First of all, thank you for taking the time to read this. The reason I began writing this story to begin with was because, after Left Behind came out, I noticed a lack of ElliexRiley fanfiction and I started trying to rectify that. However, my obsessive writing began to expand, as I started filling in gaps from not just Left Behind, but from The Last of Us proper, and soon enough I had a full-blown story on my hands.
Let me preface this fanfic by saying that if you are uncomfortable with the exploration of teenage sexuality, then you might want to skip a chapter or so. With this in mind, sit back, relax, and read to your heart's content.
Chapter 1: Abandonment
Ellie lightly knocked on the door of Riley's room. Days before, Ellie had realized she had a crush on her best friend. Ten minutes ago, she was just on the brink of confessing her feelings toward Riley when the older girl shoved her food aside and trudged away, saying something about needing space to 'figure stuff out'. Ellie followed her, concerned. This wasn't like Riley, at all. As she stood, leaning against the wall, pondering why Riley's behavior was so strange, she heard feet stomping and then the door tore open. Riley stood, her face contorted into a scowl.
"What do you want?"
"I just wanted to see if you were okay."
Riley glared at her, "I'm fine," she said curtly before moving to slam the door in Ellie's face. Ellie placed her hand on the door, stopping it from closing.
Riley's brow formed into knot of anger, but she didn't close the door.
"You stormed out of the mess hall before I could say anything. I wanted to check in on you."
"Well, you've checked in, now. Happy?"
Ellie sighed. Moment of truth, "Riley, I want to tell you -"
"Why are you always following me around?"
Ellie was taken aback, "What?"
"I told you I needed some space, so why are you following me around? Don't you have anything better to do? You're like a goddamn puppy!"
"Just leave me alone. Quit being so goddamn needy!"
"Fuck off, Ellie!"
The door slammed shut. Ellie tried to bite back tears. When she realized she couldn't do it, she bolted to her room. Slamming the door shut, she jumped onto her bed and curled into a ball, tears flowing freely as she sobbed. Riley had rejected not only her but their entire friendship up to that point. Little did she know, a few doors down, Riley was doing and thinking the same thing while packing her belongings into her backpack.
Ellie awoke with a start. She thought she heard footsteps last night, light, sneaky steps instead of the usual thuds of the soldiers' boots. She slowly placed her bare feet on the ground before standing. She dressed and then made her way to the mess hall for breakfast. She took her rations and sat down across from Tino and the guys, leaving a space for Riley like she always did, hoping that Riley would sit by her, apologize, and the two could go on being friends again. She couldn't help but notice that, as she ate, Riley's gang of friends stayed unusually quiet this morning. She looked over her shoulder to the entrance to the mess hall when she heard the door open. It was just another kid walking in. She turned back to Tino. They ate in silence for a while, and every time the door would open Ellie would look over and see another kid. None of them were Riley. She finally spoke.
Tino had a forkful of food halfway to his mouth when he came to a dead stop, "I don't know, why?" he said before putting the fork in his mouth.
"She hasn't come in for breakfast."
"Maybe she's sick."
"She was fine last night," Ellie said. That was a lie. She may have been healthy, but she wasn't anywhere near 'fine'. 'Hostile' was a more appropriate term.
"Look, maybe she's just staying in today," Tino offered as he continued to focus on his tray of food. Ellie knew he was lying. He knew. He had to know. She reached over and pulled his tray from his grasp, "Hey, what the fuck is that for?" he sputtered.
"Where is she?"
"I don't know!"
"Look, I don't know where she is, so why are you asking me?!"
Ellie angrily shoved the tray back at him before standing up and heading off to Riley's room. She pounded on the door.
"Riley, you in there?"
Nothing. She knocked again, harder.
The door swung open with the force of her knocks. Riley's bed was made, but all of her belongings were gone. Ellie sped back to the mess hall and then the hallways, calling Riley's name. She searched high and low throughout the building, her voice getting raw as she kept shouting. She couldn't find her anywhere. She finally returned to the mess hall and grabbed Tino by the shirt.
"Where is she?!"
"I don't know! She just fucking disappeared, that's all I know, I promise!"
She let him go and fled, back to her room. She slammed the door shut and began to throw her possessions around angrily, "Goddammit, Riley, we were good! What the fuck happened? Why did yell at me? Why did you go?!"
She yanked their picture off the wall and was about to tear it in two when she stopped suddenly, looking at the picture. It was her. And Riley. Smiling. Happy. Together. How it should be. How it should have remained. She sat down on the bed, clutching it in shaky hands. She held it close. She stroked it with a finger and then replaced it on the wall where it belonged. She felt tears begin to stream down her face, but she angrily wiped them away. Riley was barely gone, yet Ellie already missed her. But it was going to be okay, Ellie thought. Riley would come back, and then Ellie would tell her how she felt about her. That Ellie cared about her as more than just a friend.
Days turned into weeks. Ellie was sure that Riley would have come back by now. Every morning, she talked to Tino and his friends, asking if they'd seen Riley or knew anything. They always said the same thing, "I'm sorry, Ellie. I haven't seen her. I think she's gone for good," Eventually, Ellie conceded that perhaps they were right. If Riley was dead, infected, or just away, Ellie wouldn't ever have the chance to tell her just how much she cared.
Riley was gone. Permanently. And nothing Ellie could do would ever change that. She began to drift from her friends, and eventually she sat alone in the corner of the mess hall, like she always did before she'd met Riley. Every night, she couldn't sleep, knowing that Riley's end would most likely be grisly.
One Thursday evening, she couldn't sleep, so she snuck out to meet with Winston or, more precisely, Princess. When she got to the mall, she found him in his tent, flipping through a magazine, paying no attention to the surrounding world. He appeared to be slowly drifting off to sleep. She walked away quietly and went to the makeshift stables where Princess was kept.
"Hey, Princess," she muttered, patting the horse's neck. It was stupid, she thought, stupid that her only friends left were an old drunk of a soldier and a horse. It wasn't so bad, actually. At least the horse would listen. She began to tell Princess the whole story, about how she'd met the Fireflies with Riley, about how the two had struck up a friendship after that, about how she started having feelings for her friend, and that her friend had recently disappeared without saying goodbye. Ellie began to cry, sobs wracking her frame, all the pent up emotion from the past month just pouring out of her eyes. She leaned onto the horse for support and her tears mingled with the stiff hair on its side. After the tears finally stopped, Ellie stood and wiped her nose.
"Sorry. I just had to let it all out."
Princess snorted in response, as if to say, "It's alright," Ellie smiled a little and finished cleaning her face with her sleeve. She made her way back to Winston's tent and found him, writing furiously into an empty book, "You fucking asshole," he muttered to himself.
Winston jumped, startled, "Holy -! What the hell are you doing here at this time of night? Don't you know what time it is?"
"I just wanted to spend some time with Princess."
"It's eleven thirty! Go back to school, it's past curfew!"
"I can pay you, if you want."
"This isn't about payment, goddammit. You're gonna get yourself into trouble and I don't want that hanging over my head. You want to pay me? Then get back to school before they find out you're gone."
"Glad to see you care, Winston," Ellie snorted before stalking off.
She heard him mutter, "Goddammit, you did it again," as she left. She didn't know what he was talking about. She didn't care.
A week later, Winston died and the military took Princess away. Ellie was alone.
Ellie sat on the edge of her bed, wearing her striped tank top and her sleeping shorts. She lay down on the bed, reaching under her pillow, touching her mother's switchblade. It gave her comfort most nights, but not tonight. She tossed and turned. Rain pattered outside, drops making shadowy lines against the wall as they cascaded down her window. She closed her eyes. A thought popped into her head, one that chilled her blood.
Riley might have been infected. Ellie tried to push the thought away. Riley was too smart to get bitten. Too tough. Too everything. But even though Ellie tried to convince herself that Riley would be fine, she kept imagining Riley, sprouting fungus, bleeding from her facial orifices, snarling and snapping, coming after her. She couldn't stop thinking about it. She couldn't stop thinking of an infected Riley, storming into her room, rushing her, hot breath and teeth at her neck, biting through flesh. It felt real.
Ellie shoved the infected creature off of her and drew her switchblade, ready to kill it. But then, the infected started laughing. She wasn't infected at all.
And that's it for Chapter 1. Thank you for reading and I shall see you next time with Chapter 2.