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More Than I Hoped For

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Daryl was the one who drove Beth to the hospital after she tried to kill herself.

This was before Daddy hired Merle on, and Daryl himself had only been helping out around the farm for a little under a year. Beth was having trouble keeping track of the dates by that point, and if she’d known Daryl was coming in that afternoon, she wouldn’t’ve carved into her wrist with a steak knife. Not that day. But she hadn’t, so she did, and when she heard tires crunching over gravel, her first thought was that she’d lost enough blood to start hallucinating, even though she hadn’t actually lost that much at all.

Daryl turned the color of sour milk when Beth came tearing out of the house, tears coming out of her eyes and blood coming out of her wrist, but he didn’t panic, and he didn’t yell. The cut Beth had made wasn’t going to bleed her out immediately, but it was deep enough to need stitches, so Daryl did some basic first aid with the kit he kept in his truck before buckling Beth into the passenger seat and breaking upwards of ten traffic laws driving her to the hospital. 

It was the first time he’d ever touched her—and the last, for a good long while. 

He stayed with her while they waited for Hershel and Maggie, who were each caught in separate traffic jams. He stayed until visiting hours were over, and Beth spent that night in observation thinking about how steady his hands had been when he’d cleaned and bandaged the cut on her wrist. Like he’d patched people up before.  

It’s not exactly a secret, but only Beth and Daryl and her family and her therapist know that he was the one who helped her that day. Not even Amy and Jimmy know, although they do know that Beth tried to kill herself. Everyone knows about that. Her entire graduating class knows about that. The school held a suicide prevention assembly because of her. She wasn’t there to see it, but she heard about it. Boy, did she hear about it.

Here’s something that is a secret: after Beth came home from the hospital, she pressed her stitched-up wrist against her mouth, buried her fingers deep in the underwear she’d worn to bed, and touched herself to the memory of Daryl’s sure hands on her skin.

Beth’s got a lot more material to work with these days, thanks to those few precious minutes up against the barn wall, but she’d very much like to stop relying on that one memory to get herself off and start making new memories, memories and moments that aren’t cut short by a family member’s impending arrival.

But the longer the evening goes on, the louder Beth’s doubts become. Maybe Daryl’s changed his mind. Maybe he’s decided that starting something up with her would be a Mistake with a capital M. Maybe they won’t be making any new memories, after all.

Beth loops around the farmhouse and approaches the driveway at a trudge, moving away from the light and noise of the party and towards the deepening purple twilight. She wasn’t lying when she told Daryl that it wasn’t going to be much of a party; at the time, she really hadn’t expected more than a few folks to show up. But at some point over the last month and a half, a few turned into a couple dozen, and now Beth’s afraid that Daryl will take one look at this congregation of people he barely knows and promptly turn his truck around, supposing he shows up at all.

Yeah. Supposing.

The driveway is dark—although Daddy left some lights burning in the front of the house—and spots are dancing across Beth’s vision courtesy of the sparklers that the kids (and Amy) were playing with when she left, so she waits for her eyes to adjust and the spots to fade before fishing her phone out of her shorts. And even though she swore that she wasn’t going to get her hopes up, her stomach still sinks when she sees that she’s got no notifications.

Wait, no. She has one notification, actually: Duolingo wants her to practice her Spanish.


Beth powers down the screen and shoves her phone back into her pocket, then plants her hands on her hips and sways absently along to the music that’s playing out back while she tries to decide what to do with herself. Beth knows all the songs on the playlist by heart, and Glenn and Maggie tried to coax her into singing for everyone, but she’s not in the right mood for it—too anxious.

She thinks she’d sing for Daryl, though, if he asked. If he was here.

She’s being silly. It’s not even that late—the sun just set, and she can still make out a pale glow on the horizon, its way of saying goodbye as it slides towards another hemisphere—and if Daryl couldn’t make it for whatever reason, or if he didn’t want to do this with her, he would’ve said something. He’s too decent to drop a person without explanation.

Of course, he also tends to shy away from feelings—not anger, never anger, but the softer emotions, the ones that leave him vulnerable—so maybe he would drop her without warning. Not out of malice or ambivalence, but because he couldn’t handle letting her down in person.

Beth’s just about turned herself inside out when her wandering eyes catch on a bulky silhouette that she’d swear wasn’t there before, sitting right at the end of the row of parked cars, farthest from the house. Seeing it, her heart gives a hard, almost painful, thump.

That first giddy rush of adrenaline aside, Beth doesn’t permit herself to hope until after she’s gotten close enough to make out the familiar shape of Daryl’s Ford. He’s perched on the lowered tailgate, and even if Beth hadn’t recognized the truck, she would’ve recognized him. Like his vest and his arms, she’d know the slope of his shoulders anywhere, even in the dark.

“Hey,” Beth calls softly as she rounds the truck bed, not wanting to startle him—although he probably heard her coming. She isn’t half as quiet as the deer he hunts, not even when she’s trying to be.

Daryl tilts his head. “Hey. Whatchu doin’ out here?”

This is Daryl, so it’s not a line. It’s a serious question, but Beth doesn’t give it a serious answer. She doesn’t give it any answer at all. “I could ask you the same question, Mr. Dixon.”

Beth’s eyes have mostly adjusted to the deepening dark, but she still can’t make out much of Daryl’s expression. She’s got to rely on his body language, so it’s his body she watches, and right now, he’s shrugging. “Ain’t interested in seein’ any’a them.”

Beth’s heart thumps even harder at the subtext. He’s not interested in seeing any of them because he’s only interested in seeing her. “Not even Carl and Mr. Grimes?”

Daryl makes a noise that reminds Beth of an irritated horse. Best not to draw that comparison out loud, though. “See ’em all the damn time.”

“You see me all the time,” Beth retorts, full-on grinning now.

“Yeah, well, you’re a helluva lot prettier than either of ’em,” Daryl says, then ducks his head real quick like his brain’s only just catching up to his mouth, like he only just realized that he said that aloud. More than anything, Beth wishes she could see the blush that’s gotta be painting his handsome face a vivid red.

She’s blushing something awful, and even though Daryl’s night vision is probably better than hers, she doubts that he can see well enough to make out changes in her complexion. And because of that, she finds that she’s still feeling brave enough to tease him. “You keep talkin’ like that, Mr. Dixon, and I’m gonna start thinkin’ you like me or somethin’.”

Daryl lifts his head. “Guess I do.”

At this rate, she’s gonna go into cardiac arrest, and he hasn’t even touched her yet. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. You ain’t bad. For a smartass.”

Beth grins the manic grin from that afternoon up against the barn, and finally ventures closer, saying, “Scoot.” Daryl makes some very ungracious noises, but he slides over to make room, and Beth hops on up next to him, and they aren’t touching but they’re almost touching. Beth’s found, with Daryl, that the almost touching’s nearly as good as the actual touching, in a painful-but-good sort of way, like the ache you get when you press down on a bruise, the kind of ache you can feel in the backs of your teeth like a really good orgasm.

Beth kicks gently at the air and asks, real casual like, “Merle ain’t with you?”

“Nah. He’s got a date.”

Something about the way Daryl says date strongly implies that Merle and his partner for the night won’t be holding hands and going for milkshakes. Or at least, not just that.

“Oh,” says Beth. Then, “Ew.”

Daryl actually laughs quietly at her evident disgust. The sound grates like a purr, and Beth wants to plant her face in his neck to feel it vibrating in his throat. She doesn’t, but she does scoot a little closer, close enough for their hands to brush, and Daryl doesn’t pull away. No, he loops his pinky finger over hers, and that fragile point of contact is enough to have Beth sweating in the cool evening air.

They haven’t touched since that afternoon by the barn. They haven’t had the chance.

“He told me to tell ya happy Fourth,” says Daryl, and Beth rolls her eyes.

“Tell him I said thanks, I guess.”


Something occurs to Beth, then—what Daryl was doing when she got here. Or rather, what he wasn’t doing. Could be that he just stubbed it out, but he doesn’t smell like tobacco, so probably not. “I’m surprised you weren’t out here havin’ a smoke.”

“What, you complainin’?”

Beth wrinkles her nose. “Definitely not. Just curious, I guess.”

“Girl, you gotta learn to mind ya damn business.” A beat passes. “Been tryna quit, I guess.”

Beth perks up, equal parts pleased and surprised. “Yeah? Why?”

Daryl sways, and maybe he didn’t mean to nudge his shoulder against Beth’s, but maybe he did. “Got this girl on my case. Always tellin’ me ’bout the nine kinds’a cancer I could get.”

Beth stifles her smile and nods seriously, like a scholar conceding a point made by a colleague. “This girl. She cute?”

Another, harder nudge, and he definitely did it on purpose this time. “She thinks she is.”

Jerk, Beth thinks fondly, and tosses her nose in the air. “Well, this girl sounds like she knows what she’s talkin’ about, so you should probably trust her judgment on that one.”

Daryl tangles his fingers up with hers, and, oh, God, Beth hasn’t felt his giddy since—since the last time Daryl Dixon got his hands on her, actually. “Yeah, alright, smartass. Whatever you say.”

Beth giggles and leans her head against Daryl’s shoulder, inhaling the smell of his sweat and leaching up his body heat. They’re both quiet for a minute, and then Daryl says, “Never did tell me what you was doin’ out here. Don’t you got a captive audience to sing to or some shit?”

Beth shakes her head. Her cheek’s cushioned by flannel and nothing else; Daryl’s not wearing his vest. “Nah. Didn’t feel like it. I wanna be out here.” With you.

“Should be hangin’ out with your friends.”

He doesn’t say while you still can, and he probably isn’t even thinking it, but it’s what Beth’s thinking. And she hates burdening people with her crap—it took her forever to stop apologizing to her therapist, and only after Denise gently explained that it was her job to listen to Beth—but something about Daryl. She doesn’t know. Something about him makes her feel like she’s not burdening him by being honest.

She’s never felt that way with anyone else. Not even Denise. Not even her family. 

That’s got to mean something, so Beth winds up saying, “Y’know, I. Outta all my friends at school, Jimmy and Amy were the only ones who really stuck with me, after—y’know. After.”

The shoulder Beth’s leaning against turns to granite. “Your other friends sound like a bunch’a assholes.”

Beth’s startled into laughing, and she buries the sound against Daryl’s shirt. But her laughter fades when she says, “Nah, they aren’t. I mean, I can’t really blame them, anyway. I was. I was tough to be around.”

Daryl relaxes, but only by a fraction, like he’s still seriously contemplating hunting a bunch of barely legal teenagers down and beating the stuffing out of them. Which, weirdly flattering. “Still shitty of ’em.”

Maybe, maybe not. That’s not the point, anyway. “I guess I’m just tryin’ to say that Amy and Jimmy were there for me when I needed them, even if they didn’t really know what to do or how to help. At least they tried, y’know? And they’re gonna leave for college soon and I can’t go with ’em because I fu—messed up my grades real bad when I was—when I was sick, and I’m gonna miss ’em so much. And I don’t. I guess I actually don’t know what I’m sayin’. Sorry.”

She really doesn’t know what she’s saying, and she was wrong. It was wrong of her to unload all this on Daryl without warning. He showed up here to be with her and they should be kissing or something but instead, Beth’s practically crying on his shoulder about how much she’s gonna miss her best friends like some kinda whiny baby. Way to look mature and desirable, asshole.

But Daryl just wraps his fingers tighter around Beth’s and says, a little hoarsely, “Yeah, well. Like I said. Should be spendin’ time with them, not me.”

“I wanna spend time with you,” Beth says in a very, very small voice.

Daryl shifts in a way that Beth can’t help but interpret as uncomfortable, and she’s just about to apologize again and leave when he says, haltingly at first, but then with increased conviction, “You can, uh. You can hang out with me as much as you want after they leave. Before, too. I ain’t real good company or nothin’, but. You need me, I’m here.”

Oh, God. As if she wasn’t half in love with him already. As if she wasn’t going to fall for the quietly kind man who drove her to the hospital and kept treating her the same afterwards, like she was a whole person and not just her depression. Now he’s gotta up and say that.

She never stood a chance against him. None. Beth doesn’t really believe in fate—doesn’t believe in anything that subverts free will—but she almost wants to call this thing with Daryl inevitable. Like she was made to love him. Like he was made for her, too, and how beautiful is it that they found each other in a world this big?

“Uh. Unless you don’t wanna.” And that’s when Beth realizes she’s been silent for too long.

“No!” Beth says, squeezing Daryl’s hand and staring intently at his profile like she can blast the sincerity of her words directly into his brain if only she wills it hard enough. “No, I’d like—I’d love that. I’d love to spend more time with you, Daryl, and not just when you’re workin’ around the farm.”

Daryl’s shoulders hunch. “Yeah?” he asks, sounding so adorably shy that Beth kind of wants to nibble on him.

Maybe she will. Not just yet, though.

Right now, she settles for pressing her lips against his cheek, not quite a kiss. “Yeah,” she murmurs against his skin, against the sharp slant of his beautiful cheekbone, giggling softly when his scruff tickles her. “I’d like to do a lot more than just hang out, though. Y’know. If you wanna.”

Another quiet laugh, more of a hard exhale than anything else. “You’re shameless, girl.” He doesn’t say it like that’s a bad thing. In fact, Beth would venture to guess that he sounds kind of…turned on.

“Only with you,” she says, but what she means is, Only for you. I’m all yours if you want me.

Either Daryl hears the subtext, or he’s had enough of talking, because he wraps one heavy hand around the nape of her neck, blunt fingernails catching in her hair, and holds her face still so he can find her lips in the dark.

But he doesn’t kiss her on the lips. Not right away. His mouth lands first on her chin, and then on her cheek, and then on the bridge of her nose, before finally nudging up against hers—and by then, she’s all but panting for it. He doesn’t taste like tobacco or lemonade this time. Doesn’t taste like much of anything, other than himself.

Beth’s glad for it, though; means there’s nothing to distract her from the way he’s opening her up with slow, sweet thrusts of his tongue, like her mouth is actually her cunt and he’s eating her out, making her bloom, getting her wet enough to take his dick.

Jesus, she really is shameless. But that’s alright; Daryl likes her shameless. She likes her shameless.

Beth gets the hand that’s not pinned beneath Daryl’s tangled up in his shirt, thumbing at the undone top button and tucking her fingers under his collar, sighing happily when skin finds skin. She’d kiss him forever if she could, just like this, halfway to innocent, one hand holding his and the other resting over his heart, but she’s starting to get lightheaded, so she turns her face to one side, but not before planting a parting kiss on his swollen lips so he knows she’s not finished with him yet.

She’ll never be finished with him.

Beth licks Daryl’s saliva off her lips and chin, catches her breath, and says, “D’you wanna. D’you wanna go inside?”

She hears him swallow. “Ain’t your folks gonna miss you?”

Beth shrugs. “They’ll just figure I went to bed.” Which: technically true. “Actually, hold on—” Beth lets go of Daryl and slides her phone out of her pocket. She composes a message to Maggie, telling her that she’s tired and that she’s gonna turn in for the night, then sends it off. Done.

“There,” Beth says, putting her phone away and hopping out of the truck bed. She holds her hand out to Daryl, but he doesn’t take it or follow after her, and uncertainty hits her like a kick between the eyes. “Unless you don’t want to? Because that’s—that’s totally fine. I’m sorry if I assumed—”

Daryl climbs down from the truck bed before Beth can fumble out the rest of her apology, but instead of taking her dangling hand, he slides a heavy arm around her shoulders and tucks her into his side, drenching her in the smell of him. And, okay. This is nice. Like, really nice.

“Didn’t assume wrong,” Daryl says, so quietly that Beth probably wouldn’t have heard him if she wasn’t standing close enough to feel his voice vibrating in his chest. She wraps her arm around his waist and squeezes herself harder against his side, laying her head on his shoulder and inhaling the scent of his soap, which is strong enough to make her think that he must’ve showered right before coming to see her.

Why he’d want to shower before coming to see her hits her like another kick, but between the legs rather than the eyes, and she burrows closer, stifling a wanting noise. Daryl drags his fingers up and down her bare bicep and presses his cheek against the top of her head, and then they get moving.

It strikes Beth that someone could wander out front, see Daryl’s truck parked in the driveway, and go looking for him; but if Daryl’s willing to take the risk, then so is she. She’s willing to take a lot of risks where he’s concerned.

Speaking of risks: instead of getting their behinds in the house quick, like they should, they keep stopping to kiss, unable to keep their lips off each other for more than a few seconds at a time. They make it to the front porch without incident, though, and the house is unlocked, so Beth just has to pull the screen door open, twist the knob—Jesus, but it’d be a lot easier for her to concentrate on simple tasks if Daryl would just stop rubbing his erection against her hip—actually, no, she doesn’t want him to stop doing that—and then they’re tumbling inside and Beth’s eyes are struggling to adjust to the lit-up hallway. And when her vision clears, and she looks up at Daryl, she just about drops to her knees for him on the spot. Probably definitely would, if he wasn’t holding on to her so tightly.

Because his sleeves are cut off and frayed like always, but something about this shirt—it looks newer, not yet worn from repeated washings, like he went clothes shopping with tonight in mind. His jeans look cleaner than usual, too—but of course looking at his jeans is a mistake, because now she can see the erection that she felt, can see that his hand’s flexing like he wants to rub himself through the denim.

Her eyes dart back to his face, which is also a mistake—there’s no winning here, clearly—because his cheeks are flushed feverish pink, because his lips are red and swollen because of her, because his pupils are way too wide for a room this bright.

He looks a question at her, but Beth just wraps her other arm around him and presses her face against his chest. He’s so warm. He’s warm and he’s here and he’s gonna be so good to her, she just knows it.

He grazes his fingers against the crown of her skull, as gently as if he were stroking glass. “Beth? Y’alright?”

Beth nods without looking up. “Yeah. Just happy.”

Daryl doesn’t say anything, but Beth swears those were his lips she just felt against the top of her head.

Beth eases back, no longer hugging him but still holding his hand, and leads the way up the dark stairwell. Halfway up, she turns around and plants kiss on his mouth, then releases his hand and bolts for the second floor, giggling. Daryl cusses her out, boots hitting the floorboards like strikes of thunder as he gives chase.

He catches her right outside her bedroom and latches his arms around her waist, lifting her feet off the floor and burying his bristly face in the crook of her neck. Beth giggles harder and squirms playfully in his hold, backside smacking at his hips. He groans, and the sound buzzes through her to vibrate in her clit.

Beth squirms again, a little less playful, a little more desperate. She wraps her hands around his thick wrists and says, breathlessly, “Daryl, c’mon. Lemme down.”

He doesn’t. He hoists her higher up in his arms and carries her over the threshold, not like a bride but like a dangling ragdoll, and Beth starts giggling again, pleased and dizzy. Daryl kicks the door shut behind them, blotting out the residual light from the downstairs hallway, and then he’s tossing her gently onto the mattress. She scrambles around to face him, but instead of following her onto the bed, he crosses to the door and locks it—her clit pulses just from watching him do that, just from knowing what it means—and turns back around with his hands stuffed deep in his pockets.

He clears his throat. Shifts his weight, making the floorboards creak. “You, uh. You want the light on?”

Yeah, she does—she’s shy about her body, but she wants to look at his—except her folks will see the light burning in her bedroom and wonder why she hasn’t gone to sleep like she said she would. Besides, there’s enough moonlight trickling in through her window for her to see by, at least to a certain extent.

Next time, she wants them to do this in the daylight. Even if it means being embarrassed by her own body, it’ll be worth it, if she gets to see all of him. 

So Beth says, “Uh. Nah. Don’t want the others seein’ it.”

More awkward shuffling. “Yeah. Guess we don’t.”

Beth swings her legs over the side of the bed and kicks off her boots, shunts them out of the way and plants her bare feet on the floor. “You wanna, um. You wanna come over here? Or were you waitin’ on an engraved invitation?”

“That smartass mouth’a yours’s gonna get you into trouble one’a these days,” Daryl grouches, and Beth has half a second to reflect that she wouldn’t mind getting into trouble with him before he’s kneeling to untie his boots, then standing back up to kick them aside.

He crosses to the bed and crouches in front of her, and she spreads her legs to accommodate him. His arms go around her waist, and her arms go around his shoulders, and their mouths seek each other out in the dark and connect with what feels like a burst of static. The rough drag of his stubble sets her toes to curling, and she decides right then that she’s never gonna let him shave his face smooth. Ever.

Wanting to feel more of that friction, Beth pulls her mouth off of Daryl’s to drag her lips through his scruff, turning her face back and forth so she can rub both cheeks against him, not even caring that she’ll have to cover the inevitable beard burn with more makeup than she’s usually comfortable wearing if it persists till morning. The arms around her waist tighten, nearly squeezing the breath out of her, and then thick fingers are fumbling at the hem of her shirt.

Beth’s heart gives a hard, anticipatory kick, and she leans back, lifts her arms, lets Daryl drag her shirt over her head with a crackle of actual static that has her hair clinging to the collar. Beth shivers at the shock of chilly air conditioning, but then Daryl’s there, warming her up, burying his scruffy face in her chest and tonguing her nipple into a hard point through her bra’s soft cup. Beth makes an involuntary noise under that tongue, a noise that Daryl answers with a hoarse groan.

Beth’s fingers go to Daryl’s buttons, and he lets her undo them, but when she tries to push his shirt off his shoulders, he goes so still it’s like he caught an eyeful of Medusa, and when he finally starts moving again, it’s not toward Beth, but away.

What? No. Beth clings to him in a blind panic, fingers catching in his shirt like claws. “Wait, Daryl, I. I’ve—I’ve seen ’em before. You know that. They don’t bother me—I mean, they do, but they don’t bother me like that.”

She was home that day when Daryl took a tumble down a ravine in the woods and impaled himself on one of his own bolts. She saw him come limping toward the house, looking half dead already. She saw the abuse that’d been carved into his back when she helped Daddy patch him up, and the only thing that kept her from crying for him right then was the certainty that he’d hate her for it.

She cried later, though, that night alone in her room. She cried until her eyeballs hurt; cried so hard she woke up feeling dehydrated, drained down to a husk.

Right now, Daryl’s chewing his lower lip raw and very deliberately not looking at her. Chest coming up tight with a seed of panic, Beth brushes her hand across his cheekbone and fights to steady her voice. “You don’t gotta. I’m just sayin’ you can.”

Maybe something she said made him feel better. Maybe he’s trying to prove something to himself, or to her. Either way, he rolls his shoulders and shrugs off his shirt, quick like he’s ripping off a bandaid, and Beth clings to him, hands sliding down his shoulders to brush the rough end of one scar. Daryl’s skin twitches on his bones when she does that, so she withdraws her hands and places them on his shoulders even as she struggles to process this display of vulnerability, of trust.  

For a minute, she feels like crying again. She doesn’t, but it’s a near thing.

Instead, she smiles at Daryl, but he won’t meet her eyes for long—buries his face in her throat and nips at her skin, fingers going to the button at her fly. When he unsnaps it, Beth stiffens, and Daryl must feel that—of course he does; they’re so close—because his fingers immediately fall away from her crotch.

“Y’okay?” he asks, finally looking at her. Checking on her.

“Yeah, I, um, I just.” Daryl tilts his head and squints at her, and, dammit. He was vulnerable with her, so she’s gotta be honest with him, even if the state of her virginity is no one’s business but her own. “I, uh. I’ve never done this before.”

Daryl goes so still, so quiet, that Beth would’ve sworn he’d stopped breathing if she couldn’t feel his shoulders rising and falling beneath her hands. She thought he felt petrified earlier, but that was nothing compared to this. “You. Y’mean, like—”

“Yeah. Um. Yeah.”

Daryl’s voice cracks a little when he says, “How. How come?”

How come? How come? Beth almost laughs, albeit hysterically. “I. I dunno. ’Cause I didn’t want to do it just because I could? Not that there’s anythin’ wrong with that. I just. I wanted it to be with someone I really liked, I guess.”

She’s mumbling by the time she gets to that last sentence, face planted in Daryl’s sweaty neck while he drags his fingers up and down her bare back, tucking them under her bra straps to stroke her shoulder blades. Beth shivers, and the slow burning arousal in her abdomen flares up again, subsuming most, if not all, of her anxiety.

Daryl clears his throat. “I, uh. I ain’t a virgin or nothin’, but I only done it a couple’a times before, so I ain’t—I ain’t much better off than you.”  

Surprise grants Beth the strength to lift her face off Daryl’s shoulder and look him in the eye. “R-really?”

Daryl’s eyes are downcast, but his lips are twisted up in a wry smile. “Yeah. Really.”

Because fair’s fair, Beth asks, “How come?”

Daryl starts chewing on his thumbnail, prompting Beth to tug his hand away from his mouth and cradle it against her sternum.

Daryl curls his fingers around hers and says, “Iunno. Same reason as you, I guess. Usually didn’t want to.” Her finally looks at her, eyes glittering like pale stones through his flickering lashes. “Till now, anyways.”  

Beth couldn’t keep from smiling if it meant the difference between life and death. Daryl blinks rapidly, like he just looked directly into the sun, but he doesn’t take his dazed eyes off her face when he says, “Beth. You sure you want it to be—to be m—”

Beth eats the words right out of his mouth, licks them off his tongue, and replaces them with her own. “Yeah. I’m sure.”

Daryl gives her leg a gentle smack, then rubs away the fleeting sting. “Get on up there, then.”

Beth complies a little too eagerly, but she doesn’t think there’s any shame in letting Daryl know how much she wants him, so she unzips her shorts and kicks them off her legs, real quick before she can chicken out, then undoes her bra and flings that off into parts unknown, too. She scoots back and lies back on top of her embroidered comforter, head sinking into a pillow. Daryl crawls after her, belt undone; pants unzipped; erection pushing at the front of his underwear, across which spreads a growing damp spot. Beth takes one look at that stain and crooks her legs a little wider, wanting him to see the filmy stain on her underwear, wanting him to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her pussy’s fucking weeping for him.

He looks. He looks at her soaked underwear, shudders all over, and falls into the space between her legs, cupping her breasts and pushing them together and licking from one nipple to the other, leaving a trail of cooling spit behind that has her skin erupting in goosebumps. Beth feels the suction on her breasts like phantom lips on her clit, and she saws her legs and pushes her swelling cunt against Daryl’s swelling dick, hissing at the scrape of metal teeth on her inner thighs. This feels good but it’s still not good enough; she needs their underwear off; she needs his dick to settle between her fanned pussy lips, she needs his ridged cockhead to catch on her clit and tip her that much closer to the orgasm that’s spooling up in her pelvis like the sweeter cousin of a menstrual cramp.

They must be on the same wavelength, because Daryl gives her breast a parting suck that she can feel down in her clenched toes and sits back on his haunches, hooking his fingers in her underwear and dragging them down her to knees, her thighs, her ankles. And then those thick fingers that she’s dreamed about are cupping her cunt, dipping shallowly into her folds to gather up moisture and spread it over her hard clit like paint.

Beth’s back bows into a shallow, inverted U, mouth catching around a whine, fingernails carving trenches in Daryl’s hard forearm. Daryl whines, too, even louder than Beth did, fingers slipping on her wet clit before pressing down harder, hard enough to make her leg kick like someone just brought a rubber mallet down on the spot below her kneecap. Daryl’s staring at her cunt like it’s the holy goddamn grail, and if Beth wasn’t positively gagging for it, she’d probably start giggling again.

But she doesn’t feel like laughing when Daryl says, “I. I’m the one who done this?” Then, less like a question and more like a statement, like he’s claiming something, he repeats, “I’m the one who done this.”

She doesn’t feel like laughing, no, but her lips still tremble into a smile. Daryl starts playing with one of her lower lips, thumbing it aside like he wants to get a better look at the tight funnel he intends to push his dick into, and Beth’s entire body quakes, warmth spreading through her hips like magma. “Yeah. Yeah, you are.”

He shakes all over too when she says that, and the hand that isn’t busy between her legs rubs his dick through his shorts. His thumb pushes up against her clit, but his index finger digs deeper between her lips, peeling them open and sliding into her, hard and stiff and thick, knuckles bumping her walls, and Beth braces her feet against the mattress and fucks herself on it.

And then Daryl pulls his finger out of her, raises his hand, and slaps her on the cunt. On the clit.

It doesn’t hurt, doesn’t even sting, but it startles her, has her latching wide eyes onto Daryl’s face as the shock of impact reverberates through her body. Jesus. Jesus Christ. When he did that, her clit spasmed like it was about to rock her into an orgasm. It didn’t. But it almost did.

The way Daryl’s looking at her—half scared, half intent—heralds his halting question. “Was that. Was that alright? I—”

“Do it again.” Daryl’s mouth drops open, teeth and tongue glinting wetly like a mirror of Beth’s pussy, and she grabs his wrist and pulls his hand back to her cunt, pushes her aching clit against the hard heel of his palm. “C’mon, Daryl, do it again, please—”

She doesn’t have to ask a third time. Daryl pulls his hand off of her only to bring it back down, hard, still mostly a tap but definitely harder than the first time, and when Beth jumps and cries out, cries out loudly enough to be heard on the first floor if only there were people inside to hear her, he does it again. And again.

It is starting to sting now, heat flaring and spreading across Beth’s cunt with each successive smack, and the noise they’re making is obscene, almost like the sound of fucking—Beth doesn’t like porn, but she’s seen enough of it to know what fucking sounds like—and every time he slaps her, her clit spasms harder, and more wet drips out of her, slicking the way for his cock. She’s squirming like a dying thing impaled on a hook—no, not squirming, writhing, panting for it—God, please

God, please, Daryl, c’mon, I wanna, just, please—”

Daryl smacks her cunt hard when she says that, harder than all the other times, hard enough to make her squeal so loud it drowns out the music filtering in from the party—oh, God, she forgot all about that, forgot about everything that wasn’t this—but he doesn’t follow it up with a successive slap. No, he pushes two fingers into her cunt with a squelch so obscene it’s like he just stuck them in her guts, and her body parts easily for him before clamping down tightly like it doesn’t want to let him go. He crooks his fingers like he’s beckoning and jams his thumb up against her overheated clit, and Beth.

Beth comes so hard her heart goes briefly still. Her cunt seizes up once, twice, and then she loses count; just knows that it’s spasming, that she’s shaking, that she’s drowning in endorphins so intense it’s like she’s been shot up with some potent, black market drug. Her cunt gushes, and her hips rock, and through her fluttering lashes she sees Daryl pull his dick out of his shorts and wrap his sticky hand around its base. He’s heavy and dark and beautiful, shot through with thick veins just like the ones in the backs of his hands, and if he doesn’t get in Beth soon, she might actually literally die.

“C’mon,” Beth croaks, privately surprised that she can speak at all. She lifts up on her elbows and hooks her legs around Daryl’s hips, and he sways and swears, dick bumping her inner thigh and smearing pre-come on her skin. “C’mon, Daryl, I want you to f-fuck me, c’mon, please.”

Daryl’s face twists up like he’s in pain, and he folds his free hand over her shoulder and shoves her back down against the mattress with a bounce. His hair is in his eyes, and those eyes are wide and wet and crazed.

“I’m gonna, girl, I’m gonna. Just—Christ—gimme a minute.”

A minute. A minute’s too long, but Beth figures she can give him at least thirty seconds, so she nods and lies back and slicks her fingers through the mess between her legs, slips the longest one into her still-spasming cunt and thinks that they probably should’ve put down a towel. Daryl doesn’t take his eyes off of her, not even once, not even as he kicks off his pants and shorts and goes digging in his pockets for his wallet, for a condom.

He tears into the packet with his teeth like a wolf ripping into a deer’s underbelly, then tugs his foreskin back, tugs the condom on, pulls it tight around his shaft like a second layer of skin shrunk too small. He’s so beautiful it makes her eyes burn, but she doesn’t get to look at him for long, because now he’s falling onto his elbows over her, panting in her face and flattening himself out on top of her. His body hair catches on her tits and stomach, and his dick settles into the cleft of her cunt, and she groans, whines, digs her nails deep enough into his shoulder blades to leave scratches behind like new tattoos.

He pushes at the backs of her thighs, and she draws her knees up to her chest, heels bumping his flanks. He lifts up on one elbow and fumbles in the narrow space between their pelvises, dick slipping up and down her drenched pussy lips but failing to catch in her cunt. Daryl spits out a passionate “Son of a bitch” and scrambles back on his knees, holds her open with two fingers while he uses his other hand to notch his cockhead against her and guide his shaft into her pussy.

Oh, fuck.

Beth wants to watch. More than anything, she wants to watch him sink into her for the first time, wants to watch him squeeze his thick dick into her wet cunt, but her head slams itself against the pillow like somebody jerked her back by the hair, pointing her eyes at the ceiling, at the top of Daryl’s head. Her cunt’s still burning from being slapped, and between that and how unbelievably thick he is, her every nerve ending feels like it’s been stripped raw. God, Jesus, but she swears she can feel him stopping up her throat. And she’s half convinced that he won’t be able to fit all of himself inside of her, but he does, pushing and pushing until her thighs are spread wide enough to ache, until the flat of his sweat-slicked pelvis slaps down on hers. He doesn’t move right away, though, going real still like he’s afraid he’ll come too soon if he doesn’t take a minute to breathe.

Beth will never forget the noise he makes when he’s all the way in. Not for the rest of her natural life.

Daryl rests his full weight on her for a minute, crushing her into the mattress and panting into the crook of her neck, and then he fucks her. He braces himself on his palms like he’s doing a pushup, dick shifting around inside her with the change in position, and he fucks her.

His first thrust pushes her up the bed, and she has to brace her hands against the shaking headboard to keep from cracking her skull open. His second thrust is shorter, shallower, and that’s the rhythm he settles into, quick hard fucks that bounce Beth’s hips against the bed, that make her cunt gush and her tits jiggle.  

“Y’okay?” he grinds out, and Beth can only nod, unable to bend her tongue the way she needs to in order to form words.

She can’t offer up anything coherent, and she can’t do anything about the noises she’s making, either, because even if she covered her mouth, they’d still hum in her throat like the beginnings of a song. She can cover her face, can cover up the embarrassing expression she’s surely making, muscles twisting like she’s being tortured, so that’s what she does. Or tries to, because no sooner has she curled her fingers over her eyes than Daryl’s grabbing her wrists and pinioning them to the shrieking mattress.

“Nuh-uh.” Daryl’s short, stuttering thrusts smooth out, get slower and deeper, stroking Beth’s cunt so good, making her squeal. “Don’t—fuck—don’t do that. Wanna watch you, girl.”

Beth scrunches up her face, teeth sinking into her lower lip hard enough to make it sting as hotly as her slapped cunt. She turns her cheek against the mattress, tossing her head in denial, then gives in and faces forward and slits her eyes open.  

And if she thought that the noise Daryl made would stick with her till she died, then the look on his face is gonna follow her into the afterlife.

Daryl nods when she meets his eyes, nods and shifts his rhythm again, thrusts still long and deep but faster now, hips and stomach slapping against hers. He lets go of her wrists only to lace their fingers together, and he lowers his head and noses her bracelets out of the way so he can lick her scar and worry it between his teeth. And for a second, Beth thinks she’s gonna cry, because this.

This. This is why she wants him. Because he likes every part of her, even the difficult parts. Because he’ll run into a burning building to rescue a stranger. Because he drove a suicidal girl he barely knew to the hospital and stayed with her until the nurse asked him to leave. Because he’s strong and smart and funny and good, so goddamn good.

God,” she says, pants, voice vibrating in her throat like she’s trying to talk while riding a roller coaster. “God, God, fuck, Daryl, you’re so good, so so good, you’re makin’ me feel so good, fuck, please—”

Daryl’s hips start working faster, like he’s rewarding her for talking, or maybe encouraging her to do it some more. He pulls his lips off her wrist only to arch his back and drag her nipple between his teeth, sucking her breast into his mouth like he intends to literally eat her alive and thinks that her tits are as good a place to start as any. But then he releases it with a pop, and just when Beth’s started to learn his rhythm and meet his thrusts, he grabs her hips and rolls them onto their sides.

He shoves one arm beneath her neck, cradling her, and brings his other hand down on her ass, fingers digging into her furrowed muscles and showing her how to move with him like this, leg slung over his hip, fingers sliding up and down his spine.

He presses their foreheads together while he rocks into her, slower now, letting her feel every inch of him through the condom, every thick vein and beautiful ridge and even the catch and drag of his foreskin. His fingers dip into the crack of her ass, press up against her perineum and make her squeal some more, and she can feel him smiling against her jaw—an open mouthed, panting smile—so she retaliates by clawing her fingers and tracing her nails down his back, making him shiver.

Fuck,” he grunts, and flops over onto his back, dragging Beth with him. His dick slips out of her, and they both fumble to push him back into her cunt, and she’s so sopping wet by now that he goes in even easier than he had the first time. Beth sprawls out across his front, nose buried in the crook of his neck, teeth sunk into bunched muscle, tongue lapping up his sweat. She clings to his arms while her cunt clings to his dick, panting and trembling as he draws up his legs, thighs jostling hers, and braces his feet against the mattress. He wraps one hand around the base of her mussed ponytail and anchors the other on her ass, and then he’s fucking up into her.

Beth grunts, nails biting into his biceps, cunt making a mess all over his dick and stomach as he punches into her, skin getting rubbed raw by his wiry body hair. She can’t even try to keep up with him like this, can only hang on for dear life while he pants and growls and swears, voice grating in her ear and rumbling through her chest cavity, and she’s just about to tap out when he buries his face in her throat, screws his dick in hard, and huffs through a shuddering orgasm.  

Oh, Jesus, Beth thinks, because he’s coming in her. There’s a condom in the way but he’s still coming in her, hips spasming, cock jerking in the fist formed by Beth’s pussy. And even as he comes slowly down, he keeps rocking his dick in and out of her, like he’s taking her bare and wants to stop her up with his come.

Beth’s pussy spasms just thinking about it. God. God. She needs to get on the pill. She needs to find out how it’ll work with her anti-depressants and then she needs him to fuck her raw.  

One day.

Daryl finally lifts her off of him, and when his softening dick flops out of her, her cunt makes a loud sucking noise that would be embarrassing if she had any room left in her body for that kind of emotion. He plants sloppy kisses across her neck, her shoulders, then rolls them over with a drawn-out groan and just lies on top of her for a second before sitting back on his haunches to dispose of the condom.

That’s not all he does. His eyes lock on her fucked-out cunt, and he licks his lips, and that’s all the warning Beth gets before he’s stretching out on his stomach and burying his face between her legs.

Beth cries out—from shock, from the feeling of his beard abrading swollen, sensitive tissue. He doesn’t lick her right away—no, first he presses his nose into her pussy and inhales, deep like a hunting hound being put on a scent, and then he opens his mouth. He opens his mouth and drags his tongue through sweat and come before rolling it across her clit.

Beth shrieks, squirms, braces her feet on his shoulders as if to push him off of her—and she’s got strong legs, and if he were almost anyone else, she probably could shove him away, but this is Daryl. This is Daryl, and he’s got her pinned in place with one heavy hand on her stomach and the other wrapped around her hip, blunt chin nudging at her pussy lips while he nurses her clit, the push of his tongue clumsy and inexperienced but so enthusiastic, like he’s been starving for exactly this. He’s even groaning into her cunt like he’s the one who’s getting his dick sucked.

And it feels so goddamn good, all that sloppy intensity, but it’s too soon, and Beth’s still too sensitive, and no matter how hard Daryl tries she really doesn’t think she can come again already—

But then he gives his hardest suck yet, like he’s trying to pull a thick milkshake up through a narrow straw, and he proves her wrong. He proves her so goddamn wrong that her vision fuzzes out for a few seconds while she shrieks into the sticky crook of her elbow.

Daryl pulls off her cunt with a parting slurp and rests his head on her abdomen, apparently content to stay sprawled between her legs while they catch their breath and wait for their heartbeats to slow. Somebody’s phone buzzes. They both ignore it.

He thumbs at her clit without any real intent, but Beth’s sore pussy still clenches through a second round of aftershocks at the touch. She sinks her fingers into his sweaty hair and scratches his scalp, and he hums low in his throat, practically purring. 

Outside, ground fireworks pop like gunshots, and Beth blinks her eyes open, a dopey smile breaking out across her face.

“God bless America,” she whispers, snorting and then giggling and then outright cackling, and then Daryl starts snickering, too. They laugh so hard they shake like they’re both orgasming again, and when Daryl crawls up her body to muffle his snorts against the side of her face, Beth turns her head and kisses her own musky come off his lips.  

As their laughter subsides into hiccups, Daryl’s hand finds Beth’s wrist and strokes over her scar. Beth smiles at him through the dark, and he smiles back, eyes crinkling, teeth glinting.

He really is beautiful.



Daryl’s in the middle of mending a fence that a particularly ornery steer knocked over, and when he lifts his head to wipe sweat out of his eyes and sees Beth coming, he doesn’t exactly grin, and he definitely doesn’t wave, but his lips quirk into a quietly pleased expression that’s just for her. Only ever for her.

“Hey,” he says when she gets close enough for him to reach out and touch. He doesn’t touch her, but he does grab the brim of her mother’s gardening hat and gives it a gentle tug. “S’pretty hat.”

“Thanks,” Beth says, linking her hands behind her back. She double checks that no one else is around, then tilts her chin and arches her eyebrows at Daryl, who rolls his eyes but obediently flips the brim of her hat farther up so he can lean down and kiss her.  

“So,” Beth says as she falls back onto the flats of her feet. “I’m headin’ out with Jimmy and Amy this afternoon. We were gonna go to the mall.”

“Yeah, so?” Daryl’s acting like he doesn’t give a shit about Beth’s plans, but she can tell that he’s happy for her. “Why you tellin’ me? Y’all need ta bum a ride or somethin’?”

“Nah, Amy’s got it covered.” Beth shrugs, faking casual as her heart thrums in her throat and in the newly sore space between her legs. “But, y’know. The Main Street Diner’s havin’ a special today. Free dessert with every meal. You might wanna check it out later.”

“Might. Might not.” Daryl’s eyes drip down her breasts and land between her legs. “You gonna be there?”

Beth grins so hard her face hurts. “Only if you are.” But then her smile fades, and she pokes her pointer finger into his chest. “Just, promise me one thing? If the diner catches on fire, please just stay outside and wait for the professionals to show up.”  

Daryl smirks at her. “Can’t make no promises,” he says, before grabbing her by the waist, swinging her up and over the half-repaired fence, and laying her out on the ground beneath him.

Her pretty dress is covered in grass stains by the time he lets her back up, but she’s not about to complain.