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baby, give me some

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Honestly, Beth probably should’ve seen this coming — because something like it was bound to happen eventually, right? — but in her defense, who actually takes the time to draw up a contingency plan for accidentally walking in on another person naked? She’s got more important things to worry about, anyway, like keeping Maggie and Merle from killing each other and not getting torn to bloody shreds by a horde of hungry dead people.

None of this is her fault, is what she’s saying.

But, look, the point is that she’s not thinking about whether or not the showers are already occupied. She’s got baby spit-up in her hair and down the front of her shirt, is what she’s thinking, and since she’s got access to running water these days, she figures she might as well do something about it. Carol’s got Judith, and she told Beth to take her time washing up, so she’s not gonna let herself feel guilty about taking a twenty-minute shower, either. It’s been half a year and a long, hard winter since she had the means to indulge in everyday luxuries, so hell if she’s not gonna indulge.

She hugs a salvaged towel and change of clothes to her chest and nudges the bathroom door open, ears pricking at the echoing plink, plink, plink of water droplets splashing against the tile. Someone must’ve been in here recently — she thinks she can smell a trace of Dial soap — but none of the showers are running and she doesn’t hear anyone moving around, so they must be long gone.

That’s probably for the best. She doesn’t mind bathing in front of the other women, obviously — that winter on the run obliterated much of her modesty out of sheer necessity — but she’ll take her privacy when she can get it, and she’s seriously considering trying to get off while she’s here. She’s been real keyed up lately, okay? She needs to release some tension.

She kicks off her shoes and starts undoing her top one-handed, but she’s only made it halfway down the line of buttons when her ears perk up for the second time, scalp tingling a warning. She thought — well, she thought she heard shuffling coming from the back corner over there, off where she can’t see because of the privacy curtains that’re in the way. Maybe she didn’t, though. Maybe she’s just hearing things.

But, no, she isn’t. And she really oughta know better by now, because life on the run’s instilled her with a fine sense of paranoia, yeah, but it’s rarely a matter of just hearing things. Dismissing your senses like that gets you killed, and Beth would just as soon as not meet her end in a prison shower of all places. That’d just be insult to injury.

They cleared out this section of the prison when they first got here, but Beth’s still not about to take any chances, so she sets down her things, draws her Bowie knife, and creeps forward in her socks, top gaping open, trying not to brush up against the curtains and draw attention to herself with too much noise. If it’s not a walker, could a person have gotten into the prison without them noticing? She doesn’t think that’s possible, but then, dead people getting up and walking around shouldn’t be possible, either.

Between a person and a walker, though, she thinks she’d take the walker. Walkers are sad and dangerous and terrifying, yeah, but at least they’re not cruel. At least they aren’t creative.

She’s almost at the source of where she last heard the noise, now, socks growing cold and damp as she tries not to slip on wet tile, the hand she’s got wrapped around her knife slicking with sweat 'til it’s nearly as soaked as the floor. She can see a shadow through the curtain, now, only something about it is just off, and there might be human-shaped legs somewhere in there but the torso’s all wrong, lopsided and unwieldy.

She’ll worry about its proportions later. Right now, she whips the curtain aside, knife coming up, and someone’s swearing but it’s not her because —

Because holy. Shit.

Well, at least now she knows why the torso looked all wrong, because the person behind the curtain was wielding a crossbow that threw their silhouette out of whack. And there’s only one person she knows who uses a crossbow, isn’t there?

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, of all the people to run into in the shower, it just had to be Daryl goddamn Dixon, didn’t it? Just had to be the guy she’s been picturing naked for weeks now, only she never actually thought she’d get to see him naked — and if she had, she certainly wouldn’t’ve imagined it happening like this.

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Beth.” Daryl flicks his damp hair out of his face — the better to skin her alive with a look, no doubt — and points his crossbow at the floor instead of her head. “The fuck’re you doin’, sneakin’ up on me like that? You want a damn bolt ‘tween the eyes?” 

Beth certainly feels like she’s taken a bolt between the eyes, anyway. She’s that level of stunned. And with the one functioning brain cell she’s got left, she can’t help but notice that Daryl’s being pretty... okay about this. Sure, he’s grumbling and grouching at her and as good as calling her a damn moron, but — it’s just that she would’ve expected him to be more flustered, is all. Yeah, he’s a generally pragmatic person, but he’s also kinda shy, so she’s just surprised that he isn’t —

Nope. Yeah. Now he’s blushing, and pretty luridly, too. His own nudity’s probably caught up to him now that the adrenaline rush has started to fade.

Up ‘til now, Beth’s eyes were glued pretty determinedly to his face, like if she stared at his scrunched forehead hard enough, she wouldn’t accidentally look at anything else. But the same compulsion that always prompted her to peek through her fingers during the scary or violent parts of a movie that Shawn and Maggie had convinced her to watch takes hold of her now, and her eyes, the little mutineers that they are, flicker from Daryl’s face down to his, well —


And, look, here’s the thing. Beth’s only seen one up close the one time, and it was dark in the room, so she didn’t see much. Still, she saw enough to know for certain that poor sweet Jimmy, God rest his soul, wasn’t smuggling a damn log in his pants.

But Daryl Dixon, apparently, is.

Her eyes snap back to Daryl’s face, a strangled gasp catching in her throat, blushing so hard she feels dizzy. Her vision’s blurring around the edges with panic, and it’s kinda dim in here, so she can’t make out much of his expression, just that he’s opening his mouth to say something.

Yeah, no. Whatever it is, Beth doesn’t wanna hear it. She just cannot do this, okay?

She spins on her heel before he can call her a damn pervert, almost slipping in her damp socks, and books it, not so much as stopping for a breath until she’s reached the relative safety of the drafty corridor.

Shit, she forgot her things — she forgot her boots. Should she — no. Hell, no. If someone asks her what the heck she’s doing wandering around in her socks, she’ll just make up some lame excuse. She doesn’t even care if it’s convincing, because no way in hell is she ever gonna be able to face Daryl Dixon ever again. Not now that she knows exactly what his dick looks like.

Which is… good. Really, really good. The oh, God kinda good. The kind of good she’ll absolutely be thinking about later, when she can actually get a shower, but for now — well. That’s just not gonna happen now

She gets another dizzying rush of blood to the head, and nearly stops to lean against the wall for a minute, but, no, she’s gotta get out of here. She doesn’t think that Daryl will try to come after her — doesn’t think he’ll ever speak to her again, actually, which is fine, because she certainly won’t be able to speak to him — but she doesn’t want to take her chances, either. Clearly luck isn’t on her side today.

No, it definitely isn’t, because Beth hasn’t walked three feet down the hall before she’s running face-first into a solid wall of flesh, cotton grazing her lips and pungent body odor clogging up her nose. She reels back a step, but fingers catch in her sleeve before she can fall on her ass, and she looks up to thank whoever it was who caught her, only to snap her mouth shut when she sees exactly who it is, teeth clipping her tongue and drawing blood. She nearly swears out loud.

Because as if she wasn’t already in enough trouble with one Dixon, now she’s bumped into the other, and there’s no way this can’t go horribly wrong. She doesn’t know much about Merle, but his eyes are pretty damn sharp for a guy who’s been frying his brain on hard drugs for half a lifetime, and now those eyes are firmly on her.

And her chest, Beth realizes, turning red all over again as she tugs the halves of her shirt shut. Jesus, can this get any worse?

She probably shouldn’t’ve asked.

Merle’s looking at her face again, at least, only she really doesn’t like what she sees in his. “What’s your hurry there, sweetheart? Got a biter on your pretty li’l tail?”  

Beth swallows tightly and tastes blood. She starts edging around him, knuckles turning white where they grip her shirt.

“No, um. I wanted to take a shower, but I, uh, forgot somethin’, so I’m — gonna go get it.”

Merle looks her up and down, but Beth doesn’t feel ogled this time. No, she feels assessed, which is frankly worse.

“That right? Forget your shoes, too?”

Huh? Oh. Crap.

“Uh —”

“Y’oughta be more careful.” Merle smiles in what he probably thinks is a friendly way, flashing the nicotine stains on his teeth. “Wouldn’t wanna go steppin’ on a rusty nail and gettin’ lockjaw, now. Even ya daddy wouldn’t be able to patch you up then without some antibiotics.”

“I think I’ll be fine,” Beth mumbles, refusing to meet Merle’s eyes even though it only makes her look guiltier. “I’m just gonna, uh —”

A door farther down the hallway bangs open before Beth can fumble out the rest of her excuse, and Merle’s head whips around like a hound on the scent, and no, no, no, please don’t let that be who Beth thinks it is —

But, right. Luck’s not on her side today, remember?

No, it’s definitely not, because that’s Daryl who’s storming down the hallway and stopping in his tracks when he spots Merle. His fist clenches at his side, and Beth’s clench, too.

His hair’s still damp.

And Merle. Merle looks at Daryl. He looks at Beth.

He starts to grin.

Nope. Beth’s had enough. She doesn’t even care how it makes her look; she has got to get out of here.

So she does, all but sprinting down the corridor and toward the cell block, Merle’s rusty laughter ringing in her ears the whole way. 



“Okay, spit it out.”

Beth jolts like she’s been shocked, dropping the chamber she was cleaning so it clatters across the table and spins to a stop in front of Maggie, who definitely wasn’t sitting there five minutes ago. She’s looking at Beth all expectantly, like they’re picking up a dropped conversation. Like Beth should know exactly what she’s talking about.

Beth blinks. Blinks again. “Spit what out?”

Maggie props her arms on the table and jerks her chin at the disparate pieces of the gun that are scattered across its surface. “Beth, you’ve been cleanin’ that gun for about an hour now.”

Now Beth’s feeling jumpy and defensive, and when she gets defensive, she mouths off. “What, you been timing me or somethin’?”

Maggie reaches across the table and flicks Beth on the nose, and Beth swats her hand away, grumbling. “Real funny, smartass. Now are you gonna tell me what’s been bugging you or what?”

Beth grips the chamber until the cold metal bites into her palm, then forces her hand to relax before Maggie can notice her white knuckles. “Who says something’s bugging me?”

And, yeah. She probably deserves the look Maggie gives her then.

Beth sets the chamber down and buries her face in her arms with a groan. “You won’t like it.” Really, really won’t like it.

That was the wrong thing to say, because now Maggie’s asking, “What happened?” Her tone suggests that Beth had better spit it out quick before she reassembles this gun and points it at the nearest convenient target. “Did Merle do somethin’ to you? Because I swear to God, Beth —”

Well, yeah, Merle kind of did do something, actually, only he wouldn’t’ve had the opportunity if Beth had just thought to announce herself, or think harder about when she’d last seen Daryl and where he might’ve gotten off to since.

No,” Beth says, sitting up straight and grabbing Maggie’s wrist as though to physically hold her back from jumping out of her seat and picking a fight. “No, that’s not it at all. It’s just —”

Beth blows out a breath that stirs the pieces of her hair that escaped from her ponytail when she ran away from Daryl, and tries to figure out how to put this in a way that won’t piss Maggie off even more.

Maggie’s lips are pursed, but she at least seems willing to hear Beth out. That’s a good sign, right? “It’s just what?”

“I —” Beth props her elbow on the table and grinds her knuckles against the headache that’s building between her eyes. “I was gonna go take a shower.”


Jesus, give her strength. “But someone was kinda already… in… there.”

Maggie narrows her eyes. “Merle?”

No. How many times do I gotta tell you?” But she knows that Maggie won’t let this go ‘til she gives her a name, so, squeezing her eyes shut and bracing herself like she’s about to rip off a bandaid, Beth says, so quick that Maggie might not even hear her right, “Daryl. It was Daryl, okay?”


Beth squints one eye open, and then the other, then sits up straight and stares. Maggie doesn’t look pissed, is the thing. No, she just looks…

Well, she looks kinda pensive, actually.

“Huh,” she says. “Is that all?”

Is that all?” Beth parrots, then looks around frantically when her voice bounces off the cell block’s walls. No one seems to be paying them any attention, though, so she leans into Maggie and continues in a whisper, “You aren’t — you aren’t mad?”

Maggie cocks her head. “Why would I be mad? You’re the one who walked in on him, right?”

Unfortunately, yes. “Uh-huh.”

“And he didn’t… see anything, did he?”

Sort of. Maybe? He didn’t seem to notice that Beth’s shirt was open, anyway — or, if he did, Beth was too busy looking at him to notice him looking at her.

Not that he would. Look at her, that is. Right?

“Uh, no,” Beth decides because, far as she knows, it’s close enough to the truth.

Maggie shrugs. “So I’m not mad. And even if he had seen somethin’, it’s not like it would’ve been his fault. It wasn’t your fault, either. Things happen, y’know? I dunno if you’ve noticed, but privacy’s kinda at a premium these days.”

Yeah, that’s true. It still doesn’t make Beth feel any better. “It’s just…” She buries her face in her arms again, ears going hot. “Of all the people to walk in on.”

“Yeah,” Maggie agrees, and there’s a trace of laughter in her voice now. “If anything, I feel sorry for Daryl. Poor guy must be dyin’ inside right about now.”

Beth straightens up again, but only so she can scowl at her sister. “How d’you think I feel?”

Maggie’s lips curl into a smile. Beth doesn’t like the looks of it. “I dunno,” she says, and Beth doesn’t like her tone, either. “How do you feel?”

“What the heck’s that supposed to mean?”

Another shrug. Maggie plants her elbow on the table and props her chin in her hand, looking at Beth from under her lashes.

“Y’know,” she says slowly, almost like she’s thinking out loud, “it’s normal for a girl your age to develop a crush on an older guy. God knows I had my fair share. It’s a safe way of channeling your feelings — and Daryl’s about as safe as it gets.” Maggie laughs again, softly. “And it’s not like you’ve got much to choose from right now.”

Beth wants to deny it, to tell Maggie that she’s got it all wrong — even though she’s got it exactly right — but all she manages to choke out is, “What are you talkin’ about?”

Maggie smiles indulgently, then leans in and pitches her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Did you, y’know — get a good look?”

Beth’s eyeballs strain in their sockets. “At what?”

Except she knows what, and Maggie’s not about to let her wriggle out of it. Speaking through barely contained laughter, Maggie asks, “How’s he measure up to Jimmy?”

Oh, my God. “Who says I know what Jimmy’s looked like?”

Maggie just gives her an unimpressed look, which, y’know. Fair.

Ugh,” Beth mutters, but, well — she’s kinda curious, too, and Maggie’s seen a lot more dicks than she has, so she should know better than Beth just how above average Daryl is. Beth casts a furtive look around, then holds her hands apart in a rough approximation of what she’d seen back in the showers.

Maggie’s eyes go very, very wide. Then she leans back in her seat and whistles, shaking her head slowly from side to side.

“Jesus,” she marvels. “Who knew Daryl Dixon was packing that kind of heat?”

Beth makes a noise like a boiling tea kettle. “You’ve got a boyfriend, Maggie!”

“Trust me, Glenn’s got nothin’ to worry about. I love Daryl, but he’s not exactly my type.” Maggie reaches across the table to squeeze Beth’s hand. “Are you sure that’s all that was bugging you?”

That’s all, she says, like Beth isn’t being haunted by the memory of what she saw back in the showers, like she’s stopped thinking about the water that was dripping down Daryl’s flat, hard stomach and off his — his —

Yeah. Packing heat’s probably a good way to put it, actually.

Maggie gives Beth a gentle shake. “Huh?”

Beth sighs, feeling suddenly exhausted. Might as well tell her all of it.

“Just don’t freak out, alright? But I ran into Merle afterwards, and, uh —”

At the mention of Merle’s name, Maggie’s eyes go flinty again. “I thought you said Merle didn’t do anythin’ to you.”

“He didn’t. It’s just. He saw Daryl come out after me, and now I’m pretty sure he thinks we’re — y’know.”

From the look on Maggie’s face, she damn well does know, but because she’s a horrible, horrible person and the worst sister ever, she’s still gonna make Beth say it. “Nah, I don’t. Enlighten me.”

God, fine. Beth sends up a silent prayer of apology, then makes a funnel with her left hand and threads her right index finger through the hole in the universal sign for Doing It.

Maggie snorts. “Really, Beth?”

“You asked!”

Maggie rolls her eyes. “Jesus, who cares what an asshole like Merle Dixon thinks? What you need to focus on is talkin’ things out with Daryl, or else the two of you won’t ever be able to look each other in the eye again.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad to me,” Beth mumbles, even though it actually does. The last thing she wants is to mess things up with Daryl, but she doesn’t know how not to do that.

“What?” Maggie asks, and now she’s teasing her again. “Afraid you won’t be able to look at him without picturing his —”


“What’s all the damn shoutin’ for?”

Beth flushes hot, then cold, then drags her eyes away from Maggie’s surprised face to reluctantly point them at Daryl, who walked up to the table they’re sitting at without either of them noticing.

God, Jesus, please don’t let him have heard any of that.

Maggie gives Beth’s hand what’s probably meant to be an encouraging squeeze, but Beth’s fingers are limp in her grip. Her ears are buzzing. That’s probably not good.

Daryl looks embarrassed as all hell, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he overheard what Beth and Maggie were saying about him. Nah, he’s probably still shook up from earlier. God knows Beth is.

He ducks his head, looks at his shuffling feet. His hair’s dry now, and the tips of his ears are red.

“Hey, uh.” He coughs, clears his throat. His eyes dart over to Beth and away again. “Can I, uh, talk to you for a sec —”

“Uh, no,” Beth says, and Daryl’s eyes flare wide with — surprise, maybe? Maggie’s hold on her tightens, but she still manages to get out of it as she stumbles to her feet. “I’m — I’m real sorry, but I gotta go check on Judith, so — see ya.”

“Carol’s got her, doesn’t she?” Maggie asks, but Beth’s already getting the hell out of there, running away just like she had earlier, because she is not, not, not ready to look Daryl in the eye after getting an eyeful of his dick.

Later, she’ll try to be an adult and deal with it like Maggie said she should. Right now, she’s thinking that she’d like to lock herself in her cell and have a good long scream into her pillow.

Yeah. That oughta do the trick.

Chapter Text

Beth’s being fuckin’ weird.

Or — okay, so he gets it, that she wouldn’t wanna hang around to have a fucking conversation once she saw him buck-naked and pointing his crossbow at her face. Once he saw her half-shirtless with that knife he’d given her poised to stick him right between the eyes. Maybe hightailin’ it outta there’s the natural reaction. Daryl doesn’t really know; this is a weird fucking situation, alright?

‘Cause now here he is, dripping wet and sure as shit confused, he feels like a damn idiot, just watching as Beth’s eyes flit back up to his face — back, ‘cause she’d taken a second to look a little south of there, and Daryl can’t even be pissed about it since he’d gotten a little fixated on her tits, too — and now she’s spun on her heel and gettin’ the hell outta Dodge.

And, yeah, that’s the thing.

Is she embarrassed ‘cause she got an eyeful? Or is it ‘cause he got an eyeful of her, cotton shirt all the way unbuttoned, showin’ off her tan lines and miles of paler, pinker skin? Showin’ off that pale pink bra, too, just about the same color as the rest of her, so for a second there he thought she’d gone braless again. (And he fuckin’ notices that shit, every time.) But, no, she had one on — pretty and soft like the rest of her looks, one’a them things with a front clasp he thinks he could probably undo with his teeth if he had half a mind to, and he’s got helluva lot more than half of anything when it comes to Beth.

He’s gonna remember that the next time he needs a shower. Hell, he could go for another one right goddamn now — could go for a damn ice bucket — if he’s not gonna be able to get all that sweet baby doll pink outta his head.

But he can’t think about that shit right now. He can’t. He’s got bigger problems, like chasing down Beth and — and —

And what?

What’s he gonna tell her? Not to be embarrassed? Yeah, she shouldn’t be, though Daryl oughta, and he is, only…

Well, mostly he’s just grateful that Beth didn’t sneak up on him about three and a half minutes earlier.

Because, three and a half minutes earlier, he was coming all over that cramped shower stall with Beth’s name riding out on a raspy, bit-back groan that just about tore a hole through his damn chest.

Christ, this is what he gets, though, ain't it? He’s been jacking it to this girl for a good long while now, and now he’s being punished by fuckin’ — God or some shit, ‘cause she’s seen him naked and she don’t want nothin’ to do with him.

And, listen, Daryl’s never thought all that much about his dick. Never had much occasion to use it the way most guys are always anglin’ to. He never liked sex, and he quit doin’ shit with those faceless, nameless women Merle used to push at him before the world ended, when his brother gave up on askin’ Daryl what kinda man he was, ‘cause apparently he’d proven himself well enough.

As for getting himself off, what he looked like had nothin’ to do with it. Just sometimes he had to beat it and get on with his fuckin’ day. All that mattered was getting it done and over with.

But now… Maybe it does matter. Beth’s not the type to care about superficial shit, but maybe this isn’t superficial, what the hell does Daryl know? Maybe what he looks like just completely turned her off. Maybe he’s too small or skinny or — or crooked, or just plain ugly, or a whole mess of other shit he never even thought about before, nevermind worried about. But he worries now, ‘cause maybe the thing that ruined any shot in hell he ever had with Beth was his fucking dick, and maybe now she can’t bear to look at him without laughing, or —

No. No, whether or not she cares about his dick, Beth would never laugh at somebody for shit they can’t help. She ain’t cruel.

Anyway, she hadn’t looked like laughin’ when she got a look at him. Daryl tries to talk some damn sense into himself as he rushes to get his clothes back on, tries to calm himself the hell down so he can go after her and maybe… do something. Whatever. He just doesn’t want her runnin’ away from him, even moreso than he doesn’t want her laughing at him.

But, nah, she wasn’t laughing. She’d gone as red as his own face felt, and she’d booked it outta the showers like a horde was on her tail.

So, yeah, if he was thinking clearly he’d probably guess she’s embarrassed. But he’s pretty sure he’s not thinking clearly, because every time he tries his brain fuckin’ short-circuits and all he can think about is that gap of her undone shirt, and what woulda-coulda happened if he’d ditched his crossbow and yanked it the rest of the way off.

See, that’s the kinda shit he needs to save for the showers.

But he’s leaving ‘em behind now, dressed and ready to hound Beth’s ass ‘til she talks to him, ‘til they can clear up any weird shit that’s bound to hang between them now that she’s seen him naked and he’s having a goddamn panic attack about it.

Thinkin’ about the shadow of her cleavage ain’t helpin’ matters, neither. Thinkin’ about how he would’ve liked to slick his tongue up that little hollow definitely ain’t helpin’. Good thing he already jerked himself off over this girl, otherwise he’d probably have to deal with a stiff cock, too, as he’s tryna catch up to her to just fucking talk.

Daryl doesn’t even like to talk, what the hell is he even doing?

Like hell has he got the faintest idea. He just lets the bathroom door swing shut behind him, echoing all around the concrete walls and settin’ his ears to ringin’, but even that racket’s secondary to his half-wild thoughts about Beth.

She’s just around the corner, and — Jesus. She’s gone and run into Merle, like this whole thing ain’t fucked up enough as it is without his asshole of a brother actin’ as the goddamn peanut gallery.

If Daryl didn’t know what he was gonna say to Beth when he thought he could get her alone, he sure as hell don’t know what to say to her now. So maybe it’s for the best that she books it down the cell block, too.

Only it doesn’t feel like the best. It just twists up his gut, makes it sink, to watch her disappear down the hall, skin all pink, clutching her shirt closed, and damp socked feet squelching with every hurried step.


Daryl’d just keep going after her — he’d figure out what to say on the way, fuck it — but Merle’s not gonna let him outta here that easy. Ain’t no way.

And, yeah — right on the heels of Beth’s hasty departure, Merle laughs, all busted up from too many cigarettes and a buncha other shit, and turns that looney tunes grin on Daryl.

Fuckin’. Great.

“So.” Merle whistles, tuneless and fuckin’ annoying. “How long you been fuckin’ that girl?”

“I —” Daryl flicks his hair outta his eyes, blinks back the water droplets that’ve been clinging to his lashes. He’s irritated as all shit and he doesn’t wanna deal with this. “What the hell’re you talkin’ about?”

“You an’ that li’l Bible-thumpin’ hellraiser,” he says, like Daryl ought to know exactly what he’s bullshitting about. He hooks a thumb over his shoulder, pointing down the way Beth’d just run off. “How long you been wreckin’ that pussy?”

Swear to god, Daryl’s gonna hit him. He’s gonna smack Merle upside the head with his crossbow, and then he’s gonna do the same to himself, too, ‘cause one mention of him wreckin’ that pussy and now all Daryl can think about is lapping his tongue up and into Beth’s cunt and seein’ how tight she can clamp those cornfed thighs around his ears.

Fuck his crossbow, actually, ‘cause that’s the only way to get a concussion, and —

And, damn it, he doesn’t have time for this shit right now, how many godforsaken times does he gotta tell himself that?

“Jesus Christ,” he mutters, and slaps Merle upside the head with an open palm. Not as satisfying as the crossbow, but it ain’t got any of the ramifications, neither. “Keep your goddamn voice down.”

Merle snorts, rubs at the sore spot on his skull. “What, nobody else know ‘bout the two’a you?”

“Ain’t nothin’ to know. I ain’t — we’re — nothin’.” Daryl huffs. Scratches his forefinger agitatedly up and down his thumb. “Ain’t got nothin’ going on with her.”

He winces when he says it. Shit, he feels his damn eye twitch, like his entire body’s all keyed-up over Beth. Like he’s an aching, anxious wreck over not getting to touch her. And, yeah, alright, so he already knew that shit, but that don’t mean he’s gotta go givin’ Merle any ideas about it, too. That’s the last fuckin’ thing Daryl needs.

‘Course, it don’t fuckin’ matter what he needs — if it did, yeah, he probably would’ve had his face buried between Beth’s thighs a few times by now — and now Merle’s lookin’ at him like Daryl just offered him a damn crack pipe. It’s one thing for the asshole to think Daryl’s fucking Beth, but it’s a whole other problem if Merle knows shit about his goddamn feelings.

Must catch on, though, ‘cause he’s still grinnin’ that way that makes Daryl regret not taking the crossbow to his head. “You want there to be a li’l somethin’, though, don’t ya, little brother?”

Daryl’s jaw clicks. “Fuck off.”

“Could do worse, Darylina,” Merle says thoughtfully, like he’s got a degree or somethin’ in this shit. “Even with all them new people y’all let in, think blondie back there’s ya best shot at some prime pussy. Can tell jus’ lookin’ at her, y’know, girl prob’ly ain’t ever had the thing licked. Could do whatever you wanted with ‘er an’ she’d thank ya for it.”

Oh, fuck this.

Daryl keeps his crossbow slung across his chest — he ain’t stupid enough to really use it on his brother, nah — but it feels pretty good, too, just to clock the dumb motherfucker in the jaw with nothin’ but his fist.



Between his own bruised knuckles and the fact that Beth is still actin’ like a fuckin’ freak, Daryl’s real glad he managed to snag a couple packs of cigarettes on the last run. Gonna chain-smoke right through ‘em at this rate, but the point is that he’s got ‘em at all.

He lights up in one of the deserted cell blocks. Someone’s always bitchin’ at him when he does it around any of the occupied ones; it’s just easier to avoid it, and, anyway, he doesn’t wanna take the chance of anyone talking to him right about now. He’d probably bite their damn head off, and then he’d hear about that later — from a disappointed Rick or Carol or a concerned Hershel. Sometimes it’s a slightly annoyed or even more concerned Beth on his ass, but the whole problem is that she won’t talk to him, so.

Daryl takes a long hit off his pilfered Marlboro. As if she’s gonna come lookin’ to ease him off his bad mood now, and that only puts him more on-edge than normal. Can’t even blame himself, far as he’s concerned; which is new, ‘cause he’s liable to blame himself for most everything.

But what’s he supposed to do? He’d asked Beth point-goddamn-blank if he could talk to her, and she’d run outta there like she’d seen him naked all over again. And he’d watched her go, too, like a dumbstruck idiot — which he is, most’a the time, whenever it’s got to do with Beth — before turning back to Maggie. She’d been frowning after her sister, and turned to him kinda sympathetic-like, which is just… fucking irritating, even if she meant well by it.

Daryl doesn’t wanna be looked at like that. Ain’t as bad as Beth not lookin’ at him at all, but the whole damn day’s just been one slap to the face after another, and Beth still won’t talk to him, so what the fuck’d he even get outta bed for in the first place?

Christ. Screw this.

He sucks at the filter of his cigarette, smoking it down to the quick before stubbing it out. Doesn’t go for another one like he’d planned because, yeah, screw it — he’s gonna go lookin’ for Beth again instead.

Even with all these new people hangin’ around these days, it’s not all that hard to track somebody down so long as you know where to look. Everybody’s got their responsibilities, they’re on a sorta strict schedule, so it’s just a matter of knowing what that schedule is. Daryl’s never had trouble before, only now…

Well, now Beth’s really tryna give him the runaround, ain’t she?

Turns out, no matter what excuse she’d pulled outta her ass — and, Jesus, he does not need to be thinkin’ about her ass right now any which way — she’s off Judith duty for the rest of the day.

“Think she went out for a walk,” Carol tells him, when he finds her with the baby and asks where the hell Beth’s got off to. “Nice day for it.”

“Uh-huh.” Daryl doesn’t give a shit. He sucks a fingertip into his mouth and gnaws at the already ragged nail. “When the fuck’d she go do that?”

“Half-hour ago, maybe?” Carol shrugs, but she kinda smirks at him, too. Damn woman can see right through him; probably knows all about his — about his fuckin’ crush on Beth, dammit. “Why? You need her for something?”

Yeah, okay, so she definitely knows.

Daryl’s not about to give her the satisfaction, though, and he can be grateful, at least, that she doesn’t expect him to.

Gotta distract himself from lookin’ too impatient or eager to go after Beth, so he smooths his free hand over Judith’s downy head. Mutters, “Could say that.”

“Should probably get going, then. Pretty day, pretty girl…” Carol hums. “She won’t be on her own for long.”

Christ, is she for fuckin’ real? Does she want Daryl to bust a fuckin’ blood vessel, or — well. Yeah, actually, Carol might think that’s pretty funny.

“Yeah.” He gives Judith one last pat, and his scowl abates some when she giggles. “Thanks, I guess.”

“Anytime,” Carol sing-songs, and Daryl pointedly ignores her little chuckle as he turns tail to head outside.

God damn it, Daryl already knows all about how sweet half the prison is on Beth. Most guys around here are chomping at the bit to get a shot with either of the Greene girls — only Maggie’s spoken for (and maybe Beth could be, too, if Daryl wasn’t such a damn idiot). Even if it weren’t for Glenn, well, Maggie ain’t afraid to give you shit if you piss her off. Beth ain’t, either, come down to it, but she’s more polite about it; girl wouldn't go outta her way to hurt your feelings, meanwhile Maggie’s bruised more egos than ribs, and she’s taken out a fair few motherfuckers, so that’s saying something.

‘Course, Beth ain’t no stranger to leavin’ you high and dry, as Daryl’s found out the hard way twice in a goddamn row. He’s not mad or nothin’, it’s just…

Fuck. If his dick’s really gonna be the reason why she can’t talk to him anymore, then the damn thing’s even more useless than he thought.

There’s a few people milling around outside, some of them on various duties, other ones just fuckin’ around. Daryl scans the yard, tries to see if the sun’s catching in any clouds of pale hair, but, nah; doesn’t look like Beth’s keepin’ anyone else company out here, despite what Carol’d said to rile him up.

He’s gonna need to stomp out that jealousy shit real quick or he’s gonna lose his goddamn mind, only he’s gotta get the air cleared or whatever between him and Beth first, or he ain’t gonna have any sanity left to lose over anything else.

That thought takes him all the way ‘round to the back of the prison, and, yep — there’s Beth, perched on a set of crumbling concrete steps, scribbling in that little blue notebook of hers.

She doesn’t notice him standing there yet, so he just… stands there. Just for a second. Leans up against the corner he’d just rounded, watches her chicken-scratch those pages with a ballpoint pen. The sun don’t reach too far back here, but there are still glints sparking gold in her hair, still a little bit of sheen over the slight calluses on her hands as they move, kinda restless, across the pages.

Her brow’s furrowed, lower lip sucked into her mouth like she’s gotta think real hard about what she’s tryna say to herself in that notebook. Daryl don’t know what she writes in there — ain’t never asked, never felt like his business, but now he kinda… wants to.

He shuffles his feet. That’s a mistake, ‘cause now Beth’s seen him, and she’s up on her feet almost quicker than he can get to her. He’s faster than she is, though, faster than most folks, so he closes the distance between them in the time it takes her to shove that notebook into her back pocket, nothin’ more.

“Hey,” he says, voice coming up hoarse like he had chain-smoked all his cigarettes, after all. Doesn’t really know what else to say after that.

“Hey.” Beth tugs at the end of her ponytail, cheeks gone pink, but she doesn’t just look embarrassed like earlier. More like wary, tense, like she’s just as on-edge as he’s been, but —

You know what? Fuck that. He ain’t the one who keeps runnin’ off, even though he’s been keyed-up all damn day ‘cause of her, too. Doesn’t even know why he bothered gettin’ himself off this morning, if Beth was just gonna fuck with his head.

And she’s not doing it on purpose, he knows that, but he’s all wound-up and worried and it’s pissing him the hell off.

“Uh.” Beth gives her ponytail another tug, twitches like she’s about to sidestep him and run off again. “Sorry, I gotta —”

“Gotta what? Check on Judith?” Daryl crosses his arms over his chest, shoots her a glare. “Try again.”

She frowns. And, yeah, he gets it; he don’t like to be snapped at, either. “I can’t just dump her on Carol all day.”

“Sure you can. Carol said she’d keep her.”

“Well, I — that ain’t — that wouldn’t be fair of me.”

“Don’t care.”

“It’s not up to you.”

“Girl, Jesus,” Daryl huffs. “Quit fuckin’ with me for a damn minute, alright.”

Beth cuts him with a look that’s actually straight-on, so he figures they’re getting somewhere. Better for her to be pissed at him than be just — grossed out by him, and with every minute she refuses to talk about it, the more Daryl’s convinced that that’s exactly how she feels but she’s too polite to say, so it’s easier for her to avoid it altogether.

It’s freaking him the fuck out, alright?

“I’m not — I’m not doin’ that,” Beth says because, yeah, she never swears if she can help it. That’s the kinda girl she is; ain’t no wonder she wants nothin’ to do with him, not after she saw the way he looks, all busted up and scarred, not after the way he stared a little too long at her, at how good she looks underneath her shirt, all pretty pink skin, not a scratch on her.

Daryl huffs again. Takes a step forward, and Beth takes one back. He raises his eyebrows. “Sure about that?”

“Uh-huh.” Beth nods, kinda frantic-like, like that’s gonna convince him she’s not full of it. “I just. Y’know. Everything’s fine.”

“Don’t seem like it.” And, no, it sure as shit doesn’t, ‘cause Beth’s still taking another step back every time he takes one forward, like she thinks eventually she can run off without him noticing.

“Well, it is,” Beth insists, but it’s only about half as convincing as she probably wants it to be.

It would be, it’d be good enough, if only Daryl weren’t so hell-bent on talking this thing out. He’s been so single-mindedly obsessed with talking about it that he doesn’t even really know why he is, just that he is, and maybe it’s that Beth won’t, because usually she’s the one who tries talkin’ and now she’s just keepin’ that pretty trap’a hers shut, and it’s driving Daryl goddamn crazy.

So he keeps it up, keeps shuffling his boots through the gravel, and Beth’s keep kickin’ it up as she shuffles back, and Daryl can’t so much as think about what he’s doing or else he might stop and they’ll never get anywhere at all.

Survival instinct, he might call it.

Doesn’t try to put a name to it now, though. They got other things to talk about, so what he says is, “You been actin’ like a goddamn spaz.”

“Have I?” she says back, like it’s up for debate. Lifts her chin like they’re actually gonna fight about this. “Dunno about that.”

“Quit givin’ me shit.”

“Jeez, Daryl” — Beth huffs now, same as he does whenever she gets on his last nerve — “what d’you want from me?”

“I want you —” Daryl swallows, pauses, ‘cause he don’t know what he’s supposed to say after that, he hadn’t gotten that far, but he can’t just stop there, hell no, or else she’ll know the truth and who says she even wants that?

So he swallows again, tries to catch his breath, and it’s in that same instant that Beth quits tryna talk herself outta this, too, because they’d been takin’ one step after another this whole time, and now her ass hits the rough brick wall and there ain’t nowhere else to go.

His throat clicks. “I — want you to just. Fuckin’ talk to me.”

Beth blinks up at him. She’s cast in shadow like she wasn’t earlier — ain’t no sun to be found here, so her hair looks like honey, eyes like the sky right before it rains, and the sunburn on her cheeks, the tips of her ears, her shoulders, looks a little redder — and she swallows, too.

“You don’t even like talkin’,” she points out. Not like it’s news to him or nothin’, just like she don’t know what else to say.

And, yeah. He knows the feeling.

“Yeah, well.” One hand twitches at his side, and the other braces itself against the cool brick next to her head. “Don’t like tryna chase your ass down all day, neither.”

A nervous, almost shrill kinda giggle breaks past Beth’s lips at that. She presses ‘em together, tries to choke it back, but that grin’s still goin’ no matter how embarrassed she is. “You got somethin’ better to do?”

Daryl snorts. “Don’t be a smartass.”

His fingertips flex into the wall, digging into that old weathered brick like it’s Beth’s hip, like he’s holding onto her and he needs to keep her still, just so she won’t knee him sharp enough to blacken his eye while he’s making her come.

Hey, he’s had worse injuries. Thinks somethin’ like that’d be well worth it.

He shifts — things are starting to get kinda uncomfortable below the belt, like being this close to Beth is enough to set him off (and it is, yeah, but Jesus) — and she does, too, straightening up against the wall, chest brushing his. She’s so much fuckin’ smaller than him, he should ease up, but he’s stuck, ‘cause that baby powder scent that lingers in her hair tickles his nose, makes him bite back a curse and stay right the fuck where he is.

“I wanna talk to you,” he says again, like that’s gonna help to get his head on straight.

“Yeah.” Them big blue eyes flick across his face, and then they drop and, if he didn’t know any better, snag on his zipper. The muscle in her throat bobs. “You said that already.”

“Beth, fuck.” Christ, his voice is wrecked. It’s pleading. “C’mon.”

It takes a second, takes one swipe of the tip of her tongue across her lips — fuck, she’s tryna kill him — but her eyes flit back to his. “What d’you, uh. What d’you wanna talk about?”

Jesus, is she really gonna make him spell it out for her? She already knows. Don’t she know it’s fucking killin’ hm, too?

Maybe that’s what does it. Maybe that’s what gets him spilling his guts, ‘cause he’s got her so close and he just can’t fuckin’ take it

“You gonna be like this all the time?” he asks her. Got his eyes firmly glued to the hollow of her throat, counts out the steady beat of her pulse to keep his own self grounded. “You jus’ — you walk in on me one fuckin’ time, and now you can’t —”

Fuck. Fuck, what’s he supposed to say? Been on his mind all damn day, and now that he’s got the chance to say something, he just. He fucking can’t.

His hand chafes against the wall some more, scraping up his palm, but he hardly feels it. Don’t feel his bruised knuckles, either. Only thing he feels is Beth’s breath on his neck, warm and a little ragged and close, so fuckin’ close it’s gonna drive him fuckin’ nuts if he can’t do somethin’ about it.

“Daryl.” Now her hand’s on his face, a little rough in some places but not so near as many as his. “Daryl, c’mon, it’s not — it’s not that I can’t talk to you, okay, I’m real sorry if that’s how I made you feel —”

He shakes his head. That ain’t it, that ain’t everything, but she’s not letting him go for nothin’.

“I mean it.” The words are sharp enough to get Daryl to look in her eye again. Kinda shocks him into it, but her cheeks are just as pink as they’d been when this all started. “I just — jeez, Daryl, I —”

“What?” Screw this, he hates how needy he sounds, but he — Jesus, he needs her, he can’t do this shit no more, he just — “What, Beth?”

She doesn’t say anything. He wants her to say something, but the way she’s looking at him now…

Well. Maybe he doesn’t need her to say anything at all, not the way she usually does. Because she’s looking at him all soft, she’s scrubbing her fingertips through the scruff on his cheek, and she’s —

Jesus Christ, she’s so pretty. That pink in her cheeks flushes deeper when he thinks it, like he said so out loud, and they’re so goddamn close he wonders what it’d take for him to get her shirt unbuttoned, her jeans, too, to see how far all that pretty pink goes.

Her fingers slip further along, into his hair. “I just —” she says again, but she trails off same as she did the last time.

She don’t say a goddamn thing. But Daryl can’t say he minds, actually, because she hauls him in and kisses him instead.

Chapter Text

Beth’s pretty sure that this doesn’t qualify as talking by any stretch of the imagination, but it does involve their mouths, at least, and she thinks that’s gotta count for something.

Not that she’s thinking all that hard, either, ‘cause if she was, she wouldn’t’ve hauled off and kissed Daryl outta the blue like she did. But his voice had gone all hoarse like he’d been chain-smoking — and he does smell like burnt tobacco, a bitter top note to the soap and sweat — and his eyes were hot and wounded because she’d hurt him by acting like this, and the fingers she’d slid into his hair formed a fist at the same time she shoved up on her toes to catch his mouth with hers, because she would’ve done anything to wipe that look off his face, even if it meant messing things up even worse than she already had.

Beth, fuck. C’mon.

He hadn’t said please. He hadn’t, but she’d heard it. She heard him pleading with her not to do this to him even as he backed her into a wall and boxed her in, looming large in front of her and blocking out the watery threads of sunlight that cut through the shadows at the back of the prison.

C’mon, he said, and his voice was rough with hurt, not longing or arousal, but hearing him talk to her like that crossed a few wires in her brain, and all she could think of was him saying that to her as he knelt between her spread legs, tonguing her pussy lips apart and getting her nice and wet so she could take that thick cock of his inside her without it hurting too much, the cock that’s so close to her right now, just a zipper and a layer of cotton away from the tingling palms of her greedy hands.

For a split second, though, she’s convinced that she’ll never get her hands on that cock, let alone repair what she didn’t mean to break, that she went and ruined everything by kissing him at the most inappropriate moment ever when all he wanted to do was talk. But Daryl doesn’t rear back and yell at her like she was afraid he would, doesn’t wipe her saliva off his mouth and run away from her like she’d run from him earlier.

A split second. There’s just that one agonizing second of uncertainty, and then Daryl’s obliterating every doubt she ever had about the chances of her downright painful crush being reciprocated when he releases his held breath and pushes his tongue into her mouth.

Beth was already flushed from head to toe, hasn’t stopped blushing since she caught an eyeful of Daryl buck-naked and dripping wet, but now she feels scalded, skin fit to crisp right off like she’s been sitting outside long enough to get third-degree sunburn. That heat only intensifies when she registers the sensation of Daryl’s beard scratching up her cheeks and chin, a feeling that’s alien to her when she’s only ever kissed baby-faced boys who weren’t sporting much more than wispy peach fuzz on their upper lips. And his face might be rough as sandpaper, but his tongue is soft, so soft, hot and slick like her cunt that’s only growing wetter by the second ‘til she’s all but soaking right through her underwear. She’s so wet she thinks she could probably take him right now without so much as his fingers to stretch her out first, and, God, she wants to, she wants it, she wants it.

She whines into the kiss, fingers clenching in Daryl’s hair, and he swallows the noise like it’s oxygen and offers one of his own in return, pushing his big broad body into hers and shoving her up against the rough brick wall ‘til she can feel the corners of her notebook digging into her ass, but she’s not paying it any attention because now she can feel Daryl’s erection digging into her hip.

Oh, God. She whines again, choked and needy, because seeing him in the showers didn’t prepare her for feeling him, thick and hard and burning like a brand through his jeans, pushing insistently at the hollow of her hip like his tongue pushing insistently into her mouth. But as good as it feels where it is, it’d feel even better tucked up against her cunt and grinding against her clit, so she rocks even farther up on her toes ‘til her muscles strain and her legs quiver, trying to get the angle right, trying to sling a thigh over his hip so he can hit her where she needs him to —

Except he rocks back even as she rocks forward, pinning her shoulders to the wall when she tries to haul him back in and climb him. She squirms, so out of her head with wanting him it feels like her swollen clit’s pressing down on her brain, but when she sees the look on his face she goes limp, the reality of what she just did — of what they just did — hitting her like an open-palmed slap.

Daryl’s fingers flex against her shoulders. He looks even more wrecked than he did earlier, like kissing her hurt him more than her running away from him did, hair mussed from her fingers, lips swollen up fuller than she’s ever seen them and gleaming with spit. He licks them convulsively, and despite the anxiety that’s got her heart locked in a fist, the heat simmering in Beth’s cunt flares up when she watches him do it.

She can’t help it. Her eyes flick from his face to below his belt, and her toes curl in her boots in reaction to the sight of him, hard as a rock and straining at his zipper. A fresh round of blood sizzles in her cheeks, and she blinks and swallows and points her eyes back at his face, which closed itself off in the seconds she looked away from it.

God, Jesus. Exactly how bad has she messed up, here?

She’s not sure if she wants to know.

Fuck, Beth.” His fingers move against her shoulders again, but she doesn’t think it was deliberate this time. No, she’s pretty sure they’re trembling. “What the fuck’re you doin’, huh?”

The instinct to bolt rears its head, but she’s not going anywhere unless Daryl lets her, and besides, she can’t do that to him again. She can’t let herself be a coward.

“I’m sorry,” she says, fingers curling against her palms. She wants to touch his face again, but would he even let her right now? She’s surprised he did the first time. “I shouldn’t’ve — I shouldn’t’ve done that —”

Fresh hurt flickers across Daryl’s face before he puts a lid on it, and Beth wonders what she did wrong this time. Why can’t she go five seconds without putting her foot in her mouth?

“I jus’ fuckin’— ” His hands squeeze her shoulders one last time before slipping away to hang at his sides. They clench into fists, then go loose again, fingers twitching like he needs a cigarette. “You got me all fucked up, Beth. I don’t — I dunno what the fuck you want from me.”

Beth feels her eyes go wide. He doesn’t know what she wants from him? Didn’t she make that perfectly clear? Or did he miss the part where she lodged her tongue halfway down his throat?

“What —” She licks her lips, catches an aftertaste of nicotine. “What d’you mean?”

Daryl looks at her like she just asked him what two plus two equals. It’s kinda insulting, actually.

“What you mean, what do I mean? You haul ass every time I try an’ talk to you, an’ then you turn around and stick ya damn tongue in my mouth.” He brings a hand to that mouth and bites down on his thumbnail, gnawing it down to the quick. Mumbles, “Talk about your mixed fuckin’ signals, Christ.”

Okay, so he didn’t miss the part where she put her tongue in his mouth. That’s good to know. But —

“Are you sayin’.” She wraps her hand around her wrist and fiddles with her stack of bracelets, drags the toes of her boots through the gravel. There’s a nervous, borderline hysterical giggle caught in her throat, but she can’t get it all the way out. “Are you sayin’, um, that you didn’t mind it? The, uh. The kiss?” 

The tips of Daryl’s ears turn red, and his jaw clenches so hard that, for a second there, Beth’s afraid he’s gonna bite the tip of his thumb right off. But then he lets it go and sticks his hands in his pockets — Beth absolutely does not look below his waist — and says without meeting her eyes, “What the fuck you think, girl, Jesus.”

Beth fights not to get her hopes up. But her panic’s abating a little, at least, so she clears her throat and says, all reasonable, “I don’t know what to think. I’m not the only one who’s sending mixed signals, here.”

There. That was real adult of her, wasn’t it?

Daryl doesn’t look too impressed with her emotional maturity, though. He meets her eyes just to scowl at her and snaps, “Just — tell me what the fuck’s goin’ on here, alright? ‘Bout to drive me out my damn mind.”

Beth thinks back to those Cosmos Maggie used to read by the stack and reflects wryly that literally running away from the guy you’re interested in never made those top ten lists of tips on How to Drive Him Wild.  

But, okay. He said she’s sending out mixed signals here, and he’s right. She avoided him all dang day only to turn around and kiss the breath out of him — she’d be pretty confused, too, not to mention irritated.

So she’d best explain herself, shouldn’t she? No matter how painful it might be, she has to. She’s gotta fix whatever’s bothering him before she messes things up for good.

She shifts against the wall, the edges of her notebook digging into her ass again, and she thinks of what she was writing in it before Daryl showed up, a panicked scrawl of stream-of-consciousness, pouring her jumbled thoughts onto paper in an effort to make some sense of them.

It probably wouldn’t make much sense to anyone other than her — not that she wants anyone else reading it — but the gist of it was that she didn’t know what the hell to do with herself now that she knew exactly what Daryl looked like naked after months of picturing him that way, now that she knew for damn certain that he was, as Maggie so eloquently put it, packing heat.

Well, she could think of one thing to do with herself, anyway, but that would require Daryl’s willing participation, and if she was sure of anything, it was that that was never gonna happen, least of all now that she’d acted like such a damn freak. Whatever microscopic chance in hell she might’ve had of getting somewhere intimate with Daryl Dixon, she could kiss it goodbye.

That’s what she thought, anyway. Now —

Now she’s gotta clear the air before she goes and gets too ahead of herself again.


Daryl’s getting impatient. He was already impatient, and Beth knows she’s only pissing him off more by hesitating like this, but, God, why’s it so hard to just come out and say what she’s feeling after she’s already kissed him? You’d think it’d be easier, after getting past a milestone like that.

Apparently not.

“I was just —” She stumbles over what she’s trying to say, snaps one of her bracelets against her wrist to ground herself. “I was just embarrassed, okay, God. It’s not every day that you walk in on the guy you like naked, alright; I needed some time to get myself together.”

She chances a look at Daryl, who’s looking back at her like — well, like she just walloped him upside the head with a frying pan, actually.

“You —” The flush in his ears spreads to his face, and Beth really, really wants to press her lips against his red cheeks to feel the heat there. “Huh?”

What’s he acting so surprised for? Beth rolls her eyes even as her own blush returns with a vengeance. “What, you think I go around kissing guys I don’t like? C’mon, Daryl, really?”

Daryl scowls some more and kicks up a spray of gravel. “Then what the hell you run away for, you fuckin’ like me so much?”

Beth’s mouth pops open. Is he for real? “I told you, I was embarrassed.”

“That all?”

As soon as he says it, he shuts his mouth so fast his teeth click together, angling his head so he’s not looking at her straight on anymore. He kicks up more gravel, only now he looks closer to uncomfortable than annoyed.

“What d’you mean, is that all?” Daryl doesn’t answer her, and Beth’s fingers twitch as she fights not to take his hand, unsure of her welcome. “Daryl, what’re you sayin’?”

For a moment, she’s convinced he’s not gonna answer her, that he’ll turn around and walk away for real. His bangs shield his eyes, but she sees his mouth twist like he tasted something sour, and he pulls his hands out of his pockets to start chewing on his nails again.

Just when she’s about to prompt him again — because she’s gonna pull this out of him if it kills her — he says, sullen and halting and so quiet that Beth has to strain to hear him even though they’re still standing close together, “Thought you… fuck, I’unno. Thought you didn’t like the way it looked, or somethin’.”

It takes Beth a second. Takes her a few seconds, because he can’t — he can’t be saying what she thinks he’s saying.

Can he?

Beth swallows a disbelieving laugh, because she doesn’t want him thinking she’s laughing at him. It’s just — how can he think there’s anything wrong with the way he looks? Not just his dick, although that’s really, really nice, but the rest of him, too. There’s those arms of his, to start with, and then those shoulders that she just wants to climb, and the hair on his chest and stomach that she wants to feel chafing at her bare breasts, and —

And, right. This is Daryl. Daryl, who never talks about the scars on his back even though they all know about them. Daryl, who still sometimes snaps like a cornered animal when someone tries to touch him without warning.

Of course he’d assume there was something wrong with him. Of course he would.

Beth’s heart clenches, and she has to blink several times in quick succession to keep tears from spilling over. God, she wants to hunt down every last person who ever made him feel like he wasn’t any good, like he wasn’t worth being around or wanted, and take it out of their asses.

But violence isn’t the answer here, is it? Violence was what caused him to feel like this. So it’s gentleness that she turns to, when she grazes her fingertips over his cheek, careful not to startle him. He looks up at her from under his bangs, wary, but he doesn’t snap at her or back off, so she cups his face in her palm and rubs her thumb up and down the sharp arc of his cheekbone.

She smiles.

“That’s not it at all,” she says, whispering even though they’re all alone back here. It just strikes her as something that needs to be said quietly. Softly. “I —” She blushes again, then giggles, because it’s just so silly of her, to be feeling this shy after everything. “I like the way you look.” 

Daryl’s lips part, breath gusting hot and damp across her fingers, and for a moment, he looks so soft and vulnerable and hopeful that Beth wants to lay his head on her chest and just hold him, but then he’s closing himself off again, stepping out from under her hand with a scoff.

“Don’t fuckin’ bullshit me, girl.” The look on his face is annoyed, almost angry, but there’s something raw and cracked in his voice like he’s about to start crying. “Don’t —”

He doesn’t finish, which is just as well, because Beth wasn’t gonna let him.

“I ain’t — I ain’t bullshitting you.” It’s not like her to swear like this, but she’s angry, okay, not at Daryl, but at the people who made him feel this way about himself. She catches his hand and presses it to the space over her heart, like if he hears it beating fast enough, he’ll have no choice but to trust that she means what she’s saying.

“I wouldn’t lie to you,” she says, staring him hard in the face even though he won’t meet her eyes. “I wouldn’t, okay? Not about anything, and definitely not about this. I like the way you look, Daryl. I like you. Just believe me, okay? Please.”

It’s funny. He wouldn’t say please even when he was pleading with her, and now she’s saying please, but she’s not really asking. She’s telling him. She’s willing him through sheer bullheadedness to hear what she’s saying and take it to heart.

Daryl’s hand twitches against her, clenched fingers loosening one by one. He looks at her from under his hair, muscles pulling in his throat when he swallows. He’s blushing harder than ever.

He swallows again. Beth hears his feet scuffing through the gravel, but she doesn’t look down. She can’t look away, because if she does, she’ll ruin any chance she ever had of getting him to believe her.

When he speaks, it’s in a small, quiet voice that she’s never heard from him before, like a little kid who’s afraid of being let down.

“You mean that?”

Beth breathes out a laugh, but it’s soft and shaky enough for her to hope that he won’t think she’s laughing at him.

“Yeah.” She skates her thumb across his scuffed knuckles. “Yeah, I mean it.” 

His fingers twitch some more, then fold around hers, and something inside Beth breaks open and bleeds warmth all through her. She’s never seen Daryl look at anyone the way he’s looking at her — shoulders relaxed, eyes gone soft, like he’s relieved. Like he’s thankful, because he was afraid she was gonna take something away from him, but she gave him something instead. 

And, just. Thank God. 

“So, uh.” His thumb chafes her hand, and she can’t tell if he’s trying to soothe her or himself. Maybe both. “What now?”

That’s a good question. Beth chews over the answer before settling on, “Whatever you want.”

Daryl blinks like that wasn’t the reply he was expecting. “I want…” He trails off, huffing like he’s annoyed, only Beth doesn’t think he’s annoyed with her. When he finishes his thought, it’s in a mumble. “I’unno. Jus’ want what you want.”

Oh. Well. She can work with that.

“Okay.” She slides her fingers back into his hair to reel him in, pulling the hand she’s holding in hers down to wrap around her hip. She nudges her mouth against the corner of his. “Well, right now I want you to kiss me.”

Daryl swallows audibly. His lips graze Beth’s when he talks. “I can, uh. Guess I can do that.”  

And, true to his word, he kisses her first this time.

His mouth is tentative and uncertain as it moves over hers, unpracticed, and Beth can’t help but wonder how often he’s done this before. Not a lot, she doesn’t think, and that just makes her kiss him harder, hold onto him tighter, the thought that she’s given him something he never had before. The thought that he maybe never even wanted to do this until he met her.

And while his lips may have started out uncertain, he’s gaining confidence the longer they kiss, the more she shows him with her mouth what she wants him to do with his. When she parts her lips a little wider, his follow suit. She nips at his bottom lip and his breath rushes out, pitching up into a groan as his mouth meets hers a little deeper, a little rougher. When she rolls her tongue into his mouth, he gets kinda eager and thrusts his into hers — almost the way he did the first time, when it was all frantic and unprecedented, only now he takes his time. Licks into her mouth like he wants to commit her taste buds to memory, like he wants to physically pull the breathless whimpers outta her throat so that he knows he’s doing this right.

And, boy, is he ever

His hands on her are sure from the get-go, burning hot and heavy through her jeans as he clutches at her hips and yanks her closer, ‘til her crotch is rubbing up against his the way she wanted it to earlier right before he broke things off. She strains up on her toes to meet him, links her arms tight around his neck to hold him close, to keep her balance as she hitches a thigh over his hip so her pussy’s tilted up and riding his cock through their clothes. Her toes curl when she feels him grinding into her, and she stops kissing him just so she can tip her head back and moan.

He makes a dissatisfied noise and chases her, adhering his lips to hers and knocking her head against the wall with the force of his kiss. He must hear the thunk of her skull hitting the brick, or maybe he feels her wince, because he’s pulling back a second later and saying, “Shit, you okay?”

Beth rubs the crown of her skull and giggles, and Daryl looks at her funny. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay. I’ve had worse.”

Daryl continues to eyeball her, rubbing his thumbs against her hipbones where her shirt rode up. “You concussed or somethin’?”

“No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“’Cause you’re actin’ fuckin’ looney.”

Beth bites back a smile and says, very solemnly, “That’s the usual, though, isn’t it?”

Daryl rolls his eyes, then swings them around so quick it leaves Beth a little breathless — like she wasn’t already breathless from how hard and hungry he’d kissed her — so it’s his back that’s to the wall. He runs a gentle hand over the curve of her skull before settling it back on her hip and giving her a squeeze.  

“Don’t wanna hurt you,” he mumbles, butting his nose against hers in a way that feels apologetic.

“You didn’t,” she says truthfully, because the soreness has already begun to fade. She runs her hands down his chest and tucks her fingers into his belt loops. Tips her head back so he has to look her in the face. “You won’t.”

And I won’t hurt you, either.

Daryl’s mouth twists, and Beth doesn’t want him looking that way, least of all right now, so she leans up and kisses that lopsided curve ‘til it softens, ‘til he makes a contented rumbling noise in his chest like the purr of a big cat. And though the kiss started out sweet, started out as a reassurance, it doesn’t stay that way for long. 

No, she sucks once on his tongue and that purr in his chest turns to a groan that breaks apart on her tongue, so she can swallow it down, so she can feel how bad he wants her crackling hot and needy in the pit of her stomach. They’re straining at each other again, bodies flush together but it’s still not close enough. More more more, it’s all she can think, that she needs more of him, all of him. Beth’s fingers tighten in Daryl’s belt loops when the calluses on his hands scrape her bare hips, before they slide around to cup her ass and lift her almost clear off her feet.

Oh, Lord. He could probably fuck her standing up if he wanted without breaking a sweat — he could do it right here. And, Jesus, she wants him to, but that’s probably a bad idea. The back of the prison’s deserted, yeah, but there’s no guarantee it’ll stay that way.

He can’t fuck her here. He can’t. But maybe they’ll have enough time for a little something else, at least.

Beth feels Daryl’s erection pressing into her belly and amends that thought because, well, maybe little’s not the right word for it.

She breaks the kiss and licks his lower lip when he huffs out a whine. Tugs on his belt loops. “Can I, um.” She tilts her face away from his when he tries to kiss her again, not because she doesn’t want him kissing her but because she’s trying to talk, here. “Can I touch you?”

He squeezes her ass, hiking her up and wedging his thigh between hers. “Already are,” he mumbles between the hot, damp kisses he’s pressing to her throat, like if she won’t let him kiss her on the mouth, then he’s at least gotta get his lips on her somehow.

Beth tries to huff at him, but it turns into a giggle when his scruff tickles her below her ear. And he’s always calling her a smartass, jeez.

“No, um, I meant.” Beth untangles her fingers from his belt loop and hesitates a second before smoothing her palm over the bulge in his jeans, tingling from head to toe when he whimpers right up against her throat. “I meant — like this. Please?” 

Fuck.” His hips jack forward, this stuttering movement that’s more instinct than intent, and he bares his teeth against her throat. “Fuckin’ — should be sayin’ that shit to you, girl, damn.”

He doesn’t have to, though, because she’s already taking her hand off of him just so she can unsnap her own jeans, fumbling down her zipper before she can overthink it. Daryl must feel what she’s doing, because then he looks down and sees it, and Beth can feel the groan that tears out of his throat deep in her cunt like the start of an orgasm.

“You can touch me, too,” she tells him, wrapping her hand around his wrist and guiding him down to cup her cunt through her open jeans, biting her lip on a whimper when she feels his fingers burning hot through denim and cotton.

She clutches his shirt in one hand and shoves the other between them again, chafing her palm against his erection, nails catching on his zipper. She presses her mouth to the sun-browned skin at the base of his throat, tongues up salt and the mad beat of his pulse. “C’mon, I want you to, please.”

“Fuckin’ — Christ, Beth.” He squeezes her through her jeans, makes her jerk and whimper in his strong grip, then just shoves his hand down the front of her underwear like he’s been needing more of her, too. She can’t even tell which of them makes the louder noise when his fingers slide through the mess he’s made of her. “I’m gonna — fuck.”

Yeah. Beth can’t string a coherent sentence together right now, either.

And as good as his hand on her feels — as amazing as it feels — she still wants to touch him without anything in the way, too, so that’s what she sets to doing, fumbling to unclip his belt and almost biting clear through her lip when his calluses scrape her clit like they did her hips. She yanks so hard at his zipper it’s a wonder it doesn’t break, pushes past the worn elastic of his waistband and into his shorts where it’s warm and humid and she can wrap her hand as far around him as it’ll go.

Which isn’t all that far because, oh. God.

For one split, hysterical second, Beth wonders if he’ll even fit, but then he’s swearing in her ear and bucking into her fist, throbbing with blood and slick with pre-come, and she decides that she’ll make him fit, because now that she’s had him in her hand, there’s no way in hell she’s not getting him in her cunt.

God, Daryl.” She only lets him go long enough to push his shorts out of the way so she can jerk him off the way she wants to, licks more sweat off his throat and buries her face in the crook of his neck and shoulder to muffle the noises she makes when his thumb rubs at her clit. “God, you just — you feel so good. Can’t believe I get to touch you like this, Jesus.”

Daryl’s temple knocks into hers when he shakes his head. His thumb stays on her clit, but the tip of his index finger nudges at the opening to her cunt, and it sucks at him like a wet, hungry mouth. “Got it fuckin’ backwards girl, shit.”

“Uh-uh.” Beth shakes her head, too, squeezes him in her fist and tries to remember how to do this through the hot red haze in her brain, how to touch him in a way that’s not too hard but not too soft, either. “Never thought you’d want me like this, never thought you’d let me touch you. Wanna touch you all the time, God, you gotta let me, please.”

Daryl makes a noise like she just stabbed him in the gut and pushes his finger all the way into her, too sudden and deep in a way that’d probably hurt if she wasn’t so dripping wet. Her muscles ripple around him, and he presses his hot face against her throat so she can feel his jaw clench.

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Beth,” he says, just like he had in the showers, only not that way at all. “You tryna fuckin’ kill me? Been hard-up for you so damn long, want you so fuckin’ bad, ‘m the one should be beggin’ you.”

Beth blinks, slow and dumbstruck, and her hand tenses around him before she forces it loose, not wanting to hurt him. She turns her face into his and plucks a kiss off his panting mouth, then another, swallowing the noises he makes for her when she rubs her thumb over his flared head, so soft and wet and all for her.

“You don’t have to,” she promises him, smoothing her hand back down to the base of him before jacking it back up, and even she can tell that she’s not very good at this, but Daryl doesn’t seem to mind, or even notice her lack of finesse. No, ‘cause he’s whimpering behind his clenched teeth and all but squirming against the brick wall, fucking her fist like it’s her cunt. She presses her lips to his rough cheek, runs her tongue through his stubble. “You don’t have to, okay, if you want me you can have me. I’m all yours, Daryl, I swear.”

That pulls another pained noise out of him, like she’s killing him but he doesn’t really mind it, and he pushes another thick finger into her pussy, gets her riding his hand the way she wants to ride his dick.

“Don’t fuckin’ — say that shit to me, girl, ‘less you fuckin’ mean it.”

“I do,” she huffs, defensive even in her desperation, because she doesn’t want him doubting this any more than she wants him doubting how much she needs him, how good he makes her feel. “Never wanted anybody the way I want you, I mean it.”

He shakes his head like he still doesn’t believe her, and when she rocks back to look at his face, she finds his eyes clamped shut, lower lip caught between his teeth. She doesn’t know if he looks that way because of what she’s saying or because of her hand on his dick, but she still leans forward to kiss him until his teeth let his lip go and he kisses her back, sloppy and desperate and like he's never gonna stop.

“I mean it,” she repeats, mumbling the words against his mouth and soothing the dents he left behind on his lip with her tongue. Her hand on his dick is slower now, grip loose and gentle, and it strikes her that she hasn’t really looked at him, was too caught up in feeling him, so she looks down now, and what she sees makes her cunt clamp down around his fingers like she’s about to come. 

Because, Jesus, if she thought he looked big in the showers, of course he’s gonna look even bigger now that he’s erect, shaft overflowing her palm and gleaming with the pre-come that’s leaking from his slit. He’s flushed a red so deep it’s nearly purple, straining at his skin like he’ll die if he doesn’t come, if she doesn’t make him come. His hand’s still shoved down her pants, too, wrist bumping hers as he works at her faster, making her toes curl in her boots, like he needs to make her come just as bad. 

Daryl whimpers, and she wants to soothe him with a kiss, but she can’t look away from her hand on his dick, sliding deliberately up and then back down, slick and easy and drenched in the smell of him, and, Jesus, she just knows she’s gonna be lapping the taste of him off her fingers when they’re done here.

God, Daryl.” She presses her forehead to his flushed throat, keeps her eyes on her hand jacking him off and the flex of his hand as he does the same to her. Watching herself do this to him feels nearly as good as his fingers inside of her. “Can’t believe how big you are; think you’re gonna split me in half when you fuck me.”

He fucks her fist harder, whimpers louder, thrusts his fingers deeper into her cunt and lets go of her ass just to grope her breasts, and she can’t believe she’s talking like this; didn’t think she had it in her, but he brings it out of her because she wants him to know how much she wants him, how good he is just for her.

“You’re gonna, right?” Her clit’s tingling like a live wire right now, heat spooling up in her cunt, and she jacks him faster because she doesn’t wanna get there without him. “God, please tell me you’re gonna, I want you to so bad.”

“Yeah — fuck.” The sounds they make together are deliciously obscene, all sticky wet, and Beth’s clit actually spasms when she thinks about the noises they’ll make when he finally fucks her. “Yeah, girl, I’m fuckin’ gonna — ain’t gonna let you up ‘til you can’t walk straight, swear to fuckin’ God —”

“Mmm-uh.” Beth has to sink her teeth into Daryl’s throat when she comes, because she’ll draw every walker in a ten-mile radius to the prison if she doesn’t, feeling the pounding in her clit in every part of her body, tingling hot and cold all across her hips and down into her thighs, leaning hard into Daryl because otherwise she’d just up and fall over —

And, oh, God, feeling her come must’ve been the thing that finally set him off, because then he’s twitching in her fist and bursting thick and wet down her fingers, trailing down her wrist, her arm, probably staining her pants but she doesn’t care, she doesn’t; no, she’s coming even harder because she’s the one who did this to him, who gave it to him.

It was her. All her.

She keeps sliding her hand up and down his shaft ‘til he whines and squeezes her cunt, drags his calluses across her own oversensitive flesh ‘til she’s squirming. He pulls his fingers out of her with a slurp, and Beth lifts her head off his shoulder just in time to watch him tuck them into his mouth and suck them clean.

Oh, God. A shudder rocks through her, nearly knocks her clean off her feet again, but he keeps her steady. Looks like he just might fall over himself when she takes her hand off of him and pushes her fingers into her mouth, too.

It’s bitter and not exactly pleasant, but it came from him, which means she wants more.

She pulls her fingers out of her mouth with a pop, gives him a sleepy, nervous smile. Fiddles with the hem of his shirt — yeah, they definitely made a mess — and says, “You, uh. You doin’ okay there?”

Daryl blinks at her, dazed or surprised or both, then snorts. “Don’t think that’s the word for it.”

Beth’s stomach gives an anxious flutter. “Better than okay?”

Daryl doesn’t answer right away. He looks down, lashes trembling against his cheeks. He tugs on her shirt. “Messed your clothes up.”

She shrugs. “I can wash ‘em.”

“Guess you can.” He tucks his fingers beneath her shirt, and her belly clenches under the light scratch of his ragged nails. He cups her face in his other hand, still a little sticky from her come and his spit, and pulls her chin up so he can cover her mouth with his.

Beth hangs on tight and smiles, and she feels it when Daryl’s lips twitch up, too. 


Definitely better than okay. 

Chapter Text

Daryl has a vague memory of telling himself he needs to curb-stomp this jealousy bullshit, but then Beth went and sucked his brains clean outta his mouth, so it’s not his goddamn fault when his gut twists up and sucker-punches him soon as he sees her talking to one of the Woodbury kids in the prison yard.

It’s not Beth’s fault, either. He’s not gonna blame her for something he wanted to do just as bad (more, even, though he’s got a feeling she’d fight him on that). Something he was a real active participant in. Something he plans on bein’ a real active participant in every chance he gets, preferably several times a day if he can swing it, or however often he can get, whatever — so long as Beth wants to, anyway, but he’s pretty sure she wouldn’t complain none.

But he ain’t gonna get so much as a minute alone with her if this punk kid in a goddamn hoodie won’t take several fuckin’ steps away from her and keep right on walkin’.

Daryl’s not gonna hit him. Hasn’t got a reason to, but he still kinda wants to, and he just. He can’t go losin’ his head like that, it ain’t gonna do nobody any favors and it might piss Beth off, besides.

It’s just — fuck. He knows this ain’t no excuse, but it’s just that he ain’t used to this kinda shit. He’s never been jealous before, not like this, not over a person. Might’ve had a sore spot for all those kids who had it better than him growing up but, considering they’re livin’ through the end of the world here, Daryl’s mostly packed that shit away to deal with never the fuck again.

Beth, though… Ain’t no reason she should want anything to do with him in the first damn place, so excuse the fuck outta him if he’s scared for the day she figures that out and cuts him loose.

Ah, fuck. See, if he doesn’t wanna go pissing Beth off for real, he’ll shut that shit down before he can accidentally spill those beans and she puts her boot up his ass for so much as thinkin’ it.

So, yeah. This jealousy bullshit’s not gonna do him any good, is what he’s saying. He can be reasonable about this; he’s gotta be.

Although… Actually. Daryl’s mouth twists into a scowl when the dumb kid who’s chatting up Beth reaches out to tug at the corner of her shirt, hand lingering way too fuckin’ long at her hip. Maybe reasonable would be to do whatever the hell he wants, and storm on over there and kick the pasty-ass little shithead’s nuts up his damn throat.

Christ. Daryl brings his clenched fist to his mouth and bites down hard on his knuckle, like maybe if he breaks the skin and tastes blood, it’ll be enough to snap him the fuck outta it. He already said he wasn’t gonna hit him; he can’t go beating on no kid, for starters — hell, he’d be surprised if the guy’s balls’ve even dropped yet, just look at him — and from the little he’s paid attention to him up ‘til now, he seems decent enough. Rick wouldn’t’ve let him stay in the prison if he wasn’t.

Beth’s already stepping back, anyhow, brushing the kid’s hand away with a smile most folks’d probably call friendly or — what the hell is it? Coy — but Daryl’s been at the business end of Beth’s polite freeze-outs before, and he knows too well what that looks like ‘cause he hates that shit. Doesn’t so much right now, since it’s not aimed at him this time, but the kid — what’s his name? Zach? Xander? Christ, if it’s that second one, kid might be due to get his ass kicked — can’t seem to tell, ‘cause he’s still giving her calf eyes.

Goddammit, is that how he looks when he’s looking at Beth? Like somebody hit him upside the head with a pan and now he’s just a fuckin’ dumbass or somethin’?

Shit. Daryl gnaws at a thumbnail. He’d bet his crossbow that it is, ‘cause he’s seen the way he looks when he’s been concussed, and it’s the same fuckin’ feeling he gets when he’s close enough to smell the sweat behind Beth’s ears, or when she turns that sunshine smile on him for no damn reason he can tell, or when she grips his vest and spins him around to face her ‘cause she was talking and he’d better damn well listen to her.

Christ, Daryl thinks again. Christ, he needs to get it together, or else he’s gonna get hard just thinkin’ about Beth tossin’ his ass around like that.

Ain’t no wonder Carol’s onto his shit. He’s just lucky Maggie isn’t, ‘cause, yeah, they get along a helluva lot better than they did back on the farm, but he damn well knows how Maggie can get about Beth. He wouldn’t be the first guy who got his clocked cleaned over Maggie Greene’s precious baby sister, apocalypse or no, that’s for sure.

It’s just too bad Maggie ain’t around right now, come to think of it, ‘cause she would’ve been over there in a flash, glaring down her nose at Zach (yeah, ain’t no way Daryl’s calling him Xander, even if that is his fuckin’ name), and making not-so-veiled threats about target practice. She’s probably off someplace fucking Glenn, Daryl thinks with a snort, only to flush even hotter than the unforgiving afternoon sun when he thinks of what he could be off doing with Beth.

So his dick stirs in his jeans, after all, and he shifts against the brick wall he was leaning against while he had a smoke and kept a (hopefully) covert eye on Beth. And now that he’s gone and opened that can of worms, well, he can’t help but think of the last time he was pressed up against a wall, even though he shouldn’t be thinking that shit in public. The last time sure was a helluva lot more fun than this time, though, what with Beth’s hot little hand shoved down his pants and her mouth on his neck, that pretty pink mouth sayin’ all sorts of nasty shit to him that made his knees go goddamn weak for her.

Fuck. He reaches down to adjust himself — again, covert — only for the skin on the side of his face to start prickling, and he whips his head around to find fuckin’ Merle grinning at him from across the courtyard, homed in on him like a damn hawk and looking like he’s one second away from cackling at the top of his damn lungs.


He flips Merle off and turns away before his brother can notice the flush in his cheeks. Zach didn’t fuck off in the time he looked away, and while he’s keeping his damn hands to himself now, he’s still looking at Beth with way too much interest — and that’s the nicest word for it — for Daryl’s peace of mind. Probably ain’t gonna have no peace at all ‘til the kid gets lost, and he don’t seem like he’s gonna be doing that any time soon.

Daryl wavers, torn between letting things be — ‘cause Beth said she liked him, right? He’s gotta have some faith in her, no matter what his shit-for-brains tries to tell him otherwise — and heading on over there to break things up before he gives himself a damn aneurysm. Merle’s probably still watching, and he’d be sure to give Daryl all kinds’a shit for it later, but —

But then Beth laughs at something Zach says — has she ever laughed at something Daryl said? — and, yeah. Nope. Fuck it.

He’s moving before he can talk himself outta it, cutting through the crowd that’s amassed in the prison yard, tunnel vision all for Beth — and since when is his tunnel vision for anything else these days, anyway? — and he doesn’t stop ‘til he’s come up beside her, ‘til his arm bumps hers and he can smell the sun in her hair.

Zach breaks off whatever he was saying to look at him, but Daryl only spares the kid a brief glare before he’s looking at Beth, who’s smiling up at him all puzzled but pleased. There’s that little crease between her eyebrows, and Daryl’s fingers twitch but he keeps ‘em still otherwise, mindful not to go touching her when there’s so many other people around.

Beth don’t seem to have the same hang-ups, though. Not quite, ‘cause her fingers brush the side of his thigh and they stick around afterwards, and he doesn’t think that’s just by accident.

“Hey,” she says, and she sounds happy to see him, too. Don’t that just beat all? “What’s up?”

Nothin’, was what he was gonna say, but if it was really nothing, wouldn’t that raise some eyebrows? People don’t just go up to other people for no reason unless they got something going on, right? Daryl certainly don’t go outta his way just to make conversation.

So he mumbles, “Gotta talk to you about somethin’,” all the while deeply resenting the fact that Zach ain’t fucked off by now. What is it with this kid, Christ. Does he not know Daryl wants to kick his ass?

That line between Beth’s eyebrows deepens. “Everything okay?”

“S’fine,” Daryl says. Maybe shouldn’t, but he doesn’t want her to start worrying over Judith or any of the other kids when there’s no need to. “Jus’ need a minute, s’all.”

Now he snags the hem of Beth’s shirt, and it don’t escape his notice that she doesn’t brush him off the way she did Zach. No, she shuffles forward, hardly at all, just enough that Daryl notices that, too, and only ‘cause it makes his knuckles nudge up on the flare of her bare hip. He thinks she feels it when his fingers twitch this time, because then her mouth does it just the same.

“Okay.” Her fingers touch his thigh again and, yeah, that’s no accident. Daryl feels pretty good about that, even when she turns her attention back to Zach for a second. “Sorry, I’ll see you later.”

“Yeah, no problem.” Kid’s grinning a little too much for someone who’s gettin’ the brush-off. “Looking forward to it.”

He fuckin’ — winks, what the hell is that? Daryl doesn’t bother resisting the urge to openly roll his eyes. “C’mon,” he mutters to Beth, and tugs at her shirt to get her movin’.

She goes without any hassle, at least. Doesn’t even mouth off at him when he doesn’t let go of her shirt, though she does giggle, and she’s gotta pick up the pace some to keep up as he walks her back to the prison.

Daryl glances at her as they go, asks, “So, uh. What’d he want, anyway?”

“Zach?” Okay, so that one is his name. Good. “I dunno. Same thing you want, maybe?”

His jaw clicks, and he tugs her along with a little more intent. “That shit ain’t fuckin’ funny. Damn, you want me to kick his ass or somethin’?”

“Do you wanna kick his ass?”

“Yeah, matter’a fact, I goddamn do,” Daryl growls as they duck into the shadows of the front doors. He’s gotta blink a few times to clear the sunspots outta his eyes, but then he turns that glare on Beth. “That alright with you?”

She’s the one who rolls her eyes this time around. “No, it’s not. You don’t gotta act like some big Neanderthal, y’know.”

“Yeah?” Daryl says, but he drops it at that. He’s barely interested in her smartass remarks at the moment, ‘cause at the moment he’s a little too busy yanking her around the nearest corner, crowding her against the wall, and covering her mouth with his before she can keep on givin’ him shit.

He kisses her hot and hungry, tongue first, sorta like she did the first time, only riled up even more ‘cause he’s still kinda pissed off. Not at Beth, just at this whole damn prison, at every guy who’s looked at her one time too many, and he’s gotta remind himself that at the end of the day at the end of the world, he’s what she wants.

Yeah, even with all these new people, it’s slim pickings, but there’s still guys here probably better’n him — hell, maybe Zach’s even one of ‘em — but none of them are the ones Beth’s givin’ a chance, are they? That’s all on him, and she wants him. She wants his scars and his hands on her, his shitty attitude and his dick, she wants every inch of everything, no matter how ugly it is, ‘cause she ain’t ever gonna think any of it is.

So he licks into her mouth like he did the other day, restless and needy and tracking spit all across her pretty sweet lips. Cradles her jaw in one hand and shoves the other one between them to rub at her cunt, hot and humid even through the layers of her clothes, he knows she’s getting wet and he’s the one gone and done this to her.

He wants to do it to her some more. Whatever she wants, whatever’s gonna make her feel good, ‘cause maybe he’s a miserable son of a bitch sometimes but he knows he can do good by her. She makes him want to.

Must be doing okay so far, because Beth gasps and laughs all breathless when he lets her up for air. “This what you needed to talk to me about?”

“Uh-huh.” He spreads his fingers underneath her chin, pushes her head back so he can suck on her neck. Feels the skipping beat of her pulse beneath the rough pads of his fingertips, the desperate sloppy swirl of his tongue. “You listenin’?”

Mmm-huh.” She nods, hands smoothing down his chest to his waist, grip pinching his middle when she holds on tight. Her hips tilt up to meet the insistent rub of his hand on her cunt, almost like he’s got his fingers inside her and she’s tryna fuck herself on them. Just like she did the other day, and, Jesus, but that makes his eyes cross just thinkin’ about it.

God damn it, he wants to do that again, but then she goes and tries to talk sense into him, even as she’s mouthing at his jaw — “You’re gonna get us into trouble.”

“Like you give a shit,” Daryl mutters against her mouth. His hand slips around from her front to palm her ass instead, to hoist her up on her toes so she’s closer to him.

And, shit. He’s got his hard-on pressed up into the space between her legs now, and she’s still got the nerve to give him lip.

Her hands come up to scrub through his stubble, and she giggles the words into his mouth, nipping at his bottom lip while she’s at it — “Feelin’ a little territorial today, huh, Mr. Dixon?”

Fuck if that don’t make him harder.

“Beth, fuck,” he groans into her mouth, and she sucks on his tongue and swallows down everything he’s got to say to her. “C’mon, don’t go tryna piss me off.”

“‘M not,” she promises. He shoves his hands up her shirt to feel her skin. “I wouldn’t do that, Daryl, c’mon, you know I just want you.”

Hell, but that gets to him like a knife straight to the heart. Ain’t ever gonna get tired of hearing it, though; thinks he might need to hear it. And here Beth is, givin’ it to him whenever he wants, like she knows how bad he needs her.

He’s not gonna say he whimpers into the next kiss he lays on her, but Beth holds him tighter so, hell, maybe that’s exactly what he did.

“Tell me that shit again,” he pants into her mouth, pleads with her, while he works his hips, thrusts his hard dick between her legs like there’s no barriers of denim and cotton stopping him from fucking her here and now up against this cold concrete wall.

Beth moans, this pitiful, pretty sound that makes him damn near desperate to fuck her. She twists her fingers into his hair and circles her hips up up up, giving him her cunt same as she had the last time.

“I want you,” she tells him, just like he told her to. She plucks breathless kisses off his swollen lips and rides the hard line of his cock and, fuckin’ Lord, he wants to get in her pussy so bad, wants her riding him for real. “God, Daryl, I want you so bad —”

He palms her tits over her bra, muttering curses into her skin as his mouth tracks a path across the delicate curve of her jaw. He’s fuckin’ had it with all these roadblocks, all these clothes, keepin’ him from touching every inch of her, stopping his fingerprints from embedding themselves into her bare skin. He’s never been this fucking greedy before, never wanted anything so much as he does Beth, it’s like an ache buried deep in his bones that he can’t ever relieve, no matter how much of her he gets. She could give him goddamn everything and even still he doesn’t think that ache’ll ever go away.

And maybe he doesn’t want it to.

“Jesus, Beth.” It hurts to talk, hurts to do anything that’s not touching her. One hand slips from her shirt to hold tight to her hip, fingers spread and digging into her ass. Works his hips harder, pushing her up on the wall so that his knuckles take a beating from the concrete, but like hell is he gonna let her go for anything. “C’mon, wanna get you off again —”

She catches his mouth with hers, swallows down what he wants to say to her, what he wants to do to her. Fuck, he could stay around this corner with her all day, could keep her pinned to this wall and have his fucking way with her however she wants it.

But then —

Jesus fucking Christ, but then he picks up on the echo of someone else’s footsteps down the next hall.

“Shit.” He lets his lips linger on Beth’s for another half-second before he pulls off them with a damp pop, straightens her shirt while she hurries to smooth out her hair. He did a fuckin’ number on that and didn’t even realize.

Daryl adjusts himself, tries to settle the hell down so his hard-on’s not so damn obvious. Swipes a hand across his mouth to clean up the spit, but there’s no hiding the beard burn on Beth’s cheeks or the bruise blossoming beneath her jaw. He bets he’s got one or two of those himself. And her skin’s getting even pinker by the second, too, and he can hear her swallow, can see her fingers tremble as she fusses with the elastic band in her hair.

“Looks fine,” Daryl assures her, voice gone hoarse but hopefully no less soothing. He runs a hand through her ponytail, rubs his thumb over a pink patch next to her lips. “S’fine, Beth, y’alright?”

“Yeah, I — jeez, as long as that ain’t Maggie,” she whispers back.

Fair enough, Daryl figures, and steps back to give Beth some breathing room just as the owner of those footsteps rounds the corner. Would’ve been nice if it’d been one of the Woodbury folks, one of those people who don’t know them all that well, who probably wouldn’t give a shit, but at least it ain’t Maggie — or Hershel, for that matter.

“Hey,” Rick says when he spots them. “I was just lookin’ for you, Beth. I gotta work the fence. Would you mind takin’ Judith off Carl’s hands for a bit? Think he’s goin’ a little stir-crazy.”

“Sure.” Beth’s voice is kinda breathy, but she doesn’t linger over it, just nods and tucks some more loose hair behind her ears. Daryl sticks his thumbnail in his mouth and chews. “Of course, yeah, I’ll head up there now.”

She fidgets with the hem of her shirt, like she’s deliberating for a second before she looks at Daryl. “So I’ll see you later? You got guard duty tonight, right?”

“Uh.” He frowns a little because, what? “Right. Yeah.”

“Gonna teach me how to do a little night shootin’ with that crossbow?” she eggs him on, not half so nervous now as she grins at him. Seems like givin’ him shit calms her down, and, yeah. He probably should’ve expected that.

He is on duty later, but Beth keepin’ him company wasn’t something they’d talked about. Not like it’s a hassle or nothin’, because they got people manning the fence at night, and truth is there ain’t a lot to do up in the tower once the sun’s gone down. Not even Daryl can see far enough into the dark for it to make much difference, so when he takes a night off, most folks have started using the space for all sorts of other shit after hours.

Girl’s setting him up, and it’d make Daryl scowl if his gut wasn’t swooping with anticipation at the prospect of what they’re really gonna be doing up in that guard tower.

So his voice still comes up rough when he says, “Yeah, see you then,” but he’s not all that worried about it.

Or, he’s not ‘til Beth’s grin goes wider and she gives them both a wave, skipping off upstairs and leaving him alone with Rick, who looks at him like maybe Daryl should be kinda worried, after all.

“What?” he says, with enough of an edge of attitude to it that Rick’s eyebrows go up.

“Could ask you the same thing.” Rick crosses his arms, and the lift of his eyebrows looks almost expectant. “What was that all about?”

“Nothin’. Jus’ what she said.” Daryl shoves his hands in his pockets to stop himself pickin’ at his nail beds. “Girl wants to learn to shoot. Ain’t like anybody else is gonna teach her.”

That much is true. God love ‘em or whatever, but Hershel and Maggie are so preoccupied with protecting Beth that they’re not too keen on letting her learn to protect herself. That shit’s not gonna fly, and truth is it’s rubbed Daryl the wrong way from the start. He’s not gonna use up all of the time they manage to get together to teach her how to use a weapon, but he resolves to get her somethin’ worthwhile to defend herself other than her own smartass mouth.

Rick’s likely to see the logic of that, but he doesn’t seem as convinced as Daryl’d like him to be. He’s already got Carol and Merle on his ass about this Beth shit, alright, he don’t need anybody else chimin’ in.

“Yeah, guess not,” Rick agrees, which’d be all fine and good if he stopped right the fuck there, but ‘course he doesn’t. “That what you guys were talking about before I came by?”

“Yeah.” Christ, his mouth’s dry and his breath tastes like Beth’s. “Yeah, we was just talkin’.”

He’s never been a good liar and Rick’s always been able to see right through him, so Daryl hardly knows why he bothers tryin’. Just… He’s got a good thing goin’ here with Beth, he knows that, but even still that’s hard enough to wrap his head around without everybody else knowin’ right away and puttin’ in their two cents about it. His own two cents are causing him enough grief as it is. He just needs some goddamn time, and he needs to be alone with her a little more first.

He doesn’t know that Rick’d see the logic of that, and Daryl sure as hell doesn’t wanna talk about it, but Rick lets it go. Sort of, anyway.

“If that’s your story.” There’s a smug fuckin’ smirk on his face, to which Daryl scowls. “Hey, man, don’t look at me like that. I’m not gonna say anything to her daddy.”

“Ain’t nothin’ to say,” Daryl mutters, but he can hear the bullshit in that statement clear as he heard Rick’s footsteps a little while ago, so, it’s pretty damn useless. “Shut the fuck up,” he adds, which doesn’t help any except to make Rick’s smug grin flicker like he wants to laugh.

“Not a word, man,” he swears and, yeah, he’s definitely laughing now. “Listen, you wanna come walk the fence with me or what?”

“Whatever.” Daryl heads for the door just so he won’t have to look at him anymore. “Long as you don’t fuckin’ talk to me.”

“Yeah, guess I’ll leave the talking to you and Beth, huh?”

Goddammit. Daryl flips him off over his shoulder and, when Rick laughs again, frankly Daryl’s not sure between him and Merle which one of them’s more likely to make him lose his shit. Probably gonna wind up bein’ a tie at this rate.

Fucking Christ.

But then he thinks about Beth — hard not to, he can goddamn smell her shampoo on him — and he thinks that maybe, so long as he’s got her to look forward to, maybe he can handle all the rest.

Chapter Text

When Daryl gets to the guard tower at sundown, it’s to find Beth already there, sat cross-legged on the floor and tying an absentminded braid into her ponytail. She does that a lot, always playin’ with that mess of hair like she’s gotta keep her hands busy.

Daryl’s own twitchy fingers get that; probably part of the reason why he smokes so much, ‘cause he’s gotta do something or else he wouldn’t know what to do at all. It’s a nervous tic, a habit there ain’t no point in tryna kick, ‘cause what the hell else is there to do these days?

Either she heard the creak of the door or she can feel his eyes on her, but either way Beth looks around. Smiles when she sees him, and that messes up his gut just like it does every other time. Shit, but he’s never felt like this before. Can’t decide if he likes it all that much, but he does like it when Beth smiles, so. It ain’t so bad.

“Hey.” She pats the floor next to her. “Wanna sit?”

“Uh.” Daryl slips his crossbow from his shoulder, sets it against the makeshift wall. The metal shudders. “Yeah.”

His knee bumps hers when he sits, but she doesn’t move out of the way and neither does he. Fuck him, but he likes it when she touches him, when he’s touching her. That’s new, too, how good that feels.

“So, um.” Beth twists her hands in her lap. Daryl wonders if he should reach over and hold one of them. “Sorry about earlier.”

He frowns. “What for?”

“For kinda freaking out for a second there, I guess. I thought it might be Maggie lookin’ for me, and she, uh. She kinda knows — um.” Beth slants him an apologetic kinda smile. A little nervous, and that makes Daryl nervous, so now he does reach for her hand, twines their fingers together to keep his from shaking.

She must feel it, because she gives him a squeeze, and rubs comforting circles against the side of his hand with her thumb. “Well, she knows I have a crush on you, anyway. I didn’t tell her either way, but she figured it out. So she knows that, and she’s fine with it, but I don’t — I dunno what she’d think if she found out you like me, too.”

Oh. Daryl swallows thickly. Stares at their interlaced fingers, at the gentle pass of Beth’s thumb across his rough skin. Tries not to panic. “Think she’s gonna be pissed?”

Beth shakes her head. “Surprised, maybe? She’ll get used to it. Why?” she asks, and the word comes out halting, like she’s afraid of what he’s gonna say to it. Daryl knows that feeling. “D’you — do you not wanna do this? If it upsets people?”

Fuck that. Far as Daryl’s concerned, folks got more to worry about than what he and Beth decide they wanna do together. He figures they’ll feel the same, even if it does take some getting used to. And maybe he’ll have to have a sit-down with Hershel or somethin’; the man’s the type who’d appreciate that, and Daryl knows Glenn went through the ringer over Maggie. He can do that, too. Wants to, even, if it means making this whole thing easier.

“Nah.” He hesitates a second but then, fuck it, he puts his free hand on Beth’s knee and tugs her a little closer to him. He needs to feel her close. “Still wanna, if you do.”

“I do.” Daryl’s still looking at their hands — it’s getting too dark to distinguish much, but still he can see the pale lines of Beth’s fingers standing out against his darker, rougher ones — but he can hear the smile in her voice. “I just. Wanted to make sure you were okay with it.”

He shrugs. “Might be a pain in the ass at first, but I dealt with worse.”

“Yeah.” Beth tips her forehead against his shoulder, then presses her lips against his bare skin. Her mouth is dry, warm, but it still makes him tremble. She squeezes his hand again and teases him, “This ain’t so bad, all things considered.”

“Yeah?” Daryl snorts, one corner of his mouth twitching. “See if your friend Zach feels that way,”

“You jealous?”

Christ. She nips at him with her teeth, all of ‘em probably showing, she’s grinnin’ so damn much, but Daryl’s not about to give her the satisfaction of confirming her smartass remarks as true.

So he snorts again, derisive this time and a little too forceful to be believed. “Hell no.”

“You sound jealous.”

“An’ you sound fuckin’ annoyin’.”

That makes her laugh, and the sound breaks apart on his skin and makes him shiver all over again. Jesus, but this girl can make him shake.

And that should make him feel weak, stupid, something, like he’s a pussy or somethin’, only it doesn’t, because Beth don’t try to make him feel that way. Girl’s actually pretty fuckin’ insistent about making him feel good, so maybe it ain’t no wonder why he wants to be around her so much. Why he wants to make her feel the same way.

Anyway, she’s already seen him naked — by accident, sure, but what the hell does that matter now? — and she’s had her tongue in his mouth, hand down his pants, hot breath and hotter whispers on his neck, like, damn, it ain’t like there’s much more for him to be vulnerable about. She’s knocked down those walls and then some. That should annoy him, and maybe it does, a little, but only because he hadn’t seen it coming. Maybe if he had, maybe then he’d know how to keep this shit goin’ without going out of his mind worrying that he’s gonna fuck it up.

“Hey.” Beth lifts their joined hands to chuck him under the chin, to make him look at her. “You don’t gotta be. I’m only teasin’, but I promise, Daryl, you don’t gotta worry about me with anybody else. Think we got enough to worry about as it is.”

“Yeah.” He swallows, but his voice still feels like sandpaper scratching up his throat. He knows he wanted her there, but, damn, when’d she get so close to him? “Guess we do.”

She smiles. It’s getting too dark to see, but Daryl’s pretty sure he’s always gonna be able to see that. “I like you, remember?”

And, yeah, he oughta know that by now. Leave it to him to get his hand down this girl’s pants and still wonder whether she wants to be with him. Christ. How many times is she gonna have to tell him before he gets it, huh?

But he does get it. He believes her; Beth ain’t no liar, she don’t play games. So he knows, yeah, just… He doesn’t want her to go regretting it.

“Yeah,” he says again, because he can’t bring himself to say the rest of it. His free hand smooths over her cheek, fingers snarled in her hair to tilt her mouth towards his. “I remember.”

Now he tastes that smile, too, when he slicks his mouth over hers. It tastes like she’d been out in the sun all day, chapped and warm; tastes like the orange juice she drank with dinner and like she hadn’t brushed her teeth before she met him in the guard tower. He doesn’t mind. Nah, it gives his chest a kinda jolt to think she’d been too eager to be alone with him to bother with shit like that.

Her tongue slips between his lips, curling around his and yanking a moan from deep in his chest, like it’s a physical, tangible thing she’s got a hook around. Like just one touch from her could pull whatever she wants outta him: rough moans, gruff curses, her name, over and over again, while he pants into her mouth and kisses her harder. Like she could pull out his goddamn heart — and she can have the damn thing if she wants it, what the fuck does he need it for if he’s not giving it to her?

It seems really, really fucking stupid that one accidental look at him in the showers a couple days ago got them here. But Daryl’ll take fucking stupid over staring after her and wishing for fucking anything. Shit, he’d felt like some sorta lovesick dumbass with puppy dog eyes and not a shot in hell, and now… Nah, fuck that. He doesn’t wanna do that anymore.

What he wants to do, is lick into her mouth and press her back against the floor, dusty and hard and the boards creak when you move too much and — dammit, it’s better than the walls they’ve been up against lately, but he can still do better for her. He knows there’s a couple sleeping bags laying around, people come up here to fuck so much.

“Hold up a sec.” Fuck, his throat hurts, chest pinching as he tries to catch his breath. He’s got one arm latched around Beth’s middle, and his free hand pats around behind her ‘til it snags on a roll of nylon. Shit better be clean or he’s gonna kick somebody’s ass, though it ain’t likely he’ll be able to find out who deserves it.

He unrolls it best he can without letting go of Beth. Even if he wanted to — and he damn well doesn’t — she doesn’t seem too inclined to go anywhere, seein’ as how she’s sucking on his earlobe, making him cuss up a storm when she pants all hot and heavy up against it. The sound echoes and settles deep into his skin, in his nerves, so they’re rattled and shivering and Jesus goddamn Christ, if he can’t get this sleeping bag rolled out he’s just gonna lay her ass out on the floor, after all, he doesn’t have the patience for this shit.

He’s managed it good as it’s gonna get before he slips his hands down to Beth’s thighs, hooks his grip around her knees and uses the leverage to get her flat on her back. A little whuff! of surprise escapes her, but she can’t follow it with so much as a giggle before Daryl’s climbed on top of her and fused his mouth back to hers.

There’s a crackle of static in her hair that Daryl smooths out when he runs his hands through the wreck of her ponytail, and he shivers some more when she runs hers down his back. She knows about the scars there — everybody in their family does, even if they haven’t seem ‘em — but she’s touching him, anyway, touching him like it doesn’t matter how ugly he is, ‘cause she don’t look at him like that. ‘Cause one touch from her makes everything just as pretty as she is. Just like when she sings all those crooning old love songs he used to hate, but then he hears ‘em while she’s rocking Judith to sleep and suddenly it’s the best thing he’s ever heard. Sure as hell’s the sweetest, but he never cared about none of that sweet shit, neither, not ‘til Beth came along.

She even tastes sweet, he thinks when he sucks on her tongue. Probably drooling all over her chin at this point, but it ain’t like Beth’s kissing him back with any more rhythm or expertise. They’re both sloppy and handsy and eager, like they’re dying to make the most of a little time alone.

He thought so the last couple times, too, the first times — how sweet she is. Maybe it’s the orange juice lingering on her tongue, but, nah, he don’t think that’s it. Doesn’t know what it is, only that it’s Beth and he wants more. Wants more of something he never so much as thought about before. And now here Beth is, making him want her and a whole mess of shit that wasn’t even on his radar ‘til she touched him.

And the way she’s touching him now’s got him going. Hands rubbing down his spine and around to caress over his heartbeat, rabbiting like he’s gonna have a fuckin’ heart attack over her, tracing the buttons on his shirtfront like she wants to pop ‘em and, damn, he wishes she just fucking would already. He doesn’t wanna think about it, doesn’t wanna worry over what she’s gonna think of him when she gets her hands on his bare skin, all rough and scarred, worn down from work and hating himself —

But, no. No, Beth’s not gonna think like that. She’s not gonna hate him, too, she’s not gonna recoil and decide she doesn’t want him, after all. Not ‘cause of how he looks. She’s just gonna touch him, and probably wind up holding him closer, just like she did before.

He tucks a hand under her shirt just as she undoes the first button on his. He feels her muscles constrict, feels goosebumps rising on her skin like they’re following the path of his hand.

He goes slow and so does she, ready to stop if she tells him to and vice-versa, he thinks. Knows it, when he lets up on kissing her for a second just so he can breathe, and she asks him, “This okay?”

He nods, forehead knocking lightly against hers. “Keep goin’,” he murmurs, the words rumbling deep as he presses kisses to her throat and his thumb finds the front clasp of her bra. He wonders if it’s the same one she wore the other day, when she’d walked in on him with her shirt undone. Probably is; ain’t like they got much occasion to do laundry unless it’s piled up to critical mass.

Beth gets his shirt open before he can decide whether or not he should try to feel her up — and, Christ, what’s there to decide, it’s literally what they’re fuckin’ here to do — and she scratches through the scruff on his chest, spreads her fingers over his heartbeat, and he just… Fuck, but he’s gonna collapse in on himself, she keeps touching him like that.

He groans into her neck, swears under his breath when her warm palms map the broken planes of his body, lighting him up everywhere she touches like she’s struck a match and goddamn lit him on fire. God, he knows how it feels when she gets her hands on him, she jerked him off, for fuck’s sake, but he ain’t never gettin’ used to what it does to his heart, his gut, his lungs, when Beth puts her hands on him just ‘cause she wants to be good to him. Ain’t ever been nobody who wanted to do that for him before.

If he thought he wanted her a minute ago, it’s somethin’ even more now. Her fingertips on his bare skin flipped a switch, like he was toein’ the line between common sense and fucking feralty, and now he’s tipped right over into this eat-him-alive greedy need to have all of her all at once.

He kisses up her neck and shrugs off his shirt, flings it aside, for once in his life not giving a shit about the scars on his back so long as it’s gonna be Beth who touches them, who soothes it all away even if that calm only lasts for right now. He’ll take it, ‘cause he knows she’ll give it to him again, too.

“Off, c’mon,” he mutters as he licks along the line of her jaw, pushing up her shirt and palming her ribcage. Still more prominent than it should be, because they might be doin’ alright at the prison but it’s never gonna be like it used to be, and for Daryl that’s just fine. He doesn’t want what used to be, because he used to be nothing, nobody, and by now, well, maybe he’s not much but he’s enough. Enough to keep the people he cares about safe as they can be, enough to keep Beth happy. “C’mon, Beth, take the damn thing off for me.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Dixon, sir.”

Daryl growls, huffs, tries to ignore what that shit does to him when Beth mouths off like that. She does manage a giggle this time, breathless as she squirms beneath him. When she loses the shirt, her hair crackles with static again, but she’s the one to smooth it out this time, while Daryl runs his hands over her stomach, chasing every shiver that passes through, fingers digging into her naked waist when she rolls her hips up against his. And, shit, how the hell didn’t he know he was hard ‘til now, when she thrusts her cunt up the stiff line of his dick, and — fuck, her shirt’s not enough, he wants her jeans off, too.

One goddamn step at a time, though. He wants her now, yeah, but he wants her feeling just as fucked up as he is, so he ain’t done yet.

He plants open-mouthed kisses down the line of her throat, feels it bob when she swallows, feels her pulse skip up a couple beats while her breath comes sharp and shallow. Her fingers spear through his hair when he licks between her tits, and she pulls when he bites at her bra clasp. Just like he wanted to do the other day, when she caught him in the shower and his brain went dead, thinkin’ about how bad he wanted to drag her into the stall and get on his knees for her under a rush of cold water while nobody else was around.

Ain’t no shower in the guard tower, but they don’t need it. Least nobody else is around right now; might be walking the fence, but that’s good as they’re gonna get, and that’s good enough for Daryl.

Not trusting himself to do it with his mouth, he uses his fingers to pop the clasp the rest of the way off. Last thing he needs is to break the damn thing. Just ‘cause Beth seems to think she can go around braless whenever she feels like it don’t mean he’s gotta give her a reason. She might not think anyone’s gonna notice, but he sure the hell does, which means a few of those Woodbury assholes probably do, too.

He hates thinking about that shit. Doesn’t even know why he does it, only they can’t back the fuck off — Zach was bad enough, and that was just today — so what the fuck else is he supposed to do but get pissed about it every time?

Shit’s really starting to get to him when he doesn’t want it to, so Daryl tries to shake it off. He’s the one here with Beth because that’s what she wants, he’s what she wants, and that’s the shit he needs to keep in mind.

He flips one of bra cups aside and swipes his tongue over her nipple, holds her down when she twitches, slurps at her like he could suck her heart right out through her chest if he had half a mind to. Hell, call him crazy, but maybe she wants to give it to him same as he’d give her his.

When he swirls his tongue around her nipple again, Beth twitches some more. Her back arches and Daryl’s mouth opens wider, slobbering over her breast like she’s been served up on a silver platter instead of a shitty nylon sleeping bag that may or may not but probably wouldn’t pass a blacklight inspection.

But it’s not like that thought’s gonna stop him from getting his mouth all over her, so. Fuck it, right?

He moves on to her stomach, groaning every time she tugs a little harder on his hair. She can pull it out by the roots, far as he cares, so long as it’s because he’s making her feel good.

“Daryl.” She sighs his name, kinda raspy like she’d taken up smoking. Her bracelets bump his forehead when she cards her fingers through his hair. He makes a mental note to tell her to take those off at some point tonight; if she’s gonna touch his scars, he wants to touch hers, too.

“Hm?” The band of her bra must’ve dug into her skin, left a mark behind, because the top of her ribcage is rubbed red all the way across. He sucks a bruise over it, underneath her heartbeat, as he undoes the snap and zip of her jeans.

He doesn’t expect her to answer, didn’t really figure she had anything to say besides moaning his name while she wriggled beneath him, and like hell’s he about to complain about that. So Daryl continues his trek downwards, dragging his mouth down her warm, salty skin to where she’s all hot and humid past the parted teeth of her zipper. Where he’d buried his fingers just the other day, where he fully intends to bury his face, his tongue, every muttered, fucking tortured curse that comes to mind when he gets Beth to come for him again, when he gets to taste it this time around.

He’s licking her navel, fingers hooked in her waistband, when Beth yanks him up by the hair and, fuck, what’s she gone and stopped him for?

“What’re you” — her chest’s heaving, moonlight catching in her wide bright eyes — “what’re you doing?”

Daryl blinks. Frowns. He’s pretty sure she knows exactly what he’s doing. He ain’t ever been much for subtlety, and anyway it seemed pretty obvious from where he’s sitting. Then again, where he’s sitting is on his stomach between her spread legs, mouth poised above her undone jeans. He’s well the fuck aware of what he’d been about to do. Maybe it ain’t so clear from Beth’s point of view.

Or — nah. Nah, she’s gotta know. Beth might be just as inexperienced as he is, but she ain’t stupid. But she is kinda shy — not the way most folks are shy, ‘cause she knows how to speak up when she needs to, knows how to keep a conversation going, knows how to make most anybody smile. But she still wears those bracelets, same way Daryl only ever strips his shirt off when he’s alone (until tonight, anyway). So maybe she ain’t bold as brass as she’d like people to think. She don’t wanna be underestimated, and maybe that’s why she don’t wanna be vulnerable, neither.

Don’t get much more vulnerable than letting someone get their head between your thighs, so. Daryl thinks he knows where her sudden hesitation’s coming from. And he thinks, maybe, he might know how to soothe it away.

Because he remembers what it was like the other day, when all that tension between them broke open. He remembers all that stuff she said to him, about how much she wants him. Remembers the tight clench of her cunt around his fingers when he started talkin’ back, when he told her how he wants to fuck her. She liked that shit — likes talking him through it, tellin’ him what’s on her mind and driving him goddamn crazy enough to tell her what’s on his, too.

So. Alright. He can do that.

“Wanna go down on you. C’mon, Beth” — he’s fucking begging her, right out the gate and he couldn’t give a shit, got his hands caught up in her waistband and he’s tugging it down — “c’mon, lemme lick your pussy. Swear I’m gonna do it good for you.”

That seems to clear shit up. Beth’s muscles spasm, and he fuckin’ hears that giggle in her voice even as she tries to swallow it down. “I know you are, Daryl, but you don’t — you don’t gotta.”

“Want to. C’mon, please. Fuck,” he swears when her boots get in the way. He smacks her calf. “Girl, get these the fuck off. Made me feel so goddamn good the other day, I wanna do that for you.”

“You did,” she tells him, but she’s already shucking her boots and he’s tearing off her jeans so fast it’s a wonder they don’t rip straight down the seam. “God, Daryl, you already did.”

“Wanna do it again.”

Because he can — he can do it again, he can be good to her all he wants, better than any of these other assholes at the prison. There’s a reasonable part of him that knows she’s not gonna just up and dump his ass for somebody else, but an even more reasonable part insists that he get his mouth on her cunt, anyway.

He curls a hand in the band of her underwear, ready to chuck those across the guard tower to join his shirt and the rest of her clothes, but only if she gives him the go-ahead.

“You want me to?” he asks, and — thank the good fuckin’ lord Daryl doesn’t even believe in — she nods.

So maybe he can give the man upstairs a little credit, after all.

He can think about that later. (He won’t, actually, but he sure as fuck ain’t about to sit here debating religious integrity or whatever shit when he’s got Beth spread out beneath him, knees twitching farther apart to make room
for him in the cradle of her thighs.) For now, he strips off her underwear and tosses them in the general direction of their ever-growing pile of clothes. He hears another rustle when Beth throws her bra that way.

Part of him wants to lean back on his haunches, look her over, see all those lean pale lines, see if she’s got any more scratches on her that she hides away underneath her clothes the way he does. Ain’t likely, but it’s too dark to tell, anyhow. Can’t see much, but he can feel her — skin hot and soft when he passes his hands over it, toned limbs fidgeting, calluses on her palms and soft downy hair on her thighs. A couple of her bracelets jangle, quiet, the way windchimes used to sound when a summer breeze passed through.

Used to, ‘cause Daryl hasn’t heard real windchimes since before the world went to shit. He’s willing to bet Beth hasn’t, either. Willing to bet it was a sound she liked, too. He’ll have to ask her sometime.

Sometime, not now, ‘cause even if he can’t look at her the way he wants to, he can still get his head between her thighs and make her come. Hopefully. He’s never actually done this before, so —


“Hm?” He laps at the crease of her thigh, feels her shudder, but it don’t stop her from talking.

“I meant what I said, y’know. You don’t gotta. We can just…” Her fingernails scratch at his scalp when he starts sucking on her skin. “I want you. That’s all. Doesn’t matter what we do.”

Yeah, well, truth is Daryl’s not convinced he’s gonna last long enough to get her off; once he’s inside her, because it’s Beth and he’s wanted her so bad it fucking hurts, he’d bet money — if money even meant anything anymore, but the point is — that he’s gonna lose it after about thirty seconds, tops. Doesn’t matter how much she wants his dick, the thing’s not invincible, and sure enough her pussy’s gonna wreck him. He wants to make her come before he makes a damn fool of himself.

“Can’t just up and fuck you, girl,” he mutters. “Wanna get you wet first.”

“Think you did that already.”

Jesus. He can hear that smirk in her voice. Smartass. He nips at her inner thigh, holds her tight when she twitches, tells her, “Wanna taste it.”

Sure enough Beth ain’t mouthin’ off now, so Daryl figures he’d better take that little keening whimper of hers and run with it, whether he knows what he’s doin’ or not.

And he doesn’t, but when he licks his tongue up her slit her body seizes up beneath him like maybe he ain’t doin’ such a half-assed job. Like maybe he’s just gotta suck on her pussy same way he does grease off his fingers, and they’ll both come down from the guard tower happy as can damn well be.

Worth a shot, ain’t it?

He thrusts his tongue inside her, same as he wants to give her his dick. Her body shakes and her hips jump and she makes this sound, like he’s just cracked all the tension outta her sore muscles. She’s like a puddle beneath him, all loose and soft, except her grip on his hair’s tight as ever. Makes his eyes cross, but that might have somethin’ to do with how good her pussy tastes, too.

She’s all hot and musky, like the first drag off a cigarette when he’s been jonesing for weeks. Only she’s sweeter than any rush of nicotine, tangy, like that orange juice she drank is passing from her throat all the way down to his. Like her come’s just as sugar-sweet as citrus juice, and all he’s gotta do to get it is touch her a way she likes.

He takes it slow for a minute, to figure that out. Suss out what it is she likes. He’s curious, wants to explore her, what makes her sigh and spasm and pull his hair harder. He wants to make it good for her.

Pretty good for him already. He’s gotta undo his jeans, give his drooling dick some room to breathe when Beth’s legs cross behind his back. Callused heels bump his scars, and her thighs close around his ears so every noise she makes sounds closer, and he can feel ‘em in his bones like it’s him who’s goin’ off like that.

So it must be good, if she’s makin’ all them sounds like she is. He eats up the reverberations of her moans same as he’s eating her cunt, lapping ‘em up along with her arousal.

He did that, fucking hell, that’s all for him. Nobody else; just him and her, his mouth fused to her cunt, Beth’s skin popping with goosebumps when he drags the flat of his tongue up her slit and thrusts it back inside. Daryl groans into her, ruts against the sleeping bag just like she’s rutting up against his face.

He thumbs at her clit and shoves his other hand underneath to cup her ass. That’s when it clicks, that he’s got Beth head-to-toe fucking naked under him. She’s givin’ up every inch for him. He’s working her open with his fingers and tongue, getting her wet and ready to take his dick, just like she’s been begging him for, like he’s been fuckin’ killing himself to give her. Whatever she wants, and she wants him, shit, he ain’t ever wrapping his head around that.

So he wraps his lips around her clit instead, sucks on it like he could physically pull the orgasm outta her if he wanted it bad enough. And, fuck him, but he ain’t never wanted anything more.

Christ, but this girl makes him desperate.

“C’mon, Beth,” he mumbles, flattening his tongue against her clit and licking. Clamps a hand around her hip when she bucks up. “C’mon, you gonna come for me? Gotta come for me, girl, wanna get you off ‘fore I fuck you.”

He slips a finger inside her, then two when she takes him easy. Catches her gasp on his fingertips and curls them, coaxing more of those sounds outta her while he nurses her clit.

“Oh, God, Daryl —” Beth’s voice is husky, breathing labored. His own throat feels raw just listening to her, but it’s a sweet sort of ache and he wants more of it. More of her, all of her.

Trust him to get his mouth on her pussy and even still he wants more.

He glances up to watch her, but it’s pitch-black up here by now. The moonlight ain’t filtering into the guard tower at this angle, so he can only register the vague up-and-down movements of her chest as she breathes, the crane of her neck as she tilts her head back. Daryl makes a mental note to suck her off someplace with a goddamn lightbulb next time.

“Yeah, c’mon, sweetheart,” he murmurs. Keeps up the pace, a little faster now, takes her a little rougher with his fingers. She liked that, last time. “Lemme get you off. Just me, ain’t that right?”

“Just you.” Beth don’t skip a beat to reassure him, makes his heart all but stop, before he sucks at her hard and her breath catches on a high, needy moan. “Just want you, Daryl, swear to God —”

She’s gettin’ loud enough that he’s gotta clap a hand over her mouth. Not ‘cause he don’t wanna hear it when she comes for him — Jesus, he wants that — but he’s gonna have a shit ton of explaining to do if the sound brings a horde of geeks down on the prison.

“Better settle the fuck down,” he tells her. Flicks the tip of his tongue across her clit fast, over and over, feels her breath coming just as fast and hot in his hand. “You start screamin’, we’re gonna get caught ‘fore I can give you my dick like you want so damn bad.”

She whimpers, puckers her lips against his palm and runs her tongue up the length of one of his fingers. His cock twitches and he ruts harder into the nylon, wishing like hell he was buried in the tight clench of her pussy, god damn but he wants to fuck this girl so deep that she’s gonna feel him every time she takes a step.

He tightens his hold on her mouth, not enough to hurt, just to get his point across. “Don’t wanna get caught, Beth,” he tells her, voice burning in his throat like he’s just sucked down ash instead of her come. “You know how bad I wanna fuck you? This pussy’s all I fuckin’ think about.” He slurps at her, makes her nails dig into his scalp, like she wants to carve her place deep into his bones like she ain’t already there. “Don’t wanna let you up ‘til you can’t take it anymore, you hear me? Wanna make you come ‘til you tell me to stop. Gonna have to beg me to stop, girl, you got that? ‘Cause I ain’t gonna want to.”

He gives her ass a sharp smack, then pushes his fingers back into her cunt and crooks them. “Tell me you’re gonna beg me, Beth, or I’m gonna keep you up with me all goddamn night.”

She moans, deep and guttural, and somewhere in that echo he hears her say, “I want you to.”

Fuck him, he wants that, too. Looks like he’s the one begging her, after all; looks like that’s just the way he likes it.

One of her hands covers the one he’s got on her mouth, fingers crisscrossing as she holds on to him. Her other hand stays put in his hair, like his stays busy feeling up her cunt. He wishes he had a couple others, too, to hold her hip, palm her tits, jerk himself off while she comes in his mouth, Christ, he could get off just listening to her while she does —

Because she’s doing it, right now, with a strangled cry of his name that he catches in his palm. Quick as he can, he swaps his fingers with his tongue, ‘cause he wants to swallow up her come, wants it to linger on his taste buds so even if they gotta split up for their own cells by morning, he won’t have to go to bed without her.

He works her through it, thumbing idly at her clit while he laps up every drop of her release. Beth relaxes beneath him, bit by bit, tension unwinding ‘til her body all but melts under his touch.

Her grip relaxes in his hair, too, and next thing he knows she’s carding her fingers through it, petting him. Shit, he likes that. He nudges his nose against the apex of her thighs, sucks a kiss along the crease. They’re both damp with sweat and he likes the way she smells after he’s made her come.

Daryl rubs her leg. “You good?”

Oh, yeah,” Beth laughs. She’s quieter now, like she’s got her head on straight. Potential danger notwithstanding, actually, Daryl feels pretty damn good that he could make her lose it like that. Probably a good thing it’s so dark up here, otherwise Beth’d sure have some wisecrack about the smug look on his face.

Oh, well. He figures he’s earned it.

He tips his forehead against her stomach. Kisses her there. “Mmf. Good.”

They’re gonna have to get up sooner or later, clean up and head inside. Daryl’s hoping he can find someplace else for them to be alone, somewhere more comfortable. Ain’t like there’s any feather beds stored in the prison or nothin’, but he figures even one of their regulation mattresses will do better than a ratty sleeping bag.

For right now, though — just another minute, with Beth’s fingers running through his hair and Daryl’s sweeping circles up her thighs, another minute while their breathing settles — the ratty sleeping bag’ll do just fine.