Chapter 22:

When Devin caught sight of Joel, he felt his stomach roll. Joel's nose was slightly dis colored, and broken. The skin under his eye was swollen, and the eye itself was bloodshot. His face was a mix of open wounds and bruises. Blood flowed from his temple. From where Devin was, running with Ellie to Joel, he could see the knife sticking from his abdomen.

Devin skidded to a stop and kneeled down next to Joel. As easily and gently as he could, Devin rolled Joel onto his back, so as to assess the knife wound.

Ellie got down next to him. "Joel...Joel?" She looked over at Devin, who was gently looking over the wound. "What do we do?" She asked. Devin leaned back, and rubbed a hand through his hair. "We're gonna' have to move him. But we've got to be careful. If that knife falls out, it'll be like a dam breaking. He's bleeding right noe, but it could be ten times worse."

Devin moved to Joel's head and grabbed him by the armpits. Ellie got his legs. The two were about to lift, when they heard the sound of pounding feet. Ellie looked behind her to see Tommy and Rebecca running over. "What happened?" Tommy asked, worry and fear dripping from every word.

"Joel's been stabbed. We need to get him out of here." Without replying, Tommy picked Joel up bridal style. "Devin, you lead the way." Devin nodded his head, and drew the .357 before beginning down the hallway. Rebecca stopped only long enough to retrieve Joel and Ellie's gear before hurrying to catch up.

The group hurried to the first floor, and Devin found a door out. He opened it, to see the Hunters who'd chased Tommy and Rebecca re-entering the clearing. Devin shut the door, and stepped back. His eye drifted around the loading bay, and didn't stop until they fell upon the T-bolt.

"Bec!" He called, pointing towards the rifle. Rebecca handed Ellie her Backpack before going to pick up the T-bolt. Devin pulled an M1911 from his pack and handed it to Ellie. "You ready?" He asked. No one spoke. Devin looked back to the door. "Let's move." He kicked it open, and they opened fire.

The sun rose, slowly covering the Hilltop in sunlight. The weather was nice and cool. The birds began to sing noisily. The air smelt fresh, crisp, and clean. The day was perfect.

Jamie sat on the grass, in the shade of the manor, looking at the Hilltop with a kind of adoration. Jamie looked up at the sky, and guessed it was sometime in September, although he couldn't be sure. He wasn't really sure of anything, except his own survival. Jamie reached up and pulled the beanie he always wore off of his head. He scrubbed a hand through his hair and slid the cap back onto his head. As he sat, staring out at the Hilltop, someone sat down next to him. He looked over, and a chuckle escaped his lips.

"And how is my favorite girl in all of the Hilltop doing?" She shrugged her shoulders and rested her head on her knees. Jamie gently nudged her arm with his elbow. "Everything alright Ellie?" Ellie nodded again, still staring out at the Hilltop. Jamie breathed in through his mouth, and exhaled through his nose.

"You did say you weren't sure if he's dead. You said he ran off, right?"

"I don't even know anymore. I think he did." Jamie processed this for a second, trying to think about what he could say. " never know." His voice was firm. "He might have made it out of there. He might be holed up somewhere, waiting for the right opportunity." It was obvious that Ellie didn't believe that. Neither did Jamie.

Jamie suddenly pulled his backpack off of his shoulders. "I almost forgot...I got something for ya'." Ellie looked over at Jamie, who didn't remove his hand, until he found what he was looking for. When Jamie removed his hand from the pack, Ellie saw several comic books. Her eyes lit up, and she took them gratefully. There were several Savage Starlight comics...and one she had never heard of before. She looked at the cover carefully. On it was a man in a Sheriff's uniform, a shotgun in his hand. He was standing in front of a store's shattered window. Reflected in the shattered glass were images of walking corpses.

"What's this?" She asked, looking back at Jamie. He shrugged. "It's this old comic I was into back before the outbreak. He tapped the title of the comic with his index finger. "The Walking Dead. Believe it, or not, it was about the apocalypse." Ellie furrowed her eyebrows. "Why would people want to read a comic book about the apocalypse?" Jamie shrugged his shoulders.

"It just interested people, I guess. And it was always awesome to see your favorite characters survive." Ellie looked at the comic book for several minutes before shrugging her shoulders. "I guess I could check it out." Jamie smirked. "Cool. Now, why don't you head on home, or go find someone besides me to hang out with." Ellie chuckled, but stood all the same. Jamie waved to her as she walked off.

When Ellie entered her shanty, she was met by the soft strumming of Devin playing his guitar, and the soft snores of Joel sleeping. When Devin heard Ellie come in, he looked up at her, and smiled. "Good to see you're still alive and breathing." Ellie gave him the bird and flopped down onto her bed before opening up one of the Savage Starlight comics, and beginning to read. Devin stopped strumming and began looking through them. When he found the Walking Dead, he smiled. "Hell yeah. Jamie actually found something good."

"Hey! Savage Starlight is good." Devin shrugged. "Okay, he found something I'm into." Ellie's brows furrowed.

Devin saw this and he laughed. "It's actually a pretty good comic." Then they were both silent. Every once in a while, as she read, Ellie's eyes would dart over to Joel. She would've liked to believe Jamie, believe that Tommy had somehow escaped, but it was pretty unlikely. She remembered them escaping the clearing (barely), she remembered the Hunters slowly catching up with them. She remembered Tommy eventually handing Joel over to Devin, and telling them to get him to the Hilltop before he took off, shooting and drawing the Hunters away from them. She hadn't known him too well, but she hurt for Joel, who'd been practically torn apart by the news.

Ellie sighed, and tried to put all of her focus back into the comic. She ended up getting so wrapped up in it that she didn't notice Joel getting up until he was standing and stretching. Devin was once again picking at the guitar strings, and said; "You should sing something Joel." Joel looked at him, and shook his head. "You too huh?"

Devin shrugged. "C'mon man. Sing...something by Garth Brooks." Joel cocked an eyebrow. "What do you know about Garth Brooks?"

"My dad used to listen to him a lot. C'mon, I'll play the guitar. Sing the Thunder Rolls." Joel shook his head. "Not even in yer' dreams kid." Ellie decided now would be the time to jump in. "Please Joel?" Joel's eyes shot from Ellie to Devin, but he held his ground.

"I'll sing it with you." Devin said. Joel put his face in his hand. "You guys ain't gonna' stop, are ya'?" Devin shook his head. Joel put his hand on his hip. "What am I gonna' get for it?"

"A hug and a kiss." Devin replied. Joel huffed, and sat back down on the edge of his bed. "Let's get this over with." He said. Devin looked at Ellie, who was watching anxiously, and winked. Devin held the guitar carefully in his hands, and gently began to strum. Joel's forehead creased as he thought. Eventually he cleared his throat.

And then he was singing. His voice was a little rough, and a little hoarse, but Ellie thought it still sounded almost beautiful.

"Three-thirty in the mornin'. Not a soul in sight. City's lookin' like a ghost town on a moonless summer night. Raindrops on the windshield, there's a storm movin' in. He's headin' back from somewhere he never should have been. And the thunder rolls...and the thunder rolls." Joel stopped, cleared his throat, then began again.

"Every light is burnin' in a house across town. She's pacin' by the telephone in her faded flannel gown. Askin' for a miracle, hopin' she's not right. Prayin' it's the weather that has kept him out all night. And the thunder rolls...and the thunder rolls.

"The thunder rolls. And the lightin' strikes. Another love grows cold on a sleepless night. As the storm goes on out of control, deep in her heart the thunder rolls."

Joel stopped there. "You happy now?" Devin high-fived Ellie. "Wish I had a video camera." He said to himself. Ellie nodded her head and watched as he easily leaned back. Joel watched the two, and smiled at the look on Ellie's face. Joel decided (only to himself, of coarse) that he would sing all day everyday if it made Ellie happy.

He would do anything for Ellie.

AN: Well folks, there you have it. The ending of The Last of Us: Past and Present. So what have you guys thought about the story? Did you enjoy it? Are you excited for the sequel? Are there any other kinds of stories you want me to do? I take suggestions, so feel free to do so. What do you think about the issue with Tommy possibly being dead, are you pissed at me for doing that? Was that last line foreshadowing? Then again, what would Joel not do for Ellie? Excellent question, one I don't have an answer to.

Anyway, I think I've blabbered on enough. I honestly hope you guys enjoyed the story and enjoyed the characters as much as I enjoyed writing them, and I hope you enjoy the sequel. I will see you guys soon.