Author's Note – So, I have a whole bunch of scenes in my head involving these two, but none of them make much sense together in one story. So, I figure I'll just post them as vignettes. There will be no order whatsoever to them and they'll be set both during and post-game.

Linguistic Adventures

The echoes of the long-forgotten movie bounced softly against the walls of the apartment; a flick about a lumbering, white-masked man who was trying to kill Jaime Lee Curtis. Ellis had insisted that it was a classic of the genre and Nick had humored him up until the moment that the second victim had ventured out alone to investigate a strange noise. He'd put his arm around Ellis who was leaning against him and kissed his temple.

"Naw, naw, don't miss this!" he had protested, lightly pushing at him. "This is the best part!"

Nick had laughed under his breath and slid his hand under the younger man's shirt. To his credit, he had resisted for a bit but soon gave into the lips and hands on him. A few more minutes had resulted in Ellis backed into a corner of the couch with Nick all but straddling him, his arms creating a willing cage. Cupping the side of his face with his right hand, Nick's mouth tended to Ellis' left ear, slowly trailing down his neck while the mechanic let his head fall back.

Nick couldn't help but notice that he didn't seem to be all there however. The kid's hands weren't as busy as they usual were when Nick had him in this position. Moving away from the warm skin of his neck, Nick moved to kiss his soft mouth. When the lips against his didn't instantly respond, he pulled back and looked into Ellis' open eyes.

"This movie cannot be that good."

"Hmm?" Ellis responded, seemingly in a dream.

Nick pushed against the couch to look more fully at him.

"Okay, what?" he asked.

"What?"

"What do you mean 'what'? What's going on with you?"

He seemed to tense under him.

"Nothin'," he said. "It's nothin'."

Nick could count the number of times he had had to coax Ellis into conversation on one hand. He could also recall all the times the younger man thought he could lie to him; Nick was good at reading people in general, but Ellis' eyes had always been an open book. He grasped his chin between his thumb and index finger and forced the younger man's eyes to focus on his.

"Do you like the way I talk?" Ellis asked.

"What?" Nick questioned after a pause, his brow furrowing in confusion.

Ellis adjusted himself, pushing his body back and up against the corner of the couch.

"Do you like the way I talk?"

"Ellis," Nick began, moving off of him to mute the television. "What are you talking about?"

Looking away again, the mechanic seemed to be collecting his thoughts before he started speaking.

"It's just . . . sometimes I think people think I'm . . . I don't know, stupid or somethin' 'cause of the way I talk."

Ah.

"Did something happen at work, today?" Nick asked.

"Yeah, these guys . . . I don't know, maybe I'm overreactin' but they jus' . . . acted weird 'round me. Like, I didn't know what I was talkin' 'bout or some shit, I don't know. They kept whisperin' to each other when they thought I couldn't hear. They didn't seem to care 'bout anythin' I said, they only listened to Scott."

Nick played with a curl of his hair while he talked. It hadn't been easy for Ellis to move away from the South but Nick couldn't stay there after everything that had happened and Ellis would have happily followed him to the moon. Still, for the first time in his life Ellis had found himself surrounded by people who didn't sound like him and people asked him where he was from. People reminded him that he was an outsider.

"Did you . . ."

Oh, Christ. Don't.

"Did you think I was stupid when we first met?"

"Oh Jesus, Ellis," Nick sighed, pulling back fully. "Weren't we about to fuck?"

"Come on man, I'm serious," Ellis insisted. "Did you think I was stupid when we met? 'Cause of way I talk?"

Nick ran a hand through his own hair and lowered his eyes, carefully collecting his words.

"Nick?"

"When we first met," Nick began. "I thought you were naïve, reckless, and - "

Ellis was studying his face with an intensity that would have made the white-masked serial killer nervous.

"Somewhat . . . irritating," he said. "But no, I never thought you were stupid."

Ellis continued to stare at him, searching his eyes for any indication of a lie.

"Not even when you was makin' fun of me?"

"I still do, Overalls," Nick said, mimicking his accent.

That got him a small smile.

"Serious?"

"Yeah," Nick said. "Serious."

Ellis relaxed a little, knocking one of his feet against Nick's where it rested on the floor.

"Fuck those guys," Nick continued. "If they're so smart, let them try and find someone who will fix their car better than you can or, better yet, fix it themselves."

Ellis laughed softly.

"You're not stupid Ellis," Nick whispered, leaning in closer. "I don't waste time with idiots. Not even when zombies are involved."

He smiled and leaned up to kiss him.

"Thanks," he said against his mouth.

Humming a response, Nick pressed himself up against him again. This time, he had his full attention. Ellis' hands moved to his lover's waist, gripping onto his hips, while he captured his mouth.

Oh yes, this was much better.

Nick's hands again found their way under the younger man's shirt, rubbing his palms against his chest before pulling back momentarily to remove the soft fabic all together.

"Aw wait, shit!" Ellis suddenly exclaimed.

"What?" Nick asked, concerned.

Sliding out from under him, Ellis grabbed the remote and turned the volume back up.

"You haven't even seen the part where the dude gets pinned against the wall! Man, that shit is the best!"