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The first to blow your mind

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It didn’t take long for Daryl to regret having let Merle drag him to the strip club. It wasn’t the first time he tried, but this time Daryl hadn’t managed to get away from it, with Merle saying it was his 18th birthday present and what not, literally dragging him to the club. 

So there he was now, with his brother and Merle’s group of friends, feeling as out of place and awkward as ever, surrounded by half-naked girls and men hollering at them to take more clothes off, and honestly, he didn’t see the point.  

He didn’t like his brother’s friends, he wasn’t interested in getting high like they did almost every night. He had never been tempted,  seeing how the drugs made Merle a mean, bigger asshole, out of control, getting into even more trouble. He wasn’t interested in paying girls so they’d take their clothes off or seeing them naked either, if only it made him more uncomfortable. 

“Come on, baby bro!” Merle’s voice was so loud Daryl was sure he could be heard in the whole club, not that it was big to begin with, and Daryl cringed, shrinking into his seat. “That one has her eyes on you!” Daryl scoffed, rolling his eyes, but he glanced to the half-naked girl for a second before dropping his gaze to the ground again, making Merle guffaw as he shoved a bill into the dancer’s underwear. “Booze’s on me too!” 

Daryl swallowed the drink that Merle passed him in one go, hoping he’d get wasted soon and it’d made it easier to deal with Merle and his friends, but it only made his headache go worse. 

At some point, the music changed and Merle elbowed him. “That’s the new girl! She’s been here for a month or so. You gotta see that ass!” Merle laughed and Daryl looked up from the floor and to the stage in time to see a girl stopping in front of a microphone. She wasn’t half naked like the others but wearing a tight, deep red, sequin dress. “She’s super hot, isn’t she?” Daryl shrugged but nodded, he supposed she was beautiful.  

“Wait until she takes off the dress” Merle let out a big laugh. “You’re wearing too much clothes sweetheart!” He hollered at the girl, unnecessary loud considering they were as close as possible to the stage, and Daryl tried to make himself as small as possible on his seat again. 

The girl just winked at his brother, and then she began singing. 

You’ve been a bad, bad boy

gonna take my time, so enjoy

There’s no need to feel no shame

Relax, and sip upon my champagne

Cos I wanna give you a little taste

Of the sugar below my waist, you nasty boy. 

She had a beautiful voice, Daryl had to give her that, he hadn’t expected he’d see something like that. All the men had gone quiet while she sang, even his brother, which wasn’t an easy thing to achieve. 

Oh baby, for all it’s worth

I swear I’ll be the first to blow your mind

Now, if you’re ready, come and get me

I’ll give you that hot, sweet, sexy loving  

Merle was right, she was beautiful, a smile on her face as she sang, her body rocking with the music, as if hypnotizing him, and Daryl found himself staring at her, he couldn’t help it. 

Hush now, don’t say a word

I'm gonna give you what you deserve

Now, you better give me a little taste

Put your icing on my cake

You nasty boy.  

Daryl’s eyes followed the girl’s hands as they roamed over her body and he swallowed hard, blushing, but he couldn’t make himself look away. 

Now give me a little spanking

Oh, oh, is that all you’ve got?

Come on now, don’t play with me.   

“I’ll spank you, just come here, darling, and take off that damn dress!” Merle hollered, laughing, making Daryl cringe again, but if the girl heard him she didn’t seem to care, still singing with that dreamy smile on her face.  

Oh, give me that hot, sweet, nasty

Boy, don’t you make me wait [

Now you better give me a little taste

Put your icing on my cake

You nasty boy.  

The song ended, the music changed and the spell was broken. The men were back at hollering at the girls and Daryl was back at looking at the floor. 

“Come here, sweetheart, and lose some clothes!”  

Daryl heard his brother cheering and when he looked up he saw him calling for the singer as he waved some bills on his hand. The girl let her dress fall to the floor as she approached them, revealing black, lace underwear, and Daryl quickly dropped his gaze to the floor again. 

“It’s sweet you come to watch me sing almost every day,” the girl said and Daryl looked up just enough to see Merle shoving some bills into her underwear before dropping his gaze to the floor again.  

“Not as sweet as that ass of yours, that’s what I come to see!” Merle guffawed. “You know what sweetheart, it’s my baby bro birthday!” Daryl felt his brother throwing an arm over his shoulders, roughly pulling him to his side. “Why you don’t give him a private show as a present, uh?” Daryl’s cheeks heat up, his heart beating hard, and he managed to break free from his brother’s grasp. 

“It doesn’t seem he likes me much.” The girl chuckled awkwardly and Daryl said nothing, eyes fixed on the ground. 

“Goddamit…what’s wrong with you, lil’ bro?!” Merle grumbled. “Ignore him, sweetheart, you have the attention of the best, big brother. He gotta embarrass me everywhere, being such a pussy.” 

“Shut up!” Daryl snapped, glaring at his brother, who was smirking as if he had accomplished whatever he’d been trying to do. He forced himself to look at the girl as if trying to prove a point. She was beautiful indeed, her smile sweet as she looked at him, and she looked younger than he had realized.  

“Happy birthday, darling…what you say, do you want a private show? That’s not really something that I do, but well, could make an exception for those eyes of yours.” She winked at him and Daryl’s heart skipped a beat, it was being hard not to look away. “Well, these straps are looking too bare, aren’t they, darling?” She wiggled one of her shoulders, hooking a finger under the strap of her bra and pulling at it. “Maybe get your brother to decorate them with some bills and I’ll think about giving you that private show…” 

She leaned over towards where he was sat down until Daryl’s eyes landed on her neckline and he couldn’t keep it together any longer, sitting up abruptly, almost pushing the girl away. 

“I don’t need any of that!” He snapped, storming away, gritting his teeth in shame as he heard Merle’s and his friend’s loud laughs. 

“Told you sweetheart, a pussy!” 

During the next days, Daryl couldn’t stop thinking about the night of his birthday, the strip club and the girl, feelings of embarrassment and shame making him blush red again. Merle had kept teasing him, laughing at him when he managed to make him snap.  

He didn’t know why but he couldn’t get that singer out of his head, no matter he tried, his brain kept replaying her song and he kept seeing her smile, seeing her winking at him, calling him darling…He was sick and tired of it all, and he was doing his best to forget about that night and ignore his brother’s teasing.

About a week later, Daryl was walking through the woods, hoping to find some squirrels or a rabbit, when he heard some noises. As he walked closer, he recognized a voice singing and then she saw a girl walking around.  

Daryl lowered his crossbow, wondering what she was doing there, he had never seen someone there, though the girl seemed oblivious to his presence. She spun as she sang and then she spotted him, jumping a bit. 

“Shit, you scared me!” 

Daryl didn’t say anything, just looked at her. He had thought he recognized the singing voice, and now he was almost sure it was her. She looked very different without makeup though, and younger, and even her voice as she spoke was different than when she’d talked in the strip club, less husky. 

“You hunting or something?” She asked when he still didn’t say anything, and Daryl nodded. “Didn’t know I was in risk of getting hunted.” She chuckled quietly.  

“I’d never seen none here,” Daryl said quietly.  

“I know, that’s why I decided to come for a walk.” 

It seemed she didn’t know who he was, and why would she, sure a lot of men had come and gone to the club since his birthday and sure she smiled and winked to everyone, she hadn’t even really looked at him.  

“By the way, hi! You’re the birthday boy!” Or maybe she did know who he was, and Daryl found himself blushing at her words. “You’re the brother of Merle, he’s a loud guy but he comes almost every night and tips a lot.” 

Daryl nodded in silence, looking down 

“It’s a good night when he shows up, I never get as many tips as when he does.” She chuckled again.  

“You give him a lot of private shows?” Daryl didn’t know what made him snap like that, maybe the embarrassing memories of that night.  

“I told you that day, I don’t do that. And anyway, it doesn’t seem that safe to do private shows to half the men that go there, you know…” 

“You seemed pretty ready to give me one.” 

“I knew you weren’t going to say yes, you seemed scared of me.” She giggled softly and Daryl blushed in embarrassment, glaring at her. “Or maybe you don’t like me, dunno.” 

“What if I had said yes?” 

“Well, I would have asked for a very generous tip to your brother and then you’d have found that I’m actually not that good of a dancer.” She chuckled awkwardly. “But I wasn’t worried, you looked harmless, you seemed sweet despite the guys you were with. It just seemed a good way to get more tips from your brother.” 

She shrugged and Daryl didn’t know what to say to all that, he knew she had talked to him like that back then only for the money, but still…he wondered if she was playing with him now too, and laughing at him. He didn’t know what to do. 

“I ain't sweet.” He snapped. Merle called him that sometimes as an insult or to laugh at him.  

“Well, you don’t look harmless now with that thing.” She pointed at his crossbow.  

Daryl wondered if she might think he would hurt her…it bothered him but it shouldn’t surprise him, most of the people of that town thought all kind of things about the Dixon’s…some of the things they thought about Merle and his friends were true, but others weren’t. 

“I ain't gonna hurt you or nothing.”  

“You hunt a lot?”  

“Gotta eat.” 

“That must be so cool, being able to fend for yourself.”  

Daryl just shrugged again. 

“Your brother has kept coming to the club but you never came back.”  

Daryl didn’t know why she was still trying to talk to him, with how awkward everything was, and he wasn’t sure if he liked it or not but he couldn’t make himself walk away.  

“Look, I’m sorry about that night, the way in which you left, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad or anything.”  

Daryl just scoffed at that. “Why you talking to me now? I ain't gonna put nothing in your bra if that’s what you’re trying to get.” 

“Yeah, cos I’m a stripper who only does shit for money, how did I forgot.” The girl snapped. “You know, I was wrong about you.” 

She turned over and began walking away, further into the woods, and Daryl didn’t know why but he felt a stab of guilt in his gut that made him follow her.  

“You’re going in the wrong direction.” 

“What?” 

“You’re walking away from the town.” Daryl pointed behind them.  

“Maybe that’s what I want.” The girl looked at him defiantly.  

“You're gonna get lost.” 

“I can take care of myself.” 

“Whatever then, I don’t give a shit.” Daryl turned to walk away and despite his words, he was relieved when he heard the girl walking behind him. 

“How comes you don’t get lost?” 

“I know these woods.” He shrugged, he had been going there for years now.  

“You talk like you had been coming here for years and years but what are you, like fifteen?” The girl giggled and Daryl glared at her. “Don’t look at me like that, I’m just kidding! You looked too young to be in a strip club though.” 

“I’m eighteen.” He grumbled. “And aren’t you too young to work in one? You can’t be much older than me.” 

“I’m not too young, I turned nineteen months ago, and it’s not like this town has a lot of jobs to offer you know. I need it… How was that that you said? Gotta eat.” 

“You don’t have family or nothing?” 

“My mom died a year and a half ago.” The girl looked down and Daryl felt a stab in his heart he hadn’t felt in years as he was unable to stop the memory of his mother from coming to his mind at the girl’s words.  

“I’m sorry.” He mumbled awkwardly.  

“Don’t have none else so I gotta work, so I dropped out of school and began working as a cashier until they fired me a couple of months ago and then the only thing I found was that club… I wasn’t sure they’d hire me, I hadn’t danced before but I guess they liked that I sing…Can't dance as much as all that other girls do, but well, I try…” She chuckled quietly, wiggling her hips a bit, but Daryl thought she sounded sad. 

“You sing well.” Daryl couldn’t stop himself from saying it aloud. She was beautiful too, Daryl didn’t know how she could have thought the club might not hire her.  

“Thank you!” The girl gave him a bright smile and Daryl felt his stomach knot with strange twirls. “You know, once I’ve saved enough money I'm gonna go to the city and try to be a real singer. I know it won’t be easy but it’d be better than this shit town, can’t wait to leave… Gonna need a lot of your brother’s tips for that.” She giggled. 

Daryl said nothing, just kept walking in silence. 

“What about you, got anything you want to do with your life?” 

“Why you keep talking to me?” Daryl didn’t mean to snap, didn’t mean to be rude, but he couldn’t understand why she’d still try to have a conversation with him, why would she tell him all that, why would she be interested in anything about him. He didn’t know what might she want from him, he had nothing, he wasn’t his brother. 

“Dunno…Just trying to be friendly.” The girl shrugged, her smile gone. “I’m sorry, I won’t bother you more.” The girl followed him in silence and Daryl didn’t know why, but it made him feel bad.  

“There’s nothing I want to do with my life.” He muttered after a little while, when he could already see the town ahead. He had never thought about it, he just followed Merle around, doing what his brother wanted, and he didn’t know if there was something else for him to do, he didn’t think so. 

“There must be something…there’s nothing you really, really like doing?” The girl walked a bit faster until she was walking next to him, making him a bit nervous. Daryl shrugged, he had never given that any thought. 

“Dunno…I like the woods I guess.” 

“Me too.” The girl gave him one of those smiles that made his stomach do funny things. “It’s only the second day I go for a walk, but I think I really like it. It’s quiet.” 

“Yeah.” 

“Or it was until you bumped into me and I started talking your ear off, right?” The girl giggled, though she sounded a bit embarrassed. 

“Didn’t mind it.” It was true, much to Daryl’s surprise, he usually didn’t like to talk to people, especially if he didn’t know them. He wasn’t used to be with anyone who wasn’t his brother and his friends. 

“Yeah?” The girl smiled again and Daryl hummed a yes. “I thought I was annoying you.” 

“Nah…just don’t know why you’d want to talk to me.” Daryl found himself admitting, though he regretted it as soon as it left his mouth, making him feel silly. 

“Maybe I think you’re interesting.”  

Daryl looked at her at that, taken aback and sure she was messing with him and laughing at him, but she was looking down. Daryl felt lost. It didn’t seem like the girl was laughing at him, but he couldn’t understand why she might think he was interesting, or why she was still trying to talk with him. 

“I’m Y/N, by the way.” The girl gave him another smile, she still seemed genuine, but Daryl wasn’t sure he could lower his guard, could trust that the girl wasn’t just messing with him, laughing at him behind his back. Still, some part of him wanted her not to stop talking to him. 

“I’m Daryl.” 

“I know” The girl nodded, smiling shyly. “It’s nice to meet you properly…well, I’m not sure it was nice for you.” The girl chuckled awkwardly, and Daryl didn’t know what to say. It hadn’t been not-nice, but he also felt awkward and nervous, and they just walked in silence further into the town. 

“I’m going to that direction.” The girl pointed to the right, stopping to look at him as she chewed on her lower lip. “Are you going to go hunting to the same place tomorrow?” 

“Maybe.” He should, he hadn’t hunted anything today, but he didn’t know why Y/N might care. 

“Well, maybe I’ll to go for a walk to the same place tomorrow too,” Y/N said, Daryl still didn’t know why. “So maybe we’ll bump into each other again.” She looked at him as if expecting him to say anything, but he didn’t. “Or maybe not…okay, I gotta go, sorry for bothering you.” 

Was she saying all that because she wanted to see him again? It made as little sense to Daryl as her wanting to talk to him, but for some reason it seemed she wanted to, and it didn’t seem to be because she was trying to trick him into something or laugh at him. 

Did he want to see her again? Daryl wasn’t sure. He’d never had friends or anyone who wasn’t his brother, none who seemed interested in talking with him like that girl was, and he didn’t care, he was good alone. He didn’t know why someone like that girl could want to get to know him, but something in him made him want to know her too, no matter she made him nervous and awkward, no matter he still couldn’t understand why she wanted to talk with him. 

The girl began walking away and Daryl made his decision. 

“Same hour than today?” 

The girl turned to look at him, a grin illuminating his face, making Daryl’s heart beat faster. 

“Yes!” 

As he watched her walk away, Daryl wondered if he’d regret it…he wondered if he was already regretting it. Still, as he walked to Merle’s place, he couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corner of his lips as he thought about Y/N. He didn’t understand that girl or why she seemed to want to be her friend, he wasn’t sure if he wanted her to be his friend, but he knew he wanted to try.  

Chapter Text

For the longest time, Daryl didn’t know what to do, go to that part of the woods where he knew the girl might be or not. He still didn’t know what to think of her, confused by her. He knew he wanted to see her again, no matter he tried to stop himself from feeling like that, even though he didn’t understand why. He had barely been able to sleep that night, his thoughts shifting to the girl, her smile as she talked with him, as she sang, how different the girl from the woods and the girl at the club seemed, even though they were the same. 

Nerves clutched his stomach as he walked to the woods, making him feel like an idiot. He didn’t know what to do once he saw her again, what to say to her. That, if she was there. Maybe the girl wasn’t going to show up, maybe she was messing with him, maybe she didn’t really want to try to be his friend, if that’s even what she was trying to do. Maybe she was laughing at him after all. Maybe it was some kind of trick. Maybe… 

Daryl heard a voice singing softly and he knew it was her, she had come. Somehow, it made him more nervous. He walked silently towards the voice and he saw her, walking and dancing around. He watched her in silence until she noticed he was there. She jumped a bit when she saw him, but then she was smiling. 

“Hey, you came!” Daryl just nodded in silence and as the girl approached with that bright grin on her face, he’d to fight the urge to run away. “I hope you haven’t been watching for long… it’s embarrassing.” The girl chuckled, biting her lip. Daryl didn’t know why she thought it was embarrassing, or if maybe she thought he was stalking her or something. He didn’t really know what to say. “I was just practicing, you know, trying not to suck at it.” She chuckled again. 

“You don’t suck,” Daryl said quietly, looking down, unable to meet her eyes. “Told you, you sing well.” He didn’t understand why she might think otherwise, maybe she was just pretending or something. 

“Thank you!” Even without looking at her, Daryl could hear the smile in her voice. “I can’t really practice at home, it seems I bother my neighbors or something, thin walls or whatever.” She let out an annoyed sigh. “But I meant the dancing…I think it’s still not my thing, I don’t really know what to do half of the time. Your brother gave me great advice my first day, though, yelling at me to ‘move that ass’” The girl joked, giggling, and Daryl blushed, hearing his brother in his head. 

“Must be the first time he gave good advice.” Daryl didn’t know if he was joking or not, he owed Merle a lot and he was his big brother and smarter, but lately he was starting to see how Merle wasn’t the best at taking the right decisions most of the time. He had to stop himself from looking around as he said that, paranoid of his brother hearing it, even though he knew it was impossible and stupid…a reflex, he guessed. The girl just laughed at that. 

“Honestly, it helped, I’d finished singing and I was feeling so awkward, didn’t know what to do…I guess that move my ass is as good as anything, at least I’m not there standing like a tree or just walking around while the other girls dance so good. I still don’t know what to do with my arms half of the time, though, they are just here…hanging like hosepipes or something.” 

Daryl’s eyes had been fixed on the ground, but he looked up at her weird at that, and as the girl wiggled her arms sillily as she giggled, the ghost of a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. 

“Or else they go like this, like t-rex arms, which I guess it’s not that sexy either, but well, everyone has their kinks.” She kept just wiggling her arms around in silly ways as she spoke and Daryl couldn’t keep it together any longer, snorting. 

The girl giggled and as both them laughed together, Daryl found himself relaxing ever so slightly. She looked at him as if curious, a look on her face Daryl wasn’t sure he could read, and he looked down again, self-conscious, though by now he was feeling surer that the girl didn’t want to mess with him or laugh at him. He was so lost as for why the girl had decided she wanted to speak with him and maybe be his friend. 

“I don’t think you’re bad at it,” Daryl mumbled, shrugging, eyes on the ground. 

“Thanks, you didn’t get to see me dancing much that night, though…maybe that’s why you think that.”  

The girl laughed again and Daryl tried hard not to think about that night, not wanting all the shame and embarrassment to come back to him. He tried not to think on her rocking and her hands moving over her body as she sang, or on the moment when she ditched the dress, sure that if he did he couldn’t look at her and keep talking to her. He felt his cheeks heating up anyway, but if the girl noticed, she didn’t say anything. 

“I think it’s starting to grow on me, though, I think I’d like to actually learn how to dance. Like, not only wiggle my ass so I get tips, you know, I want to really learn. Some of the girls that work there are so good, yet none of the people who go there appreciate it, they just have one thing in their mind. Kind of like when I sing. But well, it’s a living.” 

Daryl looked at the girl as she vented, sounding disappointed. She looked at him and bit her lip, giving him a shy smile. “I’m sorry, I’m here talking your ear off again, you can tell me to shut up.” 

“No… I just don’t know why you want to tell me all these.” He admitted. 

“Guess I don’t really have someone to speak to.” The girl shrugged. “And it feels like you listen to me when I speak…but I guess it’s just that you don’t really feel like talking and here I am bothering you with my shit.” She let out an embarrassed chuckle. 

“You ain’t bothering me.” It wasn’t like he didn’t feel like talking to her, it was just he didn’t know what to say, but he did like to listen to her. He felt less nervous the more she spoke, less on edge. Maybe it was silly, but Daryl felt like he wanted her to keep speaking so he could know more about her. “So you don’t have friends to speak to?” 

“Not really, not anymore at least. My best friend Nora moved to the city a year ago. Once I’ve got enough money I’m going to move there too and we’re going to live together, and it’s going to be awesome.” She smiled sadly. “Also, some of the girls I work with are really nice too. When I started, I owed my landlord last month rent and also I couldn’t afford that month either, I was about to be kicked out but some of the girls gave me half of their tips so I could pay. I owe them a lot.”  By hearing her talk, Daryl guessed she hadn’t had it easy after her mother died. “So, I hope your brother keeps coming and tipping good and allowing me to pay rent.” The girl joked awkwardly. 

“Don’t think he plans on stopping.” Unless Merle decided to leave the town once again, that club would probably still be one of his favorite places to visit night in night out. 

“So… what about you, you got a lot of friends?” The girl asked him and Daryl almost snorted. 

“Just my brother.” If he’d had friends, it had been a long while ago, when he was little and his brother wasn’t there.

“And those guys you were with that night?” 

“They are my brother’s friends, not mine.” Daryl knew how they were, what they were. 

“I don’t really like how most of them look.” The girl admitted, looking at him as if expecting he might snap at her for saying that, but Daryl couldn’t care less, he didn’t like them either. “Don’t want to know what they do to get all that money either.” Daryl knew, most of them got their money same way that his brother did, others in even darker ways, but he didn’t say anything, embarrassed about it. “Wouldn’t like them asking me for a private show, so to speak.” 

“Merle wouldn’t let any of them hurt you.” Daryl genuinely thought like that, Merle could be many things but he wasn’t a rapist or anything like that, and Daryl couldn’t believe he’d hurt or let his friends hurt any of the girls. 

“That’s good to know.” The girl gave him a small smile. “Anyway…you wanted to hunt and here I am bothering you with half my life and not letting you hunt, sorry.” 

“Told you, you ain’t bothering me,” Daryl muttered. “And I think you scared the game away when you sang and then talking.” 

“Oh…sorry…” The girl bit her lip as she gave him a small, shy smile. 

“It’s okay, I’ll find something.” There must be some squirrels not far, maybe a rabbit. He’d found deer some times, but those were easier to scare and used to be further away from the town. 

“Can I go with you? I promise I’ll shut up.” The ask took Daryl aback, but he found himself nodding, for some reason he didn’t want them to part ways yet. The girl smiled brightly and his stomach did funny twirls. “Lead the way.” 

As she followed him in silence, Daryl forced himself to stop thinking about her and focus on tracking. It took him shorter than he thought to spot a rabbit. He pointed it at the girl, who didn’t seem to have seen it yet. He aimed his crossbow and shot, and the girl gasped next to him, looking away as the rabbit fell dead to the ground. 

“Sorry, I bet you think I’m stupid or weak, or something…” The girl apologized, seeming embarrassed, when he looked at her. “I’d never seen…just…sorry.” 

“It’s okay, girl.” Daryl didn’t know what to say and he tried not to sound harsh. The first time his uncle had taken him to the woods as a little kid to teach him how to track and hunt, he’d seen him kill a rabbit too, and he remembered being upset too. He also remembered how his father had laughed at him, calling him names. Things were different now. 

“Thanks.” The girl smiled softly, but she still seemed a bit embarrassed. “I’m Y/N, by the way.” Daryl nodded, he knew her name, she had told him yesterday, but it felt a bit personal to call her by her name, but it seemed she wanted him to. 

“Wait here…Y/N.” He made his way to the dead rabbit, guessing the girl would be upset to get closer, and he wrapped it with a rag before getting it into his hunting bag and making his way back to Y/N. 

“You want to keep hunting?” 

“Nah, that’s enough.” He didn’t want to upset Y/N more and the rabbit would feed him for the night, probably next day too, if he stewed it.  

“Okay… I have to go back.” 

“Do you want me to walk you back to the town? He asked shyly, gaze on the ground.  

“That would be nice, thank you!” 

Next day, Daryl didn’t think it twice about going back to the woods, same place, same hour. Even though their walk back to the town had been mostly silent, Y/N had told him she’d be there the next day too, as if she wanted to see him again. Daryl had barely slept again, thinking about her, he’d barely been able to listen to Merle when he’d been running his mouth as always, until his brother noticed and snapped at him. Daryl couldn’t care. 

He wanted to see her again, even though he still didn’t understand why she might want to see him again. By now, he was almost sure the girl wasn’t playing him or anything like that, and he’d found himself enjoying it as he listened to her talking. Somehow, he felt like he wanted her to tell him more about her. 

She had told him she hadn’t many friends, and probably that was the reason why she had decided she wanted to befriend him. He hadn’t any friends…so maybe they could, indeed, be friends. The idea made him nervous and a bit scared, but it made him smile too.  

As he walked closer to the place where he’d found her the previous days and he didn’t hear her singing, he began to worry, wondering if maybe Y/N hadn’t come, if maybe she had decided she didn’t want to keep hanging out with him, but then she spotted her, walking and dancing a bit. This time, when she saw him, she didn’t jump. She approached him, a bright smile on her face, and Daryl’s heart began beating faster, nervous.  

“I haven’t sung so I wouldn’t scare your game if you wanted to hunt.” She whispered to him, and a small smile tugged at the corner of Daryl’s lip as he found himself thinking she was cute. He chastised himself, blushing.  

“You made noise as you moved anyway.” It was difficult to learn to move silently, and dancing around probably she had been heard by every animal that was close enough.  

“Oh… didn’t think about that, sorry.”  

Daryl hadn’t wanted to make her feel bad and he hoped he hadn’t upset her. He wished he knew how to talk better with people.  

“No, I didn’t mean it like that, just… You don’t have to stop singing or nothing.” She had told him she couldn’t do it at home and he didn’t want her to feel she couldn’t sing there either just in case he might go hunting.  The girl said nothing, just gave him a smile. “I can hunt later.” 

They stood there in silence for what felt eternal to Daryl. He’d wanted to see Y/N again but now he felt he didn’t know what to tell her, waiting for her to speak as nerves knotted his stomach. 

“So… Do you want to take a walk with me, maybe?” She asked, sounding unsure too, and Daryl nodded, it’d be better than just stand there. The girl smiled to him and as Daryl turned around, she began following through the woods. 

They walked in silence and Daryl began to worry. During the couple of days he’d seen her, Y/N had seemed like a talkative person, speaking with him even though he hadn’t said much, but she was silent now. Daryl wondered if he might have done something wrong, if maybe she now thought he didn’t want her to talk with him, but then why would she want to see him and walk by him. 

“You okay?” He asked when he couldn’t take it any longer. 

“Yeah, why?” 

“You’re quiet.” Daryl shrugged shyly. 

“I’m trying to…I just kind of felt like I’ve been talking too much, and you seem to really like your quiet so, dunno…” The girl let out an embarrassed chuckle. “I guess I didn’t want to be annoying.” 

“You ain’t annoying. I liked to listen to what you were saying.” Daryl forced himself to overcome his shyness and say it aloud. 

“Yeah? That’s good to know.”  

Daryl looked at her through the corner of his eye, a smile tugging at his lips when he saw her grinning. She didn’t say anything else and Daryl wondered if maybe he should be the one to speak, but he didn’t really know what to say. Before he could worry too much, Y/N spoke again. 

“You move like you’d been in the woods forever.” 

“I come here since I was little.” He liked it more than the town too, away from people’s gossip, from his father, from everything. 

“That’s cool,” the girl said, and Daryl just shrugged. 

“So…besides coming to the woods, what other things do you like?” 

“Dunno…” 

Daryl’d never felt comfortable with personal questions, half the time he was asked he was sure there was some hidden intention behind it, but he didn’t feel it from Y/N. Still, he didn’t know how to answer. 

“There must be something you like.” 

“Why you care?” His insecurity made him snap and he regretted it, but he didn’t know how to apologize. 

“Told you, I thought you were interesting.” The girl shrugged and Daryl looked at her weird, he still didn’t understand why she might think that. “Guess, I wanted to know something more about you…” She looked down and Daryl thought she was blushing. “I’m sorry if it was too personal or anything, we can talk about something else.” 

“No, it ain’t that…”  

Personal questions made him uncomfortable and defensive, but not from her. Still, the idea of telling her things about him and Y/N deciding she wasn’t interested in being his friend anymore made him nervous. Y/N was silent again and Daryl thought for something to tell her, something he liked. 

“Bikes.” 

“Uh?” 

“I like bikes.” 

“Your brother has one, right? I’ve seen him around town a couple of times with some other guys.” 

“Yeah, he’s let me ride it sometimes.” He’d always complained about it, threatening him if he damaged it, but he’d let him ride it sometimes since he was big enough to hold the bike right. “I like to ride.” 

“Cool, you got a bike?” 

“Not now but I’m putting together one and it’ll be ready soon.”  

During the last couple or so of years he’d gotten a couple of old bikes here and there, wanting to have his own, but both of them had soon died. He had managed to save some pieces, though, and with some other parts he’d managed to get cheap, he’d been trying to build his own. Merle'd been always saying how he wasn’t going to be able to do it and whatever bike he made was going to fall into pieces as soon as he turned on the engine, but by now Daryl had managed to keep the bike going and he was sure it was pretty much done. Putting a bike together, that was something he’d liked doing too. 

“What you mean putting together?” Y/N looked at him as if confused. 

“Building it from pieces and parts of other bikes.” 

“Seriously?! You’re building a bike?!” Y/N stopped walking to look at him with wide eyes, making Daryl feel a bit insecure under her gaze. 

“Yeah.” 

“Woah…how cool is that?!” Y/N was grinning and Daryl didn’t think someone had ever looked at him like she was doing, she seemed impressed and Daryl couldn’t help but feel a bit proud. He couldn’t hold her gaze, though, and he began walking again. 

“Are you studying mechanics or something?” 

Daryl scoffed, he’d dropped out of school as soon as he was able. “Nah.” 

“And yet you built a bike by yourself…that’s like so impressive.” Her words gave Daryl again that mix of feelings, of pride and embarrassment. He’d never thought it was that impressive, he was just following what he read on old manuals and bikes magazines. “Would you like to study mechanics?” 

Daryl had never thought about it, studying had never been his thing. He hadn’t even considered he could study something related to bikes, building and repairing stuff. He didn’t know what to think about it. 

“Dunno.” 

“Well, by what you’re telling me, it doesn’t seem like you need it.” The girl grinned to him and Daryl found himself smiling too. He usually felt uncomfortable when he had to share something about himself, not that he had to do it often, but he didn’t feel like that with Y/N, not with how she was looking at him. 

“And you?” He’d found himself wanting to know more about her almost since she began speaking to him. 

“No, I’m useless at building anything with my hands, I can’t even doodle.” Y/N giggled and Daryl realized he’d been so caught up in his own mind he hadn’t actually formulated the question he wanted. 

“No, I meant, what do you like besides singing.” 

“I think I’ve found I like dancing too… even though I’m not that good at it. I used to like reading a lot too, but I barely do it these days.” 

“What kind of books?” Daryl glanced at the girl through the corner of his eye, wondering if she might be finding him nosy, but it didn’t seem so. 

“My favorites were detective books and that kind…I think maybe because they were my mother’s favorites. Shows and movies too, when I was little some afternoons my mum and I would just like marathon half a detective’s show or a bunch of movies. And when I was a little older I began borrowing her books.” 

She looked sad as she talked about her mother and Daryl’s heart clenched a bit, trying not to think on his own. He wished he knew what to say or what to do to make Y/N feel better, but he didn’t. Soon, though, she was smiling again. 

“Do you like detective books?” 

“Dunno.” 

“I could lend you one of mine, maybe, if you feel like reading one…” 

“Okay.” He wasn’t sure if he was going to like it, but if she wanted to lend him one of her books, he wasn’t going to say no. 

She smiled and looked at her watch. “Shit, I gotta go, I’ve to get ready to work tonight.” 

“I’ll walk you to the town.”  They had walked further from the clearing where they’d met and Daryl didn’t want her getting lost in the woods, especially when the sun was going down in an hour. 

“No, you wanted to hunt, I can go by myself.” 

“I’ll walk you back to the clearing and then I’ll go hunting.” Even though she said she could go back by herself, Daryl felt uneasy about leaving her alone there. 

“Okay, thanks.” She smiled and began following him back.

Once they reached the clearing, Y/N stopped to look at him with that bright smile and Daryl’s stomach did those damn twirls again. “Thank you for walking me here, Daryl.” I’m going to come tomorrow again…so if you want to, we could meet again, if you’re free.” 

“Yeah, yeah, okay.” Daryl couldn’t help his smile at her wanting to meet again, and then at the way in which she grinned. It was hard to believe, but it seemed she really liked to talk to him and spend time with him, she really wanted to be his friend. 

“See you tomorrow then!” 

Chapter Text

It kept going like that, them meeting in the woods every day, and Daryl was surprised with how good he got along with Y/N, how much he enjoyed her company and to listen to her as she spoke. It was still her who did most of the talking when they met, and he enjoyed learning more and more about her, but each day Daryl found himself speaking more and more, sharing little bits about him with her. She seemed to like it when he did it. 

It was strange, Daryl couldn’t explain it, but barely a month had passed since that first time they met in the woods and Daryl felt like they’d been friends forever. His mind wandered to her more often than not without him being able to stop it, looking forward to seeing her.

He thought it might be a bit strange that after all those days they had never met outside the woods, but he liked to see her there, alone and away from the town and from everything. It felt it was easier to talk like that, and it didn’t seem Y/N minded they only met in the woods, she was always the one telling him to meet there the next day and the next, and the next. 

Daryl wasn’t sure if Merle had noticed something was going on, with Daryl getting out with him and his friends less and less, and being gone part of the afternoon or evening. He had dropped a comment here and there, but Daryl was sure his brother just thought he went out hunting, he always made sure to come back with something.  

He was now walking to their clearing and he smiled when he heard her voice as she sang. She’d been singing a new song for the last couple of days and Daryl didn’t think she needed to rehearse that much,  he thought it sounded good, but it seemed she didn’t think it was perfect enough. He saw her swinging a bit from side to side as she sang, and she stopped when she saw him, smiling and walking to him. 

“Hi.” 

“Hey.” He couldn’t help his smile, even though his stomach still did nervous twirls when he saw her. It still took him a little bit of time, of her speaking to him, to be able to fully relax. 

“Are you okay?” 

“Yeah.” 

“You sure?” Y/N was looking at him as if she were studying his face, and Daryl hadn’t a clue of what was going on. 

“Why wouldn’t I?” 

“Well…” Y/N seemed to look for the right words and Daryl began to worry. “Merle was at the club yesterday, he seemed pretty high.” 

Daryl scoffed, he thought that Y/N would have seen his brother high quite a few times by now, but maybe he waited until he left the club to get utterly wasted. He was glad Y/N hadn’t seen him at his worst. 

“Yeah, he does that.” Daryl shrugged, he didn’t know why he was feeling embarrassed, it was his brother, not him. 

“I know that he deals, I guessed that he used to…just didn’t know that that much.” Y/N was talking quietly, stealing glances at him, as if she thought she might upset him by talking like that, but Daryl hated that about his brother. He barely had any memory of Merle before he began taking drugs, and after he started dealing too, it just got worse. 

“Was he too bad?” 

“A bit…I don’t know, I hadn’t seen him like that before.” 

“He didn’t do nothing to you, did he?” Daryl had always been sure his brother wouldn’t hurt any of the girls at the club in any way, but now he couldn’t help but worry. 

“No, no.” Y/N assured him and Daryl finally could relax. “But he got into a fight with another guy…didn’t take it well when our guard tried to kick him out…just a big mess.” 

“Shit, I’m sorry.” Daryl could see it as if he’d been there, and the feelings of embarrassment came back. 

“It’s not your fault,” Y/N said softly. “Just…I was worried thinking maybe he went back home with you, high and so angry…”  

Daryl had to stop himself from smiling at that, knowing it wasn’t the right moment, but he couldn’t help how his words made him feel. She was worried about him. It made him feel warm, made something flutter inside his belly. He didn’t want her to worry, though, she didn’t need to. 

“It’s okay, I can handle his shit, I’m used to it.” He assured her. 

“You shouldn’t have to…” 

Y/N was looking down, but she reached out to take his hand, taking him by surprise. Daryl flinched his hand away and Y/N took hers back quick, whispering a sorry. Daryl’s heart was beating hard, and he didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t meant to flinch, but he hadn’t been able to stop it. He wished he hadn’t, he found himself wanting to hold her hand, but he felt too shy to actually reach out and take it. Maybe she didn’t want it anymore. 

“Did you want to take a walk? I’m feeling lazy but I’m up for it if you want to.” Y/N stretched her arms over her head and Daryl looked at her, studying her face, wondering if she looked more tired than other days or if maybe he was imagining it. He thought she might have had a rough night, with his brother making a mess and what not. 

“Nah, let’s be lazy.” He flopped down on the blanket she’d spread over the ground and she smiled as she sat down next to him. 

“Great. I hadn’t told you yet because you really seem into hiking and all that, but I’m really a lazy person.”  

She joked and a crooked smile tugged at Daryl’s lips. It wasn’t the first time he found himself thinking that she was cute, he tried to stop it but he couldn’t. Half his mind was still on Merle, though, embarrassed about Y/N seeing his brother like that. 

“Can I ask you something?” He gathered enough courage to ask. 

“Yeah, yeah, you know you can.” 

“I know that people in town say things about us, the Dixons I mean.” He didn’t give a shit about what people said, yet his cheeks heated up. “You hadn’t heard about us before we met?” 

“People in this town love to talk shit, so yeah, I heard stuff about your brother, some stuff. A bit about your father too. Not about you, though, not much.” 

Daryl nodded, he had guessed so. “So if you knew who Merle was, why you decided to talk to me, you knew I was his brother, you knew what they say ‘bout us.” 

“Well, my mom always told me not to judge a book by its cover. And not to judge someone by people’s gossip.” Her mum sounded kind, like her, but also naive.  “And I told you, most people in this town just talk shit.” 

“Whatever shit they say about my father is true.” Probably it wasn’t enough. “And some of the stuff they say about Merle too.” 

“Yeah, I know.” 

“But when we met here the first time, you knew who I was but you started talking to me like you weren’t worried.” 

“I wasn’t.” She shrugged. “They don’t say that much about you.” 

“But my brother-”  

“You aren’t your brother.” Y/N cut him off. “And I told you that day, I thought that you seemed mostly harmless, not like the guys you were with. I mean, you look badass, sure, you have that ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe going on, but I thought you wouldn’t do anything bad to me, you didn’t strike me like the kind of guy to hurt people over nothing.”

Daryl didn’t know what to think, he’d never wanted to be seen like harmless, he liked to keep people away, and looking harmless wasn’t useful to get away from the messes sometimes he’d gotten in with Merle. But he’d never want Y/N to think he’d hurt her in any way.

“And I thought you seemed kind of sweet…” She added quietly.  

Daryl blushed, he couldn’t help it, he didn’t think he was sweet, he hadn’t intended to, it wouldn’t bring him nothing good. But when Y/N said it, it didn’t sound like an insult like when Merle did.  

“Ain't sweet.” He muttered.  

“I think you are, most times, with me at least.” She shrugged looking down. Daryl didn’t know what to think, what to say, he wasn’t even sure of how her words made him feel.  “Some people gossip shit about me too, and I don’t care. So I’m not going to believe blindly whatever they say.” 

“Who talks shit about you?” 

“My step-father and his friends.” 

“Didn’t know you had a step-father.” When she had told him she was alone after her mother died, Daryl had thought she didn’t have any other family left.  

“He’s a stupid asshole… Don’t want to think about him if you don’t mind. I haven’t seen him again since I left my mom’s home after she died anyway.” 

“It’s fine.” He never felt like thinking about his father either, and Daryl wondered if it was the same for her. The idea that maybe her stepfather had hurt her somehow made his blood boil, but he didn’t want to ask her if she didn’t want to talk about it.  

For a little while, none of them said anything, but Daryl noticed her looking at him through the corner of her eye. He still felt like holding her hand, but he was still unsure about it. Slowly, he shifted and itched his hand closer to hers until the side of his hand brushed hers softly, but he didn’t dare to anything else. 

Her hand moved over his slowly, as if she was unsure he’d flinch away, and when she seemed sure he was okay with it, warm and soft fingers laced with his, and somehow Daryl felt as if her warmth spread from his hand through his body, sending twirls to his belly, but he tried not to dwell on those feelings. 

“I know that you don’t deal.” Y/N she began speaking again and Daryl was glad about it, it made it easier to focus on something that wasn’t her hand on his. “And I’m pretty sure you don’t use either.” 

“I don’t.” Daryl rushed to say. He didn’t want Y/N to think he might, and part of him felt hurt at the idea of her maybe thinking it, though it was understandable. 

“Never?” She looked at him but Daryl couldn’t see any judgment or disgust in her eyes, just the same curiosity as whenever she got him talking about himself. Daryl shook his head. “Can’t be easy, with your brother dealing and all that, not to use.” 

It hadn’t been, with his brother and his friends getting high when he was with them, they trying to get him into it too, and Merle had tried to get him into dealing too, but somehow he’d never done one thing or the other, not even Daryl was sure of how. 

“I saw what that shit did to Merle. I wasn’t interested.” Daryl’d done some things that he later regretted while being wasted, which he didn’t feel like telling to Y/N, but when Merle got high it was even worse than when he was drunk. Usually, it was a dangerous combination. Taking drugs might be one of the only things Daryl hadn’t let his brother talk him into. 

“I wouldn’t like to see you like Merle was yesterday.” 

“I wouldn’t like it either.” 

“You shouldn’t have to deal with Merle like that, to put up with his friends and all that shit, and with people gossiping without knowing you. I wish you hadn’t to” Y/N seemed really upset about it all as she spoke, and Daryl didn’t know what to say, he still couldn’t understand that she’d care for him like that. “You could leave this shit place and all that like I’m going to do, go to the city too.” Daryl had been trying to ignore the fact that at some point Y/N was going to leave and he’d lose his friend and would be alone again, and now it hit him again. “You could go with me. You’re smart and resourceful, you could do well there.”  

Daryl scoffed and shook his head, he didn’t know why Y/N thought all that about him. She was the only reason why he’d ever leave the town and go to the city, but he knew he had nothing to do there. Besides, he couldn’t leave Merle, he was his brother and he owed him, or else he’d probably be still stuck with his father. 

“Nah.” 

“I knew you’d say that.” Y/N whispered with a sad smile. 

Daryl wondered if she thought she’d miss him like he knew she would miss her, if the idea of not being able to meet as they did again make her feel like it made him feel. Probably not, not at the same extent at least, Daryl knew how much she wanted to leave, and he understood it. It didn’t mean it made it easier to think about saying goodbye, about losing his friend, losing Y/N. He rather not think about it. 

Daryl tried to think about something to say, something to do, any way to get away from the mood that had settled between them. Reluctantly, he let go of her hand to rummage into his bag. 

“Are you hungry?”  

He’d been bringing Y/N food for the last couple of days or so, stuff he had hunted and then cooked, so she had something to eat before going to the club and she wouldn’t have to cook, and they’d eat together. He guessed it might help her save money too. 

“I told you, you don’t have to do this.” She’d tried to tell him he didn’t have to do that for her since the first time he had shown up with roasted rabbit, but until she told him she didn’t want him to, Daryl didn’t feel like stopping, he had enough food to share it with her, and he didn’t feel like he could do anything helpful for her in any other way. 

“Thank you, Daryl.” She smiled softly at him. “And you say you aren’t sweet…” She teased, and Daryl rolled his eyes, blushing and nudging her with his shoulder gently. “I’d never thought squirrels were this good.” 

Nerves knotted Daryl’s stomach as he rode to where he’d meet with Y/N, not in the woods for the first time but at the road outside it, right at the end of the town. It was the first time they met outside of the woods and it made Daryl nervous, even though he didn’t really know why, almost as nervous as showing her the bike he’d finally finished. 

The day before he’d told her about meeting at the outside of the forest, and Y/N had seemed confused but not in a bad way. At first, Daryl’d wanted to keep it secret that he’d finished the bike and wanted to show it to her, a surprise or whatever, but he’d ended up spilling it, unsure about her really being interested. 

Y/N had beamed at him, though, seeming excited, and the image of her asking him questions about the bike and about riding, asking him if she’d take her for a ride with him, helped ease Daryl’s nerves a bit and made him smile She was already waiting there and she grinned, rushing to him as he stopped the bike in front of her, looking from him to the bike with wide eyes. 

“This is so cool, I can’t believe you put it together yourself!” 

Her words, her smile, the excitement in her voice, all it made Daryl felt a sort of pride he didn’t think he had felt before. He felt a bit embarrassed too, couldn’t help it, but mostly he just felt happy, in a way he hadn’t really get to feel before, not until Y/N and he began meeting anyway. 

“You really are going to let me ride with you, right?” She was beaming at him, looking so excited and so cute, Daryl couldn’t help but grin like an idiot too. 

“Yeah, come on.”  

She didn’t lose time to get situated behind him, placing her hands tentatively on his waist, and Daryl tried not to stiff at the contact and to ignore the rush of electricity that went through him at her touch. 

“Ready?” 

“Yeah!” 

As he kicked the bike into movement, Y/N’s arms wrapped tighter around him, her body shifting closer to him, making it hard to ignore all those feelings that she gave him and that he fought hard to keep at bay. He couldn’t help but enjoy the feeling of her against his back and her arms around him, making the feeling of riding the bike, which he’d always loved, even better. 

“You okay?” He shouted at her over the rumble of the bike. He was going slower than he’d usually do for her sake, knowing it was the first time she rode on a bike, he didn’t know if she was going to like it or not. 

“I’m more than okay!” She shouted back. “I love this!” 

Daryl smiled, allowing himself to ride a bit faster, giddy at the idea of Y/N being enjoying it as much as him. He rode further than he had planned, riding through secondary roads in the countryside. After a while, he took a turn towards one of the small paths into the woods, stopping after a few meters. He turned to check on Y/N. 

“This was…this was like flying!” She said, excited, before he could say anything, her eyes bright. “I mean, I’ve never flown but this has to be the closest thing! I love it!”  

Daryl couldn’t help his grin at her words, glad she seemed to enjoy it as much as him, and wondering once again how she could be that cute always. Before he could say anything, Y/N had leaned over to plant a kiss on his cheek. He froze, heart beating fast, something fluttering in his belly, doing those twirls he didn’t know what to do with. Y/N looked at him biting her lip, seeming unsure, as if she might be wondering if she’d overstepped, and Daryl decided not to over think it. 

“Glad you like it.” He tried to sound casual. 

Y/N smiled and held onto his shoulders to got off the bike. She took off her backpack and began rummaging into it. “You’re always feeding me so today it was me who cooked,” she took out a package. “It’s just sandwiches, I’m not good at cooking, you’ll have to teach me.” 

“Thank you.” Daryl took the one she passed him, smiling, he couldn’t remember the last time someone made him food. 

Y/N looked around and then walked towards a patch of green, fluffy looking grass. She went to sit down there and Daryl sat down next to her, both eating their sandwiches as the sun began to go down. 

“I loved this Daryl, I really did.” Y/N looked at him with a smile that had his belly doing twirls again. “You’ll give me another ride soon, won’t you?” 

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Daryl returned her smile, he was as eager as her, weird, unwelcomed feelings be damned. 

“I have to go back, gotta work.” Y/N let out a sigh, sounding like it was the last thing she wanted to do in the world, and Daryl too wished they could stay there just a little bit longer. “I’m going to be late.” 

“I’m sorry.” Daryl got up and reached out his hand to help her up, looking away. 

“I’m not, it was worthy.” 

Daryl dropped her at the street parallel to the club, in case his brother and his friends had decided to go to the club and they might be outside or something. He couldn’t really explain why, but he didn’t want them knowing Y/N and him were friends, and at least he wanted to save them from Merle’s teasing. 

“You’re gonna get into trouble for being late?” 

“Nah, I don’t think so, I’m not that late anyway.” Y/N assured him, giving his shoulders a little squeeze as he got off the bike. “Thank you for this, really.” 

“It was nothing.” 

“It wasn’t. See you tomorrow?” 

“Sure thing.” 

Chapter Text

True to his word, Daryl took Y/N riding with him a couple more times, but most times they still met in that same clear in the woods. He was now sat down on a blanket, looking at Y/N as she sang a new song he hadn’t heard her before. She was sat down next to him, cross-legged, swinging softly from side to side.

Daryl loved to watch her sing. It wasn’t only that she had a beautiful voice, but how she looked while she sang, the dreamy smile that usually spread across her face as she did, the way in which her eyes closed sometimes, how passionate about it and how happy she seemed while singing. He knew she hadn’t it easy in life, even though she didn’t complain much, but when she sang it was like her worries and frustrations left her.

She finished the song and looked at him with a grin that took Daryl’s breath away and made his heart skip a beat. He’d been trying to stop those feelings she gave him, but they had just gotten stronger and stronger as they spent time together.

She looked at him in a way…Daryl couldn’t explain it, but it made him feel worthy, like he was something more than a good-for-nothing like he’d always felt. He still couldn’t understand that she’d decided she wanted to hang out with him in the first place, but the way in which she looked at him and spoke about him, saying all those things about him that Daryl couldn’t believe or see, it made him want to be better, made him want to be as Y/N thought he was. She seemed to like to spend time with him almost as much as Daryl liked to spend it with her, and he couldn’t understand it but he was grateful nonetheless.

She was beautiful, anybody could see it, but if only were that…she was smart, even though she didn’t think to seem so, and Daryl didn’t think he’d ever get tired of listening to her talking, and she was funny too, he always laughed more than he’d ever done while being somewhere when he was with her. She was cute and sweet, and kind, things Daryl wasn’t used to have in his life.

 Their time together was the highlight of his day, and when they were apart, his mind wandered to her more often than not without him being able to control it. He was falling for her, he knew it even though he’d never felt like that before. He’d been falling for her for a while now, but it seemed he was only seeing it now. It scared him and he knew he had to stop it, nothing good could come from that, but he didn’t know how. His heart betrayed him every time they were together, and butterflies would fill his belly every time he thought about her.

“What you think, then?” Y/N’s voice took him back to earth as she looked at him, cocking her head to the side. “Do you like it?”

“Yeah.” He nodded, she always sang well. “It’s good.”

“Thank you.” She grinned again. “I’m grateful you let me sing to you, it kind of feels like the only time someone actually listens to me.”

“I like it when you sing,” Daryl said shyly, hoping he wasn’t blushing. “But you have all those guys listening to you each night.”

Y/N scoffed. “I don’t think they really listen, all they want from me it’s that I take off my clothes and move my ass, they wouldn’t care if I wouldn’t sing as long as I’m naked, that’s what they got there to see.” She ranted, frustrated.

“That ain’t true.” Daryl knew she wished she could sign somewhere where she was truly appreciated for it, and he too wished she could, but she did get attention at the club. “I was there and when you began to sing even my brother shut up for a bit. They know you sang well, they like to hear you.”

“Thank you.” Y/N smiled but Daryl wasn’t sure if she believed him. “I still sing that song, the one you heard that night, do you remember it?”

Daryl nodded, he had seen Y/N and heard her singing in her mind for days after that night, and he still could, but he tried not to so he wouldn’t get all flustered.

“Oh baby, for all it’s worth   I swear I’ll be the first to blow your mind Now, if you’re ready, come and get me…”

Y/N half sang half hummed, and Daryl almost laughed at the irony. She’d blown his mind for sure, the first one to make him feel like that. Part of him wanted to be able to stop those feelings, but he also didn’t want to stop feeling like that.

“It was your birthday but you didn’t seem to be having fun.”

“I wasn’t.”

“You were looking at the floor, wouldn’t look up at me when I talked to you, kind of spike my curiosity…” Y/N looked at him through the corner of her eye. “It was…it was the place or it was because of me?”

“What you mean?” Daryl frowned at her.

“You looked like you wished you were anywhere but there, like you didn’t like the place, but maybe it was just that you didn’t like me.” She shrugged, looking down.

Daryl didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t liked her like he did now, didn’t know her yet, but still he had thought that she was beautiful and she sang well. That didn’t mean he hadn’t been embarrassed at having her talking to him like she did.

“It’s okay, sorry, I’m making everything awkward, it was a stupid question.” She combed a hand through her hair, letting it fall around her face as if embarrassed.

“It was the place.” Daryl rushed to say, he didn’t like seeing Y/N feeling like that. “Didn’t want to be there, my brother dragged me.”

“Yeah, you looked like you were forced to be there…and then your brother wanted me to give you a private show and I scared you.”

“Didn’t scare me,” Daryl grumbled, cheeks heating up in embarrassment. “I didn’t want to keep listening to Merle’s shit and I wasn’t interested in any show, private or not.”

“Yeah, I noticed.” She chuckled quietly, a small smile on her face, though still something seemed to be bothering her. Did she really think that he had left because he didn’t like her? That if Merle had called another girl, then his answer would have been different? Daryl thought it was silly, but she really seemed to think it.

“It wasn’t ‘cause it was you, I wouldn’t have wanted it from none. I don’t see the point on going to see half-naked girls that I don’t know.”

“And half-naked girls that you know?” Her question took Daryl aback and he didn’t know what to say, his face burning as he looked at her, he hadn’t meant it like that. She looked up at him and smiled softly. “I’m kidding, just weird conversations you have when your friend is a stripper.” She chuckled awkwardly.

“You’re my friend but I ain’t gonna go back to that club not even to see you sing.” He joked back, trying to overcome how flustered he was feeling, not wanting to read too much into her words, knowing that his feelings might turn them into something they weren’t. She laughed softly at that.

“Fair enough.” Her usual bright smile was back, helping Daryl relax again. “You got your private show anyway, though, and free.”

“Did I?” Daryl looked at her weird.

“Well, I bet not the one your brother had in mind, but yes, I sing for you almost every day, don’t I?”

Yes, she did, and Daryl couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his lips. “Ain’t free, I got you squirrels.” He joked, and she laughed.

“And I don’t have to do all those silly things and all that stupid stuff I say to the guys at the club so I get tips. It’s a win-win.”

“Silly stuff?”

“Yeah, like…” She sat up on her knees and suddenly her demeanor changed in a way Daryl couldn’t explain. “Hi sexy, glad to see you, thank you for coming to listen to me sing.” Even her voice sounded different as she spoke like that, and Daryl knew she was exaggerating but he got the idea. “Sure, you come to watch me sing, not to stare at my ass…” She wiggled her hips and Daryl looked away. “You want me to get closer…sure I’m doing it cos I like you, not cos you’re waving a bill at me, just like you come to watch me sing.”

“Told you, they like your singing more than you think,” Daryl mumbled, looking at her again, hating that she didn’t feel appreciated.

“Aw, that’s sweet of you, darling.” Y/N winked at him and Daryl’s heart skipped a beat even though he knew she was just playing, she was still using that voice. “What if you get some bills inside my bra and I sit here with you for a bit, uh?”

Y/N raised an eyebrow at him, wiggling a shoulder as she leaned towards him, and Daryl forgot how to breathe for a second. He tried to think of something to say, anything to overcome how flustered he was.

“Girl, only thing I could get in your bra is the roasted rabbit I brought you, so think it twice.”

She burst out laughing at that, back to herself. “I’d have it coming for being messing with you like this. I knew the moment I saw you that night that this shit wouldn’t work on you.” Daryl wondered if she was oblivious to how fast she made his heart beat.

“That’s why you thought I was interesting?” He asked shyly, looking down. “I mean…you told me you thought I was interesting…don’t know why you might have thought that…”

“Yeah, it was part of it, not only that, though.” She shrugged, looking down. “You’re an interesting guy…” Daryl scoffed at that. She must the only one to think that and he would never understand it. “You are.”  

She glanced at him through the corner of her eye, biting her lip, her cheeks tainted soft pink, and a small smile spread across her face when she noticed he was looking at her. Daryl couldn’t stop himself from thinking how pretty she was, he tried, but he couldn’t. 

Sometimes, like at that moment, when Y/N talked like that and looked at him in a certain way…he didn’t know what to think, but lately he’d been wondering if maybe, maybe, Y/N could feel about him a little bit like he felt about her. He couldn’t understand why someone like her could be interested in him like that, but he neither understood why she would want to be his friend, why she would care for him, and she did, so Daryl didn’t know what to think. 

He never asked, though, never gathered enough courage, never dared, scared of her rejecting him, of making things awkward, afraid she’d behave differently around him if she knew he was falling for her, maybe she would stop seeing him. 

Daryl realized he’d been starting at the lower lip she’d been chewing, and he quickly looked away. He tried to think for something to do or say to dissipate the strange feeling that had settled between them. He grabbed his bag and took out the latest book she’d lent him, passing it to her. 

“I finished it.” 

“Did you like it?” Y/N caressed the book fondly and Daryl wondered if it had been her mother’s. 

“Yeah, it was good. Kind of easy to guess who was the one murdering everyone.” 

“Well, you’re a smart guy after all.” Y/N smiled, and Daryl would have thought she was teasing him if it weren’t because she had said similar stuff before. He opened his mouth to reply but Y/N spoke before he could. “Just take the damn compliment for one.” 

She leaned closer, grinning, and Daryl surprised himself with how much he wanted to lean in and kiss her. He forced himself to pull away.

“Whatever.” He grumbled, though he couldn’t help the ghost of a smile that tugged at his lips.

“I can bring you another one tomorrow, if you want.”

“Okay.”

*

Daryl walked fast towards the clearing, he was late that day and he didn’t want Y/N to wait for him too long, she was usually already there when he arrived, waiting for him. Merle’s friends had been at home, drinking with Merle, and it’d taken Daryl a while to be able to sneak out.

When he reached the clearing, though, Y/N wasn’t there. Daryl knew it was stupid, but the first thought that went to his mind was that she had decided she didn’t want to see him anymore. Deep down, though, he knew it was ridiculous, she was just late. Later than she’d ever been. Which made him worried. Maybe something had happened to her.

Before he could worry too much, he heard someone rushing through the wood, and Y/N walked into the clearing. Her cheeks were pink and she was panting as if she’d been walking fast, but her face lit up when she saw him.

“Hey, sorry I’m late! I was worried thinking maybe you’d left already!”

“Nah. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, just…I called my friend Nora, the one I told you that moved to the city, and I lost the track of time while we spoke.” She flopped down on the ground, taking a bottle of water from her bag and taking a long sip. “We’ve been talking for hours, just venting to her, I don’t know how she just didn’t stop me after the first hour.”

Daryl sat down next to her, frowning as he looked at her. He thought she looked like she had cried, but he wasn’t sure. “There’s something wrong?”

“No, just…” Y/N  let out a sigh. “My step-father is a prick, but that’s nothing new.” She had told him that his step-father was an asshole, but Daryl had thought he was out of her life, and he tensed thinking he might have done something to her.

“What happened?”

“Just him talking shit about me, it’s not the first time, it’s not going to be the last…” Y/N shrugged, looking down. “I was at the supermarket and I heard two women speaking, one of them was my step-father’s neighbor, and she was saying how he’d told her that now I was working in a strip club, that I was probably a whore, that he always knew I was a lost cause and just shit like that. They turned around and saw me and they didn’t care, didn’t seem embarrassed or nothing, they just wrinkled their nose at me and kept talking.”

“Let them talk shit, people in this town are stupid gossipers, you told me yourself.” Daryl tried not to show how angry he was at what Y/N was telling him, he wanted her to think it wasn’t important, to forget it soon, so he tried to act as if it wasn’t a big deal. “They aren’t worthy. Just let them keep going with their shitty, stupid lives.”

He knew how it was to have people saying shit about you, how it could make you feel even if you tried to ignore it, even if you didn’t give a shit about them. He didn’t want Y/N going through it.

“I know.” Y/N gave him a weak smile. “I wasn’t expecting them to apologize or something like that when they realized I had heard them, just maybe that they’d look ashamed. I guess it was too much to ask. And I guess I should be used to my step-father talking shit about me.”

“Ain’t the first time?” It was being hard to sound calm when all Daryl wanted was to shut Y/N’s step-father’s mouth.

Y/N snorted. “He’s been talking shit about me since he started with my mom, especially after moving in. Telling his friends how I was insufferable, how horrible it was to be forced to live with me, how much I made my mom suffer, telling them and me how I was the worst thing to happen to my mom since she had me young and alone, how I had ruined her life, and shit like that…I never thought my mom would really think that but…dunno…”

Daryl was getting angrier and angrier the more Y/N spoke, but when he noticed her eyes getting wet, he didn’t think he could take it anymore, his blood boiling, all he wanted was to find Y/N’s step-father and punch the shit out of him.

“What did you say was his name?”

“I didn’t say it. It isn’t worth saying it. They aren’t worthy, you just said it.” Y/N looked at him as if she could read his thoughts. “It isn’t worth getting into any trouble ‘cause him.”

Daryl just hummed at that. He still thought Y/N’s step-father would be better with his nose broken.

“I don’t want to think about him, I don’t want to see him ever again, I want to pretend he doesn’t exist or whatever. Only thing I regret is that most of my mom’s books are still at their place…most of my shit too, but I don’t care about that…just the books and all my mom’s stuff.” Y/N shrugged, but it was obvious she was upset, and she rubbed her eyes, biting her lip as if she was trying not to cry. It made Daryl’s heart hurt.

“Why didn’t you get your things before you left?”

“It was…well, we had a big fight right after my mom’s funeral…it wasn’t pretty…we yelled, he slapped me, I pushed him, we yelled some more… and he kicked me out of the house, I barely had time to get some of my things in a bag and a couple of my mom’s books that I could sneak since he didn’t want me taking her things, before I had to leave.” She scoffed.  “I was an idiot, I should have fought back harder, should have told him to fuck himself. But honestly, at that moment…I just didn’t have any strength left. And now I don’t want to see him or talk to him ever again, and when I see that house I feel like crying so I don’t think I’ll ever be back.”

Despite how hard she was trying, a couple of tears rolled down her cheeks and she wiped them quick. The mad rage Daryl was feeling towards her step-father was only overcome by how much it hurt to see Y/N like that. He wanted to help her, to do something and comfort her, but he didn’t know how, and he could only look at her helplessly, feeling like someone was stabbing him.

Y/N looked at him with wet eyes and a weak smile, chuckling awkwardly. “Sorry, I thought I had vented enough yet here I am, telling you all this shit…”

“No, it’s okay.” He rushed to say. “I mean…it ain’t okay. You should get your things back, and your mom’s. I’d go with you.” He’d punch the prick until he apologized to Y/N on his knees too, but Daryl didn’t say that aloud.

“You’re sweet.” Y/N leaned over to press a soft kiss to his cheek and Daryl’s heart speed up for a different reason than anger that time. “Thank you, but no, I don’t want to go back there, don’t want to see him again. I don’t need my mother’s things to remember her. A picture would be nice, but well…I got my memories.” She shrugged, smiling sadly.

Daryl chewed on the skin around his thumbnail as he thought about Y/N’s words. He still wanted to make her feel better but he didn’t know how, but at least she wasn’t crying anymore. Her words had also gotten him thinking about his mom, whom he barely remembered. He’d never talked about her, not really, he’d tried talking once to Merle and he’d gotten so angry Daryl never tried again. He chewed on his nail as he tried to find the right words.

“My mom…she died too, when I was little.” He began quietly, eyes trained on the ground. “I don’t really remember her that much anymore, just glimpses. But I know she drank a lot and she smoked a lot. She was drunk more often than not, most of the time she was on bed…’til one day she passed out while smoking, the bed burned to ashes and so did her, there was nothing left.” Daryl bit his lip hard, trying to overcome a wave of emotion he hadn’t felt in a long while. “Don’t know what happened to her things, guess my father threw them away, not that she had much. I got nothing from her, I don’t even remember her face anymore, not really.”

Y/N didn’t say anything and Daryl didn’t dare to look at her, afraid of his emotions betraying him, afraid Y/N thought him weak and silly. Maybe he shouldn’t have told her all that, but he felt like sharing things with her, like he could tell her anything and she’d understand, she wouldn’t judge. She was the only one Daryl had ever felt like talking to about himself and about his private thoughts and ideas. Maybe he’d been mistaken.

Then he felt her shifting closer and her arms wrapped around him, pulling him into a hug. He felt her hand at the back of his head, gently coaxing him to bury his face on the crook of her neck, her fingers tangling in his hair, and she hid her face on his shoulder too.

It was warm and comforting, and nothing like Daryl had ever felt before, and Daryl thought he wanted to feel like that forever. He found himself snuggling closer but it didn’t seem like Y/N minded it, her arms tightening around him. They held each other in silence for a long while but still, when Y/N let go of him and pulled back it felt like too soon for Daryl, missing her warmth and the way in which her arms around him made him feel.

Y/N gave him a shy smile and Daryl looked away, he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed about having shared his feelings with her. He looked for something else to say, something to do, and he rummaged into his bag, pulling out the book she had lent him.

“I finished it.”

“You read so fast I only have like one book left to give you.” She smiled softly, taking the book and stroking her fingers over the worn out cover. “Did you like it?”

“Yeah, I think it’s the one I liked the best.”

“Good, it was one of my mom’s favourites.” Her smile was a bit brighter now, even though it was sad.

Daryl didn’t know what to say but Y/N didn’t seem to mind his silence. She opened the book, silently reading a random page as she leaned her head on his shoulder, and Daryl knew there was no point trying to fight the butterflies that twirled in his stomach.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was dark outside, the sun already down, but still Daryl made sure to stay in the shadows as he studied the house. Y/N didn’t know he was there, he hadn’t told her. He’d managed to get her stepfather’s name and address, thanks to one of Merle’s friends to whom now Daryl owed a favor or two.

Daryl didn’t know what to do. The asshole wasn’t yet at home, he knew he was still working, or that was what Merle’s friend had said. Part of him wanted to wait for him there and punch him until his knuckles bleed, but he knew it wasn’t the best idea, and he was afraid it might get Y/N intro trouble too. He was pretty sure nobody knew about their friendship, but maybe they had seen them together one of the very few times he had driven her to the club when they went out for a ride. Being a Dixon, it wasn’t easy to go unnoticed, so it’d be better if he wasn’t seen.

Besides punching the shit out of her step-father, Daryl wanted to get Y/N her mother’s books back, and maybe some of her things too if he could. He knew it was risky, crazy probably, but that was what he had gone there to do and he wasn’t going to go back now, that’s why he’d asked for the address and Ed’s schedule.

It had to be quick, sneak into the house, get the books, leave, all without being seen and before the prick arrived. First thing was how to get into the house. Trying to take advantage of the darkness, Daryl checked the windows, but all of them were closed. He knew the lock of the main door was a lost cause, but there was a smaller door at the side of the house and Daryl went to check it. The lock was sturdier and better than what Daryl had hoped, but he began trying to pick it anyway.

It wasn’t ideal, he’d hoped he’d find a window badly closed or a spare key hidden somewhere, picking the lock had been his last plan, but he wasn’t going to leave empty-handed now. He alternated between trying to pick it and checking none was around. It took him longer than he’d have wanted, and he almost gave up, but finally he managed to unlock the door.

Checking once again that there was none around, he opened the door and walked into the kitchen. The house was small, and first he went to the living room that could be seen from the kitchen, but he didn’t see any book around. There was a picture next to the tv, a man and a woman who Daryl guessed was Y/N’s mom. He wished he could take the picture for Y/N, but he knew her step-father would notice it and he didn’t want to risk it.

There were two bedrooms and Daryl walked into the main one. There weren’t books around either, though there was another picture that Daryl neither dared to take. Neither he dared to go through the drawers and he went to the other bedroom. If it had been once Y/N’s room, it didn’t seem like that now.

It was empty but for some old stuff that Y/N’s stepfather seemed to keep there. There were a couple of small boxes and Daryl wondered if it might be Y/N’s stuff, or just more of his stepfather things. As he knelt down, he noticed a small, broken frame lying behind the boxes, covered in dust. He picked it up and found a picture of a young woman, Y/N’s mom, and a very little girl that Daryl guessed was Y/N. Deciding that the asshole man wouldn’t notice it was gone, Daryl placed it into his bag.

He didn’t feel comfortable about going through the boxes, but he wanted to see if it was Y/N’s stuff or at least any of her mother’s books. When he was about to open one, though, he heard the sound of a car parking in front of the house. Shit. He had to leave quickly. He rushed to the kitchen and through the door just in time to hear the main door opening and closing, and he ran away from the house and the lamppost.

Once he was sure Y/N’s stepfather didn’t suspect anything, he made sure none was around and walked towards the car. Checking once again that none was looking, he took his knife and slashed the tires of the car. He still wished he could have punched Ed, but at least he could do that.

After one last check, he turned around and rushed away.

*

When Daryl walked into the clearing the next day, Y/N was already there, sat down on a blanket over the grass, waiting for him. She looked at him but didn’t say anything, didn’t smile, and Daryl’s stomach knotted with nerves. Was she angry with him? Had something happened to her? Did she know what he had done? He’d been pretty sure none had seen him.

“Hi…you okay?” He asked as he sat down next to her, studying her face, trying to read her expression.

“Hmm hmm.” She nodded as she seemed to study him too. “You?”

“I’m okay.” Daryl shrugged.

“Yeah? Sure you don’t want to tell me anything?” Y/N raised an eyebrow at him, pursing her lips, and Daryl looked away, trying not to seem guilty. “Alright, I’ll tell you something then. I heard more gossip today. Apparently, someone slashed my stepfather’s tires.” Daryl just hummed at her words, still looking down. “And it’s funny, but everyone seems to think it was me.”

Shit. Daryl hadn’t thought about that, hadn’t expected people to think it’d been Y/N who had done it, but sure, she’d reasons to do so, enough reasons to have everyone talking.

“I didn’t mean them to think it’d been you, I’m sorry.” He muttered.

“I knew it had been you! Why’d you do that?!”

“Cos he’d it coming, ‘cos what he did to you and the shit he says.”!” Daryl couldn’t help but snap.

Y/N looked at him, letting out a long sigh. “I don’t know what to do, say thank you, yell at you…” Daryl shrugged again as he began to chew on his thumbnail, anxious at the idea of Y/N being mad at him. Y/N seemed to notice and she shifted closer to him to press a soft, quick kiss to his cheek. “Thank you” She whispered. “But I don’t want you getting into any trouble because of me or that prick.”

“None saw me, ain’t trouble. He deserves worse. I didn’t think they’d believe it’d been you, I’m sorry.”

“I don’t care about that.” She shook her head “But he’s not worthy, you told me yourself, he’s not worth getting into trouble. Thank you, though.”

“It was nothing.” Daryl shrugged, he still thought that Y/N’s stepfather deserved worse than some slashed tires.

“It was not nothing…you’re amazing, you really are.” Y/N gave him a small smile and  Daryl blushed at her words. “But don’t get into more trouble cos that prick.”

Daryl chewed on his lower lip. She wasn’t going to like he’d gotten into the house, but he wanted to give her the picture he’d found anyway. “Got you something.” He took it out of his bag and gave it to Y/N, who frowned at it.

“Where did you find this?” She asked while running her fingers over the picture.

“Your old place…”

“You got into the house?” She sounded confused.

Daryl nodded. “When your stepfather wasn’t there…”

“What?!” She looked at him in disbelieve and Daryl just shrugged without looking at her. “Are you crazy?! What if he’d found you?! You would be arrested or worse!”

Daryl didn’t say anything, didn’t look at her. He hadn’t expected her to be angry at him and he didn’t know what to do. He hadn’t thought what was he going to say when he gave her the picture.

“You’re unbelievable.”

“Is that good or bad?” He dared to ask, and he heard Y/N letting out a long sigh.

“I don’t even know…just…I’m scared thinking what could have happened.”

“But are you angry?” He asked quietly and without looking at her, still anxious at the idea.

“’course I’m not angry.” Y/N nudged his shoulder with hers softly. “Just worried. I still think you’re pretty amazing, but don’t ever do anything like that again. I don’t want you getting into trouble, I don’t want anything to happen to you, especially not because of me or my prick of a stepfather.”

Daryl couldn’t promise anything. If her stepfather or anyone did anything to her, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to stop himself from wanting to help and do something.  He couldn’t help it, he felt the need to protect her. He nodded, though, not wanting her to be upset. Her concern about him made him want to smile, even in that situation, as he still found it hard to believe that she’d care about him like that.

“Thank you, this picture means a lot to me, Daryl.” Y/N smiled and leaned against his arm as she studied the picture. The first times he’d done that or that she’d casually rested her head on his shoulder, Daryl’d turned flustered, but not anymore, even though it still made him feel warm and sent twirls to his stomach.

“She was beautiful, right?” She said quietly, looking up and smiling, making his heart flutter. She stroked the picture again.

Daryl nodded. “She looks like you.”

“You saying that I’m beautiful?” She asked playfully and Daryl blushed but didn’t say anything. She just chuckled quietly and let it go. “Can you believe that she had me when she was about my age? That’s crazy.”

Daryl hummed and for a little while they stayed in silence. Y/N’s eyes were on the picture and she seemed lost in thought. Daryl guessed she was thinking about her mother and he hoped most of his memories of her were good.

“The other day, when I was talking with my friend Nora, she told me her boss is really nice, helps her a lot.” Y/N began. “She’s been working on her café for about three months. And she told her boss about me and she said she might hire me if she needs someone else…”

Daryl always tried to ignore the fact that Y/N wanted to leave to the city, and that eventually she would. Neither did she bring it up often, but whenever she did, it felt like a punch.

“Good.” He forced himself to mutter.

“Yeah, I guess.”

Y/N gave him a weak smile and Daryl felt bad for not being supportive. He knew how much Y/N wanted to leave, how much she hated their town, and he understood it. She’d be better at the city, he knew it, she was smart and talented, she’d do well there, better than in that town, underappreciated, with shit people talking lies about her. Yes, she would be better away from there, but still, that didn’t mean that the idea of losing her didn’t hurt.

“If a few months ago someone may have told me that a part of me might not want to leave this shit place, I’d have laughed.” Y/N chuckled quietly, shaking her head.

“What you mean?” Daryl frowned, confused and lost at her words.

“I mean that I cannot wait to leave…but that I don’t look forward to leave you. I’d miss you.” Y/N shrugged, looking down.

“I’ll miss you too,” Daryl said quietly, barely above a whisper.

“Then come with me to the city.” Y/N said, not for the first time. “I know you too think this place is shit. You’ll be better out of here.”

“Nah, I wouldn’t.” Daryl shook his head, he’d told her already. “I got nothing in the city.”

“You’d have me.”

Daryl’s eyes snapped up at her at that, but Y/N was looking down and he didn’t dare to ask what she meant. It didn’t matter anyway. He knew he had nothing to do at the city, he knew he was nothing, and the only reason why he got to do something in that town was his brother. And he couldn’t leave Merle, he owed him.

“I can’t leave my brother.”

“Why? You told me that he did leave you before.” He had, but then Merle had come back. “Why do you follow him like that, you’re always doing what he tells you.”

“I don’t.” Daryl snapped, but he too knew it was mostly true.

“Yes, you do.” Y/N snapped back. “And I don’t understand it, Merle’s a prick to you! You’d better off without him.”

“Shut up, that ain’t true!” Daryl barked, and he instantly regretted how harsh he’d been, but he couldn’t help it. Y/N didn’t say anything and Daryl forced himself to speak again. If only she could understand. “If Merle hadn’t come back I’d have been trapped with my father longer. All they said about him is true.”

“He sounds like a major prick. People used to say he was always drunk and getting into fights in the bars until he was kicked out and what not.”

“Yeah…and then he’d come back home and he’d take it out on me.” Daryl gritted his teeth, ashamed at how he’d been able to fight him back then. “Or just cos he hadn’t found booze…or cos anything, he didn’t need an excuse to beat the shit out of me.” He knew he’d done the same to Merle, that’s why his brother had left when Daryl was still little. But then he’d come back a few years ago, took Daryl with him, and he’d been living with his brother since then, free of his father.

Y/N didn’t say anything and Daryl began chewing on the skin of his thumb, nervous and embarrassed, he couldn’t help but wonder what might Y/N think about that, about him. He’d never told that to anyone, and now he felt insecure about having told Y/N. Maybe she thought him weak.

“It seems it’s me who has some tires to slash now.”

She sounded half teasing, half angry, and Daryl couldn’t help his snort at that, giving her a weak smile. Y/N always had that way of letting him know that she cared for him, always managing to make him feel better. Still, the idea of her trying something against his father was scary.

“You don’t ever get near my bastard of a father, you hear me?” He warned her and she nodded.

“Okay, promised…I mean, I know I have nothing to do against your father, look at me…” She shrugged. “But gosh, did I have the strength, I was going to slash something more than the tires of that asshole.” Even fuming she was cute.

“So now you understand why I did that to your stepfather.” Daryl nudged her shoulder with his softly as his way of saying thank you. “I should have done worse.”

“It’s not the same…”

“Anyway…” Daryl really didn’t feel like keep talking about his father. “When Merle came back he took me with him. I owe him.”

“I understand that you feel like that for your brother, but you have to look out for you too.” Daryl shrugged, didn’t really understand what she meant.

“I do. I got nothing to do in the city.”

“Okay, there’s no point on keep arguing about this…” Y/N let out a sigh and Daryl wondered if she was upset, but then she gave him a small smile. “I’m going to hug you, by the way. Just letting you know.”

Daryl snorted but couldn’t help his smile and he nodded. Y/N grinned and wrapped his arms around him, enveloping him in her warmth as she held him to her, and Daryl let himself hid his face on the crook of her neck as he tried once again to push to the back of his head the idea of Y/N leaving.

*

They had been following the track of a deer for an hour now, and Daryl thought it couldn’t be far. He looked at Y/N, who walked behind him, seeming excited. They’d been walking through the woods, just talking, when Daryl had noticed the deer prints. Y/N had told him she’d never seen a deer before, and so he’d decided to track it.

Soon, he caught sight of the deer ahead of them. He nodded at Y/N and crouched down. She did so too, and a lovely smile spread through her face as she looked at the deer with wide, bright eyes.

“It’s so beautiful!” She whispered as she grinned at Daryl before looking back at the deer as if marveled. When he aimed at it with his crossbow, though, she looked down, and Daryl hesitated, unsure of what to do. Finally, he decided not to kill the deer Y/N seemed to like so much.

“Come on, let’s go back,” he said as he lowered his crossbow.

“You’re not going to hunt it?”

“Nah, I got enough squirrels yesterday.”

As they were walking back, Y/N tripped on a root, cursing and tumbling, but Daryl grabbed her arm before she could fall down, steadying her. She whimpered and winced and Daryl released her arm immediately, afraid he’d grabbed her too hard.

“I’m sorry, didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“It’s okay, you didn’t.” Y/N assured him, though she rubbed her arm, wincing again.

Daryl nodded, but when he was about to start walking again, a suspicious driven by experience popped into his head. In any other case, he wouldn’t have dared to, but the thought was too strong for him to do nothing, and so he reached out to grab Y/N’s arm and lift her sleeve.

“What’re you doing?!” Y/N tried to pull his arm back but Daryl didn’t let her. There it was, the bruises he’d been afraid he might find.

“Who did this?” He growled. If it’d been her stepfather, then nothing was going to stop him from going to him.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s nothing.” She shrugged, looking away from him as she began to walk.

“It is!” He tried not to snap, not to sound angry and harsh, it wasn’t Y/N who he was angry at, but it was difficult. He took a deep breath, trying to calm down. “Why wouldn’t you tell me?” He tried to say softer, stopping in front of Y/N so she couldn’t keep walking away.

“’Cos I don’t want to worry you, and I don’t want you doing anything like when you went to my old house and getting into trouble.”

“It was him? Your stepfather?” He knew he was sounding harsh again, but he couldn’t help it, rage burning inside him.

“No.” Y/N let out a sigh and looked around, finding a log and going to sit down there. Daryl followed her and sat down next to her.

“It was a guy at the club. He was an idiot but you know I have to play nice.” She scoffed. “So I sang, I danced, I smiled at him, told him all that stupid bullshit, but it wasn’t enough. He said he wanted me for him only, that he’d pay me more, asking me to go out with him, always grabbing my arm to pull me closer while I tried to politely tell him to fuck off. The other girls noticed and some tried to distract him and help me out, but it was for nothing. And then he grabbed my arm hard and pushed me onto his lap, just grabbed me harder when I struggled.”

Daryl bit his lip so as not to say anything, letting Y/N speak, but it was being hard to control his anger, and he saw red when he noticed Y/N’s eyes getting wet.“Who was him?”He growled.

“I don’t know, I don’t care, a guy. Our guard kicked him out, I owe him…Just…don’t freak out. I just want to forget it.”

“Does that happen often?” Daryl tried to stay calm, for Y/N’s sake, but it wasn’t easy.

“Something like that hadn’t happened to me before, but a lot of guys try to touch us and what not, and some can get very…demanding. But usually you can shake them off more easily than that one.” Y/N let out a tired sigh. “At least in there I have the other girls and the guard, I’m more worried when I leave.”

“What you mean?”

“There are always some guys on the street, looking at me, and at first I was afraid thinking they were waiting for me to be alone or something…”

“Why you didn’t tell me before?!” He would have gone to check on her, make sure nobody did anything to her, make sure she was safe, make sure she wasn’t scared. Daryl didn’t know why he hadn’t thought about it before, why he hadn’t realized something like that could very well happen to Y/N. Even after all this time, it was hard to think that the girl who had sung in the club at his birthday and the girl who was sat down next to him now were the same.

Y/N shrugged. “Nothing ever happened, not beside them asking me to go with them and shit, saying bullshit. Until yesterday when that idiot began following me, but I ran and when I arrived home I’d lost him.”

That was it, Daryl couldn’t take it anymore. “Tell me who he was.”

“I told you I don’t know!” Y/N snapped, rubbing her eyes. “A guy, I didn’t ask his name, just a random prick, it was the first time I saw him there, hadn’t seen him around town before..”

Y/N seemed upset and Daryl didn’t want to keep making her talk about it, but neither he could just let it go. His blood was boiling, every fiber in him asking him to find that guy and punch the shit out of him. He was worried about Y/N, about something like that happening again, about someone following her when she was alone and her not being able to run away. It was scary and it made his stomach clench. He didn’t know what to do about it. After considering it for a couple of seconds, he took off the belt in which he kept his knife, pushing Y/N with it until she took it.

“Have it with you, if someone tries something any night, if someone follows you, you take the knife and if they don’t stop and leave you, you use it.”

“I don’t know if I could…” Y/N murmured, looking at the knife.

“You can, just scare them away.” He wasn’t sure Y/N would actually hurt someone, but he trusted she’d do it if she needed to, and at least now she had something to protect herself and threaten any bastard.

“This is…weirdly sweet.” Y/N gave him a half smile. “Sure you don’t need it?”

“Nah, I got another at home. Just keep it with you, okay?”

“Promised.” She nodded, and then her lips lifted up with a smile as she looked at the knife again. “Thanks, Daryl, you always have the most unexpected ways to take care of me, but I appreciate it. Thank you.” She smiled brightly to him, and Daryl found himself smiling back.

“Ain’t nothing. Come on, let’s go back.”

Chapter Text

Despite having given Y/N a knife, Daryl couldn’t shake off the fear of someone following her on her way home from the club, hurting her in any way. His mind wouldn’t stop thinking about it, worry making his stomach twitch in knots, until he couldn’t stand it anymore.

So there he was now, at the street of the club, hid in the darkness as he watched a couple of guys that were smoking at the outside of the club. He didn’t dare to get closer, he didn’t want people seeing him waiting for Y/N, picking her up, he knew that one way or another people would talk about it, and he still didn’t want them knowing about their friendship, they both endured enough shitty gossip as it was. Same reason why he’d left his bike and gone walking. He also wanted to watch the guys without them noticing him, see if any of them might be a threat, made sure none of them followed Y/N or tried anything.

Daryl didn’t know the exact hour at which she finished, just that it was about a couple of hours before the sunrise, and so he waited there for a long while, watching men leave the club until eventually, some girls began to walk out too. Some of them were approached by guys and Daryl tensed, but as the girls seemed to turn them down they didn’t seem to try to follow them or anything.

Y/N walked out too and Daryl was on alert in a second, ready to rush there if the guys tried something. They told her something, but when Y/N shook her head and began walking away, they just shrugged. One of them, though, kept watching her as she walked away, and Daryl stepped out of the shadows and walked closer. He stared at the guy, and if he’d been thinking about following Y/N, he seemed to decide he didn’t want an audience and he didn’t move.

Still wanting to make sure none would follow her, Daryl began walking through the street she’d taken, following her. Once he was sure none of the guys was coming, he walked faster to approach Y/N. Suddenly, she turned over, knife in hand.

“Leave me the fuck alone you creep, or I swear I-” She stopped mid-threat when she saw it was him, and a smile tugged at Daryl’s lip when she saw her standing for herself with the knife he’d given her. “Daryl? What the hell are you doing?! You scared me!”

“I’m sorry, didn’t mean to.” Daryl walked the couple meters that separated them to stand next to her. “Just wanted to make sure none followed you or nothing.”

“So instead you followed me.” Y/N blinked at him and Daryl shrugged. “I mean, thank you, but you could have just picked me up at the outside of the club so we could walk together.”

“Didn’t want them seeing us together.”

“Embarrassed about being seen with a stripper?”

“Nah, nah it ain’t that.” Daryl wasn’t sure if she was joking or not, but the idea of her maybe really thinking that hurt a bit.

“I wouldn’t mind them seeing us, actually I’d like it. None would try anything if you’re with me. I’d kind of feel safer.” Y/N shrugged, looking down as if embarrassed, and Daryl felt himself blush at her words. The idea of Y/N feeling protected with him at her side, thinking that she was safe if he was around, sent twirls to his stomach and a smile tugged at the corner of his lips.

“You did good on your own, though.” He nodded at the knife and Y/N snorted.

“Really? Did I look credible? ‘Cos I was so scared and shaking…”

“Nah, you were good.” Daryl had noticed her hands trembling, but he wanted to encourage her. “Come on, I’ll walk you home.”

Y/N grinned and reached out to take his hand and lace their fingers, making Daryl’s heart beat fast, and they both walked to her place hand in hand. When they stopped in front of her building, Y/N didn’t let go of his hand, and she stood in front of him.

“I’m a bit dead on my feet, but if you want to come in…”

It might be silly, but her offer and the idea of getting into Y/N’s home, made Daryl nervous. Besides, she looked beat. “Nah, you need to get some rest.”

“Okay.” Daryl thought she kind of sounded disappointed, but it might be his head.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow again.” He still worried about something happening to her at the outside of the club or on her way home, and now that he also knew Y/N liked it and felt safer with him, there was no way he wasn’t picking her up again.

“You’re the best.” Y/N grinned and planted a kiss on his cheek, and Daryl’s heart fluttered. “See you before, at the woods too?”

“Yeah, of course.”

*

During the next days, none of the guys at the club tried anything, and slowly Daryl began to relax. He’d wait for her at the corner of the street, watching her got out safe, and then she’d approach him and he’d walk her home. Daryl liked it, he liked that Y/N felt safer and that he wouldn’t have to worry, he liked to walk with her in the quiet and darkness, talking quietly to each other, and he liked how Y/N always reached out to hold his hand as they walked.

He didn’t like how much he liked it when she kissed his cheek every night as she said goodnight. How much he wanted her to kiss his lips, and how that feeling scared him. He was in love with her, he knew it, he’d seen it coming for a while, and he’d failed at stopping it. He also thought, sometimes, that Y/N might feel for him something too. But he never dared to explore that.

It scared him for several reasons, and he knew it was a bad idea. He was scared of asking Y/N and finding out that he was wrong, and making things awkward, and maybe getting her to stop being his friend. Maybe even if she wanted him in the same way he wanted her and if they started something more than a friendship, then Y/N might decide she’d been wrong and didn’t want him like that, she might realize he wasn’t good enough, and maybe she’d leave him.

Even in the best scenario, if Daryl dared to ask her to be something more than his friend and Y/N said yes, and didn’t grow disappointed on him, she was leaving to the city at some point. Daryl couldn’t help but not want her to leave, but he also cared enough for her to know she was better off that town and at the city, where she could have a better life, he knew she could. She was made for better things than that shit town.

If Daryl got to have her in the way he wanted her, and then she left, just the idea made him feel like his heart was being ripped, and he knew it’d hurt too much. He didn’t want to go through that. Neither did he wanted Y/N going through that, he knew that for some crazy reason she cared for him too, and it’d hurt her too when she left.

And so he still didn’t say anything, ignored the way in which his heart fluttered every night when she kissed his cheek and the way in which she sometimes looked at him after it, and never walked her into her place because somehow, it felt too intimate for him and the line he didn’t want to cross.

Daryl didn’t know if he was managing to achieve something just by not going into her place, though, he still couldn’t stop the beating of his heart and the twirls inside his stomach when she held him and kissed his cheek, or how much he loved to walk by her, Y/N telling him about anything, he loved to hear her talk. He loved her, and he didn’t know how to stop it, even though he knew he had to.

A couple of weeks passed like that, without any trouble, and everything was quiet, until the day it wasn’t.

Daryl’d been waiting for her at the corner as always, taking looks at the club from time to time to make sure everything was okay. He turned around the corner once again and saw Y/N walking out only to be stopped by a man who Daryl recognized as one of Merle’s friends, John or something like that. He didn’t know what to do, but as he saw Y/N shaking her head and John grabbing her arm roughly, he rushed to them.

“I’ve paid enough, now come on, you owe me!” He was yelling to Y/N as he backed her against the wall, grabbing her wrist and making her drop the knife she’d managed to take out.

“Leave her alone!” Daryl didn’t lose time to push him away from her as hard as he could.

“Hey, isn’t it baby Dixon?” John’s glare turned into an amused smile when he recognized him. “I thought you weren’t coming here again after that time you ran away scared of some boobs.” He chuckled. “Wait, wasn’t that the chick Merle wanted to get you? You want her now, is that? You’re too late, man.”

“Shut up!” Daryl growled.

“Or what? Fuck off or I beat the shit out of you, don’t care who’s your brother.” John threatened, his smile gone. “I’ve been throwing bills at her all night, a little attention is the least she owes me.”

“I owe you nothing, you prick.” Y/N snapped, getting behind Daryl. She reached out to take his hand and Daryl could feel how hard she was shaking. He squeezed her hand, trying to reassure her, and hoped they could get out of there without a fight, but with Merle’s friends, he never knew what to expect.

“Leave her alone.” He warned again but John didn’t seem to care, he was frowning at them both before his lips curled into a mocking smile.

“Seriously? You rather go with him? I mean, is this the first time or have you been fucking him?” John snorted and Daryl felt his cheeks heating up. “He’s nothing, sweetheart, you’d better fuck his brother if you want to get something out of it. Little Dixon here’s not worth nothing but the brother he has.”

“Shut your mouth!” Y/N hissed before Daryl could say anything, and he was surprised to notice her trying to go for John, but Daryl tugged at her hand, keeping her behind him.

“That was cute.” John chuckled mockingly. “Now, come on, you’re gonna pay what you owe.”

He tried to grab Y/N again and Daryl punched him, sending him tumbling backward as John didn’t expect it. He managed to deliver another punch before John reacted, punching him back, and Daryl tasted blood as he felt a burning pain on his lip. John tried punching him again and Daryl managed to dodge him, but the next blow hit his stomach,  knocking the air out of his lungs and making him lose his balance enough for John to throw him to the ground with him on top, pinning him down.

“Stop!” Daryl heard Y/N’s panicked voice and then he saw her trying to pull John away from him, but he just pushed her hard, making her fall down. Daryl hit his knee up into John’s gut, making him grunt and lose his grip on him slightly but before Daryl could break free, John pinned him hard to the ground again, delivering another punch to his face, and Daryl tried to ignore the pain as he kept struggling, kneeing and kicking John without managing to push him off him while he kept his arms pinned down.

Daryl noticed Y/N crawling towards the knife and he shook his head, he didn’t want her risking it and ending up hurt. He head-butted John hard on the face and he’d almost managed to break free of his grasp when he pushed him roughly against the ground again, hitting the back of his head hard and making his vision turn blurry for a couple of seconds. Next thing he noticed was John getting pulled away from him, and when he saw his brother pushing him hard and away from him, Daryl thought he might have knocked his head a bit too hard and was seeing things.

“What the shit are you doing beating my baby brother?!” Merle growled, sending John against the wall.

“He was asking for it!” John spat, but Daryl could see the fear in his eyes as his brother pinned him to the wall by his throat. Daryl got up and rushed to Y/N, who was getting up too, and she got behind him again, clutching his arm as she shivered.

“Yeah? Was him?”

John didn’t dare to say anything else and Merle let go of him, shoving him to the side. “If I ever see you near my baby brother I’ll end you, you get it? And I don’t want to see your shitty face ever again.” He threatened lowly, danger clear in his voice, and John glared at Daryl but nodded and rushed away.

Merle turned to look at Y/N and him, the scowl and threat on his face disappearing as his lips twitched into a smile. “Wait, wait, you got into a fight for a chick?! That’s my baby brother!” He guffawed. “You finally made me proud!”

“Shut up!” Daryl’s face was red in anger and now in shame too as his brother laughed.

“Come on, lil’ bro! You got the girl, don’t be a prick! I won’t even ask you to share even though I helped!” Merle laughed loudly.

Daryl said nothing, turning on his heels to leave, rushing away from his brother and the club, and taking Y/N with him as she kept her tight hold on his arm. “Enjoy your prize! Tell me about it tomorrow!” He heard his brother yelling, followed by another big laugh.

“Daryl.” Y/N called his name once they were away from the club, but Daryl didn’t even register it over the beating of his heart into his ears as he shook in rage and shame. “Daryl.” He heard her this time and Daryl realized he was practically dragging her behind him without having even looked at her or said anything to her.

“Shit…sorry…” His breath was uneven still but he tried to calm down for her shake. “Are you okay?” He looked at her, checking for injuries, noticing how she was still shaking and seeming scared. He hated it.

Y/N didn’t say anything, instead, she wrapped her arms around his shoulders to hold him tight, burying her face into his chest. Daryl wrapped his arms around her too, holding her to him, and his heart clenched when he realized she was crying. Daryl knew he wanted to comfort her and help her, but he didn’t know how, and he didn’t know what to do. He placed a hand at the back of her head, tentatively running his fingers through her hair.

“It’s okay, you’re safe.”He whispered as he held her, noticing her still shivering. “Ain’t letting none do anything to you.” He swore it, that was the last time something like that happened to her, he wouldn’t let it happen again, no matter what.

Y/N looked up from his chest, her eyes still bright with tears. She reached up to brush her knuckles over his cheek, and even though it was gentle, it hurt, and Daryl couldn’t help his wince.

“Shit, Daryl…I’m sorry.” She tried to hide her face on his chest again but Daryl placed his knuckles under her chin to gently make her look at him.

“You got nothing to be sorry about.”

“I do. You got hurt. Daryl, I’m sorry.” Tears began falling down her eyes again, wetting his shirt when she buried her face into his chest again.

“That wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t.” Daryl hated the idea of Y/N blaming herself, and he wished he could make her stop, as much as he wanted to make her feel better. “Come on, I’ll get you home, alright?”

Y/N nodded but didn’t let go of him and Daryl wrapped an arm around her shoulders, keeping her at his side as they walked. He could feel her sniff and shake but slowly, she began to calm down. Once he stopped in front of her building, Y/N stopped to look at him, lifting her hand to caress his face again but stopping as if afraid she might hurt him.

“Come in, please. Just let me clean you up a bit.”

She looked at him with begging eyes and Daryl found himself nodding, despite all his previous apprehension at getting into her place with her. He didn’t want her to be alone after what had happened, and he could feel blood on his face and how one of his eyes was starting to swell. He must look like a mess. Y/N smiled weakly and took his hand as she walked him into the building and to her flat.

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, it’s a mess.” Y/N apologized, embarrassed, as she opened the door of her flat and walked him inside.

Daryl looked around at the tiny apartment but there was nothing that was Y/N’s, which he knew it was normal since she’d had to leave most of her stuff behind when she left her old house. There was only a small room, besides the tiny bathroom that he could see through a half-closed door, with a small kitchen at one side of the room and a sofa that had been pulled out as a bed at the other side. In the middle of the room was a table with some books, the only thing in the flat that were truly Y/N’s.

Y/N walked him to the bed, pushing him down to sit on it and Daryl was flustered, something twirling inside his belly at being sat down on her bed, but he tried to ignore it.

“Wait a second.”

Y/N went to the bathroom, coming back with some disinfectant, gauze pads, and a washcloth. She dropped it all onto the bed and made for the kitchen, and Daryl watched her as he filled a bowl with warm water before making his way back to him. She knelt down next to him and dipped the washcloth into the warm water.

“Thanks.” He told her quietly.

“Don’t thank me, you ended up like this because of me.” Y/N berated herself.

“No, it wasn’t your fault, I told you.”

Y/N just shrugged and began to carefully wash the blood off his face. It hurt and he knew there must be quite a few bruises forming, but Daryl tried to keep it down, knowing Y/N was worried. Still, when she began to carefully dab disinfectant into the wounds on his lip, his eyebrow, one of his cheekbones, he couldn’t help but wince.

“I’m sorry.” Y/N whispered, biting her lip.

“It’s okay.”

“It’s not…” She trailed her fingers over his cheek ever so slightly and Daryl closed his eyes, leaning into her touch.  It hurt, but it felt so good too. “I hope nothing of this needs stitches…”

“Nah, I’m fine.” Daryl opened his eyes when he noticed her pulling back and he watched her as she went to the kitchen to rummage into the freezer, and then she wrapped some ice-cubes with a cloth. She knelt down next to him again and pressed the cloth to his swollen eye. Daryl hissed in pain, couldn’t help it, and Y/N winced, opening her mouth as if to apologize again, but he didn’t let her.

“No, stop. It wasn’t your fault.” He tried to assure her again and Y/N said nothing, just looked at him with sad eyes that he hated.

“I know you didn’t want your brother or anyone knowing that we’re friends. I’m sorry.”

“Nah, nah, I don’t care.” They could talk all they wanted, as long as they left Y/N alone. “Besides, now they know to better not try to hurt you.”

He wasn’t too sure of that, though, if Merle hadn’t shown up then Daryl wasn’t sure he could have come on top of the fight, but at least now he was more or less sure John wouldn’t try anything again, and he hoped none else would try to mess with Y/N if now they knew he was going to stand for her. At least, he hoped it helped Y/N feel safer, even though she’d kind of seen him get beaten by the guy he was trying to protect her from. Shame knotted his stomach, but the way in which Y/N was looking at him helped him feel a bit better.

“Have I told you how amazing you are? I don’t think you know how much.” She told him quietly and Daryl blushed, couldn’t help it, and he scoffed. “No, don’t do that.” She chided him. “You are. You are the best.” The way in which she spoke and looked at him was almost enough to have Daryl believing her words, but not quite. He was grateful nonetheless, but he couldn’t find words to say it.

“When that prick said that shit about you…I wanted to punch him, or stab him, or something.” Y/N grumbled, her eyes lighting with anger, and Daryl felt again that rush of warmth and affection as he could see once again how she really cared that much for him. He remembered how she’d tried to go for John as he scorned him, no matter she’d been scared.

“Thank you.” He whispered, he didn’t know how to tell her how much all that meant to him, how he was feeling, how she made him feel.

“No, thank you. If you hadn’t been there…” She shuddered.

“No, don’t think about that.” Daryl placed his hand on top of the one that was holding the cloth to his eye, and she gave him a weak smile.

The ice cubs began to melt and Y/N pulled back the cloth, using a dry end to wipe the moist from Daryl’s face, and he tried not to wince again. She dropped the cloth and everything else onto the floor and turned to look at him again. She caressed his face with her fingertips again, ever so slightly so as not to hurt him, and when she ran his fingers through his hair Daryl couldn’t stop his eyes from closing as he almost purred.

He felt her lips kissing his cheekbone softly, under his swollen eye, and then on his forehead, above his split eyebrow, before she rested her forehead against his softly, and Daryl was once again overwhelmed by those warm feelings.

Daryl opened his eyes when Y/N pulled away to find her looking at him in a way that almost took his breath away, and he wondered if Y/N could see in his eyes the affection he saw in hers. It’d be so easy, to lean in and kiss her that Daryl almost gave in. He pulled back, taking a deep breath, trying to get a hold of himself and pull away from the atmosphere that had been created between Y/N and him.

“Are you hurt?” He rasped. Y/N seemed mostly fine, but Daryl wanted to make sure.

“No, I’m okay.” Y/N answered but Daryl lifted his eyebrows at her, wanting to be sure. “Nothing worse than a couple of bruises.”

“Let me see.” He asked softly and Y/N seemed hesitant but then she took off the shirt she wore over her tank top.

One of her arms had some scrapes and bruises from when she’d felt to the ground, and both arms had more bruises from John’s hands as he grabbed her hard. Her wrist was bruised and swollen from when John’d squeezed it until he made her drop the knife. Daryl felt anger rising inside him again but he tried to control it.

Daryl took the bowl of water and the washcloth and began to wash the scrapes of her arm gently, and also some that he found on one of her hands too, and then he carefully dabbed disinfectant on them, flinching every time Y/N winced.

“Thank you.” She said quietly, and before Daryl could say anything, she’d wrapped her arms around him, holding him carefully as if she was afraid of hurting him. Daryl knew he’d more bruises under his clothes, it hurt when he breathed deep, but he didn’t care about it as he held Y/N to him. “It was my lucky day when I met you.”

It’d been Daryl’s too, he was sure, but he couldn’t get himself to tell her, just the same that he couldn’t get himself to explain to her how much she meant to him. He just didn’t know how to, couldn’t find the words, couldn’t find his voice, nerves getting the best of him every time he considered trying. He just hoped she knew anyway.

Y/N pulled away, looking at him intently, reaching out to gently caress his less bruised cheek before cupping it and leaning in. Daryl knew what was coming but he couldn’t get himself to say anything, to stop it, he wasn’t sure he wanted to.  Y/N’s lips met his, tentatively, and Daryl’s felt as if his heart stopped before it started beating so fast that it felt like bursting out of his chest.

The wound of his lip hurt as her lips brushed his softly but Daryl couldn’t care, he barely felt it, one of his hand moving to her neck on its own accord, fingers tangling into her hair as Y/N kissed him again and again. It was wrong, he knew it. He’d told himself it couldn’t be, it couldn’t happen, it was for the best. He tried to remember it. It’d just make everything hurt more. It was like he didn’t care, though, unable to not kiss her back.

“Stop.” He whispered against her lips, but he didn’t pull back, couldn’t.

Y/N did, though, stopping when he asked her to, pulling back and looking at him confused. Daryl swallowed hard, trying to recover his breath, trying to think clearly again.

“Daryl?” She called for him and he could only shake his head, not trusting his voice, not sure about what he wanted to say. “Sorry…I thought…I’m sorry.” Y/N shifted away from him, seeming embarrassed and sad, and Daryl felt bad thinking she thought she didn’t like her like that, no matter he knew it was for the best.

 “We can’t. You’re leaving.” He tried to explain, hoping she’d understand without him needing to tell her how it’d tear his heart apart if she left after he’d gotten to kiss her, to be with her like that. It hurt enough as it was, a lump knotting his throat every time he thought about the day Y/N’d leave.

“What if I don’t?” She retorted.

It took Daryl aback and he started at Y/N, considering her words. It was crazy to think that she might consider to stay and be with him, but it seemed it was what she meant. It made him want to tell her to not leave, to stay with him, but he knew he couldn’t do that. It wasn’t fair for her.

That day had just proven again why Y/N’d wanted to leave, Daryl didn’t want her to go through something like that again. Even when she managed to leave that club, Daryl knew people’d keep gossiping bullshit about her, and how it affected her more than what she wanted to admit. Besides, in that town she couldn’t have the life she wanted.

Like Y/N, most people that wanted to make something with their life left that place. It wasn’t fair to ask her to stay when he knew she’d have a better chance at the city, she’d be happier there, she’d have a better life. He knew she would. At the very least, way better than the one she could have in that town that she resented.

He loved her, he couldn’t ask her to stay stuck in a place she hated, having a dull life, giving up everything he knew she could achieve at the city, only so she could be with him. She’d realize it, sooner or later, even if she stayed, and then she’d leave him anyway.

It couldn’t be. Daryl didn’t know how to tell her all that, though, how to make her see. It was hard enough to convince himself of it.

“You’re leaving.” It was the only thing he could say. It was true, it was a fact, and it was what he knew she needed to do, no matter how his body screamed at him to just shut up and kiss her again.

“Okay.” Y/N nodded, looking down, shifting further away from him, and Daryl felt like someone punched his stomach when he noticed her eyes getting wet. He didn’t know what to do, he hadn’t meant to make her cry.

Y/N noticed him looking at her anxiously and she rubbed her eyes. “Shit…sorry…just…” She took a long breath, trying to get a hold of herself, and Daryl felt like crying himself looking at her in distress. He reached out to take her hand, squeezing it softly, and Y/N seemed a bit surprised but she squeezed it back. “Just…it’s been a long day.”

Daryl nodded. “You have to get some rest, I’ll leave so you can sleep.” He tried to get up but Y/N didn’t let go of his hand, holding it tighter.

“No, wait, wait…stay for a little bit longer please?” Her wet, sad eyes begged him and Daryl couldn’t say no, nodding and settling down beside her again.

Y/N pulled at the hand she was holding until she made him wrap his arm around her and she looked at him, seeming hesitant and doubtful so Daryl tightened his arm around her to show her it was okay. Y/N smiled sadly and shifted closer to him, snuggling against his chest and tucking her head under his chin.

She didn’t say anything and neither did Daryl, overwhelmed once again by the feelings that holding her like that gave him. He wrapped his other arm around her too, holding her to him, and he ran his knuckles up and down her arm softly. He felt her relax on his arms until eventually, she fell asleep.

Daryl didn’t move, holding her for a little while as she slept, but eventually he shifted to lie her down on the bed, resting her head on the pillow and shifting the sheets to cover her. Y/N stirred, trying to blink her sleepy eyes awake.

“Stay…” She murmured, trying to take his hand again, but Daryl regretfully pulled away. The temptation to curl himself around her and hold her while she slept was too big, and Daryl knew that if he gave in, there was no way he could tear himself away from her after it.

“Sleep.” He whispered, kissing her forehead and loving too much the small, sweet smile that tugged at Y/N’s lips at that. She was still half asleep, and so thankfully soon she was asleep again.

With a last glance at Y/N, Daryl left her place and just spent the next hours wandering through the town, not wanting to face Merle, lost in his thoughts.

*

During the next days, nobody bothered Y/N again. Daryl didn’t knew if it was because they saw him waiting for her outside the club, or if people knew about his fight with John and maybe they thought he’d some kind of claim over Y/N, which Daryl wasn’t sure how it made him feel, or if maybe they knew about Merle’s threat to John and didn’t want to risk it.

Whatever it was, Daryl was grateful for it.

The only downside was Merle continuously teasing and asking him about Y/N, to which Daryl never replied. He knew Merle taunted Y/N too whenever he went to the club, but she hadn’t given him many details, and Daryl wasn’t sure if he actually wanted to know the stuff his brother said or not.

Sometimes he wondered about going to the club, just to see it by himself, but he didn’t look forward to going in there again, and he didn’t feel comfortable with it. Y/N didn’t seem to like the idea of him going either, as if it embarrassed her somehow, and so Daryl never did.

He didn’t hide anymore when he walked Y/N to the club or went to pick her up, walking her to the door and then coming back to wait for her outside, wanting to be sure everybody could see she wasn’t alone.

Practically every late afternoon, they would meet at the woods, and then they’d eat together before she had to go work. Daryl always walked her to the club, she now got ready there instead of at home, and then he usually went to pick her up on his bike. Sometimes he felt like walking her home instead of riding, so they could spend a little bit more of time together, just walking and talking, and so sometimes he ditched the bike and just walked her home, which Y/N didn’t seem to mind at all. Somehow, whenever he walked her home, his arm would find his way around her shoulders, he couldn’t help it, and Y/N didn’t seem to mind that either, always snuggling to his side.

Neither of them had talked about the kiss they had shared, but Daryl had noticed some subtle changes in their relationship, in the way they behaved with each other, something that didn’t seem either of them could stop, but that was never acknowledged. It was his arm around her shoulders when he picked her up at the club and they walked at night. Or his hand at the small of her back when they walked through the woods. It was Y/N holding his hand when they sat down on the woods, talking and talking. Or the way in which she held him a little bit more tight than what was necessary when she rode behind him on his bike. Or how she hugged him and kissed his cheek whenever he dropped her at the club or at her place.

Daryl knew Y/N could see it too, but neither of them talked about it. Daryl tried to tell himself it was for the best. It wasn’t that different from how they had behaved before, but it felt different now, there was something between them, Daryl didn’t know what, and it was driving both of them crazy but neither of them seemed to know how to stop it. It was that rush of electricity when they laced their fingers, or the flow of warm affection when they held each other. It was overwhelming and Daryl loved it as much as he hated it.

Daryl’s mind had wandered once again to it all as he walked to the woods, and he tried to push it all to the back of his mind again. He found himself sometimes wondering about it, about their relationship, when he and Y/N were together, and then Y/N would ask him what was he thinking and he’d get all flustered.

He walked into the clearing, the same as always since that first day they met, and he saw Y/N there sat down on a log. Even from afar he could see that something was wrong, she looked sad, he could read her good by now, and fear gripped him. Had someone done anything to her? Tried to? Maybe it had been just gossip?

“What’s wrong?” He asked as he rushed to her, and Y/N looked up seeming a bit startled, as if she’d been lost in thought.

“Hey, Daryl, hi.” Now that he was close, it was more obvious that she’d cried, and her voice sounded sad too. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“It is.” Daryl tried to keep his fear at bay but he didn’t know if he managed. “Tell me. Did someone do anything to you? Tried to? Did they tell you anything?”

“No, no, slow down. It’s nothing like that, nothing’s wrong.” Y/N reached out and took his hand, her thumb stroking over his knuckles as if trying to reassure him that everything was okay, but Daryl could still see there was something off with her.“ It’s just…my friend Nora called this morning. Her boss is going to hire someone, and you know Nora told her about me.” She took a long breath. “So I have a chance at getting the job, she’s offered it to me. All I have to do is go to the city and talk to her.”

Daryl tried to process Y/N words. He didn’t know what to say. Didn’t even know what to think.  Y/N was leaving? He’d known, since that first day they met at the woods, that this day was coming, and still, he couldn’t believe it was going to happen.

Chapter Text

“So you’re leaving?” Daryl had known it was coming but it still didn’t feel real. He wished it wasn’t.

“Maybe?” Y/N shrugged, her voice sounding small.

“When?”

“As soon as possible. I’d be there tomorrow already if it were for them, she needs someone already, she wants to meet me and make sure I’m good for the job and all that…” Y/N looked at him with unsure eyes, and Daryl still didn’t know what to say.

“Okay.” He muttered.

“I could not go.”

“Why?”

Y/N just shrugged, looking down. She had to leave, Daryl knew it, despite the pain he felt as his brain began to catch up with what this meant. He didn’t want her to, but he knew it was the best for her, he had to help her with it, however he could, even if it hurt. She’d gotten lucky to have someone offering her a job with a friend, she couldn’t let that go. She’d have a better life in the city. She’d be happier. She was wasting away in that town. Daryl kept repeating himself that as a mantra.

“You gotta go. Your friend is there, and you kind of got a job. You know you’ll be better than in this shit place. How long have you been wanting to go? It’s your chance now.” Daryl didn’t know how he managed to deliver all that and sound convincing, but he thought he did.

Y/N nodded, still looking down. “Won’t you miss me?”

“Of course I’ll miss you…” Daryl couldn’t believe she’d ask him that when he was already feeling like an arrow was piercing through his heart.

“I’ll miss you too…enough to not want to go…” She said as she fidgeted.

“You gotta…” Daryl forced himself to say. She wasn’t making it easy, and he didn’t know how long he could stay strong and not ask her to stay. But if she stayed, she would eventually regret it, he knew it, and it’d be also Daryl’s fault.

“Then come with me.” She asked once again and Daryl scoffed, turning away from her.

“We talked already, you know I won’t.”

“You should-”

“I told you no.” He snapped. Daryl didn’t know how Y/N could still not see how there was nothing for him out of that town, he wasn’t like her. He was nothing, all he had he owed it to his brother. There was nothing for him at the city…nothing besides her, told him a tiny voice that he forced himself to ignore.

“Okay.”

Daryl regretted having sounded harsh, and without looking at her he reached out to take Y/N’s hand, and she laced her fingers with his, both of them silent for a little while.

“Okay…okay, guess I could leave tomorrow, there’s a bus to the town that leaves before lunch I think…” Y/N said quietly.

Daryl just hummed and nodded, not trusting his voice. He’d known since they become friends that Y/N would be leaving at some point, and that he should be ready for it. But at some point he’d stopped thinking about it, or he’d seen it as far away, and now that the day had come he wasn’t sure he could deal with it. It still didn’t feel real, and he hadn’t thought it would happen overnight. Daryl felt like crying and it embarrassed him.

“Daryl…” Y/N called for him in a small voice but he couldn’t look at her, afraid he’d be overcome by emotion. “I’m scared about going…”

He had to look at her at that and he hated the insecure look on her face and how her eyes seemed wet. “Why?”

Y/N just shrugged and Daryl shifted closer to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. “Don’t. You always wanted to, yeah?” Y/N shrugged again but nodded. “You’re gonna do good there, you’re gonna do great.” He tried to assure her. “You ain’t even there yet and you almost got yourself a job already, uh? And your friend’s there, you’ll be with her. Everything’s going to be okay.”

“Thank you.” Y/N whispered before wrapping her arms around him and snuggling to him, and Daryl buried his face into her hair, taking a deep breath. “If I’m leaving tomorrow then there’s no way I’m working this night. Fuck it,” Y/N said when she looked up from his chest with a sad smile. “Would you give me a ride somewhere?”

Daryl nodded. Maybe riding could help take the pain away, make it more bearable. He wasn’t very hopeful, but he could try. And if that was in fact the last evening Y/N was there, then he wanted to spend it with her.

They rode away from the town, to the countryside, stopping on a meadow where they could see the sun go down. They sat down there in silence, his arm around her shoulders as she snuggled to his side, enjoying each other company for as long as they had left.

“We should go back,” Y/N said regretfully when it began to get dark. Daryl didn’t want to leave, but she was right, and staying there didn’t mean that Y/N wasn’t leaving. He reminded himself one more time that it was for the best. He had to support her on that, be strong for her.

“Yeah, come on, I’ll drop you home.” He nodded as he helped her up.

“Could we stop by the club before?”

“Thought you didn’t want to go?”

“I want to say goodbye to the girls, they’ve been good to me.” Y/N shrugged with a sad smile. “And pick up some things I have there.”

“Alright.”

It was dark already when they stopped at the club, Daryl waiting for her at the outside until she came back again, and then they rode to her place. He stopped the bike in front of her building and Y/N got off it, reaching out her hand to him.

“Come here.”

Daryl took her hand and dismounted, letting Y/N pull him into a hug. He held her tightly to him, hiding his face in the crook of her shoulder, feeling like crying and trying not to. He still couldn’t believe she was leaving in the morning. It didn’t feel real, but it was, and it hurt.

Daryl didn’t know how long they stood there, holding each other, until Y/N looked up at him, reaching up to cup his face and pulling his lips to hers for a kiss.

“What’re you doing?” Daryl muttered against her lips, unable to not kiss her back.

“Kissing you.” She whispered before kissing him again.

“Why?”

“’Cos I want to. ‘Cos I like you.”

“No, I mean,” Daryl forced himself to pull back and ignore how Y/N saying she liked him made him feel. “You’re leaving. You’re leaving tomorrow.”

“And I don’t want to regret not having kissed you.” Y/N pulled him to her again, locking her arms behind his neck. “Please, Daryl, please…” She whispered, her lips brushing his softly, and Daryl couldn’t stop himself from kissing her anymore.

Y/N led him to her flat, and Daryl knew it was a bad idea, it would only make it hurt worse in the morning, but he couldn’t make himself stop, couldn’t care, letting Y/N push him to sit down on her bed, wrapping his arms around her tightly when she sat on his lap, his lips eagerly meeting hers as she kissed him over and over.

Daryl lost all sense of time as they kissed, his mind blessedly empty of anything that wasn’t Y/N and the way in which she felt wrapped around him, her lips on his. He gasped against her lips when he felt her hands sliding under his shirt, warm fingertips drawing patterns over his skin, making him shudder.

“You okay?” Y/N pulled away from him just enough to ask, and Daryl nodded, not finding his voice. Y/N pulled at his shirt as if to take it off, waiting for him to say something and Daryl nodded again, trying to overcome the nerves that suddenly gripped him.

She took her shirt off too and the rest of their clothes followed soon, before she settled back onto his lap. Daryl was shy, couldn’t help it, but the way in which Y/N smiled sweetly at him before kissing him again helped made his shyness ebb slowly. Her fingers trailed down his back softly, stroking the length of the scars that she found on her way as she pressed a kiss to his temple.

Daryl was hesitant at first but soon his hands began to gently run over her soft skin too. He nuzzled into her neck, breathing in her scent before pressing tentative kisses over her neck and collarbone. She felt her shiver and her arms wrapped tighter around him, encouraging him to keep going. When she let out a soft giggle, though, Daryl pulled back, feeling insecure all over again.

“What you laughing about?” He couldn’t help but snap.

“Just…” Y/N bit her lip as she looked down, seeming shy too, her face blushed. “Just…I thought it was kind of fun, in a way…I worked taking my clothes off, but I’ve never been with anyone like this…” He hid her face in the crook of his shoulder.

“Me neither…” He admitted in a whisper and Y/N looked up at him, smiling softly, her eyes bright and that adorable blush spread through her cheeks, and Daryl had to kiss her again.

Y/N shifted to lie down on the bed, pulling him with her and Daryl looked at her in awe as he hovered over her, caressing her cheek with his knuckles softly, letting his fingers brush down to her neck, the curve of her breast, trailing down her side…She smiled sweetly, looking at him in that way that took his breath away at the love he could see in her eyes, and Daryl wondered if there’d ever been a way in which he could have stopped himself from falling for her, or if it had been something bound to happened since he decided he wanted them to be friends.

Y/N’s hands caressed her way over his back and shoulders and she pulled him closer to kiss his lips. Daryl felt her moan softly against his lips and when her hips lifted to meet his, Daryl’s breath hitched on his throat. He broke away from the kiss to look at her intently, even after everything they’d gone through together, he found it hard to believe that she might want to be with him like that.

“You sure?” He whispered, and that sweet, shy smile spread across Y/N’s face again as she nodded. Daryl’s lips found hers again, heart beating fast as he slowly sank into her.

He was careful and hesitant, afraid she wouldn’t like him or he’d hurt her, holding himself still when he felt her whimper against his lips, her fingers biting into his shoulders. Y/N opened her eyes, noticing him looking down at her, and she smiled to him, pecking his lips before nuzzling into his neck as she kept holding him to her tight, nibbling and kissing her way back to his lips to kiss him deeply, and then her hips began to move, slowly rocking into him, making him gasp and move with her.

Daryl knew it was a bad idea, Y/N was going to leave, she’d leave him in the morning and this was only going to make him hurt more, but at that moment he couldn’t care. He couldn’t think on anything that wasn’t how she felt, her warmth, the way in which she held to him, her hands caressing his back and arms, clutching to his shoulders, the soft gasps and whimpers that she let out as he rocked into her…

Afterward, he lied snuggled over her, his head on her chest and Y/N’s arms wrapped around him, one of her hands playing with his hair. Daryl tried to concentrate only on her, the rise and fall of her chest as she caught her breath, the warmth of her skin, her fingers stroking his hair, so he wouldn’t think on what was going to happen in the morning. She reminded him, though.

“How in the hell I’m going to leave after this?” Y/N whispered, and Daryl didn’t say anything, didn’t think there was nothing to say. How, indeed. He didn’t want her to leave, but he knew she had to, he’d told himself why enough times. Daryl felt her taking a deep breath before she spoke again. “Tell me to stay and I will.” She said quietly.

Y/N sounded serious and Daryl knew she was. It was tempting, so tempting, to beg her to not leave and stay, but Daryl knew he couldn’t. He’d told himself enough times how she was made for better things than that town, how she could be happier and have a better life in the city. She’d realize it, sooner or later, and if she didn’t leave she’d eventually regret it, he was sure, and if she stayed for him Daryl was afraid she’d resent him too. He didn’t want to see that happen. Neither did he want to see Y/N waste away in a place that could give her nothing and that she hated.

“Tell me and I will.” Y/N whispered again and Daryl forced himself to stay silent. She had to leave, it was for the best, it was, Daryl repeated it to himself again and again, trying to overcome the pain in his heart. “Okay…then come with me…”

Daryl should have seen it coming, it wasn’t the first time she asked, no matter she always got the same answer, but this time he was surprised by how much he wanted to say yes, he’d follow her anywhere. But he knew he couldn’t, and he knew why, same that he knew he’d just be a burden for her if he went with her, and so he still didn’t say anything. He felt like crying, a knot tightening his throat, and he pulled away from her, curling onto his side, his back to her.

“Sorry…I shouldn’t have asked, I know you won’t.” Y/N wrapped an arm around him, nuzzling into his back and placing kisses over it. Daryl hadn’t wanted her to think he was upset or angry with her, it wasn’t that, and he rolled to lie down on his back again, looking at her and reaching out to brush her hair away from her face, running his fingers through it.

He still couldn’t find his voice and he just looked at her sadly, and Y/N let out a sigh before curling up with him, her head on his chest. Daryl wrapped his arm around her, holding her close, his hand caressing over her arm. None of them said anything else and eventually, Daryl felt Y/N drip off to sleep.

He couldn’t sleep, though, torn between enjoying the feeling of having Y/N snuggled to him, asleep on his arms, the memory of what they had just shared, and the realization that he was going to lose her in the morning. He’d known for a while now that that day was coming, but he didn’t feel ready, now less than ever.

Daryl was glad Y/N was asleep when he felt tears in his eyes and he closed them tight, holding Y/N a bit tighter and nuzzling into her hair, hoping she wouldn’t wake up. She didn’t, murmuring something in her sleep as her lips twitched into a smile and she snuggled even closer.

With the sunrise, Y/N stirred awake. Daryl saw her smile and blink her eyes open, pressing a kiss to his chest before looking at him and pecking his lips. She looked at him as she caressed his face, her smile gone once she was fully awake, and Daryl knew what she was thinking about, the same thing that him.

“Tell me,” she whispered, and Daryl looked away in silence. Y/N let out a sigh, hiding her face in the crook of his neck again before moving away from him lazily.”I have to get my stuff ready I guess. Won’t take me long.”

Y/N got up and dressed, and after getting dressed too Daryl sat down on the bed and watched her as she went through the place, getting her stuff into a bag and backpack, and cleaned the place. She wrote a note, for her landlord she said and then just stayed there looking around.

“You okay?” Daryl asked her softly, standing next to her.

“Yeah, just…nothing, I never even liked this place.” Y/N shook her head. “Let’s go or I’ll miss the bus.” Daryl followed her outside in silence and stopped in front of his bike.

“I’ll give you a ride to the bus stop.”

Once he dropped her at the place, Daryl didn’t know what to do or say, and he could only look at her in silence as she got off the bike, and she looked down at him in silence too. She wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight to her, and Daryl hid his face on her chest, trying not to cry, and the way in which she shook told him she felt like that too.

“Tell me to stay,” she whispered into his hair, and Daryl didn’t look up from her chest so as not to be tempted and to prevent her from seeing the tears in his eyes.

She made him look at her, though, cupping his face and leaning to kiss his lips. Daryl couldn’t stop himself from kissing her back, his arms wrapping around her to keep her close as they kissed.

“Tell me, please. Tell me.” Y/N whispered, her forehead leaning on his, and Daryl still remained silent, pulling away from her. “Okay…okay…” Y/N nodded, her eyes wet, and Daryl did everything he could not to cry. The sound of the bus approaching made them both look up. “I gotta go. I’ll write you, okay?” Daryl nodded, not trusting his voice, his hand reaching out to wipe a tear from her cheek. Y/N took his hand, squeezing it. She looked at him with begging eyes,as if still waiting for him to say it, but he didn’t and so he let go of his hand. “I…just…bye.”

“Bye.” Daryl chocked out, watching her turn over and disappear into the bus.

The bus took off and Daryl didn’t know what to do with himself. He rode back home, only to find Merle there. He taunted him for having spent the whole night away, arriving now, asking him about Y/N, and Daryl snapped at him, getting into a fight with his brother before leaving. He didn’t want to talk about Y/N, he didn’t want to think about her, he didn’t want to cry because of her, but he couldn’t help it, and he rubbed his eyes roughly, getting into his bike and riding again.

Daryl rode out of the town, to the countryside, didn’t care for how long, until he rode back. He still didn’t feel like going back home and so he went to the woods. He walked into the clearing where he’d met with Y/N, sat down on the log, but everything seemed different now that she wasn’t there.

He tried, but he couldn’t fight the tears. He rubbed his eyes angrily, embarrassed, but he couldn’t stop and finally he gave up, letting himself cry until he couldn’t do it anymore. He wondered again and again if he’d made a mistake, if he should have asked Y/N to stay with him, but he knew it wouldn’t have been fair for her.

She was better at the city, even if it hurt, even if that meant she won’t be with him anymore. She was made for great things, better things that what that town could give her. She would be happier in the city, it was the best for her. She’d have a better life there, and Daryl couldn’t hold her back from all that.

Y/N would have the life she deserved. Daryl had to keep saying himself that, trying to find comfort in it. He loved her, and so he wanted her to have the best, happiest life she could. If she did, then the heartbreak and pain would be worth it. 

Daryl kept repeating himself that.