Daryl, My Darling

Summary: Rick gets another call from an unexpected person. Daryl tries to help Rick through his time of grief. Takes place after the events of "Hounded" (Season 3 episode 6) Rick/Daryl, Slash, AU, Angst, Same-Sex Pairing, Drug Use, Language.

Daryl gives Rick a handful of Vicodin pills from the infirmary. In the back of his mind he knows it's probably not the best idea but his heart aches for Rick and this is the one small thing he can do to relieve his friend's pain. Rick quickly swallows down two pills with water and puts the rest in his pocket. "We gotta get those bodies out of there and bury them." He says.

"I can take care of that stuff, why don't you go rest now, Rick?"

"No I want to do it. I need to keep my mind off things after.."

Daryl looks at Rick, he intuitively knows there's something in his friends voice. Something more than losing Lori.

"After what?" He asks Rick.

"Daryl I…there was a phone. I picked up the phone and talked to…"

"What?"

Rick pauses for a moment, "Never mind, I'll tell you another time. We gotta get those bodies out of here"

After they took care of the bodies Rick returns to the room with the phone. Although he is happily sedated, he sits in agony, waiting in front of it. Secretly hoping it won't ring again. He knows this is just his mind's way of dealing with his grief. The minute that thought enters his head the phone suddenly rings. Rick slowly reaches out and almost reluctantly picks up the receiver.

"Rick?" Rick feels his heart jump at the familiar voice on the other end.

"Shane?"

"Yeah buddy it's me."

"Shane! I didn't think I'd ever hear from you again."

"Here I am buddy"

"Shane, Shane it's so good to hear from you. I've missed you so much."

"I miss you too buddy."

"Shane I loved you. Why'd you try to kill me?" His words slurred.

"Buddy that's why I'm calling. I need to tell you the truth. I never wanted to kill you. I wanted you to kill me."

"What?"

"Rick, I took you out in those woods so you'd kill me. I sacrificed myself so that you could grow stronger and keep Lori and Carl safe always. I figured if you could have the guts to kill your best friend then you could go through hordes of walkers, or any human enemy, without thinking twice."

Tears stream down Rick's face at the thought of this new revelation. In the back of his mind he knew it was true all along.

"Shane you did that for me?"

"Of course I did buddy. You know there was only one way to resolve the love triangle so I opted out. Hell, there wasn't even any bullets in my gun when I pointed it at you. I'm sorry I tricked you and said all those things. I didn't mean any of them."

"Shane…Lori's gone, she died while giving birth to the baby…our baby. You were right I couldn't protect her. I couldn't keep her safe"

"Now Rick that wasn't your fault. You hear me? Don't you blame yourself for her death. Now you know there's nothing you could have done to prevent it."

"Yeah I know." Rick looks down,

"Shane, where are you? Can I come and see you? I'll meet you anywhere, just tell me where."

"Rick I can't tell you where I am and I'm sorry I can't be there for you. I wish I was. Everything is good here. I wish you could come see me soon but you need to stay there and take care of Carl and the baby now."

Rick swallows loudly and nods his head, "Yeah"

"Shane there's something else I gotta tell ya. Me and Daryl"

Shane's voice cuts Rick off, "I know Rick…I know. It's good buddy I'm happy for you two. You just keep on going with what you're doin man. Daryl's a good man. You got a good thing goin there." Shane's voice on the phone starts to fade.

"Alright Shane I will. Shane what happened to us?"

"Nothing man, I did it for you buddy. Killing Otis and taking care of Lori and Carl. It was all for you. Now I gotta go here. Just remember that you were all that mattered to me. I love you, Rick. I'm sorry but I have to go. I'll always love you." Click. The phone suddenly goes dead.

"Shane?" Rick says calmly as more tears stream down his face. "Shane? Don't leave me please. I can't do this without you."

Rick holds the phone by his ear for a few more moments but there is nothing but a crackling dial tone. He slowly reaches out and hangs up the phone's receiver. "I knew Shane, I knew it was true but I didn't wanna believe it" He says as he sobs softly and slowly rubs the phone. "I didn't figure it out till after it was all over. Until it was too late." He slowly gets up and walks towards the door stumbling. The Vicodin has taken over his brain. His head feels like it's stuffed with cotton candy and the room hums. His emotions are shattered. Suddenly the room spins and Rick falls to the floor knocking a stool over. Daryl hears the noise and comes running into the room. He sees Rick laying on the floor on his side. He quickly runs to where Rick lays and crouches by his side.

"Rick?" He says as he shakes his best friend and rolls him over onto his back. Rick slowly opens his eyes and looks at Daryl. He reaches out and places a hand on his friend's cheek. "Daryl?"

"I'm here buddy, you okay?" He says as he holds Rick's hand.

"I'm okay Daryl, my darling." Rick says as a tear rolls down his cheek and his hand gently cups the side of Daryl's face. Unbelievably Rick's words come out sounding masculine. To hear Rick say such words while still sounding tough was the most profound oxy-moron Daryl ever witnessed. Daryl thinks back to a time when he had overheard Rick say the same thing to Lori in a tender moment. He knew deep down that this time Rick was just as sincere. His heart felt a twinge at the words and he would hang on them until the next time they would be together.

"Man, you're high." He says as he smiles and squeezes his friend's hand. Hershel suddenly hobbles through the door to check on all the commotion.

"What happened?" Hershel says.

"It's nothing" Daryl says as he helps his friend up on his feet.

"I'm fine I just tripped that's all." Rick says slurring his words as he walks off and leaves the room. Hershel looks at Daryl like a parent scolding a child that's just done something wrong. "What's going on here Daryl what's gotten into him? Is he drunk?"

Daryl looks at Hershel for a few moments before he finally confesses. "It's no big deal I gave him some of the Vicodin from the infirmary. Ya know,, to take the edge off him."

"Daryl, do you think that's a good idea?"

"I didn't know what else to do; I know how bad he's hurtin"

"You're playing with fire here. Do you know he's liable to become addicted? From the looks of it he's becoming a pill popper already"

Daryl puts his head in his hands and kicks the stool on the ground. It slides across the floor and crashes into the wall. "Give him a break. The man just lost his wife for Christ sake!" Daryl yells defending his friend, his emotions palpable. Daryl looks at Hershel with anger in his eyes as a sharp silence fills the room. Hershel nods at the man, turns his back and slowly hobbles out the door as Daryl watches.