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He didn’t remember much about the raid on the hospital. Couldn’t recall Rick screaming him name, telling him to wait for the group; the sound of the semi automatics going off all around him, the screams of the injured and scared, the smell of sulfur and blood mixed with the sterile smell all hospitals had and something he couldn’t place. He didn’t remember firing a bullet, unsheathing his knife to kill a walker, or was it a man? No, he didn’t remember desperately scouring the old hospital, searching for the blond hair and blue eyes he so desperately longed to see.
It wasn’t until that final door that his world turned on its axis. Fair skin on the operating table, turned almost translucent from the spotlight, blood that ran black in contrast. Golden hair shining like a halo thrown haphazardly over the face on an angel, his angel.
It was like a punch to the gut as all the air left his body and the walls closed in around him. His blood replaced by needles, stabbing him from the inside out.
It wasn’t until his foot caught on an uprooting tree that it occurred to him that he had somehow found his way outside, to the edge of a forest much like the one they had spent so much time in. Gripping its trunk to keep his balance he laid into its hardness. As flesh and bone met bark he let out a primal cry loud enough to wake the dead, and it did. It must have for suddenly there she was before him, his name on her lips like a song.
Time stopped as he stared at her, hands up in surrender as he slowly backed away. She wasn’t real, she couldn’t be, he saw her on that table, chest unmoving, he saw her bloody mangled and dead. Yet here she was before him, assuring him the she was real, that she was there.
She reached a hand out towards him slowly as one might a scared animal, her fingers brushing against his cheek was his undoing. His knees gave out from under him and he sank to the ground, mud and water seeping into his worn pants as he wrapped his arms around her waist, burying his head in her abdomen as he cried. Apologies and her name blended together in a chant on his lips as he struggled to come to terms with it all. it was all to much, and not enough.
As she sunk down to his level he pressed his head to her chest, reviling in the beat of her heart mixed with the feeling of her fingers running through her hair, the way her lips alternated between the gentle kisses she placed on his forehead and the softness in her voice whispering words of comfort into his ear.
Neither one aware of their group, their family, gathering on the edge of the hill, tears in their eyes as they watched the reunion unfold.
If anyone of them were asked years down the road what love means this moment would replay in their heads.
Love is unconditional. Love is ripping your beating heart out of your chest and offering it up without a second thought. Love is pain and beauty all mixed into one, it’s baring your scars and sins, strengths and triumphs. Love is self destructing and rebuilding yourself stronger than before.
Love is beautiful.
And there was no stronger bond than that of which they were witnessing.
The love of Daryl and Beth.