Beth

Beth awoke that night to find Merle in the chair beside her. She ate some soup but had trouble standing on her own, so he carried her to the bathroom with the IV bag in his teeth. She smiled and tucked her head into his chest when they entered the full kitchen. She felt the others smiling at her back as Merle walked her through.

Maggie joined them and accompanied Beth into the bathroom. When they were done Merle carried her back to her cell. Maggie spent the next half hour with her holding her hand and making sure she was OK. Maggie apologized to Beth for almost shooting Merle, something that Beth knew nothing about. Beth struggled to stay awake but after about thirty minutes her eyes were closing on her own. She felt Maggie kiss her forehead then she sank into sleep.

The next morning she woke up to the smell of breakfast cooking. She was alone in the room. She rubbed her eyes, getting her bearings. She ran her hand back over her hair. Ew. My hair is oily. And all tangled. Gross. I must look horrible. She checked out the rest of herself. Her clothes had been changed once when she was sick but was she still wearing the same underthings she had on when she spent the night in the prison yard. She tentatively ran a hand over her skin. Greasy. OMG, I can't stand this another minute! She put her nose under her shirt and took a whiff.

Merle came in with two bowls of oatmeal and a bottle of water. "Hey there sugar," he said. She smiled because she was so happy to see him. They ate their oatmeal together then he carefully maneuvered around her IV and sat beside her on the bed. He pulled her into his arms and they softly kissed for a long time. He snuck his hand under her shirt and she began to cry. "I smell bad," she said. "And my hair looks terrible." Merle made a show of sniffing her neck. "You's a little gamey," he said. "But not as bad as zombie." Beth cried harder. "I want a shower," she pouted. Merle sighed. "Can't help ya sugar. Yer dad said not til the IV comes out. Nobody cares what ya smell like." Beth snorted in frustration. "I care!" she said.

Just then Hershel entered the room and greeted them. Merle moved to stand by the wall as Hershel examined his youngest daughter. "Daddy, I need a shower," said Beth urgently. "Mmmm," said Hershel, listening to her chest. "Daddy!" said Beth. Hershel listened to her chest and moved her forward to listen to her back. Beth turned her head and talked over her shoulder. "I need a shower," she repeated. Hershel continued her exam, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration. Last he checked her IV. He looked at Beth. "The IV can come out in two days and that's when you can shower. Until then we'll keep you down here." Beth blew a raspberry in disappointment. She wanted to be in the room that she and Merle shared. "Daddy no," she said angrily.

"We're not taking any chances Beth," said Hershel sternly. "We could have lost you." Beth sat back with a flounce on her pillows. "So I'll just smell myself to death," she said, staring down at the blanket. Later Maggie came in with a washcloth, soap and warm water. She hung a blanket in front of the door for some privacy and did her best to wash Beth thoroughly and get her into a complete set of clean clothes. "Oh Maggie," Beth breathed. "My hair. I can't stand it," she looked at Maggie pleadingly. Maggie looked at her lovingly. "I know sweetie but there's nothing we can do right now." Beth cried in frustration.

That afternoon Beth insisted on walking herself to the bathroom as long as someone else carried the IV. She bristled at everyone's attentions, just wanting to do things on her own. That night Merle came in and told her several stories about that morning's hunt and what was going on around the prison. He moved into bed to hold her and she cried, "Don't look at my hair. Don't touch it." Her tears dripped down his chest and he calmed her by cupping her chin and kissing her. She laid her head on his chest and dropped into a deep sleep.

The next morning she regarded her father sullenly. "Daddy," she said. "No," he replied immediately. She cried but he would not relent. Later when Merle came in to hold her all she could think was how repulsive she was. "Don't," she said. "I can't even stand myself." He moved into her bed above her protestations. "Ya look better sick than my brother looks every day," he said drily. She lay on him stiffly, completely miserable. After he left she glared into the dark.

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When she woke the next morning she couldn't wait for Hershel to get there. Her IV was coming out today. She could shower! And sleep with her man! And...well you know. God he looks so good, she thought. Hershel came in midmorning and smiled at his youngest daughter. He examined her and said, "Looks like you're done with the IV," he said. He removed it and put a bandage over the hole.

"Now," he said. "Just because you have the IV out doesn't mean you are going back to normal activity. You still need to recover. That means nothing strenuous for another few days. You can only hold Judith if you're sitting down. No singing. You're not going on watch. There's plenty of things you can do to contribute while sitting down. No exertion, your lungs are healing." Beth smiled at him, nodding. Hershel looked at Merle meaningfully. "Merle, do I need to expound on what the definition of exertion entails?"

Merle shook his head curtly. "Daddy!" Beth gasped. Hershel drew his eyebrows together fiercely. "Beth, three days ago you were thrashing around on this bed delirious with fever. You are not moving me on this one." Hershel got up. "It's time for me to watch Judith," he said. "Feel free to shower." He shot a look at Merle. "Without help," he directed.

Beth was devastated. She looked at Merle. He pushed off of the wall towards the door. "Gonna get somebody to help ya," he said. "Merle," she cried piteously. He returned 15 minutes later with Carol. "I can help you!" said Carol brightly. Beth glared at Merle and he returned her gaze coolly. Merle helped walk her to the bathroom while Carol gathered clean clothes. Beth temporarily forgot her ire when she stood under the warm water and shampooed her hair twice then scrubbed herself thoroughly. The freshly washed clothes felt wonderful on her skin. She was close to normal. She scrubbed her teeth and sighed in satisfaction.

When she returned to the room she was delighted to see that the bed was stripped. Merle kissed her goodbye as he headed out for watch. "You'll be in our room tonight," he promised. She beamed at him. She knew that Merle hated rules and that there was no way he'd keep his hands off of her once they were in bed. That day as she watched Judith she thought about his powerful body dominating hers. She softly moaned and looked at Judith in her arms. "I want to make one of you someday," she said softly.

Merle had made it clear that the only way she was sleeping upstairs was if she ate all her meals, so all day she did her best to eat every bite. At dinner she cleaned her plate and looked at him expectantly. "You ready little miss?" he rasped. She nodded vigorously and they moved towards the stairs, bidding everyone good night. Their room was a welcome sight and she pulled her clothes off and scooted under the covers in gleeful anticipation.

A T-shirt and sweatpants sailed through the air and landed on top of her. "Put those on," Merle said gruffly. "I don't want to," she said petulantly. He looked at her steadily and asked, "Ya wanna sleep together? Put them on." She softened her eyes and looked up at him but he stood there with his arms crossed. She humphed and drug the clothes under the blankets to put them on. He remained in his boxers. When he slid in she joyfully sprawled against him. Her lips met his and her hand went to his chest. She kissed him searchingly "Please," she whispered. Her hand went to the front of his shorts and he grunted. She felt his cock jump under her fingers. She was amazed when he caught her wrist and pulled it away. "No," he said. "Yer gonna rest. We're not gonna fuck it up." She gaped at him. "Merle!" she cried.

"Ya need to sleep," he growled. She tried to rub her tits against his chest but he turned is back to her and soon he was snoring. She dropped off minutes later, still angry. When she awoke the next morning Merle was in the neighboring bunk and Beth felt very alone.

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Rick assembled the group at breakfast and made the schedule for the day. Merle leaned against the wall with his arms and legs crossed, coldly appraising him. When Rick was done and the group dispersed Merle pushed himself off the wall and walked slowly towards him. "Guess we got a conversation to finish," he said to Rick. Rick's bright blue eyes met Merle's. "Guess we do," he said.

They met in the prison yard and spent several minutes sizing each other up. Merle took off his prosthetic and tossed it on the ground, never taking his eyes off of Rick. "How much ya think a hand is worth Officer?" asked Merle, a snarl forming on his face. "'Cause it seems to me only a hand can pay for a hand." Rick set his holster on the ground. He sidled and replied, "It's your own damned fault you lost your hand. If you weren't a threat you wouldn't have been in that situation. And I'm tired of hearing about it so let's settle it."

Merle grinned at him. "With pleasure Officer," he said. They circled each other tensely. Merle made the first move, jabbing with his left and glancing off of Rick's ribs. Rick responded with a fist to Merle's cheek. They broke apart and resumed circling and punching. Soon both had bloody lips and cheeks. A crowd had gathered around them and Rick warned them all to stay out of it.

Merle rushed him and buried his shoulder into Rick's abdomen. They fell to the ground together and the back of Rick's head smacked the pavement. Merle took advantage of Rick's momentary confusion to pin his arms down to the pavement with his knees. He put his mutilated forearm across Rick's throat and pressed firmly then he pinned Rick's legs with his knees.

Merle smiled through a split lip. "Well, well," he said drily. "Seems the truth has prevailed." He reached with his left hand and pulled his knife from his belt. Blood mixed with saliva sprayed from Rick's mouth as he struggled to breathe. Rick wheezed, "You justify it however you want. We both know the truth." Merle agreed, "That we do. That we do Officer." He placed the edge of the knife at the base of Rick's right thumb. "And because I'm an agreeable sort I'll only take this thumb."

Merle's eyes shifted to his blade that was pressed against Rick's hand. Blood was running freely from the cut skin. He thought about the horrific pain of cutting off his own hand and the resulting infection and disfigurement. Let him try to get around without this thumb, he thought. A little taste of his own medicine. Motherfucker won't be cockin' that big gun again or cuffin' people. Let's see him try to diaper that baby without it.

Unbidden an image of Beth holding Judith popped into his mind. Beth stayed in his mind as he thought of his own arm. If he were two handed he would have likely ignored her or seduced her and broke her heart for his own entertainment. He thought about her hand moving down his arm in the tower and her asking him to take off the prosthetic. That was the first time he had opened to her. Now she was just as much a part of him as that hand ever was.

He drew the knife away and raised his lip as he looked at Rick. "We're done," he snarled with his lip raised. He lifted his arm off of Rick's neck and pushed himself to standing, still maintaining eye contact. Rick coughed and eyed him suspiciously as he staggered to his feet. "I want this resolved now," said Rick. Merle looked at him coldly. "We're done," he repeated.

Merle put his knife back in the sheath and backed away. Rick retrieved his gun and put on the holster. Merle gave him a curt nod and turned to walk into the prison. Beth and Carol were standing side by side near the prison wall that shimmered with morning sunlight. Beth's hands were over her mouth and her eyes were wide. When Merle turned and saw her she walked quickly to him, hugged him and pulled him into the cellblock.

She wetted a clean towel and cleaned off his face and knuckles. She didn't say anything. Neither did he. Beth didn't know exactly what to do but she knew that he would not want to talk about it. She gave him a half smile and he pulled her into his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck and they sat for a long time with their faces touching.

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Beth was dressed in the mandatory T-shirts and sweatpants and was already in bed awaiting Merle. She crossed her arms and looked sullenly at the cell door. Now she knew what he went through those nights they had to wait for condoms. This was torture.

She yawned. Today was her first day without a nap and she was tired. She tried to keep her eyelids open. What was keeping Merle? I'll just close my eyes for a minute, she thought.

When she woke up it was pitch black in the room. Merle was beside her in his boxers, deep asleep. The cellblock was silent and a soft moon glow came in through the windows. She looked at him. He always looked younger in his sleep. She sniffed his hair and it smelled like soap. She moved her lips down to gently brush them over the short stubble on his chin. His arms were thrown over his head and she trailed her lips from his nearest elbow through his armpit to his nipple and into his chest hair. She physically hurt with longing.

She didn't care if it put her back in bed for a week she needed him. She quietly pulled off her clothes and wedged her shoulder under his. She did the same with her hip. Then she gradually shoved underneath him until he rolled on top of her. Oh God yes, she thought. She wanted to feel his weight on her, to be pinned and dominated.

She moved her legs apart to straddle him and started kissing his neck while she moved her hips against him. She smiled when she felt him stiffen and pop out of the fly of his boxers. She lined up with him and gradually pushed him into her. Mmmmmmmm, so good. She slowly fucked him and when she began to get seriously aroused she put her hands on his ass and moved him deeper. She began to shake.

When Merle woke up he was on top of her and inside her, straining to drive deeper into her tightness. His heartbeat roared in his ears and he could hear himself grunting. Beth's legs were locked around his waist and she was frantically panting. Her nails dug into his back and she was matching his thrusts and whispering his name. He felt the orgasm blindside him, shocking him in its intensity. He sank his teeth into her neck and she stiffened and shuddered in ecstasy. He groaned and drove into her with all his strength, sweating and shaking. He groaned, "Jesus, Beth!" as he ejaculated and collapsed on top of her*. Her body was still twitching and jumping underneath him and she drew his mouth to hers with both hands. They fought for breath together, still entwined and rocking through the spasms.

When it was over he moved down to her breasts and teased her until she almost screamed, then he took her again. Sated they fell to the mattress and slept.

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They woke up to the sounds of morning activity downstairs. Beth smiled and stretched luxuriously and Merle ran his fingers through the curly blonde hair of her mound. He rumbled, "You have good dreams missy?" and she smiled, "You were in a lot of them." He moaned. "Musta been good dreams then."

She rolled on top of him and kissed him as he squeezed her ass. He looked at her and asked, "What about what we was talkin' bout before all hell broke loose girlie?" She rubbed her nose on his slowly and gently kissed his lips. He was talking about the proposal. Her violet eyes looked into his steely blue eyes and she smiled softly. She whispered, "I'll marry you someday. But for now I really like being dirty. Is that OK?"

"Yer askin' me ta be immoral," said Merle. "Like one a them wanton women in the bible." She smiled bashfully and ducked her face into his neck. She looked up at him and said with a hint of pride, "I guess I was wanton all along." He patted her ass in affirmation.

Later that day he thought about how he and Beth had started. It struck him that she had asked for the lessons but it turned out that she had been the teacher from the beginning.

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*Footnote: This marked the first time that Merle ever used Beth's given name instead of a nickname. He was to do this only a handful of times in his life - once again three years later when he formally proposed to her on the steps of their farmhouse, once each time that their four children were born, and once when they buried their father Hershel. The last time was when a failing 82-year old Merle lay in bed surrounded by his sons and daughters. Beth held his hand and her name was the last word Merle Dixon spoke.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me with this story, particularly SOA Loving Mom and What Evil Lurks. I do not want to post really long stories so that's why I ended this one here. I will be writing MUCH more Meth for my own stories and in cooperation with other authors on their stories so check my author page.