Disclaimer: I do not own Left 4 Dead in anyway, but if I did...oh if I did...;D

A/N: I AM SO SORRY! I have been swamped with school work! I graduate in a month though guys and then I'm done! Woo! Which means more chapters come out faster! :D :D :D

"Rule number one," the gambler held up one finger, "look out for number one."

"Yew didn't play team sports in school did yew?" The hick asked staring at him, "Because teamwork is the key to survival."

"If I had to choose between saving you or saving this suit," Nick dropped his arm on the table and leaned forward slightly to whisper harshly, "I'd pick the suit every God damn time." He leaned back holding up two fingers, "Rule number two don't stop for anyone—"

"Yew stopped fer me, well," Ellis leaned on his arms resting on the table, "fer us."

"I didn't really have much of an option kid," Nick sniffed lounging his left arm on the back of the booth, "I was swamped by zombies and was unlucky enough to be near that gas station."

"Yew would've been dead if it hadn't been fer me," Ellis stated proudly.

Nick glared at him, but held up a third finger, "Rule number three says I can do whatever the hell I want, when I want."

Ellis's nose crinkled, "That doesn't seem very efficient."

"It was when the world wasn't dead," Nick sighed dropping his hand to the table, "I'm leaving in the morning."

"What d'ya mean yer leavin'?" Ellis's brow furrowed.

"Exactly what I said," Nick brought his other arm up onto the booth flicking his wrists up, "You guys will only slow me down."

"Aw don't be like that Fancy Suit," Ellis smiled.

"Don't call me that."

"Mr. Gamblin' Man?" Ellis offered.

Nick pointed a finger at him with a glare, but he was interrupted before he could speak.

"Shove over," Rochelle sat down next to the conman and he removed his arm from behind her to rest on the table as he moved around the curve of the booth giving her room, "What are we talking about?"

"Nick wants ta leave," Ellis answered.

"Let 'im," Coach slid in next to Ellis forcing the hick to slide closer to Nick, "I never liked him to begin with."

"I didn't like you either," Nick brought his arms back up on the booth leaning back as Ellis sat straight against the back of it feeling the presence of the older man's arm close to him, "I don't like any of you."

"Don'be like that," Ellis turned slightly and Nick did the same pulling his arm closer to him so Ellis could bring his own arm up onto the booth and the other on the table, "Yew can't honestly mean that?"

"But I do," Nick glanced at him.

"And where the hell are you going to go? We're in the middle of a zombie infested mall?" Rochelle waved her arms out in front of her before dropping them back to the table.

"I've been in worse places," he said simply and she shook her head.

"C'mon Nick," Ellis tried again with a weak smile, "yew need us."

Nick's eyes narrowed, "You don't know what I need kid."

"Ellis," the hick frowned, "my name is Ellis. El-lis. E-L-L-I-S. Ellis."

"I don't care if it was J-F-K, you're a kid," Nick said simply.

"He's not a kid," Rochelle interjected, "leave him alone. Ellis, if he wants to leave…let him."

Ellis licked his lips and felt his heart lurch a little, "At least sleep on it?"

Nick sighed, "I planned on sleeping in general, but I guess I could add that thought before I'm in my REM cycle."

Ellis smiled, "Great!"

"Yeah, great," Rochelle said with faked enthusiasm, "So are we really going to stay in this place all night when we're so close to the Evac Center?"

"I'm starting to get nervous about it," Coach said uneasily, "I keep seeing signs for a safe house which can only mean one thing…"

"No CEDA," Nick finished for him, "Just like there was no Army…there's no CEDA. Nobody cares about us. We're four out of millions."

"That's not true!" Ellis said, "They tried evacuatin' people all over the place b'fore shit got real bad. They took my friends up in a whirly-bird and said they'd be back soon fer the rest of us, but they never came back."

"We're fucked, face the facts," Nick stated bluntly.

"I don' believe that," Ellis muttered.

"You, kid, have way too much faith," Nick pointed a finger at him and Ellis hit it away.

"I'm being serious," Ellis backed, "I think we can survive if we really try…all we have to do is find a different Evac Center."

Nick chuckled shaking his head.

"He's right," Rochelle agreed, "If we keep our heads high and our wits about us we'll be fine."

"And a gun full of ammo," Coach dropped his pistol onto the table, "but until we find some we need to take awareness to how many bullets we have. I got two clips for this and about twenty shells for the shotgun."

"I got four clips, two per pistol and four clips for my AK," Rochelle added in.

"Uh, I have my bat still and one clip for the pistol then two for the rifle," Ellis looked to Nick.

Nick ran a hand through his hair, "My Eagle has the clip in it and another, ten shells for the shotgun, and then the ax, but that won't last much longer."

"So, in the morning we need to find some firepower," Rochelle leaned back in the seat.

"Gunshop shit didn't last long," Nick commented, "Whatever…we're in a mall, we'll find stuff."

"Let's get some shut eye," Coach stood up, "Who wants first watch?"

"I'll take it," Nick lifted a hand, but frowned as they all stared at him, "What?"

"You're not going to go off and leave us for dead are you?" Rochelle lifted an eyebrow.

"No," Nick snorted, "But I'll wake the hick up over here in two hours."

"Don't call him that," Coach clenched his fists.

"Settle," Nick held his hands up in defense, "Fine. Overalls…I'm waking you up in two hours, okay?"

"Isn't that what yew call those chargin' thingies?" Ellis asked.

"Would you prefer it if I called you darling?" Nick grumped and Ellis cleared his throat awkwardly, "Didn't think so, now go get some sleep before I change my mind."

Rochelle got out of the seat and stalked off to another booth; Coach doing the same leaving the two men, but a moment later Nick was getting out of the curved booth to go to the wall facing the door. He grabbed his gun as he did so and slid his back down the wall to sit watching it.

Ellis watched him for a moment longer as the gambler retrieved a cigarette from his inner pocket along with a lighter; there was a long silence between Nick lighting it and him finally turning to look at the Georgian.

"I'd say take a picture, but being as there are no cameras here…keep on starring," Nick brought the cigarette to his lips, "because it's not weird at all."

"Sorry," Ellis shook his head, "didn't mean ta…I was jus' thinkin' is all, 'bout my friends."

"The ones that were taken up?" Nick asked, but he cleared his throat and crooked his finger, "Come over here so we don't wake those two."

Ellis clambered out of the booth and walked over to sit on the wall a foot away from the other man, "Yeah, it was, um, three of 'em. Dave, Paul, and his older brother Keith. Keith an' I had been friends since we were in high school. I was in, uh, tenth grade and Keith was in twelfth, we met because we were both on the football team and—"

"Wait, you played football?" Nick asked and he nodded, "Does Coach know?"

"No, and I don't want 'im to," Ellis said firmly.

"What position did you play?" Nick dropped the cigarette by his foot and he put it out.

"I was a running back," Ellis answered, "Keith was a lineman. We were always hanging out. See he only lived two blocks away so we'd go out an' do all this crazy shit. He was crazy as hell and that's why he was my best friend. Like this one time—"

"Hey, Overalls," Nick broke in, "You have to get up in less than two hours; maybe you should try to get some sleep."

"Oh," Ellis dropped his head slightly and started to get up, but Nick stopped him.

"El," Nick sighed, "you can tell me all about your best friend tomorrow if you want."

"Aren't y'leavin'?" Ellis asked as he sat perched on his hands and knees staring at the older man.

"I think I can stick around for a while," Nick smirked and the kid beamed from ear to ear, "who knows what's waiting around the corner."

Ellis jumped up to his feet, "Well, I'm glad yew are."

"Don't go getting this idea in your head that I want to be your new best friend or anything," Nick warned and Ellis shook his head with the same grin.

"I wouldn't dream of it."


"So, y're the new best friend?" Keith pulled his hat off setting it on the table as he went with allowing Nick to see the visible sideburns on the side of his head.

"You could say that," Nick grumbled bringing the glass of brandy to his lips.

"Which makes me the other best friend…or would that be yew since I was here first?" Keith smiled, "Hold on, let's ask Ellis here."

Nick was slumped back in his chair with the rim of the glass on his lower lip, but he looked a little to his left as Ellis pulled the chair out closest to him sitting down scooting the chair in and even closer to Nick, but so only his legs under the table were in an inch of touching the conman's. Nick sat up straight causing his leg to press fully against Ellis's and he cleared his throat setting the drink back on the table then putting his hands on his own legs while Keith grinned at Ellis.

"So, Ellis," Keith started completely unaware of Ellis's right hand going under the table finding Nick's left entwining their fingers.

Nick tensed at that contact and had a thought to pull away, but then the guilt of his act from earlier crossed his mind and he gave the hick's hand a squeeze bringing his right hand back up to the table grabbing his drink.

"Am I the other best friend?" Keith directed his hands at himself, "Or is Mr. Money Bags over there?"

"Well," Ellis licked his lips and his accent seemed to be thicker than before as he tried to talk, "Keith yew're, uh my bes' friend…have been since football in high school, but Nick is my bes' friend too. I mean we fought off the dead together."

"Say no more," Keith laughed a booming laugh before slapping his hands on the table to stand up in a swift movement, "I'm goin' ta go find that sweet little number I've been trying ta get at fer sometime now."

"Last time I saw her she was talkin' to Abby," Ellis nodded behind the man and the redneck grinned bobbing his eyebrows, "Easy there Keith, y'know Zoey ain't goin' ta give yew the time of day."

"I've changed," Keith grinned, "Now, guard the hat and I'll be back." He winked at his friend before walking off.

"Ellis," Nick sighed, "I have to tell you something."

"What?" Ellis kept his eyes ahead of him.

"Something happened," Nick looked at him, "tonight with Lynette."

Ellis looked back at him, "What happened, Nick?"

"We…" Nick turned slightly in his chair keeping his hold on Ellis's hand and put his other on the kid's thigh, "Ellis, I need you to let me finish talking before you say or do anything okay?"

Ellis gave a curt nod swallowing a lump in his throat.

"I had sex with Lynette," Nick whispered.

Instantly the hand in his was gone and the leg under the other was gone too; the kid was standing up stepping back.

"El, wait," Nick stood up too, "I'm sorry."

"Then, I guess it's okay," Ellis turned walking away and Nick groaned following after him; he passed the mechanic grabbing his arm as he did so going towards the bathroom. He shoved Ellis through the door sending him into a wall before turning to lock it then going back to Ellis to spin the man around roughly pushing his back into the wall, "I said it was fine."

Nick glared at him, "You're locking me out, El."

"No, I'm not," Ellis struggled against him, "Let me go, Nick."

"I'm sorry okay?" Nick stared into his blue orbs, but found no forgiveness and anger boiled inside of him. He hit the wall next to Ellis's head making the hick turn his face the opposite way, "Dammit Ellis! You have no right to be pissed at me, no right at all! You're getting married, but I'm still here! I'm still here watching it all lay out in front of me knowing damn well that you might not get out of it, but I'm still here. Don't you dare think to judge me on this! The last thing I want to do is hurt you again, but dammit Ellis I'm hurting every day! Every God fucking day! And all I can do is stand here watching, waiting. That's not me Ellis. I don't watch and wait, but I'm willing to do so for you. I didn't have to tell you…I never had to, but I did…" Nick bowed his head running a hand through his hair, "But I did." He chuckled stepping back holding his hands up shaking his head, "Forget it. Be mad…I don't care. I'm going to go back to the motel and get some sleep." He dropped his arms and turned going to the door, but then he heard Ellis cross to him and watched the southerner's arm reach past him to turn the light switch off. Then he was being turned around and soft lips connected with his own in the dark. Nick's hands came up onto Ellis's chest and he shoved hard forcing the kid to trip back into the lone towel dispenser with a loud thud.

Ellis, however, even on the floor was determined and he clawed out in the dark hooking Nick's leg pulling him to the ground crashing the older man's head into the door. Ellis crawled forward to straddle his hips, "Oh, I need yew now, Nick."

"Ellis, get off of me, I'm not in the mood," Nick tried pushing him off, but the younger slid down his legs and went for the belt undoing it quickly, "Ellis."

"Shut up Nick, or I'll gag yew," Ellis threatened opening the conman's pants pulling them open with a low growl, "I will not let yew walk out mad at me."

"Ellis, your fiancée is in the room outside the door with all her friends and half of the damn town …this is really not the place," Nick sat up slightly straining to see his lover, but with no success.

"I don't give a fuck," Ellis hissed hitching Nick's boxers down slightly then grabbing his waist tightly, "But I do want t'fuck yew."

Nick went to sit up in slight panic but Ellis tightened his grip and rolled his tongue along Nick's sensitive shaft getting the man to fall back gasping, "Don't…"

"Nick, I'm serious," Ellis sat back undoing his tie and leaning forward, "Keep talking, I dare yew."

"I think this classifies as rape in most societies," Nick muttered, but then his dick was once again being acquainted with Ellis's tongue, "Ellis…"

Ellis ignored him as the skin under his tongue got taut and tight as it hardened with blood rush. He pulled his head back to bring his mouth down on it and Nick arched into the warmth squeezing his eyes shut.

"I get what you're trying to do, but I don't like to be dominated…ever," Nick hissed and the warmth around him vanished making him relax with a sigh.

There was a long silence, but then music erupted from room beyond the door and above them in a blast followed by a few screams of surprise then laughter.

"Seems someone has located the sound system," Nick went to sit up collecting himself quickly with a loud audible sigh, "The thing about these pants…they suck at hiding anything."

"I know that," Ellis whispered from somewhere in the dark, but then light lit up the room and Nick squinted against it to see Ellis standing beside him with his hand on the doorknob, "Could yew move so I could exit, please?"

Nick reached up grabbing him by his dress shirt yanking him violently to the floor with one forceful pull.

Ellis grunted lifting his face from the floor and looking back at Nick, but the older man was already standing with balled fists. Ellis flipped over onto his back glaring up at him, "What the hell, Nick."

"You can't do that," Nick's knuckles had gone white from squeezing his fists, "You can't go from being mad at me, to wanting to fuck me, to being mad again."

"And why can't I?" Ellis barked getting to his feet.

"Because I already told you, you have no right to be mad at me," Nick said calmly.

"Fuck yew, Nick," Ellis snapped, "Yew can go around telling me what I can and can't do, but that don't mean I will. I don't want to share yew, don't yew get it?"

Nick grabbed Ellis's arms staring at him hard, "Now you get how I feel. I don't like sharing you Ellis…even if you two haven't done anything…I don't like sharing. I never had and never will."

"I can't do anything about it!" Ellis yelled, "If yew had been there, this would've never happened!"

Nick stared at him wide eyed, "You have got to be kidding me, Ellis. I couldn't come back! What part of that don't you understand?"

"The part where yew couldn't," Ellis glared, "The part where yew didn't fight to live when someone threatened to kill me! The part where yew even bothered to come back."

Nick's jaw dropped and he let Ellis go, "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"I was doing fine, Nick!" Ellis held his arms out at his sides, "I was doing damn fine without yew."

"Okay, you know what I'm going to do?" Nick held up a finger, "One: Leave, because right now you've had too much to drink and are pissy. Two: Come back tomorrow and we'll go somewhere to talk about this. Three: You're going to go home too and sleep on it all."

Ellis's nostrils flared and he drew his fist back, but Nick dipped his head in time for it to crash into the door.

"You wanna play, El? Alright, let's play," Nick reached out grabbing his arms in a quick movement then yanking him forward driving his knee into the younger man's gut, "But, forewarning, I don't play nice."

Ellis wrapped his arms around Nick's waist and drove his shoulder into him forcing him back into the door, but Nick grabbed his waist spinning him off and into the half wall blocking the toilet. Ellis straightened himself and went at Nick again, but swung out with his left fist getting Nick to move into his moving right fist.

Nick turned into the sink grabbing the rim and looked into the mirror in time to see Ellis reach out for him grabbing his hair turning him back to punch him again. Nick fell back against the sink and his head connected with the mirror cracking glass. His foot came up kicking Ellis back; he stood up straight and rubbed the back of his hand across his lips feeling the warm liquid smear against his hand, "Nice hit, kid…try it again."

Ellis flung a punch forward, but Nick grabbed the fist and turned it around to Ellis's back before pushing the kid flush against the wall. Ellis pressed his free hand into the wall, but Nick didn't move, "Get off!"

"You wanted to tussle, so that's what we're doing," Nick growled into his ear, "Do you give up?"

"Fuck that," Ellis brought his foot down on Nick's startling the man to let go; he drove his elbow into Nick's jaw making him stumble to the ground. Ellis dropped down on his stomach and punched him again, but then grabbed his jacket lifting him up, "How 'bout yew?"

Nick grinned, "Never."

Ellis let him go letting his black haired head connect with the tiles.

Nick chuckled, "You're not pissed that I had sex with Lynette. This is bottled up anger for my being gone."

Ellis punched him in the jaw and Nick continued to chuckle, but it stopped abruptly as he sat up in an instant connecting his fist with Ellis's forehead sending the hick backwards and onto the ground.

Nick wiggled his legs out from under Ellis and grabbed the red tie on the ground before standing up, "Now put your tie on and let's go." He dropped the tie on Ellis and walked out of the bathroom feeling a headache coming on strong as the already bruised skull was met with the vibrating waves of music. He grabbed his head and started walking back to the table he had been at earlier when suddenly something collided with him changing his direction to falling slightly on the table tipping it up and over in a loud crash of glass. He flipped over on the broken glass to see Ellis already getting to his feet; Nick kicked his leg out bringing the hick back down in a groan of pain. He stood up and walked over leaning down to pick Ellis's up by his shirt, "Get out of my way." He tossed Ellis into the wall, but his staying there lasted only a second.

Ellis reached out grabbing Nick's arm swinging him back around to punch him in the side of the head. Nick stumbled slightly and Ellis shook his hand out, "I wasn't done talkin' to yew."

"I was done talking to you!" Nick snapped standing up straight, "So, if you truly want to tango kid then let's do this."

Ellis ducked out of the way of his first punch and drove his own fist into Nick's gut, but Nick recovered quickly to shove Ellis into the wall as hard as he could watching the kid's head bounce against it then blood trickle from his lips from a bitten tongue.

"Ellis!" The scream came from Abigail, but neither man seemed to notice the room full of people watching them.

"Someone do something!" Rochelle shrieked.

Nick grabbed Ellis's jacket pulling him forward quickly then smacking his forehead into his; the hick fell back and Nick huffed in breaths as he watched Ellis roll into the wall shaking his head out. He turned back around with blood now running down from his hair line, but he came forward anyways.

Arms wrapped around Nick's arms and waist from behind along with a voice in his ear, "That's enough, Suit!"

Nick thrashed in the biker's arms as Ellis advanced towards them, but then arms were around him as well.

"Knock it off, Ellis," Keith pulled Ellis back as he kicked out.

"What in the hell is going on?" Coach stepped between the two.

"Ellis," the big man looked to Nick, "is pissed at me for something that was well out of my control." He shrugged Francis's arms off and straightened his jacket.

"Oh, fuck yew Nick!" Ellis snapped.

"No, fuck you!" Nick pointed at him.

"Yew're a fuckin' asshole with an ego the size of the fuckin' Texas!" Ellis yelled.

"Hey!" Coach boomed, "Both of you shut-up!"

"It's not my fault he's—" Coach pointed a finger at the gambler silencing him.

"Shut it, I don't wanna hear it right now," Coach grabbed his belt hefting his pants up slightly, "I think the party's over folks; these two boys need to have a sit down."

"I'm not having a fucking pow-wow," Nick barked and Coach glared at him nostrils flaring.

"You aren't going to say another damned thing until I tell you, you can," Coach's eyes intensified, "Do I make myself clear?"
Nick averted his eyes in frustrated defeat.

Ten minutes later the only people who remained were Nick, Ellis, Rochelle, Coach, Francis, and Zoey. The others had left including Keith who promised to drive a very upset Abigail home. Nick and Ellis sat in chairs by a long table with Rochelle and Zoey on the other side of them; Francis stood behind Nick with his arms crossed and Coach stood in front of the two partially turned men.

"Now, who the fuck is going to tell me what happened?" Coach folded his large arms across his chest.

"Nick had sex with Lynette," Ellis sat slumped in his chair with an ice bag pressed firmly to the side of his head.

Coach sighed shaking his head, "Nick—"

"But that's not why you started fucking hitting me," Nick shot Ellis a look, "tell them why you really started this damn fight?"

"I don't know what yer talkin' 'bout," Ellis looked the other.

"Bullshit," Nick's eyes narrowed, "Why don't you tell them that this have everything to do with me being gone and then coming back?"

Coach looked to Ellis, "Ellis…"

"Okay, fine!" Ellis burst, "It has everything to do with yew comin' back!"

"So, you want me to leave?" Nick stood up, "Because I'll leave."

Francis sneered pushing Nick back down into the chair, "No one is leaving until this gets resolved and we have a happy God damn Barbie perfect fucking wedding."

"I told you Nick that you should've stayed away after you left," Rochelle said and Nick glared at her.

"He isn't talking about that! He's talking about when I came back the first fucking time! Isn't that right?" Nick turned his attention back to Ellis, "We can try this again. I can leave for four years and never comeback, maybe you'll be engaged to some other nunnery whore."

"Hey!" Zoey snapped, "Leave her out of this!"

"You shouldn't even be a part of this damn conversation!" Nick yelled back keeping his eyes on Ellis.

"She's my cousin, I have every right," Zoey insisted.

"Zoey," Francis said softly, "he's right."

"What?" Zoey gasped up at him, "What do you mean he's right?"

"I mean go home and we'll talk to you about it tomorrow," Francis looked at the clock on the wall, "Don't you have to pick Louis up at ten at the airport?"

Zoey shoved out of her spot storming off; there was a moment of silence before someone spoke again.

"Tomorrow morning, I'm gone," Nick leaned back in his chair, "Just say the words."

"Good riddance," Rochelle mumbled, "It would've been better if you stayed away."

"This is partially your fault, sweetheart," Nick pointed out.

"Stop!" Coach roared and they fell quiet, "Now all y'all need to stop this bickering. Dammit. You two boys have never fought this bad ever, even when we were killing zombies together. Usually there'd just be long silences; never did you raise your fists at each other. Even being smashed into a truck isn't nearly as bad as this. I mean look at you two! You could've beaten each other senseless for no damn clear reason!"

"The reason is clear, Coach," Ellis piped up; he sighed dropping the ice pack to the table, "I wish he never came back…then this shit would've never happened, but guess what? He came back…twice. Now, I'm second guessing myself."

"Ellis," Rochelle hushed, "Do you want Nick to leave?"

Ellis looked at Nick to see his head bowed, arms crossed tight, and anger set onto what he could see of his face, "No."

"What?" Coach growled, "Ellis."

"No, I don't want him ta leave," Ellis said again, "he already came back, what would it do to send him away? Nothin'. I want him ta stay."

"I don't get any of this," Francis turned walking off a bit, "You just got done beating the shit out of each other because he came back in the first place, but yet you want him to stay?"

Ellis nodded, "Yes…he has ta anyways."

"Why?" Rochelle grumped.

"Because he's my best man," Ellis said plainly, "and I can't get married without one."

Nick shook his head, "I'm not going to attend your damn wedding."

"Like fuck yew aren't," Ellis brought his eyes to Nick with an angry chuckle, "Yew're staying fer this fucking wedding because that's what friends do."

"Oh, so you still want to be friends, Ellis?" Nick shook his head in disgust, "From the sounds of what you said in the bathroom you don't want me to be anything to you."

"I told yew I wasn't pissed 'bout Lynette and tried ta make yew realize that, but yew wouldn't let me!"

"Why don't you go find your best friend and tell him about it, maybe you can suck his dick afterward too," Nick stood up as Ellis's jaw dropped, "I don't need this fucking shit. I'm going back to the motel."

Ellis sat still, but then he was up talking to Nick's walking away back, "I understand now."

Nick stopped moving turning back around, "What's that?"

"This is about Keith," Ellis shook his head, "Yew're unbelievable, Nick."

"This has nothing to do with that hillbilly bastard," Nick clenched his fists, "Stop trying to turn this one me. I'll see you tomorrow," he turned going again, but stopped looking back at him, "Oh and Ellis, your fiancée? Yeah, she isn't all that innocent as she claims to be; get her friends drunk and they'll tell you anything like how Abigail hasn't been a virgin since she was sixteen. Fun fact. Enjoy the rest of your fucking night."


"Ellis, sweetie," Abigail touched his hand, but he yanked it away, "talk to me. I said I was sorry that I lied."

Ellis didn't look at her as he stared down the long table at the wedding party and a few others, but his eyes were locked on Nick who sat with his head in his hands. The gambler dropped his hands to the table and inhaled a deep breath looking like hell…Ellis looked equally as bad. Breakfast thus far has been very quiet. Ellis watched Francis lean over the table slightly to say something to Nick who in return frowned flipping him off. Francis fell back in his chair laughing.

Abigail sighed and stood up going to the other end of the table where she touched the shoulder of a man before taking his seat allowing him to jog over to her chair sitting swiftly.

Ellis looked to his left to see his friend Keith smiling largely wearing a dark blue shirt, red ball cap, and, like Ellis, jeans, and work boots, but Ellis's shirt was grey and hat blue, "What do yew want?"

"Ellis, I know yew're not in the mood for talkin' to meh, bu' could ya maybe lie off the cold shoulder fer yer fiancée?" Keith asked.

Ellis glared at him from the corner of his eye, "No."

"Ellis, how much did ya drink las'night?" Keith's smile vanished.

"I don't remember," Ellis dropped his face into his hands, "I jus' kept drinkin' 'cause I didn't wanna be there."

"Is that why yew started a fight with Mr. Money Bags over there?" Keith jabbed his thumb in Nick's direction.

"Yeah," Ellis admitted, "and he won't talk ta me now."

"Can ya blame 'im?" Keith snorted, "Yew started a fight for no damn real reason, El."

"I know," Ellis lifted his face slightly to look towards Nick, but he was no longer there. Ellis sat up straight, "Wait, where'd he go?"

Keith looked around then made a clicking noise and pointed to the diner window, "Smokin'."

Ellis pushed out his chair and started a hobbled limp to the diner door walking out of it going straight for Nick.

Nick spotted him and put a hand in his pocket then pinching his cigarette between two fingers chuckled, "I'm not in the mood for you to bash my face into the sidewalk."

"Nick…" Ellis paused and Nick shook his head looking across the street, "I'm sorry, Nick."

"Ellis, we can't keep doing this," Nick looked at him, "this 'I want you, I don't want you' shit."

Ellis bowed his head, "I drank too much last night an' I guess the Lynette thing put me over."

"Really, because I couldn't tell," Nick snorted dropping his cigarette to the ground stepping it out, "Anything else you need?"

"Do yew still want me, Nick?" the question came out so quietly that Nick hadn't really registered what was being asked and sighed. Ellis looked up at him, but he was rubbing at the back of his neck trying to find words that Ellis knew would hurt.

Nick looked up squinting into the sun before walking past Ellis quickly going down the street; he turned slowly to watch him go with grief settling in greatly.

Ellis slowly went back into the diner finding his seat where Keith lifted an eyebrow, "I fucked that up."

"Nah," Keith smacked Ellis's back, "He'll come around." Keith looked to his left where Zoey sat and grinned at her, "Zoey, I've been thinking—"

"No," she didn't look up from the phone in her hand.

"But I was hoping—"


"Maybe we can—"

"No," Zoey put the phone in her jacket pocket, "No, no, and no."

"Should I just go back to talkin' ta Ellis?"

"That might be best," Zoey gave a sassy smile then looked across the table at a thin black man, "Anyways, what were you saying Louis?"

Keith turned back to Ellis and sighed leaning closer to him on the table, "Do yew remember when I lit that tie on fire fer homecomin' and started the school on fire?"

Ellis looked at him and answered quietly, "Yeah."

"Well, yew came t'my rescue in Principal Danner's office," Keith smiled, "and ever since then yew were always bailin' me out of things. Whenever I asked yew why, yew'd say because I was yer best friend." Keith's smile turned soft, "I had time ta think durin' the D-Days sitting in those camps. I thought about all the things I had put yew, Paul, and Dave through…thinkin' "wow, don't I just have the best of friends, but when I finally say yew again after they rescued yew and yer friends…I knew something was wrong. The Ellis I knew vanished somehow and I had nothing to do with it because at the very moment I was no longer yer best friend…Nick was. Nick saved yer life number of times…finally someone was savin' yew Ellis, not the other way around."

Ellis swallowed staring at Keith as he continued in his whisper, "Fer the first time yew had someone else playin' Superman and they were savin' yew. I don't know when he became yer new best friend, but I knew from every time he was brought up that he was yer best friend and somehow I had become the other best friend."

"Keith," Ellis started, but the man shook his head silencing him.

"Don't try an' deny it, Ellis," Keith grinned, "it's true. Ellis, yew're my best friend, but let's be honest…I didn't save yew once from zombies. I wasn't there when yew probably needed help, but he was. Don't try and say otherwise…I know I ain't the brightest of us all, but I know what I'm sayin' when I say I'm the other best friend and he's not."

Ellis looked away biting his tongue causing the healing wound to reopen again slightly, "I don't know what ta say, Keith."

"How 'bout yew start by findin' the best man and makin' him a Team Ellis member all over again so we can have a hell of a wedding," Keith suggested with raised eyebrows.

"But I can't just leave," Ellis directed his eyes at the rest of the table.

"Sure yew can," Keith dropped a hand on his back and turned to everyone else, "Attention everyone, thank you. Ellis is going to go on a self-finding journey to reclaim himself from last night."

"When you find Colonel Sanders tell him to stop being such a pussy," Francis deadpanned.

Ellis stood up leaving without saying good-bye. He waited till he was out of sight of the diner before breaking into a limping run towards the motel only stopping when he reached room 3A. He collapsed against the door regaining his breath before standing up straight to sniffle and knock on it. He stood there for three minutes waiting and by the time his heart had fully sunk he realized it wasn't going to open. He turned into the door sliding down it and resting his head against the wood closing his eyes.

"What?" His eyes snapped open and he looked up seeing Nick with a blank expression on his battered and bruised face.

Ellis scrambled to his feet, "I need t'talk ta yew."

Nick put his key into the door opening it allowing Ellis to go in first before following pursuit; he shut the door then leaned on it.

"Nick, I know yew hate my guts—"

"Stop there," Nick held a hand up, "I do not hate your guts or any of you."

"Then why won't yew answer my question?"

Nick sighed pushing off the door to walk forward slightly so he could take Ellis's arms gently, "Of course I want you…I need you, El, but last night you said things to me—"

"I'll go with yew," Ellis broke in.

"What?" Nick's eyebrows drew together.

"I-I-I'll go with yew," Ellis said grabbing his grey jacket.

Nick's face began to relax as things pieced together.

"I'll go anywhere as long as it's with yew," Ellis's lip began to quiver, "To Boston, Vegas, I don't care…"

Nick's heart felt like it had been zapped to life and he let Ellis go stepping back turning away to put his hands on his hips drawing in deep breaths. He wanted more than anything in the world to do just that: runaway with Ellis and never look back, but this wasn't some Nicholas Sparks romance…this was reality, "El…"

"Nick, please don't say no I don'think I can take that right now," Ellis begged behind him; he moved to Nick wrapping his arms around the gambler from behind resting his forehead against the back of his neck, "I kn-know that we can't keep doin' this 'wantin' and not wantin' yew' shit, but Nick I realized that this whole time yew've always been on one side of that. I was the one turning my back to yew…I want yew Nick so bad that it hurts sometimes. When they took yew away from me…"

Nick stayed silent as the memory of walking down that hall together four years ago not knowing they'd be separated played in his head. Nick closed his eyes recalling it all in images as Ellis spoke.

"We were walking behind Ro and Coach," Ellis turned his cheek into Nick's back, "and yew had yewr arm around me and holding my hand on the other side of yewr neck trying ta help me walk since that Tank had hit me into that car before we were taken up. Yew were whispering to me too…yew had yewr lips so close to my ears that even tiniest whisper I could hear. Yew were telling me that everything was goin' to be okay…they were goin' ta help me and yew'd be right there next ta me."

"I told you I wasn't going to let you go until I knew we were safe," Nick spoke softly and Ellis closed his eyes, "I was going to stay at your side no matter what, but I didn't."

"Yew couldn't," Ellis corrected, "they had those blood tests in another hall and they were prickin' our fingers and placing stickers on our clothes, but then they were yankin' Coach away down an opposite hall and draggin' Ro the other way. Yew turned to me—"

"And grabbed your face because I had the same sticker as Coach…because you had the same as Rochelle; I hugged you tight against me and…and…"

"Yew apologized," Ellis filled in, "yew kept saying yew were sorry and I didn't understand at first, but then yew kissed me right there in front of all the others in that hall and smiled…"


CEDA Evac Center…Four Years Ago

Ellis looked up at Nick as he held his chin smiling gently, "Nick…" his lips met Ellis's and he hugged him to his chest once again. Ellis looked over Nick's shoulder to see the same two men that dragged Coach away and panic hit him, "No, no, no, no…"

"Sh," Nick kissed the top of his head, "It's going to be okay, El…"

Ellis felt hot tears beginning to roll down his cheek, "Nick, no! Nick, yew can't leave me!"

Nick stepped back with the same smile from before and one of the men grabbed his right arm while his left arm was grasped by Ellis.

"This way sir," the other man spoke just as two men grabbed Ellis's shoulders.

"Nick!" Ellis kept his grip tight on Nick's arm, but it slowly started to slide out, "Don't do this! Nick, yew said yew'd stay with me! Nick!" Two sets of arms grabbed his own, but he yanked out of them throwing himself at Nick wrapping his arm around his neck.

"Ellis, you have to let me go," Nick grabbed his arms gently peeling them off before taking his chin in his hand giving him a wink, "You did good, kid…you did damn good."

Ellis started shaking his head as he began to be dragged backwards away from the gambler who stood motionless staring at him. The southerner kicked out trying to get out of the hold, but with no success as something hard met his head and suddenly Nick's voice was yelling out.

"Hurt him and I'll make sure you all die!" Nick shouted, but Ellis's vision was going dark and the Boston accent came again, "Get your hands off me! I'm sorry, Ellis! I'm so sorry!"

The last thing Ellis saw was Nick being dragged the other way reaching out for him, but then there was darkness.


"It would've been fine if they hadn't hit you," Nick stated, "I would've been fine…I tried everything to find you, but they transferred all the immunes to a different Center. You were gone."

"When they released me…I thought that yew would've been too and I started lookin' fer yew, but there was nothin'," Ellis bit his lip, "I lost yew."

"Did you mean all that you said?" Nick whispered and suddenly Ellis felt a familiarity with the question, but with reversed roles. Nick was asking questions Ellis had always asked him and the hick swallowed back a reply and squeezed Nick tighter, "Were you even glad I came back?"

"Yes," Ellis slid around to the front of him keeping his arms tight around his waist, "Nick…I don't want yew t'leave me ever again."

"I'm not going to," Nick cupped both of Ellis's cheeks gently, "and I'll make sure no one takes me away from you, but we can't leave."

Ellis felt tears fighting to surface at the last words, "What?"

"You know we can't," Nick closed his eyes, "if we do you'll feel guilty for leaving her without explanation. I know you, El."

"I don't want t'be here anymore," Ellis said sternly and Nick opened his eyes to stare into Ellis's, "Please, Nick…even if it's fer only a few days…I need ta get away from here."

Nick gave a subtle nod, "Okay."

Ellis kept his smile small knowing that word far too well in Nick's vocabulary when talking to Ellis…the word he used to succumb to Ellis's pleads.

"What's wrong?"

"Do yew want ta go with me?" Ellis asked softly.

Nick kissed him as gently as possible, but soon his hunger and need for the kid had him deepening it almost instantly; soon his tongue was penetrating the hick's mouth and the baseball cap was rolling on the floor. The gambler let Ellis's face go stepping back, peeling his lips from his young lover, "Of course I want to go with you…I followed you around when the world had gone to hell didn't I?"

"Savin' my ass like Superman did Lois Lane," Ellis mumbled remembering what Keith had said and Nick chuckled.

"Then you make one fucking sexy Lois Lane," Nick crashed his lips back down onto Ellis's wrapping an arm tight around his waist and hand to the back of his neck as Ellis's hands tangled into his hair. The twist of their tongues made Ellis press more against him, but then he broke the kiss keeping a smile and Nick raised an eyebrow, "What?"

"He's the other best friend by the way," Ellis stated running one of his hands through Nick's thick hair, "Yew are my best friend…always have been."

"You're just mine, Ellis," Nick smiled, "and I couldn't ask for anything else."


Rochelle sighed, "I don't get why you had to come with?"

Keith shrugged with his hands in his pockets as they walked along the sidewalk towards the motel, "I wanted t'make sure El was okay."

"So, you've guys have been friends for a long time then?" Rochelle asked glancing at him and he nodded.

"Football in high school," Keith answered, "I was two years older than him, bu' we still hung out all the time."

"So, why didn't you two leave together?"

Keith dropped his head slightly, "I, uh, went inta work early tha' day," Keith sniffed lifting his head, "Paul went with me an' Dave was there already…Ellis was goin' ta come with us, bu' his sister was movin' out because their ma had kicked her out the day b'fore."

"Kicked out?" Rochelle asked.

Keith turned slightly walking at an angle to use his hands to talk, "Yes, y'see Ellis's ma is really religious, like worse than Abby-religious."

"Did she turn from God?" Rochelle lifted an eyebrow.

"No," Keith snorted, "I'm goin' ta tell yew this, but ya can't tell El that I did."


"El's sister, Mindy, was a very, very sweet girl," Keith started, "she was his older sister by four years. Their ma adored her more than anything in the world, bu' don't get me wrong she loved El too, but Mindy was her princess. Anyways the night b'fore Mindy came home with her friend Clarabelle and said she had ta tell her ma somethin'." Keith took a deep breath, "It turns out that Mindy and Clarabelle were seein' each other."

"Like…a couple?" Rochelle asked hesitantly.

Keith nodded turning back straight, "Yeah, their ma threatened to disown Mindy if she didn't get out of her sight. El was traumatized by it. He loved his sister and would do anythin' for her, but this time he couldn't help her. His sister was gay and in his ma's eyes that was the equivalence of being the devil."

Rochelle suddenly felt a wave of something hit her and she couldn't explain it, "What happened to his mom?"

"She turned into a zombie," Keith answered, "killed Mindy…so, El killed her."

"Oh my God," Rochelle stopped walking and Keith did the same a few feet ahead of her, "Poor Ellis."

Keith shrugged, "He had to…"

Rochelle swallowed the anxiety inside of her and asked the question she needed answered, "What if Ellis turned out like his sister?"

Keith blinked, "Yew mean like, love another man?" Keith lifted an eyebrow and she nodded, but he snorted laughing his booming laugh, "Yeah, right! Ellis feared his ma like a vampire does a cross! His pa always told El that he'd go ta Hell if he ever slept with another man! Ellis didn't even think on it ever! Ellis is a straight shooter, there ain't no such thing as curving a bullet with that kid. Naw, yew don't know Ellis like I do…b'sides he has Abigail and yew can tell that he is on cloud nine with that girl. It took awhile, bu' yew can still tell. Sure, they had a little fight last nigh' 'bout Abby and some guy in high school," Keith shrugged, "don't matter now though."

Rochelle didn't know what to say so she nodded her head and continued forward into the motel parking lot with Keith following close behind. Poor, poor Ellis. Rochelle bit her bottom lip as they neared the rooms; his own best friend doesn't even know the truth, but then again…Rochelle looked behind her at Keith and he grinned making Rochelle's insides turn; Keith was the south and lived under God. Would he even try to accept his friend? Rochelle shook her head out as they stopped outside Nick's room, "Here we are."

Keith stepped next to her and knocked three times on the door loudly making even Rochelle flinch which meant that it would get right under Nick's skin.

The door opened wide to reveal Nick standing in grey tailored slacks, black shoes, and a light green button down, "What the hell do you want?"

"Hello to you too," Rochelle lost all sympathy for Ellis in a flat second, why does it have to be Nick, Ellis?

"Where's El?" Keith asked.

"Home, packing," Nick answered with a set glare, "Now go away." He started to close the door, but Keith's hand flew out stopping the door, "What point of go away do you two not understand?"

"The go away part," Keith replied, "now, wait yew said he was packin'? Packin' for what?"

"His bachelor party," Nick rolled his eyes, "Look, I'm taking the kid to Vegas for two days. We're leaving tonight."

"Aren't yew supposed to have all the groom's friends there?" Keith asked.

"Not if I'm paying for everything," Nick growled, "I'm not discussing this either."

"What about Abigail?" Rochelle spoke up.

"Tell her to go fuck herself and that I don't care what she thinks," Nick eyed her, "I'm going to shut the door now."

"Why Vegas?" Rochelle had to know even though the answer was clear in front of her.

"People don't care what you do in Vegas or who you do it with in Vegas, Sweetheart," Nick smirked, "Nobody looks twice because nobody cares."

"You look like shit," Rochelle said quickly.

Nick rolled his eyes again and slammed the door.

"Well then," Keith took a deep breath, "I think we need ta go tell the others what's goin' on and then find Ellis."

"Agreed," Rochelle sighed turning walking away with Keith leaving a gambler to continue packing his suits away and a hick a few miles away to pack as well.


"Abby seemed mad," Ellis said not taking his eyes off from the dark night sky view out the window of the plane.

Nick rolled his head on the back of the chair to look at Ellis as the kid slowly pried his eyes from the window, "She gets to go to Willy-Nilly Land for her bachelorette party…you can then go to Vegas."

"What the hell is a willy-nilly?" Ellis asked blankly and Nick chuckled.

"I don't know, but either way she's going out of town so why can't you?"

Ellis shrugged, "I guess, but Nick what are we going ta do in Vegas?"

Nick grinned largely at him, "Whatever the hell we want kid." He put a hand on Ellis's thigh and returned his head to being slightly tipped up and closed his eyes as Ellis turned his gaze back out the window.

"We will be landing at Airbase Delta in New Oklahoma City within the next three hours. The captain asks that you enjoy the on flight entertainment, food, drink; and to please call for an attendant if you need any assistance. Thank you for choosing BioLeague Airlines and enjoy your flight."

A/N: Ah-ha! I finally got it out. Oh, this chapter is stretching the boundaries I know, but hey we're going to Vegas baby! Hell yes! So, write your review and grab your curiosity...the boys are going to Sin City. ;)