After dinner, Paul went back into the kitchen and started getting out a variety of ingredients including apples, carrots, and pumpkin. Hearing all the commotion, Daryl got up from his rocking chair and made his way into the kitchen. He blinked, seeing Paul’s precious cookbook that he got from his grandmother on the counter and brown rice, flour, and quinoa next to it. The vet reached up for several different bottles of spices as well. Daryl watched as he pulled his kitchen aid out from under the cupboard and had the dough hook attached. He recognized the fruit and vegetables from their gardens and the eggs from the chicken coop.
He didn’t know they had quinoa, though.
“Did ya go into the city?” He asked softly. Neither of them had been to the city since Negan and his men had ambushed them and Paul had been in a coma. They were both seeing a counselor about it and Paul had been very stubborn about it. When Daryl had approached their counselor about it, he’d said Paul was working through his PTSD in his own way.
The vet looked over his shoulder at Daryl and smiled. “... Yeah. I took Beth and Tara with me.” He bent down to get two large cookie sheets out and yelped in surprise when Daryl suddenly picked him up in a hug from behind. Paul dropped the cookie sheets, both falling to the floor with loud clangs.
“Paul! That’s amazing! I’m so proud of you!” The rancher was smiling so widely and gazing at his lover with love and affection. He let Paul down, turning him around so he could kiss him. His hands cupped Paul’s cheeks, their lips meeting softly and warmly. “You’re so amazing, baby. I love you, so much.”
Paul flushed. “I-It’s not that big of a deal.”
“No, it is, baby.” The rancher hugged him closer, petting his fingers through his hair. “Paul, I didn’t go into the city for fifteen years. I know how big of a deal it is. And I know how big of a deal it is to face those fears. I’m proud of you.”
The vet blushed even more and looked down at Daryl’s chest. “It was… terrifying. Tara had to drive when I had an anxiety attack half way there. She offered to take me home, but… I really wanted to get these ingredients. I know I could’ve just ordered them and had them delivered or sent the girls with a list, but… I felt so stupid… being scared of going to the city. I didn’t want that fear to own me.” He smiled up at his lover. “... And when we got there, oh my God, Daryl, it was so amazing. The clouds covered the sun, so it was just cold enough to need a light jacket. It started raining so we went to a bakery. We had coffee and shared some pie.” He stepped back from Daryl and went to the fridge and pulled out a take out container. “I brought some back for you.”
Daryl grinned. Paul knows he has a sweet tooth. He pulled out a fork and dug in almost as soon as his lover had opened the container. “Doubt it’ll be as good as yer’s, but I’ll eat it.” He took a small bite and hummed softly. Apple, his favorite. “So, what’d ya’ll do after the bakery?”
Paul chuckled. “Once the rain let up, we walked down the street and did some shopping. Tara bought Rosita the cutest pair of shoes and Beth got herself some new jeans. I bought you something, too. I’ll show you when we go to bed.” He turned and started mixing the flour, rice, eggs and just a bit of water into the mixing bowl. “We didn’t make it to the grocery store until almost five o’clock.” He smiled. “I hadn’t had that much fun in months, considering I was in a coma for two months.”
Daryl finished the slice of apple pie and threw out the container. He placed the fork in the dishwasher and leaned against the counter. He hated when anyone mentioned Paul’s coma. It reminded him of the two months of pain, loneliness, and hopelessness that his lover may never wake up cause the doctors had no idea why he went into a coma. “... I’m glad you had fun, baby. You really deserved a day away from the ranch to have fun.” He watched Paul start cutting up some carrots and apples into minced pieces. “... Can I ask ya somethin..? About the coma?”
Paul tensed a bit, but nodded and refocused on the knife so he didn’t cut his fingers. He didn’t like thinking about the coma. He could mention it in passing or when he spoke to the doctors that cared for him, but he didn’t like thinking about it in depth. He dumped the carrots into the mixing bowl and locked the machine and turned it on. He turned to face his lover, biting his bottom lip nervously.
“... When I’s talkin to the doctors, they always told me to talk to you, to hold yer hand and just sit with you. They said sometimes come patients dream.” The rancher swallowed thickly and buried his hands in his jean pockets. “... Did you… ever hear my voice ‘r… feel my touch..? Did you dream about anythin?”
Paul turned away. He turned the oven on so it would preheat and spread a bit of flour on the cookie sheets. He took a moment to consider his answer. He could feel Daryl’s eyes on him. “... There were a few times… I swore I could hear your voice. Some of it is muddled, almost like I was hearing you talk from another room. I remember you telling me how much you love me, I remember you begging me to wake up and telling me that everyone misses me.” He turned to lean against the counter, staring down at the floor. “... Sometimes it was like I was… floating in space. Everything was dark and cold, but I could feel a warmth on my hand.”
The rancher listened intently to every word Paul said. He stepped closer, reaching up to rub his back. The vet wrapped his arms around him, nuzzling into his chest and listening to his heartbeat. “Did ya ever dream?”
“I think I did, once or twice.” He rubbed his hand over Daryl’s chest. “I dreamed about us.” He whispered. “Dreamed about being in our bed, just hugging and talking. You would tell me about the five years you spent alone here on the ranch.” He breathed the man’s scent in deeply, moaning softly. Daryl always smelled so damn good after a hard day on the ranch. The rancher thought it was weird since he felt he smelled terrible from sweating and getting dirty from hay, mud, and dirt. He looked up at the older man. “I love you, Daryl. I’m sorry if I’m been terrible to you since I woke from the coma… and I’m sorry I left you alone for so long. It must’ve been really hard for you going to the city every day-”
Daryl put a finger to Paul’s lips. “Paul, you don’t gotta apologize fer nothin. You haven’t done anything wrong. I know what you’re going through ‘n I know how hard the battle is. I just hope I’ve been patient ‘n supportive.”
“Baby, you’ve been the best. I don’t deserve you, but I’m so glad you love me.” Paul teared up a bit. “After all the boyfriends I’ve had… all the shit they put me through… you’re a fucking angel. You saved me, Daryl, in more ways than one.” He leaned up and kissed the rancher deeply. He kept his arms tightly around his lover’s waist, holding him close and tight.
Daryl groaned softly. He wrapped an arm around Paul’s shoulders while the fingers of his other hand buried into his hair. He nipped the younger man’s bottom lip and snaked his tongue in as soon as his lips parted. The vet whined softly. He gripped the rancher’s shirt and sucked on his tongue, making the older man groan. Paul could feel his boyfriend’s cock hardening and wanted so bad to sink down to his knees and suck him off; but, they were in the kitchen where anyone could walk in.
Poor Glenn would probably get an eyeful and wouldn’t be able to look at them for at least a week.
He pulled away from the kiss with a parting nip and smiled at the cowboy’s dazed look. His hands pet along the man’s back and sides. “Wanna help me make these treats?”
Daryl licked his lips and looked at the kitchen aid, which was still going. “Sure.”
Paul smiled and kissed him sweetly one more time before turning back to the ingredients. He shut the kitchen aid off and unlocked it. He used a spatula to get the dough off the hook. He had Daryl wash his hands, then they started rolling the carrot treats into small balls and placing them on the cookie sheet. They talked quietly while Paul made a second batch with apples. He told Daryl stories about his grandmother who had raised him. She’d taught him to cook and how to sew. She’d tried teaching him to knit, but he just couldn’t get into the hobby.
“She sounds like she was an amazin woman,” Daryl whispered as he rubbed Paul’s back gently. He watched his lover use the knife with such precision as he cut up some more apples to make for horse treats.
“She was. I miss her every day,” the vet whispered back. “I wish you could’ve met her. She was funny. She used to tease me all the time when she saw me looking at an older man. She would’ve loved you. She was one of those older women who have soft spots for troubled kids. She could see the good in everyone.” He sighed softly, dumping the minced apples into the kitchen aid and turning it on to mix. He smiled up at Daryl. “I’ll take you to visit her someday.”
The cowboy nodded, smiling warmly. “I’d love that.” He reached up to pet Paul’s hair, pushing a loose strand behind his ear. “Thank you fer sharin this with me.” He leaned down to kiss his lover. “Will you go on a date with me this weekend? We’ll go to the city ‘n eat, maybe see a movie or walk around the park.”
Paul leaned into his touch. He smiled. They hadn’t been on a date since the last time they’d been in the city together. He wasn’t scared anymore, though. “I’d love to.” He kissed the palm of Daryl’s hand before turning back to the kitchen aid. He hummed softly as they rolled the apple dough into balls and place those in the oven. He fed one of the carrot balls to Daryl, who hummed softly. He chuckled, kissing the corner of the man’s mouth. It was almost midnight by the time they finished all the treats, separating them into different bags for horses, cows, and the dogs.
Ol’ Red got his very own baggy, which he’d pulled down from the counter and tore to shreds without leaving a single crumb behind.