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Part 2/2
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Fall Right In
Chapter 20 - Under the Light of a Thousand Stars -
Part 2/2
(Part 1/2 here)


Beth woke surrounded by the warmth of Daryl’s body, his chest at her back, hand big and hot on her belly. His erection nestled in the crack of her ass and his hips pushed lazily against her while he whispered words she couldn’t hear into the back of her neck. Her whole body came alight, tingling hot through her veins, to her toes, between her legs where she was already so wet for him. She arched back, pressing hard into him, and Daryl’s breath rushed hot and heavy at her neck.

“Beth...” He breathed her name and thrust against her ass, no longer lazy. No longer anything but hard.

His fingers stoked her belly, widening circles that made her shiver and sigh. She gasped when he popped the button on her jeans and pressed back into him, loving how hard he was. As hard for her as she was wet for him. He trailed his fingertips down, drawing a rasping moan out of her long before he slid through her curls to the soft, slick flesh beneath. When he circled her clit she called out his name, the jolt of pleasure striking hard, shaking through her shoulders and down into the rocks beneath her.

He brought her to the cusp before he stopped, leaving her shaking and desperate when he withdrew his fingers to nudge her shoulder. His lips were on hers the moment she turned in his arms, all but swallowing her moans, drawing them into his mouth along with her tongue. He rolled forward, tucking her half beneath him, erection pressing just right against the seam of her jeans.

“Oh, God, Daryl,” she moaned, between kisses which stole her breath.

Her fingers pulled at his shirt, slipping the buttons through the holes, and he reached for her, tugging at the hem of her top. Still kissing, they shed each other of their clothes and Beth cried out when she felt his cock, so thick and hard, sliding through her wet folds to press right where she wanted him.

She gazed up at him and he gazed down at her, fingers brushing her cheeks where they glowed warm. Beth arched her back, squeezing around him as he sunk into her, breathing her name into the night. She was so close already, so close and now so full, and she thought she might die if he didn’t move.

But it wasn’t long before Daryl withdrew, never taking his eyes off her, and when he thrust back in they both cried out.

“Daryl!” Beth drove her hips up to meet him when he rocked into her again, so hard and deep and good. “Daryl!”

“Beth,” he moaned, breath hot and heavy on her face. “Beth. Beth! Beth!”


Beth gasped, eyes flying open to the sight of Daryl hovering over her, fully clothed with his back to the tree. A hard shudder rolled through her whole body, the tail ends of it licking at her throbbing clit like the ghost of dream-Daryl’s fingers. The trembling didn’t stop when he pulled her up, gathered her into his arms the way he did after her nightmares. She let herself be gathered, pressed her face into his neck, clung to him with fingers barely able to hold on. If she wasn’t shaking so hard, if she could do anything else but breathe while teetering here on the cusp, Beth might have laughed.

Oh, Daryl, that was no nightmare.

What usually soothed, the stroke of his fingers along her spine, the heat of his breath as he whispered to her, only made it worse. Beth moaned into his neck, lips open and wet on his skin, her breath rushing out in shaky little puffs. She needed—oh God, she needed a different kind of touch altogether, and no matter what they’d got up to in her dream that wasn’t something she could ask of him.

She pulled out of his arms, wrenching her body up and away with enough force that he didn’t have time to attempt to hold on. But she needed to move before she did something she’d regret, something he wouldn’t want, out of sheer desperation. She couldn’t see his face, hidden as it was in the shadow of the trees despite the glow from the not-quite half waxing moon overhead. He could see her, though, would read the turmoil written there when she stammered out something about having to pee and struggled up on shaking legs. He didn’t try to stop her from dragging herself into the trees, or if he did, Beth didn’t notice. She just—she just needed and couldn’t get away fast enough.

In the dark, she couldn’t go as far from Daryl as she wanted, not with terrain this steep. She barely managed to avoid tripping over the alarm, but saw the glint of metal just in time and pressed her back to a tree just inside the line. So close to Daryl but it didn’t matter; she couldn’t wait. Beth shoved her jeans to her calves, pulled down the red shorts and her worn old panties, threadbare and soaked right through. The rough bark scraped her back as she slid down, parting her legs as far as her jeans would allow.

The first swipe of her fingers on her swollen clit had her biting her lip to keep from crying out. Something like a whimper sneaked past anyway, but she couldn’t stop, not the sound, and not this either. Not now, not when she was so fucking close. Beth moved her fingers in tight, hard circles, biting her lip with so much force she knew it would bruise. Her vagina ached, muscles clenching and fluttering around nothing, and she just needed more.

She slipped two fingers inside, where she was so wet there was no resistance, just slick, greedy muscles drawing her digits in deeper, and she moaned, too loud, too raspy, but it felt so good finally having something to squeeze that she didn’t try to stop it. Just the brush of her fingertips over that spongy spot inside, along with the circles on her clit, erupted in a starburst that rocketed through her belly, fluttering inside where her fingers pressed, shooting icy-hot down to her toes. She pressed in hard, harder, stoked firm over her clit once, twice more before she shattered, coming with such force she barely had enough presence of mind left to bury her face into the wool of her sweater and muffle the sounds tearing past her throat.

She hadn’t managed to stay upright, in the shuddering aftermath, landing hard on the debris-strewn ground with her fingers still inside and her pants around her calves. Daryl called out to her in question and she managed something in response—she wasn’t sure what, except that it kept him from leaving his post. When her body finally calmed enough she got up again to pee for real, biting back a small whimper when that bodily function caused an aftershock of the other. But she managed, and dragged her clothing back into place with shaking, sticky fingers.

There was no water here, no place to wash off. Beth sucked her fingers clean and wondered if doing that made her a proper redneck woman, too.

She couldn’t look at Daryl when she came back into the clearing, her legs only a little less shaky than when she left. If she looked he would know—if he didn’t already suspect it—and if he knew, Beth wasn’t prepared to see the look she imagined him wearing, some mixture of disgust and pity. She knew that was stupid, she did, but rational thoughts weren’t running the show just now, and she sunk down cross-legged beside him, locking her hands together in her lap to keep them from shaking as she stared out into the blackness of the ledge beyond.

“You okay?” His voice was quiet and gravelly, but she couldn’t tell if it was out of disuse or tiredness or something else.

I don’t think I’ll be okay again.

“Y-yeah. Fine. Just—” Beth’s breath sighed out of her, followed by a little shiver. “I-I’ll take watch now, if you want.”

Even without looking, Beth felt Daryl’s eyes on her from the shadows beneath his tree. After minute which seemed to stretch out around them, long and silent, Daryl made a rumbling sound in the back of his throat. “All right.”

Something about the words felt weighted in a way Beth couldn’t decipher, but they poked a hole through her ballooning shame, too, deflating it down to rumpled little piles of colour inside her chest. But she could navigate that, and her lungs didn’t ache quite so badly anymore as she and Daryl traded places. Beth slid over to the centre of the tree and Daryl lay down on the canvas, using her legs as a pillow as she had done with him. It felt a little wrong, after what she had just done, to slide her still-trembling fingers into his hair. To scratch his scalp after scratching her own itch. But his sleepy, contented groan drove those thoughts right out of her head.

The other thoughts still swirled there, the old doubts and the new ones, the questions, what she knew to be true battling with what she feared actually was. Everything was a jumbled, confusing, gut-twisting mess inside her head, overlaid by the too-real flashes, like a flickering slideshow of images, from her dream. Not just images, though, but all the sensations that went with them, from the sound of his ragged breath and raspy voice moaning her name, to the taste of squirrel on his lips. He’d smelled of leather and sweat and sex, she remembered that so clearly, and oh, how he felt inside her, hard and thick and filling her so full, more real than any dream had the right to be. She had never dreamt with such vivid detail before these nightmares started, and dreaming of Daryl like that, with the same intensity—she was still trembling, she realized, and not just from her orgasm.

Daryl’s groans soon turned to quiet snores, and Beth didn’t stop trailing her fingers through the still-soft strands. The motion was as soothing to her as it was for him, and Beth had to crack a smile at that despite the tornado wreaking havoc in her head. It had been years since she’d settled down to think with a cat curled up on her lap, one of them always seeming to know when the troubles on her mind needed a little furry intervention. Daryl made as good a cat as any.

Oh, Daryl.

Beth stared down at her pale fingers moving through his dark hair. God, why did she feel so unsettled? She hated this, these little voices whispering in her mind that all her fears were coming true, that Daryl didn’t want any part of this, that he’d turn his back to her now that he knew what kind of girl she really was.

And what is that, Beth?

That voice sounded suspiciously like Maggie, but the Maggie-in-her head made a lot of sense lately. The real Maggie would tell her she hadn’t done anything wrong, no matter what those prodding little voices tried to say. It was just a dream, something entirely beyond Beth’s control. What came after that, well, there was nothing to be ashamed of about that. Women have needs just the same as men, Maggie would remind her, and she had done what she could to keep it private.

Like Daryl had, when he rolled away from her. Because—and it struck her like a tree branch to the face, whipped back with abandon as the thought rolled through—he was just as in the dark about how she felt as Beth was about him.

That’s it, Beth. Use your head.

Her dream and everything leading up to it didn’t define how she felt. No, that deep attraction, the wanting of him in that way, came from her feelings for Daryl, not the other way around. What she came to understand at the ledge at sunset hadn’t changed, growing and building  far longer than she even knew, tunnelling so deep, deeper that she could imagine. And it was scary and huge and beautiful and so many things at once that all added up to the truth. Beth Greene knew her heart, knew it beat for Daryl and had for some time now.

But Daryl didn’t.

She imagined, for a moment, that Daryl felt the same way. That he’d had a revelation of his own there on the ledge and that’s why he clung to her as he had. But the same doubts, the same fears she had about him, he’d have about her. He would, with the way he never thought he was good enough, and that was the big old bucket of water dumped over the burning coals of his feelings. So he held on in silence, keeping what they had, not wanting to risk it for something he feared they had not.

After supper, maybe she pushed his boundaries a little, and maybe he let her. He was okay with it because she didn’t seem to mind. But the doubts still lingered, the worries, the idea that what had deeper meaning for him didn’t mean the same to her. And then—and this was what weighed on her now, the realization of it like a second blow from that wayward branch—what if she felt him there, on top of her, hard for her, and thought that was all he wanted.

Turning the tables around, back to being Beth now. What if Daryl knew what she’d gotten up to in the woods and thought the same thing?

She snorted, and Daryl mumbled something in his sleep. That was ridiculous. Of course she hadn’t thought that, when she realized he was hard. If that was all Daryl wanted, she’d have known about it long before now. No, she knew him better than that, so why would he believe it of her?

He wouldn’t, because he knew her better than that, too, but he also wouldn’t be able see it from her point of view. Wouldn’t be able to convince himself that she could see past his physical reaction to what lay beneath it.

Beth knew her heart, knew what she wanted and that was everything. She couldn’t know Daryl’s heart, not officially, but she knew he cared about her, trusted her, felt safe with her. She knew the strength of his arms, a shield against the worst of her demons; knew the warmth of his body and the comfort of his touch when she needed it most. She had felt the rush of his breath on her neck, the way he trembled when she whispered that she’d never let him go, and the rumble of his voice in her ear, on her skin, speaking those pearls of truth in the safety of their bed.

Beth remembered the spark of his eyes on her as they travelled, knew the power in his gaze and felt the pull of it even now with his eyes shut in sleep, reaching out from inside him and burrowing deep into her.

She’d listened to the beating of his heart beneath her cheek, felt the rise and fall of his strong chest as he breathed deep. Had basked in the look of pride on his face when she excelled at something he taught her and bore witness to the easy smiles he granted no one else.

Beth knew the brush of his knuckles across hers and the shape of his fingers when she slipped her hand into his, felt the way he held on like he never wanted her to let go. And she saw the way he reached for her now, instead of just letting her reach for him, needing her touch, needing to touch her as much as she needed to touch him.

She knew all of that, because she knew Daryl. Knew the kind of man he was, a good man who cared about her in a way no one else ever had, because he did. God, it was so obvious that he did, that they were in this together, and she only had her own silly head to blame for having doubted that.

“We’re gonna be okay, you and me,” she whispered, heart thundering in her chest as she brushed her fingers across his brow, smooth and relaxed in sleep. “We’re gonna make it work, Daryl. You’ll see.”


Daryl woke before dawn, stirring with the first hints of light cutting through the dark, well before the sun came up. He stretched before he came fully awake, driving his face into her thighs and curling his arm up around her hip. Despite the flutter of nerves quickening her pulse, Beth glided her fingers through his hair, smiling when he moaned softly and mumbled her name into her jeans.

He turned over onto his back after a while, his head still in her lap, hair a mess from her fingers combing through it. When he blinked his sleep-heavy eyes open with a lazy smile on his face, her own stretched out wider in greeting.


Daryl’s lazy smile widened. “Mmm, mornin’, Beth.”

“You slept well,” she said, giving his scalp a little scratch.

“Mmm.” He groaned and stretched, tipping his head to follow her fingers. “Keep doin’ that and I ain’t gonna get up,” he said, voice still thick and sleepy.

He shut his eyes again and Beth gave him another scratch, grinning wide as he stretched out like a great big kitten, rumbling from somewhere deep in his chest. If Maggie were watching this, she’d have an awful lot to say about that. About how a man like Daryl didn’t turn into a lap cat for just anyone.

It was so simple, after a long night spent settling her thoughts, to carry on how they’d been for some time now, before she let her brain get too bogged down in the details. Not two days ago she had told herself to just let it be and that was all they needed to do now. Leave the thinking out of it for a while and just be. After all, it got them this far, hadn’t it?

She couldn’t stop her gaze from lingering on Daryl as they packed up camp, her heart still pounding away in her chest except it wasn’t nerves anymore. He watched her, too, like he always did, and her whole body tingled with it, alight with bubbles on her skin. Beth imagined them leaping up from her like tiny, effervescent sparks, spreading out around her like a lively, multicoloured aura.

They sat together by the ledge to eat a small breakfast of leftover squirrel, and Beth leaned over to lay her head on his shoulder, remembering last night’s sunset, rich with golds and pinks and oranges in all the hues she could imagine. She and Daryl weren’t a sunset, but in her heart they shone in that same brilliant way, layers of light and colour and form coming together at the right time to build something almost magical. And that might be the songwriter in her, waxing poetic, but she liked the way the thought curled and nestled, warm and shivery, inside her head.

Daryl tucked his arm around her, fingers settling naturally in the curve of her waist, and though she couldn’t hear his heart she knew it would be pounding just as fast as hers. Beth wasn’t at all surprised to meet the bright blue of his eyes when she tipped her face up to look at him. A splash of pink coloured his cheeks, the same tint she felt warming hers, and that gentle smile pulled easy at his lips, which she could only answer in kind.

It was nothing at all to shift, to tuck her knees underneath her and cuddle deeper into his side. She shivered as his thumb swept across the warmth of her cheek, and before he could withdraw, Beth caught his wrist and pulled him back in, eyes locked on his as she grazed the knuckle of his thumb with her teeth. Daryl groaned, so softly it flitted out like a breath on the morning breeze, and turned his hand to cradle her cheek in his trembling palm.

Their foreheads met and Beth didn’t remember moving. In the middle their breath mingled, puffing out in ragged gasps until she couldn’t tell his from hers. Beth slid her palm onto his leather over top his pounding heart, pressing her fingertips in so he’d feel her through the layers, and breathed his name into the space between them.

She didn’t know which of them moved, or if maybe they both did, but she caught the whispered breeze of her name on her lips just before they brushed across his. He was still trembling, she felt it in his fingers where they tucked into her hair, beneath her hand, and on his lips, even as they parted, slowly sliding against hers. She trembled, too, right through to her toes, and her head felt so light she thought she might float away.

Then the hesitant slide became something else entirely, something warm and wet and deep, and a new heat caught fire in her chest, spreading out through her body until she thought she might burst into flames. Somebody groaned, maybe her, maybe him, she didn’t know but she felt it like the buzz of a jet engine on her lips. His were warm and full and firm and she bit down on the bottom one, just enough to make him moan, the sound tearing up from his chest beneath her fingers. She swallowed it down, chased another one with her tongue, sliding it into his open mouth alongside his.

They drew apart, both gasping for breath, foreheads knocking together. Daryl breathed her name, and as quickly as they parted, they came together again. No hesitation this time, just lips and tongues and teeth, sighs and moans and stolen, shuddering breaths that belonged to both of them at once. There on the ledge in the early morning light, the brightest of the night’s stars still looking down from above, Beth poured everything she had into kissing Daryl Dixon, because this was it. This was them, and nothing the world could throw at her was ever gonna make her let go.

Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh, darling, place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are

   - Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud

to be continued in chapter 21 >>


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