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The very first time that she had ever said those three little words he had been so lost.

 

She was coming off the high, basking in the post orgasm glow while he took care of her. It’s not much, this little routine that comes after they’ve gotten up to something. Usually he just grabs a warm, wet cloth and something for her to drink. Wipes her down and hands her the water, sometimes he’ll fix her hair if it’s been a particularly messy night. Not that the state of all that gold matters much when they’re minutes away from going to bed but it’s an excuse to touch it all the same.

 

It went much the same as it usually did as he drifted back and forth between the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom of the little trailer. It was one of the busier nights. It’d had been a week since he’d last seen her and he’d decided before dinner was even on the table that he was going to show her just how much he had missed her while she had been gone.

 

So they played. They played and then they fucked, and then they played some more.

 

Daryl had just finished tucking her in with that new sheet set he’d gotten. It was his bed but he’d gotten it for her. Had one of those duvet things and everything. His old threadbare set was fine, but those had to get changed eventually. Besides she deserved something nice.

 

It seemed silly to go through all the trouble of making sure she was settled in when, in a mere matter of minutes, he’d be messy up the covers as soon as he climbed into them but he does it anyways. The little smile he earns paired with that content purr that she rewards him with for a job well done makes it well worth it.

 

The night had begun normally enough but how it ended had been a whole different story.

 

As his thumb had dragged over her kiss swollen lips while he did his final check of her when Beth whispers it. Doesn’t sound much like a whisper to him. He’s got good hearing, all that time out in the woods with his daddy and Merle growing up had honed those senses and he’s leaning in close. It’s a whisper, but the way it seems to echo amongst the stark walls of his bedroom - she may as well have screamed it at him.

 

I love you.

 

Her eyes and closed and for a second he thanks God or whatever is up there for that. All she would do is ask questions if she opened them and saw the stunned and confused look on his face.

 

Daryl opened his mouth to ask if she’s joking - but she’s so blissed out and he can’t even finds the words. Instead he crawls off of the bed and goes through the motions. Dirty clothes peeled off of his body and chucked into the corner where her’s  had been kicked earlier that night. The sheets are pulled back but he doesn’t jump in as quickly as he normally would. He’s only got the sheets pulled up on his side but it’s enough to catch a glimpse of her. He’d gotten darker sheets for that reason, the contrast. She looks so fucking pretty laid out against the midnight blue. He can see her there and he knows that heaven is waiting for him. Soft, smooth, and perfect. Any other night there wouldn’t be so much as a second of hesitation because any other night those words wouldn’t have come right out of the blue.  

 

The second time that she says them she’s in the bath. Sometimes he will have one running before she even gets in the door, when she’s pulling in late night shifts at the bar. Every ounce of his attention goes to his fingers as they run through her soapy golden hair. She likes that, the scalp massages. She’ll tell him that he’s good at it whenever she gets the chance - that he’s good with his hands in general. She’s wink, he’ll blush, and it’ll be a grand time. He had been hard at work attempting to work away the stresses of her night when she’d said them. They’re both fully awake and her face flushed instantly. It got quiet quick. Real quick.

 

He hadn’t exactly heard those words much in his lifetime. There had never been anyone serious before Beth. No relationships to speak of, nothing close. On the other side of things none of the Dixon’s had been the loving type exactly. Last person who might have said it to him (and it’s a big might) would’ve been his momma, but he barely remembers her face. Let alone a single thing she’d ever said to him. To be honest Daryl isn’t even sure he knows what they mean when they string them all together like that. Individually sure, he isn’t stupid. All together though? Not a goddamn clue.

 

Everytime it messes with his head. His head, that one, isn’t the only one to respond to it. Bebeant the confusion there’s something else that sparks in his veins and threatens to set him alight.

 

Something vastly more confusing.

 

That’s troubling enough all on it’s own.

 

After the bath incident she doesn’t say it again. The little voice in his head and the same one who speaks in his dreams that sounds so curiously like her does though. All the time he hears it, even if Beth isn’t actually saying it. I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

Daryl can’t even begin to understand why or how he finds himself hoping that she’ll say those three little words again.

 

It’s two weeks before she finally does and hearing it trips something up in his brain and he short circuits  completely. MThis time he doesn’t gawk, doesn’t panic. None of the normal shit, terrible shit that always happens actually happens . Instead he crowds her up against the fridge and presses the most bruising kiss to her lips.

 

Those words. He may not get them but he likes them. Likes the shiver that runs down his spine, the way it feels like if he doesn’t have some part of her to claim right then and there he may just die. He knows what it is - he’s not completely stupid. He knows what lust is.

 

He may not get them, not even a little but they are good. Terrifying. But good.

She doesn’t say it as much. He can see it, hell he can even feel it in everything that she does. Given how well he keeps reacting whenever she drops those three little words on him, she also knows how it makes him feel. The awkwardness. So she doesn’t say it. Least ways, that’s why he thinks.

 

Beth’s got filters that he doesn’t have. A product of her raising.The only thing is those filters go offline whenever they’re in bed.

 

It’s been weeks since she’s last said it. It’s beyond stupid how it makes him feel. How it’s slowly but surely driving him up a goddamn well. He’s never tried to quit anything. Not drinking, sure as shit not smoking, but this is how he imagines it feels. The cravings, unrelenting and incessant. Like you might just lose your goddamn mind if you don’t get that little bit of poison that you so desire.

 

That’s exactly how she’s got him feeling. Like a man going through withdrawal.

 

He doesn’t mean to do it. He’s no stranger to making demands when it comes to their bedroom and Beth’s almost always happy to oblige. Even that isn’t spur of the moment. He’s never asked her for anything, to do anything, that he hasn’t already gone over in his head over and over again.

 

He had told her to keep her hands off of him. To make it interesting he had forgone the belt, which meant she would need to do all the hard work by herself.

 

Only god knows how the hell it comes to him. Her legs are spread wide and he’s thoroughly enjoying himself. The way she cries out as he laps at her slick folds, the way she says his name. That does it. That kickstarts those cravings. There’s something else he’s gotta hear in that exact same desperate whine.

 

Daryl pulls back and wipes his mouth off on the back of his hand.

 

“Say it.” He growls against her thigh, nipping at the reddened skin.

 

“Say what?”

 

Daryl lets out an indignant huff. “You know.” because she’s gotta know. He can’t say it anyways - it won't sound right coming from him.

 

“Daryl, please.”

 

Beth has wants, too. She wants to get off, wants him to be the one to get her there. Early on he’d rush right to it. It was always about her, all of it. She never had to ask him for a single thing. The giving came naturally around her like that.

 

He reluctantly moves from the warm comfort of her thighs and slides up her body. Her hands are twisted up in the blankets above her head. Probably been exactly like that from the second that he’d told her no. One hand grips her chinand the other slides back over her stomach and down. Down until he finds that sweet wet heat all over again. Another growl, another demand.

 

The psychic connection that they have must kick back on because she finally caves. She finally does it, and the words come tumbling out of her mouth as she goes flying over the edge.

 

It happens often enough that she catches onto it, she knows exactly what he’s chasing.

 

—-

 

It’s one of those nights where he needs it. Needs her. That comfort and reassurance that she’s so good at giving him.

 

To any outsider surveying them at a glance the assumption could be mad that he ran the show. How could a little, sweet thing like Beth friggin’ Greene ever be controlling - demanding even? She isn’t like that, not rough, not cruel in any sense.

 

Not that he has ever cruel. It was never like that. He never did a single thing without her say so, her express permission. It works out for him that she isn’t always sweet.

 

Three days since she had last said it. Which he finds himself hyper aware of as he pulls her into the bedroom. He just needs to hear the words. She doesn’t say it much when they’re out and about, mostly on account of him. He’s still getting used to this - what they are. The rest of the town is, too. If the looks they’d gotten the first time she’d held his hand in public were any indication if any of the locals heard her say that the town’s population would halve on account of one collective stroke.

 

She’s on her hands and knees atop the mattress - and holy shit is it a sight. While she’s got her hands balled up against the sheets, his are settling into their own familiar spaces. Fisted in her hair and a hold so tight on her hip he’s surprised she isn’t whining about it hurting.

 

“Say it.”

 

He’s rough because she lets him. She allows it. He does it because he knows that she likes it, a revelation that had terrified him at first. She’s just a pale slip of a thing. It took him awhile to get used to the reality that she wasn’t as fragile as she looked.

 

“Say it, girl.” Daryl grunts as he pulls back on the silken strands of gold that he’s got wrapped tight around his fingertips.

 

He doesn’t need to see her face to know that she’s grinning ear to ear. St this rate he’ll tire out before she caves.

 

Hard and fast. It’s getting all sorts of sounds from her. They’re all amazing and perfect in their own rights but it’s not what he’s after.

 

The first time he thought she might be holding out caused panic to hit him hard. What if she didn’t feel it anymore? What if she didn’t love him?

 

Daryl had never begged for anything before he’d begged her for that.

 

Time is running out. They’ll both go hurtling over the eve soon and he just needs this one thing from her. The only thing he’s fucking asking her for and she won’t give it to him.

 

Desperate times called for desperate measures, or so the old saying went.

 

The strangled sound of protest that Beth makes when he pulls out - and subsequently pulls away almost breaks him. Any other time it would be enough to have him dive right back in, but not this time.

 

Impatient, Beth flips over on her own. Her hand reaching out for his aching cock. Which he has half a mind to push her away purely out of spite.

 

Her fingers stroking him is torture but it’s not as bad as what all else she’s doing. Denying him.

 

He looms over her. There’s no attempt to be threatening, or imposing. He hasn’t been that to her in a long goddamn time. She lifts her legs, locking them around his hips as best as she can. As if to give him some silent hints, she takes the liberty of rubbing him against her slit and there’s an ache deep inside him that’s making all the more tempting to give up. Stop playing, lean in, and finish it all off. He growls “Do it, Beth.” The words rumble low in his throat.

 

He’s not asking to bury himself inside of her. That happened already, and it will happen again. It’s inevitable.

 

Beth says nothing. The only thing she does is guide him home.

 

Force hadn’t worked and he realizes quickly there’s only one card left to play.

 

His lips find the smooth curve of her neck as he buries his cock inside her slick, wet heat.

 

“Please, Beth.” The voice barely registers as his own. The tone is so foreign to him. Has it ever been this bad? He doesn’t think so, not yet.

 

It’s not just about getting off. Though there’s no denying that it does all kinds of things to him when she says she loves him. He needs the confirmation, the reassurance that those three little words bring.

 

Tell me ‘cuz I’ve gotta know it’s real.

 

“Please baby,”

 

He sets a new rhythm. She hums appreciatively in response to the new change of pace. Slow and careful, stark contrast to what it had been before.

 

Finally she breaks her silence, but he has to bite his tongue to keep from crying out in frustration. “Need you so bad.”He already knows that. That’s not what he needs to hear.

 

“Need you more.” He chokes out. “All of you. Always needed you. It’s always been you, girl.” He hadn’t meant to, he’s not the one who is supposed to be talking but the words just keep tumbling out. Maybe it’s her, the way he gets all lost when he’s near her - when he’s inside of her. Like he doesn’t know what way’s up or what his own goddamn name is. “Always gonna need you. Think I was made for you, girl.” God fucking knows he’s never clicked like this with anyone else. Never even wanted to.

 

Then she changed all of it. She changed everything, not even a figure of speech. She came in and hit him like a goddamn hurricane. Only he doesn’t think anyone in the world has ever been so thankful for a storm before like he is.

 

He needs all of her. Everything she has to give and he couldn’t care less how fucking greedy that must make him. He’s never gotten to feel this before. Fuck it if before Beth, he wasn’t even sure he had been alive.

 

There’s no denying he is now. There’s no way to miss the way his heart is pounding in his chest, or the way her nails are digging into his back with just the right kind of hurt. “Fuck, Daryl.”

 

Now she sounds needy. All for him, like it always is. Like she is.

 

“Love you. Love you so much, boy.”

 

Boy. She only calls him that sometimes, usually it’s an accident and it slips out. Or she’s being cheeky - he sure as fuck ain’t a boy. But he doesn’t have the brain cells left to unpack that right now because she’s said it.

 

She’s fucking said it.

 

Finally.

 

He’s so wrapped up in it. The feeling that’s coursing through his veins, like someone’s lit a match and set fire to his very being. He’s so wrapped up in the feeling, in coming undone that he barely even notices the warm, wet heat that’s trickling down his face. Or the way she’s kissing on him. Soft, gentle like. Following those tear tracks as he shudders on top of her - verging on collapse.

 

“I love you, Daryl.” It’s harder to ignore now. The way his breath catches, the little hiccups. He’s almost sobbing. It’s too much. “Always gonna love you.”

 

He knows. Fuck, he knows.

 

His legs all but give in and he should pull out. He really fucking should but he can’t move. Can’t and doesn’t want to, he needs her right now. Like he always does - maybe more than ever.

 

He doesn’t even know why he’s saying it now, what he’s asking for but he does it all the same. Whispering into the dark.

 

Please .”