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"I knew you could still believe that there are good people out there. What changed your mind?" Beth smiled, placing her plate back down on the table.

A predictable response. Daryl grunted his indecisiveness from his seat, his eyes glued to his cup of cola.

"Daryl, don't you 'uh-uh' me!" Beth laughed, an expectant gaze in her eyes. "What made you change your mind?"

For the first time in days, Daryl's eyes bore into hers. This sudden contact startled Beth. Daryl wasn't one to make eye contact. Especially not with her. She'd become accustomed to his unintentionally rude and careless treatment of her in these close social quarters. His intense stare caught her off-guard and she shrank back in her chair. Daryl would never resort to this kind of personal connection if not to cover the fact that he was – for the first time that Beth was aware – embarrassed. Shy, even. Out of his depth.

"Oh," she whispered, feeling the air leave her lungs.

Immediately his eyes dropped from hers, and resumed their glaring at the kitchen table.

"Daryl, I-"

"I never had much," his hoarse voice cut her off, eerily quiet within the vast kitchen of the vacant house.

"I didn't have nothin', really. Didn't have no childhood. My dad used to beat me and my brother. Never made many friends in school or nothing."

Beth couldn't help but notice that way his hands shook next to his plate, rattling the fork noisily against the table. Without thinking, she reached over to lay her hand atop his – a move she would never have thought to initiate previously. His hand was warm, strong, and tough. He barely seemed to notice the contact.

"I came into this world – this nightmare – without much to my name. All I had was Merle, and look how that turned out for us," he grimaced, reminiscing for the shortest moment about his brother.

"I've lost almost everything. We don't know if anyone survived. Any of those people, our friends, Rick, Carl, Lil Asskicker..." his voice trailed off as he paused to breathe.

"Daryl, I'm still here," Beth whispered, squeezing the back of his hand gently. His other hand reached across the table to cover hers, engulfing her small hands completely.

"But you need Maggie. She's the only family you have now and I don't know if she's even alive or if she's laying somewhere being ripped apart by walkers."

"Daryl!" Beth choked back a sob, tears welling in the corners of each eye. "Daryl, you can't say that. Please. Stop!"

"I know I promised to protect you, Beth. I promised your father that I always would. But every time I have to leave this house I'm leaving you unprotected. I don't know what I would do with myself if anything ever happened to you. I'd be alone."

"I think we both know you're a lone ranger, Daryl. You've never needed nobody before. You were fine before us, and you'll be fine if I'm gone. That's the way the world works now. You've gotta be fine no matter what." She wiped clumsily at her face, trying to remove all traces of tears to regain the upper emotional hand in this situation.

"I can't lose you, Beth." His voice was soft and broken, and the words were mumbled almost as if Daryl was praying she didn't hear them. She smiled softly to herself. She knew that her heart of gold and bulletproof faith must have changed his cold demeanour somewhat.

"Hey, don't be so hard on yourself. I'm not planning on going anywhere," she murmured, shuffling her chair closer to Daryl's and wincing at the pain in her leg. She slowly extracted her captive hand from his vicelike grip and tried to pat his forearm reassuringly.

He looked up at her and she realised he'd been crying. She had never seen him cry. He was the cold-hearted statue of the group, completely void of emotions even at the most gut wrenching moments.

"You're the only thing I have left," he grumbled.

"Sshh," she whispered soothingly, reaching up to wipe away a tear that was trailing haphazardly down his face. Her hand stopped momentarily to cup his face, a strand of stray hair tickled the back of her wrist as she stared, transfixed, frozen in time, her eyes staring into his. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her lips, could see with perfect clarity every tremble of his bottom lip as he tried in vain to control his tears. She moved instinctively closer. A single tear was running down his left cheek, and she followed its trail with her eyes. So close. He was so close. The warmth of his body was drawing her towards him like a furnace. She exhaled, hard, a feeling growing in her stomach that she was unsure of, but wanted to follow through with.

So close.

He blinked once, his long eyelashes expelling another secretive tear, but he was no longer crying. Beth felt an unfamiliar pressure on the nape of her neck before some distant and fuzzy area of her brain realised that it was Daryl's hand, pressing against her overheated skin, pulling her closer and closer.

"Beth" it was a whisper, so quiet she almost didn't hear it. She saw the name – her name – escape his lips, that husky voice lingering on each phoneme. She was intoxicated. His scent drugged her. Sweat. Pheromones. Need. Lust.

So close.

CLANG. BANG. CLASH.

"Fuck!" Daryl stood up so suddenly that Beth was flung backwards into her seat. Before she could blink or even breathe, Daryl was gone and so was his crossbow. She faintly registered the front door opening, closing, the window shades being pulled open and shut repeatedly. Her head fell into her hands as she tried to stop the tremors in her body. What was about to happen? Where they going to kiss? Did Daryl want her? Did she want Daryl? She had already decided that the answer to the latter was certainly a yes. Why wouldn't she? Sure, he was older than her. Quite a bit older than her. But it's not like she could be picky. He was protective and selfless and risked his life to save hers more than a few times.

Beth stood, shaky on her feet, and went about clearing the plates and washing them off.

Heavy footsteps alerted her to Daryl's presence.

"What was it?" she asked lightly, unsure of whether Daryl had any intention of continuing their previous liaisons.

"Just that damn dog again," he mumbled, looking around the kitchen in order to avoid eye contact.

"Listen, Beth... I need to, uh, secure the house and check the alarms again. You should go to bed."

"But I'm not-" she began to argue.

"It's late. Go to bed." He cut her off bluntly, before running his hand through his unkempt hair and taking two more steps towards her, one arm wrapping securely around her shoulders and the other scooping her up under her knees. Beth remained silent, allowing Daryl to carry her bridal-style up the stairs to one of the makeshift bedrooms of the funeral home. He set her down rather unceremoniously at the foot of the bed.

"Are you okay to get showered and dressed?" he asked, keeping his eyes firmly planted on the floor.

"I guess so," Beth grumbled. She felt more than a little disappointed by his immediate change in demeanour. Not even 15 minutes earlier she had been ready to jump into his arms and give him her virginity and now he was acting as though she was a mere annoyance.

"Good. You're nothing but walker food until your leg heals proper," he smiled dryly before loping out of her room, shutting her door behind him. Beth sat there, dumped on the end of her bed, alone and confused. She heard the shower turn on for a few minutes, then the closing of the bathroom door, indicating that the bathroom was now all hers. She hoisted herself up onto her good leg, grabbing a pair of shorts and a tank top before limping into the shower and locking the door.

The steamy room still smelt like Daryl. His scent lingered in the shower, on the towels and the soap. Beth showered quickly as the water turned cold, and awkwardly dressed herself in her pyjamas before limping back to her bedroom and falling onto the top of her bed, not even bothering to get under the covers.

Then the tears came.

They flowed heavily and freely down her face. Her body ached from the intensity of her sobs. She cried for her sister and her father. For Rick and Carl and Judith. For the man across the hall who made her feel so completely exposed, so raw, so vulnerable, and yet made her ache with need for him.

She lost track of time as she lay on her bed, tears trailing down the sides of her face and marking the pillows. Soon the thunder and the rain joined in, each lightning strike illuminating Beth's figure on the bed, hair spread out, face messy with tears, chest heavy with wracking sobs of guilt, anger, fear and uncertainty.

Daryl awoke with a start. He heard Beth crying. Within seconds his crossbow was slung over his shoulder and he was marching purposefully towards Beth's door.

Her door swung open with such a loud bang that Beth jolted bolt upright in bed and let out a bloodcurdling scream. A figure was dimly illuminated in the doorway, and Beth's grief-stricken brain embraced the ridiculous idea that it was most definitely a walker, and that she would die here in this uncomfortable bed with a dodgy leg and no family to bury her.

"Beth? Are you okay? Is there someone in here?" a familiar voice growled from the doorway.

"Oh. Daryl," Beth impatiently waited for her heartbeat to slow.

"Yeah. I heard you cry out. I didn't know what was wrong," he murmured, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot as his eyes prowled the room for possible walkers.

"I'm sorry. I was crying. I didn't mean to wake you or nothing," Beth whispered into the darkness.

"S'okay. You sure you're alright?" He took two steps closer to the bed, trying to avoid looking directly at the girl in front of him, or the way that her white tank top did nothing to hide her breasts which were still heaving against the thin material as she struggled to slow her breath.

"Yeah. I'm sorry. Go back to sleep," Beth replied.

Daryl nodded briskly and turned on his heel, his hand reaching out to close the door behind him when he heard her voice.

"Um, actually-"

"What?" he turned once more, not entirely comfortable with this situation.

"Could you stay?" she asked. Her voice sounded timid, and quiet as a mouse. She was unsure of what his response would be. He paused for a moment, considering the situation carefully before choosing a safe reply.

"I can sit in here until you fall asleep if you want," he shrugged, perching on the edge of the writing desk in the corner of her room. Beth smiled shyly, before swinging her legs around to the side of the bed so she was facing him.

"So... um, what were you crying about?" Daryl murmured softly as he lay his crossbow beside him on the desk.

"Oh. The others. From the prison. I just miss them, is all. I wish I knew that they were safe." Beth sniffed.

"Can't guarantee nothing out here, though. You should know that," he replied.

Beth grimaced and hoisted herself up onto her good leg.

"Hey, what you doing?" he chided.

"My leg. It's so stiff, I think I need to keep some weight on it or it cramps up. Oh, damn it!" she cried as she lurched forwards on her unsteady legs. Daryl reached out instinctively, his hands grabbing her shoulders to keep her upright.

"You o-" he cut himself off as his eyes examined her face. Once more, he was in the same position. She was inches from him. Her skin felt hot and soft under his rough hands. He couldn't help but notice her hardened nipples pushing against the thin fabric of her tank top nor the goose bumps that rose on her bared skin when he touched her.

Time stood still.

"What are you so afraid of?" Beth whispered. He could hear her heartbeat in that dark silent room, could hear every breath she took and each flutter of every lash as she blinked. She smelt overwhelmingly sweet, like strawberries and lavender and something else. Woman.

"I'm not afraid of nothing," he replied, his voice just as hushed as hers. He was afraid that any louder would scare her away. "But I'm afraid of what I might do to you,"

Immediately her breath quickened, causing those beautiful breasts to tease him even more with each shaky intake of air.

"I'm not afraid of you. I want you. Please tell me that you want me too," her pupils dilated as she took one step closer, her breasts brushing against the front of his t-shirt and his obvious desire for her pushing noticeably against her exposed stomach.

"Of course I do. But I shouldn't. You're so young. So small. I don't know if I can be gentle enough," he growled, his growing erection becoming a major discomfort.

Beth sighed aloud before taking one final step closer, rising up on her tippy toes until they could not physically be any closer. Her chest was pressed firmly against his, his erection strained against the apex of her thighs, the heat from her womanhood teasing him deliciously.

"Daryl, please," she murmured into his ear, her voice so sweet, so innocent, so pleading.

"Put your hands on me."

Those words were his undoing.

Shakily, unsteadily, he let his hands drift down from Beth's small shoulders, down each side of her body until they rested on her waist. The heat from her skin was scorching, he could feel each expansion and collapse of her rib cage under his hands. The soft moan that escaped Beth's lips at this simple contact only added fuel to the inferno within Daryl's groin.

He lost no time in moving one hand back up to cup her face – her beautiful, unmarked, angelic face – and pull it roughly towards his, their mouths meeting in a passionate and violent kiss. Her hands went to his chest, shy at first, unsure of where to touch. Her naivety was endearing to Daryl, her whimpers of surprise at his tongue entering her mouth was music to his ears, the way in which she unconsciously grinded her centre against the bulge in his pants drove him crazy.

Beth squealed into his mouth as she felt his hands travel down her back to rest on her ass, giving it a playful slap before picking her up effortlessly, her legs wrapping tightly around his waist.

"Hold on, darlin'," he drawled, leaning back just enough to pull his shirt over his head, discarding it thoughtlessly into an unknown corner of the room. Beth's didn't fare too well, it was ripped off in one piece much to her annoyance.

"Daryl! That was my one good, oh!" she cried as his hot mouth found contact with her breast, his tongue circling an oversensitive nipple almost carelessly. Her hips started gyrating furiously against his, her head thrown back, her golden hair streaming down her back, glistening in the moonlight.

Her hands found purchase on his face, breaking the delicious assault of her breasts.

"I need you. I need this. Please," she whispered breathlessly, her mouth already planting kisses on his neck, his shoulders and every square inch of his chest that she had access to.

"I haven't done this before, Beth. I don't know if I can," he replied, his brain using its last remaining power to produce intelligible speech as he felt a warm slippery fluid transferring from Beth's core to his crotch as she grinded against him. She was so unbelievably wet. For him.

"You mean you ain't never had sex?" Beth pulled pack to look him in the eyes with a sceptical expression.

"Of course I have. I've just never... you know..."

"Had sex with a virgin?" she finished. He nodded his head slowly.

"I just... I don't want to hurt you or nothing," he mumbled. Beth smiled softly. Oh, Daryl. Valiant, gentlemanly Daryl. A man who thought nothing of shooting countless innocent animals, humans or walkers through the skull with an arrow was still deeply concerned about her own wellbeing.

"You ain't gonna hurt me, silly. I've had walkers trying to bite my face off for the last four years. I think that this will be a piece of cake," she laughed, kissing him briefly on the tip of his nose and managing to elicit a smile.

"Besides, I'm not nervous. I'm not unsure. I know that I want this. I want to finally know what it feels like to have you i-i... inside me," she choked out, the religious schoolgirl shocked at the language she had just used, but also secretly quite proud.

She was immediately grateful of her bold choice of words when Daryl made an odd sound (she could only assume that it was of desire) and headed towards the door.

"Wait, where are you taking me?" she squealed.

"My room, of course," he replied cooly.

"Why? What wrong with my room?"

"Mine has a mirror," he winked suggestively.

She cried out in surprise as threw her onto the king-sized bed, and she turned in time to notice that the sliding closet of the master bedroom had a glass door, effectively running along the length of the bed.

She didn't even have time to ask what the purpose of the mirror was before Daryl was on top of her, his mouth on hers, their tongues intertwining. Beth tried to wiggle out of her shorts, managing to get them halfway down her legs before giving up.

"Holy fuck," Daryl grunted, pushing himself up on his arms to take in her body and slipping her shorts off her feet in the process.

"What? What's wrong" Beth replied, looking herself up and down for disfigurements, walker bites and rashes.

"A virgin in white cotton panties? Do you even know how many fantasies you are making come true right now?" he smirked up at her before allowing one finger to trace a line down the middle of the panties, directly over her swollen core. Beth couldn't control the gasp that escaped her lips.

"Hmm, soaked through already. I haven't even started with you yet," he murmured before hooking a finger into the waistband of her panties and slowly pulling them down her hips.

"What are you doing?" Beth whispered, her eyes refusing to open in anticipation.

"Your first time should be special. It should be with someone who knows what they are doing," he explained before planting a wet kiss on one of her ankles, lifting her leg up in the air to rest on his shoulder. The other leg quickly followed. Beth felt another kiss, this time on the back of her knee, making her jolt in pleasure and surprise. The next kiss was on the inside of each thigh, this time he paused to nip playfully at a small patch of skin there and Beth let out an unexpected moan.

Holy mother of God.

His next kiss landed where she didn't expect it to. Directly on the source of her discomfort and tension.

"Oh my God!" she cried, her hips involuntarily bucking up against his face, against the sensation of his tongue against her oversensitive flesh. She heard him chuckle, and felt one forearm move across her hips to hold her down. Her entire universe burst into a million stars and galaxies behind her tightly shut eyelids, all she could focus on was the sensation, his tongue circling her clit with such tender precision, the grazing of his stubble against the join of her thigh, his hot breath warming her from the outside in.

"Open your eyes, darlin'" she heard and it took all of her strength to turn her head towards that mirror. Daryl pushed her legs up until her toes pointed to the ceiling and there was nothing blocking the view of his mouth on her body, his tongue darting around and around her pleasure centre with such accuracy.

Beth heard screaming as her hips started to shake against his ministrations, the muscles in her thighs clenched, her stomach tightened, her breath caught in her chest. A small portion of her brain tried to alert her to the screaming. Was it someone in trouble? Was a walker at the door?

She was shocked to realise that those cries were coming from her own open mouth, she gazed at her reflection drunkenly, saw her body shaking uncontrollably, and saw the arm that was previously holding her down reach up to cover her mouth to stop those screams escaping. Her legs dropped from their position, unable to be held there any longer as she rode out the waves of her orgasm, her hips grinding against Daryl's mouth, his tongue, his lips. She lay there, stunned, incapable of anything, her breath heavy and short as if she had just ran a race.

She vaguely registered Daryl kissing his way up her body, did not even realise that he had taken off his pants, leaving only a pair of boxer briefs that fit him snugly, showcasing the bulge in front.

"You alright, darling?" he smiled smugly, kissing her forehead tenderly.

"I think so, I've never had that feeling before," she responded breathlessly before mustering the strength to roll over, straddling his hips. Daryl caught a glimpse of the scene in the mirror, Beth's lithe body over his, her centre positioned over his, grinding softly against it, his boxer briefs the only thing between them.

"I'm ready now, if that's okay with you," Beth grinned, allowing Daryl to enclose her in his embrace and roll her over onto her back.

"I'm going to try to go slow, okay. But you have to tell me if it hurts," he warned, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. She responded non-verbally by wrapping her legs tightly around his waist and pushing her hips up to meet his. He chuckled under his breath before removing the last scrap of fabric between their bodies.

He positioned himself carefully, his eyes never breaking contact with her. He heard her gasp initially, watched a tear form in the corner of an eye and felt her nails dig into his biceps. This was new for him as well. He'd never known any girl to be so tight. He could feel every inch of her squeezing every inch of his length. When he was in to the hilt, he paused for a moment, kissing away the single tear that had rolled down her cheek.

"Please, move," she whispered, her eyes blinking quickly and expelling more tears. Daryl slowly pulled out before thrusting back in, his eyes concentrated on her expression. Her scrunched up face finally relaxed after the first few thrusts, her breathing quickened once more and her hands went to his hair, wrapping the tendrils of unkempt hair around each finger.

Oh god, the sounds she made. They would drive any man mad. To hear those little moans, sighs and whimpers made Daryl wish he were deaf. They were too seductive, too sexy, and they were proving too hard for him to resist.

Beth adjusted quickly, her hips rising up to meet each one of Daryl's thrusts. The sound of their bodies sliding together and apart filled the room, interrupted by his moans and her whimpers.

Daryl fell forward, encasing one of her pale pink nipples in his mouth as he continued to pump into her welcoming body. This earned a much louder groan from Beth, and Daryl felt more than a little proud of himself. He quickly scooped her up and rolled them once more, Beth squealing at suddenly being on top.

"What was that for?" she started to giggle but quickly turned into a moan as she felt her body slide down his length until she was sitting flush against his hips.

"I think you might like this position," he replied, placing one hand on her chest between her breasts to signal that she should lean back.

"Do what you were doing before with your hips, ah FUCK, like that, yes Beth," he groaned as she started undulating her hips.

"I can... oh ... you're so deep, I can't... oh SHIT!" she swore as her angle allowed for perfect friction between his cock and her G-spot. Daryl couldn't contain the shit eating grin that escaped him. His hand trailed down her chest to that bundle of nerves directly above his perfect view of his cock slipping in and out of her hot little body. His fingers went to work, applying indirect pressure to that little nub as he watched her movements get jerkier and jerkier, could feel her nails breaking the skin of his thighs.

"I don't think I can... it's too much... it's too good, I feel like I might..." she babbled, her release on the horizon. It was too intense. His length stroking that secret spot inside her and his fingers stimulating her clit gave her the impression that she was about to explode. She heard his voice, hoarse and oh so seductive.

"I need you to come. I want to feel it,"

And feel it he did.

With one more expert flick of his finger she fell over the edge, every muscle in her body contracting and relaxing, her pussy squeezing his length deliciously over and over again as she came down from her high. She fell forward, her mouth meeting his for a request, not a kiss.

"I want you to finish on top of me, like before," she whispered.

"Why's that?" he replied. She just shrugged noncommittally, and Daryl realised she was shy.

"Come on, tell me," he teased, thrusting up a little to maintain the friction. Her head fell backwards in pleasure as her confidence seemed to return.

"Because I like it when you're in control. I like it when you do what you want to me. You've just given me two amazing orgasms, now I just want you to use me for your own," she kissed his lips, her tongue tracing the opening of his lips as he wrapped his arms around her and flipped them over, wasting no time in thrusting into her body until he was completely buried in her heat.

"Yes, please, like that," she moaned, her hands running up and down his back, pulling his hips towards her, deepening his thrusts.

"Tell me what you want," he whispered harshly into her ear.

"F... fuck me," she whispered, her face immediately blushing.

"What?"

"Fuck me.. Please. I want you too," she squealed as he leant backwards on his heels, lifting up her hips to pummel into her deeper than before. He glanced down the length of her body, her hair spread out on the white bed linen, her hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. He saw the marks where his fingers had dug into her hips and looked back up to her perfect angelic face to realise she was murmuring something over and over again as he pounded into her.

"I'm yours... I'm yours... I'm yours... make me yours," she chanted over and over as her breath hitched, her body preparing for that moment of release.

He was close, he could feel it. So many years of pent up sexual tension, so many years of needing something and he had finally found it. A pint-sized blonde angel who was whimpering out her mantra, wishing to be his and only his with every thrust.

"D-Daryl I'm gonna c- c- oh, yes right there. Yes, yes, yes... right... there... I'm..."

Together they exploded. The moment Daryl felt her contracting body squeezing his length so eagerly he let go, emptying inside of her.

They stayed there for an infinite amount of time. His head resting in the crook of her neck, her legs wrapped tightly around his hips, her hips jolting with small aftershocks every few seconds.

Daryl lifted his head to find Beth staring at the ceiling, wide-eyed and awestruck.

"You alright, darling?" his brow furrowed with concern.

"I've never swore before. I've certainly never taken the Lords name before. I didn't think I ever would!" she giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"Well there's been a whole lot of firsts for you today, hasn't there," Daryl grinned before leaning down and finding her lips with his. She wasted no time in nestling into the crook of his arm, her head above his heart and her arm draped over his torso. Their legs intertwined lazily as Beth's eyes closed.

It was the first night in a while that she slept so soundly, Daryl's steady breathing and pummelling heart beat a constant lullaby in her ears. Her last thought before sleep enveloped her fuzzy brain was how tight Daryl held her.