Author's Note: This didn't turn out at all how I figured it would, but I'unno. The characters in my head had their own ideas.
Oneshot (that means no continuing, unless someone begs … just kidding. I still wouldn't say yes. xD). Slight Angst/Fluff (does that make any sense?). Nick/Ellis. Slash. Ellis' POV.
Disclaimer: I wish I owned Nick. Seriously. But I don't own anyone. It sucks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Sean for reading this over. Thanks also to Amanda for doing the same.
Summary: Maybe Ellis needs glasses … y'know, so he finally sees what he's been missing out on. Hard to find those in an apocalypse, though. Perhaps he'll just continue to be blind.
In The Dark
The sun was setting, leaving all the colors of a sunset: rich reds, vibrant oranges, warm pinks, and cool purples. They all mixed together, creating a huge mix-up of colors, but like all of nature's works of art, they worked together. They created one of life's greatest beauties. It was as if an artist had taken a huge paintbrush and smeared the high, slowly-spreading-in-the-wind clouds with flashes of color that would change quickly as the sun dipped lower behind the horizon.
It was a blink-and-you-miss it sunset. One of those once-in-a-lifetime things. And Ellis missed it.
Rochelle had missed it too – she'd been sleeping. Coach was sleeping as well. It seemed like that was all those two did: sleep. Rochelle was huddled in a corner furthest from the safe house door, and Coach was lying sprawled in the middle of the room. Fortunately, this was a two storey safe house. Ellis stood with his back to the safe house door, gazing steadfast at the ladder leading up to the upper part of the building. His eyebrows contracted for a fraction of a second, his eyes seemed to darken, and he crossed the room and began to climb.
The upper room was small, yet airy. There was a window facing the sunset, and Ellis saw that Nick was watching the sun's path across the sky, his body all in shadow.
The safe house was completely silent. Ellis didn't want to move. Nick seemed to be in a reverie of sorts, and the younger man didn't want to startle him. Lately, Nick had been sleeping with his finger on the trigger.
Well, maybe that was an exaggeration … but Nick had gone jumpy. Strange. He spoke a lot less than he used to, and if he made a mistake, he'd verbally beat himself up. Especially if it almost got Ellis killed – which did happen every once in a while. Ellis didn't take it to heart, though. He knew it just came along with the territory of being in a Goddamn zombie apocalypse 'n' shit. Shit, shit, shit.
Nick had also taken to pacing the safe house at night or standing still until Ellis made the older man sit down beside him. Generally, Nick resisted for a while, his eyes dark and angry, but he always gave in. He'd fall asleep quickly and sometimes his head would loll onto Ellis' sturdy yet slim shoulder. The younger man didn't care. He liked being around Nick. Despite Nick almost shooting him a couple of times, Ellis felt safe with the older man.
Ellis didn't know how long he stood there. The sun had set and the safe house had cooled down considerably before Nick stirred, shook his head, and turned away from the window.
"What are you doing, Ellis?" Nick asked when he saw the younger man standing stock-still at the top of the ladder.
Ellis rolled his shoulders and rubbed his neck. He was stiff from standing for so long without moving. "I didn' want to scare you."
The older man didn't respond. He just looked at Ellis.
"I'm assuming that since you were waiting for me, you had something to say?" Nick asked finally, his voice quiet in the safe house stillness.
Ellis coughed softly and moved forward a bit. He didn't want to feel like he was shouting; anything above a whisper after sundown felt like he was causing way too much of a racket.
"I … uh …" he stopped, wondering what he was going to say. "I … just felt kinda … lonely, y'know."
"They're still sleeping, aren't they?"
"I see. Did you watch the sun set?"
Ellis shook his head and took a few more steps toward the older man. They were now a foot apart. He took off his hat and rubbed his forehead. Even his skin felt tired, worn out. Everything about him felt done. He didn't used to need to be around another person, but now … now he couldn't stand to be alone for long.
He swallowed and said no, that he hadn't seen the sunset. He'd been thinking about stuff.
Nick sighed. "Yeah, thinking …" he let out a short laugh, "Everyone seems to do a lot of that nowadays. It's hard not to think about … everything, especially when you shut your eyes even for a second. Everything just comes flooding back."
Ellis' eyebrows contracted as he wondered if that was pain he saw in Nick's sea-green eyes. The older man sighed again and turned away. He walked toward the window and leaned against it, the fingers of his right hand curled around the metal grate that ran across it. The wind blew past his face, across his cheeks, and moved his hair gently, like a woman caressing his short brown locks.
"Nick … I was thinkin' 'bout …" Ellis stopped again. No, screw it. He couldn't.
"Thinking about …?" Nick inquired without turning around. He was just a shadow blocking out the small amount of light filtering in through the window.
Was it a trick of the lack of light, or did Ellis see the older man's broad shoulders tremble slightly?
It was Ellis' time to sigh. "Jus' … if I don' make it … would someone at least try to … to find a family member of mine? T—to tell 'em that I … I tried."
"You don't think you'll make it out alive?"
"No …" Ellis responded softly, his gaze dropping to the plywood floor covered in dirt and garbage. No, he didn't think he'd make it. What was the likelihood of that happening, really? Slim. He already felt like he was dying inside. Not enough sleep, not enough food, not enough water. It wouldn't take long for him to just keel over and not be able to get back up again.
Sure, he wouldn't just give up. He had a lot of fight in him; he was spunky and cheerful and enthusiastic. But that took a lot out of a person. He still tried to be their ray of sunshine – mainly just Ro's, but oh well – although it was getting harder to do day after awful day.
It was hard to smile all the time when death was waiting around the corner for you.
"That's all I wanted to say," Ellis finished, hoping his mind would shut off for a while so he could get some shuteye. Even an hour would be great. He usually just napped for half an hour and then was up for the rest of the night, sitting beside Nick, listening to the older man breathe –
"I was thinking the same thing," Nick said as he turned around, his expression unreadable.
"Thinkin' what?" Ellis asked, disconcerted.
"About not making it."
"I don't know, Ellis. Just seems like a lot to leave behind. A lot that'd be left unsaid."
Ellis nodded. He agreed completely. He didn't want to leave his life behind. He wanted to go back to Savannah, have supper at his mom's house again, and work as a mechanic until he died. It sounded like the perfect life.
He hadn't even told his mom that he loved her. That was a tragedy. Although he probably didn't need to worry much about the old woman … she owned enough shotguns to make the neighbors nervous. Besides, she said this would happen eventually, and she'd been preparing for it for years.
And people thought Ellis was the crazy one in his family. Ha.
He blinked. Nick was right in front of him again. The younger man couldn't see Nick's face at all – it was shrouded in shadow.
"If you had a chance," Nick began hesitantly, as if unsure of himself, "what would you have not left unsaid, uh, if you died?"
Ellis was getting confused. There was something behind Nick's words. Some hidden emotion that Ellis wasn't allowed to get a good look at. Nick was good at hiding everything from the younger man. Or maybe Ellis just wasn't very good at seeing what was right in front of him.
"Uh," Ellis said, his mouth seeming to go dry for no reason whatsoever. He swallowed once and wished he had a bottle of water. "Um, I'd say I love you –"
Before he knew what had happened – before his heart had even had a chance to continue contracting – before his senses could gather enough information – Nick had leaned forward and pressed his dry lips again Ellis'.
Ellis couldn't even react. He didn't really need to, though. It was over before he knew what had occurred.
The deathly quiet of the safe house seemed way too loud to Ellis now. He was glad it was dark, though, 'cause his face was burning. His whole body was tingling, screaming for something more, some sort of confirmation of what had happened, yet Ellis didn't let his thoughts run away from him. Maybe Nick had fallen forward and … and used his lips to stop from tumbling into Ellis completely …?
The younger man wet his lips with a trembling tongue and whispered, "To my mom."
A minute passed before Nick responded: "Oh."