She felt his brooding eyes on her back. Even the sound of his knife chipping piece by piece of the branch in his hand sounded bitter and heavy. It was too quiet. Not even the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves could cut through the tension in the air.
She sighed with frustration and let her arms fall limply to her sides after she had tried and failed for probably the seventh time to braid the god forsaken bird nest that was her hair. The sudden movement caused a sharp jolt of pain to spread through the musculotendinous cuff of her shoulder. Beth's jaws clenched together with a groan and she helplessly held a protective hand over her bad shoulder as she cursed her own recklessness.
The sound of Daryl's knife instantly stopped and it was quiet for a small moment. "You alright?"
Beth swallowed and blinked away a few frustrated tears from the pain that had slipped through the slits of her eyes. "Just…" She cleared her throat. "My shoulder."
With a grunt, he slipped the knife back in its sheath and dropped his distraction on the ground. She heard every step he took as he crossed the small distance between them.
Dropping to a crouch beside her, she felt his fingers on her back. He glanced briefly from her hand that was covering her shoulder to her eyes, wordlessly requesting permission. Her eyes flickered over his face before she looked away with a nod and removed her hand. She felt him pull down her sleeve and almost flinched when he hissed.
"The hell didn't you say anything earlier?"
"Didn't think it was that bad." She was being honest. "Plus I knew you'd probably react this way."
He grunted, giving her a hard stare before he critically studied the mildly swollen shoulder, her skin was blotched with small areas of blue and faded crimson. "This here ain't good, Greene. First your ankle, now this. Gotta look out for yourself more," he murmured, jesting stiffly, almost nervously as if he was holding something back. Something about his manner gave Beth the feeling he was pissed.
If he was, he clearly wasn't going to talk about it. He'd been like this for three days; silent, brooding and withdrawn. He only came out of his shell when he had to. Much like now. Determined to ignore his behaviour and not let it affect her, she scoffed with a chuckle. "I should probably be happier about escaping turning walker buffet."
He didn't answer (further confirming Beth's suspicions) and gently touched her warm skin. "Must have been when you fell." His voice was flat and objective.
She nodded and stared at her hand on her lap. It had been a close call.
They had been hunting, tired and hungry after having eaten no worthy food for several days, and finally when Daryl's arrow had gone straight and true into a rabbit they'd chased for hours and Beth had gone to collect, four walkers came out into the clearing, moving towards their long anticipated prize. Beth could have turned around, she could have gone back but the desperation and sudden thrill at the challenge in front of her had made her choose the opposite. Similar things had happened a few times before and Beth had found that when she pushed herself just a little more, she grew a little stronger every time. Despite Daryl's furious calls for her to come back, Beth had ignored all warning signs and raced to reach the rabbit first, urged by the adrenaline that was pumping through her veins. With the rabbit finally in her arms, she had barely escaped the clutches and jaws of the walkers. Daryl had been shouting all means of curses and threats the whole time, running towards her, desperately aiming with the crossbow as he did. Halfway back, a cruel twist of fate had Beth's foot get caught on the uneven surface of a rock that had been deceptively hidden from view in the grass and had sent her tumbling on the ground. The impact had been painful and had been enough to squeeze the air out of her lungs as if someone had punched her in the stomach.
She turned her head to regard his face as he was engrossed with inspecting her shoulder. The stiffness of his jaws was evidence enough that something else was going on in that mind of his. His warm, calloused fingers slid over the arch of her collarbone, stimulating the nerve endings in her skin and sent a wave of warmth through her body that quickly gathered in her stomach. She took a deep breath and drew her fingers against her palms. Her eyes went to his lips and for a moment she wondered when he was gonna kiss her again.
He hummed with a nod, as if he discovered something he had been expecting all along. "No broken bones. Probably just sprained it. Gonna have to rest that shoulder for a week or two, though." He tugged her sleeve back up. "Was a stupid thing t'do."
"Got us dinner, didn't it?"
His eyes snapped back up at her. "Beth," his voice was firmer now. "M'serious."
"So am I," she mumbled honestly, shrugging with her good shoulder.
Something instantly changed in his eyes. They had turned cold and were glazed over with a hint of disbelief and disappointment that made Beth want to cringe. He shook his head and got up to return to his original place by the tree (and to probably continue ignoring her, too).
Beth stared after him, confusion finally getting to her. The cold lump of ice that had formed in her gut ever since that incident with the rabbit quickly melted with a surge of anger at his withdrawn behaviour. It was frustrating, to say the least. Not long ago, they had seemed so in tune with each other. It was strange how they both had seemed to have lost that rhythm so quickly. And more importantly, why the hell would he let something like this get in the way of what they had? He hadn't so much as kissed her since it happened. She knew Daryl wasn't the most tactile or social person to walk the earth, but being in a relationship – or whatever it was that was going on between them - meant sharing and acknowledging each other's feelings. Enough was enough. She pushed herself assertively on her feet. "What the hell is your problem?"
He halted and his shoulders visibly stiffened. Clenching his hands into fists he turned around and gave her a glare so intense it could have drilled a hole right through her skull. Determined not to let his demeanour intimidate her, Beth stood resolute and raised her chin.
"You've been acting like an asshole, Daryl."
A quick flash of emotion crossed his face but it was quickly replaced by the previous hard and angry mask again. If Beth hadn't spent so much time with him, she probably would have missed it. She nodded at him. "That's right, I said it!"
She swallowed and stepped up right in front of him. "One day we're kissin' and makin' love and the next day you're acting like I'm your enemy or somethin'! This isn't you! What the hell's going on with you?"
"With me, huh?" He scoffed and came right up in her face and shook his finger at her. "Girl, you got a lot a damn gall to be tellin' me 'bout actin' strange!"
Taken aback, she shook her head and frowned at him. "What are you talking about?" Realizing what he was doing, Beth's eyes widened. "No," she retorted firmly. "I'm not gonna let you turn this around and blame your behaviour on me!"
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't ya?" He was panting now, heart suddenly racing and a million thoughts going through his head all at once. "You've gotten so damn careless, Beth!"
"Careless? Daryl, where's this coming from? Look where we are. What do you want me to do?" She brushed a strand of hair away from her face and blinked away a drop of sweat that had made its way into her eye. "Is it the rabbit?" she finally spat. "Is that what you're so pissed off about?"
He grimaced and shook his head. "Ya don't even get it."
"No, you don't get it! You're pissed because I saw a chance and took it, and you got scared, which is fine!" She was shaking now. "But you can't admit that because it makes you feel weak, so you blame me and treat me like crap instead! Well, it ain't fair!" She shoved him with two hands on his chest and Daryl stumbled back, surprise at her strength written all over his face. The glimmer of respect in his eyes urged her on.
"I'm sick of it! I'm not responsible for the stick up your ass," she continued, stomping her foot on the ground. "If you want to be mad, be mad. If you don't like something I've done, that's okay, too, but at least say somethin'! Don't just blow me off like I'm some stranger that's gonna disappear out of your life soon anyway!"
Everything fell into silence. The only thing Daryl could hear as he gave her an once-over (she was so damn beautiful) was the sound of Beth panting from anger, her chest was rising and sinking with every breath she took. He watched a single drop of sweat run down her cheek and disappear under the crook of her jaw and it awakened something inside him. Beth took an involuntary step back as his eyes darkened (he responded accordingly, almost automatically and took a step towards her) and she instantly felt her body acknowledging him. She knew arousal was probably the inappropriate response to the situation, but she couldn't help it. They hadn't so much as kissed in days, and when he inspected her shoulder moments before, it was the first time he'd touched her in that long, too. Beth wanted him, needed him, to release the frustration that had been building up and was now boiling over.
"Oh, I'mma say somethin', alright," he nodded, his voice was low, his eyes narrowing and nostrils flaring. "You're a selfish stupid child!"
A jolt when through her, and she wrinkled her nose at him with a snort. "Screw you, now you're just trying to be an ass," she heard herself say.
He scoffed at her. "You're just gonna act like you're the angel in alla'a this, ain't ya? Ya didn't even give it a second damn thought before ya ran into that death trap! Ya didn't even think about m-" He lost his voice with a pant and never finished the sentence and tore his eyes away. With a squint and brush against his nose with the back of his hand, he looked at her again. His voice was steadier this time but even speaking low, his voice was laced with scorn and anger. "You made a decision that could'a gotten yourself killed, and you expect me t'just be okay with that?"
Beth could hear the blood pump in her ears and she opened her mouth to respond but Daryl beat her to it and gestured widely with his hand, "So don't you tell me 'bout acting shit when you go ´round making selfish decisions that don't even make sense!"
He paced in front of her, mumbling under his breath: "You're all I got, dammit."
If it hadn't been quiet she wouldn't have heard his broken voice. She blinked, at a loss for what to say. He stopped in front of her again, bent forward into her face, all emotions suddenly evident in his eyes and his wavering, growling voice. "What you gonna have left to prove when ya dead, Beth, huh?"
"Daryl, stop!" She tried to grip his wrist, but he held his hand out of her reach and shook his head. He wasn't done talking. She asked him to say something, well, then she damn well was gonna listen until he was finished.
"You gonna make me watch ya risk your life every time you need to show me how strong you are? That ya don't need me? I already know you don't need me, you stupid little girl!"
Somehow his hands had found their way around her wrists, squeezing them and he was now pulling her closer, growling into her face. "This how it always gonna be from now on, Beth, huh? Well, ya might as well tell me what colour ya want on the flowers for your grave. I'll pick 'em for ya, 'cause one of these days, I might never see you again!"
Without warning his face was tugged down by a firm, stinging grip in his hair and a pair of hungry lips crashed against his mouth. He swore he tasted heaven and his hands instinctively found her hips, pulling her closer before he'd fully realized what had happened. Beth's mouth was hot and demanding against his own and a shudder ran down his spine as he succumbed to what was happening.
"You unbelievable idiot," Beth gasped between kisses, clinging to him with her arms around his neck. Daryl drew circles up her back before he buried his hand in her hair and bit her bottom lip. Between the eager and intense kisses he could hear someone growl and after a moment he realized it was coming from himself.
"You're so spoiled," he head himself mumble.
Her nails scratched against the back of his neck and it egged him on, his hands skimmed along her sides, though more aggressively now, almost possessively. It made her breath catch in her throat and she shuddered.
"I hate you," she whispered defiantly, a challenge in her voice. Somehow they'd moved, Daryl had successfully trapped her with her back pressed against a tree. Showing no signs of even having heard her, he moved his lips from her mouth and assaulted her neck with nips and licks, earning a breathless whimper from Beth. He growled when he felt her move her hips against him.
The breath in her lungs stood still with anticipation when she felt her jeans loosen and a hand slip between her legs, finding the pool of heat there. Beth gave out a small cry and clung to him as the sharp spikes of pure bliss jolted through her body.
"Easy," he purred against her throat, pleased to find how wet she had already become. He supported her weight as his fingers slowly and gently flicked her clit. Her legs were shaking, her skin prickled as millions of unspoken words of encouragement rushed in her mind in a second. She wanted this so much it almost hurt.
"Daryl…" she moaned and he covered her mouth with his own. He applied more pressure and speed to his fingers, enjoying the way she twitched and squirmed with every stroke. Beth revelled in the wonderful feelings that were shooting through her body, she was getting closer to sweet release. Just a little more, just a little…
He drew back and Beth cried out in disappointment when the built-up blissful tension in her body abruptly faded, leaving her just as unsatisfied as before. A smug sense of pride grew in him, one he knew was probably inappropriate, but the perverse idea that her release and pleasure was completely under his control was far too enjoying not to entertain.
Beth glared up at him, shoving his shoulder with a groan. "God damn you," she mumbled out of breath. His eyes were sultrier now, there was something dangerous about them and it made her skin tingle and her heart throb. She blinked, her eyes moved down to his mouth and unawares, she licked her own lips.
"Spoiled brat," he rasped in a murmur back at her.
Instantly, her eyes snapped up, glaring directly at him. Daryl swallowed, taking her in. He knew she hated it when he called her that. He knew it made her feel young and naïve. She'd given him more proof than necessary to show him that she wasn't a child, not even close; the situation they were in and their relationship was evidence enough. A part of him wanted to say it to make a rise in her, to make her angry, make her scream and lash out at him. But nothing she could say could top the disappointment he felt in himself. Beth deserved someone that could protect her, who could provide for her and he hadn't. He'd almost lost her. One stupid rabbit and he almost lost her.
"Shut up," Beth said curtly with a low voice, almost like she could hear his thoughts.
Daryl shook his head and let his gaze run down her face. "Little child." I don't deserve you.
"Stop," Beth said, louder and firmer this time.
His chest was heaving now and he swallowed again, his voice huskier and more heated this time. "Little girl."
With a growl Beth stood on her toes, her hand pulled at his hair and she made to capture his lips, but Daryl's firm hand at her chest kept her back and he pinned her wrist above her head. Puzzled, Beth tried to push forward again, but he kept holding her there, steady and firmly. Their eyes were locked for a moment and nothing existed but them.
He tore his eyes away to lean in, allowing their proximity and pressed his nose against her throat. He drew in a single long breath, inhaling her scent and then exhaled, the hot air spreading over her sensitive skin, and he enjoyed the way the surface prickled and flushed at the stimuli.
Her eyes fluttered when his hand slipped down, his thumb gracing the hipbone that had become more and more prominent with every day that went. Her chest heaved with every breath she took, taking in the musky scent of their mingled sweat. It was a struggle, being this close to Daryl and not being able to touch and kiss every single inch of his body.
When he leaned back, she knew he felt the same. There was nothing tender about the way he was looking at her now, his eyes were filled with pure want and lust, and nothing was going to stop him. The intensity in his eyes, the silently conveyed message awakened a small streak of fright in Beth. She swallowed when she realized the only way they were going to do this was in his way; somehow this understanding made her nether region throb even more.
Her eyes bounced between his before finally she closed them and titled her chin up in submission. Almost instantly his lips descended on hers, but the way he kissed her was more desperate this time. Their tongues were moving in an intense but intimate dance and his hands were at her hips, holding her there against him. His mouth practically watered at the thought of her wet, tight pussy and he traced the line of her panties, teasing her skin before he allowed a finger to dip inside. Beth drew in a shaky breath. When he had managed to push her pants down she had no idea. All she could think about was the fingers that were back, doing delicious things to her.
Impatiently, she tugged his shirt, eager to feel his skin against her own.
"Off." Demonstrating her will, she grabbed the fabric and tore it apart, sending buttons flying in every direction. Her hands immediately splayed across his chest, fingers gliding over his warm skin that was glimmering with a thin sheen of sweat.
Beth wanted to mewl in protest when his hand disappeared for the second time, but she hardly had time to recover before Daryl's knife appeared in view.
Her whole body tremored when the cold blade rested against her thigh and for a second she was trying to understand why the steel suddenly felt so sexy against her skin. Daryl smirked, enjoying the reactions he was eliciting from her. "Easy," he huskily purred at her.
"What if-," Beth breathed, a sudden drop of clarity coming to her in the middle of all the haziness. "What if a walker-… They might hear us."
Daryl grunted. Hooking a finger into her panties, he allowed the blade to cut swiftly and effortlessly through the fabric which Daryl subsequently allowed to sink to the ground, forgotten to the both of them. "Don't matter now."
With that he sealed her lips with his own, pressing her into the tree with a new primitive fervour. Their teeth clashed together as his tongue thrust into her mouth, determined to explore and claim every inch of her. Beth moaned and wanted to curl her toes when she heard the sound of a zipper and the rustling of fabric. Listening to her basic instinct, Beth reached down between them, their hands met and his fingers glided over hers in a burning caress. When her fingers closed around his length, he cursed breathily against her lips.
He placed a hand against the tree beside her head and pressed his face in the crook of her neck as she moved her hand against him. The noises he was making sent sparking signals through her body that made the muscles in her stomach and lower body constrict. They had done this before, but the thrill of watching him come apart because of her was something very real but also very addicting.
"Shit," he hissed and pushed her hand away.
When he leaned back, dark eyes stared right into her and Beth knew this was going to be rough. There was nothing delicate about the way he looked at her, his eyes were those of a man turned animal and she didn't think even a hoard of walkers was going to stop him now. His fingers were rough against her thighs, holding her with a grip that was going to leave bruises, when he lifted her. The tree bark scraped against her back and Beth's legs went naturally around his waist. Her breath hitched with anticipation for what was to come, she wanted, needed this part of him right now.
"Please," she begged in a whisper.
He sucked in a breath, looked into her eyes, and then he entered her with a single, hard thrust.
Beth cried out, nails clawing at his shoulders and neck with the subtle trail of pain that spread at his intrusion. Daryl silenced her with his mouth.
Going so long without her touch made this experience even more intense. He was hyper aware of every sensation that was provoked from being inside her and he groaned as he pulled himself out and slammed back into her heat again.
Her eyes fluttered as the burning sensation mixed together with the pleasure that surged inside her. The muscles of Beth's thighs flexed around his waist, her toes curled and she pulled at his hair to urge him on, to demand more. She arched her back, rolling her hips to meet him at the punishing pace he had set.
"Oh god," she moaned, fingernails scratching at his scalp.
"Fuck," he hissed, changing his angle and ground his hips up at hers. He wanted to make her scream, come undone at his hand, and he knew her anatomy; knew exactly what made her squirm and beg him for release.
When Beth cried out, he knew he'd found her spot and a sense of male pride grew in him. Her whole body tremored; she was close.
"Oh, please," she sobbed, heart racing and muscles in her abdomen throbbing. "Please."
Conjuring up all his strength, the muscles in his thighs and arms, sheening with sweat, flexed as he drove himself into her. Beth buried her face in the crook of his neck trying to muffle the cries and moans that spilled from her lips. She felt warm, raw and a burning ache from where he was driving into her.
Everything around her suddenly seemed to stand still, the wind against her bare thighs wasn't there anymore, the sound of the leaves around them had disappeared and nothing existed but this moment right here. Her walls contracted around him and Beth let herself lose control as she gasped and moaned against him.
Daryl grunted against her, now slamming into her, the rhythm of his hips was growing erratic and all regard for roughness had been completely forgotten. Coarse fingers grabbed a fistful of blonde hair and he pulled her face back, crashing his mouth against hers before he spilled into her.
Beth squeezed her legs around him, riding the last of the waves with tremors going through her body together with him.
With a grunt, Daryl's knees gave in and he sank to the ground, Beth still in his arms. Dazed and sated, he laid back against the ground, Beth splayed out over him, her body felt supple and limbless.
"God," she whispered dozily, the aftermath of sex finally catching up with her.
She closed her eyes, perfectly comfortable settled over him with her cheek pressed against his chest, resting under his jaw as Daryl's hand slowly caressed her back.
"You're wrong, y'know," she whispered after a moment.
He squinted up at her as she propped herself up, leaning her weight on her good arm against his chest.
"I do need you." She stared down at him, her hair falling into a curtain that framed her face. "More than anything."
Her voice was sincere and filled with conviction and it moved Daryl, filled him with an indescribable feeling. Propping himself up on an elbow, he placed a gentle hand on the back of her head and pressed his lips chaste against hers.
Beth let him wrap his arms around her and they lay together, hearts beating together with the one same rhythm.
"All of that fighting led to this?" he broke the silence with a lazy smile. "Hell, I could do this more often."
Beth rolled her eyes and pinched him lovingly. "Don't push your luck."