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Love me fast, kiss me slow

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"The fuck is this?" Merle asks, peering down his crooked nose at the coffee in his hand with marked distrust.

"Christmas blend," Beth pipes up cheerily from behind the counter, "Do you like it?"

"I didn't order no Christmas blend," Merle gripes, wrinkling his nose back at her. 

"Didn't order nothin', just sat y’r cheap ass down an’ said you were thirsty," Daryl says as he walks past, shouldering a box labelled Christmas decorations. 

"I'm thirsty as fuck,” Merle spits, scowling at the coffee like it’s the coffee’s fault, “Andrea's out a town for the holidays."

Daryl sets the box down on an empty table by the window a little harder than he should and glares daggers across the room. 

"What's in this here Christmas blend anyway?" Merle asks, paying his brother no mind and eying the contents of his coffee cup warily. 

"Oh, I dunno. I think cinnamon and cloves, maybe a little nutmeg,” Beth says thoughtfully, “Doesn't it smell amazin'?" 

Merle stares at Beth blankly for a moment before frowning at the cup in his hand, nostrils flaring as he inhales and the tight knit of his brows softens slightly.

"Smells alright, I guess," He grumbles, raising the cup to his mouth.

“I love Christmas,” Beth says, leaning her elbows on the counter and resting her chin in her hands, “Pretty much anything festive gets me goin’.”

Droplets of coffee spray across the freshly cleaned counter as Merle snorts into his cup. 

“She doesn’t mean like that,” Daryl mutters, smacking his brother on the back of the head as he walks back past, acting like he hasn’t just swallowed down a strangled sound of his own.

“Like what?” Beth asks, turning to Daryl as he rounds the counter.

Daryl shakes his head and shrugs. He watches her eyebrows knitting together, unconvinced as he curls an arm around her waist and ducks behind his hair. 

“Jus' 'cause I understand what's rattlin’ around the trash can he calls a head don't mean you oughta,” He murmurs, pulling her closer and pressing a kiss to her forehead.

Beth rolls her eyes and settles into his chest. He can feel her smiling through his t-shirt, and it makes his lips twitch like they wanna. The smell of coffee is replaced by Beth’s shampoo, sweet and familiar, and some artificial pine scent. It takes him a moment to realise it’s the new air freshener in his truck, clinging to her from the ride over.

The clink of ceramic on the counter pulls Daryl’s attention forward. 

“I’mma head out for a smoke,” Merle says, shrugging his jacket on from where he’s now standing. 

“I’ll come with you,” Daryl nods.

Beth smiles a little wider as he turns to her, leaning up to press a quick kiss to his lips and press a hand to his chest. He’s just starting to feel the heat of her palm through his shirt, and then she’s giving him a push towards his brother. 

Merle’s already halfway through his cigarette when Daryl catches up with him slouched against the wall around the side of the diner.

“Do me a favour an’ take the bike home with you in the truck, would ya?” Merle asks, looking in Daryl’s direction but not quite meeting his eyes.

“Why, where you goin’?” Daryl asks around his cigarette as he digs in his back pocket for his lighter.

“Meetin’ an old friend for a drink,” Merle says, looking everywhere but at Daryl.

The lighter freezes an inch shy of Daryl’s cupped hand. He frowns. Merle doesn’t have any friends. 

“What about Andrea?” Daryl asks as the penny drops. 

Merle does look at him then. 

“I ain’t got what you got there, brother,” He says, and if Daryl didn’t know better, he’d say his brother’s eyes looked a little green.

“Well, maybe you could have, if you kept it in y’r pants,” He says, inhaling deeply as he lights his cigarette. 

Merle’s eyes narrow into icy slits that pin Daryl to the wall. 

“You could fuck every hole in this two bit town an’ that girl in there would still adore you,” Merle spits,  “Probably fetch you an ice pack for your sore cock.”

Daryl’s face convulses at the idea of fucking anyone but Beth.

Merle huffs a mirthless laugh, “That’s what I thought, you don’t even wanna stick it anywhere else.”

Daryl shakes his head, frown deepening, “Nah, I don’t.” 

There’s a beat, and both men pull on their cigarettes. 

“That’s the difference,” Merle says, smile gone from his face. 

Daryl holds his brother’s gaze as he blows the smoke he’s been holding out the side of his clenched jaw. 

“Just as well,” Merle says, the corners of his mouth pulling up, “‘Cause if y’ did, I’d have to staple y’ balls to the wall. Beth deserves better’n that.”

“She does,” Daryl agrees. 

Deserves better than him, but he tries not to think about that too often. 

"Alright, I'mma head out," Merle grunts, inhaling his cigarette down to the filter before flicking the stub towards the snow sprinkled sidewalk. 

Daryl nods, hollowing his cheeks around his cigarette and dragging smoke into his lungs in an attempt to fumigate the uneasy feeling in his chest.

"See you at home," He says tightly, holding the smoke in until he feels it burn. 

"Don't count on it," Merle calls back, forcing a grin that fails to reach his eyes. 

Taking another deep drag on his cigarette, Daryl watches his brother lurch down the street, heavy boots stomping their way through a layer of freshly fallen snow. The night suddenly feels a whole lot colder. Daryl tosses his cigarette, turns around, and heads back inside. 

He nearly has a heart attack when he walks back into the diner to find Beth up a ladder, reaching precariously to the side as she hangs Christmas lights in the window.

"Said I'd do that," He says, crossing the room in two quick strides to grab the tilting ladder and hold it steady.

Looking over her shoulder at him, Beth rolls her eyes and tries to hide her smile in her collar. He sees it though.

"I've seen your place, I'm not lettin' you decorate anythin'," She says, grin rounding her cheeks and making him want to pull her down and kiss her.

He doesn't, just narrows his eyes at her, and watches as she climbs further up the ladder.

His eyes don't stay narrowed for long. They damn near fall out of his head when she reaches the top step and leans ninety degrees to the side allowing him to see all the way up her skirt and giving him a perfect view of her perfect ass wearing the red lace panties he gave her as an early Christmas present. 

Not that he needs an excuse. Ever since she started calling him her boyfriend he figures he's got license to buy her nice shit whenever he wants. 

He doesn't care what kind of panties she wears, in truth, but he thinks her penchant for cotton blend has less to do with comfort and more to do with how she feels about herself, and he does care about that. The idea that this girl, his girl, thinks she’s as unremarkable, mundane and colourless as the dime a dozen underwear she drops onto his bedroom floor. 

Daryl clocked that Beth was anything but unremarkable the first time he saw her. She turned his head the moment she walked into the diner, and he hasn’t looked back since.

And he's not talking about the way she looks, sure she's a knockout, but she is beautiful, and she finds beauty in everything. Even him.

Now he’s really in trouble, because he's pretty sure he's in love with her. The kind that’s etched into his heart like the ink buried in his skin, and that terrifies him, because sooner or later she's going to leave.

Him. This town. She deserves more than a trailer and his insufferable ass even if she can't see it yet. She will. She’s not blind. 

But he tries not to think about that too much in favour of trying to be the man she deserves to be with. He still falls short, but at least he's trying, trying to be better for her, trying to be the man she thinks he is. 

Until then he contents himself with showing her exactly how remarkable she is every chance he gets, wearing away at her self doubt so she doesn't have to carry it with her when she goes. 

"How does that look?"

Daryl’s hands tighten where they're holding the ladder and Beth’s question cuts through his thoughts. 

His tongue slides out to lick his lips.

"Perfect," He croaks.

"Really?" Beth asks, taking a few steps down the ladder to look at her handywork.

"Stay there" He says roughly, pointing a finger at her when she turns to give him a questioning look.

He can feel her eyes on him as he strides over to the front door, drags the bolt across the lock and flips the sign from open to closed. 

When he turns around Beth is right where he left her, doing as she’s told for once, but now her eyes are wide and her jaw is slack, lips fallen apart around an unspoken question.  

Before she has time to take a breath and put words behind it, Daryl closes the distance between them and places his hands on her waist.

"Daryl!" She squeaks as he lifts her into the air, hands scrabbling for purchase on his shoulders.

Holding her in the air like she weighs nothing at all -which isn’t true, she’s heavier than she looks, but only his bulging arm muscles let on- Daryl turns and carries her through to the kitchen. 

"What's got you all riled up?" Beth asks, gazing up at him with big Bambi eyes as he lowers her to the ground and the doors swing shut behind them.

"You," He rumbles, sliding his hands under her skirt to cup her ass, tugging at the lace under his fingertips, "an y' red panties."

Daryl watches Beth's face light up, cheeks glowing red and eyes shining brighter than stars on a clear night as he closes the distance between them and covers her growing smile with his mouth.

Her lips part for him and he swallows her moan only to replace it with one of his own as his fingertips dig into the fullness of her perfectly rounded behind. 

Soon his hands are pulling at her panties and the soft skin underneath, pulling her closer, pulling until she’s flush against his chest. She slides her hands up his body and buries them in his hair, making him hum as her short fingernails drag across his scalp. Her lips are soft as she moves them against his, tongue flicking out to lick into his mouth and drag across his like it’s a scoop of her favourite ice cream. He could kiss her all day, is more than happy to be her bowl of rocky road, but that’s not what he dragged her back here for. 

"Turn around," He says thickly, sounding about as desperate as he feels. 

"Please," He adds, because he might be losing his mind to the heat of the moment but he doesn't want to be an asshole. Not to her, not ever. 

Without hesitation, she spins in his arms.

He presses a kiss to the back of her neck, dragging in a lungful of her to steady himself as his pulse pounds wildly in his ears. She’s all sweat and shampoo laced with that damn air freshener from his truck. His nostrils tingle and flare as he exhales against her neck and swallows, tongue sliding out to part his lips. 

"Bend over," He says, voice so low and rough it’s barely above a whisper. 

She hears him though. Before he’s closed his mouth, Beth’s leaning across the kitchen counter and arching her back. Turning to look over her shoulder, she smiles up at him.

"Like this?" She asks, all coy like butter wouldn't melt but her eyes are glinting like hot flints.

"Yeah," is all he can manage to groan as his hands slide down from her waist to her skirt, dragging it up and up until he sees those red panties glowing against her milk bottle skin.

Pushing her skirt up and out of the way, Daryl wraps his big hands around her tiny waist and lifts her up, pushing her further onto the counter until she’s dangling on her tiptoes.

He swallows down the nerves that flood him whenever he manhandles her like this, and trusts that she'd tell him if he did anything she didn't want him to. 

The little moan that spills from her lips is a good indication that she likes what he's doing just fine. As he watches her arch her back and feels her ass press against the front of his jeans any lingering nerves are washed away by white hot lust.

He drops to his knees, panting open mouthed into the space between them as he tries not to bust a nut then and there at the sight in front of him. 

Between her juicy cheeks, nestled inside the indentation of her lace covered lower lips, there's a dark crimson circle, wet and growing.

He closes his eyes, but it's no use, she's already permeating his senses. 

He can smell her. He can taste her with every increasingly desperate inhale.

His hands slide down to grab her ass, pushing her cheeks apart as he leans forward, closes his lips around the wet patch and sucks.

Beth moans and arches her back, pressing her cunt against his mouth so hard he feels her walls clutch behind the layer of damp fabric.

Not just damp, soaked, and he hums as her familiar taste fills his mouth.

He kisses her through her panties, tonguing between her lips and sucking the already damp fabric into his mouth. He loves finding her wet after they’ve been kissing. He gets it, his dick is always threatening to break his zipper when they come up for air. 

"Is this all for me?" He asks, voice rough as he pants open mouthed between her legs.  

Beth sucks in a sharp breath and makes a sound that can only be described as a whimper .

His throat convulses, tongue darting out to push the saliva back into his mouth.

He watches her pussy flex beneath her panties, so wet now they're near translucent, and feels the heat coming off her against his cheek.

"Yes," She says, more breath than voice.

It's his turn to suck in a breath that catches in his chest as he tries to process that.

 "Fuck, you don't know what that does to me, Beth," He rumbles.

Except she does, she does fucking know.

He yanks her panties to the side and dives in, burying his face in her cunt with a groan.  

The sound she makes runs down his spine and straight to his cock. A keen, high, needy, and inviting. Daryl eagerly presses deeper in, kissing and licking up and down her slit.

"Oh my God, Daryl," Beth gasps, rocking back into his mouth so hard she nearly knocks him on his ass. 

His hands tighten on her cheeks and push her back onto the counter as her cunt spills directly into his open mouth.

He feels her walls pulse and with every tremble more sweet liquid trickles down his throat. When he pours a moan of satisfaction into her opening, her walls tighten around his questing tongue. 

He mouths his way down her slit until the small thatch of pubic hair on her mound tickles his chin. Pulling her thighs apart so he can nuzzle between them, he tilts his head back and laps at her clit like a dog. 

Daryl’s cock is about hard enough to break his zipper, but that's not the source of his urgency. He meant it when he said he didn't just want to fuck her, he wanted to make her feel good. Only, it turns out that making her feel good makes him feel very very good. Every moan he pulls from her lips lights up his nerve endings like a Christmas tree.

"Daryl"

Her clit pulses against his tongue as her name spills from his lips. 

"Daryl," She says it again, with a little more urgency this time, followed by another warning pulse. 

His hands tighten on the back of her thighs and push her further up on the counter so he can close his lips around her swollen clit and draw it into his mouth. Her thighs tremble under his palms and squeeze together, crushing his face between them. He can’t breathe, but he doesn’t care as Beth’s satisfied groan rings in his ears and her pussy throbs against his face. 

Soon the pulsing of her pussy subsides and all he can feel are aftershocks stroking his skin. Her thighs go slack, releasing him as the muscle tension melts from her body and she sinks into the counter. 

Daryl falls back on his haunches, gasping for breath as the room comes back into focus. His eyes are drawn to Beth’s panties slowly creeping back across her swollen pussy lips.

He reaches out and gingerly slides them to the side with his fingers, eliciting a soft moan from the countertop. He pushes his tongue back in his mouth from where he’d been absently licking the taste of her off his lips, and drags his eyes up, followed by the rest of him. 

His hands slide up her body to find her hands on the counter, lacing his fingers with hers as he curls around her back, pressing kisses across her cheek until he finds the corner of her mouth.

Her lips twitch in a smile before she turns her head to press their mouths together. When her tongue flicks out to lick the taste of herself off his bottom lip his cock twitches where it’s trapped between them. She wiggles back and when he groans against her lips the apple of her cheek pushes against his with her widening smile. 

“Wanna fuck you,” He groans against her jaw, a low rumble that makes a shiver run down the back of her neck as she lols her head back against him. 

“So fuck me,” She says, voice husky from moaning, causing his dick to ache the way it always does when he hears dirty words come out of her pretty mouth.

He presses a quick kiss to the underside of her jaw before straightening up, hands falling to fumble at his belt like he’s never seen one before in his urgency. He doesn’t bother with his fly, just pops the top button and shoves his jeans down with an audible sigh of relief as his cock springs out to swing heavily between them. 

Wrapping one hand around the base of his cock, he gives himself a hard squeeze for comfort, and slides Beth’s panties to the side with the other.

His eyes flick up to she’s watching him with her cheek pressed against the counter, and look her in the eye as he drags his head down her slit. 

He watches blue disappear as her eyes slam shut and her pink lips form a perfect ‘o’ when his bulging head slides through her come and nudges her clit. 

Pulling her panties further to the side, Daryl rubs his cockhead back and forth across her clit until she makes a desperate sound.

"Daryl, I swear to God-"

He pulls his cock back and then lets it drop down onto her clit with a slap. She gasps, body writhing against the counter.

"C'mon, Daryl, please."

“What d'you want?” He asks, voice strained.

“I want your cock,” She pants.

"Fuck." 

There’s no please this time, and he thinks he likes it that way. Likes knowing she's as desperate as he is, manners melting away until all that remains is barely caged need.

Say it again.

He's not trying to tease her, not really, it's just, hearing her say it does things to him. Knowing that she wants him the way he wants her. 

“I want you. Now.” 

Fuck. No please, and that hint of a whine is gone from her voice now. It’s a command, and one he can’t obey fast enough. 

He nudges her legs further apart and positions himself between them. 

Spitting on the tip of his cock, he spreads the mix of pre cum and saliva down his shaft, then buries himself inside her in one hard thrust. 

Beth’s gasp cuts through the kitchen, followed by silence as Daryl doesn’t move, can’t move, can’t even breathe with how tight Beth’s cunt is squeezing his cock, until she wiggles her ass back into him, creating sweet friction that pulls a groan from deep in his chest. 

His hands slide from her hips underneath her to her chest, kneading her tits softly with his rough, feeling her nipples harden against his palms through her uniform, coaxing a soft moan from her lips and curling her spine. 

She’s squeezing his cock on every thrust, sucking him deeper, holding him a beat longer, until his mind falls silent and he loses himself in her, finds himself in the motion of their bodies, the easy rhythm of their muscles working as one. 

It took a while until he felt comfortable fucking her like this, where he can't see her face and check that she's ok, that she likes it. He doesn't need to see her face to know that now, he can feel it. Her cunt is choking his cock so hard he can barely breathe. 

He can hear it too; swears she's louder when they're like this, and he's grateful for that. He can hear the sounds she makes when their hips kiss, soft and desperate, telling him not to stop. 

He trusts her to tell him if something doesn't feel good. Trusting her was never the problem, he'd trust her with his life, for what it's worth. Trusting himself was harder. That took a long time, and he still gets a little spooked when he sees her and his blood runs hot. What if can't control himself? What if he hurts her? 

But the louder she moans, the quieter that voice gets.

Hell, all she has to do is say his name and he can't think of anything other than the shapes her lips make when she forms him on her tongue. 

She's struggling to form his name now, snagging in the middle. 

"Da- ah-ah -ryl," She moans, long and low and for his ears only.

"Beth," He groans in response, hands tightening on her hips as he slams back into her, "Beth, you feel so fucking good, fuck ." 

"You're so good, Daryl," She moans softly, thighs trembling as her cunt suddenly pulses around his cock and sends a shudder rolling up his spine that nearly short circuits his brain.

She never just says that's good, she's always gotta say he's good, and he doesn't know what to do with that, or the way it makes his cock twitch like a dog wagging its tail.

He’s watching himself sliding in and out of her, red panties pulled to the side and her increasingly breathless moans ringing in his ears, when those moans twist into a high pitched keen, signalling her release and ripping his out of him. 

He thinks it’s his name twisting into some kind of desperate song on her tongue that pushes him over the edge, but it could have something to do with her cunt clamping down around his cock and squeezing until he literally bursts, spilling hot reams of come inside her.

Beth,” He grunts her name followed by a string of blasphemous obscenities and punctuated by her name again as his hips shudder against her thighs and his fingers tremble around her hip bones.

He feels her go loose in his hold, body sinking into the countertop once more, and he goes with her, curling around her back and resting his forehead against the nape of her neck. 

They stay like that as they catch their breath; her shallow pants sawing in and out of his ears, his blasting down the back of her dress, the wispy hairs on the back of her neck sticking to his sweaty forehead. 

He feels her turn her head, press her cheek to the countertop and hum sleepily.

Daryl’s mouth twitches.

Gently, her unfurls himself from her body, shuddering as he slides out of her and her panties slide back into place. Taking a step back, and dragging her with him, he turns her in his arms. 

She blinks up at him with big doe eyes as her arms snake around his middle, maybe to hold herself up, maybe just because. When their eyes connect she smiles, real wide and so fucking cute he has no choice but to lean forward and cover her mouth with his.

He kisses her without the urgency of before and she kisses him back, slow and sweet, tongues brushing against each other softly like fingers lacing together.

When they part his eyes scan hers as his tongue slides out to catch her on his lips, and she smiles up at him, even wider than before. 

That smile of hers fucks him up every time. Especially when she’s smiling just for him, like right now. It gets him thinking that maybe if he tries hard enough he can be good enough for her. That pretty smile of hers is pretty fucking dangerous. 

He swallows, holding her gaze, but only just, as he reaches down to drag his jeans up. 

Beth takes a step back, giving him room to buckle his belt, and smooths out her skirt before leaning back against the counter. 

"What're your plans for Christmas day?" She asks, casually, as though he didn’t just have his tongue halfway up her cunt.

Daryl shrugs, "Dunno. Watch Merle get drunk off his ass, probably." 

"That's not much of a plan, more of a punishment really," Beth says, and he can hear the smile in her voice without having to look. 

"You're tellin' me," He mutters, placing his hands either side of her on the counter, and closing the distance between them. 

He watches Beth roll her lips. Swallow. She looks almost nervous all of a sudden. Daryl strokes his hands up her back and pulls her a little closer. His darting eyes tracking the tightness of her brow.

"Why y' askin'?" He murmurs, tracing circles on the small of her back.

"I was jus’ wonderin', um,  if you an' Merle wanted to come over for Christmas dinner," She says, words pouring out in the rush.

Daryl feels his own brow tighten. He feels his whole face pull tight in some sort of confused panic.

"Me an' Merle come over on Christmas day?" He repeats. 

She nods, smiling brightly, "Yeah." 

"Have you lost ya damn mind?" He asks, tilting his head back to 

Beth sighs, pinching her cheeks, "Daryl.” 

She’s not quite pouting, but she’s well on her way and the sight of her protruding bottom lip makes Daryl’s thumb and forefinger twitch with the urge to reach out and grab it. To push her soft, swollen lip, all pink from kissing him, back into her mouth. Push his thumb in there too and feel those lips close around his knuckle.  

He shakes his head, trying not to get distracted. 

"I don't think your dad would like that much," He says wryly. 

Beth blinks up at him slowly, gaze steady and knowing. 

"It was his idea,” She informs him. 

That stops Daryl in his tracks.

"Wait... what?"

She smiles, "He said we should have the people we care about most around the table at Christmas, an' he knows I care about you."

"An' he's ok with that?" Daryl asks in disbelief. 

Beth nods, and smiles a little wider, "Because you make me happy."

Daryl narrows his eyes at her, a smirk tugging at his mouth, "Is that what he thinks?" 

"That's what he knows," Beth says, sucker punching him with that smile of hers. 

"Hope he don' know too much," Daryl murmurs, sliding his hands down to cup her ass, feeling for her panties under her skirt.

Beth giggles and reaches forward to play with the fabric over his stomach. 

Looking down, he watches her tiny fingers dance across his shirt and feels a knot of anxiety form. 

"An' Merle? You sure? Most people find him a little hard to take," Daryl says, shoulders tensing at the prospect of his wayward brother in conversation with Beth's father, "Don't want him to ruin y'r Christmas."

"Well, I'm not most people," Beth says breezily, “An’ that's their loss. I like Merle. Of course he's invited.”

She gives him a smile that he feels in his chest, a warmth that spreads through his body until he feels the corners of his mouth twitch. He'd give up the heat and the passion in a heartbeat so long as he gets to keep this warmth, because he's not certain, but he thinks this is what being loved feels like.

"What'd I do to deserve you?" He murmurs, bringing a hand up to brush the hair fallen from her ponytail away from her face and tuck it behind her ear. 

"Dunno, must've been somethin' pretty bad,” Beth laughs, a blush working it's way across her face. 

He strokes her cheek and feels the heat of her skin beneath his fingertips.

"Shut up, you're perfect."

"Well, clearly, you're crazy," She says, leaning into his open palm and pressing her soft skin into his rough calluses. 

"Ain't crazy, jus' love you s'all," He says as he watches her smile widen under his touch.

His words surprise them both; slipping out and chasing away every other sound in the room, along with the breath in his lungs. 

The smile slides off Beth’s face as her jaw goes slack and her mouth falls open. 

Daryl,” She whispers, big blue eyes growing enormous with awe.

He forces himself not to duck his gaze, even as every muscle in his body pulls tight. Even as his heart stutters as the realisation of his admission dawns on him. Fuck. He didn't mean to say it out loud , but he sure as hell meant what he said. 

A shaky breath whistles through his teeth. He licks his lips, throat convulsing dryly. 

Fuck, I love you,” He repeats, intentionally this time, even if his voice strains a little under the weight of the words. Now he's said them, apparently he can't stop saying them. 

Beth's deep inhale rattles through his bones. A smile creeps across her face, lighting up like dawn breaking on the horizon. 

“I love you too, Daryl,” She says, voice so soft it's like a physical caress, smoothing the tension in his brow and loosening his shoulders with a shiver.

There she goes saying his name again, saying it like it matters , making him feel things he has no frame of reference for. The way her eyes are shining up at him brightly is giving him a lump in his throat he can’t explain or swallow down. 

Deciding he’s had enough of talking, Daryl leans forward and covers Beth’s mouth with his, peppering kisses against her lips until they part on a smile. 

Maybe being in love isn't so terrifying after all. Maybe it'll be alright. Because it's her. It's Beth. His Beth. And she loves him too. 

He doesn't for the life of him know why, but he knows she does. 

It might have given him a panic attack if this was the first time she'd said it. This is the first time he's heard it, but she's been saying it for a while now. Just not out loud, not in words. 

Daryl’s observant. He notices things. He’s noticed something in her eyes when she looks at him, heard it in her voice when she says his name. Felt it in her kiss when she moves her lips against his, buries her hands in his hair and pulls him close as can be, like she's doing right now. 

He just didn't know that's what it was. When he hears it out loud, suddenly the penny drops.

In that moment, he isn't scared of losing her anymore. No, because now he is intent on keeping her. 

If she leaves this place, when she leaves this place, that doesn’t mean she’s leaving him, it doesn’t have to. When she leaves, he'll go with her.  'Cause Daryl never really felt at home in his own skin until he knew Beth, let alone this town. So, maybe home isn’t a place, it’s just where you belong.

As their lips part, Beth leans back to flash him one of those smiles that mess with his blood pressure, and laces her fingers with his. He curls his hand around hers, pressing their palms together with a squeeze, and when she squeezes back he knows with more certainty than he’s ever known anything in his life that home is wherever Beth is.