Genre: Episode Tag. Angst. Romance.
Word Count: 1,124
Pairings/Characters: Rick Grimes/Daryl Dixon.
Synopsis: In which Daryl and Rick get a moment to themselves in the wake of Daryl's close call.
Comments: Written in response to cottoncandy_bingo prompt: private. Spoilers for 4x07 - Crossed. First try writing for Walking Dead, hopefully no one is terribly OOC. Characters are not mine, please enjoy! Comments are awesome.
Rick is still trying to reign in the rough mix of gut-wrenching fear and mad fury when he hears a sharp whistle from Daryl. His eyes dart up, looking for trouble, but there's none and Daryl is only calling for him to follow. He does.
He follows Daryl away from the others, leaving the remainder of their little group to keep an eye on the trio of prisoners. "What's up?" He asks, eyes flicking over Daryl's asphalt stained body. "You alright?"
"'M fine," Daryl answers, though the dark bruises forming around his neck make him look anything but. "I just..." he starts, stops, loses whatever it was he had planned to say, but Rick sees him reach out, so he steps in closer. The touching, it's a newer thing. It had started back at the prison, but there's more of it now that they're all back together. Daryl's staying closer to him, seeking out contact whenever he can - shoulders brushing, sitting closer, a hand on his arm, small things, but Rick's noticed it all. Hell, it's the reason he'd known something was wrong. He'd turned around to motion Daryl ahead and there'd been this icy cold feeling in the pit of his stomach when no one had been there.
He still hasn't quite processed the scene he'd walked up on - Daryl pinned to the ground beneath that hulking cop, walkers on either side. Hell, that one had been close enough to...
Rick shakes his head, tries not to think about that or else's he's liable to go back and shoot that asshole cop despite Daryl's completely logical reason for stopping him. "He could've killed you, you could've been bit."
"I know," Daryl says, eyes on the ground. "I shouldn't have let 'im sneak up on me like that. Sorry."
That's what this is about? An apology? No. No no no no no. This time he's the one who reaches out, crashes right through the barriers of personal space that Daryl seems to have fortified around himself and holds on tight because fuck, for a second out there, he'd thought he was too late, thought for sure he was going to lose Daryl like he's lost so many others. Short of his kids, Daryl's the one who means the most to him these days and a loss like that would have completely destroyed the delicate balance he's achieved between his humanity and his capacity for violence.
Daryl's still against him, rigid and unmoving and Rick absently wonders if he's gone too far with this surprise hug. "Just glad you're okay," he mumbles, moving to pull away and give Daryl back the space he clearly wants.
Only Daryl's arms come up fast, hauling him in close while dirty hands twist tight into Rick's jacket to keep him there, "Rick."
Rick's not entirely sure what's happening here, but he knows it's something big, something important, something he can't fuck up. Daryl's watching him closely, eyes blown wide and carefully tracking every miniscule move he's making.
"Rick," he says again, like he's asking for something. Like he's asking for Rick to just listen to him, like he'd done out in the napalmed lot, when he'd been asking for Rick to snap back to reality and out of the red haze he'd been in and lower the damn gun.
Daryl doesn't flinch away when Rick reaches out for him, "Woulda killed him," he mumbles, thinking of the cop again as his fingers trace faintly over the edges of the fresh bruises on Daryl's neck. "Woulda killed him and the other two and every one of them I could find at that hospital if..."
'If anything had happened to you,' had been what he was planning to say, but the words are lost when Daryl makes a rather surprising move and drags him in even closer, catching Rick's mouth in a hard, bruising kiss.
It's over as soon as it starts and by the time Rick's processed what's just happened, Daryl's already released him and is trying to make a quick escape back to the others. But, no! He can't just... Rick chases after the other man, catches an arm and holds on when Daryl tries to shake him off. "What was that?"
"Nothin'," Daryl growls out, won't look at him again. "Forget it."
Forget it? Rick can't wrap his mind around how he's supposed to that. It's been hard enough trying not to think of where his feelings for Daryl have been heading lately, and now... "No."
Rick grabs for Daryl's vest with his free hand, pulling him back around to face him again. He's surprised Daryl lets him - if he really did want to get away from this, he could, Rick thinks, but the weird defeated expression on Daryl's face throws him more than anything else has today.
"Damn it," Daryl starts, "I just..."
But this time it's Rick's turn to cut him off, surges in an steals a kiss of his own. This one is a little less bruising (Daryl's got enough of those, between the Claimers and Terminus and today), but it's no less desperate and Rick tries to pour everything he's not saying into it because he doesn't want Daryl to look at him like that ever again.
Daryl starts kissing back after a few seconds, the same few seconds it would have taken Rick if Daryl had given him the chance before, and god, it's good. So good, he thinks. Daryl's hands are on him by now, one gripping tight against his hip - won't be surprised to find a bruise there, later - the other's tangled in his hair as the frantic kiss continues, all the fear and anger of Daryl's close call poured into it.
There will be time for this later, Rick thinks, hopes, prays. Once they're done with this, once they've made the trade and gotten Carol and Beth back, once they're all safe and they've caught up to the others, there will be time for this. For now, though, he knows they should go. They've got hostages to wrangle and only so much time to pull plan off in.
"We should get back," he breathes, pulling back enough to get the words out, though they're still mostly lost against Daryl's lips.
"Yeah," Daryl agrees, but neither of them makes a move to do so.
But then there's a crash-bang that echoes across the concrete walls of the warehouse, and they're both moving without a second thought to face whatever trouble has found them now.
"We'll finish that later," Rick swears, clapping Daryl on the back as they race back toward the others just as the panicked shouts start to sound. "Promise."
"I'll hold ya to that."