The sword feels light in her hands as Michonne takes it off the rack she had created the day before, and she can no longer remember a time when it had felt heavy when she held it. Now, as she grips the hilt it feels natural to her, as if she had always been holding it, and she thinks that she has held it for a long time. She remembers losing it for a while, and then she had told Rick that she did not miss it, though she is here now, taking it back again. She knows it is still true, though; it is only a sword, a weapon, and she knows she needs to keep it with her now.
Michonne hears footsteps from behind her, and she knows who it is before she turns around, before he speaks.
“I thought you didn’t need that anymore.”
She turns around to face him as he walks up to her. Rick has cleaned his face now, and has taken off his dirty jacket, and the blood and dirt are all gone from his appearance, though there are new white bandages still stuck in various places on his face from his fight. There is a slight hint of a smirk on his face as he approaches, though his piercing blue eyes look at her with honesty and sincerity, and Michonne reflects, not for the first time, that he looks handsome like this; this clean, honest, and potentially alright look suits him well, and she hopes that he will be able to continue wearing it, that they all will, despite everything.
She can’t help but shoot a small smile back at him, resting the sword against the fireplace carefully. “It turns out you were right,” she tells him. “You won.”
Rick huffs out a breath. “I guess so…” he says, standing in front of her and leaning lightly against the wall. “It doesn’t really feel like winning.”
Michonne looks at him for a long moment. “You—,” she begins, “We have though. You know that, right?”
His brows furrow at her for a moment, but then he nods. “Yeah…and I’d do it all again, I’d go through it all again in a second.”
She smiles at him softly in admiration. She doesn’t know how she’d been able to get through it all, how they’d all been able to get through it before he’d held them together. They had been able to, but it was better now, they were better now, as better as they could be. She almost brings it upon herself to tell him that, but she doesn’t. Not at that moment.
“How’s Carl?” she asks then, instead.
“Good,” Rick replies, “He’s asleep now. He’s taken it all well so far.”
Michonne smiles briefly. “He’s a good kid, I know he will… And the others?”
“All sleeping,” Rick says, and Michonne is glad to hear that they are all well and accounted for. Rick’s face then takes on a different expression as he looks away from her, a bit of sadness and reflection that shows only in his eyes. “I’ve got Morgan set up in the house next to us. He’ll be staying with us for a while.”
Michonne considers that for a moment, considers the look of recognition and surprise on his face when the man had appeared that night and the similar but somber look he held now. She remembers when she had seen him before that, when he had been with her and Carl out on a supply run, and they had left him behind, just another ghost. But she knew he wasn’t just another ghost; not to Rick. “How did you know him, before this?” she asks.
He looks at her again, the same sadness reflected in his eyes, and he leans further back, resting on a table. “I was gone for the beginning of it all,” he tells her, “In a coma.”
Michonne gives him a curious look.
“Police Officer and all,” he explains, “There was a shooting and I got shot, in the shoulder. I woke up in the hospital after it already began.”
She nods to him, taking in every word he says carefully.
“When I got out, I didn’t know anything about it all,” he continues, “I wouldn’t have lasted a minute longer, if Morgan hadn’t saved me.”
The look in his eyes as he continues tells her that he hasn’t told many people this before, and she wonders now, why he’s allowed himself to tell her this.
“He took me in, livin’ in my house after it started, with his boy. He was a good man, letting me stay there with his boy, helping me get supplies; he didn’t have to do any of that for me. I told him I needed to go find my wife and my child. He understood that well, he’d lost his wife and he wanted me to go and find her, but he wouldn’t come with me.”
Rick shakes his head, looking down at the floor again, and Michonne carefully places her hand over his own where it rests on the table.
He looks up at her again. “I had a radio and I tried to contact him every day after that. After a while, I knew it was a long shot, but I still kept doing it, ‘cause I wanted to have hope. After a while then, I forgot about it, forgot him, until we met him back on that supply run, and I learned what had happened to him, how he’d lost his boy too when he wasn’t able to shoot his wife.”
Her fingers squeeze his slightly on the table. She knows he’s thinking of Carl and Judith now, and she briefly thinks about her own child for a moment, before pushing the thought roughly out of her mind, and listening to Rick’s words. “I remember telling him that he could always go back, that we could all go back, but he was so gone then after what happened to him, and I’d left him again. But, now…”
His blue eyes are looking at her with uncertainty, as she quietly listens. “He’s back again, looking for me of all people.” He lets out a small chuckle, looking away again. “He even seems alright now.”
Michonne knows she needs to say something now. She cannot look at him like this any longer, without telling him how he really is; how he is to her.
“Rick,” she says and his eyes snap to her when she says his name suddenly, “You know, I meant it before, when I said we’d won, and when I told you that you’d find a way for us.”
Rick’s eyes never leave hers as she continues. “And now, I think, that you have found a way for us all, and that we’ve been living it all along. You’ve always given us that, Rick, and at the meeting, you didn’t hear it, but every one of them said as much. You’ve helped all of us find a way here, the best that we can have now, and you’re still looking for the best way for us, always. You’ve given us family, Rick, and we all need you…” She hesitates for a moment and then says, “And I need you, too.”
Michonne studies Rick, looking for his reaction, and he moves his hand out from hers only to hold it gently in his own. Then, Rick smiles. The smile isn’t a smirk in amusement or a small grin or a fake one, but a real, rare, and genuine smile. It’s one that reaches his eyes and makes his whole face look softer than it usually does, and Michonne never wants the expression to leave his face.
“I think,” Rick says softly, “They need you, too.”
The words catch her by surprise and she can see the sincerity of the statement in his eyes.
“Why?” she asks quietly, and he squeezes her hand when she speaks.
“You’ve just told me why,” he says, simply, as if what he is saying is common knowledge. “How else could I have known what you just told me? owHowYou have so much faith and hope in me, in everyone, but you understand the way that it is... We need you, too.”
“I’m just telling the truth,” Michonne insists.
Rick is grinning genuinely again. “Come here,” he says, and before she knows it he has stood up completely and wrapped his arms around her in place of any further explanation.
The hug is warm with Rick pressed against her and he smells vaguely like the citrus shampoo he must have used to wash up, and Michonne didn’t know she needed this until his arms are wrapped around her tightly, and she squeezes him back gently, breathing into his shoulder as she presses her face there. She feels her lips form a smile as she wonders what had shifted between them to get to this point, but she finds that it does not matter. All that matters for this moment is that he is hugging her and she is hugging back. They stay like that, in an embrace, for what seems like a long time, though it is still somehow not long enough, Michonne thinks.
Rick pulls himself out of the embrace slowly, looking at Michonne with an expression of fondness that makes something constrict in her chest, and as she looks up at the man whom she respects and cares for deeply, she makes a split-second decision that risks the state of the mutual and understanding friendship between them that she has grown to love.
When Michonne presses her lips against Rick’s she feels him jump slightly in surprise, and she has a brief second of worry before he responds back, his arms pulling her in closer to him to deepen the kiss. His lips are soft and the kiss is sweet, the scent of the citrus shampoo even stronger now.
The moment is again too short when they finally part after a while, but both of them are smiling then, and Rick is still holding on to her sides.
A few moments pass, and the Rick looks to their right, gesturing to the forgotten katana leaning against the wall. “You’ll need a holster for that,” he says, moving his arms down to his side.
“Yeah,” Michonne agrees.
“I’ll help you make one tomorrow,” Rick says.
Michonne laughs. “Thank you,” she says, though that is not what she is thanking him for.
“Anytime,” he says, backing away towards the stairs.
“Goodnight, Rick,” she calls to him, before he goes.
“’Night, Michonne,” Rick calls back, turning his head to look at her, “See you tomorrow.”