Soooooo, I'm back from my…year long hiatus. I feel stupid Iabandoned this gem, of a story which blends the best of both worlds. Guts and Romance. When I say once a week I mean once a week, which is how often I will update this. I'm back and I hope that not every one has given up on me.

Disclaimer: I wish I owned either Twilight or zombies…but sadly I don't.


The mile drive to the mall seemed unreasonably long, as the moans began to pour through the dwindling rainfall. I decided that I officially hated zombies. Four years might seem a long time to come to this seemingly obvious conclusion but the hatred had finally overcome the pity. Seeing these creatures, these horrid flesh-eating monsters, destroy everything, their own kind, in person was much different than shooting them through an electric fence for target practice.

I remembered a book that they'd made us read, back when I'd been in school. The only books that had survived the library burning down, had been the section on American presidents. There was one book that spoke of Eisenhower's confrontation with Joe McCarthy. It was called "Have you no sense of decency?" I'll answer that question with another question. Did McCarthy eat his wife and children?

Hell, maybe he did, the book was missing the last chapter so I don't know if he'd died before all this shit hit the fan. I had to stop thinking about senators' deaths when someone started snapping their fingers in front of my nose.

"Earth to Bella. Bella, Bella, Bella." Emmett was waving his ham-hock hand at me while snapping. I looked up at his face, blinking, as it seemed I'd neglected to do so for a while. "We're going shopping now." If I hadn't just dispatched dozens of humanoid monsters, I would've laughed. When a six foot five muscle-head says shopping you've just got to laugh.

I didn't really feel all that much like vocalizing so I nodded and stuffed four more boxes of shells in my pockets. I didn't really need anything so I figured that I'd be the well armed one in this situation.

We filed out of the tank and looked out at the parking lot. There were maybe 20 shadowy figures limping towards us across the asphalt. Rosalie and I picked them off while Emmett threw a trashcan through a window to allow us a point of entry. I filed in after Edward.

I could tell that I wasn't actually too traumatized by the whole grocery store experience because I managed to blush when I caught myself staring at Edward's butt. I'm not sure if it really counts because his pants are so thick they kind of obscure the shape of it, but I take it as a good sign of mental health that I'm not too depressed to ogle him. Yay?

Once inside the mall we group and discuss what we're looking for. Jasper and Emmett are all about hunting down the arcade, and Edward offers to go with them. "You guys will be too enraptured shooting gangsters to shoot something actually threatening." He complains as their figures retreat into the dark mall. Someone pulls out a flashlight and I can see the light fighting to disperse past the dust that hung thickly in the air. I turn back to Rosalie and Alice. They seem excited by the prospect of clothes that don't itch and I don't really bother trying to jump into the conversation. Chatter is nice, I've missed chatter.

Unlike the supermarket, the mall is surprisingly empty and we make our way to the Nike outlet store unimpeded. I almost question why we're here before Alice begins explaining as if she's read my mind.

"Well first we need active wear because of course we need to be comfortable working out and during raids, then we need underwear that wasn't made for men, and finally we need pajamas that won't make us look like hobos who robbed an army surplus store." I smile, it's been too long since I actually got to choose what I wear and how it fits. Maybe I do need some stuff, no sense in risking my life if I don't get any benefits (well besides eating…).

"Oh, and I want jeans." Rosalie says definitively. "Jeans are a basic human right." Alice nods. I could go for some jeans as well, or any clothes that haven't been worn by someone who's now dead, as my current clothes most definitely have been.

"And you Bella, anything you want?" Alice asks and I'm shocked by the frankness in her tone. She's not just asking me because she needs to act like she cares, she's asking me because she does care. This group's acceptance of me is so strange and complete that I almost cry but then I realize that would be rather stupid so I don't let myself.

"Clothes that no one has worn before." I say.

"Amen to that." Rosalie agrees and we embark on our journey into the great masses of athletic clothes before us. It's truly a good haul. We only encounter 4 zombies as we grab what we want, and none of them even turn to see us before I blow their brains out. Alice commends me on being a good shot and I swell with warmth. I'm starting to feel like I might actually come to fit in with these exceptional survivors.

We make out with two large shopping bags of clothes each, even underwear from Victoria's Secret. I cracked Alice and Rosalie up because I refused to put my uniform underwear back on, I'd been shoved into the orphanage before puberty had really done its job and I'd never experienced the wonder of truly supportive underclothes. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

The boys are in the car eating Twinkies and waiting when we get back. Emmett throws one at my head and after hitting my face it drops down into one of my bags.

"Two Points" he yells and Jasper groans seemingly in defeat before we all pile into the car and head back to the city center.

The drive is much faster, and the bizarre naming zombies inappropriate names and then obliterating them game continues. I'm really laughing now, as Jasper yells "you're going down Maurice" before blowing the head off of an obese ghoul who is wearing an 'I heart meese' tee-shirt.

I catch myself looking at Edward twice. Both times I look away. I don't need a crush, I don't want a crush, I don't need heartbreak, but somehow as I stare at Edward's twinkling green eyes and absurdly attractive grin, I find myself thinking that it might be worth it.

When we get back to the gates, and finally get past the writhing horde of undead that surround them, Rosalie distracts the sergeant while Alice and I run the contraband loot up to the barracks and the boys unload the foodstuffs. While we're running back down to the depot to help with the last of the canned goods someone calls out to us.

"Hey, is it true that you just hit up 21st and Bankroft?" I turn and see six oddly identical people, obviously raiders, standing together arms crossed. There's only one girl among them and she's staring at me through narrowed eyes.

"Yeah, what of it?" Alice answers, hands on her hips. So much sass in such a little person.

"Three different teams have died in that place, man," says a younger uniformed man, standing behind the man that addressed us. I turn to look at him, his serious expression seems out of place on his face. It's like his features were meant to be smiling.

"Well, we didn't" I say kind of shyly. Raiders have always kind of intimidated me, and after only two trips outside, it hasn't completely sunk in that I belong with them now.

"Awesome." The younger person steps forward and I notice how tall the whole group must be, because he wasn't the tallest one but he must be at least a foot taller than me. "I'm Jacob, How come I've never seen you around?"

"We're new here." Alice answers, even though the question was clearly addressed to me. I don't really mind, I kind of want to leave this conversation. The girl is still staring at me and I don't like it. "And if you wouldn't mind, we have to go catch up with the rest of our group." That girl must be a mind reader or something.

Jacob waves and I raise my hand in acknowledgement, before turning and jogging a few steps to catch up with Alice.

It turns out our assistance isn't needed, when we get back to the loading platform, the remainder of our group is standing by the wall waiting for us. Alice runs over to Jasper and hugs him and I go to stand semi-awkwardly beside Edward.

It's amazing how just thinking the word "crush" while referring to someone can make the situation awkward for you, even if your thoughts were "I don't want a crush". The six of us walked back up to the room, I'm truly dragging now, and my lack of sleep going into tonight is really catching up with me. If I'd been alone I'm not really sure that I would've found the right room before I laid down in the hallway.

Tonight there are no group discussions as we go to bed. It's comfortably silent and there seems to be some sort of unspoken agreement as Edward goes to take a shower and Alice waits patiently in a chair outside the bathroom door. I probably would have taken time to think about Edward naked, or how nice it was to have new pajama pants, except I was asleep under the covers before I even knew where I'd set my gun.

Truly, I don't really remember waking up. I just know that I was in a warm shower. A warm shower. I hadn't had any sort of warm water in 4 years, let alone a warm shower. Civilian showers involved hoses of seawater and a twice a week hair cleaning in the kitchen sink. That shower was so lovely that I had to admit out loud to myself, "If I die tonight it was all worth it for this moment." There was even real shampoo, ahhh the luxury.

It felt like the nearly scalding water massaged my shoulders for hours but it was probably actually closer to fifteen minutes when I ran out of stuff to clean and I stepped out. I towel dried myself and did a stupid little happy dance as I pulled on my new awesomely supportive and comfortable underwear. I put on a soft gray cotton tee-shirt and jeans, because I could. I spent the time to comb out my unimaginably clean hair before I braided it back and secured it with a brand new hair tie, life is good.

I nearly skipped out into the bedroom and put on my tennis shoes, we hadn't bothered to get new shoes because we wanted to be able to carry more clothes, but maybe next time. I'd just had a shower, the possibilities were endless.

I was dancing to grab a new hoodie when I heard a bemused chuckle. "Someone's happy today." I stopped dead in my tracks. I'd been so happy about being clean that I'd forgotten that there was a very attractive man in this room. I could feel all of the blood rushing from my brain to my cheeks.

"I haven't had a shower in four years." I admit by means of explanation, Edward's smiling, seemingly enjoying the awkward situation. I'd kind of want to run away if that didn't mean that I wouldn't see him anymore.

It seemed that after Edward's shower the night before, he'd decided that giving me a heart attack was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. He'd neglected to put on a shirt, and he was ripped and muscley in all of the right places. I kind of had to fight to keep my eyes on his face…but then again, that wasn't so bad to look at either.

"I completely understand," He says and it takes me a minute to actually understand the meaning of the words he is speaking. My brain seems infinitely more sluggish than normal. Luckily my stomach breaks the silence with a thunderous rumble.

"Do you want to go get food?" I ask, catching myself when I almost ask his abs instead of his face. He smiles and nods before climbing out of bed and pulling on a tee-shirt. It's one of the standard issue olive green ones, the boys hadn't cared about getting clothes. He'd worn his shorts to bed and now he pulled his sweats on over them and slipped on his shoes. The other four were still asleep when we left.

It's technically dinner time, because we'd come back in around 6 am and slept roughly twelve hours, so there's fried spam and altogether too many beans, but it's protein and I eat probably more than I should because my entire gut feels empty, I've never worked so physically, even boot camp was nothing compared to the past few days. Edward seems to be starving as well. It's silent as we both scarf down seconds. I go and get a bag of powdered milk and eat it with a spoon after dinner. Edward eventually joins me and we sit there with the bag between us.

"You know if someone had asked me a week ago if I'd be sitting here eating powdered milk straight out of the bag I would have told them they were crazy." He punctuates this sentence by spooning more of the off-white powder into his mouth.

"Good huh?" I affirm, licking the back of my spoon, where the powder has become pasty and sweet. I finally set the spoon down, feeling sated and happy. Edward sets his own spoon down and stares at me for a second before reaching across the table and rubbing his thumb against the corner of my mouth. I'm shocked by the electricity in his touch. He then licks the powdered milk residue off of his thumb.

It's a flirtation that I'd seen in countless romantic comedies during my preteen years, and honestly I'd never understood the allure of it until now. My entire body felt warm and fuzzy.

Neither of us comment, but the inside of my head is spinning like a top. I've never really had a crush, and now I'm taking the time to decide if I do now. I remember Edward's laughter the night before and how I'd thought that heartbreak might be worth it. This is the moment when I decide I was right. I think that slowly but surely, I might be falling for Edward.


Up to snuff?

I hope so. This chapter is really more of a character study…getting back in touch with the characters. The next chapter will be bloodier, I have midterms so I'm likely to have a lot of anger to take out on unsuspecting zombies.

Please review, tell me what you think, I'd love to hear your opinions, and I take constructive criticism very seriously, so if there's something I can improve tell me