All right guys. This is it. The last chapter. This is very bittersweet, it's the first time in a very long time that I've actually FINISHED a story (fanfiction or not) in a while. I'm really quite proud of how it turned out, and I've been floored by the response from everyone. It's very near and dear to my heart, as are each review - even the bad ones. I love everyone that has participated in this, giving me feedback and writing and finding me on TUMBLR ( idreamoffrankie ). You guys are great. I love you.
So, without further ado, here is the last chapter to Waste of an Arrow. It's been real guys. I hope you enjoy!
Carl crept along the balcony of the cell-block, keeping close to the metal bars. He could hear the whispers and giggles around him, and knew that he was close. Boots barely whispering over the concrete floor, he slowly passed by an empty cell. He heard a loud, "Shhh!" and his lips lifted into a grin. The next cell was Beth's, but he knew that she was in the guard tower with Daryl. With a rush of adreniline, he brushed into the cell, pushing the blue quilt out of the way. Lizzie was crouched on the floor with Mika, both girls flushed in the face and giggling.
"Gotcha," he said, and darted forward to tag both of them. But Mika twisted and slipped around him, laughing like mad, tearing back through the blanket and into the open cell block. Carl's hands landed on Lizzie's shoulders, but she was laughing so hard - and so was he - that they fell back on the floor in a tangle of limbs and smiles.
Once they caught their breath, Carl sat up and offered Lizzie a hand to help her up. She took it, cheeks aching from how big her smile was. They were in the middle of a big game of hide and seek, with all the other kids - even Glenn and Maggie were getting in on the fun - and they didn't have time to hang around.
"You're it," Carl said, reluctantly taking his hands off of her. She groaned, but nodded. Quickly, Carl leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her cheek, inhaling the sweet smell of her and the soft texture of her skin. "Start counting."
Breathless, Lizzie nodded, and Carl slunk out of the cell. He'd hide somewhere easy, so she could catch him. Maybe then she would be giving him the kiss.
"All right," Daryl said, arms around Beth as they stood on the walk-way around the tower. The sun was high in the late summer sky, and they were surveying the perimeter of the jail. Beth was struggling with the weight of the Horton in her hands, and Daryl was trying not to laugh. Watching her with the weapon was amusing, and arousing. She had her tongue poking out of her mouth, brows furrowed in concentration, and the heavy crossbow was making her arms ache. There was a walker on the fence, down away from where there were folks picking them off. They were still grouping up, but seemed to be thinning in numbers. It was wishful thinking on his part, but he hoped they were all dying. Again. For good.
"I think I can get him," Beth murmured. Daryl pushed a lock of blonde from her forehead, tucking it behind her ear, and she smiled at him for a moment before returning her eyes to the walker. It was just a spec in the distance.
"Nah," he said, shaking his head. "Don't need to waste the arrow."
"You saying it's not worth a shot?" Beth challenged. Her eyebrow was raised, and Daryl smiled at her playful attitude. In the weeks that had passed since she and Michonne had been kidnapped, since he was out of his mind with rage and fear, since they returned... The wounds healed up, people stopped their whispering. It was a relief to be like this with Beth now, out in the open. He still didn't like letting her out of his sight, but Daryl knew that it was important to trust her. After what she'd been through, she wasn't going to be running off on her own again. Probably never.
"Just sayin'," Daryl said with a shrug. "You miss, you gotta go and get it ya'self."
"That's never been a problem for me before," Beth said, mock-serious. Daryl realized she wasn't talking about the bolt anymore. With a wry smile, he wrapped his arms tight around her, helped hold up the bow. He lined her up, but she was relaxed in his arms. She wasn't trying - she was letting him do all the work. His finger twisted around her's on the trigger, and together, they took the shot. The walker dropped, and was still in the tall grass.
"Can't do it all on yer own," Daryl whispered against the shell of her ear. He kissed it, then wrapped himself from around her and took back his weapon. She was blushing, blue eyes blazing at him with lust and desire. He'd grown to know the look very well. He smirked.
"You are going to get it," Beth promised. "Soon as our shift is over..."
"Betta watch it, missy," Daryl said. "Don't say things you ain't gon' follow through with." He wouldn't let her free from her word though. While her arousal was completely visible, at least to him, Daryl played it very cool. No one knew that he was walking around with a hard-on twenty four seven, or that his hunger for the blonde was frightening, to him. He'd never loved anything so much in his life, never wanted anyone like he wanted Beth. Loving someone in the end of the world was just as good as putting a curse on them, Daryl believed. He'd loved his brother, and look where that got him.
But he couldn't deny Beth. Couldn't pretend that the burn for her wasn't always in his veins, that feeling her in his arms and under his fingertips wasn't the sweetest torture. For some reason, she wanted him just as much as he wanted her. And together... It was stupid and corny to even admit to himself, but they were pretty fucking unstoppable. They'd been through the ringer already, and surely, there would be more to come. But as long as they were together, as long as he could fall asleep with her in his arms, and make love to her whenever they had the chance, Daryl would do his best to do right by her. Whatever she wanted, whatever she needed, Beth would have.
She smiled at him, cocking her head to the side. "We could always go in..." The unspoken implication of her statement had him groaning, and he grabbed her tight. Instantly, she was pressing her lips on his, tongue tracing his lips for entry. She was getting bold now, confident, and he loved the unhesitant way that she was loving him.
Walking her backwards, their duty forgotten for the moment, Daryl pushed her inside and kicked the door shut behind them. If it was good enough for her, it was definitely more than good enough for him.
Beth was on fire. Whenever she was with Daryl like this - it didn't matter the situation, whether it was slow and sweet or fast and hard and dirty - the man simply had to touch her, and she was butter. Moaning softly as he sucked on her earlobe, Beth felt his hands slide over her body. He knew her better than anyone, knew every freckle and dimple and pore on her damn body. Daryl was the only man she'd ever been with, and Lord willing, the only man she ever would be with. Every day was not promised, and Beth knew that better than anyone. She'd only been captive for a short while, but it had lingering effects.
Sometimes, when she woke up in the middle of the night, she'd forget where she was. Sometimes, when Daryl was gone and she was alone in her bed, she could see Kevin's dead eyes popping out of his skull, his brains leaking onto the dirty floor. Sometimes, she could still get a whiff of that chloroform that had knocked her out, and her stomach would tense and churn.
But moments like this made them all go away.
"Gotta be quick," Daryl said, his mouth on her neck. He bit her, not enough to tear the skin, but enough to make Beth's eyes roll back in her head. She pushed her hips against him, making him growl, and the sound only made her hotter. She was panting from their kisses, from his fingers manipulating her breasts. One had was kneading her bottom, and she inwardly grinned. His fascination and obsession with her ass was silly to her, but then again... She had a Dixon-sized bite mark on one cheek, and the idea made her even more aroused.
She unbuckled her belt and made quick work of her fly. Daryl was too distracted to undress himself, focused instead on touching every inch of her. His hand was inside of her panties, deftly finding her clit and rolling it between his fingers. Beth gasped at the sensation, keening lowly at the pleasure that shot through her body. Her hands found the edge of the table behind her, and she braced herself. Their eyes met, blue smoldering against blue, and Daryl smirked when he slipped a finger inside of her.
He was about to say something smart, Beth could sense it. She leaned up to kiss him, effectively cutting off whatever thought he was about to say. He seemed to remember the urgency when she did that; his hands left her body to divest his own clothing, and then he was nudging her up on the table.
"Spread 'em," he demanded. Beth did the best she could with her pants hooked around her ankles. She hadn't taken off her boots. Daryl licked his lips at the site of her, and for a moment she thought he was going to lean down and lick her - not that she would complain. But in that instant, her core ached for him. It'd only been a few hours since they'd made love, in bed... But she wanted him again. She would never have her fill of her redneck.
Instead of kissing her most private parts, he tore her panties off. Beth gasped, then groaned - the animalistic action was erotic. He wanted her just as badly as she wanted him. His erection was leaking, and she gazed at it, licking her own mouth this time. But then he was grabbing her hips, positioning himself. In one swift thrust, he was inside of her. They both moaned at the sensation.
Daryl didn't pause. He pulled out, then thrust up again, and Beth felt her eyelids drop shut. It was too fucking good, too sweet and maddening to do much more than hang on for the ride. He grunted against her, face in her neck, and Beth wrapped her arms around his neck, fisting her hands in his dirty brown hair. Nothing would ever be so perfect, so delicious, as these moments. She was moaning out now too, so close to the edge that she could almost taste the impending orgasm. Daryl held her thighs apart with one hand, and the rubbed the bundle of nerves that never failed to make her scream.
"Come, darlin," Daryl whispered. When his voice was soft and the drawl was in full effect, Beth could do nothing but obey. With her head thrown back and eyes squeezed shut, her body tensed then shuddered. The pleasure that washed over her was so good, and her nails dug into him as she tried not to scream. Instead, she chanted his name over and over, like a prayer. A few more thrusts and he was coming too, making noises that did nothing to calm her down. Instead, they made the after effects linger, the pleasure shoot through her again, but softly. She whimpered.
After they both came down, their breathing evening, flush receding from their faces, Beth glared at him. "You ruined my panties."
"I'll find you some new," Daryl chuckled, not in the least bit sorry. His seed was leaking from between her thighs, and damned if it didn't make him horny all over again. Shaking his head, he hauled her jeans up ther thighs and sighed. Later. He'd make her pay for seducing him out of their duty - God, anything could have happened down there. Walkers could have invaded the fence, knocked it down, been feastin' on their people and Daryl wouldn't have known. It was the dangerous part of being so in love with Beth. When they were alone together, when they were fucking and making love and so wrapped up in each other - nothing else existed.
"Better," Beth quipped. "Maybe I'll have to rip up your vest next time."
"You wouldn't dare -"
"No," she agreed, smiling softly. "It's too sexy." The bewildered look he gave her was enough to make her laugh out right. Sometimes, he was so oblivious to the way he looked, the persona he put out to the world. He was the sexiest man alive, in her eyes. Grabbing the collar of his vest, she pulled him down for a sweet, slow kiss.
"Love ya," Daryl said, when they broke apart. Hearing those words from him was enough to make her blush.
"I love you," she responded. It would never get old. It would never lose it's meaning. It was the end of the world, and loving someone now was a blessing and a curse. But Beth couldn't have stopped it if she tried. Even if she wanted to.
Carl was waiting in their secret spot. The sun was setting, and it was a beautiful sight. Up in the watch tower, Beth and Daryl were smiling at each other. Maggie and Glenn weren't the only ones in love, now. People were upset at first, but they got used to it. The only people who even cared were the ones from their original group, that had been there since the beginning, or at least since the farm house. His dad didn't like it, not at first - but Rick was accepting.
Seemed like everyone was accepting once they saw how the two were together. Wasn't dirty, wasn't bad - Daryl was sweet to her, protective. Beth glowed under his attention. Part of Carl would always love Beth a little more than the other women of the group, but it wasn't like that anymore. He didn't have a crush on her, wasn't a stupid kid anymore. He was almost a man, had lived more than a lot of the men that had died and become walkers. Carl was tough. He could take care of his family and the people at the prison. When Judith was big enough, he'd teach her everything he knew.
"Sorry," Lizzie said, startling him from his thoughts. "Mika was being a brat."
"'S ok," Carl said with a shrug. They dangled their legs over the edge, silently watching the sun sink into the horizon. They didn't have to talk all the time, anymore. Used to be, he couldn't get Lizzie to shut up. But these peaceful moments together were a lot better. Carl reached for her hand, and she placed it in his, lacing their fingers. She squeezed.
"My birthday is coming up," Lizzie said after a while. "I think."
"When is it?" Carl asked. He hadn't thought of birthdays, or holidays of any kind, in a long time.
"September. I'll be fourteen." She smiled at him. "Same as you."
"I'm still older," Carl said, shaking his head.
"Not by much," Lizzie replied. She leaned her head on his shoulder, and sighed. "A year ago, when I turned thirteen, I didn't realize that I would be here. I never knew I would be at the prison - I mean, the walkers had already happened, but Dad made sure that we did something for my birthday. Got me these earrings," she added, and Carl smiled.
"That's nice," he said.
"But I'd rather have a knife or a gun now, ya know? Crazy how that works." Lizzie giggled and scooted closer, snuggling up to him. This was all still so new to Carl, to Lizzie, but it felt absolutely natural to him at the same time. They might have been too young to be doing what Daryl and Beth were doing, but at the same time... There was a pull between them. Carl knew that Lizzie and him, they belonged to each other. Same as his dad belonged to his mother, and Maggie to Glenn. People were made in pairs, and everyone belonged to someone else. It was weird, and special, that two people ever found each other in the whole wide world. Their perfect fit. But it did happen - and it had.
So what if they were too young? At least Lizzie and Carl would have each other to grow old with. Older, at least. In the whole wide world, they had found each other. Even after the end of the world, after the apocolypse. When the dead rose from the ground and began to eat the living, Carl had survived. Survived so that he could protect his family, protect the prison, protect LIzzie.
Everyone in the prison has a job. Carl was completely certain what his was.
"It's getting late," Lizzie said, pulling back from him. The sky was glowing with a million stars. The moon was big and bright, and full.
"Just a little longer," Carl said, squeezing her hand. Lizzie smiled softly, nodded. With her head resting at the crook of her neck, Carl knew he would remember this moment forever. Everything, in this moment, was completely right, completely perfect. Didn't get many times like this anymore, and Carl was determined to make it last as long as possible. Him and his girl, under a million twinkling stars.
Unbidden, a thought flurried through his head. Good things must all come to an end...
Shaking it from his head, he kissed Lizzie on top of the head and returned to his stargazing.