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She feels silly wearing this dress, also naked. She used to always wear these types of dresses – flowery Sunday dresses - back before the world went to hell, she guesses that’s why Maggie picked it out for her when she assumed Beth would want to go to this stupid party. She didn’t, she had wanted to stay home cuddled up next to Daryl.

God, that man makes her so happy, but that’s not to say he doesn’t drive her up the walls sometimes because he does, and she knows she does the same to him. She can’t believe how far they’ve come since the funeral home, since Grady, since their first kiss.

The kiss happened maybe a couple days after the showdown at Grady. Beth had been wanting to talk with him, to maybe tell him how she felt. She had decided while in Grady that she would tell Daryl how she felt about him the first chance she got, but she had been a chicken, until she wasn’t.

Beth can feel his eyes on her again and this time she looks back at him but when her eyes meet his he quickly looks away.

They’re alone in the woods, hunting meat for the group. Daryl had told Beth to join him to the surprise of some, herself included, she’s glad he seems to want to continue their training. They catch a couple of squirrels and make their way back to camp when Beth decides to take this opportunity - now that they were alone – to talk.

“Daryl?” He looks over at her with raised brows and stops walking when she does.

“Are we ever goin’ to finish that conversation we started at the funeral home?”

“What conversation?” She knows he’s not really confused.

“Daryl,” she gives him a look to let him know she’s not falling for it.

“Figured we finished that already,” he shrugs.

“Well I didn’t, I didn’t get a chance to properly reply. Do you still feel that way?”

He doesn’t answer her, he just bites at his thumbnail and she can tell that he’s nervous. She walks closer to him and he lowers his arm and looks straight into her eyes.

“Did you miss me?” she whispers, he nods slowly. “I missed you too,” she tells him, and she can’t help but feel the need to be closer to him.

She wraps her arms around his neck and hugs him tight. He doesn’t move at first, but eventually she feels his arms lock around her. They hold each other for longer than necessary and when she pulls back to look into his eyes he’s so close it feels only natural to lean forward and press her lips to his. Just when their lips brush he jerks away from her so fast she must catch her balance.

“What the hell you doin girl?” she’s just standing there looking at his shocked face when she realizes what she had done.

“I thought … oh god I’m sorry!” Beth covers her face with her hands in humiliation. “I read this all wrong, I thought you liked me the way I like you.”

“Like me?” she barely hears him murmur. She removes her hands from her red face to look at him apologetically.

“I’m so sorry Daryl. Let’s just forget this ever happened. I was just being silly thinking you were interested in me, I won’t ever do it again, okay?” She pleads with him in a ramble. She prays that she didn’t just ruin the connection they have with each other, their friendship.

She can’t believe she just did that, and to Daryl; the one person who doesn’t like to be touched and she went and pressed not only her lips but her whole body against him. Had she lost her mind? She can’t look at him, so she misses the way he’s looking at her. 

She goes to walk past him unwilling to let him see her embarrassment and heartbreak, but just as she passes him he grips her arm to stop her. She stills, unable to face him but he turns her to him, so she keeps her gaze down.

“Beth,” his voice is gentle, like how she imagines it would sound if he were trying not to hurt her feelings or embarrass her further.

“It’s okay Daryl,” she whispers dejectedly, head still lowered. She needs to get away so she can bury her head under a blanket, and not only from embarrassment but so she can have a good cry without anyone seeing.

“Look at me,” his voice is stern as he grips her chin to lift her head up and her eyes eventually connect with his. She watches him gulp and take a deep breath before speaking.

“You just shocked me is all, didn’t expect it. You really wanted to kiss me?” he asks her as if unable to get what she sees in him. A bubble of hope is born inside her as she looks up at him.

“Yes Daryl, I have for a while now,” she tells him honestly. He shakes his head in disbelief. “Have you ever wanted to kiss me?” she asks boldly and holds her breath for his answer. He looks away and swallows before nodding slowly. His eyes are shy and cautious when they find hers again.

“Really?” her hope grows bigger the longer he continues looking at her.

“Yeah, jus’ didn’t think you’d want me to,” he shrugs. His fingers have moved from her chin to her neck except for his thumb, that’s tenderly caressing her chin and jaw line. His eyes land there as if surprised by his own actions.

“I want you to kiss me Daryl, a lot,” she smiles shyly. This conversation is a lot different compared to how she imagined it going.

“Scruff might hurt ye,” he tells her in his gravelly voice while rubbing his chin.

“I don’t care,” she stands on her tippy toes to better reach him and they slowly draw closer to one another. Beth’s heart is pounding, and she can feel Daryl’s beneath her palms keeping time with her own. His hand slides to the back of her neck making her shiver while his other hand settles on her hip and she shuts her eyes letting him take the next step.

“Kiss me,” she whispers and their noses brush before she feels his lips on hers making her sigh. She feels the hair on his face tickle her chin and she smiles against his lips. She touches her tongue to the seam of them and he tightens his hold on her as he opens his mouth to touch his tongue to hers. She moans softly as they explore each other with lips and tongues and teeth.

She can’t believe Daryl Dixon is kissing her and kissing her so well and thoroughly that she can’t get enough. She doesn’t know how long they stand there kissing when they hear a tree branch snapping in the forest surrounding them. Reality abruptly slams into their awareness, it could be a walker or a herd of them and they weren’t paying attention. They pull apart raising their weapons simultaneously but what they see is not a walker or a herd of them, it’s Glenn.

He looks both shocked and apologetic. He has his hands up as if in surrender, probably afraid Daryl will shoot him for catching them making out.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I wasn’t watching like a creep I swear. We were wondering what’s taking you so long, I was just about to leave actually,” he rambles and then starts backing away only to trip over his own feet and apologize to them for it. Beth can’t help but smile and when she looks over at Daryl she sees him shaking his head at a disappearing Glenn, but Beth can tell he’s amused.

“We better get back there,” Daryl says looking over at Beth and she can see his ears are pink from a blush.

“Who knows what he’ll say, they’re all probably going to know soon enough. Glenn can’t keep a secret to save his life,” Beth tells him gently.

“Shit, you’re right,” Daryl looks worried, so Beth takes his hand gives it a squeeze and starts them walking back to camp.

“It’ll be fine Daryl, honestly,” she’s smiles at him confidently.

When they finally get back to their camp, their family is questioning Glenn on why he’s looking and acting oddly, and Glenn does a poor job of trying to divert their attention to something else.

“What the hell did you see out there dude?” Tara questions persistently.

“What happened?” Rick asks Glenn seriously.

“Are you okay?” Maggie is clearly concerned. Glenn looks over at Beth imploringly where she is sitting next to Daryl. Beth sighs and looks at Daryl in question. He shrugs and bites his lips anxiously.

“Glenn saw Daryl and I kissing,” Beth states confidently. There is silence from everyone as they each look at them in either shock or amusement until Maggie speaks.

“What did you just say?” She looks from Beth to Glenn for confirmation and he nods his head while widening his eyes.

“Why is this shocking? I thought they were already together and everyone knew,” Rosita says and it’s clear Abraham and Eugene think the same.

“Beth?” Maggie doesn’t look upset she looks confused, so Beth tries to explain.

“Daryl and I became close while we were alone, but nothing happened till just now. After what I went through at Grady I didn’t want to be afraid of taking a chance at something that I want, something that makes me happy. We don’t know how long we’ve got in this life, so I’m going to make the best of it,” Beth smiles at a blushing Daryl. “Luckily I think Daryl feels the same.”

“Daryl, is this true?” Rick questions.

Daryl nods and a smile grows on Ricks face. “I’m happy for you two. A little surprised, but happy,” Rick shakes his head in amusement while Carl sits gaping at Beth and Daryl.

“Close your mouth kid or you’ll catch flies in there,” Daryl says making the group laugh and it breaks the tension.

Beth is brought back to reality when Maggie laughing draws her attention. The memory makes her smile and she thinks of all the looks her and Daryl received after everyone knew they were together. The little smiles they’d get when they would hold hands or sleep next to each other.

She’s been so happy since her family came to take her from Grady, yes there were some bad moments like when they nearly lost Tyrese but for the most part it’s been good. Daryl makes her so happy, she still gets butterflies whenever she thinks about him, whenever she sees him. She can’t wait to go home to him and cuddle with him in their bed, so she decides she’s been here long enough to be polite and she quietly walks for the front door.

Why did she even come here in the first place? She wishes that she had just stayed at the house with Daryl. She wonders if he had tried to come here, tried to fit in with this sheltered community.

She's glad he didn't come into the house, he would have hated it. It makes her giggle when she realizes that he wouldn't have lasted five minutes without storming out or snapping at one of those delusional people yapping about pasta makers and other nonsense. They have no idea what the world is like now, protected and lucky as they have been.

But have they been lucky?

She considers this as she leaves the house - with a smiling chatting Maggie still inside - to halt on the porch and admire the star filled sky.

Did she feel lucky when she was sheltered on the farm and then again at the prison? Loved, yes but lucky? No. These people will more than likely die when this place falls, and it will fall. Maybe not this month or this year but it will fall, and those of them left alive will again travel through hellish landscapes until they find some new place to live and then ... and then again.

A circle of loss, and life. Like Lori, and then Judith.

She shakes these thoughts away, she reminds herself to have faith like her Daddy taught her to. It's just gotten tougher to think that way since Grady.

But he came, and he took her away. She knows she would have gotten herself out of there like she did for Noah but seeing him and her family come for her meant everything, it meant she wouldn't have to be alone in her fight to beat this world.

It was different between them after their reunion, something more was there that had only been ignited before. Then there was the kiss and then what they did in the barn. She smiles as she strolls down the porch steps and remembers with fondness how awkward it was between them after that night.

"Hey, why’re you leaving so soon?" She doesn't recognize the voice, so she’s immediately wary. She turns and observes two guys and she's pretty sure one of them is the leader’s son, but she isn't sure.

"I’m tired, it’s been a long day. Goodnight," she gives a small wave since she doesn't want to seem rude - that's still engraved into her - but she also doesn't want to stop and chat with them.

"Aw come on, Nicholas and I borrowed a couple beers and some whiskey," he laughs, and she learns that they're drunk, not stumbling vomiting on themselves drunk but she can imagine them progressing there rapidly. "Join us, we can share war stories of outside the walls, looks like you have a few of your own," he smirks at her.

Nicholas sniggers into his hand, doing a poor job of trying to cover up that laugh. That laugh, Beth suddenly realizes they're making fun of her. It shouldn't shock her, but it does. She forgot how people perceive her from how she looks, and especially how she appears within her group of fighters that look as if they can handle themselves. But she doesn't look that way and apparently these idiots think her scars make her a victim instead of the fighter and survivor that she is.

They know nothing about me, she must tell herself this when she's reminded of how she felt whenever Dawn had looked at her.

"I'd rather not," she replies with a glare, she's through with being polite. She continues walking; she’s aware she probably shouldn't turn her back on them, but she just wants to be done with this interaction, and she knows she can manage two drunk idiots; she’s dealt with worse.

"There’s no need to be rude, we just want to show you a good time. That weird old guy you're always hanging around doesn't look like he knows the meaning of the word fun. Or the meaning of a lot of words."

They both crack up at this, they clearly think they're hilarious. Beth’s blood starts to boil, but she tries to ignore it.

You can't reason with a drunk Beth, it will only make them worse. Still, she needs to bite her lip and clench her fists to stop herself from turning around and shouting at them or hitting them, or both.

"What are you doin’ with him anyway? Did he protect you out there? We can watch out for you now you’re here, we're good guys. You don't have to stay with him, you don't look that bad, we'd still do you," again with the laughter and this time she turns to give them a piece of her mind.

"You know nothing abou-" she's cut off by another voice.

"Hey Aiden, unless you want to get a black eye you better go home," Glenn gives them a stern look and Beth notices the guy who did all the talking square his shoulders and open his mouth to - she's sure - spew snide drunken statements until Nicholas the sniggering idiot speaks for once.

"Come on man, let’s just get wasted," he shakes the half empty bottle of whiskey - which she was sure had been full when they approached her - in his friend’s face dragging his gaze away from Glenn. He snorts like we're all beneath him before grabbing the bottle and sauntering off without a care in the world.

While Beth is glad they're gone she's also a little miffed that she didn't get to speak her mind to them, but she understands they wouldn't have cared what she said, and she doesn't care what they think of her. Still, she needs Glenn to know she could have handled it herself.

"I appreciate your help Glenn, but I was going to take care of it myself."

"I know, you just never know with drunk people. They might have gotten physical," he warns as if she’s a naive little girl. She appreciates he doesn't mean it that way, but she still finds it exasperating.

"I know that, I'm not some stupid little girl anymore Glenn. If they had put their hands on me I would have handled it. I have before, and I will again," she immediately turns her back on his shocked face and stalks up the road.

Instantly she feels guilty, and well, like a little girl pulling a tantrum because nobody understands her. Ugh, she should act better than this, she’s not a silly sixteen-year-old anymore, she’s pretty sure she turned eighteen a couple months ago while she was alone with Daryl.

She'll apologize to Glenn tomorrow, he was just looking out for her. And as much as she's certain she's gotten stronger, she isn't sure if she could have handled them both. Not without having to call for help or seriously hurting them with the knife at her hip and she doesn't believe they deserve that, they're just drunk insensitive children. Plus, she doesn't want to get her group kicked out because she killed the leader’s son, that would be bad.

Carl and Judith need a home. That’s what this place is for a lot of people, maybe it could be that for them too, someday.


 

Daryl is working on the bike outside Aaron's garage under the warm sun when Glenn approaches him with a concerned look on his face, it immediately draws his attention.

“What is it?” Glenn doesn’t reply straight away, he just looks at him as if he’s still deciding on whatever he’s thinking about.

“Jesus, spit it out would ye,” he’s more annoyed than worried now.

“How’s Beth?” Glenn wrings his hands together.

Daryl hasn’t seen him act like this for a while but it’s obvious Glenn wants to tell him something and isn’t sure yet if he will. Beth’s name has him standing up and focusing his sight onto Glenn’s face. He pales a bit, but not in fear - Daryl knows - but in comprehension that he won’t be able to keep it from Daryl now he said the magic word. They all know how he feels about Beth, how protective he is of her. He thinks they know that he loves her, but he doesn’t believe Beth knows. Not yet anyway.

“What happened?” Daryl’s sure something happened, and he knows it occurred last night because when she came back from that stupid party she seemed off. He sees Glenn hesitate and he growls in frustration making Glenn spill everything, and what he hears has him snarling.

“They said what!”

“Shit, easy Daryl. They were drunk, they probably don’t even remember. I knew I shouldn’t say anything, but Beth left upset with me and I-,”

“Upset with you? Why? What the hell did you say?” Daryl cuts him off in anger and confusion.

“Nothing I just told them off and she was annoyed and said she could handle it if they got physical that she had before-,”

“What! She had before? What the hell does that mean? If they touched her I’ll rip off their fucking di-,”

“NO! Jesus Daryl relax, she was talking about Grady. I don’t know if she’s talked to you about that, but I know she’s talked to Maggie,” Glenn explains trying to calm Daryl before he goes and does something crazy.

Beth had talked to him about it and if Daryl could he’d bring that son of a bitch Gorman back to life and kill him slowly and painfully.

“Tell me again what you heard them say,”

“Daryl this isn’t why I’m telling you, I’m worried about Beth with how she’s acting,”

“Beth’s fine or she will be, but those pricks won’t be. Tell me again what the fuck they said,” Daryl needs to hear it again to be sure what he heard the first time was right.

“They teased her about her scars, saying ‘they’d still do her, she didn’t look that bad’,” Glenn looks away clearly uncomfortable and angry. “They implied she was only with you, ‘the weird old guy’ because you protected her outside the walls.”

Daryl is so angry he feels like steam should be coming out of his ears, he’s gonna kill them.

“Easy Daryl. If you hurt them it won’t do anything but probably get you or the whole group kicked out of here and more than likely piss off Beth. I think she wants to deal with them herself.”

Daryl knows Glenn is right, so he tries to calm himself. He restrains himself from making violence his first response, but they are going to hear some words of warning from him. He wipes his hands on his rag before stuffing it into his back pocket and stalking off in search of these bastards.

“Woah Daryl, didn’t you hear what I just said?”

“Yep, I’m just gonna speak with them. Get them to apologize.”

“Uh huh,” Glenn is clearly skeptical, but he follows Daryl anyway.

There is no way he can do nothing about this, those pricks broke what Tara had jokingly named ‘Dixon Rules.’ They’re rules concerning how you look, speak or touch his girl. They’re not only for other people to follow, his family is included, and some are for him to abide by as well.

But the family group already know not to mess with Beth, he’s shown that before. A couple days after their first kiss and about a week after the Grady showdown Daryl made sure they all knew he would not tolerate certain situations concerning Beth.

They’re walking a long stretch of road, the trees on either side creeping in; threatening to consume the road into their forest. They’re burning under the scorching sun beating on their skin, but Daryl is happy. Fuck he can’t remember ever feeling this alive and hopeful and it has a lot to do with the beautiful blonde currently cooing to Judith. Christ, she’s hardly let go of the baby long enough to let Rick hold her, but Rick doesn’t mind for he smiles softly every time he looks at them. It warms Daryl’s heart but also a part of him he’s never known before raises its ugly head from his gut.

Something inside him wants to warn Rick that he better not be looking at her in a romantic or sexual way. Admittedly it’s a small part, just a twinge really because he knows Rick and he knows Rick would never try anything with Beth for however many reasons, and he trusts Beth completely. But it’s there, that foreign possessive feeling, and he’s got to shove it down sometimes.

Sometimes not.

He catches Eugene glancing at Beth’s ass as they walk with her leading them, Judith in her strong arms again. When that possessive feeling surges through him stronger than ever his first instinct is to punch in Eugene’s face. He shoves it away as usual, not wanting to make a scene or embarrass Beth, but then Daryl catches him again, and again. Next time he looks over at him Eugene’s having a nice long stare instead of just glancing and suddenly Daryl is done shoving away the need to warn Eugene; maybe he’ll do it with words maybe with fists, he’s not totally sure yet.

“Hey, eyes up douchebag,” Daryl manages to restrain himself to just tapping Eugene’s shoulder with the back of his hand.

“Excuse me?” Eugene replies in his typical robotic way, it annoys the hell out of Daryl. Why the hell can’t he speak like a fuckin’ human being?

Everyone is now looking at them as they stop walking. Everyone except for Beth, Judith, Sasha and Tyrese who are too far ahead to hear.

“Ye keep lookin’ at Beth’s ass, she doesn’t deserve that and ye don’t have no right. Eyes up or ye won’t be seeing anything from them, ye hear?” Daryl crowds Eugene but not too much because frankly he doesn’t want to get that close to him, he hardly knows the weirdo, so he keeps his narrowed eyes on him as he speaks, he enjoys the paling of Eugene’s skin.

He catches Abraham and Rosita shaking their heads in disbelief at Eugene’s audacity. Maggie’s eyes are narrowed on Eugene also which makes him pale further, and Rick and Glenn are smiling at Daryl in a way he doesn’t appreciate. Carl laughs into his hand at the look on Eugene’s face, but Tara’s the only one who looks sympathetic to Eugene’s current situation and he doesn’t understand why until she speaks.

“It’s kind of hard not to look Daryl, she’s got a great ass,” Tara shrugs as if this is obvious.

“Oh my God that’s my baby sister!” Maggie cries.

“I’m not the only one to think so, right?” Tara looks at Noah and then Rick with raised brows as if she has seen them checking it out. They both shake their heads in denial, Daryl can tell they’re lying making his eyes narrow further and his scowl deepen.

“I concur, I am not the only one looking and I include you in that statement,” Eugene nods to Daryl, it makes him nearly snarl in Eugene’s expressionless face.

“But I will refrain from looking at Beth’s great ass in respect for her and for your claim on her,” he speaks rapidly when he sees the look Daryl’s is giving him.

Eugene,” Tara moans and puts her head in her hands in exasperation. “Wrong choice of words dude, really wrong.”

“Did I hear someone mention my butt?” The sweet confused voice brings the silence as everyone looks at Beth in either guilt, embarrassment or confirmation. It’s a collective understanding that they have all been standing around as if having some group meeting to discuss Beth’s great ass. Daryl wants to cringe at having started this in the first place. Damn this possessive feeling in him.

“Daryl caught Eugene staring at your ass,” Maggie explains seriously, making Beth’s eyes go wide in shock.

“I said it was a great ass, so I can hardly blame him,” Tara smiles at Beth to show her amusement at the situation.

“And I say he needs to apologize, now,” Daryl states in annoyance, glaring at Eugene.

“But if you heard me correctly I did apologize a mo-,” Eugene begins before Daryl cuts him off with a growl.

“To Beth asshole. Right. Now.

Everyone is now looking at Eugene in either disapproval or exasperation.

“I apologize for looking at your ass Beth,” Eugene doesn’t look or sound apologetic, he looks annoyed, but Daryl isn’t going to push it if Beth doesn’t want him to.

He looks over at her to see her face burning and not from the heat of the sun, she’s clearly embarrassed and Daryl wants to kick himself but then she smiles shyly and laughs good naturedly.

“It’s alright Eugene, and thank you Tara,” she clears her throat awkwardly and turns back around to continue their trek pushing everyone to do the same.

The air is a bit tense as they continue north but eventually conversations spring up between people and things return to normality or as normal as nowadays can be.

Tara is walking next to him a couple hours later and he gets the sense she wants to chat. He’s about to pick up the pace to walk next to Beth when she speaks.

“Don’t worry I’m not looking at your girl’s butt,” she smirks at him.

“Good,” he grunts making Tara chuckle.

“Anything else we shouldn’t do to Beth? If you got a list of things I’d love to hear it, I don’t want to get told off for just speaking to her. Would that be breaking a rule of yours?” She’s obviously making fun of him, but he doesn’t mind; he kind of asked for it by blowing up at Eugene.

“Talking is fine, but no touching,” he smirks when he surprises Tara by going along with her teasing.

“Dixon rules concerning Beth, that’s cute. What happens if we break one? Do we get shouted at or is the punishment something worse?”

“Very funny. Long as you don’t hurt her we’re good.”

“Is that one of the Dixon rules?” Tara asks with a smile.

“Yep,” Daryl grins. Tara ain’t so bad really, he kind of likes her.

As he continues his stalking gait in search of these assholes he realizes that even though the family know not to mess with Beth in any way including staring at her ass the way Eugene was – as if lost in some sexual fantasy of her in his head – this community of strangers doesn’t know that yet. Well he’s about to let them know, nobody talks to his girl that way, not without either apologizing profusely or getting their ass beat.

They eventually find them within a group of people outside Deanna’s house and luckily the two of them are together. Daryl’s pace speeds up when his anger spikes at the sight of them. When he pictures them taunting Beth as she made her way home alone he feels such a hunger for their blood that it shocks him. He doesn’t want to really kill them, so he tries to rein in his anger as he closes in on them. They spot him, and Daryl sees fear flash in their eyes before Aiden covers it with a cocky smirk.

“I want a word with you two,” Daryl points threateningly at them drawing the attention of those gathered around. "Beth is off limits to you two. You don't talk to her, you don't look at her, you don't even think about her. If you do you'll have me to deal with and you don't want to be on my shit list," his rough voice is full of a deadly warning that they better be smart enough to obey.

“Look man whatever the chick said was a lie. You know how they are, and she was rude as fuck, we just wanted to chat,” Daryl realizes Aiden is trying to appeal to him man to man, and he obviously doesn’t believe that Daryl really cares about Beth. Fuck this guy is asking to get stomped on.

“Cut the act, I know exactly what the fuck happened. You both are gonna go apologize to Beth right now, ye hear?” He commands in a gravel filled voice.

“Sure man,” Nicholas gulps. Aiden’s head twists to look at his friend in irritation before swinging back to glare at Daryl.

“No, fuck that. Who the hell do you think you are? We ain’t apologizing to no bitch, especially some whore bitch who spreads her legs for a-” Aiden’s words are cut off by Daryl’s fist punching into his face. Aiden hits the ground from the impact in shock and pain, and before anyone can move a muscle Daryl is on top of him rearing his arm back and hitting Aiden’s face repeatedly.

“You son of a bitch!” Daryl screams at Aiden between punches. “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill ye!”

“Daryl!”

Everyone is suddenly in motion, Rick tries in vain to pull Daryl from Aiden, but it isn’t until Abraham helps him that their able to pull him away. Spencer helps his brother - whose face is now battered and covered in blood – up from the ground to take him to the Doctor. 

"You don’t mess with my girl!!" Daryl - who’s still being held back - shouts in rage at Aiden as he’s dragged away with a shaking Nicholas trailing behind as usual.

“Daryl calm down,” Rick orders.

Daryl twists out of their grip absolutely fuming. “He asked for it!” he flings his arm in the direction Aiden was dragged to.

“I know but it’s done, go cool off brother,” Rick squeezes Daryl’s shoulder.

Daryl calms a bit as he breathes deeply, he realizes that there’s a crowd of people watching him making his hackles raise even higher. He can see people standing in their doorways and peeking out windows to gawk at the crazy redneck.

“Daryl,” it’s Beth, her voice gentle but cautious as if gauging his temperament. She’s suddenly next to him taking his arm and pulling him along with her.

Beth guides him down the street - past the judging eyes of the community – to their home so she can bandage his split knuckles and grazed cheek.

She grabs the first aid kit from the bathroom before they enter their room.

“Sit down there,” Beth points at the comfy blue armchair in the corner of their bedroom and Daryl obliges albeit unwillingly. Beth removes some alcohol wipes and kneels in front of him to clean his knuckles. He looks so uncomfortable she feels a little bad.

“Relax Daryl let me fuss, it's the least I can do after you defending my honor,” she smiles up at him softly and he eases back into the pillows on the chair, letting her start to fuss over him.

“This will sting some,” she warns.

“I've had worse, believe me,” he huffs but then hisses when she dabs at his knuckles. She can't stifle the giggle that comes out.

“Told you so,” she sing-songs to him with a little smirk on her face.

“Watch it Greene,” he growls playfully tugging his hand away from her. She pulls it back and blows on his knuckles softly to soothe the stinging.

When she looks up into his eyes she watches his face soften with what she thinks is affection and she can feel her own do the same. She smiles softly at him and he returns it. It still makes her heart fill when he allows her to see him looking at her like that.

“They feel a little better?” she asks him quietly. She can't stop looking at him; he has the most intense eyes she has ever seen. It can sometimes feel as if he is seeing right through to her soul, it makes her feel a little naked. Her heart starts to quicken as goose bumps form on her arms.

“Mmhhhmm,” his eyes stay connected with her own and she can’t remember him ever looking at her this long or intensely before.

She realizes she’s still holding his hand. She strokes her thumbs across his fingers and lifts her butt off her heels, so she can reach his split cheek. It looks like Aiden scratched at his face in retaliation, so she dabs the cut clean. The little space between them feels charged with intensity and she doesn't think it’s just her feeling it. Her heart is racing now, she can feel it beating in her neck and chest and it’s a little hard to breathe. She's never been so aware of her own body before.

“You didn't have to hit him so many times you know,” she whispers it to him, afraid to break the moment.

“He deserved it, if it wasn’t me somebody else woulda',” he speaks gently without breaking their eye contact. “You upset I went off on him like that?”

“No,” she answers him quickly. “I just don't like seeing you hurt, especially over some asshole, and I could have handled it myself you know,” she scolds him gently.

“I know ye can girl, but ye don’t have to, you’re with me now and I’d do anything for ye. I want to take care of ye,” Daryl breaks eye contact for a moment, he looks so vulnerable and Beth has to swallow with how much she wants to take care of him too.

“I know Daryl, I just don’t want you getting kicked out over me or some entitled asshole, although some of what he said is true,” Daryl raises his brows in question. "You are a weird old man, and I like that because you’re my weird old man," she smiles when his ears turn pink in a blush and he huffs a laugh while shaking his head at her before his face softens once more.

“I ain’t hurt Beth, s'jus scratches. Wasn't your fault neither,” he says softly, still looking right into her eyes like he’s trying to communicate something he can't say. It reminds her of the funeral home except there’s an undercurrent of something else here, something more. It makes her lower belly tingle and warm.

“You’re done,” she says as she finishes up, dropping the stuff back into the kit without looking. She can't unglue her eyes from him although she isn't trying very hard to she realizes.

This should be the moment she gets up and out of his space, but she can't seem to move away from him. She places her hands on his knees and leverages herself up and closer to him. He tenses up as she leans in to kiss his uninjured cheek softly and whisper, “all better.”

She slowly pulls away but before she can get very far Daryl’s hand is cupping her cheek and his lips caress her own. He tilts her head to deepen the kiss creating a moan from her throat. She licks into his mouth and sucks on his tongue before nipping his bottom lip. Daryl growls into her mouth and abruptly seizes her hips to haul her onto his lap making her gasp.

They still with their foreheads pressed together and the only sound is the deep breaths entering and escaping their lungs.

“Daryl,” Beth whimpers in need, her fingers tightening on his strong shoulders. Her spread knees press her aching clit onto the seam of her jeans.

“Beth,” Daryl breathes, his hands squeeze her thighs as they look at each other in question.

They have gone further than this before, but only the one time.

They were in the barn taking shelter from the rain and the oncoming storm. They were sat in a quiet corner with Beth between Daryl’s legs, her back to his chest. They were covered with a blanket in preparation for sleeping.

They were kissing with her head back against his shoulder, but the angle was a bit awkward, so she was about to turn around when she felt it, felt him. He was pressed up against the small of her back, big and hard. Something had come over her and she had gripped his hand and placed it on her breast in invitation. She wasn’t sure how he’d react but then he had squeezed and ran his thumb across her covered nipple pulling a sigh from her.

She remembers whispering his name, whispering for him to keep going and his hand travelling down between her legs hesitantly. She’d spread her legs to show him she wanted it if he did and he had rubbed her through her jeans which only made her more horny and frustrated.

She had asked him if he would really touch her and he whispered her name in what seemed like a prayer.

He’d opened her jeans and then his fingers were exploring her wet heat. He had to cover her mouth with either his lips or his hand as her moaning became uncontrollable. Her hands had gripped his knees so tight she wouldn’t have been surprised if the next day he was bruised.

When she came, it was hard and long, and he came right after her for he had been grinding into her back and ass as his fingers pumped her to orgasm.

She had thanked him shyly, and they kissed softy but before long she was asleep. The next thing she remembered was the doors being pushed in by the herd of walkers and them fighting for their lives.

They didn’t have a conversation about what happened, but Beth had teasingly told him a couple days later that he could do that to her whenever he liked. He had never initiated anything after that and either did she for she was afraid she had pushed him into a place he hadn’t been ready to go and when she told him he had assured her that wasn’t the case, he just wanted to do it the right way. The best way for her and not on some musty bed or couch. When Beth told him that she wasn’t a virgin he had looked a bit shocked, like the thought of her having done it before never crossed his mind.

She told him of the time her and Zack had done it in her cell one night and that it was awkward and painful, how she had no interest in doing it with him again, but then he died the next day, so it didn’t really matter. He said it didn’t matter that she wasn’t a virgin he still wasn’t gonna have their first time be in a dusty bed in a broken house.

She had thought that was sweet and had fallen even harder for him.

After those memories race through her head Beth makes up her mind and without breaking eye contact she reaches down to the hem of her t-shirt and pulls it off her heated body. But embarrassingly the neck gets stuck and all she can see is her hair and the material of her top as her arms struggle to get the damn thing off. She hears a full laugh escape Daryl and that makes her smile but also blush what she’s sure is a deep red.

“Easy sweetheart, I got it,” she can hear the amusement in his voice as he extracts each arm from the sleeves and gently tugs the neck over her head. She’s smiling shyly as she tries to fix her hair and ignore her blush. She removes the hair tie so she can redo her ponytail but when she goes to put it back up Daryl’s hands enclose her wrists stopping her.

Daryl can’t ever remember seeing her hair down and he can’t help wanting to run his hands through the soft locks, so he does. Jesus but she’s even more beautiful if that were possible.

There’s a moment where they both remember that Beth is sitting in his lap with her bra in full view. Daryl’s hands tighten in her hair as she gazes at him through her darkening eyes. Fuck, he wants her so damn bad but he’s also a little afraid; what if he does something and fucks it all up? He’s been the happiest he’s ever been these last few months with her and he doesn’t want to lose that.

He’s never been in love, until now. He knows it’s love, it’s what all those sappy songs him and Merle used to scoff at are all about. He gets why there was so many now, this feeling is scary as fuck but it’s also nice, more than nice. He hasn’t told her, well not in words, but he’s tried to communicate it to her. He doesn’t think she knows just how much she means to him, how heartbroken he would have been if she had died in that hallway.

Beth rests her head against his and whispers to him. “I want you Daryl. Do you want me?”

“Fuck girl, course I do,” he remembers how wet she was for him in that barn. Fuck she practically soaked his hand, it was the hottest thing he’d ever experienced. He wonders what the hell she sees in him.

“Then you can have me - all of me - right now,” he feels like the luckiest guy in the world. She seriously wants him to fuck her? No, he doesn’t think that word is right, not for their first time. He wants to make love to her, if Merle could hear him now he’d never hear the end of it. He shakes thoughts of his brother away and focuses his attention onto his girl.

“Christ Beth, ye sure ye want to do this?” he sounds like how she’s feeling, nervous but excited.

“Yes, are you?” He pauses a moment before responding.

“Mmhhmm,” he chews on his lips anxiously and she pulls back to look at him carefully.

“You don’t sound too sure. But that’s okay, just be honest with me,” she brushes his cheeks with her thumbs.

“I’m sure, just don’t wanna disappoint ye,” he looks away embarrassed and Beth pulls his head back to look at her.

“What? That’s impossible Daryl, I don’t want to disappoint you,” his face softens at her reply.

“Impossible,” Daryl murmurs drawing her closer and softly stroking his nose along hers affectionately, and for some reason that action nearly brings tears to her eyes and she must swallow to keep from crying but of course Daryl senses it. It’s hard to get anything past him.

“What’s wrong girl?” Daryl wraps his arms around her and she shakes her head unable to speak. She can feel those three words trying to break through and if she opens her mouth they’ll fly free into the air between them and fear of rejection or of scaring Daryl away is the only thing keeping them locked up.

“Come on Beth, tell me,” she can see he’s trying to communicate something to her through his eyes again and before she realizes it she’s speaking.

“I just … love you,” she murmurs and she’s so close to him she can’t see his reaction.

“What?” Daryl pulls back to look at her fully and he sees her biting her lip. He pulls it from between her teeth with his thumb and grips her chin. “What did you say?” He’s got to be sure he didn’t imagine what he thought he heard her say.

“I love you Daryl,” she states with more confidence. His breath catches in his chest; no one has ever said those words to him not even his own mother. If he’s not careful he may just start sobbing like a baby.

She’s looking at him, not as if waiting for a reply, she’s looking at him as if searching for his reaction, he realizes he needs to tell her. If she was able to pluck up the courage to do it then he needs to stop being a pussy and do the same. She deserves to know. He steels himself as he prepares the words he’s longed to tell her.

“Love ye too girl,” her eyes widen and they’re already so big to begin with that its almost comical and he gives her a real smile, it doesn’t feel awkward on his usually unsmiling scowling face.

“Really?” Is he really that bad at showing his love for her?

“Ye really, ‘m crazy bout you Beth,” she smiles the biggest smile he’s ever seen and laughs happily.

“Make love to me Daryl,” she says this still smiling that huge smile and then she touches her forehead to his and brushes his nose with hers before kissing him softly.

“Okay sweetheart,” he presses his lips to hers and licks the seam of them, she opens for him.

Their kisses soon turn from soft to hard and from slow to fast like they’re both trying to climb inside the other. His hands run up the soft skin of her back as her hips roll down onto his hardening cock.

Beth begins unbuttoning his shirt and he’s fumbling at the button of her jeans when she pulls away to stand. She quickly removes her boots and jeans until all she’s wearing is her bra, panties and a shy smile. Daryl stands and shucks off his shirt before reaching for Beth and he unclasps her bra quicker than he expects. He admires her breasts, their little pink nipples hardening when he brushes his palms against them, he licks his lips.

“Daryl please,” Beth whimpers, eyes imploring him not to tease her.

He leans down and draws a nipple into his mouth, flicking his tongue at its peak and Beth purrs her approval. Daryl lavishes attention on her perfect breasts until he can’t take the anticipation anymore and reaches for her panties. Beth’s pulling at his belt impatiently invoking a grin from him at how eager she is. He pulls her panties down to her ankles in one quick jerk making her gasp, she grips his shoulders for balance as she steps from them.

She is so fucking beautiful he can’t believe she’s his, can’t believe she wants him inside her. She pulls him up from his knees where he had been staring up at her as if in worship to a goddess.

She’s kissing him as she finally manages to remove his belt and open his pants. He kicks of his shoes before his fingers find her core hot and wet for him. He growls his pleasure as he gathers her wetness up to her clit so it’s nice and slick for him to repeatedly caress in differing rhythms making Beth gasp.

“Oh god, don’t stop,” she moans into his ear, but he does stop making her whimper in need.

He removes the rest of his clothing under her heated gaze and then she has his cock in her hand. Fuck it feels so good he never wants her to let go, but if she doesn’t this whole thing will be over quicker than expected, it also would be really embarrassing.

He pulls away from her grip and sits back on the chair pulling her with him. She hesitates before following his lead and straddling him.

“Like this?” she asks obviously thrown by him wanting her on top.

“If that’s okay?”

“Yes, it’s just that I’ve never done it this way. What if I do it wrong?” She’s so innocent he should feel bad, should feel like a dirty old man but it feels so right to be doing this with her.

“Ye ain’t gonna do it wrong girl, you’ll figure it out. I’ll help ye,” he doesn’t know much more than her since he’s never done this either; it’s one of the many reasons why he wants it. One of the other reasons is he wants to look up and see Beth Greene riding his cock taking everything she needs from him.

“Okay,” she smiles excitedly before kissing him again. His hands are on her hips guiding her while one of her hands grip his shoulder and the other takes a hold of his cock to guide him inside her. As she lowers herself onto him slowly he watches her eyes grow big and he listens to her breath catch. He looks down to see her fully sheath his cock inside her and he wants to thrust up into her tight heat so fucking bad, but he lets her adjust to his size because she’s so tight that it must be a little uncomfortable for her.

“Christ Beth,” he whispers into her mouth when she kisses him. “You’re so fucking tight sweetheart, you okay’?”

“Yes,” she gasps, and he can feel her clench around him making him gulp.

She starts to move, and her movements are awkward at first, so Daryl tries to help her, but he knows as much as she does so he can’t be much help. She eventually finds a rhythm she seems to like so he follows her lead and pushes up into her as she comes down onto him and their pace soon quickens.

Fuck, she feels amazing and she looks amazing riding him, so much so that he must concentrate on not coming early.

“Harder Daryl, faster,” she licks into his mouth and he sucks on her tongue before gripping her ass cheeks and pounding up into her fast and hard.

“You like that huh? Shit girl, you’re so beautiful,” his voice is a deep rumble and Beth composes sounds as beautiful as her singing. The noise their bodies make as they slap together is loud in the room.

“Yes, oh God Daryl. I love you,” she whispers into his mouth.

“Love you too sweetheart,” his heart is full of her.

When she shifts to the side to bite and kiss his neck he sees the mirror over her shoulder and the view of her moving ass and sweat slicked back nearly makes him come right then.

“I’m gonna come Daryl,” she gasps into his ear.

“Come for me Beth, fuck!” he groans as he feels her walls fluttering around his cock before tightening further in her orgasm. He helps her along by pounding into her faster. Her head flies back and she shouts her pleasure as her body shakes in release before slumping onto him breathless.

He doesn’t know how he didn’t come with her, she felt and looked incredible during her orgasm. Only thing he can think of is his need for this to not end yet, his need to make her come again.

He stands up with her in his arms while she lazily mouths at his neck. He carries her to the bed to lay her down and he covers her with his body. She curls her arms around his neck as he enters her again and it’s easier this time. He leverages himself on his forearms, twining his fingers in her hair and repeatedly thrusting down into her slick embrace while licking into her mouth.

“Shit Beth, your so fucking good baby,” Beth moans kissing him intensely.

He sits up to see all of her while he enters her, and her hands roam his chest.

“More Daryl, please,” she begs him, so he grips behind her knees and spreads them before pushing them up in front of his arms, keeping them there so he can go deeper inside her.

Beth cries out at the change in depth, her eyes never leaving his as he rests his forehead on hers. Their shared breath mixes in the small space between their brushing lips.

“Harder Daryl,” she demands, he obliges her and soon she’s moaning his name over and over as he pounds into her. She cries out as she begins tightening around him again and suddenly Daryl’s coming with her. His orgasm is intense, surging throughout his whole body all the way down to his toes and he snarls his release into her neck as he spills into her core, his hips still slamming into her.

He releases her legs gently and catches himself before he lets all his weight fall on top of her, she kisses him softly. He pulls from her and slumps down beside her his arm resting across her middle. She gazes at him, love and satisfaction shining in her eyes.

“You okay?” he asks her, she nods slowly and they both try to catch their breath.

“Wow,” Beth says and giggles sweetly.

“Wow?” he smiles.

Wow,” he pulls her into his arms and chuckles, agreeing completely. He didn’t know it could be like that and he thinks she’s realizing the same thing.

“You think anyone heard us?” Beth asks making Daryl still. Fuck, he’d be surprised if the whole damn town didn’t hear them.

“Yeah, I think I heard the front door while we were … you know,” Beth snorts, probably at his wording and he can feel a blush bloom on his face.

“Oh well, nothing to be done for it,” Beth says seemingly unconcerned and Daryl nods into her hair. Screw them, he’ll deal with the teasing if they leave Beth alone, that will be another one of his rules. That thought makes him smile.

They lay there watching each other and lazily kissing now and then. He somehow finds the strength to cover them with the blanket.

It’s not long before it dawns on him what he did, and what he didn’t do. He didn’t put on a condom and he didn’t pull out. Christ, how fucking stupid was he?

"Beth shit, I wasn't wearing-,"

"I know, it's ok," she had come to the same realization that Daryl had when she felt his come trail down her thigh.

"It is?" He honestly doesn’t feel as panicked as he probably should, which worries him. He hopes he doesn’t get ideas of starting a family with her in his head. This world was cruel to children.

"Yes, we’re safe and together, and we're with our family. Whatever happens, we'll be good," she smiles and cuddles into his arms.

Daryl gives her a gentle squeeze because they will be good, he'll make sure of it, for her, for them.

He’ll do anything to make sure his girl is safe and happy.