eyeus: (Rickyl)
Title: Love, Essentially
Fandom: The Walking Dead (TV)
Pairing: Rick / Daryl
Rating: NC-17
Words: 3050 (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.


Daryl gets his revenge in the end, when, upon embarking on a bout of lazy, afternoon shower sex—in which Daryl takes Rick against the tiles of the shower, Rick’s legs hoisted in the crook of Daryl’s elbows and his arms around Daryl’s neck—Rick discovers that the shower room echoes.

And so do Rick’s moans, by extension.

It’s after that—and a fair amount of blushing on Rick’s part, now that he knows the same embarrassment—that they finally get around to unwrapping the rest of the gifts at Rick’s place. Drinking the eggnog. Eating the half-burnt rack of ribs, thankfully only half-burnt because Daryl had vaguely heard the timer from inside the bedroom, mid-kiss. They also enjoy a slice each of the strawberry cake they’d ordered, which turns out to have yet another, final surprise in store for them: a multi-layered core of red velvet cake in the shape of a heart, that’s only obvious once the cake’s been cut away.

It’s even longer after that, before the conversation they’ve been tiptoeing around comes up. And it’s Rick who brings it up this time, because the onus shouldn’t always be on Daryl to say the things that need saying, even if they’re hard.

“You told me,” Rick says, carding fingers through Daryl’s hair, gentle, “that you wanted more than this. That you wanted to talk about how we’re gonna do this.”

Daryl blinks from where he’s sprawled along Rick’s couch, head pillowed in Rick’s lap. “We don’t have to do nothin’,” he says quickly, before Rick presses a finger to his lips, and kisses him.

“What is it that you want?” Rick asks. It’s too much to hope for, that Daryl’s list might match up with Rick’s, but he’s got to try, to suss out what it is he can do, to make Daryl’s happiness as much as Daryl’s made his.

“I…” Daryl’s eyes fix firmly on his knees, and it seems he can’t meet Rick’s gaze. Spends the silence picking at a loose thread in his jeans instead.

When a minute passes, then another, Rick takes a small, shivering breath. Lays a kiss to Daryl’s forehead, his cheeks, each touch a fire-bloom of courage for Rick’s heart. “Can I tell you what I want?” he asks softly. And when Daryl nods, Rick summons every ounce of what bravery he has, and says, “I want us to live together. I want to wake up every morning with you beside me, so I can kiss you awake. I want us to be together,” Rick says slowly, stressing the most important part of it, “in every sense of the word.”

And he hopes Daryl understands, he really does, that this isn’t a quick fuck-and-forget, or a friendship of benefits and convenience. That this is something Rick is in for the long haul, if only Daryl wants to join him down that road.

“It doesn’t have to happen right now, or the next year, or even until you’re ready,” says Rick. “I just…I wanted you to know.”

Daryl’s gaze returns to meet Rick’s and his first response isn’t even cast into words. He just sits up and draws Rick toward him, slips his palm around the nape of his neck, warm, before touching their foreheads together, like Rick’s done for him, so many times before.

“I could do that,” Daryl says, and Rick’s wishing he could see Daryl’s eyes at this moment, hoping for the glimpse of the shadow-blues he loves, when Daryl raises his head, and nods, his expression one of hope and happiness and wonder. “I want to do that,” he says. “I want that.”

And it’s just that easy.

There are, of course, several things they need to take care of before that happens. For one thing, Daryl has to tell his landlord that he’ll be vacating the house at the end of month; he’d argued to stay until the end of January at least, but Rick had figured if they were going to do this, there was no point in Daryl paying for another month’s rent for nothing.

So in the days leading up to the new year, Daryl places a quick call to Tucson, Arizona to let them know he’s moving.

“They’re pretty understandin’ people,” Daryl says, when Rick gives the phone a worried glance. “I think.”

Rick only hums his doubts, and presses a kiss to Daryl’s bare shoulder. Lets his fingers skim the dip of Daryl’s waist while Daryl waits through the ringing of the phone.

It’s not long at all before someone on the other end picks up, and Rick watches them trade the usual greetings and holiday wishes, before Daryl steers the conversation to the heart of the matter.

“Yeah, I’m all paid up through December,” says Daryl, after giving them notice about his move. Rick can only guess at the other half of the conversation. “Why am I movin’? Oh,” Daryl blinks. “I, uh.” He glances at Rick. “I’m movin’ in with my…”

Rick cups a palm around Daryl’s far shoulder, and squeezes, gentle. “Partner,” Rick says helpfully.

“With my partner,” Daryl finishes, giving Rick a look that’s full of warmth and affection.

Rick beams back at him, shifting closer to him on the edge of the bed and letting their hips press together, warm. They’ll have to figure out the logistics of what exactly to call each other after, but for now, he won’t leave room for doubt in Daryl’s mind about what they are, with weak words like friend or buddy.

He lays another kiss to Daryl’s skin, this one in the junction between shoulder and neck. Then another to the base of his throat, where he darts out a tongue to lick at Daryl’s Adam’s apple. Rick decides he’ll have blazed a trail of kisses up to Daryl’s jaw by the time the call’s over, and considers extending the frontier to the corner’s of Daryl’s mouth. His nose. His eyelids. Territory he’s charted before, but is always happy to once again explore.

“Thanks,” says Daryl into the phone. He nudges Rick, gentle—not a disapproval of Rick marking out his roadmap of mine, mine, mine, but rather a statement of hold on a sec, so I can enjoy this too. “Yeah, will do. Happy New Year to you too.”

“Well, what’d they say?” Rick asks, when Daryl’s hung up the phone. He’s worried they’ll still wring another month’s rent from Daryl, especially since it’s on such short notice, but Rick’s prepared himself to foot that bill, because it’s him who wants Daryl to move in with him so quickly.

Daryl just shrugs. “They’re fine with it, I guess. I’ve already paid for this month, so they know I’m not runnin’ out on them.” He pauses, thoughtful. “Said they were happy for me. For findin’ a more ‘permanent situation’.”

Yeah, thinks Rick, the simple statement making him inordinately happy. He tugs Daryl close, winding arms around his waist before taking his mouth in a kiss that’s deep and wet and all kinds of ecstatic. I’d like that to be us, too. Permanent.

It doesn’t take much time before Daryl’s moved all his things over to Rick’s, since he hadn’t had that much to begin with, and even less time after that, before an assortment of unexpected gift baskets start arriving.

There’s one from Rachel and her family that contains a painted dragon Lucas made in art class, and a pair of sack dolls Aurora stitched together that are supposed to be Rick and Daryl, along with a collection of wine, smoked salmon, and cheeses. Tucked just inside is a handwritten note in Rachel’s loopy scrawl, that says, Congratulations! Let me know when the wedding is! — xoxo, Rachel.

There’s also one from Shane and Lori, that says simply, Best of luck, brother — Shane & Family.

Rick had to wonder how they’d found out, and he’d wanted to set it aside where they wouldn’t have to look at it, but Daryl had said they could use the things in it, then broken it apart and organized it piecemeal into the kitchen, until it was impossible to tell which breads and honeys were theirs and which had come from the basket.

Then Rick had given Shane a call to say thanks, to wish them luck with the baby, and upon being asked if he wanted to be the godfather, had said he needed to talk it over with Daryl first, before making a decision.

Not right now, he’d nodded at Daryl, who’d been with him the entire duration of the call, fingers wound lightly into Rick’s other hand.

And Shane, before they’d hung up, had added, “Listen, Rick. That day at the lights, when we ran into you? I didn’t—I didn’t know you were actually, you know. Didn’t mean to make it sound—I didn’t mean the stupid shit I said.” There’d been a rustle on the other end, and Rick could imagine Shane raking a hand through his hair, as he mumbled Christ, you know I’m no good at apologizing.

“I know,” said Rick. He’d smiled as he said it, though, because it’d been just the right kick in the pants to get both him and Daryl moving, into acknowledging what was already there between them. And when he’d caught Daryl’s eye, Daryl had smiled too, knowing exactly what he and Shane were talking about. Squeezed a little good thing he did, into Rick’s hand.

All in all, the move’s gone better than Rick expected. He’d thought their families would say they were rushing things, or making impulsive decisions from their holiday high, but no one’s asked, or even said anything, despite the speech Rick prepared for that very occasion.

In fact, when Rachel and her family had come over after Christmas, with gifts of matching sweaters, towels, pajamas, and a set of spiced drinks, Rick had shared with her their plan, and she’d immediately said to Lucas and Aurora, “Now you can visit both your uncles, at the same time!”

And that was a sentiment met with a resounding Yay! to Rick and Daryl’s deep embarrassment. It was true; at least this way, Rick wouldn’t have to drive over to Daryl’s to pick him up when the kids visited, and Daryl wouldn’t have to shuttle them back and forth in the tiny sidecar he’d built for them.

They’re rearranging the living room and organizing a few other gifts from Rick’s colleagues at the station, when the doorbell rings.

“You expectin’ anyone?” Daryl says, raising a brow. It’s just after dinner, and most of the parcels that have been arriving come in the morning or afternoon.

Rick slots the shelf they’ve bought to house Daryl’s hunting gear into place. “No. How about you?”

“No.” Daryl shrugs, as the doorbell rings again. “I’ll go see who it is, though.” He peers through the eyehole, and Rick sees him take a step back, his lip curled.

Rick thinks he’s got a pretty good idea of who it is; there aren’t a lot of people who can give Daryl that unique expression, somewhere between exasperated fondness and exhaustion. “Who is it?” he asks anyway.

“It’s Merle,” Daryl says, confused, like he hadn’t expected his brother to show up. “Thought he was still sleepin’ off the night before.” He frowns, and Rick can tell that’s his don’t wanna deal with him right now look.

They’d traded words, Rick knows, when Daryl had gone to get a few of his things. And god knew when Merle was drunk, not all his words were kind. Daryl had returned later in the night, his shoulders hunched, hair in his eyes, and tucked himself into Rick’s space without a word. Curled against him on the couch like Rick was his shield, his protector. It wasn’t until he’d taken to Daryl to bed and kissed him breathless, to make Daryl forget, that he’d found out just what Merle had said. And it was only at Daryl’s insistence that he’d be fine in the morning, that Rick kept himself from stomping over to Merle’s and tearing him a new one, drunk off his ass or not.

Rick pinches the bridge of his nose, drawing in a sharp breath. “I’ll…I’ll take care of Merle,” Rick says. “You go on upstairs, I’ll be right there.” He steels himself for the worst, because Merle’s presence is abrasive at best, and downright volatile when he’s riled up.

The doorbell rings again, this time an irritated three-punch note that has Rick thinking he’ll have to adjust the volume of the damn thing.

“Hey, Officer Friendly!” calls Merle from the porch. He kicks at one of the two Adirondack chairs Daryl had built and brought with him, for ‘kickin’ back and beer sippin’’. “You tryna make me freeze my balls off here, or what? I know you’re home!”

Daryl rolls his eyes, before stepping in to give Rick an encouraging little peck on the lips, and makes his way upstairs, quickly and quietly.

Rick makes a show of stomping up to the door, like he and Daryl hadn’t just been discussing Merle from behind it, and edges it open, careful. “Merle,” he nods. He notices Merle craning his neck to peek through the doorway and into the hall, and adds, “Daryl’s not here.”

“My brother ain’t with you?” Merle says, crinkling his brow. “Huh. Thought you two woulda been busy gettin’ cozy in your little love nest.” He draws the word love out, making it sound more lewd than it really is. “All you’re missin’ now is a little front porch swing, and then you’ll be livin’ the dream, huh?”

Biting back a sigh of exasperation, Rick decides not to take Merle’s taunts to heart. Takes it as a suggestion instead, one he might add to the list of DIY-projects he and Daryl have started putting together.

“Daryl just stepped out to buy something from the hardware store,” says Rick, angling himself just enough to cover the view of the stairs behind him. Hoping Daryl’s hidden himself well, in case Merle decides to push his way past Rick. “There anythin’ I can help you with, Merle?”

“Nothin’, officer, just stopped by to give you guys a little housewarmin’ gift.” Merle shakes the plastic bag in his hands. It’s not a woven wicker basket jammed full of hot chocolate powder and drinks like Rachel’s, or honeyed bread and jams like Shane’s, but it’s still more than what Rick would’ve expected. “And I said some things to Daryl last night, thought maybe I’d …” He shifts his feet and stares at Rick. “The hell am I explainin’ myself to you for?”

Apologize. The word Merle isn’t quite capable of saying aloud. Still, Rick nods in understanding, and reaches out for the bag. “Thanks,” he says. “I’ll tell Daryl you stopped by.”

“Not so fast,” Merle says, seizing the opportunity for what it is, and bullying his way into the house. “He might not be here, but I got somethin’ I wanna say to you.” He jabs a finger into Rick’s chest, his mouth turned down into that permanent frown of his, the same scowl he has when fighting Rick off with a tire iron.

Rick holds up a hand to pre-empt him, because he’s already gotten the I’ll break your legs if you hurt him spiel, and this could only be one other thing. And he’s practiced this speech, even if no one’s asked until now. “I know what you’re gonna say,” Rick says. “Daryl and I, we’ve talked about this, planned it out. This isn’t just some spur-of-the-moment—”

Hell no,” says Merle. “Was just gonna say it’s about damn time, officer.” He crowds Rick against the wall, almost nose-to-nose with him, and Rick hears an odd crumpling noise from the stairs, that Rick clears his throat to cover up. “Took you long enough to find your ballsack and get my brother to move in with you.”

Oh. So Merle had been of the same camp as everyone else. The Took You Long Enough one. Rick’s starting to find out that it’d had quite a high attendance rate over the last year.

Merle drops the plastic bag on the floor, where it makes a dull thud. It’s clearly not food, then. “You tell Daryl I came by. And tell him I brung him a peace offering,” he says, and when Rick nods, Merle just snorts, like he knows something Rick doesn’t. “You boys be safe now.”

And with a laugh that sounds like something’s been caught in a band saw and left to rattle around inside, Merle stomps off the porch and out into the street.

“What was that sound?” Rick laughs, when he’s locked the door, and Daryl’s making his way down the stairs. “You almost gave us away there.”

Daryl thins his lips into a hard line. “Thought Merle was gonna kiss you.” He looks at the empty can of Coke he’s crushed in his hand. “Didn’t like it.”

“Well, he didn’t,” Rick says, shuddering. “Thank god for that.” He leans in and winds his arms around Daryl’s waist, before nudging their noses together, revelling in the rose hue that spreads from their point of contact. “Rather be kissin’ you instead.”

Daryl slants his mouth toward Rick’s for one of these kisses, tasting of cinnamon and pumpkin spice, a mix of the drinks Rachel had sent over. “Think you could be doin’ other things too, if Merle’s gift is what I think it is,” he says, waggling his eyebrows, a perfect mime of the way Rick does it.

Rick just laughs and busses Daryl on the cheek. Takes a break from cinnamon-sweet kisses and Daryl’s questing fingers beneath his shirt, just long enough to pick up the bag Merle’s dropped on the tile. “Yeah,” Rick says, grinning, when he’s stopped gaping at yet another damn economy-sized pack of condoms and lube and Daryl’s started tugging him toward their bedroom. “Think I could.”

And as Daryl draws him into the bed, his kisses soft and sweet and filled with every ounce of his devotion, Rick thinks there’s no other way he’d want to spend the start of the new year, than being with the one who loves him, and whom he loves, with all his might, in return.


End Notes:
An example of surprise-inside cake can be found here.

And that’s a wrap! A huge thank you to everyone who’s followed this from the beginning! For those of you just joining now, thank you for giving this story a try!

This fic is complete and the story stands on its own.

If you're craving more of the boys in this 'verse though, there’s a sequel in the works—one from Daryl’s POV, that takes place a year after the events of this fic.

See you all then, if not sooner! :D

Date: 2017-01-06 12:29 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] sarmsank.livejournal.com
Loved this fic can't wait for the sequel!

Date: 2017-01-07 04:33 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] eyeus.livejournal.com
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :D
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