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Waiting on You

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Beth hums softly to herself and tries to identify the tune. It's been stuck in her head for days, this one song. She can tell it's been driving Glenn around the bend; he's too much of a sweetheart to say anything, at least not to her, but Maggie's been giving her not-so-subtle hints that it's time to change it up. But Beth can't help it; she's never been able to help the songs that burst out of her as she goes about her day. Usually they start before she even knows they're inside her; she'll be cooking or cleaning or weeding the garden as she is now and someone will turn to her and ask what she's humming. And she'll pause in shock because she didn't even realize there was noise coming from her mouth.

There was a boy in her English class who did something similar; every few moments he would clear his throat. The first time Beth offered him a drink of water he looked so ashamed he wanted to run. But she made sure he didn't; he explained his condition, the compulsion to do little acts that has been going on so long sometimes he doesn't even realize it's happening. Beth became good friends with him after that, and sometimes she wonders what happened to him; especially at times like these, a tune in her head and weeds in her hands, the hot Virginia sun baking her neck even through the broad brim of her hat.

She pauses to wipe her forehead, look back towards Rick's house across the street. Michonne and Daryl and Carl live there too, but she's always thought of it as Rick's house, just like at the prison she thought of them as Rick's group even though her daddy was the oldest.

For Daryl, at least, calling it “his house” holds a ring of untruth. She knows before she came, he slept on the porch far more often than he did in his attic bedroom. He's on the porch now; crouched over a deer carcass, a doe, working his thick hunting knife through its pelt. Beth can just hear the ripping sounds from where she sits; can't see the drops of sweat on his arms, but she can see the way they gleam. She gives herself a moment to admire them; watch the easy, practiced way he cuts into the animal's hide, the flex of his muscles as he forces the knife through its flesh. She knows what those arms look like close up, of course; knows what every part of him looks like, and it's that thought and the accompanying images that has her flushing and bending back to the weeds.

She begins to hum again as her mind wanders—like it so often does, to him. He'd returned from hunting while she was already in the garden. Unlike now, she wasn't alone; Carol and Tara were with her, and they would have questioned her getting up to greet him. So she kept her head down, eyes slanting to the side every so often in case he glanced over. As far as she saw, he never did. He has better self control than she does, apparently.

But, he also looks far better in the sun than she does. The man never seems to burn, and with her pale skin she feels absolutely justified in holding it against him.

He'd gone inside for a bit, leaving the deer on the porch like an offering from some giant alley cat, and in that time Carol and Tara had gone inside for a lemonade break. They had implored Beth to come with them, but she declined; said she had a full water bottle and was quite happy where she was. And she is. She likes the feeling of the sun; feels safe in it after the entire bottle of lotion she slathered over herself before coming outside. She likes the breeze, and the scents it brings—wildflowers growing in front yards, cropped grass, clean laundry, and, only minutely, that ever-present scent of decay.

She's glad that last one is there. They're happy in Alexandria; despite all they've lost, Beth thinks she's happier than she's been in her entire life. But it wouldn't do to forget the world outside. She won't allow it of herself, and neither would Daryl. She usually goes on his hunting trips with him, much to Maggie's dismay; but she'd felt the vibrations in him when he told her about this one, felt the need he had to be alone for a while. And she missed being there with him—worried until she saw him hauling that deer down the street and the knot in her chest disintegrated into happy clouds—but in the end it's what he needs. Even if they don't see each other as much as they would like. Even if this means having to go another day without his hands on her.

And there she goes flushing again; flushing, and giggling, interrupting her own humming like some teenager with a crush. And she supposes that she is some teenager, even if it won't be for much longer.

But this isn't a crush. It is so many things, but in no way is it something so trite as a crush.

“Beth?”

She breaks off her musings and looks up, shading her eyes against the sun to squint at her sister standing over her. She's a good way through her pregnancy, and it shows; her belly casts its own shadow, instantly cooling the air on Beth's hands.

“Hey, Mags,” Beth says. “I'll be in in a minute; I just wanted to finish this row–“

“Hurry up,” Maggie interrupts. “I need to talk to you.”

Beth frowns, panic building in her chest. “Is everything ok? Glenn–“

“No, nothing like that, Glenn's fine,” Maggie says. She turns around, looks back at Rick's house; even turned away, Beth can see her mouth twist. She turns back to Beth, a grim expression on her face. “We just need to talk.”

Beth nods slowly, squinting at her sister. “Ok. I'll be in soon.”

“Good,” Maggie says. She stands there a moment longer, as if she doesn't want to leave without the last word. But she doesn't say anything; just shakes her head and heads to the porch, the front door shutting loudly behind her.

Beth sits in the weeds and the vegetables for a few moments, trying to run through what her sister could possibly want. But she must have spent more time in the sun than she thought; her mind doesn't seem to be working as coherently as it should, and for the life of her, she can't think of what Maggie might need to speak to her about so urgently.

Beth's eyes drift across the street. Daryl has his arms in the deer's guts now—is yanking out the intestines with what she knows is a deceptive gentleness, to keep them from rupturing and ruining the meat.

She has a sudden flash of the last time they were together—their last trip into the woods, in the dusty old cabin Daryl found hidden in the trees. How he'd grabbed her before they were even fully inside; whirled her around to press her against the closing door, gripped her thigh and moaned as she slipped her tongue into his mouth. They never get undressed, not beyond the walls, so with a few yanks and unbuttonings he fucked her right there; by the time they were done there were walkers knocking back at them, but the world feels less dangerous, now that she's died; so when Daryl slipped out of her and began to worry she laughed and threw her arms around his neck and held on until he held her too.

She means to go inside and join her sister. She really does. But when she stands and dusts off her knees her feet carry her in a different direction.

He ignores her for the first few moments she stands there; continues to pull at the deer's intestines, uncaring of the blood coating his arms past the elbow. Something about that unconcern, and the sight of the blood itself, shivers something through Beth's own blood; it's only then that he looks up at her, eyes sweeping her body in what anyone else would consider a cursory gesture but which sets her skin aflame.

“Hey,” she says, aiming for casual.

A smirk plays at his mouth, but vanishes quickly. He slaps the organ he's holding down on the porch boards, rubs his hands together.

“Hey,” he rumbles. “You gonna go inside soon? You've been in the sun a while.”

Beth rolls her eyes, leaning on the porch beam. “Yes, mom.”

The smirk comes again, a little larger, lasts a little longer. “That's a new one.”

Beth shivers again, and berates herself. She's a cliché. She's such a cliché. One look from this man has her knees going weak, and she's supposed to be one of the biggest badasses in this safe zone. According to the gossip that Carol has relayed, at least; and with the looks Beth gets sometimes, she sometimes believes it. She supposes that coming back from the dead can do good things for one's reputation.

But with Daryl, she doesn't feel like a badass; not at all. Not like the Alexandrians seem to define it. There's something illusory about being a badass; like all she is is a knife and quick feet and a gun, the image of a small blonde woman back from the dead, walking through the gates coated head to foot in brambles and scars and decaying flesh.

She doesn't like that. Because there was more. There were nights so cold she thought her heart would stop and forget to tell her. There were terrified days locked in sanitation closets as raiders clattered around outside. There were the blinding headaches from her head wound that still bring her to tears; and there were the tears that followed, when she considered what would make her stronger: continuing on, or sitting down and putting another bullet through her head.

But she wasn't about to play that game again. The world had done its best to kill her, and she has the scars to show for it; and at night she counts those scars and smiles because each one is a moment when she won.

Daryl knows all this. She's told him this, nights sitting on his porch, stolen moments in a cabin beyond the walls, walking the streets at night when no one is around to interrupt them but ghosts. She'll be with Daryl any time of day, any time he lets her; but there's something about the nights. Something that conjures the good kind of ghosts.

She saw her daddy murdered in broad daylight. Daryl saw every splatter of blood and brain as he buried his knife in his brother's head. In a world like this, seeing is best done by firelight.

Not that she resents the view she has of Daryl now; the way his eyes sparkle, even in the shade of the porch; the gleam of his muscles, the thin dry mouth that has done such wonderful things to her. No, she doesn't regret anything to do with Daryl. Only that they didn't start all this much sooner.

“Maggie wants to speak to me,” Beth says.

Daryl raises his eyebrows. “What'd you do?”

Beth rolls her eyes again. “What makes you think I did anything?”

Daryl shrugs, looks at her with a cut of his eyes. “I dunno. Seem like a pretty naughty girl to me.”

“Stop,” Beth says, cheeks flaming, mouth unable to keep from smiling. Daryl only chuckles, turns back to his deer. “Probably doesn't want me going out anymore. Sees you here with blood and guts everywhere and remembers the kinda things that could happen to me out there.”

Daryl shrugs, still not looking at her. “Can happen anywhere,” he says. “Best you can do is be prepared for it.”

“Mmhmm.” Beth spends a few more moments watching him; his skilled hands, the deft flicks of his fingers, the blood seeping under his fingernails. She watches him, and she shivers.

He notices that; he always notices that. He glances up at her, a tiny smirk on his face. She sticks her tongue out at him, and his smirk widens. She smiles, and his mouth relaxes into one too.

“Beth!”

Beth turns to look over her shoulder. Maggie is standing in the door to the house, one hand on the doorframe. Even from this distance Beth can see the worried knit between her brows.

“Gimme a minute!” Beth yells. She turns back to Daryl, sighing and rolling her eyes. “Get me outta here Daryl, please.”

“My bike's in the alley,” he says. “Could get it and run.”

Beth peers at him, waiting for him to crack. But he doesn't. She finds him deadly serious.

“No. Not today,” Beth says. She glances back over her shoulder, sees Maggie still watching them. “Although that might change.”

“Always here for you.” Beth turns, meets Daryl's eyes as soon as he seems to realize what he just said. “The bike is, I mean.”

Beth smiles, secret, soft, just for him. “Mmhm. Ok, Daryl. I'll keep it in mind.”

“A'right.” Daryl ducks his head, picking at some of the blood dried to his finger. “Hey, y'think you wanna go out tomorrow?”

Beth tilts her head. “But you just got this–“

“Ain't wanting game,” he says. He looks up at her, and she simultaneously wishes he hadn't and that he would never stop looking at her like this. Like he's a fire burning through her insides, immolating her from the inside out. He shifts, and her eyes catch on his cock under his jeans, and the heat that pools in her pussy nearly knocks her off her feet.

She clutches the post of the porch. She stays aright. But he's still looking at her, eyes flicking between her eyes and her chest, and she knows her nipples are hard. It's not her fault it's too hot for a bra.

“I'll... I'll see what I can do,” she breathes, watching as he shits again, gritting his teeth as he rolls against his jeans.

And god, Beth wants to take him now. Drag him upstairs to his attic bedroom and lock the door and fling his filthy clothing to the floor; feel his bloodstained hands on her, all over her, breaking off in red flakes across her clean skin until she's half wild too, small and covered by his body as he pounds her into the bed. He likes to pound into her. The first time on Rick's couch was soft and sweet, if aborted for fear of being caught; but they both realized quickly that that wasn't what they wanted. What they needed. There is a time for that, and maybe that time will be soon; but for now, they've only just got each other back. They lose people every day. Every bruise is proof they're living.

Beth doesn't know how she's going to walk across the street with her body burning like this. She doesn't know how she's going to talk to Maggie, with her thoughts on Daryl's hard cock, hard for her, just sitting there waiting for her touch.

“Beth!”

“Coming!” Beth yells, voice cracking in the middle of the word. Daryl smirks, but only for a moment. He knows how she feels. God, he knows.

And he knows too.

Without another word, she leaves him.


She doesn't think she'll ever get used to walking into a real house and calling it hers.

Not that this house has ever felt like hers. Its inhabitants were too entrenched by the time she got here; her arrival pushed Tara to the couch until she started dating the Safe Zone's doctor, and even now Beth feels out of place. She likes Rosita, liked Tara before she left; thinks she could grow to like Abraham, if he would stop looking at her like she's some mission objective he's working out a way of cracking. But she puts a spanner in the works. She knows she does. It's why she spends as little time at home as possible, and what time she does is usually spent locked in her room, thinking very physically about the man across the street.

She does like the kitchen, though; not as large or homey as the one at the farm, but it's spacious, airy when the windows are open, with generous counter space and a nice wood table where the household can share breakfast or tea.

Maggie is sitting there now, arms crossed on the tabletop. She doesn't have tea in front of her, or toast. She looks troubled, looks even more so when she looks up and sees Beth walk in. Beth feels her back go up at that, the hackles on the back of her neck rise. She never thought of herself in such animalistic terms; not until the aftermath of the hospital, the aftermath of her death, the months she spent wandering the wilderness as little more than an animal, the only humanity left Daryl's voice in her ear when she was about to do something stupid, his rumbling grunt when she did something to impress, his heavy breathing by her ear as she tried to stay warm at night. It had been cold, those days on their own before the funeral home, but they didn't reach into the depths of winter; and besides, Daryl's body gave off heat like a furnace, even when he wasn't wanting her. She doesn't think she shivered a single night after they started sleeping wrapped up in each other.

But Maggie is sitting at the kitchen table, completely civilized, sweat dripping down her temples despite the breeze from the open windows, and she's looking at Beth like she did when they were children and Beth took the heads off Maggie's Barbies.

“You want some lemonade, Mags? You're looking hot,” Beth says, going to the fridge for her own glass. She thinks that after this talk she might bring Daryl some; she made it herself, the night before, thoughts of him in her head. It would be only right.

“No. Thank you.” Maggie leans back a little, her pregnant belly coming into view. Beth smiles a little, as she always does when she sees it. Part of her is frightened, of course; no one forgets what happened to Lori. But they're in the best place possible for this. Denise isn't a surgeon, but Hershel taught Carol the basics, and there are enough people around that blood transfusions wouldn't be a problem. They have medicine, sterile rooms. Out of everywhere in the world, this is the safest place for Maggie to have her first child.

It doesn't stop Beth from worrying, of course, or sharing her worries with Daryl. He won't reassure her; he knows there's nothing he could give but platitudes. But he'll be there, his presence solid and strong, and there's little more she could ask for.

She sits down across from Maggie, sipping her lemonade and thinking about bringing some to Daryl later, and he's so much on her mind that it takes her a few moments to realize that Maggie's spoken his name too.

“Sorry?” Beth says. “I was thinking of something else, there.”

“I said,” Maggie says, irritation in her voice, “What were you and Daryl talking about?”

“Just now?” Beth asks. She shrugs. “Just about hunting. That's a good buck he got, should feed us for a while.”

“Since when do you talk to Daryl Dixon about hunting?”

Beth frowns, laughs a little in confusion. “Maggie, I've been hunting with him–“

“That's not what I mean.” Maggie leans forward, palms flat on the table. “How long have you been talking to Daryl Dixon about hunting?”

Beth freezes with her glass on its way to her mouth. Her mouth is suddenly parched, but she doesn't think she could stomach a drop.

She swallows, setting the glass on the table with a clink. She meets Maggie's eyes as strongly as she can, and in the distance of her mind is surprised when it makes Maggie shift.

“You wanna come out and ask what you want to ask?” Beth says. “Or do we have to talk in circles?”

Maggie narrows her eyes, clenching her fists against the tabletop. “Fine,” she says. “How long have you and Daryl Dixon been sleeping together?”

“Who says we are?” Beth asks, breezy as can be.

Maggie gives her an exasperated look. “Don't play dumb with me, Beth. It ain't cute.”

“I'm not trying to be cute.”

“How long?”

“Who says we are?” Beth asks, tone clipped, eyes suddenly narrowed and dangerous. Maggie actually sits back, and something in Beth crows inside.

Maggie swallows, placing a hand on her stomach as if to comfort herself. “Marian,” she says, naming an elderly woman in the house next to theirs. “Says she went to let the dog out one night and saw you...”

That puts Beth back even as it brings a flush to her cheeks. She remembers that night. She and Daryl were walking back from dinner at Aaron and Eric's. It was the men's anniversary, and the wine was flowing, and by the time they were through Beth was stumbling on her feet, staggering into Daryl every few steps and giggling every time he reached out to steady her. Nothing seemed changed in him, although he'd drank nearly twice as much as she had; nothing, until they reached her house and she opened her mouth to say goodnight and he dragged her into the alley between the houses and bent her over a garbage can.

It wasn't their best; she didn't come and he didn't last, but she still loved the feeling of him pounding into her, his broad body so big and strong behind her, hips pumping recklessly even as his arm folded across her middle to protect it from the harsh metal of the can's lid. He had the wherewithal to spill down her thighs, and she didn't even bother cleaning up; pulled her jeans up right over his spunk, shivered a little as it cooled against her skin and he kissed her, sloppy and open and clutching her ass like he wanted to take her again. But he isn't young anymore and she was ready to doze, so they went their separate ways; but not before he kissed her forehead and whispered how beautiful she looked in the moonlight.

And Marian saw that. She saw that, where any part would be damning, as far as the old woman is concerned.

But Beth isn't embarrassed. She's surprised, for sure; aroused by the memory, and maybe a little uncomfortable feeling like that in front of her sister. But she knew this would come out sooner or later. Kept it quiet more for Daryl's sake than her own, knowing how the community already views him. The look they'd get in their eyes if they knew he was screwing the miracle girl.

Looking at Maggie, though, Beth is more than a little put off to see the same look in her sister's eyes.

“Yeah,” Beth says. “Yeah. We have been.”

“Since when?”

“Why does it matter?” Beth asks.

Maggie sputters a bit. “Why does it... I mean, let me think. Was it when it was just the two of you and you couldn't fight back? Or the prison while you were still getting better, or god forbid, the farm—“

Beth's blood runs colder and colder as Maggie talks. She knows what she's asking now.

“So you want to know exactly how Daryl's taking advantage of me. Is that it?”

Maggie spreads her hands. Lays it all on the table.

“Yes.”

Beth stands up and turns to leave.

“Beth! Where are you–”

“After all this?” Beth spits, whirling around and staring into Maggie's surprised eyes. Surprised to see her fighting back. God. “After all he's done for you, for all of us? You're questioning all that cause of this?”

Maggie rolls her eyes, like all she sees is petulance. “Beth, you know what this looks like, don't you? He's never shown interest in anyone else and you're–“

“Weak?” Beth spits.

Young,” Maggie insists. “If he has a thing for kids–“

“I'm not a kid, Maggie–“

“–or someone he has power over, I'm not letting him get my little sister like that!”

“What makes you think he has power over me?”

Maggie gapes at her, looks her up and down.

“Beth, he could snap you in half like a toothpick.”

“Who says I don't like that?” Maggie's mouth falls even farther open. “How'd you expect this conversation to go, exactly?” Beth asks. “You thought you'd bring this up and I'd spill my guts about how he's been abusing me? How the only way I could'a survived without you was paying him for protection?” Beth swallows, willing down the angry tears jumping into her eyes. “If you really think that, Maggie, you don't know shit. Not about either of us.”

“I just...” Maggie shakes her head. “I know he's a good man, Beth. I know that.” She stretches out a hand, as if imploring Beth to take it. When she doesn't move to, Maggie draws it back, tears in her eyes. “But what if he hurts you? I can't see you hurt, Bethy. Not again.”

Beth's blood runs ice cold. Remembering. Remembering that first night back, the night she snuck out to find Daryl on the porch and he told her what no one else had the guts to, what the hospital folk had refused to say. Carrying her out of the hospital. Her blood in his mouth. Maggie falling to the ground, late, always late when Beth needs her, reaching out for the sister that Daryl wouldn't let go of. Not until he was forced to, and even then. Even then, he held on.

“Maggie,” Beth says. “Daryl's never hurt me half as much as you have.”

She doesn't wait for Maggie's expression; doesn't wait for her rebuttal, doesn't wait for her tears. Just leaves her lemonade on the table, turns around, and walks out the door.


Daryl's eyes are on her as soon as she slams her way out of the house, and they remain on her as she stomps down the porch steps, across the street, ignoring Carol's concerned call from the sidewalk and Maggie's cries from the door until she reaches Daryl and grabs his bicep in a bruising grip, yanking him to his feet and dragging him inside with a slam of his front door.

“Beth? Daryl? Everything ok?” Rick asks from his own kitchen table, a mirror image of where Maggie had been sitting, and it's that association that makes Beth snap.

“You might wanna leave the house.”

She sees the bewildered way Rick and Daryl's eyes meet, but neither say anything as Beth continues to pull him; through the hall and up the stairs and up again until she can push him inside his room and slam the door shut.

She stands with her back to the door, shoulders heaving. Daryl is looking at her, carefully, like he might a spooked wolf. And he should. Oh, he should.

“Beth, the fuck's–“

“Take your clothes off.”

Daryl blinks. Daryl frowns. He looks past her out the door, then back towards the bed, then towards her again and he looks no less confused.

“Beth, they all saw you come up here–“

“I don't care,” Beth growls. She reaches for the hem of her tank-top and flings it over her head, not caring where it lands; she brings her hands to her jeans, undoing the button with deft movements without moving her gaze from Daryl's panicked and lustful stare. “I told you once. Take. Your. Clothes. Off.”

He still looks conflicted, still looks confused; but with the snick of her zipper, the flash he gets of her panties and the bumps of the pubic hair beneath—it seems enough to convince.

She finishes stripping long before him and waits impatiently as he stumbles out of his clothes, one of the only times she's seen him truly uncoordinated in the three years she's known him. And she's known him, god; from the first day he rolled up on the farm, brooding and dangerous and skittish as a colt, there was something in her that wanted him like this. Discomfort falling away from his eyes as he takes in more and more of her skin. Scrambling to obey her wishes, nearly falling over himself as he leans to unlace his boots. Standing already half hard and panting and stripped even of his socks as Beth strides forward and yanks him down by the hair to force her tongue inside his mouth.

He still seems a step behind, meeting her kiss clumsily as he grabs at her hips in an attempt to slow her down. She bats his hands away, moaning pointedly into his mouth as she buries her nails in his shoulders, biting at his lip until she tastes blood.

“Beth,” he gasps as she pulls away to kiss at his neck, sucking vicious bruises into the delicate skin as his fingers tangle with her hair, grab at her ass and rub himself against her stomach. “Beth, what are you–“

She doesn't give him a chance to answer—shoves him back, hard, until the backs of his knees hit the bed and he buckles, hitting the mattress with a bounce. She doesn't move to climb on his lap, and he doesn't reach for her, despite the erection bobbing towards his stomach—they sit and they stand, breathing heavily. Daryl licks at the blood dribbling from his bit lip, and for a moment Beth feels a little sick.

He sees the moment—of course he does—for immediately his panting breaths still. He stretches his arm out, takes her hand, looks up at her from his bent forward position.

“Beth,” he says. “What happened?”

Beth breathes in deep, and exhales in an angry gust.

“Maggie knows about this,” she says. Daryl's mouth twitches, but he gives no other reaction. Beth swallows. “She thinks you're taking advantage of me.”

Daryl snorts, wasting no time in grabbing her hand and yanking her towards him. She goes easily, fitting between his spread legs as he reaches for her other hand to hold it too.

“You ain't the one bleeding, girl.”

“Sorry,” Beth mutters. He squeezes her hands, and she knows what he doesn't say. She's forgiven. Always forgiven. “I just don't... I expected what she said about me, but you–“

“Beth,” he says, “I'm a piece of shit. Everyone knows it.”

“You're not,” Beth says fiercely, kneeling before him, ignoring for the moment the cock bobbing inches from her face. He doesn't pull her forward, though, or shift away; just keeps holding her hands as she balances them on his thighs. “Daryl, you're the best man I know. You always have been; just takes a while to realize it.” Beth bites her lip. “But Maggie's known you as long as I have, and for her not to see...” Beth swallows, shaking her head. “I don't know where her head is. I don't know.”

“She wants you safe,” Daryl says. He squeezes her hand. “I'll talk to her. We'll work it out.”

Beth blinks, frowns in confusion. “Why are you not freaking out more about this?”

Daryl snorts, looking down at his own cock, bobbing between them; slides his eyes down her naked form, lingering between her legs and at her pointed tits.

“Might have to do with you getting me naked first,” he says.

Beth snorts, and the way he twitches, she knows he feels it on his cock. She looks up at him—his flushed face, strong chest, flat stomach; his uncut cock and the balls beneath. She loves every inch of him—would say so, if she had more confidence in his ability to receive such a sentiment—and having him naked, sitting, waiting for her; calming her down before dealing with the electricity between them—

Yeah. Yeah, she loves him. And it's time she showed it.

Without taking her eyes from his, Beth leans forward to press a kiss to the side of his abdomen. She doesn't avoid his cock on the way; lets it catch between his stomach and her shoulder, ignores his hiss as she rolls her shoulder joint, massaging him against his own stomach. He leans back and spreads his legs, giving her room as she kisses across his stomach, slides her hands up his thighs, purposefully dragging her breasts across his dick as she does so. It isn't long until she's got him breathing heavily again, but she waits for him to moan before pulling back and taking his cock in hand.

“Beth,” he groans.

She grins up at him, both hands wrapped around his shaft now as he threads his fingers through her hair. Not pushing her down, or pulling away; just holding, untangling her ponytail a little so the strands begin to fall free around her face.

“Feel good?” she asks, squeezing both hands, heart fluttering along with his eyelashes as his muscles contract.

“You know it does,” he says, rolling his hips against her grip. He does tighten his fingers now, pulling until little pinpricks of pain burst across her scalp. “You gonna get on with this already?”

Beth raises her eyebrows, and licks a stripe up the underside of his cock.

“Jesus—“

“That what you're asking for?” Beth asks, batting her lashes sweetly. She knows that he loves when she does that; sitting there with his cock in her hands, looking at him like she's selling girl scout cookies. And it gets to him now—she knows it does—she feels it when he begins to press her down until her breath is kissing his uncovered slit.

“Please, Beth—“

“Gotta say it, Daryl.” He gives her a look, and she giggles, pumping his cock a few times until she's got his eyelids fluttering again. “C'mon, babe, say it for me.”

“Jesus Christ, Beth, suck my goddamn cock, would you?”

She doesn't make him wait—flutters her eyelashes once more as she uses her fingers to pull down his foreskin so the sensitive head is the first thing to feel the heat of her mouth.

He bucks up into her as soon as she envelops him, but she's ready for it; continues to hold him with two hands until he's settled and she's looking up at his parted lips and flushed cheeks. She flicks her tongue out at his slit, making him hiss before dropping down further and sucking as she comes up, his pre-cum thick and tangy on her tongue.

“Your fucking mouth,” Daryl whispers, throwing his head back so cords of muscle stand out of his neck. He doesn't stay turned away for long, though; looks back down at her with weighty eyes as she bobs her head and his hand rests heavy on her scalp, as if to keep her from pulling off. Beth pulls one hand from his dick and rolls his balls until he's groaning. “That's my girl, jesus—“

The rumble of Daryl's voice on that word—long and throaty and so deep in his chest Beth can almost feel it vibrating through his dick—has her moaning herself, wishing desperately for a third hand so she could relieve some of the ache between her own legs.

Daryl must notice—of course he does—for the next moment he's dragging her off his cock, ignoring her offended whine as she strains for what she lost.

“Daryl, what–“

“Don't wanna come in your mouth,” he rasps.

She isn't going to argue with that.

Before he can pull her up she's surging to her feet and pushing on his shoulders, urging him up the bed as she follows, his head hitting the pillows with a bounce. She clambers on top of him, feeling the wet of her inner thighs glide against his legs, grinning as he moans.

“Dripping for me,” he murmurs, reaching towards her center–

And then looking at her, confused, when she grabs his questing wrist along with the other and pins them both above his head.

“Think you've earned that?”

She doesn't think she's ever heard the sound that comes out of him then; something between a whimper and a whine, and she knows it embarrasses him so she wastes no time in pulling herself higher up his body and seating herself on the length of his shaft, wet from pre-cum and her own spit and now the juices spilling from her body.

She drags herself against him and he seems beyond words now.

“You like that?” she asks breathily, leaning half her weight on his wrists and the other half on her cock, knowing he could break away from either hold with ease, flip her over and pin her down and take her like she knows he wants to—but he doesn't. He lies there with his hands crossed above his head, her cunt lips stretched around him and his biceps clenching and looking at her like she's turned gravity upside down.

“Beth–“

“Say it,” she says.

“Feels so damn good,” he whispers. He bucks his hips and she digs her nails into his palms and he gazes at her with wonder, pupils blown black. “Jesus christ, Beth–“

“You want me to fuck you?” she asks, swiveling her hips, using the friction of her pussy and his stomach to make his cock ache and harden further, pounding and so fucking hard under her. “Tell me and I'll do it. Jesus christ, Daryl, you feel so good–, you look so good, god, fucking look at you–“

“Gonna get a spanking for that potty mouth, girl.”

And she laughs. Loud and long and with her entire body as she takes one of her hands away from his wrists, reaching behind herself to grab his slicked up cock, rub her thumb across the head until his hips can't help their jerking.

“I don't think you're in any position to threaten that.”

He is. They know he is. Beth is strong but he's so much stronger and Maggie's right—Maggie's usually right—he could snap her in half like a twig and barely break a sweat doing it.

But he won't. They both know he won't. And not just because he likes when she takes charge. Not just because it gets that awestruck look in his eyes like nothing else does, like the universe was born only for her to exist. Not just because watching her ride him is one of this favorite sights in the world—he told her so.

No, it's because she likes it. She likes that he knows she's strong. She likes this muscle-bound vision trapped between her thighs, writhing helplessly beneath her as she teases the head of his cock against her clit.

He does it because it makes her laugh.

She's grinning. Grinning and giggling even as she moans at the feeling of his spongy head on her clit, the wetness between them that must be soaking through to the bed by now. She's laughing and he's watching her and he's smiling too, big enough to spread his lips, big enough to bare the teeth the world sees so little of—and it's just as she presses her lips to that smiling mouth that she at last guides him inside her.

He's big. She knows he's average for a man but she's small for a woman and the way he stretches her is beyond description.

The way she stretches herself on him.

“Beth,” he moans. Literally moans with the effort of staying still under her, thighs quivering beneath her ass as he fights to keep his hips against the mattress, to stop them from bucking up into her. He always does that, even when he's on top—waits for her to move before he does. She suspects it's to give her time to adjust, time she doesn't always need and rarely wants these days, when it feels so good to have it hard and fast between them—but part of her wonders if it's because he's waiting for her to tell him to; waiting for her to let him.

She releases his wrists, but he leaves them above his head, turning them over to twine in the sheets as she sits up, bracing herself with her thighs and a hand on his stomach as she sinks down, swivels her hips, throws her head back with an open mouth and takes him in until she can feel his balls nestled against her ass.

His stomach muscles are heaving, and she drags her hand across them as she leans back, grabs hold of his thighs behind her; feels them tremble with the effort of holding back, of the feeling of himself within her. She looks down at his face and he seems almost in pain, and she knows his view of her body must be spectacular but no matter how she pushes her chest out his eyes refuse to move from hers. Waiting for her signal. Her command.

“Oh, Daryl,” she moans, moans louder than she ever has, loud enough that anyone in the house would be able to hear. “God, you feel so good inside me–“

“Beth, please,” he damn near whimpers, biceps flexing in the most delicious way as he tightens his muscles, grits his teeth. “Fuck me, please let me fuck you–“

“Not yet,” she says, raising herself up—raising herself up, body bent backwards and balanced on his thighs, and she sees his eyes rake down her body to where they're connected and the way his eyes flare make her throb at the sight—and lowering down. Rolling against his balls. Lifting up again, and lowering down, head thrown back, panting almost as loud as he is, voices filling up the small attic room.

He is whimpering now—small little gasps that burst from between his lips and straight to her clit, and she thinks she's kept him waiting long enough.

“Help me fuck you,” she whispers, “Help me fuck you.”

She nearly loses her balance when he bucks up into her, his ass coming all the way off the bed before it returns with a bounce, each jostle hitting a new place inside of her as he does it again, picking up speed, thrusts of his hips that have her sinking her nails into his thighs and moaning like a whore.

“That's it, that's it,” she whispers, bouncing with him, bouncing on his cock, riding him as he jerks into her with violent rabbit thrusts, unbalanced, uncoordinated, chasing nothing but the feeling of her clenching muscles.

His hands are still above his head.

“Touch me,” she says, digging in her nails, squeezing her cunt, thighs burning as she finally matches his rhythm. “Come on, goddamnit Dixon, fucking touch me–“

It happens in an instant; one moment his hands are above his head, the next they're flying down, one sinking into her waist and the other grabbing her breast as he yanks her down and pulls her up and grits his teeth as she cries out.

“Yes, Beth, yes–“ he gasps, bucking his hips, squeezing her nipple, nearly dropping her all the way backwards with the zing it sends through her body, “Touch yourself, girl, come on, get your hand on that cunt, please–“

She grins at him. Fucking grins, pulling a hand from his thigh and bringing it between her legs, feeling his legs come up behind her to keep her balanced and give himself leverage as she sinks her hand into their combined pubic hair, feels for where she's stretched around him, and finally lands on the swollen nub that hits his skin with every bounce.

She doesn't hold it in this time—when she comes, she screams.

She's still jerking through the aftershocks when she feels Daryl follow—gushing deep inside of her with a moan of his own, desperate and gasping as his hands scramble at her body for something to hold onto. He lands on her waist and yanks her down, giving a few final, aborted thrusts before shuttering to a still, cock hot and pulsing inside her.

She gives herself a few moments of shuttering, of looking down between them at his cock still inside her, the white beginning to leak down his shaft—before allowing herself to collapse to his chest, shimmering with sweat and blasting heat like a furnace on a day that's already dripping.

But she can't move; can only sprawl, chest heaving, cunt clenching around his slowly softening cock. She feels his hands come up to touch her, one tangling in her hand, the other possessive on the curve of her ass, probing too at their combined liquids dripping down between them.

“I'm sorry,” he whispers, “I forgot–”

“It's fine,” she whispers back, rolling her hips with a groan, grinning when he twitches at the over-stimulation. “You ok, old man?”

She hears him snort—feels him snort, with how tightly they're pressed together—and when his hands come to her waist to lift her off his cock she doesn't resist; remains limp as he does the work, clenching her cunt around the head at the last moment and earning herself a swat on the ass.

“Fucking tease, you are,” he says, voice more than a little breathless.

She lifts her head from where she'd had her face pressed to his neck; smiles down at his grinning eyes and lax face, kisses him on his already reaching mouth.

“You like it,” she whispers against his lips.

“Fuck yeah, I do,” he says. He even doesn't hesitate.

He doesn't resist either when she rolls herself off of him, stopping a moment to give his torso a squeeze before standing, gasping a little when her jellied muscles protest.

“Where you going?” he asks.

She turns to look at him over her shoulder, and nearly crawls right back into bed. He looks glorious—entire body shimmering with sweat, cock soft and curled against his stomach, chest broad and strong and reaching for her. But they'll have time for that. They'll have time.

“I should talk to Maggie,” she says. She pauses, then laughs, stooping down to grab her underwear. “And you should probably apologize to Rick.”

“I wasn't the one screaming,” he drawls, putting his hands behind his head, making no pretense at subtlety as he watches her clean herself off and re-dress. “I'm guessing this will happen more often now?”

She pauses, jeans halfway up her thighs as she looks at him—twice her age but eyes hopeful as a schoolboy's, even as his mouth and his tone twist with uncertainty.

She smiles at him. Pulls her pants up the rest of the way, walks over for a kiss, short but deep. Watches his eyes flicker between hers as he cups her cheek with one hand, hand large enough to span from chin to temple.

She kisses him again. Longer. Slower. Pulls back only when the urge to climb back on top of him really becomes too much.

“You bet your ass it will, Dixon,” she says.

She finishes dressing. She leaves without a word. She doesn't look at Rick when she passes his beet-red face on the porch.

She means to talk to Maggie, and she will. But she can't help stopping in the middle of the street; turn to look back at the attic window, curtains pulled aside. It's hard to make out his expression from here, but she doubts her guess would be too far off.

That tune is back in her head, the one she still can't name. Maybe she'll hum it for Daryl later. Maybe he'll know it. Maybe he won't. Maybe Maggie will stop in on them and hear the tune and not even blink to find them wrapped up in each other.

It's ok, Beth thinks as she walks up the steps to Maggie's porch, waves to Carol's amused face in the garden. It's ok. We have time, now.

We have time.