Chapter 12

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"What you want?" Daryl snapped.

"My day sucked. Thanks for asking. How was yours?" Her voice dripped with false sweetness.

He remembered a time when harsh words would have left her nearly in tears. She had toughened up some without him noticing. "About the same as yours," he said with more civility. "So I'm guessing you wanna talk about it."

Beth told him about what had happened with Merle. She also talked about how she had shot the gun to stop the fight.

Daryl smiled. "Bet they didn't know you had it in you." He sobered. "Merle just wanted to help."

"I know," she said. "I understood how he felt. It was awful being left behind and just waiting to see if you would come back." She looked away for a moment. "So, what's bothering you?"

"You mean besides the guy that wants to kill us?"

"Yeah," she said. "Besides him. You didn't just find out about him today, so what else happened?"

"It's four months til your birthday."

"My birthday," she repeated in bewilderment. "Why are you so worried about my birthday all of a sudden?"

"It's gonna be your eighteenth birthday, right?"

"Yeah, so?" She still looked confused.

"So that means you ain't eighteen yet." Daryl watched the expression on her face change from confused to stunned.

"That's what you're worried about? You can't be serious! Do you really think that matters anymore?"

"It matters to me," he said.

"Daryl, I can't wait four more months."

He laughed harshly. "You can't wait!"

Beth touched his arm. "I want you, and you want me. That's all that matters, so we don't need to wait anymore. We have time right now."

Daryl battled with himself. "I'm tired."

She brazenly shoved her hand down the front of his pants and a low moan escaped him. "You don't feel tired." Her tone had turned sultry.

He angrily removed her hand and stepped back. "In case you forgot, that asshole can attack us anytime. I gotta keep watch."

She looked him in the eye. "I guess I'll go take care of it myself then."

He had a hard time focusing on his task then. There wasn't much to see in the darkness, and his mind kept wandering back to Beth and all the things he wanted to do to her. It seemed like forever before Glenn came to relieve him. When he went to bed, he fell asleep thinking about Beth touching herself in her cot. She must have been either angry with him or embarrassed, because she avoided him the entire next day.

Now he was busy dealing with Rick's plan to grab Michone, but Merle beat them to it. He must have known that Rick couldn't go through with it. Daryl took off after his brother and encountered Michone. He told her not to let anyone follow him as he raced to find Merle before it was too late. When he looked into the face of his brother and saw the eyes of a walker, pain ripped through him relentlessly. By the time he said goodbye to Andrea that night, he had already begun to shut down emotionally the way he had learned to do as a child.

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