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Daryl drummed his fingers nervously on the steering wheel, only half a mind on the road in front of him. Well, maybe less than that. Maybe a third. Hell, maybe even less than that. He wasn't a careless driver, spent way too much time on a motorcycle for paying attention not to come second nature, but all day long he'd been out of his goddamn head thinking about her.


 Beth fucking Greene.

 He'd been driving home one night when it was raining like the end of the damn world when he saw her on the side of the road, soaked to the skin and walking from her car back into town. Ran out of gas in the storm, on a road that hardly got any traffic, trying to reach the nearest filling station on foot. She'd let him give her a lift and tried to pay for the gas can and the fuel to go in it, but he wouldn't hear of it and brushed off her apologies for trailing water into his truck. He'd seen her safely on her way that night and didn't think anything of it until she looked up his number in the phone book and called to thank him, and everything started rolling from there.

 He brought his thumb to his mouth and chewed absently on the nail, thinking about that phone call and those first few interactions, a couple coffee meetups, a few lunches, a dinner that didn't start out as a date but ended with them saying goodbye in the parking lot...and kissing each other senseless in the process.

 He'd been doing nothing but think about her ever since.

 Maybe it was kinda weird, a little messed up. She was a lot younger, had a good family, lotta potential. A girl like her would go places. He, on the other hand, the redneck asshole that didn't want nothing to do with nobody, had nothing anybody'd want to call family, no future anybody'd want a part of, nothing to his name but an old truck, his crossbow, his brother's bike, and a shithole shack in the woods. Not to mention he'd never done anything like this before, never had an ongoing thing with someone. Whatever this "thing" was, cause damned if he knew. All he knew was that he spent most of his time thinking about her, divided between actual memories and a few fantasises he'd never had about anybody before--where the hell did those come from?--and all right, maybe a few...damn it...daydreams.

 Like a damn romance novel.

 Whatever else was going on in his head, he wasn't surprised to find himself driving to her house right now, nervous and anticipating and confused all at once but rolling with it anyway. Like he'd done every time she called him since that first time.

 He pulled up to her driveway just as she was walking out the front door, blonde hair in that slightly messy ponytail, tugging a sweater onto her shoulders. She checked the door behind her before she headed up the drive, skirt swishing around her knees and cowboy boots crunching on the gravel under her feet. He had to admit, she looked just about perfect, damn near like an angel with the last dying rays of the sun making her glow like that, and he couldn't tell but he thought she was smiling as she got closer to the truck.

 Leaning across the cab, he popped the lock on the passenger door and was too caught up seeing she really was smiling to notice as she opened the door and climbed into the cab, and he coulda kicked himself. He shoulda got out and opened the door for her. Damn it.

 She didn't seem like she cared either way, still smiling at him. "Hey," she said, a little breathlessly.

 He could only hold her eyes for a moment before looking away, hand halfway to his mouth again before he stopped himself. "Hey."

 "I'm glad you could come by," she said, buckling her seat belt and smoothing her skirt across her lap. "I know I didn't give you much of a heads-up--"

 "Nah, 's fine," he told her. "Didn't have any plans or nothing."

 Her smile dipped a bit, but only for a second, and she reached out to take her hand in his, her thumb running gently across his knuckles. He hesitated, then slowly laced his fingers through hers and squeezed softly, and the way her smile got that much brighter, that quickly, went straight through him like he'd been shot by one of his own bolts. "What'd you have in mind?" he asked.

 She shrugged offhand but her voice sounded hopeful. "Can we"

 Gas prices were enough to leave him cussing at the pump but he didn't think twice about it, nodding immediately. "Yeah. Sure."

 "Someplace with a lot of trees?"

 "Can't see em at night."

 "But you can hear them. And I love the sound of the wind through the trees."

 He of all people wasn't about to argue with that. He busied himself getting the truck in gear, keeping his head down to hide the smile he felt coming on. Damn, she was perfect.

 It had been a hot Georgia day, but it was cool enough with the breeze coming through the open windows. They made their way out of town with the last of the sun, the radio playing softly, and he heard her singing along a few times; she had a voice sweeter than any on the radio, if you asked him. He took them over back roads, winding through the woods where there were no lights but theirs, no one sharing their road, just the two of them and the gathering night.

 She didn't have a hold of his hand anymore, but hers still rested on the seat between them like she was just waiting for her chance. He kept sneaking glances at her out of the corner of his eye and she was always looking out the window at the landscape when he did, but every time he looked back at the road, he could feel her watching him. What in the world did she see in him that had her calling him for something like a drive through the woods? He was dying to know, but too scared to ask.

 It was full dark by the time he stopped the truck at some random picnic area on the side of the road. The lone table was weathered and rough and no doubt that trash can next to it was rusted through, but that wasn't a big deal. This spot was surrounded by trees on either side of the road, but was still open to the sky, and that view of the stars was like nothing else Daryl could think of, and he had a feeling Beth would love it.

 The look on her face awhile later told him he was right on the money, sitting on the tailgate and looking up at the sky. She scooted a little closer and asked, "Do you know any of the constellations?"

 "Big Dipper," he answered automatically, smiling slightly. He looked up and found it, tilted at a steep angle, then looked to the left and pointed. "And Orion over there."

 "He's one of my favorites..."

 "...Mine, too."

 Her hand seemed to sneak over to his in the dark like iron to a magnet, her slim fingers resting next to his as she kept searching the sky. "I never get tired of looking at the stars," she said. "There's Cassiopeia, and Gemini is right...over...there..."

 She traced them as she named them, her other hand pointing and moving through the air, and he was hardly paying attention to the stars, giant hunks of rock and fire millions of miles away a lot less riveting than the woman sitting right next to him. He couldn't quite put his finger on what she had that kept pulling him in, but anybody that could walk a deserted road in a storm to get help and then get lost in the middle of nowhere to go stargazing just because had a couple qualities he didn't even know could coexist, and Lord only knew what lay in the middle of that.

 God, he just wanted to feel her hand in his again, but she might as well have been as far away as the stars for all the good wanting did him when he was too scared to move. Who the hell was he to be thinking about someone like her, the way he couldn't stop thinking about her? He'd been reliving that kiss in the parking lot ever since it happened, torn between guilt for letting it happen and the wish for it to happen again, and even that was overwhelming. He'd never wanted to hold someone's hand before, and he'd damn sure never wanted to kiss someone, not before Beth. Now he wanted it so bad it was driving him crazy and the sheer newness of it was throwing him for a loop.

 Wait, shit, she was saying something. "Huh?"

 She was looking at him now, head tilted a little to the side. "You just look like you're thinking about something."

 He shrugged. "Not really..."

 "Yeah, really. What's on your mind?"

 He oughta say something just to get the shit outta his head, but something between his brain and his mouth were disconnected and he doubted he had the balls to speak up anyway.

 She watched him for a second, then edged just a little closer, close as she could get without touching him. "You know, I...I really like spending time with you, Daryl. I think you're pretty cool, and really sweet, and patient-"

 "Wait, patient?" he asked. "What do you mean?"

 Her turn to shrug. "I mean, it's probably getting old, me calling you all the time just to hang out, and I know you don't have to humor me the way you do..."

 "Beth, I-" He stopped, cleared his throat, and went on slowly, "it ain't getting old. I don't mind you calling me, and I damn sure ain't 'humoring' you." He didn't move his hand from where it sat next to hers, but his fingers started tapping a restless beat on the truck bed. Why did he have to get so twitchy when he was nervous? "I like seeing you. I mean it."

He heard her tiny sigh as she said, "I guess I knew that. But you know, I kinda had to wonder, the way you're so quiet all the time. That's just the way you are, I get that, but I got a little worried a couple times, thinking maybe you didn't want anything to do with me and you just didn't feel like telling me."

 He let out a snort. "Damn, girl, you think I'da been wasting time on you, I didn't want anything to do with you?"

 She shrugged; there was just enough light to see it. "No, I don't think so. I guess I'm just nervous."


 "Because, Daryl, I like you. And if you didn't like me, I didn't wanna keep making myself look like a dumb kid with a crush..."

 His heart rate kicked up a few notches at the words before his ears made sense of them. "...What?"

 "I dunno, I guess I thought you'd make a move or something, if you thought about me like that--"

 "I do."

 Oh fuck.

 He'd said it out loud when he'd only been thinking it in his head, and shit, she didn't need any kind of reason to keep hanging around him when she deserved all of those stars hanging above their heads while he could only dream of giving them to her. He was nobody, but thinking about her made him want to be more.

 Lucky it was so dark. He couldn't see the look on her face at his stupid confession, and he couldn't even bear to look in her direction, turning his head away and staring down at the ground. There was silence for a long minute, then he felt her hand cover his and his heart took off like it was about to shoot outta his chest.

 "You think about me?" she asked.

 He thought about lying, then shrugged one shoulder and nodded. "Yeah. I do."

 "What do you think about?"

 One hard swallow, damn his dry throat, and he answered, "Just...stuff. Seeing you, wondering when you're gonna call next, spending time with you..."

 He trailed off but she wouldn't let him leave it there. "What else?"

 He wanted to answer, but the words stuck. She'd had to make the first move the entire time so far, and he couldn't even answer what should have been an easy question. Sack up, Darylina, he could almost hear his brother saying. You always were a goddamn pussy.

 "I liked kissing you that time," she said, and there she went moving first again, though maybe she knew by now he'd follow. "I think about it a lot. Do you?"

 He nodded again. "All the time," he admitted quietly.

 "I think about how much I want to do it again," she added.

 "Yeah. Me too."

 Her hand moved over his, fingers sliding between his knuckles and under his palm to clasp his hand, and after only a moment's hesitation he curled his fingers over hers, locking them together. "Daryl, look at me." He lifted his eyes to hers and at any other time he'd kick his own ass for thinking something so sappy, but starlight looked beautiful on her. "What are you thinking right now?"

 You're amazing. You deserve better. I'm not good enough for you, but damn it I want to be.

 "I wanna kiss you."

 She squeezed his hand and said, "Good. I was thinking the same thing." And she leaned closer, turned her face up to his, and kissed him.

 Just like that first time, all thought flew out the door and he could only react. That first time, something foreign had taken him over and he responded with fire and electricity, pulling her closer, taking her face in his hands, and backing her up against the side of her car. That fire spooked him as much as anything and he pushed it back now. Instead, he raised his rough hand to her soft cheek and held her there, brushing his thumb along her cheekbone.

Shedrew back after a moment and sat watching him, lips slightly parted and head tilted to the side again. "Is something wrong?" she asked.

 He shook his head.

 "Then why don't you kiss me like you did before? I...I know you want to..."

 His breath hitched in his lungs, senses reeling, scared and wanting and confused and eager all at once...

 She raised her hand to run her fingers through his hair with only the smallest tremble to give away her own nerves. "It's okay, Daryl. I don't mind."

 Just another moment, and he was leaning into her, pressing his lips to hers and sliding his fingers into her hair and pulling her even closer. It was a little awkward; his hand got hung up in her ponytail and she was leaning so far over to him she nearly lost her balance and fell against him and he couldn't deny that his kissing technique was on the sloppy side, but she didn't seem to care, answering with equal enthusiasm. Her lips fell open and he hesitated before tracing their outline with the tip of his tongue and when she didn't pull away he tentatively explored the inside of her mouth, tasting her, drinking her in, and the soft sigh she gave in response shot straight through his body and he was hard before he knew it.

 She turned towards him, breaking the kiss for a moment before coming back in with more ardor, lifting herself up on her knees and pressing her body to his. His hands went to her waist, holding her against him, before sliding down to her hips, and about the time he moved lower to her ass was the time she swung her leg over his and straddled his lap. She moved closer and paused, his erection pressing into her between their layers of clothing, and he felt a twinge of fear and shame that she knew how aroused he was, then she rocked her hips cautiously, then again, more sure of herself. The friction nearly had him jumping out of his skin and he groaned aloud, "Fuck, Beth..."

 She kissed him again, still grinding on him, and her hands went to fumble at his belt--

 He gripped her shoulders and moved her away, holding her at a distance. "Beth," he cut in hoarsely, "hold up, sweetheart..."

 "You want to, Daryl," she said. "You're... you're hard."

 Was it possible to hear a blush? He sure hoped not, or she'd hear his as clearly as he heard hers. "Don't mean shit," he answered. "You don't--you don't gotta worry about it."

 "Don't you want me?"

 Fuck yes he did. He wanted her more than he'd ever wanted someone when his body reacted the way it was doing now; while he'd never thought about it before, it was suddenly obvious that desire and arousal weren't always exclusive. But it was all so overwhelming, happening so fast, and for fuck's sake, they were in the back of his truck in the middle of the goddamn woods. Whenever he'd pictured anything like this with her, this wasn't quite what he had in mind. "I do," he answered, "but...not here? This ain't what I was thinking of," he added with a touch of humor.

 She placed her hands on his shoulders and slowly moved them up and down his chest, no longer rocking but the heat of her body still enough to send a spike of need charging through him. "What were you thinking of?"

 He rested his hands on her thighs, gliding softly from hip to knee, her skirt rucking up a little with every pass. He'd kissed her in all of his fantasies and it was good every time, but every now and then, he'd pictured his hands on her, feeling her warm and soft, making her tremble, hearing her breath catch. He always found himself wondering what kind of noises she would make, and if he'd ever get the chance to find out. "I wanna touch you..."

 Her hands faltered for a moment before they resumed their journey across his chest. "You mean you want to, like, feel me up?" she asked, forming the words as if they were a foreign language.

 He was almost scared to say it out loud, but she'd never let him stay silent. "I wanna touch your pussy...make you come with my hands..."

 Her hands stopped moving and she didn't respond, and he knew he'd fucked up. He'd never get this right, he shoulda just kept him damn mouth shut--


 What? He tried to read her face in the dark, sure he hadn't heard right. "Huh?"

 "Okay," she repeated. "If you want to, then...go ahead. I don't mind."

 "Beth, are you--are you sure?"

 "Yeah, Daryl. Go ahead. I...I want you to do it."

 Holy shit.

 He clutched her skirt in his hands, then pushed it up her legs, running his hands across her smooth skin. She shifted around on his lap, opening her legs a bit more, and she looked exactly the way he felt, a little nervous, a little vulnerable, but anticipating. He moved his thumbs in tiny semicircles over her thighs, trying to work up his courage before moving his hands higher, fingertips brushing the fabric of her panties.

 They both went still, locked into each other's eyes with hardly a steady breath between them. There was no way she couldn't hear the way his heart was racing, he could hardly hear anything else over it pounding in his ears. This was new. Sure, he'd fucked before, but not often, and not without his damn brother goading him into it, and it was nothing he was really into. But this? This was Beth, the only woman he'd ever wanted to do something like this with, and now he wished he knew what the fuck he was doing, to make it good for her.

 Slowly, she lowered her hand to his, guiding him between her legs, and he wondered if this was just as new for her and didn't know if that made it better or worse. Then he stopped thinking altogether because he felt her, warmer and softer than he'd imagined, and--he swallowed hard--the thin layer of cloth separating her skin from his was damp through. He brushed it with his fingers and she shivered, tightening her grip on his wrist when he almost pulled away. "No, keep going," she said. "I don't want you to stop."

 Which was all well and good, but didn't help him out any. He'd never had his hands on any of the women he'd been with and he didn't have a clue how to touch this one, no matter how many times he'd thought about it. He tried stroking his fingers along where she was wet, using a bit more pressure this time, and she drew in a sharp breath and squirmed a bit before drawing his hand back and shifting her underwear aside, then guiding him back to her with nothing between them this time.

 He cursed under his breath, she was just so damn wet, and feeling her slick against his fingers made him harder than ever. He traced the length of her pussy, amazed at how quickly she coated his fingertips, then slowly pushed one finger inside her. He could feel her eyes on him, and while it was hard to make out her face in the dark, he didn't need light to see the way she was watching him. "That okay?" he asked.

 "Yeah," she replied. "Do you think you could..."


 Both of them too shy to ask outright, she let go of his wrist and moved to his fingers and led him to a bead of flesh at the top of her pussy. He brushed lightly across it and she let out a gasp that sounded a lot like his name. He tried it again and she let out another, louder, "Daryl..."

 "You like that?"

 "Yes...keep doing it..."

 He couldn't take his eyes off her, watching her shiver and sway to his brushing, stroking and circling. Her head rolled back on her shoulders and her hips rocked forward to his hand, and those sounds... She hummed and sighed, mewed and gasped, all at the touch of his fingers. "Ooh, Daryl...Daryl...right there, that's it...yeah, just like that..."

 God-damn, Beth...

 He palmed himself through his jeans, his cock straining at the denim, heated visions of jerking himself off while making her come on his fingers racing one after another through his mind. Her body tensed and her hips bucked wildly, her hands coming up to tangle in his hair and her spine bowing backward. "Yes...god, yes, Daryl...Daryl..."

 "C'mon, girl," he said, his voice hoarse the words a harsh growl, "c'mon now..."

 "Yeah, oh God, oh, Daryl, fuck-" Her voice broke and she let out a low moan that grew louder and louder into a high-pitched cry that had him groaning and cursing and fumbling one-handed at his belt and zipper until he had his cock in his hand, pumping and squeezing with her cries in his ears-

 It took a second to realize she had fallen silent and he froze in place, suddenly terrified and ashamed at what he was doing in front of her and he couldn't bring himself to look at her, bowing his head to hide his face...

 "Let me?"

 He snapped up to look at her after all, sure for the second time he had misheard her. "What?"

 She rested her hand around his, still wrapped around himself. There was a slight rasp in her voice and she seemed timid as she asked, "Do you mind if I touch you?"

 "N-no," he replied, tripping over the word. "No, I don't." He held his breath as he moved aside for her and sighed deeply as she wrapped her hand around his shaft, running slowly along the length. "Show me," she said, "show me how to make you come."

 He covered her hand with his and guided her as she'd guided him, showing her the right speed and pressure until she had the rhythm, then letting go and feeling the sensations climb...

 "Daryl," she said, still working him, "put your fingers inside me..."

 He obeyed without a thought, putting his hand back under her skirt, and if anything she was even wetter than before, her pussy slippery and swollen as he slid one, then two fingers inside her. She whimpered softly, then tightened her fist on his cock and said, "Fuck me with your fingers."

 "Jesus, Beth..." He moved them in and out, slowly at first then matching the rhythm of her hand on his cock, and she reached with her free hand to the spot she'd shown him earlier, circling that bit of flesh while pumping her hand up and down his cock, and if she kept it up he'd be done in moments. Her hand smacking against his flesh and his fingers plunging in and out of her wet cunt, mingling with their grunts and sighs, created an obscene kind of music at odds with the rustling of the trees and the chirping of the crickets. Like nothing he'd ever heard before, and goddamn it if it wasn't like anything he'd ever felt before.

 She leaned down and pressed her forehead to his, her breath short and her body quivering. "Daryl, I'm gonna come," she whispered urgently. "Come on, come with me..."

 "Yeah, shit, ah fuck, Beth..."

 Her pussy tightened around his fingers around the same time his balls contracted and she jerked her hips to thrust his fingers deeper as his cock twitched and sent spurts of hot, sticky come over her hand and onto the tailgate. Her loud moan met his strangled whimper and as their rhythm faltered she pressed her lips to his, and he was kissing her back before he knew it, his earlier reserve swept away in the wake of their climax.

 The kiss ended, but they otherwise made no move away from each other, her hand still wrapped around him and his fingers still buried within her. He could still feel tiny currents of pleasure pulsing through him, and the longer they sat twined together, the less he wanted to come apart. "Beth," he said, a whisper all he could manage, "that was..."

 "Yeah," she agreed after he trailed off. "At least, I hope that was good. I mean, it was for me..."

 "Yeah. Me, too."

 They stayed where they were, catching their breath and waiting for the shaking to stop, and he eventually wound his arms around her and held her close to him and she returned the embrace without hesitation, resting her head on his shoulder.

 "We gotta get back soon," he told her.

 "Yeah," she agreed.

 "Should probably clean up first."

 "You're probably right."

 He tucked himself back into his jeans and she straightened her panties and skirt, and they finally moved apart, sliding off the tailgate to stand on slightly shaky knees. He had spare shop towels in the cab of the truck, and they were a little threadbare but they were also clean and he tried not to feel too embarrassed handing her one. They were silent as they wiped away the evidence of what happened but there was no erasing what was still moving between them, carried on shared looks and a few stray touches that no longer felt awkward or hesitant. She adjusted her ponytail and he reached out impulsively, twisting the little braid around his finger and looking down at her. There was just enough light to see her smiling at him.

 "What if...what if I called you sometime?" he asked.

 "I'd like that," she replied.

 He nodded, brushing a bit of hair away from her face before opening the door for her.

 The drive back into town was a quiet one. Beth immediately slid to the middle seat when he got in the truck and spent the ride leaning comfortably against him, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders to hold her closer. They stopped at the end of her driveway and he hurried to let her out of the truck, starting to feel shy again now that they were out of the trees. "Want me to walk you to the door?"

 "No, I'll be okay," she answered. "Thanks for coming, Daryl. I mean--thanks for coming out, not for--but you know, that was..."

 "I know what you mean," he assured her. "You're welcome. I'm, uh, I'm gonna call you soon, okay?"

 "Okay." She leaned up on her toes to kiss him on the cheek, then again on the lips, and he didn't think his heart would ever not race whenever she did that. "Good night, Daryl."

 "G'night, Beth."

He watched her walk back up the gravel drive all the way to her front door. She stood under the light as she unlocked it and stepped into the house, then she turned back and waved before closing the door. He didn't try to drive away, still gazing after her and feeling...something. Something warm and exhilarating and soft and wild and a lot of other shit that didn't make sense, spinning around in his head and beating through his chest and Lord only knew what all else, and weird as it sounded, it was all for her. Beth fucking Greene.

He'd never been in love before, but if that's what he was feeling now, he damn sure didn't mind.