Click Click BOOM.

Round after round of shotgun ammunition skipped out of his gun and clattered onto the concrete. The noise of gunfire was almost drowned out by the shrieks and snarling of rows upon rows of infected that were surrounding the healthy. Nearby, there was the crisp, clean and precise calls of a sniper rifle. Somewhere to his left, the consistant 'ratatatat' of an uzi. Human voices joined the chorus of the insane, adding accents of pain, accomplishment and somewhere in there, a loud;


However, to him, all this was lost. Lost in a stream of consistant noise, the panic this caused only eased by the comfort of the sound closest to him.

Click Click BOOM

Body after body thudded to the ground, a bloody mess of what was once a less bloody mess. Stay Alive. That was all the thought he could spare from the operation of his shotgun. Just Stay Alive. Keep Shooting. He had more than enough ammunition left, it was just the matter of clearing the area. Eliminating all the threats. It was easy, just don't ease up on the pressure. He could already tell, their numbers were beginning to dwell. The terrain had used up the last of its idle, mindless resident. More would return later, but now the noise had begun to quiet.

Click Click BOOM

But not entirely. There were still threats. Still corpses to deliver to the floor. He couldn't stop

Click Click BOOM

He wouldn't stop.

Click Click BOOM

Not until every last one had fallen.

Click Click BOOM


Click Click BOOM


Click Click BOOM


Click Click BOOM

"Whoa, Nick's bringing the pain today!" The numbers were thinning. On the bright side, the survivors could now see one another through the throng of pale-faced zombies. Before it had been a blessing to see so much as three feet in front of you before it was obscured by a bloody limb, face or torso. Each survivor had their fair share of bruises and cuts, and were already beginning to think of the best way to devide up the remaining health kits so everyone got a decent amount of releif. All but one

Click Click BOOM

"Alright, we're clear. I think it's safe to say Nick's got our back. He'll clean up the stragglers." A feminine voice cut through the now quieter growls and wailing of the remaining zombies. Three out of four of the immunes regrouped, a little ways away from and behind the fourth.

Click Click BOOM

"Everyone alright?"

"Aw man, did you see that one chic? Her eyeball was like, hangin' out o' her face and flailin' around in the wind! Could hardly see straight enough ta shoot, I was laughin' so hard!"


Click Click BOOM

"Ew is right. Son, I swear you 'aint alright in the head."

"Man, it reminds me of this one time, me 'n my buddy Keith were out in his backyard, 'n this one girl had threatened to try 'n gouge his eyeballs out with salted chopsticks earlier. So naturally Keith wondered if that shit really hurt 'n if it he really had anythin' to worry 'bout, 'n I tried to tell 'im it was a really dumb idea, but he downright insisted he had to do it, for the good of science or summin'. So anyways-"

"Ellis, honey, enough. Please."


Click Click BOOM

Silence. Two out of four had nothing to say. One had nothing he was allowed to say. The last could say nothing even if he wanted to. He was preoccupied with struggling to even out his breathing, forcing himself to come down off the natural adrenaline high. Still, he picked off the stragglers that ran from around corners or out of alleyways, dashing into the middle of the parking lot in attempts to land a good hit on those blessed few who were normal.

Click Click BOOM

The lot was filled with nothing but the ragged breathing of the man who still stood at the ready, shotgun parallel with the ground. He would turn to face each threat as it ran, waiting until the moment it was in range to fire.

Click Click BOOM

Finally, the last corpse hit the floor with a weak squeal. No more shadows shifted ominously, no more recognizable calls beckoned from the distance. Just silence. Silence and breathing. Yet still he stood, tense and wired, ready to shoot again the moment a threat made itself known. He wasn't on a paranoid high, just a hightened sense of things. Glaring into the world through narrowed eyes, he was like a lion: ready to pounce on the first thing that moved.

"'Ey, Nick. Ya can relax y'know, I think they're g-"

Click Click BOOM

The figure fell in silence.

A female shriek:


"Shit, son!"

Nick shook his head suddenly, rattling his head clear of the murderer's haze he'd sunken into. It took him a moment to grasp the situation. He was surrounded by corpses, practically standing on a mountain of filth he'd built with his own two hands. The foot of this mountain is what drew his attention and filled him with such an odd sensation. It wasn't a good feeling, for in all the grays of sickly flesh stood out one beacon of colour, a tanned body with a flushed face, chest splattered with blood.

Something gripped the conman's heart tightly as it all came rushing back. The next thing he knew, he was stumbling over the ring of bodies to get to the one that lay on the ground only a couple metres away, still warm.

"Shit," he cursed, the words just spilling out, "shit, shit, shit!" Ruthlessly, he kicked a lifeless body away from the boy on the ground and hit his knees in its place. His head was tilted back, eyes that usually portrayed his youthful nature now squeezed shut in pain. Both his hands gripped at his chest, as if trying to keep the blood from seeping out.

Nick barely recognized the feeling that tore at his own chest.


"Nick, you monster!" Rochelle's dramatic shriek shook Nick out of the sickening merry-go-round of ill feelings. He growled, saying nothing to deny the woman's claim. She shrugged off her first aid kit, quick to gather it in her hands and bring it over Ellis's body with a purpose. Before she could empty the contents, Nick put his hand over her arm and pushed it back towards her, a solemn frown on his face.

Startled, the reporter took in a breath to unleash her fury on the white suited individual. He cut her off with a wave of his hand, and spoke for himself, barely finding his voice amidst all the curses his brain was spewing.

"No, no. Not here. There will be more here soon," Nick watched as Rochelle snapped her mouth shut and fixed him with a firey glare. "Coach, gimme a hand here."

The large man who'd been standing at his side stooped down, understanding what to do without being asked. Nick shuffled over to give him space as he wedged one of his strong arms under the boy's knees, and the other behind his shoulder blades. Carefully, though not without a whimper from the mechanic, Coach pulled him up and firmly against him.

"Where to?" His tone was strong and curt, looking to Nick, not Rochelle, for answers. As if this action explained everything to her, the woman drew her lips into a thin line and tightened her grip on her Assault rifle. Nick cast his stare up and down the street, eyebrows knitting together in thought. After an agonizing few seconds, he motioned with his free hand to a run-down looking shop wedged between two larger buildings.


Rochelle took point without a word, tightly clutching her rifle in her quivering hands. Coach followed a little ways behind, covered by Nick who drifted in line behind them. He stooped down and picked up the kid's rifle as he passed it, tucking it under his arm as he took his shotgun in his hands. Though he would've liked to have said he was ready for the next threat, he really wasn't. His green-eyed stare was gradually pulled towards the boy in Coach's arms, and the arm that dangled -dare he think it- lifelessly groundwards.

The shop became a make-shift safehouse for the four. After setting Ellis down on the counter and leaving him to Rochelle's worrying, Coach and Nick pushed one of the shelf units in front of the door. They then went about ensuring all other enterances, such as the windows and alternate doors, were either blocked or securely boarded up. It seemed luck was on their side, as most of them were reinforced with steel bars as well as a wooden cover. Whoever had been here last had been quite prepared.

However, stocks were frightfully low. The reason for this particular person's departure was obvious. Aside from a few boxes of expired goods and cases upon cases of bottled water, the place was empty.

Hauling one of the cases of water over to the counter, Coach set fit down on the table he'd brought in from the back room. Said backroom was windowless, and seemingly a perfect place to store the wounded, which they had done. After laying out a sleeping bag on the floor, the largest man of the group had carefully moved the boy into the room and set him on the ground. Rochelle had instantly gone to care for him. While Coach went about making the temporary saferoom feel more like a home to distract himself, Nick was left hovering absently in the corner of the back room, face blank as he stared down at the boy.

Ellis was only semi-concious now. He was awake enough to feel the sting of antiseptic in his wounds, and awake enough to mumble complaints.

"'Nngh...Ro...tha'...tha' hurts..."

"Shush, honey, I know." Rochelle took a second out of her tending to the kid to throw a nasty glare at Nick from over her shoulder. He returned it with an annoyed frown.

"What?" He snarled defensively, hands clenching into fists in his pockets. That stare told him everything. She hated him for what he'd done. Shooting one of their own simply because he was high strung, and Ellis, no less... God damn, as if he didn't feel bad enough without her throwing her dagger-glare at him every five seconds. He was just a kid! More so, he was the glue of their group. The thing that kept them together, and more or less positive when everything seemed bleak and in the dark. It would be Nick to snuff this light out with a shot. The negative always had to clash with the positive.

But still, she felt the need to remind him

"Nick, what the hell? It's one thing to get 'in the zone' and brutally murder every zombie within a five mile radius, it's another to shoot one of our own guys while you're doing it! He didn't even do anything to you, just telling you to calm down!"


"You think I don't know? I...I just...! He should've known better, he startled me!" The lame excuses tumbled from his mouth before he could stop them. She frowned at him, narrowing her eyes before turning her attention to cleaning the wounds once again. Her previously gentle strokes of cloth against skin had gotten harsh, no doubt because of her annoyance at the other male in the room. Nick felt his frown grow even more sour.

"Maybe you should've known better. We're all we've got, Nick! We can't start shooting each other like that!"


"Damnit, Rochelle, I know!"

"Do you, Nick? Really? Because ever since day one you've been a sarcastic jackass talking about how you can't wait to be rid of us! Never thought you'd actually get around to speeding up the process though!"

"Ow, Ro, Ow!" Ellis has lifted his head somewhat, grimacing as Rochelle rubbed a little too harshly at a very sore spot. She didn't seem to hear him, or realize what she was doing, so Nick tried to add his voice to the boy's trouble.

"Rochelle, you-"

"Just shut up, Nick! You can't lie and make excuses for this! This isn't something we can just forgive! What if it happens again, and what if that time, you whittle our numbers down to three, or two, or hell, why don't you just off us all and go out on your o-"

"Rochelle! Please!" It was Ellis who cut off the woman, lifting his hand to knock hers away from his chest. He cast a pleading expression up to the flustered femme, before flicking his stare to Nick. His face turned thoughtful for a moment, and the conman found himself narrowing his eyes in response. Something about Ellis Not wrong, just different. However, the gambler didn't get a chance to figure out what it was before Ellis sighed and let his head fall back once more against the ground. "Ro, why don't you let Nick take it from here?"

Both Rochelle and Nick shared a common look of surprise at the southern boy's suggestion.

"What, but Ellis, sweetie, he sh-"

"Shot me, yeah, I know, 'n I know it was an accident. But you're gettin' so hot 'n bothered by it that you're tearin' me to shit right here. Why don'tcha go help Coach 'n cool yourself down a little?"

Rochelle paused, considering the odd logic in the young man's words. After careful thought and deciding that if Nick further hurt the kid, she would personally shoot him with her gun, she pressed her lips together and rose slowly. She shot a glare at Nick after offering the boy a sympathetic smile, and stormed out of the room muttering curses about stupid old men in white suits.

When she was gone, Ellis let out a long sigh and pulled a hand up his forehead, knocking his hat back as he shut his eyes and winced.

"Shit, Nick, this hurts."

"I know." The conman slowly moved to take the girl's place. Thanks to her angered scrubbing, the wounds were now reddish and swollen, but the blood was gone and the wounds clean. "Alright sport, you're gonna have to sit up." He said, pulling gauze from the kit at his side. Ellis struggled to obey, trying to push himself upright but finding the work on his damaged abs wasn't easy. His face scrunched up in pain, and finally had to accept Nick's help to get upright and prop himself against the wall.

"Hows it lookin', Dr. Nick?"

"Rough, kid."

"Aw, that's cool, they're just bullets. 'M sure you'll get me up 'n runnin' good as new." Ellis offered the older man a friendly smile, to which Nick found himself staring near baffled at. Shaking off the thoughts of confusion, he started to slowly and carefully press the bandage to the boy's chest and wrap it around as tightly as possible. This was not done without an occaisonal whimper and wince from the subject, and in order to take his mind off the kid's pained yelps, Nick tried to start a conversation. He wasn't so great at the 'heartfelt conversation for the sake of conversation' thing, but he figured around Ellis, he didn't have to be. He had a feeling the mechanic could talk to a brick wall for just as long as he could an actual person.

"Jeeze Ellis, any closer and you would've been toast."

"I 'aint had good toast in a long time."

"Heh, me neither."


Well. Conversation had failed him. Here he expected the boy to launch into a story, or proceed to yap his ear off about something insignifacant but blissfully distracting. Instead he was forced to face this silence. The lack of noise forced him to turn to himself, to scold himself for being so reckless and foolish, for putting the boy in this condition. He couldn't grasp what had been going through his head at the time...just that he had to end all threats, and in his trigger-happy 'let's kill everything' state of mind, Ellis had come across as a threat.

"God damnit..." Nick muttered, more to himself than the task at hand. In fact, he hadn't really meant to say anything out loud at all. It seemed as if his mind was so overloaded with thoughts that he could no longer keep the mask on to silence the words. "Damnit, Ellis..."

"Hey, Nick."

Nick didn't respond, and instead glared into the boy's bandages as he wound them further up his chest. Every bullet-induced injury he saw reminded him that zombies couldn't use guns, it was his doing that caused these marks and how all the other bruises and scrapes seemed so insignificant in light of a shotgun blow to the chest.

"I'm sorry."

The conman froze, doubting what he'd heard until he slowly lifted his head to verify.

"You're what?"

"Sorry, man, for gettin' in your way..."

"You're sorry, Ellis? Ellis. You didn't shoot me. I shot you. Can you feel these?" He pressed hard against the boy's well toned chest, earning a wince under his hand and a sharp intake of breath. Yes, judging by that reaction, he could feel them. "I did that. Why the hell are you apologizing?"

"I 'aint dumb, Nick. I saw the way you were lookin'." The conman held his tongue, continuing to frown at the other man as he carried on. "It was like you weren't yourself, 'n you'd dedicated like, everythin' to just killin' anythin'..." Ellis paused, though Nick had a feeling all these words had already been planned out. "I knew if I went up 'n said summin' to you, you'd probably shoot me too."

"So why did you?"

"Well, you've seen Ro, she couldn't take a shotgun to the chest 'n live. Not easily."

"But you-"

"'N Coach is like the 'let's get shit done' guy, if you'd a shot him, we probably would've stood around 'n bickered before thinkin' 'bout helping him."

"Ellis, that's not entirely true."

"But it's partly true, right?"

"...So, you knew I was going to shoot you, so you called out to me anyways?"

"I didn't know you were gonna shoot me for sure, it was just a thought, 'n I figured if anyone, it might as well've been me." Nick finally finished wrapping the mechanic's chest, cut off the excess and then fastened the gauze down. He frowned as he sat back, settling on the floor facing the southerner with a hard stare. "For the record," Ellis added with a grin, "you're a helluva shot. Spot on, man, I felt that, right here." He pounded his fist against his chest where he'd been shot, only then remembering he was still injured and letting out a 'sweet jesus!' in reaction.

Even though the conman didn't at all mind the compliment, he couldn't feel much more than a smirk on his face. Here, he'd shot the kid, and then the victim saw fit to apologize for it. What was worse was that Nick had yet to do the very same and apologize for being on the firing end of the situation. In a way, it bothered him that Ellis had found a way to apologize before him, feeling as if the kid was only doing so to get an apology for himself. But then again, that didn't sound like Ellis. Ellis didn't typically scheme like that, not that he knew of.

"You're odd," Nick concluded at last.

"Yeah, I know." Ellis smiled.

"And I'm sorry."

"Yeah. I know."

Again, Nick was caught of guard. His pride forbid him from showing this momentary feeling of surprise, so he simply stared.

"Don't beat yourself up 'bout it anymore. I forgive ya, I did the moment I woke back up." The kid continued to smile, despite the pain and despite the situation. He was being totally honest, admitting that he really did know that the conman was sorry. Nick also wouldn't have put it past the mechanic to understand just how sorry he was, either. In a way, he was glad he didn't have to put his thoughts into words, and could just safely assume that Ellis understood. However, it also was a little odd to learn that the previously childish and free spirited hick knew more about others than he let on.

"So, are you gonna demand a free shot?" Nick asked slowly, trying to drag the situation off discovering this deeper Ellis. Something told him that here was not the time. Not here, not now. Let the kid continue to be surprising for just a little while longer.

"Definately. 'N you know I prefer the rifle, so I guarantee it's gonna sting like a bitch."

"Hmm. Most likely, those bullets tear through walls."

"'N conga lines of zombies too." Grinning childishly once again, Ellis seemed to be just as willing to let the subject drift off seriousness and to something a little more carefree.

"So where can I expect to be shot? Not the face please."

"Naw, not the face. But I 'aint tellin' ya yet."

"Shit, that's gonna drive me nuts."

"Aww, Nick, you 'aint got far to go. I got the scars to prove it."

Ehhhh. Just some Ellis and Nick...something or other. Not slash. It's not really anything really. I can't help looking at this and feeling as if something's off. But whatever, don't think I'm gonna do anything more. Still, I'd like to hear your thoughts, so review, yo!