Southern Comfort.

A/N: Here I am tossing another story at you. ಠ_ಠ
But this one (despite how I don't really 'ship' too much when it comes to Left 4 Dead) is toying with the Zoey/Ellis crush, and if you'd don't like that couple, please don't be hatin' and beratin' and just turn back now. Or go ahead and continue, but don't say I didn't warn you. [Plus, I find it a bit more plausible than Nellis, but I'm not judging.]
That said, this story isn't really even meant to be a romance to begin with, just Ellis getting the crap beat out of him. As usual. See how I work? :D

I've only ever played The Passing once, and that was a few months back. I...don't remember most of the layout. So...I skimped on some things. Actually a lot of things. Just look at the end. xD
All the same, feel like I rushed quite a bit of this, but then again I probably shouldn't be doing this at 3:30 in the morning. And I need to work on including ALL of the characters more.

1. Don't stand too close without apologies.

"I could shoot you where you stand."

She didn't glare at him, exactly. It was more of a steely look that Nick had bestowed upon him from time-to-time whenever he started mentioning Keith and some asinine adventure he was sure none of them believed in. All the same, her eyes had his words tripping over themselves as he found himself muttering something about the weather.

Blushing and stuttering like he was a god-damn twelve year-old finally plucking up the courage to confess his feelings to the first girl that he'd had full-on a crush on, Ellis turned away from the girl on the bridge, relinquishing the task of talking to Nick. The older man was shot down just as quickly as Ellis had been, though there had been no real exchange between her and the latter to begin with save for a quick 'hello' and 'beautiful weather, huh?'

Yeah, no. The bleak, darkening sky was not 'beautiful.'

All the same, the pretty woman with the loaded gun was sizing up to be a royal bitch.

Still, Ellis frowned; there was no use name-calling when he didn't even know her, and in the zombie apocalypse beggars couldn't be choosers when it came to making friends or alliances, at that. Besides, she was quite cute under that frown and those bruises. And damn if she wasn't quick with her tongue.

"…go to hell, Colonel Sanders!"

Apparently even the end of the world didn't improve upon the conman's already blunt first impressions. Ellis wanted to chuckle—he really did—, but the way Nick suddenly stiffened and looked about ready to beat the shit out of a Tank bare-handed was shoving his laugh right back down his throat. As it stood now, his shoulders twitched silently once or twice as the man and woman sized one another up. He still frowned at himself more so than anything, as Coach's response to the youngest man's dejected murmuring and asking someone else to speak before Nick had taken command was more than just a little true.

"Tell me this boy ain't for real. Shit, okay..."

If he could spend the better part of two days blasting the brains out of zombies, then he could sure as hell talk to a girl. It would be like talking to Rochelle, except this one probably wouldn't hesitate to shoot him.

Dear God, he hoped she wouldn't shoot him.

Nick accused her of not being able to take a joke, and he could see her hand twitching toward her hip.

Oh sweet Jesus, maybe she would shoot him.

The torchbearer in their rag-tag group, Coach, had taken over the charge of conversing with the girl on the bridge when she was replaced by a really awesome looking biker dude decorated in ink. Rochelle let out a quick giggle at the black-haired man's plight before slapping a hand over her mouth and making a big show of reloading her gun in response to the look she was granted with by the guy in the formerly-white suit. Ellis' humor from the earlier jab at Nick's attire betrayed him when a harsh chortle shot out of him and then Nick's eyes were trying to set him on fire again.

Ellis was still blushing to the tips of his ears and generally ignoring the exchange between the apparent heads of the surviving groups, tuning out most their discussion for the most part to fiddle with the safety on his gun, all the while picking up key terms such as generators, lost a man, and get some gas. He frowned through his blush. Didn't anything have enough gas? Running around the Liberty Mall atrium scrounging up cans of it for the Jimmy Gibbs had been a hassle enough, but now they had to grab more?

The young Southerner was snapped out of his brief mental war against those damn gas cans and turned a few shades darker when Coach ended the conversation with a firm nod, shouldering his gun.

"Okay, the boy says thank you." The other Savannahite's shoulders visibly slumped and he let out an embarrassed sound that wasn't so much as a whine as it was a whimper.

"Coach, come on, man!" Nick rolled his eyes and gave the younger man a firm shove in order to get him moving in the direction he wanted him to. Five seconds into their journey to the other side of the bridge and Ellis' face was about as red as the dried blood splattered across his shirtfront and he already knew that there was no way in hell that Nick was going to let him live his stammering down.

Still, he stopped and whirled around, forcing his comrade to step to the side at the last second in order to avoid a collision. He swore, but swiftly brushed passed him nonetheless. The Bull Shifter took a breath to calm his frizzled nerves, glancing up the bridge and letting his gaze linger on the girl for a moment before calling up to her.

"Hey! What's yer name?"

She visibly jerked and then craned her neck before she bent over to respond. "Zoey!"

Ellis grinned and turned to follow his un-amused friends around the street corner, murmuring to himself as he tried out the new taste of the combined syllables. "Zoey, Zoey, Zoey..."

"Ah Christ, this is more depressing than the zombies."

Nick slid another clip into Magnum, eying the sobbing former human being left behind at the altar with contempt. Coach 'hrmped' and let his eyes rove the nearby area in search of any abandoned wedding cake along with some way around the Witch without either pissing her off and having their guts ripped out and hung up for display. Ellis fidgeted nervously, his thoughts still on the exchange that had occurred at the bridge only a short while ago and kicking himself in the ass for his lack of people skills. He heaved a sigh and checked the shells in his shotgun while Rochelle nodded in agreement with the conman's annoyed statement.

"I don't know what she's crying about, but at least she got married..."

The lone woman in their group shot the younger a look as he pulled a few casings from his pocket to slide them into his gun. He glanced up at the hunched over depressed wreck as the others talked amongst themselves in an attempt to devise a plan rather than take action. Ah well, Ellis was gonna get shit done. Chocking the shotgun held firmly in his grip earned him a sidelong glance from the other three, but they made no move toward him until he started walking forward.

"Ellis, what the hell are you doing?" Said man went to respond to Nick's inquiry, but was interrupted when one of the cords lying on the ground before him caught on the toe of his work boot. He stumbled for a moment and a hand shot out to catch himself, only for it to smack the stereo system beside him and start blasting the Midnight Riders.

The mechanic swore as Nick cursed him ("Ellis! What did you just do?"), but he kept moving toward the Witch all the same in time with the beat of Save Me Some Sugar.

"Ellis, get back here!" Rochelle whispered harshly, reaching out for him as their target started shifting. Her eyes widened by a fraction when she realized Ellis' intentions and she inched forward a few steps, one hand still outstretched for him.

What would Zoey do?

"No, sleep will never take mind is stuck on you..."

"Ro!" He hissed, finally turning around and granting the lot of them with a hard glare. "I'm sorry, but shut up. I'll be back in a minute."

With that, he spun around and continued on his trek up the aisle, letting his favorite band guide him to what he only hoped wasn't he imminent demise. Nick made some quip about not patching him up for his stupidity, and Coach could only reach up to rub his forehead while Rochelle watched the boy walk away in bewilderment.

All right, so in retrospect, thinking about going up to cr0wn had sounded much more appealing than actually having to do it. But he was already five feet away and there really wasn't any chance of turning tail and running back without looking like a completely idiot; her sobs had also started to turn into ragged growls, anyway. All he had to do with take careful aim and make it count. So much easier said than done.

The Witch was shifting, and she spooked him when she began turning around, rewarded for her actions by the KRAK! of a shotgun and a few shells sizzling through her head.

Ellis could only stand and stare at her body blankly as he watched blood flow from the fresh wounds to congeal in her hair and the tattered remnants of the wedding dress Nick had jokingly said he should have snagged for—what was her name? Zoey?

"Kinda feel bad killin' this Witch. The whole thing just makes me feel uncomfortable." He was muttering to himself as the rest of his group approached him, the conman uttering a snide remark in regards to the honeymoon being over and Rochelle giving a low whistle of appreciation and complimenting Ellis with a twinge of left over worry still in her voice.

Coach thumped him on the back before moving on.

"You got problems, boy. Deep down problems."

Ellis frowned at the remark, but followed them all the same.

"Why doesn't anything have enough gas?"

Ellis glanced over his shoulder at the man grinding his teeth as they bolted out of a rather dilapidated warehouse and made a beeline for the nearest generator, a gas can held securely in each of their arms. He didn't respond, instead hopping over a now dead, Infected body that Louis had just picked off. Dumping the can on the ground with a shrug he handed the duty of utilizing it to the older man and slid his shotgun off of his back to rob the next few zombies of their chance of clawing at Nick's back.

Speaking of which...

"Y'got a turd on yer shoulder, Nick."

He smirked and fired off another round while said man dropped his now empty canister on the stained pavement to reach for the one Ellis had left him. "I'm not even gonna look."

"Might wanna; could stain yer suit." Ellis' smirk grew and his gaze flicked to the jacket Nick was trying so desperately hard not to look at. It widened substantially at the sight of the an-gul with a hunting rifle picking off the Smoker that had just poked around the corner. He squinted through the sudden green haze at Rochelle's silhouette and was instantly reminded of her playful invitation of a 'splash fight' down in the sewer not too long ago."Or, ya know, make it worse."

Nick would have punched him, had there been time.

"I hate you, Ellis!"

"Well, I still like you, Nick."

The entire journey through the sewer and the oh-so-educational underground historical tour had been rather uneventful, if 'uneventful' was defined as 'a shit load of zombies in shit water that was full of shit and smelled like shit and then another shitload of zombies in what was easily deemed an underground shit hole.'

Oh, no, a historic underground shit hole.

Yeah, that kind of uneventful.

The only highlight had been Ellis cr0wning that sobbing Witch bride and even that had a downside to it, seeing as he'd of course had to blast the damned Midnight Riders and their Save Me Some Sugar hit while doing so.

Don't even get him started on that damn plank they'd had to cross. It took a solid ten minutes just to do so because a certain someone decided to look down and become terrified of heights right then. Then again, with only two women left in the world, Nick decided he'd rather take his chances with her over the one on the bridge chucking Louis' stash of pills and pipe bombs at them. He could have sworn that last one had been aimed at his head had he not moved at the last minute.

And Jesus Christ, if the kid didn't shut up about that Zoey chick, Nick was going to take matters into his own hands and shut him up for good or at the very least kill any chance he might have had with her.

"I think we just need one more, and then we'll be all—" Nick stated, wiping his hands against one another (God forbid he do so on his pants) and then choking on his words on the roar they'd been pleased to get so far without hearing. Exchanging a shocked look with Ellis, they sprinted out into the street and his deft hands flew for his M16, preparing to blast the shit out of the oncoming beast.

He let Ellis fire off a round before giving his shoulder a quick shove and pointing in the general direction of a nearby shop front in response to the aggravated look of the man next to him. "I saw one in there when we were chasing that long-neck bitch earlier, go grab it!"

The younger of the two paused before nodding and darting off, clearly mentally warring over staying where he was and helping Nick and leaving him to fend for himself so he could run off and get the last gas can that they needed in order to lower that damn bridge. He cocked his gun and took careful aim, letting loose an entire magazine into the fleshy, pink mass, successfully slowing it somewhat and giving the mechanic the chance to perform his in-and-out operation. Loose pavement crunched under his feet as he reloaded his gun and glowered at the Tank lumbering down the street without any immediate cars to toss but with a whole hell of a lot of asphalt it could use instead.

Coach and Rochelle were just running up from filling their generator with Francis—or, as Nick liked to refer to him as, The Tattooed Disaster—yelling something about hating Tanks when there came a distressed yell from the building Ellis had just sprinted into.

"Holy shit!"

Uh, make that two Tanks.

Nick barely had enough time to ceasefire before Ellis was suddenly sailing past him, newly acquired gas can tumbling from his grip as he slammed into the hard, unforgiving pavement with a shout, sliding as road rash flared up and down his arms. He groaned as sudden pain coursed through him, his head and back throbbing from the impact and finding that even trying to breathe was stressful. One of the others called out to him, but he wasn't necessarily sure who had done so when he found the Tank he'd previously encountered charging at him, obviously deciding that picking off the weakest first was much more appealing than going after the ones with the fully loaded guns.

Not that they weren't doing their part, seeing as the three he'd been traveling with had managed to put the first monster out of its misery before it had had the chance to do too much damage.

Trying to pick himself up off of the ground, Ellis grimaced and started scooting back as far as he could in order to put distance between himself and the hulking mass, giving the other six people with weapons ample time to kill it. He was forced to stop when he bumped into a concrete barrier behind him, panic flashing through his eyes as the Tank continued closing the gap between them with bullets riddling its back.

He couldn't help but scream when one of its meaty fists pounded into his chest, knocking the wind out of him and his head on the concrete.

Ellis screwed his eyes shut in pain and braced himself for another impact, doing the only thing he could in that instant: he threw his wounded arms over his face and prayed. "Kill it, kill it!"

It was sheer dumb luck that Louis had managed to unload his gun into the back of the Tank's skull, leaving it to totter back and fall to the ground with a resounding thud, its already loose tongue lolling idly. Ellis was panting and struggling just to breathe with every live nerve screaming at him while he tried and failed to regain his bearings. Realizing that his would-be executioner was dead he carefully attempted to sit up and opened his eyes, the faces of Nick and Rochelle swimming through his vision.

"Not so fast there, sport." The words were loud and echoed, causing one hand to gingerly shoot to his forehead and clutch at it in order to cease the insistent pounding and ringing in his ears and the other to his sternum. The Southerner wheezed, associating the feeling with that of a Boomer sitting on his chest as he tried to get his eyes to fully focus on the sight of the man before him with the uneasy look. "Damn, Overalls."

Ellis gave him a smirk as he and Coach carefully hoisted him to his feet much to his body's chagrin. Neither fully relinquished their grip on him, still reaching out toward him as he swayed on his feet.

There was the sound of a low growl and shuffling somewhere behind him and his saviors.

Rochelle's eyes flickered over his shoulder as Francis reloaded his gun, Zoey slowly approaching the latter with the hunting rifle she'd picked off a couple of Jockeys and Smokers with firmly gripped in her gently trembling hands. There was an low, angry moan from the shade behind him and someone shouted as it reached its peak.

"Nah, man, fer a minute there I thought I was a goner—"


Suddenly something exploded inside of him and he felt everything, anything, and then nothing at all.