Daryl took out his lighter and quickly lit the end of his cigarette. He had just finished cleaning a fresh kill on the table out in front of the prison. He left all the usable parts on the table where all the women who do the cooking could get to it. He pulled what was left into a black trash bag and quickly disposed of it where walkers wouldn’t catch the scent and attract more than they could handle.
As he was walking back to the front of the prison, he heard the main gate pull open. He looked behind him and saw the pick-up pulling in. Maggie, Glenn, and finally Beth climbed out of the cab. Daryl suddenly let some of the tension he was holding in his shoulders relax.
Maggie and Glenn could hold their own just fine, but he didn’t like Beth going out on runs. She wasn’t as tough as some of the others and while he trusted Maggie to take care of her sister, you never knew what was going to happen out there. He cared about her a lot more now that he and Beth were spending more time together.
It started a few months ago, when Daryl started to notice more about Beth. Even though she was young, she was growing more shapely by the day, the curve to her hip, the slight swell of her breast. At first Daryl felt ashamed for thinking those things. This was a girl who he had seen grow from a young teenager to where she is now. He started sneaking peeks at her every now and again, at the table when they ate, when they played with Judith together.
More than once Beth caught him looking, but she never said anything. Then one night he was sitting in his cell on his cot, putting his crossbow back together after a thorough cleaning. Beth ended up walking by his cell a couple times, he had noticed, before she finally came in and sat down next to him on his cot.
She looked around a minute before saying anything. Daryl was nervous enough without her even talking. He’d never really had anyone in his cell before, let alone someone he had very dirty thoughts about when he was lying here alone at night. He suddenly felt very self-conscious about the state of his cell and what she thought about it.
“Nice place you got,” she finally said, with a smile on her face. She looked over at him.
“Eh. It ain’t much. Jus’ a place to sleep.” Daryl shrugged through his reply. He looked back over at her and felt butterflies in his stomach, which felt ridiculous.
“I’ve….I’ve seen you looking at me Daryl. Sometimes I feel you watching me, and when I look at you, I see you turn away real quick. Why do you do that?” Beth asked him the one question he wasn’t really ready to answer. His heart started to beat twice as fast, and his mouth went dry. Damn Beth and her directness.
“Uh…Don’t know.” He shrugged. “I mean…why wouldn’t I? Pretty girl like yourself, it’s hard not to.” He felt his whole face flush a deep red at the confession.
“You think I’m pretty?” Beth asked, looking straight at him, trying to catch his eye. Daryl didn’t have the nerve to meet her gaze, so he looked elsewhere while he talked.
“Well yea. Not jus’ that. You’re smart too. Take care of Judith. Have the bes’ heart of anyone I ever met.”
“You’re pretty great too, ya know.” Beth quickly replied and placed her hand over Daryl’s. His heart almost jumped out of his chest at the contact. He looked down at her hand, her fingers starting to intertwine with his, and then he finally looked up at her beautiful face, and met her soft, blue eyes.
Beth leaned forward and placed a light kiss on the hunter’s slightly chapped lips. The kiss was electrifying to Daryl and he took her face into his empty hand, running his rough, calloused thumb over her delicate cheek. They ended the kiss, both with slight smiles on their faces knowing that their friendship had changed into something more.
That was a few months ago and a lot of things had happened between them. Daryl wanted to take things very slow, but Beth was determined and before long, she was sleeping in his cell at night. They would make love before they went to sleep and then again in the early hours of the morning, before Beth would sneak back to her cell.
They decided to keep their relationship a secret, unsure of how the rest of the group would feel about it. Although Beth was 18 and legally an adult, there was still a large age difference between them and they knew some people wouldn’t approve. The only other person who knew was Maggie, because Beth said she couldn’t keep a secret from her sister.
He occasionally caught Maggie giving him the overly protective sister looks that said, “Hurt my sister and I’ll shoot your manhood off.” And he believed her, but he didn’t have any plans to hurt Beth. In fact, he planned to keep her as close as possible. The thought of losing her was one of the worst things that could happen right now.
Daryl walked over to the truck and started to help unload the supplies they gathered from the run. More food and medical supplies were always needed at the prison. After everything was unloaded, Daryl stood at the back of the truck and waited for Beth to come over. After she handed off the last of the can goods to another person, she sauntered to the back of the truck and brushed her hand over Daryl’s and gave him a big smile. It was their quick way of showing affection when they were around other people.
“Everything go okay?” Daryl asked. He needed to know that nothing bad had happened while she was out there without him.
“Everything was fine. You shouldn’t worry so much,” Beth said, giving him a slightly concerned expression.
“Not worried. Jus’ curious is all.” Daryl tried to shrug off his concern, but he knew Beth could see right through him.
“Anyways, we got some pretty good stuff. Might have even gotten a birthday surprise for a certain someone…” Beth tried to feign an innocent face while looking anywhere but at Daryl. Daryl groaned and rolled his eyes a little. He should have never told Beth that today was his birthday. He made her swear to secrecy to not tell anyone else. The last thing he wanted was to make a big deal out of it, but she had insisted on knowing.
“What is it? It best not be anything big,” he told the blonde girl with the big blue eyes. She quickly laughed at his response.
“Don’t you worry about it. I’ll give it to you tonight, after dinner. I have a feeling that you’ll like it.” After she said that last sentence, she gave Daryl her best bedroom eyes and squeezed his hand real tight, making Daryl lift his eyebrows in response.
“Maybe,” said Daryl. Now he really was interested. He was also slightly warmed that Beth had bothered to do anything at all. It had been years since he celebrated his birthday, even before the world had turned to shit.
They walked back towards the prison, making sure to break contact before anyone saw them.