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Chapter 40 - While She Flies Beside Me on Many Broken Wings

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A sharp pain to his side jerked Daryl awake and threw him over onto his back, the sudden movement sending his muscles into spasm up both sides of his spine. He grit his teeth against the pain, eyes flying open to a strange room made stranger still for the lack of firelight. Beside him, Beth mumbled something in her sleep, a jumble of sounds he had no hope of understanding, and rolled away without waking, taking most of the sheet with her. Daryl stared up at the high ceiling, at the rectangle of watery blue sky just bright enough to lighten the room, and breathed through the rippling pain until it faded back beneath the ache that was his whole fucking body.

No need to try picking out what hurt and what didn’t, ‘cause it all fucking hurt and his head throbbed that much harder just threatening to thinking about it. Coulda been a hell of a lot worse, though. He was still breathing, even if the bruised muscles pulled like a belt cinched too tight across his chest with each one. Had food in his belly and a couple hours’ sleep, too, and he wouldn’t’ve gotten that otherwise. Not without this place, this room, this ridiculously soft bed to do it in.

He’d have none of it at all if it weren’t for Beth, and that final thought tipped his head over to look at her, sprawled out on her belly beside him, blonde curls spilling down her naked back above where the sheet pooled around her waist. So deceptively small and fragile, looking the part the world told her to play except he knew better. There was a spine of steel in that gently curved back. Armour, hidden beneath that smooth, pale skin, worn in places, dented, but tougher than anyone would ever know. Beauty inside that even Beth’s pretty face couldn’t match. This woman would never stop knocking him on his ass and his heart stuttered just looking at her.

Not a product of his imagination this time, an escape into his head, all golden light and sweeping wings, but a real-life angel built of mud and blood and strength and heart, sleeping so deeply after tearing her way through hell just to find him. And now they were here and safe and alive and together and nothing, not any of the shit in his head, not the marks on her face or the ones on his back, mattered more than that.

She wasn’t no angel, though, no matter what his brain liked to think up in its most desperate hours, but she was something, Beth Greene. Something he never in a million years saw coming.

Beth murmured in her sleep again, another jumble of nonsense in a mumbling little voice that brought a strained smile to his swollen face. Without waking, she turned over, a string of drool still clinging to the corner of her mouth, lips shiny with more of it as she rolled her sleep-heavy body back against his. He sucked in a gasp, swallowing it down to keep from waking her as she wiggled back and settled right in. He hadn’t felt it happen. Must have woken hard and just too sore everywhere else to notice, but he felt it now. The ache in his balls, the weight of his erection pinned up against Beth’s warm, soft body, right where it wanted to be. He wanted to push against her, fit that greedy cock into the crack of her ass and chase that little tease of friction, but she was asleep, no matter that she settled against him like it was some sort of instinct.

He wasn’t gonna wake her, either, no matter what his cock wanted. Damn thing insisted on getting ideas when it wasn’t any kinda time to be doing that. Beth earned every minute of sleep she could get and then some, after yesterday, and with a groan of protest, both internal and muffled inside a bitten lip, Daryl settled for pressing his palm into her bed-warm belly instead, fingers splayed wide to touch as much of her as possible. The back of her neck still smelled of that gritty soap with hints of dirt underneath, and he nuzzled in with his face, caring little about the pain once the scent of her filled his head. Just breathed her in and held her close and tried not to think too hard about how they almost hadn’t made it here at all.

Lying with her like this, it wouldn’t take much for him to imagine they were back at the cabin and forget all about this strange place full of strange people. Let everything fade away until it was just him and Beth and their little home in the woods. They wouldn’t have bothered with clothes at all, after washing up for the night, and the only thing between them now were Beth’s quiet snores. Maybe the bed had always been this soft, the sheets this nice, light this bright even with just that one tiny window. Maybe everything that happened since they left it behind was one long nightmare and any minute now he was gonna wake up to her unmarked face and sleepy eyes smiling happily at him. To her voice, still sleep-thickened, the words all jumbled together as she teased him for being a sleepy head even though she slept just as long, and there wouldn’t be any hurry, any rush, any reason at all to leave the bed. To leave her.

Stay, she would tell him, those big blue eyes blinking slowly from across the pillow. Stay, and he would.

Beth snuffled and groaned and stretched, and Daryl’s eyes popped open again, the fog receding to reveal a slightly brighter room than the one he’d shut his eyes on what felt like seconds ago. A brighter room that was not the cabin and a softer cock, though with the way Beth wiggled back against him, he had no illusions of that lasting long.

“Mmm…” She settled in, somehow both the most solid thing in the whole room but also just kind of boneless, like warm wax poured into the mold of his body until she filled in every last space.

Daryl dragged his closed lips down the back of her neck, smiling into the warmth of her when a little shiver rolled up her spine and out her mouth as a tiny little sigh. He would never get enough of holding her like this, just the way it started back then at the cabin. His face in her neck, his big hand on her warm belly, the quiver inside stirred up by every little brush of his fingertips. The weight of her hand on top of his, holding him there. Making sure he knew that she didn’t want him to leave.

Just like now, with Beth pushing so hard, pressing him so deep, he didn’t understand how she could breathe, but she could, and she did. A deep, slow breath. Another little sigh. A contented hum that floated up around their heads like a little current of warm air. Beth arched her back like she was stretching except he knew better, now. Knew the rolling of her hips for what it was. A sleepy little grind. A wordless hello. Of course she felt him there, waking up along with her.

He felt it, too, this time. The slow coil of heat, the blood flowing down to thicken his cock against the plump of her ass. It wasn’t urgent. Not like the last time they woke together, after he dreamt about her in that weird little boat. The thought was there, lingering amidst the warmth, inside the little ripples of good she made each time she shifted back into him. It could go that way again if they wanted it.  Wouldn’t take much to grab hold of the idea and push them into it, to thrust against her properly and have her grind right back like he knew she could.

But this was nice, just the way it was. Just holding her. Touching her. Little sweeps of his fingers down low on her belly, where her skin was softest. Around her bellybutton where it tickled every time and made her huff through her nose. Between her breasts because he could, because her nipples were already hard before he pulled at them, one at a time until she giggled sleepily and arched into his touch. Because the little swells of them were even softer than the skin on her belly, when he traced them with his fingertips, memorizing the shape of her, the feel of her as she tipped her head over to tuck her face up under his chin.

She yawned, long and deep. “S’it mornin’?”

“Mmhm.”

 “Where—oh.”

Her exclamation came with a straightening of her spine, and she didn’t quite pull out of his arms, but she lifted up just enough to scan what she could see of the room off the foot of the bed. It wasn’t a stretch, given where his wandering head had gone, to read the disappointment in her little huff of breath as she slumped back into the bed.

He held onto her for another minute before she eased out of his arms and turned over to face him, curling into the pillow just far enough back that he could see her face clearly from where he pressed his head into the pillow’s other end. His gut clenched at this first good look at her face, at the aftermath of yesterday. Deep purple ringing both eyes, stretching out in livid splotches, as vibrant as a paint stain splattered over half her forehead on the right and down her cheek on the left. And his messy stitches, some third grader’s sewing project right there in the middle of the wreckage.

But the clench lasted barely a breath before fading away beneath that flutter of wings beating hard inside his chest, because underneath all that was just Beth. This woman—god, this woman. Her smile, more muted than usual but no less real, spread through him like moonshine, trickling down to warm up even the darkest, most hidden places. The only warmth he ever needed, shining there across the pillow. He reached out to brush a curl of hair away from her face, and let his fingers linger there, stroking down her cheek until she let out a soft sigh.

Before he could speak, before he could work his mouth into producing something resembling words, Beth brushed her knuckles over the darkest bruise at the bottom of his ribs, and beat him to it. “What is it, Daryl?”

“Hmm?”

“You have thinkin’ face on,” she said, voice still a whisper, like speaking too loud might shatter the little bubble of quiet still hovering over them. “So. What is it? What’s on your mind?”

What changed your mind?

She had long ago figured out the answer to that first question. Knew, maybe better than him, how that conversation could have gone if they  hadn’t gotten interrupted, if he’d been able to drag his head out of his ass long enough to even attempt to put it into words. It was easy, not talking about this. Just being with her and letting it be what it was. Once they talked, once he gathered up all the words he collected along the way, words which bloomed alongside that fluttering in his chest, sure as shit the universe would sweep in and take it from them. Rend them apart and step on the pieces left behind. Grind them beneath its heavy heel until all that was left were tread marks in the dirt and a cloud of ash. Wasn’t worth risking it just to say something they both knew anyway.

Except—he looked at her there, half-squished into the pillow, big blue eyes shining in expectation in the early morning light, blinking slowly just how he pictured her when he imagined them back at the cabin—she should hear it. She already knew, same as him, but she deserved that much. Deserved a man who wasn’t too much of a coward to tell her what she meant to him.

“I, uh, been thinkin’ a lot, ‘bout all this—” He swallowed, heart racing as he gestured from her to him and back again. “All this with us.

Beth’s eyes widened, just a little, and he swore he saw something new gleaming there. Something which clung to his words as her smile shifted into a gentle, almost secretive one.  She reached out to take his flailing hand and twined their fingers into a knot on top of the sheet.

“Me, too.”

He coughed, throat dry. Gritty, like sandpaper. Tongue heavy like it was made of lead. “Yeah?”

“Mmhm.” She nodded her head, hair swishing against the pillow case. “Do you wanna talk about it?”

His breath rattled through his chest and he sighed, squeezed her fingers so tight but she squeezed right back as he mumbled something that might’ve been yes, might’ve been gibberish for all he knew. But she smiled again, so bright he almost had to shut his eyes against the brilliance of it, and squeezed his hand even tighter before letting him go.

“Okay, Daryl. I—I’d love that.”

His heart gave a giant thud in his chest, so hard he was sure Beth must’ve felt it right through the bed. There were no flickering candles on her now, just that hazy morning light pouring in from above, but it was just like last night all over again. Her eyes danced with a glow all their own as she shifted fully onto her side, naked up top like it was the most natural thing in the world. He knew he was staring, knew she knew it but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. From the lean muscles of her belly to those perfect, perky tits, and up to where those blue eyes shone. The sight of her there, the smile on her face as she watched him looking, did nothing at all to help his dizzy head or the renewed stiffness in his cock.

Beth. Oh, god, Beth.

His throat thickened, the lump rising out of nowhere. Beneath the warmth inside him something unpleasant turned in his belly and what tumbled out of his mouth wasn’t at all what he wanted to say. “I dunno know how to do this, Beth. I never—”

She pressed the tips of two fingers to his lips, demanding his silence. “Daryl.”

He swallowed the rest of whatever it was he was trying to say. Scraped his teeth against that raw place inside his lip and gave her a quick nod, so she knew he was gonna listen.

Beth reached for his hand and replaced the quilt clutched in his fingers with her own, laced them together, and squeezed tight. “Me either. Not like this. Not like it is with you.”

He pushed back against urge to scoff at that, the idea that he was somehow different, somehow more than the two young men who came before, but he shoved it down. Shoved it so hard it rattled the box he kept it in. Try as he might to deny it the truth was there, staring him in the face with eyes every bit as clear as Beth’s.  He couldn’t speak, not with something like that pressing in, swelling up that lump in his throat until all he could do was nod his head again and hope she knew that he understood.

Beth nodded, too, and shifted her hips forward until her bent knees pressed up against his. “What if I go first? I betcha we’re thinkin’ a lot of the same things anyway.”

He coughed, just enough to finally clear away the obstruction. “A’right.”

Her eyes swept up toward the headboard as her lips parted around a little huff of air, and it was a moment before she spoke. There was some comfort in that, in even Beth not quite knowing how to start, and it eased the discomfort in his belly the longer she thought about what she wanted to say.

“Doin’ this, being...”  She clutched a little harder at his hand as she stalled once more. “Bein’ us,” she said, finally, gaze drifting down now to catch his. “It’s—it’s more than just talkin’ about it or havin’ the right words, or even always knowin’ what the right words are.”

He hummed, urging her to go on now that she got started, and Beth’s tentative little smile bloomed out full again.

“It’s all the other things, too, like holdin’ hands, or sittin’ close together at night under a tree, or the way you wrap me up after a nightmare until it all just fades away.” She swept her thumb along the back of his, making a circle at his knuckle before pressing in tight. “It’s—it’s us touchin’ just to know each other’s there.”

That wiggled down into him, a warm little shiver. The gentlest of flames like the secret warmth at the nape of her neck where she always smelled so good. Indefinably pleasant, like the brush of her knuckles across the back of his hand or the way she prodded at his neck with the point of her nose.

“I never—” Heat rose up from his chest to his cheeks, surging like a tidal wave, but he pushed on, needing her to hear it. Needing to get it out before he lost his nerve along with his chance. “Never wanted nobody touchin’ me, before you.”

I like it when you touch me.

Yeah.” She whispered it so quiet he felt the word more than he heard it. Of course she noticed that. Of course she knew.

“It’s different, with you. Touchin’ you and you touchin’ me. I just wanna melt right into you.”

His belly jumped again, like popping candy or something bursting inside. “I like touchin’ you.”

I love it.” That same soft whisper, and a push of her knees against his. “No matter how, or why. Touchin’ my face or strokin’ my back. Kisses that go on for hours, a-and the other things...”

A bit more pink crept into her cheeks, and she swept her tongue across her lower lip as she eyed him across the pillow. “The sex things.”

Her eyes tipped up a little at that, a fresh blush spreading across her cheeks in the places where the bruises didn’t reach. When she flicked back to his face her smile tugged harder but there was something almost bashful in it, even though she wasn’t that at all, not when it came to sex. Bolder than he could ever be and fucking adorable now, with them pink cheeks from just saying the word. Made his cock ache, thinking about how he could make her flush deeper.  He hadn’t forgotten his promise to himself. The promise he made to spend the next century learning all the ways he could make Beth come, harder and harder until she forgot her own name.

Beth let out a little sigh, and Daryl blinked himself back out of his head. Realized some of that must’ve shown on his face, the way Beth was looking at him, her flushed cheeks even darker without him even needing to touch her. Pupils grown wide and a little shine to her lips, like she couldn’t keep her tongue away from them.

“I, uh—” He cleared his throat and tried to shift against the growing tightness of his too-stiff boxers. “Yeah.

Beth let out the softest bleat of laughter, fluttery and feminine and not at all to do with his lack of ability to form a sentence. Like a secret, just between them, that laugh found its way right down to his belly and swirled there amongst that growing warmth.

It lingered there even as a more serious mask slipped down over her face, her eyelids dipping in slow motion as she blinked a couple of times and pulled their joint hands right up tight to her sternum. With her other hand, she pressed his between both of hers and squeezed tight. “But it’s not just touchin’, or sex, or fallin’ asleep together, or any of that.”

“It ain’t.” Though unsure where she was going exactly, he already knew he was gonna follow her there. “I know it ain’t.”

The corner of Beth’s mouth turned up just a little, and that thoughtful look passed over her face a split second before she spoke. “It’s havin’ each other’s back, and workin’ together to stay alive, but more, you know? I don’t know how to say it, but—but do you know what I mean?”

He thought he did, even if the meaning of it floated in the air above his head, just beyond his reach. But it was more, somehow, just like she said. More and different, ‘cause he’d’ve had Rick’s back, or Carol’s, or Glenn’s, and they’d’ve had his, but with Beth there were other layers to it he never even knew were possible. Some sort of trust that could only exist between him and her once they started on this path together, something neither one of them could’ve had before.

“It’s—” He cut himself off, but on Beth’s little nod, Daryl forced the rest of the words out. “S’just ours.

“Yeah.”  Her breath washed warm and heavy across his face, and she tipped her head down to press her lips to their tangle of knuckles. “Like, if everythin’ around me was dark, and everyone else went away, I’d still see your hand when you reached out to find me.”

He liked that. How it sounded. How it felt as the words stitched themselves to the lining of his heart. She had her own darkness, her own demons forged out of the blackened remains of everyone she lost, every hurt done to her, everything taken from her by force that she’d never get back. But a touch of his fingers along her spine could pull her right back, never mind that he would rip his way through a thousand levels of hell if that’s what it took. And when it was him who was lost, drowning in the sinkhole inside of his head, Beth cast just the right words to reel him back out every time, like nobody ever had. Like nobody ever even knew to try.

And that was something. It had to be, when two people could be like that for each other instead of just two screaming souls all alone in the dark.

He mumbled something in response, once his brain caught up to his mouth. Something inadequate probably but it made Beth sigh softly anyway and pull their hands even tighter to her chest. “It’s me remindin’ you, and you reminding me, too.”

We made it.

You got away from it.

We should burn it down.

“Beth.

Her eyes were watering now, glistening like the lake in all that hazy light. “You make me feel so much, Daryl. So deep inside that my whole body aches all the time but I never want it to stop because it’s the sweetest ache I’ve ever known.”

Somehow, like she always did, Beth pulled the words she spoke straight from the writhing mass in his head. He burned, inside, like acid rising up from his belly and scorching through every nerve in his body with the need to say it. To tell her. To give her words that meant every bit as much as those she gave to him.

He pulled their hands to his chest, now, right over his heart. Deep, pushing into the muscle, into the bruises until he felt the sting all the way down to his toes. “Got so much of you, right in here.”

Never had that before. Never could, until her.

Beth’s eyelids fluttered and she swallowed hard, and her mouth popped open but no sound came out. She sucked in a deep breath and fought to smile, but her lip quivered in a way that made his insides melt into a molten puddle. She detangled their hands to press her palm flat to his chest, one finger tapping against his skin in a rapid pat-pat, pat-pat.

“I know you do,” she whispered, still tapping, her eyes fixed on his in that way she had that made him want to dive right inside. “Cause my heart’s poundin’ and yours is poundin’, too.”

It was. Thundering like a steam engine beneath her palm. A turn of his hand and he pressed his palm to her chest, too, felt her heart drumming there beneath her breast, keeping time with his own. That song of theirs, beating in sync, no matter what.

Beth’s next breath shook even harder, and when she spoke there was a thickness to her voice, a wobble. A deep gleam to her eyes. “Because when you’re lookin’ at me like you’re doin’ right now, Daryl, I get so warm, inside and out, and I never wanna look away. Is it—is it like that for you, too?”

“Yes.

The word exploded out, even before she was finished talking, like it couldn’t stand to be contained one second longer. Like once the confessions started rolling he’d never be able to stop, never be able to keep from telling her how it was when she looked at him, too. Like standing in the only patch of sunlight left in the world and never having to leave, never wanting to, feeling that shining warmth flowing down over every inch of him even if the rest of the world had gone cold and grey.

The words just fell out of his mouth, fell right out and danced there in the middle before twirling their way into Beth’s ears, making her laugh and curl forward. Closer, pushing her palm into his chest, her eyes near overflowing now, but her smile brightened. Sunlight in woman  form washing over his soul.

“I think if I tried to write it all down, everything that this is with us, I would just keep fillin’ up notebooks until I ran out of lines.”

There was something just so Beth about that, and he hummed at her, long and low, almost rumbling. Heart beating so fast he was getting dizzy. Dizzier, ‘cause his head hadn’t stopped spinning since the moment he woke up, and it was all because of her.

Beth gave her head a little shake, and somehow that smile got even brighter. “But I think maybe it’s simple, too. That it’s just about bein’ together, however we wanna be.”

She paused, and in the space between words, slid her body just a little bit closer, pushing her knee in between both of his. “You said you don’t know how, but Daryl, you do. You do and we are.”

They were. Him and Beth and their giant unlabelled thing for two. Words or not, it was easy being with her, easier than breathing, and as usual he was an idiot. An over-thinking idiot still trying to doubt the best thing that ever had, or ever would, happen to him.

Beth lifted her hand from his chest to sweep some of the hair away from his forehead, fingertips soothing the sting of the abused skin beneath. “Nothin’ has to change just because we’re talkin’ about it, you know.”

He cupped her face in his palm, fingers sliding into the loose strands of her wild hair while he glided his thumb across her unmarked cheek. “That easy, huh?”

Her shoulders drew up, like she wanted to shrug, but she cut the motion short to stroke her fingers along the line of his shoulder and down his arm, smiling just enough to show a hint of her teeth. “I think so, if it feels right. Doesn’t this feel right?”

He shivered at the sensation of her fingers on him, like warm little bubbles bursting on the surface of his skin and sinking down inside. “Yeah. Does. Every word a that.  All of this.”

“We don’t have to give it a name.” She held his gaze for a long moment, until he nodded, and she let it drift to follow the path of her fingers.  “We know what it is and that’s what matters.”

Beth, drawing little circles near his elbow, continued in a whispery little voice. “It’s you and me, Daryl.”

There wasn’t anything he liked more than the sound of those three words and all they contained. You and me.

He snorted, and Beth looked up at him, a question forming in the shape of her lips but he answered before she could ask. “It does got a name, you know.”

It clicked almost instantly, and her smile grew wide. He knew she was gonna say it but he went ahead and said it, too, and the words flowed out in stereo.

“Beth and Daryl against the world.”

His voice and hers, together, and who the fuck cared if that made him some kind of lovesick asshole for finding so much meaning in something so dumb as saying the same damn thing at the same damn time. Some stupid words that were never just stupid words, not the first time she said them, and not any of the times since.

Beth sighed and wrapped her palm around his forearm, thumb making those same warm, sweepy little passes back and forth. “I really wanna kiss you right now, but my face hurts too much.”

“Shit.” He traced her bottom lip with his thumb and couldn’t stop the little shudder from shaking through his chest when she poked her tongue out to graze the pad. “Wanna kiss you so fuckin’ bad, girl.”

Beth’s hand lifted from his arm, settled on his hip just below the bandage, and he watched the path of her eyes slide down his body. Not stopping where her hand lay but drifting lower, and knowing where she was looking only deepened the growing heat in his belly. She could see the shape of him, would notice the wet spot at the front of those pale blue shorts just as plainly as he felt it there, and he let out a little groan at the same time as she sighed and curled her fingertips into the jut of his hipbone.

Her gaze flicked to his, briefly, before falling back down. “The other day, you didn’t—”

“Don’t matter,” he said, regretting it the moment the words tumbled out to drown out hers.

But she was Beth, and instead of getting mad, she only looked at him like he made a bad joke that was still sort of funny.

“Daryl.” She trailed her fingertip along the waistband, just tickling the skin above with a touch so light his muscles quivered beneath. “It does matter. We can—if you want. You look like you want to. I want to.”

I always want to.

The groan he made in response came from somewhere down in his toes, and Beth’s huffing little laugh washed over him.

“I can see how hard you are.” Her voice was that oddly raspy mix of sweetness and gravel as her fingers kept up with their teasing little dance.  “You’ve been hard since we started talkin’.”

He barely recognized his own voice as he answered her. “Been hard since I woke up next to you.”

Beth shivered, let out a soft moan and clenched her thighs together, almost pushing both knees between his. He hadn’t wondered before, was too caught up in her words to notice how flushed she was but he saw it now, bright pink spreading down from her forehead almost to her bellybutton. Before his eyes her tits changed from soft pink peaks to hard little points, nipples tight and pebbled and begging to be plucked and pinched and rolled. She had to be so fucking wet by now, had probably soaked right through those polka dot panties. All that heat and slickness with nowhere else to go but out. Did it help, squeezing her thighs together like that? Would she rather have her fingers in there, pressing into her cunt through the soaked cloth? Or was she waiting for his instead? Long and thick, slipping past her panties, sliding inside her as she clenched around him and pulled him in deep.

“I think—” Her chest heaved with a heavy breath as she continued her slow, sweeping touches down low on his belly, like she somehow read every dirty thought in his head just by looking at his face. “I think we both deserve to feel good, don’t you?”

Yes.

He couldn’t’ve said why he held back before or what was different now. Maybe it was just time, a bit of space to breathe between then and now. Could’ve been the talk they just had, or those hours on a dirt floor soaked in his own blood with only the Beth-in-his-head to keep him from checking right out. Could have been anything and he wouldn’t ever know, but it maybe didn’t matter, either, what it was. Just that it was.

None of this was wrong, not with Beth, and fuck, he wanted her.

He got a handful of her ass and hauled her in, and Beth let out a squeal of delight as her belly met his. She pushed her thigh up higher between his legs, just right for him to thrust against and he did and she breathed out a fluttery breath and pressed her forehead carefully against his.

That same secret little laugh tickled his cheeks and her fingers followed the line of his collarbone, lighting little fires beneath them each time they touched down. “You know what I wanna do?”

He was rapidly running through his daily limit of groans inspired by Things Beth Greene Said or Did, but he let it roll out anyway. Something so perfectly filthy about the way she sounded and it hit him just right. The heat of her breath licked at his lips, fluttery and wet, and the scratch of her nails down his sternum had him pressing hard against her thigh. A couple of words of barely passable English squeaked out in response but it was enough encouragement to get her talking.

“I wanna touch you like you touched me,” she said, in that voice built of liquid heat and silken fingers. “I wanna know what your cock feels like in my hand and I wanna make you come all over me.”

Jesus, Beth.” He couldn’t even hope to fight that one, or the shudder that shivered through him right after as he gripped her ass tighter and rolled his hips into her leg. “You ain’t playin’ fair, you know that?”

Her thumbnail scratched down the centre of his nipple and he jerked so hard into her thigh even she gasped. “I know. But I want to. If you want me to.”

“God, yes.”

Beth moved her thigh against him like she done with her ass, pulling back and pressing up again until he had no choice but to rock into her. “Cause we can, Daryl.  Because it’s us and it’s okay. Anything we want as long as we want to.”

Yes. Yes. I want to.”

She was breathing so hard, her chest rising and falling like mad as she pulled away, as she turned over onto her back and dropped her legs apart. “You can tell me to stop.”

His eyes found the dark, damp oval of soaked fabric on display, there at the apex of her smooth, muscled thighs. Fuck, he could smell her from here, that sweet wet scent he would never get outta his head and never wanted to.

He palmed at his cock through his shorts, groaning at the contact, at the way Beth’s already wide pupils grew even wider as she watched him do it. “Want you to.”

Even her heavy breathing couldn’t keep the smile from splitting her face, as she hooked her fingers into her panties and tugged them down. “I’m gonna make you feel so good, Daryl.”

Every muscle he had shivered in response to that, as Beth tossed the soaked polka dots onto the floor with the rest of their discarded clothing. It hadn’t covered much, that tiny piece of patterned cotton, but the whole of her bared was a brand new sight to his tired old eyes, as she once again turned onto her side to face him. Like a fucking cliché, all he could think was that he had never seen anything as beautiful as Beth Greene naked. She ought to look weaker, with everything stripped away, with those hidden parts of her so revealed, but all he could see was the strength built into every inch of her. Gentle curves and lean, sculpted muscle without her clothing in the way to hide it.

Without another breath of hesitation he pushed his shorts down, a groan sliding out when he finally freed his cock from its cotton prison. A deeper one following when his back gave a warning twinge as he tried to bend, to push them off altogether, but then Beth was there.

Big blue eyes wide open as she laid her hands on top of his. “Let me?”

A quick nod and she took over, pulled the shorts down to his knees and then off altogether before stretching back out onto her side. Her gaze swept over him, just like he had done with her, and his skin grew tight all over, hot and flushed and prickling from the top of his head to the soles of his feet, but in a way he never wanted to stop. And when she reached out to slide her finger down the length of him, tracing the vein bulging along the top of his cock, he ground his bruised lip between his teeth so he didn’t moan when he had no reason to be. Clutched at his hip to keep from leaping right off the bed, or thrusting into her hand or even just fucking coming right then and there. That fingertip alone was pure fire and he should’ve known, should’ve prepared himself for this, that Beth’s touch would be like nothing he’d ever had before. No wonder he shied away. He wasn’t ready for what it would do to him, inside and out, but now. Now, he didn’t want to wait any more.

He watched her face, fighting the urge to let his eyes shut as her finger glided back along the same path. Back to where she stroked her fingertips through the hair curling around the base of his shaft. It tickled just enough to jerk his hips and twitch through his cock, and she huffed out an amused breath but also shifted her legs to squeeze them together. Smooth thighs crisscrossing as she sought the friction she needed. He itched to touch her, too, to reach out and trail his fingertips down her arm. Her hip. The inside of her thigh. To uncross her legs and hook the top one right up over his so he could get his fingers in there, where she was warm and wet. Glide ‘em slow, like she was doing to him, making a second pass now along that same vein, to the gentlest of brushes over the head, dark pink and moist and almost entirely out of its foreskin.

He grunted and his hips jerked again, and Beth’s eyes flicked up to catch his, her lip caught in her teeth like she was holding in a smile. And he might have thought she was just being tentative if not for that, that little quirk of her lip that got harder to hide when she cupped his balls in her hand and tickled along the backside. It shot through him like lightning, twin sensations of shivery skin and a hard jolt of heat that filled his cock so full he barely recognized it.

His chest rumbled with just the sort of groan he was sure Beth was after, especially as she laughed, a smile blooming wide on her flushed face. Oh, she was teasing him, all right, and enjoying every moment of it. If she kept it up he might spontaneously combust but he would feel fucking good doing it. ‘Cause it didn’t matter, not with Beth. Whatever she wanted he wanted it too, especially as she circled her hand loosely around the base of his cock and pulled up, slow, slow, toward the head.

“Oh…” She looked up at him as her hand moved, a question arching her brow. “Foreskin, right?”

He shivered in the wake of her question, and wasn’t sure why but he rode it out anyway. “Mmhm.”

Her gaze drifted back down to her hand on his cock. “I haven’t—ohh, it glides. I like that.”

Beth tightened her grip, and he pushed into her hand. Couldn’t help it, way her palm burned him as she slid it slowly down. Down, down, ‘til she bumped into his belly and pulled back up, a harder stroke that was just as slow, that made him whimper. He fucking whimpered and clutched at her hip and she was barely doing anything. But it was Beth. Beth’s hand on his cock and he might have been touched before but this was the first time all over again. First time he wanted it and his belly burst with heat, like little explosions firing off inside. His head spun, a dizzy, bloodless whirl, because what didn’t pour out of that gash in his side now rushed straight down to his cock.

The whimper became a groan, became a moan that built in his belly and surged past his throat as he thrust harder into her hand. Into her fist which tightened that little bit more, and he wasn’t sure whether to laugh or moan but he was pretty sure he did both as Beth pulled his foreskin up around his head in that closed fist and stroked back down.

Her giggle bubbled in his chest, too, up and out in a fluttery laugh, and she looked back up at him wearing a delightful little smirk. “You like that, too.”

All he could do was rumble at her, and she laughed again and kept working him. Stroking firm and slow, unhurried, foreskin gliding like heaven over his rigid shaft in her deft little hand. Little frissons of pleasure fired with each pass, pulling huffy little moans out of him he had to fight to swallow down.

“Lemme hear you,” she whispered, like she knew, like she could read it on his face.

He did. Let the next moan roll right on up from his belly as he dropped his head back down on the pillow, struggling to keep his eyes open. To keep watching Beth’s hand, her fingers curled around his cock, and Christ, it felt so good. Too good and if she wasn’t careful this was gonna be over before either one of them wanted it to be.

“Beth. Beth, you gotta slow down.” His hips stuttered in warning and he covered her hand with his, stopping her, groaning when she squeezed him tight since she couldn’t move. “Fucking hell, sweetheart.”

Beth tossed her head back and laughed and Daryl couldn’t help but laugh along with her, as he let go of her hand to pull at her hip. “C’mere.”

She was breathing very fast, when she turned over onto her back and tucked up beside him, the flush spread over her body even deeper now. Rich red from her forehead all the way down to her belly, which quivered like a little earthquake beneath his palm as he slid from her ribs to her bellybutton. Her legs fell open, revealing that patch of dark blonde curls, glistening wet, almost as wet as her thighs where she rubbed them together. Her cunt beckoned, swollen, pink and spread wide open for his eyes. For whatever he wanted as long as she wanted it too.

Beth tipped her head to look up at him, one corner of her lip caught between her teeth, and he didn’t see her move but seconds later she had her other hand on his cock, the one that was trapped between their bodies. Her thumb smeared precome around his head and down until he felt almost as slick as she was.

Almost, ‘cause he was only teasing her bush, tickling down into her mound and already his fingers were coated with her. And he kept doing that, fascinated by the softness of the hair, the smooth of the skin beneath, until her legs twitched and she closed her hand tight and gave him a good hard tug that made him gasp and take the hint.

She whined at him, his name in a glorious, frustrated little huff that he couldn’t keep from chuckling over, a deep rumble of laughter that dissolved into a groan when she started stroking him again.

But it was easy to forget what was happening with him, as he stared down at his fingers, his head spinning with the reality of where he was and what he was doing. Who he was doing it with, and the throb of his desire for her pulsed deep inside him. It was new and bold and huge, and it felt fucking good—but Beth felt better. Impossibly wet, wetter even than the first time, as he parted her, gliding two fingers between her swollen lips until the heat of her engulfed him fully.

He had barely touched her, but Beth’s hips leapt off the bed. “Ohhh.”

Christ, Beth.” He pressed his mouth to her forehead as her muscles clenched, tightening inside, soaking his fingers even more when he pushed at the opening to her cunt. “You’re so fucking wet.”

She laughed, of course she did, that delirious little giggle that spun his head and warmed his belly and shivered right through his cock as she stroked him. “For you, Daryl. I’m wet for you.

Daryl rolled his hips into her hand, fucked into her fist and shuddered hard as she drew his foreskin up over the head and squeezed tight. “For you. God, Beth. Beth.”

He looked down at her just as she craned her neck to look at him and their eyes locked, and he watched the way her mouth opened, wetted lips parting around a long, low moan when he made that first circle at her clit. Just like she showed him before, but he watched it this time, saw the pleasure on her face that matched the tilt of her hips, the breathy little moans as she sought more friction, more pressure. Just more, every little circle he made pulling her brows in deeper, pouring more and more gravel into her throat until all the sounds she made came out raspy. She shuddered against him, the whole of her a tightening coil of flushed skin and tense muscles. It clouded her eyes a little more with each pass except she was never quite gone. Never quite lost that bit of her that hooked in and kept that same little part of him from losing sight of her, too, no matter how good she made him feel.

Beth.”

Her hips arched again, would come right off the bed if his hand wasn’t there, pressing into her pubic bone. Holding her down.

“Don’t—don’t stop, Daryl.”

Another raspy moan drifted out of her, ragged like her breathing, and finally she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer. They fluttered shut and she dropped her head back down. Turned her face into his neck, all parted lips and hot breath and firm little nose pushing into the throb of his pulse.

He felt it in his fingers, as he circled her clit, how she clenched her cunt each time she tightened her fist. Felt the way she tilted her hips in time with the motions of her hand and was easy to imagine her chasing his cock, instead. Squeezing him, not with her hand but inside, where he knew, he remembered, just how slick, just how hot she was.

Fuck.” He thrust along with her, pushing into her hand as best he could with his wreck of a back and the tug of his stitches, still raw in his side.

Daryl, oh god.” Beth’s teeth scraped at his neck and she squeezed him so hard it almost hurt, but it was a good hurt and he never wanted it to stop.

He groaned. Beth, too, the buzz of it rippling straight down his neck to shoot off like lightning in his belly.

Ohhhhh.”

“Y-yeah.” She nipped at his throat, pushed her tongue up against his pulse until he felt it beating in her mouth. “Lemme hear you.”

Each time she reached his head there was this moment, this pause just before she squeezed, just before she descended once more down toward the base. Minuscule and barely there but in that space his breath left him, shaky, shuddering, a low little moan like a tremor inside. Like he was just waiting to explode and he realized he was. The pressure built higher with each stroke of her hand, swelling inside, surging up like flares of lava in his belly, like rivers of fire rushing through his limbs.

Not yet. Not yet, not until she came or at least until she was close. She had to be, though, the way she whimpered as he swept his fingers down to get them slicker. The way she clutched at the sheet beside her. Her clit so swollen her pulse throbbed into his fingers, and that was almost enough to drive him to the edge regardless of what she was doing with her hand. That and the way she tilted her hips, chasing his touch. The way her leg lifted and fell and lifted again, like she didn’t know quite what to do with it.

He imagined it wrapped around his hips, the heel of it pushing into his ass as he thrust his cock slow and deep into her ready cunt, and he surged into her hand instead. Beth gasped again and arched up, whined his name like a plea and reached for his hand with her other one.

“Please—I need—inside me.”

Just like before, she was so wet, so hot, and her quivering muscles pulled his fingers deep when he slipped them inside. She moaned loud and squeezed him tight, fingers and cock at the same damn time. Dropped her guiding hand away when he found that place without her help. That spot of rough on her smooth walls that drove her over the edge the first time and he pushed into now, hard like before until she gasped and rattled off a string of nonsense with his name at both ends.

Her hips jumped up but he pressed her down again, shuddering at the way even that made her moan. He withdrew his fingers and plunged them back in, her cunt so wet he heard it, that dirty wet squelch of his fingers thrusting inside her. Heard it even over Beth’s raspy sounds, tearing up from her belly and past her throat. Over his, the ones that hadn’t stopped, rumbling out with barely any space after one ended and the next began.

His sounds and hers, a chorus of them mingling together and swelling into something else that could only be theirs.

Beth’s teeth grazed at his neck and her breath rushed out, hot and wet in a trembling oh-oh-oh. “Are—are you close?”

“Yeah. Fuck. Keep—Christ, keep doin’ that. Squeeze—ahh—like that. Just like that.”

She pulled at her own nipple as he thrust into her, lifting her hips to take him deeper, grinding her clit against the heel of his hand, jerking him hard and fast, now, fast like the pace she tried to set with her hips and he fell right into it. Pressed into her as hard and as fast as she seemed to want, fucking her fist at the same time. She squeezed his fingers so hard with her cunt, as hard as she had him in her strong little hand and he could barely hang on. Could barely keep up as his head spun somewhere up near the peak of the ceiling and little starbursts erupted behind his eyes.

“Daryl. Daryl! Ohhhh!”

His name escaped, a loud echo which bounced off the beams in the ceiling, at the last second she muffled the rest of her cries into his neck. The quiver in her body ramped up into a tremor and he pushed hard at that place inside her. Harder, as she gripped his fingers and his cock so tight it hurt. The best goddamn hurt and he was so fucking close, so close, but Beth needed to go too. Go first or go with him but she was gonna come and he was gonna get her there before he exploded trying.

Beth’s hips shot up off the bed, words and sounds he couldn’t hear pouring out of her mouth, muffled in his neck and he felt it like a warm wave rolling down inside him.  He teetered there on that edge, balancing on the blade of a knife as the fireworks in his belly sparked and rumbled, ready to explode—

Beth shattered around him, sobbing his name into his neck and all Daryl could do was hang on and watch in awe as she shook and shuddered and cried out into his skin, and he released his lip from between his teeth and thrust hard into her desperate grip, and then he was coming, too. Shouting her name and groaning so loud it rattled the bed. Spurting hot streams of milky white all over Beth’s hand and her belly just like she wanted and somehow, though she was still shaking, she pulled her face from his neck to watch.

They fell back into the bed at the same time. Two spent bodies without a bone between them. Her cunt fluttered around his fingers, little aftershocks like the ones which twitched through his hips and made him sigh. Even before they settled, Beth slid her palm through the streaks of come painted on her belly. Smeared it around, spread it all over into one big sticky mess that made his insides grow warm, again, just watching her.

A minute after, maybe even less, Beth turned and curled into him, letting go of his cock to settle close until they were belly to belly, his semen slick between them. She hooked her leg over his and pulled herself closer, trapping his softening cock between his body and her cunt, still swollen and wet and so fucking warm. They shuddered together, two deep trembles when his sensitive head bumped against her clit. As he realized, and maybe she did too, just how easy it would be to move against her now, like this. Slide his cock along her slit, revive his erection until he could slip right into her. Just a tilt of his hips and he’d be there, right there inside Beth, and he wasn’t at all ready for that but he mostly didn’t care.

Daryl,” Beth whispered, clutching at his arm with shaking fingers.

In his name he heard all the same thoughts whirling in his head. Not now, no, even if he thought he could. Not today but soon. Soon, and he didn’t need to tell her that, as she groaned into his neck but kept her body still. Daryl tightened his arm around her back and held on. No matter what they did or didn’t do, he didn’t think he would ever be ready to let her go.

Didn’t think she’d ever be ready to let him go, either.

It was pleasant thought, that, as well as the thoughts just before it. He let them run away with his brain while he waited for his head to float back down from the ceiling.

A knock at the door, sometime later, startled both of them out the light sleep they must have fallen into.

“Nobody’s home,” Beth murmured into his chest.

The knock came again, and Greg Hunter’s voice filtered in through the thick wooden door. “Breakfast is on in the main kitchen, if you’d like to join us.”

His gut rumbled at the mention of food, and so did Beth’s, and as they pulled apart—a sticky tearing sound between them—they both laughed.

“I guess we gotta,” Beth said, eying the now quiet door with a shadow hovering just behind her eyes.

As much as he would prefer to spend the next couple of hours dozing in the afterglow with Beth in his arms and nothing at all between them, he knew that they did. “Yeah.”

They had to go at least talk to these people. The sooner they did, the sooner they got to figuring out exactly what was going on and what they needed to do about it. Maybe then, if things looked all right and they were allowed to stay, even for a while—maybe then they could rest. Beth understood that, of course she did, but she also couldn’t quite hide the way her relaxed pose tightened and also sort of wilted at the same time.

He looked down at her, her face tipped up toward him, eyes at half mast again even though her hands were clenched into fists, and he remembered. Remembered what he meant to tell her before they got talking about something else entirely.

“You did good, Beth. Yesterday.”

The half-mast look brightened, and Beth’s smile this time was genuine.  “So did you.”

“Nah, Beth,” he said, and while he might be prone to more than his share of self-deprecation that wasn’t what this was about. Not today. “All I did was wait. Was you, got us out. Got us here.”

The smile fell, and her gaze flicked back toward the door. “Let’s maybe not celebrate that one yet.”

Understanding came to him, then. The people. An unknown number of strangers and a pair of morons she wasn’t exactly jumping for joy to see again. Of course—of course she’d be worried.

“Whatcha think of this place?”

It was a long minute before she answered, and when she did settled her face into that neutral mask, the one she used when she didn’t want to give away how she really felt. “I think I'm tired of camps full of nothin’ but men.”

“Heh. Yeah.” He waited, but Beth offered nothing else. “That it?”

“For now. Greg seems okay, I guess, but...”  She sighed, deep and long, exhaustion seeping out at the edges, and pushed her face into the pillow. “I just wanna sleep.”

Her lip pushed out into a little pout, and something in his chest jumped. “C’mon, sleepy head. Breakfast ain’t gonna wait.”