The first time he sees her she's throwing out some cardboard boxes in the back alley of the bar she works in. He's about to light a cigarette when she stumbles outside, mumbling angrily under her breath and it's been decades since a woman has held his interest the way she suddenly does.
Her long blonde hair is held back in a high ponytail that exposes the long column of her throat and Daryl almost lunges for her when the delicate tendons strain as she lifts a bag of trash to throw in the dumpster. But he doesn't, he waits and he watches because even before he got turned he’d been a hunter.
The girl sighs and shoves a strand of tousled hair behind her ear, someone opens the back door and yells for her. She rolls her eyes and Daryl smiles, “I’m coming,” she grumbles as she slams shut the door behind her.
Daryl lights his cigarette and leans back against the brick wall. He's fucked.
There's no way he’ll be able to leave Atlanta now without getting a taste of the pretty blonde. He thinks about snatching her up after work, in the late hours of the night no one would even be able to hear her scream. She's a tiny thing, probably won't even put much of a fight, but the thought of her scratching and biting gets his dick hard and Daryl takes a deep breath to steady himself.
He’ll wait, scope her out. See if anyone will… no, no he won't do that, he’ll be careful because he's had more than a hundred years of practice.
He still remembers the first time he fed from a live person. She’d been some harlot that Merle had enticed to their rooms, drunk on whiskey and endorphins she hadn't even noticed the bite to
her wrist until Daryl had roughly started sucking on the wound. She had screamed at the sight of her own blood and Daryl had panicked, he went for her jugular and the only sounds she made after that were the gurgling ones that came from her throat.
He had dropped her lifeless body and started crying, sad angry sobs that he hadn't heard himself make since he was a child. He remembers the remorse, the aching sense of guilt, and Merle, poor Merle had comforted him the only way he knew how.
“It's a’right Daryl, ain't no one gonna miss her anyways,” he’d said.
And Daryl had only sobbed harder.
He's been in control for a long time and he's sure he won't make the same mistake again, no matter how pretty the blonde girl is.
A couple of nights later he goes into the bar where the towheaded girl works. Her official job title is waitress but they have her doing pretty much everything, checking people's tabs, making drinks, cleaning the occasional puke from the floor. Daryl's not sure she's as young as he previously thought, she just has that sort of face. Big eyes, round baby face, plush lips, she looks like a kewpie doll come to life.
Despite the obscene amount of staring Daryl does, she doesn't seem to notice him much, aside from the basic once over that every patron gets. It would work to his advantage if he was only trying to eat her, but Daryl wants more. He wants days spent in bed with this little slice of heaven, he wants her begging for him, desperate for anything he can give her.
“Beth! Can ya give me a hand?” one of the bartenders asks, and the little blonde makes her way back.
Christ Daryl thinks, even her name fits.
The place is busier than usual and she’s running all over the place, strands of frizzy hair escaping her braid, she reminds him of the girls of his youth. Fresh faced and smelling like nature, not that he has anything against the way red painted lips call out like a fire engine, or the way a good perfume can entice. But there’s something incredibly mouth watering about bare pink skin, tasting a little of sweat and something else that makes every person unique. He thinks this woman might taste like honey if he bit into her. Daryl stands from his seat at the bar and just as he’s about to pay for his drinks someone bumps into him and the sound of glass breaking disrupts the noisiness of the bar.
He turns and Beth is kneeling, picking up broken pieces of glass with her naked fingers. He gets down on one knee and begins helping her.
“I’m so sorry!” she tells him, “someone almost knocked me over while they were leaving.”
“It’s ‘aright,” he says, and from this close up he can see tiny beads of sweat running across her face, she smells like laundry detergent and something else he can’t quite describe.
“They’re gonna take these outta my paycheck, I just know it,” she says, mostly to herself. They place all the large pieces of glass on the tray she was carrying when all of a sudden Beth yelps out in pain. A shard pierces the skin of her pointer finger and later Daryl will scold himself for what he does next, but in that moment all he can think about is that she’s bleeding right in front of him and what a waste it would be.
He takes her hand and Beth finally gets a good look at him, her blue eyes wide like a fawn, “What are you--”
“Gotta stop the bleeding,” he tells her, pulling her hand closer to his face. She gulps back a response and mutely nods at his words.
Daryl opens his mouth and watches as her own falls slightly open, her chest rising and falling more rapidly in anticipation. He slightly sticks his tongue out and like a cat licks the beaded drop of blood coming out of the small wound, she shivers and Daryl places her index finger in his mouth. He sucks on the digit and the girl watches, enraptured at his display and who can blame him if he squeezes on her finger a little, just to get more of the coppery taste; she winces but doesn’t make him let go. The blood hits his tastebuds and it’s like the first time he tasted a woman all over again, the flavor explodes in his mouth as he sucks on her finger and he lets her feel his fangs just for a second. Beth gasps and he finally lets her go, he stands and she follows, albeit a little dazed but she hardly sways on her feet.
“Better get a band-aid for that,” Daryl tells her, his voice low and rough. She nods and he can feel her eyes on his back all the way out the door.
He waits nearly a week before returning, not long enough to have the girl forget but long enough to not have her avoid his eyes in embarrassment. Sure enough, he walks in on a Thursday night and he sees her face burning with heat, he purposely forgoes the bar to sit in her area and waits as she makes her way to him.
“What will you have?” she asks, her voice high and breathy, Daryl makes a show of lighting a cigarette only to have her stand next to him a little longer.
He breathes out a plume of smoke, “Moonshine,” he says and watches as she walks away to get his order.
She returns and sets the glass in front of him, “Anything else?”
She looks at him for a bit longer than is considered polite and Daryl wants to grin but he gives her a shy smile instead. Over the course of the night she keeps the moonshine coming and Daryl only manages to get a little tipsy, a side effect of his “condition.”
He pays his tab and leaves Beth a sizable tip, he leaves the place but waits around outside till closing time. He's been dragging the whole thing for too long, he could have had her a while back but she's a sweet girl and he doesn't want to hurt her, despite what his basic instincts are telling him.
Daryl watches as she waves to her coworkers, her purse held tightly across her body. She crosses the street and he follows, it's late, the streets are quiet and he can't believe how easy she's making it for him.
Beth makes a turn and while the neighborhood isn't very bad, the street lights are dim and he makes his footsteps louder, her gait speeds up and then so does his. He wants to chase her, he wants to corner her like prey and have his way but this girl is smart, she turns back but he's shrouded in darkness. She takes out her cellphone and just as she's about to dial emergency services Daryl catches up to her.
“Anyone ever tell you it ain't safe for girls to be walking around so late?” he says, his lips near her ear.
She startles and spins around to gape at him, “Oh my god, it's you!”
She presses a hand to her fluttering heart, “I thought some psycho might be following me,” she says, letting out a nervous sounding giggle.
Daryl steps back, “Sorry.”
“It's okay,” she responds, a little furrow appears between her eyebrows, “but why are you following me?” she asks, sounding wary once again.
“Saw you leave the bar, was gonna ask to walk you home but then,” he ducks his head, “I don't know,” he mumbles.
Beth bites her lip as she seems to think it through, “Well it's only about two more blocks, you can walk me back.”
“I’m Beth by the way,” she tells him, a flush to her cheeks appearing.
“Yeah, heard them call your name back at the bar.”
“Oh, of course, that makes sense,” she says, her shoulders hunching over a little in embarrassment.
She smiles, wide with all her teeth showing, “Nice to meet you.”
They resume their walk back to her place in silence and Daryl can practically touch the air of anxiety around her. She likes him, he felt her watching him back at the bar but her sudden nervousness only confirms it, good, because he likes her too. They stop in front an apartment building that’s probably older than her and she stands, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, “Well, this is me,” she says, and Daryl waits for her to speak again.
“Um, this is-- I mean, It’s sort of late, do you wanna come up for a bit?” she asks, fidgeting with the strap of her bag.
Daryl looks at her from beneath his eyelashes, she doesn’t do this, she’s not the sort to invite strange men up to her place but she wants him there for some reason. “Sure,” he responds and Beth smiles, she opens the front door of the building and he follows, he watches the sway of her ass as they climb up four flights of stairs, by the time they reach her apartment she’s a little winded. Beth reaches in her bag for her set of keys and slides them into the lock, after a little jiggle she pushes the door open and turns to look at him expectantly.
“Come in,” she says, inviting him into her home.