Gregory was an asshole, but Rick needed the money. Every time, Rick swore he would get his pay and then quit. And every time, Gregory managed to convince him to kill some other deadbeat.
"This one really deserves it," Gregory said, following Rick as he marched to the door. He pressed his full weight against the wood and looked at him.
Rick grimaced and stared ahead, fingers still wrapped around the doorknob. "Make someone else do it. I can't keep doing this. I have a family at home. Kids."
Gregory shook his head. "There is no one else. You're the only one that's free that night. Marsha would be preferable, of course, but she's off in another state."
"It's Maggie," Rick said, looking down at him.
"Yes, yes, the brunette." Gregory rubbed his hands together. "You have to do it."
"Sasha, Rosita, they're busy?"
"Yes," Gregory sighed. "You keep saying you hate this, I know, and I asked everybody before asking you. Trust me. They're busy." He held his hands in front of him, like in midst of a prayer. "Will you do it?"
Rick hung his head, closing his eyes. He let out an exasperated sigh and shifted his weight. "Fine," he said, because he needed the money, and he knew Gregory wouldn't have let him leave that room until he agreed. "I'll waste the guy." Rick stepped back and rubbed his face. "Give me details."
Gregory laughed and gave Rick an awkward pat on the back. "Oh, Rick, you will not regret this. The pay will be even more than the last." He moved over to his desk, hunching over to retrieve a black notebook from a drawer. Gregory thumbed through it, and on finding the page, held it out for Rick. "You're to be here, at this date."
Rick walked to the desk, tipping his head to the side as he read. There was an address written down. Usually, he was assigned to go to their homes, deal with them while they were alone and asleep. This was different.
"Gregory, this is at a hotel, at some sort of party. And there's no name. How am I supposed to kill someone if I don't know their name?"
He snapped the book shut. "You'll know him. I've dealt with him before. Owes me a debt. He's been living on borrowed time for a while now." Gregory ran his thumb down the spine of the book. "I heard he'll be the black cat."
Rick wrinkled his nose. "What the hell does that mean?"
"It's a masquerade," Gregory said, smirking. "Have fun. No mistakes. No witnesses. You know what to do if something goes wrong."
"Don't come back," Rick said. "Yeah, yeah."
His target was the black cat, so Rick was an owl. Large feathers sprouted from his mask, and he felt all the more ridiculous. This was better suited for Maggie or Rosita. They could hide knives under their dresses. What could he do? Shove a gun behind his back and a knife in his sock, and pray to God no one got handsy.
This was bullshit. Every contract he'd been given, he had a name. Rick was thorough with his job. Not that Gregory put innocent lives on the line, but Rick wanted to find out for himself if his targets were really as scummy as Gregory claimed.
He was going in blind, and these beautiful owl feathers weren't going to help a damn thing.
Rick didn't even know who the party was for or anything about the significance. Sometimes crowds could be a blessing, but they can also hinder a job. More people, more opportunities to mess up. If Rick messed up, he couldn't come back.
Carl was at a friend's house, and Judith was tucked tightly in her bed. Rick wanted to go home and see them again.
"Wanna order something?" Rick turned his head, catching the eyes of the blonde-haired bartender, who stared at him behind the face of a fox. "I like your mask. Owls are my favorite type of bird."
Rick, smiling, leaned against the counter. "A whiskey, and why the fox?"
She smiled back at him and poured a whiskey. "I was late to the party. Slim pickings for the staff." Rick hummed and took a drink, glancing around the crowded ballroom. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, colorful masks clashing with the black and white attire. He couldn't see a black cat anywhere. "Is the owl flying solo tonight?"
Rick looked back at her, sipping his drink. He raised a brow, but Fox couldn't see. "Suppose I am," he said.
"Always solo?" The playful expression suited the mask well. She rested her elbows on the counter, leaning.
Rick tossed the drink back and set the glass on the counter, in front of her. "I don't want to pull you from your job." Her smile faltered for just a moment and then returned, as if she didn't want to ruin the guise. Rick reached out, touching the tufts of fur on the fox's ear. "Have you seen a black cat around here?"
Fox swatted his hand away, the playful smile back. "Does the gender matter?"
"This time it does. A man." Rick pulled his hand back and propped his chin up.
She thought for a moment, looking off to the side. He imagined she was remembering all she served, all the masks she would have endured. Fox looked back at him. "Two in total. A woman and a man. The woman was here first, and then the man."
"The woman doesn't matter. I'm sure she's lovely. Tell me about the man."
Fox screwed up her face. "Black cat mask, obviously. Had a couple drinks. Didn't tip. Hmm, he was a bit moody after the drinks. Self-depreciating. You know those drunks."
"I know them sober."
"Well, he was complaining about the party and then left. I saw him dancing shortly before you came over."
Rick rubbed his chin and looked out on the dance floor. "Who was he dancing with?"
"Couldn't see them that well. Everyone was around them, but I believe they were a bird."
Rick glanced her way. "A bird?"
She nodded. "The feathers." Fox waved a hand above her head, fingers wiggling. "You know the sort."
"Yeah… I'll be on my way." Rick dug into his pocket, grabbing a few dollars. He dropped them on the counter. "Keep this between us."
Fox grabbed the bills, folded them, and stuck them down the front of her shirt. "Have a fun evening."
Rick was already walking away. He lifted a hand and gave her a wave from over his shoulder. Facing forward, he made his way to the main floor, slipping past person after person. He hoped he wouldn't brush past someone, and they felt the hard lines of the gun against his back. Nothing riled up a party more than the presence of a weapon. He had to find the black cat, do the job, in and out. Maybe he'd still be here, still dancing with that bird.
Hands were on his back, trailing up his shoulders. Rick widened his eyes and allowed himself to be turned around. A black cat was looking at him, but it wasn't the one he wanted.
"Care to dance?"
"Carol, what are you doing here?" Rick set a hand on her waist, grabbed her hand, and spun around.
"I see I'm not the only one who has a job tonight," she said, smiling. Her hand rested on his shoulder.
"Gregory told me everyone was busy tonight," Rick breathed out.
Carol leaned in. "I am busy. Gregory gave me this weeks ago." Rick rolled his eyes. Carol laughed and squeezed his shoulder. "Don't be like that."
Rick looked ahead, eyes scanning the crowd. "I don't even want to be here." He frowned. "Isn't it risky to have two clients here?" he murmured.
"Wasn't supposed to be here," Carol said. "My guy was invited. Probably isn't even connected to yours. They'll just be at the same hotel."
"Well, make it look like an accident, or something that won't connect them. Better yet, get him away from here."
Carol gave him a look. "I'm disappointed you have to tell me that. I thought you knew me better."
Rick sighed and shook his head. "Sorry, sorry." He narrowed his eyes and looked down. "Have you seen a black cat?"
"Other than myself?"
Carol smiled and leaned forward, chin on his shoulder. "Went upstairs with the guy he was dancing with. A bird. Lots of feathers. Heard room number 326." She pulled back and tilted her head. "Have you seen a wolf?"
"No, I haven't. Ask the fox at the bar. She might have seen something."
"Thanks. Good luck."
Carol gave his arm a pat and turned away, moving through the crowd and to the bar. Rick watched for a moment before twisting on his heel and finding his way to the stairs. Third floor, room twenty-six. If he had heard ahead of time Carol would be here, he'd try and push the job on her. She could have managed two in a night. If anyone could, it was Carol. This was what he got for not keeping in touch with his colleagues.
The third floor was quiet and comfortably warm. As he got closer to room twenty-six, Rick kept a hand behind his back, stuck underneath his suit jacket, fingers wrapped around his gun. If anyone else saw him, he'd say he was fixing his shirt.
Rick carefully grabbed the doorknob of room twenty-six. He leaned in, ear to the door. Oddly, it was quiet. There were the occasional sounds of movement, but nothing to indicate that two men who had danced and toppled into a bedroom were waiting on the other side. Still, Rick didn't let up his grip on the gun and opened the door.
It was dark. Rick strained to see in the limited light.
"Whooo do we have here? Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?" The lamp on the nightstand turned on, and Rick swore.
"Fucking—damn it, Negan." Rick stepped into the room and kicked the door shut behind him. With his other hand, he slipped his mask off. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Negan laughed, leaning back, hand on his stomach. "Oh, Rick, I am glad to see you, too." He walked around the bed, moving toward him. "But seriously, wanna lick my tootsie pop?" He raised a brow and pointed down with a gloved finger.
Rick scrunched up his face and shook his head. "Don't have time. I have—"
"—a job. I know." Negan narrowed his eyes and turned away. He walked over and dropped into a chair, settling back and stretching out his legs.
"How, how do you know that?" Rick asked, voice quiet, hesitant. He squeezed the mask in his hand.
"Take out that gun. I wanna see it."
Rick paused, chewing on the inside of his cheek, and then slipped the gun out of his waistband. He held it at his side.
Negan rubbed his face. "Go on."
Another moment of hesitation. He shook his head. "Negan—"
Rick rolled his eyes and held up the gun, pointing it at Negan, his chest. He cocked his head, holding his shoulders back.
"No, no, no, can't even commit yourself to it. Come on, Rick." Negan pushed himself out of the chair and walked over, practically swaying in his step. He stopped in front of Rick, the barrel of the gun to his chest. "Do it… the right way."
Rick held Negan's gaze, those teasing eyes and smile. He held in a breath and wet his lips, lifting the gun and twisting his wrist, pressed it underneath Negan's chin. He raised a brow. Negan laughed, pulling back with a shiver and an "Ooh! You definitely know how to get me going."
He lowered the gun and shook his head. "I'm not here to fucking get you going, Negan. You were supposed to be home, watching Judith." Rick paused, eyes widening. He looked at Negan and brandished his gun. "Did you leave her home alone?"
Negan stood there, head tipped back, smiling. Instead of watching his face, Negan's eyes were following the gun as it waved around. Rick frowned and took a step forward, tapping the gun against Negan's cheek. "Hey, answer me."
He clapped and leaned forward, getting to Rick's level. "Of course, I didn't leave Judith alone!" He straightened up and walked around the bed, side stepping. Rick furrowed his brow. "I called that nice girl next door. What was her name?" Negan scratched his cheek. "Little blonde who liked to sing around the fucking campfire when we had that cookout."
"Beth! I do recall her name was Beth."
Rick scratched his head with the gun. "Negan, why are you here?"
Negan, instead of giving a vocal reply, only smiled at Rick. He held up a hand, finger waggling, and bent over. The bed was obscuring Rick's vision, and he shook his head. When Negan stood up, he had a hand behind his back and the other held a mask. A black cat.
Rick widened his eyes and roughly swallowed. "Negan, you better have a good explanation."
He laughed. "I do." Negan faced Rick, lips pursing as he ran his thumb along the fuzzy black face of the cat. He admired it for a moment, turning it over in his hand, before tossing it to Rick, like a frisbee. Rick dropped his owl mask and grabbed the cat, crushing it in his hand. He stared at him, starting to shake his head.
"This… This can't be right," he murmured.
"That's because it isn't, dumbass." Negan pulled his hand out from behind his back and slipped another mask over his face. "This one's mine." Rick lifted his head and stared into the eyes of a vibrant peacock. Negan smiled and held out his arms. "Fucking gorgeous."
Rick tossed the cat mask back at Negan, who immediately smacked it away. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Negan sighed and leaned back, head thumping against the wall. "It's your fault, Rick." The peacock feathers shimmied with every movement. Negan gestured to the floor, to something Rick couldn't see from his position. Rick narrowed his eyes and carefully walked over, around the bed, and stopping right in front of a dead man. There was a bullet hole right in the center of his forehead.
Rick stood there, brow furrowed. He rubbed his forehead. "I don't understand. How did you know I was supposed to kill him? Why would you even kill him? He was my job."
Negan chuckled and pushed off from the wall. He walked over and stood in front of Rick, looking down at him through blue and green feathers. "You canceled our date night, and I could not let that stand."
Rick tipped his head back, looking at Negan. He sighed. "I can't take you seriously with that shit." Rick glanced at the bed, tossed his gun aside, and reached up. He grabbed the edge of the mask and pulled it over Negan's head. That was thrown over his shoulder. "Now, say that again."
Negan narrowed his eyes. "You heard me."
"I couldn't hear you over those feathers."
He huffed out a breath. Negan rocked on his heels, looked down at the body, and then back at Rick. He pressed their foreheads together. "You canceled date night," he whispered.
Rick smiled. He pressed back into his touch, and Negan only pushed harder, like a bull needing to prove a point. "You know how Gregory is. I couldn't say no."
"Why the fuck not? I do it all the time."
"I was the only one left. Said this guy deserved it." He narrowed his eyes and pulled back, holding on to Negan's shoulders to stop him from continuing their game. "How'd you know about this? That I'd be here?"
Negan gave Rick a look. "I told you. I say no to Gregory all the time. He wanted me to waste this fucker. He's some congresswoman's son. Today's his fucking birthday."
"Yeah, happy fucking birthday. Anywho, I said no, because I knew that was our scheduled date night, and I am an amazing husband." Negan paused and furrowed his brow. He rubbed his chin. "Am I an amazing husband, Rick? I thought I was, but you fucking decided to cancel our date night to kill some son of a bitch!" Negan turned away from him, stepping over the man, and standing next to the bed. He rested his hands on his hips. "Didn't even give me a goddamn reason. Just a fucking 'be back late! Tuck Judith in and sing her that song!'" Negan waved his arm.
"Negan, come on. I didn't… I didn't think it was that big of a deal."
"That big of a deal?!" Negan laughed and shook his head. "Holy shit." He reached behind him and pulled out a gun from the waistband of his pants. "You wanna fucking go, Rick? I mean, look at you, have the fucking decency to get all dolled up and it's not even for me? I'm fucking disappointed." Negan pointed the gun at Rick, tongue in between his lips.
Rick stood there and raised a brow. "What are you doing?"
Negan frowned and tossed his gun on the bed, landing several feet away from Rick's. "Don't I look nice? I'm wearing a tie and a suit."
"Do you want a compliment?"
Rick stepped forward, arm outstretched. "You do look nice, Negan, very—"
Negan held up a finger, narrowing his eyes further. He stared at Rick and dropped his arm, letting it hang at his side. "Why'd you do that, Rick? Make me get goddamn angry and follow you to this fucking place? Do you know how hard it was to get this guy upstairs and put a bullet in his head before you found him?"
Rick swallowed, gesturing with his outstretched arm. He set his hand on his waist, then. "I don't know." Negan was quiet, and he walked back over to Rick, one leg on either side of the congresswoman's son. He leaned forward again, forehead to forehead. This time, he didn't press, just stayed there. Negan closed his eyes. Rick lifted a hand, gently touching his cheek. "Look, I'm sorry. I really am." Negan cracked open an eye. If he didn't look so damn sad, it'd almost be funny. Rick ran his thumb against his skin. "We have a date night every week. I just thought skipping one wouldn't be the end of the world."
"It fucking was." Negan opened both eyes, scanning Rick. He kept the same expression on his face, the thumb swiping over bristles of the stubble. Negan wrinkled his nose. "What."
Rick patted his cheek. "Big tough guy." He walked away, picking up his gun and tucking it back behind him. "I apologized, said my piece, that's it." Rick smiled, glancing over his shoulder. "I can see through that big act. You're upset, yeah, but come on."
"I pulled a gun on you."
"We pull guns on each other all the time." Rick picked up his owl mask, fixed the feathers, and slipped it over his head. "That's how we met."
Negan spun on his heel, looking over at Rick, hand touching the spot Rick's fingers were. "I think I was a bit quicker." He picked up his own gun and tucked it behind him. "Should go before the fucker shits himself." Negan glanced around on the floor. "Where's my goddamn mask?"
Rick walked over and scooped up the obnoxious peacock mask. He held it out. "I drew on you first. You were the one who pulled the trigger faster."
Negan took the mask and pulled it on. A feather was bent. Rick reached out and straightened it. Negan smiled down at him. "Fucking got you, though, didn't I?"
"Skimmed my shoulder. Barely anything."
"Did it on purpose."
"No, you didn't."
Negan wet his lips and stepped forward. "Sorry about that little show," he muttered. "Lost my temper. Shouldn't have." Negan studied him, eyes narrowing behind gold-lined holes. He leaned in, lips to Rick's ear. "Date night is important to me, though."
Rick turned his head, nose to his cheek. "I know. It's important to me, too."
"Don't but me. It is. Full stop. I would have rescheduled." Rick pressed a hand to Negan's chest, fingers wrapping around his tie. "Gregory is an asshole. I don't want him mad at me." Rick shut his eyes, biting at a spot on Negan's jaw. "You know what kind of fire power he has?"
"Hell yeah." Negan rolled his shoulders and wrapped an arm around him. "Keep doing that, baby."
Rick pulled back, lifting his arm to wipe Negan's cheek with his sleeve. "Dead guy, remember?" Negan turned his head and glared at the body on the floor. It was hard to be angry at a man with a peacock mask. "What's his name?"
"Who the hell cares." Negan walked over, switched off the lamp. He moved past Rick, grabbing his arm. "It'll be on the news. Come on. Let's go."
"Where are we going?" Rick yanked the door closed and shook his arm out of Negan's hold, but the man just held his wrist.
Negan looked over at Rick. Even if the mask obscured his features, Rick could see the raised brow, wrinkles around his eyes when he smiled. He managed to make Rick's heart melt, like it was the first time again. "The night is still young."
Rick glanced at his watch. Ten. He looked back at Negan, as they turned on the staircase. "Judith should be fast asleep."
"You don't think I can be quiet?"
"I know you can't."
They reached the main floor. For the most part, it was still busy. A lot of more partying could happen, but the man of the night was occupied elsewhere. Rick wanted to feel bad. He did. Gregory didn't give a contract if it wasn't important, though. Still, no name was no name. It held no significance to Rick. Maybe that was for the best.
"Lookie here!" Negan laughed and extended a hand, fingers curled. "Meow."
Carol walked toward them, arms over her chest and as composed as ever. "I didn't know you were going to be at this soirée."
"I like to surprise. What can I say?"
Rick shook his head. "Everything okay?"
"Yes," Carol said. She studied him, glancing between him and Negan. "You?"
Rick nodded. "Yeah."
"Peachy keen," Negan said.
"We're leaving." Rick grabbed the crook of Negan's arm. "It was nice seeing you."
Carol smiled and gave him a wink. "You too, boys."
The masks were tossed in the trash outside a McDonald's. Rick and Negan sat in the parking lot, ties loosened, and radio softly playing jazz. They shared a fifty-piece box of chicken nuggets.
"Love fucking honey mustard," Negan said, mouthful of nuggets.
Rick reached over and wiped Negan's chin. "Yet you have barbecue sauce on your face."
Negan waved a hand. "I like to alternate."
"Yeah, and fucking double dip."
In response, Negan dipped a nugget in the barbecue sauce and scraped the edge of the container, coating the piece of meat. He popped it in his mouth and chewed, moaning. Rick shook his head. "Got some on your shirt."
Negan glanced down. Next to his tie, there was a drop of the sauce. His moan turned into a groan. Rick laughed and started the car, pulling out of the lot.
"You know what? Who fucking cares. I'm going in for another."
By the time they reached their neighborhood, Negan had finished the chicken nuggets. Before they head inside, he tossed them in the trash next door. Negan held a finger to his lips, like it was the biggest secret in the world, like they didn't kill people for a living.
Rick saw a light on in the sitting room, and he unlocked the door. Stepping in, he smiled at Beth, who was curled up with a book on the couch. She stood up, setting the book aside. "Oh, Negan said you'd be back later."
"Change of plans," Rick said, stepping aside as Negan made his way in. "Thanks for watching Judith on such short notice. I know you just live next door, but."
Beth shook her head. "Don't worry 'bout it. I checked on her often, but she hasn't woken up once. Tuckered out."
"Hey, kid," Negan said, leaning on the island and looking into the sitting room. He held up a fifty-dollar bill. "Here."
Beth widened her eyes and walked over, glancing at Rick. Rick sighed and pressed his lips together, but said nothing. Beth carefully took the money and slid it into her back pocket. "That wasn't necessary."
"My treat. Now, get outta here. Past your bedtime, I'm sure."
She rolled her eyes. "I'm not a little girl." Still, she turned away, grabbed her book, and walked out the front door with a spring in her step.
Rick shut the door behind her and set his hands on his waist. He walked past the kitchen, looking at Negan. "Feeling generous?" Rick moved down the hallway, hand trailing along the wall.
"Good deed. I killed a man. Balancing the fucking world."
Rick turned into Judith's room, her elephant nightlight the only thing illuminating the room. He stood by the crib, watching Judith. She slept soundly, fists curled tight, and hair in her face.
The moment he pulled the trigger, the only thing he thought of was his family. He did everything for them. At times, he hated his job, but he knew it was worth it.
He smoothed a hand through her hair, pushing it back, and gave her forehead a kiss. When he left, he cracked the door.
Rick went back down the hallway, into the kitchen, and watched as Negan stood at the sink, suit jacket strewn across the table, dabbing at the stain on his shirt. "Thought you didn't care."
"Uh, I fucking don't." Negan tossed the paper towel in the trash. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
He walked over to Negan, standing next to him. Rick slid his fingers in the crook of Negan's elbow. "Yeah, yeah." He rubbed his thumb into the skin, eyes traveling down to stare at the scattered tattoos, the scars on the inside of his left wrist.
"Whatcha staring at?" Negan asked.
Rick looked up at him. "Nothing."
"That's what I thought." Negan leaned down and kissed Rick, slow, soft. He liked to show he could be rough, and Negan was rough and hard, but he was also the opposite. Rick didn't know which side he liked more.
He pulled back, and Negan kissed his forehead. "Turn off the lights. Let's go to bed," Rick murmured.
"Oh, I hope that means what I think it means." Negan switched off the kitchen light, grabbed his suit jacket, and draped it over his shoulder. "Daddy's getting some tonight."
Rick hid his expression with a hand, just as the living room light turned off. Negan was quick on his tail, brushing past him to get to the bedroom first. Rick cracked the door behind him, undoing his tie. Negan was in the en suite bathroom, shirt somehow already discarded, and brushing his teeth. Rick yanked on the tie and let it fall to the floor.
He turned on the lamp on the nightstand. Negan glanced his way. Rick stood next to the bed, staring right back, and slid his jacket off, unbuttoning his shirt. Negan smiled, foam dripping out of his mouth, and looked back at his reflection. Rick walked over to the bathroom, then, leaning against the doorframe.
"Part of me still wants to know the guy's name." Negan gave him a look. Rick waved it away. "Shut up. You know how I am. I need to know everything before I make a decision." Negan tipped his head to the side, pulling a face in agreement. He dipped down and spat. Rick scratched his chest. "Remember how much I researched you?" he asked quietly.
Negan rinsed out his mouth and straightened up, wiping his face with the back of a hand. "Yeah, creepy as shit." He put his toothbrush up.
Rick pushed Negan out of the way. "Shut up," he said again. He grabbed his own toothbrush, the toothpaste.
"I was just teasing you. Wanna know the truth? It's kinda cute, how dedicated you are."
Rick stared at Negan behind him, through the mirror. He scrubbed at his teeth.
"I'm being honest. Really." Negan reached out, hand sliding across Rick's side, then over his stomach. He pressed his nose to Rick's hair. "I do know how you get. Gregory didn't give me a name, and I knew he wasn't going to give you a name. Even if you are his little soldier boy. I threatened him. Openly. No name." Negan shook his head. "I knew he was gonna make his way to you, so." He shrugged.
Rick knitted his brows together and finished brushing his teeth, spitting, rinsing, toothbrush away. He stayed there, eyes on their reflection. "So what?"
Negan shrugged again. "First, it was date night so I was already pissed you were skipping out. Second, you were skipping out to kill that fucker you knew absolutely nothing about. You hate that shit, so I thought... kill two birds with one fucking stone."
Rick blinked, not really believing what he was hearing, seeing. He turned around, hands on the sink as he leaned back to look up at Negan, who was still smiling at him, all smug. "You did it for me?"
Negan blew out air. "I was relieving tension. Guy fucking happened to be there."
Rick grabbed the back of Negan's neck and pulled him down, kissing him. Their lips slid against each other's easily. Negan pressed a palm to Rick's back and moved closer. Rick leaned away, just enough for their lips to disconnect. Negan opened his eyes and gave him a small smile, a forehead touch. Rick reached out blindly and turned the bathroom light off.
They moved to the bedroom with ease, kissing each other again and again. Their hands touched faces, necks. They undid belts, pulled guns out, laughed, and hid them back in the sock drawer. Shoes were kicked off, and Rick pulled the knife from his sock. Negan sat on the edge of the bed, in his underwear and socks, and laughed.
"Shit, kick my pants over here. Forgot something." Rick kicked them over as he went to sit next to Negan on the bed. Negan, socks off now, rubbed his feet into the carpet as he dug in the pocket of his pants. They were shoved aside once he found whatever he was looking for, and Rick watched as Negan turned to him.
He took Rick's hand and slid his wedding ring back on his finger. Negan held out his. Rick stared at him for a second, shaking his head and taking it. "These are supposed to be locked up when we're working." Rick pushed Negan's ring back into place.
"I know," Negan said softly. "I don't have to like it, though."
Rick liked this side of Negan more. He leaned in, kissing the corner of Negan's mouth. Negan turned his head and properly kissed him, lips parting and hands squeezing hands. Rick pulled back and scooted across the bed, leaning to turn off the lamp.
As if on cue, Negan moved, too. The bed gently creaked as they finished undressing, as Rick nestled in between Negan's legs with his arms around him. Negan held Rick's face in his hands, fingers inching closer and scratching his scalp. Rick set his hands on Negan's waist, pulling back to nose at his neck, nipping at the skin. Negan huffed out a breath, leg raising. He bounced a heel off Rick's back. "Baby," he murmured.
Rick dragged his lips against his throat, hand dropping to touch Negan's cock. He stroked him, thumb swiping over the head, already slick with pre-come. "Mm."
"Yeah, I'm fucking dirty, huh."
Negan leaned in and kissed Rick again, teeth knocking and noses smashing. It didn't matter. Rick rubbed his palm against the side of his cock, pulling away to watch as Negan closed his eyes and tipped his head back. Rick kissed his collarbone, sucked on his nipple, pulled on the piercing in the left one with his teeth, careful, always careful. Negan chuckled and squeezed his thighs against him, rocking side to side. "There we go."
Rick laughed and pushed himself up, looking down at Negan. "Stop that." He moved, kisses trailing down his chest, stomach. When his chin hit the coarse pubic hair, Negan sighed. He leaned on his elbows, propped himself up, and watched Rick with hooded eyes.
"Ya gonna lick my tootsie pop?" Negan asked.
Rick wondered if Negan said every intrusive thought that came into his head.
He nudged his hips forward, cock bouncing against Rick's jaw. Rick turned his head, chasing until he slipped his cock into his mouth. He hummed and gave a slow bob of his head. Just a single bob, and then Rick popped off. Negan groaned, letting his head fall back with a small laugh. "One."
Rick smiled and leaned back in, licking and sucking on Negan's balls. He heard Negan's toes crack. "That's not my tootsie pop," he said, hands covering his face. Rick glanced at him and scooted closer, moving lower. Negan jerked his hips. "Oh, fuck, that is definitely not my tootsie pop."
Hollowing his cheeks, Rick pushed Negan's legs further apart, spreading him. He leaned in and spit on his hole. "Shut up."
Rick angled his head and stretched out his tongue, the flat of it pressing against Negan's hole. He gave a similar bobbing motion with his head, tongue dragging back and forth across the skin. Rick paused to slide his hands up under Negan, helping him tip his hips in his favor. Negan looked down at him, arm behind his head, hand on his chest. "Want me to turn over?"
He glanced at him, at the hand so close to— "pull on that." Immediately, Negan pinched his nipple, tugging on the silver bar. He smoothed the pad of his thumb over the hard, pink nub. Rick only let himself watch for a moment, before he leaned back in, the point of his tongue prodding at Negan's asshole.
Negan, furrowed brow and closed eyes, shifted his hips to the side. "You know what Daddy likes," he murmured, more to himself than to entice Rick.
He kept at it, pushing his tongue in, then out. Rick got close, nose pressed to Negan's perineum, where the strong smell of sex, sweat, and straight up man drove Rick crazy. He dragged his hips against the bedcovers, hoping to ease the ache in his cock with a little friction. Unfortunately, with the soft, deep moans Negan was giving off, the friction wasn't helping.
Rick pulled back, turning to press a kiss to his thigh. "Are you trying to be quiet?" he asked. He pushed off, crawling over Negan. His dick felt like an absurd weight between his legs.
Before answering anything, Negan looked down and lowered a hand. He grabbed Rick's cock and gave a firm pump. "I don't know what you're talking about," he whispered and kissed Rick. Negan dragged his hand along his cock. Rick edged his hips forward. Negan smiled against his lips. "Get those fingers in me," he murmured, the deep voice rattling in Rick's chest and sending a shiver down his spine. "I want three of those fuckers in me before I ride that dick."
Rick leaned over Negan, chest to chest, as he fumbled in the dark, searching for the lubricant in the nightstand. He sat back on his heels, and Negan rolled onto his stomach, grabbing a pillow and resting his head on it. Rick slicked up his fingers, keeping the lubricant close, and scooted until he leaned over Negan again, head to his. As he worked in a finger, he pressed a kiss to the brim of his ear. "I appreciate you keeping quiet."
Negan buried his face in the pillow. He shifted his legs apart, hips raising. "Aren't I a fucking saint?" he managed to say, once his face was out of the pillow. His cheek pressed to it, Negan wrapped his arms around it. Rick pushed his finger all the way to the knuckle and waited as Negan adjusted. No matter how rough and tough Negan liked to be when it came to the bedroom, Rick knew better.
He slowly pulled his finger out, waited again, just for a beat, and pushed back in. Negan groaned against closed lips, and from there, Rick continued to finger, to stretch him, one digit at a time. He was patient, despite his hard cock, and when their roles were reversed, Negan made sure to be just as sensible and patient. It was a quality that Rick was thankful for, but not overtly surprised at. Negan was a generous lover, and Rick liked to compete in kind.
"Rick," Negan muttered, head raising from the pillow. He looked over his shoulder. "Lemme have that cock."
He carefully pulled his fingers out, rubbing against the slick, used hole. Rick leaned in, giving him a quick kiss. "You sure?"
Negan kissed him. "Fuck yeah."
They moved. Rick turned and leaned against the headboard, catching Negan's eye as he straddled his hips. Quietly and with a concentrated look on his face, Negan picked up the lubricant and squeezed an ample amount onto his palm. He tossed it aside after. "This is my favorite part," he said. Negan, a hand on Rick's shoulder, reached behind him and coated Rick's cock with the lube, squeezing and teasing, before he guided his cock over. At the same time, he slowly sank down, and Rick watched as Negan's eyes fluttered shut, and his breath hitched in his throat.
Rick, wrapped up in Negan's warmth in more ways than one, held his hips. "Easy."
Negan shook his head. "I know what I'm doing." He pulled his hand away, moving his hips to take the last couple inches. Negan bit his lip, holding back a smile. "Fuck, Rick. You fill me up just right." He laughed, a low one caught in his chest. Negan sat there, fingers clutching at Rick's side, as the other hand skimmed fingers along his shoulder, along the scar of a narrowly missed bullet.
Rick slid his hands up his back. "I have to agree."
"Fucking ace," Negan said and began to move his hips.
Having his dick sucked, being eaten out, whatever, Negan could manage to be quiet, then. But nothing, not even with a baby sleeping in the next room, could stop him from huffing and moaning when he was being fucked or doing the fucking. Hell, Rick and Negan almost got caught once by Carl, when Negan had Rick bent over in the shower, cock buried deep and fingers twisting in wet locks of hair. Rick had heard Carl call out, "Dad? You still taking me to school?" and Negan laughed, right in his ear.
"Daddy's a bit preoccupied at the moment, kid."
Rick elbowed Negan. "Yeah! Give me a few!" He pressed hands against the shower wall and looked over at Negan. "I'm taking him to school," he muttered.
"Wanna bet?" Negan had asked, eyebrow raised, and then they were both in a race, trying to be the first to get the other off.
Negan liked to win, so ten minutes later, he waltzed out of the bedroom, dressed and presentable even with that damned leather jacket. "Alright, kiddo, let's go to school!"
"Grab your backpack! Let's go, go, go!"
He didn't like to admit it, but Rick knew Negan still got a sore spot when Carl didn't refer to him as his dad, even years after being married to Rick. But that was a different issue entirely.
Negan bounced on Rick's hips, smacking the headboard against the wall. Rick lifted a hand, touching the back of Negan's neck and bringing him in. "Shh. You got… got to be quiet," Rick said, fighting the urge to laugh.
"Fuck off, babe. I'm having fun." Negan leaned in and kissed Rick, open-mouthed and lazy. He moved his hips, back and forth, side to side. Rick lowered his hands, grabbing Negan's ass. He dug his fingers into the skin. Negan hummed, a low moan. He tipped his head, kissing Rick's jawline. "Yeah, squeeze my fucking ass."
Rick smiled and turned his head, nose to Negan's cheek. He squeezed, helping Negan lift his hips and bringing him back down, not that Negan needed much help in the first place. He knew what he wanted and took it. Rick slid his hands up Negan's back, as he shifted from the hopeless bouncing to rocking in his lap. Rick brought his legs up, bending them, and crossed his ankles. Negan sighed and settled back against Rick's legs. "That's better," he murmured.
Negan raised his hips for a moment and cursed when Rick's cock left him. "Goddamn." He shifted, instead of knees digging into the bed, he pressed his feet to the covers, toes curling. Negan glanced down and then at Rick. "You gonna fucking help me or just sit there like a fucking sex doll?"
He lowered a hand, wrapping his fingers around the base of his cock. "I'm helping, I'm helping. Hold your… horses." Rick edged his hips forward, the head pushing past that tight ring of muscle.
"Hold my horses! What am I, a cowboy." Negan laughed, hips jerking as Rick pushed further in. He reached behind him, grabbing one of Rick's knees, and lowered himself, meeting Rick halfway. His eyes closed again, and it was becoming one of Rick's favorite images: Negan with his brow furrowed and lips pink from being bitten and kissed. He hummed, wet his lips, and began to rock his hips again. Negan opened his eyes and glanced at Rick, squeezing his knee once before letting go. "There we fucking go," he murmured.
Rick cupped Negan's neck, thumbs smoothing over skin. He pressed his thumb to that spot under his jaw, where he could feel his heartbeat. He stayed still, eyes never leaving Negan's face. Negan rocked back and forth, slowly and then faster. He breathed in, shaking his head. Negan groaned, narrowing his eyes at Rick. "Only reason why those hands should be around my neck, Rick, is if you're fucking choking me out."
He only dropped one hand, but the other stayed, bringing Negan close enough to kiss. Rick took Negan's cock in his hand and slowly pumped him, in time with Negan's hips. Negan moaned into Rick's mouth, arching into his chest. "Oh, fucking Christ." He wrapped an arm around Rick's neck, pressing closer. "Fuck me," he breathed out. "Fuck me, fuck me." Negan grinded against Rick's cock, right into his lap, and he gasped and tugged at the hair on the nape of his neck.
Rick let go of Negan's cock, hands resting on his sides. "Hold on," he murmured, and he was mustering all his strength, arms around Negan, as he lifted him. Negan groaned and wrapped his arms around Rick's neck, his legs around his waist, and was pressed against the bed. Negan laughed, still clinging to Rick. "Land ho."
Rick buried his face in Negan's neck and snapped his hips forward, sliding his cock right back in. "You like that?" he asked.
Negan grunted, raising his hips and loosening his grip from around Rick's neck. His legs stayed. "Hell yeah. Give it to Daddy."
Rick did. He grabbed onto Negan's hips, pushing forward and bringing him down on his cock again and again. Negan pressed his fist to his mouth, teeth digging into his knuckles.
And surprisingly, the next several minutes were quiet, the only sounds being the slap of skin against skin. Negan managed to contain himself, which he only did once every four months. He groaned against his fist and shuddered, and Rick watched as his eyes rolled. "Holy fuck," Negan gasped and reached out, grabbing and yanking Rick's hand closer. He threaded their fingers together, heels digging into Rick's backside. "Make me come, Rick."
Rick bucked his hips, moving faster until the bed creaked underneath them. Negan arched, squeezing their hands, and let out a moan, squirming as he came on his stomach, spurts managing to land on Rick's chest. Rick slowed his pace, hips almost at a gentle roll as Negan moaned, a soft thing as he swayed his hips, savoring the moments of sensitivity. Negan, eyes closed, lips pressed together in a smile, and his hand still clutching Rick's, was the picture of tranquility. He hummed and propped himself up. "Come over here and give me that dick. You can fuck my face."
An automatic response, Rick pulled his cock out and moved, crawling over Negan. Negan, who leaned in with his tongue outstretched, lapped up the specks of come on Rick's chest. "I taste amazing," he said, rolling his shoulders. Rick moved faster, straddling his shoulders as he held out his cock. Negan leaned in again and took his cock without issue, sliding it as far down his throat as he could manage. He paused, just a second, before he bobbed his head, surprisingly fast and coherent enough for a man who just came. Negan pulled off, a trail of spit clinging to his lower lip. He stretched out his tongue and looked up at Rick with his best bedroom eyes, not that Rick needed to be further swayed.
Rick held the back of Negan's head steady as he pushed his cock into his mouth. Negan didn't waver and held himself together as his tongue was used and his face fucked. Rick groaned, nails scratching his scalp and hips rotating. He caught a glimpse at Negan, and he didn't know how he could look more debauched than he already was.
"Come on my fucking face."
There it was.
Rick held onto his cock with one hand and pumped with the other, looking down at Negan and his waiting tongue. Some things shouldn't be allowed.
He didn't last much longer, that tugging, twisting feeling in his stomach driving him over the edge. Rick came, a strip landing across Negan's tongue and more on his lips and cheek. Negan chuckled, tongue still out, and fell back against the bed. He swallowed and licked his lips. "Don't I feel like the belle of the ball." Negan wiped his cheek off with a thumb, then sucked it clean. Rick caught his breath before rolling off of him. He roughly swallowed and glanced down. Rick absently rubbed at Negan's arm as he moved in and licked the spunk on his stomach. Underneath him, Negan shivered. "Ticklish."
Rick laid next to Negan, looking up at the ceiling. He stretched out his legs and his feet touched their pillows, and he realized they were lying on the wrong side of the bed. Rick didn't care enough to move. He turned, pressing a kiss to Negan's shoulder. "I didn't know you had to hold my hand to come."
Negan turned away from him.
Rick laughed and scooted closer, draping an arm over his waist. "Negan, come on." He nosed at his shoulder, his armpit, his neck. "I'm not making fun of you. Just… observing." He kissed at his neck.
Negan rolled onto his back, looking up at Rick. His eyes were narrowed, wary. "It was the heat of the moment."
"That wasn't the first time."
"Damn, Rick. Keeping all these fucking observations to yourself makes me think you're gonna publish a book." Negan touched Rick's chest, slowly sliding his hand up. He skimmed his fingers along his collarbone. "I love you, Rick."
Rick felt his heart leap, and he smiled. "I love you, too," he said and leaned in. Negan cupped his cheek as they kissed, a little slow and a lot of sloppy. Rick pulled back, studying Negan. "Not a bad date night, huh?"
Negan grinned. "Not a bad date night," he agreed. Negan raised his head to press another kiss to his lips. "Don't push your luck, though." Negan sat up, shoving Rick to the side. "I want flowers next time. Maybe a fucking crown." He crawled to the top of the bed, fixing the covers as he slipped under them.
"What kind of flowers?" Rick asked, following Negan and settling next to him. He slid his arms around his middle, face to his neck.
"Fucking red roses, Rick. What kind of husband are you?" Negan mumbled.
Rick woke the next morning to a bristly kiss on the shoulder. He lifted his head and looked over, Negan's sleep-lined face greeting him. His hair stuck up on one side. Negan was quiet, and he slung an arm over Rick's waist, his phone in hand. Rick furrowed his brow and turned back around, taking the phone from Negan. Negan pressed his lips to his shoulder, arm pulling back to rub Rick's chest.
On the screen was a news article. The date on it was today, but early in the morning. The headline read "Congresswoman Monroe's Disgraced Son Found Dead in Hotel: Revenge Best Served as a Gift?"
Below: "Spencer Monroe, 29, was found shot to death in a hotel room. The hotel was hosting his birthday party that evening, and it is not clear if one of the guests is the culprit. Monroe, the son of popular congresswoman Deanna Monroe, has been in and out of the spotlight the past year with allegations of alcoholism, drug abuse, and embezzlement. Representative Monroe and her husband declined to comment. Next week, it will be the second anniversary of Representative Monroe's other son, Aiden's, murder. Aiden was caught in the crossfire of a drug exchange when he was killed. It has been heavily speculated his brother Spencer was involved.
"The investigation is ongoing."
Rick stared at the screen, reading the article twice before placing the phone back in Negan's hand. "Why'd you find the one story with a ridiculous title?"
Negan laughed. "Funny, right?" He pulled away from Rick, set his phone on the nightstand, and returned, wrapping his arms around him. Negan buried his face in Rick's neck, breathing in. "Feel better?" he asked softly.
He had a name to the face, a name to the guy who deserved to die. Rick didn't have to contemplate the morality of his job, but it was hard not to at times, especially when his latest target was possibly involved in the death of his own brother. That was some deep family shit. Rick pressed back into Negan, looking over his shoulder. "What was it like? Killing him?"
Negan opened his eyes and looked at him. "Fucking satisfying. Dumbass was on his knees begging for his life. Told me that he'd get the money as soon as he could. I don't even think the idiot knew who I worked for." He brushed his lips against the shell of his ear. "He was in deep, Rick. I saved his life."
Rick lifted Negan's hand, kissing his fingers. "Yeah."
"Don't worry about it. You didn't pull the fucking trigger. If Gregory comes at you, tell him I shot the little shit." Negan flicked Rick's nose. "Also, Carl texted. Needs to be picked up in an hour or something."
Rick turned, face to the pillow. "I can go."
Negan kissed the place between his shoulders. "I was thinking we could bring the little angel, and all of us could get fucking breakfast."
Raising up onto his elbows, Rick looked over at Negan. "What'd you have in mind?"
Negan sat up, getting on his hands and knees, and trailed kisses along Rick's back. "Fucking iHop. On the way back, you could get me roses."
Rick folded his arms and rested his cheek on them. "I'll get you a dozen if you keep going."