AN: so slang is not my strong side, and Nick is prolly a little too nice. And I don't own L4D at any rate, just messing with it, and no profit made.

New dawns.

A change of speed, a change of style

A change of scene, with no regrets

A chance to watch, admire the distance

Still occupied though you forget

Different colours, different shades

Over each mistakes were made

I took the blame

Directionless so plain to see

A loaded gun won't set you free

So you say

-Joy Division.

"I'm really sorry I shot you." Ellis mumbled, stirring his cold can of spaghetti with a plastic fork.

Nick would have laughed if it didn't hurt, instead he rose an amused brow. "Hey, it happens."

"No it doesn't." Ellis sighed, finally looking at Nick. "Name me someone else who did it."

"Errr.. well there is a first time for everything." Nick said, not really willing to admit that none of the others had ever shot each other. "Look sport, I will be up and running in no time. it's not like it's a deadly wound or nothing."

Ellis took off his cap and ran a hand through his sweaty hair, "I can't help it but to feel responsible."

Nick smiled strained and leaned up against the pillows that Rochelle had found for him. "As I said, it's fine kid."

Holding his cap in his hands, wringing it nervously, Ellis had finally abandoned his cold can of food. "They were all over, and.. I couldn't aim properly."

Nick frowned slightly, "Are you alright? Did you get Ro or Coach to look you over?"

"I'm fine." Ellis said with a little bloodless smile.

"is that a fact?" Nick said, closing his eyes listening to the zombies outside. "I am really tired of that sound." He stated, changing the subject, knowing that if Ellis really was wounded he would not admit it to him.

"Me too." Ellis said, referring to the snarling, searching, zombies. He glanced towards the heavy iron door that separated them from the cannibals. "Hey Nick, can I ask you something, yanno, it might be stupid.. but.. "

"Anyone who pulled shotgun pellets out my ass, can ask me anything." Nick clucked, he knew that Ellis would not appreciate that he mentioned it, but he couldn't help it, it was sorta amusing, in a strictly fucked up, karma'ish way.

Ellis' lips became a bloodless line for a moment, and then he smiled a little timid smile, very un-Ellis like. "Have you seen anyone you know? you know.. like, like.." He nodded discretely towards the door and the noise, "like one of them."

"No." Nick lied, not really sure why he lied.

"Oh." Ellis nodded. "So you left your home town before all this?" He picked up his can of spaghetti again. "If you don't mind me asking."

"I did." Nick admitted.

"I sorta wish I had too." Ellis sighed, poking the disgusting slobber in the can. "Left, I mean."

Nick opened his eyes, something in Ellis' voice told him that it was important. "It's not like anyone would have thought.." He bit his lip, trying to come up with the right words, but he couldn't. Ellis seemed to understand what he meant though.

"Where were you when you heard the news first?" Ellis asked.

"I.. I uh.. I was on a bus." Nick said, which was another lie, "In a Greyhound bus, bound for Miami when the guy next to me watched the news on his laptop." Why did he lie like this to that poor gullible kid? Maybe because he knew that telling the truth would maybe..Maybe.. Ah he didn't know, maybe this was his chance to become something else, to wipe the slate clean, and to get a second time around. Funny it would start with lying his ass off though.

"The bus crash?" Ellis asked.

"No.. You see.. " Nick sighed heavily. "Okay, truth is that I was here, I was in a hotel room on the same damn hotel where I met you later." He smiled gently, hey the truth wasn't so bad after all, was it? "I was just passing though Savannah on my way to Jacksonville, or so I thought. Suddenly I was caught here in in the middle of flesh eating, walking dead."

Ellis nodded, listening. "Zombie Apocalypse.. maaan.." He mumbled thoughtfully. "Who would have thought."

"Not me, that is for fucking sure." Nick admitted, closing his eyes again.

"Yanno, it's nothing like them movies, is it?" Ellis suddenly said, "They always scream 'shoot them in the head' in the movies, but in reality it doesn't matter."

Nick smiled amused, seeing the grotesque poetic justice in it. "Wonder if George Romero is one of them, wouldn't that be cool? shooting him in the head."

"No." Ellis said a little offended.

Rochelle climbed down the ladder from the upstairs, down to the two men. "Are you two okay?" She asked.

Nick just hummed a sleepy answer, and Ellis nodded.

Rochelle tilted her head and stared at Ellis. "Hey are you hurt Ellis?"

Ellis shook his head.

"Take off your shirt." Rochelle commanded, "Now."

Ellis sighed, knowing that he wouldn't get much out of refusing, so instead he made excuses for the injuries she would find. "it's okay, it's not my first bite yanno."

Rochelle didn't notice Nick who opened his eyes again, she was aiming directly for a the medical supplies.

"Man." Nick slurred, sleepy. "He got you good! You should have said something you fucking idiot, what if it got infected and you got fucking gangrene or some shit like that?"

Ellis wanted to say something, but he just opened his mouth, and closed it again, letting Rochelle tend to him.

Rochelle shot Nick a poisonous glare, but didn't say anything.

"I will take first watch." Ellis said as Rochelle handed him his shirt back. "It's okay, I'm not tired."

Rochelle wanted to argue, but truth was she was tired to the bone, and Nick and Coach already slept. "Okay." She said softly, "But you wake me in a couple of hours, okay?"

"I will." Ellis said with a nod.

Ellis tried to work silently, making himself some coffee. but in the semi light he pushed over a can, startling Nick, who instinctively grabbed his gun. "Sorry." Ellis said with an apologetic smile, "I just tried to make some coffee."

"Would you make me one too?" Nick asked, yawning.

"Sure." Ellis said, pulling another plastic cup from the cupboard. "Nick?"

"Yes."

"Were you married?" Ellis asked innocently.

"What?" Nick asked back.

"You wear a wedding ring." Ellis stated.

Nick looked down at his hand. "Well.." His head already started to form a lie, when he reached out for the coffee that Ellis brought him. "Yes, and no." He said, "I was married once, the wedding ring stayed on because it worked for me, that the ladies thought I was taken." He smiled, placing the cup on the floor, he pulled off the ring. "Give me your hand."

Ellis held out his hand to Nick, staring at him confused as he pushed the ring on his index finger. "Uhm.. Nick.. I.."

"I do." Nick said solemnly. Only his smile giving away his amusement.

"Jesus Christ, Nick.." Ellis argued softly.

"Just don't get killed okay?" Nick said, finally letting go of Ellis' hand. "it's a good luck token, it sure as shit gave me some lucky strikes, if you know what I mean." He winked.

"Oh.. OH.." Ellis blushed again, staring at the ring.

"So what about you El?" Nick asked, knowing the answer from Ellis' expression alone.

"Does it matter?" Ellis looked down into his coffee.

"Suppose not." Nick said softly, "I was just trying to make conversation."

Ellis nodded. "I had my mama, and friends.. I.." He dropped his gaze, "I really don't wanna talk about it."

"Okay." Nick said, accepting that it might hurt Ellis to talk about, he was just about to ask if he had run dry of stupid Keith stories, when he shifted in his seat, and bend over a little to try and meet the shorter man's eyes.

"They are all dead." Ellis said darkly, and uncannily un-Ellis.

"You know what?" Nick said, reaching out caressing Ellis' cheek.

Ellis looked up half in surprise, half in alert. He had never neither seen or expected Nick to make a loving gesture like that, nothing he had said or done had given none of them any clue that he even wanted to be seen with either of them. If you don't count the zombie killing team spirit.

"You have a new family." Nick said gently. "Give it ten years and you will be telling, Coach, Rochelle and Nick anecdotes. To anyone who bothers to listen, or at least still have ears."

Ellis smiled genuinely, that was the kindest thing anyone had ever said. "Yeah, I guess you're right."

"I was at home." Ellis suddenly said, one day as they were walking down a seemingly endless road.

Nick turned his head and looked at the shorter man. "What?"

"When I first heard about all this." Ellis said, "My mama had just served dinner, and the news showed the first images of it." He smiled a little, "She switched the channel, because she didn't want to watch the news or something, I won't ever know why she turned it off." Ellis bit a nail, walking a little slower. "I asked her to turn it on again, it looked like it was pretty important. But she hit me over the head with a dishwasher rag, and told me to eat my beans." Ellis laughed softly.

Nick smiled, and inwardly wished that his mother had at least bothered with a call, which she hadn't.

"When the first one was spotted in Savannah, I told her we needed to board up the house, or at least turn on the radio to keep taps on what the government said." Ellis chuckled to himself, "Yanno like in that movie."

Nick nodded, not because he knew what movie Ellis was referring to, but he remember the feeling of staring in a zombie movie, the first couple of days.

"Mama said; God takes care of his own." Ellis said in a near whisper. "Guess he didn't."

"Eh.." Nick mumbled, not being a religious man, he wasn't sure what the hell he was supposed to say, and his mind raced for the right words to make Ellis smile. "Doesn't he also say that he never gives someone more than they can handle... or something.."

"Or something." Ellis laughed softly.

Nick smiled, it had been the right thing, because the sweet smile was back. Dimples and all. Nick knew he should stop and wonder why he noticed Ellis' dimples or his pretty, smiling, blue eyes. But he didn't, the world had gone insane, and the dead walked the earth, why shouldn't he admire Ellis' charms? There is a first time for everything, Armageddon and pretty boys both. "Is that shoulder still giving you trouble?" he asked casually.

"Nah." Ellis lied.

"Don't bullshit a bullshitter, man." Nick said drily. "Here." He pulled a couple of painkillers from his pocket, "Ro gave me enough of this shit, to put down a horse."

Ellis squinted his eyes, not sure if he should believe it, but in the end the pain in his shoulder won out, and he took the pills.

Ellis heard Nick's scream over the sound of the growling, roaring zombies. He stopped dead in his tracks. He heard Rochelle call his name, but he reached out for the sniper rifle instead of running. At first he had a hard time to see Nick, but then he saw him, trying to battle off one of those feral ones, Ellis aimed, ignoring Rochelle's calls that had now risen to a high pitched scream. "You can't have him." Ellis mumbled to himself, and fired a bullet, the feral zombie jerked, but didn't go down, Ellis fired again, and again, and finally it seemed to loose it's battle, and Nick got a punch in with the handle of his rifle, and knocked it off. Ellis tossed down the sniper rifle, and looked around. Only to stare into a big infested blob, he tried to push it off, but it vomited all over him, and he knew what that meant, he had seen that before. Desperately he tried to orientate himself, wiping off the bile from his face.

Coach pulled Nick to his feet, and they all stared up at the balcony where Ellis stumbled around, blind. They could hear the snarls get louder and louder, and Nick was sure that Ellis heard that too. Nick scanned the surroundings, "There has to be some way up there." He squeaked.

"Both you and Ro is badly hurt." Coach said soberly.

Nick angrily ran his hand down his torn shirt, feeling warm blood on his fingers. "You two run off and find somewhere safe." He said, reloading his rifle with a grim expression.

"You can't.." Rochelle groaned.

"Neither can he." Nick stated coldly, "In a moment there will be swarms of those fuckers, either you go with me or you don't, but I am 'not' leaving him like this."

Coach looked at Rochelle, and with a sigh handed her a handful of painkillers, "We will cover you." He said.

"Knew you would." Nick said with a genuine smile, before he ran down the street, the same way they had come from. He could hear Ellis scream in horror as the horde made it's impact. "A little help here?" Nick growled angrily at the skies as he kept searching for some means of getting to the first floor of the house.

Ellis had no perspective of time, he just kept shooting in blind, somewhere in the back of his head, he wondered of this was permanent. He could hear gunshots, so he knew they hadn't left. it had been stupid coming up here, but he had thought he could see better, to make out what way they could go so they didn't have to search for a way for so long. This place was a maze.

Nick finally pulled his upper body up on a balcony in the opposite end of the house, making a mental note that maybe this was a fucking suicide mission, coming up here, he vaguely noted the trail of blood he left on the white boards, but ignored it. "Ellis!" He yelled, "I'm on my way!"

"I'm out!" Ellis cried, blinking rapidly, his vision improved a little, had it not been for the blood on his face.

Nick kicked in a door to what had once been a kitchen, and shot a zombie, inwardly he noted that this zombie had a nicer tie than he did, funny how danger and death got absurd when you got used to it. Nick heard a vague growling, it was one of those feral fuckers. "Ellis! Hunter!" He yelled from the top of his lungs. Damn his chest hurt. He heard Ellis scream, figuring the hunter had found it's prey, and he almost threw himself out the window, and with energy he didn't knew where came from, kicked the hunter that tried feverishly to claw it's way to Ellis' guts, in the head before shooting it right between the eyes.

The hunter went limb, and Ellis scrambled to his feet. Without thinking, he threw his arms around Nick's neck, holding the other man tight. "I thought I was dead." Ellis whispered.

"That was fucking close, kid." Nick said with haughty tone, but none the less returned the embrace.

"Fuck!" Rochelle laughed down on the street, "We're alright!"

Ellis pulled from the embrace, and for a split-second the two men looked at eachoter, and for a split second, Nick was sure that Ellis would kiss him, plant a big slobbery one, right on his lips. But he didn't, he just turned his head, and mumbled, "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Nick said, his breath caught in his chest. What the hell was this?

Rochelle and Nick were both knocked out on painkillers and some foul tasting booze they had found. The label was missing, but Ellis figured it was someone's moonshine. Ellis was standing roaming through the chaotic pile of bullets, stocking up on what he needed. "Yo, thanks for not leaving." He said a little childish, "It was really stupid of me to get separated from all y'all like that."

"It was." Coach agreed. "But it all worked out, so don't worry about it kid."

"Maybe we should stay here a day or two, everyone is pretty badly banged up." Ellis said, "maybe we shouldn't.."

"They will be fine." Coach said clipped.

"Of course." Ellis said feeling slightly embarrassed that he had even suggested otherwise.

TBC.