Note: This is a ONE SHOT. I have no intention of making this into something longer or adding to it. I can't say I never would, but I surely don't intend to. Enjoy.

It's been another mind-numbingly painful day. Everyone wants something from Rick, they always do, and he just doesn't have enough to go around. Even before the world ended and the dead came to stay, Rick couldn't even keep his family together. Maybe if he'd been around more or paid more attention to Lori before the accident, she never would've—

"Rick, do you think you could help out with this real quick?"

"Sure thing."

Everyone has gone to bed but the people on watch, and it's probably long past midnight. As he drags leaden feet back towards his cell, Rick muses that it's been a while since he noticed or even cared what time it was. His watch stopped working a few months back, and there hadn't seemed in point in replacing it. He still wears it out of habit, a familiar weight to hold on to.

As he approaches his cell, he sees a figure bent over Judith's makeshift bed, leaning down as if checking on the sleeping child. Probably Beth; she wears herself out almost as much as Rick does since became Judith's official unofficial nanny. She stays in a nearby cell, always within earshot in case the baby needed something. Rick is secretly a little ashamed that he couldn't handle one baby himself, considering he already helped raise one, but he grudgingly grants himself that he might have one or two other concerns on his mind these days that weren't present when Carl was an infant.

Then the woman straightens, standing tall and easy next to the crib. Her dark hair tumbles carelessly about her bare shoulders, swishing gracefully around her slender neck as she turns to look at her husband.

"You're here," Rick murmured, eyes wide. "I didn't think you'd still be here. I hoped, but…" He trails off, not sure what to say. In the last few months of her life, he was never sure what to say around her. After she died, he was even less sure. What do you say to your wife who slept with your best friend and died giving birth to a baby that could be yours or his after months of estrangement?

"Of course I'm here," she smiles softly. "Where else would I be? Not like anyone else needs me around."

"No, I just…You surprised me is all. Tired, not as on top of things as I should be. I'm…glad…you're still here. I know I shouldn't, but…well, I wanted to see you."

He can't quite read the expression on her face, but there seems to be a startled element to it. "Didn't think I'd ever hear you say that, Rick."

He steps into the cell, closing the door behind him. For once, he wishes briefly for a curtain or a solid wall to keep out prying eyes and ears. He wants some time alone with his wife, even if she isn't really there. He drops tiredly on his bed, leaning over with a groan to pull off his boots. He rests his elbows on his needs, scrubbing at his face with rough hands before looking back to Lori. She watches him silently for a moment as if making a decision then takes three short steps, turns, and joins him on the side of the bed.

He feels the mattress depress slightly as she sis, and he marvels at how real the hallucinations are getting. He'd been terrified at first, afraid she was some sort of vengeful spirit come back to haunt him to insanity or worse. After all, the dead were rising in other ways; why not this one? But he'd gotten used to seeing her as time went on, coming to crave her appearances to the point where he is disappointed, sad even, if he goes for a day without seeing her.

Hell, he's depressed if he goes an hour without seeing her. Makes the day that much harder to get through.

He stares at their knees for a while. Her clasped hands sit relaxed between her legs while his are clenched tightly together to keep from shaking. Without looking up for permission, he wrenches his fingers apart and tremblingly reaches for her hand, sure she's going to scoff at his pathetic gesture or disappear like the dream she is at any second.

The feel of her warm skin against his as she meets him halfway catches at his breath, and he freezes in shock. Pretending not to notice, Lori threads her fingers through his the way she used to, her slender digits fitting perfectly between his. Picnics, twilit walks through the woods, official police dinners…God, he missed the feel of her hand in his.

He lets out a strangled sound somewhere between a laugh and a choke and brings her fingers to his lips. He doesn't even try to stop the tears from coursing down his cheeks as he kisses her hand, wetting both of them in the process.

"It's been so God awful lonely the last few months. Ever since…I just…I can't do this without you; don't you understand that?"

She watches him silently, holding his hands in both her own now as he cries against their joined fists. "Stay with me? Will you please? Just tonight, I won't ask again, I swear, but…I can't be alone, not tonight."

Instead of answering aloud, she releases his hands. For a split second, he's terrified that he's said too much, jinxed this blessing of a vision, and now she's going to leave him for good this time. Then she puts her arms around him, drawing his head to hear shoulder and whispering the same kind of soft, soothing nonsense she used to sooth Carl with when he was colicky. She rests her cheek against the top of his head, running her fingers through his hair in comforting patterns. Rick locks his arms around her waist, wishing with all his being that he could keep her this close, this solid, the real, all the time.

"I need you," he whispers. "I'm so sorry I never said it before."

"I can stay with you tonight."

Her words, barely a whisper in the silent room, send a thrill through him like he hasn't felt in ages. Closing his eyes, he inhales deeply against her neck, pressing his lips to the tender, vulnerable skin. Her fingers clench in his hair, and her pulse quickens beneath his tongue as he tastes the sensitive spot below her jaw. He kisses and tastes his way around her neck, running gentle teeth over her ear, sliding his hands up her sides, feeling her warmth through the thin cotton of her shirt. Her faint cry is electricity in his veins, and he turns her face to his, leaning in and—

"Stop," she whispers, eyes shut tightly. Panic flashes over her features. "Rick, I want to, but you…I don't want you to think that you have to do this."

"Shhh," he whispers, kissing her forehead. "Let me love you. Even if it's just this one time, let me love you while I can. Let me love you the way you deserve."

This time, when he kisses her, there is no resistance. He's reminded of their first kiss, and his last coherent thought is how glad he is to get another chance with her, even if it's only in his mind.

Kisses turn to nips, brushes of fingertips become caresses, and soon their clothes are discarded and forgotten on the floor of the cell.

"You're beautiful, did I ever tell you that?" he murmurs quietly to her left breast. He traces his way all over her abdomen, counting every single rib with his tongue before moving on to the flat, smooth plane of her belly.

"Not tonight, you haven't," she giggles as his tongue circles the ticklish skin of her belly button.

"You drive me crazy," he informs the inside of her left thigh, only half joking. This time her answer is a breathy little moan as his teeth sink into the sensitive skin. Spurred on by her responses, he slides a finger into her gently, releasing out his own guttural sounds as he feels how wet she's already become.

"I don't want to rush things, God knows I don't, but it's been so long for me. Are you…do you think you could…"

She smiles down at him. "Tonight is for you. Just tell me what you need."

He is honest, completely and totally open for the first time in years. "I need you."

"That's why I'm here."

He slides upward until he's face to face with her, looking her straight in the eyes, pressed against her from chest to ankle. "You're sure? This is what…I'm what you want?"

She doesn't look away, doesn't blink, doesn't waver or hesitate. "You're what I want."

He takes her at her word this time, pressing slowly and steadily until he's fully sheathed inside her. The warmth, the constriction, robs him of words and a good portion of his air, and he hangs suspended over her for an eternity, not moving.

Just feeling.

Then they move together, sliding and rubbing and pressing against all the right places, a little clumsy and absolutely perfect. He can't stop the flow of words that spills from his lips as he presses his mouth against his ear, breathing out just how perfect and wonderful and amazing she is and how Goddamn lucky he is that she chose him.

She kisses him, partly to shut him up, he thinks, but neither of them is complaining. Then his mouth moves lower, finding one of her nipples, and she shatters beneath him. She sighs his name as she cums, and his own hoarse, wordless exhalation answers her. He stiffens, straining between her legs for a long, flawless moment before collapsing beside her on the bed.

They lay together until their breathing steadies, and he leans over to kiss her on the cheek. When she moves as if to retrieve her shirt, he stops her with a hand on her shoulder.

"Please? Stay with me tonight? Just for tonight?"

The tired, sad smile she gives him is answer enough, but as she allows herself to be gathered into his arms and pulled under the blanket, she says, "I promise I'll stay with you as long as you need me."

They don't sleep for a long time, alternately making love and lying silently together, marveling over the lines and contours of each others' bodies. They don't speak another word for the rest of the night, having already said everything that matters. Rick has apologized, and she's promised to stay. What else is there?

He drifts to sleep with her in his arms, thinking this could almost make up for all the hollow, pointless months he's passed since her death.

He's woken in the morning by the sounds of Judith flailing and babbling in her bed. Sunlight streams into the tiny room from the windows across the way, and he blinks groggily, smiling as he remembers why he's so tired. He absently runs his fingers through the long strands of hair that are spread over his chest. She stayed. She really, honest to God stayed.

"You're still here…I didn't think you would be."

Relief is replaced rapidly by confusion when he glances down, expecting to see dark hair accompanied by Lori's long, slender arm sprawled gracefully over his stomach. Instead of long and slender, he sees a tiny, petite hand and light, golden hair. There is stirring beside him, and Beth raises her head, smiling sleepily through the curtain of her hair.

"I told you I'd stay as long as you needed me."

Author's Note: This came to me right as I was falling asleep, much like the "Stolen Moments." I either need to quit trying to sleep altogether, or try and sleep a hell of a lot more. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed the story, please take a moment and leave a comment behind. Also, feel free to check out some of my other stories. Thanks.