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The Cowboy

Chapter Text

"We're going out tonight."

"What?" Rick looked up from the paperwork he'd been halfheartedly filling out to see his new partner, Tara Chambler, looking at him determinedly from her side of the desks they'd pushed together in the corner of the squad room.

"Come on man, you've been pouting all day. What kind of partner would I be if I let you go home like this and on a Friday night to boot?"

"I don't know," Rick said, putting another case file on the precarious stack on the corner of his desk.

"A horrible one." She said slapping her hand down on her desk for emphasis, making the pile wobble dangerously, "Come on, say yes. I don't think I can do another night of pizza in that shoebox you call an apartment."

"I like my apartment," Rick complained halfheartedly.

He didn't really like the apartment. Tara was right, it was basically a glorified shoebox but it was the only thing he could afford close by.

It had been a big change from a spacious three bedroom, three bath, house in a nice neighborhood to a cramped little apartment with barely one bathroom. It was a good thing he'd lost most of his stuff in the divorce or he'd never fit in there himself.

It had been six months since he'd found out his wife was sleeping with his best friend/partner. He'd tried to make things work – with both Lori and Shane – but after a fist fight at the station and an embarrassing screaming match in front of Carl, he'd given up on both fronts. Filed for a divorce and a change of partner in the same day and tried to come to grips with the fact that his old life was dead.

It had taken some time but after agreeing to partner up with the new rookie he at least had plenty to keep his mind occupied.

Everyone pretty much avoided them now and that suited Rick just fine considering the department wasn't very big and unfortunately, Shane still worked there – meaning the whole station was in their business. There were only so many pitying looks he could take.

At least the captain had enough sense to make sure that Rick rarely worked the same shift as Shane. Rick really would rather avoid having to punch his ex-best friend in the face again.

"Alright." Rick sighed knowing there was no use in arguing with the much younger rookie who had way too much energy for someone who didn't like coffee.

"Sweet," she pumped the air with her fist, grinning like a maniac.

"Now finish up that paperwork."

"Yeah, boss."

 That night after work Tara had insisted on picking Rick up and wouldn't tell him where they were going after she missed the turn for their usual diner. After pulling into the parking lot Rick knew why.

"You didn't tell me you were taking me to a gay bar."

They had pulled into the parking lot of The Cowboy, the most infamous gay bar in all of Kings County. Actually – not that he was an expert on these things – but Rick was pretty sure it was the only gay bar in Kings County.

If Rick hadn't already known the place, if only by reputation, he never would have guessed it was a gay bar. Besides a few pride flags in the windows, the place looked like any other dive bar. The sign was faded with curly letters, the C topped with a brown cowboy hat and plenty of neon.

"Don't tell me you're gonna bail on me now Grimes," Tara said jokingly but he could see her shoulders tense.

It was no secret at the station that there were more than a few officers who had a problem with her liking women. There had been slurs thrown at her the first week on the job before she punched one of the biggest bullies square in the jaw and knocked him out.

Nobody messed with her from then on.

"Come on, you're not the only one coming off a bad breakup and I need a wingman in there."

"Long time since I've been a wingman," Rick said his lips quirking. Tara relaxed.

"Come on, it'll be fun."


He wasn't really sure what he expected but the bar looked like pretty much every other bar he'd been in. It smelled like stale beer and cigarettes with a slight hint of some air freshener to try to cover up the odor. There were a few pool tables, a pinball machine, and a wall of booths on the back wall - half full.

There were a few more guys wearing bright colors than was usual for a small town in Georgia but otherwise it could have been his old hangout with Shane. Tara didn't waste any time walking right up to the bar. 

"Hey Amy," she greeted the bartender plopping down on a stool, "the usual for me and my partner here please."

The usual turned out to be some fruity drink with an umbrella and an orange peel in it which seemed to have more sugar than alcohol but he sipped it without complaint.

"Shit," Tara ducked her head turning to look at Rick wide-eyed when a girl with blonde hair and glasses walked into the bar.

"You know her?" Rick asked.

"That's the girl I'm totally crushing on," Tara hunched down even more.

"So why are you acting like a human turtle right now?"

"I don't know?" Tara groaned, head in her hands, "I don't want to screw it up I guess. Besides we came together I can't just leave you alone in a gay bar, you'll get eaten alive."

 "I think I can handle myself," Rick laughed, "I came as your wingman and I will personally kick your ass if you don't make a move on her."

"You think I have a shot?" Tara peered up at him.

"Only one way to find out," Rick said nudging her shoulder, "now if you don't go over there I'm forcing you to do all the paperwork for the next month."

"Ok, ok," Tara stood, holding up her hands, "I'm going, keep your drawers on Officer." 

He watched her walk over nervously to the girl and talk for a moment before the blond led Tara over to a booth in the back, Tara turning to give him a quick thumbs-up.

If there was one thing to be said about Tara, it was that she definitely made things interesting. 

Rick sat for a while, just sipping on his drink enjoying the buzz of the alcohol. 

"You here with anyone?" Rick turned, startled, to see a man leaning against the bar next to him.

Maybe it was the way his lips were quirked up in this sort of nervous half smile or maybe it was the way his blue eyes shone in the neon even from under choppy dirty blonde bangs, but there was something about this guy. Something about him that made Rick Grimes' heart beat a little too fast.

"My partner." He finally choked out like a stuttering teenager.

"Sorry then," the man flushed and turned to walk away and Rick realized how it had come out and laughed.

"No, sorry, not that kind of partner," he pointed at Tara who was looking very cozy with her crush in the booth, "we work together. I'm the wingman tonight apparently."

"Cops?" He leaned back up against the bar. Maybe it was those shoulders, Rick thought, watching them move under the frayed edges of the plaid shirt.

"How'd you guess?"

"Well, you did say ‘partner’," the man smirked, "and you've got that sort of old west lawman look to you." He nodded at Rick's cowboy boots.

"Rick Grimes," he held out his hand. 

"Daryl Dixon," the man took his hand in a firm grip and Rick could swear, as corny as it sounded, that he felt something. A spark.

Rick hadn't questioned his sexuality much. He'd admittedly had few secret crushes on some male celebrities and a very brief embarrassing period of fantasizing about Shane when he was younger. But then he'd married Lori straight out of high school and he wasn't the type of man to let his eyes wander no matter how bad things had gotten. 

But there was something about this man that made his eyes linger. Maybe it was his well-muscled arms, or his choppy hair, or maybe his piercing eyes. Something that made him question his presumed heterosexuality.

"What're ya drinkin'?" Daryl asked, nodding towards Rick's empty glass.

"Honestly don't know," Rick laughed, "my partner ordered for me and I'm pretty sure it was more sugar than alcohol."

"They have some decent beers here. Lemme buy ya a drink?"

Rick opened his mouth to say, ‘thanks but no thanks', ‘sorry I'm still getting over my wife cheating on me', ‘I'm not gay', something to stop Daryl from wasting his time. But the nervous twitch of Daryl's hands made him stop. The guy had plucked up the courage to come talk to him, the least Rick could do was have the courage not to reject him outright.

Especially since Rick wasn't entirely sure Daryl would be wasting his time if he kept looking up at Rick from under his bangs like that.

"Only if you let me buy the next one," Rick said and Daryl's tentative smile brightened.

"Can't say no to that," Daryl said waving Amy over for the drinks.

"So what do you do?" Rick asked, feeling slightly awkward. It'd been a very long time since he'd flirted with anyone let alone someone he'd just met in a bar.

"Nothin' fancy like a cop. I take whatever I can get," Daryl said looking a bit embarrassed, "working at Joe's Auto right now."

"Really?" Rick laughed, "I was there a couple weeks ago with a busted headlight. Well, headlights."

"The black Ford that was smashed to shit?" Daryl asked, taking a sip from the drinks Amy had placed in front of them.

"You remember that?"

"Well, I'll remember any car that's been beat up that bad. The boys at the shop spent most of that day makin' up stories about what had happened."

"Yeah," Rick flushed rubbing the back of his neck, embarrassed, "my ex went a little overboard in my opinion."

It had certainly been one of their more explosive fights. He'd only meant to drop off some stuff of Lori's that he'd accidentally packed up but somehow that turned into a screaming match in front of the house they'd once shared. All it took was for one comment about Lori acting like her mother for her to get out the baseball bat and go full on Carrie Underwood.

At least Carl had been at friends house.

"Ya know yer really cute when ya blush?" Daryl smiled but before Rick could respond Tara is sliding up next to him.

"Hey, so you know how I drove you here? Do you think you could take a cab home?" She pleaded as Rick noticed the blonde standing nervously behind her. 

"I can take him home," Daryl piped up and Tara stared at him like she'd just noticed he was there. 

"Oh," she looked back and forth between them, "oh Rick I didn't know. I thought with Lori and all –"

"I'm fine Tara," Rick cut her off, "go have fun."

"Ok boss, you too," she winked at him and Daryl. Rick groaned putting his face in his hands.

"She seems fun ta work with," Daryl remarked. 

"You have no idea," Rick replied, taking a long drink from his beer.

"She seemed surprised that we were talking." Daryl looked a little more guarded now and it made Rick's heart plummet. He didn't want to scare Daryl off but despite just meeting him he figured the other man deserved the truth.

"Yeah," Rick fiddled with his hands nervously, "I guess I should warn you I just went through a pretty nasty divorce. Found my wife sleeping with my best friend and old partner. So, uh, I guess you could say I'm a little out of practice with this type of thing." Rick said motioning between them.

"Yer doin' fine," Daryl reached out and took Rick's hand.

"Really?" Rick could barely look at Daryl now.


"Like I said I'm not very good at this so if I'm bein' to forward you can tell me to go to hell but you wanna skip that drink I promised you?"

"If you ask me to come home with you I won' say no," Daryl breathed leaning into Rick and fuck he'd never felt like this.

"I've never," Rick cleared his throat, "I've never done anything like this."

"What? Pickin' someone up at a bar? Or sleepin' with a man?" 

"Both," Rick admitted.

"As long as I ain't some experiment I don' mind."

"Yer not," Rick assured him, "trust me if I'm sure of anything right now it's that I really want you."

"Then let's get outta here," Daryl stood, hooking a finger in Rick's belt loops, "Officer."

Fuck, Rick thought dazedly, I'm in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

They walked out into the parking lot, the neon casting a harsh glow on everything but Rick can't help but think it makes Daryl look beautiful.

"I'd take ya back ta my place but I live with my dumbass brother and he ain't exactly – accommodatin' when it comes to my ‘lifestyle'." Daryl said with air quotes.

"Like I said I don't really do this," Rick said nervously, "but if ya want you can come back to my place."

"I’d say I can give ya a ride," Daryl jerked a thumb at a well-polished motorcycle in front of the bar, "don't have another helmet, though. ‘sides it’d suck if you had to arrest me for driving over the legal limit Officer." 

"It's not far," Rick said feeling a little drunk himself at the sight of Daryl in the moonlight, "if you don’t mind a bit of a walk.”

"Don’t mind," Daryl smirked, following after Rick as they started down the moonlight street, “we can go by the drug store on the way too.”

Rick flushed realizing what Daryl intended to get there.

“Probably a good idea,” he cleared his throat unable to look at Daryl, “haven’t had any need for that stuff for a good long while.” 

“Me neither,” Daryl shrugged when Rick looked up surprised, “What you think I’m out picking up guys every night?”

“No just – I never would’ve had the courage to come talk to you but you came right up to me. Just figured you had a bit more experience what with you being so suave and all.” Rick joked lightly.

“Shut it, Grimes,” Daryl scoffed with a smile, “trust me, it took a couple tequila shots to muster up the courage ta do more than just ogle ya all night.”

“I’m glad you did,” Rick smiled over at the other man feeling more at ease than he had in a long time.

 After a quick – and slightly embarrassing – stop at the drug store they made it back to Rick’s apartment, stumbled up the stairs and through the door.

"Sorry it's not much," Rick glancing at a carton of leftover Chinese food off the coffee table, feeling a bit self-conscious. He hadn't planned on any visitors and certainly not any ones that he wanted to impress.

"Not here for your apartment Rick," Daryl murmured suddenly very close. God, he even smelled nice.

"I'd really like to kiss you now," Rick said eyes caught on Daryl's lips. 

"Ain't gonna say no now," and Daryl had barely finished speaking before Rick was kissing him like he'd never kissed anyone before.

Daryl's mouth was like fire. Rick could barely breathe, he was consumed by it and even though in the back of his mind he realizes how ridiculous it was, he couldn’t help but feel like this was what he'd been waiting his whole life for.

He walked Daryl backward, unable to separate long enough to walk to the bedroom but knowing that there's no way he's going to be able to do anything on the threadbare couch he'd bought at the thrift store. 

Daryl stopped him at the doorway to his bedroom and pressed Rick up against the doorframe, nibbling at his lips.

When Rick rocked his hips forward and felt an answering hardness against his own he groaned low in his throat. 

"Fuck," Daryl moaned and it's the sweetest sound Rick has ever heard, “Rick.”

“How far do you want this to go?” Rick asked, pulling back to look into Daryl’s eyes. He was feeling a bit light headed but he wasn’t one to forget about making sure his partner was comfortable.

Daryl hooked his fingers through Rick’s belt loops and tugged him playfully towards the bed.

“As far as you’ll let it, Officer,” Daryl smirked as he let go of Rick and laid back on the bed, looking practically edible.

Rick growled all but pouncing on the other man and kissing him with a hunger he’d never felt before.

“Not gonna lie though,” Daryl gasped as Rick pulled away to suck kisses on his neck, “was hoping yer gonna fuck me.”

And Rick fucking ached at the thought.

“Shit,” he hissed, pressing his forehead into Daryl’s shoulder, trying to collect himself for a minute.

"Yes," Daryl moaned, bucking his hips up against Rick’s, "please. I want you to fuck me."

And it's like pure magma is running through his veins. He hadn't even really thought it through – how far this would go – but now that it’s out in the open it feels obvious.

He wants so bad it hurts.

They shed their clothes fast and Daryl falls back onto the bed. His prick is so hard it’s curving up toward his stomach. 

“Tell me what you want,” Rick said, eyes roving Daryl’s bare skin hungrily. In that moment Rick was sure he’d do anything the man asked.

“Gimme the bag,” Daryl motioned to the CVS bag on the floor, that had somehow made it into the room with them.

Rick reluctantly left the bed to grab the bag and handed it over to Daryl who pulled out the lube and condoms.

After a moment fumbling with the lube, Daryl finally coated his fingers and settled back on the bed with his legs spread wide.

“Do you want me to –“ Rick trailed off, watching as Daryl trailed his across his thighs and down even lower.

“No,” Daryl grunted, pushing a finger slowly in, “not yet. Let me – fuck – get it started.” 

And fuck Daryl's fingers disappeared inside himself and Rick felt like he's choking on his own spit. Fuck he wanted to be those fingers. 

"Feels so good," Daryl moaned after a moment, his hips rolling into his hand

"Bet it does," Rick groaned palming himself, "can I – help?"

"Yeah," Daryl moaned out, "yeah, put one of yer fingers in."

And Rick reached down and worked his pointer finger in alongside Daryl's two.

It’s so strange and awkward but also unbelievably, insanely arousing.

"Fuck," Daryl hissed out, throwing his head back against the pillows, “Fuck – I’m ready.”

“You sure?” Rick asked.

“Yes – yes,” Daryl nodded quickly, pulling his fingers out, “fuck, I’m so ready.”

Rick fumbled with the condom for a moment as he slid it on but finally, the latex is in place.

Daryl reached for him and achingly slow guided Rick inside.

The heat and the pressure were almost unbearable for a moment. Rick was sure he was going to cum from that alone. But he bit his lip and held perfectly still not wanting to waste this moment.

He let his head drop to rest on Daryl’s forehead, searching his eyes for any pain or discomfort as he eased in.

Finally, Daryl’s hands clenched at Rick’s hip and he stopped.

“You OK?” Rick asked, concerned.

“Yeah,” Daryl breathed, his pupils blown wide in his eyes, “just – fuck.”

And when he clenched around Rick – well he just couldn’t help it. It was almost involuntary – he pulled back a fraction before snapping his hips forward again, even deeper this time.

Daryl wailed.

“Sorry,” Rick grunted out horrified, “fuck are you – “ 

“Shit, yes I’m fine,” Daryl replied breathlessly, “keep going. That was amazing.”

And Rick wasn’t going to say no.

Each roll of his hips Rick felt like he was going even deeper and Daryl’s body seemed to welcome it.

Daryl’s legs came up, crossing behind Rick’s back, to haul him even closer.

“Right there, shit right there,” Daryl was nearly sobbing with pleasure and Rick himself wasn’t far off.

“Fuck, Daryl,” Rick finally managed after a particularly hard thrust, “I’m close.”

“Me too,” Daryl groaned, gnawing at his lips.

Rick reached down between them and took Daryl in his fist.

“Are you going to come for me?” Rick asked on a whim.

Daryl’s eyes went wide and he jerked in Rick’s hand.

“Can I?” Daryl asked softly and fuck Rick needed it as bad as Daryl did.

“Yes,” Rick groaned out, fisting Daryl in time with his almost frantic thrusts, “yes, Daryl, now.”

And it only takes a few more pumps of his hand for Daryl to spill all over it with a keen.

The heat clenching around Rick became almost like a vice and after a few more thrusts himself he stilled and spilled into the condom.

Neither man moved for a moment, just basking in the glow before Daryl reached up and twined his fingers through Rick’s hair. He looked so good, covered in a light sheen of sweat, his hair tousled on the pillows, lips red and bitten.

Rick bent and kissed those lips again, passionate and long until his lungs burned.

“That was nice,” Daryl said with a lazy smile, once they’d pulled apart for air.

“Yeah,” Rick replied and easy smile working across his own face, “it was.”

 Daryl clenched again and Rick realized he was still inside him. 

“Uh,” Rick flushed, “sorry, let me pull out.”

“Feels nice,” Daryl smirked and god damn if Rick was a little younger he’d probably just stay inside him all night.

As it was, Rick was feeling his age in his aching knees so he reluctantly pulled away from Daryl’s warmth.

He awkwardly managed to make it to the bathroom and throw away the tied off condom before returning with a wet towel to wipe off with.

“You can take a shower if you’d prefer,” Rick started as he re-entered the bed room to find Daryl sitting up in bed with his shirt and pant halfway on looking a little – awkward.

Rick stopped short.

“Sorry,” Daryl flushed, “I, uh, can just go if you want me too.”

“No,” Rick replied quickly dropping the towel on the floor and sitting on the bed, trying to understand the mood shift, “I don’t want that.”

“This is always the most awkward part, isn’t it,” Daryl laughed wryly, “trying to figure out if this is just a one night stand or –“ 

“Or more?” Rick asked hopefully.

“Yeah,” Daryl ducked his head and Rick can’t help but be enamored with this man – one moment so confident and the next so unsure of himself. It made Rick want to kiss him all over again.

So he did. Sweet and slow like Daryl deserved. 

“Stay,” Rick said softly against Daryl’s lips, “we can worry about more tomorrow.”

“Ok,” Daryl smiled shyly and they fell asleep curled together like they’d done it a million times before.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. 

Rick groaned. His eye lids felt like they were stuck together with glue.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

“Think that’s yers,” a gruff voice mumbled. From next to Rick. In his bed.

His eyes snapped open and the night before came rushing back.


Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

Finally, Rick rolled over with a groan and reached down to the floor for his discarded jeans.

Fishing through his pockets he pulled out the phone.

“Hello,” he grumbled, finally answering it.

“Where are you?” Lori’s annoyed voice snapped, “You were supposed to be here an hour ago.” 

Rick glanced at his clock on his bedside table. 8:00. 

“For what?” Rick grumbled, his mind still foggy from sleep. 

“I have to go to my doctor’s appointment and the lawn people are coming. I asked you to be here.” Each conversation they’d had since the divorce, Lori’s voice seemed increasingly shrill.

“Why do I need to be there?” Rick asked rolling over to take in Daryl’s sleepy form.

“We agreed to split the profits of the house when it sells. Therefore, it’s half your house and half your lawn.”

“But I don’t get to live in it,” Rick replied annoyed, “remind me how that works again? Oh, right you cheated on me and took all my shit.”

“Don’t be unreasonable Rick,” Lori continued, “you’re the one who wanted it this way.”

“Really? I wanted you to cheat on me?” Rick replied but with less anger. Daryl had turned over and was looking up at him with dark eyes. 

“That’s not the point. The point is – “ 

“Rick,” Daryl called out, his voice overly loud, “come back to bed. I’m gettin’ cold.”

Lori went silent. 

“Is someone there with you?” she finally asked, her voice low and murderous. 

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business Lori. You’re the one who wanted it this way. You wanted Shane? Get him to do it.” Rick hung up and dropped the phone on the floor. 

“Figured you could use a little help there, Officer,” Daryl said with a smirk.

“You figured right,” Rick smiled, settling back down next to Daryl, giving him a quick peck on the lips.

“I should probably head out soon,” Daryl said, “I work Saturdays but uh – I’d love to see you again.”

“I’d love that too,” Rick took Daryl’s hand, tracing the scars and callouses, “maybe take you out on a real date this time.”

“You do still owe me a drink,” Daryl smirked and Rick couldn’t help leaning in for another long kiss, morning breath and all.