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Training exercises with Rosita were not Paul's favorite part of the day.

He liked her, of course—she was smart, tough, and loyal--but she was not a patient woman, and Hilltop's many farmers, cooks, and laborers needed patience as they learned to fight. Rosita was a capable soldier, knew some things even Paul didn't, but a natural teacher she was not. They couldn't seem to get through a single training session without her blowing up at someone in Spanish, and then Paul would have to come along after her and find some way to convince the new fighter that no, they wouldn't be mere cannon fodder in the coming war—even though they very well could be.

Worse, it had rained yesterday, so they'd been sliding around in the mud trying to perfect knife fighting techniques. They'd finally had to quit when Dante fell on his face and sliced open his finger.

The big guy had let out a really embarrassing shriek, then Rosita had started in on the Spanish, and with one thing and another Paul figured it was lucky he only had to put down two roamers before they got the little class safely back inside the gate.

It was increasing difficult to maintain any kind of optimism about the upcoming war.

Ending exercises early at least meant that Paul would have an hour to spare for himself for once. His back muscles were knotted and his mind was fogged with stress. He hadn’t had time to read in weeks. Maybe he’d do some yoga. Hell, maybe he’d just put on some music and take a fucking nap.

Kicking off his filthy boots before stepping into his trailer, Paul stopped dead the moment he stepped inside.

Daryl Dixon was standing in front of him with a white towel slung over one shoulder and a shirt in his hand, wearing only a pair of low-slung jeans.

Paul’s brain completely quit on him.

He didn’t know how long he stared, raking his eyes over firm skin and hard muscles (plus a frankly alarming array of scars), but when he snapped back to himself he was pretty sure that it had been a socially unacceptable amount of time to spend ogling a half-naked friend. He’d just never seen so much of Daryl’s skin before. To his horror, he realized he was starting to get hard, eyes rebelliously tracing a drop of water as it crossed a thick scar on Daryl’s chest towards a small, flat nipple.

Blushing, Paul dragged his eyes to Daryl’s face to apologize and, God help him, try to play it cool, only to find that Daryl was drinking him in as well, staring right back with wide and unfocused eyes.

Paul looked down at himself, frowning. He was disgusting, covered in mud and even a little gore. His gloves were dusty and his shirt would probably never be completely white again.

Glancing up again, he saw that Daryl’s mouth was literally hanging open.

The situation shifted in his mind in an instant. The archer had never registered as gay to Paul, simply because he hadn’t thought twice about it—there just hadn’t been time to think about things like sex.

Now, though, he had an hour to spare, and goddamn did Daryl clean up nicely.

“Earth to Daryl,” Paul said quietly, smiling. Guys usually liked his smile.

“You're dirty,” Daryl blurted out, then blushed deeply.

You have no idea. "And you're nice and clean.” God, Paul wanted to lick across his collar bone.

Daryl shook his head slightly and glanced around as if startled to realize he was in the room at all.

Fortune favored the bold, Paul decided, moving slowly forward. "You checking me out, Dixon?" he asked, tone neutral rather than flirty, testing the waters.

"Nah," Daryl stumbled backwards and almost immediately landed on his ass on the couch. "Just, s'just- you look different like that, is all."

"Ah. Well that's disappointing, then.” Still pretty sure he had a shot, Paul began unbuttoning his filthy shirt, starting with the cuffs.

Daryl's eyes went wide again, pupils expanding like a sunburst as Paul's chest was revealed button by button. "The fuck are you doing?" he hissed with a crack of shock in his voice.

His accent got thicker when he was nervous. It was unexpected and sweet, somehow, that fearless Daryl Dixon wasn't fearless in this one thing. They didn’t know each other all that well yet, but so far the other man had mostly been direct and sassy, if short on words. The shyness was a pleasant surprise.

"I need a shower, obviously, since I'm dirty enough to shock you." Leaving his shirt unbuttoned, Paul reached down and yanked off his socks, then began on his belt. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Daryl adjust the front of his jeans.

Got him.

Deciding to stop torturing the poor man, Paul paused in undressing and stepped closer. "Hey. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, ok? Tell me if I’m freaking you out.”

The other man just shook his head jerkily, face now scarlet. He couldn't quite seem to stop looking at Paul's mostly-hard dick outlined behind his briefs.

Paul waited for a long moment before finally prompting, "Ok, well since I’m not making you uncomfortable, what do you want to happen next? Hmm?" His voice came out deeper than he'd intended.

It was probably too much to hope for a simple 'I want to suck your dick' but Paul couldn't help smirking when Daryl stuttered, "W- whaddaya mean?"

"I mean, do you want to maybe join me in the shower?" Paul pushed all his chips into the pot and leaned close, bracing a hand on the arm of the couch. "Because I'd like that." It's not like subtle was getting him anywhere.

Daryl was still staring, a blink away from hypnotized by the look of him, when he breathed out a quiet, "Nah."

Disappointment made Paul bite his cheek sharply. Damn it. "Oh. Sorry, then, if-"

Daryl’s hand darted out and fisted in the fabric of Paul’s filthy shirt. "I meant, forget about the shower. Just took one. And you- you're- you're alright like this.”

Paul crashed their lips together, straddling Daryl's lap almost before he finished his sentence.