Keep your hands off the waitress
Beth's eyes absently trace the letters on the sign hanging in front of her face. The diner is full of these fake little antique signs, with their equally dated little catchphrases. Gives the place a kitsch vibe, she supposes. A bit like her tailored uniform with the oversized collar and pleated skirt. But hey, at least the baby blue brings out her eyes.
Stifling a yawn against the back of her hand, she starts to make a fresh pot of coffee. It’s become something of a habit, making a fresh pot when she comes on shift, has a habit of making it extra strong too, knowing full well that nobody visiting a diner past ten in the evening is going to mind it.
She’d be lying if she didn’t admit that the strength of the coffee correlates directly to her own energy levels. So, after an evening of reading textbooks until the words started dancing on the page, and with an eight hour shift still ahead of her, Beth is making coffee strong enough to raise the dead.
At some point in the coffee making process, she‘d started singing along to the radio without realising. She strongly suspects the clunky old thing may well be older than she is, but it still works and she’s grown fond of the way the busted speakers add a layer of distortion over the music.
Squeezing her tired eyes together and turning away from the rhythmic dripping of the coffee as it brews, Beth peels her lids open to find a piercing blue gaze watching her from behind a curtain of hair.
(Hair that probably should be in a hairnet to meet health and safety regulations, but hell if she’s going to be the one to tell this fry cook what to do.)
Her eyes slide into focus as they lock with his and the half remembered lyrics die on her tongue. Even after working with Daryl for six months, the intensity of his gaze never fails to make her stomach lurch.
His penetrating stare lingers long enough for Beth’s cheeks to start to feel warm before he pulls it away as he turns, heaving a box towards the storeroom, thick corded muscles straining against his black t-shirt as he does so.
“Keep singin’,” He throws over his shoulder, his gravelly voice scratching down Beth’s spine.
Her gaze lingers too, following him as he travels the short distance into the kitchen and out of sight.
And she does, picking up the tune halfway through the next line and singing softly under her breath as she turns to the counter, hiding a smile in the collar of her uniform.
She’s been working at the diner for ever since high school finished and her friends went away to college. Ever since her friends away went to college and Beth notably did not.
She missed a lot of school after her mom died, missed even more after she took a blade to her wrist in a moment of desperation. After missing so much of her senior year, she didn't have enough credits to graduate, and as a result isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Not that her daddy or her fiercely protective big sister would let her out of their sight even if she could go away to college. Which she isn’t sure she wants to do anymore. She isn’t sure of much these days. It all feels kind of pointless.
Her daddy insisted she enroll at the community college and make up the classes she flunked. So, not wanting to disappoint him any further, that’s what she did. Like it or not, her classes keep her pretty busy when she’s not helping out at home on the farm.
But three nights a week Beth works at the diner in town.
She secretly loves working the graveyard shift. She knows that working nights is playing havoc with her body clock, but she'll take the scattered sleep patterns just to be doing one thing that she's chosen.
There are plenty of perks to working nights. Less customers, more time to study. It leaves her plenty of time in the day to attend classes, run errands and help out around the farm.
And then there's Daryl, who she shares all of her shifts with, and the real reason she looks forward to coming to work if she's being honest with herself (which she decidedly is not).
Daryl Dixon is like nobody she's ever met before.
On the surface of it, he’s got to be maybe twice her age and looks like he could easily kill a man with his bare hands. Redneck biker type, all muscle and rough edges. But then there’s this shyness, this sort of awkwardness, in the way that he carries that huge frame of his with his head bowed and shoulders hunched, that makes him appear younger than her somehow.
Sometimes she thinks he looks a little bit lost, and that maybe that’s something they have in common. That maybe that’s something they could help each other with.
That maybe they’re not so different underneath their outward appearances. And that maybe she’s not so totally, completely and painfully alone in how she feels.
That’s a whole lot of maybe, but Beth finds the possibility comforting.
And then there’s the fact that Daryl is just downright beautiful to look at.
He’s got the broadest shoulders and the bluest eyes she’s ever seen. So, Beth thinks she really can’t be held responsible for staring, which she has a tendency to do a lot. But she can’t help it, her eyes are like magnets when he’s around. If he’s noticed then he hasn’t let on, and she really hopes he hasn’t, but maybe he’s just used to girls drooling over him.
The thing is, Beth could swear sometimes she catches him staring at her too.
He didn't talk to her a whole lot at first. It was about a week before he did more than grunt in her general direction. Two before he made eye contact. A month before they had anything resembling a conversation.
Beth was busy sweeping up the third coffee cup she’d dropped that evening and wondering if she was going to have a paycheck left at the end of her shift when Daryl had appeared in front of her and cut through her thoughts.
“You eat today?” He’d grunted.
She hadn’t. Often forgot to eat back then.
“I’m fine,” She’d lied.
He watched her dump the ceramic shards in the trash, looking entirely unconvinced.
“Want me t’ make you somethin’?” He offered, skeptical gaze holding her in place.
“Really, I’m fine,” She’d repeated, adding, “You shouldn’t go to any trouble, not on my account,” for good measure.
Beth was getting tired of always being a bother to everyone around her.
Daryl had narrowed his eyes at her, but said nothing and disappeared into the back, only to come back ten minutes later with a grilled cheese sandwich.
As soon as the smell hit her nostrils her stomach rumbled loudly and she’d felt a blush run up her neck to her ears. He just put the plate down in front of her and leaned himself against the counter.
She couldn’t help the satisfied moan that came out of her when she took a huge bite.
Daryl had turned away, scratching the underside of his jaw as his ears turned pink.
Nothing before or since has ever tasted as good as Daryl Dixon's ability to see right through her.
She was not in fact fine. She was very far from fine, and he wasn't judging her or anything, he didn't want to talk about it (Thank God), he just wanted to fix it and help her get a little closer to actually being fine.
Maybe so she wouldn't break every cup and plate in the diner, but she suspected there was more to it than that. She suspected - and now knows - that Daryl Dixon is a whole lot nicer than anyone gives him credit for (including Daryl Dixon himself).
Nights at the diner with Daryl started to feel like her safe place after that. A little respite from trying to convince everyone that she’s okay now , trying so hard to be her old cheerful self to the point of exhaustion. Daryl didn’t know her from before so she doesn’t have to pretend with him. She can just exist, be whoever she is now, after , and it feels comfortable. It feels easy, like a weight’s been lifted off her chest and she can finally breathe .
The grilled cheese sandwiches (and the blushing) soon became a habit. They sit and eat together sometime in the early hours when there aren’t any customers. Most of the time they just sit in silence, with Beth catching up on her reading for school, but it’s a comfortable kind of silence. It’s nice to be able to be quiet without having someone asking what’s wrong, a luxury Beth is no longer afforded at home, which is her own damn fault she knows, but still. As weird as it sounds, it’s really nice to have someone to not talk with.
Not long after that, Daryl started to drive her home at the end of their shift, ever since he caught her waiting for the bus one morning. He says it's on his way, but she knows it isn't because the trailer park is on the other side of town. Their drives are mostly quiet too, except for the sound of the radio when she asks him if she can turn it on and tunes it to her favourite country station. He pulls a face but doesn't say anything, so she doesn't think he really minds it.
It's a small town so most of the night it's just the two of them and Beth likes it that way. She likes the quiet and she likes Daryl. She likes him a little too much in truth.
Ever since her mom died, Beth feels like she's been sleepwalking through life. It's as though someone turned the volume down on everything, all the bad and all the good too, until it became a murmur, until it became just background noise.
But here's the thing: when she's around Daryl she doesn't feel so numb. Something about him wakes her up. He just has to look at her and all of a sudden her heart is racing in her ears and there are butterflies in her stomach. Sometimes she feels a little dizzy from all the blood rushing to her face. And honestly? It feels good to feel giddy and excited like a regular teenager. It feels really good to feel anything at all in fact.
It's silly, she supposes, to get as carried away as she does.
But what’s the harm in having a little crush anyway?
That’s what Beth tells herself when her head finally hits the pillow in the morning and she thinks about his blue eyes and his broad shoulders. That’s what she tells herself when she thinks about his big hands and his stubbled jaw as she touches herself. It’s just a little crush, she insists every time she comes, shuddering, with his whispered name on her lips.
Ok, so maybe it’s more than just a little crush.
She’s so distracted filling the counter with fresh donuts that Beth doesn’t realise Daryl is behind her until she feels the heat of his palm through her uniform as his hand spans the small of her back.
She lets out an involuntary sound caught somewhere between a gasp and a moan as her head spins around. His eyes drop down to catch hers and a hot flush spreads across her cheeks. He looks confused, maybe even concerned, at first, and then something else flickers across his hot blue eyes, like clouds blowing across a sky. Something that makes Beth feel a little hot under the collar and a little damp between her thighs. Something that, for just a moment, makes Beth wonder if there isn’t something going on here with more than just her.
His thick fingers twitch where they remain against the small of her back, curling into the rough fabric of her uniform and dragging it across her skin, dragging another involuntary little sound out of her with it. This time it's more of a hum, a soft moan of encouragement, and she watches Daryl's Adam's apple bob in the centre of his throat as he swallows thickly in response.
That’s when Beth sees the box on his shoulder and realises that his hand is on the small of her back in an attempt to nudge her out of the way so that he can get past.
Her eyes widen and her cheeks flare. With embarrassment, mostly, but that’s not the only reason there’s a flush running from her hairline to her collarbones.
“Oh,” She starts suddenly, moving out of his path and away from his hand, instantly missing the heat of his palm. “Gosh, I’m sorry, Daryl.”
He doesn’t move, just stares at her for a moment, and she feels her cheeks, and her clit, fill with blood as the silence stretches tight between them.
“S’alright,” He rasps, finally, in a voice so low and so throaty that she scarcely holds back a shudder as he passes her.
Beth sucks in a breath as she watches him disappear into the storeroom and brings her hands up to cover her face once he’s safely out of sight.
Get a grip, Beth. She thinks, exhaling hard into her palms.
It's one thing to think about Daryl like that when she's at home by herself, but to do it at the diner when he's right there ? Yeah, that's a new and alarming development.
The next hour passes without incident. No furious blushing or inappropriate sexual fantasies, thankyouverymuch.
Daryl’s brother, Merle, comes in to grab a bite to eat before heading out to find a bar and “catch some tail”.
At that declaration, Daryl leans over the counter to whack him on the back of the head.
“Mind your damn manners,” He mutters, jerking his head towards Beth.
She giggles when Merle responds by rolling his eyes at her so hard they disappear into the hard lines of his forehead.
“Reckon you’d lose that stick up your ass if you did th’ same once in a while, baby brother,” Merle drawls, leaning back in his chair and giving Daryl a look caught somewhere between pity and disappointment.
Daryl scoffs and looks away.
"Am I wrong?" Merle asks, turning to Beth for support, "Beth, sweetheart, don’t you think my brother here ought to get laid ‘fore he has an aneurysm or somethin’?”
Beth laughs nervously as her stomach drops out through the balls of her feet. She wonders if it shows on her face how much she does in fact think that Daryl ought to get laid and hopes to God her face isn’t turning red at just how much thought she’s given to the subject. Her eyes swing over to Daryl whose cheeks suddenly look a little rosier beneath his stubble.
“Shut the fuck up and get out of here,” Daryl barks, making his brother hoot with laughter.
“Now who needs to mind their manners?” Merle croons, shaking his head and puffing his cheeks at Beth in mock disapproval, “That ain’t no way to talk in front of a lady.”
Beth covers her mouth with her hand, trying not to laugh as Daryl glares at his brother, and Merle only grins back harder.
It's no use. The sight of Daryl's glowering face has Beth laughing so hard her shoulders shake and her eyes start to water.
Daryl huffs and shakes his head from side to side, but she sees the corner of his mouth twitch.
He gives her a side glance and she doesn’t miss the way his lips quirk.
Her breath hitches when their eyes connect, and the curve on his lips grows into an actual smile.
"Right," Merle announces, slapping his hands down on the table and dragging their attention back to him, "Time for ol' Merle to go get some-"
Daryl looks about ready to jump over the counter and throttle him.
“Alright, alright,” Merle concedes, holding his hands up in surrender and throwing Beth a wink.
She smiles back at him, “Have a good time.”
“Oh, don’ you worry, I will,” He says as he pulls his jacket on, “An’ I won’t be the only one, some lucky gal out there is about to get f-”
“Son of a bitch,” Daryl grunts, slamming a palm down on the table as though he is in fact going to vault over it and take a swing at his brother.
Merle chuckles as he tucks his chair in.
“Language, baby brother,” He teases, wagging his finger at the younger Dixon.
Daryl’s eyes narrow into icy slits that follow his brother across the diner to the front door.
“See what I mean? He’s too damn tense!” Merle hollers at Beth as he pulls the door open with a jangle.
“S’because he needs to get laid, ” He shouts, loud enough for every customer in the diner to hear and turn their heads, before he disappears out of the door and yanks it closed behind him.
Beth’s wide eyes glance around the room at the regulars who are now all staring at Daryl with their heads curiously cocked as they silently consider the frequency of his sex life. Not wanting to join the peanut gallery, she sneaks a look at him through the corner of her eye. His hands are clenched into tight fists and Beth might worry about the prospect of him actually having an aneurysm if she wasn’t thoroughly distracted by the tension in his arms.
Beth’s eager eyes are just following the curve of his bicep as it disappears under his t-shirt when Daryl makes a sound that can only be described as a growl before he turns and stomps his way into the kitchen muttering a string of obscenities under his breath.
The diner is left in silence except for the background murmur of the radio.
Swallowing hard and finding her mouth suddenly dry, Beth grabs the coffee pot and turns to the counter.
“Anyone need more coffee?” She asks brightly over the sound of pans being punched in the kitchen.
The diner soon empties out and Beth contents herself with making another pot of coffee and humming along to the radio in a daze. She turns her head to the side to hide a yawn in her collar and catches Daryl watching her. Her eyes take in the dish towel thrown over his shoulder and bulging arms folded over his solid chest. A chest she'd very much like to press her palms against, preferably while riding his cock. Beth's cheeks burn as she turns her face quickly back to the machine.
Oh Sweet Jesus.
She’s never thought about anyone this way before in her entire life, but now she can't even look at him without getting all riled up. What's gotten into her?
Well, not Daryl Dixon, unfortunately.
"We keepin you up?" Daryl's rasp tickles the back of her neck even from three feet away.
I wish you would, she thinks, feeling a sudden pang between her legs. She imagines those big, tanned hands grabbing her by the hips and lifting her up as she parts her thighs to let him step between them and-
Turning to face him, Beth forces herself to roll her eyes as she wills away her flushed cheeks. Her mouth pulls up into a smile when she sees his lips quirk.
He likes to tease her and she likes it too, likes this more relaxed side of him she’s starting to see. Beth often wonders if he teases the other waitresses. She's never seen him do it so she thinks (more like hopes ) that maybe it's just their thing. But maybe she just wants to feel special in his eyes somehow.
"Reckon you need t' pour y'self a big cup a that coffee or you ain't gonna be any use t' me tonight," He smirks, raising his chin at the coffee pot held loosely in her hand.
God, how she'd like to be of use to Daryl Dixon, Beth thinks, cheeks flaring like she's been slapped as she drops her gaze to avoid his.
Goddamn it. It’s not decent, having these thoughts about him, especially not while he’s right there . She knows that, God, she knows, and she’s pretty sure she’s going to hell, but she can’t seem to stop having these thoughts, especially when he’s right there.
Her fingers tighten around the handle as her mind is filled with thoughts of his smirking lips finding her throat, of her fingers curling around his arms as he sucks kisses down her sensitive neck.
She touched his arm once, just to get his attention, felt the solid muscle under his hot skin and she thinks about that every time she pushes her fingers inside herself at night, thinks of it now, of wrapping her hands around his biceps for purchase and climbing him like a tree, of-
Beth's thoughts - and respiratory functions - are interrupted by a rough palm curling around her elbow.
She looks down to see Daryl's tanned fingers dark against her pale skin. Her eyes fly up to find his squinting back at her in question.
"Y'alright?" He asks quietly, voice taking on a softness that sets off an ache in her chest. Not her pussy this time, her chest, and that's when she knows she's really in trouble.
"Yeah, um, I'm fine, sorry, Daryl," She stammers back at him, smiling a little too widely as she tries to cover the fact that his touch has rendered her a mess.
She wonders if he has any idea of the effect he’s having on her, or does he just think she’s some kind of bumbling idiot? Beth isn’t sure which is worse.
If he only knew, She thinks, cheeks tingling as her blush deepens. If he knew how I thought about him, what would he think? What would he do? There’s a flurry of something like frantic excitement in her stomach because maybe if he knew, he wouldn’t mind. Maybe he would like her thinking about him like that. There’s that possibility again, dragging her deeper still.
Daryl's eyebrows knit together. The fingers still curled around her elbow, busy transferring enough heat to make sweat form on her brow, curl a little tighter. His lips part around a question and Beth pulls her own bottom lip into her mouth as she drops her gaze and wonders what those lips would feel like on hers.
Would they be rough like his hands, or soft, as they moved against hers? Would he take her mouth fiercely like he devours his food at three AM, or tenderly, the way his tongue comes out to wet his bottom lip when he's concentrating hard on something?
His lips, still a mystery to her, close suddenly as the front door opens, striking a bell that cuts through the room and announces a customer's arrival.
Beth turns on her heel, wiping her hot palms down on her apron and smiles as she steps up to the counter.