Wasn't Born an Angel
Chapter 42: Need...Want...Deserve
~Author's note: Okay...so, first chapter back after my extended holiday and vacation hiatus! I know it has been forever, and I am grateful to any of you who decide to come back and read this fiction. About this chapter, I am really happy with it...there is a lot of sweetness here, but just remember with who the characters are and what they have been through, there are still going to be little complications. Thank you guys for being so awesome. I hope you enjoy.~
The mark on the map, he focused on it, that mark that lead him to finding Beth barely breathing but alive. Had that only been weeks ago? It felt like a lifetime...the tragedy, the beauty...things he never thought he would feel in his life. Not time to contemplate, time to try and find their location on the map and think about their possible routes...home.
He trekked down that pavement earlier to find the county road and crossroad sign after he got her back in the house, truthfully needing to have a bit to himself to try and regroup after Beth...well, after Beth. He put up with the annoyance of walking with a fucking hard on, almost giving in and taking care of himself in the woods, but then deciding to man up and just live with it instead of being like some pervy kid hiding and jerking off to the pretty girl who just touched him. But shit, she did more than touch him...
Beth...he'd been pissed at her for being stupid...reckless and going after the walkers when she didn't have to. She'd been pissed at him, then she popped like a little firecracker. It made him grin just thinking on it despite the uncomfortable state she left him in. And he wasn't able to push her away...didn't want to...when she started it, even knowing full well that she wasn't gonna finish it. He wasn't even feeling all that shitty for his part...giving in. Things had changed.
A little bit worried about leaving...was Beth really ready? All the signs today...her spirit and fire pointed to yes, and he was relieved. He would like to give her a few more days, but that herd and that storm had both been wakeup calls. The weather...cold weather was starting to move in, and he wanted to get her somewhere permanent before the worst of it started...somewhere he could get secured quick so he could start going on runs, scavenging in an area he was more familiar with to squirrel away what they needed to make it. And that herd...that herd could've gone totally different than it did. Neither of them was stupid...knew they dodged that bullet. Daryl's instincts had kicked into high gear, needing to leave but not wanting to have to force Beth, drag her away from her beautiful place back into the darkness, knowing that traveling was just as dangerous as staying, maybe even more...but they had to. Had to get somewhere better...not prettier, just more remote. Beth made the decision though, a good sound one, getting to leave on their own terms. For Daryl that meant more control and more safety, but for Beth...for them maybe, it meant getting to leave this place untarnished, holding on to everything it was and meant to them...their beginning. Their chance.
Hell yeah, there it was...there they were...didn't even have to look all that hard to pinpoint their location. Map spread out across the table in the dim candle light, he expected much more of a challenge, thought his concentration would be shot by everything else...not being able to get Beth outta his head, concerns about hitting the road, anxiety about taking her back to his old man's place out in the woods...showing herwhat he used to be again. Maybe that was part of himself that he could never entirely get rid of...but who he was now...he was good enough. Had to be. He just hoped he could make her happy there...give her a life there even though it could never be the life she deserved.
So gritty, harsh...such an ugly place...his world before her. There had been no music in his life, but now, music was drifting in from the other room, not singing, just playing, and that didn't help their...his decision none. Where they were going, even if he could find a piano for her somewhere, and he probably could, there would be no room for it there...in that world. Dammit. He hoped that even though there wouldn't be a pianothat this wouldn't be her last song. He didn't want this to be the day her music...her spirit died. But the soft tune trailed off as if on cue.
"What are you doing?"
He liked it when her voice caught him when he least expected it because sometimes that was when he heard it at its clearest...when he was the most in tune with it. She sounded serene but tired, that point where there was just a little bit more of the endearing southern drawl in her words...left him speechless for a second.
"Just tryin' to figure out our best bet...which way to go. And our backup plans." They never had enough backup plans...learned that at the prison.
"You never did show me where home was going to be."
That was right, a conversation they never finished back before they set out on their own.
"Here." Daryl relinquished his chair, sitting her in front of the map, leaning close over from behind her. Beth's finger settled on the mark on the map he'd been so focused on...where she'd been...where he'd found her. She didn't have to ask to know, but they were moving forward. It was just forward from here on out. Taking her hand and redirecting it on the map to where they were. "This is us now...and this is where we're headed."
His hand over hers, Daryl traced a straight line with her fingertips between the two points.
"How long until we get there?"
That was a tricky question,and the prospects of getting there made him anxious. They were maybe forty-five miles as a crow flies, sixty if they took the most direct route, but he still wanted to stay off the main roads. Less chance of meeting up with people he might have to kill, less chance of people turned to walkers, didn't want to have to go through big towns. So, seventy miles give or take a few. Before, they could've done that in a little over an hour, but now...
"I don't know. I was thinking 'bout going this way." He showed her one of the routes. "I wanna take our time, be careful you know. Take it easy too. I'd say we could be there in a couple days. I'm pretty familiar with these little areas. If they look safe and clear, I'd like to stop and have a look along the way to see if there's anything small we can pick up and take with us or if there's stuff that's worth to go back and scavenge."
Beth wasn't objecting. He didn't expect her to. They were diving into the depths of his realm...his old stomping grounds. Thank God at least in taking her back there, everyone he knew was dead and gone. No one to have to hide her from, fight to protect her from, no one to show her exactly what his past looked like. She knew enough. She didn't need to see and hear any more.
"And like I said, my old man's place...it ain't much...hell, it ain't nothing. It's just shit, you know that. I don't wanna take you there..." Going all self-conscious again about his decision, but still knowing it was their best option.
Beth brought him back to her, turning around, touching his face gently, and kissing him on the cheek, soft smile. Her trust was in him. He couldn't fail...had to have confidence or he would be betraying that trust.
"But it's in the middle of nowhere. I can't see nobody ever wanting it or being there. And the land, the terrain, I know it like the back of my hand, and that means everything in surviving...fighting. I can secure it. I can hold it. There's about 200 acres of woods that my family owned, passed down...not really good for nothing but hunting back then, but it kept us alive...only thing we ever had worth anything. And it's good for now, Beth. There's running water...a good cold stream, and even a warm spring pool under a little bluff."
Daryl almost forgot about that, seeing Beth's face light up. Back when he lived there, that meant warm water for washing even when the electricity was turned off and they ran out of gas for the generator so there was nothing to keep the well pump running and the water flowing. Now, it was a luxury.
"Warm...like really warm?" Beth asked like it was too good to be true.
"Yeah, warm enough it's hot in the winter."
She always saw the good in things, and he was trying...maybe he was starting to too.Looking over her shoulder at him again, her eyes were sparkling, just a little mischievously if he was judging.
"And most of the land is wooded...heavy woods and rocky, but there are some clear patches close to the house where I think some stuff could grow, but I don't know how to grow nothin'." Quickly redirecting to the practicalities.
"I can plant a garden if we can find seeds. Daddy could grow anything; I think I got a little bit of that from him."
Talk of Hershel still made him sore, but Beth remembering him fondly...they were healing.
"And the best part, my old man's land...my land..." It was his land now. He was gonna take pride of ownership. "It's smack dab in the middle of the Sugar Creek wildlife conservation area, a thousand plus acres on three sides, unlimited hunting, a buffer from the rest of the world..."
"Wait..." Beth turned around as far a she could in her chair, hands gripping the back, looking up at him all wide-eyed. "Sugar Creek...you lived by Sugar Creek?"
A little breathy giggly gasp came out of Beth...indescribable except that it was happy, a noise of joy.
"We used to camp out at Sugar Creek. It's one of my favorite places.It is so beautiful...when I was out there, it always felt like the rest of the world stopped existing. It was just magical, even when I was older. We were out there just a few weeks before...well, before everything fell apart."
It was a fucking small world, now knowing they could've occupied the same space, within a few acres of each other. And she thought it was beautiful. He didn't know what to say, head bowing. She thought part of his world was beautiful. Beth's fingers were threading through his hair, making him look at her, not letting him avoid.
"It feels like we're going home. Home home." She wasn't lying.
"We'll make it home." He wished he could temper her expectations, really prepare her for what waited for them there...nothing pretty or shiny or beautiful, nothing that could ever hold a candle to this damned funeral parlor, but he had to let it go.
He could do this. He could take her home, make it better...what kind of man would he be if he didn't...make it theirs...their place in the world? They were going to be happy.
Daryl was the first in bed, just laying there, waiting for Beth. Exhausted, if they were gonna be leaving out tomorrow, he was gonna try to get that elusive solid eight hours of sleep. About ready to jump outta bed and go track down Beth...wouldn't go to sleep without her...
"I left some food out for breakfast. I fit what I could..." She yawned mid sentence, daintily covering her mouth as she came to the bedroom, setting him at ease. "I fit what I could in our bags. There's still a little left if anyone else finds this place and..."
Going to pull her hair back in a ponytail, he shook his head, wanting her to leave it free around her face. Beth let it fall down her back again in a loose, silken wave, standing there still like a porcelain doll on display, sleepy eyes, lips slightly parted...gone quiet.
Daryl had always been confident in his abilities...his ability to track, his ability to hunt, his ability to survive, but with women...there had never been confidence there. Hell, it had to start somewhere. Beth was a woman; she told him...showed him that today...showed him the way he needed her too. He was gonna treat her like one...like she deserved to be treated. And he wasn't gonna waste this comfy bed, their last night here, laying stiff on his back, staring up at the ceiling, afraid to cross a line, afraid to touch her when there wasn't even a line to be crossedanymore.Probably hadn't been for a long time...it was just him...fear and misunderstanding putting that distance between them. Tonight and from here on out, he wasn't gonna sleep beside Beth, he was gonna sleep with her.
"Come here." Daryl beaconed, voice gone raspy.
Beth didn't say nothin', just sliding in bed beside him, going to her side, little hands curled up under her chin, looking at him, but she kept her distance, giving him his space. It was probably 'cause they were so sleep deprived, so exhausted, but he just went there, not dancing around what he wanted.
"Come here." This time it sounded more like a demand than an offer...covering those damned insecurities, but she came, more than willing.
His arm wrapped around her instinctively, pulling her body to him like she belonged there...belonged to him...was his, and she was. If only his mouth could've stayed shut instead of spilling out all the words he was thinking.
"I don't know how this goes..."
Dammit Dixon, you're just holding her...just sleeping with her. You're protecting her. You go this.
She inched closer until there was no more room, her hand finding its way to rest on his chest...heart pounding so quick. That's when Daryl realized there was no right or wrong.
"Me either...but your arms feel...you feel like home..."
Her voice drowsy, drifting away...he hoped she had sweet dreams. Daryl didn't want dreams. This was all he ever needed, never knew he wanted it...it still scared him, but it...she was everything.
You feel like home...
Something was different. Different but not jarring...comforting. He didn't jerk out of sleep; that difference kept him suspended in the sweet euphoria between sleep and awake...a soft place of warmth...
Matched steady breathing...
Eyes still closed, he could feel the brightness of the sun flooding the room through the thin skin of his eyelids...feel the warmth too, warmth not just from the sun but from her body...a warmth that filled him. Instinct must have moved him in the night, shifting places in bed so that he was the closest to the door...to protect her. She wasn't facing him now because of it, trapped in his arms the way he decided, instead back and butt fit perfectly against him. He was molded around the soft curve of her.
Arms trying to draw her closer, her wispy hair tickling his face...
Becoming more aware, able to think...he'd been a man for a long time. Daryl was forced to be a man far before he should've...forced to grow up too fast 'cause he had to survive. But this...Beth...holding Beth in his arms, waking up with her...he'd never felt so complete before...so much a man. She made him this...who he was...the one thing in his life that made him the man he was supposed to be. He was never gonna let go. And well, it wasn't just his inside...his soul that was feeling invigorated by Beth, Daryl becoming keenly aware of his dick standing at attention, rammed all nice and tight up against her ass. He'd never really been like this...a creature of instinct, sure, but that kind of instinct...sex...his past limited experiences kind of made him the opposite. Never really needed sex, much less soberly sought out those kind of entanglements...but, this was Beth. He just forced himself to lay there and take it all in...enjoy what could be enjoyed, lived with what couldn't be helped, accepted the inevitability of the case of blue balls that was coming on, already feeling the ache and tingling, but knowing it was all worth it.
Just breathing in the sweet, natural scent of Beth, exhaling too deep, feeling her shift in his arms, Daryl cursed himself for waking her up...wanting to give her as much time...as much sleep as he could before they needed to leave. It was sweet though, Beth turning in his embrace, snuggling closer, the intimacy of her facing him, head nuzzling against his chest. He wasn't just her protector, he was her...hers. Straining, looking down, trying to see her, able only to see the edge of her cheek, but coming from her world of slumber, she was smiling serenely.
"I love you, Beth." He never said it enough...
But he showed it. At least he tried...thought maybe he was doing a good job at it. Clearly better than saying it, but he was learning. Wasn't sure she even heard it this time though, his voice still hoarse and rusty from sleep, or maybe he hadn't actually been saying it for her to hear.
"I love you..." Beth reached out to him, fingers skimming over the fabric of his wife-beater down his ribs, his skin tingling as it came to life under her touch.
Her hand settled on his hip, her small body pressing closer...feeling so right to him. She fit so perfectly, but...she felt too, realizing...finally opening her sleepy eyes. Tilting her head up to him, the shy shadow of a smile graced her face.
Dammit...that wasn't the only thing he wanted her to think she was to him...a piece of ass. Thinking he was on all the time...just wanted in her pants. How was she reading it? I love you, now here's my cock.
The tips of her fingers traced soft circlesthrough his pants on the side of his thigh doing nothing but working him up even more, making it impossible for him to think about anything but what she was doing...innocent intent from her maybe, but there was nothing innocent about what it was charging in him. But she had no idea...did she? He needed to get out, pull away before she inevitably stopped. This bed was a dangerous place to be...not that a bed was necessary...the wall, the door, the floor...a tree would all do, but with Beth, a bed was dangerous ground. She sat up, covers spread out like a nest around her, looking all bereft and confused as quick as he jumped free of it. Beth's hair a wild wavy mess, eyes now wide awake and glistening...questioning...
"Stay here. I got breakfast." Daryl tried to soften the blow that he didn't know was gonna be a blow.
Breakfast in bed. Beth would like that right? He was trying, but the way she was looking at him was killing him...like he was abandoning her. He wanted nothing more than to go back to that girl, stay curled up with her in bed soaking up the sun...but he wanted...needed more. If he went back to that bed, he might ask for more, and he couldn't. It hurt...walking away.
Her grip was desperate on him, fingers digging into his bicep. She'd moved so quickly to catch him before he got away, but honestly, Daryl had been hesitating too. Turning back to her...
"Daryl...I need you to...touch me. Please..."
Daryl was shocked still by her boldness then forced himself to stay still when the urge to take her up on her offer rooted in him. Watching Beth realize her own impulsiveness, blush beautifully in her embarrassment, shying away...turning her back... but she asked, and he wasn't gonna say no.
Despite the truth of it, Beth was startled by the way she just blurted it, so desperate and needy. There was no grace, no subtlety...just "Daryl...I need you to...touch me. Please..."
He was frozen, Beth turning his arm loose, no reason to hold him captive. She already got his attention...stunned him still. She could feel her own face turning beet red, the heat rising to her cheeks making her feel faint. And Daryl, she just should have let him go, his expression...he almost looked aghast at her plea...like he was going to growl at her. Turning away, she couldn't look at him, wishing she could just disappear.
Take it back...just take it back....Please let me take it back.
She was being too needy...
Daryl's hands dug into her hips...jerking her to him, eliciting a gasp of shock...desire. He had no problem touching her. The surprise, Daryl...the feel of him pressed behind her...not avoiding, not trying to pull away...Daryl not hesitating...it had her heart beating double time, trembling in her chest...pulse racing. Daryl doing...maybe caught in the moment a little but very aware of what he was doing, what she asked for and wanted, nothing in him threatening to stop...she couldn't breathe.
His broad hand spanned her quivering tummy...not quivering in fear, just anticipation, wanting his touch...keeping her trapped and still, his other finding her breast, cupping it, caressing through her shirt, her nipple...so sensitive, stiffening just from the stroke of his thumb.
His hand, so big...her breast so small in it...
His hands on her...they were the only part of him she could see. A real man's hands...strong hands, scarred and brutal.
His hand sliding from her tummyto her prominent hipbone, circling it first, then gripping and squeezing...
Beth reached back, gripped Daryl's solid thigh just to have her hands on him...feel him...touch him as the fire spread in her, a groan from Daryl letting her know that he was in no way numb to her. He wanted too.
Slipping beneath the waist of her jeans, his hand was rough and warm, but he tried to be gentle...slow...pressing against the lowest part of her abdomen...
So distracted, it felt like his touch was everywhere. Beth was entirely consumed by him...his hands possessing her, how massive Daryl felt behind her, looming over her, both comforting and intimidating. And his erection rubbing harsh and hard against the softness of the small of her back quickened something primal in her.
His touch left her breast...left it aching...tracing a path up to her neck, palming the slender column in his hand...
Hands that had killed more than they had loved.
Not just his hands now, but his lips, kissing her soft skin, her neck, forcing her head to the side...breathing her in, the warmth sending shivers through her body, down to her core. Nothing was forbidden, Daryl going where she needed him to go, only the shabby, threadbare lace of her underwear between his caress and her...
Fingers that had broken more than they had brought pleasure...
Hands that were learning all these things...doing all these things against their nature for her.
Thick, deft fingers pushing her panties out of the way...running through her hair, intent...a hand that was so capable in the same turn was so unsure...not just for her sake, Beth knew, but because he questioned himself, a man who should have been born to confidence. There was doubt, but he wasn't backing off. That first touch, barely skimming over her...Beth's thighs trying to clench together, but Daryl's massive hand making it impossible...
Her thoughts were all muddled now though; she couldn't think, she could barely breath, Daryl's warm fingers parting her, really finding her. Beth whimpered, biting her lip, biting back the cry that threatened to escape.
But Daryl's touch was too much, too much pressure, too much intensity...not wrong, just a little rough...he didn't know and she didn't know how to say, just too much all at once.
Beth didn't want to, but she shied away, moving to try to catch his hand even as she did, just to still it...try to tell him what she needed...was feeling, but it was too late. Daryl pulled back, letting her go, backing away from her...no more of the comfort of his body so near hers.
She was hot...wet...wanted this, begged for this...all achy inside...needed him, and now for some reason she couldn't even understand, she chased Daryl away. She messed up...maybe she was too messed up. Too ashamed to even turn and look at him...
It hit her then...a flash...a tortured moment...the memory of Allerton behind her, hands on her tummy holding her still, sometimes gripping her neck with cruel, boney fingers digging in...taking pleasure in holding her life in his hands before he cut her...watched her bleed. A feeling of panic took her. When Daryl moved away...his presence, the feeling of his body pressed behind her, everything he was and the damage he protected her from was replaced by fear and the memory of pain. Things that were still with her...triggers she could never know...damaged. Still just a little damaged. But what she did know, what she needed was to see Daryl, to see into the deep blue pools of his eyes that always spoke the truth of his concern, anger, sadness, passions, his love...his soul.
I ain't him, Beth...I'd never hurt you like that...like he did. I ain't him...
Those words still haunted her...everything Daryl had carried with him...everything he thought happened, everything he still blamed himself for. She could never see him as that monster; Daryl was her shelter in the storm.
They were occupying an awkward moment in time when Beth went to him, got the courage to face him.
"Sorry..." Head bowed, dark hair hiding his face from her.
She had the words to say, the eloquent words that her heart was speaking. Nothing done in love requires an apology, but despite their sincerity, to Daryl they would have sounded disingenuous. He would have heard it as her telling him he had done something wrong when he didn't, when that wasn't what she meant or was feeling at all.
"I just need to look at you." The simple truth was the best, nothing flowery or over thought. This was them.
Daryl lifted his head a little, stood up straighter, standing there for her appraisal, but that wasn't what she meant either.
I need to see you when you touch me...be facing you when I feel you. It was too late for her to say that; Daryl wasn't moving to take the lead again, Beth realizing that he was totally reactive to her. She wanted him to pay attention to her, understand what she was wanting and feeling, but when she had never done this...didn't really understand or know herself, she needed Daryl to be the steady one, the confident one to lead her through the unknown. She killed his confidence though when she shied away. Beth had to bring him back to her. Not really knowing how, just knowing Daryl's touch...his love was the only thing that took away the memory of the sting on her skin and the terror in her soul...
Soft, shy, tender...a kiss to his lips...nothing jarring, nothing passionate, just a taste of sweetness. He was slow to respond, not that he didn't want to, but like he was stopping himself...holding back.
"You shouldn't want me, Beth." He was cupping the back of her neck, pulling her in, kissing her again as soon as the words finished slipping off his tongue.
That's when Beth realized what they needed. Everything since the moment Daryl rescued her...every moment he tortured himself for losing her-about what happened to her, every thing he did, every gesture, every decision he made...every touch or lack of intimacy had been about her. Daryl needed to be touched...and more than anything he deserved to be touched, lavished with her affection, a love he had never known before her. He needed something just for himself, and Beth wanted to touch him...give that to him. She wanted to explore him...wanted to caress him, feel him, learn his body...show him he deserved to be wanted. Show him how much she wanted him.