A/N: This story is part of a challenge on Richonne Just Desserts Tumblr page, 50 Reasons to Have (Richonne) Sex. I hope you all enjoy!

If Michonne was completely honest with herself, she knew the precise moment she realized she was in love with Rick Grimes. It was an admission she was well-versed in denying, a fantasy she only indulged in the dead of the night, when sleep evaded her. Her mind would turn over, airing out the details of their days together, pouring over nuances. She should have focused on survival, she should have fixated on Carl, or the loved ones they had both lost, the friends they had thought they would never see again. Those practical feelings held her attention during the light of day, for the times when their feet beat a steady path up long-abandoned railroad tracks, heading and hoping for a sanctuary. Night times were another story.

Danger found them, inevitably creeping up while they were sequestered together, a rare moment where the two of them were caught off-guard. She recalled the feeling of a gun to her head, the terror in watching Carl whimper as he was thrown to the ground. The promise of hours of torture at the hands of evil men, the look in Rick's eye right before he ended it all. She had seen many things since the turn, things she desperately wished she could forget. This was not one of them. Watching Rick bite out a man's throat—it was seared into her memory. After the screams silenced and the blood dried, she held Carl inside an abandoned car, listening to his father's quiet confession to Daryl just beyond the door. It was here, in the aftermath of sheer brutality and violence that she knew. She loved him.

She wanted to tell him, played the fantasy out in her mind many nights. There were so many opportunities, dozens if she were only brave enough. She found countless ways to reason herself out of the act. Instead, Michonne kept it hidden, the reality existing just behind her eyes, humming beneath her skin, brimming dangerously close to the surface with every touch, every interaction. Whenever he looked to her for advice, for comfort, for strength, the feelings reinforced, hardening into something that Michonne feared she could no longer disguise. Deanna had recognized it almost instantly upon their arrival to Alexandria. Michonne was sure that Glenn knew too, and Maggie, and maybe even Daryl. Perhaps they had all known before she did. She and Rick danced around the truth for seemingly endless months, sharing yearning glances, lengthy conversations, heart to hearts when no one else was around. Michonne learned how to move the burden of leadership from Rick's shoulders when he needed it, learned to recognize when exhaustion threatened to overtake him, learned the lengths he would go to protect his family, learned that she was family now.

Then, one quiet night following an exhausting day, she learned that her feelings were reciprocated. Until that fateful interaction, chocolate had always been her favorite indulgence, the treat she missed most. Michonne discovered a newfound fondness for mints, particularly when the taste lingered in Rick's mouth. His kisses were an exquisite delicacy that he was never stingy with. She snatched them whenever possible, passing one another in the hall, standing in the kitchen pulling dinner together for Carl and Judith, walking the perimeter of Alexandria hand in hand. The intimacy was new to both of them, however, there was no hesitation in the way that Rick claimed her. Every touch of his lips was like a promise. After the prison, after months on the road, after Jessie, and the herd, after Negan, they stood together.

All pretenses were gone, save one. Michonne had yet to confess her love, at least aloud. She channeled those emotions through her body, pushing them out through the tips of her fingers, stroking Rick's curly hair, squeezing his hand, rubbing his bare back in bed. She hoped that she provided him with even a fraction of the joy that he gifted her. This warrior man, who had no qualms about being vulnerable in her arms, found ways to amaze her frequently.

This morning the two of them lay wrapped around one another in their bed, the low rays of sunlight just beginning to trickle in through the windows. Rick Grimes liked to cuddle. It was a fact that astonished Michonne as much as it delighted her, a reality that she enjoyed exploiting. Sex with him was superb, a pleasure she never could have imagined finding in this oft desolate world. Even so, the sensation could not compare to the privilege of laying cosseted in his arms, his warm breath ruffling through her hair, his calloused thumbs caressing her as he slept.

She awoke before him. Silently, Michonne took the time to study her lover. His face was relaxed, his mouth parted in sleep, the worry lines that all too often cut through his handsome features just faint tracks running across tan skin. His beard was becoming more salt than pepper lately, though his dark brown curls maintained their rich hue. They were a mess this morning thanks in no small part to her own efforts. She loved that hair, thrilled at any opportunity to tangle the coils between her hands. She fingered it gently, loathe to wake him but unable to resist the urge to touch him. He sighed in his sleep, his hand finding hers, holding it in place against his warm skin.

"I love waking up to you touching me," Rick's voice was raspy, his charming accent rumbling against her, a small smile playing on his lips.

Michonne beamed, rolling closer to him, her bare skin pressing against his chest. Rick took the invitation, fluttering his eyes open just enough to grin cheekily at her. His hands cupped her, stroking her with practiced precision, igniting her passion almost lazily. She sighed contently, leaning her forehead against his, breathing in his scent. What a delight it was to live in a world of soap and showers again. Rick had been appealing to her even outside of the walls, when blood and filth had been their constant companions. His smell now, a unique mix of the pine trees just beyond their walls and his own natural musk, never failed to entice her.

"How did you sleep?" she questioned quietly, her breath hitching as his palms skimmed her breasts before continuing their descent.

"Like a baby," he punctuated his answer by grasping her ass firmly with both hands, giving her a hard squeeze. Michonne did nothing to disguise her gasp of pleasure and Rick made no attempt to hide his grin. Already, he drew her legs around his waist, pressing his length against her, his lips nipping greedily at her neck and collarbone. "How did you sleep?" he remembered his manners at last, drawing back just far enough to look at her, his pale blue eyes studying her face.

Truthfully, she had been restless, her body utterly exhausted but her mind racing wildly. She chose to avoid the question, scraping her fingernails up Rick's back until he shuddered with pleasure. She tangled her hands in his wonderfully unruly hair, kissing him softly along the temple. His tongue darted out, returning her affections with pleasingly wet kisses.

"Rough night?" he asked knowingly, reading her silence.

She shook her head, burying her face in his shoulder as his hand dipped between her legs, delicately tracing her. "No," she gasped. Nights with Rick, no matter what the circumstances, were never rough, not in comparison to the nights she had spent without him. "I was just thinking too loudly."

"About what?" he curved a finger inside her, then a second, all the while keeping one hand firmly clutching her derriere.

She trembled, rolling her hips against him, moaning quietly. "You," she admitted.

He kissed her then, his mouth covering hers possessively. She opened her own willingly, clutching at him as he drank her in deeply. Without moving his lips from her own, he adjusted their position, pushing into her in one fluid moment, causing her to cry out against him. He rolled her beneath him, bracing himself up on one arm, the other still clutching her waist.

"Don't lose sleep over me," he instructed, punctuating his statement with a lunge of his hips.

Michonne moaned quietly, cognizant of their children nearby. The house around them was silent, signaling that Carl and Judith were likely still asleep. "Can't help it," she assured him, reaching for his waist. She tugged at him, urging him deeper. He happily obliged, exhaling as her body clenched around his.

"Why were you thinking about me?" he questioned, moving slowly, deliberately. He was holding back, attempting to maintain control until he was certain that she was all right. Michonne appreciated the gesture, but his hesitation was a newfound torture. It was difficult to think at all with him inside of her. Her whole body seemed to pulsate in anticipation.

Michonne willed herself to open her eyes, taking in the face above her. She had seen that face covered in blood, utterly exhausted, dripping with tears, hidden behind a beard that Paul Bunyan would have been proud of. It was the face that featured prominently in her dreams, the face that chased away her nightmares.

"Because I love you," she made sure his eyes were locked with hers before she made her confession. She was certain that Rick could feel her heart rattling against her chest, could taste the nervousness on her skin.

He arrested his movement, staring down at her, his mouth hanging open. Michonne fidgeted, trying to move back. He held her firmly in place, still inside of her. Without warning, he withdrew at once, leaving her disoriented. She parted her lips to reassure him, to undo the damage she had just done but Rick did not allow her to speak. He gripped her legs firmly, tossing them one at a time over his shoulder. His mouth came down on hers again urgently as he pressed down, essentially folding her in half. He dove inside of her again, filling her to the hilt. Michonne screamed her approval into his open mouth.

His hair tickled her chin as he moved his face, his stubble scraping at her skin. He trailed his tongue over her, his fingers digging into her waist as he held her in place, driving in and out like a man possessed. It was all Michonne could do to hold on, attempting to swallow her throaty moans before they escaped her. Her mind was going fuzzy with every stroke.

"Rick," it was the only word she could think to say. Her fingernails scrambled against his back, trying to get her bearings, trying to keep up with his almost frantic pace. Her legs slipped from his shoulders. She seized the opportunity and readjusted, locking them around his waist.

"Chonne," anytime they came together like this, Rick could never seem to get her whole name out. He groaned against her, lifting her into his lap, sitting them both up. He pressed his face into her chest, gasping in time with his thrusts. Michonne held him against her, twisting her fingers into his hair.

"Rick," his name was half moan, half question. Her legs were beginning to burn.

"Say it again," his southern accent rumbled against her. Michonne understood.

"I love you," she repeated, bouncing in his lap. His hands covered her cheeks, guiding her motions, urging her to speed up. He drove into her, setting her whole body shaking.

"I love you too," he looked up at her reverently. Michonne lost control at his admission, falling over the edge, smothering her cries against his shoulder. Rick followed, grunting loudly into her ear, continuing to move with her as she rode out the last few waves of pleasure.

"I should have told you that a long time ago," Michonne fell limply against him, chest heaving, skin slick. It seemed insane to her how long they had denied themselves this intimacy. Even before the turn, there had been nothing on Earth that made her feel the way Rick did.

"When did you know?" he questioned, rubbing circles into her back. He was always gentle when he ventured to ask her about her past. The two of them rarely pressed one another for details of the pain that lurked just behind them in time. The secrets simply slipped out at their own discretion. Rick knew about Andre, the same way she knew about his friend Shane. Every hurt brought them a little bit closer together, eased their burdens just a fraction.

Michonne paused, phrasing her answer carefully. "That night that Daryl came back. That's when I knew."

"Ha," Rick laughed against her, pulling back to look at her face. He smoothed her long dreads between his hands, cupping her face. Michonne smiled bemusedly at him. He dropped a kiss on her lips before continuing. "I beat you. I knew that day you found Carl and I, after the prison."

He looked so pleased with himself that Michonne had to laugh out loud. "Why didn't you say anything?" she asked, unable to contain her smile.

"The timing wasn't quite right," he admitted. Michonne understood what he meant. Survival was the only goal on the outside.

"We got it right, in the end." She relaxed against him, sated. Rick laid backwards, taking him with her.

"We did," he agreed, squeezing her bottom absentmindedly. Michonne felt him growing hard against her again. She giggled.

"Are you going to keep me in bed all day?" she asked teasingly.

"It's your fault," he kissed her again, slowly this time. "Telling me you love me first thing in the morning." His words transformed into a strained groan when Michonne sat up, reaching down between them, guiding him back inside of her.

"I had to make up for wasted time," she smiled as his hands covered her breasts.

"I love you," Rick reaffirmed, reversing their positions. The sun cut through the curtains of their bedroom window, illuminating the two of them as they moved together on the bed. Michonne ignored the call of responsibility just outside their door, postponing reality for just a while longer. She had waited months for this moment.

Sighing, she wrapped her arms around the man she loved, drawing him deeper into her.