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A Moment in Time

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“If Daryl falls in love with you, he going to love you the rest of his life.” Norman Reedus

 

Chapter One

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?

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By the time they had left the note and food on the hood of the car for Sophia, Daryl was edgy and ready to drag everyone by their hair to this farm house, where ever the hell it was. Who was that women on horseback that dragged Lori away and how the hell did Carl get shot? Daryl hated being so blind to much needed information but he would have to wait till they got down the road for answers. He led the way through the maze of cars back to the turn off and down the rural road he wished they had taken the first time. Sophia would still be with them, they never would have gotten jumped by a herd of Walkers and Carl would be okay. Fuck he hated caring about people. He should have gone off on his own when he had the chance.

When they pulled up to the farm house the commotion had already calmed, Carl was stable but tentative and the plan for saving him was already in motion. He needed medical stuff that this Hershel guy didn’t have. Shane had that all under control. There wasn’t much for Daryl to do and that drove him nuts. Even if Carl was stable, Sophia still needed someone to find her. Carl had his parents and some make shift doctor, Sophia didn’t have anyone but Daryl who could save her. He knew he couldn’t just stand around, it wasn’t in his nature, he and Andrea were off on the search again, gone for hours till they came back empty handed.

Daryl paced around evaluating what was going on at the farm, six or seven people. The doctor and his kids, some outlying family or friends, he couldn’t tell. The blond daughter was quiet but seemed to buzz around helping her father, trying to keep everyone happy. She brought juice and food to Lori and Rick and generally stayed out of everyone’s way. But Daryl saw her, watched her tiny frame flit around taking care of everyone practically ignored by everyone around her.

That first night fall and the blond came out to check on them, all of them. Those staying in the camper, those in the tents, she came to Daryl’s tent but only buzzed by as she saw he was talking with Dale, well listening to Dale, sometimes you couldn’t get a word in edgewise. He saw the girl pass twice and wanted to ask her what she wanted, ask her what her name was, but her cute little ass was gone before he could get a word out. Didn’t matter, he was too shy to ask anyways, even if she had given him the time of day.

He spent days off the farm looking for Sophia, lost in the thick woods. Everyone else may have given up, but he didn’t. She was a tough kid, with a tough mom. And though her dad had been a doucebag, she learned how to be tough because of him. If anyone could survive in the Georgia woods, it was someone like Sophia. Daryl grabbed a horse and went out looking again. God he hated horses but he had to go out further this time, it just made sense, well it did till he got bucked off, lost his footing, fell down a rock bed, took an arrow to his side, passed out, woke to fight off a Walker, climb to safety and then dragged his sorry, beat up ass back to the farm with nothing to show for his hunt but a necklace made of Walker ears and Sophia’s doll. Hell, it was all worth it when he limped back and felt that doll on his hip.

Damn a bath in some cold water was gonna feel great he thought as the farm house came into view. Considering how far he had come already today, Daryl was amazed at how far the house seemed as he cleared the tree line. He legs felt dead before, but now with the prize so close he felt more like he was dragging two logs. Just a little further, just five more minutes. Fuck, this was gonna be easy after everything else he had just been… shit, fucking and Rick and Shane. Daryl watched as they sprinted across the field. T-Dog and Glenn right there with them. What kinda welcome party was this?

Daryl just kept dragging himself, god those two pissed him off, he just wanted to get the farm house. It happened fast, guns drawn, people yelling and that fucking Sherriff with a gun in Daryl’s face, again. There was shouting and panic followed by more yelling and… BOOM!

The sound rang out and filled Daryl’s ears more than the sting he felt in his head. He dropped to the ground. What the fuck?

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It was the only time Daryl had slept in the house. He had taken to the spare bedroom and he had fallen asleep reading a book. Beth had snuck into his room late that first night, she cleaned up his dinner plate and dropped off a glass of water. He was bandaged and sort of clean for the first time since anyone here had met him. The house was quiet that night, almost too quiet considering all the people who were there. The sound of a squeaking floorboard woke him instantly.

Daryl woke to the sound but he never moved, simply opened his eyes and focused on the skinny blond women near his bed. The light by the bed was now tuned on, his blue eyes held her gaze and she smiled at him. “I just brought you some water.” She whispered, almost too quiet to be heard but he heard her. He nodded. He saw the water then looked back to her face. “Daddy says it’s not as bad as it looks.” He had only been grazed by the bullet and the bandages were a bit excessive. But that hole in his side was more serious.

“Tha’s usually the way.” It was actually the first thing Daryl had said directly to her. They had never spoken before, never been properly introduced. She seemed so out of place in this world, she smiled, often, even if it was just because she is was shy and trying to fit in.

“Can I,” she caught the squeaky board again and stepped off of it, “Can I get you anything else?” No one had sent her into check on him, but she was drawn to helping him. Carol had brought him his dinner but no one else seemed to care that he was here.

Daryl pulled the blanket up his bare chest, he realized he was a bit too under dressed to be around a stranger. “Nah, ’m good.” He shook his head to her and gave her half a smile.

“Okay then. Light, leave on or blow it out.” She stepped over the squeaky board to the night stand.

“I’ll read a while.” He fixed his pillow.

Beth headed for the door and looked back at him, he was laying on his back with the book on his chest as he got comfortable, his face wincing as the wound at his side pulled a bit. “Night Daryl.” She smiled one more time.

“Night Beth.” He shifted from her face to his book.

Beth walked out into the front room and paused. Daryl smiled, she seemed surprised that he knew her name. Beth, it was a pretty name.

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Daryl had been full of rage. He was pissed that he was the only one in his group that could get things done, he was angry that Randall had forced him to beat him so badly, and he was still raging over the fact that Sophia had been turned and all his searching was in vain. He had beaten Randall far more than he needed to and it scared himself on some level that he was capable of doing what he had done without much thought behind it all.

Her hand felt good and that didn’t make Daryl feel any better. She washed the cold water over his knuckles and wiped away the blood gently.

Beth had caught up with the raging man a few minutes earlier while he was pacing behind a barn as she was carrying a bucket of water to the chicken coop. His anger stopped her in her tracks but she didn’t turn away, she watched as he made a fist and hit the side of the barn. He tried not to look at her as he paced but she finally moved past him, paused and turned to him. The blood was dripping off his hand now.

He stopped when she was getting too close, he figured his scowl would drive her away but it didn’t. She continued to him and took his bruised, bleeding hand in hers. She looked at both sides of it then put down her bucket of water. His blood smeared on her skin. She let go and rinsed her hand in the bucket as she knelt down next to it. She motioned for him to kneel next to her, he stared blankly for a minute then gave into her, “’s fine.” He spoke low. She motioned him again this time with a stern look of her own. He obeyed this time. He got down on one knee across from her and she took him by the wrist and dunked his hand into the icy cold water. It was shocking at first but instantly felt good. He let his hand sit in it for a while.

Beth’s hands joined his in the bucket as she gently washed the blood from his skin. Even in the cold water he could tell how soft her skin was, not in a lazy way but simply she was soft. Not hardened yet by this world. Her touch felt good and that made Daryl uncomfortable. He tried to draw his hand away but she simply kept working. She was focused in the bucket but he was focused on her face. Her pale skin, doe like eyes and her soft smile. He noticed it all. But it all also confused him. He wasn’t used to someone being so gentle with him, especially one that looked like she did.

She finally took his hand from the water and wiped it with the rag from her belt loop. He was still going to bleed a bit but it was better. Might even get an infection but he was a grown man, if he needed something he could ask for it. “All done.” She finally looked to his face and she smiled, reassuredly he thought. Her smile made him smile, well sort of.

“Thanks.” He kept the rag and turned out the blood skimmed water onto the ground. They stood up and he handed the bucket back to her. “Thanks Beth.”

“Yup.” She turned and walked back the way she had come, she had to refill the bucket for the chickens.

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Beth had been bitchy for days before they were forced to leave the farm, everyone had joked it was PMS but Daryl somehow had figured it out. The poor girl just needed to get laid, Daryl recognized the feral energy radiating from her. He felt bad, she had no one to be with. But he understood and sympathized with her dilemma.

The herd had come through, the barn had burned, people had been lost and they were all on the move. It had been a warm Georgia day when he and Carol had been scouting for supplies. They were all hold up at a house they had secured, crammed together for a few days as they worked a new game plan to find shelter after the farm. Carol had spotted it and motioned for him to pull in, an adult video store that took bolt cutters to get into. Apparently Daryl didn’t know that sex toys generally came supplied with their own batteries, but Carol knew this. The raid had filled their back packs with mostly AA and C cell batteries. Daryl had been uncomfortable in that place, especially with Carol plucking through the toys like such a pro. And back at home base neither of them would divulge where they had procured the supplies from.

Now, a few days later, Daryl jumped on his bike telling Rick he just needed to get away for a while, he knew that they hadn’t picked the store clean. It was hours later when Daryl was on watch and Beth was pacing that he handed her a small vibrator and two extra AA batteries. They were alone as handed her the lipstick sized toy. He wanted to tell her to conserve the batteries, he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to get her more. Hell, he wanted to ask if he had read her right, that this is what she needed to calm down. She looked down to the toy, up to his face then down again as she turned beet red. She nodded in answer to the questions he never asked as she jammed the gift into her pocket.

They parted company and over the next day in their usual fashion, they never spoke of it. She would smile and he would acknowledge her but they never spoke. It was two days after that when out of the blue, in front of Rick, she walked up to Daryl and hugged him for the first time. She had wanted to wait to do it when they could be alone, but that never seem to be happen. She barely came up to his chest and she wrapped her arms around him. He was obviously uncomfortable but she didn’t care.

He hugged her back and mumbled ‘welcome’, he knew exactly what the hug was about. He had seen the shift in her personality. Rick just watched not get any of it. But Daryl and Beth always seemed to understand each other.

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Daryl had been on watch on top of a turned over bus when Carol brought him up dinner. She always did. Everyone knew that Daryl wouldn’t eat unless everyone else already had enough. This was the first night that they would be safe in a long time, since they had left the farm. Safe because they were inside sturdy fences, because Rick had patrolled the grounds and Daryl was on watch. Daryl had been watching the group down below, most Beth actually. He watched her sitting by Maggie, they were all safe tonight and he was relieved.

Daryl picked at the dinner Carol had brought him and they bantered in their own way. Rick was going to do another lap around the perimeter and Daryl wanted to go with him. He and Carol climbed down together laughing as they went. He made sure she had rejoined the group safely and smiled as he heard Beth and Maggie singing. Rick caught up and they walked. Another lap around the area making sure everything was safe. They walked in silence as they rarely needed to talk. Daryl glanced back over his shoulder when he heard the small footsteps behind him. Beth was following. They paused and waited for her to catch up before the made the final corner.

“Hey, it’s cold out here, why aren’t you by the fire.” Rick was always in dad mode.

Beth looked warm enough, she had an extra sweatshirt if she needed it. “I’m fine, just wanted to walk.”

Rick’s eyes shifted from Beth to Daryl then back again. “I’m gonna check on everyone. Watch Daryl’s back?” Rick looked worn out, more than anyone else. He carried the burden of caring for this group. She nodded. It was more like, ‘keep Daryl company’, there was no way she could be considered one to watch anyone’s back. They watched as Rick walked out of the moon light and over toward the bend in the fence than out of sight. Daryl started walking the other way and she followed two steps behind. He stopped and she did as well.

“Jus waitin’ for ya ta catch up.” Daryl didn’t like it when she walked behind him, there was no reason for that. She nodded and caught up then they walked side by side along the fence line. He was making mental notes of security concerns, Walker placements, and how she lengthened her stride to keep up with his. He shortened his pace a bit. “Like that song ya sang.” He didn’t know what it was but she sounded good and it was a breath of fresh air in their crap ass world. Under the moonlight she had sung to the group and it had made him feel like things might someday become normal again.

“Thanks.” Beth tried not to beam at the compliment. She knew he was he was too old for her and that he barely noticed her most of the time. Still, the attention from Daryl made her want to sing even more. “Think this place is safe?” She wasn’t questioning Rick’s judgment as much as fishing to hear his voice.

Daryl nodded. Safe enough to keep them all safe. Keep Beth safe he thought. She had gotten tougher over the months, but she was the one he worried about the most. Carl had survived a gun shot. Carol survived the loss of her daughter and ended her own husband, Andrea was tough all on her own, Maggie had Glenn and Lori had Rick, even if it didn’t seem that way all the time. Beth only had her dad and though Daryl liked Hershel, he wasn’t strong enough sometimes. There had been a few encounters with Walkers on the road where it had been a close call. If Daryl hadn’t been watching her as much as he did, she would have gotten bitten, she was fighting so hard with the one in front of her that she never heard the one behind, he dropped it with an arrow and she never even realized it had happened. Daryl didn’t register how close the call was till the Walker dropped and he could feel his own heart beating again.

They got to the end of the fence line and stared out into the Georgia woods. Lightning bugs twinkled in the distance. Beth took Daryl’s hand in hers, she had a soft touch. He paused at first, then gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Should get back.” She nodded this time, they turned and held hands for five or ten paces before he let go to adjust his cross bow. They walked quietly in the moon light.

Chapter Text

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.

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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.”

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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?