The first time they kiss, it's a metaphor of what their whole relationship to come will be.
Negan has been, as usual, not-so-subtly threatening Rick, cornering him against the wall in his desire to see him swallow his pride and bow his head down, feverishly needing to feast on Rick’s submission. And Rick, as usual, meets this attack with bitter self-restraint, digging his nails into his palms to keep himself from headbutting Negan, throw him to the floor, and beat him to death, eagerly desiring feast on Negan’s blood.
That is, until Negan finishes speaking and grins down, waiting for Rick’s bloodlust to show in his eyes. Rick doesn’t even know what the man has said - Negan’s words are muffled down by the blood pumping on his ears, running in his veins mixed with pure liquid rage - but he feels himself shake in anger. He waits for a second, attempting to rein in a violent reaction that can be potentially mortal to himself, and the next thing he knows is that he, somehow, has grabbed Negan’s head, nails digging painfully into his scalp, and crashed their mouths together.
Negan’s startled wide eyes are closed within a second, moaning ferally into the kiss - if something so violent can even be called kissing - and taking control back as he slams Rick into the wall. He grunts, he bites, he scratches, and they grind messily against one another until they’ve both come in their pants.
They’re both breathless, panting, when they finish. All the tension between them has been magically lifted the moment they came. Negan smiles shakily when he sees Rick do the same. For once his mouth isn’t running obscenities, and instead he uses it to follow the irrational, unexpected pull deep in his chest that tells him he desperately needs to kiss Rick again, only it’s got to be soft this time, gentle. If he allows himself to think about it, loving.
Rick’s more startled by the light brush of Negan’s lips against his own than he is by everything else. More hesitant to give in, too. And yet, he ends up almost purring while they leisurely explore each other’s mouth and their hands run over the other’s body, fascinated and hungry.
It’s probably because he’s the cynical one out of the two of them. Rick, while he has a good set of eyes that show him reality as it is, has a bothersome tendency to scratch idealism every now and then. Rick believes in something good always having the potential to come. Not Negan; that’s why he can tell that as much as he loves Rick - because yes, love is the word - they’re not a good match. The thought of them being a good, ideal couple has Negan snorting into his morning coffee, gracefully provided by Alexandria’s admirable efforts.
And hey, fair is fair. Negan’s first meeting with Rick will have that sort of effect in a man. He won’t let Negan know, but Rick still hasn’t forgiven him for that first night. Never will. Still wakes up at night sometimes, looks at the man sleeping at his side, and wonders to himself why he hasn’t stabbed him to death yet, again and again until his face is as unrecognizable as Glenn’s had been.
It’s not like Negan has completely given up on his fantasy of having an emotionally destroyed Rick as his little bitch, either, so again fair is fair. Rick brings back Negan’s scathing desire to take control own humiliate bruise dominate mark possess , and Negan brings out Rick’s most violent and vengeful urges. Quite a match.
Mind you, does this mean either of them is willing to let go of the grip they have on one another? Fuck no. They’d rather burn the world down.
And maybe it’s proof of the ill-matched couple they are that Negan is relieved it’s not just his fault. Rick comes with a whole set of issues on his own, and Negan takes comfort in the fact, because it means he didn’t take something good and dirty it up. He just sullied up a little what was already deliciously screwed up. At least, that’s what he wants to believe. Might be true, might be not.
At the end of the day, it won’t matter. Rick’s tension might be alarmingly high from talking to Negan on a daily basis, but he’s Negan’s and that’s all that he can be bothered to care about.
“Michonne this, Michonne that! Jesus, Rick, if you’re so fucking fond of her why don’t you go back to her bed, you fucking slut? Oh wait, so silly of me, maybe you already are!”
Negan’s words are heated, seething underneath the fragile coat of amusement they’ve been painted with. In contrast, Rick is cold as the ice of his eyes. No feelings can be guessed under it; he might be pissed, he might be hurt, or he might honestly not give a shit. The truth is that he cannot believe this is happening again. He’s just trying to shield himself from the inevitable explosion that will just continue escalating.
“I’m not the one who’s got a past with cheating, Negan” he points out with a raised eyebrow. “Or polygamy. No matter how much you love anyone, you don’t care enough to stay loyal. Are you sure you aren’t projecting here?”
Negan hisses and takes a step back. His anger reaches a peak just before it explodes and leaves behind a deep hurt caused by words that would have been true a long time ago. Not anymore. The heat is gone from his words, leaving behind a soft whisper that would have been felt by Rick if Negan didn’t artificially fill his words with anger again.
“You know I fucking love you, isn’t that enough to trust me?”
“I can ask you the same, Negan.”
“I ain’t the one getting all close and personal with that bitch!”
“Don’t call her that.”
Negan shoves Rick’s chest, to which Rick answers by finally losing his cool himself and pushing back. Negan corners him against the wall, snarls. When Rick tries to move away, he closes his way out and shoves him into the wall again. Rick grits his teeth, pushes against Negan, Negan pushes back, and without either of them knowing how, a punch’s been thrown.
Three more punches follow, there might have been a kick in there, but five minutes later Negan’s lips are closed over Rick’s, moving hard and invasive as he pounds inside of Rick, whose fists have found out they’d rather close around the back of Negan’s shirt than around his throat.
They’re laughing when they’re done, smiling into their kisses, giggly and cuddly, never getting tired of stroking each other’s skin.
They think their problems are worked out now. They never are. Their arguments never stay on the verbal level long enough for that.
“I’ve been fucking someone else.”
Which is a lie. Against all expectations, Negan is completely truthful when he whispers to Rick that he’s all he needs, late at night between the sheets of their bed, a reverent praise on his lips. And maybe that’s the problem: He only needs Rick, but he needs all of him. He can’t have Rick non-verbally asking for some space, have time to sort things out and get over their frequent arguments. Rick has admitted that it’s not the first time his reserved behavior, his tendency to keep things to himself that clashes against Negan’s neediness, has given him relationship troubles. Negan needs it to end, so he lies. He wants Rick to be all over him, to not let him out of his sight, even if it’s just so he can break his nose.
Rick doesn’t know that, though. He hears Negan’s words, spoken in the most nonchalant way he could muster, and feels a cold like few times he’s ever felt, seeping into his chest to take over his heart and lungs, making his blood and breathing stop short. His thoughts don’t flow the way they should. All he can hear is what Negan has said, over and over like a broken record.
First Lori. Now Negan. All there is in Rick’s mind is that there must be something wrong in him. Something undesirable, unable to satisfy those he loves. He’s not enough, and Negan is shamelessly rubbing it on his face.
He should scream. He should end everything he has with Negan right in that moment, spit on his face and tell him he won’t be missed.
Instead he keeps it all down and smiles. “Is that so? Congratulations. Hope they’re a good lay. Feel free to get attached to them, but do me a favor and don’t let Judith see it, huh?”
Negan blinks a couple times, completely thrown off his game. Horror seeps into him as he realizes that he’s managed to do the complete opposite of what he intended. He curses and reaches out, but Rick’s already walking out the door after a cold shrug.
“Rick, wait a-”
Too late, Rick’s already gone.
For a few weeks, Rick avoids Negan. Well, not avoid, just… Doesn’t react to his presence. They only interact in bed, when both of them happen to be awake at the same time, and fuck the day’s frustrations off.
It’s killing the both of them.
Negan’s chest is bare, muscles and tattoos free to the eye. His belt lies on the floor, next to his tee, and the first few buttons of his trousers are undone. He’s completely relaxed, but he scowls when the man reaches for his groin and he stops the hand in a firm grip, tight enough to make the man wince.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, you fucking slut?”
The man blinks, taken aback. “Negan, didn’t you say-”
“Who the hell do you think you are to call me by my name?” Negan snarls. The man recoils.
“Sir, didn’t you want to, huh, have sex?”
Negan rolls his eyes and swats the man’s hand away from himself as if it was something nasty he can’t stand to touch. He takes a few careful steps back as Negan watches him with stern eyes.
“I want Rick to think we did. But Jesus, have you looked at him? You’re as desirable as a snail once I’ve had a taste of Rick. So you stay there, pants on their place, and wait for Rick to come here. If you try anything again I’ll beat you to death.”
It’s effective, because the guy looks completely humiliated and ashamed, but Negan honestly doesn’t give a shit as long as he plays his role. For his part, Negan lies on the messed up sheets of his and Rick’s bed, waiting for him to come home. His pants look like they’ve been lazily put back on after some activity, one of his arms lies behind his head, and if he had a cigarette he’d be calmly taking blows at it. The weakening afternoon light filters through the windows, and when Rick comes back sooner or later, he’ll fall right for what Negan wants him to think.
It’ll probably kill him. Negan doesn’t care. All he cares about is making Rick say something, do something. Negan knows Rick still cares, knows he’ll care until his dying day, but he cannot go on with this anymore without having tangible proof of it. Let him scream at him and make him feel like shit, beat him if he so wants, have all the shit he has inside him explode on Negan, but please , let Rick destroy that wall that’s risen between them. Negan’s too prideful to do it himself.
He wants Rick angry, humiliated, with his self-esteem broken if that’s what it takes. He wants Rick his, unable to think of anything but Negan you’re mine and I won’t allow you to forget it .
Negan puts a practiced grin on his face when he hears the door open and looks up at it. There, like a deer in the headlights, stands Rick. His eyes are wide, full of disbelief, as he looks at Negan’s state and then at the other man. For a full minute, no one says anything. The Negan waves his hand.
“You’re a little late to the party, Rick. If you wait a while we can go at it again, though.”
Rick says nothing. He turns around and walks out of the room. He hears Negan curse and go after him, but Rick’s quicker. They meet at the base of the stairs, Negan on his way down and Rick on his way back up. Rick’s holding the largest knife they have on their kitchen. Negan goes wide-eyed and pale, starts muttering up something about ‘I just wanted you to-’ but Rick’s not listening. He takes long strides up the stairs and into the room.
Negan catches up in time to watch from the doorway as Rick doubts, and then decides the knife is too much. He drops it to the ground, and the trembling man sighs in relief. However, although better than the knife, the fist that connects to his face hurts too. Negan watches as Rick takes him down and punches him again. He’s not going for the kill, but he gets his knuckles wet with blood.
Rick does so with the coldest of faces. Soon enough, though, he stops and brings his hand to his mouth, briefly berating himself for his reaction, but soon it gives way to indifference. He stands up, roughly helps the man to follow suit, and shoves him out of the room. The man’s dizzy, a couple punches away from having passed out, but neither Negan nor Rick make sure he gets out alright.
Rick turns around to give Negan a full view of his face, decorated with a little bit of blood left by his hand. He wears an angry glare. Then he punches Negan right on the nose and the bigger man falls back, hitting his head on the floor and feeling blood flow down on his lips.
Negan laughs. He thought Alexandria had stabilized Rick from his most savage instincts. As it turns out, he was wrong.
When Negan stands up and Rick walks up to him, the man doesn’t back away. He’s not scared. He’s not disapproving, or even irritated. He’s thrilled. Looks like Rick gives enough of a shit, after all, and damn if it doesn’t turn him on. He can only imagine how giddy he’d be had Rick not stopped and knocked the guy out. Or if he hadn’t given up on the knife.
Rick grips Negan’s shoulders once he’s close enough, nails digging into his skin. Negan returns the favor by yanking Rick’s hair so tight it’s painful and pushing him close, faces inches apart from each other. They breathe each other’s exhales, and Negan hasn’t wanted to kiss him so bad in a very long time.
“I’m not losing you, Negan. You’re mire. I have lost too much already and I’m not willing to go through it again if I can help it. If you want to leave me then kill yourself, ‘cause it’s not happening any other way.”
Negan grins, takes delight on the way Rick talks and yet lets himself be manhandled. Negan tightens his grip on Rick’s hair and draws him in for a kiss, as feral and bruising as their first had been. It tastes of blood and Negan’s nose is killing him, but neither of them care.
“I’m fucking yours, baby, and you’re fucking mine. That’s not changing, even if we have to burn the whole world down.”