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My weak spot

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“Riiiick.” Negan pulled Rick back, away from the bloody teeth of the walker. It went too fast that he didn’t realize the reason why Rick got stuck in the first place. He just had to save him from this thing and right after pulling him back, he pushed his arm up striking a hit with his fist to the walkers face. As he wanted to grab for Ricks axe, the walker pushed him to the ground nearly next to Rick and bit right at Negans arm. His teeth got lost in the white bandage Negan was always wearing. It got stuck and Negan twirled his hand around so the bandage got loose. “Fuck...” he crawled backwards as Rick finally went back to consciousness again and saw someone crawling back, while something white was caught in the teeth of the walker. Rick blinked against the sun and tried to figure out what this white thing was and what this shadow of a person was doing. Or should he even care?

In that Moment Negan looked at his back to see Rick being awake again and just screamed “Rick, the axe.” Rick needed a moment to understand that someone was asking for his help and just wanted to stand up to kill that shit by himself, but then he realized the pain trembling through his leg. He was stuck. His jeans was ripped all open and his ankle was bleeding like shit, still having a big metal barn right through its feet. He screamed out of pain “I can’t.”

Right in this moment Negan turned around, crawled forward to the axe and just rammed it inside the walkers head. The monster broke down on his body and he shoved it away, panting. Rick just breathed out and laid back again closing his eyes. Negan didn’t even hesitate one moment and just went back up to look at Rick. “Dammit.” Negan cursed and started crawling back to Rick. He thought he lost his consciousness again with having his eyes all closed and rested both of his hands on the other mans cheeks and started calling his name “Rick, Rick, come on wake up asshole”.

Rick frowned, took both of Negans hands and pushed them away. “What the fuck, stop it”. Negan pulled away and looked down at Ricks feet where he finally saw where all that blood came from. “Well, shit.” he said. “That’s why you fell...” Ricks sight was still dizzy and the pain too strong to calm but he felt some hands touching down his legs close to the wound, he guessed. “Come on stay with me, I won’t fucking carry you all that way man.” Rick was drifting out and in of consciousness the whole time and just heard the voices in a far version.

 

Who was it? Is he hearing Lori again? No it’s a mans voice. Is it Shane’s? The cursing pointed at Shane. But then... wouldn’t he just leave Rick to die or try to kill him like before? Why does this person save him? Is it Carl? No this hands didn’t feel like Carls. But who else would save him out here? He tried to rise his upper body to search for the man behind that voice but he couldn’t see, still.

 

He remembered the white bandage, caught in that teeth. Who...

 

“Fuck Rick you have to help me now, okay?” Negan screamed strangely serious and Rick felt how that person slowly rested his hands on his hurting foot. “I will pull it out but you have to keep it straight so we won’t hurt it any further okay? So on 3! 1, 2....” as Negan started counting this voice suddenly brought back some memories. He heard that counting before. “...Negan...?” “What What is it?” He asked and looked scared at Rick, thinking he had overseen something.

 

Ricks blurry vision slowly got more clear and he saw that black hair and these dark eyes. The grey beard and the white shirt. “Okay again then, on three. 1, 2...3!” And they pulled Ricks foot out of the metal part. Rick screamed and the blood ran further, but it was at least straight out.

“Shit where is it?” Negan was searching something on his wrist when it was clearly gone and then he looked back to the dead body. “You fucking shithead.” He crawled back to the deceased and released the bandage from the teeth. It was kinda bloody but he instantly ripped the dirty part away and went back to Rick, who finally sat up holding his foot out of pain.

He still tried to sort the thoughts in his mind, running like on a ferry wheel. It was Negan saving him? Why? Why would he even bother? And he was nearly bitten, for him? “Move your hands, prick.” Rick let go of his foot and felt how Negan lifted his shoe to put the white bandage around his foot. “What are you...” “shut up.” Negan interrupted him and this was the first time Rick finally had a clear view on Negans wrist, being exposed from the bandage. He squeezed his eyes together to see more clearly but then Negan pulled his hands back. “Finished.”

 

As he rested his hands in his lap and gave a short smile to Rick, it finally came into his mind that he had no cover around his arm anymore. He looked down at his wrist, which was hidden for such a long time that he already felt naked without a cover. “Shit...” he murmured to himself searching for his leather jacket, to cover his arms again. He looked around and saw the truck just a short distance away where his jacket rested on the back, cause he had slept on it the night before. “That shit thing.”

He wanted to get on his feet again as Rick grabbed his exposed wrist. He turned his look to Rick and grunted. “Don’t...” “thank you.” Negan didn’t dare to move knowing if he would turn his arm away now, he would expose all the secrets he kept for so long. So he didn’t move, hoping Rick would feel it by now. “You are so welcome, idiot.” Rick smiled at him. It was this soft warm and gentle smile Negan never saw in anyone else before which always made him feel wistful. It was the smile from the man who sees the best in everyone. Negan always could cry about that beauty. But he didn’t. Instead of returning the smile he looked away cause he couldn’t stand it. He didn’t deserve it. But still he was unable to move cause that grip on his wrist made him fearful and insecure in one. It was a tickling feeling. Itchy nearly. He didn’t want it to stop cause it felt so weird.

 

Then, in just a moment, Rick suddenly turned his wrist and released his grip to get a better look. “So, What...” “Don’t you dare.” Negan roars and pulled his hand away to stood up instantly. He cursed to himself and walked with big steps to the truck to get the jacket and put it on. He still cursed while Rick put his shoe back on and slowly stood up as well. He was still weak on his feet but he could walk, what was most important.

As he looked up at the truck he saw Negan resting his back and one foot against the truck, with crossed arms, nearly hiding in his jacket for safety. Rick stepped up and just wanted to say something as Negan started “so can we leave finally?”. He lifted his look to see Ricks cold as ice eyes again. They were cutting like a blade and Negan bit on his lower lip, like a child being caught in stealing. It was the first time Rick saw him in a weak spot. Or let’s say the second, just because he didn’t see the first weak moment, when he saved Rick, that clearly.

“Really?” Rick asked. “After all that I only get a stupid motherfucker imitation again? After that one time you did something good?” Negan raised an eyebrow. Rick just said he did a good thing? The angel and unbeatable savior Rick Grimes gave him absolution? That was fucking big. Negan was flattered but of course didn’t want to admit. “Don’t get used to that shit, prick.” Rick smiled and Negan took their bags out of the car and threw one at Rick. “We have to walk now. You have to walk. Unless you forgot our car broke yesterday.” Rick caught the bag and mumbled “I didn’t.”

As soon as Negan got his stuff ready he started walking. “Wait! Negan I’m not that fast you shithead.” Negan stopped and looked over his shoulder. That weak stumbling of Rick reminded Negan, that he was close to losing this guy just a few moments ago. And that he never felt so scared in his life. And he didn’t even know why. All he could do is stare at him and smile to himself, lost in that view.

That’s why he didn’t even realize that Rick suddenly was standing right in front of him and looked straight to his eyes. He was sunk in this blue. Smiling.

“Why are you smiling all over? Do I look funny to you?” Negan shook his head to get back to reality and released his smile. “I just thought how lucky I am not being the one carrying you.” Rick grinned. “Yeah right. I guess you want me to feel lucky you gave that bandage to me, too.” Negans look turned into anger and pointed a finger at Ricks face. “You... Better be thankful for that.” Rick took his finger, lowered his hand and in the same moment took his other wrist to swipe the jacket up and turn his arm up, as if he wanted to show it to Negan himself. “You are crossing a line.” Negan blares out and tries his best to move his wrist back up to himself but Rick didn’t let go.

And there was this itching feeling again. The feeling he didn’t want to loose. He just stood there, his wrist close to his chest with Ricks hand on it trying to push it down. He didn’t even realize when Rick was not pulling anymore. They both stopped moving their hands and stayed in this moment of touch.

Negan looked in these blue eyes again and couldn’t help himself but soften his look. He got lost in that color and moved his head closer to Ricks, still with arm up. “I swear... who did you kill to get these fucking killer machine ice eyes? How many people got lost in them and killed themselves after looking too deep? Tell me, Rick.” Rick grinned evilish and moved closer as well, staring at Negans light open mouth, licking his teeth. “Maybe I tell you. When you tell me why you make such a drama about your wrist.” Negan frowned but still didn’t pull his hand away. “And... why you don’t let go.” “Let go?” Negan asked in surprise as if he was caught again. Rick shrugged and gave a questioning look at his hand. “My hand. I’m not holding anymore, you could just push away.” Negan looked at their hands and bit his lower lip. “Maybe... I like it.” “You like me holding you?” “That’s not exactly what I...” but it was exactly what he meant.

 

Rick got confused and pulled away his hand. What the fuck was going on? “So you don’t show your wrist to anyone but you like holding hands? With me? What the fuck.” “I don’t like holding hands!” Negan replies angry and adds a silent "Not in particular..." “You just did.” “Yeah, yours.” Ricks look got even more confused and raised his eyebrows. “What?” “In a strange way... ahh goddammit can we just stop this shit?” “Yeah please the more you talk the more embarrassing it gets.” Rick finishes. Negan slowly lowered his wrist and said “thank you.” Rick still had his confused look but started not to mind anymore.

**

 

A while after they had made a campfire and laid down next to it. They didn’t talk a word the whole time they were walking. But Rick looked at him, staring at the stars as they were resting there.

He wanted to ask if Negan controls the constellations in the sky to see if the world was still the same, but he couldn’t be that lost in stars, right? So he stayed silent, sighed and closed his eyes. “Extinguish the fire before you sleep. I don’t want another shithead crawling up at us.” Negan said and rolled over to the side, closing his eyes. “And keep your blanket close so you don’t freeze.” Rick did as he was told and laid back down before he also rolled to the side, facing Negans back. They laid close together but Rick didn’t care anyways. His foot was still hurting and he was exhausted.

Soon he realized Negans hand was shown under the blanket and his arm was naked. Oh yeah he sleeps on his jacket again. Spoiled idiot.

He smiled to himself but still he was so curious what he had been feeling on the wrist before. Was it a bite? Was Negan the one and only not turning? No that couldn’t be. He would make a shit show out of that, praising himself even more as Jesus. And why didn’t he let go of Ricks hand before?

 

A shiver ran over Ricks back. Was it the wind or the thoughts in his mind giving him that? And why did he also didn’t let go of Negans hand before? He moved up a bit to look over Negan, who was already sleeping. The profile of his face somehow touched him in a strange way. He looked so calm and still rough. But looking so relaxed gave him this soft skin. Rick wanted to touch his hand and wrist again, to know what Negan meant before.

Yours.” Mine. He slowly reached out with his hand for Negans wrist, but then he didn’t give into the curiousity and instead slipped his hand on Negans. At first there was no reaction. Rick just looked how their fingers laid over each other, barely touching. But then Negans fingers twitched and folded slowly into Ricks.

In a strange way.” Rick said to himself and knew what Negan meant before. Yeah it was a Strange way indeed. But yeah, he liked it too.

 

Rick smiled and stayed in this strange position, half on his arm just holding Negans hand. He wasn’t even sure if Negan was awake now holding it, or if it just was a reflex like to his wives. “I don’t like holding hands.” Came back to Ricks mind. So maybe he was awake? But then this is ridiculous.

Realizing that Rick just pushed his hand away as Negan got a tighter grip on it and pulled his arm around him closely. “Stay with me.” He mumbles and Rick still wasn’t sure if he was just speaking out of a dream, but he gave in. He closed his arm around him and snuggled closer to him, breathing in his neck. Feeling the warm breath gave Negan goosebumps over his arms and he was glad, you couldn’t see them under the blanket. But Rick felt them. So now he was sure, he must be awake. Still he didn’t move.

"How's your foot?" Negan asked but Rick just dismissed it, to show it's alright. Rick ran his thumb over Negans hand and Negan got scared he would go lower again to feel his wrist. So before Rick could move he said “it’s scars.” He lets his eyes closed and it was somehow easier to him to say it out loud not facing Rick. Not facing the blue eyes made of steel.

Rick thought a moment and opened his eyes staring at Negans back. He didn’t dare to move, neither to breathe. He didn’t want to ruin it when Negan finally opens up.

 

He gulped. “And you make such a big deal out of it because...” Rick started. Negan was wondering. Wasn’t it a big deal with scars on your wrists? Wouldn’t people start with their prejudices and call it attention seeking? “Because... it’s not from cutting. More or less. It’s one cut.” He took Ricks hand and led his fingertips over his wrist. And then Rick felt it again. This thin, paper like, skin. This deep scar running from his upper wrist all down. He hadn’t gotten stitches, it was healed too badly. "Why didn't you let someone stitch it up?" But Negan just made a derogatory sound about that instead of replying.

Ricks fingertips danced over the skin, softly. Negan slowly opened his eyes and looked down at the movement under the blanket. He had a sad look on his face and was glad Rick couldn’t see it. In that moment Rick lifted himself up on his arm again and looked over at Negan who now looked up, scared of judgement. With big eyes he stared at those blue eyes. Eyes you would even see in the darkest darkness. “I’m glad you’re still here.” Rick said. “You’re a survivor.” Negan chuckled slowly and closed his eyes for a short moment. Such a sweet thing could only come from Rick the savior himself.

He opened his eyes again and looked at Rick. Then he released his hand and placed it on Ricks cheek. “I bet you’re the only idiot out there thinking like that.” Rick lays his hand on Negans and shook his head. “I’m most definitely not.” Negan was so touched by Ricks pure being, that he could just start crying. Again. But of course he didn’t.

He just shifted his head a little and said “you are the only person I ever met saying this. All others would see it as a weakness. That’s why I hide it. As a leader I need to show strength, not weakness. You should know that as a leader yourself. And dammit I couldn’t even kill myself. What kind of failure am I?” He released his hand from Ricks face and looked straight forward again not facing the smaller man anymore to not cry.

Rick frowned and put now both of his hands on Negans face and turned him to look him in the eyes. “Look at me. You saved me today. I can’t speak for everyone on this planet. But for me you are not a failure. You are a survivor.” Negans eyes got big, completely in disbelief. He couldn’t believe Rick still holds onto that. And that touch of his hands on Negans cheeks made him wither inside. He felt his shell breaking and how this urge to cry went up in him. He nearly whined “please, stop. Let go of me.” He shook his head and Rick released his hands from his face being unsure if he just triggered some kind of trauma. “I’m sorry...” “and now you’re fucking apologizing, you’re unbelievable, fucking Grimes.” Negan said slightly and sat up fastly, resting his head on his arms placed on his knees.

“Look i don’t know what I did wrong here but I just wanted to say something nice to you.” “But why?” Negan screamed out and looked at Rick with hate in his eyes. „You don't always need a reason...“ “Why are you always so fucking adorable?“ Negan interrupted him. It’s disgusting, prick.” “Adorable?” Rick asks in confusion. “Or nice... however you wanna fucking call it.” Negan turned his head away again and started shivering. His insecurities made him freeze. Rick recognized the shaking of his hands cause of the twisting shadows. He grabbed both of Negans hands, lacing their fingers. Negan just stared at their hands in the darkness and had a big frown on his forehead. He was frozen. Couldn’t even look up.

“Look I’m sorry...” “stop fucking apologizing.” Negan whispered. “I just... let me be here for you. Right now in this moment. Your secret is safe with me. And.. thanks again for the bandage showing off your weak spot or how you wanna call it.” “This is not my weak spot.” Negan frowns. “Then your embarrassing spot or whatever.” Negan looks finally up says harshly “you are my weak spot.” Then he pushed his hands away again and laid back to his side.

Rick sat there with his hands still open. Already missing the touch of this warm hands in his. And then he tried to sort his thoughts. He is his weak spot? “Wait what?” He called out loudly and then turned Negans shoulder to him again, making him face him. Negan looked at him in pure fear. “Don’t make me say it again. Please.” He never had hear him say words so softly.

They looked at each other’s eyes so deeply that Rick was scared his dark eyes will eat him. Rick even had the feeling that he saw something trembling in the depth of Negans eyes. He didn’t want to cause him pain but he wanted to know the truth as well. His lips where shaking. Was he too afraid to hear the truth? Too afraid to ask?

Negan touched his lips with his fingertips softly, cause he only could see the shadows moving, but now he could feel his lips were really shaking. Was he cold or just too sensitive? He pulled his fingers away and sighed. “Look, prick. I really appreciate your company here but let’s leave it by that. Okay?”

Rick blinked and shook his head. “Okay? You just told me a secret, which, you say, normally no one is allowed to know and all that after you saved my life today. Then you hold my hand and pulled me into your arms, telling me i shouldn’t leave and that I'm your weak spot and now I should just leave it by that? You’re a fucking psychopath.” Rick turned around and wanted to lay down as Negan finally sat up and this time turned Ricks shoulder, like he had done before with his. “Maybe I am a psychopath. I never denied that. But you held my hand as well, just to make that clear. And I just.... I just can’t deal with this shit. I told you a secret today, I think that’s enough for one day.” “Wow, you’re really the sensitive one, right?” Rick replied with an annoyed tone. “I’m not.” Negan argues. “And that’s the fucking problem here. Not everyone on this planet is like pink cakes and butterflies, seeing the good in everyone, Rick.” They just stare at each other as Rick slowly replies “for that you see a lot of good in me, to be honest.” Negan smirks and sighes. “Cause you are, Rick. You really are. But I’m not. And you have to accept that.” “Nah, I won’t. I never give up on people and I won’t start with you.” “You should.” “I won’t.” “Don’t challenge me, Rick.” Negan felt this strange feeling coming up in him like running a marathon inside himself. He couldn’t say what this feeling is but it grew louder and louder. And the urge to act for it went so big it was unbearable. So if Rick would challenge him even more, he couldn’t control it anymore. But of course Rick couldn’t stop there, with his annoyingly sweet kind.

“For once in your life, I challenge you to face yourself and that you can be a good person, otherwise you wouldn’t have saved me today.” “I just saved you to not carry you.” “You could have let them eat me up, no carriage.” Negan swallows by the thought of Rick being eaten and just shook his head. “Never.” “So why, why did you save me then?” “Rick, stop it!” “You are the one calling yourself and your group the saviors. Doesn’t sound like a bad boy group for me. It actually makes sense...” “Rick....” “you can do whatever you want, kill whoever you want but you won’t be able to prove me otherwise. I believe in the good in you. No bad person would try to kill themselves. It’s always the too good people coming that far.” “And you know that cause what? You’re a cop?” Negan shifted his head to pay even more attention to Ricks sayings, but also to focus on his talking and not this bursting fire in his chest. The endless fire of selfhate, wanting to proof how worthless he really is and push everything away what is too good to him.

“I see it. If there’s just one thing I’m good at it’s reading people. And I see it and feel it. In your eyes. You’re not a bad person even if you try anything to prove the world otherwise, to leave you alone.” Negan lowers his eyes and closes them. “I’m the worst, Rick. And you are really getting close to making me freak by that bullshit.” “Fine. To me you are not.” „I should...“ Negan bites own his own teeth surpressing this stronger becoming urge in him to scare Rick finally off and make him shut down. But Rick just calmly says „You are a good person, Negan.“ In that moment Negan growls and opened his eyes just to pull Ricks face close to his to kiss him so roughly, that Rick couldn’t even react. He hold him so close, that he couldn’t turn away, even if he would want to. Nearly like he was afraid to lose him. Rick lost his breath while Negan had his eyes pressed together and just wanted to get rid of this feeling exploding inside of him. He fought desperately against the urge to cry in giving Rick the harshest kiss he could. Out of pain and frustration Negan suddenly bit exzessively Ricks lower lip and sucked the then coming blood out, just to pull back in the next moment and lick over his lips, where he still tasted Ricks blood. He looked at him full of disgust of himself and Rick sat there, shocked and surprised, but then just wiped his thumb over his lips to get the blood away.

“Ow.” He just said like a child who hurt himself on a car door. Negan couldn’t help himself and smirked about that sound. “You’re special, I swear.” Rick grinned as well and looked up to Negan. “Why? Because I laugh about your desperate try to show how badass you are?” Negan rolled his eyes and laid back to his side. “Fact is: you don’t want me. And you shouldn’t. And you wouldn’t. So just let me be and finally shut up. Goodnight.” Rick just sighs and says “good you know what I want. At least one of us knows what the other one wants.” Rick laid back down as well and pulled his own blanket over his body turning his back on Negan.

For a while they just stayed there like this until Negan looked over his shoulder and slowly turned to Ricks back. Sighing before sliding his arm under Ricks blanket and take his hand again. “I don’t know what I want. But I’m most sure in things other people don’t want.” “Yeah you sure don’t.” Rick says and laces his fingers with his. “You’re a fucking perfect example of being afraid of feelings, Negan.” Negan laughs and rests his head against Ricks neck, giving him the same goosebumps Negan had before from Ricks breath. “I know. I want it to stay that way.” “You sure?” Rick turned his head to Negan, still licking a bit blood away from his lip. Negan smiled and kissed surprisingly Ricks forehead. “Yeah, am sure. Now sleep, prick.”

Negan closes his eyes and rests his head in Ricks neck again. Rick let’s him in and feels the exhaled air. With every move giving him more shivers over his back. “You really are an asshole giving me a kiss and then sleep. That’s for sure.” Rick mentions silently and Negan smiles to himself. “It was not a kiss. It was making a point.” “Wow; so impressed Negan.” “Better be.” Rick closes his eyes as well and then Negan adds “you challenged me. Never do that again. You went too far.” “I’m curious now, what will happen next time when I cross the line.” Negan shifted his head so his teeth where all over ricks neck but instead of biting he just moved his lips close enough so Rick could feel his breath all over his skin. “Don’t try me.” And oh how much Rick wanted to try now.

Negan lowered his open lips on Ricks neck and formed them into the softest kiss Rick ever felt. It was so short but yet it felt ike eternity for him. He even let out a silent moan by just this simple touch. The moan made Negan smile and he whispered against his skin “sleep now and don’t turn around anymore. I just want to lay like this now, please.” Rick nodded, not daring to break this moment. But just like nothing ever happened, Negan rested his head again in Ricks neck and his breathe lowered. Ricks heart was racing so fast he nearly got a panic attack. He closed his eyes but all he could feel was the aroused feeling under his hips. He was lucky Negan wasn’t laying in front of him but behind.

Chapter Text

The morning sank in like a bottle of red wine, head hurting and thoughts twisting. 

Rick didn’t dare to open his eyes, he didn’t even clearly remember where he was, when he was.

This is how it must feel to wake up from a drug he thought to himself. But he didn’t take any... did he?

Something behind him was giving a metallic sound, was it from a closing belt buckle?

Rick let his fingertips twitch and slowly allowed himself to open his eyes, still blinded by the sun. His hands felt empty somehow, like something left him. He turned his hand but still recognized his watch on his wrist, which sometimes gave him a strange empty feeling if missing. With his other hand he searched for his colt, but found it fast hidden under the blanket as well.

Even with the sun on his face he felt cold and couldn’t stop the feeling, that something just had slipped through his fingers.

He frowned in thoughts and slowly moved himself up on one arm, as he suddenly felt a pain, sharp like a blade, running through his foot. „What...“ he still grunted in confusion.

„How long are you planning on enjoying the bloody morning, prick?“

And then it hit him like a shot. The drug he just went off from was... „Negan?”

Rick turned his view over his shoulder as he finally sat up, still annoyed by the pain running through his body.

“Well, good morning sunshine. I didn’t want to interrupt your fucking princess-long sleep but I’m leaving now.” Negan lifted his bag and Rick recognized he already had packed all his things and was dressed in his leather jacket again, before he turned his back on the smaller, still in dull covered man. “Wait! Fuck...” Rick called out and started folding his blanket and get his shoes back on, sliding his fingers for a short moment over the bandage around his foot. Luckily the wound wasnt bleeding through, until now. Thanks to Negan.

And then he finally remembered. He closed his jacket, his fingers on the zipper, the numbness of missing something in his hand... He looked at his inner palm and smiled, lost in thoughts. Was it Negans hand he hold before? Was it his touch he missed?

But then he shook his head. You’re hallucinating Mr Grimes. Get yourself together.

He stood up, grabbing the bag and stumbled in the taller mans direction. The man he hated so much, or was he? With every step closer he had this smell in his nose... this rough, dirty and strong smell of cinnamon and ashes.

He lifted his hand to go through his hair and realized he had that smell sticked on his skin as well... on his hand and wrist. He scratched his neck while trying to remember last night but it somehow felt different touching himself there, like his skin was touched from the wrong thing. His skin was burning up in his neck like fire left a mark.

Without even realizing he suddenly stumbled into Negans back. “Woooh easy here.” Negan stepped back and turned around to face Ricks somehow blushing face. While looking at his cheeks, seeing the face flush up, Negan couldn’t stop himself from grinning, parting his lips to slip his tongue between his teeth.

Like an embarrassed child Rick lifted his head, waiting for a punishment as in school when teachers exhorted you.

The ice blue was striking deep brown again and instantly Negan turned his grin into a serious, fierce look down.

“Dammit, you look like you have a fucking hangover after a fucking shit party. Why wasn’t I invited?” He tried to overplay his insecurity with another forced smirk while Rick just met his look with focused eyes. “Oh, I would say you were right there.”

Negan had hoped he would cut Rick off with his sarcasm but damn that man doesn’t forget that easily it seemed. He turned his face into a frown and broke eye contact. “Well, nothing worth to remember, I suppose.” Negan grunted and started walking again. “Wait.” Rick called out and grabbed his wrist, not remembering it was Negans “secret” one. As reaction Negan clenched his teeth and pulled his wrist away “don’t you dare.” Rick wondered to himself why that man made such a drama again about something, he was now sure of, he saw and felt before. “Stay away from me.” Negan whispered through his teeth, hoping it would scare that other man off, when he filled his voice with hate and aggression.

He pointed a finger to Ricks face. Rick didn’t look away for just a second. He tried to control the other mans thoughts by just looking deeper and deeper. For a short moment they just froze like this, Negan angrily breathing with his fingertip nearly touching Ricks face.

While freezing like this Negan felt this strange feeling running up his back again, facing those eyes. He wanted to look away, lower his hand and just go on but he was stuck like on glue. Once looking, you always fall. And it never stops.

Only as Rick softened his look and released his frown, turning it into this typical soft puppy eyes, Negan added “and stop your twisting eye games on me. It makes me...” weak he wanted to say but swallowed that word and finished with “...sick.” That being said he lowered his hand and stood straight again.

Rick couldn’t feel his breathe on his face anymore and he didn’t know if he liked that or not. Rick sighed as Negan inhaled deeply and said “fine, if you want to play the game “I act like nothing happened yesterday so don’t ask me again” I will go with it. It’s not worth it anyways, right?”. He passed him, his shoulder bumping into Negan as if he couldn’t avoid it. Negan rolled his eyes and mumbled “diva.” to himself, before he followed Rick, this time slowing his pace as he recognized, Rick was still struggling with his walk speed.

 

***

 

 

Negan couldn't help himself, his sleep always sucked dick but especially since all that shit started, its like he always slept on the edge. So he wasn't surprised as he woke up before sunrise.

But something was different this time. He felt something breathing next to him. Not the cold ass dead motherfuckers, sometimes crawling up to you in your sleep. It was someone living. Someone warm, smelling like...blood and sweat.

Negan just remembered he was not at the sanctuary and his wives sure didn't smell like...that. Not even when he was finished with them.

Nevertheless in all that time he never actually woke up to one of his wives. After Lucille was gone he didn't only promise himself to never fall in love again, he also didn't want to wake to someone again. Maybe cause he knew, that's when everything starts to get too close. Maybe because he didn't want his wives to have high hopes on him. Or anyone having hopes in him. After all he knew this wasn't one of his wives. And he also knew, he had to get his fucking ass out of this situation, before he gets too attached. Or the other person does.

He opened his eyes and nearly didn't dare to look at the person in his arms. His eyes opened wide as he finally realized who was breathing in the same pace he did, who hold onto his hand.

Fucking shit. He mumbled to himself. For a moment he allowed himself to close his eyes again and inhaled all the scents floating around him. Wood, grass, mud and this warm, familiar scent of flesh and bone, belonging to the man in his arms.

He couldn't help himself tightening the grip before he slowly exhaled, opening his eyes again. He smiled to himself looking at that curly hair and that chest, moving up and down so slowly as if it could stop time. Negan wanted to touch that hair just to pull it back and bite in Ricks neck, but even that image made him moan softly. That's why he forced himself to hold back.

Just one last breath, one last moment. He wouldn't even realize. Or would he? Negan decided he didn't care and moved his head closer, his nose tugging into Ricks hair. He closed his eyes again, trying to inhale so deeply so he could never forget that smell again, cause he knew he wouldn't be that close again anytime soon. Neither did he want to. Or did he?

Moving his face against Ricks hair gave his lips a tickling feeling of the soft and also rough dark hair in front of him. Rick smelled so familiar to him. Like something he lost years ago. Something like...home. It took Negan some time to realize it was that smell of mahogany, that expensive wooden material he had in his old house with Lucille. However it wasn't that easy to just leave it by that, it had a more bitter note to it as well. Dirty and clean at the same time. Like the grass smells after a cleaning rain.

Every inch of Negans skin crumbled, the scent was filling his lungs and gave his chest a heavy feeling. Or his heart? At this time Negan wasn't even sure if he still had a heart. But if, this scent clearly touched it in that moment. And that was something he had to avoid.

He shook his head to get himself out of the affection growing in his mind and soul.

Negan backed off and released his hand out of Ricks, hoping that move wouldn't wake him, like it would do with most people nowadays. Surprisingly Rick didn't wake. He really was a calm sleeper. How can someone even manage to sleep that heavy in this times? Negan wondered but then he finally released his view from Rick up to the sky, resting one hand on his knee.

I don't even know why this guy makes me enjoy his company so much. Wasn't I supposed to hate him? Even kill him? He threatened to kill me long ago and I definitely would return the favor. Or would I, still?

He lowered his gaze one last time to his side, Rick still breathing in slow waves. Negan put his forehead into folds and sighed. What is that about you, Rick Grimes? What is this feeling I felt first time I looked into your eyes? That eyes...why are they closed now? I wish I could look into them one last time. I miss that blue. That cutting blade which always hit my heart.

„Argh...“ Negan frowned to himself, suddenly his hands pulling his own hair, the urge to scream loudly.

Never get close again. He repeated to himself that sentence over and over again before he finally took a deep breath and managed to get himself on his feet. He grabbed his things, packing everything in his bag until the only thing left was his leather jacket, resting next to Ricks head.

Negan bit his teeth together, surpressing the anger crawling up in him, the hate against himself. You are a fucking weak piece of shit. Get yourself together and stop this shit show.

He kneeled down, staring first at his jacket and then shifting his eyes to Ricks head again. Why can't I stop looking at you? Why Rick?

With every question asking himself he got more and more furious. He wanted to reach out for his jacket but something was holding him back. It was like being afraid of getting too close to Ricks skin again. Like Rick was a black hole, dragging Negan in right into its core. He was afraid to get lost. He was afraid to never return again. His people needed him to save them. How could he go one with that when he got lost in someone...in Rick?

He looked at his hand reaching out and noticed it was shaking. This is fucking bullshit he exhorted himself and grabbed for his jacket as fast as he could. After taking it he nearly jumped on his feet to turn around and put his jacket back on.

Don't let him know what you feel. Don't let ANYONE know what you feel. You can't afford to have any feelings for anyone. You have to be on same level with everyone, you can't prefer anyone, you know what mess it led you in last time.

We're all just humans now. Living or dead is the only difference you can make nowadays. You SHOULD make nowadays. Now go on and play your distant dictator role again. Scare him off. If anything just keep pushing him away. He will back off again. He will let go. Like everyone does. Just keep going being your ugly you, stop that shit show. And never allow yourself again to touch this guy. And never let him touch you, again. Get your shit together Negan.

He closed his eyes listening to his voices and slowly zipped his jacket. Just act like you did forget. It was nothing. It meant nothing. After letting go of his belt buckle he opened his eyes and recognized Ricks head moving.

„What...?“ Negan grinned, putting his masquerade on and let the show begin.

„How long are you planning on enjoying the bloody morning, prick?“

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hours went by but Rick and Negan shared not one word with each other. Rick didn't even know anymore why they came out here in the first place, he just kept track with Negan as fast as he could, more and more into the woods. He was surprised Negan was that good in reading traces but he never stopped surprising him anyways, right?

The pain in Ricks foot was still heavy but Rick went through worse so he could manage pretty easily to walk with it. Still he hoped they finally reach their goal, whatever that was.

As Negan suddenly stopped, resting a hand on a tree and seemed to search for something, Rick slid his thumb over his lips. There was a strange itching not only on his foot but on his lower lip. But he wasn't bleeding. He slid his tongue over the mark and felt it was some raw flesh. Strange how things changed when people stopped having mirrors around all the time. You took less care of how you look and it was somehow relieving. But now Rick would have loved to check his face.

Negan turned his head shortly over his shoulder, back to Rick who still was checking his lip. He grinned before Rick looked up at him asking „what?“. Negan shhhed him and moved two fingers up, giving Rick a sign to come closer.

Rick was wondering, thinking Negan would still make fun out of this situation. That's why he went up to him like an angry child and just wanted to raise his voice again as Negan placed his hand over Ricks mouth, without facing him. Rick frowned but instantly smelled that strong scent in his nose again. Deciding not to let himself get lost in it, he followed Negans sight and realized a small group sitting in the woods, having a meal.

Negan released his hand slowly and just analyzed the area around them. „Is it them?“ Rick whispered and finally remembered how Negan picked him up at Alexandria to get him here.

 

***

 

Knock knock?“ Negan banged Lucille at the gate of Alexandria which had Rick turn his attention instantly away from Judith, placing her in Michonnes arms and stepped to the gate. „Wait, Rick! Don't get involved in his shit again!“ Michonne called after him but Rick didn't care. He just wanted to spend one quiet day with his family, was that too much to ask for?

He moved his head to the site giving Rosita the sign to get away from the gate. She sighed but stepped back, letting Rick slide the first gate open to look at Negans grinning face through the lattice bars.

Rickyboy. How lovely to see you on such a great day.“ „What do you want, Negan?“ Rick asked, already annoyed to the point he just wanted to punch Negans face.

Oh you know it's a wonderful sunny day and I thought my fucking best friend Ricky is open for a bro trip! Holidays, without the ladies you know? Drinking and sharing dirty secrets, driving fast cars and all that shit. Soooo...how fast can you pack Rick?“

Rick raised his eyebrows in confusion. What the fuck was happening here. This must be one of Negans bad jokes.

You are joking.“ „Bloody hell, no!!“ Negan laughed out. He raised his arms, holding Lucille up in the air. „Look around Rickyboy, it's hell of a day!!!! Come on, I give you five minutes to pack.“ „And I give you one minute to explain me why I should come.“

Negan frowned and exhaled angrily before he was leaning close to the gate, breathing through the bars. „Because I say so.“ Rick leaned in closer facing his eyes and they just gave each other that eye game, cutting the thick air around them with blades and making everyone quiet watching them. Nobody dared to breathe and after an eternity Negan breathed in and smirked. „I think it's time for another lesson Ricky. You didn't have one in a while. And I want you to show your people what a good learner you are. That you do fucking everything to give them another sunny day, while you spent it with me. Or is that too much to fucking ask, Prince Grimes?“

All that fucking nicknames confused Rick always more than the actual topics, but he didn't want to let it show.

Rick moved his teeth from one side to the other, looked over his shoulder to Judith and Michonne and sighed. Of course they deserved good days only and if there's just one chance to give it to them, Rick would take it.

He looked back to Negan, still frowning. „Fine.“ Negans head moved back and he opened his arms again. „Now was that so fucking difficult, Rickyboy?“ „But only under one condition.“ Rick interrupted his celebrating move. Negan shifted his head to the side and looked with open eyes. „What is it, babyboy?“ Rick tried to ignore that nickname and pointed at Lucille. „She stays home. I don't want her with us.“ Negan blinked in surprise but then laughed loudly. „Motherfucking hell, you are the most jealous fucking bitch I ever met, Rick.“ Rick shrugged and started to slide the gate to close it again as Negan interrupted „w-w-wait!“ He slid Lucille between the lock and Rick rolled his eyes, sighing. „so we have a deal?“ He asked through the bars.

Negan was not amused obviously but then grunted „yeah, deal. But only because I appreciate your concern about having me to yourself. I don't wanna hurt anyones feelings here, I'm a fucking gentleman.“ He smirked and his white teeth felt like a pain in the ass for Rick. „How generous of you.“ „Right?“ Negan squeaked and lifted Lucille over his shoulder. „Arat, keep good care of my lady, will you?“ „Of course boss.“ Arat answered and took Lucille in her hand.

Rick now opened the gate completely and mumbled „give me two minutes to get my stuff and say goodbye to my girl.“ „Sure thing, Rick! Tell her I bring big daddy safe and sound back home soon.“ Oh I will come back safe, but what about you Negan? Rick thought to himself and went back to Michonne.

 

Listen, I don't know what he wants but it's a chance I have to take.“ Rick whispered to her. „Rick, that's like a suicide commando. We need you here.“ Rick nodded and placed one hand on her shoulder. „I know Michonne, I know that. But they have you. You will take best care of them. And as long as I am with Negan, Negan is not with you. That's all I need to know.“ Michonne frowned but then pulled Rick in a hug, whispering in his ear „will you try to...“ „I may try.“ Michonne let go of him and just nodded. „I trust you. Just come back safe.“ Rick nodded and placed a kiss on Judiths head.

 

Tick Tock, clock is ticking Rick!“ he heard Negan shouting from the entrance and stepped in his house to get his stuff.

After a short moment he left the house again, gave a last nod to Michonne and went up to Negan, who sat in his truck waiting for Rick to join him, even swinging the door open for him. „Come in, buddy! This seat is reserved for you.“ Rick tried not to let that comments get too close to him, he knew all that bullshit talking was just how Negan was. He sat down, closed the door and looked at Judith while they drove further away, hoping he did the right thing.

 

As Alexandria was out of sight he placed his ellbow in the window and looked at the street. „So, why do you really take me out here? Wanna have the best chance to have a face off with me?“ Negan bursted out laughing. „Bloody hell Rick, no! If we two would kill each other, we would do it in front of everyone to cheer on us, won't we?“ Rick shook his head. „You would do that cause you're a desperate attention seeker. Me for my part...“ „Hell no, Rick! Let's stop this bullshit for a minute!“ Negan hit the brake and Rick had to hold tightly at the door to not be thrown right through the front window.

What the fuck!“ he shouted before he turned his head to Negan, facing him with a serious face. „I make that one fucking time very smooth clear for you now, Rick. Two days ago three of my best men, Jessie, Taylor and Jacob went out for scouting and didn't come back. Jessies sister is in fucking tears since then. It wasn't your people, I know that much. But someones fault it is and we are here to find them and save them.“

Negan actually knew names of his people? Rick was surprised by that fact but still it wasn't enough to impress him. „You mean take revenge?“ Rick added with a raised eyebrow. But who could be out there, Rick wondered. Could it be possible allies for him and his people? Or is it just another threat for everyone living? Then maybe Negans plan to find them wasn't that bad.

Negan breathed out deeply. „I fucking want you to see how I save people, Rick. To show you I care, like a leader should. I get my shit done and I'm sure you as the leader of your piss patrol want to get yours done too. That's why you come with me.“

Rick clenched his teeth „you don't save people, you kill.“ Negan moved his head close to Rick and barked back „As you do.“

For a moment the air was burning, both of them close to snapping. But then Rick had Carls words in mind and tried to calm himself down. „Okay, I help you. But you could have said that from the start, you know?“

Negan let his back rest against his seat again, starting the engine and said „You prefer doing things for others, not for yourself. So it's easier to ask you to give your people a free day instead of asking a favor from you to me.“ Rick didn't contradict and looked out of the window. „Otherwise you wouldn't sit here now, right?“ Negan added and Rick just said „true.“

A short moment after hitting the road again Rick continued „Thank you for letting Lucille behind.“ Negan clicked his tongue and smirked at Rick. „You ARE jealous, Grimesy.“ but Rick just scoffed it off. No, he just didn't want that thing around him, which killed too many of his dear friends. He wouldn't have known if he could hold onto Carls wishes then. It surely was no jealousy, what a joke.

 

***

 

Negan laid one hand on Ricks shoulder and pushed him down with him, to hide behind the trees. Rick could see the analysing in Negans head and out of instinct Rick had one hand already on his colt. His eyes wandered from head to head, counting.

He could see four guys, sitting and laughing at a fire. Nothing too suspicious could be seen but it seemed Negan already found the reason why these were the people he was looking for. „So how do you know it's them?“ Rick didn't want to just attack some random guys if he wasn't sure they deserved it. Negan ignored the question. „You go for the two left ones, I take the two right...“ suddenly Rick heard a click, instantly knowing it was from a gun. It sounded loaded as well. Negan didn't say a word but had that caught look in his eyes, knowing they were fucked.

Rick moved his eyes to the side, realizing the gun was pointed at Negans head. So it was at least one more guy.

 

„Ta-ta. Look who just ran into us, trapped like an animal.“ The guy spoke out loudly, letting the others raise their heads. „Who do you bring us there, Chris?“ one at the fire asked while the other three took out their weapons, Rick counted two more guns and one knife, the guns pointing at the voice behind the trees. „It's the leather man, like he just heard us calling. Get up shitheads.“ He kicked Negans ass and as Rick wanted to pull out his Python Negan just gave him a fierce look of „don't“.

Rick frowned but got up next to Negan, his hands up in the air.

The tall man behind them pushed them forward to the fire, facing the other four guys who stood up and seemed amused. „Well, well. Long time no see.“

Rick put his forehead into folds and looked at Negan. „You know them?“ He realized Negan was gnashing his teeth and mumbled „Not them. Him.“ He stared at the guy with a green parka who had asked Chris before which guests he brought. „So, you do remember.“ he said and walked up to Negan, facing him closely.

„How have you been, buddy.“ Negan clenched his teeth. „What do you want, Jack.“ The adressed man grinned and looked over at Rick. „Who is that little friend of yours? He looks oh so soft. Did you save him too?“ The man behind them said with an sarcastic tone „are you two some ass fuckers or what?“ Rick fastly contradicted „no!“ but Negan remained silent, not lifting his eyes from the before called Jack. „It's none of your fucking business.“

Jack laughed out loudly and turned to his companions. „Well look here, still the same big mouth as always. It will be a fucking pleasure for me to shut you down. I dreamt all my life of that moment.“ „Oh I bet you did, having nothing else in your fucking pitifully life.“ Negan grunted.

Jack turned around to look in Negans eyes again. „Don't challenge me here. You're in the fucking wrong position to raise your voice against me right now.“ „I would raise my voice to maggots like you even if I would be a crawling worm.“

Jack definitely was not amused and looked back at Rick. He smiled to himself stepping up to him while Negan just breathed in deeply and closed his eyes, trying not to loose patience.

„Are you not annoyed by all that bullshit coming out of this bastards mouth? How do you cope with that even?“ Rick gave him his ice cold look and Negan watched him carefully while he was facing Jack. „You won't believe me but I enjoy it. I enjoy it to my core when he faced off people like this, before he kills them.“ Negan couldn't help himself but grinned and tried to hide it with lowering his head to not to give Rick a glimpse of his joy.

Rick Grimes, never disappointing. Oh how much I love that side of Rick. Everyone thinks he's just the beautiful blue eyed family father, like a little prince Charming not being able to hurt anyone. But when he shows his strength and his goddamn balls off, he never fucking looses. To anyone. He not once lost one mind or eye game to Negan either, Negan just wouldn't admit it to him. But he admired that strength and maybe stubborness. He was the born leader.

„Oh wow, Negan. You really grew a puppy next to your side didn't you?“ „Leave him out of it.“ Negan mumbled with closed eyes, still trying to calm his rising heartbeat. Then he laughed. „You won't break him, believe me, I tried.“ he added and looked over to Rick who send him a confused look, realizing that Negan really seemed to respect him. I even tried to push him away from me over and over again and look who's still holding onto me, believing in me, Negan thought.

Jack smiled. „So what is he to you?“ „He means nothing to me.“ Negan lied but tried his best to be as convincing as possible, even giving Rick a stab to his heart cause he even managed to persuade him. „So I could do to him whatever I want?“ „Yeah I don't care.“ Negan shrugged, cold as ice on the outside, but inside rising an inferno.

Jack got his gun out of the belt and pointed it at Ricks forehead, resting his eyes on Negans reaction. „I think you do care for your puppy. Like you did for Lucille?“

„Ahh...“ Negan couldn't help himself and ran to Jack, wanting to punch his face, but before he could even reach him a gun was fired, hitting the tree next to him and Negan just stopped moving right there.

Rick looked over at Negans hurt eyes, he saw the rage in him but also that never stopping bleeding wound in his heart when hearing Lucilles name.

Rick couldn't move cause in the moment Negan headed to Jack, the only guys withut a gun grabbed Ricks wrists and pushed him on his knees. It was easy to push him down, regarding Ricks weaker foot and he screamed out of pain, making that man realize he was wounded.

„Woooah, easy here.“ Jack seemed to be amused, Rick recognized that with a hatefull look at him.

The leading man winked at Chris so he did the same to Negan as the other one did to Rick before. Grabbing Negans wrists and pushing him on his knees. But Chris also had an extra prepared, pulling handcuffs out and opened them for Negans wrists. Negan shaked his head out of disbelief. „Can't believe you brought your police friends all this way with you.“ Jack aknowledged that with a furious frown and grunted „never knew when I would run into you asshole again. Always be prepared.“

Rick was confused. It was the first time he was knowing less than the partner he had with him in how to confront these guys. Only thing he understood was that Negan knew these guys from before, or at least Jack. But where did all the hate come from? Did Negan lie to him to get Rick with him to kill these guys?

Jacks police friend closed the handcuffs around Negans wrists and suddenly recognized the scar on his skin. „Woah boss, you knew that your little ass fucker is a fucking Emo-guy?“ Jacks grin grew wide as he finally put his gun back in his belt, walking up to Negan who closed his eyes in shame, but trying to keep his aggressive look up. „Yeah, I DO know that, Chris.“ He kneeled down in front of Negan and stared in his now opening eyes. „did your little friend here know too?“ Negan clenched his teeth. „I told you to leave him out of that. It's between you and me.“ Jack laughed like a dark witch in all the Disney movies. „This is hillarious. Of course he knows, cause you were fucking him hard trying to get over my beautiful, always wet Lucille, right?“

Rick could nearly feel the sharp pain running through Negans veins hearing that name again. He couldn't watch that without starting to shake but still unable to move cause he knew that guy behind him still hold onto him, guns pointing at their heads. „Please stop it...“ he whispered to himself.

„Don't you dare to say her name you motherfucker.“ „Or what? Your position isn't really better than last time you threatened me here, right?“ Negan breathed heavy through his nose biting his teeth. But he was too scared to move, he didn't want Rick to be involved in it any further. He already made the mistake bringing him here but who the fuck could have known that shithead Jack got himself some friends?

„Let me tell you how this works out. This can stay your and my thing and I will let him go. But only if...“ and Jack moved his head closer to Negans. „You never threaten me again. You will just watch and don't move.“ „When you do what?“ Negan asked while Jack smirked. „I want to get to know your boyfriend a bit. He surely has some interesting stories to tell I could need for your other friends, waiting for your return.“ Negan breathed heavily and stared even deeper. In eye games he learnt from the best. „Fuck you.“

Jacks patience ended here and he moved back up. „Fine.“ He stepped back to Rick who still tried to figure out some kind of a plan.

Chris had Negan in handcuffs, someone else was pushing Rick to the ground and the other two guys had guns pointed at Rick and Negan. Not a good stand off situation here, especially considering Ricks still hurting foot. Rick was not cuffed which was a plus and he had his gun but he only could take out two before someone else would shoot one of them. So he just sighed and kept his gaze down.

But Negans „fuck you“ pulled him out of that so he looked up and saw Jack in front of him kneeling down and slowly sliding Ricks wet hair out of his face. „You are such a pretty boy aren't you?“

Rick was overstrained with all that mixed feelings crawling up in him. He was angry and scared and confused and helpless. And now this weird guy touching his face didn't help with any of it. He didn't understand it.

Negan looked over to Rick, searching for his eyes. Look at me blue baby he tried to scream inside but of course Rick couldn't hear. He just stared overwhelmed at Jack. „I get why Negan likes that pretty face so much, he is into pretty faces you know? His Lucille was as pretty as you. Even after I was done with her.“ in that moment Rick turned his head following Negans scream, trying to get loose of the grip of Chris. „DON'T TOUCH HIM.“ „oh I WILL touch him, like I touched Lucille.“ Negan screamed out of pain, but it was an inner pain like a heart breaking and Rick could see it. His screams were stopped by a hit right in his face from one of the other guys. The gun in his hand he beated negan on the ground. „HEY, don't go too harsh on him Neil, he has to see this.“ Negan licked over his teeth which had blood over them. „Back to you beauty. Did he treat you badly before?“ Jack slided his thumb over Ricks mark on his lower lip.

Rick was like in trance, the scream from Negan crawled right into his skin and left a shiver over his back and in his mind, which made him still shake. „You know, Negan was always a fucking bastard. First treating his friends badly, then his coworkers, then his lovely wife he took from me. And after letting her down, after letting everyone down, he was weak and stupid enough to think that faking a suicide attempt would get him the pity he so desperately wanted. He never was more than a weak, attention seeking, worthless human being. Wasted to its core.“ „Don't call him that.“ Rick snarled. „What?“

Rick don't.“ Negan whispered cause he saw the crumbling in Ricks veins and eyes. He knew he was going to snap any second and do something stupid. He knew how Rick was. He just couldn't stop when it was enough when it comes to justice. He just couldn't watch when someone was treated badly. He would always step in. And in this moment he definitely shouldn't.

Rick looked over to Negan, laying on the ground, bleeding from the hits before and all he could think was, he is anything but weak. He smiled at Negan, thinking about their words before. - „For that, you see a lot of good in me to be honest.“ „Cause you are, Rick.“ - I'm not. He thought to himself and gave Negan a soft look, like asking for permission but Negan just shook his head. „Don't.“ he formed with his lips.

„He's a survivor.“ Rick said and turned his face back to Jack, his smile turning to his serial killer look. Determined. Cold as ice. „He is a weak shit.“ Jack repeated and that was the moment Rick snapped and beated his head against Jack, getting free from the grip behind him and grabbed both of Jacks arms to pull him up, making one of the other guys shot right at him out of too fast reaction.

Jack screamed out of pain which gave Negan the chance to use the distraction and kick behind him to make Chris fall while the last guy was shooting at Negan. Meanwhile he twisted to the side behind another tree and before Jack knew what happened he was pushed against the guy with the gun who just shot him before.

Rick grabbed for the gun with his left hand after ramming Jack into him and pulled out his colt with the right hand, shooting the last standing, aiming at Negan, right in his head. Chris was too slow, before he could get his gun up he was shot too. The one holding Rick before couldn't even react out of shock and only thing he did, was starting running in the woods.

Jack was still laying on the ground, telling his last man to get up and kill them but Rick stepped forward fastly, like he never was hurt before, the adrenaline burning in his blood, raised the second gun he grabbed before and shot him as well.

Jack closed his eyes and didn't dare to look. „Please...“ Rick had his colt pointed at him but he saw his whining face and just smiled. „That's not my turn.“

He lowered both guns, got his colt back in the belt and stepped to Negan, searching the keys in Chris jacket and as he found them, Negan already hold his hands to him. „Thank you Officer.“ he coughed through the blood in his mouth and admiration in his eyes but Rick just punished him with a fierce look. „Swallow it.“

He opened the handcuffs and offered Negan a hand to pull him up, but he refused. „Don't need your help.“ Rick raised an eyebrow. „Looked different to me.“ After all that Negan still couldn't stop pushing Ricks offers away. Really?

He buckled up slowly and grabbed the knife from his belt as he walked up to Jack. With his jacket he swiped the blood away, giving him all the joker look. He kneeled down in front of Jack and grinned. „Told you. You can't break him. And I should have done that earlier.“ Jack coughed blood and had his face covered in pain.

„Do it. He will never love you anyways, like Lucille didn't.“ Negan slid the knife right into the side of Jacks throat, letting it stay there to whisper in his ear „And you will never say her name again.“ then he pushed the knife out and Jack bled out.

Negan sighed in relief and cleaned the knife on his jacket before he sank down resting his head in his hands.

Rick had thought about following the running one, but what could one retarded idiot do in this world when he's not even willing to help his friends? He was too weak for this world anyways so the world would play its part.

 

He packed the stolen gun to his bag before he stepped over to Negan, hiding behind his hands. He sighed and looked down at the broken man. „Are you okay?“

Negan didn't know if to cry or to laugh so he decided for a mixture of both of them. He laughed hysterically.

„I can't believe you, Rick Grimes. You have motherfucking balls of steel.“ Somehow Rick felt so calm now after his blood thirst. It felt like he was on valium.

So he just shrugged and looked down at Negan who slowly looked up at him. „I told you. I'm not a good person. You said yourself, I have eyes to kill.“ Negan smirked. Eyes to kill for would be more exact for him now. „Yeah, you do.“

Rick breathed in and out deeply before he kneeled down in front of Negan. „I just couldn't stand it anymore.“ Negan smiled. „I know.“ then he coughed some blood up again as Rick reached out for his face with his hands. „Are you really okay? Let me bring you home.“ And where would that home be?

Negan chuckled but under the blood it more sounded like a dying bird. „Let me check.“ Rick moved his hands down his throat, lifting his head to see if there are any more cuts or wounds he didn't see before. As he slid down on Negans chest, reaching the point where his heart should be, Negan grabbed Ricks hands and shoved them away, mumbling „don't touch me, goddammit.“ He instinctively tried to keep Rick as far away as possible, knewing he already showed too much of his care for this man, again, so it was time to get back to normal, cold hearted business. But Rick implied. „But I do touch you.“ and freed his hands to rest them on Negans chest again, feeling his heartbeat under his fingers. They lasted for a moment like this, staring at each others eyes and Negan swallowed all the things he wanted to do right now. Goddammit he thought to himself.

He felt this urge of his heart to jump right off his chest, straight into Ricks hands and he couldn't allow that. He just couldn't. „Yeah you do...“ it was meant even more meaningfull as he wanted. Rick glared and just wanted to ask something as Negan added „that's the problem. So stop it please.“ That soft word again made Ricks heart stop for a second. He grabbed Ricks hands, placing them in his lap. „Leave your hands with yourself, these eye games are enough for me already.“ he tried to joke but Rick didn't buy it.

Negan tried to read his look and knew he maybe went too far with not even letting him in, in this moment. He sighed and said „You never give up do you? You should have enough of me by now.“ Rick shook his head and replied softly „no, never.“ before he leant back and sat properly down, sliding with his thumb over his lips and getting his hair out of his face. Negan followed every move of his hands imagining it could be his, but the ache in his heart still was too present to give in. In fact he had to rest his head against the tree and closed his eyes, letting all the sorrow and pain finally come over him. He started shaking. It was a mix out of relief and grief which was followed by silent whimpering leaving his lips.

In that moment Rick finally could release the tension from his face and look up at the shaking lips of Negan. But this time he didn't dare to ask one single question. He wanted Negan to get it out by himself.

The staring of Rick lasted a while before Negan whispered with closed eyes „I miss her. Why the fuck didn't you allow me to bring her? She could have protected us.“ Rick had seen and known grief for so long and he even felt it crawling up his own skin. „She couldn't have.“ „What do you know?“ „All I know is that she is not here.“ Negan opened his eyes, looking down to Rick from his mourning face. „But I am. And you are.“ Rick continued. „And I'm bloody fucking glad you are.“

Negan had to smile to that words even through his painful look, trying to fight the tears crawling their way up his eyes. „Yeah, you're damned lucky to have me, right.“ Negan scoffed and closed his eyes again. „I am.“ Rick answered with such a warm tone in his voice that it could have melted the coldest icebergs.

Negan grinned and moved his head back to face Rick. That look he gave him was making him grief even more. He didn't know how he did it but this is how it must feel to rip your heart out in front of a therapist. Negan couldn't even describe what he was feeling towards this guy in this moment. He was endlessly grateful Rick saved them and didn't ask all the questions others would have. But this look...it made him lose his mind. It made him think of all the warmth he got from Lucille back then. The warmth he felt when he woke up to Rick that morning. The smell of mahogany. He missed it.

„You are so fucking beautiful, it's disgusting Rick.“ Rick smirked to that. „So?“ „I want you to go.“ This time Rick decided to ignore the manipulating shit Negan let out of his mouth. Negans words sounded more like a helpless beg than an order anyways. „What if I dont?“ He just replied, not releasing his eyes from Negans. „Then I will make you.“ Negan whispered, trying to make it sound like threats but for Rick it sounded a whole lot more like a love song. „Like you tried the rest of the day? Worked amazing for you didn't it?“ Rick pointed at the blood running down from Negans lip. Negan shook his head to stop himself from sinking into that mans eyes, but before he could reach for his lip to check, Rick slid his thumb over it and licked the blood away.

The word bloody now got a whole new level, for Negan it felt bloody sexual. He never wanted to kiss someone so damn much like he wanted in that moment. But he didn't dare to move. He was frozen over the realization how much affection that man gave him by just looking at him. If anything he didn't want to ruin that sight, of his blood on Ricks finger, swallowed by his tongue. A shiver of arousal went over his back while watching Rick, feeling like it's a slow motion scene which he hoped never ends. You fucking vampire, Rick. Could have told me you're a fucking succubus. Negan thought to himself, remembering all the vampire stories Lucille always told him about.

But Rick knew now, how he had to play the game called „Negan“, so after finishing his short moment of blood lust, he stood up, grabbed his bag and said „Let's go. We should bring you back home.“

Negan felt like someone had woken him up from a dream, but so harshly that he was pissed like in early mornings. „Fine, Officer Friendly. Know me in your back.“ Negan stood up and followed Ricks way, more than he first wanted to accept. „Oh I hope so.“ Rick said and kept leading the way.

 

Chapter Text

The sun already started to set as they finally found a place to rest. They already came far and should arrive at the Sanctuary tomorrow. But for now, both wounded, they needed to rest.

Rick secured the area with some traps while Negan prepared a fire for their meal. Luckily they found enough food from Jacks place so dinner shouldn't be a problem for now.

The bleeding in Negans mouth already stopped, in the end it was just wounds from being beaten, but nothing serious. Rick didn't even feel his foot the last hours after the adrenaline kicked all the pain away. But now after hours of walking, the aching set in again so he accepted the rest place Negan chose.

 

They sat down at the fire and shared some red beans and bread which actually was pretty good. After all that time everyone was used to the dinners at a fire, it was daily business when not having a camp. So they both acted like they never did something else before. Even if the company they both had was sure different from all the times before.

While eating no one said a word and Rick only released his eyes from the fire as Negan was pulling something out of his bag with a big grin. It was a red wine bottle.

Rick grinned and shook his head. „So you were serious when you told me you want to drink with me.“ Negan presented the bottle like a trophy and said „sure thing Rick. I'm true to my words.“ He opened the bottle, smelled the heavy flavor and took a sip, moaning after he swallowed it. „This is a very good one, I saved it for you.“ Rick raised an eyebrow. „You sure have.“ Negan offered him the bottle and nodded at him. But Rick rejected, shaking his head, focusing his eyes on the fire again. „I'm not into wine.“

Negan rolled his eyes and copied Ricks tone. „I'm not into wine. Pfff as if you had a choice out here. You take what you get! And I want to have a drink with my officer here, you're not at work, you are allowed to drink!“ Rick scoffed. „Yeah I know.“ „Come on! Do me the favor. Please?“ Negan asked with eyes like a puppy and lowered his head to catch Ricks sight.

Rick sighed and rolled his eyes as well, taking the bottle from him and swallowing a big sip. Negan was surprised Rick would even drink things he didn't like that easily. As Rick swallowed and lowered the bottle, Negan clapped in his hands. „So YOU don't like wine. I see.“ „Take what you get, right?“ Rick answered and handed him the bottle over again. „Attaboy, Rick.“ Negan took another big gulp of the red liquid, feeling the dizzyness roll in cause they both were so wasted from the day.

 

As Negan placed the bottle on the ground next to him, he took out his jacket and made himself a pillow out of it, to rest his head. „Red Wine always makes you feel warm, right Rickyboy?“ Negan commented but Rick just couldn't hold back to argue on that. „It only gives you the feeling of raising the temperature. In fact people get reckless and think they are not freezing anymore while they actually are. That's why so many teens get the colds after partying, cause they underestimate the temperature.“ Negan had to laugh. „My god, are you a science man now, officer Grimes?“ „Nope. I just had to pick up enough alcoholics who were nearly frozen to death telling me they feel warm.“

Rick grabbed the bottle and took another sip, never loosing his focus on the fire. „Hm, and I thought Carl was the typical rebel as teenager, always partying and you always had to take care of his cold at home then.“ Rick lifted his eyes over to Negan, frowning, a sharp pain of sorrow crossing his heart. „Carl was still a kid as it started.“ Negan looked up to meet Ricks eyes and mumbled „Hmm, yeah. Sorry.“

For a short moment Rick rested his eyes on Negans, somehow appreciating his try to comfort him. „It's fine. I would have prefered to care for colds of a teenager than this.“ Then Rick rested his arms on his knees and buried his face in them.

Negan felt sorry for mentioning Carl, but at least that was a death he wasn't to blame for. This world was. Eventhough, that fact even raised the feeling of guilt for Ricks pain in this moment.

Negan didn't know what to say anymore, he sighed and looked back at the stars.

 

Remembering how many nights he and Lucille looked up at them, counting them, searching the constellations and searching for answers to where we are leaving when we die. Lucille couldn't leave the house anymore as her sickness got worse, but Negan always carried her on the front porch, to make her look at the stars with him again. Comforting her with the hopeful lie that someday we will all end as a star. Since she passed, he was the one believing that lie more than he actually wanted and it gave him comfort to talk to her in his mind, while staring at those shiny things in the sky.

 

Rick noticed that Negan got really silent compared to what his loose mouth normally had to say, wondering where his mind was wandering to. Eventhough, he knew that if he wouldn't start talking about what happened today now, he probably will get no answers at all. Especially since Negan seemed calm, it was a good moment to ask him and maybe even get an answer.

„So...who were these guys?“ Rick asked, out of nowhere. „Hm...?“ Negan had to get his focus back to his companion, waking himself from the inner conversation with Lucille.

„Jack. Who was he?“ Negan wrinkled his forehead and sat up, resting his arm on one knee and looked at Rick with a serious face. „You wanna be sure he deserved it?“ Rick shook his head. „No, he did, he gave me no doubt in that.“ „So why are you asking for my absolution?“ „I'm not. Dammit Negan can you actually imagine that I'm just asking to get to know you better?“ Negan was surprised and wided his eyes even more. „Really, Rickyboy?“ „Really.“ Rick mumbled and grabbed the bottle of wine again. „I need more wine for that.“ Negan interrupted him and stole the bottle right out of Ricks hand to get a big sip of it. He couldn't even remember if anyone after Lucille asked personal questions to get to know him. He guessed not.

Ricks eyes followed Negans movements, waiting for a reaction. Negan swallowed the wine and placed it next to him, sighing. „So... I knew him from before.“ „No shit.“ Rick responded. He figured that much out.

Negan stared at him in surprise, as if he didn't expect that Rick wanted to hear more. He sighed again. „Fine. Quid pro quo. You can ask one question and then it's my turn. But be precise and fast, the game stops when we finished the bottle.“ He pointed at the red liquid, which was only half full now. He played that game with Lucille before, it was their first night of getting drunk together, cause they couldn't stop asking each other more and more questions.

Rick breathed in and out before he said „So where did Jack know Lucille from?“ Negan had to breath deeply in and looked down in his lap, making pretty clear every word he talked hurt him inside. „They were...together. Before I met her. He left her, I met her, we married, she died.“ He took another small sip and looked at Rick. „Now my turn.“ But Rick interrupted him. „Wait wait wait, so he left her but he was jealous of you having her?“ Who wouldn't be jealous of him having her? „One question at a time, Rick. Don't break the rules here.“

He handed him the bottle over and asked „So your wife, I don't know her name, how did she die?“ For answering that question Rick surely needed more than just one bottle of wine but he took it anyways.

Taking a sip he swallowed fastly and answered „Her name was Lori. She...“ Rick was thinking about how to phrase it. Would he really want to tell Negan the whole truth about the story or would he stick to be as short as Negan was? Rick decided to stick to himself.

„She was pregnant...when I found her...after I woke up in the hospital. I searched her, her and Carl.“ By pronouncing the name as Rick does, he felt the ache in his chest raise. He missed Carl so much.

„Bloody hell, you really have some good sperm swimming there, having all the crazy sex life even in a marriage, when you got her pregnant before everything happened.“ Negan pat Ricks shoulder. He was somehow jealous, that it was that easy for Rick to have children, but he didn't want to lay that on Rick. „Good job, man.“ Rick bit his lower lip and closed his eyes. While touching Ricks shoulder Negan realized the reaction was not as he expected. Rick was slightly shaking his head and had that mourning face he often saw before. He said something wrong without knowing what.

He pulled his hand back and waited for more to come. But Rick stayed silent.

He had this shaking lips again, Negan knew he was surpressing the urge to cry.

„Rick, I'm sorry. Was it something I said?“ Rick shook his head. „It was not mine.“ he whispered and Negan was not sure if he understood it the right way.

He blinked in astonishment and tried to catch Ricks eyes again. Seeing that blue now would at least give him the feeling Rick is still here, not loosing grip on their connection.

 

Negan and Lucille tried so long to have children and couldn't, so imagining now, her having a child with someone else made it clear for Negan, in how much hurt Rick must have been. He didn't even know what to answer to that.

„Look, that game was bullshit, let's stop it. We don't have to talk.“ But Rick was too curious about all the things Negan would open up to him, so he swallowed his own pride and said, resting his eyes on Negan „Yeah, that would suit you right? But no excuses here. I will tell you my stories and you will tell me yours.“

Negan sighed in disappointment, that his plan of avoiding the following questions for him didn't work out.

„Fine Rick. I just didn't want to bother you with an obviously sucking ass story.“ „As if yours were different. As if anyones are.“ Rick replied and took a big sip out of the bottle again.

Oh how much he hated red wine. But one good thing about this liquor was having the nice dizzy feeling in your head, being more distant to your own emotions, most of the time. Sometimes they even seemed stronger, it was like in waves. But Rick chose to use this feeling of distance in this moment to talk more.

„I had a partner. A best friend. His name was Shane. He protected Carl and Lori as I was laying in the coma. And when I found them... Lori was with Shane, cause they thought I was dead. So... she was pregnant from him. Judith is his daughter. And she died as she gave birth to her. Carl had to shoot his own mother so she wouldn't turn.“

Rick breathed out deeply and was surprised how fast and easy it was to let that out in front of that other man, who was supposed to be his enemy.

He handed the bottle to Negans shocked face and stared at him like he wanted to crawl into his eyes, hiding in them, searching for comfort. „You better drink, cause I now want a better answer than last time.“

Negan blinked, took the bottle and just placed it next to him. „Fuck, Rick. I...I don't know what to say to that. My stories surely will suck ass now comparing to that...“ „I don't want to compare anything here. I just want the truth. So... why was Jack jealous when he left Lucille?“ Negan rolled his eyes and frowned. „Fine.“

He moved his knees up so he could lean on them with his arms and look confident in Ricks eyes, not lifting them during the whole talk.

„Jack left her cause he had enough of her. For him she was just a toy. As I met her, I didn't know anything about their past story. I just knew there was some deep level shit in her last relationship, but I didn't want to bother her with useless questions. One night she called me, in tears. It was the beginning of our relationship. It was the first time she actually wanted me to come over to sleep at her house, cause she was deeply scared for her life. That's when she told me, her ex tried to contact her as we started...hanging out. He was waiting for her on her workplace, on her street, in front of her home whenever I wasn't around. It was the first time she showed me her oh so perfect body. She had scars on her back.“ Negan breathed in deeply through his nose, imagining that beautiful, soft and perfect skin Lucille released that night to him. He never was so blessed in his life, allowing him to touch her sacred body. Then he clenched his teeth. He leaned in closer on his arms, like wanting to hide and grunted „that bastard had beaten her up and raped her many times in the past.“ Negan hated mistreating women before, but hearing that, realizing what someone did to his Lucille it made him lose the tiny rest of respect for such people. Since that day, criminals like that were nothing more than human trash to him.

Rick didn't dare to say a word to that, he couldn't even imagine how he would have reacted if someone would have done that to Lori, but Negan went on. „I wanted her to go to police, even if I don't trust officers like you here. So after a long time convincing and supporting her, she went. Not knowing that he had friends there, who covered him. I guess that Chris guy was one of them.“ Rick nodded in understanding and Negan added „So it was never proven in front of court. She was just too late with her accusations. Not enough evidence. And she went to the wrong people.“ And she was broken after that. That's why she maybe clinged onto such a messed up guy like me. Maybe that experience even made it possible for her to love me.

Rick always had been disappointed in the police system, it was the only thing he hated about his job. In that moment he was ashamed of the impression police officers and legal system left on Negan. Maybe that's why he enjoyed the new world order more than others.

„So...how did it went on?“ Rick dared to ask after a long break of silence.

Negan laid back and grinned. „One day, I met this guy in the park, doing my late night running.“ Rick smiled at that image. „I beated him up.“ Negan groaned. „I wanted to kill him with my bare hands. But sadly...police interrupted me. I was arrested. But it was just for one night. Jack and me decided we will let it be. He forgets about my attack and I will forget about his crimes. I didn't want to accept first, but Lucille needed me at home.“

Of course Negan never forgot. But then Lucille got sick and he had other problems to solve. „You as an officer yourself know, that police in some cities is like a small rathole. Everyone knows everyone. In every bar I went I felt watched. And I was. People saw me, people heard about me and told Lucille. And as I wanted to put an end to this and move with her to start new...she got sick. That's when I stopped going out and I also stopped being watched.“ Negan didn't even want to imagine how it must have been for Lori hearing all the stories about him cheating on her. After all she went through. He never understood how she even could hold onto him after he only disappointed her.

Negan took the wine bottle and emptied the small rest of it, but not letting Rick know, who avoided his sight since he stopped talking. Negan let a moment pass before he said „so my turn. Who...“ but before he could go on, Rick placed one of his hands on Negans, staring in his eyes with this soft blue. But it didn't feel like pitying him, he just made clear he shares his pain in an honest way. Like approving to Negans actions. „He deserved it.“ Negan nodded and caressed Ricks hand shortly with his thumb, looking at their hands and letting the warmth run through his body.

This fucking wine let Negans urge grow to rest his head on their palms now. He just wanted to lay there, like in the past with Lucille. But he hold back and looked up at Rick, that deep blue calming him down.

How could anyone cheat on this man? Even if Lori thought he was dead that time...how could you ever forget these eyes? Negan was sure they would follow him everywhere, even to hell.

„Thank you.“ He whispered and then moved Ricks hand away, resting it on the other mans lap. „but I stick to what I said before, Rick. Don't touch me.“ Rick frowned. Why was Negan always moving back and forth? Rick had the feeling he was just going in circles. One step forward, two steps back. No surprise people sooner or later gave up on getting closer to him.

„You are such a coward, Negan. But don't worry, just wanted to be nice. Next question?“

Negan was lucky to have Rick as his companion here, he knew all the right words to say and also when he had to stop. It felt like a release talking to him, not like a burden like to most of other people on this planet.

„Since you know about my wives and we know about our dead ones... do you have a wife in Alexandria, Rick? That black samurai?“ Rick blinked in confusion.

How could someone change the topic from something that serious to a funny comment? Negan smirked at him, obviously enjoying the mood swing he just invented.

„Michonne? You ask if she is...my wife?“ „Yep.“ Negan placed his hands next to his body and rested his upper body against them, enjoying Ricks confusion written all over his face.

„No, she's not. I mean...I don't have a wife in Alexandria.“ Rick looked down at his hands.

For so many years he had his wedding band, now, whenever he looked at his hand and saw his finger empty it felt so strange. Like a whole different life. Was he still himself anymore?

„So...what about girlfriends? You have any girlfriends? I mean, you're the famous Rick Grimes! I'm sure everyone wants to hop in bed with prince charming!“ As Negan got no answer he added „Oh come on Rick! Boyfriends? Horses? Dogs? Anything?“ Rick raised his face in disgust. „You're a psychopath Negan. No.“

Negan laughed and shook his head in disbelief. „I can't believe a beautiful, confident and sexy guy like you wouldn't give in on anyone. Don't you even miss it Rick?“ Rick was annoyed. As if he would have time and interest for that. „You know what? Not everyone is a fucking pervert like you.“ „Excuse me sir, I don't appreciate that word used for me, okay?“ „Honestly, who has wives? I mean you're not even satisfied with one, no you need more of them to handle all the Negan.“ Negan couldn't help but burst out laughing. „I doubt anyone could handle all the Negan, sweetheart. I'm too much for everyone. So I just do them a favor and give everyone just a small bit of me, so it doesn't get too much.“ „Oh yeah, actually that makes sense.“ „Yep, it does.“ „You could just give your all for one person. It's not that bad. You did it for Lucille.“ Negan sighed. „I did it too late for her.“ „So instead of doing it right next time, you prefer not even trying it at all anymore? As I said, coward.“ Negan groaned. „I'm not a coward.“ „Not in everything. In feelings you are Negan.“

Rick grabbed the bottle and wanted to drink, as nothing came out. How disappointing. He could have used a drink to that speach.

„You finished it.“ „Ooops. Sorry for not telling you. Seems our game is finished! Time for bed, darling!“ That fucking red liquid made Negan speak out all the beautiful nicknames he normally would have kept inside and he cursed at himself in his head, right after spitting it out.

Rick placed the bottle behind him and smirked. „No, I want to know one last thing. As reward for finishing it before me.“ „Oh dammit Rick, you're an annoying squirrel are you?“ Rick chuckled at that nickname and rested his eyes on Negans. „Why did you take me here, with you, in the first place? You obviously knew who they were and didn't tell me. So you lied to me. I don't even know if they really killed your friends or if you just made that up too, to convince me. And you didn't take your guys with you, you took me. So why?“ Negan knit his brows. „I didn't lie to you. They did kill Jessie, Taylor and Jacob, I told you.“ „Yeah but I don't think I believe you.“ „Goddammit Rick.“ Negan got angry about that accusation. You could really say a lot about Negan but telling him being a liar, was just not acceptable. Especially after giving away so much trust to Rick. Rick surely couldn't even imagine how it felt like when Lucille asked him about the other women, how much he wanted to lie there and didn't, cause at least he never wanted to be called a fucking liar.

„I was fucking honest, even more open than to anyone. I didn't even know that Jack was alive anymore. We lived miles away. And as I found out that Jessie and her companions were killed, I exhamined their bodies and found this message from Jack. He let me know he wanted to meet me, signed just by his name. He wanted to get me out of my home. Wanting to meet me alone for a face off. That's why he provoked me with killing my people. I didn't even know how many guys he had with him. I just knew I had to find him and kill him, whatever it takes. He wouldn't have stopped provoking me. He could have attacked your people too. But I didn't want my people to come with me. For several reasons.“ „Which?“ Negan sighed. „He wanted to meet me alone. So I couldn't just take a bunch of my people, we would have been noticed too fast. And besides that it was my thing. I didn't want to involve them.“ „Why me then?“

Negan smiled at the naive mind of Rick. If he didn't know until now, how could he ever trust Negan? „Because...Jack and me had this past. I didn't want anyone to know.“ „But I could know? That makes no sense, Negan.“ „It does! It does because...you're the only person I trust that much that I didn't care if you know or not. And...you're the only one I know being the same killing machine as I am. You're the second strongest man on this planet. So if I can't have an army with me, I would always chose you. You're better than any army.“

You're my army. And Negan understood why his group made him the leader, he never found a place in his whole life before where he felt as safe as to Ricks side.

First Rick wanted to grunt something back but then he realized Negan actually considered him strong and trustful. And it seemed he appreciated his company.

I know you would understand. That's why I took you. But you would have never come with me if I told you from the start, would you?“ Rick smiled and gave Negan that soft look he loved so much. And now in the dull of the wine it even seemed more soft than ever.„Next time, just try Negan.“ Negan smiled back. „I try.“ Rick nodded to that and looked up at the sky. „I think we should head to sleep now. Or do you wanna count the stars again?“ Negan scoffed. „I don't count them, I watch them.“ „Hm.“ Rick got curious what he meant but he decided they exchanged enough truths today.

 

***

 

They extinguished the fire and laid down. Negan resting his head on his jacket while Rick just made himself comfortable next to him, covered with the blanket. Negan faced him but said nothing as he closed his eyes. Nevertheless, Rick couldn't stop staring at the raising and lowering of Negans body under the blanket. It wasn't actually that cold, but through all the sweat of the fight before and now not having a shower for days, Rick started freezing. Seemed he was softer than he hoped, but he didn't want to admit that. He pulled the blanket closer and closed his eyes, his lips starting to shake.

Negan noticed the moving skin next to him and dared to look at Rick, hiding like a child under the blanket. He smiled over the fact that Rick surely was softer than he even imagined.

Negan was used to the cold. When Lucille got sick, they ran out of money to pay all the medical bills and that's why their new house stayed cold. Negan killed that time, with even holding onto her closer at night. But Rick surely was the spoiled family father, always having a warm place to stay and a healthy wife warming his balls.

He couldn't watch that smaller man shiver, it somehow made him feel like he's a bad savior, failing his mission. He owed his life to that man and he needed to pay him back, somehow. And even if thousands ways of paying Rick back jumped into Negans wine-mind, he chose the most simple one.

Negan sat up, grabbed his jacket and adressed Rick „Hey, I can't watch that pathetic shivering of yours.“ „Shut up.“ Rick mumbled back but Negan poked his shoulder lightly to make him open his eyes. Rick did as expected and saw Negan offering his Jacket. „What? You give me your jacket?“ „You're freezing. Take it or stop freezing.“ Rick rolled his eyes and hold his blanket even tighter. „Nah, thanks.“ „Oh come on dickhead.“ „Keep it, where else will you rest your sensitive head?“ Negan chuckled. „Oh I don't know, maybe I rest it on your chest?“ Oh how much he wanted to. Rick widened his eyes. „What?“

Negan laughed out loudly. „I'm joking. Goddammit, you're bloody needy Rick.“ „Yeah, sure.

Rick scoffed him down and Negan folded his jacket to put it under his head again, to lay down and turn his back on Rick.

„There are prettier ways to warm me, you know?“ Rick mumbled, not sure if that comment came out of his dizzy mind or his dull filled heart. Negan opened his eyes but didn't move one inch. „Don't start something on me Rick.“ he warned him, but inside of him all the holes in his heart were screaming „please start something, because I can't“.

Negan was pretty sure Lucille had said something pretty similiar to him in the past as they were freezing their asses off and she had to make the first moves to get closer. Back in that time, he knew she was flirting. But hearing that coming from Ricks mouth just confused him.

„I thought you're such a grown up and don't care anyways, so warm me.“ „Nah, thanks.“ Negan imitated Rick. Of course his pride now was in the way, he had to turn Rick down. He would do that as often he needed to, just to be sure the other person really wanted him and fights. He couldn't stop that game of „how far can I go until you leave“. And the more he wanted someone to stay, the more he pushed. Lucille always stayed and won, even if she hated these games. But how far would Rick follow him?

„You are just in your tshirt, how can you not freeze?“ Rick asked like he wouldn't know. „The wine helped. Even if you say it's all a lie.“ Negan replied calmly but Rick could see the goosebumps on Negans arm on top of his blanket. Even if he wasn't sure if they were really coming from the cold or the alcohol, he couldn't just leave it by that. „You are freezing too. You're just too damn proud to show it.“ Rick mentioned and looked at the bare skin, revealing the long scar on Negans wrist. He wished he would have never stopped touching it. And even more he wished, he would have met Negan earlier, to protect him from that self-destruction. Maybe he was too far gone already...

Negan didn't reply to his comment, he tried to focus on something else, anything else than the man next to him dragging him again into his core. „Your pride will one day kill you or withhold everything you could have.“ Rick whispered and moved closer, putting his arm around Negans body and to pull him closer.

Negan wanted to push away but he couldn't. The scent of mahogany in his nose and the heavy dizzyness of the wine made him unable to move. „Rick...“ stop it his insides were screaming, but the wine swallowed all the screams and just revealed that soft sound of longing, hiding in him.

Rick could just hear his name, spoken out so softly that he wanted to listen to it all day.

Ricks hand searched for Negans but instead of just taking it, he barely touched the back of it with his fingertips, too afraid Negan would instantly back off.

While others would have loved the soft touching and sliding from skin against skin, for Negan it was too much. Too intimate. Too soft. Too good. It felt like a punishment.

He interrupted Ricks soft affection with just grabbing his hand and holding it tightly. Rick hesitated at first, but then just accepted that Negan just wasn't the guy of soft touching, obviously. But for now he could accept that, he only wanted him close to not freeze anyways, right?

They both closed their eyes, their breathing rhythm uniting into one. Rick wondered if Negan would deny their hand holding again on the next day. Maybe he really would forget it cause of the wine?

He thought about Lucille. He wished he could have asked her how to break Negans shell. He just couldn't see through it until now. Maybe he had to accept Negan just couldn't give more than he already did, but Rick was too stubborn for that.

He felt the warmth and softness of Negans hand. A hand which could easily swing a bat to kill, but also hold him so tightly, that it somehow erased all the fears Rick normally had. He could see all the good things in him, but still it seemed the closer he got, the more Negan pushed him away. How could anyone manage to reach him then? How did Lucille came through to him? Lucille, give me strength.

„I wonder...“ Rick started slowly. „Hm?“ Negan just mumbled. „Why did Lucille love you?“ And how could she make you love her?

Negan opened his eyes and had his face covered in sorrow. As if he not wondered that himself.

„She saw things that weren't there.“ Rick shook his head „No, I think she saw all the things that were there.“ Negan chuckled to that and closed his eyes, inhaling this now common scent of Rick but mixed with alcohol. „I think she was as naive as you.“ he said.

Rick laced his fingers with Negans and stroked his thumb again over his skin. Negan looked down to their hands and couldn't help himself but smile.

„I think I know why.“ Rick said softly and Negan just had to joke that off. „Because of my goddamn perfect hands?“ he asked sarcastically. Rick chuckled. „No. I mean they ARE pretty damn perfect, but that's not it. She knew you're a good person and somehow she managed to get that out of you.“ Negan turned his head to look over his shoulder, getting a glimpse of Ricks profile.

He looked so damn beautiful with the moonlight on his face. That light made Ricks eyes even more perfect, if possible. Even aliens from distant planets should be able to see that eyes shining now. And after drinking it seemes Ricks eyes were even more teary then normally. Such a sensitive, beautiful guy. I could never hurt him. I mustn't hurt him. That's why I have to keep him away.

„I think you both see something in me cause you want to see it. Doesn't mean it's there.“ „I know it's there.“ Rick insisted and tried to look Negan in his eyes, realizing the moon was reflecting in his dark lenses.

„Rick, you saw a lot of me. You know I'm not a good person. I told you.“ „No Negan. That people, the people we met today and people I met so many times in my life, they made you who you are. But that's not you.“ „No Rick. They didn't made me like this, I AM like this. And even your last fucking brain cells have to accept that one day.“ „So you say Lucille and me are wrong?“ Negan squeezed Ricks hand for a moment, somehow like it would say „don't let go“ before he whispered intensely „I think you both are hopeless romantics.“ and released himself out of Ricks arm, placing his hand back to himself.

Rick frowned. How could he always stick to his egomania when someone just tried to help him and be with him? This is how Lucille must have felt so many time before.

„I tried to prove her over and over again I'm not the person she wants. I thought I tried my best to prove you too.“ Negan added quietly.

Rick tried to ignore the last part and argued „But it only made her love you more, right?“ Negan shrugged, he didn't want to answer that anymore. „I think she saw right through your „I'm untouchable“ mind games. She knew you are a good person. And I know that too. That's why you are afraid of looking at me. I just wonder...why do you play the same game with me, when it led you to such a mess with her?“

Negan frowned at that sentence and sat up, pointing his finger at Rick with a furious look. „You are not her. This is different.“ Rick faced his rageful eyes, leaning in closer. This was the thing he was best in and he knew it. If Negan wanted to start an eye game he could have it.

Unimpressed he took Negans finger as he sat up and put his hand down. „I know I'm not her. I just wonder why you play the same games with me?“ „You don't have the right to assume you mean anything to me like she did, if you think that's the reason. You are my fucking enemy, Rick. She was not. Never.“ He pulled his hand away and clenched his teeth. „You made me your enemy long ago. But what if you didn't have to?“ „Oh I have to. Now more than ever.“ He groaned at Ricks face.

Rick didn't even realize that with every good word he said, the need for Negan to push him away grew bigger and bigger. He hated it so much that someone as good as Rick was encouraging him in anything. He didn't fucking deserve it and it made him furious, if Rick wanted to prove him otherwise. It made him freak with Lucille as well. Whenever he did something stupid and pushed her away, she hold onto him even closer. She loved him even more. How could she? And now Rick with his fucking baby blue eyes, trying the same, bit by bit destroying the self hate picture Negan painted of himself in his mind since he was a child. And Rick, different from Lucille, loved challenging him. He couldn't stop it. He even realized, Negan was only playing these games with him cause he does care for him, like for Lucille. He shouldn't know that by now. Not at any time. He wanted to avoid that at all costs. It made Negan crazy.

„But...what if you don't?“ Rick asked again, laying both of his hands on Negans cheeks to make him face him. Negan squirmed under his hands, closing his eyes, acting like every touch of Rick would burn his skin. He tried to release his head out of Ricks grip, but he pulled even closer while Negan just said „don't...“ like a beaten puppy with a broken voice. „Dammit, look at me.“ Rick urged him and pulled his face so close, that he could feel his breath on his skin.

Negan didn't dare to move. Ricks eyes caught him like a trap. He made the mistake to just look for a second and then felt like minutes later he was still staring. He couldn't escape from that.

Negan stopped turning his face, he just remained in that one position staring in Ricks eyes, that blue eyes he was swimming in like in the ocean.

Rick thought this was his only chance to get a real glimpse of him. The more he looked, the more he maybe would find the real Negan. That's why he didn't let him turn away. He wanted to find all the answers in that hazel eyes.

„I feel fucking exposed when looking in your eyes...“ Negan whispered, nearly like a beg to let him go. Right after saying it, he hated himself for that, regretting he let his thoughts been spoken. Now he felt even more exposed. Fucking wine.

For Rick it was the first concession he got. Something he could work with.

„So why do you do this to me?“ Rick asked, shifting his sight from one eye to the other, not sure if it was cause of the alcohol in his veins, making his eyes wander. Again and again.

Negan was close to imploding. The inferno in his chest hurt so much, that he was scared it would burst out of him any second. He wanted to tell Rick everything, his whole life, all his feelings, his weaknesses, his fears and the unconditional affection he had for this guy and the burden of knowing he shouldn't. But he couldn't. He just wanted Rick to stop asking.

Again Negan moved his face in Ricks hands to avoid his look and whimpered „I don't know...please.“ „You damn well know.“ Rick spit out sharply and let Negans face go.

Negan ran his hands over his face, like trying to wash the touch from his skin. He wanted to erase all of Ricks smell sticking on his face.

Of course he had a glimpse of the reasons why he was doing it to Rick. First of all because he was coming too close to his heart. But since he couldn't figure out the reasons following that fact, he prefered saying nothing before he figured it out by himself.

Rick sighed, running his fingertips through his hair, not being able to ignore Negans scent of cinnamon crawling through his nose, straight into his brain. He was wondering which one of them would lose their nerves first on each other. Who would break down first? Or would it just end with killing each other, cause of all the unspoken emotions? Rick was desperate.

„I tried. I really am trying here, Negan. But...you don't let me. And...I have to accept that, I guess. I give up.“

He rubbed his eyes and Negan wasn't sure if it was because he was tired, or the frustration led tears into Ricks best weapons.

„I know, I'm sorry.“ Negan said subdued, but Rick just gave him a „doesn't matter“ shrug and turned around, laying down again with his eyes closed. It seemed Negan won this game, but surprisingly it didn't satisfy him, it more felt like loosing.

Rick pinched his eyes so much, that no tear could run out. Giving up wasn't something Rick could accept. Neither something he ever wanted to do, but for now he saw no other chance. Maybe he just had to let go.

Suddenly he felt a weight on his side, some fabric closing around him. Negan placed his jacket on him and didn't allow him to turn away as he pressed his arms so close around Rick, that he was scared he had no air to breathe anymore. In the end Negan just hold his jacket close on Rick and just didn't want him to turn away.

Don't give up on me, Rick.“ Negan whispered against Ricks shoulder and stroked with his hand down Ricks arm to search his hand and lace with his fingers. „And don't you ever reject something again, when I offer it, especially when it comes to my jacket.“ he joked. Rick clinged his head against Negans on his shoulder and pulled his arm closer, embracing the hug with every inch of his skin.

I won't.“ „I know.“ Negan replied and kissed Ricks shoulder before resting his head behind Ricks, keeping him close to his chest.

Negans blanket was covering both of them, making it easier for Rick to crawl closer in Negans hug. As he breathed in deeply, he was focusing on that strong smell of wine and dirt of Negans neck. He smelled so damn strong. He knew why Lucille was holding onto him even more as she got sick. You just feel invincible when in this mans arms. With a smile on his lips Rick drifted off to a deep sleep, realizing that Negans arms didn't leave him for one second that night.

I wish I knew what you are thinking... Rick thought. How long can we keep this going on? How long can I deal with him? How did you do it, Lucille? How did you reach this mans heart?

 

 

Chapter Text

With the sunrise and light, shining like blood from the sun on their faces, Rick was the first one to wake up this time.

He was surprised that Negans arm was still around him and he still could feel his hand laced with his. Rick smiled to himself. Seems this time you weren't fast enough to ran off he thought. Maybe the wine made him sleep more deeply, Rick wanted to keep that in mind.

Negans breathing was so calm and Rick didn't want to break this moment, but he couldn't hold back the curiousity about watching him sleep. Would he still look like the monster he knew before? Or was he just like every other human being, sensitive and broken in his sleep.

Rick laid his head back to inhale the scent of Negans body. He was sure he never would forget how this man smelled. It made him feel so secure, that he wanted to keep the memory of it.

Slowly he moved out of Negans embrace, but never let go of his hand. He sat up next to him, stroking the other mans hand with his thumb and stared at his still closed eyes. His eyelashes were so long, it seemed like even his eyes were hiding from this world, did he always missed that fact before?

The look of Negan sleeping that calmly, like a not woken dragon, dragged Rick right into it's hole. He couldn't help himself and decided to lay down again, this time facing Negan. He rested his head right in front of his, their foreheads nearly touching.

The feeling of fear suddenly ran over Ricks back, like if he saw his own destruction laying right in front of him. It was like a garden of fear spreading in front of Rick and making him get lost in this labyrinth. This. All this will kill me, Rick convinced himself. I have to stop it. Why can't I stop it?

With his free hand he reached out for Negans face, his lips lightly open. He didn't dare to touch him cause suddenly Negan was frowning, like caught in a bad dream. Nightmares?

„Go away...“ Negan mumbled and moved his head, still caught in the dull of sleep.

In this moment Rick felt pity for him. He didn't want to, but he couldn't change it, it just came over him. He wanted to hate him so deeply, he wanted to think he deserved nothing less than nightmares all night long, but he couldn't. It somehow hurted him to see Negan like this.

If this would have been Lori, he would have waken her, comforting her with his hands. But for Negan? Everytime he tried to get closer to him he pushed away. And Rick was sure if he woke him now, he would do exactly the same. And Rick didn't want to loose his touch, that's why he even gave a little squeeze to Negans hand, not strong enough to wake him.

Negan let out a noise of pain, like something just crashed in his body. That was the moment Rick couldn't watch it anymore. He had to wake him.

„Negan, hey...“ His free hand reached Negans forehead, sliding his skin down to his cheek, to hold him close. Negan widened his eyes and looked at Rick like a hit deer. „What...“ he mumbled and his eyes wandered from Ricks hand to his eyes back to his hand on his cheek, before he closed his eyes again, breathing deeply in, to just lean into his hands for one short moment.

Stop it he shouted at himself, but this time his voices were too far away to listen to them. Negan raised his free hand to Ricks wrist on his neck and turned his inner palm on his lips, to kiss it.

Rick blinked in confusion. He didn't expected such a soft reaction from Negan, he thought he would back off any second. But then Negan did exactly that.

As Ricks scent reached Negans last screaming warnings in his mind, he opened his eyes again and crawled back, moving his face away from Ricks and releasing the touch of their hands. „Holy motherfucking hell...“ he groaned and sat up, which released their blankets, before he hid his face in both of his hands, sliding them over his sleepy head.

He watched you fucking sleeping like a sacred lover. You dragged him in much too close. You have to stop it right now. You can't torture him like that.

One of his hands searched for his leather jacket but before he could pull it close to him, Rick placed one hand on Negans and searched for his eyes from below. „Hey, Negan. It's fine, I'm here it was just a nightmare.“ Rick still hold onto the bitter hope that the confusion about the dream was making Negan back off.

Negans eyes moved to Ricks hands laying on his, but then looked up at Ricks soft smiling face and shook his head. „No, THIS is the nightmare.“ And it was, for him, cause it felt even harder pulling away now, than in his dream. He pulled his hand away, stood up and put his jacket on, avoiding Ricks shining eyes.

This fucking wine... How could I give in for the second time? What is this man doing to me that I just can't stay distant? It ruins everything...everything I built. Everything to get his respect, all their respect. I can't go on like this. I have to find my pride again.

Rick couldn't believe Negan would put on the same shit show like he did the day before. Whenever he had to feeling to get closer, Negan slid further away.

Everytime I touch you, I'm losing you.“ Rick whispered, hoping Negan overheard it, but he didn't. It actually made him stop finishing his belt. It was like a bullet right into Negans heart.

He instantly felt so sorry for his cruel behaviour and wanted to apologize for being such a dickhead, not allowing Rick to reach him. He bit his lower lip and searched for the right words to say. Rick told him yesterday he gave up on him anyways, why did he still try? Because Negan asked him to? Did he really wanted to go on? For him?

„Look, Rick. I need to head home, I have no time for this lovey dovey. So either you join me, or you stay here, I don't care.“ „You know, you don't have to emphasize all the time that you don't care, okay? I get it.“

Rick couldn't deal with this anymore, he just wanted to be back home in Alexandria. This back and forth drama was nothing he came for in the first place. Still he couldn't avoid the pain Negans words left behind.

Why do you even try?

Rick packed his things and meanwhile Negan couldn't lift his eyes from that smaller man. It always seemed like a special light was around Ricks moves. Everything he did, fighting, talking, sleeping and even packing seemed like a dance to him. And Negan had to swallow the words building in his mind. You're so damn beautiful, Rick. How dare you touching my rotten heart. Honestly, „how dare you?“

Rick stood up and looked at Negan. „Dare what?“

Realizing Rick heard the last question, Negan was pulled out of his day dream. „Watching me sleep.“ Negan couldn't come up with a better reason this time.

„Don't worry, I was just enjoying the sight of seeing you suffering from a nightmare. Maybe it was about loosing people you love? Because that's what you are best in.“ he argued and stepped forward, his bag in his hand.

If you would just know, Rick Grimes. I sure was never more afraid of something, like I was this morning. Cause I hate the fact of you leaving my side. I didn't want to wake up to that realization. It scared me even in my dreams. And even in my dreams I couldn't tell you to stay and pushed you away, the second big thing I was afraid to do today. And of course I did. As always. I'm so sorry, I hate to see you leave and still I give you no other choice.

Negan followed him quietly, just lowering his head to watch his steps instead of getting lost in Ricks glowing figure again.

 

 

***

 

I want you to stay with me.“ Negan smiled to Ricks soft words, enjoying the warmth of Ricks hand on his cheek with closed eyes.

There's nothing I want more than that. There's nothing else to reply than yes, I want the same. Still I can't get myself to saying it. The caressing of your hand, of your heart, it makes me so weak, it makes me loose every strength I need to go on. I can't have you. I can't hurt you. And I would. I'm a monster Rick. I'm a fucking psychopath, you said it yourself, enough times, to me. And this psychopath would break you. And if there's anything left to protect in this world, it's your heart. Cause it's so pure and golden that it melts even mine. And hell, no one could do that to me before. Even Lucille just did it to a certain point. And I'm so fucking scared of the fact you do, without even trying. And that's why I can't. You make me loose all my beliefs, all my morals of not giving in anymore. You make me want you so bad that I can't even breathe. And it scares me Rick. And there's no way of telling you that. There's no way of letting you know I'm melting right here into your hands. You would loose all respect and dammit, I would surely loose you completely then. And I can't. I rather chose to have you as my enemy, than loosing you at all in my life. Cause I can't loose someone like you again. I just can't. And I wish I could tell you all that. Telling it right into your face with your babyblue eyes. You deserve it. You deserve all of it. You deserve my truth and all the love in this world. But I can't give it to you. Cause even if you deserve the world, Rick, I deserve nothing at all. The least you. And I need to protect you from believing I'm a good person. Otherwise you will never give up and I need you to give up on me. Otherwise we both get lost in each other and get reckless in this world. And I can't have that. This world needs you. And I need you even more. I need you like air to breathe, you can't imagine how much it hurts me to let you go. But I have no other choice if I want to protect you. I couldn't save Lucille. But I have to save you. Even if that means protecting you from what you think you want.

Negan opened his eyes, leaning into Ricks touch. He had a bitter smile on his lips and just whispered the words he forced himself to say. „You need to let go of me Rick.“ „I don't want to.“ „You may not know it, but you clearly don't want this. That's why I tell you now that you don't want it. And you have to believe me. Please, go away.“

Ricks eyes were tearing up, he couldn't believe the words Negan was saying.

I can't...“ „You have to. Or I will force you to.“ Negan said now more confident, not sure if he tried to convince himself or Rick. He grabbed Ricks wrist and lowered his hand away from his face.

Ricks eyes just looked up to Negan again. „I won't leave until you tell me so.“ Negan had this pitiful smile in his face. It was so bittersweet that it hurt like a knife in his throat. Every word he forced himself to let out was like a pill he didn't want to swallow.

Go away.“

Ricks lips were shaking and Negan had to watch one tear rolling down Ricks cheek. It was like the last drop of poison Negan gave himself to drink. Breaking this mans heart was the cruelest thing Negan ever did. And it also was the biggest punishment he ever gave to himself, to watch it. There was only a monster left of what Negan was, he was now even more sure about that than ever.

With his last strength he tried to hold up the smile, while Rick faded into the darkness and Negan was shook by this familiar voice forming his name.

 

 

***

 

 

Rick would have loved to start a conversation again, asking all the questions running up and down his mind. But he wasn't sure if he wanted to hear the answers. Only thing he was sure of, was that Negan wouldn't give the truth anyways.

Why did he even start to trust this guy? What was it about him making him believe? Was it just Ricks stubborness in hoping for a better future or did Negan really had this good side in him worth fighting for?

After watching Negan silently in front of him for a while, he suddenly stopped. The forest ended here and they finally had a glimpse of the Sanctuary in front of them.

Instead of being relieved that their trip finally comes to an end, it was something else hitting Rick hard. He didn't want Negan to leave.

Rick bit his lower lip over the realization of that fact. He was ashamed of thinking like this and in his mind, he was already counting down the minutes he had left to speak some things out finally. But no matter how much he wanted to talk, to say anything, nothing came out.

Negan rised his arms and folded them behind his neck, out of excitement.

„Ahhhh....finally.“ he breathed in, inhaling the familiar scent of his so called home, but then he got a short glimpse of Rick over his shoulder. He just stood there, frozen like a stone. This man must be really glad that this shit comes to an end. I will make sure he won't have to suffer under my company any time soon.

„Rickyboy, come on enjoy the beautiful view of home with me.“

Rick lowered his gaze not daring to look at the taller man. He didn't want to ruin his joy about reaching their final spot and just tell him how disappointed he was, they still haven't figure out what this big elephant in the room was.

Rick stared at his hand. The same hand holding Negan that night. And also the night before. The same hand Negan kissed, even if he was only half awake then. He folded his hand to a fist and anger crawled up in him.

I should have just killed him when I had the chance. Believing he would change and open up to me was just a bittersweet lie I told myself. How could I be so naive, thinking there's anything good in this devil? On the contrary, he even made me kill the people he came out for. Now he can wash his hands in innocence and I'm the looser again. I'm a failure. I let everyone down in Alexandria for not taking the shot. For even worse, saving him. And for what? I stand here with nothing. He just gave me fucking nothing in return. And now I have to go home and tell everyone how much of a failure I am. I'm such a mess...

„Earth to Rick, do you copy man?“ Negan asked with his swinging upper body, stepping up to Ricks strained body. Rick didn't raise his eyes. He didn't dare to look at him for just one last time. He was too ashamed of himself. For believing. For trusting. For hoping. For...even liking this guy.

„You must be glad to be home, hm?“ Rick mumbled in disappointment.

Negan knit his eyebrows in confusion. „Well, not as much as you have to be, thinking about returning to your lovely family in Alexandria, buddy.“ „I'm not your buddy.“ Rick hissed and Negan crossed his arms in front of his chest.

„I don't fucking know who pissed in your coffee this morning...“ Oh he well knew who. „...but cheer up, cowboy. We're home! Or let's say, I'm home and you will be soon too. So give me a fucking smile, officer!“

Negan poked Ricks shoulder, just to lift the mood. He realized the fist in Ricks hand, tugging his nails so deep in his skin, that Negan knew exactly how much he wanted to punch him right now. And thank god he was at that point now again. He worked so hard for the hate getting back to Rick and now here it was. Hate was something he could deal with a lot better.

„Wanna have a little goodbye fight here or what's the goddammn grimly face here for?“

Rick concentrated on his breathing. He didn't want to snap again, not after all that happened. He had enough of fighting, he never wanted to kill someone again. Not that fast. Not Negan. But hell, he could swear the urge to punch him was still there.

„Well, if there's no goodbye from you here, I will just leave you now, I hate goodbyes you know? And this one is hard to swallow.“ And I mean it, Negan was thinking. I wish you knew how much I mean it. How much it scares me to get nothing out of you Rick. Silence kills me.

He leaned forward, but Rick still was lost in his furious look, trembling under his rage. „Well, you never have been the talky one, right? So...take a truck at the entrance, I will tell Arat to get you one. Until then, ta-ta.“

Negan turned around and the last bit of his scent crossed Ricks nose, making him lift his eyes finally, just following Negans back.

„Wait.“ Negan stopped instantly and gave a wave with his head, to look behind him. „What is it Rickyboy?“

Rick thought about his next words. He wanted to say something right. Something to get out of this situation with some last pride. But he didn't found the words he searched for. Left was only „See you at the next pick-up.“.

Reality hit Negan hard, when pick-ups were mentioned. He had the short temper, only thinking about one day at a time, so he totally forgot he couldn't avoid Rick from now on. There were still things to manage and the deal they had.

I can't see him again. Not after all that happened, he thought to himself. I don't know how much longer I can hold onto the facade I try to play so well. I feel it trembling right now as well.

„Don't wait for me, there.“ he mentioned, as if it wasn't worth it anyways.

Rick wrinkled his eyebrows and didn't understand at first, but then thought of course he needs to avoid me. Coward.

Ricks eyes softened from the rage, which was slowly fading. Now it was sorrow being left behind. Oh how much he hated goodbyes. And how much he hated that a goodbye to Negan would ever hurt so much.

„So...you just leave now?“ he stuttered and Negan heard his voice breaking. This voice, sounding like singing angels, already made him dizzy and close to loosing control again, just wanting to hug the shit out of him.

„What should I do otherwise?“ He asked and Rick replied insecure „I don't know. It's...just strange.“

For one moment Rick knew he had to swallow his pride now and finally speak up. „You want me to return to Alexandria like nothing happened?“

His words cut the heavy dust, resting in the air, like blades and one of it hit right into Negans chest. Of course Rick wanted to talk about it. It's fucking lovey dovey Rick. Why did I even get involved with this prick, I knew he was too sensitive.

„And in your words, what did you think happened here, Rick?“

Rick swallowed and stepped just an inch closer. „I don't know, you tell me.“

Negan frowned and turned his head back to look forward, focusing on the Sanctuary, to avoid Ricks ice blue eyes.

„Nothing happened. You helped me with my shit, I thanked you for it, that's it.“ „That's it?“ Rick shouted. „I thought we...we were building something here!“

Rick stepped even closer and Negan closed his eyes lowering his head.

Building something. Only a sensitive sweetheart like Rick could put it like this. And yes, they built something. Something which shouldn't have been built. And Negan had to crash these walls down, after they worked so hard on them.

Nevertheless, Negans words came softer than he intended. „Rick, you want to be with your family in Alexandria and I get it. Your sweet angel Judith sure can't wait for her big daddy to come home. That's why I let you go.“ I have to let you go he wanted to add, but at least he managed to swallow that.

„Of course I want to go back to Judith. But...“ Rick closed the distance between them and stood right behind Negans back, his breath striving his ear while talking „...what do you want?“

Negan was caught like an animal, when Ricks scent crossed over his ear, right to his nose, making his mind all coocoo crazy.

„It doesn't matter...“ he whispered so lightly, that Rick nearly missed it. Eventhough Rick put one hand on his shoulder and made him turn around. „It does to me.“

Rick couldn't help it and changed his look into the most angelic face Negan ever saw. It nearly felt like an absolution, like everything was forgiven and Negan just had to speak what he wants and gets it granted.

But that's not what Negan could believe in. He wanted to, but his dark core hold him back.

„Stop looking at me like this Rick.“ „Why?“ „Because it drives me fucking nuts, goddammit!“ Negan shouted out, to his own surprise.

He was panting, like he just ran for his life, that's how much he needed to surpress all his running thoughts, he'd loved to serve on a silver plate. He'd wished to start mentioning, that he believed Ricks eyes could solve every next world war, because they were so fucking sacred.

What is this mans problem with my eyes, Rick wondered. I wish he would just tell me what he thinks looking at them.

Rick tried to hold his smile which drove Negan even more insane. He ran his hands through his hair to release his look on that babyblue mess and mumbled. „Fine. To put this shit behind us I offer you one last thing. You have one wish. Anything. Just ask or it and I will do it for you. But you have to stop looking at me like this. For real.“

Rick had his face covered in surprise. What was he talking about?

Anything. If you want us to stop the pick ups, fine. If you want to have peace with us and your family in safety, fine. I even would steal a goddamn horse for you if it makes you happy. But please, stop looking at me like this. I can't take it anymore.“ Negan let out in despair.

He was close to loosing his mind. He was close to tell Rick what he was thinking and most of all, feeling all that time. To avoid that he would have done anything. And even if he hoped Rick wouldn't accept what ever he offers and just keeps pushing, offering peace was the first thing coming into Negans mind, if he wanted any chance to make Rick stop. It was a desperate shot, but he needed to get out of here.

Rick still wasn't believing what he heard. „Anything?“ „Yes, just say it. The offer stands now, and only now. You have ten seconds.“ Negan needed to give some pressure here, trying to safe his stupid ass from that stupid offer.

Rick met his eyes and realized Negan was serious. And he was true to his words, right?

There was nothing he wanted more than peace for his family. Safety for people in Alexandria, the Hilltop and all the other communities they may have not found yet. That was the chance he waited for. If for anything, this trip could be finally worth it's price. He had to take it.

Negan counted. „...five....“ and in Ricks head all thoughts ran so fastly, that he couldn't even order all of them. There was a part of him trusting Negan so much already, that he thought, he doesn't have to make peace here and now, cause it would come anyways. He wanted to believe Negan makes that choice by himself one day, without Rick begging. He believed in his heart. This side of him was too curious what all this was about, what it all meant, why Negan played him so much and why he even let him. He wanted to know all that. And this was maybe his last chance to ask, knowing Negan was on the edge under his eyes.

„...one...“ Rick stepped forward with a raised chest in front of him, like a lion trying to make it's stand. He had one last shot. There was only one wish Negan would never fullfill if Rick wouldn't ask. He knew that by knowing Negans push away tactic now. He had to ask for it. He had to try.

„Kiss me.“

„What?“ Negan stuttered out of disbelief.

Oh please not Grimes, everything, I fucking would have given you everything, you stupid shithead. Why the fuck didn't you just take it? Why do you have to push me again? Why?

„Goddammit, kiss me you motherfucking asshole.“ Rick repeated and let his eyes sink in Negans so deeply, that he nearly had the feeling of moving right into his brain, playing him like a marionette.

Negan chuckled, maybe out of despair. He couldn't believe Rick really asked for it. Not after all he offered him.

„I won't ask a third time. Don't embarass me more than I feel already, please.“ he mumbled with annoyance, but also a tone of need.

Negan lost himself in Ricks stare. All he could bring up was a smirk.

„You won't recover from it, Rick. You would fall so desperately and deeply in love with me right here and right now, when I do it. You really want that?“ It was more a question for Negan himself, but he hoped Rick, would swallow it anyhow. But one thing he didn't incorporated was, that Rick already crossed that point before. Maybe it was too late to assume he could back off his overwhelming feelings at this point. Negan didn't even think about the possibility of some kind of love for him. Especially from Rick.

That's why he was surprised as Rick just answered „Yes, I am.“, confident as ever.

Well that didn't play out well. He could have bet Rick would turn it down now, but that goddamned prick couldn't let go. As always. He had to try one last time.

Negan stepped closer and rested one hand on Ricks cheek, caressing its skin softly, that Rick only leant into it, falling like someone just opened the ground.

„I was damn sure you would ask for freedom, Rick. For peace. And all you want is my wet tongue in your mouth. You're pretty damn modest indeed, my prince.“

„Stop talking and just do it.“ Rick challenged him, his eyes clinging onto Negans.

Negan moved his face so close, that he could feel Ricks breath on him. Like in sweet expectation, Negan opened his lips lightly and slid his tongue over his teeth.

You are so beautiful. How many times do I have to scare you off, that you leave me Rick? How many times do I have to tell you, your eyes kill me? You could ask for anything, I couldn't turn down one single wish this eyes are begging for. It's a shame to admit, but you play me like a violine. I'm wax in your hands. And still...

Negan closed his eyes and lifted his head to kiss Ricks forehead so sweetly, that Ricks heart just fell right into Negans hands. Both with closed eyes breathed in deeply, saving this moment in their heads, carving it into their brains like razors on skin.

This sweet angelic moment was broken by the soft whispering of Negans words against Ricks skin. They sounded so sadly, so needy for acceptance, that it nearly broke Ricks heart. „I can't. That's all I can give you.“

He released his lips and backed off, following Ricks eyelids which were still trembling, not daring to open his eyes. „No please...“ Negan heard Rick whimpering but just replied „Rick, don't. For your own good.“ , like exhorting a child, not knowing what's best for it.

Rick damned himself. He never cursed so much at someone like at himself in this moment. He should have asked for peace, not for another turn down.

Negan turned around and chuckled to himself, proud of his win against his own heart. Now he will finally be scared off and not come close to me again. Not after he pushed that wish down so cruely.

Out of the sudden, something broke Negans satisfaction instantly. Rick grabbed for his wrist and pulled him close to his chest, both of his hands clinging on Negans shirt, his head resting under his chin. He hold him close like a crying child.

Negan never experienced someone so broken, so desperately clinging onto him. Even Lucille crying on his chest, as she told him about her illness, wasn't that heartbreaking. It nearly seemed Rick lost all sense of pride for him. For just one small sign of affection of Negan, the monster himself.

Before Negan could react Rick lifted his head to kiss Negans neck and he couldn't help, but let out a moan through his opened lips. Right after giving into that small sound, he blamed himself for letting Rick hear that weak noise of giving in. Negan wasn't even allowed to be satisfied, not by Ricks touch.

His hands wandered helplessly to Ricks cheeks, like he had never done that before.

This overwhelming feeling of wanting to keep this man close and answering all his longing with kisses all over his face, made his hands shake. It was like searching for a needle in the dark, as he finally found his face, loosing orientation cause of the arousal raising in his hips.

Oh please...please stop. „Rick...“ He grabbed his cheeks and felt like fighting for his life, when he surpressed the urge to kiss him with all he had. Rick was trying to reach his neck again, parting his lips but Negan tightened the grip on his face. „Stop it.“

Rick felt like a vampire smelling the blood and it was like an addiction, he needed to give in. Negans skin was like a magnet, pulling him in so deeply, that he couldn't hold back from fighting against Negans grip.

„I want...“ „You need to stop now, Rick. It’s not what you want.“ Negan wasn't sure where this sudden passion and longing came from, he assumed Rick just sucked in goodbyes, even more than he expected. But if he wouldn't stop now, Negan would give in and lose control. He hated that feeling and wanted to stop it. It hurt so much to fight against what his heart was screaming for. But one thing about truely caring for someone, included putting the other ones wellbeing over your own. He had to stop him for his own good.

Negan lifted Ricks head to look in his eyes, even if they cut his heart in pieces.

„You have to beg me to stop.“ Rick whispered and a hot, sharp shiver ran over Negans back.

Dammit Rick, if you would know how much begging makes me uncontrollable. I want you so much right now. Why are you doing this to me? Why do I always have to be the reasonable one?

„Please stop. Otherwise...I can't...“ otherwise I can't promise not to fuck you, right here. But holding onto his last straw, he swallowed that last words, biting his lower lip harshly. Before Rick could go on, Negan pushed him away and groaned, letting all the pain and longing out, putting it in his fist, which just met Ricks face.

Rick grunted out of pain and surprise, staring with wide eyes at Negan, who had his teeth clenched. The lust in his body let him no other choice but to change this energy into rage.

Rick had his hand placed on his cheek and couldn't even react anymore.

Negan was panting. Surpressing his endless longing for Ricks nearness was the most exhausting thing he ever did in his life. A close death experience was a nice run on a ferry wheel compared to that. The lust and arousel swallowed all the words he wanted to say. All that was left was the endless need for wild and painful sex, to let the energy run out of his body filled with adrenline. He prayed to all the gods he never believed in, that Rick wouldn't come one inch closer now.

„I warned you not to challenge me again.“ Negan grunted under his hard breathing.

As his mind finally came back to him, letting the pain in his face fade, Rick just thought I really thought you wanted me to, seems I never was so wrong in my life before.

„I'm sorry.“ he replied with shame in his voice.

Negan breathed deeply and tried to scoff „It's fine, my sexual attraction is just unresistable, I get it. But I didn't ask for you to fucking kiss me. Get yourself a wife for that, will you? And now go home to your Alexandrian-family. Let them praise you, out of my sight. Ta-ta.“

Negan couldn't even wait to turn around and leave to the Sanctuary, his steps as big and heavy as they could be, nearly running from his very own killer chasing him.

He had to get as far away as possible from this man, this eyes, this scent...this fucking beautiful and mind eating creature. If he would just look back for one second now, he would have run to him and steal every kiss he could get from that lips. So he couldn't.

But dammit, he really tried to kiss him. Motherfucking Rick Grimes. If Negan wouldn't feel like a damned ashamed and kicked puppy now, like a coward Rick exposed, he would feel flattered, but all remaining was the self hate, growing with every step he made. Only reward he got, were the voices in his head laughing at him, same voices who told him before to back off, now laughed about the fact he did. What a fucking nonsense.

What a pathetic human you are. You could have had him right here right now, for once in your life getting something you truely wanted. But you run away just to whine about how lonely you are, when you're in your room.

You deserve that shame. You deserve that Rick never even looks at you anymore. He saw now which cruel, heartless monster you are. He will never make a step forward again. You lost him. You ruined it. „But only for his good“ Negan screamed at himself, eventhough making his hands to fists, cause the urge to punch himself for turning Ricks affection down, wanted to make him hurt himself so badly.

How could you break that mans heart? How could you, you cruel motherfucker? Rick offered to fix you and you turn him down, to stay your broken pathetic shadow of yourself. Coward.

His steps turned into running cause he needed to get home and fuck his wives as fast as he could, to get Ricks image out of his head. That blue eyes. That fucking blue eyes. They get me everytime. This was too fucking close, Negan. Never look in his eyes again. Or even better, never face him again.

In this moment, Negan made the decision, he couldn't meet Rick anytime soon. He didn't allow it. This time for his own good.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Rick was still shaking in shock as Negan turned his back on him and left.

What the fuck did just happen? Did Rick really turn down his one chance for freedom and peace? He knew that he lost himself a long time ago, but he never expected his soul was lost that much in darkness already. How could he even turn back to Alexandria with a lifted head?

Rick didn't know how much time went by before he stepped to the entrance of the Sanctuary, where Arat waited for him with a car already. She had her arms crossed and gave him a fierce look. Did Negan say anything about what happened before?

Ricks eyes searched for the taller man and his leather jacket, searching for his scent, but it was gone and Negan was nowhere to be seen. Fucking coward.

 

He sighed and stepped up to Arat with a lowered head.

„Seems you need a ride.“ Arat mumbled and Rick lifted his eyes to her. Her look was cold as ice, unreadable. „So you drive me?“ Arat raised an eyebrow. „You didn't expect us to just give you a car?“ Truth was, Rick didn't know what to expect anymore.

„Where's Negan?“ Rick asked shyly and Arat gave him a confused look. „Boss has things to handle. You're not one of it.“ Oh I'm not sure about that, Rick thought to himself. But of course he ran off, what did Rick hoped for here?

Arat opened the drivers door and slid in, waiting for Rick to join her. He sighed and went in next to her, closing the door behind him and looked out of the window during the drive.

It seemed to be the longest drive he ever had in his lifetime.

 

Arat let her eyes wander to her side from time to time, trying to figure out what happened to them out in the woods. She saw the blood on Ricks shirt and his shaking hands. Seemed her boss had really played him badly. Especially the mark on Ricks lip left her wondering.

„What happened to your foot?“ she asked out of nowhere, she must have been recognizing Ricks weird walking before. „Just a little accident.“ Rick mumbled. „Yeah, Negan provokes these.“ she answered and Rick had to grin about that fact. „He sure does.“

His hand went through his hair still trying to figure out, how he should face his family back at home.

When reaching the last crossing to Alexandria, Arat suddenly asked „So, what is it between you two? Is it some kind of sick friendship from the past or what?“

Rick wondered and looked at her in surprise. „Why do you ask?“ She shrugged and didn't lose focus on the street ahead them. „Just wondering. He is indeed a mad man, but his strange obsession about you always led to questions no one of us found answers to.“

Rick still didn't understand. Obsession? That's how they call it? Seemed Rick was more obsessed about Negan, than the other way around.

„So you assume we have a history.“ „This kind of connection is rare. There must be some kind of story behind it.“ Rick had to grin about that. If he would only know...

His shoulders shrugged „I honestly don't know.“ Arat seemed surprised and gave Rick a serious look as she lowered the speed. „So there's no past.“ „No.“ Rick shook his head and bit his lower lip in tension. Seeing the gates of Alexandria in front of him, let him feel more shame than excitement. He failed them all and now they surely expected something coming out from this. And he came with empty hands.

 

Arat stopped the car and the engine. „Hm, strange. Then you both are just two sick, lost souls who found each other, I guess.“ She left the car and crossed her arms again.

Rosita on the gates didn't look amused when spotting Arat, but as Rick stepped out of the car, mostly unhurt, she just gave the sign to open the gate.

Rick send her a short forced smile and then looked back to Arat. „Thank you, I guess.“ „Just doing as told.“ She got her walkie out and spoke „Puppy is home, boss.“. Ricks heart sank into his stomache, as he waited to hear the familiar voice come back from the walkie. Please, I just wanna hear you.

„Copy. Will tell him when he's finished with Lucy.“ Of course. Only Simons voice was answering. And Lucy surely was one of his wives.

Arat frowned. „You fucking tell him now, he made this priority.“ There was an annoyed sigh from the other side and Simon answered „Copy.“ Priority?

Arat gave Rick a nod and stepped back into the car, turning it and leaving instantly.

Rick couldn't lift his eyes from her car, wishing he could go with her to stop Negan from running from himself. But he couldn't.

 

„Rick!“ Michonnes voice and her hug got Rick right back to reality. He barely could return her touch and tried to get his forced smile up. As she let go of him, she rested her hands on his cheeks, giving him a flashback of just a few moments ago. That's why he instantly grabbed her hands and put them down. „Are you okay, Rick?“ she asked in confusion and he just nodded, saying nothing.

She saw his eyes were close to breaking and she frowned, not knowing what was going on. „What did he do to you?“ she whispered and looked down on his shirt, recognizing the blood all over. „Daddy!“

Judith ran into the scenery and Rick finally could turn his fake smile into a warm one, kneeling down to his girl and hugging her tightly. „Princess. How are you beautiful? Did you grow the last two days? You look so happy! Did Mama Michonne spoil you, hm?“ Judith jumped in his arms and he stood up holding her close to his chest.

She tugged his head and poked his lips, which he returned with kissing her fingers. „Nah, you didn't forget Papas exhausted, old face did you?“ He ignored Michonnes worried look and just stepped through the gates, leaving her behind him in confusion.

 

She stepped inside after him and crossed her arms next to Rosita. „He's in one piece.“ Rosita mentioned. „Yeah, on the outside.“ Michonne mumbled.

Rosita gave her a shifted head view. „What do you think?“ „I'm not sure yet. But I'm on it.“ Michonne replied and gave her a smile, squeezing her shoulder for a brief moment before she followed Rick to their house.

 

***

 

Rick sat down with Judith on the front porch and hold her close on his lap. He tried to focus on the smell, her soft hair gave him. Its scent was sweet and innocent, so very different from the smell he got from Negan. Still he somehow wished he could combine these two smells in one, holding them both close. But he couldn't.

While Judith was babbling, he always kissed her head and moved her small hands to the side, playing with her moves.

Michonne rested her side against the open door frame and just watched them for a while, her smile lightly breaking cause of her worries. She closed her eyes for a while, trying to remember Ricks and Judiths soft laughs.

There was nothing in this world making her feel safer than this sound. Even after loosing Carl, she was able to see the good moments and she even tried harder to keep them in focus, for Rick. It still hurt that Carl couldn't see it himself, but she knew every moment like this was worth it. And Rick surely did everything to follow Carls dream, that's why she was convinced, behind all this was a plan. She found no other explanation why not Negan himself should have brought him back, but just Arat. Without fighting, without complaining.

 

Michonne breathed in deeply and opened her eyes again, resting her eyes on the back of Ricks head, forming a bigger smile when just seeing his long curls, spreaded over his neck. She loved that hair so much.

„So, you wanna tell me what happened between you two out there?“ she finally asked and recognized Rick resting his lips now on Judiths head, not moving back and forth anymore. He seemed to be lost in thoughts, trying to avoid that topic by all costs.

What should I tell her? Rick asked himself and stared into the void.

As she got no answer, Michonne moved away from the doorframe and stepped forward, in front of Rick and Judith, resting her back against the fence, with her hands to her sides resting on the white wood. She tilted her head and tried to catch Ricks eyes. „Rick? Talk to me.“ she whispered with such a soft tone, that it nearly broke Ricks heart. He knew she just wanted to help, but the shame in his veins, stole every word he wanted to say. Like a beaten puppy he slowly looked up to catch her eyes and wished she could read what he thought, so he doesn't have to speak it out loud. I failed you, he thought. I failed all of you and now I don't dare to admit it. Still there was only silence left.

Michonne sighed and stepped closer to both of them, kneeling down to look in Judiths face instead. „We should bring her inside, I think you are in bigger need of comfort right now than she is.“ She leaned forward to kiss Judiths forehead and looked up in that broken and sad blue eyes. Ricks look was so different from all she saw before and it caused an ache in her heart. She just couldn't leave it by that. With her lips she formed the word „please“, but didn't speak them.

Trying to surpress the tears coming up in his eyes, Rick gulped and sighed, before he gave her a short nod. She deserves the truth. But what was the truth?

Rick exhaled deeply and raised with Judith on his arm to step inside and bring her to her room.

 

He recognized Carls hat resting on the cupboard and it brought even more shame up in him. What if Carl would be here now? Would he be disappointed that Rick didn't ask for peace? Or would he be proud that his father was one time open about his longings? He wished he could ask him right now.

He grabbed the hat and placed it on Judiths head. „I come back soon, sweetheart. Carl will watch over you now.“ Judith gave him the purest smile a child could give and Rick stepped back to the hallway, where Michonne was waiting with crossed arms. „Let's go downstairs“ Rick mumbled and Michonne followed him to the living room.

 

He sat down on the couch, resting his arms between his legs and leaned forward, playing with his own hands, to not look up.

Michonne sat down across him and put her forehead in folds, recognizing Ricks nervousness and shame right away. She felt so sorry for him without even knowing what happened. But his weak eyes told her it had been something bad.

„What happened to your foot?“ Michonne finally asked, just to start with something, Rick could maybe answer easily.

Rick grinned painfully for a short moment and then mumbled „I hurt myself when we were attacked by walkers.“ The fingers of his right hand slid over his left wrist, giving it a squeeze to hold himself in this reality. The pressure on skin reminded him he was still here.

„So, it wasn't him?“ Rick shook his head and released his hands to go through his hair and hide his head behind his palms. „He saved me.“ Michonne frowned, not believing what she just heard. „What do you mean, he saved you?“

Rick sighed and breathed in deeply, before he let his hands fall in his lap and finally looked in her eyes, now with a serious look, like trying to convince her of something.

„I fell down, couldn't move cause I was trapped and he saved me from that walker.“ Michonne still needed to figure out if Rick just was making up a story, but she didn't want to make him feel insecure when he finally speaks up. „I see... but why didn't you come back after you were hurt?“

Rick bit on his lips and tried to search the level of belief in her eyes. He surely sounded so stupid to her and it would get only worse from this. „He bandaged my foot. It wasn't that bad. I could still walk and he needed me for something...“ „For what?“ Rick sighed and turned his head to look out of the window, his fingers still laced in each other. „Some people of the sanctuary were killed and the guy who did this wanted Negan to find him. They knew each other from the past.“

Michonne laid back in the armchair and crossed her arms. „But why taking you? He has tons of people in the sanctuary who could help him. Why you?“

Yeah, why me. Same question Rick was asking Negan before. Of course now he knew why Negan chose him, or he thought he knew at least. But could he tell that to Michonne?

„He didn't want to cause too much attention. First he wanted to go alone but...he said he trusts me. He considers me as the best fighter he knows. Thats why he took me.“ Michonne blinked in confusion. „He trusts you?“

Before Michonne could ask any further, Rick decided to avoid the backstory to this topic and looked back at her eyes. „Look, it doesn't matter. He needed to find these guys and I helped him. They were fucking assholes trying to torture us. We killed them, end of story.“ Michonne couldn't believe how Rick could just talk about it, like it was the most usual thing in this world. Rick and Negan going out to fight guys from their past. If people in Alexandria would hear that, they would fall down in disbelief for Rick.

It doesn't matter? You gotta be kidding me, Rick. It does matter. Why did you even help him? Why didn't you come back and let these men kill him?“ Rick nodded in understanding and moved his hands up, like protecting himself from the wall of questions which were to come.

„I know, I know. But... he saved me before, Michonne. I owed him to help him. So I did.“ „Owing him? This is fucking bullshit, Rick. If anyone owes anyone something, then Negan owes us a whole other life! Lifes to be concrete. You owe him nothing!“ „You're wrong! I owe him a chance! For Carl!“ Rick screamed out suddenly, his voice sounding like nothing less than pain only.

By hearing his name Michonnes heart sank into her stomache. She wanted to contradict him, but she heard the breaking of Ricks voice when speaking his name and didn't want to break this moment of him grieving about Carl.

She had to swallow hard and then leaned forward to reach for Ricks hands, which were shaking. She closed her own hands around his and gave him a shivering, soft smile. „I understand, Rick. It's fine. You know you have me in your back in every decision you make. If you took the chance to help him to start the move to peace, I get it. You were right.“

Rick looked deeply in her eyes, shifting from left to right while his throat was blocked by the urge to cry, crawling up in him. He wanted to say something but he lost all his words.

„Look, it's a good thing he trusts you now. It's a good thing you helped him, his trust even grew now. Maybe if we continue like this, there will be the possibility of him listening to us. Listening to our dream of peace.“ That struck Ricks heart right like a knife. Their dream of peace? Negan was the one offering him peace and he didn't take it. It was his fault alone that they didn't have what they wanted to reach for Carl. Negan wasn't the asshole not listening, it was Rick being egoistic, ruining it all.

„He...he offered me peace.“ Rick pressed out of his throat finally, scared to death of Michonnes reaction.

She looked at him as if he just spoke in an unknown language. „He offered you what?“ Her hands squeezed Ricks out of shock and he tried, not to lower his gaze. If he makes a mistake big like that, he should at least have the balls to stand up for it.

„I...didn't take it.“ Michonne blinked and let go of his hands, slowly. „But...why?“ Rick suddenly stood up and started walking around the room, his hands in his hair, pulling it over and over again.

„At first I didn't believe him. But... it was not the right time. He offered it just to shut me down. And I didn't want to shut down. I wanted answers. If there is peace, he should decide it for himself, not out of necessity.“ „Necessity? Why in hell should he offer peace out of necessity? Why did he want to shut you down? What did you say?“ „I pushed him...“ Rick couldn't stop walking around, his nervousness eating him up from inside and every step which hurt, reminded him of the pain in his heart, Negan left on him.

Michonne couldn't take it anymore and stood up, taking his wrist and turning him to face her. „Nothing in the fucking world I would consider pushing him too much. It's not your fucking fault. So finally be honest with me. What did he do to you?“

Rick still couldn't believe that Michonne still hold onto her trust on him as a leader. Why was she so convinced it would have been something Negan did to him, instead of the other way around?

„Nothing!“ he barked back and Michonne frowned. „He fucking tore you apart. I see it with every word you say. You protect him suddenly. You call other people assholes who wanted to kill him, while he is the only asshole we should concentrate on. Your eyes are filled with pain while your face looks like being beaten up. And you still tell me he did nothing to you? If you don't tell me how he tortured you this time, after all the torture we already went through, I will drive right now to the Sanctuary and fucking finish him. I can't see you like this, Rick. How did he break you like this? Tell me! What did he take from you?“ My heart, Rick thought, but of course swallowed right away.

Michonne was angry. It was more her worries which made her rage go up now, but in this moment seeing the person she loved the most, being that ashamed and broken, made her forget all the promises she made to Carl. In this moment she just wanted to punish Negan for hurting the man she loved.

Rick turned the wrist in Michonnes hand to get a grip of her wrist instead, pulling her closer. „Don't. Promise me you won't go there. Promise me you won't hurt him.“ Michonne backed off in disgust and disbelief. She must have been in a nightmare. Negan stole her Rick and now she was left with this shadow of himself.

She stepped back, getting her wrist free and touched her skin with her other hand on the spot, Rick just let go of.

„You suddenly...care about him. You care about him more than me. More than us.“ Rick shook his head instantly and stepped forward with one raised hand, to underline his words. „I don't care about him more than you or anyone here. I'm sorry, Michonne. I really am. I should have taken the peace he offered me, I know that. I was stupid and egoistic thinking he would give me the answers I needed but...“ „What kind of answers are that which you need so desperately?“ she asked in bitterness.

Rick frowned and pressed his teeth together. „Please, Michonne. I fucked up, I know. But I'm trying to build something here, for Carl. If you don't trust me, fine. But trust in Carls dream. I know we can make it happen. And I hope for it more now, maybe there's a better chance now. I promise all I do is to keep us all safe here. I don't want to fight anymore. I don't want you to fight anymore. And I don't want Negan to fight. I just... want to make it right. Not because of despair or the last resort. But because everyone wants it. Everyone decides for it. You hear me? It was not the right time. But there will be a next time. I make it up to you all. I promise.“

Michonne breathed heavily and wanted to punch Rick in the face. But the sad tone in his speaking didn't let her. The way he spoke out Negans name, made her sick in her stomache. She knew there was something more behind his words, but for now, this was everything she got. So she took it.

„Okay. I trust your decisions Rick. I try to. Even now. If you say it was not a real offer of peace and not the right time, I hope the right time will come soon. I don't understand it, but I wasn't there. And there's defnitely more to the story you don't want to tell me right now.“ She pointed with one finger at his lip which made him instantly slide his thumb over it again, giving him all the flashbacks of the last nights, but he said nothing.

„For now, you earnt his trust, which is good. It could give us time. And maybe...even if I don't like that imagination, there will be another time where you can get him to adjust peace. I hope so. For all of us.“ She lowered her hand again and breathed out deeply.

„Thank you. I appreciate your trust, I really do. And I'm sorry... I just...the last days really fucked me up I guess.“ „Oh, I see that.“ Michonne agreed and then stepped closer again to slide Ricks hair out of his face, resting both her palms on his cheeks.

„Have a shower now. And get your foot checked. You look horrible.“ Rick smiled and leaned against her hands, resting his hands on hers and mumbled „thank you.“

He then lowered their hands and stepped away to the stairs, just adding a short „will you take care of Judith until I'm back?“. Michonne sighed and followed him to the hallway, resting her side against the doorframe and crossing her arms while watching him step up. „of course I will.“ „Thank you.“

He left to the bathroom and Michonne closed her eyes again, trying to figure out what just happened. What on earth could be more important than taking the peace when it's offered? This must be a new twisted mind game Negan invented and he was fucking good in it. Rick was right under his spell. And she was scared of the look she saw in his eyes, as he wanted her to promise, to not hurt Negan. He sounded so desperate. There was so much begging. The same begging she heard before, when Negan wanted to hurt Carl. Something so deep from his heart, that it could melt pure ice. He really started to care about Negan and didn't want to admit it. And it ate Michonne up. For such a long time she wished to hear that voice when it was about her. And now she heard it when Negan was mentioned. It scared her and made her furious. Even jealous. Why should she be jealous of Negan? It's fine that Rick started to like him, he needed to trust him as well if they ever wanted true peace. But this was something different from just liking someone. It was deeper. And maybe that's why Rick avoided to talk more. And that's also why Michonne was jealous.

I swear to god, when you steal his heart, I can't promise to not kill you, Michonne said to herself, hoping her thoughts would reach Negan. With gritting teeth and fists in her hands she went up the stairs to enter Judiths room.

 

***

 

Rick entered his bedroom and sat down on the bed, he needed to catch some air. It was relieving that he managed to keep his feelings in his heart, mostly to himself, but nevertheless the pain caused by the shame, remained the same.

He took off his jacket and threw it on the ground, resting his eyes for a while on the dark fabric, reminding him of the black leather Negan always wore.

Slowly he slid his fingers over his watch to take that off as well and sighed before he rested it next to him.

With his hands he went through his hair again, before he slowly lifted one leg to take of the first shoe. What am I doing? He asked himself and after getting rid of the first boot, he lifted his hurt foot, realizing the pain faded under all the tension before. But now, sitting quiet and alone in his room, it came back.

Slowly he took of the other boot and looked at the white bandage wrapped around his skin. His right hand stroked about the fabric and he smiled weakly to himself. It felt like he had some kind of trophy from the last nights. Like from a long lost boyfriend which just came into his life again. Boyfriend? What the hell Grimes, you're loosing your mind.

He shook his head over his own thoughts and slowly stood up, to put down his jeans and boxers and then opening his shirt, to let it find its way to the ground as well, before he finally stepped under the shower.

He rested his arms against the walls and let the water pour down on him, like a warm embrace. With his eyes closed, he just tried to focus on the wet feeling running down his skin, like running all his dirty thoughts and actions away.

How could he disappoint all that people who he cares so much for? Michonnes disappointment was written all over her face and she was the only person being that close to him that she could at least accept it. But how would others react? But maybe it wasn't needed to mention his chance for freedom. Maybe he should concentrate on telling them, he managed to get closer to Negan and calm him down. But did he even calm him down? Or would he just come back again like usual business? Or would he even come back himself or just avoid seeing Rick? Oh please not, I just want to see your face again and know you're okay. We're okay.

Thinking about his face, got an image of Negans characterizing smirk in his mind and Rick couldn't help that twisting feeling rising in his stomache, like a smitten teenager. But when usually that kind of feeling made Rick bloom, in this moment, it only signed his damnation. Developing feelings for the enemy was nothing Rick had felt before and he hated himself for letting himself get that far. Getting played by Negan was something he forbid himself the first time he met him. And still he did. Getting him right where he wanted him. Thinking about him and going easy on him. Whatever Negan would ask for next time, Rick couldn't turn him down and Negan surely knew that. It surely was all just a game to him. He surely laughed about Ricks greenness when fucking his wives, while Rick was standing here, exposed, naked and full of despair and shame, unable to wash it away. Rick pinched his eyes and folded his right hand to a fist, beating against the wall.

Rick, please....“ Negans soft words wouldn't leave Ricks mind, they repeated itself in his head, over and over again. The sound of his voice and that begging eyes stuck in his thoughts and no matter how often he told these pictures to go away, they stayed. „Please go away...“ he whispered to himself, as he suddenly felt the clean water mix with a salty liquid in his face. No matter how hard he tried to surpress it, his tears finally fought their way out and ran over his cheeks, making the shame only grow.

„Fuck!“ Rick screamed frustrated over the realization of his feelings of despair, longing, shame and...love?

„Rick? Are you okay?“ He heard Michonnes voice behind the door and was furious about his rage, leaving his lips too loudly.

„I'm fine.“ he answered fastly, hoping she would just accept that.

He washed his body and hair, not being sure if he ever left the shower before in that speed, because he couldn't deal anymore with his thoughts running back to Negan.

He grabbed another shirt out of the closet, got dressed with a pair of jeans and avoided getting his shoes back on.

As he left the room, he foundMichonne playing with Judith on the ground of her room. He stopped in the doorframe and Michonne gave him a pitiful look, before her eyes wandered down to his feet, where she recognized a white bandage. She was wondering where she saw that one before. But she was afraid she knew the answer.

„I will go to Siddiq and get that checked up.“ Michonne lifted her eyes back to Ricks and gave him a weak nod. „We wait here.“ Rick nodded to that, stepped forward to kiss Judiths head and left the room.

The thought of „where did you get yourself into?“ was not leaving Michonnes head.

 

***

 

 

As Rick knocked on the door, Siddiq invited him in, so he followed his order and entered the room.

„Hey, nice to see you back!“ Siddiq mentioned shyly, still being unsure about how to act around Rick, after all that happened with Carl.

„Hey.“ Rick just mumbled and pointed at his foot before he sat down. „Can you check that for me?“

Siddiq eyes widened as he spotted the bandage, soaked with blood and water from the shower. „Sure.“

It was the first time Rick ever asked him to check on him and Siddiq tried to take it as a good sign. He kneeled down in front of Rick, who had his eyes rested on the window and Siddiq started to release the bandage around his foot.

„How did that happen?“ he asked and Rick just answered „A metal barn. I've stumbled.“ „Hm.“ Siddiq took the bandage of and rested it on the floor next to him.

Of course he could have asked Rick to lay down on one of the divan beds, but he didn't want to risk challenging Ricks openness right now. „It's a straight wound, good for you it didn't hurt any more veins around.“ Rick just nodded. „Hm.“

Siddiq grabbed some of the desinfection liquid behind him and started to clean the wound, while Rick was not showing any emotion. Siddiq didn't even dare to mention that the cleaning could hurt, Rick could have seen it as rude considering he would feel pain. Thats why the young doctor just swallowed his warning.

After he grabbed the tape to fix the wound, he took a new bandage and started to cover the foot again. While doing so Rick turned his head down to his foot, remembering how Negan did the same thing two days ago. He remembered the stressed look on Negans face, the worries he seemed to have and the effort keeping Rick safe. He missed that Negan.

 

„Done.“ Siddiq said and Rick was woken from his daydream, the image of Negans black hair, changing back to the black hair of Siddiq, instantly causing the missing of Carl grew heavier, than the one he had before.

Rick shook his head shortly to get him back on track and he got out a small „thank you.“.

„You're welcome, Mr Grimes.“ Rick scrunched his brows over that name and gave a wave with his hand. „Please, Siddiq. Stay with Rick. It's fine.“ Siddiq smiled softly and nodded. „I know, Mr Grimes.“

As he reached for the old bandage next to him to throw it away, Rick interrupted his moving. „Can...can I keep it?“ Siddiq wasn't sure what he meant and looked confused to the bandage and then back to Ricks eyes. „But Sir, it's dirty, you can't...“ „Please. Just give it to me, will you?“

Of course Siddiq wasn't gonna refuse any request Rick mentioned to him, still feeling like he owed that man his life, since he lost his son for him.

His eyes widened and he shrugged. „Yeah, of...of course.“ He handed Rick the bandage and scoffed „but don't use it on your wound again, it needs to heal. We have to change the bandage tomorrow again.“ Rick smiled and just answered „wasn't going to.“ before he slid his Negan trophy in the pocket of his jeans and stood up. „Thank you, doctor.“

Siddiq stood up and just waved that thank you away. „Oh please, don't thank me. It's fine.“ Rick shortly answered Siddiqs look with a soft smile, as the other man suddenly frowned his eyebrows.

„What about your lip?“ he stepped closer and lifted Ricks chin to take a closer look, but Rick backed off „it's fine.“ When he stepped back, he nearly stumbled and grabbed the bed to his side, catching the reflection of his face in the mirror on the wall. Then he finally saw the mark Negan left on his lower lip. But instead of being angry or ashamed, Rick had to stroke over it with his thumb and smiled to himself.

It wasn't a dream or imagination caused by the wine, he really had a proof on his face how close Negan got. He could deny that he hugged him or hold his hand but he couldn't deny that mark on him. It felt like a win over Negans denial.

„Rick, are you okay?“ Rick had to get himself back to reality, as he looked at Siddiq, who stared at him with worried eyes. „No, no it's fine. I just got in a fist fight with some assholes, it's nothing.“ he pointed at the light blue bruise he got from Negans punch, as he tried to get Rick away from him.

„Hm, yeah. You're tough, I would never doubt that. Doesn't exclude the possibility of a concussion.“ Siddiq mumbled and shrugged again. „If you need anything from me again, please let me know.“ „Yeah, of course, of course. I will.“ Rick said and stepped forward, to leave the room.

He wondered what Michonne must have thought about his bitten lip. He just hoped she wouldn't ask about it again. Eventhough, he himself hoped to keep that trophy a while longer.

Nevertheless, for now he just wanted to get back to Judith and spend the night with her. If he couldn't have that cold hearted asshole in his arms, while sleeping, then the only thing he wanted close, was his beautiful daughter. Maybe her soft and sweet scent would ease the pain of the hole in his heart, of something he couldn't have. His steps fastened.

I need her. Cause I mustn't need him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Negan forced himself to not look back, as he reached the entrance of the Sanctuary. Arat was opening the gates with widened eyes. „Boss!“

Negan had the typical big smirk on his lips, even as he finally dared to look over his shoulder, to be sure Rick isn't behind him, he didn't loose his look, but inside he felt the relief. Thank God you didn't run after me, prick, he thought to himself.

He faced Arat, who handed him Lucille with a still serious face. „What happened, boss? Where is the truck?“ „Ugh that shit-hole decided to break down, no surprise, it surely gave up, after it had to transport that prick.“ He swinged Lucille over his head with a big grin. „Hello there, beautiful as always.“ he whispered sweetly to his bat before he rested it over his shoulder. „So, any shit I need to fucking know?“

„All smooth and fine.“ Simon answered and stepped forward from the entrance. That was the answer Negan wanted to hear, so he stepped forward to his old friend and patted his shoulder. „Good to hear.“ „Did you find those assholes who killed our men?“ Arat asked and Negan turned his head to her, his hand still resting on Simons shoulder. „Indeed I did. Little prick the pig even gave me a good shot, I have to say. Still couldn't avoid to punch that asshole in the face, he just was looking all too sweetly. I guess that's why he ran off like a little puppy. Buuuuuut not my problem. Our case is solved. For now. And now excuse me, I need a fucking poke and don't wanna be disturbed when I get my dick finally out to freedom! Home sweet home!“ He raised his arms over his head like he just won a grand prize and stepped towards the entrance.

Arat followed him up the stairs to get back to business, but suddenly Negan stopped in the doorframe and scratched his nose. „Oh, Arat, I totally forgot.“ „Hm?“

Arat stepped behind him, her gun resting over her shoulder. Negan had his eyes focused in front of him, not wanting to give Arat an insight of his thoughts. „My lost puppy may show up at the entrance. Drive him home. But only you. Safe and sound.“ „Ahem...of course boss.“ Arat nodded and wanted to head back to the gate, as Negan grabbed her upper arm. „As soon as you arrive at his home, you tell me. No matter where I am, or what I'm at, it's priority. Get that?“

Arat wondered about his request, but of course she learnt not to ask him any questions. „Of course, boss.“ „In one piece, Arat. I need him.“ Arat nodded again, this time more heavily. „Copy that, boss. You know I'm the fucking best driver here, not even a fly will touch him.“ „No fly besides me.“ Negan added with a grin and Arat replied with a smirk as well.

Negan let go off her arm and Arat fastly stepped to the gate, getting one of the cars and parked it right in front.

Negan forced himself to step inside, to not get caught in waiting for Ricks arrival, even if the urge in him to wait and look at that face again, was crawling in every inch of his body.

Stop it, goddammit. We should be glad we got rid of him. I have to distract my fucking mind from fucking Rick. Fucking Rick? Well...

Negan shrugged and laughed about his own jokes playing in his head and headed to the best distraction place, his home had to offer. Since Sherry was gone it wasn't quite as amusing as before, with all the sensitive crying bitches, but for now, it should be enough. Hopefully.

 

As he opened the door to his women buffet, he announced himself with „Daddy is home, time to clean up the mess between my legs, ladies!“ In reality, he meant the mess in his head, more than his body could ever be messy, but of course he couldn't admit that.

 

***

 

 

As Simon stepped inside, he expected nothing less, than Negans dick slamming into one of his wives, it wasn't like he never saw that before. Nevertheless the shock was big, as he found Negan laying on the bed, with his eyes focused on the ceiling, no wife being seen.

Simon frowned in confusion and cleared his throat, which made Negan turn his head instantly to his companion.

Before Simon could even speak, Negan said „What is it?“. Simon scratched his forehead, somehow feeling embarrassed finding his boss alone, shirtless and somehow dreamy on a bed.

He was used to him fucking someone, but he never just entered his boss private bedroom before, not wanting to get too close in Negans privacy. Fucking his wives was never that personal and it never happened in his bedroom, that's why he had no problem entering his „pleasure room“ next to the womens office. But now it seemed like Simon caught a glimpse of Negans personal space, being alone and thinking about...whatever he may thought of. Seeing his boss being an actual humanbeing, resting and thinking, left some kind of insecurity on Simon, for the first time.

„Your... puppy is home. Arat mentioned it's priority so...“ Negan rolled his eyes and sat up, the blanket covering his lower body. He tried to hide his inner smile about that message, since he felt that big relief on his shoulders, knowing Rick was safe. I hope you wore that beautiful smile when you reunited with Judith. I hope your stupid people knew how lucky they were to have you back, the feeling I had when I had the pleasure being around you. I hope they hold you close and keep you safe and most of all, happy. Happy and far away from me.

He wished Arat would have told him herself, but of course someone else had to hear, what Negan made a priority here.

He gave a wave with his hand and just said „Yeah, right. Thank you, Simon.“ Simon gave Negan a questioning look, but didn't dare to ask any further.

Negan tilted his head and asked „something else?“ but Simon shook his head. „No boss, sorry for interrupting.“ then he turned around and left the room again.

Thank God. Negan sighed and bent one leg up, to rest his arm on his knee and cover his head in his palm, going through his hair slowly.

Negan knew, that Simon had to notice the unusual situation of Negan, being alone in this room. And hell he didn't even know himself, why he didn't just went back to his room, after his desperate try of distraction with Lucy failed.

 

He remembered all too well how he got here, pulling Lucy in the room, trying to get his mind distracted by some fast sex. But somehow this situation didn't pull of, like he had wanted to.

 

***

 

As soon as Lucy was pushed on the bed by him, looking down at her, gave him images of that baby blue eyes tearing up, like begging for his life, looking up at him. At first he tried to ignore it, but of course a sentimental bitch like Lucy would notice, that his mind was jumping somewhere else and she dared to ask, what was wrong.

Negan tried to play it off, crawled to her on the bed and ripped her clothes off her body. Lucy did her best to give him the most convincing affection by moaning his name, but it wasn't her voice he heard, when his name slipped of her lips. It felt like being caught in a daydream, no waking close.

That's when Negan groaned to himself, to get that images out of his head, but as soon as he started to bite in Lucys neck, he realized her skin was not tasting like he wanted to. There was no mahogany, no scent of home and even the moans she gave back on his action, didn't satisfy him.

In his mind, the flashbacks of Ricks arching back and the sound escaping his beautiful mouth, gave him the shivers he longed for so deeply. He felt the heat growing between his hips, wanting to press his crotch right against that mans body and kiss him all over, not leaving out any inch of his sin- and tasteful skin. He was caught. So deeply caught, that he didn't even realize, that Ricks name left his mouth. And fuck, the one time no one should listen to the words he said, of course Lucy heard and she couldn't help but just ask „Rick?“, which made Negan dug his nails into the skin of her arms, the rage caused by the embarassment, rising in his veins.

Argh...“ he groaned and sat up, to look down at her surprised face. She blinked and stared in Negans eyes, which only slowly managed to realize, who was really laying under him, letting all his shivers and arousal instantly fade. „Fucking hell...“ he mumbled and for the first time, Lucy had the feeling to experience a human side of Negan.

This doesn't fucking work, darling. Your mood just set me off.“ Lucy blinked as Negan let go of her arms and stood up, taking the bottle of whisky, to get it a big sip right down his throat.

Lucy sat up, covering her chest with her arm. „I'm...I'm sorry Negan. Tell me what I did wrong and I fix it.“ Negan gulped the beverage and stared at the brown liquid in the bottle. You're not him, he thought and tried to swallow that confession with the liquid.

Just leave.“ His words were so quiet, that Lucy didn't even get that right. „What did you say, Negan?“

The alcoholic scent of the whisky went up in Negans nose and he closed his eyes, remembering how that sweet scent of Rick mixed with the flavor of wine before. It was like honey from fallen angels.

As he shook his head, to get himself back to the room, he suddenly barked „Leave, now.“ and Lucy didn't hesitate at that commando. She grabbed her shoes and clothes and ran out of the room.

 

As the door fell back into its lock, Negan threw the bottle right against the wall, causing the glass to shatter all over the floor.

You fucking idiot, Negan told himself. What the fuck is wrong with me if I can't even get my mind off at sex? This used to be my final resort, my best distraction and now all that's left, are these fucking babyblue eyes. Holy fucking hell.

Lucilles soft giggle was coming back in the mind of his head. „I saw you like this before.“ she mentioned sweetly.

The fuck you did. Negan kicked against the table and sat down on bed again, his face hiding behind his hands. He went them through his hair and suddenly his eyes caught his wrist again. His scar was still wide open, what did he even think of not covering it? Lucy could have seen it, even Simon or Arat, when they would come in. He needed to cover that shit again.

His fingertips went over the scar and he heard Ricks soft voice in his ear. „You're a survivor.“ Oh dammit you fucking naive dreamer. What do you know?

He tightened the grip on his scar, dugging his nails into the thin skin. Even then, that voice and look didn't leave his mind. And the more Negan allowed that memory, the deeper he had his nails in his skin.

Go away. Go away. But this feeling wasn't listening to this bad guy. No matter how often he told his body to let go, the weight on his heart sunk deeper and deeper. It crawled through his veins, up to his brain, where it caused all that images, which wouldn't leave him now.

Negan pinched his eyes, as he sunk his nails down the scar, which finally caused the pain he needed, to get that heavyness away for a moment.

I can't let him know this. I can't let anyone know this. I can't have a weakness like this. I never wanted to have a weakness again. And here I am. Caught in some stupid memories of a guy I barely know and who fucking killed for me. And I would do exactly the same.

Negan groaned out of frustration, threw his jacket away, got rid of his shirt and shoes, to lay down in bed.

I can't come out of this room too early, that would even be more embarassing then just acting like I fell asleep out of exhaustion.

He sighed and covered his lower body with the blanket.

 

 

***

 

Which led him right here, back to this moment.

 

Still sitting there, his head resting on his hand and inwardly screaming over the injustice of this world. And his own stupidity.

He had to fix this. Had to fix his image and most of all, had to fix his mind. But how?

He moved himself up from bed, got his shirt and jacket back on and decided to start with a long shower. He had to run off all this scents, always coming back to his nose again.

That's how some traumatized people must have reacted, when they had flashbacks, caused by the smallest things. But he wasn't one of these victims, he only was a victim of himself. And he needed to fix that fast.

With his boots in his hand and Lucille over his shoulder, he left the room, trying to keep his face covered with his faked smirk, when passing the hallway, until he reached his bathroom. He slowly closed the door behind him, resting Lucille next to the door and his shoes falling to the ground. His head was rested against the door and he closed his eyes again.

But as soon as the world went black, his mind couldn't help, but give him that blue eyes, shining in the darkness, again and out of nowhere, the smell of mahogany reached Negans nose, making him open his eyes out of shock. Of course Rick was not here, but seemed a part of his scent was still lingering on Negans skin.

Dammit Rick, you fucking pathetic wizard. Spilling your fucking love potion all over my body. I can't have that shit slip through.

He frowned and got rid of his clothes, to jump under the cold shower, finally being able to wash all this mixing scents away. But even after seemingly hours of cleaning and trying to get rid of every last memory, the sound of Ricks voice speaking his name didn't vanish. The first strong begging for a kiss, turning into that longing bitterness, was carved into his mind, like the scar on his wrist. And that was something he couldn't wash away. He kept it wherever he went.

And with it came the guilt. The guilt of leaving, the guilt of playing around, the guilt of hurting all these people who were close to that man, he met in the woods. The guilt of never being good enough. Not for Lucille and especially not for him. The guilt of breaking that precious mans heart, in pushing him away and not letting him know about his feelings. The guilt of showing off his weak spot. The guilt of letting his worst enemy know, that he was the only thing worth keeping here.

This guilt caused that promise Negan gave himself, to never face him ever again. He had to keep him distant from now on.

Never show your weakness, never be weak. Not in this world. That's what he needed to believe, when all this started. And as he met Rick, his pure heart made him add another rule. Protect this man, at all costs. From the people who make him weak, from the world which wants to break him and most of all from yourself. Cause you are the worst. Protect him from what you want.

Rick seemed so broken back there in the woods, and Negan knew he wasn't like that before. He was the strongest humanbeing he ever met, hiding under the shaking shell. And he wanted to wake that again. He wanted him to be unbeatable. To break him just to build him up, stronger than before. Rick needed him. And Negan needed him. More than he wanted to admit.

But if only this fact would have made Negan weak, he could have accepted it. But seeing Rick having a weakness for him as well, left him with fear. He shouldn't have that. He has to survive this world. Cause this world needs him. That's why Negan had to protect him from his feelings. And he would. Whatever it may cost him.

A chuckle escaped his lips. „You really won again, Grimes. You won, cause I can't kill you anymore.“ he thought and his guilt mixed with pride at this moment. He really just was the strongest humanbeing he knew. Defeating the final bad boss, Negan himself, just with his eyes. Only Rick was able to do that.

 

 

***

 

 

After the first meeting since Negans return, the tall man went back to his room and closed the door behind him. He knew he had been awkwardly absent and left a strange mood back in the room, as he asked his group to go easy on Alexandria, taking less supplies and visits. He tried to justify his decision with calling it a game on Rick, trying to earn his trust to play him harder next time.

Most of them bought it, but Dwights look was something Negan couldn't forget. Did he realize his true motives behind that? He hoped not. But he knew he had to be more careful the next times. Especially cause he made very clear he wouldn't show up soon again at Alexandria. He gave the responsibility of that to Arat, one of the few people, he knew he could trust with going easier on someone. He couldn't say that about Simon. But he had his focus on Hilltop, so Negan hoped that would distract him enough, to let some time pass.

As soon as he breathed out deeply, letting go of his forced smile, it knocked on the door.

Fucking shit, please not, he thought to himself and just asked „Ya, what is it?“ „It's me, boss. May I come in?“

It was Lauras voice and he instantly blamed himself, for not thinking about her reaction, since she was the only woman in his group, daring to ask sensitive questions. Arat always kept her distance and knew, when to shut up. Laura instead, sometimes just couldn't cut it off.

Negan sighed another time and turned around, to open the door. „What is it, my dear?“

Laura tilted her head and tried to keep her seriousness. „Let's talk inside.“ Negan raised his eyebrows, but opened one of his arms, to show her to enter.

After she did so, he closed the door behind them, sitting down on the armchair across her.

He then rested both of his arms between his legs and raised his chin. „What's the matter?“

„Ehm...“ Laura seemed a bit insecure about her coming, but she already earnt his respect by doing so.

„Come on, talk to me, Laura-baby.“ She scoffed about that name and responded „You seemed off today. I just wanted to check on you, before things get said behind your back and shit goes down.“ Negan frowned about that sentence and leaned forward. „And what do you mean exactly by that? Who talks behind my back and what the shit do they talk?“ Lauras chest started to glow up in a light red, making her fear even more obvious. Did she go too far? „You know...“ she cleared her throat.

„We were wondering about your method with Rick. You didn't even talk to us about the guys you went after. So...we wondered...what happened out there? Maybe it helps us to understand more.“

She had fucking balls to spit out such questions, Negan had to admit that. But it also raised the question, who was doubting his leadership and his way of making decisions? „So, tell me. Who are we?“

Laura blinked and then scratched the back of her head. „Ehm...Dwight and...“ Of course, he thought. „Simon as well. Regina and...me.“ Negan widened his eyes and laid back against his chair. „Regina and Simon as well. I see.“

Laura slowly lifted her eyes to look in Negans and tried to read, what she could expect now. She would have never dared to ask that question in the first place, if it hasn't been Negan finding her and listening to all her sad stories about loss , love and hate that time. She didn't want to force Dwight or Simon into such questions, not knowing if they would get the truth from their leader anyways. She trusted Arat but she wasn't the type of getting too personal, so if they wanted to find out something, Laura was the only chance.

„So, what do you want to know exactly here?“ „Does your new method on Rick has something to do with what happened out there?“ Laura decided to start with something easy to answer.

Negan rolled his eyes and gave a wave with his hand, trying to make it less important than it was. „He helped me killing that assholes in the fucking woods. See it as a reward for him, right now.“

Laura was surprised Negan just admitted, that Rick really helped him in something and she also wondered, why Rick did it in the first place and why they were avoiding each other now. But maybe he had no other choice.

„Why didn't you take us with you? These were our people who got killed. We were all involved. You don't trust us or something?“ Negan sighed at that and grabbed Lucille, which was resting behind his chair, to swing her over his head and then place her on his lap, trying to get his focus on her, instead of drifting off and slipping the wrong name at the wrong time.

„I knew I didn't need you. A good leader has to do shit on his own sometimes.“ „But you didn't do it on your own, you took him with you.“ Negan frowned and clenched his teeth. He wanted this conversation to end, now.

„So you doubt my decisions.“ Laura stood up in fear, and looked down at her boss, knowing she just pressed the wrong button. „I'm sorry boss. I just...“ „What I do when you're not around, is none of your business. Someone wise taught me that, and I'm gonna stick to that.“

Laura nodded and spoke more silent then before. „I am just afraid...people won't accept going easy on that guy.“ „If someone dares to disobey my orders...“ he swinged Lucille from one side to the other and clicked his tongue, looking up at Lauras fearful eyes.

„O-of course. I just...wanted to warn you about that, since it seems you really care about this guy.“ That finished Negans patience.

He stood up instantly and stopped right in front of Lauras face, Lucille next to their faces. „I don't care about him.“ I'd kill for him. I adore him. I miss him. And if anyone dares to only touch him...that person or thing or whatever it will may be...will never see the sunrise again, like I saw it that morning in Ricks eyes.

Laura didn't break the silence and shifted her eyes from left to right, not knowing if she was even allowed to breathe. „Forgive me, sir. I make stupid assumptions sometimes.“ Negan raised his eyebrows to that, praising the lord, that his thoughts didn't leave his lips this time. „On the contrary, I care so little, that I don't even mind to see that stupid shit face again. That's why I chose you to take care of it for now. You get that?“

It hurt him physically to speak so many lies about his feelings for Rick. It even felt like stabbing him right in his back, no matter if he would know or not. It felt like...cheating nearly. Like in the past, whenever he stabbed Lucille right in her heart. But it was the only way he knew and felt comfortable with. More comfortable than admitting feelings, at least.

Laura nodded and added „Yeah, I get that. I'm sorry, boss. We just wanted to be sure, that you know we have your back. At all times. We would follow you anywhere, you don't need him for that.“

Negan clenched his teeth again and moved his face next to Lauras, to whisper in her ear „I don't fucking need any of you for anything.“ I just need Rick to have my back, that's the only army I need. „And I don't need him. I just wanted a bit of fun, or am I not allowed to have that, Laura?“ Laura shook her head and stuttered „no, of course. I'm sorry boss.“ Negan slowly moved his head back and raised a brow, when looking down at the scared woman, now looking more like a little girl to him. Maybe she really just wanted him to talk to someone, but for now, he couldn't allow that.

„It's fine Laura. Go and tell the others, their shitload of distrust is not raising my all-too-nice sunshine mood. They should be careful I don't lower the portions for the fighters here.“

Laura blinked, but understood. As she stepped forward to the door, Negan positioned Lucille right in front of her body, like a barrier, his eyes just looking straight forward, not giving her one sight. „And don't ask me about that prick again. Two days were enough, I don't wanna hear that name again any soon.“ Laura nodded and Negan released Lucille to the air, so Laura could leave the room.

She closed the door behind her and breathed in deeply.

My god, her boss really had some feelings for that guy. He never invested that much effort before, for proving he doesn't care about someone. If he didn't care, that person would know. But speaking that name and emphasize over and over again, how he not cared, that made it very obvious.

She decided to leave that thought by herself for now and left back to her companions.

 

Negan rested Lucille on his bed and sat down next to her, looking down at her brown wood. He gave a soft smile and whispered „I'm pathetic here. You would have loved that, right, baby?“ Then he rested his hand on the barbed wire, feeling the spikes sinking in his skin.

It didn't hurt him, the pain in his heart was bigger than this physical tension. The more he tried to surpress the growing feeling in his throbbing heart, the louder the heartbeat became in his mind. So he tightened the grip around the sharp ends and pressed heavier, punishing himself for the careless feeling called love.

He hated himself so much for it, that he would have loved to take his own hands with his bat, just so he could never dare to touch Rick again. But instead of daring to be swallowed by Ricks deep ocean eyes and this never ending warmth and feeling of home again, he decided he would just avoid him, as long as he could. If he does never see him, or even talk to him again, he will be able to let go. For himself and for Rick. He just has to play this well and go on. Ice cold. Not feeling anything.

I don't have feelings for you, he told himself, but the pain he felt in his hand told him otherwise.

As a child, all love was connected to, was pain. When the pain grew, the love grew. And the other way around. The more it hurt, the deeper the love was. And loving Lucille hurt a lot.

He went through all kinds of physical pain, until he finally opened up to her about his feelings. He went through all kind of headaches, stomache aches and even dizzyness, when he tried to talk himself out of it. It was a scream for help from his body, to finally speak out his closed feelings, or it would eat him up. The day he told Lucille what he felt, was the day that pain stopped. His body was reliefed, he finally stopped fighting it.

I don't care about you, Negan repeated in his mind and his grip got even more intense.

I don't love you. His last thought was cut by the sharp pain, feeling like a razor cutting his flesh. He groaned over that feeling, which just occured in his hand and pulled it back.

He rised the same hand slowly in front of his face, to stare at the proof, how much he not cared, not loved.

Blood was running down his palm, the skin marked by small holes Lucille caused him, ironically. Negans hand started shaking, while facing the terror laying wide open in front of him. He cared that little, that blood was running down his wrist. He loved him that little, that the pain in his hand spread over his arms, to his body and right to his heart, feeling like it would skip a beat and cause a heart attack.

He never bled for Lucille back then. And he knew, what that meant to his level of feelings.

 

 

***

 

 

Days and even weeks went by, in which Negan ignored Rick as good as he could. Sometimes he led some comments slip, if he knew Arat or Simon met him somewhere, just to get some informations out of them, about how he was. But besides that, he never mentioned his name or went to Alexandria again.

Arat did the pick-ups for him, which were less frequent and lowered to a quarter, while Simon took care of Hilltop and all the walkies. Negan didn't want to take the risk of hearing Ricks familiar voice again, which would get him back to being caught in the web, he just had barely managed to escape, the holes in his hand slowly healing while the big one in his heart remained untreatable.

This is your last chance to run, baby. Take it.“ Lucille told him when he couldn't sleep. And damn, he would listen to her that time. If it would be needed, he would never stop running now.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Weeks passed and the pick-ups in Alexandria went less and less frequent.

Everytime the saviors showed up at their gates, Rick was the first one to open them. His eyes always searched for the taller man and his leather jacket, but he never found it.

Arat was always short in talking, just giving comments like „Boss doesn't need that much this week“ to legitimate their small amount. Whenever she started to justify it, Rick commented „What is the reason this time?“, hoping he would get an honest answer out of her. Truth was, she wasn't even sure herself why the pick-ups were that small.

She just shrugged at it and said „Ask him yourself“ and Rick could do nothing more, than reply „I would, but seems he ignores me. Otherwise he would show up with you, right?“. Arat couldn't answer properly to that and went on with her work.

Michonne was the first to notice, that the saviors went slow on them, nearly nicely. And she had a good guess why.

 

One day, when Arat was going through their infirmary, she went up to Rick, who furrowed his brows. She rested a hand on his shoulder from behind and tried to give him a soft smile.

„Hey, everything alright here?“ He nodded and turned around, so her hand would leave his shoulder. „Yeah, they don't take medication this time.“ Michonne nodded and tilted her head. „But that's good, isn't it.“

Rick agreed but mentioned „I still don't know why. And they won't let me talk to him.“ „Did you try?“ Rick lifted his eyes to look at her and just nodded lightly. „Yeah, he won't answer on the walkie.“ „Hm...“

In the first place Michonne felt relieved about that, she didn't want them to talk anyways. But she could see the pain and insecurity it caused in Ricks eyes and that was something she hated. „Let me talk to him.“ Rick shook his head instantly. „No, no. I wanna let sleeping dogs lie. It's fine like it is, for now.“ „You're sure?“ she asked, hating herself for even wanting to help with his obvious lovesickness.

Rick forced a smile and gave her shoulder a short squeeze with his hand, a touch she missed so deeply. „Yeah I am. But thank you, I appreciate your concern.“ Then he turned away and brought Arat back to the gate. If you just would know, what my concern is really about, Michonne thought to herself.

 

Arat gave a nod to her companions, which made them enter their cars. She turned back to Rick and said „See you next time“, but before she could leave, Rick hold her back, making her face him again. He decided, he had to try again.

„Wait, Arat. Please... tell me what this is about.“ Arat blinked and stared at his hand on her upper arm. „What do you mean?“ Rick stepped closer, speaking quietly so no one else could listen. „Tell me how he is. Is he mad at me or something? Why is he not showing up with you?“ Arat moved her arm away and frowned. „I told you, ask him yourself.“ Rick clenched his teeth „But you won't let me.“

She lifted her head and just took out her walkie. „You can do whatever the fuck you want, it's his decision if he doesn't answer.“ Rick looked down at her walkie and thought, if she would call him, he maybe would answer, cause everytime he tried himself, he would just hear Simons or Arats voice. „Call him.“ Arat shrugged. „I don't know if he's busy right now.“ „Please, Arat. Call him. I need to talk to him. I need to know if everythings alright, or if this is just a game and I need to worry. I need to protect my people.“

Arat understood his point of view, but still it somehow felt like backstabbing. On the other hand, she saw how her boss changed over the last weeks. How absent he was and even more closed than before. It worried her. She already figured out, that something was between these two men and since she needed Negan to function, she wanted to help.

She raised the walkie and spoke „Give me Negan.“

Rick formed a „thank you“ with his lips, but the silence on the other end killed him.

After a while the walkie clicked. „I'm Negan. What do you want?“ It was Simons voice.

Rick breathed in deeply, filled with despair, but Arat didn't want to give up right now. „I need the boss. We have a situation here.“ „What kind of situation?“ „Red.“ she answered and Rick carefully stared at her eyes, trying to read what she was thinking. She was done with the bullshit resting on Negans shoulders, she saw how much he was shutting himself down. Saw the bandage around his hand and noticed how much he was drinking, to find sleep. She couldn't believe his best men didn't say something about it before.

There was a break on the other end, but then Simon replied „Boss says you can talk to me. He's busy. So what is it?“

Arat frowned and grunted in the walkie „Fucking tell him that his puppy wants to talk to him. It's urgent.“ The walkie clicked and Ricks hands started shaking out of tension. Please, please just let me hear you. But then Simon said „He doesn't want to talk to him. See you back home, Arat.“

Then he broke the connection and Arat sighed again, before she put the walkie back to her belt. „I told you.“

Rick nodded and his eyes really looked like a beaten puppy. Maybe it was the same way Negan looked secretly in his room. She hated to watch these two hurting each other, because one of them really meant a lot to her.

„Thank you for trying.“ Arat stepped closer and whispered „You know what I think? If you want to talk to him, you have to come personally. That way he can't ignore you.“ She winked and moved her head back to face him. She noticed before how deep Ricks eyes burnt into Negans soul. She was sure, that was one reason why he fell for him.

But Rick wasn't convinced by that. „Oh he can.“ Arat lifted her finger and pointed at his eyes. „When he sees that look, he surely can't. It's easier to ignore you when not seeing that eyes.“ She gave a soft smile, something Rick didn't see before, but really appreciated. Arat really seemed to be a friend to Negan.

He smiled and said „Thank you.“

Arat nodded and stepped away to her car. Then they went off.

So you want me to visit you? Alright, think I can do that, Rick told himself and for the first time since weeks, left with a smile to his home.

 

***

 

The nights Rick always spent the same way. He fed Judith, read her some bedtime stories and after she fell asleep, he left for his bedrooom. Michonne was staying with him, he never minded that, seeing her as a part of his family anyways. But something he never noticed was, how much it meant to Michonne.

 

When laying next to her in the bed, it felt nothing more than safety to him. But Michonne, on the other hand, spent hours watching Rick rest, admiring the soft way he looked while sleeping. She never dared to make a move on him, even when they fell asleep in each others arms before, just because Rick was needing comfort and Michonne wanted to be close to him.

He never minded that, but in this night, he didn't fall asleep. His mind was going through all scenarios with meeting Negan again. What he could say, what he could do and most of all, what he shouldn't do, to not make him push away again.

He focused his eyes on the ceiling as Michonne slowly crawled up to him, resting her head on his chest. „What are you thinking?“ she asked softly.

Ricks arms rested behind his head and he looked down at Michonnes calming face. „Many things.“ Michonne lifted her head to look in her favorite blue eyes and smiled. „You always think too much. What are you worried about? Things are good right now.“

Rick nodded and looked back at the ceiling. „They are, I suppose.“ Michonne moved up, to have her face over Ricks and rested one hand on his cheek.

„Everything will be fine. You are doing great. The saviors start to trust us, to trust you. It will work.“ Rick tried to form a smile, but his heart didn't let him.

He noticed Michonne was not speaking Negans name on purpose, while he wanted to hear nothing more than this.

He rested one hand on hers and hold her close, the urge to tell her everything about the growing feeling in his heart. „I doubt it.“ he let out and Michonne moved closer, saying quietly „Never doubt yourself. I don't.“

Rick gave a chuckle to that and kissed the inner side of her hand. „I know you don't.“

The touch of his lips against her palm, made her blush and even if she knew it was not the right time, she couldn't stand it anymore, to not try and waste another moment.

Don't make me regret this.“ Before Rick could ask what she meant, Michonne pressed her lips on his, closing her eyes to this moment she dreamt of, for such a long time. Nevertheless, she couldn't enjoy it long, cause Rick suddenly sat up and pushed her away. „Michonne, what are you doing?“

Michonne sat there, with shock in her eyes, feeling the pain in her heart run through her body. Rick did exactly what she was afraid of all that time. And now she ruined their closeness.

„I...I'm sorry Rick...I just thought you...“ „No. Goddammit, no.“

In this moment, he didn't even realize, how hurtful his words were. He just pushed away his best friend, his family. He wouldn't be surprised if she just left him now, full of hate. He would actually understand. But shockingly, he didn't even care. He knew where he would run to, if everyone leaves.

Michonnes lips started to shiver, tears running up in her eyes. „I'm sorry, Rick. I really am.“ Rick moved a hand in front of him, to underline his saying. „It's fine. I'm sorry Michonne.“ „I..had to try. After all this time, I had to try.“ Michonne mumbled and lowered her head, hoping her hair would cover the tears running down her cheeks now. Even in this darkness, Rick could see the moonlight reflecting on the wet drops on her face. He just did the same Negan did to him and he knew how painful that was. He wanted to crawl in a hole.

„Look...“ He rested one hand on her chin, to make her face him, which only hurt more, cause he felt the tears under his palm. „I love you. You're my family. And there may have been a time, where I wanted this too. But...not anymore, Michonne. I'm sorry.“

Michonne closed her hand around his and nodded in slow motion. „I see.“

I am too late. I should have tried earlier, Michonne told herself. Now I fucked up.

She sighed and moved his hand down, as he started to wipe her tears away with his thumb. She preferred to dry her tears with her own palms.

„Tell me, why did that change?“ „Hm?“ Rick tilted his head, trying to catch her sight. „Your feelings towards me. Why did they change.“

Rick sighed and Michonne started to face him again, her hand resting on the bed next to his. „I don't know.“ he mumbled and Michonne rested her hand on his, giving it a gentle squeeze and looked up at his eyes, which were tearing up now as well.

„You love someone else.“ she dared to assume and Rick couldn't reply to that, just gritted his teeth.

She saw the guilt and embarrassment crawling up in him and it made her finally realize, what was going on here.

Instantly she pulled her hand away, the pain in her heart now changing to rage. „Don't tell me...it's Negan.“ Rick turned his head away and looked outside of the window, facing the moon and its light was releasing the tears in his eyes.

Michonne didn't know how to react. She was not even rejected and turned down because he loved someone else, but because he loved Negan. The same Negan doing all these things to them. Torturing them, killing two of their men. The Negan, who ignored him since weeks. But suddenly that made sense too, didn't it. Still, she didn't want to believe that.

„You told him, that's why he's ignoring you now. That's why you're just a shadow of yourself, walking through Alexandria like being dead already.“

Rick let out a laugh filled with despair to that and wiped his tears away with one hand. „God, no. I didn't. I would be a fool to let him know that.“

Everything coming out from Ricks mouth only worsened Michonnes feeling. „So why is he ignoring you? Why you don't talk to him?“ „Look, I know he plays me, Michonne. He has me, where he wants me. Truth is, I killed for him already. He knows now, I would do anything for him. And he uses that. Lowering the pick-ups surely is just a game of making me feel safe. I know it.“

Michonne furrowed her brows and crossed her arms. „You really think that? And you take that risk, instead of making a stand and talk to him? You risk all our safety for his mind games? Because you think you have feelings for him?“

Rick stood up from the bed and turned his back to the window, facing Michonne with crossed arms now as well. „I don't think I have feelings for him. I know it. I feel it wherever I go. Dammit, I even miss him. I imagine him in our yards to work with us. And I not only want that for Carl, I want it for me. Cause I want him by my side.“

Michonne widened her eyes and stood up, taking her jeans and shirt to put it back on.

„I don't believe you.“ she said and he stepped closer, seeing her confusion win over the seriousness in his words.

„Please, Michonne. You have to accept that. I needed to accept it as well. I can't change it, but...I think I love him.“ While Michonne put her boots back on, she looked up from the ground and just replied „And what about him? He just plays with your feelings and you seem to know it. And still you do it. You're crazy!“ „I do nothing...I just can't...I can't change it, Michonne. I tried to fight it, but it follows me anywhere. That's what love makes us do, right? It doesn't just go away, because we want it to. And I knew all of you would tell me I'm crazy and I should give it up, but as if I didn't try it! I wanted to let go, I think he wanted me to as well, but...if I would have managed to do that, would it still be love? I care about him against all rationality and want him to have everything what makes him happy, no matter if it destroys myself. That's what love is. And love comes in the weirdest occassions.“ „Oh that definitely is the weirdest occassion I could think of.“

Michonne scoffed with anger and reached for her Katana, to rest it over her shoulder and stepped to the door. „I need fresh air.“ „Michonne, wait.“ „No, Rick. You have to let me go now. And don't dare to follow me. Better concentrate on the big love of your life and how to fix that.“

She opened the door and went off, the sound of the door closing blaring through the floors. Rick winced at that and turned back to the window, staring at the moon.

I'm sorry Michonne. I wish I could tell him, like I just told you. But truth is, I know he would just push me away. I'm a fool, for falling for the one person I can't have, when I could have you.

His hand folded into a fist and his nails dug into his skin. He hated himself so much for hurting her right now. He could have had a future with Michonne, something stable to build something on, while Negan was just destruction and wilderness. Nothing he could ever rely on. Nothing worth loving, knowing he would never return it. But if love is not madness, it is not love. Rick knew that. And he never felt that kind of madness for anyone before. It had to be love. Unrequited love he had to live with.

 

***

 

 

Michonne went right to the church, her steps close to running. She knew the day would come, where she had to find out, if Ricks feelings for her were mutual or not, but finding out she was not only too late, but also replaced by Negan, left her speechless.

Of course Rick was right, when you love someone it's beyond rationality. And even worse, the happiness of the other person means more to you, than your own wellbeing. That's why Rick just accepted Negans distance, cause he didn't want to loose the last bit of connection, they built before. She got that. She felt about him the same way. She accepted all these years, where she slowly developed this strong feelings for him. It started in the prison and was growing in Alexandria, where he already had eyes on someone else. She accepted all that. She didn't care, if she couldn't have him, as long as he was happy. But after the loss of Carl, she thought she was the one making him happy. Seemed she never was so wrong in her life. But nevertheless, she still wanted the same happiness for him, no matter who it belonged to.

Before she could even enter the church, she stopped right on the street of Alexandria, noticing everything was quiet and in darkness. She breathed in deeply and grabbed the walkie, they got from the saviors. „Give me Negan.“

It needed a while until she heard an answer, her feet kicking the stones in front of her and her head lowered, cause she felt the tears coming back up again. What was she doing here?

„Yah.“ she finally heard the familiar voice she reached for, normally waking the hate in her, but this time it sounded somehow...wasted. Somehow broken. Maybe she just woke him up.

„It's Michonne.“ she looked up, feeling the first tear running down her cheek already and clenched her teeth out of tension. This was against all she wanted, all she needed now, but it was the right thing to do.

„Yeah, the samurai, I know.“ „What a surprise you finally answer the calls been given to you.“ Negan chuckled. „It's 3 am, you are lucky someone answers at all.“

„Haven't seen you in a while, not even heard you.“ „And that matters to you because?“ Michonne groaned, forcing these words out of her mouth, nearly physically hurt. „It doesn't matter to me.“ Negan didn't answer to that and swallowed heavily.

He sat down in his bed, his hand going through his hair and the moon in his window. It was damned beautiful, he wished Rick would see that.

„Are you still there?“ Negan looked at the cupboard where a bottle of red wine was placed. He found it at the last scouting trip, didn't dare to open it until now, but not willing to give it to someone else as well. Anyhow, he prefered whisky. „Yeah.“

You need to talk to Rick.“ Michonne said, her voice sounding like a commando, not something she really wanted to say. More like she forced herself to do so.

„Why would you want me to do that? I thought you're his best friend.“ That description of their relationship, hurt now more than ever.

Negan didn't understand why Michonne was the one calling him. This had to be some crazy shit show they were pulling off, cause he already figured out, that Michonnes feelings for Rick were the same as his. He supposed even Rick knew by now. So why should she have any interest in them talking? He wouldn't want Rick to talk to Michonne ever if he had the choice.

„Listen, I don't know what you did to him, but he's just a shadow of himself and wants to talk to you. He even tried to reach you a few times now, he's waiting everytime your little puppets are showing up. And I can't watch that anymore.“

Negan smiled to himself, closing his eyes. You're such a loyal puppy, aren't you Rick? Waiting for me at your gates to invite me to your home. It's heartbreaking.

I have no interest in talking to him. Why don't you do it on your own?“ To let that slip his lips, hurt him, but he couldn't let down his facade, not in front of Michonne.

„I did talk to him. That's why I know he wants to talk to you, not me. And you surely have a reason to avoid him, I even guess you have the same reason not talking to him, as it is for him, wanting to talk to you.“

That struck Negan like a lightning. Maybe Michonne was right. She definitely was right about his feelings and maybe the feelings, which he hoped would fade again for Rick when he reunites with his family, were led by the same obsession as his.

„Why do you guess that?“ Negan asked, his hands resting between his legs, looking at his inner palm which was covered by scars, from his self punishment with Lucille.

„Cause I have the same reason for calling you.“ Michonne admitted in regret.

Now Negan understood why Rick liked that woman so much. She was damn proud and damn honest. She just admitted her feelings towards Negan, who she should hate even more after all that and not to scare him off, but to make her love, she couldn't have, happy. Your people are really devotional, Negan thought to himself.

He needed a minute to let that sink in and then said „Fine. I will talk to him.“ „Good.“ Michonne responded and Negan could hear, she instantly started walking. „Wait, what are you doing?“

Nervously he stood up and rested his hand next to the bottle of wine. „I let you talk to him.“ „Not right now.“ „Oh yes, right now. I'm done with your bullshit. Both of your bullshit.“

Fuck, Negan groaned to himself, but of course she would do that.

 

Before she arrived at their house, Negan took the bottle and opened it and then he sat down on his armchair, inhaling the scent of the red liquid, which brought back so many memories.

 

Rick was still sitting on his bed, his eyes focused on the moon and he didn't even notice Michonne stepping in.

As she threw the walkie on the bed, he turned his face and she said „Talk to him. I'm out.“ Rick blinked and stood up, wanting to hold her back. „Wait!“ „No. You were right, the things we do for love.“ She said over her shoulder and left the house, running to the woods to get some walkers killed.

 

Rick stared down at the walkie, noticing it was the saviors one. Did Michonne really manage to get him on there? And why?

His hand was shaking as he took it and he needed to sit down, feeling dizzyness caused by fear, filling his head.

Negan?“

Negan couldn't help but smiled, as he heard that soft and all so broken voice again. It made his heart heavy and light at the same time. „Hey, sheriff.“

Rick swallowed hard and let his upper body fall on the bed. „You ignored me on purpose. All that time. Why now?“

Negan grinned. If Rick would just know how loyal his people were, mostly.

„Your best friend is pretty convincing.“ Rick chuckled and shook his head in disbelief.

I can't believe she did that for me. „I'm not even sure if she's still my best friend.“ Rick admitted, but Negan just answered „I guess this action shows pretty well.“

He took a sip of his wine bottle and moaned in the walkie.

Rick had to laugh about that. „What are you drinking in the middle of the night?“ „Oh you know, since I'm not sleeping, I thought I can have a little wine party to myself.“ „Wine party?“ „It's red wine, Rick.“

Rick grinned about that fact and sat up again. „You drink it without me, while the moon is that beautiful, that it alone deserves a bottle.“ „It is indeed. Glad you noticed as well. But I don't drink without you. You're here.“

Rick smiled and looked over to his cupboard, but the only thing he found, were pictures of his family. Carl and Lori. Judith and Michonne. He could have used a drink now as well. „You needed a long time to let me.“ „I wouldn't have, if Ms samurai wouldn't have been that fierce about it.“ „Yeah, she can be pretty badass.“ Negan had to laugh about that sentence. „You tell me about it.“ Rick shook his head „No, I told you, there's nothing...“ „I know.“ Negan interrupted him and both of them stayed silent for a while.

Rick was staring at the moonlight, while Negan kept drinking, the scent of the wine and its taste on his tongue, making him wistful.

„You wanted to talk to me, so talk, Rick.“ Rick breathed in deeply and tried to sort his thoughts, all was flooding over him too fast.

„For you I'm just a ghost, right? A ghost that's haunting you, not more.“

Rick sighed in sadness and bitterness. Negan wanted to scream yes to that, so he could push him further away, but this time, the alcohol didn't let him.

„Come on, Rick. You know that's not true. It's not even possible to ignore a ghost on purpose. You're not a ghost to me. Sometimes I wish you were, yes. But you aren't...“ the last words left Negans mouth like a whisper, he hated to admit all that, but the longer he tried to surpress and not say it, the more it ate him up.

„Why did you never show up? Why did you never answer my calls? Why...are you not here?“ Ricks voice was breaking. The longing for this other man was so painful, that it just ripped his throat out. His voice was trembling and Negan could hear it. He knew that sound and it made his guilt come up again.

All he wanted to do now, was hugging him, telling him all will be fine. But he mustn't. He wanted to disarm Ricks confession, but he just could reply „Why are you not here?“ Rick had to scoff to that, his hand in front of his face, his fingers sliding over his eyes, which were pouring like the rain.

He didn't dare to speak with that voice again, so he just let the walkie sink in his lap, sobbing secretly.

Negan noticed the long break, guessing Rick was ripping his heart out right now.

„Look, you could have come here, if you really wanted to see me. I can't promise I would have been there, but you could have tried. I thought if you want something that much, you come and fight for it.“ „Fight for what? You always push me away, what should I even fight for, if I don't know if there's anything left?“

Negan lowered his head and stared at his feet. „Come on Rick, you're not stupid. You know that's how I am. I push people away. That's what I can do best. And you never let someone push you away. That's what you're best in.“ Rick dried his tears with his wrist and tried to catch his breath.

Of course he knew all that. But hearing Negan admit it, was one of the first steps forward, in a long time. „I planned on visiting you. I wanted to leave tomorrow.“

Negan gulped, he didn't expect that Rick really would come after him. Not after all his trying to get rid of him. But here he was, sheriff Rick, fighting for his will.

„Fine, I wanna drink wine with you again.“ Rick smiled and laid back on his bed, his eyes focused on the ceiling, the tears slowly stopping to run.

„Yeah, I would like that.“ Negan finished the rest of the bottle and added „but we will need a new one, this one's empty.“ Rick heard a bottle being thrown at the floor and laughed in amusement. „You drank the whole bottle in that short amount of time?“ „Not to mention the whisky I had before our little talk... What should I say? I miss you.“

Rick first wanted to make a joke about alcoholism, but the last words stole his humor away and left him only with a longing. „I miss you too.“

Negan stood up to lay down on his bed and looked out of the window again. „I'm drunk Rick. I don't know what I'm saying.“ Negan mumbled against the walkie, feeling the dizzyness stealing the rest of his rationality away. But for Rick, it was a win situation, Negan couldn't be icecold right now and he liked that.

„I don't care. I'll listen to everything you say now even more careful.“ Negan giggled and it sounded so light hearted, that it warmed Ricks heart.

„Do you see the moon?“ Negan asked and Rick nodded, turning his face to the window. „I do.“ „I used to watch the stars with Lucille. Constellations and all that shit. But the moon still is my favorite thing up there.“ „Hm...“ That's why Negan always stared at the stars for so long, when they were resting.

„Wanna go there?“ „To the moon?“ Negan asked out of surprise. „You have a fucking rocket or what, sheriff Grimes?“ Rick bursted out laughing. „No, I wish I had.“ „Thank God, I'm not going to fucking enter a stupid rocket, vomit the life out of me and explode up there in the endless nothing, I'd rather look at it from here, with you.“ „Wow, you're so romantic, Negan.“ „Nah, shut up, dickhead.“

They both chuckled and rested their eyes on the moon, imagining at the same time, that both of them were staring at the same thing right now. So far away and still so close. „Tommorow then.“ Negan mumbled, wanting to hear the approval of the other man. „Yeah, tomorrow. But don't run away.“ „Can't promise that. I will be sober, so...“ „Then I make you drunk again.“ Negan laughed again. „If you catch me, mister.“ „Yeah, we know how this cat and mouse game finishes for you, so don't play me.“ „Don't challenge me.“ Negans eyes closed, cause of the sudden tiredness crawling over him and the walkie slowly slid out of his hand, next to him. That's why his whispering of „I love you“ didn't reach Rick anymore.

He assumed Negan fell asleep, his voice was whispering so softly before, that he knew, that would happen. But it was fine for him, he could fall asleep now with the sound of this soft side of Negan, the side he fell for before. He just hoped, he wouldn't deny any of it on the next day. Rick couldn't stand it anymore.

„Sleep well, Negan. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.“ was the last Rick said, but Negan didn't hear it anymore. The scent of the wine befuddled his mind that much, that his sleep was as sweet and deep, as it wasn't for a long time.

And for Rick, it was the first time since weeks, where he could sleep as well. Not long, because of his excitement, but at least without nightmares. How could he ever repay Michonne for that?

 

 

Chapter Text

The next morning Rick woke up next to the walkie, giving him the reminder of the last talk he fell asleep to and he couldn't help but smile about it. Nevertheless he had to get up to prepare breakfast for Judith and take a shower before he leaves for the sanctuary.

As he sat in the kitchen to feed his daughter, someone knocked on the door and he just said „Come in“.

The good mood in his voice surprised Michonne, she didn't hear him that cheerful for a long time. No matter how relieving that sound was, it still made obvious that her plan, to make them talk, worked and she couldn't hide the lingering disappointment of that.

„Morning.“ Rick had Judith on his lap and smiled at the woman, who made it possible for him to sleep.

„Look who's there, Judith. It's Mama Michonne.“ Judith babbled happily and Michonne took her on her arms, kissing her forehead and swinged her around slowly.

Rick cleaned the dishes and after finishing that, he went up to Michonne and smiled softly.

„You're in good mood today.“ And you're all cleaned up like leaving for a date, she noticed as well. Rick nodded and felt the guilt from last night rise again. „Yeah, thanks to you.“ Michonne forced herself to smile at that, even if she didn't feel like it one bit.

She tried to focus on Judith, chattering with her and making her fly in her arms.

„Look, I... I really don't know how I can make it up to you what you did for me last night.“

Michonne sent him a short look and kneeled down, telling Judith to wait for her in the living room. Then she turned to Rick and crossed her arms. „Don't mention it again. It worked out, it seems. That's what matters.“ Rick nodded again and stepped closer.

„I just...want you to know that...you're still my family, Michonne. I would never want you to leave here, if you feel like you need to. You...you can have my bedroom, I would always take the couch as long as you stay.“ Michonne raised her eyebrow and gave him a disparaging look.

„You give me your bedroom? How kind of you. Does that mean you move, to him?“ „What?“ Rick widened his eyes and shook his head heavily. „No, god no. I just... I want you to feel like home, since it is your home after all. I just don't want you to feel like anything changed for me.“

She had to give a laughter about that. „Yeah, sure. Nothing changed for you. For me it did, Rick. But you know what, I prefer staying here to watch you. You need me more than Judith would ever need one of us. So I stay. But I stay down here. You keep your bedroom.“

She turned around and Rick got a grip of her upper arm, catching her eyes. „So are we good?“ Michonne rolled her eyes and pushed her arm away. „Yeah, sure. I told you, I trust you. I follow you, no matter where it leads me. It's where I go too.“ Rick smiled to that and let his hand slide over his wrist. „Thank you. You have no idea how much that means to me. All of it.“ Michonne nodded and added „I hope so.“ before she left for the living room to play with Judith.

Rick grabbed his gun and the hatchet to rest them in his belt and then stepped up to the doorframe. „I...will go to the Sanctuary now.“ Michonne turned her head with big eyes. „And you're sure it will be safe?“ Rick shrugged.

He honestly didn't know, only thing being sure is, that he lost his mind anyways. What should he be afraid of anymore? „I guess it will be, yes. I need to clear that mess up, right?“ Michonne agreed to that point, so she just nodded and gave him a caring look. „Just...be careful.“ „I put their walkie on the table, if anything seems off, you can check it.“ „Yeah, I will. And you take care. And I mean it.

Rick stepped up and kissed Judiths head. „You two as well. I love you.“ Never before these words hurt Michonne on that level, like it did now. It was bittersweet to hear that from him. Knowing he would leave now to tell exactly these words in a different meaning to someone else.

Rick gave Michonnes shoulder a squeeze and left the house, nearly jumping like a child on its first day of school.

 

***

 

 

As Rick reached the Sanctuary, he parked his car one street ahead and walked the last miles by foot.

As the gates spread in front of him, the dancing feeling in his stomache turned into something more sickening. This place always looked like pure death to him. Walkers in chains, Spikes in the cars and dust everywhere.

Also the memories belonging to this place never were good ones. He was wondering how Negan even could feel like home here.

As Carl was brought back from Negan that time, he explained everything he saw to them. The room with the wives, the big hall with the market and even Negans bedroom. Surprisingly Carl could understand Negans fascination about that place, which always seemed unreal to Rick. But maybe he would find himself a way to understand that as well.

 

The outer gates were opened without a word, or Rick being able to see who was outside, but at least he had no struggle with explaining his visit, for now.

Arat opened the last gate and nodded at him, while Ricks eyes already searched for the familiar face in the background. Just in a blink, he saw the black leather jacket entering the hall, nearly like a hallucination. Maybe he didn't see me coming? Rick thought. Or is he running away, again?

He frowned and wanted to run after him, but Arat pulled him to her side. „Let him. Don't run after him like the puppy he calls you. His mood is unpredictable today, so go slow.“ Rick had to admit, he didn't like what he just heard, but maybe Arat was right. „Thank you, Arat.“

„Sure, let me show you around, boss is having a meeting now.“ Rick nodded but couldn't hide, how uncomfortable the whole situation made him feel.

People were looking at him in disgust when he crossed their stairs and he wouldn't be surprised, if anyone just stabs a knife in his back out of nowhere.

 

Arat did her best to distract him, knowing it wouldn't make sense to run after Negan, when he was in a bad mood. She was sure they planned Ricks visit, otherwise Negan wouldn't have ordered to let him in, but for now it was better to keep the distance, or Negan would loose interest in chasing Rick.

When they crossed the room for Negans wives, Rick felt how his stomache twisted. It smelled like sex and alcohol and all eyes were on him, when he gave a short look to the women in there. Which of them is Lucy, he wondered, but forbid himself to get lost in too many images.

„May I...talk to them?“ Rick asked shyly, but Arat just widened her eyes in surprise. „What? No, you definitely should not do that, idiot.“ „Sorry...“ Rick mumbled, embarrassed by the painful jealousy rising in his heart.

All these women slept with Negan, right? So...even if Negan had some interest for him, he would always be number...eight? Twelve?

He sighed and scratched his head. Somehow he pictured his arrival prettier than it was.

„This is Negans room, but I think we should wait downstairs until they are finished. Come on.“ Arat stepped forward but Rick couldn't release his look from Negans door. He wished he could take a look and just stay there, waiting for him.

Without noticing, he stepped forward. „Hey, don't!“ Arat grabbed his arm and pulled him back. „He wouldn't like that. He hates if someone steps into his privacy. He has to allow that first, get that?“ Rick frowned and pulled his arm out of her grip. „I think I know enough of his privacy already.“ „Let him invite you, don't just step in.“ Rick groaned in disapproval, but he knew she wouldn't let him go anyways. „Fine.“

Annoyed like a child, he went forward, to reach the steps as suddenly a door swung open and Negan came out, Lucille on his shoulder and his eyes finding Ricks instantly.

The smirk on his lips turned into weakness, just for a second, before it shifted back to a wide grin. „We have a visitor. Welcome, prick.“

Simon stepped after him with crossed arms and raised his eyebrows. „Holy motherfucking shit. Is it christmas already, or why do we have a happy family dinner?“ Negan laughed and stepped in front of Arat, Ricks eyes still laying on his. „It's not christmas but maybe it's my birthday today, having Rick the prick in my beautiful home. Did Arat show you around?“ Negan avoided eyesight with Rick, he focused on Arat who nodded, but before she could say anything, Rick interrupted, stepping forward to make Negan catch his sight. „She did. Thank you Arat.“

Negan breathed deeply in, to rise his chest and looked down at Rick, his tongue sliding over his teeth. „I guess you're hungry now, sheriff. Let's get you something to eat. And Dwight? Get room 2 prepared for him, will you.“ „Yes sir.“ Dwight replied and left the hall. Rick wondered why he needed an own room, but he couldn't think clearly anyways, having Negan that close in front of him.

Negan felt the same, the air that thick, you could cut it with a blade only. That's why he turned away and stepped down the stairs. Rick was confused and followed him, Arat and Simon staying in the hall.

Negan seemed to give some orders for a proper meal to someone and Rick followed him without a word.

After some more hallways they entered a room with a small bar and dinner tables. „Have a seat.“ Rick blinked and replied „Nah, I'm fine.“ He didn't want to leave Negans side too far, being afraid he would just ran off.

Negan rested Lucille against the bar and looked over his shoulder. „Please, Rick. I'm not gonna disappear.“ Rick wanted to reply something to that, but as soon as he opened his mouth, someone came in with plates and cutlery, preparing the table.

Negan grabbed something from the bar which seemed to be whisky and sat down on a chair, offering with a wave the chair across him. Rick agreed and sat down, somehow feeling watched by all the people coming inside and leaving the room again.

„Sorry for the people, but you need them for good service, you know?“ Negan filled his glass and took a big sip of the brown liquid, which caused Rick to furrow his brows. Seems he didn't even need to make him drunk, he did it fine by himself.

Rick watched carefully what was happening around them, still not sure if someone just would freak and start a mass shooting by his presence.

Meanwhile Negan just rested his feet on the table and waited patiently for the plates being filled. „Pasta!!! Gotta love the italian shit, right?“ Negan smiled widely and emptied his first glass of whisky, before he grabbed his fork and took the first bite. He moaned with a filled mouth, Rick still sitting like a frozen statue, trying to process everything that happened. And now this big grin on Negans face, made him finally release his serious face, into a soft smiling one.

„You're one of a kind, loving food so much aren't you?“ Rick mentioned and grabbed a fork, to start eating as well. He had to admit it was delicious. „It's good.“ he mumbled and Negan laughed. „Yeah right? Gotta LOVE that food! It's made for you to stay.“ Rick shook his head by this comment, not being sure what he meant. He decided he would eat first and then think about it, cause it was just too good to miss.

 

As the plates were empty, again people came to clean the place up, while Negan filled his third glass of whisky already.

He gave a wave with his hand, which caused the others to leave and then looked at Ricks questioning eyes for the first time. That blue he missed so much, instantly stabbed the knife back in his heart again, twisting it around slowly.

He rested against his chair and took a sip of his beverage. „So Rick. What can I do for you?“

Rick noticed the still open door and was insecure about how alone they really were.

„I... I don't know. I just...wanted to check where you live.“ Negan raised his eyebrows and tilted his head. „Really?“ He loved that game already. Both acting like nothing happened before, that was territory Negan was a master in.

He swinged his glass in his hand and focused his eyes on Ricks, making him forget all the nasty things he wanted to say. Sadly it didn't stop the voices in his head, telling him to scare him off again and he didn't know how long he could ignore them, what made him drink faster.

„May...may I see your room?“ Negan nearly spit out the drink and bursted out laughing. „My god, Rickyboy. All in today, or what? I like that shit. To be concrete it tickles my balls! Buuut...I have to disapprove. You have to earn entering that room, you know? But...“ He stood up, his drink still in his hand, and flexed two of his fingers in the air, to make him follow him. „I will show you something better.“ Rick blinked again and stood up, following Negans big steps and his whistling.

 

They reached the hall from the beginning and turned back upstairs. Ricks stomache took another twist, as Negan stumbled into the room with his wives. „Hello ladies! I want to introduce you to my new best friend, Rick the prick. Make him feel at home, will you?“ Rick didn't dare to enter and stopped in front of the door. It felt somehow wrong to look at all these faces.

Negan noticed and bent his back, to look at him standing in the doorframe. „Excuse us, our little Sheriff is the shy type, but we're here to change that.“ He grabbed Ricks arm and pulled him inside, all girls eyes focused on him, like an animal in the zoo.

Negan wasn't even sure why he brought him here, besides the good drinks they had here. Maybe he just wanted to try another time, how far he could go and how fast Rick would be scared off. His inner voices laughed in amusement, at least.

The girls started to introduce themselves, while Negan grabbed the thing he came for, a red wine bottle. He filled two glasses, as he heard the last name in the room. „I'm....Lucy.“ Ricks look changed to something icecold, making him feel the same uneasiness, as Lucy just had.

She knew who this man was. She remembered how Negan whispered his name the last time. And she knew exactly that he was the reason, why Negan had avoided them for weeks now. He sometimes took other wives to the next room, but all came out earlier than usual. And for all of them, he found other blaming reasons, why they ruined the mood. It must have been obvious to all of them, that this guy was the reason for all this.

And that was the fact, which Lucy somehow relieved, but also scared. If Negan was obsessed about someone that much, he must be worse than him, right? Negan would never develop an obsession about something good, it always was the worst he loved.

So first Lucy wanted to thank Rick, cause he protected them all from the stuff, Negan did before, but she couldn't risk it with Negan in the room. He surely wanted to make a point here.

Negan handed Rick one glass and noticed his resting eyes on Lucy. „See something you like, sheriff?“ Negan asked and moved his face close to Rick, making the air between them even thicker.

Rick knew Negan had his dick in all of them before, but still Lucy was the only one he heard the name off and distracted him right on the first day, after they returned. So it made him hurt the most, to look at her, than all the others.

Rick turned his head back to Negan and toasted with him, Negan letting out an amused „cheers“ and for him, it really was something to celebrate. Rick did good. He didn't run off like a whiny girl, he entered the room with him and stood by his side, like he belonged there. It was more than he expected.

He stepped to the bar at the windows and gave Rick a wink, which made him follow.

Negans wives sat down on the couch together, which was across the room and Negan rested his ellbows on the table, staring at Rick with a grin. „I like this place. There's nothing you can't tell here. I trust them more than I trust anyone outside these walls. So... Say what you wanna say, Rick. It's safe here.“ Rick couldn't help but scoff about that. He felt anything but safe in here.

„Are you kidding me? That's why you brought me here? I feel more like you're trying to make a point, again.“ Negan couldn't be amused more. He loved that disarming Rick, it made him adore him even more. „Well helloooo there, you sneaky asshole. I don't have to stand for making a point, so ex-cuse the fucking shit out of me, princess.“

He raised his glass and emptied it in one gulp, causing Rick to chuckle. „Yeah, I see that.“ Negan rolled his eyes and placed the glass on the table, in front of Ricks, his hand sliding down on the wood, Ricks thumb and Negans index finger right next to each other. Negan gave him a seductive look and whispered „So ask, ask what you came to ask for.“

Rick looked down at their hands, the warmth of Negans skin so close, that it caused an instant panic attack in Ricks mind. He pulled his hand from the table and stared at his glass, the red liquid glowing from the lights. „First of all I came here to thank you for lowering the pick-ups.“

Negan laid back and grabbed for the bottle in front of him, filling another glass. „No problem, Rick.“ As the liquid poured in the glass, the scent of it went right to Ricks nose, causing him instant dizzyness and flashbacks from laying in Negans arms. He didn't even realize, he let out an annoyed moan, trying to fight the pictures and looked back to Negans eyes. „Do I have to worry cause you did that?“

Negan placed the bottle back on the table and said „so you are scared I'm playing you. You don't trust me.“ Rick gritted his teeth and slowly nodded. „Yeah, to be honest, yes.

Negan didn't like that comment and looked to the side, at his wives on the couch. They were playing card games and enjoying themselves, a picture Negan calmed down and convinced him, he did the right thing.

„What would help to make you trust me?“

Don't fuck this up again, Rick told himself. He knew all eyes laid on him somehow and he needed to give something back to Alexandria for his first fail, which he tried to hide.

„Maybe...lower it the same way with the Hilltop and the Kingdom. They are friends of mine, I want them to feel safe.“ Negan hated what he heard and it made him doubt Ricks true intentions of coming here. Did he really forgot what they talked about last night? Negan would admit, he may have forgotten the last sentences as well, but he remembered their soft words for each other. That Rick comes to talk about pick-ups and lowering them for the other colonies, left him in disbelief.

You pushed him too long and too far. He didn't came here for you, who do you think you are?

Slowly Negan turned his head to the other side, to look out of the window, not resting one second on Ricks begging eyes. „I may do so.“ Rick looked at him with skepticism. Did he really just accepted his request? „Really?“ he asked with a high voice, which caused the women in the back to shift their eyes to their direction.

Negan didn't move and just added „I may.“ Then he took his glass back in his hand and stepped forward, stopping next to Rick, who looked up at him. Don't go now, he wanted to say, but he didn't dare to.

„I need to discuss that. I'll let you know tomorrow. Have a good rest. Arat shows you your room.“ With the glass raising to lips, he wanted to continue walking, but Rick reached out his arm in front of his body and stopped him. „Wait, that's it?“ Rick whispered, his eyes filled with confusion and begging for an explanation. Negan clenched his teeth, the look on Ricks face gave him nothing than rage right now, why he wanted to leave as fast as he could. He didn't want to push Rick too hard again, so it would be better to leave. „I don't know what to say more than that, Rick. That's what you came for, we discussed it, now I go discuss the possibilities for you. Go to sleep, you had a long trip.“ His upper body punched against Ricks arm, so he lowered it and let Negan pass.

Rick left the glass behind and ran after Negan, but Arat waited for him in the doorframe already. „I will bring you to your room.“ „Wait what? Did you listen out here all the time?“ Arat shrugged and saw the disappointment in Ricks eyes. Of course her boss played him again, didn't expect anything else.

As Rick wanted to cross Arat to follow Negan, she hold him back, convincing him, it would be best to leave him now. And Negan didn't even lie about discussing it, he went straight back to the conference room, with Simon and Dwight following him.

„Rick, this will take a while. You should really go to sleep now. Try it tomorrow again.“ „That's not what I came for.“ Rick mumbled and Arat shrugged again. „I know, but you shouldn't have started that business shit, I told you he's hard to handle today.“ „You know what I think? Everything I do is wrong anyways.“ „I can't disagree on that, we're talking about Negan here. Your hopes seem to be a little high.“

You weren't there yesterday, Rick thought. She didn't listen to how they were talking. How much Negan already admitted. But now they went back to this cat and mouse game, Rick hated so much.

Maybe he should have waited with making a new deal, after they talked about them, but he couldn't. It was selfish enough for him coming here, selfish enough to allow Michonne to help him, despite her feelings towards him. He needed to do something for his people again. And after he saved his people and made his mistake up to them, then he could allow himself to talk to Negan about his feelings. But seemingly this time, that order was the wrong one.

Rick frowned and followed Arat to his room. She opened the door for him and showed him bis bed and cabinet. His eyes spotted some bottles of beer on the table, a welcome gift, which maybe come at the right time.

„You can stay here. If you need anything to eat or drink, let the people in next floor know. They bring it. Don't leave without letting us know. And don't dare to sneak into other rooms, especially not his. You don't want to provoke him even more, got me?“ Rick sighed in frustration and sat down on the bed, his face hiding in his hands. „Yeah, I get that. Thank you, Arat.“

She nodded and even pitied the small, sensitive man in front of her. She wondered how someone like her boss could fall for that.

Before she left the room, he asked „How long do they usually take in that room? You think he...“ „Don't even get your hopes up for that, Rick. Try to sleep for now. Don't forget, you can still try tomorrow. Negan is like a time bomb, you never know what you get the next day. Be patient.“ Rick nodded with a laughter, he may never heard something that accurate about him before. He laid down, facing the ceiling when the door fell into its lock.

I can't believe he ran off again. I could have expected it, but still I didn't want to believe it after yesterday.

As Rick breathed out deeply, the smell of the red wine came into his nose again.

Oh how much I wished to smell his scent mixed with that again. Now I'm here and I can't even hold him. Why am I even here, when it all was for nothing?

But then it came back into his mind, what Michonne did for him the other night. He owed her. And if they really made a new deal for Hilltop and the Kingdom, it would be a start at least. And Rick would get more time to develop peace and get closer to Negan, automatically.

He sighed and went his hand through his hair.

Please just talk to me when you're finished. Don't let me lay here without you, he told Negan in his mind.

But Negan didn't come.

 

 

***

 

 

„Ugh...“ Negan sighed and behind him the door fell into its lock. He took off his jacket and threw it over one of his chairs, before he sat down on his bed, getting rid of his boots and jeans as well, to lay down in bed. With one arm resting on his forehead, he stared at the ceiling, but the weight on his eyes caused by the alcohol, closed them fastly.

As expected the meeting discussing the pick-ups for Hilltop and the kingdom, didn't go well. Simon and Regina were close to freaking about Negans „sudden soft methods“ and he had to be extremly harsh to get them back to track. But of course it would come this way, he knew the risk that one day they would find out something was going on. That's why he wanted to avoid letting Rick in too close, but now it was too late, he was already here. And god, did he look beautiful.

Negan smiled to himself over the picture of Ricks fresh washed hair, his curls laying on his neck and that unbeatable smell of mahogany all over him. That man didn't even need a fucking perfume to befuddle his senses. And he was goddamn sure that Rick felt how hard it was for Negan to concentrate, when he tried to avoid his sight. But why did you start with this fucking pick-ups again, with fucking work, when you all had to do, is come to me and have a good night with me. Why Rick? I didn't want you to come for fucking work.

Maybe the move of bringing him to his wives, was one step too far, but Negan wanted Rick to understand, that his wives were not something about forcing someone, or just puppets he had no respect for. He treated them all with respect, he wanted to protect them more than anyone else who was in here. For Negan, they were the best example of doing good things in his home. And he was proud of it and wanted to share that with Rick. Not to mention, that they were the only ones with the wine. But seemed, it was too much for Rick to take in. You fucking lunatic.

Negan let out an annoyed groan and rolled over to his side, looking at the window, where the moon still shined through.

What a goddamn pity you can't see that from your room, Rick. I would show it to you but...you really pissed me off today.

Maybe you should just go to him“ Lucilles soft voice appeared in Negans mind, but he just smirked about that comment. I won't. He came here for nothing else than his leadership. He did a pretty good job in taking a stand and I admire him for that. Still...I expected some more from this day.

Negan sighed and felt his tiredness sink deeper. Maybe tomorrow.

With his closed eyes, Negan couldn't avoid pictures coming back to his mind. Pictures of these blue eyes, how they caught his sight today. Like a small child craving desperately for attention. And this blue jeans shirt he always wore over his, much too tight, black jeans.

Negan rested his hand on his forehead, frowning over his own obsession over this man. You are ridiculous. And then this smell of the red wine, this heavy dizzy feeling making you feel so warm inside, but still feeding the need for nearness. I wish I could have you in my arms right now, inhaling your scent and tasting your sinful skin.

Negan moaned by this imagination and hated himself in the same moment, cause he couldn't stand up and tell Rick all that. He was a coward after all and he didn't deserve him. While Rick came to see him, he just ran away and wasted another chance. All for nothing. You are worthless, he told himself. You are a disappointment. You disappointed Lucille and now you disappoint him.

He squinted his eyes and tried to focus on the heavyness, making his body unable to move, only drifting him off to sleep.

 

 

***

 

 

Just a short amount of time later, Negans always high alert came in handy and as soon as his doorknob turned, he jumped on his feet, one hand grabbing Lucille and waiting for the darkness to reveal its secret attacker.

With Lucille above his head, wet blue eyes stared at him and Negans arms froze.

Rick moved one hand in front of him, to calm him down. „Negan, it's me. Calm down.“

Negan had his teeth clenched and couldn't believe he nearly attacked that smaller man, who now stood in front of him in regret. Normally people would instantly run away when Lucille welcomed them like this, but Rick, brave as always, moved not even a bit. This man.

Negan lowered Lucille, placed her on one of his chairs and grabbed Ricks arm, to pull him inside, just to close the door behind him with his foot. The adrenaline slowly lowered from the sudden waking, but now it mixed with something else, something that made it hard for Negan to hold focus. The sudden visitor made all the tiredness go away, but brought back the voices in Negans head, the ones even alcohol couldn't shut down.

Rick still was breathing fast, Negans reaction was something he could have expected, but still he wasn't prepared to be welcomed by a Lucille above him. Maybe Arat was right, he shouldn't have come.

Still, the moment when looking into that dark eyes, with the most wonderful reflection of the moon in them, made it impossible for Rick to leave now, on the contrary, it was the reason why he came in the first place. He wanted to look at this as long as he could.

Don't make me go, he begged inside his mind and he even had the feeling, Negan slowly softened his look. He was caught in Ricks eyes, like Rick was in his. They both exhaled deeply and Rick smiled out of relief.

His eyes wandered around the room for the first time. And even if it was filled with darkness, Rick could still spot so many things, which were so Negan like. It was a bit like he imagined, but on the other hand something completely different. It felt comfy. Even safe and elegant. It even had this strong smell of cinnamon inside, mixed with strong alcohol and santalum. And it showed the beautiful darkness of Negans soul, which Rick learnt to love. Rick felt more comfortable than in any other clean and feminine flat he was in before, and that surprised him. But maybe Rick finally found the place where he secretly belonged. Where his dark side belonged. And Negan was just his lost, sick soulmate, like Arat assumed before.

„What do you want?“ Negan suddenly asked and before Rick could even answer, he added „Talking about fucking pick-ups again?“, releasing his eyes from Rick to shift his focus to his bed, like a rejected teenager.

Rick finally understood, why Negans mood shifted before and he left so precipitately: He thought Rick was just here to talk about business, not about them. What a fucking child, he thought.

Shaking his head, he stepped closer, so he could inhale Negans strong scent of whisky and wine. Ricks eyes trembled, this smell feeling like a drug running right through his veines. „That's not what I came for, asshole.“

Negan turned his head back to facing him again, the comment giving him some hope, he really came for him. His right hand wandered to Ricks chin and he pushed him back against the door, he just came into.

It felt like time was stopping right here. The air so thick, that it seemed hard to breathe. There was something dangerous, nearly devilish in Negans eyes. Rick wondered if it was rage or hate and where it suddenly came from, not realizing it was this dark part of Negan, telling him to push Rick away. But Negan tried to fight it, he just was too close to loosing control.

Negan moved one leg between Ricks, pushing so close against his body, that Rick had the urge to arch back, but couldn't. With every word Negan spoke, his hips pressed closer to Ricks, not releasing his eyes for one moment. „So tell me Rick, what did you came for.“ As their hips met each other, Rick couldn't stand the sudden arousal coming up in him and closed his eyes to lower the temptation. With his last strength he let out a whisper of „I wanted to see you.“

Ricks words wavered down on Negans lips like the wind and he lowered his grip, to step one inch back. „You saw me. What now?“ Negan tried his best to keep his passion under control, even if he felt the heat rising between his legs. The way he spoke, smelled and moved his eyes, just made Negan forget about everything, he ever thought to know. It made him weak and he hated that.

Rick felt the same shiver running over his back, but as Negan backed off, he finally dared to breathe again and opened his eyes. „I wanna stay with you.“ At least this wish didn't sound as submissive, as his whisper before.

„You have your own room...“ Negan tried to turn him down, but this time Rick knew, he had to fight for what he wanted. He knew Negan expected that. „It's empty without you. I wanna stay here.“ Negan blinked to that, he didn't assumed Rick would be that clear about what he wanted, not after today was a mess again. But it amused him, more than he wanted to admit. Rick really learnt fast how to play this game.

Negan smiled and dared to step closer again, feeling how his heart race won slowly over this wicked mind of destruction.

„You're having nightmares, Grimes?“ Rick grinned and reached forward with his hands, to meet Negan in the middle and rested his palms on his white shirt. „I started to have nightmares since I met you, but different ones from what you think.“

Rick lowered his eyes to keep them on his hands, stroking over the white fabric. Negan wanted him to look up, he hated every second he couldn't see that blue.

One hand moved up to raise Ricks chin and Negan looked down at him, like a master to his slave, his tongue parting his teeth. „So you just came into the devils cave, asking for absolution to stay here, are you sure you want that?“ Rick smirked, deciding not to be scared off again this time.

His hands gripped harder on Negans shirt, to pull their faces closer, the taller mans breath on his face. „Don't act all bad Negan. You won't push me away this time.“

Negan was proud of his Rick. He never met someone who played this game with him for such a long time without breaking. And Rick went right to it. What a hero.

But for Ricks surprise, Negan brought back some distance between their faces, releasing Ricks hands from his shirt and gave a wave to his bed. With his tongue still between his teeth, he commanded „No shoes, no jeans.“

He let go of Rick and sat down on the bed, his hands resting next to him, watching Rick pulling of his jeans shirt first, the moon giving the side of his face this angelic glow. Negan could have sworn, he never had a more beautiful strip show than that.

Rick stepped out of his boots and moved on to his belt, the clicking uniting with Negans clicking of his tongue in his mouth. He really seemed to enjoy watching him.

Rick opened his jeans and looked up at Negan, who tilted his head, his eyes shiny from the light outside and teary from the alcohol. He looked like a mess and Rick loved it.

With one move, Negan slid his blanket open for Rick, offering him to crawl next to him and Rick did.

Negans strong arm slid under Ricks to hug him from behind and his chin could finally rest in that younger mans neck again. Eventually he could inhale the extravagant scent of mahogany again, oh my god how much he missed that. He sank his nose in Ricks curls, rubbing his face against his, to feel the touch of Ricks hair all over him again.

Rick closed his eyes with satisfaction, trying to keep this in his mind. His left hand wandered up to Negans hair, pulling his face so close, that he couldn't stop breathing against his hair.

Feeling Ricks fingers slid through his hair, let a shiver ran over Negans back. He couldn't even remember when he allowed anyone to be that possessive of him. All he knew was he couldn't push away anymore. Not this time, despite all of his screaming voices of self destruction.

You smell so good.“ Negan whispered against the back of the other mans head and Rick couldn't hold back to scoff him off. „You're drunk.“ „I'm not. I can drink a lot.“ Negan argued but Rick didn't buy it. „Why did you drink?“ Negan couldn't help back the desperate needing coming up in him, wanting to feel Ricks hand all over him, arching his head back against his hand. „Oh come on, Rickyboy. I needed distraction to get my mind of you since you're here.“

Rick felt how the taller man got lost in his touch, it was no surprise that Negan loved someone to pull his hair, which made Rick only tightening his grip. A silent moan escaped Negans lips and he mumbled „But here you are, not being able to keep your distance, while I really tried my best.“

Rick loved the confessions he was hearing. He could listen to it all night long. He pulled Negans hair back and turned his own head to face him, loving the slight impression of control. „So you surpressed the urge to come to me?“ He had hoped for that, but not even remotely he really expected it to be like this. As Rick stopped his moving hand, to catch Negans reaction, he opened his eyes to face this iceblue weapons and got lost in them. „Hm...it's not just the urge to come to you.“

Negans lip twitched before he released a soft smirk, making Rick reply with his own grinning. „Which urge is it?“ he asked, his eyes wandering from left to right, with every shift trying to sink deeper in this color of darkness and lust.

„Oh Rick.“ Negan knew Rick must have liked that short moment of control, but now he needed to get it back, which made him lower Ricks hand from his hair, while his own hand searched for Ricks cheek to rest on it. „Careful how you look at me now.“ But Rick couldn't stop. It just made him dig deeper. „Careful how you get lost in that look. What should I be afraid of?“ „That I tell you what I want to do to you.“ „And what exactly do you want to do to me?“ Rick asked playful, surprised over his brave way of flirting, which he never was a part of before. He always needed women to make the move on him in the past, but Negan was something else. He challenged him in every way possible, making him discover more and more weaknesses and strengths, he didn't know before.

Negan loved his straight forward style the same way, like he loved Ricks shy, conservative part. It was both him. It was what made him the leader he is. And goddamn, how sexy that was.

Negan moved his face next to Ricks, his hand sliding up the chin to his cheek, stroking his thumb over that beautiful, with hair covered skin. „I wanna kiss you so badly, like I never wanted to kiss anyone before. The whole day I looked at you, thinking about how I could tear you apart with kisses all over you. I wanted to take you right as I saw you after the meeting, I wanted to take you on that dinner table, even down at the bar, right in front of all these women, just making everyone watch.“

That certainly was the most direct confession Rick ever got from someone and with every word Negan said, the sound of his voice ran down his neck, straight to his hips, where he felt the pleasure sunk right in.

In the most seductive way Rick could think of, he just whispered „Why don't you?“ which made Negan laugh over his cockiness. „To protect you.“

Rick released his face out of Negans grip and moved back, to look in the other mans eyes again. „I don't need your protection. I don't want you to protect me.“

Negan rested his now free hand under his head to support it, so he could stare right back into that blue eyes with amusement about the bravery, he was faced with.

I don't wanna hurt you.“ Rick thought this was ridiculous. If he wouldn't want to hurt him in the first place, he would have never pushed him away so many times. This man really didn't understand how relationships work.

Rick narrowed his eyes, to underline the importance of his next words. „Then stop it by pushing me away.“

Negan furrowed his brows, it seemed like he heard that sentence before. Not only once. Even that goddamn therapist in his youth, where his parents sent him to, said the same fucking thing. „Stop pushing people away you love“. Seemed he never really learnt it and Rick was damn convincing to teach him now.

„You are saying things, you don't know the meaning of.“ Negan replied, not being able to imagine, that the soft and pure sheriff Rick really wanted to experience that uncontrollable beast, hiding in Negans chest. „But I know the meaning of this.“ Rick answered with a smile, but Negan replied with an even closer face, eyes on him like a staring contest. „The shit you know.“

Rick couldn't help and played down Negans bad boy move, disarming the monster with the soft move of just striping Negans hair out of his face. Negan melted and he knew that. „Kill them with kindness“ was mostly something what worked for Rick, even for Negan.

I missed you.“ Rick said with such an honest tone, pure as the driven snow, that Negan could just reply „I missed you too.“

Negans arm around Rick pulled him even closer and his hand laced his fingers with that perfect mans hand.

The feeling of Negans silky hair between his fingers, brought back his scent, like a wave swallowing Rick to its depth.

He closed his eyes and said „And I missed your smell of whisky.“

Negan surely wasn't expecting that kind of a compliment but it could have been worse. „Whisky? I smell like whisky to you? Wow what a compliment.“ He chuckled and Rick just added „And cinnamon.“, forcing Negan to tilt his head, because he sure liked the thought of that. „I like cinnamon.“ „I love cinnamon.“ Rick one-upped him and let his eyes slide open again, just to notice that wonderful grinning face, he knew all to well. But now this smile was pleased, not disparaging.

„You smell like mahogany.“ Negan asserted with a proud nod of his head. „What? I smell like wood to you?“ Rick couldn't hold back a creaky sound out of surprise. „An expensive one!“ Negan added determined. The smaller man bursted out laughing. „So I'm extraordinary.“ „Oh yes, indeed you are!“ Negan agreed and replied with a softer smile than before, somehow wistful. „That's why Lucille and I covered our floor in mahogany.“ Now that was a compliment even Rick understood. He loved that comparison from now on.

While moving his thumb over Negans forehead, to erase the worry line of speaking Lucilles name, he assumed „So I smell like home to you.“

Negan loved how Rick noticed the small changes in his face, even now trying to relax his tensioned skin. Giving into the relaxation, he closed his eyes and said „Yes, you do.“ before he moved his head next to Ricks again, confessing in his ear „And it drives me fucking crazy.“

By this words Rick couldn't hold back anymore, overwhelmed from his sudden need to get closer to this other man. He turned his body around, releasing his laced hand of Negans and shoved his right one with desperate longing under his white shirt, moving it up to Negans chest, to feel his heartbeat pounding against his palm. Negan felt how much his heart was racing by Ricks unusual takeover, but it caused nothing more than satisfaction. „How dare you, I told you not to touch me.“ Negans strong left hand found Ricks under his shirt and grabbed it resolutely. But Rick was too far gone at this point, feeling his soul getting lost in Negans fierce look, the first thing which made Rick nothing more than lose his mind. „I can't stop.“ Rick admitted but Negan loved the watch of Ricks mental decline and argued „You have to learn. I stop myself all the time.“

It was not the smartest thing to confess that, but Negan lost the feeling for right and wrong the moment he started to have feelings for this guy.

„From what?“ Rick couldn't stop listening to all the dirty words Negan was about to say. He wanted to hear them all. „From taking you.“

Like an automatic self protection, Negan grabbed the last straw for holding himself back and slid Ricks hand down, to get his touch away from his heart, but Rick struggled against his grip, stopping their hands at Negans waistband. His eyes bored into Negans and his chin lowered, giving him a confident look from below. Let me, Rick was begging inside, hoping Negan wouldn't stop his first and only try to make a bigger move.

Negan froze and with him his hand, letting Ricks palm free, his fingertips wandering under Negans waistband.

Rick smirked to that, but the shiver running over Negans back told him, he had to hold him back, so he raised his brow and punished Rick with an exhorting look and another grip of his wrist. „Oh Ricky, that is a no-no. You have to ask me first.“ But Rick was tired of talking. „I don't wanna ask anymore.“

Negan was struck by Ricks sudden confidence and it made him horny as fuck. „We should at least kiss first, right?“ „Then kiss me finally.“ Rick bantered him and again his fingertips went lower, softly dancing over Negans thin hairs, drawing their way down his crotch.

This time Negans hand didn't let go, but followed him downside, his body trembling like the longing, no word in this world could descibe properly.

Negan arched his head back with closed eyes and his lips were parting, releasing the air, he would have needed so desperately, through a moan, cause Rick even stole his last bit of soul left in him. His voice was dark like a demon, when he mumbled „You make me loose my mind, Grimes.“ but Rick had too much pleasure exploring Negans waistline and watching him squirm under his touch. „I lost mine long ago.“

Rick watched every small twitch Negan made under his hand hauntingly, as his hand finally reached between his legs, barely guessing the beginning of his length and the devil himself arched his head back even more, his breaths slow and breaking, like it was his final moment of holding himself together.

He clenched his teeth, the voices in his head suddenly screaming at him, that he isn't worth the pleasure and attention getting from this man.

If you would only know how much I want you right now...“ Negan let escape his lips with his last strength, while Ricks hand was right about to touch his dick. Rick aspirated „Proof it.“ his breath was touching Negans lips as he spoke, which finally exceeded the stubborn mans limits, he set himself before.

Like in one go Negan pressed his lips on Ricks, letting all his hidden passion break free. Rick stiffed in excitement, which allowed Negan to pull his hand away, pushing it right next to Ricks head in the bed. His taller body rolled over his and his other hand grabbed Ricks free hand, pressing it harshly down like the first one, as if he wanted to chain him. He should never be able to leave again or even dare to break this kiss.

As if Rick wanted too. He was loosing the last bit of sanity under Negans lips, struggling with breathing and kissing him back the same time.

Negans lips grew wilder against him, his tongue parting Ricks lips, brisk and damanding, letting Rick part his as well, to let their tongues collide in passion.

With every inch Negan explored, he wanted to go deeper and deeper. He knew this kind of loosing control over his needs, but this time he not only wanted to own the others body, he wanted to be closer. As close as he could get. That endless urge of owning someone turned into something more sweetly with Rick, which let him even release one hand, just to hold his face closer all of the sudden. His fingertips tangled to the back of Ricks hair, holding him so passionate, like only lovers could do.

And Rick loved it. He melted right into Negans hand, as if he never wanted anything else in his life before. Their tongues were clenching against each other, both of them moaning against their lips, like letting out a desire filled with lust.

Like in trance Negan was rocking his body against his, the arousal spreading from his hips to every inch of his body, to the most remote parts of his mind.

Feeling Negans crotch pressed against his own, Rick turned his hand in Negans, to lace their fingers, his nails digging into Negans skin. Gasping for air he moved his free hand up to Negans hair, to turn his face to the other side, just to catch one short breathe during their uncontrollable movings. Rick didn't mind if he would loose consciousness right here and runs out of air in this mans arms, but he wanted to experience this moment to its fullest. Still every breathe he took, seemed like for nothing, Negan was just swallowing him like a black hole and he didn't plan to come back. The urge to tell this man how much he loves him, crawled up in Rick, being the conservative guy he was, he never kissed someone that passionate before, if he had not said that words. Still there was nothing left to say, every word was swallowed by Negans tongue, like sucking dry his deepest secrets.

Negan wanted to eat him up and never let him talk again. He wanted to take every inch of his body and make him his, to never get apart again. So that all the mistakes, all the pushing he did before, never would have a chance to come back again. He lost his mind over this guy before and now he was about to loose his heart and put it on Ricks tongue. His knee moved up, pressing against Ricks hips, a move he didn't even control, it just came like it was meant to be. Nevertheless his arousal just rose immeasurably, as he felt how hard Rick was for him. For him. He couldn't believe it. Sheriff Grimes, all hot for the devil himself. Why did he deserve that?

To be sure he wasn't hallucinating, he slowly released his lips from Ricks, to get a glimpse of that pure face with its blue eyes. Negan smiled to that view, his thumb sliding over Ricks light beard. Before Rick could pull him back, Negan moved closer himself, but letting his lips touch the others so lightly, that every time they met, it felt their skins were shaking against each other. He slid his tongue out to suck seductively on Ricks lower lip, letting the moan which escaped, fill his body with satisfation.

Rick wanted more and sunk deeper, but Negan loved that game of pushing back and forth, hard enough to feel the intensitiy, but light enough to give it the sweetness it deserved.

Urging for the harder touches Negan gave him before, the younger man tried to catch the others lips again, with every inch he moved away. He didn't want him to get away, not when he, for the first time, felt, that someone could take up with him.

It was adorable, Negan thought and he had to move his forefinger between their locked lips, which Rick took in with pleasure, letting his wet tongue slide over it, but it allowed Negan to release his lips and stare down at that unbeatable sexy man, who just licked his finger, as if he was preparing for his, in all probability, first blow job. Negan never looked down to someone with such a deep satisfaction.

Rick opened his eyes to grab Negans hand, sliding out his finger in slow motion, staring into Negans satisfied eyes, to observe his reactions. Rick had the feeling, Negan loved what he saw. He kissed the inner palm of Negans hand and moved it back to the bed next to him.

They both kinda panted, their minds high from the liquids they just exchanged on their tongues and Rick for the first time smirked contented. Negan couldn't have given him any better proof of how much he really wanted him.

High on confidence, Rick dared to speak after an endless break of aroused stares. „Don't push me away again.

Negan couldn't believe Rick dared to break their silence. That man had balls. „Look at you being all brave.“ he said and stroked the side of Ricks face with his thumb, without loosing grip on his hand. „Stop talking.“ Rick demanded and lifted his head, to catch Negans lips again, but Negan just bit into them like a warning, before he pressed both of their laced hands back to bed, to push him down.

„Easy, Rick. Don't ruin our first kiss.“ Rick lifted an eyebrow and scoffed „Suddenly you're the romantic one here? You kissed me before, remember?“ Negan chuckled, not believing this man. „That was no kiss, that was making a point.“ „Of course.“ Rick waved him off with his eyes. „Seriously, let's leave it by that for now.“ Negan suggested. „Why?“ Oh Rick, do I really need to tell you that my dick is close to slitting down your throat right now? Negan moved his face next to Ricks, to whisper in his ear seductively „Cause I don't wanna fuck you on your first sleepover in my place. We don't want everyone to listen to your screaming.“ Not that Negan would mind that, but this was more than just hate fucking or fucking in general, like it was with his wives. And his people would notice that. It was a secret, he didn't want to share when it happens.

„I don't mind.“ Rick said, sounding really convincing. „You really lost your mind, Grimes.“ Negan went back to facing him again, would be a pity to miss just one second of that adorable face. „Yeah...I told you that before.“ Rick asserted and Negan let go of his right hand to slide down his arm, trying to remember every inch he touched carefully. As he reached his hip, he looked down at that muscular stomache and grinned. You're a pretty damn perfect man, Grimes, Negan thought. It was the first time he could admire that body in full sight and he couldn't stop romanticizing about it.

„But, I'm serious. They shouldn't know about our stupid little alliance here. Not yet.“ Negan let go the other hand as well and rolled over to his side, to be able to get a better sight of that beautiful profile.

Alliance?“ Rick asked in confusion, but Negan gave him a wave with his head. „You know what I mean.“

Negans head moved to Ricks chest and kissed it, his right hand resting over his heart, his fingertips sliding over that hot skin, like externallly controlled by a higher power.

Rick rested his right hand on his and hold it tightly on his heartbeat. „You can at least kiss me to sleep.“ He mentioned like a pouting teenager and Negan just giggled. „Rick, if I continue kissing you right now, I will start not to mind as well and tear you apart right under me. And as much as my dick would like that right now, cause hell is it swollen for you, it would not be a smart thing to do.“

Rick was impressed, that Negan was able to think straight in this situation. His own hormons would have led him right into fucking all night, not even knowing, what he would get himself into. But damn his cock was twitching under every touch Negan gave him. „Okay. But...don't let go of me.“ Negan slowly closed and reopened his eyes, before he moved in to kiss Ricks forehead. „I won't.“

Negans hand twirled Rick around like a dance and then he shut his arm close around him again from behind. Rick took his hand and kissed the back of it. With Negans face in his neck and the breathing on his skin, it was right like it started, with the difference, that this time Negan didn't pull away his hand.

You're damn beautiful, sheriff.“ Negan hated to admit, but that was something that man needed to know. Surely he heard it every day anyways. „You're still drunk to say that, asshole.“ Negan shook his head and kissed the back of his hair. „I may be drunk enough to say it, but I think it all the time.“ Rick closed his eyes with a smile to that, he never considered Negan would call him beautiful. Hot or sexy would be something he would have expected, but beautiful was unusual for him to say, he assumed. „Thank you.“ he whispered, somehow feeling embarassed, of not having any words a quarter as good to compare to that anymore.

„But I swear, if you move against my hips anytime, I swear I will crash this bed with you in it.“ Rick chuckled, the warmth of Negans body embracing his and leading him into a calmness, he didn't know for a long time. „Would be a pity to this bed. Then I won't, for now.“ „No, you won't.“ Negan replied and rested their hands on Ricks stomache, scratching him lightly to sleep.

Negan didn't even want to sleep now, but this scent in Ricks hair was just like a sleeping pill, making you feel so comfortable, that you think, you're riding on a cloud.

He kissed his head again and didn't dare to break their contact for any second that night.

 

Chapter Text

The next morning, Rick was the first to wake with a smile, feeling Negans hand still in his. The sun was shining right at their faces, making it hard for Rick to open his eyes. As he managed to do so, he looked down at their hands and actually realized, that Negan had some small scars in forms of dots in his inner palm. Rick wondered, if he was in a fight, or could it be these came from the barbed wire of Lucille? But why?

He loosened and tightened his grip from time to time, just to explore all the inches of that beautiful and strong hand, hoping Negan wouldn't wake up soon. He just loved his closeness around his body too much. He tried to remember the last time, he felt that relaxed and secure when waking? And he had to admit, that Negans bed was the most comfortable sleep station he had for years.

Negan was letting out a soft groan, as he was snuggling closer to the smaller man, his strong breath of alcohol still lingering on him. As he spoke, Rick swore he had a taste of whisky on his lips. „Morning, sunshine.“ It seemed this morning, Negan wasn't going to pull away, what a surprise.

„Wow, that was the nicest thing you ever said to me in the morning.“ Negan chuckled and kissed Ricks neck, causing an instant shiver on that spot, even visible for Negans sleepy eyes and he loved that. „And that was the most beautiful thing, any skin did for me in the morning.“ and Rick was sure he blushed to that. „Well it's hard to surpress what my skin does, when you touch it with your lips, it's an automatic reaction.“ Negan released his hand from Ricks and slid it slowly down to Ricks crotch, where he could feel his hard length slightly. „Automatic like this you mean?“

It was a tease, only letting his fingertips touch Rick boxers above his cock, but Rick couldn't help the moan anyways. „You said you...“ „You have to learn that my mind is very flexible about things I say sometimes.“

Negan rested his whole hand on Ricks dick and carefully pressed against the light pants, while his teeth bit softly in Ricks ear. „Oh I...see that...“ Rick was only able to stutter and his free hand searched for Negans face with closed eyes, to grip his hair and pull his teeth closer against his skin. But Negan released his mouth and whispered „But I stay to what I said yesterday, just wanted to be sure you're still in, cowboy.“

After saying that Negan let go of him and rolled to the other side of the bed to sit up, moving his hand through his hair. Rick had to catch his breath again, trying to calm down the arousal the other man had just started. „You really are a fucking tease, Negan.“ He just laughed about that and said „As if that was news to you.“

Negan stood up without looking back at Rick, who rolled over to his side, watching the taller man walk over to his closet. He loved how his long legs moved forward, the butt in his boxers swinging like a model. For the first time Rick also realized how many tattoos Negan had, he knew a few, but now he could stare at them in full sight, causing so many questions.

Negan pulled out a shirt, before he turned around noticing Ricks blue, filled with sensation, eyes. „Come on Rick, it's time to get up, princess.“ „I'm a long sleeper, usually.“ Rick confessed and Negan shook his head in amusement. „Of course you are. But now you're in my home and here you have to get up early. Shit to do, Rick.“

He went over to the armchairs, grabbing Ricks jeans and threw it right in his arms. „Get up, sheriff.“

Rick complained, but sat up as well, staring at Negans strong body leaning over to grab his pants as well. He could bent over the whole day and Rick wouldn't mind.

They both put on their jeans and as Negan turned around to face Rick while closing his belt, he had a big smirk on him. The sunlight was falling onto Ricks dark hair making his lashes seem even longer than before. And this blue...Negan believed the sun made it glow even brighter.

Like in trance he grabbed his old shirt from yesterday to put it away, but suddenly Rick spoke up. „May I have it?“ Negan furrowed his brows and looked at the white fabric from yesterday. „What?“ He didn't really understand what Rick meant. „Your shirt.“

Rick lifted his eyes to face Negan and showed him a questioning grin. „I want to wear it.“ Negan shook his head in disbelief and scoffed „That thing? I wanted to wash it, dumbhead. It's all dirty and filled with alcohol stink.“ „I bet it smells like you, give it to me.“ Rick made a demanding move with his hand, having that total serious look. Negan couldn't belief this man. No one ever asked him before for a stinky old shirt, especially not to wear it himself.

„Dammit Grimes, collecting the trophies from your lovers like a pervert.“

He threw the shirt in Ricks hands and Rick just gave an sarcastic sound. „Ha-ha. Asshole.“ When Rick pulled the shirt over his head, Negan couldn't help but smile in amazement over the beauty Ricks hair slowly spreaded over that fabric. He even made old nasty shirts look perfect.

Negan looked at his side and found Ricks jeans shirt, took it in his hands and waved with it. „I will keep that one, in return. But I won't fucking wear it, no true man can be that small to fit it in.“ He threw it on his bed next to Rick, who just gave him a look of „really now?“.

While Rick stood up to grab his boots, Negan put on the new shirt he got from the drawer, nearly looking exactly the same like the one from yesterday. Plain white. Rick loved it anyhow.

Before Negan could even spot him moving closer, Rick already stood in front him, stroking his hands under Negans shirt to rest them on his chest and looking up at that eyes. How cute was that?

Negan replied with such a soft smile, that Rick felt his legs melt. His hand wandered to Ricks cheek and he stroked that curls away, with his eyes closed on his. „You look good in that, Grimes.“ „You surely look better in it. But...I don't care.“

His head laid down on Negans chest to kiss him there and Negans other hand moved up as well, to hold his face in his hands and make him look up again. „Keep it. Until we meet the next time.“ „And then I want a new one, cause this one won't smell like whisky anymore.“ Negan chuckled to that. „You really like that shit, right? I wonder what people will think, smelling the all-in-whisky-covered Rick?“ Rick shrugged. „Let them think what they want. I will tell them we had a wild whisky party.“

Negan kissed Ricks forehead with closed eyes and sighed. „There's nothing to party about yet, Rick. We have to set some things straight.“ He released his hands and stepped aside, to get his boots on as well. „What do you mean?“

Negan groaned and looked up from the bed he was sitting on. „The meeting yesterday. It didn't...went well. To keep it mildly said. I don't know how fast I can do something for you in that matter.“ Rick frowned but wasn't surprised.

His hand slid through his hair and he sat down on the back of the chair, his hands folded in his lap. „Thank you for trying anyways.“ „Yeah...“ Negan sounded worried and raised with his hand in his hair. „I will figure that out later.“ „You won't have a shower first?“ „To get rid of that fucking smell of mahogany on my skin? Are you fucking kidding me? I would be nuts to do that. Maybe I won't shower until I see my little sheriff again.“ he joked and lifted his eyebrows, waiting for a response to his joke. „Then I shouldn't let you wait too long, should I?“ „Exactly!“ Negan squeeked in satisfaction and grabbed his jacket, to put that back on as well. The move of his arms sliding into the black leather fabric, seemed like a magic dance to Rick. It was like Negan put on his second skin and when in the past that skin caused fear in Rick, now it was only sensation.

As Negan turned to the door, resting his hand on the knob, Rick placed his hand on his to hold him back, just one more moment. Negan looked over his shoulder to face that smaller man and didn't dare to say anything. He wanted to stay as well, but he knew it would be the wrong thing to do. Especially if people would see them leave together out of his room, they would start talking and with the mood as bad as yesterday, that was not something Negan could risk.

The blue of Ricks eyes sucked Negan in so deeply, that he nearly lost the hold on his feet. It always made him feel like, he needs to protect him.

„Rick, we have to go. I have to go. And you should wait until you leave here, if they see us together they...“ Rick stepped closer and made Negan turn, his back against the door and his face caught in Ricks hands. „I know you are right. I don't want you to be, but I'm not stupid. I know it. I just...want one more kiss. One moment, Negan.“

Negan smiled, being flattered by Ricks words, but he knew better, Rick hadn't seen them yesterday.

He closed his eyes and took Ricks hands to move them down, holding onto them tightly. „Look dollface, I really would like that, but first of all we both know, if we're starting to fucking make out now, with the stupid sun lifting all the haze of protection of the unseen we had yesterday, we wouldn't stop there. And I can't spent the whole day with you in my room, no matter how much I wanted that. We're leaders, Ricky. We need to get out there and do our shit. It's not about us. And that's the second reason why we have to leave now.“ It was the first time Rick heard Negan say something so reasonable, that it could have been from him. He talked like a leader indeed and in that moment, he was an even more reliable leader than Rick.

He of course was right. They first had to handle things and Rick needed to get back to his family, before they freak out and try to get him back.

„You're right.“ Rick admitted. Wow Rick Grimes said I'm right. If that's not the fucking best day in universe. „I just...I...“ in that moment they both got surprised by gun shots outside, three to be concrete.

Both turned their heads into the sounds direction and then back to each other. Negan raised his forefinger like exhorting Rick and said „You get your things from your room and then get back home. I will handle this shit here. Wait two minutes until you leave the room and act like we just met.“

Rick stopped Negan from turning around in pulling back his arm and kissed him lightly on his cheek „I can help you.“ Negan pushed him gently away, even if he appreciated that sweet act and rested his hands on Ricks shoulders. „I know you want to, but in this, you can't help me. Get home to your family. Now.“ Then Negan turned around fast enough, so he couldn't be stopped again and left the room.

Fucking shit. Rick never felt that helpless before. Normally he was the one protecting people and running for them and now he just had to wait and watch. The fear crawling up in his skin caused his hand to built a fist and his nails to dug into his skin. Since the death of Carl, he never was scared of losing someone that much. Get your shit together Grimes, stick to what Negan said.

 

 

***

 

He forgot how much time went by already, for Rick it felt more like two hours than two minutes, cause every second was too long, not being able to protect the ones you love. After walking two small circles in the room he mumbled „fuck it“ and stepped out, checking that no one would still be in the hallway and then he ran to his room, to get his jacket and belt with weapons back on.

He looked around, trying to figure out where the shouting came from and then went into that direction outside.

As he opened the door, he noticed it was Negans and Dwights voices, Arat standing next to them, trying to calm their moods down.

„And where is that fucking dickhead now?“ Negan asked, but with the sudden appearance of Rick on the steps, every head turned into his direction, hate and distrust filling their eyes.

Oh fuck no, Negan thought, but he knew he had to act like nothing happened before.

„Good morning sunshine Grimes, what an honor to see you here!“ he welcomed him and Arat gave him a doubting look, while the others still stared at the smaller man in his leather jacket and that white shirt, which seemed to look so familiar.

„There he is. Sneaking out of his comfy room after killing our men and stealing our weapons. How dare you coming out here like nothing happened?“ someone from the back was screaming in rage. Negan swinged his arm with Lucille to the side, trying to get some distance between that voice and Rick.

„What?“ Rick asked in confusion, resting one hand on the handrail of the stairs, looking down at them, trying to get an oversight of the situation. „Eaaaasy Jed. Calm your fucking mood swings. We all didn't see Rick whole morning, it's rude to start the day with bloody assumptions against our guest, right?“

Negan looked over his shoulder to face the man he called Jed before, but that man gritted his teeth and suddenly started running next to Negans other side and up to the stairs, to punch Rick in the face, which he could prohibit with grabbing his fist. Rick stared at that other man with rage in his usual so soft blue eyes, Negan knew he was turning into that darker side of him right here.

Fuck, Negan mumbled to himself and ran to the stairs as well, taking two steps at once, as Rick managed to push Jed finally back. Within a second Jed pulled out his gun, pointed it at Rick and shot. In the same moment Negan reached him and punched his face so severe, that the bullet met a window and Jed fell to the ground, rolling down half of the stairs.

Rick was still down on his knees, trying to hide at the handrail, as he lifted his head and saw Negan showing his teeth in absolute rage. He never saw that man so furious and he knew what would happen next.

Negan stepped up to Jed and kicked him in the stomache, so he rolled down another stair. „You-“ he kicked again and he rolled further. „Don't-“ another kick and Jed was at the bottom of the stairs, Negan standing above him, screaming so intensely, that spit came out when his lips parted. „Touch him!“ Negan raised Lucille, which brought Rick instantly to his feet, to grab Negans arm, trying to pull it down with all his strength, but it didn't move one inch. „Don't.“ Rick ordered explicitly and Negan groaned through his teeth „Rick, let go.

Jed was slowly getting back to his knees, spitting out some blood on the floor he was leaning on. He looked up at the two guys fighting over his punishment and couldn't help but laugh. It just underlined everything he was thinking anyways.

Like a twisted serial killer, Jed started laughing, which caused Negan and Rick to face him, still standing in same position. „I can't believe this shit. You actually united with our enemy. What kind of fucking coward are you, sleeping with that prick?“ „Argh.“ Negan pulled himself loose and ran to Jed, holding Lucille over his head to swing it, but then Arat stepped up. „Boss, we need him. We need to find out who did this. Stop it. Rick is right.“ Jed looked over to Arat, as Rick finally reached Negan again, to lower his arm with a serious look. Negan couldn't say no to that blue.

„So you're working with these two? That's hilarious, Arat.“ Jed mentioned, but Arat just kicked him in the stomache another time, to shut him up. „I am Negan, that's why I work for Negan. And only Negan, you bastard.“ Negan smiled to that and let Lucille rest next to his leg, staring down at Jed. „So shithead, you need to listen here.“ Then he turned aound, facing the other saviors which were staring at them in shock.

„And you all need to listen as well. Normally I have every right to fucking crash that bastards head with beautiful Lucille here right now, but...since we are the saviors and we know that people are a resource, - which applies for bullets as well, Dwighty boy-“ he gave Dwight a monitoring look, which made it obvious, that he must have been the one shooting before. „I don't wanna make a wrong impression on our guest Rick here and give him a chance, because Arat is right. We need to find out who did that shit. And whoever is involved in pretty shit like this, I will beat the shit outta them, no exceptions!“

Some of them nodded, but Rick just could breath out in relief, giving Arat a „thank you“ look. She appreciated it with a light nod, as Negan turned back to Jed, kneeling down to him, Lucille between his legs. „So Jed and I will have a fucking let's-talk-for-fun-time in my office, while the rest of you is getting me the coordinates of Regina and Simon as soon as you can, cause daddy here is very impatient. And if anyone of you, ever tries to hurt one of our guests we make negotiations with, to keep this shithole running, you are next for Lucilles dinner.“ His tongue clicked against his teeth, waving Lucille at Jed to make sure he understood. He gave a frowning as answer and Negan stood up, ordering Dwight with his eyes to get him to his office.

After straightening his leather jacket, he stepped up slowly to Rick, who looked at him from below, still a bit frightened from that rage he saw in Negans eyes before. There was still this monster slumbering in him, and he hated nothing more than that.

Negan had his typical wide smirk on his lips again and rested Lucille over his shoulder. „Good morning, prick. Had a good sleep?“ Rick couldn't believe, he would have to play this fucking theatre now, as if there was nothing else to do. „Yeah, pretty good, thank you.“ Negan stopped in front of Ricks face, licking his lips and admiring that blue eyes again. He could play this game the whole day, even if he would have liked to kiss Rick in front of all these people, just to see their reactions as well.

„So you accept the deal, we talked about?“ Negan asked in such a audibleness, that everyone was hearing them. Rick looked around, noticing a few ones were still staring carefully. „Yeah, I do.“ Rick said with furrowed brows, not sure what he had accepted here, or if it was just a fake show.

Negan suddenly grabbed his left upper arm, tightening the grip to make it look more intimidating and replied „Good“, before he pulled Rick closer, acting like he would just congrat him to their alliance, but then whispering unnoticable in his ear „Are you hurt?“ Rick shook his head very lightly and hold back the inner smile about Negans concern. „Good.“ „Let me help y-...“ „No.“ Negan interrupted his whisper and arched back, to face Rick again, who still hold up his fierce masquerade. „Then go home now, tell your people we can't wait for the next meeting!“

He patted Ricks shoulder and turned around, making Arat come to him, telling her she should lead Rick outside. So she stepped up to Rick, grabbing his arm to interrupt his staring at the other mans back, walking away. It was always something wistful coming up in him when Negan had his back on him.

„Come on.“ Arat pushed him forward and Rick just frowned, pulling away from her grip. „I can walk alone.“ „Yeah I know you can. But since you're too busy staring, I still I have orders to follow.“ That made Rick look over his shoulder again, but Negan already went back inside.

„So, what happened here?“ Arat sighed and opened the second gate for them to leave. „Long story.“ „Come on Arat, talk to me.“ Rick suddenly stopped in front of her, to wait for an answer, his eyes revealing the concern over the other man.

„I can't. You will know sooner or later.“ Again she turned Rick around to keep him walking and he muttered to himself.

„Thank you, for stepping in.“ Arat shrugged and mentioned „Wouldn't been smart to kill that guy now. We need information.“ „So, whatever happened, what made you sure it was not me?

They reached Ricks car and stopped there, Arat crossing her arms. „I'm not sure. Negan is. So I try to be sure as well.“ Rick smiled and gave her shoulder a squeeze. „Thank you, Arat. I appreciate you being a good friend to him. It helps to know he's in good hands.“ Arat raised an eyebrow at that gesture and pushed his hand away. „You idiot, never say such things again around here. Don't you know in which fucked up situation we are? You have to be more careful.“

Rick blinked, but knew Arat of course was right. He shouldn't make a loud confession about their „friendship“, or however you wanted to call it.

Rick stepped around the car to enter the drivers seat and Arat knocked on the roof of the car. „Hey. One thing. Be sure to make a stop at Hilltop, heard there are things waiting for you.

Rick furrowed his brows in confusion and asked „What?“, but Arat just turned away and went back to the gate. As she closed it, she formed a „go“ with her lips, as answer to Ricks questioning gesture of his hand. His eyes tried to send her his order to protect Negan, but she seemed to understand anyways, in forming a short smile, acting like „all will be fine.“ Rick started the engine and drove off after Arat turned around and headed to Hilltop.

He was not sure what he would find there, but maybe it had something to do with that argument, he was just pulled into. He hated to leave Negan behind with this mess, but he knew, he wouldn't want help from Rick anyways and just tell him, to care for his own people. Please, let me be wrong in this, Rick thought to himself, and despite the ache in his heart of worrying about Negan, he speeded up the the car.

 

 

***

 

 

As Rick reached the Hilltop, he couldn't believe his eyes, as smoke was still coming up from behind the walls.

In front of the gates he stopped the car and jumped out, causing Tara to shout from the wall „It's Rick! Open the gates!“

With fists in his hands and a frowning face, Rick stepped in, Maggie running after him, while other people were trying to clear the mess in the background. Rick stepped up to give Maggie a close embrace, but she released it way too fast. „Hey...“ she mumbled, worries and some kind of anger in her voice. „What happened here?“ Rick asked and Maggie couldn't help the impression of having the smell of whisky in her nose. She furrowed her brows and looked at Ricks shirt, it somehow reminded her of something.

Negan.“ she replied and crossed her arms, not sure if she just spoke the cause of this mess, or the memory she had in mind when smelling Rick.

She must be wrong, he thought. „Negan? But...“ „They were here tonight. Starting to light up our barns and fields, just to leave some destruction and, how they called it, making a point.“ Rick gritted his teeth when hearing that phrase, but still he had to process what he was hearing.

He followed Maggie to the main house, making some nervous gestures with his hand. „And you're sure it was Negan.“ „What is there to be sure about? Of course it was, Rick.“

It can't be, Rick thought to himself as Jesus opened the door and tried to hide his worries behind a light smile when seeing Rick.

„Hey.“ he said and rested a hand on Ricks shoulder, the glimpse of the white shirt which was obviously too big for Rick, worrying his face. „You look like a mess, man. You were attacked as well?“ Rick shook his head and forced a smile as a reply. „We didn't hear anything from Alexandria by now, so we weren't sure if you were involved as well.“ „I doubt that...“ Rick mumbled, feeling the shame growing in him for not telling them about the lowering of the pick ups before. He tried to hide is as long as possible to not disappoint them, that he didn't make a new deal for them as well. But it wasn't really him who caused the lowering of the pick-ups anyways. He had hoped that his visit at the sanctuary would change their rates as well, so then he could finally tell them about Negans changing mood. But now he felt like he couldn't tell them at all.

„You doubt that? Why? You just came from home?“ Rick shook his head again, his hands starting to shake out of fear. He rested one on Maggies back and shoved her inside. „We should talk.“ Maggie furrowed her brows, not understanding what Rick was talking about.

„Fine.“ she said and Tara followed Jesus and her inside after Rick.

 

 

***

 

 

They closed the door after them and Rick leaned his back against the big table, his arms crossed and eyes lowered to the ground, where he belonged too.

„You have to tell me exactly what happened here.“ he said and Maggie moved her arms up in the air, losing her temper about Ricks weird talking. „I told you! Negan and his people came here and attacked us and I still have to deal with the damage they caused, cause that coward Gregory left with them.“

Rick blinked to that and barely dared to look up in Maggies eyes, still subordinating himself. „But...did you see him?“

Maggie gasped for air, not believing Rick would even discuss that with her. „What do you mean, did I see him? We saw the fire, I think that's enough to see.“ Rick shook his head and closed his eyes, trying to speak slow and accurately. „You don't understand, I mean...“ „No, you don't understand, Rick! We were under attack, we have some people who are hurt and need medical help. The former leader ran away, leaving his people alone and now all the responsibility is resting on my shoulders and I try to do damage limitation here. And all you talk about is, if I saw them? Are you fucking kidding me? I wonder how you would react if these were your people.“ She turned around, her arms crossed and looked out of the window.

Rick sighed and Jesus stepped up to him, carefully. „What Maggie tries to say is: Yes we saw them, Rick. They warned us with microphones and speakers. Doing their typical talk of how they are trying to make a point and that they need our cooperation.“

Rick nodded to that, he expected something like this. „I get that, Jesus. What I mean is, was Negan there?“ „They're all Negan, aren't they?“ Tara interrupted and gave Maggie a concerned look.

Rick lifted his head, trying to look at Maggie and felt the responsibilty resting on her, making his shame only grow. Jesus noticed how Ricks eyes were filled with a feeling he couldn't understand, but he needed to intervene. Fighting now wouldn't help any of them.

„Rick, what are you implying to say?“ Rick breathed in deeply and looked at Jesus' worried face.

„I know what you think, you have all the right to think so. But what I'm trying to say here is, that it wasn't Negan.“ Maggie turned around in rage and stepped up to Rick, her eyes filled with tears, but not clear if caused by rage or grief.

„So what you're trying to say here is, that the reason why Glenn and Abe are not here anymore is also not Negan?“ Tara tried to hold Maggie back from shouting right at Ricks face, but he knew that would come up. And he deserved it.

„No, Maggie. I would never say that. I just mean...if you didn't see Negan this morning, it could have been caused by Simon or Regina themselves, not cause of Negans order.“ „Yeah, sure.“ Maggie bawled back and released herself out of Taras grip, curious about what Rick would dare to say next.

Jesus stepped in to interfere again and said „So let's say you're right, we couldn't be sure about that anyways, even if Negan wasn't here himself, right? He never needed to be there himself to give orders.“ Rick nodded to that and the ache in his heart over all the things he tried to surpress of Negans past acts, came up again. „Yeah that's true but...“

Maggie interrupted again. „I don't get what we are talking about here. It was Negan.“ and Rick couldn't take it anymore, to hear his name with wrong accusations. „No it wasn't!“ he screamed back with gritted teeth.

Maggie couldn't believe her ears and replied „And how do you know that?“

Rick knew, despite all his thoughts were running wildly through each other, that it was the wrong thing to say and it would cause only more trouble than he already was in, but he couldn't hold back anymore. „Cause he was with me.“

Silence and shock filled the air, Rick waited desperately for someone to punch him in the face or just shoot him right here in his head, he wouldn't mind, but nothing happened.

His eyes tried to keep his look on Maggies, which released one slow single tear running down her cheek. She ran out of words but not out of feelings.

Jesus was the first one to speak up again. „What do you mean? Did he capture you or something?“ Rick regretted he couldn't say yes to this, but of course he had to deny that. „No. I was at the Sanctuary, to negotiate.“

„So how will you know what he was up to at night? Did you spy on him or what?“ Tara asked and Rick shook his head again. In that moment Jesus thought he understand, but didn't want to interrupt Ricks confession. „I was with him. The whole night. And morning.“

Maggies mouth couldn't close anymore, she was too shocked to even breathe, while Tara widened her eyes. „Wow, these were pretty long negotiations.“ Jesus chuckled into his beard for no one to see, while Rick tried to surpress a comment to that. „And in the morning Simon and Regina were gone. They had some trouble finding out what they were up to and everything was a mess as I left.“

Now Maggie could finally speak up again, this was about protecting her people. „Oh so they had a mess? I'm damned sorry for them then.“ Rick didn't have high hopes when he thought about speaking to Maggie about all that, but this went worse than he expected. „Look, Maggie. I'm sorry. I tried to make a better deal for the Kingdom and you, Negan wanted to discuss it and after that something went wrong.“

Maggie waved one hand in front of her, to defend herself. „You know what I think? I don't fucking care. What I care about is my people here. And they need me now. And whatever you discussed with that bastard, it seems it didn't work well, didn't it? And now we have to worry about the Kingdom as well, since you mentioned them, but not Alexandria. What a great move of you. I need to get back to my people.“ She turned away and stepped out of the room, the rage speeding up every step. „Maggie...“ Rick tried to explain, but he knew he had to let her go for now.

Tara sighed and still had her eyes widened, processing what she just heard. „Wow, what a big mess indeed.“ Jesus scratched his head and stepped up at Rick, his eyes focused on his. „So, you tried to get better rates for the Kingdom and the Hilltop, why not Alexandria?“ Rick tried to stand Jesus eyes, knowing he couldn't lie here anymore.

„Because they already lowered the pick-ups for us. I wanted the same for you as well.“ Jesus got big eyes now as well and Tara now let out a laughter of despair, not being able to help her confusion anymore. „Wow. I'm fucking confused now.“ „Yeah me too.“ Rick admitted and stepped up to the window, his back turned on these other two.

„You know, I'm sorry. I should have told you earlier. But I really thought I was building something here, trying to calm them down and get on good stands with them. I didn't want someone to interfere and ruin it. Seems I was overconfident.“

„Good stands with them or with him?“ Jesus asked and Rick closed his eyes, feeling caught in the corner.

Tara wandered her eyes between Jesus and him, trying to understand what they were talking about. She decided, she didn't want to know for now. „You know what? I go help Maggie. And Rick, whoever caused it, no matter if it was Simon or Regina or Negan or whoever this shitloads are named, for our people it makes no difference in this moment. We need to keep the damage to a minimum for now. Then we can figure out what caused it and what we do next. To be honest, I don't care if it was Negan himself, the saviors were written all over that attacks. But fine, if you say there might be a chance to change something, we will listen to that. But I can't speak for Maggie here. Or the Kingdom. And I need to reach them now, to know if everything is fine with them. See you.“ She turned around and stepped outside, closing the door after her, like expecting Jesus would want to talk more to Rick. And he did.

With crossed arms he stepped up to Rick, who had his face focused on the sun outside, not daring to face anyone with his now weakening eyes.

„So...it's his shirt, isn't it.“ Jesus asked and Rick couldn't believe he figured out something that small. He lowered his head and closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on the smell the shirt gave him. This strong smell of whisky. Maybe Jesus smelled it too and knew Rick hated that beverage.

„Look...“ Jesus rested one hand on Ricks shoulder, what caused him to lift his teary eyes and repay Jesus look. And it hit him like a stroke. „Wow, you really built something there, didn't you?“ Jesus barely dared to assume and Rick turned around to face him. „I thought I did, yes.“

Jesus nodded and sighed to that confession. He assumed that would be all he would get for now. „I see. So...how sure can you be Simon and Regina plotted something behind his back?“ „Of course not hundred percent, I know that. But... he promised me to talk with them about my request and after that they disappeared and this mess here happened. And I saw his reaction this morning, as he found out they were gone. He was not amused, to be clear. Someone even suspected I killed someone and stole guns. So I don't know exactly what went down there, but it must have been more than only the attack here. And he knew nothing of it.“

Jesus widened his eyes in surprise and scratched his beard, not expecting that answer. „I see. Nevertheless, for now let's concentrate on now and here. And we have to make sure everyone in the Kingdom and Alexandria is fine.“ Rick didn't even thought about some risk for Alexandria, but of course Jesus was right. He would be a fool to trust Negan blindly and if he really had something to do with it, Alexandria wasn't safe after all. He needed to contact Michonne.

„Yes, you're right. And...I will try to talk to Negan later.“ Jesus agreed on that and tried to give Rick a smile finally. „I may not know what's going on between you two, but for your own interest, I will keep that to myself for now. You try to make something good out of it, for all of us. Then it will be fine.“

Rick knew, Jesus surely was the only one seeing it that simple, but he appreciated it anyhow. „Thank you, Jesus. I do appreciate that a lot.“ „Nah, it's fine. Come on, let's go find Maggie. Never piss off a pregnant woman too long.“ He winked at Rick, who just scrubbed his eyes, to get the tears out of them. „Yeah, I'm behind you.“ Rick replied and followed Jesus outside.

 

***

 

 

After Jesus showed Rick the damage that was caused behind their walls, they searched for Maggie who was on the walkie, still trying to reach the kingdom.

„No news yet?“ Jesus asked and Maggie turned around, still having the rage written all over her face and shook her head.

„I will drive there...“ Rick said and wanted to leave, as Maggie grabbed his arm. „No, don't. I will go there myself. We're all in this and they need to know, Hilltop is with them. You go to Alexandria.“ Ricks face turned into a frown. „Did you hear from them?“ „Michonne called me.“ she replied and Ricks eyes widened in terror and fear, but Maggie interrupted his thoughts „Seems you were right about that, they are fine. But you should still go there, we don't know what happens next.“

„Hm.“ Rick agreed and added a „thank you“, as suddenly the gate was opened again. It was Dianne, her face covered in dust as she stepped up. Please not, Rick thought to himself and all ran up to her.

„Are you okay?“ Maggie asked and she nodded calmingly. „Yeah, I am. But I see they got you too.“ pointing with her head at the working people around her, who tried to repair the damage. „Yeah.“ Maggie said and Rick asked „What happened?“ „The saviors.“

Rick was relieved this woman didn't mention Negans name and gave a fierce look at Maggie. „There was a woman called Regina, she leaded the attack and... Henry got hurt.“ Jesus, Maggie and Rick closed their eyes in agony, knowing what that would mean for Carol and Ezekiel.

„What happened?“ Tara asked as she stepped up, but Rick raised his hand to interrupt the growing panic. „I will go to the Kingdom now and talk to Ezekiel. I need you all to stay within reach. Don't do anything before we talked again.“

Dianne turned to Rick with furrowed brows. „Rick, we need to act fast. They won't stop. What...“ „I will make them stop.“ Rick replied in anger, giving a securing nod to the others and started walking to the gate. He needed to get out of here, before his doubts for Negan take over. He needed to check on his chances here. And he needed to talk to Negan, alone.

While the others stayed behind, Jesus followed him to his car. „Rick, I will try my best to calm their minds, but I can't promise to prevent a war. If you are able to do something, do it fast.“ Rick nodded to that and Jesus went back to the workers, as suddenly Maggie stopped Ricks car, with her hand beating on the roof.

She lowered her face to the window and Rick stared at her with concern. „Look Rick, I didn't mean to be harsh on you I just... We need to do something. YOU need to do something. We have to end him. We have to end him fast or this will never stop.“

Rick rested one hand on the wheel and lowered his head with closed eyes. „Maggie, there's no need to apologize to me I get it. I get you want to see him dead. But as long as we don't know he was the cause behind this, we may concentrate our concerns on people like Simon and Regina, not Negan. We all know how things go, when they slid out of control.“

Maggie didn't want to believe, he was still trying to protect Negan. She saw no good reason for all of it. „Rick, I admire your heart, I really do. And don't think I forgot about Carl and what he wished for. But...what about us? What about the wish I have? Am I not family to you as well? Shouldn't we care about the living and not the dead?“

Rick felt the ache in his heart sunk in like a knife. Hearing Carls name would never get easier, would it? „Yes we do. And that's exactly what I'm trying to do here.“ „Then don't let him continue. We have to kill him, before he attacks your people again too.“ Rick turned his head to his side to give Maggie the most threatening look she ever received from that soft man. He just didn't want to believe what she just said, even if the fear of being the only naive one here, was crawling over his skin.

„He won't do that and I won't kill him. And I won't let you do it, as well.“ Maggie shook her head in disbelief. „Wow, Rick. I don't know who you are anymore, I never experienced that blind side of you. But good luck on your self destruction trip. I'm out.“ She turned away and Ricks hand hit the wheel. „Fuck!“ he screamed out, angry about his blind greenness. He never was like this in the past and he always had to learn the hard way, that too much trust and naivety would lead him to failure in this world. He thought he knew better by now, he thought he would never trust someone so easily again and still he just didn't want to let go of his endless belief and hope he put in Negan. But how could he trust someone, who killed and attacked them so many times before? Would one kiss really change the mind of a psychopath?

Don't let me down on this, he thought and then hit the gas pedal to drive to the kingdom, with tears of fear running down his eyes.

 

 

***

 

 

After arriving in the kingdom, Rick instantly stepped up to Carol and hugged her tightly, feeling her inner shivering when holding her close.

„I'm so sorry...“ he mumbled and the small woman just shook her head, resting her palms on his face. „It's not your fault.“ He was not sure, if she was not wrong in that.

He barely dared to look up in her eyes, knowing the pain children caused in her, when they got hurt. Somehow he thought, he was to blame for all that. He wished he could take it all away.

His eyes were weak and Carol tried to wash it away with her hands, stroking over his face. She assumed the memories of Carl just came up in him and she definitely shared that pain. „Come on, let's talk with the king.“ He nodded and took one of her hands to kiss the back of it, before he followed her to the main house, stepping to the doorframe of the room, where Ezekiel was sitting at Henrys bed.

The king turned his head around, spotting the leader of Alexandria and tried to give a smile. „Rick of Alexandria.“ he said quietly, not wanting to wake his son.

He stood up and walked up to Carol and Rick, resting a hand on the other mans shoulder. „It's good to see you. I heard you come from the Hilltop. Is Alexandria safe?“ he asked and Rick patted his hand. „I assume it is, didn't hear something different.“ Ezekiel was confused about that comment, why would Rick come here first if he didn't know about the safety of his own community?

„We have to talk.“ Rick said and it felt like he was going through a time warp. „Yeah, of course we will.“

 

Ezekiel closed the door behind them and rested his back against the wall, his arms crossed. „So how is the Hilltop?“ „They will go through it. Maggie is doing an incredible job repairing the damage. And thankfully no one got hurt.“ Ezekiel sighed in relief and nodded. „Good. And you said they spared Alexandria?“ Ricks eyes closed in shame again, going through the same regrets he had in Hilltop before, for not telling them earlier about the changes which occurred.

„Actually...“ in that moment Morgan came across from behind, which let their heads turn and Rick formed a careful smile, nodding to the other man as a welcome.

Morgan crossed his arms as he stood with them, giving them a nod to continue. „Rick just wanted to tell how things are in Alexandria.“ Ezekiel mentioned and Rick sighed, the guilt twisting his stomache like a sickness.

„Yeah...actually they lowered our rates a while ago and...“ Carol widened her eyes and interrupted him „What did you just say? And you tell us that now?“ Rick nodded, knowing she was right, but still trying to set the things straight.

„Yeah, as I said they went easier on us. I don't know exactly why but...that's why I guessed they didn't attack Alexandria last night. So...that's why I'm here. I thought it's priority now how things are here.“

Everyone turned silent suddenly, trying to process what he just said, until Ezekiel started to talk again. „So you had a kind of agreement with them?“ Rick had to laugh about that in despair, not knowing how to put that right. „It wasn't really an agreement which had been discussed. Negan just decided it. I only found out, as I noticed they were coming less frequent and take less.“ „So you don't know why they did it?“ Carol asked in confusion. Rick closed his eyes, one brow raised and mumbled „I actually have a guess why.“

Carol couldn't take the vague expressions anymore and rested one hand on Ricks arm, to make him lift his head. „If you found something out that might help us, you have to tell us, Rick. Maybe we can find a way to beat them.“ „Yeah, seems you found a weakness in them, that's why they spared you, right?“ Morgan assumed and Rick turned his look to face the man, who didn't really miss the point.

„I guess I have, yeah. It seems...I am...some kind of weakness to him.“ Everyones eyes went wide and stared at him in shock. Carol couldn't help but ask „What do you mean by that? I mean...we all know he has some kind of obsession about you, but how did that help you?“

Rick scratched his head and sighed deeper again. He owed them the truth, but he didn't know how much of the truth they would tolerate.

„Some weeks ago we went scouting together, he asked me to come with him cause he trusts me.“ Of course he didn't mention, that this information was something which came later and that Rick just went with him, cause he saw no other choice. „While doing so, we became closer. I saw a part of him I didn't see before and...“ He saw how Carols eyes turned from confusion to rage, but he knew he had to continue now. „...I wanted this, for Carl. Back then I really hoped it would end our war and there is a chance for peace.“ Morgan shook his head in disbelief, rolling his eyes. Ezekiel on the other hand lifted his back from the wall, to listen more closely. „After that, he lowered our rates, without telling me. And yesterday I went to the Sanctuary, wanting to negotiate with him, to do the same things for here and the Hilltop. He told me his people, Regina and Simon to be concrete, weren't sure about it and this morning these two were missing. People accused me of killing some of their people and stealing guns...I don't even know what happened over there, but it was a mess and I left to Hilltop, to check if everything is alright. Then I found out what happened.“

They all tried to process what they just heard, but were not sure what Rick wanted to say in the end. „I just...I just want you, and I told the same to Maggie, to consider, it wasn't Negan. He maybe has his own revolution going on in his people, but it was nothing he wanted.“

Morgan was shocked and couldn't take it anymore. He stepped up, his forefinger pointing at Ricks chest, his eyes filled with anger. „I don't know how this man fucked with your mind, Rick, but this is definitely what he wanted. He killed our people. He tortured you and many others. I don't care, if he was here with them, but I know it was him.“

Rick raised his hands in defense and said „I know what you think and I totally get why you think this way, but please, can you at least try to trust me here?“

„Rick...“ Carol stepped up, trying to calm Morgan down. „I trust you with my life, I really do. But...I don't trust Negan. None of us does. And it seems a bit naive, that suddenly after all what happened, you stand here defending him. Can't you see, that seems like a fucking manipulation for us?“ „Carol I do understand what you're saying. But it wasn't him. I don't believe it and I don't want to believe it. I know it doesn't change things he did in the past, I know it doesn't change what happened here and in Hilltop last night. All I say is, that maybe he isn't the only person to blame here. Maybe he has his own people manipulating him as well and turning against him. And that's why we should think of them first, not him.“

Carol backed off and Ezekiel stepped closer. „So, Rick from Alexandria, you say there is hope to make an alliance with this man? That there is a way for peace?“ Rick was relieved finally someone understood what he said.

„Yes. I do think so.“ Carol and Morgan sighed and Morgan couldn't help it anymore and turned away. „I can't listen to this shit anymore.“ Then he left the hallway and as Rick wanted to hold him back, Carol grabbed his arm again. „Rick, let him.“

Rick sighed and nodded to Carol, deciding he would deal with that later.

Ezekiel carefully formed a grin on his face. „I believe in Rick Grimes. You went through loss, we went through loss. And it was too much loss to take in the last months. I don't want loss anymore. I want peace. I think you want the same, right?“ Rick nodded and Ezekiel placed his arm on Ricks shoulder. „Yeah I do. For Carl.“ Ezekiel nodded to that and replied „For Carl. Cause your son is our family as well.“

Carol sighed over that peaceful statement and tilted her head. „So what do you suggest now?“ „I think, first of all we need to find out what happened here. Who is to blame for that. And of course take care of our people. I will talk to Negan, maybe he's on it as well already. And tomorrow, I need to return to Alexandria, we need to be all in for that. One big force. But not for a war, for peace.“ Ezekiel grinned even more to that and added „One big force, yes. As long as we don't know anything for sure, we shouldn't rush anything. We shall not attack people, who are not to blame. And if you say there is hope in that dark soul, I may hope you're right, Rick Grimes.“ „I hope so too...“ Rick answered and Ezekiel mentioned „Stay here for tonight, you may have one of our rooms. I appreciate your coming.“

„Thank you, King Ezekiel.“ Rick said and then looked back to Carol „I will talk to Morgan now. But I need to know if you're in here with me, Carol.“ Ezekiels look went over to Carol as well and she just inhaled deeply and scratched her head. „I follow you anywhere Rick. If what you say is right, I will try to accept. But of course I'm in with you here. A war would help no one here, especially not, if Negan himself didn't want this.“

Rick nodded and whispered with a serious tone „Thank you Carol, thank you for listening.“ Carol nodded and even if she couldn't imagine how Rick could get closer to that devil and where he found the trust for him, she decided they owed at least a try for Carl. And if they really lowered their pick-ups for Alexandria already, maybe there was a chance indeed.

 

Carol and Ezekiel said goodbye to Rick and went back to Henrys room, as Rick stepped back outside following Morgan, who sat on the stairs in front of the entrace. Rick sat down next to him, both staring up at the stars, cause it was late already.

„Do you know the constellations?“ Rick asked with a soft smile and Morgan didn't loose focus on the sky. „No. Why do you ask?“ Rick sighed and let his right hand play with his left wrist, where his watch was at, looking down at his skin. „Someone else told me he likes to watch them.“

Morgan turned his head to his side to face Rick and rested his eyes on him. „How can you trust that man? How? After all...“ „I don't know.“ Rick whispered, covered in shame. Maybe he really was manipulated by Negan. Maybe he lost his rationality and mind in the moment, he met that mans lips.

Morgan shook his head in disbelief, but Rick added „But...something in my heart tells me I should. Carl told me I should. So I want to try.“ „We lost our sons, Rick. There is nothing in this world we should trust anymore.“ „There is! There has to be! Why should we still be here if not?“

Morgans soul was broken since weeks already, everything he saw in his mind was blood and darkness. He just couldn't believe anything Rick or anyone would say to him anymore. „I won't trust him. I can't. And you should be cautious, you never know, when he will hurt someone you love.“

Morgan stood up and Rick looked up at him. He hoped Morgan was wrong in all this. „Morgan, please.“ „No, Rick. We need to end this. And if you're not willing to do this, I am.

He turned around and Rick jumped up, to run in front of him. „Morgan, please. Don't. Let me talk to him first. Give me some time. We still have time to figure this out.“ „My time is over since I lost my boy. I won't waste another second anymore. And you should remember my words next time he does something shit to you.“ Morgan replied and pushed Rick to the side with his upper body, leaving into the darkness.

Rick hoped, he would just go outside to get some heat out of his mind, but he had no clue Morgan was too far gone already. He wanted to go to Hilltop, knowing there was at least one person, being on his side on this.

 

Rick sighed and tried to process what happened today. He knew he had to talk to Negan, but the walkie they had was in Alexandria, where Michonne also waited for a call from him. He decided for now, that would be more important.

He headed to his room and got rid of his jeans and boots, before he laid down on the bed. He couldn't take the shirt off, he even tightened his grip on the fabric to inhale the scent. The whisky and cinnamon was nearly gone. What am I doing, here? What are we doing here? He asked himself and grabbed the walkie, trying to get Michonne. But she didn't answer.

It was only Rosita, telling him everything was fine. He told her to keep the guard up and that he will return the next day. Rosita asked about Hilltop and the Kingdom, but Rick didn't want to raise the panic before he was home. That's why he just mentioned „They are safe, for now. And I want it to stay like this. That's why we have to discuss things tomorrow.“ „Roger that.“ Rosita answered and wished her leader a good night, even if Rick felt like the grief and hate rose in Rositas voice, when saying that.

At least they didn't attack Alexandria, he told himself. And tomorrow I can talk to Negan about what happened, maybe we can help each other figure it out and after we got rid of the traitors, he may agree with peace.

What an optimistic thinker you are“, Lori told him and he rested his hand on his forehead, sliding over his thinking wrinkle. Yeah, I try Lori. I need to try. For Carl. And besides Morgan and Maggie everyones reaction was better than I thought. I really think there is a chance.

I hope you are right“, Lori whispered and Rick replied „yeah, me too.“

With closed eyes he lowered his breath and tried to remember, how safe he felt when laying in Negans arms the night before. He wished he could feel like that now as well. He prayed Negan was fine and had everything under control. He hated himself for not being there with him. He knew how things could go wrong, if people don't follow your leads or the wrong leads. He had seen it too many times. And even if Negans people didn't really know about their affection for each other yet, they already stormed him in protest. So how would that even turn out, when this goes on? He didn't even wanna to imagine that. So they had to stop them now, before they start blowing everything up. Rick was trying to build something here and he was sure Negan wanted the same thing. Why couldn't these idiots see what's good for them?

He couldn't forget how optimistic Jesus sounded that day, that everthing would turn out fine. Rick would have loved to see it the same way. But in this moment, he was nothing else than scared, that everyone and everything just turns on them, when they manage to find a way to work together. How should he ever make Carls dream come true, if no one accepted their alliance?

Rick sighed, knowing there was no way of making them understand any time soon, how much Negan really meant to him. But maybe they didn't need to know for now.

I just hope you're fine, he thought to himself, imagining Negan laying in his bed now, drunk of whisky again and falling into sleep.

With that image in his head he had to smile and finally his body could let go, drifting off to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

Negan hated to leave Rick behind, not talking with him over the shit that went down that morning. But he knew how Ricks courage would have stand in the way if he did. If he wanted to protect him, he needed him there where he belonged, with his people. Even if he wished the safest place for him would be at his side, he was certain, in this moment it was not. He hated to admit that.

The conversation with Jed didn't go well. It was a lot to process this morning and Negan had hoped, he could reminisce about the memories of holding Rick and how they shared their first kiss, but it seemed destiny had some other plans for him. He felt like he got punished for the one good thing he had. Maybe he really didn't deserve the good things in life.

Negan found out, that weapons were missing and two of his people were killed, with a slid to their throat. Of course it reminded him of Ricks mission in the satellite station, but it couldn't have been him, right? He was with him most of the night, when should he have done it?

Regina, Simon and some people of their teams were still missing and Negan was investigating the rooms of their two latest victims. He hated when people died right under his hands and he couldn't do anything about it.

As he kneeled at Jon, one of the victims and examined his wound, Arat suddenly showed up at the door, panting. „Boss...“ Negan turned his head to look at her exhausted face. „What is it?“

In that moment Simon and Regina showed up behind her. He felt how his rage twisted his mind into that devilish soul of him. They ruined his morning and he wanted to kill them right here.

He grabbed Lucille next to him, snarled between his teeth and stood up, Lucille in both of his hands and started to strike out. Before he could make his hit, Simon hold his hand in front of him in defense. „Hey, boss, easy! We have some news you need to know.“

Negan was raging inside, his blood burning like fire, making him loose all his rationality. „I'm done talking.“ He barked and swung Lucille right at Simons head, but he could duck down and took his bosses arm, pushing him against the wall. „I understand your rage here, I'm myself fucked up as hell, but we need to fix this shit we are dealing with, boss. You with me?“ Negan gnarled, but just froze in Simons grip, not fighting against it. „We got attacked. Regina and I took care of it.“ „Without my order.“ „Shit, we were attacked! Don't you get it?“

Negan pushed Simon away with a groan and hold Lucille next to his hip. „You took weapons.“ Simon nodded to that. „Yes, yes we did that.“ Regina stepped up next to Simon and intervened.

„Boss, calm down. I'm sorry we didn't inform you, but you talked about some shit peace just yesterday, we thought you wouldn't want another shitload of information and mess going down, so we did it.“ Negan clenched his teeth and said „You didn't follow the rules. I decide what we do, we decide what to do. Not two shitheads who think they know whats fucking right to do. Not in stealing weapons. And who the fuck do you think attacked us, hm?“ Simon looked over to Regina and Arat, then back to Negan who still had rage written all over his face.

Simon pointed at Jon, who bled out on his bed. „Who do you think attacked us, hm? Did you fucking check that bastards room, who came here like a parasite, trying to play with your mind?“

Negan furrowed his brows and laid back, panting cause of the burning blood in his body. „What are you trying to say here, Simon?“ Negan asked and Simon sighed, raising his hands. „He doesn't get it, does he.“ „Yeah.“ Regina added and Negan let out a desperate laugh, tilting his head. „I'm not actually in lovey dovey mood here, Simon. So you can either tell me what's going on here, or Lucille will fucking get a late breakfast today.“

Arat stepped between them and spreaded her arms to keep them away from each other. „Everybody calm down. And Simon, you can either spit out what you think your information is, or fucking shoot yourself, patience is not a virtue here.“

Simon breathed in deeply and looked at Negans furious eyes. „Okay listen. After the meeting yesterday you went back to your room. I actually heard some strange noices from the floor and went after it's source. Turned out, I found Jon and Ariana here, their throats slid open. I wanted to inform you right away of course, but as I crossed the hallway, I saw that prick coming out of his room, sneaking up to yours. So I went to his room, finding a knife covered in blood.“

Negan couldn't bear to listen to that anymore. „Bull-shit“ He raised Lucille again and Regina stepped up again. „Simon showed me, I saw it with my own eyes.“ „But instead of saving me from that little serial killer you just exposed, you just went off and punished someone else for his actions? That's the weirdest crap I've ever heard.“ „Fuck no, man.“ Simon explained. „We wanted to come to you, but then that little Samurai called us on the walkie, asking where Rick is and threatening us with sending their people with Hilltop and Kingdom to us, to kill us all, if we don't bring their fucking cowboy back.“ „Not buying it, Simon. Michonne knew he was here, safe and sound.“ „She may have known that, but she was not really amused by it, was she? I swear that bitch lighted a fire right under our ass. We didn't want to start a war, we wanted to prevent it and support you.“

„We didn't know how you would react since you started to like this guy that's why...“ „Like this guy? Are you fucking serious here? Arat, Dwight, please take them out of my sight. N-o-w.“ Dwight stepped up from behind and Arat did the same, but Simon didn't stop talking. „If you don't believe us, ask that samurai. She will tell you what she told us. She was fucking furious, that her little cowboy she loves so much, spends time with you and knowing he would sleep at our place, seemed to have cut her patience, she went coco crazy that her boyfriend wasn't with her. We had to do something.“

Boyfriend? Rick told him they weren't together. Was he lying? Was all this a fucking set up to play with Negans mind, in the hands of Michonne and Rick?

Negan gritted his teeth and moved his face in front of Simon. „If I find out you're lying here, Lucille will be the nicest option you have. Bring them away.“ he gnarled again and Dwight and Arat did as they were told.

Negan let himself sink on an armchair in Jons room which was filled by the smell of blood, what somehow fired up the rage and paranoia in Negans head. His hands were sliding through his hair with running throughts. They must have been lying, why should they go to Hilltop and Kingdom to punish them, if Rick did anything of what they have said? And why should Michonne first work for Negan and Rick to talk and then freak out about it and threaten them? Besides that Rick had no reason to randomly kill two of his people and how could he come to him with patience after that? To distract him? There was no blood on his clothes. And even if Negan didn't check his room until now, his weapons didn't look bloody at all, as he came out that morning. Did he clean them before in that short time? It made no sense for him at all.

Lucille fell to the ground and Laura stepped in. She never saw her boss in such a mental state, full of confusion, rage, sorrow and doubts. „Boss...“ „Don't.“ Negan interrupted her and mumbled through his hands „Get someone to clean this mess up.“ Then he stood up and walked to the door. Laura took Lucille from the ground and stepped after him. „Boss, your...“ „Keep her, I need to check something.“ He walked off and went to Ricks room, leaving Laura behind with a confused look.



***



He opened the door and recognized blood on the cupboards in form of fingerprints. „What the...“ Negan stepped up and investigated the clues. It couldn't be true, could it?

The prints on the wood were barely clear enough to find out, if they belonged to Ricks smaller hands. Still this view was terrifying. I really could use an officer now, Rick, he told himself and sighed, his hand sliding over the trails. But as an officer, wouldn't have Rick erased his evidence at first? Like he did with the weapons? And was all that happened between them just a set up, he planned before? Just for killing two of his men and causing chaos? Could that be it?

There were too many questions running through his mind and he knew no better solution, then to talk to someone who should know. He took out his walkie and said „Samurai, you there?“ „Who's there?“ another woman answered. „Negan. I need to speak to Michonne.“ Rosita stood next to Michonne in the living room, as the call came. Michonnes face was turning into shock, being afraid Rick could have been hurt.

„What do you want? Where is Rick?“ „You are not the one asking questions here, lady. I need a fucking clear answer once and for all.“ Michonne frowned and snarled her teeth, hot air filled by rage exhaling out of her nose.

„What is it?“ „Did you two set me up?“ Michonne didn't really understand what Negan was saying here and was afraid, that man could torture Rick, if she wouldn't answer like he expected. „What are you talking about?“ „You and your little sheriff. You could have told me you're sleeping together, before you send him here.“ Michonne still didn't understand and Rosita poked her shoulder giving her a „what the fuck“ look. But Michonne just shrugged and left to the front porch to have some privacy.

„See, I get it. That's why you called me that night. It was a little plan from you and Rickyboy to set me up, caught me in my weakness and let me drown in shame. Bravo, you did an amazing job, it will really suck now to look at my own face again, knowing I trusted just one word that prick said. He was damn convincing this morning, waking in my arms.“ That image went right into Michonnes heart like poison, she had to swallow slowly.

Negan couldn't think straight anymore. He didn't even care anymore if he just lost his face completely in front of Michonne. There was nothing left to loose anyways, it seemed. The excessive demand of the situation, the two people he lost, the fear over Rick, the fear of being left, mistreated and played came so sudden, that his sick mind couldn't process it anymore. The only way out he saw, was pushing away, escaping ahead. Stop that fucking nice game and finally be the one you are, his inner side told him. And he was pushed far enough, to do that right now. He was sick of being lied to and the imagination of Rick using him, was something he couldn't handle. The one time he trusted someone again, he was fooled. Instead of wanting to hurt himself now for his naivety, he wanted to burn everything down what was left.

„Look, Negan. I don't fucking know what you're talking about, but why don't you ask Rick about it?“ „He fucking left this morning.“ Negan groaned out, never regretting to let someone go that much.

Michonne sighed, at least he wasn't there anymore. Now she only had to surpress these imagines of them laying in each others arms, great. She didn't know why he didn't return yet, but she needed to calm that man on the walkie down first. „Okay then, come here and we talk. I don't know what fucking happened but...I think it's best when you come here.“

Negan snarled, but knew she was right. He wanted to talk to Rick, he needed to see him. He needed him to be safe. He needed to look in his eyes and hear the truth. „He may be at Hilltop or Kingdom.“ he mentioned, remembering he told Arat before, to let him know that something happened in Hilltop, knewing he would want to check on his people.

„I try to tell him we meet here, he will come back soon anyways.“ Michonne said and Negan just groaned „yeah, he misses you surely terribly I suppose.“ She wished. „You either come here and talk to us, or you can go fuck yourself, Negan.“

That was too much for him. He couldn't stand it anymore, that she was playing with his mind as well, not giving her an honest answer over Ricks and her relationship. Even asking him to come could be a fucking trap to set him up and maybe they all planed it that way. But he didn't care anymore, all he wanted now is to see Rick, to get a clear mind again. The urge to hold that man close killed him and suffering under such a strong emotion for this man, made him loose his mind. It was like an addiction. A strange and sick one he wanted to get away from.

„I'm fucking done talking on this. If Rick won't see me, or you try to set me up when I come, I will burn your fucking place down.“ Before Michonne could reply , he threw that walkie on the floor and kicked on it, destroying the black plastic right under him.

He never was so furious in his life. He hated it when he had no control. Not only over his people, but especially over his feelings and fuck were they running wild. Everything from shame, hate, disappointment, embarrasment, self hate, love and longing was in there. Like a dark obsession crawling up in his skin. He wanted to own Rick in this moment, just to show him where he belonged. No one should be able to take him away from him. Not even Michonne. He wanted him back. He felt so lost, that he knew only his eyes would calm him now.

He went back to his bedroom to grab Ricks shirt, putting it halfway in the pocket of the back on his jeans. If I can't have you with me right now, I want your scent at least. I think I know now, why you like this shit, Rick. But I swear if you cheat me, I will fucking burn that thing right on top of your bed.

He went back to Laura and took Lucille. „I'm off. You all don't move until I'm back.“ He went off and Laura stepped after him „Boss, don't want anyone to come with you?“ He waved her off with his hand and walked outside to his car.

Arat stood on the stairs and saw him leaving, not sure if it was grief or rage in his eyes. Maybe both.

She shouted from above „Negan!“ and he turned his head, making his feet stop for a while. She walked up to him resting a hand on his shoulder. „It wasn't him. I don't believe it.“ „And what makes you so sure?“ „I think...he likes you. And you do too, right?“ Negan chuckled and patted her hand. „I don't fucking know anymore, Arat, girl. I really don't know.“ „Listen, I talked to him and to you, I saw how you talked to each other, I know it was not a set up. He would have to be a bigger psychopath than you then and that's definitely not possible.“

Negan had to admit she was right in that, but he saw Rick do things which were pretty similiar to sick things he had done. So he couldn't be so sure about that.

„Arat, just between you and me. I'm pretty obsessed here, I don't even know anymore how to think straight. So I don't know...that guy would have an easy game on me right now. I really believed him. His eyes and words played me like a violine. Maybe he did set me up and just was pretty perfect in it. I'm a fool for being that blind and letting my guard down for just one fucking moment.“ Arat shook her head and smiled. „Go and see him. You two need each other. He surely had good reasons to take your shirt with him, which psychopath would do that?“ Negan agreed and stepped to the drivers door. „A pretty sick one.“ „Yeah.“ Arat nodded to that and leaned down to the window. „He loves you. You can't play that.“

By the word love, Negans back felt a shiver run down and it gave him this sick feeling in his stomache. „We will see.“ he mumbled and added „but thank you. I appreciate it, Cupid.“ Arat laughed and knocked on the roof, wishing him a good ride.

Negan started the engine and headed to Alexandria, never before feeling more scared, the closer he got. He needed to know the truth, but he was not sure if he could deal with it. And if Rick and Michonne really were a thing, while he didn't even manage to fuck his wives after sleeping in Ricks arms, he would never be able to have some respect for himself again.

Everyone leaves you in the end, this voice in his head told him and Negan had to hold himself back, not to drive against a tree and end this unnecessary suffering. He was a failure and a failure couldn't be loved. He knew that and he blamed himself for being so stupid to believe, that someone like Rick would change that pattern. He was the devil, no one could ever love him. He had to end this before it even started.




***





After Negan had left the Sanctuary, he made a break short before arriving at Alexandria. He parked the car in a part of the forest, where he knew his people would find it, just in case.

The drive costed him a while and it was way after midnight. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep anyways, but didn't want to reach Alexandria in the middle of the night, being sure Rick wouldn't be back until now. And after all what happened, he didn't want to approach his love's friends like a serial killer in the night.

He laid down in the car and tried to process what was going on in his mind. But there were too many voices in his head, it was impossible to sort them all.

With crossed arms and laying on his back, he stared at the roof of the car, imagining what Lucille would say to him now. He couldn't hear her voice, the dark ones were surely scaring her away. But he imagined, she would laugh at him. He was sure she never saw him like this. Maybe on their wedding day, where he was close to loosing his nerves as well, to be the perfect husband she imagined, but after that he was always pretty confident, maybe too confident. He even stayed confident when he started cheating on her. And as she was dying, she didn't really see anymore, how lost he was. But now he felt like back then, helpess and overwhelmed. Out of control.

He didn't know, that Michonne didn't tell Rick about their talk as he called her and asked if everything was fine. She hoped, she could speak alone to Negan. Not sure if the reason was, that she wanted to protect Rick and let him out of this situation, or if she just wanted to kill Negan, as soon as she had the chance. The fire of jealousy was the only thing she felt in her veines.

And in a strange way and without their knowing, Negan felt the same. He didn't care about the set up the most, if he would run into a trap, he would deal with it. But imagining loosing Rick, to what reason ever, drove him crazy. He couldn't handle it. Not again.

Why did you start having feelings for this guy?“ Lucille asked suddenly, as Negan raised the bat in front of his face, the wire somehow looking like the constellations now. Thank you for letting me hear you, he thought when looking at the dark wood. I don't know darling. Maybe he reminded me of you.

Lucille chuckled. „He's way more tough than me. I think he reminded you of yourself. You found yourself in him.“

That would make me even more narcisstic than I feel like, love.

That's not what I mean, darling. You lost a part of your soul, cause I took it with me as I had to go. But he gave it back to you. You're complete with him.“

Negan chukled and closed his eyes. You are probably right.

Of course I am! And I'm so glad you found him. But now you have to trust him!“

They will take him away from me. Like they took you.

No one took me, silly head. I just got sick. That's how it was back then, right? Someone always got sick. But no one took me.“

It doesn't matter anymore. I won't let them take him too.

Yes, don't let them take him.“

Somehow this sentence didn't sound like Lucille anymore, it sounded more like a devil on his shoulder, telling him sweet lies in his ear, to wake his inner demon. Reality mixed with his imagination and his twisted mind, which was a dangerous combination.

Negan widened his eyes again and just concentrated on the roof for the next hours. The fear of loss just crept in every inch of his body, making him unable to rest for just one second. Not until they were reunited. Not until he had him back.

He grabbed Ricks shirt from his pocket and balled it, inhaling the sweet scent of mahogany and rested it under his head, rolling to his side to have his nose closer to the fabric. I miss you, Negan thought and closed his eyes.




***





The next morning Negan woke up by the sun shining at his face. He mumbled on himself and sat up, his hand sliding over his face. Since he was not the breakfast guy and his appetite was lost since yesterday, he just grabbed next to him, where he hid a bottle of whisky.

Some gulps later he already felt some kind of dizzyness sink in, but he didn't care. He just wanted to surpress the heavy feelings on his heart anyways.

He got out of the car and took Ricks jeans shirt, to put it back in his pocket, like some kind of cloth. Inhaling the morning air deeply, he grabbed Lucille and stepped up to the gates of Alexandria.



***



Rosita stood on the wall, knowing that he would show up, cause she talked to Michonne about it, but still hesitating to open instantly, since Rick didn't return until now.

Negan smirked and widened his arms to make a welcome stand. „Come on, sweetheart, let me in.“ „He's not here.“ Rosita groaned at him, but Michonne walked up to the gate, opening the first of it. Negans face frowned, thinking Rick maybe didn't want to see him and Michonne set him up another time.

With anger in his eyes he faced her, looking through the bars. „Well, hello there.“ Michonne sighed and said „Morning.“

Standing in front of him without Rick by her side, worried her. But she knew, he promised to come back that day and she had to calm down Negan until that. So she opened the second gate and said „Why don't you come in and we wait?“ Rosita raised her eyebrows, furious about how easily Michonne just let this guy into their home. What was happening here?

„How kind of you, Ms. Grimes.“ Negan snarled through his teeth, hating to call her that name, but still trying to figure out, how she would react to his provoking. Lucille was resting over his shoulder and he was willing to use her anytime, he needed her.

Michonnes heart made a jump when hearing that name, realizing he still guessed that they were together, but knowing, that was just a wish she had to give up before. She breathed in deeply and swinged one arm to her side, to welcome him.

„Thank you, sweetheart.“ Negan said and stepped in, while Michonne gave the sign to close the gates again. „If Rick comes, send him to our home.“ Negan gave a disparaging sound to that. He hated to imagine they were living together like a happy family and most likely, to wake up to each other every day. A privilege he never had for long.

Michonne led him to their house and didn't say a word, neither did Negan. She opened the door and as Negan entered, he somehow felt a kind of heavyness resting on his shoulders, remembering the last time he visited that home, was with Carl.

Even if he knew the floor was not covered in mahogany, it still seemed that scent was lingering in every room. He was lucky the alcohol in his veines lowered the strong emotion of melancholy in his heart.

Michonne closed the door after them and followed him to the living room, where he sat down on the couch, resting Lucille next to him and she laid her back against the wall, with crossed arms. „Where's the little angel?“ Negan asked with a smile, his hands resting in his lap, somehow reminding Michonne of someone else she knew.

„You didn't believe I would leave her in the house, knowing what guest will appear, did you?“ she grinned sarcastically and Negan just shrugged. „Why not? That girl loved me, you know?“ Michonne frowned to that and snarled „I wouldn't let her close to you, even if you were the last person on this planet.“

Negan laughed out loudly and mentioned „You didn't have a problem with letting your man be close to me, so I figured...“ „That's nothing I decided. He did.“ she nagged and looked to her side, her eyes resting on the door. Come on Rick, come back, she thought.

„You know, if we have to fill the time anyways...“ Negan stood up and took Lucille in his hand, having her next to his leg while walking up the stairs. „Wait, where do you...“ „I wanna check what changed, since the last time I was here.“

Michonne hated the image of Carl coming up in her mind, she knew they spent time in here and now Negan acting like it was his second home, broke her heart.

As he stepped upstairs, his hand slid over the wood on the wall, with Judiths and Carls hand. For a moment he got sad over the fact, that Rick had to go through that. He wished, he could have protected Carl.

He sighed and stepped up further, as Michonne recognized something in his jeans pocket, what looked like a jeans shirt. Her brows furrowed and she walked after him, as he entered the bedroom.

His eyes scanned the room, remembering their first call on the walkie, where Rick surely was laying in this room. He spotted the pictures on the cupboard. While on his ones always alcohol was found, Rick of course had this romantic country house style, all what's dear to him, close around him. Negan had no pictures at all, not even from Lucille. He didn't want to remind himself of some sad shit all the time, but maybe the other reason was, there was no one ever close to him again, after she passed.

He stepped forward to get a better look and saw Carl, Judith and Michonne. And in this moment it broke his heart, that it was her and not him being memorized in this home. He tried to imagine how a picture of him and Rick would look like, but the only thing leaving his lips in thought was „pathetic.“

Michonne stood behind him and caught that whisper, asking „What? Family is pathetic for you?“ Negan came back to reality and turned his head to face her. „Yeah, to be honest it is.“ Michonne grinned and shrugged to that. „I think you're jealous, Negan.“ He groaned to that and grabbed Ricks shirt from behind. „I think the only person being jealous in this room, should be you.“ He showed her the shirt, what made her realize, it really was Ricks. Her reaction, was the only reason why Negan took it with him in the first place. He just wanted to see her suffering, the same way he suffered that night.

She widened her eyes and grabbed for it, but Negan pulled it back and pointed Lucille at her. „A-a-a, nope. That's not how this is going to work, lady. You first owe me some answers.“

Michonne frowned and barked „What kind of answers? Rick is not here yet, we should...“ „Since we have to wait for him anyways, why not starting now.“

Michonne tried to surpress the urge to swing her Katana right into his head, but she rather made fists with her hands and tried to stay calm. „What do you want to know?“

While speaking, Negan didn't lower Lucille for just a second. She was right in front of Michonnes face all the time. „I want to know what shitshow you and the prick started on me.“

Michonne shook her head. „We didn't. And I don't even know why you assume...“ „I assume nothing here. We both know how crazy you are for this guy.“ „I am crazy about him? That's ridiculous, since we both know, who made you two talk to each other and even let him leave to you.“ and how much she blamed herself for that now.

Of course she was right in that and it was the only thing, not matching with Negans paranoia indeed. „But may-be you did that, to play with my head. To make me believe you. Just to let that little serial killer enter my door, my home and slaughter my men to cause confusion.“ „What? We were attacket, not...“ „YOU were not attacked. If anyone, then it was Hilltop and Kingdom, yeah. They needed to understand the conditions they are living under, to get rid of the stupid ideas in their ugly heads.“

So it was Negans order to attack them? Michonne wondered. „Wait, so you...“ „I'm not finished here. Even worse. After slaughtering my men, Rick the prick didn't stop by cleaning his weapons and evidence and acting like nothing happened, no. He came into my room and acted all sweet with me. He spent the fucking whole night with me. Just to let me wake to chaos the next morning. He left everything behind in flames and then left me.“

Michonne didn't understand what he was talking about. She knew about the attacks in Kingdom and Hilltop, she knew they discussed with Rick that the attacks could have been from Regina and Simon, on their own behalf, but slaughtering men? What was he talking about? Not to mention, that the image of Rick sleeping next to the enemy, was disgusting to her. But she tried to swallow at least that for now.

„So you think Rick and I made a plan to slaughter your men? And that's why you attacked Hilltop and Kingdom? That makes no sense, Negan.“

He sighed and for the first time pulled back Lucille, to step up to the big window, daring to turn his back on Michonne. „Two of my people were killed, their throats slid open. I found blood in Ricks room and send Regina and Simon.“ He knew he was lying here on purpose, of course he never send anyone to attack them, not even if he would have been sure it was Rick. He just found out the morning later anyways, as Regina and Simon had already left. If he would have known that before, he wouldn't have let Rick enter his room. But in this moment, he didn't care about the facts anymore, his rage was too intense, that he needed to tickle the truth out of her.

„Look, Rick didn't believe you send them. He told us all to keep calm, cause it may be a set up from your own men. He tried to protect you.“ „Bull-shit.“ Negan didn't want to hear that right now, not being able to believe, that Rick would still hold onto his faith in him, while Simons theory made Negan insecure so fastly and loose his trust.

„I don't know what happened to your men but I'm sure it wasn't Rick.“

Negan frowned and turned around, Lucille pointing at Michonnes face again. „How do you dare to speak like that to me? You think my own people would work against me? If I recall it right, it wasn't my men killing all these people in the satellite station, was it?“

To imagine he had a coup going on within his own ranks, was twisting his guts. He was their leader and they never doubted that in any way. He always had the control over them and he would not loose it. Even if a glimpse of a doubt was coming up, when Simon disappeared, he didn't allow himself to doubt his people. He would always consider that someone like Rick played him, cause it just was more likely. But his own people? That couldn't be true.

The people you love will always leave you, that's what he kept in mind since Lucille died. That's why he kept the saviors distant, but dependable. Rick was the first person he ever let in too close and now he saw where it leaded him.

Michonne didn't dare to reply anything to that. She recognized the hate and distrust in Negans eyes, she saw the same look in Rick, after they escaped the prison. It was pure paranoia. And mixed with the alcohol she smelled, it was a deadly mixture, you couldn't win against. Everything she would say now, wouldn't convince him otherwise.

„So I ask one last time. Did you set me up with your boyfriend?“ Negan didn't care about her answer anymore, in his mind everything was painted black already. He just wanted to punish someone, for the things that went wrong now.

Michonne raised her hands in front of her body in defense and shook her head. „No, we didn't. I love Rick, but...“ to that words, Negan groaned loudly and threw Ricks shirt on the bed, not bearing the touch of the fabric in his hand anymore.

He wanted to get away from here and burn everything down in frustration.

One hand slid through his hair and he turned around, trying to get away the raging voices in his mind, talking about destruction, control and punishment. „He doesn't belong to you, he belongs to me!“ Negan mumbled and Michonne stepped up, one hand sliding to the Katana on her back. „He belongs to no one, he is free to decide, where his heart will lead him.“

Negan knew that no heart ever would lead anyone to him. What was he worth, compared to Ricks family? He knew, if he would let Rick decide freely, he was the one to loose. And he couldn't deal with that.

As he raised Lucille to swing her at Michonne, she already had her Katana out and cut his shoulder. He groaned over the pain and lost the rest of good intentions in this moment.

I should have burned all of you when I had the fucking chance. You don't even deserve him.“ He shouted and Lucille met Michonnes side, making her fall to the ground, her Katana sliding to the other side of the room. Negan panted in rage, grabbing Lucille with his other hand as well and looked down at Michonne. „I won't loose him. You won't take him away from me.

He raised Lucille over his head and Michonne coughed, as she tried to look up. His eyes were tearing up in hate and seemed darker than any black, she saw before. She was scared and hated herself, for not being able to protect Rick from this monster. He should have known what he was dealing with. She closed her eyes and Negan groaned again, as another voice suddenly interrupted the scene.

Negan?“ Rick asked, his eyes full of shock and bewilderment.

Negan lifted his eyes to that blue ones, who sunk instantly deep in his soul. „Rick...

Negans look softened, like someone just tamed him like a lion and the grip around Lucille was loosening. „Rick, you're back.“ Michonne whispered and Rick just replied softly „Of course I am.“.

The way he spoke that soft words towards that woman, was filling the hate in Negan right up to its edge. He didn't want him to speak to anyone like this. He wanted to be the only one, hearing such a tone from him. But he wasn't. And he was never gonna be the one.

Let her go.“ Rick commanded and stepped carefully up to them, but Negan shook his head „I can't.“ His hands were shaking and Rick noticed that, hoping the good side in him would come back and spare them.

„I have to check on her.“ Rick said with one hand in front of him, trying to calm Negan down. Negan didn't move and Rick ignored that Lucille was resting over their heads as he kneeled down to Michonne, stroking his hands over her face in fear. „Hey, are you okay? Michonne?“ He turned her on her back to face her and she rested one of her hands on his with a smile. „I'm fine. I'm so glad you're back.“ Rick smiled and rested his forehead on hers. „I will always come back to you.“ and that broke Negans last piece of sanity.

No.“ He screamed, the fear of loosing him winning over every sane decision he could make. He let Lucille fall and took Rick on his collar to pull him up. „You belong to me.“ he snarled between his teeth, his eyes in the most evilish look Rick could ever imagine.

Rick grabbed Negans wrist and stared back in that eyes, cold like ice. „You can't seperate me from my family.“ Negans heart stopped in that moment, realizing Rick wasn't considering him his family. Seemed he never planned to make him a part of that, while Negan made him the only family he ever had.

Like fighting for his life, Rick beated his head against Negans, who stumbled backwards and Rick grabbed his axe from his belt, walking right up to Negan. He tried to get his focus back to Rick and saw how he swinged the hatchet at him and ducked down, twisting to the other side to pick Lucille back up and tried to get his senses back to working.

„Rick, I...“ „Leave, Negan. Leave or I will kill you.“ Michonne sat up and screamed „No, Rick! Think of Carl.“ and Negan stepped back, stumbling against the cupboard, making the pictures fall over. „You hurt my family, the one thing I told you not to do ever again. And you didn't listen. You broke my trust. I will never forgive that. So LEAVE, Negan.“ „I'm sorry Rick. I thought...“ „I don't care!“ Rick screamed and swung his axe at him another time, causing Negan to swing Lucille in defense, which hit Rick right to his back, causing him to fall on his knees, gasping for air.

You hurt him, you fucking bastard, Negans voices were screaming. You hurt the one person you wanted to protect, that's all you do. You have to leave. Run. Go away.

And Negan did. With Lucille in his hand he stumbled out of the room, not daring to face that blue eyes again. He went downstairs and left the house without another word.

Michonne crawled up to Rick, who was trying to catch some air. „Rick, are you okay?“ He nodded and took Michonnes hand, resting on his chest. „I'm fine. Where's Judith? I...I didn't see her and thought...“ „She's fine, we are all fine. Calm down.“ Rick lifted his eyes to look at Michonnes face and suddenly tears of relief ran down his cheeks.

„I...I thought I lost you.“ Michonne took his face in her hands and pulled him in a hug. „You will never loose us. She's fine, Rick. It's all fine.“ „I wanna see her.“ he stuttered, still panting out of air, cause he was hyperventilating. „She's with Gabe. She's fine, you hear me? I will bring you to her.“ Rick nodded and pulled her close. „I think I lost it. I'm so sorry. I just...I just saw the blood and couldn't find Judith and I just...I just lost it.“ „It's fine Rick.“

He pulled back from the embrace and wiped his tears away, his hands still shaking out of rage. „He attacked you. I couldn't...I couldn't let him attack you.“ „I'm so sorry. I made him freak. We should have waited for you. I'm sorry, Rick.“ „No it's fine. He wasn't allowed to hurt you. I wouldn't allow that, no matter how much he...“ he swallowed his last words and Michonne stroked over his chest, realizing it was not his shirt he was wearing.

She blinked and tried to shove that thought away. „Come on, let's bring you to your daughter.“ she whispered and he nodded. „And bring you to get checked on.“ She agreed and added „And you too.“ He chuckled to that and raised with her, resting one arm on her shoulder, to get better balance as they left the house.




***

 

It seemed Negan was gone, Rosita was running up to them and followed them to the church, where Gabriel welcomed them with a happy Judith on his arm. Rick couldn't help but cry again, as he finally had that girl in his arms again. He kissed her head over and over again and inhaled the sweet scent of vanilla, she always had on her skin. He never was so relieved in his life, for a short moment he really wasn't sure if Negan did something to her and he lost her as well. How could he even assume Negan would do such a thing?

He carefully swinged her in his arms and let Siddiq check up on Michonne, while doing so. He followed them to the infirmary and didn't let go of his daughter one moment, just wanting to wait until Michonne was patched up.

She laid down in one of the beds and smiled at the picture of Rick and Judith holding each other in front of her. Nothing in this world made her smile more than that.

He stepped up to her bed and rested Judith next to her, as her examination was finished. „Come here, babygirl.“ Michonne said and embraced her, causing a bitter smile in Rick, grieving over the fact, that he would never see Negan in a picture like this, no matter how much he wished for it before.

Michonne noticed his nervous sliding of his hand around his wrist and said „Siddiq should check your back, Rick.“ He shook his head and replied „It's fine. I...“ „You need to go, I know.“

He nodded and felt the relief coming over him, that he didn't have to explain more. He grabbed his hatchet, placing it back in his belt and Michonne raised a brow. „What are you doing?“ „I need to finish it.“ He tried to give her a confident look, but his eyes revealed how his heart was breaking under his skin. „You don't need to do it now. We will do it together.“

Rick shook his head to this. „No. I have to do it, Michonne. I owe it to all of you. I need to protect you.“ „Let him go, Rick.“ He had to blink his eyes, to surpress the urge to cry again. „I can't.“ his voice was breaking and he tried to get his strength back, in kissing Judiths head another time, inhaling the sweet scent of her.

Michonne didn't know any word to say to that. She knew it wouldn't change a thing when Rick already made a decision.

„I need to fix this and set things straight. I just have to. I can't let him go out there again and continue his rage war over me.“

Michonne had to swallow hard, but nodded lightly. „Okay. But...be safe, Rick.“ „I will be.“ He tried to sound certain and patted Siddiqs shoulder, trying to calm the doctor, that his wounds were good to handle, even if they weren't.

Siddiq didn't like to let him go like this, but he knew that stubborn side of their leader all to well.



***

 



Rick stepped out of the house and approached the gates, Rosita calling his name as he opened the first one. Rick turned his head to face her, but continued opening the gate anyhow.

„Rick, are you going out for a murder mission?“ She pointed at his weapons and he just shrugged. „What should I do otherwise?“

Rosita sighed and stepped up, as he opened the second gate. „I can come with you. I want to kill that bastard for a while now, it would be an honor to...“ „No. It's my task. You need to be here, to protect them, if anyone shows up.“

She nodded doubtful and closed the gate behind him. „Fine. But if you're not back in a few hours, we will search for you. There's a storm coming.“ She waved her head up at the sky, which was dark from the grey clouds hanging in it.

Rick nodded to that and said „Thank you.“ Then he turned around, not looking back as Rosita called after him „Contact us if anything happens!“ and he just waved his hand, running forward. He didn't take the walkie with him anyways. Maybe because he wasn't even sure, if he wanted to come back.

This was his mission and he had to do it on his own. Even if he wasn't sure how all this would turn out, or what he would do when he finds him, the only thing he knew was, no one else should be involved anymore at this point. Just him and Rick.



Chapter Text

As Rick stepped outside, he expected some kind of trails of wheels, but there was nothing. He examined the ground and finally found some blood splatters. Michonne must have hurt him before and maybe he came by foot.

Rick stood up and followed the trails into the wood.



It didn't take long as he spotted a car. He recognized it right away and wondered why Negan didn't leave yet. Maybe he left it behind? Maybe someone came to pick him up?

But he couldn't find any other clues for other vehicles.

Rick frowned and rested one hand on his axe in high alert.

As he hid behind a tree, he tried to figure out, if he could see anyone. In fact he spotted someone leaning at the car with his back, sitting on the ground and the sight of the former strong and upright man being frozen in despair left Ricks heart broken.

Still it didn't change the burning rage, which was lingering in Ricks veins. This man hurt his family and accused him of killing his man. He even admitted that he ordered the attack against Hilltop and Kingdom, Rick heard it when he talked to Michonne.

He had to fix this. And he couldn't let him play with his mind again, he was blind too long. And Rick fell for it, right into his hands. He had to end this now.

Negan felt the sharp pain still run over his arm, the jacket was cut right through with that fucking katana. That fucking bitch. She made him lose it, she made him lose Rick. He didn't even have the time to explain himself. He even did hurt him in defense. How could he ever make that up to him?

He could have returned to the Sanctuary right away, but he just didn't feel like it. He didn't know where he belonged anymore. If his own men really planned a coup on him, he wasn't safe there anymore. But with attacking Michonne, Ricks family, where he didn't belong to, he also lost the right to be at his side. He failed him. And he failed his people, letting idiots like Simon play him. It was all a fucking mess and in this moment he wished, Michonne had just finished him. Serving his head right to Ricks plate. He deserved it. He was worth shit.

He groaned through the pain and let out a desperate „Goddammit!“ as someone approached him, slowly. „Move and you will have a reason to swear.“

Negan couldn't believe his eyes to see Rick in front of him, stepping up like a butcher in the night with his axe in his hand. „Rick, my god I never was that glad to see this pretty face.“ he tried to compliment him and sat up, with a frown in his face, as the pain ran through his body. But now it didn't matter anymore.

Negan noticed Rick had a heavy step, his back seemed to be still hurt. And it was his fault.

„Look, I'm so sorry...“ „Shut up, asshole.“ Rick snarled and swinged his axe at him, causing Negan to switch to the side and call out in confusion „What the hell, Rick?“ „Shut up.“ Rick strike out again, hate filling his beautiful blue eyes.

Negan grabbed his wrist and stopped him from swinging the hatchet at him, but Rick just groaned through his teeth, wanting to finish this monster who broke his heart. „Rick, please.“ Negan knew Rick was too far gone, he knew it from himself all too well. He was in the same state before, when he was alone with Michonne. But hearing her talk that softly about Rick just made him snap.

Against Ricks hard grip, Negan managed to grab the axe and threw it away, his hands instantly moving up in defense. „Stop it. Let's talk.“ „I don't need a weapon to kill you, I will do it right here with bare hands.“ Rick replied, his voice sounding like a murderer already.

In one move he stepped forward and pushed Negan against the car, his hands on his throat and his face marked by all the pain floating through his soul. „R-ick...“ Negan gasped, but Rick didn't stop. „I told you. I will kill you.“

Negan lifted his knee and beated Rick right in his stomache, causing him to release his grip and cough. Negan again lifted his hands in defense and tried to speak. „Rick you need to calm down. We need to talk about this.“

Rick squeezed his eyes and let out another scream, before he punched Negan right in the face, one hit after one. But Negan let him. Somehow the pain he felt, seemed like what he deserved anyways. It was nothing he didn't do to himself before.

With every punch Rick hit to his ribs, his chest and his face, Negan tried to interrupt him, trying to catch his eyes, but Rick still continued. As Negan couldn't step back anymore, his back against his car another time, he grabbed both of Rick hands and hold them with his last strength, making the furious man face him. „Look at me!“ he commanded, blood running down his lips already.

Rick looked up at him, but still snarled, being out of control. „Defend yourself!“ he commanded, but Negan shook his head. „No.“ It made Rick go even crazier. „Fight back or I will fucking kill you!“

He released his hands and as he wanted to punch again, Negan grabbed his arms and twisted him around, now Ricks back beating against the car, which let him scream out in pain. Negan hold onto his shoulders and pushed him more against the vehicle. „Dammit, I'm sorry, Rick. But if you don't stop, you will kill both of us.“

Rick froze for a second and suddenly moved his head closer, his lips nearly as close as in a kiss and his eyes glowing like the ocean. „Good.“ he barked and pushed against Negan, letting them both fall on the ground. Rick didn't care anymore if they would both die here, he even wished for it in a sick way, cause it would spare him all the shame over admitting, that he loved this man and rather wanted to go down with him, than living without him. And sadly he crossed the line today, so he could never take him back with him, so all that was left, was despair.

Negan crawled back and Rick followed him on his knees, trying to search for his hatchet, which Negan grabbed before him. Negan raised an eyebrow to that, giving him a smirk „What now, princess?“

Rick grabbed for the axe as well and tried to lift it, Negan still trying to crawl further back. But Rick followed him. He crawled after him, until Negan found his back against the car again, realizing Rick was suddenly crawling on top of his lap, his hand still with his on the hatchet, but not trying to get it anymore, he just rested his hand next to Negans.

They both panted, as Rick was on top of Negans lap, staring at his eyes from above, his hate mixing with the strange feeling of arousal between his hips. And he hated that.

Negan on the contrary loved the fact, that their hips was pressed against each other and that Rick was frozen in this position. Rick released his hand from the hatchet and gritted his teeth, the frustration over giving in to this man, being unable to kill him, winning over his mind. He groaned over the gained certainty, that he was already too lost in Negan and wished he could turn time back, but he couldn't even remember, in which moment he lost himself so much. Maybe everything was already decided, when he looked into that mans eyes for the first time. And that was a tough pill to swallow for Rick.

He wanted to push away the memories of the day they met, he wished he could erase this man out of his life, but here he was. And he was not letting go of Rick and Rick wasn't able to let him go either.

The realization over this naked truth, let Rick groan and he started to beat his fists on Negans chest, his eyes squinting in despair. „Why...“ Rick snarled and Negans forehead was in wrinkles, confused over the return of Ricks aggression.

„Hey!“ Negan tried to prevent Ricks fists from meeting his chest over and over again, but Rick didn't stop and Negan realized, he was close to breaking, fighting his tears. „Rick, hey...what's wrong?“ Rick didn't stop the beating of his fists, but Negan felt it was more a desperate act, than a try to hurt him.

Suddenly Ricks hands turned from fists, to grabbing Negans shirt, sinking his forehead against his chest. The grip on Negans fabric tightened, he could nearly feel Ricks nails digging into his skin.

Rick just wanted to disappear. All the shame for being a bad leader, not able to get rid of their worst enemy, sunk into his heart. He let them all down. And now he was even crying over this man. He cried like a baby, it felt like crying out all the pain over losing Carl and having no chance anymore, of showing him, what he tried to do here. Even if he would make peace with his enemy, Carl wouldn't see it anymore. Even if he would reveal his feelings, he couldn't introduce Negan to his family anymore. Not like he wouldn't want to, but in the moment as Negan attacked Michonne, Rick realized he had to let go off him, it felt like he lost another part of himself, again. And he couldn't lose any more. And the heavier his loss felt, the harder he grabbed on Negans shirt, trying to hold on to him, so at least he couldn't leave.

Don't leave me...“ Rick sobbed and finally Negan realized, this wasn't about fighting him in particular, it was about fighting his feelings for him. Rick was scared of losing Negan, the same way he was scared the whole day, to loose him.

Negan lifted Ricks chin and looked at him, trying not to lose it himself. „Rick, I'm here. You can stop now.“ Rick rested his forehead for a moment on Negans and inhaled deeply, to calm himself down. He let his head sink in Negans chest again and dried his tears, with rubbing it against the fabric.

As he pulled back, both of their eyes tried to suck each other in and Negan had the feeling, Rick was coming back to himself slowly.

They still were trying to catch air, as Negan whispered „Well, hello Officer. Good to have you back.“

Rick sighed on that and pulled over to the other side, both resting the back of their heads at the car now.

The air was filled with their fast breaths and Rick tried his best to calm his inner demon. to think clearly again. But the adrenaline was still too high in his body.

Negan let go of the axe and inhaled one last breath, before he slid his hands through his hair to calm himself. He looked over to his side, where Rick had his eyes closed and still was breathing heavily. His hands were bloody and shaking next to him and Negan couldn't hold back anymore, letting his hands slowly slide over the one on the ground next to him. He laced their fingers from above and tightened his grip, feeling how Rick returned the move and slowly lowered his breath.

Negan smiled to that gesture and Rick mumbled „I really do hate you.“ but Negan just replied „No, you don't. And see? I'm still here.“ which caused a desperate chuckle from Rick.

Rick moved one leg up and rested his left arm on it, to rest his head against his free hand. His eyes lowered to his side, to look at their laced hands. His fingers were opening the grip and he turned Negans hand around, so they could lace their inner palms against each other. It somehow gave Rick the feeling of being closer. Being one.

Negan grinned even wider and rested the side of his head against the car, his eyes still focused on that broken man with that weird eyes.You're one of a kind, Rick Grimes.“ „Shut up.“ Rick argued and slid his free hand through his hair, before he finally did the same move as Negan, one side of his face against the car, while the other could stare back at Negan.

For the first time in this moment, they dared to smile at each other. But Negan couldn't bear the silence. „I'm sorry, Rick.“ Rick closed his eyes, as if these words hurt him. „Don't. Please. Let's not talk.“

Negan laughed lightly about that and moved his other hand up to Ricks face, stroking his sweaty hair out of his sight. „What then, officer?“ but this mood shift was too fast for Rick. He groaned and grabbed Negans hand to push it away, while his other one released the grip, to hide his face now behind his palms. Negan felt rejected by that and even if he understood, it still hurt, cause he knew nothing else to say.

Rick slid his hair back and turned a bit to the side, so he could face Negan more. „Why aren't you home?“ he asked and Negan couldn't help, but laugh about that, his right hand sliding to the hatchet again, playing with the sharp end. „I don't know where that should be, Rick.“ Rick sighed, but didn't notice, that Negan started to scrub his thumb against the blade, to cut his skin open lightly. He needed the pain to keep focus.

„So it wasn't you.“ „Goddammit no!“ Negan protested, but Rick asked „But what you said to Michonne...“ „I wanted to test her. I needed to find out the truth.“ „What kind of truth?“

Negan sighed over his own stupidness. „It's ridiculous.“ Negan lowered his eyes and looked at the hatchet, which caused blood running down his thumb. „It was important enough to attack her.“

Negan mumbled against his teeth, being embarrassed by his own words. „Simon told me you are...fucking each other. He said, it was some sick kind of love mission of you two.“ Rick raised his eyebrows. „Excuse me?“ Negans other hand waved at that. „Yeah, forget about it. It was stupid.“ „No Negan, that wasn't stupid, that was totally nuts! Besides I'm no ones property here. And you attacked her out of jealousy? Is that it?“

Negan hated to admit, that Rick was right. Yes, it was jealousy, but it was some more twisted. It was his problem with possession showing up. He wanted to own Rick, to take back control and having the feeling, Rick slid right through his fingers, like his own men, made him lose his mind.

She wanted to take you from me...“ Negan mumbled again, now tightening his whole hand around the blade of the axe. He pressed so hard, that his skin started bleeding, but alarmingly, he felt nothing. He was blank. Maybe he was a psychopath after all.

Finally Rick noticed and let out a „What the fuck are you doing, Negan?“. He grabbed his hand and looked at it's palm. „So that's what you did to your other hand. Do you enjoy this shit or what?“

Negan came back like from a dream and looked at his hand, shocked that his red liquid was all over it. „What the...“ „Don't tell me you didn't feel this, you just slid your hand open, you idiot.“ Negan blinked and said „I really...I didn't notice. Forget about it.“ He pulled his hand back from Rick and wiped his palm over his jeans, coloring it with blood all over. „What the fuck is wrong with you?“ Rick exhorted him and grabbed a bandage out of his pocket, to cover his hand.

He looked damned determined while doing so, like a doctor saving his first patient. Negan liked that view and as he looked down, he recognized the bandage as his own. The one he gave Rick on their first day scouting. „That's mine.“ Negan realized, Rick must have been carrying it around with him, the whole time.

Rick finished the patching up and placed his hand on Negans. „Now it is yours again, yes.“

Negan lifted his eyes like in slow motion, that soft blue suddenly causing so much pain in his heart that he wanted to run away. He wanted to run as fast as he could, but his legs wouldn't move. He felt a part of his soul sunk right into the others body and it scared him. „Why are you so nice to me?“ Negan asked and Rick shook his head in disbelief. „I wish I knew.“ he said, but the truth was, he knew exactly why, he just didn't dare to commit it. But this answer didn't release Negans heavyness on his heart at all.

With another sigh, Rick rested his back against the car again and looked up at the stars, his arms on his lifted knees.

Negan still could feel this endless pain crawling under his skin, now that he stopped the cutting, it came over him like a wave and he couldn't control it anymore. Normally the pain he caused himself, was holding it back, controlling it and distracted him, but now it was all wide open, running over him like a herd. He felt like he couldn't breath and would start hyperventilating any second. There was a lump in his throat, as he looked at Rick, who had this soft look in his eyes and the light of the moon sparkling in them. He was so undescribable beautiful, that it just broke Negan.

As Rick started to ask about the constellations, Negan couldn't answer. Rick turned his head and realized Negans eyes were tearing up, as if he said something wrong. Maybe he just reminded him of Lucille?

„Negan?“ „I...I can't do this.“ Negan turned away and stood up, Rick grabbing for his arm, to pull himself back up with him. Negan turned his back on Rick and wanted to leave, as Rick snapped another time.

„Don't dare to turn your back on me now.“ But Negan pulled his arm away and turned to Rick, his eyes still teary. With his last strength, he tried to surpress the tears and raised his forefinger, pointing it at Rick. „Let me go.“

He turned another time and hoped Rick would give up, but of course he didn't. He pulled him back again and his face changed to a frown. „What the fuck just happened, Negan? Talk to me!“ „I just...I just can't deal with losing you. I can't. So I won't.“ „That's why you leave? First you freak out, at just the thought of losing me and now you want to go? You know what? Fuck that shit. I won't leave your side.“ Negan couldn't believe this man and how he was fighting a losing battle. Negan just tried to prevent watching Rick go, so he wanted to be the first to leave, to keep control.

„I make everyone leave in the end. So you will leave too. And I'm not gonna watch that.“ Negan mentioned and tried to turn a last time, but this time he could just manage to turn his head, cause Rick was holding his arms. „I won't. I am here, Negan. Look at me.“

Negan shook his head and bit his lower lip that hard, that it started bleeding again, trying desperately to control the emotions he had, when looking at Rick. It just made him wistful about something, he could never have. He didn't want to feel that anymore. „Please Negan, try to trust me. I won't give you up.“ by that words, Rick felt his own eyes get heavy as well, he felt like he was losing this guy another time and two times in one day, he couldn't bear.

Negan looked back at him, that blue eyes instantly reminding him of the feelings he tried to surpress here. „And why won't you?“ Negan asked, his teeth gnashing. „Because I can't loose you either.“ „But why?“ Negan screamed right at his face, praying to the gods in this world, that they would end him right here. He couldn't stand the tension in his face anymore, forcing his eyes to squint, holding back the tears. He just was not ready yet, to cry in front of this man. He couldn't allow himself this kind of weakness. He revealed too much already, it needed to stop.

„Because I love you.“ Rick confessed with shivering lips, being afraid the world would just destroy itself, by hearing that truth finally spoken. He expected nothing less, than a big hole swallowing him right here, right now, punishing him for his stupidity.

But Negan could finally open his eyes and stared at Ricks shaking body. He never saw him that raw, it crashed Negans belief in the endless hate, this world would give him. And he didn't even care anymore. If the rest of this world would hate and judge him now, it didn't matter. All that mattered was this man, with the power of embracing even the darkest demons in this world and love them. And make them love him back.

Negan didn't dare to say anything, he stared at Rick, like he just froze time, while Rick waited for some kind of reaction, any kind would be better, than this silence.

In that moment one raindrop fell down on Ricks cheek, right under his eye. He blinked to the sudden wet feeling and Negan looked up, noticing the clouds above them and then looked back at Ricks trembling face. He still couldn't believe what he just said.

„Are you serious?“ Negan finally asked and Rick screamed out in despair. „Of course, asshole. Why do you think I'm still running after you? Why do you think I'm here now? Why do you think I can't even manage to kill you? Just the thought of it would make me rip my own heart out. I can't loose you cause I love you. And don't dare to assume this is another twisted set up, I swear to God. I'm giving you everything here.“

Negan was stunned. „How?“ Rick shook his head and rested both of his hands on Negans face. Negan squirmed under his touch, like he was burned alive. He couldn't stand to look at him anymore, his loving eyes were like razorblades, running over his heart. He really did kill him with his kindness.

Don't...“ Negan tried to pull back, but Rick tightened his grip, to make him face him, which caused Negan to squeeze his eyes togeher again. Don't look at me, I'm a monster, he wanted to scream, but suddenly the rain started pouring down heavily, like someone in heaven was crying over their ineptitude. Maybe Lucille.

Rick had enough of it and pulled Negans face against his, his lips kissing Negans, mixed with the rain pouring down their faces. Negan tried not to return it, but the taste of Ricks tongue, mixed with the raindrops and his blood, ambushed him like a spell and he was lost. His strong hands moved up to hold Ricks face even closer and he parted his lips, to embrace Ricks tongue with his. Negans body let go, as if it was set free, like an exorcism freeing his chained heart. And within this kiss he couldn't stop his tears running down his face anymore.

Ricks hands didn't notice at first, cause everything was wet anyways, but he felt a sudden shiver running over Negans lips, whenever he touched him. Rick didn't know, if Negan was loosing consciousness right now, or just was caught in weakness, but he slightly released the kiss, to be able to look at his face again. His thumbs wiped away the rain covering the tears and Negan whispered „Why do you kiss me?“ Maybe he just wanted to hear his confession again, but Ricks mind was only left with void. „I don't know, I can't stop.“ „Then...don't.“ Negan commanded and before he even finished his words, Ricks lips met his again. Negan slid one hand to the back of Ricks head, to grab his curls and finally let out a moan during their temptation. He lost himself in their affection and didn't even realize his other hand went to Ricks back, to slid under his shirt, pressing his fingers into his skin. He needed to feel him so badly, just to be sure it's him and not another weird dream, he was caught in.

Rick didn't mind it, on the contrary, turned on by Negans taking advance, like he loved him, Rick slid both of his hands through Negans hair, to pull him back softly, sucking Negans lower lip which caused more blood to run over his tongue. Somehow that taste made Rick lose his mind even more and he turned Negan around, to push him against the car, while the rain still was pouring down their bodies, leaving them in amazement. It felt like every inch of them was touched at the same time, it felt like drowning in the ocean, into each others mouths.

Negan didn't even mind the tears anymore, he couldn't fight them back anyways, being too lost in this man. Rick noticed, that the pouring in Negans face didn't stop, so he tried to break the kiss and slowly pulled his head back, staring at Negans face, which looked like he had been tortured.

Rick frowned, not knowing if he hurt him or did anything wrong. „Negan, are you okay?“ Negan didn't dare to open his eyes at first, he concentrated on the skin under his fingers, the skin of Ricks back. He felt so soft, that it killed him. „I...just...“ Rick still wasn't sure if the water on Negans face was tears or rain, but as Negan opened his eyes, Rick realized he really was crying. His hands instantly went back to Negans face, to wipe the tears away. „What is it?“

Negans hand was shaking on Ricks back, he felt the fingertips trembling on his skin. Rick moved his right hand down, to take Negans to his lips and kissed it, but somehow Negans shaking didn't stop, it only got worse. Negan started to sob and knew he was losing all his stand here, but he couldn't help it. Ricks confession and softness just melted him, he couldn't take it. After Lucille, no one ever approached him with such kindness and trust, that it tried to stop his heart. „You really are killing me here, Grimes...“ Negan sobbed and rested his forehead against Ricks, both of them closing their eyes and breathing against each others faces.

Rick had a gentle smile on his lips and whispered „What kills you? Was my confession that bad?“ Negan chuckled and opened his eyes again, to look at the other man, still ashamed he couldn't stop the tears on his face. „It was the nicest thing you could say. I just...don't feel like I deserve it. I...“ „Negan stop it.“ Rick placed his left hand over Negans lips, to make him stop talking.

„No, listen.“ Negan interrupted him and pulled his hand down. „I need you to know, I didn't mean to hurt you. I really..didn't. I wanted to provoke Michonne. It killed me, how she talked about you and how you all are a family, I don't belong to. And then I saw you, how you reacted when she was hurt. It killed me even more. I...shouldn't have done all that. I'm so sorry, Rick. You're not supposed to love me, I don't deserve it. And I really wanted to prevent it. I can't hurt you again. Not after all...“ Negan tried to release from Ricks arms, but he didn't let him. „I told you before, you are a good person, Negan. You may not be able to show it all the time, neither am I. You made mistakes and I did mine. I was close to believing you hurt her on purpose, hurt us on purpose. But I know you didn't. You just...you can't hurt my family like that and you can't be that possessive about me.“ „I know...“ „And I know that you know. It's just...hard to show them what I see in you, when you do that. But..it never changed my feelings.“

Negan looked up at him and wanted to hide in that blue stare. Rick continued „I came here, cause I was so furious. You may not like it, but Michonne is my family too. Like Judith is. Like Alexandria is my home. But... You belong there too. I thought I couldn't let you in anymore. I felt like I needed to get rid of you, to be free again. But as I saw you...I know I couldn't. And I know now that I don't want to be free from you. I want you to be part of that. I knew when I looked at you. I just...was furious. I didn't know where Judith was and saw Michonne is hurt and then I lost it...and then I got angry over the fact, that I couldn't hate you. Not even after what I thought you did. Even then...I still loved you. I needed to accept that, whatever you may do, this feeling wouldn't stop. And it killed me to accept that. It still does. But you need to do the same. Otherwise you will continue to suffer. And I swear, seeing you cry is the hardest thing I ever watched. Please never do that to me again.“ Ricks smile was so soft, that Negans legs got weak, his heart drowning him with heavyness. Ricks hands stroke over his cheeks another time, to check if he was still with him.

Negans breath was calming down and he rested his forehead against Ricks, closing his eyes and just letting the rain bury them. Rick smiled in that moment, despite the circumstances they found themselves in, he couldn't imagine any other place he would prefer to this one right now. And it filled him with ease to know that now.

Rick kissed the parts where Negans tears ran down, his lips swallowing the liquid, trying to erase the pain Negan still felt in every part of his body. Negan couldn't remember any moment, where someone was that kind and gentle to him, after he just pulled out his heart. He was used to being the strong one, protecting and caring for Lucille, when she needed him the most. He never expected her to do the same, since her body got too weak anyways. But this man didn't care about Negans weakness, he embraced it with his kindness. It surely was one of the reasons why Negan admired this man so much.

Soaked from the rain, Rick whispered „we should go if we don't wanna drown.“, his lips forming a joking smile. Negan nodded to that and added „Yeah, I wouldn't want to watch that.“ Rick laughed and grabbed one of Negans hands, to make him follow him. „Come on, I bring you home.“ He was referring to Alexandria, cause he knew there was no other place left for Negan and he finally wanted him to realize, where Rick wanted to see him.

Negan thought he understood and he didn't mind where he would follow him, he even would enter the darkest hell with this man.

As they both looked up and started walking, two walkers appeared in front of them. The sound of the rain pouring on the car, must have brought them here. „Wait here.“ Rick said and released his hand from Negans, to grab the hatchet from the ground and kill them both with one strike. Negan noticed, that his moves were still shaky, his body still must have been hurt from before.

„Rick, wait, you're hurt.“ Negan opened the car door and grabbed Lucille, while Rick made faces after killing their attackers. While during their confessions and their fight, the pain in his back faded, now after calming down and after letting out all their thoughts and feelings, it came back to him, suddenly aching like it just happened.

Negan noticed his painful look and slid his hand into Ricks from behind. „Hey cowboy, you fine?“ Rick shook his head, but not wanting to let Negan realize, that he was the cause of the wounds in the first place. He would have just sunk into self hate again and wouldn't follow him. „Let's just go.“

Holding onto Negans hand he stepped forward and realized they were sorrounded already. „Fuck...“ Rick mumbled and another stroke of pain went through his shoulder. Negan pushed him aside and assured „Let me handle it. We can ignore most of them, let's just bring you home.“ „Negan...“ Rick didn't like someone else taking over the responsibility, especially if it was Negan, but in this case he tried to step back.

While Negan was killing three of them with Lucille, Rick turned around, to finish another one with the hatchet. As he wanted to return to Negan, he stumbled, his feet slipping on the muddy and wet ground. He fell backwards and Negan noticed the sound of him in the mud, but had to kill another two before he ran back to him. „Come on, cowboy. Let me help you.“ He grabbed Ricks arm to rest it over his neck and pulled him up. Rick hated to be less capable, than he used to be. „I can walk on my own.“ „A shit you will.“ Negan barked back and fastened his steps. „Home?“ he asked to reassure himself and Rick nodded to that. Speaking the word home and knowing they both meant the same, felt so sweet on Negans heart, that it lifted his feet. Negan just had to finish four other ones on their way, but it was easy with Lucille protecting them.

Ricks vision got blurry while they were walking, he was just sensing the sound of Negans breathing and his trying to keep Rick awake. „You stay with me here, sheriff. Otherwise your friends won't let me in, you hear me?“ „I let you in way before, they will do the same.“ Rick mumbled in his dizzy feeling. Negan smiled to that, but couldn't help to cover his insecurity with sarcasm. „Always optimistic, Rickyboy.“ And of course Rick had to be. If he wouldn't believe in a good outcome, who would?





***



Rosita couldn't believe her eyes, as she spotted the black hair and leather jacket from a distance. As she noticed Negan also had Lucille over his shoulder, her face turned into a hateful look. How could he even dare to come back after he hurt Michonne and attacked them? He should have stayed away as far as possible. On the other hand, he just gave her the best reason to finally get rid of this man.

Her frown switched into a smirk and she grabbed her sniper rifle, to point at his head. As she looked closer through the scope, to get a better sight, she realized he wasn't alone. „What the shit? Michonne!“ She screamed out and recognized her already coming to the gates.

Everyone was in their houses, the rain sinking heavily into every inch of their clothes. Rosita wanted to stay outside to check on the gates, just hoping for a chance to kill Negan herself. But somehow that dickhead managed to get his fingers on Rick again, just to use him as defense. That smart bastard. „It's Negan.“ she explained to Michonne, who widened her eyes. „Negan? But...“ „Rick is with him. I think he is hurt.“ Michonne looked at her and stepped up, seeing Ricks arm resting over Negans shoulder, who stabilized him while walking. So he couldn't do it, Michonne said to herself.

As they reached the gates, Negan looked up. „Hello again. You really should open that gate, girls.“ „The shit we will.“ Rosita snarled, but Rick recognized that voice and slowly lifted his head. „Open it.“

Negan mumbled in his ear „I told you, they wouldn't like it.“ „Trust me.“ Rick replied and waited for a reaction.

It hurt Michonnes heart to see Rick like this. But she couldn't be sure who caused his state, could she? „What did you do to him?“ she asked.

„Seriously now? I brought him here, cause he is fucking hurt. I'm giving you all my gentleman sides here, so fucking let us in. He needs treatment.“ „Treatment he needs cause of you.“ Rosita barked and Negan furrowed his brows. „What? Fuck no.“

Rick wanted to stop their fighting, he still didn't want Negan to realize where his pain came from. „Can you...just let us in please?“ Rick asked and Rosita breathed in deeply. „You, not him.“ she replied and Negan rolled his eyes. „Oh goddammit, this camp is full of idiots.“ Michonne had enough and stepped down to open the gates, Rosita not lifting her eyes from Negan for one second, her hand on the gun.

Negan could stand these eye fights, he didn't mind to take them all down with it, if they wished to.

As Michonne opened the second gate, Negan smiled and stared at her. „Finally, someone with a working brain.“ Michonne ran up to them and rested her hands on Ricks face, which was wet, dirty and somehow heating up. „What did he do to you?“ she whispered and Rick tried to face her, but his vision was too blurry, he just spoke into the direction of her voice. „Nothing. I couldn't do it Michonne.“

She smiled in vain and answered „It's fine, let's patch you up.“

Negan assumed he had to let him go now and wanted to release his arm, so Michonne could take him, but Rick was clinging onto him. „No, he's my family too.“ saying those words felt like casting a spell and Negan fell right under it. Hearing him say that in front of his former family, was the biggest commitment he could expect by now and it made Negan proud, that he saw him like that. Oh how much he loved that man.

Even Michonne couldn't resist Ricks confession. She just nodded and whispered „Okay.“, hoping she wouldn't regret that decision the next second. Her eyes drifted over to Negans and he had the widest smirk on his lips, giving her a soft shrug like he just won the grand prize. And for him it felt like he did.

Rosita couldn't do anything about them stepping through their gates, together, she just had to watch it, not believing her eyes. She wondered in which kind of shitshow she just was involved in, but decided she couldn't watch it anymore. Without following them, she stayed in the rain on the wall, her fingers tightening the grip on the weapon, imagining how she could smash that head in two.

Rick hold onto Negan, who knew the way to his house already and tried the best to keep him awake. Rick was covered in mud from his falling over, he knew they would bring him home first to get a shower and just the imagination of him entering his house with Negan and Michonne at the same time, left such a hauntingly beautiful feeling on his heart, that it felt like he was drifting off to a dream. This was all he ever wanted. All he wanted for Carl to see.

Negan felt Ricks legs breaking and sank down with him on his knees. „Rick?“ He checked his face and realized he lost consciousness. He never saw someone drifting off so calmly, cause Rick had the purest smile on his lips.

„Okay, I will carry him in.“ Michonne interrupted, but Negan disagreed and decided to anticipate. „I will.“ He shoved his arm under Ricks legs and pulled him up, resting his arms around his neck.

Like showing off his victory, he carried him inside the house, letting Michonne stare at them in disgust. She couldn't believe what was happening here. She wished, she could just take Rick back from his arms, but she knew she lost him long before.

Negan rested Rick on the couch and wiped his hair out of his wet face. „Hey, Rickyboy. We're home. You hear me? You can wake now.“ „He needs to go to Siddiq.“ Michonne brought up.

„Like this?“ Negan asked her in disbelief and Ricks sudden groan let their heads turn back to him. „I'm fine.“ he muttered and tried to sit himself up, realizing Negan was kneeling next to him on the floor and Michonne stood above them with crossed arms. „I will get Siddiq here.“ „No, Michonne wait.“ Rick hold her back and her eyes stared at him, full of questions and not daring to ask just one. Negan somehow felt like the fifth wheel on the carriage and stroked over Ricks cheek another time. „You should see a doctor, you stubborn idiot.“

Rick took Negans hand softly and led it back down, his fingers lacing with his, what didn't go unnoticed from Michonne and it hurt like a knife.

„I'm fine. Let me shower first, then I will go.“ He send a calming smile to Negan, who just frowned over his stubborness, but he knew he couldn't change it anyways.

Rick stood up, saying „Excuse me.“, but after just one step, he stumbled again, still dizzy in his head. Negan and Michonne both stepped up to him the same time, his arms resting over each of their shoulders, what made them look at each other, as if they were fighting over a child here.

Rick couldn't help but chuckle. Even if he didn't see them clearly, he imagined how hilarious their looks might have been. „Come on, I won't die guys. Let me just...“ Michonne offered „I will bring you upstairs.“ but Rick shook his head. „No, no. Please.“

Michonne sighed to his reaction and let go of his arm, expecting Negan to let go now as well, but he just felt like he won another time. „I will bring you.“ And this time, Rick didn't contradict, which caused another stab to Michonnes heart. Why would you let him help you but not me? I can't believe you, she thought to herself, trying to surpress the sadness and jealousy it was causing in her.

Negan stepped up the stairs and this time, he didn't even feel like needing to underline his stand with Rick, he was long above that. It was enough for him, that Rick accepted him by his side and even decided for him over Michonne here, he didn't need any other commitment, this was more than enough.



***



Negan and Rick reached his bedroom and Negan rested him on the bed, kneeling down in front of him, giving him a caring look. „Hey, you good to go, officer?“ Rick breathed in deeply and tried to clear his blurry vision with his hands, being glad the eyes he saw, were Negans. He smiled purely like a child.

„Yeah, I am. Thank you.“ Ricks hands wandered to Negans face and stroked over his cheeks. Even with scratches and marks of blood on his face and that wet hair hanging on his facial skin, he looked not one bit like the dangerous man he knew before. He looked raw and pure, like something worth to hold dear and keep safe. He never wanted to miss this face again.

Rick placed his lips on Negans forehead and kissed it, mumbling „See, I told you. My home, is your home now.“ Negan chuckled and took Ricks hands in his. „You're a lost lunatic, love.“ and just as he used the word love for him, he realized, he never used it for anyone, after Lucille was gone. Rick was the first and only one, who deserved it and even if he didn't intend to say it, he could accept it just left his lips.

Rick smiled to that name and joked „Yeah, sure. I'm the romantic one here, right?“ Rick let go off Negans hands and took off his jacket, placing it on the bed. Negan still didn't dare to move, he just loved to stare at Rick, how he got undressed in front of him.

Rick met his eyes with a smirk and got rid of his shirt as well, which Negan answered with a grin. As Rick started to open his belt, Negan stood up and rested his back against the wall, crossing his arms and continuing to watch him intensely.

„I wouldn't mind to watch that every day.“ Negan mentioned and Rick laughed in amusement. „Yeah I know you wouldn't.“ Rick got rid of his boots and then raised, to get his jeans down. He stepped forward to the hallway and Negan said „I will wait here.“ but Rick just answered playfully „Join me.“. His hand wiped lightly over Negans face, just like a move of seducing him and Negans eyes followed him ecstatically.

„At your order, sheriff.“ While following him to the bathroom, he opened his belt as well and threw his jacket on the bathroom floor.

Rick already entered the shower, his boxers resting in front of it. Negan couldn't see him clearly, the water drops were blurring the glass, but he got rid of his pants and shirt and opened the shower door.

Rick had his hands rested against the wall, letting the water pour over his shivering body. Negan wasn't sure if he ever saw any beauty comparing to that.

With a devouring smile on his lips, he closed the door behind them and moved up to Rick, his hands sliding over his shoulders and up his neck, pressing his upper body against the other man. At first Negan didn't notice Ricks wounds on his back, he was too blind from the arousal, which led him right against the other mans body. As his hips pressed against Ricks, his length was already hardening against Ricks skin. He let his lips wander to his neck, whispering against him „You are so purely beautiful.“ Rick had his eyes closed the whole time, trying to hold stand against the heat rising between them.

It made him smile to hear such soft words, coming from the man he feared before. Leaving behind nothing more than arousal.

Negans left hand slid up to Ricks face, to shove it to the side, so he could intensify his kisses on his neck. Rick moaned in amazement, hoping his legs wouldn't sink down another time and not daring to open his eyes, just wanting this moment to last forever.

Negans lips wandered to the back of Ricks neck and he opened his eyes, to follow every move on his skin, which suddenly revealed the wounds on his shoulder. It somehow looked like hundreds of small holes combined to an open flesh wound, which the water tried to clean. His lips stopped moving, as he realized what must have caused these and his right fingertips trembled over Ricks wound, in fear of what he had done.

Rick noticed Negan stopped his movement and instantly grabbed his face with his left hand, trying to keep him going. „Don't stop...“ he whispered, but Negan lifted his lips from his skin and moved his face next to Ricks, to mutter in his ear. „I'm so sorry. This was my fault, I'm so sorry.“ He squinted his eyes in disgrace, but Rick shook his head and turned his face, to look urgently at Negan. „You didn't plan to do that. So forget about it. I'm still here. Please, don't stop.“

Rick turned around to ease Negan past the view of his wounds, hoping that would get his mind off from it. Rick placed his hands on Negans chest, enjoying how the water poured down his skin, which was covered in scars and tattoos. He couldn't explain himself why this mans body caused an instant longing in him, to just eat him up, but he couldn't help it anyhow. Rick never thought about mens bodies in a sexual way, it seemed like Negan just was special in this case. And damned how much he wanted him now.

Ricks eyes went up to meet Negans shameful look and his lips reached up to Negans, just to whisper seductively „Take me.“. Negan couldn't deny this pulled him out of his self hate roller coaster he was already on, but still it was so unusual for Rick, to say something like this, that Negan couldn't help but smile over his naivety.

„Oh Rick, you never learn don't you.“ Negan took Ricks face in his hands again and kissed his lips, which let Rick stumble back in pleasure. His back beated against the wall and the pain in his shoulder went through every bone, causing Rick to groan out in pain.

Negan pulled back instantly, his face still in his hands. „See. And that's what I'm trying to prevent here, all I do is hurt you.“ Rick pouted, trying to act all strong. „I don't care. I feel you want me and I want you.“ Ricks arm slid around Negans waist and he pressed their hips together, both of them feeling their hardened lengths between them. „Oh Rickyboy...“

Negan striped his thumb over Ricks lips and Rick took them in, for Negans surprise. He was amazed by Ricks desperate try to seduce him another time, but he still needed to protect him, for his own good. Still he loved this unreasonable side of the all so reasonable Rick Grimes.

„As much as I would love to do that, I don't want to fuck a hurt man. First we let them stitch you up and then I can break you apart.“ Negans thumbs left Ricks mouth and Rick moved one hand down to Negans length, his fingertips sliding over the aroused part. Negan closed his eyes in pleasure and bit his lower lip, to hold back a moan. Rick whispered temptingly in his ear „Promise me you will, one day.“ and his grip around Negans cock tightened, just hard enough, to let Negan moan for him. Negan instantly rested one hand against the wall, to hold himself back from giving into the sexual tension overwhelming him.

„Oh I promise that.“ he let escape his lips and then looked down to Rick again, pushing him carefully against the wall and resting his forehead against his. „First we will patch you up and then I will take you to my place and rip you apart. And I swear to god, when we started this once, there will be no turning back. I will take you day and night and you will regret asking me for it.“ Rick moaned in sensation of that promise and kissed Negans neck. „I look forward to that.“

Negan smiled and wished he could just fuck this guy senseless against his own walls, but what kind of impression would that leave on the rest of them? He hurted him before and now he had to take responsibility for his actions, which also meant not allowing himself having sex now, before he set things straight.

Negans hand turned Ricks head in his direction, to place another passionate kiss on that perfect lips, which let Rick release his hand from Negans length and slide it to his back, to press him closer, just skin on skin. If he couldn't have him the way he so desperately wanted him right now, he at least wanted to show him much he craved for his affection.

After parting their lips, their foreheads met each other again and for a while they just stood there, Rick holding him in his arms and Negan gripping his hair. They both tried to synchronize their breaths to each other, making an attempt to calm their tension.

After breathing in deeply, Rick rested his head on Negans shoulder and closed his arms around him, like something he needed to protect with his life. Negans arms crossed behind Ricks neck and he tried to inhale this moment of Rick in his arms. How much more could you even want?




***





After finishing the shower, they both stepped out and got their boxers back on. Negan couldn't avoid watching Ricks ass when he left to the bedroom and smiled to that view. He grabbed his Jeans, which was still wet and went over to Rick, who just took some new clothes out of the closet. „Hey, you may have something to wear for me? Something bigger than yours, to fit my way much stronger body in?“ Rick rolled his eyes to that and threw a jeans at him. „Take it, it should even fit your big mouth.“ Negan raised an eyebrow in amusement and said „Thanks.“

After Rick got dressed, he turned to Negan and asked „Black or white?“ „Hm?“ Negan lifted his head to look at him, holding two shirts in his hands. Seemed he had even more spare clothes than Negan was hoping for. „You know me, I'ma go with white.“ „To distract everyone from your dark soul? Smart move.“ Rick joked and handed him the white shirt, but as Negan wanted to reach for it, Rick pulled it back and whispered in his ear „But you can't hide the darkness in you forever, not in front of me.“ and kissed his cheek. Negan smiled and mentioned „I'm not even sure, if I can compete with your dark side, Grimes.“ Rick smirked and put his boots back on, before he rested his back in the doorframe „You better don't try to find out then.“ „Oh I come closer every day.“ Negan chuckled and slid his new shirt over his head, his black hair spreading over his face, which left Rick in amazement. He loved to look at this fragile side of Negan, it somehow let Rick feel even closer.

As Negan started to put his shoes back on, Rick turned around and stepped down the stairs, Negan following him short after.

Michonne noticed the steps and went to the hallway, frowning over the fact, that Rick wasn't the only one, who still had wet hair and new clothes on. Did they shower together?

„Siddiq waits for you, let's go.“ Rick nodded and Negan fastened his steps, to walk next to Rick outside, following him to the infirmary.

Michonne was glad everyone else was still in their homes, she didn't want to imagine how they would react to see Rick and Negan walk side by side through their streets. Her hands turned into fists, as she stepped up to keep their pace.




***



Siddiq awaited them as they entered and gave a warm welcome nod to Rick, but as he spotted Negan following him inside, it gave chills to his spine.

„What is he doing here?“ Siddiq asked and Rick waved him off. „Siddiq, please...“ but Negan couldn't help it and let out an outraging sound „Ex-cuse the shit out of me? I just brought your precious leader back home, cause some asshole in this place, didn't patch him up before he left to run after me. Seems I'm not the most incapable humanbeing here, doctor!“

Siddiq widened his eyes over that statement and Rick tried to calm him down, resting one hand on Siddiqs shoulder. „Ignore him. I decided to go, it wasn't your fault.“ „Oh come on, you noble idiot.“ Negan called out, but Rick tried to ignore his comment and sat down on the bed, getting rid of his shirt, to give Siddiq a better look.

In this moment, Michonne entered the room and Negan couldn't hold back an opinion over Ricks second stripping today. „There's no better sight on this planet than this, right?“, letting Rick lower his head in embarrassment.

Of course Negan noticed, that Michonne entered the room, maybe she even gave him the reason to slid out that comment. His tongue moved between his teeth and he grinned like a proud dad, looking over to Michonne and bumping her shoulder. „Right?“

Michonne breathed heavily through her nose, trying to surpress the burning rage, which came up in her instantly. But she knew how Negan was, always trying to provoke her and proof how he won Rick. She just wished he wouldn't have to remind her about the loss she felt every day.

„Negan.“ Rick exhorted him like a wild dog, sending him a „stop it“ look, but Negan just pouted. „Oh come on, Rick. The mood in here is like on a graveyard. Don't your people have some humor?“ Negan sighed sarcastically and stepped up to Ricks side, Michonne still standing at the door, watching what she couldn't prevent anymore.

Siddiq cleaned the wound, not even daring to warn Rick about the pain, cause he knew, he would dismiss it anyways. „So...how was it caused?“ Siddiq asked and silence flew through the room, instant guilt raising in Negans guts. He crossed his arms and Michonne smirked. „Yeah, how was it caused? Maybe Negan has the answer?“ She looked at him provokingly and Negan just groaned about it, starting to repay her look with his threatening eyes. „It was me.“

Everyone in the room was wondering that he admitted it, but for Rick it was another proof, that he wanted to repay his mistakes. And it made him proud and left him with a smile.

Michonne broke eyecontact with Negan and crossed her arms now as well.

No one dared to speak another word, Siddiq knew the one question he asked, was already the wrongest one.

He finished bandaging the wound and smiled to Rick, still feeling watched from at least four eyes around him. „You should stay here over night. I will change the bandage in the morning. You really should rest.“ Rick waved him off again, but Michonne and Negan both released their crossed arms and said „You should listen to him.“. Their eyes met, angry about the fact they had the same thought and Rick couldn't help but laugh.

Siddiq widened his eyes in confusion and mumbled „Oooookay, I will leave you alone now. Have a good rest.“ He felt like being caught in a fight of jealous teenagers and he surely didn't want to be involved in that, especially if one of the teenagers was a psycho killer like Negan.

„Wait, can you check his shoulder?“ Rick asked and grabbed Siddiqs arm. Siddiq wondered and Michonne felt like caught in the corner. She did hurt Negan as well, she knew it. But in this moment, it felt like Rick just played her against Negan and this didn't feel like the Rick she knew. Did he just want to make obvious, she had no right to blame Negan for his wound, when she did the same to him? He deserved it, but Rick and her didn't, right?

Negan shook his head. „See, sweetheart, it's fine. Don't worry about me.“ Rick took Negans bandaged hand and said „Please, I want to know you safe as well.“ He gave Negans hand a squeeze, reminding him of the wound he had on his hand which was already patched up, while his arm wasn't.

Negans eyes lifted to Michonne and he said „Fine, sheriff.“ He sat down next to Rick and Siddiq lifted his shirt, to spot the clean cut Michonnes Katana caused. He cleaned it as well and assured „It's a clean cut and not that deep. It will be fine.“

Michonne now felt like she won here and Negan noticed that with a frown. Siddiqs eyes wandered to Negans hand. „What about that?“ but Negan proudly explained „My sheriff here took care of that one, already. No need to worry, doctor.“ Siddiq raised an brow to that and Rick nodded, while scratching his head.

„Fine. Have a good night.“ Siddiq left the room and Michonne sighed in relief, as Negan stood up from the bed, letting Rick lay down. She hoped he would just leave now, but of course he didn't.

After Rick covered himself with the blanket, he rolled over to his side and Negan placed a chair next to his bed, both of them talking like long lost friends. Michonne had the urge to break this and change place with Negan, but she knew it was senseless.

She turned around to leave the room as well, but the screaming in her heart made her look over her shoulder another time, letting her heart shatter inside.

Rick grabbed Negans hand and kissed the back of it and she could hear, how he asked him, to stay with him, what Negan refused at first, but Rick pulled him inside the bed and Negan rested his arms around Ricks body, holding him close with a smile.

They didn't even realize, that Michonne was still there, it was like she left the room with Siddiq. She just was a shadow lingering in the back, watching the losing of Rick Grimes right in front of her. He slid right out off her hands and it left her in pieces.

She felt a tear run down her cheek and wiped it away instantly, with a shaking hand and more anger than relief. She wanted Negan to be dead and disappear. He had to get out of their lives again, cause everything before was perfect and now all was left in pieces.

She turned around and left the infirmary, to run to their former home, breaking down with the back on the door, after she entered. She just lost the man of her life and didn't know how to go on anymore. She just wanted to turn back time and wished they never met Negan.

The only way out she saw, was getting rid of him, cause she couldn't get over the loss of Rick Grimes. And Negan took him from her. He had to die.







 

Chapter Text

Before the sunrise, Rick opened his eyes, feeling strong arms still resting around his body. For the first time, he wasn't afraid of opening his eyes, he knew this was his home and he could finally wake with Negan to the place, which was dearest to him. It meant the world to him, it felt like fullfilling a dream he worked for so long. If only Carl could see it, he thought to himself. But was Negan holding him in his arms, really what Carl wanted to see?

Of course he couldn't be sure about that, but he assumed Carl could have dealt with it, anything was better than a war or killing each other, right? But what about Michonne? Rick knew how much Carl loved her and here he was, breaking her heart. Eventhough it was too late to go back now, Ricks heart made this decision a long time ago, he realized it the day before, when he looked into that mans eyes and couldn't kill him. And after such a long time since losing Lori, he felt complete again.

Rick smiled over his realization, of how big the part was, that man filled in his heart and tightened the grip around Negans hand and pulled his arm closer, which woke up the bigger man, who breathed deeply against Ricks neck. But this time no comment left Negans lips, he just snuggled his face against Ricks hair, inhaling this, now, familiar scent. Negans free hand moved down on Ricks hair, sliding his fingers softly through Ricks curls.

Rick waited for Negans teasing morning words, but decided for now, he would just enjoy the silence of the feeling, that all is said and done between them. It seemed they both didn't need any kind of assurance anymore and this unspoken commitment between them, filled Ricks heart with calmness, he missed for such a long time.

Suddenly Rick remembered the mornings he woke up to Lori. Before the world went down, there haven't been one day, where they didn't start their day, with telling each other how much they loved each other. After meeting her again with Shane, he noticed instantly that something was wrong, cause these words never met his ears in the morning again. He tried many times to get it back these days, but Lori never replied the way she did in the past. Back then he knew it was over, but didn't want to accept it.

After his confession to Negan the day before and since Negan wasn't the one starting to talk, he thought about repeating what he felt, but then he swallowed these words he hid for so long. Negan didn't tell him what he felt, he was avoiding it and starting with his downspiral of self hate, which forced Rick to calm him down, instead of asking for his thoughts about it. Even if he tried to trust him with his life, all his past experiences left him with doubt, especially in people he really hold dear to his heart. The fear of rejection left Rick speechless, preferring the silence to the final truth.

Negan noticed that something hold both of them back, he couldn't remember any situation, where no word was spoken between them. Was Rick in denial of yesterday? Maybe he regretted the words he said, which replayed in Negans mind, since they first left Ricks soft lips. And Negan sure was overwhelmed by his confession, knowing a simple love confession wouldn't even describe close enough, what went through Negans heart, when he looked into that eyes for the first time. Even though Negan loved to talk, he stuck to truths, sometimes truths no one wanted to hear and if he wasn't hundred percent sure how to reply to something accurately, he would rather choose to say nothing, than ruining it. And this moment was one of it.

Negan simply didn't know how to measure up to Ricks words, there were no words in this world, which would be worth enough Ricks fragile and open heart. Negan ruined Lucilles love for him way before, he couldn't allow himself to do the same mistake to Rick. He mustn't hurt him. And as always, this was what hold Negan back to say anything appropiate and stayed silent, leaving Rick in doubts.

Negan moved his face next to Ricks and kissed his cheek, the only way of affection he knew to show in the right way. „How is your shoulder, sheriff?“ he asked and Rick smiled over his concern. „Fine. Stop worrying, you softie.“ Rick lifted Negans arm to roll over on his other side and faced that dark hazel eyes, with a calming look.

Negan pulled his hand back from Ricks hair and rested his head on his hand, his eyes gazing over the other mans chest and then back to his lips. „If you wouldn't be hurt already, I would fucking punish you for that nickname, officer.“ Rick giggled and lifted an eyebrow, mirroring Negans pose, with his head resting on his hand. „Yeah, of course you would.“

Negans face moved closer and his right hand was resting on Ricks chin, as he whispered „I told you, the day will come, where you will regret pushing me like that, Rick. It will be the day, when I fuck you senseless for comments like that.“ Every word sank into Ricks stomache, causing twists and this weird feeling of arousal.

Rick couldn't help his seductive grin and muttered „And I told you, I can't wait for that.“ „Brave as always, my Mr. Grimes.“ Negans words left his mouth faster than he could even consider, how they sounded, but it didn't matter anyways, because before Rick could comment on that, Negans lips closed on Ricks, swallowing that man in high affection.

Rick moaned against his lips, starving for Negans devouring taste. He just managed to lift his hand to place it on Negans cheek and pull him closer. Overrun by the sudden pleasure growing in his hips, Negan couldn't hold back and shoved one of his knees up, to part Ricks legs and rolled over him, his face shifting to the side to intensify the kiss. Negans now free hand, grabbed Ricks hair from above and pulled his brown curls in tension. Ricks tongue slid over Negans lips, longing for intruding into his body completely. Negan had to catch his breath, just mumbling against the wet skin „My god, why you never stop pushing me in the morning, Rick? It's so damn hard to resist.“

His knee went even higher up, reaching Ricks length, which was pressed through his boxers against Negans burning skin. While their lips got lost in each other, their tongues dancing like hurricanes, Rick mumbled „Then stop resisting.“ but Negan just scoffed over Ricks endless trying. Would he ever stop?

Negans hand left Ricks chin and trembled its way down to Ricks hip, his fingertips sliding under his shirt, to grab his side needingly, pushing Ricks body against the mattress, to deepen his dry thrusts of his hips against Ricks. Rick bit Negans lip in excitement and wanted to return the favor anyhow, but his body was frozen, right under Negans spell. He couldn't move, just embraced every shiver running down his spine.

Out of the sudden the sound of an opening door was followed by a familiar voice. „Good morning. How is my patient?“

Negans and Ricks eyes widened in the same moment and out of reflex, Rick pushed Negan back to his side and sat up, his hand nervously running through his messy hair. „Siddiq...“ Rick stuttered and Negan couldn't hide his amusement, just giving a wave to the doctor, like he did so many times before, when people interrupted his action with his wives. Confident as always, Negan threw one arm around Rick and sat up as well. „Don't worry doctor, I took good care of our sheriff here.“ His smirk was covering his whole face, letting Ricks cheeks turn red in embarassment.

Siddiqs mouth was still open, shocked over the answer he wished, he wouldn't have gotten in this way. It was obvious before there was something more to this story, but seeing it with his own eyes, left Siddiq speechless.

Swallowing his indignant thoughts, Siddiq carefully broke the awkward silence. „I'm sorry to interrupt your... moment here, but I need to change the bandage.“ Like wanting to justify his saying, Siddiq raised the bandage in his hand and stepped up.

Rick waved the shame away and mumbled „You don't interrupt, it's fine.“ Negan jumped out of the bed, causing Ricks and Siddiqs head to turn, to wander their eyes over his tattooed and naked chest. It was unusual to see Negan that exposed, even for Rick it always felt like the first time seeing him, but Siddiq couldn't help himself and tried to imagine the stories everyone told him about Negan, but not being able to see him like that brutal monster in his blood soaked leather jacket.

Siddiq shook his head to bring himself back to reality and stopped in front of Rick, who sat on the edge of the bed, while Negan was putting his clothes back on, always keeping an eye on how close that doctor came his man.

Siddiq cleaned Ricks wound and the itching of the alcohol on Ricks flesh, left a frown in his face, causing Negan to lift an eyebrow and raise his voice like a warning. „Be good to him, doctor. I want him in one piece only.“

„Maybe then you should have left him in one piece, instead of breaking him in two.“ Michonnes voice entered the room and she stepped closer, eyes sharp like blades gazing up to Negan. He answered her look with crossing his arms and approaching her, his eyes piercing in hers like steel. „Careful. If I remember right, your jacket isn't ruined like mine.“

For a moment the air felt thickening, until Rick finally spoke up „Come on guys, I'm fine.“. Siddiq tried to ignore the fighting over Rick this time and finished the bandage. Rick stood up and grabbed his jeans. Michonne and Negan turned their heads to watch him, Negans lips formed a smirk, while Michonnes cheeks were burning up, like she caught herself in staring at the man who always stole her breath.

„I don't wanna repeat myself here, but you really need rest, not fights.“ Siddiq muttered and Rick waved him off, as he pulled his tshirt over his head. „Don't worry, I can handle myself.“ Siddiq raised his eyebrows. „Yeah, I know you can handle yourself, but what about these two?“ Rick couldn't help himself and laugh about that confident comment, appreciating that Siddiq finally thawed.

Michonne and Negan sent another threatening look to each other, but Rick broke their tension in placing Negans shirt against his chest. „Get dressed.“

Negan grabbed the shirt out of Ricks hand, but didn't release his eyes from Michonnes. „Yeah, we don't want her to fall for my impressive body too, right?“ Rick shook his head in disbelief over their childish behaviour, but there was a part of him, who enjoyed the fight over who owns him more. Of course Rick belonged to nobody but himself, but he had to admit, if he had to choose here, he would always choose Negans possession over anything, no matter how sick it was.

After both of them finished their dressing, Negan stepped up to face Rick, trying to ignore Michonnes presence behind them.

She turned to Siddiq and asked „Will he be fine?“ and Negan just rolled his eyes, feeling threatened, that her concern was bigger than his, which wasn't. „Of course he will. It's not that bad, actually.“ Siddiq admitted and Negan looked over his shoulder with a grin. „Of course it's not. I take good care of my sheriff. Promised, doc.“ Siddiq scoffed and left the room with saying „I hope so.“

Negan turned his head back to Ricks and slid his hand through that soft, curly hair, just like wanting to show off, who he was belonging to here. „I have to go, you escort me to your exit, officer?“ Rick got lost in Negans demanding grip and closed his eyes for just a second, nearly wanting to give in into his affection. But Michonne was still there. So he opened his eyes again and led Negans hand out of his hair. „Of course I will.“

„I think leaving is the first good idea you have, since you came here.“ Michonne mentioned and crossed her arms, trying to hide the jealousy, which made her chest tremble under her skin.

„Good I don't need your permission here, lady.“ Negan turned around on his feet and walked up to the door, whistling and with swinged steps.

After he went outside, Rick went up to Michonne and rested a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm her mood. „Let me bring him. I come to you and Judith after.“ Michonne nodded in regret and Rick tried to force a smile, before he followed Negan outside.


***

 

Negan stopped on the stairs in front of the door and rested his hands on his hips, trying to let the rising sun and the sound of the people walking around sink in.

It didn't go unnoticed by them, that out of nowhere and surprise, their biggest enemy appeared in their home. Some of them stopped and stared with widened eyes, but none of them dared to speak out their concerns, cause Rick just stepped out of the door and stopped right next to Negan, noticing how many people gazed at them in disbelief.

He knew, he disappointed their expectations, or, better said, the expectations he thought they have. He felt it with every eye burning on his skin. But despite the raising doubts against his leadership in this moment, there was something more important raising in his heart: the confidence that Carls look in this moment, would have been different, from what he was faced with in this moment.

Negan realized how Rick must have been feeling, his appearance confident as he liked him. For the first time, he seemed even more certain than Negan. He hoped, he didn't misinterpreted his body language, since he needed him to show off his conviction about their alliance, cause he himself couldn't.

Negans eyes met Ricks and for a short moment, Ricks look managed to bring back Negans confidence and he breathed out deeply, releasing the tension on his shoulders. A smile crossed his lips and Rick tilted his head, like he always did, when he wanted to read someones mind. „Good to go?“ Rick asked and Negan answered softly „Yes, sheriff.“ Rick nodded to that and stepped down the stairs, beating down any question that lingered in the peoples eyes. Most of them avoided Ricks eyesight and started walking away, continuing their work.

Negan still was frozen, while his eyes followed Ricks moving body, being amazed by the leadership this man radiated. He wished, he could tell him, how much he admired him in this moment, for not giving a single fuck. He has balls of steel indeed, Negan thought and as Rick noticed Negan was not following, he looked over his shoulder, giving him a demanding nod, that everything was fine.

Negan needed another breath, but then he straightened up and stepped forward, while Michonne appeared behind him in the door, watching the two men walking through their home.

She wished she could have avoided that situation and would never have to watch it, coming along with all these questioning looks resting on them. But she knew, the belief in Rick as a leader was bigger, than their courage to raise their voices. They needed to rely on Rick, cause they couldn't make it on their own, without him. And maybe this was the thing Michonne had to accept for herself as well. She needed to trust Ricks justice, right?

Negan and Rick walked to Alexandrias gate, Rick not stopping to scan the people and their reactions when they passed. Negan tried to distract him, he was the reason why people had doubts on their leader now, so he had to be for a good use, to pay it back to him, how he stood by his side.

„On my next visit...may I see your little girl again?“ Negan asked with an insecure smile, not knowing if it was too much to ask. But there was nothing more beautiful in this world, than seeing Rick with his children. Since Carl was gone, he never saw him as a father again and he missed it. It somehow always filled the dark hole Negan still had in his heart, for not having children himself.

Rick blinked and looked up to that hazel eyes. „Of course you may.“ Negan grinned in response and realized, it wasn't Ricks decision to keep Judith distant to him, surely Michonne didn't want him to meet her and cause bad influence on her. If she only knew how much he cared for that girl, since he first saw her.

Negan swinged his arm around Rick, placing his hand on Ricks side, before he let it slid down into Ricks jeans pocket, a common gesture showing off, that Rick belonged to him. Rick didn't mind the touch of his hand on his butt, eventhough he recognized the shiver running over his back and thought, this may be too much closeness for him to handle right now. Nevertheless, he didn't want to give the feeling of rejection to Negan, he just needed to lower the sexual tension Negans move raised, so he slid his right hand to his back and grabbed Negans, pulling it out of his pocket and lacing their fingers, while his eyes met his. Negan didn't stop walking, trying to answer Ricks act of affection, which was so much softer and still more owning, than Negan expected.

Michonne couldn't believe her eyes, as she noticed heads turning around her and realized, what caused the attention. It was enough that she had to deal with their sick relationship, but she didn't expect Rick to show it off like this. Negan laid his arms around Rick many times before, but holding hands was so much more intimate and seeing it coming from Rick, was like a knife in her lungs, making her breathing stop. Rick wanted to show off they stand with each other, that they are one alliance and everyone needed to see and accept it. Nevertheless it was something Michonne didn't want to watch anymore, so she turned around and fastened her steps to the church, where Judith waited with Gabriel.

Negan felt eyes watching their hands and where first was confusion about Ricks taking over, he now was filled with pride, that he decided to take his hand and showed everyone, where he belonged to. And this was winning on a whole different level.

To Ricks surprise, it wasn't Rosita standing on the walls, but Aaron surely had the same concerned and disgusted look, which Rosita would have given them. They have to accept it one day, they just have to, Rick thought to himself and commanded to open the gate, which Aaron accepted with a frown.

While the gates were sliding open, Rick looked up at Negans eyes, which were glowing like in the dark, with the sun reflecting in them. He smiled softly to what he saw and Negan muttered „I wish I could take you with me.“. Rick grinned and gave his hand a careful squeeze, just for him to realize, he was still holding onto him. „It wasn't me deciding you leave without me.“

Negan chuckled and stroked his thumb over the back of Ricks hand. „I know. But I need to handle it on my own. These are my people who are fucking things up, so I have to get them back in order. And I don't want you to intervene and be their next target. Let me settle my things first and then you follow. Besides...you deserve a day with your family. After all this.“ There was a sound of regret in Negans voice and even if he tried to hide it with lowering his eyes, Rick searched for his glance from below.

„I told you, you are my family too, now. And this...was all worth it. I wish, I could change your mind and support you, but I know, it wouldn't be you, if you let me. So...I accept it. For now.“ Negan lifted his eyes to that ocean blue, which looked right through him. Rick was speaking out all the words on Negans mind, he would have needed to explain himself. Rick understood him, he didn't need to explain anything here. And that's why he felt so safe when he was around. He could just be himself, no leadership, no cold like ice mask, no lies. And that feeling was the reason Negan fell for him, when he first met that mans eyes.

Negan wanted to kiss him for his words, but hold himself back and released his hand, to rest it on Ricks chin, nearly as demanding, as he did it in the past, on their first meeting in the forest. „You heal first and have the best time with your little angel and then you come back to me.“ This time Negans words sounded more like a begging, than he intended them to, he was lucky they were just whispering to each other, so no one could notice the breaking in his voice.

Rick took Negans hand and led it softly back down. „I will always come back to you. Don't you dare to run from me ever again.“ Negan grinned and tilted his head, staring at the beauty facing him. Whenever the sun shined on Ricks skin, Negan noticed how perfectly beautiful this man appeared to him. He wished, he had the courage to say it out loud whenever he thought it, but still something was holding him back. Maybe the fear of rejection still lingered deeper as he hoped.

„I won't.“ Negan answered and suddenly pulled something out of his jeans. „Before I forget. I brought you a new one. Wanna stay in contact with my sheriff, before I miss you too much, in these lonely nights.“ Negan winked and handed Rick a walkie, which he grabbed with a smile on his lips. „Thank you, I appreciate it. Even if we both know you are not that lonely at night, right?“ Rick referred to Negans wives, being too jealous to swallow that sudden comment, but Negan didn't even understand what he was referring to in the first place. He just raised his eyebrows and swallowed the burning question in his throat. Is Rick jealous?

With a smirk Negan tried to play Ricks accusation down. „Nah, I was never the lonely guy, right?“ If he would reveal to Rick, how he wasn't even able to sleep with his wives in the last months, Negan would feel even more exposed, than he already did. Walking through Ricks home with his hand resting in his, hearing all those lovely words and knowing Rick didn't care about what others thought about it anymore, made him feel naked already, like there was nothing more to be shown. Anything he could commit on top of that, would just feel too much for Negan in this moment, that's why he tried to play the hard part again, not able yet, to slid out of his common role.

Ricks heart felt stabbed, as Negan mentioned he „never was the lonely guy“, cause he instantly imagined him with his wives, trying to fill the hole that Rick would leave behind, when they seperate. Or would Negan even consider it a loss, not having Rick around? Cause Rick surely would. He could never just lay with someone else to not be alone, besides Judith of course.

Rick gritted his teeth and tried to swallow the nasty words which popped up in his mind. He slowly nodded, like he would agree on that, ignoring the pain that move caused in his guts and stepped outside, with Negan following him. Rick stopped, his gaze lifting to the rising sun and his back on Negan.

Negan realized he may have gone too far here and walked next to Rick, staring at his deep eyes sinking in the morning light. He would have loved to stroke his cheek and tell him everything is fine, but he knew it was inappropiate, so he just mumbled „You worry, sheriff?“

Rick shook his head as Negans voice brought him back to where they were and he turned his head to face him again, forcing a smile in return. „No, why should I?“ Maybe because you're scared to loose me, asshole, Negan thought but just smirked. „Good.“

Negan breathed in deeply and didn't recognize someone was getting closer to Alexandria from the horizon. For now he had to concentrate on saying goodbye in the right way, not causing too much worries in Rick, so he wouldn't follow, but still teasing him enough, so he wanted to come after him.

„You find your car?“ Rick asked and Negan chuckled. „I'm disappointed of the picture you paint of me here, Rick. Of course. I don't need your protection from this point anymore.“ Rick frowned to that comment and tilted his head. „Fine. But you may need hers.“ Negan furrowed his brows and noticed someone stepping up to them.

It was Aaron, holding Lucille and handing it to Negan with a threatening look. Negan didn't even realize, that Aaron got her from Ricks home, after he left her there yesterday. Rick must have given him a sign, Negan didn't notice. But there was something else he realized painfully. Until now he didn't even miss Lucille, what made clear how much Ricks nearness really filled his heart.

He grabbed Lucille and muttered a silent „Thank you“ to Aaron, who just clenched his teeth. „You better don't bring that thing with you next time.“ Aaron turned around and stepped up the wall again, while Rick interrupted Negans try to punish that man for his comment over Lucille. „Let it be.“ Negan frowned shortly, but as soon as he turned his face back to Ricks striking eyes, he couldn't help it and released his lips into a smile.

„Okay then.“ Negan stepped closer to Rick, Lucille resting over his shoulder and nearly pressing their lips on each other, as his rationality hold him back and he stopped just an inch away from Ricks sinful skin. He lifted his left hand and placed it on Ricks cheek, one thumb stroking over his beard covered face. Rick raised his right hand to lace his fingers with Negans and fastly, just like the wind, kissed the inner palm of his hand. „Let me know how things are going at your place. And Negan...“ Rick furrowed his brows and tried to deepen their look with a serious concern. „Yeah?“ Negan returned and grabbed Lucilles shaft even harder, just to focus on something else, than this endless urge to kiss this lips.

Rick raised his right forefinger, like he wanted to accompany his point and assured „...If you need me, please let me know that.“ Negan grinned to these words, he couldn't believe how much this man was still offering him, even with whole colonies in his back needing him. He knew this man would be there for him, the second he ever asked him to, he proved that point many times before. But now Ricks offer more sounded like a commitment of affiliation to Negan, like he just cared that he is safe and Negan felt exactly the same and appreciated, that finally someone wanted the same for him. Negans tongue slid between his teeth and widened his smirk. „I will think of that.“

Rick knew that was the most he could get here and tried to smile to that, but even more he wanted to kiss this man goodbye. He knew all this was ridiculous, since they weren't really saying goodbye forever and Negan surely would figure his stuff out, like he always did. He would return like a goddamn cat he was and Rick wanted to be sure of that, but still he was so used of worrying about others and taking care of them, that he couldn't stop now. Even if he couldn't assume, that Negan would feel the same for him, he just couldn't let him return like this, not after imagining him going back to his wives.

Rick parted his lips, wanting to whisper the next words in the softest and most assuring way he could imagine, but in the end all that left his mouth was wordless air, his lips just forming the words „I love you“.

Negan understood it anyhow, he learned to read that man way before. His smirk changed into a soft smile and as he wanted to return something, just anything to show Rick that he did care more than he admitted, a voice was approaching them. „What the fuck is he doing here?“

Daryl stepped up with the most disgusted face, Rick ever saw from him and blinked in disbelief. „Daryl.“

Daryl stopped in front of them and stared at Negan, who returned his hateful look with lifting his chin even more, just to look down at him. „Nice to see you too.“ Negan said and Rick instantly lifted his hand, to interrupt anything Negan could want to say next. „Okay you should go now.“ Rick mumbled and Negan just nodded „Yeah, wanted to leave anyway, right?“ He looked back at Rick and tried to get a calming smile on his lips. „See you then, sheriff.“ Negan responded and winked at Rick in excitement, before he left the scenery, just ignoring Daryls look still resting on him, even as he disappeared in the woods to get to his car.

Rick sighed in relief and poked Daryls arm, to move his attention back to him. Daryl winced like he was brought out of a dream and looked at Rick with a frown.

„So it's true.“ Daryl adjusted his crossbow on his shoulder and didn't release his eyes from Ricks for one second, who needed to break their eyecontact from time to time, being embarassed of the explanation. „I don't know what you heard, we didn't see each other for...“ „Oh believe me, if I'd known they spoke t' truth, I wouldn't have come. I came to prove them wrong and here you are, making out with the enemy.“ „We were not...“ „I trusted you, Rick! I rested all my beliefs in you. After all he did to Glenn and Abraham and all our people, their people, Hilltop, Kingdom... I couldn't believe you would come apart from the way we chose, I told them you would never do that. And still I see you here. With him. Holding fucking hands.“

Ricks heart got stabbed in that moment, he had hoped he didn't have seen that at least. He didn't care what others thought about him, didn't care if just one person from Alexandria would try to attack them on street, but Daryl was his brother. Like Michonne, he was his family and it mattered, what he thought. And since he didn't see him back then in Hilltop as he talked with Maggie, he didn't know, how much he had heard or seen and how he could explain it. First he was glad he didn't have to talk to him that time, but in this moment he wished, they could have talked earlier.

Rick breathed in deeply and tried to start again with „Daryl, I'm sorry, I should have...“ „You should have killed that guy when you had the fucking chance, man. Now you're gone.“ Rick shook his head and tried to appease him. „I'm not gone. I'm still with you. With all of you. But...“ „But we are not with him, you get that? And as long as you're with him, you're not with us.“

Ricks lips started shaking, he wished, he would have just left with Negan, it was just too much in this moment. „I'm with you. With all of you. And I'm with him. And I want us all to be with each other.“ „There is no with each other. Not ever.“ Daryl shouted and shook his head, not believing the disappointment this man he looked up to, caused in him now.

„Daryl please, let me...“ „No!“ Daryl screamed and pushed Rick back, like wanting him out of his sight, unloading his anger on him. „Please Daryl, think of what Carl said. He wanted...“ „Carl wouldn't have wanted you in bed with him! Never. And did you ever think about what that does with Michonne? Do you think about anything here, besides your own fucking dick? When did you turn into a motherfucking selfish asshole? Oh yeah, I imagine. Must have been the day, where you started fucking with that killer.“ Rick couldn't listen to that anymore, all he wanted to reach is peace between all of them. And sometimes even Rick missed all the words, which needed to be said.

„Daryl, he didn't...“ Rick striped his forefinger and thumb over his eyes, cause he felt the tears coming up in them. „You know what? I don't care. I'm done. I came to meet Michonne, you are gone for me anyways.“ With pushing Rick away with his shoulder, Daryl stepped into Alexandria, where some people still stared at them, cause of their argument. Even Michonne was stepping out of the church and ran up to Daryl, to welcome him and calm him down.

Ricks eyesight got blurry, the tears were stealing his clearness. All hurt so much in this moment, he nearly forgot how to breathe. He searched for Michonnes eyes, which were always giving him the safety he needed to feel confident in his role, but this time she avoided his sight and led Daryl to their home.

For a short moment Rick sobbed, without sharing the tears which burned from inside. „You fucked up.“ Aaron commented from above and added „He just spoke out what we all think, just saying.“ „Yeah, thanks for your valued opinion here, Aaron. I just try to make everything right for everyone, I don't know how many of you do the same.“ Aaron widened his eyes to that, but before he could even answer, Rick started walking with big and anger filled steps up to the church.

He needed to see Judith now, the only pure thing in this world being able to ease his mind and think clearly again. His hands changed into fists, cause he was so frustrated, angry and disappointed, that no one could see, what he tried to built here. That he fell in love with Negan wasn't something he planned, but is love ever something you plan? No one, not even these idiots, would say yes to that. They all knew, you can't control love and most of them experienced it already. And since Carl died, they knew that Rick was trying to find another way, than just killing Negan, so why were they so fucking angry at him? He made some kind of peace and during that, he also fell in love, but he never left them, or stabbed their backs and they acted like he did. He was doing this for all of them and for Carl and then, yes, maybe ultimately he even did it for himself now. He dared to love again, should he punish himself for that? Maybe he should. Maybe they expected from him, he would forget about Negan, but as if he didn't try. He knew it didn't work. He knew, he couldn't surpress these feelings anymore. He tried the day before and experienced where it would led him. This couldn't be the answer.

I miss you already, Rick thought to himself, wishing Negan back to his side, cause with him, he always felt so much more confident, than when he felt when being alone. He just hoped, that in his place everything went smoother than here.

Rick stepped up the stairs of the church and before he entered, he breathed in another time. He knew, he had to talk to Daryl again, not wanting him to freak out and go on a murder mission, but for now, he himself had to calm down and focus on Judith, who needed him and deserved a fathers day. He would speak to Daryl after that and try to appeal to this mans heart, who still was his brother after all. He would understand. He will understand. We will make him understand. Right, Judith?

He smiled when thinking about Judith meeting Negan again, he only heard from their first meeting with Carl, but he wished he could have seen it with his own eyes that time. Now there was nothing more he wanted to see once in his life and he needed to fight for it, to make it happen. And he would.

He entered the church and stepped up to Gabriel and Judith, taking her on his arm and swinging her softly. She was the angel he searched for, in this hell.


***

 

As Negan arrived at the sanctuary, he saw Arat already waiting at the gate. He tried to read her look, but before he could figure it out, she already opened the gate for him and nodded as a welcome. „Good to have you back, boss.“ Negan grinned, trying to cover his concern he had about coming back.

He placed one hand on Arats shoulder and said „It's good to see you. But we have to go straight back to work and...I need you to do something for me.“ His smile turned into something more serious, so Arat understood instantly, that he was really concerned about something here. „Of course, everything.“

Negan noticed other men coming from the back, so he speedened up his words and talked more quietly, so only Arat could hear him. „Get the last people in here you really trust. I count on you, to choose the right ones, if you get what I mean.“ His eyes stared into hers, as if he would try to send her his thoughts mentally, but Arat didn't need to read his mind to understand and just nodded. „Got that. We meet each other in ten minutes in the conference...“ „No, let's take my room. I consider it safer.“ Negans hand pulled away from Arats shoulder and he breathed in deeply, before he greeted his people arriving around them.

Simon stepped up from the back with crossed arms and a fake smirk, Negan uncovered instantly. „Boss! We were worried. Finally we can get shit down, right?“ Negan grinned to that and swinged Lucille on his shoulder, stepping up to Simon and speaking accurately in his face. „Oh yeah, the hell we will.“ Simons eyes met his, but before he could reply, Negan raised an eyebrow like a threat for what was about to come and turned around. „But first, I need a shower. I don't want to be disturbed. As you were.“ The ones on their knees stood up and Negan left them behind, hoping Arat would follow his order correctly and walked to his room with a sigh.

As he closed the door behind him he sank down on his armchair and rested his chin on his hand, his look drifting to the bed, where he slept with Rick before. I fucking hope you have a better day than me, sheriff. I do miss your face terribly already. You always calm me down in the sickest occasions. And I don't know how you do that, but I don't care anymore... All I know is, that I want this feeling for the rest of my goddamn life and I won't let anyone take it from me. Not even my people.

With a last sigh, he waited for Arat and their group to arrive and meanwhile played with Lucilles shaft. He hoped, they could figure it out and that his plan would work. He at least had an ace up his sleeve, the others didn't know of and he counted on that, to pay off in the way he needed it.

However, the only thing he could think about now was getting it over with and call Rick, cause he couldn't wait to hear from his day with his little sunshine. It must be so angelic to watch that. I wish I could see you both right now, he thought to himself and closed his eyes, imagining these two playing in Ricks yard. It was the prettiest picture he ever saw on his inner eye and as he opened his eyes again, he suddenly realized a shiver running over his arms. As he looked at his skin it came to him like a stroke, he forgot his jacket back at Ricks home. And that idiot Aaron just brought Lucille to him, cause he didn't want a weapon, who killed two of their friends, around them, not caring about the leather jacket.

I hope they don't burn you and make a campfire party tonight, he thought. But at least now he had a good reason to come back to Alexandria, without needing to say what he really would come for. One more excuse to play the hard guy could never do harm.


***


Just as promised, Arat entered Negans room ten minutes later, with Dwight, Laura and Alden. And just as he expected, Negan smiled over Arats choice.

The door closed behind them and Negan addressed the word to them. „So, for those of you who were wondering why Arat brought you here... Since the shit went down a few days ago, I think we need to set some things right back to order in here. The last two days, I was with Rick, to find out who started this shit hole going down in flames, without my fucking knowledge. You all heard about the attacks in Hilltop and the Kingdom, which I didn't order, no. And not even that I didn't order it, after talking to that Alexandrian folks and having Rick talk with the other colonies, I know now it was Simon. And just to mention, this wasn't the first time he didn't follow my rules. And I can't let shit like this slide.“ Negan grabbed his Lucille and pointed her at every one of them. „So I need to know here, who was included in this shit show and I assumed, all the ones standing here now, weren't. Am I, or Arat, right in this assumption?“

Everyone had fear in their eyes, as Lucille was pointing at their faces, but of course they all knew what Simon did and even continued doing the last days, when their boss wasn't around. Dwight was the first one to speak up. „You're right, we weren't involved in that.“ „Boss, you should know what happened the last two days here, before we continue.“ Arat mentioned and Negan furrowed his brows. „What do you mean?“ Laura looked at Arat filled with doubts, not knowing if it was the right time to tell Negan, but it wasn't something what could be avoided forever, right?

„Simon is planning a coup. He wants to overthrow you.“ Laura spoke out and Negan lowered Lucille, resting her next to his leg and lifted his chin. „Oh sweetheart, I know that. I also know, that he was the one killing our people, to blame Rick for it and get Regina on his side.“ Everyone blinked and Arat asked „And you're sure about that?“ but Negan just gazed at her in a threatening way. „I am. I checked Ricks room, I checked Rick. It wasn't him. Simon left the trails there to blame him and told Regina about it, to get her in. They didn't come to me, cause Simon knew his lie would be exposed right away. Rick had no knife, Rick didn't steal the weapons, cause he spent that night with me and I can assure you, there was no blood involved that time. Surprisingly it just appeared, like the fucking santa, on the next morning. And you know what? He wanted it that way. He wanted me to blame Rick and I did at first. And their people blamed me. Found out it was all a fucking set up, to break the alliances I built with our dear sheriff. Seems Simon prefers war and losing people over saving them and that's something I can't allow. Or what do you think?“ Everyone besides Dwight was nodding and Negan noticed the frozen look, coming up in Dwights face.

„Dwighty boy, what do you think? You want a fucking war against Alexandria? Against Hilltop or the Kingdom?“ Dwight lifted his eyes to look back at Negan, but didn't dare to say anything, so Negan continued. „Cause I think, Dwighty boy here also has taken a special fancy on these people. I even believe, he had sympathy for the devil before me, right?“ Laura looked over to Dwight, she knew he was playing on both sides. She was the one telling Negan months ago. She even wondered why he never mentioned it before. But maybe it was cause of this moment. Negan wanted to have one last ace for whatever may come.

Dwight looked at the other eyes, which were staring at him, before he rested his eyes back on Negan and sighed. „Yeah. And I'm actually glad this finally is out, cause for the first time, I think we want the same thing again.“

Negan squinted his eyes and stepped in front of Dwight, raising Lucille to point her at his scars on his face. „Do we, Dwighty boy? I was wondering... even as I learnt that you wanted to stop the war and helped Rick and his people getting information, I still wondered what happens to me in your lovely image? I'm really super curious here, let us know your fairytale, Dwight! Just cause I wanted to hear it out of your mouth, I waited to this moment. So tell us, you have the chance now.“

Dwight was swallowing hard and thought about what would be probably the right answer here. Of course he was talking with Rick and his people about killing Negan. Not only once. He even told it to Eugene, but he wasn't willing to go back to Rick again. Dwight thought all that time, that killing Negan is the only way. But then Ricks son died and everything changed. Rick didn't agree to that plan anymore and even Michonne was speaking out against it. And then, after Negan went out with Rick for the first time, Dwight had the hope raising, that there was another way and that Rick would lead him there. He trusted that man, more than he ever trusted Negan before and if he managed to built an alliance with Negan, maybe there was hope.

Dwight breathed in deeply and lifted his head to face Negan with more confidence. „If you two decide for peace, I'm in it. If it's war, I'm out.“ Dwight finally confessed and Negan changed his lips into a smirk. „Then we are on the same side here, Dwighty boy. People are a resource and we don't want to waste them in a war. Apparently...“ Negan lowered Lucille again and rested her on his shoulder and turned his back on them, showing the trust, he brought up for them. „...Simon sacrificed people for his plan. Our people. And he went against the rules.“

Laura didn't like that Negan was fine with Dwights shifting in sides, but she understood, how people could be manipulated and weren't to blame for, so she stepped up and asked „And what about Regina?“.

Negan sighed and looked over his shoulder to Laura. „I feel your concern, don't worry. She was pulled into that shit show and we will enlighten her spirit again. Nevertheless, I'm more than sure that Simon had help. So... I need you here to find that out. Talk to Simon, that you want to follow his coup and plan to kill me. But be cautious. And Dwight, you stay out of that. I'm pretty sure Simon knows you're playing him, cause he is aware of your two side game here. But Arat, Laura and Alden here... Make Simon believe. It's not that hard. We need all of his group together. Tell him I fell all lovey dovey for that sheriff and lost my mind.“ „Didn't you?“ Laura asked with a smirk and Negan raised an eyebrow to that. „Excuse the shit out of me, of course I didn't. I respect him, I even like him and I want an alliance with the man, who started all this shit on us, but, Laura, angel, please. Did you ever see your cold hearted boss here, all in love about someone and losing his mind? I'm more clear than I ever was.“ Maybe I'm that clear, because I'm in love with Rick Grimes, but that doesn't matter now does it? Negan thought to himself and Laura just shrugged.

„Fine then. Let's go and find out who is all behind this with Simon.“ „Great, and then you bring them all to me. Punishment is unavoidable.“ The word punishment let a shiver ran over Dwights back, knowing that could have been him. But in this point he had to agree on Negans opinion. It couldn't be, that so close before making peace, someone of your own rows starts a fucking one man show and burns everything and everyone down, so that nothing stands anymore. Simon had to go. Simon was the person Dwight saw before in Negan and now all this changed. What a crazy world.

Dwight, Laura, Alden and Arat turned to the door, but Negan hold Arat back. „You give me another minute, Arat. The rest of you I will see tonight, when we set things right where they belong.“ Everyone nodded and Alden closed the door behind them, Arat sending Negan a questioning look.

„What is it?“ For the first time Negans smile went soft and he mumbled „Thank you.“ Arat furrowed her brows and tilted her head. „What for?“ Negan wanted to tell her, she was right about Ricks feelings and that her words gave him hope, but somehow a thank you was all he could give by now. „You know, good work just needs to be rewarded.“

Arat laughed and nodded. „Yeah of course. Always boss. How is your sheriff by the way? And where's your jacket?“ She raised one brow and smirked at him, but Negan waved her off. „That fucking bulldog bitch attacked me, so my jacket needs to get fixed. Sheriff got hurt too and needed to get patched up, in that mess I forgot my jacket. But it's fine, I will get it back when I visit next time.“

Arat smiled and placed her hand on the doorknob. „I'm glad you two are fine. Was I right?“ Her eyes widened, curious about the answer and Negan couldn't help it, but feel a light blush rise on his cheeks. He rested Lucille on the chair to lean over and hide his face and just muttered „I think you were.“ Arat smiled in relief and said „I knew it. See you tonight.“. Then she opened the door and went outside.

Did Negan just confess to her, that he loved Rick back, without even telling Rick and still desperately trying to hide it? It must have been a long day, Negan decided.

As the door fell into its lock, Negan took his shirt off and headed to the shower, getting ready for the, hopefully, last fight on this day.


***


Rick sat with Judith in the grass and read her something from her favorite book „Alice in wonderland.“ She giggled everytime the rabbit appeared and he couldn't get enough of that sweet little smile. She was just the purest angel on this world, it was like seeing the light in the darkness, in which they were all lost in. Judith always led him out of the doubts he sometimes sank in and everytime she sent him these cute smiles, he thought about Carl as he was little. Some kind of wistfullness came up in him, that she could never experience the world Carl saw before, but on the other hand, he knew in these times it would be better to grow up in this world, to never look back again and become stronger.

Judith crawled on Ricks lap and played with his beard, which always made her say he looks so grumpy and old. At first he felt ashamed when she put it like that. but nowadays it somehow was a compliment to get old, right? So he hoped, she wouldn't only see him as old, but also as strong enough to come this far. His hand stroked over her hair, it was soft like cotton and her smell of vanilla let him close his eyes, to get lost in it.

Michonne approached them carefully and smiled over that look she admired for years now. Rick just was the perfect father and sometimes she wished, he could have been the father to her child before. Maybe he could be still alive then.

But this was in the past and even the wish, that some day Rick could be the father to their children, was a long lost dream, she couldn't let go. She didn't want to break this special moment, so she didn't dare to speak up and just sat down in the grass, next to them.

„Hello baby girl. You having fun with your daddy?“ „Yeeeees.“ Judith giggled and grabbed Michonnes hair, pulling it closer to nibble on it, which caused Michonnes face to get closer to Ricks, her cheeks instantly blushing. „Hey careful, Jude.“ Rick took Judiths hand and Michonne looked up in Ricks eyes, who tried to avoid eye contact and opened Judiths hand to let go of Michonnes hair. „Don't eat Michonne, we need her.“

Michonne felt his words sunk into her heart and make it heavy, so she rested her hands on the ground to lay back, just watching Rick lift Judith up and down in the air. They were so beautiful that it melted her heart.

After a while of just holding her eyes closed and enjoying the cold breeze in her face, she looked back at Rick and dared to speak up.

„How are you?“ Rick didn't react at first and then placed Judith next to him in the grass, watching her scrambling over the ground and ripping out some grass, to throw it in the air from time to time.

„Fine. How are you? How is Daryl? Did he calm down?“ Michonne sighed to that and looked down on Judith as well. „I'm good, Rick. And Daryl? He's concerned. As we all are. As you should be too.“ Rick frowned and focused his eyes on Judith even more. „The only thing I'm concerned about, is the safety of my people. And I think the exact same thing goes for Negan too, by the way.“ „And your people, who are you referring to? Me? Judith? Alexandria? Hilltop? Kingdom? Or the saviors?“ Rick turned his head to face Michonne and sent her a threatening look. „You are all my family, Michonne. I told you before and I will tell you again. But I never asked to be a leader of anything, so if you refer to me as a leader, I think I can only speak for Alexandria here. Kingdom belongs to the King and Hilltop has the perfect leader in Maggie already. And the saviors...“ „Have the perfect leader as well, you would say?“

Rick scoffed and looked back to Judith, not bearing Michonnes sharp eyes. „Neither of us is perfect. I never claimed to be and I don't think Negan would. And it doesn't matter if a leader is perfect, cause a leader is only as strong as the group behind him. And Negan is losing the hold to his group in this moment and we all had to pay the price for that. And that needs to stop.“ „So, you pity him? And since he is losing his people, you count him suddenly to yours, so he isn't alone?“ „No, goddammit.“ Rick shouted and Judith suddenly stopped throwing the grass and looked at Ricks angry face, somehow scared of the fear in his voice. „Daddy angry?“

Rick sighed and stroked over Judiths cheeks. „No baby. I'm frustrated. I'm grumpy, remember? But I'm not angry at you, no one could be angry at you.“ Judith giggled and poked his nose. „Grumpy.“ Michonne smiled and threw her arms around Judith, to let her sit on her lap and let her play with her hair again. Michonne tried to calm her anger, seeing the sadness in Ricks eyes grow, when he turned his face away from her. „What do you want, Rick? And what do you want from us?“

Rick breathed in deeply and closed his eyes, his fingers digging into the ground. „I want safety and peace for everyone, Michonne. And I want everyone, to want it too. I don't want to fight anymore, Carl didn't want to fight anymore. There has to be something after and it can't be written with blood. It just can't. And as hard as it will be to accept Negan and his men in our rows, I'm sure he wants the same. It doesn't excuse everything he did to us, but we did a lot to him too. Isn't it enough already?“

Michonne sighed to that and rested her lips on Judiths head. „I know what you mean, Rick. I do. And if this would be just about peace, you would be maybe more convincing. But...“ „But what?“ Ricks grip tightened and his nails shoved up dirt under them. „Are you doing this for us, with wanting peace, or are you doing it for yourself, cause you love him?“

Rick squinted his eyes to surpress the tears which would come out cause of frustration, confusion and anger. As if he would just know. But he needed to be as honest as he could be, right?

„To be honest, I think it's both.“ Michonne let his words sink in and released her head from Judith, who looked at her father in surprise. „Love?“ She asked and Rick smiled, opening his eyes to stroke over Judiths hair.

„Yes babygirl. It's love. I love him, Michonne. I told you before and...I told him.“ Michonne blinked and stared at Rick in surprise. „You did?“ She didn't expect him to be that courageous, since so many things went down with Negan, but it showed again, how much it mattered to Rick. „Yeah.“ „What did he say?“ He couldn't love him back, right?

Love!“ Judith repeated and rested her hands on Ricks face, squeezing his cheeks. He couldn't help but grin about it. „It doesn't matter what he said, I just wanted him to know and be sure we're on the same level.“ Judith released her hands again and stood up, running suddenly inside, to get something of her toys. Rick followed her running with his eyes and Michonne sighed. „So what do you want now?“

Judith came back outside with her plush rabbit and presented it proudly. „TADA!“ She babbled and Rick smiled widely at her, before looking back at Michonne with shiny eyes. „This. I want him to see this. I want him here, Michonne. I want everyone of us together. And I want him here with me. With me and Judith.“

Judith jumped into Ricks arms, what made him stood up and swing her around, while Michonne felt the last part of her heart breaking in this moment. It was one thing, if Rick just fell for the wrong person and realized it too late. She even thought he fell for him, cause he found himself in Negans sick side and felt safe around him, cause he didn't have to protect anyone anymore when Negan was around, cause he could protect him. She would have understand that sick part of Rick, this lost part she knew since years now. But she hoped he would realize it himself and maybe have this feelings for some time, but then he would let go. Especially when Negan turned him down and she expected at least that to happen. Not in the smallest part of her mind, she thought of the possibility, that Negan would love him back. But maybe he did and that was something Michonne wasn't prepared for. Maybe Negan just told Rick he loved him back, but she was convinced, it was just a sick mind game from him, to use their leader against them. But hearing that Rick really wanted him with Judith, the daughter Michonne never had but adopted in her heart, it was the last bit of sanity, which was sucked out of her.

She stood up as well and crossed her arms. „You know Daryl will never accept that. Neither will Maggie. And many others.“

Rick kissed Judiths forehead and let her down on the ground again, so she started running around with her rabbit in her hand. „I don't care. They have to, sooner or later. And if they are not, I will make them.“ Michonne shook her head and rested both of her hands on Ricks shoulders, shaking him softly. „Wake up Rick, you can't make them. They are not under his spell. You swear to me you're in love with him, but it makes you blind for the truth here. There are people who want to see him dead and end this war. And you are just standing there and watch him with heart filled eyes. He doesn't love you back! And with holding onto that naive belief, you will not only lose people here, in the end you may lose him too, with this attitude.“

Rick placed his hands on hers and looked at her in concern. „And what about you? Do you want to kill him? Or do you understand me? Me and Carl.“ Michonne breathed in deeply and tilted her head with a warning look. „Don't, Rick.“ „Don't tell me what I shouldn't do. On which side are you on Michonne?“

She shook her head in disbelief and pulled her hands back instantly. „I always was on your side, you know that. That's why I warn you. You're my family. But inviting him to our family, may break us all apart. And you want to risk that?“

„Daddy, look look!“ Judith commanded and ran up to Rick again, letting the rabbit fly in her hand. He went down on his knees for her and said „Oh are you making the rabbit fly? Does he have wings now?“ and Judith nodded.

Rick turned his head up to Michonne and said „Yes. I want to risk that. I would give my life for Negan.“ „There was a time when you would have given your life for us.“ Michonne responded and swallowed hardly, the knot in her throat making the tears come up in her eyes. „And I still would, Michonne.“

Negan!“ Judith suddenly said and Michonnes and Ricks head turned down to her, where she grinned all over her face. Rick slid her hair out of her face and spoke softly. „You want to see Negan again? He told me you get along amazingly. You remember him?“ „Yes yes.“ Judith babbled and Michonne felt the tears running down her cheeks, but she was unable to stripe them away, her body was frozen.

„Then you will see him again. I will make him come here whenever you want, I promise you.“ „Yayyyyy.“ Judith cheered and ran around in amazement. Rick stood up again and went up to Michonne, who was staring on the ground, her face covered in silent tears. „Michonne, please.“ Rick wanted to reach his hand out for her face, but she slapped his hand away and muttered „I can't believe you would go this far. Daryl was right. You are long gone. You don't even care about Judiths safety anymore, you don't care about anything anymore, besides this monster, you think you fell in love with.“ „But Michonne, I don't think it, I told you!“ „No, you lost your mind. I made you talk to him and see him, cause I hoped you would see how dark and rotten he is inside. I hoped he would push you away and you would finally wake up. What about all these wives he has in his home? You forgot about them? You really think you are his only love?“

And suddenly it struck Rick hard, yeah the wives did still exist right? But Negan didn't even tell him that he loved him back and Rick never knew, if Negan would want to be at his side, like in a relationship. They never talked about it. Maybe it was still a sick game to Negan. It didn't feel like it, but this man was capable of many things, Ricks couldn't even imagine, so in the back of his head, there was a small doubt in him, telling him Michonne could be right. Even if he didn't want to admit that. And of course he couldn't admit that to Michonne now.

„I never was or will be his only love, like he isn't mine. I loved Lori. He loved Lucille. These things never change. But yes, now I love him. And I'm sure he does love me too. I don''t know how we will make it work yet, with every each one of you staring at us as if they want to stab us on our streets, but I know that I want to try. He is worth my trying. And of course I care about Judith and I would never let her be close to him, if I wouldn't trust him. But I do.“

Michonne wiped her tears away and frowned. „I really hoped he would push you away and not drag you in deeper.“ Rick shrugged to that, unimpressed. „Yeah, seems you have to live with he didn't.“

Michonne was shocked and went to Judith, stroking over her hair and kissed the top of her head. „I have to go now, sweetheart. See you soon.“ „Soon!“ Judith called out and Michonne turned around, to walk out of the yard and Rick shouted „Wait, where are you going?“ „Away.“

Rick ran after her and grabbed her wrist, which she pulled away instantly. „Where is Daryl? Where is Rosita? Are you going to see them? Please tell them to trust me. I will make it work out.“ „It's too late, Rick.“ Michonne started walking away again and Rick ran after her again. „What do you mean?“ „You made your decision. I think they made theirs on their own.“ Rick blinked, trying to think about the worst, but instantly shoving that fear away. „Will you follow them?“ He asked and Michonne just waved him off and stepped away, as Judith ran to her father and jumped in his arms, letting him freeze in that position.

Was she going after them and plotting something behind his back? Or would they just leave Alexandria and relocate to Hilltop, because they couldn't stand him anymore? He stroked over Judiths hair again and again, to calm himself down. He didn't know what to do now, maybe it was nothing to worry about, but maybe Negan was in danger.

Negan...he thought about his plan revealing Simons coup behind his back to the others and punishing him. He hoped that went smoother than his day in Alexandria. Besides Judith, everyone he counted on before, left him. Gabriel was still there and he trusted his advice, but still as long as he didn't know what Daryl, Maggie and the others were up to, he surely couldn't sleep fine. He needed to speak with all of them, together with Negan. After he brought his people back in line.

And again Rick couldn't do nothing else besides waiting. And he hated that part the most. Just hurry up and call me, dumbass, he thought and went back to the yard with Judith, to watch her play and imagine every move and jump of her being soon watched by Negan as well. He wished for nothing more in this world than seeing them happily together. It would be Ricks personal fairytale, he lost belief in before. Negan gave it back to him and now he tried to trust him and rely on his promise, to see him again. Maybe then Rick finally could ask him about what he was feeling towards him. And if Rick had to worry about his wives at all.

Rick sighed and rested his back in the grass to look at the sky, hoping Negan could appreciate the same beauty of it in this moment.


 

Chapter Text

After the sun went down, Negan put on another leather jacket he found on a scouting tour, just in case. Then he went down the stairs to the hall, which was nearly empty.

Arat and her troop of chosen ones wanted to wait for him outside. Before he opened the front door, he rested his hand on the doorknob and breathed in deeply.

Let this plan work out, I wanna return in one piece to my sheriff.

You have to trust them“ Lucille told him in his mind and he smiled about that. Hearing her voice in his head, always calmed him down. He wondered, if Rick was hearing Lori the same way sometimes.



He swinged the door open with Lucille over his left shoulder and saw Simon waiting with Jed, sorrounded by Dwight, Regina, Arat, Laura, Alden and some other saviors behind them. He tried to widen his smirk, to show some confidence, but hoped they wouldn't realize, how insecure he felt about all that. He wished Rick would have been with him right now. With him by his side, he could have get rid of everyone easily. But now he had to figure out, who he really needed to get rid off, to set things straight.

He rested his hands on the handrail and looked down at his people, or what he hoped, would be still his people. „Well, well, this looks like a fucking welcome commitee. How do I earned this honor?“ Simon stared in his eyes with crossed arms and an evil smile, while Negan tried to search for Arats eyes, trying to figure out, if everything went like they planned. She gave him a slight nod, nearly not recognizable, which let him take a breath out of relief.

Slowly he stepped down the stairs and Simon spoke up. „Boss, what a pleasure to see you, after you have been gone so long. We all wonder, as whom did you come back? Negan? Or should we call you Rick now?“

Negan grinned and stepped up to Simon, raising an eyebrow. „Oh I don't know, but please enlighten my spirit here.“ Simon smirked and looked around him, confident that everyone was on his side. „You see, the last two days we figured out our shit on our own and you know why? Cause we are all Negan. But then you come back and all you care about, is having peace with this shithead Rick, who killed our people! I wonder, how should we let this slide? How would you let this slide, if it was us?“

Negan widened his eyes and chuckled, his hand stroking over his beard. „You are so right, Simon. I wouldn't let this slide ever. Not if someone of our man killed someone, to cause trouble and mistrust to start a war.“ „Yeah you know, just that it wasn't someone of us, it was your puppy.“

Negan frowned and shoved his head in front of Simon, threatening him with clenched teeth. „Just that it wasn't. And we all know that.“

Simon didn't move an inch, on the contrary, he even closed their distance. „Do we? And how do you come to this conclusion?“ Negan smiled and rested his hand on Simons chin, pressing his fingers into his skin. „You killed them and left traces in his room. You were dumb enough, thinking I would believe you. But Rick was with me that night, I would have noticed blood and yeah, sadly for you, there wasn't. And you confessed yourself, that you stole the weapons for the attacks. So I ask you, where is the knife Rick slit their throats with? I didn't see it with him.“

Simon didn't reply, but suddenly Jed spoke up. „Somebody had to do something, we couldn't watch you make that prick intrude our home. He is a parasite, sucking your brain out. How are we supposed to keep our people safe, if the only thing you care about, is sticking your dick in that sheriffs ass?“

In one move Negan released his right hand from Simons chin and pulled out a gun, shooting Jed right in the head, his body collapsing to the ground, while everyone around them was gasping, but not daring to move. Negans cold like ice staring eyes, still rested on Simon, not even for the shot he had to lift them from that man in front of him. „And that is all I needed to hear.“

Simon gulped harshly and looked around in fear, wondering why no one was moving as they planned. „What the fuck is wrong with you? You will watch him get more of our people killed and do nothing? Why does no one...“ „Because no one is on your side here, Simon.“ Negan mentioned and laid back, resting Lucille next to his left leg with raised brows, waiting for Simons next move.

Suddenly Regina went to her knees and started to sob. „I'm so sorry, Negan. I...I just...“ But Negan interrupted her. „Sh-sh-sh, it's fine Regina. We all know that Simon talked you into this. And as it seems, Jed here, was his right hand man. You were just a victim to his game.“

Regina sighed in relief and muttered a „Thank you“ and Laura went up to her, wanting to help her to stand up again, but Regina refused. She felt like belonging on the ground for her mistake.

In this moment Simon groaned and used the distraction to run right into Negan, beating his forehead against him. Negan murmured and fell back, but as Arat wanted to intervene and everyone pulled out their guns, Negan gave them a sign with his hand and they froze. Simon stood above Negan and smirked down at him with crazy eyes.

„We wanted to kill you. We need a stricter order here. You let everything slide, cause you lost your mind in that fuckshit.“ Negan chuckled but then pinching his eyes, to an evilish look. „Careful how you talk about him.“ Simon couldn't help but laugh. „See? That's what I'm talking about, what we all talked about. Come on, Arat, Dwight, you want him dead too! After all he did to us, let's finish this.“ Simon looked around but saw no reaction.

„Seems nobody is willing to help you, Simon.“ Arat asserted and Simon groaned even more. „You fucking cowards! Then I will...“ „You will do nothing.“ Negan grunted and punched him right in the face, after he managed to get up in that distracted moment. Simon screamed in pain and Negan let go of his gun and switched Lucille to his right hand, swinging her at Simons chest and beated him down, as he hit him on the shoulder. „This was for insulting Rick, you fucking bastard.“ Negan noticed he hit Simon on the same spot, where he hurt Rick before and somehow it felt relieving to give a payback now, for what he did to Rick out of coincidence.

„Argh...then fucking kill me, you motherfucker.“ Simon challenged Negan and Negan rested Lucille right above his head, staring down in Simons hateful eyes. He could have smashed his head right here, but he already did kill someone today and killing more than one person of his people in one day, felt nearly like the same thing, Simon did to them. He didn't want to give him the chance to say that later.

Negan lowered Lucille and changed his look to a soft smile. „I won't. People are a resource, Simon. That's something you need to learn. I had to kill someone already, but this was my payback for killing our men, cause I assume you wouldn't make your own hands dirty with doing that yourself, right?“ And of course Negan was right, Simon just told Jed to do it, cause he would never have the balls himself and he needed to leave the trails in Ricks room fast enough, to tell Regina right away.

Simon was breathing heavily and Negan looked over to Arat. „Arat, darling. Can you bring him to the cell? I think he needs some time to think. We are not killing people, we save them. And maybe Simon wants to get saved by us, a second fucking time. Am I right, Simon?“

Simon panted and remained silent, as Dwight and Laura came up and brought him inside, to one of the cells.

Negan stepped up to Regina, went on his knees and lifted her chin. „Regina, dear. I forgive you. I have a soft soul, it's all about remorse and learning from it. I want to be a good example here and you can be too. I'm glad you didn't kill people and just threatened them. If not, I may have not be that forgiving. But that's something I learnt from Rick and you should be all fucking happy about that.“ Regina lifted her eyes and nodded. „Thank you, Negan.“ Negan shook his head and patted her shoulder, before he offered her a hand and lifted her up.

Then he rested Lucille over his shoulder again and looked around at the fearful faces. „I'm sorry you had to see that shit with Jed, I liked that guy but...he betrayed us. Simon did too, he even ordered it, but he didn't kill our people. It was Jed. And that's what he had to pay for. Let today be a lesson to everyone, who wants to plan a coup behind my back. And whoever has a problem with my leadership, should fucking have the balls to tell me in my perfect face, got that?“

Negan walked up to Jeds corpse and kneeled down in front of him, like telling it right to him. „And whoever dares to insult my sheriff again, is welcome to be a good company to Jed here.“ Then he stood up again and looked in every face he could see. „Rick and I will make an alliance. It's for all of us and it should be for the better. None of us wants a war and lose people. And I promise you, I will make it come out the best way it could, for all of us. The saviors are our priority here, but if it takes an alliance to make things better, we should do so. And everyone has to accept that from now on. No attacks behind my back anymore. I hope even the dumbest brain in our rows got that now.“

With a whistle on his lips, Negan went up the stairs and Arat followed him.

„What should I say, Arat. Thank you, again.“ Negan mumbled and Arat followed him inside the hall with a smile. „You're welcome, boss.“ Suddenly Negan stopped and looked down at Arat, with an raised eyebrow. „You know what? It was about time you become my first officer. I don't even remember, why I didn't do it before so...you accept?“

Arat widened her eyes and nodded in excitement. „Of course, boss.“ He shook his head softly with closed eyes and grinned at her. „Glad to hear that, sister.“ Arat blinked to that, but didn't want to break this moment with questioning what he just said, so she just stayed silent and smiled as a reply.

Negan started walking again and mentioned „I will go back to my room now, I have to call my sheriff and tell him how we saved the day.“ „He will be proud.“ Negan laughed to that, not knowing if she was right, cause he still killed someone of his own man just a moment ago. „I will let you know.“ He waved with Lucille as a goodbye and headed to his room, still whistling while moving.

Arat followed him with his eyes and shook her head in amusement. „You really changed our man, Rick Grimes.“ she mumbled to herself and went back outside, to help the others with Jeds body, hoping Negans mercy for Simon wouldn't cost them dear later.



***



With a sigh Negan closed the door behind him and rested Lucille on one of his chairs, before he stripped down the jacket and his shirt. While sitting down on the edge of his bed, he started to put his boots off and pulled out the walkie, speaking a short „Leatherface calls sheriff, you there?“

Rick didn't answer right away, so Negan laid down on his bed, his jeans still on and stared at the ceiling. Come on baby, answer, I need you, Negan thought and closed his eyes with one arm resting on his forehead.

Leatherface? You're a serial killer now? Do I need to arrest you?“ Negan chuckled and lifted the walkie back to his lips. „Damn, I would like to be handcuffed by you, I do need it now more than ever.“

Rick laughed to that, but didn't let Negan hear it. He himself was already laying in his bed just in his boxers, not wanting to admit that he had stared at the walkie for hours already, being worried about Negans wellbeing. „You okay?“ he asked with a deep concern in his voice, which didn't go unnoticed by Negan.

„Of course I'm okay, officer. Sorry for letting you wait on the line, I'm a busy man as you know.“ Question for Rick was, what he was all busy with. Was it only the Simon problem, or did Negan have to take care of his wives as well?

„It is indeed late, Negan. What have you been up to?“ Negan chuckled into the walkie. „Look at my caring husband, you can't stop being worried, right? You seem to love that shit.“ „What?“ „Being worried. You know, Rick, you always get these cute wrinkles on your forehead, when you are concerned. I guess you know that and use it as a weapon for the girls around you.“

Rick scoffed to that and replied „Yea, cause I'm the one being surrounded by girls all day.“ „Oh come on, Rickyboy. What about your sweet little angel and that samurai, had a good idyllic day in the sun?“ Rick sighed, his left hand sliding over his forehead, to release the wrinkles Negan just mentioned before.

„Judith was amazing as always. I wished you could have seen her.“ Me too, Negan thought, but he didn't dare to speak it out, still trying to hide the tension in his body, from what he did before.

As Rick heard no answer, he assumed Negan wanted to hear more about Michonne. „Michonne on the other hand...“ „Did that Daryl guy wash her head about me?“ Rick tried to smile to the fact that Negan guessed that right, but how it all went down today, was something, that stole every positive feeling about it.

„About us, you mean.“ Negan opened his eyes to that word and stared at the ceiling. He repeated the word „us“ without letting Rick hear it and knew it would be a better strategy to calm Rick down now.

„You wanna know what I think?“ Negan asked. „Yeah, please.“ „I think you worry too much. I mean, what did you expect? That everyone falls into your arms and congrats you to our alliance? It's a tough pill to swallow, I see it here all the time. And I don't wanna imagine, how hard it must be for your soft Alexandrians. My people are used to following, your people love you, they admire you. And they just can't understand, what you see in me, neither do I.“

Rick tried to ignore the last part, feeling the blush of his cheeks. Even if someone would ask him, what he found in Negan, he was damned sure, he couldn't explain it either. „Oh come on, Negan. That's not the point here. Daryl isn't soft, neither is Michonne.“ „Yeah...but Michonne loves you. She is jealous. And Daryl...“

Negan paused the walkie and sighed, thinking about the time Daryl was sitting in his cell. There were so many things he did to Ricks people and he didn't know, how he could ever repay it, neither how Rick could forgive it. „I'm sorry about what I did to Daryl.“ Negan muttered and Rick suddenly sat up in his bed, wanting to hear more of that soft side, he loved about Negan. „You have to tell him. We have to talk to them. All of them. Together.“

Negan laughed in disbelief over Ricks naivety and squeeked „Really? You think that would work, without them shooting ten bullets at the same time in my fucking head? I mean, dammit, my head isn't even big enough for so many bullets, which would hit me.“ „That's not funny, Negan.“ But Negan couldn't stop laughing about Ricks endless optimism.

„Damn, Grimes. You still believe in fucking santa or what?“ Rick sighed and slid his hand through his hair. „I have to believe, Negan. I want to. And as long as I want to and can assume you want it too, I won't give up. We have to do it together, otherwise it will never work. It will be my word against theirs and nobody believes me anyways, when I try to paint a pretty picture of you.“ Negans eyes widened and he sat up too. „You paint a pretty picture of me? Tell me about that, Rick. How pretty am I on that?“ Negans hand slid down to his belt and he tried to open it with one hand, Rick meanwhile smiling to himself. „Pretty enough.“

Negan pouted and managed to get rid of the jeans, to just remain in his boxers now. „Oh come on, don't be shy, Ricky. How pretty am I to you?“ Rick shook his head in disbelief over that man, never stopping his teasing.

Rick felt the shiver on his back, whenever Negan was talking to him in this seductive voice and he hated to admit, that he really was under his spell, his words sounding like sweet latin in all the fantasy books. „Negan, stop asking. You know my answer.“ „Oh come on, I wanna hear it, sheriff!“ „You need to stop calling me that, I'm not a sheriff anymore.“ „You are. Mine.“ Rick grinned and felt the compliment causing a hot feeling on his face. „Fine. But I don't wanna sweet talk with you on this, you're too far away for that.“

Negan smiled over Ricks pure soul, that man surely never dirty talked before as well. „We can switch to sex talk, if you prefer that?“ Rick sighed. „No, thank you.“ „What a pity. My dick sure is lonely, you know?“ Rick blinked and couldn't help the image of his wives, dancing around Negan like flies around shit. „I bet it's not as lonely as mine.“

Negan noticed the jealousy in Ricks voice and it made him horny as hell. „Dammit Grimes, who's the possessive one here.“ Rick scoffed that away and laid down again, rolling to his side, to look out of the window, where the moon shined through again. „I wanna see the moon with you.“ Rick let escape his lips and right in the next moment, he cursed over himself, for being so hopeless romantic towards the man, who surely hated him in that soft way.

But Negan on the contrary loved that and turned his head to the side, to look at the moon as well. „I do see it. Let's make a moonlight picnic with your girl once.“ Rick was surprised Negan took it that easy and even replied in such a way. There surely was nothing more beautiful Rick could have suggested himself. „Yeah I would love that.“ „Good.“

For a moment there was silence between them again, but suddenly they both broke it at the same time. Rick said „Judith talked about you.“ while Negan confessed „I had to kill one of my men today.“, which caused an instant „What?“ of both of them. Negan sighed and Rick commanded „You first.“

Negan rested his legs on the floor, staring down between them. „Jed, he was the one killing the two, Simon accused you of. And he threatened me and then insulted you. I had to...“ Rick interrupted him out of the sudden. „It's fine, Negan. If it was the only way to protect yourself and your people, it was the right decision.“

Negan blinked in confusion and asked „Sure? I was convinced, you would punish me now and even if I wouldn't mind to be punished by you, don't get me wrong, but...“ „Negan. What do you think, was it necessary or not?“ Negan paused and breathed in deeply. „It was.“ And Rick answered „Then there's nothing to feel guilty about. I'm glad you didn't get hurt instead. Or did you?“ The worry about the other man grew back in Ricks heart, but Negan could ease his soul right away. „I'm fine, Rick. Stop worrying, for gods sake. I got rid of the problem and the other problem sits in a cell now.“ „Simon?“ „Yup.“ „Good.“

They both sighed and after another moment of silence, Negan came back to Ricks mention of Judith. „So your girl, what did she say? I didn't even expect she would remember me.“ „Oh come on, who could ever forget you, Negan?“ Negan smirked to that and proudly said „That's damn right, cowboy. I make a pretty memorable impression.“ „You do.“ „So what did she say?“ „I asked her if she wants to see you again and she said yes. She spoke your name a few times. I think she likes you.“

Negan smiled. He couldn't remember the last time, he heard that from a father, who talked to him about their child. „Next time, tell her I like her too. She's the most beautiful girl on this planet.“ „Tell her yourself then.“ Rick assigned to Negan and he would have loved to do that right now, if he just could. „I will, then.“

Both inhaled the scent of the night coming through their windows, searching for the sweet scent of the other person and Rick couldn't hold back his longing anymore. „When will I see you again?“ Negan wiped his hand over his face, just like wanting to clean his own thoughts and stay as much distant, as he was able to, in this moment. „When do you want to see me again?“ Rick hated Negans games of „who was admitting more affection for the other one first“, but maybe he just needed the reinsurance of Rick first. „Now. I want to see you always.“

My god, wasn't he the cutest man in this universe? Negan thought and grinned, as he laid back down on his bed, imagining that blue eyes glowing now. „I told you, you can follow, when I covered my shit. I did my part, now you need to know, if you can leave your clown parade back home alone.“

Rick sighed and thought about Judith, as much as he wanted to see Negan, he always had to leave her behind. That's why he would have preferred Negan to come to his place, but he knew it was not a smart thing to do for now. His people would rather go wild on Negan, than Negans people would dare to disobey their leader.

„Tomorrow?“ „Rickyboy, you're so damn impatient. I love it.“ Rick chuckled and admitted „Yeah, patience never was my virtue, you know?“ „Are you fine to travel with your shoulder? Don't want that doc following you and kick my ass.“ „I'm fine, idiot.“ „Okay, then tomorrow. You're always welcome. Same goes for your girl as well, just to say it.“ Rick knew Negan only meant it in a good way, but still it seemed like an even worse idea, than inviting Negan to Alexandria. „Thank you. One day I bring her. But for now, I don't want her to travel out there, you know?“ Negan of course understood and agreed on that.

„You know, there's actually one thing I wanna talk about with you...“ Rick confessed and Negan furrowed his brows. „What is it?“ „We will talk about it when I'm at your place. Okay?“ Negan was worried, it could have been about another attack or trap, he didn't know of yet, so he asked again. „What about, Rick? You can't mention that and let me sleep calmly.“ „It's nothing.“

Of course he didn't want to mention the concerns he had about what Maggie was planning with Daryl and the others and that Rosita was missing and that Michonne was giving up on him too, but he knew sooner or later he had to anyways. Strangely in this moment, something else had priority for him. „Just something about us.“ Negan had to swallow about that word again and repeated „Us? And you call that nothing? Wow, that hurt, Rick. You're cold hearted.“ Rick shook his head and laughed. „Ha-ha. I just meant, it's nothing to worry about. Or at least, I hope it's not.“ Not mentioning the wives and Negans obvious problem with relationships.

„Okay, Rick. Open to all your questions. You can interrogate me all night long, but only if you manage to do that, with my dick in your mouth.“ Rick choked and coughed in the walkie. „Wow, that came out of nowhere.“ „I KNOW, right? I'm just the fucking best, I swear.“ „Can't disagree here, can I.“ „Nope.“

Both smiled to themselves, since they were still able to enjoy their humor in these dark times and despite all the worries running through their heads. Both knew, that was surely a point, that kept them together as well.

„Actually, I wanna ask you something too, when you're here. I have some kind of an idea and want your opinion on it.“ Negan mentioned and Rick widened his eyes, not expecting Negan would ever ask him for his judgement. „Of course. Didn't expect you to consider my opinion, though.“ „Ah you know, if I ask you, it doesn't mean I listen to you.“ Negan joked and Rick had to chuckle about that again. „Of course it doesn't, what did I even think.“ „Aaaall optimistic here, my little sheriff.“ Rick scoffed and felt the heavyness on his mind close his eyes.

„Alright we should get sleep now. Was a long day.“ „Indeed it was.“ Negan approved and rested his free hand on his stomache, his fingertips scratching over his hair.

Suddenly Rick groaned like being annoyed about something and Negan asked „What is it? You have to sleep on a pea, princess?“ Rick pulled over to his other side, his back to the moonlight. „No, I just hate sleeping alone.“ Negan couldn't hold back a grin to that and trembled with his fingertips on his skin. „Alone, or without me, Rickyboy?“ Rick hated the fact, that he couldn't hide what he was feeling anyways and Negan always got him. He couldn't even hold up the strong image he wanted to have of himself, like this. „Without you, idiot.“

It was a relief for Negan to hear that confirmed, for a second he was doubting what would come as an answer. But seemed this man really liked him, right?

„You know what?“ Rick swallowed hard and after a short break he asked „What?“, maybe he was too lost in his soft words, that even Negan couldn't listen anymore, no matter how much he loved to get compliments all day. „I hate it too.“ Negan didn't plan to commit that, but he didn't care anymore. After what he did today for Rick and him, it didn't matter to hold up a facade anymore. Maybe he wasn't ready yet to confess his feelings for Rick, but as Lucille always told him, sometimes what you do, shows more than what you say, so maybe it wasn't even needed to speak it out.

„I...“ but Negan interrupted Ricks words, which he guessed were these three famous ones. „I know.“ Rick sighed, cause he wasn't sure if Negan just didn't want to hear it, cause he couldn't reply to it appropiately, or if he hated to hear it from Rick. Nevertheless it gave a stab to Ricks heart and he didn't dare to say anything anymore.

Negan knew Rick surely felt choked off, or even rejected, but as long as he didn't have him in front of him, he still tried to calm both of their feelings, so they wouldn't get too lost in them. He wished, he could tell the same to Rick, but he didn't want it to be like this, he wanted to look into his eyes while doing so and not being able to do that right now, didn't allow Negan to hear it from Rick. He just couldn't stand this man wearing his heart on his sleeve, while Negan gave him nothing in return. It was not fair.

„Sweet dreams, sheriff. You can dream of our next meeting, I promise it will be a hell of a day.“ Rick smiled and slid his hand through his hair, imagining it was Negans hand, not his own. „I look forward to it.“ „Yeah, me too. But just so you know: It's a pity you're not into dirty talk my prude cowboy, I really could need it right now.“

While speaking, Negan slid his hand down in his boxers, feeling how his length was hardened, just from Ricks voice on the other end. He realized it before and it already started, when Negan only thought about calling Rick, but of course he couldn't admit that, cause he never experienced before, that just the thought of speaking to someone, made him sink in arousal. This man bewitched me.

„You're a pervert, Negan. Besides that, I prefer the dirty things being kept private.“ Negan smirked, shut his eyes and his hand closed around his dick, imagining how he could just press it against Ricks skin again. A soft moan escaped his lips and he muttered „Oh I do hope, you are into the dirty stuff, when you are here.“

Rick noticed the passionate sound of Negans voice and knew, he had to be touching himself in this moment. „It depends on you. How you behave, Negan.“ Rick actually would have loved to do the same, but for now, the thoughts about Negans wives turned him off completely. He knew, when he would touch himself, the pictures of them kissing and fucking Negan, would come up in his mind and that was the last thing he wanted to see.

„You wanna say, I'm a bad boy, sheriff? Please arrest me then!“ Negan whimpered seductively and tightened the grip around his length. „Prove me the contrary.“ Rick challenged him and Negan bit his lower lip, as he imagined how Rick would name him a bad guy, when they were having a wild night in his room. The devilish sound of Ricks voice, made Negan lose his mind in his arousal. „Rick, if you don't wanna hear me come, we should end...this conversation right now.“ Negan whispered and another moan left his mouth.

Rick loved to picture Negan coming to his voice only and at least, he could be sure, that no one else brought him to the edge, right? Or was one of Negans wives with him? But that couldn't be, they talked about too much private stuff.

Rick shoved that doubt away and turned on his back, to face the ceiling. He was curious to listen to the first man in his life coming for him, getting a glimpse of how Negan sounded coming undone, but there was this conservative part in Rick, which never let him do such things before and he was somehow scared someone could listen, which filled his cheeks with deep red of embarrassment.

„Rick?“ Negan demanded him to answer and Rick squinted his eyes and bit his lower lip, hearing his inner voices laugh about his shyness.

Come on, don't be so shy, darling. We should have done that way earlier, we never had the chance to experience that, so I want you to have that.“ Loris voice told Rick, but instead of feeling more confident now, her voice somehow made Rick tremble. He shook his head to get her voice out of his head.

Rick!“ Negan moaned again, like begging for a final answer.

„If I wouldn't wanna listen, I would be gone already, Negan. I'm still here, what means...“ „Good.“ Negan muttered and continued massaging his dick, which was now throbbing in excitement. His thumb slid over the top, the first drop of lust already releasing. Negan grinned over the fact how horny this man made him, since no man before handled to get Negan to the edge this fast. His hand tightened the rubbing over his skin, wanting to get free of the tension between his hips. „Tell me you want me, Rick.“

Ricks eyesight got blurry, by the image of a lustful Negan in his head. He wanted to touch him so deeply right now. „I want you, Negan.“ Negan moaned and fastened his masturbation. „How much?“ Negan purred and Rick bit his lower lip again, somehow feeling embarrassed and aroused at the same time.

„You can't imagine how much. I wanted you from the first time you kissed me and now I can't stop thinking about it. I wanted you in Alexandria, when you touched me and walked through my streets with me. I wanted you to fuck me so hard, when we made out in your bed. I wanted you under that shower so much, it drives me insane how much I actually want you.“ „Ugh...“ Negan just let out sounds of panting and as he felt his hips trembling to release his liquid in is hand, he just gasped loudly, stuttering „I feel you.“ As he came, Negan let go of the walkie and took a grip of his bed, to stop his body from shaking too harshly.

Rick was sure, no one ever came for him in this way, neither would Rick have agreed in the past, to tell someone on the phone what he really wanted. He nearly managed to spoke it out clearly while having sex anyways. He always was more the submissive guy and thankfully Lori never complained about that, since they were just the typical love from highschool, living the perfect life. Until he met Negan, he didn't even knew, he had this urge for something else, something more wild and uncontrollable. But Negan released it in him and that was the reason, why Rick wanted to get more. He was the one always teasing Negan about sex with him, just because he wanted to know, what else was sleeeping inside of Ricks mind. With Negan, he experienced a whole new part of him in sexual things, maybe the same new things he discovered in his soul, since the apocalypse started and his aggressive side came out. Something uncontrollable, wild and full of tension.

Negan had to catch his breath again and slid his hand back out of his boxers, taking a tissue from his bedside table, to clean his hand and then grabbed the walkie again. „Thank you, cowboy. That was a hot ride, you know? What a pity you weren't here, you would have loved that.“

Rick still felt the heat in his cheeks and striped his fingers over his forehead. „I sure would.“ „And you claimed, you're not into dirty talk.“ „No, I just meant...I prefer it in a personal way.“ Negan laughed. „Oh you know, I'm pretty sure we will have plenty occasions to have that too. I can't wait to hear it face to face, to be honest.“ „Yeah, me neither.“

Rick wondered, if he really could stick up to that expectations, since his „dirty talk“ with Lori in bed, surely was something else, than Negan imagined here. „One last question: You get that dirty talk is not about lies, right? It's more like our wild, animalistic side takes over and does the talk for us. So tell me, you really wanted me in all these situations, you mentioned?“ Rick smiled and couldn't believe, Negan doubted he was serious here. „Yes, all the fucking time.“ „Jeee-sus. You sir are special indeed. Next time I should double check your dick twitching between your legs, when we meet, to know exactly what of my perfect persona turns you on so much.“ „Ha, good luck in that. I wish I would know myself.“

Both had to laugh about that, cause in a way they both knew already, what they found in each other. The same way Arat described it to Negan and Michonne described it to Rick. And they both were right. They brought out the best and worst in each other, the deepest dark parts of their souls and the brightest shining ones. They were two lost and sick souls, who just endlessly longed for each other, to feel whole again. They were soulmates.

„Let's sleep now, Rick. Tomorrow I will wait for your pretty face to arrive at my place and I can't fucking say, how much I love that thought.“ Rick giggled and agreed. „Yeah, but no flowers, please.“ „Flowers? Are you fucking kidding me, Rick? I will welcome you with my swinging dick, who is, if I may say, even more impatient to see you now.“ „Please don't.“ „Damn, you're ruining my plan.“ Rick sighed and muttered „Goodnight, Negan. Have sweet dreams.“ „The sweetest, my sheriff. You too.“

They both rested the walkie next to them on their bed tables and Rick stared at the ceiling in disbelief, of what he just experienced. Did he really listen to Negan masturbating, while he told him, how much he wanted him all this time? Maybe Michonne was right and he just was crazy and gone in his mind. The honourable Rick Grimes, losing all his conservative rules in his head, for their former enemy Negan. For a man. What the fuck did you do to me? Rick asked himself, but he couldn't find any explanation to that haunting question.

Negan sure was different and maybe he even was evil. But how did he manage, that Rick threw overboard all his principles? It felt like he just gave him one look, one word and Rick would follow. Which made clear, how dangerous it would be, if Negan really would play him. This man is a mastermind of manipulation, maybe he manipulated you in loving him, just to see you lose your mind completely.

But all the ifs in his head didn't change the fact, that he was in too much already. He couldn't go back now. He loved this man and he even confessed that to him. He couldn't let go anymore. If Rick wanted something, he fought for it, with his last bit of soul and same went for love.

He won't play me, I will go there and tell him I want him. Him alone. Without his wives. And if he wants me, he has to find a way how. And then we find a way to make everyone understand. Cause I can't let Michonne or Daryl or anyone hurt him. I don't expect them to love him like I do, hell they shouldn't, but I need them to accept my feelings, like I always accepted and respected theirs, for their own protection. I will protect you now and we find a way. I will find a way.







 

Chapter Text

Rick opened his eyes like waking from a sleeping pill, still dizzy and not really conscious about what happened last night. He looked over to the other side of the bed, which was empty and he didn't hear any sound of Michonne playing with Judith.

He remembered that she left yesterday and he still wasn't sure, where she went. He had a guess, but to confirm that, he needed to find out where Daryl was first.

He got out of bed, hopped under the shower and enjoyed the pouring water on his back. He thought about his shower with Negan and finally the memories from the last night came back to him, how he confessed to Negan how much he was thinking about him and wanted him all this time. His hand slid through his hair out of embarrassment, he wanted to crawl in a hole, feeling like the worst lover in the entire history. His flirting always sucked, but he was pretty damn sure his dirty talk was even worse. Nevertheless Negan must have enjoyed it, maybe this man was easy to please? Or maybe he was just so horny last night, that everyone could have brought him to the edge.

Rick wondered how he would start his day, after he now handled every mess at his place. Maybe this was at least one less thing to worry about now. But Negan did mention he wanted to talk about something with Rick too, an idea he had and no matter how hard Rick tried to think about what he could have meant, nothing came into his mind. If he would have an idea about how to bring their communities together, he surely would have told him already. So this couldn't be it. Maybe it was something about their relationship as well? Maybe they both needed to lay the cards on the table finally, cause neither of them knew what this was, right?

Rick sighed, the small arouse of the morning fading under the worries, he brought up in himself.

After he got dressed, he went over to Judiths room and took her on his arms, stepping downstairs with her, as the door suddenly opened and Siddiq came in.

„Morning, Rick.“ Rick nodded and replied „Morning Siddiq. What is it?“

Rick stepped to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, not spending any view to his visitor and Siddiq followed him. „I brought you something.“ „Hm?“ Rick looked over his shoulder and recognized Negans leather jacket in Siddiqs hand and an instant smile crossed his lips. „Oh, I didn't know he...thank you, Siddiq!“

„You know, since I guessed nobody else would do it, I fixed it.“ Rick blinked and placed Judith on her chair, handing her the bowl with her breakfast. He stepped up to Siddiq, took the jacket and checked the sleeve, which was now patched up. „Thank you, that's actually so thoughtful of you, he will appreciate it.“ Siddiq waved him off and just muttered „It was nothing.“ „No, really. I didn't even know you can do that.“ Siddiq laughed and shrugged. „You know, as a doctor I should be able to patch things up, right?“

Rick placed the jacked on the chair next to Judith, imagining this should be Negans place, whenever he decided to have breakfast with them. „You're right, sorry, I'm a bit out of it this morning.“ With a blush on his cheeks Rick turned around, to get himself a tea and Siddiq furrowed his brows. „Something happened?“

Rick shook his head, not even able to describe with words how this night went by and tried to change to another topic. „By the way, you saw Michonne this morning?“

Siddiq shrugged again and just replied „No, I'm sorry. I expected her here.“ Rick frowned and started to cut an apple while talking. „Alright, I thought so. And Daryl?“ Siddiq blinked and scratched the back of his head. „No, not that I remember. Didn't see him after you two had that fight at the gate.“

Rick let out a sigh and sat down next to Judith, handing her a piece of apple and eating one himself. „Yeah, I guessed that. Thank you anyways.“ Siddiq smiled carefully and asked „Anything else?“

Rick thought for a moment how much he could actually tell Siddiq about his concerns, but he decided, it would be too much for him right now. „You know, can you bring Gabriel here? I need to leave soon, heading to the Sanctuary, cause I have to speak about our alliances with Hilltop and the Kingdom. And I want him to watch for Judith.“ „Of course, no problem!“ Siddiq responded and turned around, to head for the church. „Thank you.“ Rick muttered and watched Judith playing with her bowl and suddenly she called out Michonnes name.

A sudden heavyness sank down on Ricks heart and he stroked over her hair softly. „I'm so sorry, babygirl. Michonne is away today. But I will promise you, you will have the best day with father Gabe and your daddy is coming back tomorrow. Maybe I bring a guest, would you like that?“ Judith tilted her head, not really understanding the word guest and asked „Michonne?“. Rick sighed and kissed the top of her head. „I thought about Negan. I think, he would love to see you again. What do you think?“

In this moment the front door opened again and Gabriel stepped in. „Good morning, Rick, princess Judith.“ Rick smiled about his nickname for Jude and raised his eyebrows „Don't spoil her so much, Gabe. She will turn into a brat, when you go on like that.“ Gabriel laughed and rested his hands on the chair with Negans jacket, realizing too late, which fabric he had under his fingers, what made him back off instantly.

„So you have plans today?“ Rick swallowed his meal and nodded. „Yeah, I will bring that back to him and discuss our alliances, before Maggie and Daryl freak out and do something stupid.“

As Judith was finished with eating, Rick cleaned up everything and went up to Gabriel, speaking more quiet, so Judith couldn't hear them. „Just so you know, I don't know what they are planning, but I know they are plotting something. The Sanctuary shouldn't be a threat right now, Negan will no longer come here and take our supplies, I got sure of that. But we have to start to work together, like we did with the Kingdom and Hilltop. And I need everyone in for that. So I ask you, are you supporting me in this?“

Gabriel looked deeply in Ricks eyes, trying to read what hid behind that blue. Slowly he formed his lips into a smile and nodded. „Of course, Rick. As a man of God, I always was and will be against fighting, searching for peace between all of us, which also includes the enemy. And I trust you. But be careful, even if you're sure the enemy is not the enemy anymore, there will always be new threats out there. In form of the walking dead, in form of friends and even in form of lovers. Never forget that.“ Rick rested one hand on Gabriels shoulder and assured him „I know and I appreciate you tell me.“ „And Rick, the biggest weakness we all struggle with, is not the world out there, it's in us.“ Gabriels hand went up to Ricks chest and pointed on his heart, with deepening eyes.

Rick knew what he meant and wanted to explain „I love...“ but Gabriel waved him off. „It's not my business who you love, Rick. It's no ones business. And I do not appreciate others wanting to interfere in that. But...“ Gabriel walked up to Judith and took her on his arms, before he looked back at Rick. „...when you love, your heart is on the line for this person and you're always vulnerable. For good and bad. Never lose the sight of the leader we see in you. Cause whoever is capturing your heart, there will always be another person in there too, which you need to take care of.“ Gabriel stopped in front of Rick and Judith reached out with her hand for her fathers face, like she knew Gabriel was referring to her.

She trembled with her fingertips over his beard and smiled at him with angelic eyes. Rick could sink into that touch instantly and kissed her hand. „I promise, I will protect all of you. And she is always my priority, you know that.“ Gabriel nodded and stepped to the door. „I know it and I will make sure, she knows it too. But always come back, Rick. She needs you. And don't doubt yourself. Everything will work out, as the lord wants to, it's a fact even you can't change. We only can deal with the circumstances he gives us. So good luck.“ Gabriel went out of the door and Rick sighed, his eyes wandering back to Negans jacket.

He didn't know why this fabric drowned him in, but he couldn't help it and lifted it from the chair, to shove his arms into its sleeves. He stepped up to the hallway in front of the big mirror and looked at himself in this black leather.

Rick himself had a terrible weakness for leather jackets, he didn't even remember how many of them he had in the past. But his were most in this suede kind of leather, soft and smooth like his character was in the past. After everything went down, that softness had to yield to his brutal side, which he needed for protecting his people. To protect Carl. And later Judith. But now Carl was gone.

All his brutality, all his aggression and his trying to built a better world failed in the moment, as he lost his son to this new world. With him, his character changed back to this soft, submissive person and it all started before, with the day, as he met Negan in the woods. Before he met that man, nothing in this world could have unsettle him, he was certain, he wouldn't lose a single fight to anyone, who would dare to face him. But that night, Negan broke him and it seemed, he broke him on a whole different level than Rick thought back then. He felt the tension between them the first second Negan started to speak, but how far and deep this tension really went, was nothing Rick ever expected. He not only crushed his soul, but also his heart. And looking back to it now, didn't even bring up remorse in him. Maybe he even wanted someone to break him. Maybe he even needed it.

He embraced himself in Negans jacket and slid his hands over the sleek leather, closing his eyes and imagining the two pictures, Rick had of Negan in this jacket: the cold blooded murderer and the man who protected and saved him. Rick smiled over the fact, that his leather choice was so much more cold and straight, fitting to Negans character perfectly. He built this big wall around himself, never letting anyone coming too close. They all were rebounding, like water off a duck's back, like rain on this leather, while Ricks suede leather, soaked everything in. Combined with the fur on his collar, he was drenched in minutes, when standing in the rain, it was the perfect symbol of Ricks heart. He let everyone in too fast and drowned in his feelings.

Negans jacket gave him some kind of protection, like this man did as well. Rick opened his eyes again and inhaled the scent of cinnamon and sandalwood, staring at his face in the mirror. We are not as different as I first thought, we even have the same taste in jackets, I suppose. Just our choice of showing it off differs, right?

Rick looked next to the door, where his jacket was hanging and went through the times, where people would have called him the cold blooded murderer himself. Somehow this jacket became his killer weapon of first choice. And now he was wearing the same from their former biggest enemy. He could imagine, how Maggie or Daryl would react to see him like this now.

Maybe it was right, what Negan told him before, about the similarities between him and Lucille, they both saw something in him, most people couldn't see. Maybe Daryl and Maggie saw something in Rick before, which was hidden for others as well. But how could he show them all the sides he discovered in Negan, like they discovered in him? They weren't blinded by love, not blinded by arousal. But there must be a way to lift their veil and show them the truth. They had to find the good Negan behind his wall, like they managed to do with Rick.

Rick sighed to himself and took off Negans jacket, to slid into his own and rested Negans sleek fabric over his shoulder, as he stepped out.



***



Negan started his day as always and finally, he didn't feel worried as he woke up. He managed to get his things straight and now only Rick had to find a way, how to bring their communites together. But he was sure, his favorite sheriff would make the impossible possible anyways.

After a shower and getting dressed, Negan went to the conference room, to speak with everyone about the day and that Rick was planning to come over, to discuss their plan of getting Hilltop and the Kingdom back on their side, without them starting a revenge. Maybe the saviors could offer them something as an apology, Dwight suggested, but Negan decided, he wanted to discuss that with Rick and the other leaders alone. It may give the wrong impression, if Negan appears with more of his people.

Arat didn't like the idea of having their leader go out there without them, but she tried to trust him and with knowing Rick by his side, she felt at least a bit more secure.



They ended their meeting and Arat headed to the cells, to look for Simon. Everyone went back to work, but Negan hold Dwight back for a minute.

„I wanna discuss something with you.“ Negan mentioned, his hand sliding through his hair, like a nervous gesture.

Dwight furrowed his brows and asked „With me? Why not with Arat or Laura?“ „I think this topic involves you more than them.“ Negan said with a nod, to command Dwight to sit again.

After they both rested at the table again, Negan started to explain what was going through his mind. „You know...I wanted to discuss that with them as well, but...since I caused the biggest damage to you here, I think you deserve to hear it first.“ Dwight didn't really understood what he meant. „Them? Who are you talking about?“

Negan raised his eyebrows and looked at Dwight in surprise. Did he really not guess it until now? „My wives, Dwight.“

Dwight had to blink about that, the pain of losing Sherry still resting on his heart. „What about them?“ Negan sighed and raised Lucille in front of him, gazing at her figure, to not face Dwight. „Many things are going to change here, since I made the alliance with our sheriff...Sooner or later, Rickyboy won't accept our system of points and I'm pretty damn sure, he doesn't want to see me married, to all these beautiful women.“

Dwight couldn't believe what he was hearing. He knew already that Rick changed something in Negans behaviour and that both of them somehow had a sick kind of relationship, but Negan sounded, like he would really care about him. So what was this?

„And that involves me, cause?“ Negan sighed more deeply this time and closed his eyes, Lucille resting against his forehead. „We both know Sherry ran away and that you want to search her. So, I want you to do that. Actually, she was the first one I wanted to set free from our marriage, if you would want that.“

Dwight still was caught in the instant fear about rejecting this mans ideas, but this all could be still a trick, right? „Why would I want that? You always were good to her and she's not here anymore so...“ „Dwight. I promise you, I never hurted her. And I did treat them all with my deepest respect, women deserve that and these in particular, you know? But I always wondered, why you went to Ricks side and planned to kill me. I asked myself, if it was because of our little iron thing. But then I went through everything that happened and remembered, you started acting strange, after she freed Daryl. And now I'm even sure she did that.“

Dwight had to swallow hard and stared at his hand, which fingers were trembling on the table. „You really tricked me back then, with our little doctor there. And I'm sorry, it had to came that way, I really am. He was an idiot, but he was a good doctor at least... But you started to act strange since that day. So...I guess, if I would ask you as a friend, what you would really want from me as a gift, it would be setting you free, so you can search for Sherry. That's why you not only wanted to prevent a war, but kill me. You knew, you only could be free, if I'm gone. So I offer you now...You can go. It may not atone what I did to you and Sherry, but I want to try to change some things here. And if I want you, to consider me as a friend one day, I should start acting like one, not like the big boss, right? So...what do you say, friend?“ Negans eyes shifted to Dwight and gouged into him, waiting for an answer.

Dwight was still shocked. This wasn't the man he could have sworn to know and it all sounded so strange, that he didn't dare to take it. „Boss, I don't know what to say...“

Negan sighed and stood up, resting Lucille next to his leg and staring out of the window, his back on Dwight. „As long as I'm the boss to you and only the boss, I guess you won't believe me. But fine, the offer stands, think about it and go whenever you feel like it. I don't want you to stay here for me, or Rick or anyone, you should be free to do, what you want. I can't have people behind me, who stand with me, cause of fear only. I need them to be behind me, cause they want to. And after all that happened between us, Dwighty boy, I think fear prevails here for you. Besides that, I understand you want your Sherry back. So if she is alive, go search her! I'm not even able to process, how you can still sit here, to be honest. If this would be about Lucille, I swear to god, I would shove my ass out that door right now.“

Dwight chuckled out of confusion and shook his head. This must be a weird dream or something. „But, you said something about the others...what do they have to do with it?“ Negan closed his eyes and listened to the rain, which started to pour in this moment. „I want to set them free too.“ Dwight swallowed hard and had a thoughtful frown on his face. This man either lost his mind, or he was fucking serious here. „Because...of Rick?“

Silence filled the room and Negan had a light smile on lips, which Dwight couldn't see. He knew, he would figure it out. „You know...I really like that guy. He has some good ideas about leadership and I think, I will adopt a few of them. And he doesn't have so many wives, if I remember right and he manages quite well anyways, so...why not?“ „So, you want to set them free, to be a better leader? I think, that never was something people would mention, when it comes about your leadership.“

Negan chuckled and turned around to face Dwight and he could recognize a unfamiliar soft smile on Negans lips, what nearly scared him. „My sheriff is a bit co-co crazy, you know? Jealous type. Possessive all over me.“ While talking, Negan waved with Lucille, to underline his sarcastic sound and Dwight couldn't help, but release a laugh.

„Oh my god, I can't believe this.“ Negan blinked and squeeked „What?“ „You are fucking in love with that guy, I can't believe it.“ Negan scoffed about that and placed Lucille on the table, with a loud cracking sound.

Bullshit. I just try to change some things in here. You know, set a new spirit, to lift their moods. Change of scene. We all need that from time to time.“ Dwight nodded and still grinned. „Of course. I bet he loves that gesture, right?“ „Oh that's the best part, I didn't tell him yet. It's my surprise gift, when he comes today. He will be all fucking proud, of all of us.“ „Proud of you, you mean.“ Negan smirked and leaned over the table, his hands resting on the edges. „I hope so.“ „I see.“ Dwight stood up and shrugged. „Then I hope, you will get a nice full-mouth thank you for that, boss.“ Negan slid his tongue between his teeth and mumbled „Yeah, me too.“.

Dwight turned around and wanted to open the door, as Negan asked „So, you approve of my idea?“ Dwight turned his head over his shoulder and smiled at Negan. „If you really are serious about all what you just said, it's good, yes. I definitely approve. I will thank Rick for that.“ „Yeah, thank him later, first he has to thank me.“ Negan added and Dwight just nodded and left the room, leaving Negan behind with a wide smile.

I think I really did a good thing here, Lucille. What do you think?

„You did. I'm so proud of you darling.“

Thank you, I hope Rick will approve with us on that.

Suddenly his dialogue with his dead wife was interrupted, by Aldens voice. „Boss?“ He entered the door and Negan looked at him in surprise. „What is it?“ „The widow, she wants to talk to you. Alone.“

Negan blinked and felt his heartbeat raise, while his eyes turned into his former seriousness. „Fine.“ He reached out for Lucille, but Alden pointed at her and interrupted him „Without Lucille, she said.“ It made sense, that she wouldn't want to see her husbands murder weapon, right? And if he wanted to calm things down, he may have to accept her rules for now. „Fine.“ He frowned and stepped out of the conference room, heading to the frontyard.



***



As Negan stepped outside, he couldn't see Maggie at his gate, but there was someone waiting, the rain just kept his sight blurry.

As Negan stepped down the stairs, he realized it was Gregory and instantly he cursed himself, that he lost total track of where that guy was the last days. He knew, he was running between Hilltop and Simons ass, but since Simon got captured, he totally forgot to keep someone for Gregory. Simon always led the discussions with him and always managed to bring them back to their side, but now, there were no real sides anymore, but Negan didn't know, if Gregory knew about that.

As Negan approached him, he stepped to the side and Negan spotted Arat on her knees, in front of Simon, who had a gun pointed at her head. Goddammit, Negan thought to himself. Why the fuck did I trust Alden in this? Maybe he made a cooperation with Maggie before. He noticed, that he was talking with Gregory more often than he should and he always was the one, going on every Hilltop mission. That was the reason, Negan didn't hesitate to believe him, as he told him, that Maggie was there. He really thought, he could be the connector between Maggie and the saviors and maybe, he could even make a deal with them for Negan, but now it seemed, Simon and Gregory got him on their side first.

„Well, hello shit brigade. Why won't you free Arat here and discuss the shit, you want to discuss with me, face to face, Simon. Or do you really want, to sacrifice another one, of our people? Seems you start to like sacrificing people for your own good.“ Simon just grinned widely and pressed his gun harder to Arats head, who was just shaking, but not sharing any look of fear on her face. Negan looked down to her, to keep her calm, trying to send her the words „Don't worry, I will fix this“ and it seemed, she understood.

„You know, boss, I just wasn't into this cell thing here. And my dear friend Gregory here, helped me to get out, since I showed him my hospitality so many times before.“ Negan looked back at Simon and squinted his eyes as a threat. „What about Alden?“

„He's a good guy.“ Gregory mentioned and Simon just nodded. „Ya, can't disagree. He was dumb enough, to believe sweet Gregory here, that we play on Maggies side.“ Negan couldn't believe that Alden would really betray him, but maybe Gregory really just told him, that Maggie was there to discuss and he was naive enough, to believe that idiot.

„So you told him Maggie is here and he believed you. Wow, what an amazing plan.“ Simon just shrugged and added „Ya can't help the naivety of people, you should know that best, boss.“ „You're calling me naive? Who's pointing a gun at one of our people here, Simon? You think that gets you anywhere? Killing her and then killing me? You really think you could start a war, without us and win that? Rick would fucking kick your ass and you know that.“ Simon just scoffed about that and tilted his head.

„Point is, your little puppy isn't here right now and your sudden shift to lovey dovey mood, is surely not helping any of us. That's not what we are.“ „We are trying to save people, not kill them. And that's exactly what I try to do here.“ „Ya sure, I guess that's what you told yourself, as you shot Jed, right?“ „He killed our people and threatened me, on your command. And I fucking let you live, cause I thought, since you weren't able to kill them yourself, there's still hope for you.“ „Hope? Hope for what? For peace? You are fucking out of your mind and we all know that. There won't be peace. It's just us, or them. And there comes a time for all of us, where we have to make a decision.“

Negan stepped closer and raised his hand, like wanting to pacify Simon. „And you can make the decision, to stand with us. I'm trying to built something here.“ „Oh my fucking god, „we're trying to built something here“. You sound like your fucking lovebird. How many times, did he have to suck your dick, to turn you into his puppet, to make you soft and blind? Have you really forgotten, what this world has become?“ Negan clenched his teeth and whispered evilish „Careful, Simon.“

Simon unlocked his gun and raised an eyebrow. „I'm not the one, who should be careful now. We fought for this. We came this far and won't let you destroy all of it, only cause you fell for such a dickhead like Rick Grimes and let him shove his dick in your ass.“

Negan gritted his teeth and tried to hold back the rage, which would lead him to beat the shit out of Simon. But knowing he would instantly kill Arat then, forbid him to do so. „Listen, Simon...“ „No you listen now. Your leadership is over. You can either stand with us and follow my lead to victory, or you chose your puppy, but look where he led you. This will go down in flames anyways, no matter how much you wish it wouldn't. You really think that fucking shithead would ride with you into the sunset? Big news, he won't.“

Simon didn't know shit about their relationship and for sure, he underestimated the feelings Negans had for this man and how far he would go for him.

„It's fine, boss. Don't let him...“ Arat mumbled, knowing that her life was nothing, compared to the leadership which would follow, when Simon would take over. But Negan just couldn't sacrifice her, not anyone anymore. Rick taught him that and he wanted to start to do the right things finally.

„Shut up!“ Simon interrupted Arat and hit the gun against her head, so she fell over to her side and lost consciousness. „I don't care about that bitch anyways. Let this be about me and you.“

Simon stepped up with his gun pointed at Negans head. „Maybe...I should point at your heart, so you have a chance to survive, cause this one's rotten inside already, right? What does your sheriff say about all the wives in here? He really thinks, you could be loyal to him, for just one second? That you would be able to love? There just has to be a girl like Sherry and boom – your dick will come out faster than the sheriff can say 'fuck me'.“ Negan breathed heavily and didn't move, as Simon stopped right in front of him, his gun now pointing at his chest and his forehead nearly on Negans.

„So one last time. On which side do you stand, boss? You have to make a decision here. Will you stand with us, or with him?“

Negan weighed to tell him, what he wanted to hear, just to get rid of him in another moment. But after he already had to kill one person of his own men yesterday and started to feel the guilt for it, he didn't want to lose another one. He saw in Rick, how good decisions must be made and how important it was, to stand loyal to his people and Simon was one of the longest companions in here.

Negan parted his lips and closed his eyes, the rain already soaking into every inch of his clothes, not daring yet to say something.

Simon groaned „Decide, now.“, but before Negan could say something, he heard a familiar voice.

He made that decision long ago.“ A shot followed and Negan suddenly felt blood spreading right over his face. Since Negan felt no pain, it wasn't his own. He slowly opened his eyes, feeling how his lips were shaking and looked over to his side, while Simon collapsed on the ground.

Rick still was holding up the gun and added with an ice cold voice „And I did too.“.

Negan blinked and couldn't believe his eyes. Within seconds the front door opened and Laura, Dwight, Alden and others came out, all shocked over the view. Every head turned to Rick, who was the only one without blood on his body, but with the gun in his hand. Negan realized, that everyone would blame him now and if Simon would have been still alive, he surely would have loved that.

Laura and Alden raised their guns, pointing at Rick, while Rick himself was still frozen in the position, he just shot from. His look was brutal, like a cold blooded murderer and it didn't surprise Negan, that everyone would suspect him, to be the bad one here, he would have guessed the same, whenever he would see someone in that state. But thankfully he knew that state from himself well enough, to assess the situation.

Rick!“ Negan shouted, trying to get him back to reality, but then he heard the clicking from unlocking Lauras and Aldens gun and threatened them with his eyes „No stop it!“. Rick pointed his arm into the direction of Alden, and kept a straight face.

„Anyone else here wanting a bullet? You're welcome to get it.“ Rick warned them and Negan turned his head to Rick. „No goddammit, lower your gun Rick.“

As Rick heard his name again, from the man he just protected, he turned his head to him and stared into his eyes, like searching for an answer. „He wanted to take you from me. I won't let them take you from me.“

Negan couldn't hold back the smile that heart warming confession brought up in him, but then he stepped closer to Rick, with his raised hand, trying to calm him down. „I know, baby. But you saved me already, no one will take me from you, okay? It's fine.“

Rick furrowed his brows, like he needed to figure out, what was real and what not and Negan stopped in front of him, reaching for his gun. „Give it to me, Rick. I'm fine. It's all fine.“ Negan whispered and Ricks eyes slowly released the softness, which was hiding behind his killer instinct.

Negan knew, in such a state, it was never safe to have a gun in your hand, so he slowly closed his fingers around Ricks weapon, lowered his hand and took the gun, before he pulled Rick in a close hug, his face snuggling against his shoulder, with closed eyes. „I'm fine. You can calm down now.“

Slowly the reality sank into Ricks perception again, Negans scent of cinnamon flowing in his nose, causing him to inhale it deeply and close his eyes as well, feeling every drop of the rain soaking into his jacket, before he finally answered the hug with closing his arms around Negan. It felt like going back in time, to Ricks love confession and the following kiss in the rain.

Laura was the first to lower her weapon and running to Arat, who was coughing, but slowly coming back to consciousness. „Are you okay?“ Laura asked and Arat nodded, trying to clear her blurry sight. „Is the boss okay?“ Laura pointed next to them, where Arat spotted Ricks and Negans embrace, both of them holding their faces close to each other. Arat couldn't help, but smile to that picture. „He saved him.“ „Yeah, seems like it. What the fuck happened with Simon here?“

Arat blinked and looked to Simon, who laid on the ground, with a hole in his head. Out of the sudden, Arat remembered Gregory. „Where is Gregory?“ „Who?“ Laura looked around and Arat added „The old guy, from Hilltop. He was here too.“ „Seems he ran off again. That's what he can do best, can't he?“ „Yeah, we have to find him.“ Arat muttered and stood up with Lauras help.

Negan inhaled Ricks scent and couldn't remember the last time, he felt so relieved, when feeling Ricks skin on his. His face sunk deeper on Ricks shoulder, feeling the soaked wet fabric under his chin, while Rick could finally breathe in deeply and release the tension from his shoulders, snuggling his face against Negans, their hair sticking to their faces.

„I couldn't let him hurt you.“ „And he didn't.“ Negan mumbled and slowly moved his head back, to face the other man, with that now beautiful and caring eyes. He released his left arm from Ricks back and rested it on his cheek with a smile, stroking his wet curls out of his face. „Thank you, you really are my knight in shining armor, sheriff.“

Rick grinned and rested his forehead against Negans, with closed eyes. „Always.“ Negan nodded and muttered „You know, I would do the same for you.“ Rick opened his eyes, to search for Negans sight and got lost in the depth of that brown. „I'm sorry, I killed one of your man.“ Negan chuckled to that and raised an eyebrow. „Wasn't the first time, you know? But it's the first time you apologize for it, when it's not needed, so I appreciate the late apology.“ Rick poked his stomache with the back of his hand and scoffed „Yeah, you're welcome, asshole.“

Negan smiled as response and released their embrace, handing Rick the weapon. „Now that you're back, this belongs to you.“ Rick took the gun with an agreeing nod and mentioned „I actually have something for you too.“ Negan furrowed his brows in surprise and lowered his sight, where Rick was opening the knot of Negans jacket around his hips. „Siddiq fixed it for you.“ Rick handed him the jacket and a bright smile spread over Negans face. „Damn, that's the best gift ever. Thank you, baby. Seems I need a thank you gift for that doc now, not only for stitching you up, but also for my leather girl. You need to tell him next time.“ „You can tell him yourself, when we're at my place.“ And why does everything Negan owns, needs to have a female gender?

Rick stepped up to Arat, Negans eyes following the walk of that man with amazement. Oh how much he missed to see that confident steps in front of him. And that fucking tight jeans.

Negan grinned to himself and followed him to Arat, who welcomed them with a smile. „You okay, boss?“ „Arat, darling. Of course, thanks to my Rickyboy here. What about you? Need to bring you to the doctor?“

Arat shook her head with a giggle and turned to face Rick. „Thank you, Grimes. Thank you for saving him.“ Rick slid his hand through his hair and shook his head. „Oh no, it's nothing. Sorry I found no better way and didn't come earlier.“ „Your boy is so fucking polite, man.“ Arat joked and Negan bursted out laughing. „I know, right? So annoying, I swear.“

Negan swinged one arm around Rick and Laura, Dwight and Alden stepped up to them. „I'm sorry, Negan. I thought...“ Alden started, but Negan interrupted him. „I know, not your fault.“

Negans eyes tried to read every of their reaction, before he spoke up. „I hope even the last doubts about my sheriff here, are now gone. Simon started this shit with Gregory and if he wouldn't have intervened, Arat and me would be probably next and then this place would have went down straight to war and hell. So, pull the sticks out of your asses and be kind to Mr. Grimes, alright?“ Everyone nodded to that and Rick sighed, feeling a bit embarassed about compliments, cause of killing someone. He wished, there would be other kind of compliments these days and other ways, of getting the acceptance from people.

Negans face turned to Simons and he commanded „Let's get rid of him.“. With releasing his arm from Rick, he stepped up to Simons corpse and kneeled. „I'm sorry, buddy. But you just pushed too far here. I told you, not to mess with my Rickyboy. Now you had to pay the price. Maybe different from what you expected, but anyhow.“ As he lifted himself up, he breathed in deeply and looked over to Dwight. „Dwighty boy, could you possibly do me the favor and search for Gregory? You're the best trail reader I know, so...“ Dwight nodded and responded „Of course, on it boss.“ „Thank you.“

Negan turned around to Rick again and tilted his head, searching for that baby blue eyes. „Let's get you inside, cowboy. This was a different welcome commitee from what I planned in my head, but I will make sure, to make that up to you, promised.“ He winked and Rick felt the heat glowing in his cheeks. Arat and Laura couldn't help, but smirk about that, imagining how that „thank you“ could possibly look like. Or maybe they didn't wanna know.

„Come on.“ Negan repeated and stepped up the stairs, with Rick following him, with a lowered face to hide his embarassment.

„Where are we going?“ Rick dared to ask and Negan replied „Let's have some fun, Ricky. So many things to discuss. First we need to dry our clothes. I also need a fucking drink to what just happened. And you deserve a proper meal, for being my personal hero, again.“ „Oh you know, I'm not that hungry...“

Negan widened his eyes and tilted his head. „Lost your appetite after killing a man? Damn, Grimes, you should be hardened in this apocalypse thing, you know? Killing men became the most common thing, like shitting on a fucking toilet. You should be fucking used to it.“ „Still, I try to prevent that, you know?“ „Nah, I know, sheriff. You're the good guy here. But you know, Simon was long gone and he had a chance and didn't take it. And if it was him or me, I'm pretty damn glad, that it is me, so I can spend some more time with my favorite person here.“

As they passed the room of Negans wives, Rick just scoffed „Yeah, favorite, right?“ „Hm?“ Negan didn't really catch that, but decided not to worry about it.

„Let's get dinner and then...we will continue our yesterdays talk, how does that sound to you?“ As Negan said that, he stopped suddenly and turned in one move, so Rick couldn't avoid bumping into him and seeing that smirking face.

Yesterday, yeah, there was something, right? Rick nearly forgot about that in his killer-mode, but he was glad, Negan came up with it, since Rick felt bad starting with it again, after Negan rejected him so many times. He knew, of course, it was to protect him before, cause he either was hurt, or not accepted in here, but still Rick couldn't forget a turn down.

„Yeah, sounds good.“ Rick finally mumbled and Negan closed their distance, his lips right in front of Ricks. „And then, I want you to repeat what you said yesterday.“ Rick got lost in the nearness of Negans lips. They looked so devouring, that he wished, he could just sink in them right now. „Maybe I will. If you make me.“ Negan slid his tongue over his lips and moved his face next to Ricks, whispering seductively in his ear „Oh, I will make you do a lot of things, I promise.“ Negans hand grabbed Ricks chin suddenly and shook his face softly, like wanting to make him understand and Rick mumbled back „Don't make promises, you can't keep.“.

Negan laid his head back with furrowed brows and stared at Ricks eyes. „Wow, look at you, Rick. I think your killer mode, is not only turning on me. As I always say, kill a man, grab a meal with a drink and then fuck your mind off in a proper way. Sounds like something, you could experience today.“ Rick smirked and moved his lips up, stopping them an inch away from Negans. „I hope you don't back off then again, Mister 'I will fuck you so hard, that my dick is falling off'.“ Negan chuckled evilish and responded „Damn, I would fucking love to ram you into that wall now, Rick. But let's keep our manners and order here, first the meal. Then I eat you alive.“ Before Rick could respond with another teasing comment, Negan turned around and headed to the dinner room.

Rick needed a second to breath out deeply, hoping Negan didn't notice how hard his length already got, just from talking with this man in this way and imagining the sound of his moaning of the last night to that. A shiver of excitement ran over Ricks back, before he shook himself and followed Negan into the room, he just entered.

Maybe Negan was right, maybe the adrenaline coming up for his serial killer side, aroused him indeed. Maybe this dangerous feeling and tension filled both of them with sexual arousement, like another side of their sick minds. Maybe they needed the aggression for their animalistic sides, which always longed for the release in form of sex. Rick just hoped, this wasn't the only reason, why Negan felt attracted to him, since Rick knew, that for him, it was more than his instinct, which led him to Negan. And he proved it another time today, in saving that mans life, cause just the imagination of losing him, caused so much panic in Rick, that he had to do anything to prevent that, otherwise he would die with him in the same moment. And Rick couldn't have that. He wanted to live on. Not only for Judith or his people, but to share more time with this man and make memories to live for. There was nothing in this world holding him back from giving his life for this man. He just hoped, he didn't overestimate Negans feelings here, or fall into another hole, his heart would drag him in. Like the rain intrudes into suede leather.