's made her feel safe, and she's got a kitchen so she's in her element. At some point in her thinking about staying, she's dozed off, stretching out on the comfortable couch. After sleeping peacefully for a little bit, she rolled towards the back of the couch and stretched her legs out, completely relaxed. But after a while, she feels warm. Too warm, and she's not really sure why. Her eyes flutter open and she can't help but let out a gasp. At some point in her sleep, she'd stretched her socked feet in to his lap, making herself comfortable on the small couch. And judging by the relaxed man that currently had his head against his hand and his elbow resting on her thigh, she figures he made himself comfortable too.
She moved a tiny bit and he sat up, eyes searching the room before landing on her. He looks confused, but she's sure as soon as the sleep wears off, he'll be back to the same ol' Daryl. Except, he doesn't. He just sits back on the couch and picks up his crossbow, laying it across her feet to keep cleaning it, not mentioning at all that they basically just slept curled up together. Beth knows she doesn't need to mention it, because he's warm and she'd rather not see him slip in to his sulking again. So, she kneads his thigh with her toes and closes her eyes again until he's getting up to go outside. He just grunts at her and she can't help but smile a little. Things are changing between them, and she can tell it scares the crap out of him. It scares her too, but if there's anyone she can trust with her heart, with her life, it's Daryl.
When he comes back in after a while, she takes the squirrels he's already skinned and puts them in the pot with a few cans of vegetables to make a sort of stew. It's the best meal they've had since the prison, and she's excited that she can do these little things for them both. She hands him a bowl and he looks at her, and instead of grunting, he tells her thank you. She grins and nods, digging in to her own food. His eyes are on her the whole time, and she's starting to squirm under his scrutiny, because she doesn't know what he's thinking. So she talks. And when he stares her down, trying to convey what his answer really is, all she can say is "Oh." Neither of them know how to really put things in to words, but there's more to this than just a partnership. They rely on each other to survive, but now, she finds herself wanting him to talk, wanting to know him, wanting to touch him. She doesn't, but she knows what this means, and she knows she can't feel this way about Daryl Dixon. He doesn't see her as Beth, he sees her as the girl half his age who he has to protect, guide. And she's not sure if she's okay with that. She wants to be his light, wants to lead him out of his darkness.
The fifth time she touches Daryl Dixon, she doesn't realize she might never touch him again. The walkers are barging in the door to the funeral home and she's tossing his crossbow at him. He's telling her to run, and all she can think about is the fact that she can't leave him. He's important. He's yelling at her to run to the road, and all she can think about doing is reaching for him, grabbing his hand for a second. Her stomach is churning and she's got an awful feeling about this, but she trusts Daryl more than anyone and she needs to do what he says. She grabs the backpack and takes off, running past the walkers to get to the road. Her breathing is heavy and she's scared out of her mind, but she knows that he'll come for her. Once she reaches the tree line, she looks back, trying to hear him run, trying to hear him passing through the trees. But she doesn't hear him. All she can hear is the cans surrounding the house clanging together as the walkers try and find their way in the house. Testing her ankle, she thinks she can make it back to the house to help him, but she doesn't know where she could even find him.
She decides to go anyways, and right as she goes to run, someone yanks her from behind. She screams, but she knows that nobody's going to hear her. "Daryl!" she screams, "Daryl!" but she's sure he's still fighting walkers. "Shut up, girl," her attacker whispers, pressing a blade to her neck. She quiets instantly, because she can get herself out of this. Daryl's taught her how to fight, how to take care of herself, and she's going to handle it. Another man approaches them and she kicks at him, squirming around so they lose their grip momentarily, but then they catch her again and the last thing she remembers after they punch her in the face is the fact that they're putting her in the trunk of a car. This one isn't as roomy as the one she shared with the man she's worrying about now.
He's been running for what feels like forever and he isn't stopping any time soon. He's been trying to track that damn car, but he ends up at a crossroads and he knows there's no way of knowing which way that beat up thing went. But they have her. His light. His Beth. He's gotta find her and get her back, because somehow, a few weeks in the woods turned her from some dumb kid that he needed to take care of in to a strong woman who he's pretty sure he needs. He won't admit anything else to himself because there's no way he's deserving of a girl like Beth Greene. Standing, he slings his crossbow over his back along with her stupid backpack and sets off.
He's gonna find her. He's got to.
She doesn't remember much, but she knows that she's trapped in this hospital and the only way out is escaping. They're not going to let her leave easily. Once Noah tells her about his plan, she knows that she's got to help him. It's the least she can do. Her whole body hurts from where she's been hit, and she's pretty sure her stitches are never gonna come out. Her wrist doesn't even hurt, but she knows the cast is protecting her because she can use it as a weapon when she doesn't really have one. So, she and Noah attempt their grand escape. And when he escapes and she doesn't, she knows she's done for. She'll likely die in this hospital, never seeing Daryl, never seeing Maggie, never seeing anyone that she loves ever again. After she's taken upstairs and Dawn kicks her in the ribs a couple of times, she's put back in her room. But the people in this hospital, they don't know she's stronger. They don't think to check her, to see if she's still thinking about leaving. They just put their hands on her, then send her to bed with no food. She's missed plenty of meals before, and she knows that she's only got a few more hours before she tries again.
Once it's dark, and she's sure that most of the cops are on patrol, she shakes her casted wrist for the elevator key. They think Noah took off with it, but really, she kept it just in case, and now she's going to use it. When she makes it to the elevator bank, she realizes that they left the sheet rope Noah made, and she can't help but snicker. For a place crawling with police officers, they aren't too smart. She pushes the thick needle she stole earlier in to her cast for hiding and slides down the rope. Landing on the dead bodies the second time isn't as bad, and she's way more focused now that she's on her own. She's got one mission. She needs to get to him. She needs to let him know that she's survived.
Her hands shake as she steps outside, but she's not going to let them take her down again. Picking up a chunk of concrete with her good hand, she chunks it across the lot, sending the walkers rushing that way. The cops go too, because when the walkers move, they think it's for a human. She knows better. They come because they hear sound, because they know someone's there, they just can't see them. She tosses another piece in the general direction and runs like hell to the fence. Halfway through, someone spots her and they start shouting, rushing towards her. But she's prepared for this, and she knows that she's faster than them. So she runs.
She runs harder than she's ever ran before. Harder than she ran leaving the prison. Harder than she ran the night at the funeral home. She feels like she can't breathe, but she runs anyways because one needle isn't going to protect her much longer. After running for what felt like hours, she collapses in front of a small hunting cabin, and she knows that she's gotta find water and she needs a better weapon. She checks the perimeter and steps inside, needle ready to kill whatever might be inside. She finds she got lucky, because there's not a single walker in sight. Though, there's definitely the stench of death and she knows she can't stay. She finds a can of peaches, then searches for something to open it with, finally coming up with a hunting knife that's been hidden next to the big chair in the main room. It takes her a few minutes to get the can open, but once she does, she slurps most of the peaches down and tosses the can to the side. It's time to get moving. She has no idea if the cops have left the perimeter of the hospital to look for her, but she doubts it. They didn't go out looking for Noah, and they'll probably assume that both of them are dead. She needs to find her people, and fast. She finds an oversized long sleeved shirt and pulled it over her head, wrinkling her nose at the smell of old cigarette. It would do for now. The tennis shoes she had on weren't her cowboy boots, but they would do for too. Tying her scrub pants tighter, she strapped the hunting knife to her thigh and pushed through the door, back out in to the night.
Three days later, Beth felt like she could collapse. She'd been tracking human footprints for a while now, and she wasn't sure where on earth she really was. She just knew she needed to find another human being before she went insane. Humming to herself and talking to the deer just wasn't cutting it anymore. Just when she was about to give up for the night and try to find somewhere safe to sleep, she heard it. A voice. Standing perfectly still, she listened, trying to figure out if this person sounded trustworthy or not. But then something clicked and she ran as fast as she could towards the person. "Noah!" She yelled, throwing her arms around her newest friend. He chuckled and let her hold on to him. "Finally you got outta there, blondie. Told you they didn't know we were strong." Beth nodded, pulling back, and that's when she noticed her. Carol. "Carol?" She asked, her eyes widening. "What are you doing? How'd you find Noah?"
Carol just grinned, taking Beth's hand. "We were looking for you. And you found us. No bites. What's that cast for? Oh! You have stitches!" Carol's gentle fingers stroked over her cheek and Beth couldn't help but wince a little. After having her stitches hit so many times, she wasn't sure her cheek would ever be the same. "The stitches are probably needin to stay in," she sighed. "But I think the cast can come off." Her eyes searched the surrounding area, and she felt her chest collapse a little when she didn't see who she was looking for. Instead, she sat down with Carol and Noah and told them about her escape, and about how she'd used the tracking skills that Daryl had taught her to find them. Carol gave her the bottle of water they'd been sharing and Beth honestly had never felt more grateful than she did in this moment.
Around sunset, Beth helped them build a small fire to keep warm, and accepted the small amount of squirrel they had to share. Sitting there, eating in silence, Beth observed the two people she'd come to camp with. Noah looked at ease, his eyes looking at the fire, glad to be free from the hospital. But Carol? Carol kept glancing around, like she was looking for someone. "You okay, Carol?" she asked, tilting her head a little. She watched the older woman's eyes catch on something outside of their circle, and just as Beth turned, she froze.
Daryl stood there, his crossbow at his side, his eyes wide. Before she could even get off of the ground properly, he was yanking her up, pressing her against his body, hugging her tightly. She buried her face in his neck, gripping the leather of his vest as she felt tears fill her eyes. "I thought I'd never see you again," she breathed, "I was lookin for you." She heard his crossbow hit the ground next to them, and his hand was pushed in to her hair, tilting her head back so she could look at him properly. "I was lookin for you too. Never stopped. I knew you were just gone. Not another dead girl." She took a shaky breath in disbelief. "No more splittin up," he said quietly, and then his lips were on hers, just a brush of a kiss at first, then slowly he deepened it, like he was scared of scaring her away. But she wasn't scared. She'd been thinking about this long enough, thinking about him, and she honestly didn't care that Carol and Noah were two feet away. She had him back, and together they'd find the rest of their family and things would get better. Pulling away, she grinned.
"No more splittin up."