Pairing: Bill x Zoey with a smattering of Louis x Francis
Warnings: This fan fiction contains coarse language and references to violence not suitable for younger readers.
Other Warnings: This fan fiction and the following chapters may contain strong adult themes.
Disclaimer: I do not own Left 4 Dead or any of the characters. My story also does not follow directly with the game (for those of you that are aware of the Crash Course campaign).
Hey! Long time, no see! Once again I apologize for not being a good updater on this story. Try as I might, I have a hard time sitting down to write it (much like many of my poor stories), so the next update will more than likely not be speedy. Thank you for those of you that have stuck with me on this. You guys rock! :)
Anyway without further ado, another riveting chapter of The Aftermath.
The loud thump of the brunette's feet bounding up the old wooden stairs echoed through the house as she stumbled toward the door of her two comrades' bedroom. Her heart was lodged in her throat as she fumbled to turn the doorknob. "Francis, you're never gonna believe this! I—" Zoey stopped mid-sentence as her eyes came upon the biker and the analyst; they were hugging. Louis and Francis were hugging. Soon their equally shocked eyes met hers and she stifled a giggle. "D-did I interrupt something?"
The two men practically flew away from one another, both of their faces tinted pink. "No! No, nothing unusual here," Louis managed, his eyes glancing sideways at the white man, and cleared his throat. "Right, Francis?"
"Y-yeah. We were just uh...havin' a moment," Francis murmured as he crossed his arms over his chest. "So what am I not gonna believe?"
Zoey's surprise fell away as she recalled her original intention for seeking out Francis. "Oh! Well I was in Bill's room a little while ago and found this," she replied timidly, her cheeks fully flushed. "I know I shouldn't have been snooping...but you need to read it." Her hand trembled as she offered the crumpled up paper to the two men, her pulse quickening as they began to examine the letter.
Her companions' eyes considerably widened upon reaching the bottom of the page. They looked at one another before turning their gaze to the brunette. "He finally admitted it," Francis said gently and his lips soon turned upward in a grin.
"Yeah, but he admitted it to his son, not to her," Louis leveled, skimming the letter once more.
Francis let out an exasperated sigh and rolled his eyes. "So? That doesn't mean he isn't gonna tell her. He just doesn't know how."
"Exactly. I'm sure Bill's having a hard time dealing with his emotions right now," the analyst replied and handed the paper back to Zoey. "This has been hard on all of us and all of us have our own problems to deal with; Bill's not any different. I bet he's trying to rationalize all this. I mean, he has feelings for a much younger woman. That's a tough situation to be in for both parties."
The biker nodded his head shallowly and ran a rough hand over his short hair. "Yeah, no kiddin'..." He turned his eyes back to the brunette. "So have you decided what you're gonna do about it?"
She shook her head in reply. "Uh uh. I've been avoiding it, actually."
"Well you can't let Bill know that you know so I'd recommend returning that letter where you found it," Louis reasoned as he motioned to the wrinkled paper between her fingers. "No sense in giving him a reason not to trust you."
"Why not just confront him about it? I mean, you can't really pussyfoot around in times like this," Francis said roughly, earning a glare from the black man.
"And ruin what respect he has for her? This is a very sensitive subject!" the analyst countered, his brows lowered in frustration.
"Yeah—time sensitive!" Francis crossed his arms over his chest. "Goin' through this shit should've taught you that time is of the essence! There's no tellin' how much time we've got left, man!"
A vein began to bulge through the black man's scalp and he took a step toward the biker. "I don't know if you've noticed but the Infection is over with and there's nothing to worry about. We've got plenty of time left."
"Yeah, we do but Bill...not so much. I mean, c'mon! This shit was fuckin' tough and he's not gettin' any younger," the biker growled in response. "He needs to hit that ASAP!"
"Okay, yeah. I'm leaving." Zoey turned on her heels and walked out of the room, shaking her head as the two 'lovebirds' continued bickering behind closed doors. Now what? I still have no idea what to do, she thought to herself. Her lips turned downward as she considered her options; both men brought up valid points. As much as I wanna say something to him, I don't wanna risk it. I mean, what if Louis is right? What if I told him I read his letter and he never forgave me for it? I'd never forgive myself. She let out a sigh as she got to the bottom of the stairs and rounded the corner. Within seconds the brunette found herself sprawled out on the floor and staring up at a dumbfounded Bill.
"Zoey! I'm sorry. Are ya alright?" the old man asked as he offered her his hand. "I really need to watch where I'm goin'."
"N-no, you're fine. I'm fine," she managed as she was hoisted up, quickly pocketing the wad of paper. "I'm the one that needs to be more careful."
Bill smiled gently and patted her shoulder. "I suppose we both 'ave room fer improvement," he joked and turned his head slightly as a rumble shook through the house. "There's a storm a'brewin'. Lieutenant Bedford said it was supposed to be bad."
"Well luckily we're indoors," Zoey managed, trying to reign in the flush in her cheeks.
"Yeah, no kiddin'." He turned his eyes back to her. "Are ya sure yer okay?"
The ex-college girl swallowed dryly and breathed out a nervous laugh. "Y-yeah, I'm fine. Really. I've just been thinking too much lately."
"About yer parents?" Bill asked gingerly, knowing the subject was touchy for her.
"Huh? Yeah," she lied and looked down at her feet.
The war vet reached out and touched her arm lightly, causing her eyes to flit back up. "I'm sorry that it still bothers ya but I'm here fer ya if ya need me," he said with a smile. "I'd be more than happy to listen."
Zoey returned the smile, ignoring the knot that was forming in her stomach. "Thank you. You have no idea what that means to me," she said in a soft voice and inwardly berated herself for lying right to his face. "Listen, I'm gonna go catch a nap before dinner. Do you still wanna watch that movie?"
Bill nodded. "Yeah, it'd be a nice change a pace, doncha think?"
"I agree," she replied and took a step toward her room. "I'll see ya in a bit then."
"Sounds good. 'ave a nice nap, kiddo," he said with a wave and headed into his own room, shutting the door behind him.
Zoey let out a sigh and resisted the urge to set free a loud, exasperated groan. "What am I gonna do?" she questioned aloud after closing her bedroom door. She flopped down on her bed and pulled the piece of stationary out of her pocket, straightening out the wad of wrinkled paper. "I need to act on this, but I don't know how..." Her eyes studied the ceiling as the wheels began turning and soon a smile crept along her face. "That's it... That's it! I got it!" she exclaimed excitedly, sitting up in bed, and turned her eyes back to the paper in her hand. Her smile softened. "Yeah, I think that's what I'm gonna do."
Click, click, click.
The young brunette chewed on her lower lip as she stared down at the piece of stationary before her, contemplating the series of words she had written. Her letter was almost finished. All that it lacked was her name. After rereading Bill's letter and tossing it back into his room unnoticed, Zoey decided to forge her own. She knew that it wasn't very creative on her part—hell, she stole the idea from Bill—but it was an effective route to take. Zoey could concentrate on her message and make sure it was perfect. She was never very good with her feelings.
The ex-college girl sat back in her chair, a frown gracing her lips. Putting her thoughts and emotions onto paper was something she never thought possible in her previous adventures in love; she never even uttered the words. Maybe that's why Jonathan and I didn't last... It was my fault.
Zoey was aware that he wasn't perfect, but Jonathan was a good boyfriend. Unbeknownst to her, he stayed with her because she needed him. He put up with her inability to speak her mind at times and accepted the fact that she probably would never love him. He just knew that in that time of her life, a breakup would destroy her already fragile psyche. Her dad had just gotten injured in the line of duty and her parents were attempting to get back together. She was far from home at a college where she only really knew her high school 'sweetheart' and it was wearing on her. He couldn't do that to her.
So she did.
I did love him. I did. That's why I had to end it, she told herself and shook the thoughts from her mind. "It's in the past for a reason."
Her eyes turned back to her letter. "I hope this will be enough." Zoey clicked the pen once more and signed her name at the bottom of the page. "Please be enough."
Thunder rolled in the distance as Bill stood out on the front porch, the telltale puff of smoke escaping his lips. "Hmm, gettin' closer," he muttered to himself and took another drag. As if on cue, a sudden breeze blew the cigarette right from his fingers, landing on the soft dirt next to the steps. With a grimace the veteran hobbled down to squash the cigarette butt. "Can't 'ave nice things around 'ere..."
"What're you complainin' about now, old man?"
Bill rolled his eyes at Francis's question. "A whole bunch of none-of-yer-business, Francis."
The biker breathed out a laugh and crossed his arms over his chest. "Yeah, right... So when're we supposed to start this movie night, as Zoey put it?"
"Yer guess is as good as mine, unfortunately," the gray-haired man replied with a shrug.
"I bet you were hopin' it was gonna be just you two, huh?" Francis asked brashly, grinning more at the glare he received. "Yup, ol' Bill was gonna put the moves on poor, unsuspecting Zoey. My stomach is churning just thinkin' about it!"
"Ya really don't know when to shut up, do ya, Francis? Yer damn lucky I didn't get any friendly fire up yer ass," Bill practically growled.
Francis threw his hands up in the air as a sign of defeat. "Whoa, whoa! Calm down now! No need for threats. I'm only teasin'!"
The old man narrowed his eyes at the younger. "That teasin' is probably what gave ya all those bruises, huh? I'm surprised ya don't 'ave more."
Francis's cheeks turned ruddy, the corners of his mouth turning downward quickly. "That's none of your business, ya old coot."
"I should think it is, considerin' how ya keep makin' my business yers," Bill countered with a sneer. "What's mine is yers and yers is mine, apparently."
"That doesn't apply here," the tattooed man said in a low voice as his arms lowered and his hands clenched. "Now back off."
It was Bill's turn to cross his arms. "Now how is that fair? How come you can keep actin' like Nosy Nancy in my personal affairs? Huh?"
"Because I'm looking out for her," Francis replied, his knuckles white. He forcibly breathed out his nose to try to calm himself down before he said or did anything rash. "And right about now I'd say you're definitely not good enough to be with her." He took one last, hard look at the aging war vet before turning around and heading back inside.
Bill stared at the biker's retreating back, his jaw clenched tight. I hate to say it... Damn, do I hate to say it...but yer probably right, Francis. What was I thinkin'? That girl would never get with an ol' codger like me. She deserves better.
Better than me.
I hope this update was good enough for you guys! I'm crossing my fingers! :)
Thank you for reading!
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