Safe Haven in the Chaos

BY : IdrilsSecret
Category: S through Z > The Walking Dead
Dragon prints: 3492
Disclaimer: I do not own the walking dead or any of the characters. No money is being made from the writing of these stories

Chapter 15 The List

 

Aaron waited around until he saw Eric coming out of one of the storage warehouses, where extra canned goods, bags of flour and rice, and other staples were kept. He approached Eric, who smiled when he saw Aaron.

“Back already?” Eric said.

“Yeah, it was a quick run. No trouble. Actually, it’s kind of quiet out there right now. Must be the colder weather moving in. I think it slows down the roamers.”

“Too bad it doesn’t freeze and kill them,” Eric mentioned.

Aaron noticed that Eric held a folded up paper in his hand. “What you got there?”

Eric quickly tucked the paper into his shirt pocket. “Nothing important. So, how are you?” he said to change the subject.

“I’m real good,” Aaron smiled.

Eric looked forward and asked reluctantly. “And how’s Daryl?”

“Daryl is … Daryl,” Aaron answered to avoid any further discussion.

“Trouble in paradise?” Eric asked sounding hopeful.

“No, it’s good. We’re good. Hey, I wanted to ask you about Alison,” Aaron pressed on.

“Alison? What about? You in need of some therapy?”

“No, at least I don’t think so. I wanted to know what you thought about her practice.”

“She’s good. She knows what she’s doing as far as I can tell.” Eric glanced sideways at Aaron as they walked along. “What’s this about, Aaron?”

“It’s probably nothing, but … well … a boy in town, a new resident, has been seeing her, and he mentioned something she told him during one of their sessions. It’s got Rick and his people slightly curious about who Alison is, where she came from, and who else she might be helping.” Aaron went on to explain the incident about Alison suggesting Caleb might be gay because he was raped.

“She said that to him?” Eric seemed shocked.

“Unfortunately, yes. Daryl was talking with Caleb and he said something about–”

“Daryl again I see,” Eric butted in.

“He’s been teaching Caleb how to fight and hunt. Caleb looks up to him.”

“Maybe you should change that. He’s not the best role model,” Eric said, taking a shot at Daryl.

“Come on, don’t be like that. Daryl’s a good man. You know he is, even with all his flaws.”

“Those flaws are going burn you eventually,” Eric warned.

Aaron ran his hand through his hair in frustration. He knew this wouldn’t be an easy conversation. “Look, I’m not here to talk about Daryl. I came to you on behalf of Rick and his people. You know as well as I that there are people who want to see them banished.”

“Yes, and I don’t wholly disagree with that.”

Aaron was shocked to hear Eric say this. When Rick’s group first arrived, it was Eric who stood up for them right away. What had changed, he wondered. It wasn’t just the fact that Daryl was a part of that group. Something else was driving Eric to say this. “You’ve seen what they are capable of. You’ve also seen what our people are not. We’ve been living here by luck alone so far. You haven’t been out there in a while, and I have. The roamers are herding more and more. You know how it is. Just a couple, no problem. A small group, easy to handle. But if they grow to a certain size, they’ll crush everything in their path. These walls are strong, but not against a tidal wave of roamers. No one here is thinking about future possibilities except Rick. They want to be here. They want to keep Alexandria as the safe zone it was meant to be. That’s what some of the residents don’t understand.”

Eric searched Aaron’s face looking into his eyes. “But it’s the length that Rick’s willing to go to do that that makes people leery. They’re scared, that’s all. Rick and his people, they’re aggressive, they’re sneaky. They don’t tell us the whole truth.”

Aaron stepped back and shook his head. “You didn’t used to believe that. They saved you when they didn’t even know who you were or where you came from. That didn’t matter. All they saw was a life in jeopardy. Don’t you remember what you told me? You said you liked them and you trusted them. You said you wanted them here.”

“I did trust them … until one of them took you from me,” Eric admitted, eyes misting over with a light sheen of moisture. “I’m afraid the rest of them will do the same thing with the town.”

Aaron turned his head to the side, not able to look at Eric for fear of the emotions he was stirring. “Eric–”

“Maybe we weren’t meant to be here,” Eric interrupted. “You know we’ve never fit in … the looks, the stares, the whispers when they used to see us together.”

“You think we would have been better off out there?” Aaron asked to challenge him. “I’d rather take my chances with a few homophobes rather than face the terrors outside of these walls.” He reached out and put a hand on Eric’s shoulder. “You sound as though you don’t want to be here anymore. Please don’t talk like that. You know there’s nowhere else to go.”

“But what if there was? If you knew there was a place where we would be accepted, would you go? Would you leave Alexandria behind, and Rick’s group? Would you leave Daryl here and go with me to try and rekindle what we once had?” When Aaron didn’t answer right away, Eric shook his head and turned his eyes to the ground. His hand absently touched his shirt pocket where he’d put that piece of paper. “I guess it was too much for me to wish for.”

“Eric, I’m sorry,” Aaron said.

Eric forced a smile, but his eyes spoke of his sadness. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault. The heart wants what the heart wants, doesn’t it?” He seemed to shake himself of his emotions, and came back to the reason Aaron was talking to him. “So, about Alison, I like her. She’s really helped me. I don’t know why she would have said those things to the kid. It’s not for me to know.”

“So you won’t help us?” Aaron asked, just to make sure.

Eric gave a sigh. “I can tell you where she keeps her appointment book, but that’s all. You’ll have to get it yourself. I’ll distract her for you. I’m seeing her again tomorrow. While I’m in session, you can sneak in.”

Aaron nodded, surprised at how willing Eric was to do this. “I really appreciate your help, Eric. Thank you.”

“You know I can’t say no to you,” Eric smiled bashfully in return. “Besides, I really do like Alexandria, and I want to see it stay safe. I agree with you that there are some here that aren’t looking out for the town’s best interest, but I don’t think Alison has anything to do with them.”

“Maybe not. We’ll just have to see,” Aaron replied.

* * * * *

The next day, Aaron waited around the corner from Alison’s house. He watched at a distance as Eric knocked on the door. Alison answered with a smile and showed him in. Before he entered, he looked up and down the street, his sign to Aaron that everything was going as planned. Eric said he would unlock the back door. Alison held her sessions in the library, but the book Aaron was looking for was in an office right next to it. This was going to be tricky, but there was no other choice. It was Eric he worried about. Eric had a tendency to be much too honest, and he became very nervous whenever he was involved in something that he knew was risky or wrong.

Aaron snuck between houses, making his way to the backyard. He checked constantly to make sure the coast was clear, and finally stood at the back door. Just as Eric promised, the door was unlocked, and he slipped inside. Muffled voices came from somewhere closer to the front of the house. One of them was Eric. They were in the library, starting his hour long session.

The back door led into a mudroom. The kitchen was to the left, and to the right was another door, probably the garage. Straight ahead was a hallway that went towards the front of the house. The right side of the hall was the stairs to the second floor, and there was a small door, probably a storage area. Most of the houses built in this community used every spare piece of space as a closet or some kind of cubby hole. As Aaron passed it, he noticed that it had a padlock. Odd, he thought to himself. Why would someone need to lock up a closet? For now he ignored it, and continued towards the office. He could see the door to the library where Alison and Eric were, and to the left of that room was probably the office. He would have to walk past the library in order to get to the office, though, and the library door were open. Aaron could look right in and see Alison sitting in her chair. This wasn’t going to work, he thought, but just then, Eric made his way to the door.

“Do you mind if I close it?” he asked her. Eric’s back was to Alison, and he looked frantically around outside of the room, searching for Aaron. Aaron moved his hand, and Eric saw where he was hiding. He looked relieved.

“It’s just you and I here, Eric, if you’re worried about privacy,” Alison told him.

“I know, but it’s just for peace of mind. I need to tell you something very personal about myself, so just in case someone stops by . . .”

“I’m not expecting anyone.”

“I know you keep your front door unlocked. Anyone could stroll in,” Eric said with concern.

“If it will make you feel better, then go ahead and close it,” she agreed.

Eric moved slowly as he closed the door, blocking as much of Alison’s line of sight as he could. It worked, and Aaron was finally inside the office. He’d heard Eric say that the front door was unlocked. That was his cue as to how to get out of the house. There wasn’t much time, so Aaron got to work quickly.

There was a beautiful cherry desk and bookshelves to match it in the office. Someone important must have lived here once. The shelves were full of books, and Aaron noticed that a lot of them were law books. So it must have been a lawyer’s house at one time.

Eric had told Aaron that Alison kept her appointment book locked in the drawer of the desk, and that he saw her open a box on the bookshelf to retrieve the key. Aaron crossed his fingers that he was right. There was an ornate silver box on the second set of bookshelves. He opened it and found a keyring with one small enough to belong to the desk drawer. Aaron tried it, and he was right, the drawer opened. Not bad, he thought to himself. Nailed it the first time. He couldn’t help notice that there was a couple other keys on the keyring, and he wondered if one went to the padlock of the closet under the stairs. Not important, he reminded himself, and he took the appointment book from the desk drawer. The first several pages were townspeople that Aaron knew were not a threat, but as he continued on, he started to see names being repeated, sometimes as individual sessions, and sometimes as a group. One name showed up more than the rest, Pete. Another familiar name was Gerrard. He had been at Deanna’s party the first time Rick and his people went to one. Gerrard never liked Aaron much. He definitely didn’t like Daryl the first time they met, and he’d always been leery of Rick’s people. Some of the other names were Gerrard’s men or were they Pete’s men?

“So what is it that is so secret you have to close the door?” Alison asked from the next room. Even in these expensive houses, the walls were thin, Aaron thought to himself.

It would have been easier to take a picture of the appointment book pages, but Aaron could spare it. Film was very scarce even before the outbreak with everything going digital. Now, cellphones and digital cameras were scarce because of lack of electricity for charging them, and most devices like that had been disposed of when cell towers went down. So it was back to the old days of using pen and paper. Aaron started copying part of Alison’s schedule, writing as many names, times and dates as he could in the short amount of time he had. This would be proof that Gerrard and his buddies were gathering here to conduct their business in private.

In the next room, Aaron could hear Eric speaking in a soft low voice. He must have known the walls were thin. “It’s been a while now, but it’s still difficult to see him all the time,” Eric confessed.

“Have you given any thought to what we discussed last time?” Alison asked.

“I don’t think I can do it. I’ve never been very adventurous,” Eric responded. “I keep hoping that he’ll come around and remember what it used to be like. I … I still love him.”

Aaron’s heart went to his throat. Eric was talking about him to Alison. He didn’t want to hear this, but he couldn’t help it while he wrote down names. He noticed that Eric wasn’t mentioning Daryl, thank goodness for that. Even after all this time, Eric was still respectful of Aaron’s requests. He had asked Eric a while ago, when it first came out that Aaron was seeing Daryl, to keep it to himself. Aaron hung his head as he paused from his writing. Why did it have to happen this way? Eric was such a good person. He deserved something good, something wonderful. Aaron knew he was not that person. He was never good enough for Eric, not like Eric thought he was. He’d been willing to ignore the fact that he was not in love with Eric, and willing to settle. It wasn’t difficult in the beginning. They got along well, watched out for each other, and kept to themselves most of the time. How could Aaron have known that love was still available to him in this world after everything that happened? Eric, he thought, was his last and only shot at not being alone. Aaron felt like a dick to put Eric in that very position, but there was nothing to do about it. He loved Daryl, not Eric. It couldn’t be helped.

“I think it is the best case scenario for both of you, unless you really think there is a chance,” Alison advised.

“No, there’s definitely not a chance,” Eric said sadly.

“You make it sound as though he has moved on. Are you saying he has found someone else in the community?” she asked.

“What? Uh, no … th-that’s not … I didn’t say that,” Eric stammered nervously. Shit.

“Because if there is, you know you can tell me. Nothing goes beyond these walls, Eric.”

“I-I didn’t mean it like that. He’s just moved on … you know … moved … on, life as usual and all that.” Eric was trying to back pedal, but Aaron didn’t think Alison was buying it.

“I know just about all the residents in town, and I’m pretty sure you and Aaron are the only gay men. But then, there are those people from the new group. They haven’t been here long enough to get to know them very well.”

Why was she trying to find out if there were other gay people in town? What did it matter? Aaron was confused. Alison never came across as a homophobe. She’d always been very friendly, never standoffish. So what was this sudden curiosity?

As Aaron considered this, he reached for the pencil to continue writing, and accidentally knocked a picture over. The conversation in the room next door stopped, and Aaron froze.

“What was–” Alison started to say, but Eric interrupted her.

“Could I have a glass of water, please? If it’s not too much of an inconvenience?” Eric asked.

After a brief silent pause, she answered. “Of course.”

Aaron hid behind the desk, and listened as Alison’s footsteps led away towards the kitchen. Suddenly, Eric was calling him at a whisper from the doorway. “Aaron, you still in here?”

“Yes,” Aaron answered.

“You got to leave. You’ve been here too long as it is,” Eric demanded.

Aaron thought so too. He had enough names written down, and folded the paper, pushing it into his pocket. He closed the drawer and locked it back up, but as he did, he noticed the other keys, and remembered the locked closet beneath the stairs. One of the keys looked like it would go to a padlock. He needed to know what was in there.

“I need you to distract her just a little longer. I’ve got to go back and check something out, but I need to sneak past the library again,” Aaron told him.

“How the hell am I supposed to do that?” Eric asked at a panic.

“I don’t know. Figure it out.”

“You’ve got your names. Just leave through the front. The door’s right there. She’s in the kitchen. Go before you get us both in trouble,” Eric pleaded.

“Just this one last thing and I’m out of here,” Aaron said, staring into Eric’s eyes. “Please.”

Eric studied his face a moment. “Fine, but hurry,” he agreed reluctantly.

Aaron went back behind the desk, and Eric went back into the library, waiting for Alison to return. She came back with his water and handed it to him.

“Now, where were we?” she asked. “Oh yes, we were talking about–”

“Where did you get this beautiful vase?” Eric chimed.

“It was already here when I moved into this house,” Alison replied. “So, which one of Rick’s people do you believe is–”

“This is an amazing find,” Eric interrupted. “I have to confess that I am somewhat of an antiques buff. I’ve seen this design before, usually on cheap knockoffs, but this one … oh my word,” he cooed.

“What is it?” she asked curiously, buying into Eric’s act.

Aaron took that as his cue, and peeked out of the office. Alison’s back was to the door, as she and Eric looked at some silly vase on the bookshelves at the back of the room. It probably was some knockoff of an original, but he knew Eric would play it up to keep Alison preoccupied. Aaron saw his chance and dashed to the back of the house where he came in. He had the set of keys with him, and when he got to the locked closet, he tried the first key, but that wasn’t it. The second key didn’t work either, but the third one did.

“Third time’s a charm,” he muttered to himself as he unlocked the padlock and slipped if from the door. He opened it and peeked inside the dark storage closet. “Oh my God,” he whispered, finding the room under the stairs full of guns and ammo. “She’s been stockpiling weapons.”

Aaron took a quick visual assessment of the guns he saw so he could tell Rick. He closed the door and slipped the padlock back, but just then, Alison’s voice sounded like it was coming towards him. Aaron laid the keys on a nearby decorative table to make it look like they were misplaced, and then he hurried to the back door and left. He scurried down the back steps and hid in a bush, keeping an eye on the back door. He saw Alison’s silhouette through the window. She was looking out into the back yard. Did she hear him or see him as he was leaving? Aaron hoped not.

After she was satisfied that there wasn’t anyone in her back yard, Alison’s shadow grew smaller as she headed back to Eric. Aaron wasted no time and went to Rick’s house to show him his find, and tell the group leader about the guns.

* * * * *

“That’s odd,” Rick said, looking over the list. “These people all had appointments close together. And sometimes they were grouped in sessions with Alison. It’s always these same people, too.”

Daryl stood next to Rick, studying the list too. He pointed at one name in particular. “It’s that asshole, Gerrard.”

“You know him?” Rick asked.

“We had a run in a while back, when we first arrived. He voiced his opinion right away that he didn’t like us being here,” Daryl informed him.

Rick’s finger slid down the list and stopped at another name. “Pete,” he said. His finger tapped the name aggressively.

The name made Daryl anxious. He dared a glance towards Aaron, and could see he was having the same reaction. Pete had seen them for a split second, hands connected as they stood between a couple vacant houses, having a private moment. Daryl knew they’d been too lax lately, a sign of weakness on his part. He didn’t blame Aaron for it. He was used to being himself around people. But this time, the wrong person got a glimpse of their private life.

Rick’s hand left the paper and curled into a fist. Daryl was surprised by his reaction, as though he took it personally. “You got dealings with Pete?” he asked.

“Just a bad vibe. We’ve had a couple mild run-ins. Nothing more,” Rick answered.

“There’s something else,” Aaron said, drawing Rick and Daryl’s attention. “Alison is keeping weapons.”

“Weapons?” Rick asked aggressively.

“Yeah, rifles, handguns, shotguns, and enough ammo for all of them,” Aaron informed.

Daryl looked concerned, but not so much about the weapons. “How’d you find this out?”

Aaron’s hand went to the back of his neck. “I, uh, I saw them.”

“You were in Alison’s house?” Daryl said in a raised tone.

“I thought Eric got you these names,” Rick questioned.

“He needed help. He couldn’t do it alone, so while he was in a session with Alison, keeping her attention drawn, I snuck in.”

“Where did you find the weapons?” Rick pushed.

“There’s a storage area under the stairs that leads to the second floor. I noticed it was locked and thought that was strange, but I was there for names, you know. But when I noticed the group sessions and whose names were there, I needed to know what was behind that locked door. I found the key in her office, went back, and found the weapons. Now, I don’t know how involved she is with all of this, but she’s definitely helping the other side.” As Aaron spoke to Rick, he couldn’t help notice the look on Daryl’s face as he stared at him. He wasn’t happy to hear that Aaron was in Alison’s house sneaking around.

“Did she see you?” Daryl asked.

“I don’t think so.”

“That was a risky move. You of all people don’t need to be caught working with us. As far as anyone knows, you don’t have a side,” Daryl complained.

“It’s all good, Daryl,” Rick said. “Aaron got what we needed and then some.”

“I just think he needs to be more careful, that’s all,” Daryl said. “Aaron is … he’s important … to the group.” He was frustrated that he couldn’t express what he was really feelings about what Aaron did, especially without being there to keep an eye on things, but he calmed himself. “So what do we do now?”

“We watch the people on this list, find out what their routine is. Leave Pete to me, though,” Rick answered. “If the guns Aaron found already belong to the others, we don’t need them taking control over the weapons room. We need to do that. Someone has to talk to Deanna, and see about getting some authority over the distribution of those guns.”

“I’ll work on that,” Aaron complied.

Rick gave a nod, and left his living room to go outside. At the same time, Carol came up to the porch. They spoke for a moment before Rick left. She came into the living room and found Daryl and Aaron standing at a table with the list in front of them. “Rick said you all found something?” she asked.

“Aaron got us a list,” Daryl said. He pushed the paper towards her so she could read it. “Names of some people going to Alison.” One thing had Daryl curious, mainly because of Rick’s reaction. He pointed to Pete’s name. “You know anything about him?”

Carol glanced at the paper and sighed. “Shit.”

“What’s going on?” Aaron asked.

Carol looked out the front window to make sure that Rick was gone. Carl and Caleb were out hanging with some of the other kids in town. No one else was home so it was safe to speak. “It’s Jessie’s husband, Pete.”

“Yeah, I guessed that much since Rick had smoke coming out his ears when he saw the name,” Daryl said. “Something you want to tell us?”

“We found out that Pete’s been … abusing Jessie,” she admitted cautiously.

“How do you know?” Aaron asked.

“I had my suspicions about Jessie. The way she acts sometimes threw up red flags. And then the other day, she had a bruise, said she fell. Typical abused wife excuses. I know all about it. But it was her youngest son, Sam, who confirmed it. He’s been … coming by my house, asking for treats. The way he was behaving reminded me of my daughter when her father got rough with her. I asked him, and after some coaxing, he told me what was going on. Pete yells a lot, hits Jessie from time to time, and he’s hit Sam too.”

“Shit,” Daryl mumbled. His hand came up and grasped the back of his neck. Then he looked up at Carol again. “What’s this got to do with Rick?”

“I told him we have to stop Pete,” she said.

“You can’t get involved. It’s not your problem,” Daryl told her.

That upset her. “Bullshit. If you know something like this is going on, you do what you can to stop it. I wish someone had stopped Ed, but everyone turned their heads the other way. Wasn’t until Shane beat the crap out of him that anyone stood up to Ed. God knows I couldn’t have done it. He would have killed me. I see that same look in Jessie’s eyes. There’s nothing she can do for fear of Pete killing her.”

“So what, you want Rick to arrest him? Shoot him?” Daryl challenged.

“Whatever it takes, yes,” she answered. “Whatever he has to do to stop it.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Daryl warned. “I’ve seen Rick talking to Jessie when Pete’s not around. I’ve seen him watching her when she didn’t know it. Rick is interested in her.”

Carol stuck her chin out pugnaciously. “I don’t care. Rick is the only one who will actually do something.”

“I thought we were supposed to be laying low, not raising anyone’s eyebrows in our direction. Now you’re telling me you’ve told Rick to go after Pete. How is that going to make us look? We’re already being looked down upon for our involvement in this town,” Daryl argued.

“I don’t care. Jessie’s in trouble, and someone needs to do something,” Carol defended.

“She is someone else’s wife,” Daryl countered. He turned away in frustration. “Rick is not thinking clearly with it comes to Jessie. He’s like a lion coming in to steal another’s pride. This will lead nowhere good, I can tell you that.”

“Pete is one of the others that wants to see us thrown out of Alexandria. For all we know, he’s in charge of them. What if he’s the one wanting to take over Deanna’s position? Something has to be done,” Carol continued to disagree.

“He’s one name among the others. We don’t know that for sure.” Daryl kept arguing with Carol over Rick’s involvement with Jessie and her husband. Things were getting heated between them when Aaron broke in.

“Carol,” he said to get her attention. “They already have weapons. They’re keeping them at Alison’s house. I saw them. There’s enough for a standoff, but I think they want control of every weapon. I think we might be facing a civil war within the town, and Pete might be their commander in chief. Last thing we need is for Rick starting something with him.”

“But … Jessie–” Carol started, although she could see that she had the losing argument.

“We can help her, but we have to do this first, and it requires all of us to do our part,” Aaron assured her.

“And stop pushing Rick or we’ll all be in trouble,” Daryl added.

“Well, I’m going home,” Aaron announced. “Been too stressful of a day.”

“I’ll walk with you,” Daryl said.

“You don’t have to,” Aaron tried to detour him.

“No, I think I do.”

“I’ll see you boys later. I’m going to keep an eye on Rick. I’ll talk to him too,” Carol said, and everyone went on their way.

Daryl and Aaron didn’t say much as they walked along the road towards Aaron’s house. They couldn’t really get into any kind of serious conversation as long as they were in public. Daryl only mentioned things lightly.

“Not good news about Pete, is it?” he said.

“No, not at all. Are you sure he saw–”

“Very sure. Looked right at us,” Daryl confirmed. “I don’t know what to expect from him.”

“Well, there’s no use worrying about it right now. We’ve got bigger problems, like, how are we going to get control of the weapons room? I know Rick expects us all to do our part, but this is a huge task.”

“There’s Rosita, or maybe even Tara,” Daryl suggested. “They’ve been laying kind of low on the radar, and neither one has really established a permanent job yet. Managing the weapons room just might fit their profiles.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” Aaron agreed as they approached his house. They walked up the steps and onto the porch. It was a little more private here.

“Now, about you sneaking around Alison’s house,” Daryl started.

“Not this again,” Aaron complained.

“This ain’t no game,” Daryl berated.

“You think I don’t know that? If I hadn’t taken a chance, we wouldn’t have known about the weapons she’s hoarding.”

“That’s the thing. I thought it was supposed to be Eric doing all the dirty work, and I come to find out that he’s only playing lookout while you’re doing all the dangerous stuff.”

“There was no other way of doing it,” Aaron said, defending his decision.

Daryl narrowed his eyes. “Or is it another case of you protecting him.”

“That’s not fair and you know it.”

“It’s always going to come down to that, though,” Daryl said. “Now you see why I didn’t want Eric involved. Something’s going to happen, he’s going to get in the way, and you’re going to be there to save him.”

“And what’s wrong with that? Aren’t we all supposed to be watching out for each other?” Aaron argued.

“I’m afraid it’s going to get you killed, and I don’t want to lose you, not because of someone else,” Daryl admitted honestly.

Aaron closed the distance between them. “Hey, you’re not going to lose me, ok? I’m with you now. That’s it. That’s all.” They stood together a moment, looking at each other, confirming the connection between them, assuring each other through their eyes. Aaron was the first to break away. “You better get going. As usual, there’s work to be done.”

Daryl didn’t answer at first. He nodded, agreeing with Aaron, but his feet wouldn’t move. “I want to come in.”

“You think that’s smart? It’s the middle of the day,” Aaron tried to reject.

“I don’t care,” Daryl said, determined to have his way. He felt like throwing caution to the wind. What did it matter anymore? Pete had seen them holding hands. Nothing good would come of it, so why deny his need anymore. “Please.”

Aaron studied him a moment. Daryl was in conflict. Jealousy, perhaps, or maybe it was whatever Alison stirred up with him when they spoke. Aaron couldn’t turn him away, not now. He stepped to the side, silently inviting Daryl in. Daryl walked past him and entered the house. Aaron took a look around, but didn’t see anyone. Then he too went inside, closing and locking the door behind him. “You want a beer or someth–” He didn’t finish his sentence. As he turned to face Daryl, he was embraced, lips covering his own. Daryl was insistent, and Aaron wouldn’t deny him.

“Upstairs,” Daryl said softly.

“But–” Aaron tried to counter.

“I need this, ok? I need it to be just you and me right now,” Daryl pleaded.

Aaron ran his hand through Daryl’s hair. “Ok,” he assured Daryl, as he pulled him in to kiss him gently. “Come on.”

Aaron led the way upstairs and to his bedroom. He closed the door, though he didn’t know why. Force of habit maybe. Daryl stood at the foot of the bed, seemingly lost to the world. “You ok?” Aaron asked, coming up behind him.

“I don’t know what it is sometimes. I get so angry, and I just want to fight everyone. I try to push them all away, but I can’t do that with you. If I push you away, there’s nothing left, and I don’t want that,” Daryl confessed.

“I know what you’re like. I know you need your space. But I also know you can’t stay away for very long, not like you used to do. Haven’t I always been willing to wait? Nothing has changed, Daryl. I’m here for the long haul.” Aaron’s hands rested on Daryl’s waist. “You have nothing to worry about when it comes to us. No matter what happens, it will always be us.”

Daryl turned to face Aaron, and he seemed like a child in need of the attention he never got. This whole thing with Eric must have weighed heavily on his mind. Aaron never meant for that to happen. He was only looking to do what was best for everyone. Maybe he should have been thinking more about Daryl and his concerns. After all, Daryl didn’t want him doing this in the first place, working with Eric, inviting him into the group. Aaron went against Daryl’s wishes without finding out the root of the problem. Now he knew. Daryl still saw Eric as a threat. He was worried that there wasn’t enough solidity like there had been with Aaron and Eric. But there was. Things were more stable between Daryl and Aaron than there had ever been in the two years he was with Eric. Only Aaron knew that, though. Daryl hadn’t been there. He couldn’t really know. He needed to be shown, assured through physical means. That’s why he was here now.

Aaron slid Daryl’s vest from his shoulders and unbuttoned his shirt, pushing it back until it fell to the floor. He unbuttoned his own shirt, and lifted the undershirt over his head, throwing in carelessly to the ground. Aaron’s hands roamed over Daryl’s chest, the bristly hairs feeling quite erotic on his palms. He looked at Daryl’s body, and his finger traced over the scars he’d seen many times. There was a rather ugly one on his side. “You never told me how you got this.”

“Fell down a ravine and got impaled by my own arrow,” Daryl answered.

“My God,” Aaron said with concern, as though he could feel it himself.

“Back when Carol lost her daughter, and I was out looking for her, I had a little trouble.”

Aaron smiled, “She told me about it, how you were the only one who wouldn’t give up. You almost died.”

“That’s what she says,” Daryl said defiantly. “I made it. Never thought I wouldn’t.”

“You’re her … knight in shining armor,” Aaron jested, but he meant it.

“Carol can take care of herself. She don’t need no hero.”

“It doesn’t matter. You went above and beyond for her. It’s your bond,” Aaron pointed out. “It’s like that for Eric, I think. There were times when I had to do that for him. It’s his bond to me. I can’t just ignore that. You wouldn’t ignore Carol like that.”

“But Carol isn’t in love with me,” Daryl said. “Eric still loves you, and whenever you go above and beyond, as you put it, it binds him to you even more.”

“I guess I hadn’t thought of it like that,” Aarons said.

“No more talk about him. It’s just you and me right now. Let’s keep it like that.” Daryl took off his belt and shoes. He unbuttoned his pants and sat on the end of the bed, waiting for Aaron to do the same. He watched Aaron get naked and stand before him. Then he got on his knees and helped Daryl out of his pants. When Aaron started to climb onto the bed, Daryl stopped him.

He had only let Aaron take him once, in the beginning, at the lake house. Aaron would never initiate it. He knew Daryl was still sensitive about it. Most of the time, Daryl couldn’t go through with it anyways. To have someone control him in that way made his mind jump back to the bad time. But this was Aaron, he would tell himself. Aaron didn’t control him. Aaron was a part of him when it happened. They took control of each other.

“Are you sure?” Aaron asked.

Daryl nodded and laid on his back. He reached for the bottle on the nightstand and handed it to Aaron. While Aaron prepped them, Daryl thought about Aaron admitting his love. Daryl couldn’t return the words, but he felt it in his heart. He’d never said that to anyone in his life. Never his mother or father, of course, but never to his brother either, and he had loved him. It was different with Aaron, but he still couldn’t come out and say it. The best he could do was to show him through trust, and to give himself to Aaron was absolute trust.

Aaron climbed on top of Daryl, and settled against him. They kissed and fondled, and after further prep, Daryl was ready. Aaron lined himself up, lifting himself to Daryl, who moaned at the expectation of what was to come. Like last time, Daryl was anxious for what was happening. It could invoke unpleasant memories of a time when this act was forced upon him. But it was Aaron, he repeated over and over in his mind. Aaron would take his time. He would make it good.

Aaron entered slowly, teasingly, allowing Daryl time to adjust. Daryl made himself not reject the ministrations Aaron put upon him. A little more and a little further, and then he was past that point. It started to feel good, as Aaron moved inside. And then he buried his face in Daryl’s neck, letting out a moan of pure bliss. It really was good, Daryl told himself.

“Mmm, Daryl,” Aaron said in a breathy whisper, his hips lifting and pushing forward slowly.

“Don’t stop,” Daryl answered, feeling his body give into all the sensations of having Aaron pulsating inside him.

“You feel so good,” Aaron said. “I need more.”

“Yeah,” Daryl said, giving terse permission, and Aaron went deeper.

“You like that?” Aaron said, giving Daryl more, moving faster.

Daryl pushed his hips up as Aaron came down. “Fuck yeah.” His legs wrapped around Aaron’s middle.

They set their rhythm, the bed springs lightly creaking beneath them. Aaron lifted his body from Daryl to keep from crushing him with his weight. Daryl looked up and watched the pleasure on Aaron’s face. That only made Daryl more excited to see this other man enjoying his body. Aaron’s eyes opened, and he bent lower, kissing Daryl, capturing his moans. He went deep, pumping with short, quick thrusts, touching Daryl in that one spectacular place, hitting him again and again until he felt raw and exposed all over his skin, like the ocean crashing its waves upon him over and over until finally it swallowed him up, making his head spin. Daryl went rigid, his body unable to hold off any longer as he came, spilling between their bodies. He released a long held breath, finding some way to control his voice. Aaron went deep again, but held himself there. Daryl reveled in the feel of liquid warmth purling within, and listening to Aaron call out his pleasure. Then he collapsed on top of Daryl, his body spent of energy, his breathing hot and heavy upon Daryl’s neck.

Daryl wondered how he had ever been scared to carry out this act of being the bottom. It was better the second time around, he thought, and knew he’d allow this switch in positions to happen a little more often. He could tell Aaron was definitely glad for the change, and that’s what he really wanted, was to please Aaron. Daryl knew Aaron took this role most of the time with other lovers, mainly Eric, and although he changed that position of power for Daryl, it didn’t always have to be that way. Daryl was feeling more confident about himself, and what he could handle.

Eventually, Aaron came to rest at Daryl’s side, and both men laid there regaining their energy. Exhaustion overcame them, and they dosed for a while. When Aaron woke, it felt much later and he worried. “You better go. You’ve been here too long, and it’s still daytime. Rick or one of the other’s might be looking for you.”

“Yeah, I should go, but you know … I don’t think I want to,” Daryl said defiantly.

“This really isn’t a good time for–”

Daryl moved with stealth and rolled onto Aaron, pinning his hands to the mattress above his head. “Do you want me gone?”

Aaron looked into Daryl’s seductive stare. “God no, never.”

“Then I say fuck the world out there. I really don’t give a shit if someone’s looking for me. They’ll find me tomorrow. Right now, I just want it to be you and me, because I’m not through here.”

“Ok, who the hell are you, and what did you do with Daryl?” Aaron jested.

Daryl kissed him, ending it with a bite of Aaron’s bottom lip. Aaron’s hand, finally freed from Daryl’s grip, slipped down and began kneading Daryl’s half hardened cock. Daryl pushed himself into the other’s palm, and moaned low and gravelly.

“You’re definitely Daryl,” Aaron said. “You drive me crazy, you know that?”

“I’m gonna drive you, alright,” Daryl said just before he took Aaron. He was back in control, and although he was ok with letting Aaron top, he really was much more comfortable this way. There was something about the power that coursed through his body when he had Aaron pinned beneath him, making his lover moan and cry out with ecstasy that boosted his libido. Daryl was responsible for everything Aaron was feeling. He could make it fast or slow, tease him or pound him. Right now, he wasted no time and set his rhythm. The good thing was that it took longer the second time. That was the challenge too. With muscles that were already complaining, Daryl had to ignore them and focus on his prize. Once he got Aaron well on his way it was his cries of passion the set Daryl into overdrive. Aaron was doing his part perfectly, writhing beneath him, moaning. Daryl himself was a very quiet lover, but what he didn’t express vocally, he made up for in movement. His body language gave Aaron every clue as to how close he was to completion, and right now, he was on the verge. Daryl was deep inside Aaron, hips gyrating in a steady and quick rhythm, balls tightening, cock pulsating until finally he released what he’d been trying so hard to control. Daryl stilled, back arched, head tossed back, lips parted in silent rapture, but this time it was not enough to enjoy this by himself. Daryl collapsed on top of Aaron, and moaned into the warm flesh of his lover’s neck, reveling in the last vestiges of his orgasm. The airy moan of satisfaction transformed into a breathy whisper, and for the first time, he spoke during their love session. “Aaron,” he called out quietly, but his tone spoke volumes. He wasn’t simply saying a name, it meant much more than that.

“I know you love me,” Aaron whispered in return. “You won’t say it, and I won’t make you, but I know.”

“How?” Daryl asked, still buried within his lover, a few jolts of electricity still coursing through his body.

“You wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Aaron answered.

Daryl kissed his neck. “Don’t want to be anywhere else.”



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