Their declarations of love for one another brought a new aspect to the sex. It was still an unbridled sort of passion, filled with lust and desire, but there was also this sense of connection and perhaps a hint of potential longevity than made it that much sweeter.

Daryl still wanted to please her and make Carol deliriously happy, but he was met with this new feeling of confidence he'd never had with a woman before. Wherever and however he touched her, Daryl felt like he was doing it exactly right. He wasn't nervous or scared, hesitant or overly shy, and he didn't wonder what she was thinking or question if the noises that came out of her were good or bad. He knew.

Standing on the ship deck, in their private spot, they were both met with a need to consummate their words with their bodies. The risk of getting caught heightened the sexual arousal but did nothing to stop what happened. It was full on, can't get enough of each other sex, where they only removed enough clothing to get the job done. Daryl was hard in a matter of seconds. By the time he had unbuttoned her pants and pulled them down he was more than ready to fuck her. One look at her face told him Carol was ready too and plunging into her confirmed it. She was so wet he moaned feeling the slickness at their union.

Carol was perched on the ledge, with her legs wrapped around him. Daryl eased her back against the hull of the ship so Carol would slam against it as he started to pound into her. Daryl knew she wanted it hard and fast, so he confidently gave her what she wanted. If anyone was close it would have been obvious what was going on from the moans she was making and the similar groans Daryl just couldn't hold back.

When Carol came he pulled her forward, completely into his arms, so she could cling to him while he finished in only a few more quick strokes. There was something about knowing he'd made her orgasm that brought on his own even quicker. That and the feel of her pussy contracting on his dick and the way she shuddered in his arms.

As the intense feelings faded away Daryl felt Carol's hands on his face. She looked into his eyes before meeting his lips with her own, soft and wet. Her kiss did almost as much to him as being inside her had, because she was telling him what he wanted to hear. Earlier Carol had said she thought she was falling in love with him, but this kiss said something different. It told Daryl she was every bit as sure of it as he was. And if he had any doubt her words said it all, "I do love you Daryl, I'm absolutely certain of that."

Never had a moment been more perfect. A gorgeous night, a gorgeous woman in his arms, and knowing what it felt like to be loved - finally. Daryl held her a few minutes longer until he felt his dick grow limp and start to slip out of her. He pulled himself the rest of the way out and helped her to the ground so they could both dress.

"I've never done that before," Carol said, with a little chuckle. "Out in the open like that, where anyone could see us..." The spot was fairly private, but she was right, they were by no means hidden if someone were to walk by. "Have you?" she asked, smiling when he didn't respond right away. "Oh come on, spill it."

"Just once," he mumbled, thinking back to his junior year of high school when he'd fucked a cheerleader under the bleachers. "Didn't go so well," Daryl added with a grin, telling Carol the whole story as they headed back to her room. It just so happened that he got caught up in a nasty little scheme of bullying, where the new cheerleader was forced to do initiation by finding a guy to fuck her in the football stadium. What she didn't know was that it was all just a plot to have her kicked off the team. The cheer captain alerted the principal of what was going on under the bleachers and he busted them, handing down Daryl's 3rd week-long suspension of the semester. The girl also received a suspension and was not allowed on the team. She ended up transferring schools eventually as word got out, while Daryl on the other hand gained some much undesired popularity and started skipping class even more often than usual.

"I hated how they made her feel so bad she had to leave but I became some sort of alpha male hero," Daryl said, feeing disgust all over again.

"Once again you show me you were a real man, even back in high school," Carol said with a smile. It took Daryl a minute to catch on to what she meant. But eventually he realized that Carol was complimenting him for recognizing the sexist times they lived in and being angered by the way a woman was treated so differently. He shrugged, "the way I see it, we're all equals. Ain't about whether you're a girl or guy, but about what you know and what you can do."

"You mean you don't believe a woman's place is to wait on her man, raise babies, cook and clean?" Carol said sarcastically. "I put up with that for 10 long years."

They entered the room and Daryl pulled her into his arms just barely inside the door. "I will be your slave," he whispered into her ear. "Do anything you want. Anything to make you happy."

"Anything?" Carol asked, drawing back to look at him. "Hold my hand in public? Carry my purse at the mall? Buy my tampons?"

"Woah, hold on... Leave me a little dignity," he joked. "I'm still a guy." Daryl was kidding. If she needed and wanted him to, he would do any of those things for her.

"Yes, you definitely are," Carol said, slipping a hand between them to cup his package. It had barely been 15 minutes since they finished on deck, but he would be ready to go again if Carol wanted to. She made him feel like a horny teenager, ready on her beck and call. "I'm not completely against working hard to make you happy," she said, guiding him backwards towards the bed. "But maybe I'm just being selfish," Carol added, undoing his pants and pushing them to the floor, underwear included. She had them both naked in no time, and Daryl was completely aroused in anticipation the moment she did.

Carol fucked him this time. She rode him hard and fast, just like he'd done to her earlier. Daryl loved the way her tits bounced as she moved on him. She was pushing him close when Daryl stopped her and took over. He lifted Carol off him and flipped her onto her back, giving his dick a minute to recover, before entering her again, in complete control. The back and forth of control was a reminder of the genuine equality of their relationship. They were both very willing to take the lead at times but also willing to be submissive other times.

When they were finished and lying side by side in bed Daryl felt a sense of panic strike again realizing the trip was pretty much over. Carol's insane sixth sense of his mood kicked in right away. "Stop thinking," she said gently. "We are going to be fine. Going home isn't going to change the way we feel about each other." Carol traced a finger on his chest, "besides, you heard the psychic, we've got this."

Daryl chuckled. He loved her easy going attitude and he knew she was right. And hoped to hell the psychic was legit as well. "I'm a bit nervous about meeting Sophia," Daryl admitted earnestly.

"Don't be," Carol replied quickly. "She's a very sweet girl. A bit shy at first, like someone else I know, but once you both get past that… you'll get along just fine." Carol pulled the blankets over their naked bodies. "She's changed so much since I left Ed. And having you around is going to help her so much, I know it." Daryl was honored that she was already considering his impact on Sophia would be in a positive way. "If we're being honest… I'm more than a little curious about your brother. Not nervous really, but I have a feeling he's not nearly as bad as you make him seem."

Daryl could feel her smile against his chest. She was likely right. Merle probably wouldn't come across as the ass that Daryl painted a picture of, but it was only because he oozed charm, particularly around women. "Oh you'll like him, just don't trust him 'kay? He's a snake in the body of a cute little puppy dog or something."

Carol giggled. "I love you, okay?" she added softly.

"Love you too," Daryl responded easily, as if they'd been saying those words to each other for years. "Get some sleep," he added, pulling her a little closer and closing his eyes.

The next morning Daryl had to leave for his own room to pack up. He promised to return once he was ready to go and was back to her room in just over an hour, luggage in tow. "Just had a call from security," Carol informed him. "They said the FBI would board as soon as we're docked. They want to meet with all the victims, just briefly to set up appointments to visit later in the week. They figure it will be a fairly open and shut case." Daryl nodded. He forgot about the FBI until he was in the shower earlier and wondered if they would need to contact Merle and Carol's ride to let them know they might be late. But it sounded like it wouldn't take much time and they would just be one of the last to get off the boat.

He was right. Once the ship docked the Feds boarded immediately and they were finished and exiting the boat with the last of the passengers. Daryl could see Carol scanning the crowd for her family. He spotted Merle right away and groaned. It appeared that Merle had already found some fresh meat to hit on while waiting. "Sophia," Carol whispered, tears springing to her eyes as she finally spotted her daughter. "Come on, come meet her and my sister in law and then we'll find your brother." Carol took his free hand in hers and weaved through the crowd towards an adorable little girl and a woman with blonde curls. Daryl was trying really hard not to be nervous as they approached. He saw Sophia's face light up as she spotted her mom and then her eyes shifted to his face. They weren't blue like Carol's, they were darker, likely hazel, but they held the same expressiveness as her mother's. One look in those eyes and Daryl relaxed. Everything really was going to be just fine.

The end!

Author's note: I was actually planning one final chapter to end this fic, but after writing this I decided that I really like it ending on that note. I like how looking into the eyes of a child, particularly Carol's daughter, puts Daryl at ease. I think it demonstrates that he will connect easily with Sophia and indicates that she's a lot like her mama. I am seriously considering doing a sequel fic after I wrap up a few more WIPs and delve deeper into Stay With Me. Let me know if you guys would be interested in a second installment that would explore how they get past all the real life obstacles and start their relationship. I know some will be disappointed that Carol didn't meet Merle, but with a strong character like Merle I didn't want to bring him in for just a brief scene and then end it. If I were to do a sequel Merle would have a much bigger presence. Anyway, thank you so much for your support. This one was fun! Thanks again to Tanya for the headcanon that started this whole thing. Mwahhhh! It was a blast!