Note: I do not own VALVe or any of its affiliates. Consider this a disclaimer to the characters/themes/what have you presented in this story.
I made some drastic changes! Some chapters will look just about identical, but mostly it has been Zoey's character which has been improved. She was a bit on the soft side before. Now she's a mean killing machine! GRR!
Sorry about the inbox pile-up. Chapters 10 and 11 have gone through the most significant changes, if you just wanna skip this and catch up on those.
The four of them sat in silence, the only sound in their ears the constant slice of the helicopter blades through the air and rain. They were panting heavily; their hands still clutched the hilts of their guns, fingers poised over the triggers. They looked on as the helicopter circled the hospital roof while the infected gathered like bacteria around the sides, some falling to their deaths. It was odd watching them from so far away; it had been weeks since any of them could feel any sort of safety and comfort knowing that those things couldn't touch them anymore.
Zoey looked away first. Everyone was still panting, and she could see them trying to edge their hands away from their weapons, trying to realize that the danger was over. They all stared at each other for a long moment, then a scattered laugh escaped Zoey.
It was a moment before Francis huffed with amusement, a small grin breaking across his lips. When Louis guffawed out loud, the three of them broke down laughing together. Zoey dropped her pistols in her lap, then covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes blurring with tears of joy.
"Did you—did you see me kick in that last guy's face?" Zoey spluttered through her giggles, doubling over her guns. It wasn't the kicking that amused her at all, and everyone else knew that. They had escaped, they'd made it to the helicopter pad, and they were headed to the evacuation site.
The other two men that shared her mirth laughed harder, and Francis leaned on his shotgun like a cane, rubbing his eyes with one of his dirty, blood-stained hands.
"Fuckin'-A," he choked, shaking his head. Louis threw himself back into his seat, his eyes squeezed shut and his mouth open wide, shaking with silent laughs. Zoey wrapped her arms around her stomach, blinking away the tears, then she caught sight of Bill.
He was sitting casually in his seat, with his forearms resting on his knees and his hands dangling loosely. He was gazing down at the hospital as it shrank away, a solemn look on his face, as if he was driving away from a funeral of an old friend. Zoey's laughter died slowly as she watched him, and her face melted into something like his. The other two stopped laughing shortly after, and they all watched Bill.
"Bill?" Zoey asked quietly, cutting the silence harshly.
"Not a pretty sight," he murmured, pulling a cigarette from behind his ear. He turned it over in his hands a few times, staring down at it. "I've seen war, I've seen death... but I never saw this. Not much to laugh about after that."
"We're out of the frying pan, man," Louis said with fake optimism, trying to mask the fact that his mood had been spoiled. "We're safe now."
Bill shook his head. "Can't call a man happy 'til he's dead. Can't say he's safe 'til you've killed him."
No one said anything. The blades seemed to get louder. One of the pilots pressed the button on his headset. "Copy that. Four uninfected individuals, three male, one female. ETA five minutes. Over."
Francis and Louis looked away from Bill, but Zoey kept staring at him sadly, her mouth slightly agape.
"Bill, we've made it."
He kept staring at his cigarette, and he shook his head at her. He finally stuffed it into his mouth, then lit the last match he had. The tip of the cigarette burned bright for only a second before it faded out. He pulled it from his lips, blew out the smoke slowly, then looked back out towards the hospital. The wind whipped at the loose tufts of hair that peeked out from under his veteran's cap, and he squinted his eyes against the sting of the draft. Moonlight touched his face, and Zoey realized just how worn and aged Bill really was. It wasn't to say that she hadn't realized he was an old man before, only that she never really saw the turmoil and hardship that had haunted him. He looked haggard, like he'd grown too old to experience more in his life. Zoey reached out and touched his knee, but he didn't respond.
No one said anything else for the rest of the ride. By the time they touched down on the helipad at the evacuation site, Zoey saw the same look in Francis's and Louis's faces. She felt a little animosity to Bill for spoiling the mood, but she realized that it was the truth. The truth wasn't always welcome, but it was important to accept. It's foolish to live life while shutting out reality.