Once the people of Woodbury had moved into the prison, quarters were tight. Beth had offered to take Judith on the nights that Rick was on watch, in turn that meant she didn’t have to share her cell with anyone. It also meant that Daryl would stop by her cell more often. He loved that baby. If parents were chosen by who loved a child the most, Daryl would have been her father the instant he named her ‘Lil ass kicker’. The poor kid was going to grow up confused. She had her biological father who was gone now, the man who was raising her and the man who should have been her father. Beth slept alone in her cell for a change that night as Jude was sleeping in Rick’s arms two cells away.
The thunder echoed through the prison, lighting lit the place up. Daryl got out of bed and slipped quietly down the hall. The rain poured down and he knew the yard would be a mess tomorrow. He leaned in Beth’s door way and glanced toward the empty crib then over to her cot.
“She’s with Rick.” Beth whispered into the night.
“I know. Came to check on you.” Daryl was an observer. They had been through a few Georgia storms together over the months, she never slept well through them.
“Me?” Her voice was small in the vast prison.
Daryl pushed off the door frame and walked to her bed. She moved toward the wall so he could sit. Usually he did this with Judith in his arms but they were comfortable enough with each other now for it not to be too weird. “Know you don’t like these storms, jus makin’ sure you’re a‘righ’.” It was nice of him, even sweet. She touched his arm and he put his hand on hers.
Lightning cracked illuminating the cell and the sharp features of Daryl’s face. From the day he had first rode his motorcycle into her life she had liked his face. “I got ya.” He held her hand and used his other to touch her cheek. She was confused till she realized she was squeezing his bicep tightly as the thunder rolled through. The tips of his fingers grazed her skin and she closed her eyes to his touch.
They had only known each other for a handful of months but she had grown up leaps and bounds in that time. From losing her home and loved ones to taking on the raising of a baby that wasn’t hers. She was still a young girl in some ways but in all the ways that mattered the world had forced her to grow up. Then the lightning would crack and Daryl knew that he was here to comfort and care for her.
Daryl finally let go of her hand and she scooted back to the wall one more time giving him plenty of room. “Stay?” She had gotten brave over the time she had known him, he loved that about her. She wasn’t brave like her sister or simply a survivor, but she was brave in ways that Daryl never could have been with people. “Just till the storm passes.” Her lilting voice was on the verge of pleading.
Daryl hadn’t shared a bed with anyone in a very long time, since well before the world had changed. But it was Beth, the one he shared comfortable silence with the one who he held hands with sometimes, the one he wanted to protect more than anyone else. He nodded. He laid down next to her on his back and they shuffled a bit till she was nestled in his arm against his chest. It felt strange to have this soft body next to him, her head resting on his chest. They listened to the storm for a while, she’d flinch at some of the thunder and he held her closer.
“Pet my hair?” She spoke soft and into the fabric of his shirt.
Daryl laughed and so did she. “I’m not gonna pet your hair.” The way she had worded it just struck him odd.
The laughter had helped the awkward moment and to help her get past the storm. “Come on Daryl, you know you want to. I washed it yesterday, it’s all soft and it still smells nice.” She had her eyes closed as she was teasing him. The windows filled bright as the lightning cracked and the thunder rolled right on top of it. The storm was right on top of them, and at the slow rate it was moving it would be there a while. Her body stiffened and Daryl pulled her close.
Her long mane of hair all around him now, he inhaled. Yes, she did smell good. “Did you just smell….”
He reached his free hand into her locks and started to pet at her soft hair. “Shut it.” Daryl chuckled then turned and kissed her hair. Her body froze. “Sorry.” He said it quietly but didn’t stop running his fingers through her hair.
They had never been this close, wrapped together. It felt so right. After a while he stopped threading through her hair and simply wrapped his arms around her. She had dozed off at one point but the storm woke her again. She jumped, “I’m here.” He whispered soft in her ear.
Daryl had been laying there for a while now, holding her, rubbing her arm, tracing his fingers on back of hers. He wished he had the courage to kiss her. He had wanted to kiss her since the first day he had seen her on the farm. That wasn’t right. That first day on the farm he had wished he was the type of guy who could just fuck a girl like her. He hadn’t gotten to the point of wanting to simply kiss her till the night they were all safe inside the prison and they walked the fence line together. That was months ago. Now here they were, face to face in her bed and all he wanted to do was kiss her. He knew she wouldn’t reject him, he knew she wanted it too. But he held back. He couldn’t bring himself to do the one thing that seemed so natural. He couldn’t get his brain to shut down on this topic, he just had to find the courage to press his lips to her and to…
“I’m gonna kiss you.” Beth said it. There was a pause then her soft lips touched his as he pulled her body closer. Her words had been like a flash of lightning and her kiss was like the roll of thunder. Exhilarating and natural. She gripped at his shirt and they kissed, like teenagers in the back of a convertible overlooking lover’s lane. She opened her mouth to him and he slipped his tongue into her. They kissed passionately but playfully and their hands started to explore. It had been a very long time since Daryl had let any women into his world this way, not even Carol. Beth felt right in his arms, he pulled at her to bring her onto him. Her petite frame was easy to maneuver and it helped that she was willing.
Kissing led to touching and they slowly got comfortable with each other by for the most part, the simply kissed. It was innocent and it was brave.
He had been right, the ground in the yard was soaked and a mess to work with and even worse the rain had brought the stench of the walkers to a whole new level. It made Daryl think about wet dogs in a junk yard. Carol and Beth were digging holes near the fence line where they were going to add posts for security.
Daryl showed up out of nowhere, he often did. “Hey”, he traded shovels with Carol giving her one that was smaller and more designed for digging holes, more like the one Beth was already using. He looked at Beth, “You okay?” She was pale.
She tried to smile. “Just the smell. I’m fine.” She smiled slightly at him. Daryl reached into his back pocket and pulled out a black and white paisley bandana. He handed it to her and nodded and then he was gone.
The dinner table was always the same these days. Rick and Beth sat at the end and Judith was in a makeshift highchair that allowed either of them to feed her. Daryl always sat last, ten minutes or so after everyone else. He would wait till everyone was served then take what little was left. He would join them by pushing Rick in one seat allowing him to sit by Judith and visit with her.
Beth pulled his bandana out of her pocket and passed it too him. He took it and immediately used it to play peek-a-boo with Judith. People had stopped commenting on the softer side of Daryl as they knew he would stop playing with the baby if they did. Folks were more chatty tonight all around the prison, the storm had put people to bed early last night but tonight it was card games and conversation as well as singing and rounds of pass the baby.
Carol and Daryl were talking under the stairs while Beth and Maggie sang a few songs. Carol’s cell was tucked under the stairs and he paced in it as they talked in whispers.
“She’s good for you.” Carol was sitting on her bunk with her arms wrapped around her legs folding her tight.
Daryl tossed a tennis ball from hand to hand, “Who is?” He knew exactly who Carol was talking about.
She smiled at him, she cared so much about him and though she would have loved to be with him, she knew it wasn’t where his heart was. “Don’t play stupid. She makes you smile and you make her, well, giddy like a school girl.”
He smirked at the thought of her as a school girl. “Yeah well, she is a school girl, too young.”
“Not in this day and age. Show her you like her.”
Daryl thought about the bandana he had given her today, “I have been.”
Carol laughed. As if men didn’t have enough trouble showing their feelings, Daryl was the worst at it. “Then tell her. It’d be good for both of you.” The noise in the hall was settling and Daryl mumbled a good night before he left her and went up to his cell.
Carl was already reading by dim candle light as Daryl undressed and laid in his bunk thinking about what Carol had said. Beth knew he cared, they had kissed half the night away. But she knew even before that. Daryl didn’t have to go telling her or picking her flowers. She knew. At least he thought she knew. He flipped through a book he was reading.
He was lost in thought when Beth paused at their door. “Night you two.” The guys both looked up from their reading and Carl said goodnight.
“Glenn and Maggie got watch, right?” Daryl was just double checking to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing. She nodded and headed to her cell.
It was two hours before Daryl went to her cell. He had dozed in and out of sleep waiting to hear the telltale signs of Carl out cold. He double checked the make-shift crib to be sure Judith was with her father then he watched Beth sleep for a minute before he touched her and told her to move over. She was instantly awake and slid toward the wall. He joined her under the thin blanket and they cuddled together. “This is nice.” She whispered it into the night.
“HHmmm.” He made a sound that agreed with her.
She snuggled close to him and he loved the feel of her against him. He could get used to this too fast if he wasn’t careful.
“You tired?” She broke the silence.
“Not really.” Daryl trailed a finger along her shoulder, sliding the strap of her tank top down a bit. “You?” Her skin was so soft, the opposite of his own roughness. He kissed her arm.
Beth slid her hand to his face and they looked at each other for a long while. She started the kissing. Like she couldn’t resist staying away any longer. He roller her on top of him and cradled her tiny body in his arms. They kissed and touched and occasionally she would moan out just a little and it made him happy to listen to her. He wanted to make her moan as often as possible. He pushed aside the thought she was too perfect for him. He needed her and it was in moments like this that he knew it for certain. She sucked at his collar bone sure to leave a hickey.
Finally he moved her till her breasts were close enough to kiss and suck. She was propped over him and her hair cascaded down as he feasted on her flesh. She moaned but so did he. He would never get enough of her. The night was long with exploration and he had even given her an orgasm just by playing with her breasts. She was wonderfully responsive to his touch and he couldn’t wait for another night to explore some more.
“Should go.” He was playing in her hair as she lay topless next to him.
She kissed his chest. “But you haven’t um…” She struggled for the words. “you haven’t gotten… off yet.” She slid her hand down his chest toward his belt.
Daryl kissed her hair. He hadn’t, he was hard in his pants, but he didn’t care. He had enjoyed pleasuring her too much. “’so’kay” He didn’t know how much experience she might have had, didn’t know if she had ever played with a penis. But he didn’t want to start that tonight. He’d want to have sex with her and there wasn’t time for that, not the way he wanted to take her anyways.
“Hold me till sun up?” Her voice was tiny.
He petted her hair and kissed her cheek. “Yeah”.
Daryl didn’t know which one of them fell asleep first but he woke instantly when someone stopped in the doorway. He opened his eyes and saw Rick with Judith. They make eye contact and Rick just shook his head. The sun was starting to come up and Daryl knew that he had slept too long. He didn’t know if the head shake was disapproval but Rick just continued on, moving Judith into the crib so that he could relieve Maggie and Glenn of watch.
“We need to talk.” Rick spoke quietly not wanting to wake Beth. Daryl nodded and Rick was gone.
When Beth was in his arms nothing else seemed to matter, the age difference, the crap assed world they lived in together. None of it was important to him, simply being with her was all he cared about in those moments. He hadn’t moved yet, but she stirred, her hair sprawling on him as her hand glided up his chest. Daryl turned and kissed the top of her head, “Gotta get up Beth.” He didn’t want to keep Rick waiting too long. Daryl had respect for Rick and that ran deep.
Beth slid her leg over his, trying to hold him down. He let his hand slide down to her bare stomach. “Not gonna wanna get up if you do that.” She dragged her leg further across him. She didn’t say anything, she just smirked at him. He ran his palm along her thigh and pulled at her with his other hand, he was dragging her tiny body on top of his. “You’re gonna have to tell Rick that you wouldn’t let me out of bed.” She helped him as she climbed on top of him. It was cloudy out, but the sun was up. People were beginning to stir around the prison, they could hear the typical morning noises.
Carl would be awake by now, Maggie coming back from watch. Just about anyone could come into the cell looking for Beth or to get Judith, even she was awake in her crib.
When she was straddling him she brought her face close to his, “We should both get up.” He took her by the hips and adjusted her over his morning wood. He smiled at her. “You know that Rick saw you in here, right?” She didn’t know when he had brought Judith in, but he had which meant that they had been seen together. They weren’t doing anything wrong, but it felt like there secret world has just been revealed.
Daryl nodded his half nod, “Yeah.”
“I don’t care if he knows Daryl.” She was brave, always brave.
Daryl held her face and kissed her deep. “Don’t care either.”
It was overcast but the sun was trying to breakout. It looked like it was going to be a pretty nice day. Daryl crossed the courtyard to the tower and headed up the stairs. Rick loved to take the early morning watch. The door squeaked when Daryl pulled it open and Rick turned to make sure it was him.
“What’s up?” Daryl really wasn’t in a mood for a lecture from Rick. His night with Beth had been fantastic, he didn’t need any bullshit to ruin his morning.
Rick sat on the sill overlooking the field. “Wanna pull together a run for this week. Got bunch of stuff to go looking for and I need to stay here. Hopin and you Glenn can go.”
Not at all what Daryl was expecting? “Yeah, ah…sure.” He hesitated.
“If you don’t wanna…” Rick knew he’d have a hard time pulling Glenn from Maggie for a few days, maybe Daryl didn’t want to leave Beth.
Daryl sat in the other window opening. “Nah, ‘s good.”
They watched the walkers in the west field for a while not saying anything. Daryl’s brain was stuck on Beth and her soft mouth. He would have loved to stay in bed kissing her all day. They had so much exploring to do with each other. He wasn’t sure how he had managed to get a girl like her to be interested in him, but he wasn’t going fuck it up.
“DARYL.” Rick said it for a third time before the redneck finally looked at him. “How far away are you?” Rick was laughing.
“Sorry man,” he hadn’t realized how into his thoughts he was.
Rick smiled, “Her father know?”
Daryl shook his head and chewed at his finger. He had tried not to think about it. Hershel loved that little girl so much, and Daryl was sure he wouldn’t be good enough for her. “No’ yet.” They hadn’t even talked about it yet. Were they actually in a relationship. Hell, as far as Daryl was concerned they were. He had fallen for her. Somewhere between the bucket of water on his hand and the walk around the prison, he had fallen hard.
“Good for you. She’s a good one.” For some reason, Daryl didn’t mind talking about this with Rick. “You’re good for her.”
Daryl just looked down at his boots.
The scream in the distance cut through the morning air and over the drone of noise the Walkers made. The men turned and scanned the yard, another scream. It was Beth’s voice. There was no doubt. Daryl readied his crossbow but didn’t know for sure where to aim. Rick saw it first, the three or four Walkers in the far corner of the east lawn, then Daryl’s eyes fixed on it. His bolt flew through the air and hit the shabbily dressed female dead-thing the base of the neck. Rick let off a round from his pistol and Daryl was down the stairs.
Shots filled the air as he ran out the lower door and along the fence line. “Beeettthhhh.” He screamed out as the other were already working on opening the emergency quick-line in the fence, by the time he got there it was open and he pushed his way through the people and the fence, jagged edges ripping at his pants. His crossbow ready he let another bolt fly and the Walker over Beth dropped. On top of her, she was pinned. Bullets flew as the others followed behind. The Walkers were now all dropped. He didn’t know how they had gotten into this area, this was the garden, it was basically secure.
Daryl dropped his bow and grabbed the male body off of Beth, yanking and tossing as if it were a rag doll. He grabbed Beth, pulled her up, her eyes open as blood pulsed out of her neck, it was too late. Daryl had been too late. He couldn’t breathe, he fell to the ground and held her in his arms, his hand covering the gape in her neck. “Beth, Jesus, no… Beth.”
Beth was warm in Daryl’s arms, the sky was cloudy but the sun was trying to peek through. Daryl looked up the sky, it was just sunny enough to make him squint. He rocked her and she was quiet. He could smell her hair, she must have washed it earlier today, the clean scent filled his nose and he wanted to smile. He stroked her hair, it was soft, it was always soft. He trailed his hand down her arm, just his fingertips on her skin. He loved the feel of her soft skin compared to his which was always rough. Daryl brought his lips to her forehead and kissed her gently, she is still the most beautiful women he had ever seen. From the moment he had first seen her at the farm amidst all the chaos of that first day, she had been the most beautiful women had had ever known. She laid in his arms and he tried to figure out how they had gotten to this moment. Through the months of chaos, fear and all the changes that this new world had brought on. How had they come to this one moment in time together?