“So, are we clear on the rules?” Beth asks, blinking up at him expectantly.
“Beth,” Daryl all but growls.
“I'm goin’ to run an' you're goin’ to try an’ catch me,” She continues, ignoring his growing irritation.
“This is stupid, an’ dangerous,” He grumbles.
Beth crosses her arms over her chest, a clear sign that she isn’t going to give an inch.
“If you catch me 'fore I reach the creek you win an’ I'll do whatever you want,” She promises excitedly.
Daryl blushes, hurriedly turning his face down and away. He's fairly sure she has no idea how most people would interpret what she just said. His thumb finds his mouth, feeling a pang of guilt because he finds himself thinking exactly like most people.
“But if you can't then I win and you have to do whatever I want,” She finishes.
“Girl, when have I ever said no to you?” Daryl lifts his head to glare at her.
Should be saying no right now, case in point.
“Shh, you're spoiling the game,” Beth frowns back at him.
“I don' wan’ you outta my sight,” He murmurs, his usual rough voice softened by an edge of pleading.
“Well, there's your motivation to catch me then,” Beth nods, big round eyes seemingly oblivious to his discontent.
Daryl does growl then.
“You ready?” She asks brightly.
Beth blinks away his lack of enthusiasm. “Close your eyes and count to ten,” She instructs.
Daryl does as he's told, forcing his eyes shut and letting out a defeated sigh. When Beth sets her mind on something there’s no stopping her, so he isn’t going to waste his time trying. It's not that she’s spoilt, she’s really not, just stubborn as a damn mule.
“Don't cheat,” Beth warns and he can feel her narrowing her eyes at him.
“One,” He barks, “Two.”
There's a sharp intake of breath and then the rustling of grass followed by empty silence. He makes it all the way to five before his eyes snap open. Daryl's blood runs cold when the clearing comes into focus in front of him and Beth isn’t there. His sharpened gaze flies to the left, honing in on the disturbed grass at the edge of the tree line.
Without a second’s hesitation, he starts to move, faster than he ever has in his entire life. At this speed he's following his instincts, his body processing his surroundings faster than he can think. He only has one thought, one primal drive: find Beth.
With his crossbow thumping hard against his back, he takes great lumbering strides through the trees. The pain is worth it ten times over when he catches a flash of blonde hair up ahead. He pushes forward, spurred on by the glimpse of her in the distance.
Even moving as fast as he can, he isn't fast enough to close the distance between them. She has all the grace of a deer, long slim legs moving in a blur. Where he's heavy, his boots thumping down on the ground she's light, nimbly dancing over logs and rocks in her path. She is much faster than him, just like she told him she was when he made the mistake of dismissing her statement with a scoff. It isn't long before he loses sight of her again and his heart is jumping into his throat.
Every second he can't see her feels like an eternity in hell. Finding energy from somewhere, he moves like his life depends on it, not giving two fucks about the bow hammering a bruise across his back. How far away is this goddamn creek anyway? What if she runs into trouble before they get there? His chest is starting to burn as he continues to drag air in and out of his lungs at a damaging speed. His legs are starting to feel numb and the only reminder that they're there is the jolt of pain he gets when his boots hit the floor.
Finally, the trees start to thin and he sees her. Blonde ponytail bouncing up and down as she races forward. In front of her he can see water; a seemingly endless rippling surface. She glances back as she approaches the creek and grins from ear to ear when she sees there's no way he'll close the distance in time.
His heart starts to relax with her safely where he can see her, only to skyrocket when all of a sudden she starts to remove her clothes. First her vest. Then her bra. His heart skips a beat when he witnesses Beth’s underwear fly through the air. At the bank she hastily pulls off her boots and her jeans, along with her panties. He watches, open mouthed, at the sight of her stood there stark naked in front of him before she dives into the water. Her arms fly out in front of her to form a point and she spears through the water’s surface easily. Moving at a slower pace now, he stumbles past her discarded clothes as he approaches the water. He swallows hard as his eyes fall onto the faded pink panties buried inside her jeans. He blinks and straightens his gaze, feeling his cheeks start to burn.
“Hey loser,” Beth calls over to him. She's sending ripples across the still water as she wades in to her shoulders, a huge grin plastered across her face.
Daryl can barely breathe, lungs all but giving up, but he finds enough air to force out a grunt.
“Told you I was fast,” She says, lifting her chin proudly and floating backwards.
Daryl's stomach tenses when their eyes connect and he’s pinned by her piercing gaze.
Daryl’s eyes widen but he tilts his head back, challenging her command.
“I won fair an’ square an’ I say you gotta join me for a swim,” She grins, drifting backwards.
Daryl stares at her for a long time, gaze hard and unblinking. She stares right back, smile never faltering. Stubborn as a damn mule.
Reluctantly, he shrugs off his bow with a sigh, and walks towards the water.
“Clothes off,” She hollers.
Daryl stops dead and narrows his eyes at her, “Are you serious?” He growls.
“Yep,” Beth answers slowly, popping her lips on the ‘p’, “This is some serious skinny dippin’. Come on.”
Daryl gnaws the inside of his bottom lip as he watches her lie back, arms fluttering back and forth, nipples breaking the surface of the water as her chest rises and she starts to float. Beth Greene is a wild thing, meant for places like this. She comes alive out here. Daryl becomes mesmerised watching her. It’s as though the ugliness can’t touch her. He’s in awe at how she manages to find the beauty in things, and then he realises that she doesn’t find it at all: she makes things beautiful. In the same way that Beth still believes there are good people left, she insists there is beauty in this increasingly ugly world. Flat out refuses to accept otherwise. Daryl wasn’t so sure, but here, in this place, he thinks there might be one thing beautiful left after all. If a person counts as a thing. He doesn't think he's ever felt as innocent or as free as she looks right now.
Never have I ever gone skinny dipping.
He drags in a shaky breath and kneels down to unlace his boots. She’s just going to rag on him until he gets in. He’s hot as hell from the midday heat and the cool water looks pretty damn enticing right now. When he next glances up she's watching him intently. She's waded back to where the water only comes up to her waist. Her hair has come loose, falling forward to cover her breasts. Thank God because he doesn’t think his heart can take much more.
He can’t think clearly when he looks at her because there’s something not quite human about the way her eyes are rippling blue and her pale skin is reflecting the afternoon sun. He can’t think clearly enough to stress about whether it’s really ok for him, a grown ass man, to be getting naked around a teenage girl. He can’t think clearly enough to get scared about her seeing his back and asking all kinds of questions that he doesn’t want to answer. All he can do is tug his boots off, and unbutton his shirt. His fingers work on muscle memory, fumbling their way down his front as he continues to stare ahead at the creature in front of him. He feels something loosen inside of him just watching her.
There’s something comforting in her smiling eyes, as though she’s trying to reassure him wordlessly. It’s okay. Hurry up. The water’s good. He does look down when his hands find his belt buckle, and he instantly wishes he hadn’t. Once his belt is hanging open his hands tighten around the leather. He isn’t wearing underwear, hasn’t for years, and that suddenly makes the whole thing very real. It suddenly feels like something he can’t come back from and he feels scared. A scoff blows out from between his lips when the realisation sinks in.
Flicking his eyes back up, he finds that Beth is swimming away from him, maybe sensing his hesitation, maybe just because she wants to. He feels a tug to follow her. It’s the final push he needs to rid himself of his jeans and walk into the water.
It does feel good, the cool water soothing his burning hot skin. He wades slowly through the creek until it reaches his collar bones, his focused gaze fixed on Beth until she suddenly disappears below the surface. There’s a beat. Two. He feels a tightening in his stomach when she doesn’t emerge on three. Out of sight and out of reach, if there’s something in the water, something bad, he’ll be useless. That tight feeling starts to coil in his stomach as the moment stretches too long. His darting eyes skim the water’s surface, teeth finding his bottom lip as his heart starts to pound. The coil snaps and Daryl dives forward, huge arms propelling him through the water.
The water is clear enough to see his own body beneath him and he can’t see anything else except for the silt bed that his toes are only just still touching. No sunken walkers with a blonde mermaid in their clutches at least. Then where the hell…
Warm palms come down on his shoulders with a slap and then all sound is drowned out, literally, as his head is dunked below the water. The warm palms are gone as suddenly as they came. He wrenches his head back, clumsily gasping for breath and spluttering a mouthful of creek water. As the sounds of the creek return the loudest one is light, breathless laughter coming from behind him. Spinning around, Daryl’s darting gaze finally finds Beth, shaking with giggles, her cheeks pink and rounded from grinning. He glares at her through the wet hair clinging to his face, which only makes her laugh harder.
“You think you're funny dontcha?” He rumbles, but there’s no heat in it.
In the next moment, he’s directing the water with his huge palms and throwing it at her giggling face. Beth squeals, bringing her hands up to shield herself. She doesn’t back away but she does stop laughing at him and Daryl doesn’t mind the satisfied smirk that tugs at his mouth.
When Beth lowers her hands she’s still grinning and he doesn’t mind that either. Somehow, he forgets he’s naked and is aware of it all at once, immersed in the soothing water up to his jutting collar bones. He’s starkly aware that he’s naked by how free and unrestricted he feels in the water, yet he doesn’t feel bare, instead he feels shielded by the liquid that surrounds him. The water comes up to Beth’s chin, so that all he can see of her is her perpetually grinning face and huge rippling eyes. In some way, that comforts him too.
He doesn’t know how long they stay in the water because time seems to move differently in this place, if at all. It could have been two minutes or two hours. All he knows is that his muscles no longer ache and his restless mind has stilled.
Daryl watches in fascination as Beth's naked body slowly rises from the water. She walks out of the creek onto the bank, the sky above her glowing orange and violet as the sun sinks behind the trees. Her pale skin is luminescent in the sunlight, drops of water glistening where they trickle down her curves and edges. He flushes when she turns and catches him looking, staring. When their eyes connect he feels shame pour down the back of his neck and is about to drop his gaze when her mouth stretches into a smile.
“Firs' I had to fight to get you in there, now I can't get you out,” She laughs, before turning to collect her clothes.
He's in awe at how comfortable she is just being naked. No embarrassment, no shame. Why would she be? She's a Goddess, glowing like a pearl, soft milk bottle skin covering her slim, toned body. She's not brazenly exhibiting herself or anything, her body half turned away from his hungry eyes, but she's not desperately covering up either. It's clear that she's not bothered, that she's just comfortable in her own skin in a way Daryl has never been.
He follows her out onto the bank, ducking his head as his body emerges from the water, becoming bare and vulnerable when the air hits it.
“We should dry off a little 'fore we get dressed. Don' wanna be damp and cold tonight,” Beth says as she places her clothes in a pile and sits beside them.
Daryl grunts in response, picking his jeans from the ground and clutching them in front of him.
She’s right, of course. The last thing they wanna do is get their clothes wet, because while the days are still mild the nights are getting colder. The very last thing they want is for either of them to get sick out here where shelter and medicine is becoming harder and harder to find. As he grabs the last of his clothes and trails up the bank his gaze drifts to Beth, sat pulling her hair over one shoulder and running her fingers through it.
His eyes flick down to her modest chest, drawn by a developing heat at the base of his spine. They linger for a moment, running over her delicate nipples, tongue flicking out to wet his lips, before he catches himself.
When his gaze slides back up to her face, shame flooding his cheeks, their eyes connect. She was watching him and yet there isn't a trace of disgust or embarrassment on her face. Her cheeks are steadily flushing with something else entirely. He had been desperate to look anywhere but at her only now he can't pull his eyes away from her curious gaze. There's something in those blue pools that he doesn't recognise, something new, born in this moment that somehow feels like it's for him alone. As though, perhaps, just maybe, she doesn’t mind him looking at all.
In the next moment, he tears his eyes away and bows his head, shuffling a few feet away before crouching down. As his skin begins to dry the restlessness begins to seep back in. Drawing his knees up in front of him, he rests an arm across them and stares out at the water without really seeing it at all.
Daryl nearly jumps out of his skin when Beth suddenly scoots to the side, knocking into him and pressing their bare skin together.
“Sorry,” She says breathlessly, “Thought I saw somethin'."
“S'alright,” He huffs, crossing his arms over his knees. Taking a tight breath, he leans his brow against his forearms, trying to focus on anything other than the soft feeling of her hip pressing into his side.
Her skin feels cool against his. He, on the other hand, feels like he’s burning from the inside out; his blood running hot as it courses around his body.
“You’re so hot,” She says after a moment, voice curling with the smile he can’t see but can hear clear as day.
“Sorry,” He grunts, scooting forward and away.
“No, it’s nice,” She says quickly, shuffling backwards after him. She moves a little further this time and when the tops of their thighs kiss in a soothing mix of cool and hot he bites his lip to suppress a contented hum.
“You cold?” He asks, eyes sliding down to look at her back. Looking for goosebumps, he tells himself, but his eyes linger on the dip of her waist and curve of her hip.
“Nah, I’m jus’ right,” She answers, “Thanks.”
He grunts in response, running a hand through his hair to see if it’s any drier, skin thrumming with restless energy.
“Feels nice though,” Beth says softly.
Daryl freezes; every muscle in his body seizing at her words. He hears her breath catch in her chest, the sound of her head turning as she studies the side of his face.
It does, he thinks, but his stomach is churning because his kneejerk reaction is to think that it’s wrong somehow because he doesn’t get nice things. There’s a gnawing feeling inside telling him that he doesn’t deserve them. That he doesn’t deserve this. That it isn’t allowed.
He hears Beth’s heavy intake of breath, almost a sigh. She’s so close that the stream of air blows across his jaw and his eyes flutter closed, a shiver running across his shoulder blades. He feels as though he’s on the edge of something and the gnawing feeling intensifies. He feels as though something is happening that they won’t be able to come back from and that terrifies him. More than walkers. More than death. That he might do something wrong, something that changes the way she looks at him. Something he can’t put right.
There’s another gentle stream of air across his jaw and he finds himself turning towards it. His eyes connect with hers and the gnawing feeling dissolves instantly, the fear disappears and is replaced with that free feeling from the creek. Under her calm blue gaze he feels something inside him loosen until his muscles start to relax. As the tension leaves his shoulders her mouth pulls into a smile that makes his stomach flutter.
She’s doing it again, wordlessly soothing him, as the intimacy of this moment rattles him to the core. It’s as though she’s looking into his soul, and she likes what she sees. In the next moment, she leans forward, slowly, and covers his lips with hers. She stays there for a moment, her mouth wet and warm against his, before pulling back. He feels his lips tingle with the heat of her mouth as he watches her smile stretch wider as her eyes catch his. His darting eyes search hers as his tongue comes out to run across his lips, chasing the ghost of her warmth.
Her gaze follows the movement for a moment before returning to his, making his heart pound something furious. Her huge blue pools just stare at him and it’s all he can do to stare back. The tension pulls tight between then, flickering with intensity, before it snaps. She leans forward again, and this time he’s there to meet her, mouth opening to catch hers.
Her lips part and move against his, slow at first, sliding in the wetness of his open mouth. Then her tongue flicks out, licking exploratively into his wet heat and awakening a hunger between them. Daryl’s body twists towards her as she presses forwards, crashing their mouths together more desperately. His tongue slides out to meet hers, and he lets out a soft moan when her lips close around him and gently suck.
As though called by the sound of his arousal, Beth surges forward, her warm palms finding his shoulders and pulling herself into his lap. Daryl’s hands fly up to hold her waist and drag her closer still, both now feeding a primal urge to extinguish all space between them. Her hands slide up and lose themselves in his hair as the kiss rapidly becomes more heated.
As Daryl’s hands tighten around her waist, her nipples tighten into hard points and brush against his chest, pulling a low moan from his throat into hers. She mewls into his mouth, writhing in his lap and making all the right sounds that soon have his dick hard and straining between them.
Beth twists in his lap, her hard nipples dragging across his chest and causing his throbbing cock to twitch. His cockhead bounces against her stomach and they part with a gasp.
“M’sorry,” He pants, panic squeezing his chest as he fights to catch his breath.
Beth’s pupils yawn back at him when their eyes connect. “No, Daryl, its ok,” she says breathlessly, grabbing his forearm.
His chest squeezes tighter as she pulls his arm up and off her waist. He opens his mouth to apologise again when she slides her hand down to his wrist and guides his hand between her legs. His breath hitches as she presses his palm against her centre. Their eyes are locked together when he feels her pussy lips, hot, swollen and wet, in his hand. His nostrils flare on a slow exhale, heat pooling hot at the base of his spine. Her blown out pupils pulse back at him as he gingerly curls his hand around her mound.
Experimentally, he gives her sex a gentle squeeze, her slit soft and sticky against his thick fingers. A moan punches out of Beth’s throat and her fingers tighten against his shoulders. He stares in total rapture as her eyelids flutter like they want to close.
She smiles and leans forward to kiss him again like she can’t bear not to. As she moves her mouth against his lips he moves his fingers against hers, tracing her slit until her hips are shuddering. When she pushes her tongue into his mouth he pushes a finger past her entrance. His lips tremble with the force of her moan, low and wanting in his mouth as her walls tremble around his knuckle.
And just like that he isn’t listening to his mind any more. His fears and doubts are cast aside as he tunes into Beth’s body, her palpable arousal becoming the sole focus of his attention. He slides his fingers in and out of her walls, responding to each tremble and moan, until her hand reaches between them and wraps around his bulging cock.
He grunts against her shoulder as she rolls her soft fingers down his length and pushes up on her knees. He lets his hand fall from between her thighs, sticky fingers coming to curl around her hip. Her hand grabs the back of his neck and brings their faces together as she carefully positions herself over his cock. He bites down a whimper as his mushroom head nudges her lips. Their eyes lock and hold just as his cockhead catches her hole on a shared gasp. Her hot blue gaze never leaves his as she slowly begins to lower herself down onto his cock. She’s tight, even with all the slick of her arousal, and they both shudder and groan with the squeeze that’s just on the right side of pain.
When she’s halfway down, she presses her forehead against his as a tremble runs through her. He brings a hand up to sweep the hair away from her face and kisses her, softer, slower than before. She relaxes into his mouth, drawing in a deep breath that pushes her chest against his and eases herself the rest of the way down. Her hand tightens on his neck when he’s all the way inside her. His cock twitches as her fingernails dig crescent moons into his skin and he feels every inch of her tight pulsing walls enveloping him in her soft heat.
She lets out a shaky breath across his lips and he tilts his head back to catch her eyes.
“Y’alright?” He asks in a hoarse whisper, thumb tracing her cheekbone.
Her whole face lights up in a breathless laugh. “Yeah, it’s jus’… you’re huge.”
Daryl feels his face and the back of his neck flush red. He drops his eyes to her parted lips as the corner of his mouth slides up and he huffs a laugh. When her tongue comes out to slowly wet her lips he follows the motion before flicking his eyes back up to hers. The heat he finds there threatens to set him aflame. And then, slowly, Beth starts to rock her hips, trailing her hands down to press her palms against the centre of his chest.
He grunts as she slides herself up his cock, moving at an angle that drags her walls hard against his shaft, drawing a shudder from him that runs through his entire body.
“Fuck,” He gasps, arching his spine so suddenly that he falls back onto his elbows.
Beth falls forward with him, slamming down hard onto his dick. She moans, high and breathless, as his cock is buried back inside her. Palms flattening against his chest, she grinds her hips down and buries him even deeper still, moaning long and low at the sensation it brings her.
Daryl slowly eases down onto his back, watching in rapt fascination as Beth closes her eyes and lets her head roll on her shoulders, lost in the moment. He can feel her walls trembling around his cock, tugging at his eyelids to close but he fights to keep them open and keep watching her. Her head falls forward, lust-drunk eyes meeting his and a crooked smile curling her lips. Staring into his eyes she starts to ride him, hips moving so hard and fast that his eyes slam shut and his stomach pulls taught.
His hands curl around her upper thighs, hers gently pressing down over his thundering heart as she pushes herself up and sinks back down. With his eyes closed the world is reduced to the sound of their ragged breaths and the quickening inside as his orgasm builds like a storm. He fills his lungs, holding the air and exhaling with agonising slowness as he fights to hold it off, to stay in this moment of unadulterated pleasure a little longer. His eyes snap open when he hears Beth’s laboured breaths become shallow and erratic. All of a sudden her hips start to shudder and her inner walls tremble. He watches as her back arches and a contented sigh streams from her lips.
Their eyes connect just as her orgasm rolls through her, her pupils pulling so open and raw it’s as though her soul is reaching for his.
The pulsing of her inner walls against his cock and up his spine sends him hurtling towards his own release. Surging up, he rolls them over and pins her on her back. Her hands fist in the dirt as he fucks into her and fresh pleasure pulls her body taut. The same dirt smears his forearms as they cage her in, and covers his back. In a few quick thrusts he’s pouring himself between her legs.
His eyes roll back into his head as the force of his orgasm tears him to shreds, rattling up his spine and spreading out through his muscles, filling his nerve endings with fire.
“Uh, Beth, JesusChrist, Beth,” he moans brokenly as he comes apart between her thighs.
He collapses on his back beside her and gasps for breath, his muscles turning to liquid as he melts into the ground. After a moment, he slowly drags his head to the side, pressing his cheek into the dirt, and finds her staring back at him.
She smiles, eyes sparkling behind her heavy lids, and turns her body to face him. He mirrors her, his body feeling heavy and lax as he rolls onto his side. He doesn’t miss the way her smile widens a little.
Hesitantly, he reaches out, to trace her cheek with his fingers. She turns into his touch, pressing a kiss to his palm. His hand lingers, flattening against her cheekbone before sliding up to curl around the back of her neck.
“Thank you,” He murmurs, voice coming out wrecked.
Beth smiles slowly, and tilts her head, eyes warm but with a question. His hand comes up to rub across his jaw, scratching at the rough hairs as they start to itch. Despite his mind seething with all the things that he’s grateful to Beth for, he can't find the words or a breath to put behind them.
There’s a crack overhead and then rain begins to fall in huge fat droplets from the sky. Daryl has been so distracted that he hadn’t fully registered the clouds gathering overhead. The rain is warm as it streaks through the dirt covering their naked bodies. Beth starts to laugh, closing her eyes and turning her face up to the sky. Daryl pulls her to him, pulling her smiling mouth to meet his and kisses her. He keeps kissing her, with no intention of stopping anytime soon, as the rain washes them clean.