Note: Forgive me, this is the result of a late night discussion with the lovely Ghostwritter84 about 'I Ain't a Judas' and her fantastic story 'Hope In The Darkness', and an attempt to prevent copious amounts of Merle smut creeping in too early to my other story, 'Weeds' (to be updated Wednesday). Hopefully this doesn't read as rushed.

So, for those craving some Merle smut, here you go. Although if you don't want Merle/Beth, or Meth smut, best to go away. To quote The IT Crowd, 'It's not for you, Jen."

In His Own Image

Beth had made her choice.

Carol was in the cell on one side of her, and her father in the other. She could tell from her father's stertorous breathing that he was asleep, while the occasional whimper from Carol's cell told her she slept. Thanks to her father's protective instincts, Carl was further away down the block and should hear nothing. Michonne was off on one her nightly patrols, while Daryl and Rick were out on watch. She'd caught the careful glances Daryl had been at pains to hide, and suspected he didn't trust Rick to watch alone anymore.

Leaving on her tank top, Beth pulled off the pyjama shorts she wore and put on her jean cut offs. With only socks on her feet, she crept out of bed and along the walkway, past the other cells. Hearing a particularly loud whimper from Carol as she passed Beth froze, fearing discovery. After a few moments of silence from the darkness of Carol's cell, she took her chance and continued towards the stairs.

Sometimes she wondered what Carol must dream about to scare her so; was it the life she had lived, or the one she was living now? Carol was always so calm during the day, Beth never knew how to ask her about her troubled nights. Still, perhaps that was for the best.

The air in the prison was cool, and she could feel the chill of the floor seeping through the thin fabric on her feet as she approached the large riot gate. Beth tried to peer through the darkness into the cell behind it, but she couldn't see anything other than that the door was closed. She took the spare keys from their hiding place in one of the empty cells and stealthily unlocked the door. Pausing, she listened hard for any sound of movement. She could hear nothing except the low empty moan that seemed to haunt the prison in moments of quiet. Stepping quickly through, she gently closed the door behind her, not locking it.

"Wha' cha up ta, girlie?"

His voice was a low rasp at the best of times, but even though he whispered, the sound seemed to scrape too loudly across her already raw nerves. "Shh. Be quiet." She listened intently again, but they seemed not to have disturbed anyone. She turned back to him, and opened the door to his cell.

"I want to talk to you," she whispered, and was slightly thrown when he snorted derisively. This had all seemed so much easier when she'd planned it earlier this evening, listening to her father's comments throughout the day, his support of Daryl. They needed Merle.

"Ya picked a funny time ta talk, girlie, less it ain't really talkin' ya after," he chuckled. She wasn't sure she liked that sound. "Come closer."

Beth hesitated, and it must have shown. "Now, ol' Merle ain't gonna hurt ya none, but I don't wan' tha others findin' me wit' tha farmer's daughter in my room at one in tha damn morning. Come closer, we can talk better."

Aside from her unwillingness to sit on the cold floor, it seemed foolish to keep her distance, so Beth crept into the cell and sat on the edge of his bed, ignoring his start of surprise and curling her feet up under her. The moonlight covered them both in a grey wash of light, softening the hard lines of his face and broad bare chest. The romantic in her would like to believe it was a silvery glow, but this place destroyed any sense of romance; T-Dog was right, it was a tomb.

"Wha' tha hell ya think ya doin', girl?" Merle asked again, suspicion in his voice.

"I… I came here to discuss a proposal with you," she managed in a surprisingly level voice. For a moment she was impressed with how well this was going.

"Is tha' right? Well, I ain't puttin' out wit'out a ring."

Beth blushed, and was immediately annoyed with herself. Obviously it was very odd, her sitting on a half-naked man's bed at night, particularly a man like Merle; she knew what he was capable of. Still, wasn't that the whole reason why she was here? If he accepted, she would have to learn to put up with him, and so Beth forced herself to continue.

"My father and Daryl want you to stay. They say you've got military experience, that you'll be useful in defending us. But Rick and the others don't trust you. They think you're going to betray us."

"Tha' right?" said Merle flatly, and Beth wondered if she imagined the sense of hurt resignation in his voice. She thought she probably had; men like Merle didn't really have those kind of feelings. Though she knew he wasn't stupid; he knew these people didn't want him here, and he must have known it was with good reason. Merle knew he was just the burden they had to carry if they wanted Daryl, the debit to his credit in their rapidly dwindling accounts.

"I don't trust you either," she said with false calm, "I think you're dangerous."

That got his interest. He looked at her sharply, as though reassessing her. "I am dangerous," he said in a low voice. "Seems ta me ya must be as crazy as Officer Friendly, comin' here alone at night, unarmed..."

Beth raised her eyebrows and looked as pointedly as she could at his stump, weak and naked without its covering and revealed in the dim light as a jagged mess at the end of his arm. Merle scowled at her unspoken implication and, for a second, she felt a stab of pity for him as well as a degree of admiration.

"Get out, girlie, 'fore I call somebody."

"I'm not giving you a choice. You're going to listen to what I have to say first."

"I don't have ta do nothin', girlie," he sneered. He looked like he really would cry out, and Beth thought quickly.

"I'll say you attacked me," she ventured, and Merle's lip curled in disgust.

"After yer opened two locked doors? They'd smell ya bullshit. Bet ya even had ta steal them keys."

"Maybe. But look at me… and look at you. It wouldn't matter what they knew must have happened. They'd choose to believe it of you, wouldn't they? Even Daryl wouldn't be able to save you." She must have sounded convincing; Merle was looking at her with ill-disguised loathing now. Beth was surprised. Surely he didn't really believe they'd just kill him out of hand? Didn't he know they weren't those kind of people?

"Say wha' ya gotta say, then get outta my goddamn room."

"I want to make a trade," she replied, waiting for Merle to respond in turn. Instead he said nothing, watching her carefully. Taking a deep breath, Beth continued. "If you are prepared to stay… stay and defend this prison, protect the people in it, I'll… I'll sleep with you."

Merle stared at her for a moment, and for one terrifying second she thought he was going to laugh out loud. It would wake everyone, and lead to some rather tricky explanations...

Instead he snorted again, said "Get tha fuck out," in a way that suggested he had been about to laugh, and lay down with his back to her.

Beth was upset and, if she was honest with herself, a little offended at being rejected out of hand. Emboldened by anger, she reached out to one muscular shoulder and attempted to shake it. "Don't turn your back on me. I'm not done."

"I am," he replied, not moving.

"Well, I'm not."

"Ya think cos I'm in a jail, I'm inta jailbait?"

"I think you… I thought you would want sex," Beth rushed out, blushing again. Merle was suddenly sat up and staring at her.

"Shit, ya can't even say tha word," Merle scoffed, his grin becoming more wolflike. "Can ya say fuck, darlin'? Cos tha's wha' we're talkin' here, ain't it? Fuckin' each other?" Beth was too shocked by his language to respond, and Merle didn't give her a chance to reply. "Well answer me, girlie, ain't that wha' ya offering? I get ta enjoy tha' tight young body a yours, an' then I go risk my beat up ol' bones fer this sorry bunch a pricks?"

She drew in a breath. "Yes… though the others couldn't know about it. I'd have come to you when I could."

"Oh-ho, now, so it ain't even some one off action I'd be gettin'. No, I'll be gettin' myself a pretty lil' bit on tha side. Well, ain't that nice? Ya even legal, girlie?"

"I'm seventeen."

"Really?" he responded dryly, not sounding convinced.

"I turned seventeen four and a half months ago."

"Well, that half month surely makes a difference." She could tell Merle was mocking her now, and perhaps it was the stress of the situation but she felt her temper flare. She had never thought of herself as particularly vain, but she knew she'd been one of the prettiest girls in school, and the boys had all been desperate to date her. Jimmy had chased her all over the farm, and now she was offering herself to this nasty old redneck and he was laughing at her, turning her down, like she wasn't good enough. Her hand flew out of its own accord to slap his face.

But Merle was quicker.

Beth gasped as he neatly caught it and twisted her into him, trapping her hands and leaving her back pressed up against his bare chest, her head tipped back onto his shoulder and, even more awkwardly, her buttocks nestled tightly into his lap. Switching arms, he placed the stump across her throat with surprising gentleness, resting it lightly against her delicate collarbone so that it only encouraged her to keep her head back on his shoulder. Meanwhile his hand wrapped around her waist over her stomach, effectively trapping her against him. Beth realised she'd had no concept of a mans potential strength until now.

"Somebody's gotta temper, don't they, sweetness?" Beth didn't scream for help, and given he hadn't bothered to cover her mouth, he must have known she wouldn't. This was not a position she'd want the others to find her in. It didn't prevent her from struggling a little though, causing her ass to grind into his groin.

"Stop that," he snapped in her ear, his arm tightening around her stomach, "lil' girl like you won't appreciate tha consequences."

"I'm not a little girl," Beth hissed back, "now let me go!" It was distracting, having his voice buzzing low in her ear, the scuff of his beard raking across her shoulder.

"Naw, ya wanted ta have a talk, girlie. Let's talk."

"We can't talk like this," Beth tried again. This close she could smell the sweat and musk of his body. It was strange too, feeling the hot, furred skin of his chest against her. Jimmy had had a slighter, lankier build, while Merle was nothing but tough muscle. Even then, Jimmy had never held her like this, like she wasn't the one in control. It felt… she decided to stick with strange. It just felt strange.

"Don't like bein' this close ta me? Could be a problem, don't cha think?"

"I'd… I'd get used to it. To you."

Merle snorted softly. "Really know how ta flatter a man, don't cha? Anyway, hav' ta get used ta it if we're gonna fuck, girlie. Can't do nothin' wit'out bumpin' uglies." Beth tried not to tremble; she'd never given the details much thought. She'd just wanted to protect her family, to protect the group. She was never going to be as good with a gun as Maggie or the men, while Carol played the role of den-mother; Beth had to look for an alternative way to contribute. Keeping Merle on side was it.

Merle must have picked up on her trepidation. "Ya ever even been wit' a man, darlin'?" he asked softly, like he was genuinely curious. His hand trailed back lightly across her stomach, and she tried to ignore the sensation.

"Jimmy and I were together six months," she evaded. Merle's hand froze; it wasn't good enough.

"Ya a virgin, darlin'?" Merle almost sounded surprised, and he huffed a bitter laugh in her ear. "Ya tha virgin sacrifice ta tha monster, that it?" Beth was surprised.

"I never thought you were a monster." It was true; she never thought that for a minute, because he wasn't. Not the way the Governor was, not the way the dead were outside. Merle was violent and selfish and a class-A jerk, but not... not monstrous.

"Yeah, tha's wha' y'all think. An' maybe ya right…" he nibbled on her earlobe, and she gasped, "…mebbe I am a monster." His hand slid up to cup one breast through her tank top, and she fought down a shudder. "Who was Jimmy?"

"My boyfriend."

"He older than yer?" He brushed his thumb over her nipple, peaked by the cold, and it took everything she had not to push forward into his warm hand.

"N… no, we were the same age."

"So ya never had a man's hands on ya," he smirked, angering her. Was this just a game to him? She was trying to save lives!

"If I slept with you, I still wouldn't have had a man's hands on me," she sniped back.

She felt Merle tense behind her, the scar of his arm scraping roughly against her skin, and thought for one hideous moment she had gone too far. Then he hummed one of his low chuckles, sounding genuinely amused.

"Ya got spirit, I'll give ya that." Suddenly his hand hitched up her tank top, snuck under her bra and was cupping her bare breast. Beth was shocked into a squeak of surprise, and Merle chuckled into her ear. "I can do a lot with one hand, girlie. Don't think ya could'a handled me wit' two." Then he began to massage her breast, palming the weight of the soft flesh and tweaking the rosy bud between his thumb and forefinger.

"Ohh…" moaned Beth. It felt so good. Wrong, but good. This was nothing like the damp and eager fumbling of Jimmy; Merle's hand was dry and rough and assured and ohmygod

Merle had started sucking lightly at a skin just below her ear, right over her pulse point. He stopped a moment, laved the tender spot with his tongue then continued. Sweet Jesus…

"Does this mean… uh… we have a deal?" she managed to get out, trying to stay focussed on her objective. Beth was pleased she saved the needy whimper for when she felt him hardening against her ass. She could feel the liquid heat pooling low in her belly, and was stunned all over again that this was happening with Merle Dixon, of all people.

"I dunno, girlie," Merle whispered right into her ear, running his lips lightly along the outer shell, "I'm not sure I wanna virgin sacrifice." She opened her mouth to protest, given that what was poking into her behind now would suggest otherwise, but Merle continued. "Contrary ta wha' some a ya friends out there like ta think, I like my women warm an' willin'. It doesn't sound ta me like ya are."

"I'm willing to go through with this. I wouldn't have made the offer if I wasn't."

"Ya don't understan', girlie. I wan' it ta be good, know wha' I mean?" His hand dropped to the edge of her cut offs, fingers skimming along the hem and causing the taut skin of her stomach to twitch in anticipation. But Beth didn't really know what he meant, or what exactly he was asking her to do. It was unfair of him, she thought, he knew she was inexperienced, but she tried her best.

"I'd… umm, I'd try to make it good for you. You could teach me what you… what you like." She was so distracted by her own embarrassment, she didn't even notice Merle had unbuttoned her shorts until he slipped in his hand and cupped her bare curls.

"Oh my God…!" For a moment she enjoyed the startling feeling of being gently held in a man's large hand, but then she realised he would know how turned on she was. Frozen by panic, there was nothing she could do before Merle was stroking his middle finger up the seam of her folds, catching her moisture on his fingertip.

"Seems I was wrong 'bout ya not bein' warm an' willin'," he smirked. He pulled his finger away and brought it up to her mouth. "Taste yerself." Beth looked at him, shocked. Wasn't that wrong? "No?" he said, interpreting her reluctance as refusal, and instead popped his finger into his mouth with every appearance of delight. "Mmm. Sweetest pussy I ever tasted." Beth blushed, feeling both embarrassed and pleased, then angry that she would be pleased about a compliment from such a man.

While she was thinking, his hand trailed down and cupped her again, this time pulling her gently back into his hard groin, where he held her still as he rubbed up against her ass in firm circular motions, his breath hot on her neck. He felt huge, and she wasn't sure she take him. However, the feel of him moving against her round buttocks, combined with the pressure of his warm hand on her had Beth lusting for more. She moaned slightly as his fingers brushed her a little, and Merle's voice was once more at her ear.

It gave her a perverse pleasure that it sounded somewhat uneven.

"Ya want more, ya have ta ask fer it, girlie." He ran his hot, wet tongue over the curve of her neck, hitting the spot he'd sensitized earlier in a way that went straight to her clit. "Ya wan' ol' Merle ta make ya feel good?"

"Yes… yes..." Beth was past the point of no return now. She wasn't even sure she minded being called girlie anymore, provided she could feel this good.

"Then ask me, girlie."

"Please…please Merle... touch me."

Merle moved so quickly she wasn't sure what he intended at first, and for a moment she thought he was pulling her beneath him. Instead he dragged her sideways across his lap, and while his hand tugged her shorts further down her slim legs, his head dipped to the breast he had left exposed and took her nipple into the furnace of his mouth.

Beth moaned, then arched upwards in a silent scream of ecstasy, unable to control herself as Merle's fingers began to work their magic in the silken wetness between her thighs. "Ah… ahh… Merle…" was all she managed to sob, so instead she indicated her pleasure by curling one arm around his head, fixing him to her breast, while her free hand rubbed hesitantly at the bulge beneath his boxers. He grunted and thrust up slightly, but didn't stop lavishing his attention on her body.

"Fuck… fuck, girlie," he growled against her burning flesh, "ya taste so fuckin' sweet."

Made bold by his words, drugged by the overload of her senses, Beth was surprised to hear herself beg, "I need to come. Please… make me come, Merle. Fuck me… please..."

Merle lifted his head and stared hard into her face for what seemed an eternity. She soon became self-conscious of his scrutiny, but then his skilful fingers dipped towards her core, teasing, and her head fell back onto his arm. Eyes closed, Beth writhed as he slicked her with her own juices, flicking the bundle of nerves to breaking point before dancing back to tease her entrance. Her own inexperience meant it wasn't long before she felt the world shatter, and as she went to cry out Merle captured her mouth with his own, silencing her with a seductive dance of lips and tongue. He tasted of cigarettes and something else unidentifiable, but she found she liked it. She rode his hand though her orgasm, kissing him for all she was worth until finally she came down, shaking and out of breath, slumped across his lap.

She looked up at him, golden hair splayed wildly across his stump, eyes wide with shock at her new found knowledge of men and women and the power of her own body. Merle stared back, his face so hard to read in the half light. She wondered if he'd take her now and what it would be like. She knew it would be painful, even more so given the size of the thing she'd felt beneath her hand, but after all this Merle would make it okay for her, wouldn't he?

"Ya should go now," he said flatly, and Beth's heart twisted in her chest. She'd failed.

She tried to resist the urge to cover herself, tried not to feel ashamed. Perhaps her plan was worth one last push, one last sacrifice of pride. "I'm sorry," she said in a low voice, "I… it was just because it was my first time. It won't happen again. I'll do better next time, you can tell me what you want and I'll do it…"

"Stop," Merle cut her off sharply, "That ain't…" He sighed and rubbed a hand over his eyes. "It ain't you. You were…," he paused again, as though trying to find words. "There ain't nothin' wrong wit' wha' ya did, okay? I jus' didn't mean it ta get that far. I jus' thought…"

Beth was desperately trying to understand. "Thought what?"

"Thought ya would ha' fought me off, screamed or somethin'. Didn't think ya'd…"

"Go through with it?" asked Beth, finally understanding. "I meant it. If you stand with us, I'm yours… if you want me." Merle grimaced, and Beth flushed. "Oh. You don't want me." She had been too eager, begging him for more like a slut… he was disgusted with her.

"Fuck, girlie, ain't I already tol' ya yer was perfect?" he snapped. Beth didn't think he had, but for some mad reason she treasured the words away in her heart, despite their irritated tone. "Listen, I was jus' messin' wit' ya, okay? I kept pushin' ya, thinkin' I'd teach ya not ta think ya can mess wit' me. I never meant fer it ta go as far as it did. But then... I couldn't stop. It don't matter..." She must have flinched, as he added "Shit, I jus' meant I weren't never plannin' on leavin' this group. Daryl's here, he's my brother. I can't… he's kin, understan'?"

"No, I don't understand. If it's not that you don't find me attractive…"

"It ain't," he rumbled, in way that Beth felt all the way to her core.

"… then you could have..." now she wasn't in thrall to her hormones she stumbled over the words again, "…could have had sex with me anyway and stayed with the group. I would never have known." She leaned towards him, trying to read his eyes in the dark. "Why didn't you?"

Merle's face was stone, and after a few moments passed Beth thought he wasn't going to answer. She lowered her head and began to adjust her clothes.

"Ya ever read Ayn Rand?"

"What?"

"Ayn Rand. Wrote these books 'bout people doin' shit fer 'emselves, not carin' 'bout other people, society an' shit. Picked one up in tha library at Woodbury, thought it would be fer me. There was this bit in it I liked. 'Every man builds his world in his own image. He has tha power ta choose, but no power ta escape tha necessity of choice.' I thought 'bout that a lot when I looked at tha Governor." His voice seemed distant; contemplative even, if that could be said of Merle Dixon.

"And what did you choose?" Somehow, Beth knew the answer was important.

"World's already full a monsters. Don't see no point addin' to 'em before my time." He looked at her. "Spent my whole life makin' bad choices…"

He didn't finish, but Beth understood. For whatever reason, Merle had decided she wouldn't be one of them.

"This Ayn Rand, you said she wrote that every man builds the world in his own image?" Merle nodded. "Have you read the Bible?" Merle nodded again, frowning slightly. "Genesis 1:27. 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.' When I was young…" Merle snorted, and Beth smiled.

"When I was younger, I asked my father why he did that. My father said it was so when we looked at ourselves, we would know that there was always a little bit of good in us, whatever bad things we'd done, and when we chose to be good again, it would help us make the right decisions."

"Sounds like bullshit ta me," responded Merle cynically, though Beth noticed he couldn't look at her when he said it.

"But like I told you earlier Merle, people choose to believe what they want. You chose to be a man, not the monster the others think you are. And I…" she reached out and touched his prickly cheek, "I choose to believe you might even be a good man... underneath all the jerk." Merle's lips twitched slightly, and he watched as Beth stood up and rearranged her clothes, picking up the keys as she went. She turned to look at him before she left.

"I'm glad you've decided to start making good decisions, Merle," she whispered, leaning down and pressing a strangely chaste kiss to his cheek, before moving her smirking lips to his ear, "Although I must confess that, after tonight, I regret I had to be one of them."

Merle watched in stunned silence as she left his cell, silently locking the door behind her. Despite what she'd said, he didn't try to stop her.

Merle had made his choice.

There you go, my first Meth smut. I hope you enjoyed, and remember that your reviews are what feed my muse.