eyeus: (Rickyl)
Title: Love, Essentially
Fandom: The Walking Dead (TV)
Pairing: Rick / Daryl
Rating: NC-17
Words: 2430 (63500 total)
Summary: To me, you are perfect.

Rick’s confession, made with snow-damp cue cards and every ounce of his devotion, had been perfection itself—except his perfect love belonged to someone else.

But spring’s in full swing now, and it’s the time for new beginnings. The first blooms of new loves. It’s the season for change itself.

Little does Rick know how much his life will change.

A/N: A Love, Actually fusion fic. Inspired mainly by this gifset here, and this scene from the Love, Actually movie.



~


The drive to Daryl’s place can’t be more than ten minutes, but it feels like ten hours, and as Rick pulls up, he sees the porch lights are dimmed, like there’s no one home.

Please, Rick thinks. Let him be here.

He knows there’s a chance Daryl might not be. That he might’ve gone to the park to clear his head, or out to the woods even, in which case Rick doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of finding him.

A glance at the driveway along the house tells him Daryl’s bike isn’t there, though it’s just as likely that he’s parked it around the back. It’s the latter that Rick’s hoping for, when he makes the trek up the stairs, a short flight that has him at the door within seconds.

Please, Rick prays, as he sucks in a breath, the bite of the winter night cold and sharp. He shifts his cue cards and stereo onto one arm, and presses the doorbell. Please.

There’s shuffling and a muttered curse as someone bumps into something, but when the door opens, it’s Daryl all right, and Rick can’t help but grin, warm and wide and relieved at the sight of him.

From the looks of things, Daryl was probably about to head to bed, because his hair’s damp from being freshly showered, but he looks sleepy and rumpled, his grey tank top riding up his stomach just the tiniest bit. Rick’s tempted to reach out and touch, to see just how Daryl’s skin feels against his fingertips. To find out if it’ll feel like Daryl’s hands, weathered and rough but capable of all the warmth and skill he’s shown Rick. Or if it’ll be soft and smooth, like honey melting warm upon his tongue.

But Rick knows he has no right to touch; not unless he says his piece, not until he’s let Daryl know.

Maybe not even then.

He catches a flash of surprise on Daryl’s face, before his expression settles into one of wary disapproval. “It’s late, Rick,” says Daryl. He sounds all kinds of tired, and hurt, and Rick just can’t have that. “What do you want?”

Rick stares and stares, at Daryl, who isn’t closing the door in his face. Daryl, who’s just kissed him and is still willing to talk to him, put off going to bed for him, just to answer his call at the door.

Daryl’s about to nudge the door shut anyway when Rick doesn’t speak, which is when Rick realizes he has to get his act together, and fast, flashing the first of the giant cue cards he’s tucked under his arm:

Please don’t close the door.

Daryl huffs out something close to a laugh, before a frown tugs the edges of his mouth again, and he waits for Rick, watching as Rick sets down his portable stereo, snorting as it starts up a tinny rendition of It Won’t Be Christmas Without You.

As he turns back to Daryl, Rick nearly fumbles the cue cards he’s holding, but he manages to catch the edge of the last one, the most important one, before it dips into the snow. Hopes to god they’re in order, as he shows them to Daryl, one by one, hoping that everything he’s feeling is translated into the cards that Daryl’s reading:


I’m not the best at speaking my mind.


And I’ve probably taken for granted

the way we speak with our eyes

and our hands

through the simplest touches

and even the softest whistles in the woods.


But I need you to know

not just because it’s Christmas

and not just because you tell the truth at Christmas

but because this is a truth

I’ve wanted to tell you all year



Rick’s just in time for the dramatic guitar riff of the song, hands trembling as he makes it to the last cue card:


To me, you are everything.


Daryl just blinks at him, stunned, and Rick’s not sure if it’s in disbelief that he dared show his face around here again, or if it’s that Rick just confessed his undying love to Daryl. He takes it as a win that at least he didn’t flash a thumbs-up at Daryl like he’d done at Lori, like an idiot, but Rick’s shoulders still slump in disappointment as he turns from the door. Of course Daryl wouldn’t just jump into his arms, of course Daryl wouldn’t be willing to—

Only, Daryl doesn’t let him walk away from the door. Doesn’t chase him down the street, boots tamping across gravel-filled snow. Just tugs him in, and close, and kicks the door shut with his toes, before backing Rick into it, pressing into his warmth as he cups Rick’s cheeks in his hands and kisses him.

It’s not a chaste little peck, not one that says thank you and goodbye; it’s warm and sweet and Daryl, and Rick can only breathe him in, let Daryl’s tongue slip between his lips, as Daryl speaks volumes about how he feels, things like I want this, I want this to work, I want you.

And because he can’t let Daryl think he’s alone in this, Rick slips fingers into Daryl’s hair. Winds his other hand around Daryl’s waist and pulls him in, deepening their kiss, as he thinks of Daryl, looking more beautiful than anything he’s ever seen, more than any snow-dusted Christmas angel, any well-proportioned nymph at the Louvre. Breathes in his soft, flyaway hair, and drinks in the taste of his lips, kiss-swollen and redder than the garish tinsel that lines the houses from here to the end of the street.

“Was that okay?” Daryl mumbles against Rick’s mouth, when they have to break apart for air. It’s heavenly, the way a warm breath of air ghosts over Rick’s lips, as Daryl breathes into him, against him, around him.

“Was more than okay,” grins Rick. “More than okay.” He leans in for another kiss, this one softer, sweeter, and undeniably less rushed than their first one. Their second. Takes the time to explore the roof of Daryl’s mouth, the rolling texture of his tongue, before letting it slide gently over teeth.

Daryl pulls back from the kiss for just a second, and Rick hears a low whine of disappointment, before realizing the whine’s come from him. “Maybe we should—” Daryl tries, before Rick noses his way into Daryl’s neck, the hollow of his throat. Licks Daryl’s Adam’s apple, to test how hard he’ll have to suck to leave a mark. “Rick,” Daryl says eventually, caught somewhere between fondness and exasperation, “we oughta take this inside.”

Rick has to admit Daryl has a point there; the back of the door’s getting hard on Rick’s back, and it was never his plan to spend all night in the doorway anyway, so they stumble further inside, a tangle of eager limbs and searching mouths. Make it as far as the couch, where Rick notices that the television’s playing It’s A Wonderful Life.

They’d been planning to watch that one together on Christmas Day, and that it’s playing now hurts something in Rick’s heart. Because it means Daryl had given up on Rick ever speaking to him again, after that kiss in the dark. That he’d resigned himself to never having the one he loved love him back.

“Thought I’d start early,” Daryl says, sheepish. “Didn’t know if we were…gonna be good, you know?”

Rick takes up his customary position on the couch, his head pillowed in Daryl’s lap and his feet up on the arm of the couch like they always are. But this time he threads his fingers through Daryl’s hand. Brings it to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back of it, soft and safe, as he closes his eyes and breathes in, revelling in the smell of pine and earth and everything Daryl.

“We’re good,” Rick assures him. “We are.”

There’s a burst of sound from the television, and Daryl says, “Oh, right—just got to the part where the angel shows this guy all the lives he’s touched, just by livin’.” His eyes are wide with wonder, and hope, and even if Rick’s seen this movie a thousand times before, he’s never seen it with Daryl. So he settles into Daryl’s lap and watches it with him like they planned to, even if he’d really like to continue with the messy, heated kisses they’d started out by the door.

To touch his lips to the tiny, genuine smile on Daryl’s face now. Slip his hands beneath Daryl’s shirt and trace fingers over the broadness of his chest, the softness of his belly. The hard curve of his cock.

Rick tries to distract himself from all those thoughts by focusing on the movie, but even then he starts thinking of all the lives Daryl’s touched, including his own. Finds his gaze drawn back to Daryl, time after time, taking in every detail of his own guardian angel.

They’re only a minute in before Daryl realizes Rick is only watching him.

“You all right?” Daryl asks, his brow furrowed. Like he’s worried. Like he’s wondering if Rick’s changed his mind about all this, is going to turn it around on Daryl and say, maybe we should stay friends after all.

“More than all right,” Rick smiles, deciding to dispel Daryl’s fears this instant. He reaches up with a hand to cradle Daryl’s cheek with his palm. Smiles when Daryl leans into the touch, hesitant at first, then surer, like a cat chasing a warm beam of sun, and draws Daryl down to meet his mouth.

It’s warm and slow and all kinds of sweet, especially when Daryl’s lips part to let Rick’s tongue slip between them. But as good as it is, Daryl needs to know something, and it can’t wait a second longer.

“I wanted to,” Rick breathes against Daryl’s mouth. He’s reluctant to break off their kiss, because Daryl’s lips are the red of fresh raspberries and Rick wants to suck one between his teeth and nibble and tease, to hear Daryl gasp against him. “That night, at the tunnel of lights,” he says. “I wanted to tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Daryl says, quiet.

“How much you—how much I—” How much you’ve come to mean to me. How much I love you. The words, Rick thinks desperately, say the damn words.

“Told me through your cards,” Daryl offers gently. “And you’re tellin’ me now.”

Rick throws an arm over his eyes, letting out something close to a sob, because he can’t meet Daryl’s gaze, warm and forgiving and everything it shouldn’t be. He’d let Daryl suffer for three days, maybe even longer. Because he couldn’t find the words. Because he’d lost his courage.

Daryl kisses Rick’s palm where it’s flung out over his eyes. His wrist. The inside of his elbow. Just soft, encouraging little kisses that don’t ask for anything in return, that don’t force Rick into saying anything he’s not ready to share, and that’s when Rick pulls Daryl in, tight, cupping Daryl’s cheeks in his hands. Looks into deepest shadow blue as he gazes into Daryl’s eyes and says, “I love you.”

Daryl blinks at him, stunned, and Rick swallows hard, sucking a deep breath in. Finds he doesn’t need to gather his courage, like they’re lost shards of glass, doesn’t need to draw it out from a well inside of him, because Daryl, right here, gives him courage.

“I love you,” Rick says again, in case there’s any mistake. In case Daryl’s too stunned to have heard, and Rick’s left the smallest shred of doubt about just how it is he feels.

But Daryl’s nodding, like he’s taking the time to think this through, to process Rick’s words, instead of just flinging out a response to placate him. And just when Rick’s given up, on the hope of ever hearing the words back, Daryl breathes in and closes his eyes. Leans in to touch his lips to Rick’s again, like his confession wasn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but just a sentiment shared between lovers, soft and secret and heard only by those it’s meant for.

“Yeah,” Daryl says. Another kiss, to Rick’s nose. His jaw. “Me too.”

Something unclenches in Rick’s chest at the sound, his words of love reciprocated, returned, and they sit like that, the sounds of the movie soft and muted around them, as they breathe each other’s air. Share kisses to noses and cheeks and lips, each as breathy and warm as their first. Gentle touches, with feather-light fingers, to show each other how much they’re adored.

“Wish you’d said somethin’ sooner,” murmurs Daryl, when he’s had his fill of kisses, and needs to draw a breath of air. “Thought all this time, you were just bein’ friendly. Couldn’t…couldn’t stand it no more.” He pauses, before pressing into Rick’s neck and breathing in the scent of him, but Rick thinks it’s so Daryl won’t have to meet his gaze. “Bein’ so close to you, but not bein’ able to have you.”

“I didn’t think you were—didn’t think you could—” Rick says, before realizing there are so many reasons he could give that all boil down to I was a fool. “I should’ve told you sooner,” he says finally. “I should’ve, and I’m sorry.” For a moment, he’s glad Daryl can’t see his face either, as he sits up and buries his face into Daryl’s neck, ashamed.

He’s content with this for now, Rick tells himself. Nosing into Daryl’s neck, warm. Pressing kisses along his brow. His nose. The strong line of his jaw.

Except he’s not, and he knows it, and his hands betray him, slipping beneath Daryl’s shirt to stroke at smooth, warm skin.

Daryl gasps into his mouth, a little whimper of surprise. Catches Rick’s wrist where it’s slid its way up Daryl’s belly, rasping against the fine dusting of hair. “Rick,” he says softly. It’s not in reprimand, or anger, but Rick thinks to apologize anyway, before he’s silenced by Daryl’s mouth on his, gentle. “Show me,” Daryl says simply. “Show me.”

And maybe all the neurons of Rick’s brain are finally firing on high, because Rick makes the connection between what he’s been saying and what Daryl’s saying, and an electric-bright set of synapses brings it all together: Show me that you love me.

“Yes,” Rick breathes against Daryl’s lips, a promise, an oath. “Yes.” Because he intends to spend the rest of this night, this holiday, this life doing just that.


(tbc - Chapter 14)

End Notes:

OST:
Confession, In the Snow: It Won’t Be Christmas Without You – Brooks & Dunn

So there you have it, the iconic cue card confession scene, from Love Actuallybut with a Rickyl twist! We’re only a few chapters from the end now. Thank you all for staying with this fic so far! See you in the next chapter!
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