Making the Dead Smile

Slight EllisxOC warning
Genres: Adventure, Friendship, Humor, Horror, Tragedy, Hurt/Comfort all in one.

AN: I've only played L4D2 once now and my favourite campaign is Dark Carnival. So that's where this oneshot will take place. The OC isn't terribly important and probably will never be used again, unless I really want to bring her back.

&-&-&-&

"It's Exploding Guy!"

"Ellis, that's a Boomer."

"There's Crying Girl again."

"Ro, that ain't you, is it?"

"No, Coach, that's just a Witch."

"Why bother givin' 'em names? They're already dead."

"Because it's easier to know what they are instead of knowing what they just do," Nick stated, getting annoyed. The small group of survivors were on their way to an evacuation point past Whispering Oaks, although Coach seemed delighted at the prospect of wandering through his old favourite childhood spot. Ellis wanted nothing more than to ride all the rides in sight and Nick wanted nothing more than to shoot him. Rochelle felt like she was going to explode from the overbearing testosterone and wished desperately for another female survivor to join them, even if only to add some estrogen and companionship for a while.

Little did Rochelle realize she would get her wish.

When they got to the entrance of Whispering Oaks, the survivors had already killed a Smoker, a Charger, a Jockey and several common infected. Each of them were peeved, except for Ellis, who always seemed to be in a good mood. He was chattering happily and ignoring the looks his teammates gave him. He figured someone had to be the optimist with all the smiles and Rochelle was too serious, Coach was too into food and Nick was too uptight to be the optimist. He made it his personal mission to try and make someone laugh through this tough time.

"I hear more crying," Rochelle spoke up. The group paused and, sure enough, there was the distinct sound of sobbing near the entrance of Whispering Oaks. Nick readied his gun, ready to take out more of his 'ex-wives', but Coach stopped him.

"Hold up...that crying don't sound like one of them Witches."

Instead of being loud and wailing, it was soft, almost unheard. It also sounded genuinely sad, unlike the Witches. Ellis snuck in closer and spotted a shine of black hair behind a truck.

"Hey...it's a girl!"

"Huh?!" The girl's head lifted up and Ellis was startled to see that it was another human...a survivor! "Who...who are you?"

"I'm called Ellis, yeah? You awright? How'd you get out here?" Ellis asked. Nick, Coach and Rochelle rushed up behind him and also saw the girl as well. She shakily stood up, looking suspicious of the survivors. Each of them were looking at her up and down, as if trying to find a trace of the infection or blood on her work uniform.

"I...I worked at Whispering Oaks until...the infection hit...but I didn't know where to go and all my co-workers are now zombies...all I could do was ration out some food and sleep in this truck. I was waiting to see if someone could help me out, but I had given up hope..." Her lip trembled.

"It's awright," Ellis said, helping her stand up. "We're on our way out to report for a rescue. You can just come with us!"

The girl's eyes lit up, but Nick frowned. "Whoa, Ellis. You sure that's a good idea? Lady, are you immune? Have you been bit?"

"No, I haven't been bit," the girl said. "I've done a good job evading them for a while now. But I can't use a gun..."

"Here." Coach took the axe he was carrying off his back. "Any of those infected bastards get near you, just clobber 'em with this."

"Th-thank you..." the girl stammered, still not believing she was actually getting saved.

"Welcome to the team," Rochelle said, smiling. "I'm Rochelle."

"Call me Coach," Coach said.

"It's Nick," Nick said flatly. The conman didn't like his teammates already and adding another female didn't help his mood.

"And I'm Ellis," Ellis said.

"I know. You said so already," the girl gave a light smile. "My name is Iris. Thank you all...so much..."

"Whatever. Let's get into the Safe House and THEN you can thank us, lady," Nick snapped.

"Is he always this uptight?" Iris asked Ellis, wiping the leftover tears out of her eyes.

"Oh yeah, Nick's always this angry. It might have something to do with his ex wife or his suit, I don' even know," Ellis replied.

Iris giggled, her blue eyes showing appreciation for Ellis's charm and the five survivors went into the Safe House. Once inside, they reloaded their weapons, got new Health Packs (to Iris's dismay, there was only four, but Ellis gave her one since he still had his strapped on his back) and Ellis burst into one of his world classic tales of his buddy, Keith the daredevil.

"I ever tell you about the time me and Keith made a homemade bumper car ride with ridin' mowers in his backyard? Mower blade wounds all over ninety percent of his body!! I didn't run over him, no sir. He somehow managed to get under his own..."

"We ain't got time for this, Ellis..." Coach grumbled. He was hungry.

"Okay," Ellis said.

Iris was giggling. "I'd like to hear more about that."

Ellis grinned. "Keith thought it would be a good idea to charge kids in the neighbourhood to ride, but then some momma started beatin' him over the head with her purse for tryin' to convince her kid to do somethin' dangerous..."

"No way!" Iris gasped.

"You're enjoying this?" Rochelle asked Iris.

"It's a zombie invasion. Laughter might be the one thing any of us needs to get us through," Iris replied. She turned her attention back to Ellis, who was still talking.

"Great...as if one stupid idiot wasn't enough, now we have someone to encourage him," Nick muttered.

The survivors left the safe house (Ellis had finally stopped his story) and walked into Whispering Oaks. Iris, knowing her way around the whole area, had become the guide of the group and led them on the path to the next safe house. She stayed close to Ellis and Rochelle, but Rochelle noticed she seemed to stay attached to Ellis's hip more. She shrugged it off, figuring it was because Ellis was the one who found her and showed her the more friendly side of the group.

"The next safe house..." Iris paused. "If I recall right, it's in the Tunnel of Love."

"You're kidding, right?" Nick stared at her. "The mother freaking Tunnel of Love?"

Iris shook her head. "When this place was built, the designer had a sense of humor and thought putting a safe area in the Tunnel of Love was something romantic. Or at least that's how the rumor goes. My co-workers all thought it was crazy too."

"Crazy as it is, it's our only option now," Coach said, readying his gun. "Let's go!"

The group moved through the park, following Iris's direction. When they heard the squeaky sounds of a clown nearby, the young woman froze and the other four got their weapons ready.

"Be careful," Iris whispered. "I've seen it happen...those infected can lure other infected around with his nose."

"Nose?" Rochelle asked.

"It's a clown zombie. I barely escaped them when I got out of here," Iris explained.

"Clowns? Clowns...oh you've got to be kidding me," Ellis groaned.

Sure enough, the clown came bouncing out with some common infected following him. Iris shakily raised her axe (she still didn't feel right about killing her co-workers) and gunshots rang out. Nick shot at the clown, but he stubbornly stayed alive. The nose continued to honk and draw out more infected.

"Iris! Chop his head off!" the conman yelled. "Hurry up! He's only going to call in more infected and then we're all going to hell!"

Deep in her heart, Iris knew Nick was right. She swung her axe around, taking down infected as she approached the clown, and slammed her axe down as hard as she could into the clown's neck. The head rolled off and the honking stopped. After a few more gunshots, all the common infected stopped coming.

"Good work, team..." Coach huffed. "Let's keep moving before they find us again."

Rochelle nodded and put her hand on Iris's shoulder. "Hey...I know it must be hard for you. You knew the people here, right? It's tough to accept, but the sad fact is the only thing that counts now is us getting out of here alive."

Iris wiped the blood off her face and nodded. "Yeah, I know...thanks, Rochelle. I suppose I needed a bit of a kick in the head."

"Not at all," Ellis butted in. "You are a very brave lady to have stayed here for so long. I'm surprised ya didn't run for the hills when you escaped this place."

"I was afraid there were more of them," Iris said. "And at least here, I had food to survive off of."

"Speaking of which, is there a hot dog stand 'round here?" Coach asked.

"I wouldn't try eating a hot dog now, Coach," Iris answered. "Most of them probably spoiled over by now. I've been living off of chips and popcorn and some water from the vendor."

Coach's face turned more horrified than the first time he saw a Tank. Rochelle laughed and gave Coach a push. "Don't worry, Coach. When we get rescued, they'll give us food. I'm sure of it."

The survivors continued to move on towards the next Safe House. When they passed the Screaming Oak, he stopped and grabbed Iris's arm. "The Screaming Oak!"

"Oh yeah, our most popular ride..." Iris thoughtfully said.

"I wanna ride it. Just once! Come on! When are we ever gonna be here again? This could be the last time!" Ellis pleaded. Rochelle and Coach groaned unanimously, but Nick had a thoughtful expression on his face.

"Now I wanna ride one!" the conman said.

Iris shook her head. "I would let you, normally, but all that noise is just going to bring out crowds of zombies and then you'll never get off your ride. And...wait, what?" She stared at Nick. "You?"

Nick shrugged and pointed at Ellis. "Blame him."

"Can't imagine you on a kid's ride, Nick," Rochelle said. "Ellis, on the other hand..."

"Feels like we're babysitting more than half the time," Coach put in. Iris laughed, Rochelle nodded in agreement and Nick scowled. Ellis just shrugged it off and looked up at the Screaming Oak longingly.

"Maybe one day..." he whispered.

Further up the path, Rochelle spotted a big heart shaped area. "There it is! The next safe house!" She, Coach and Nick ran up ahead while Iris and Ellis continued to shoot at and chop up random common infected that were swarming.

"Just a bit further...c'mon, Iris, let's hold 'em off!" Ellis yelled.

Iris started to nod in agreement, but Coach knew there were too many of the commons for them to handle. If Ellis and Iris kept fighting, they would just die. So how did he handle telling them?

"GET YOUR ASS IN THE TUNNEL OF LOVE!"

Both the mechanic and the former carnival worker raised their eyebrows at each other and decided to listen to Coach. The big man's wrath when he was hungry (like now) was scarier than zombies. Iris and Ellis ducked in the safe room and Nick slammed the door and barred it.

"Whew! We made it!" Rochelle breathed.

"Iree..." Ellis pleaded. "Are you sure we can't ride on any rides?"

"Sorry, sweetie," Iris shook her head.

"Enough of kiddy rides, Ellis," Nick snapped. "Iris, where's the way to call for rescue?"

"Big words coming from someone who wanted to ride the Screaming Oak earlier," Ellis shot back before Iris could respond. Coach facepalmed and shot his gun in the air.

"SHADDUP. Iris, answer Nick's question."

"Um...there isn't one..." Iris answered. Four pairs of wide eyes faced her and she looked down, ashamed. "I'm sorry. The radio got busted when the infection hit. If it was working, I wouldn't be here, would I?" she added.

"She has a point," Rochelle said. "Hmmm..."

"Hey..." Coach rubbed his chin. "Didn't we see a helicopter on the way up here?"

"Yeah!" Ellis replied. "I bet if we could make a lot of noise or sumthin', we could get his attention and get rescued!"

"I've got it!" Iris snapped her fingers. "The Midnight Riders were suppose to play here, but the infection made them evacuate right away. But they had already set up the stuff for the show. Explosives, microphones, amplifiers...it's all on the stage up ahead. We can use the equipment to yell for help, but that will draw attention to us."

"Perfect! The next thing we need is a chance for Ellis to think he's a star for a bunch of undead freaks!" Nick groaned.

The other survivors ignored him and started to patch up their injuries and restock ammo. Ellis decided it was time for another tale, which got Iris's attention right away.

"I ever tell you about the time my buddy Keith drowned in the Tunnel of Love? You wouldn't think it could happen cause the water's so shallow, but that's how it gets you man. Overconfidence. Keith was with his lady at the time, and he was yellin' for her to save him, but she didn't want to get wet..."

"Ellis, sweetie, can this wait?" Rochelle interrupted.

"Okay," Ellis said. Iris's attention was focused on Ellis again, this time in bewilderment.

"Somebody drowned in the Tunnel of Love?" she asked.

"Well, he did get out awright, but he was blue in the face for weeks! Krista didn't wanna smooch him until his face went back to normal and it sure as hell was funny to watch him try and kiss her. Man, I never seen her so grossed out before. It was pretty funny too, because when she refused him, he kept pleadin' and promising her presents that you'd think he was the next Santa Claus!" Ellis said. Iris's concern changed to a smile and she giggled. Ellis was enjoying her laughter and kept going with his story to make her laugh.

Once the survivors got their equipment ready, they headed out. Rochelle noticed Iris kept coughing and patted her back. "Hey, you alright?"

"F-Fine...just thirsty, I guess. There hasn't really been a lot of fresh water here, so I had to drink up sodas, but then they all went warm."

"Ew." Rochelle made a face. "Well, we'll getcha something when the helicopter comes. Think you can hold out until then?"

Iris nodded and the girls raced ahead to catch up to the guys. The group began to slaughter more of the common infected that approached them, trying to find their way to the stage. Coach was the first to spot the Midnight Riders' things and let out a whoop. Soon...very soon, they were going to be saved!

By this time, Iris's coughing had grown worse and she was making choking sounds. Rochelle, Ellis and Coach were all concerned, but Nick was more suspicious. Iris reassured them, over and over, that she was really okay, but it grew less convincing the more she coughed.

Coach set the fireworks up. Rochelle plugged in all the amplifiers. Nick turned the whole set on and Ellis grabbed the microphone, ready to sing Midnight Ride.

"This is the best day of my life..." he said to himself. "EVERY LADY'S CRAZY WHEN HER DADDY'S NOT AROUND!" he screamed into the microphone. The loudness drew out the infected and all five survivors went to work. Iris saw that Nick was in a lot of pain and he had no health pack on him. Coughing weakly, she staggered over to him and opened it up.

"You need this more than I do...hold still," she said.

"What?" Nick asked, startled as Iris bandaged up his bleeding arm. Relief flooded his body and he sighed. "Alright, I guess I owe you one for that."

"Don't mention it," Iris replied. She went back to chopping zombies when Nick noticed something else.

"Why is her skin turning gray?"

The fight went on. Ellis looked like he was having the time of his life singing Midnight Ride and shooting zombies at the same time. Coach looked like he REALLY wanted a hamburger and Rochelle looked like she hated everything. Nick was pissed off again because he finally noticed the blood on his suit and there were no men's stores around. Iris's coughing had weakened her completely and she had to stand behind Ellis.

Suddenly, she dropped her axe and fainted. Her skin was utterly gray and her hair looked extremely stringy. Ellis stopped his singing and ran over to Iris's side, trying to rouse her from her sleep. He grabbed her hand and let go of it almost immediately. Her hand was ice cold! What was going on?

That's when he saw the bite mark on the back of her neck. And Ellis realized she had lied to them all. She had been bitten. And she wasn't immune. She was beginning to transform now and there was no cure for it.

"Ellis..." Iris whispered.

"Iree? C'mon, don't transform! We jus met! Who am I gonna tell my stories to now? No one else listens!" Ellis pleaded.

"I'm sorry...I lied to you...I was hoping to escape...but I was bit before you guys came...Ellis...thank you...you made my last hours...so happy..." Iris faced Ellis with teary red eyes. "No one else has made me laugh...like you had. Thank you..."

"Iree!" Ellis shouted. "No, don' die!"

The chopper's blades began to move in. Coach, Rochelle and Nick hurried aboard, but Ellis was too preoccupied by the newly transformed Witch. She screamed and charged into the horde instead of attacking Ellis, but Ellis knew it was only a matter of time before she'd turn on him and rip him to shreds. The mechanic ran up to the helicopter and got in, looking sullen for once.

"Ellis, where's Iris?" Rochelle asked.

He didn't say a word, just pointed down at the Witch. Rochelle gasped in horror. "Was she..."

"She had a bayte on her neck that was there 'fore we showed up," Ellis mumbled. "And she was't immune."

"You mean she LIED to us?" Nick snarled. "I told you you can't trust anyone!"

"SHADDUP," Coach roared. There was no food on the chopper, which put him in an even worse mood.

"She could have transformed at any time and KILLED us! What do you say to that, Coach?!" Nick ranted.

While Coach and Nick argued, Rochelle put a comforting hand on Ellis's shoulder. Ellis wasn't crying, but the overly plucky youth had lost his enthusiasm.

"Ro, she...she thanked me. For makin' her laugh. She said her last hours were happy, cuz of me," Ellis said.

"Maybe your stories were a good thing after all," Rochelle smiled, squeezing Ellis's shoulder affectionately. He managed a small smile. "Just keep thinking that, Ellis. You made her happy. Most of these people died alone, scared or being torn apart. You made Iris happy."

"Yeah..." Ellis nodded. Rochelle sat back and tried to get Coach and Nick to stop fighting. The chopper was quite far away from Whispering Oaks now and he could only see the top of the Screaming Oak. He knew Iris was still down there, but she was beyond saving.

She died happy, though. All thanks to him. Ellis took some cold comfort in that and stared ahead as the chopper moved the four survivors towards safety and another tomorrow.

&-&-&-&

ABOUT TIME. I HAVE WANTED TO FINISH THIS FOR A WHILE.

Yes, I love Ellis. He's so cute and adorable. I wanna hug him. :D

Hopefully this wasn't too Mary Sue or something. I'm so paranoid with writing OCs. D:

Yes, I know there's probably a bajillion EllisxOC stories out there, but I couldn't resist this one.

Notes to know: I used a lot of the ingame dialogue here. The part about the girl named Krista comes from the graffiti in L4D1 in The Subway. It says, "Keith: Waited 3 days at the meeting spot after we got separated. I can't wait anymore. Meet me at Mercy Hospital – Krista." I know it could be a coincidence, but I like making the connection.

REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ. REVIEW PLZ.

-Moonlit Assassin

PS: For anyone wondering, NO, IRIS IS NOT BASED ON ME, NOR IS THIS WISH FULFILLMENT.