She looks up at Daryl from where she's bouncing Judith on her knee and he keeps a straight face but it always does something to him: the way she holds the baby.
Maybe it's because he's never had problems with holding Judith himself, problems he thought were going to naturally arise because he doesn't like to be touched all that much.
But it wasn't even a thought as he cradled the little thing to his chest and even though she wasn't his and he would never have kids of his own, he couldn't help thinking about how precious and tiny she was, nearly fitting into the palm of his hand if he balanced her right, his big, dirty fingers stroking over her newborn skin; her little fingers and toes.
He held the tiny little baby and he loved her and he'd never loved something so much, not ever and he loved her without her even needing to be his own daughter.
So, he thought, if I love her like this; if I'll do anything for her, then how do parents feel? What kind of love is that?
And if it's so powerful, why didn't my dad ever love me enough to not beat me black and blue?
Daryl has never had problems holding the baby and when he looks at Beth holding her, it's like she's cradling one of his secrets, one of the things he doesn't actually suck at.
Sometimes she even looks at him, the baby over her shoulder and it's like she knows. She looks at him and with her eyes she says, you're good at this too, we share this.
Her voice breaks him away and he blinks, clears his throat to cover himself. "Headin' out, you want anythin'?"
"Well actually, if you really don't mind…"
He ducks his chin to indicate he doesn't and she keeps going, "Judy could really do with some more diapers or she's gonna be all out, an' I know Carl said he's barely fittin' in his jeans anymore. Oh, an' try find some scissors that ain't rustin'? Maggie wants to give out some haircuts but the scissors we got are goin'."
"Haircuts?" Daryl frowns, cataloguing the list. "To who?"
"Well, me an' her, daddy too probably but mostly she's got her eye set on you. S'gettin' a little long, ain't it?" She smiles, the flat of her palm rubbing Judith's back as she winds her.
Daryl snorts, folding his arms over his chest. "She ain't gettin' nowhere near my hair. Like it long."
"Me too," Beth replies and then coos at Judith as she finally brings up her wind.
Daryl flushes at the compliment though and he's so thrown by it that he hastily says goodbye, promises to get what she wants and then leaves, heading out at a light jog with a flushed face, but it's only as he meets up with Rick that he realises she didn't actually ask for anything for herself and that makes him frown.
The next run he's not on, but when it rolls around to him on the rota, days later, he takes determined strides over to Beth where she's eating her breakfast.
He clears his throat and she looks up at him, spoon hovering in mid-air and a book open to her left, her hand spreading the pages so she can read.
"Hey," he grumbles quietly, speaking only to her. "Goin' out, want anythin'?"
Beth seems to think about it and then she shakes her head. "Nah, Judy's good for a bit and Carl said them new jeans are gonna last him a while."
"Asked if you need anythin', girl. You asked for everyone else last time. Didn't get nothin' outta it," he murmurs, looking down at her.
She shakes her head. "That ain't true, Maggie gave me a haircut."
He pointedly looks at her hair which may have had a cut but is now thrown up in a sloppy bun, as it is most of the time, all of her baby hairs frizzing around her temples and her natural colour coming in at the roots, because according to Maggie, Beth had been dying her hair a lighter blonde for a whole year before the world went to shit.
She flushes and turns back to her book, clearly dismissing him. "I'm fine, Daryl. Just be safe an' you guys come home, that's all I want."
Daryl frowns, wanting to say more, but she's no longer even looking at him so he grunts and leaves, determined to pick something up for her if she's going to be such a fucking martyr and not ask for it her own damn self.
When he gets back later that night, sore and dead on his feet, covered in all sorts of shit, he doesn't even go to the shower like his skin begs him to and instead goes straight to Beth's cell.
The curtain is down but the oil lamp is dim enough to illuminate her shadow on the bed. He pulls the curtain aside, expecting to find her awake but she's fast asleep, Judith not with her tonight.
Daryl stutters to a halt and just looks at her, even though he knows he shouldn't because anyone could come past and see him doing it, or Beth could wake up and start shrieking with surprise, or stab him, since she sleeps with a knife under her pillow now, like he told her to.
He hesitates, takes in her slack mouth and smoothed out brow just for a second before finally, he puts the boxes of hair dye on the floor next to her bunk and leaves.
The next day, he doesn't see her all morning and then he has guard duty so he doesn't see her all afternoon.
By the time evening rolls around, he's making his way to his bunk to get fresh clothes for a shower when he sees her and fuck, he shouldn't just stop dead, he shouldn't just stare but he can't not, how can he possibly not?
He knew Maggie gave Beth a haircut, but he didn't realise, with her wearing it in a sloppy bun all the time, how short it really was.
It falls down to her shoulders now, which is so different to where he's seen it fall to her chest before or sometimes, especially during the winter before they got the prison, all the way to her ribs.
It does something startling to her face or it might be the colour he got for her or it might be both. He didn't know fuck all about hair dyes, who the fuck knew there were so many different variations of one damn colour?
So when he went on the run and he planned to get her some, he was struck dumb, feeling like a fucking idiot trying to understand the difference.
Wasn't blonde just fucking blonde? He tried his best to think of Beth's hair colour, get as close as he could to that but it seems like he was way off the mark because her hair is so damn bright compared to the dandelion yellow it's been for a while.
The colour and the cut transforms her skin almost white and completely ages her face.
Daryl's always thought that Beth has one of those faces where even when she's his age she won't actually look old, but now she looks a hell of a lot older than her sixteen years.
She could almost pass for twenty with eyes so startlingly blue they look like ice chips. She never gets dirty either Beth, doesn't ever look as grubby as the rest of them, especially him.
Her clothes are neat but for the ragged edges of her shorts, her boots beat up in that edgy way girls were wearing them before this crazy fucking life and she's wearing a shirt.
It’s thin; so white it's damn perverse and pinstriped, tucked in all formal and shit. Daryl thinks it's a weird as fuck combo, even if the fabric is light because it's fucking hot out there and she's wearing a damn shirt.
Still, for some weird, messed up reason it works and he can't stop staring. Between her new hair and her weird, revealing clothes and her skin, he's fucking mesmerised and he feels like a goddamn pervert staring at her but he can't seem to fucking stop.
He's still staring when she looks up from where she was playing with Judith on a sheet. "Hey, Daryl." She frowns when he continues to stare at her like a fucking idiot. "Everythin' alright?"
Daryl clears his throat, looking at Judith trying to stick a toy in her mouth before he looks back at Beth. "Colours nice, sorry I fucked it up."
She blinks owlishly and then reaches up a hand to stroke over the waves of her hair. "No, no, it was real sweet. Thank you."
He ducks his chin. "Should just tell me what you want though."
She smiles and strokes a hand over Judith's head in her lap. "I don't need nothin', you don't need to bring anythin' back."
Daryl shrugs. "Just keep bringin' you stuff 'til you end up gettin' pissed or embarrassed."
Beth laughs and like her hair and her clothes and practically fucking everything about her today, it's different: more mature. "Okay."
So, that's how it goes. Every time he goes on a run, he stops asking her what she wants and instead just brings back things to amuse or embarrass her until she tells him to stop, and they both know the only way he's ever going to do that is if she starts just telling him what she wants because for fuck sake, why can't she just ask like every fucker else?
Out of everyone, he feels like she deserves it the most. She's sixteen meagre years old and she's already had the shittiest year: losing her ma and her brother, her little boyfriend too.
Now she's cooped up in the prison all damn day with her daddy telling her she's too young to go out on runs and Rick always asking her to look after Judith until she's bone dead.
If there's anyone he wants to ask for things, it's her. So, the first time after he brings the hair dyes, he brings her a brush, then a thick blanket for her bed, which follows with a bunch of hair ties when she snaps all of hers, the time after that: a pretty hand sized mirror and then he tries nicer stuff.
Personal stuff like lotions, razors and nail polish because she loves to paint her toes. There is one time, just one where she actually asks for something: tampons.
So he goes out and he gets her tampons, but he also gets her low-level pain meds and some face masks, a water bottle too if she wants to make the effort to boil the water, which she might if she's in enough pain.
All the girly shit is piss easy to find, left behind in favour of actual necessities, but after all that he's kind of out of ideas, so he tries to guess what she actually needs, like how she needed the tampons.
What the fuck do girls need? Makeup is damn pointless and so he thinks clothes. Beth always keeps herself clean, somehow and so he thinks of something that would be wasted on any of the other women, who get dirty and ruined but would suit Beth.
The next run, he knows exactly what to get.
"That's for me?"
Daryl jerks his head, his face practically on fucking fire. “Thought it’d look nice on you."
Beth flushes almost as red as he does. "Thank you."
She looks down at the dress in her hands, running them over the thin material.
He wanted her to be cool in the weather, so it's practically sheer but now that she's holding it, the fact that it's fucking see through feels like a suggestion.
But Beth smiles and accepts it, then teases him that he keeps getting her stuff she actually wants and he hasn't once embarrassed her.
"Next time," he promises.
By next time, he tries to think of something that would make her stammer and turn bright red so that she finally calls it quits, but it's harder than he thought and he circles for nearly too long looking for something until he turns a corner and sees it.
"Wow. You're really tryin' ain't ya?" Beth laughs and Daryl expects to blush but he's actually fighting a fucking grin.
Beth holds the bra and panties set against her dress which is the olive green one he brought back for her and has a zip at the front, pulled only to the swells of her cleavage.
It makes Daryl think he should find her a necklace to go with her bare skin and a matching bracelet at that, but it's too impractical.
Walkers swing their hands around and they could catch the band, surprise her enough to pull her back and down into their awaiting teeth, get a bite in her before she has chance to snap the links.
Daryl bites back a shudder at the thought and then his eyes adjust to the set she's pressing against her.
It's bright red, just because he briefly, -without acknowledging that he was thinking it because fuck that, he's not ready to examine that shit yet- thought that it would suit her blonder hair really well, not to mention her creamy skin.
Now though, even with her hair pulled back into a ponytail and the dress covering her skin, he can picture her in the set too well.
Beth looks up at him after assessing herself and there's something in her smile, hinting towards a smirk that makes his insides twist. "Nah, I think it'll look good on me."
Daryl says, "yeah," before he can even fucking think about it and her eyes snap back up to his from where she looked down at herself again.
He doesn't feel like he can even fucking breath, rendered stupid by a damn child except she's not anymore, God she's not and it's more than a simple hair change.
"You wanna see?"
"What?" He chokes and he feels like a fucking idiot but his eyes are practically bulging out of his fucking sockets.
Beth blushes as red as the set she holds against her but she shrugs like it's nothing. "Just like a bikini, right? You wanna see?"
He has no words, nothing at all comprehensible to say, so he doesn't say anything at all.
She doesn't take his silence negatively though because she twirls her finger and like a damn dog he turns and faces the curtain, the sound of her clothes shedding behind him and his heart ready to fucking burst. The fuck is happening?
It's late but people are still up, like her fucking sister who would have his balls if she came in right now and Rick, a cop even in all this mess who would never, ever approve of this: a man of Daryl's age in a sixteen year old girls room, undressing and changing into an underwear set he got her, which she wants to model in.
Beth suddenly clears her throat and he thinks he stops breathing even before he looks. "You can turn 'round now."
He swallows, tries to prepare himself but when he turns and looks at her he feels like someone swung a hammer to his knees and his balls and his lungs all at the same fucking time.
She's a vision, a fucking vision and this is so wrong and he's going to hell, he fucking is but she looks so fucking edible.
"What'd you think?"
"Looks real good," he means to say but his voice is gone and it comes out in a thin, husky whisper.
He physically watches goose bumps rise on her creamy skin in response and that might be his undoing.
That might be the reason he snaps.
She flushes so red, so quick it's like the smack of a hand print and Jesus, he can't do this. He's going to ruin her, fuck her up. Make her a damn mess.
But it doesn't stop him from crowding closer, so much taller than her, swallowing her as she takes each step back until in the tiny cell he's crowded her into a corner.
The single, burning candle is nearly gone, burned practically to the wick, surrounded in wax and he's struggling to see her this far into the shadows but he can hear her shallow breathing, can feel the blast of her warm skin, her breath.
Her head tips back against the wall and it stretches her whole body, putting her sharp hips and thighs on display.
When she speaks, she sounds small and young, but she's confident, so fucking ballsy as she whispers, "you wanna eat me all up?"
Daryl squeezes his eyes shut because fuck.
"Now I gotta."
Beth gasps as he drops to his knees and his mind is fucking racing, his heart pounding and his whole skin buzzing but he focuses enough to press his mouth against the new panties, push his tongue in so he grazes her clit through the material.
She groans and he pinches her thigh to be quiet which generates a whimper she manages to barely bite back.
Lifting a hand, he curls one around her left thigh, his hand so big he practically gets his fingers around her flesh all the damn way around, his other hand slicking her panties to the side so her cunt is exposed.
The candle is nothing but a struggling, flickering flame but it's enough. Her pussy is exquisitely bare.
The folds slick with her juices, the scent intoxicating as it floods through his mouth and with her panties trapped by his fingers, he stretches his thumb to part her soft, pink folds.
Beth moans under her breath but it isn't too loud so he doesn't pinch her again, leans forward instead to swipe his tongue through her pussy.
Her head tips back against the wall, not hard enough to hurt but hard enough to make a sound and he grins against her cunt, burying his face between her legs and working her clit with rough, quick lashes.
Beth's hands fall to his hair and it doesn't hurt, doesn't even feel like anything but he's really not big on touching and he lets go of everything else to grab her wrists.
She doesn't even struggle and with his hands not holding her open anymore her folds close against his cheeks, soaking his face as he dips his tongue into her pussy, leaking such sweet juices its fucking mouth-watering.
Beth whimpers again, fingers flexing for his hair and Daryl knows it's too much, he can't eat her here, with her noises and her questing hands.
Maybe next time, somewhere he can let her make all the noise she wants and possibly tie her hands up, but for now, he can't.
He pulls away from her pussy and she barely has time to complain because he grips her and practically throws her to the bed, where she catches herself with a squeak of the springs.
Beth looks over her shoulder at him and he smirks, the candle completely gone out so that they're plunged into darkness. "You ever been fucked?"
She hesitates until slowly, she nods but she doesn't speak. He stands behind her and presses his large, rough hand into her spine until she bends, her ass in the air and her hands clutching the sheets on her bed.
Daryl wonders how the fuck they got here and his heart is still beating out of his fucking chest, but he can't stop now, especially when he's tasted her.
He needs her cum.
Stretching over her, he undoes the button of his jeans and clamps her wrists in one hand. There's not much way she could touch him now but he doesn't want to leave it to chance. "Don't make a fuckin' sound, alrite? Your moans are for me when I can hear 'em without us gettin' caught."
She nods, pressing her face against the sheet and stretching her arms out so he can keep a hold on her thin wrist bones.
His clothes go down his legs and then he pulls her panties down, leaving them tangled at her knees.
God, if he could risk the sound he'd slap her juicy ass so fucking hard but he can't and he stares instead before he bends down and swipes his tongue between her ass cheeks.
Beth yelps and jerks until he drags her back by her wrists. "Keep fuckin' quiet or you ain't cummin'."
She nods rapidly, tilting her hips back to him, offering herself to him and fuck, this is all wrong.
She's fucking sixteen and he's more than twice her age and he's being so rough with her, so fucking mean but he doesn't know how to be any other way and there's barely any time before someone's bound to come and check in with her and it would be just his fucking luck that it would be her daddy or Maggie.
He takes his cock in his hand and presses it to her hole, smearing her own wetness over her thighs and through the crack of her ass until she jerks with every swipe.
Finally, when he's done teasing them both, he gently pushes into her, because he's mean and no doubt he'll pound her hard, but he can do this softly, just this.
Shit, it's so damn good though and it's such a fucking struggle that by the time he bottoms out, Beth's cunt like a fucking vice on his dick, he's sweating with the pressure of it, close to blowing his load like a goddamn kid.
Daryl plans to give her time to adjust because he's not that much of a prick but she's the one who throws her hips back; impales herself deep on his cock.
He bites back whatever the hell was about to come out of his mouth and slams into her but the bed rattles and they freeze, the silence even worse because he can hear how hard they're both breathing and there is no fucking way no one else can hear them.
He doesn't know what's worse, whether he's getting away with fucking her or the others are simply allowing it.
Shit, he wants to take her so fucking deep but it isn't gonna happen on the bed, not without a ruckus so he pulls out, lifts her up so she's looking up at him and then he sits on the edge of the bed and pulls her into his lap.
Beth moans low; quiet so only he can hear and it sends a shock wave straight to his balls, his cock once again squeezed by her cunt as she impales herself on him.
He has to lean forward and press his mouth to her bare shoulder as she leans back against his chest, both of their legs spread as she rides his cock, her wrists once more captured in his hand and his free hand reaching down to play with her clit.
Beth keens between her teeth and it's a little loud so he drives into her as a warning. Her head had been lifting up but now she slams it back, barely missing his jaw and impacting with his shoulder.
Daryl grunts and drives into her again, his finger still stroking her clit and shit, there's no fucking way she's getting tighter but she is, she fucking is and he's pretty sure he sees stars when she clamps down hard on his dick and convulses.
He fucks her through it, grounded by her head digging into his shoulder and her cunt clutching him and her sweet little body in his lap, the scent of her hair and her pussy and him all combined in his nose until he's dizzy with it.
He presses his lips to her ear. "Cum for me, girl, c'mon, once more."
"Only if you cum in me."
"What?" He slows to a soft pump as she turns her head to talk into his ear.
"I got the mornin' afta' pill."
"How the fuck did you get that?" He nearly laughs.
Beth nudges him with her jaw. "Had it on the farm, the day it went down, me an' Jimmy… well, there was one left after I had it an' it was in my pocket."
Daryl tries to understand what the fuck she's trying to say, but he's sweating with the ache in his balls and she's so damn tight and all he's hearing is that he's allowed to cum in her; doesn't have to worry about pulling out, so he grates out a kind of agreement and circles her swollen clit faster.
Beth whimpers and while he rubs her clit, she bounces her hips, plunging down on his cock with a sole purpose and when she cums again he's right fucking behind her, blowing his load like he's sixteen damn years old himself and he's sure he's leaving a bruise on her wrists but he can't stop squeezing, tensing his whole body as his teeth sink into her back, to the right of her spine.
When they're both coming down, Beth grinds lazily against him and he smiles into her skin, his eyelids heavy.
He wishes he could just flop back on the bed, pass out in a haze but they've pushed it far enough so he gently pulls out of her and he doesn't think he can be turned on no fucking more, completely washed out, but shit he can and he groans under his breath when his cum floods out of her cunt, spilling over his thighs.
Fuck, he wishes he could see that. Beth complies with his movements as he does his jeans, watching as she pulls her panties up and gets under the covers.
He pulls the zip and squats down at her bedside, stroking his fingers over her hair. She mumbles sleepily, pressing a kiss to his thumb that, despite literally just fucking her, makes his throat tighten.
"You gonna sleep in just that?"
She nods, her eyes closed but her mouth a sleepy smile. "You gotta lie in bed knowin' I'm sleepin' like this and you can't see."
He groans under his breath and she giggles. "G'night, girl."
"Night, Daryl." Before he can stand, she grabs his sleeve. "I know what I want off the next run."
Fuck, Daryl Dixon is not a smiler, but he's fighting one so hard when he says, "yeah? What?"
He loses the battle and breaks out into a stupid ass fucking grin. "Done."