AN: A short, three part fic about a trip to the bank w/ Nick and Ellis… oh, and there's some douche bags who try to rob the place, or whatever. :T

Rating: M - for hardcore smut in the epilogue (part 4). You've been warned!

Nick sighed for the umpteenth time during the hour he and his partner were standing in that ungodly long line at their local bank. All he had to do was make a simple check deposit, but, of course when it came to money and Nick, life was never that easy.

He looked at his Rolex and was irritated to find that the minute hand had only moved two tick marks since he last checked it. "Can these people be any fucking slower? I'm gonna be seven feet under by the time we get up there!"

A steady hand pressed against his shoulder in an attempt to calm the man. "Nick, everyone else is waitin' in line, too. Just be patient," Ellis soothed, but the gesture didn't seem to quell his lover's frustration in the least.

"I've been patient for forty-five minutes now, and we've only moved five steps since then. You'd think they'd OPEN UP MORE LANES with how many people are here, but I GUESS THEY'RE JUST GONNA LET US ROT UNTIL OUR ACCOUNTS RUN DRY." Nick purposely spoke loud enough for the employees up front to hear his sentiments, but all it served to do what earn him a few nasty glances from the customers in front of him. Quite frankly, though, he didn't give a fuck about what they thought of him.

"Jeez, Nick," Ellis hissed in a harsh whisper, "do ya have to bitch about it for the whole world to hear?"

"Why shouldn't I? This whole thing is a bunch of bullshit. I feel like I'm waiting in line for a fucking carnival ride; 'Wait time from this point: Fifty years'."

Ellis laughed and nudged the conman in his shoulder. "It ain't that bad. But yeah, a world without lines would be purdy great, would'n it? Hey! Remember that time we was runnin' fer our lives on the Screamin' Oak with Coach and Ro?"

"Oh boy, you have to bring that up? I'll never see clowns the same way again…"

"That was so awesome! I was afraid I would'n be able to ride anymore coasters again after that."

"Why? From what I remember, you actually looked like you were having fun."

"Well, it was them zombies, man! They were blowin' chunks all over the place, and it done near upset my own stomach seein' all that puke on a coaster."

Nick chuckled. "I'm sure it wasn't any different than that time when you and Keith filled yourselves up with chilli cheese dogs and road the Whirly Bird back in high school."

The younger man flashed him a smile. "I'm surprised you remember that story!"

"If I recall, they renamed it the 'Hurly Bird' after that?"

"Ha ha! Sure did!"

Nick's mood had considerably lightened by taking his mind off of the issue at hand, but when the line barely moved one more step towards the counters, his previous scowl had returned much to Ellis' dismay.

"I don't think we're ever gonna get out of here."

The mechanic snorted in amusement and allowed their arms to touch. "Well, at least I'm here to keep ya company, right?"

Nick turned his head to look down into his companion's baby blue eyes, full of the same sincerity he'd grown fond of in the first few months they'd traveled together. The feelings they aroused within the gambler hadn't changed one bit since their vision of living in the same house had become something tangible. It was amazing how an apocalypse full of flesh-eating zombies and one trouble-making hick could change a man.

The corner of Nick's mouth pulled up in an involuntary smirk, his lips parting to say something witty in response to the younger man's comforting words…


All the customer's heads whipped around at once towards the entrance of the bank where three men clad in hooded sweatshirts and dark pants came barging in through the glass doors, each adorning a black ski mask that merely showed their mouth and eyes. If their appearance and crude outburst wasn't enough of a hint of their intentions, the pistols in their hands certainly clarified it for everyone.

"I SAID NOW! GET ON YOUR KNEES WITH YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD, PEOPLE!" The first robber, the one who seemed to be the head honcho of the trio, shouted out commands left and right while waving his gun around with one hand, and the other defensively poised at his side in case a particularly idiotic customer tried to do something stupid before their whole operation was in full swing. The second and third robber went around pointing their weapons at people who hesitated in following orders, although it didn't take much for all men and women to do as they were told and drop to their knees in submission.

Ellis felt his heart clench in an icy grip once he realized what was going on. The whole setup was like something from a movie he'd seen with his buddies, and for a second he wasn't sure if this was actually happening or not. Unfortunately, the panic that came in the form of high pitched screams and alarmed gasps from the other people around him made the situation more real than he'd like it to be. After the infection, however, the boy's resolve had hardened significantly and there wasn't much that was able to shake him anymore, so he stood grounded to where he was, muscles tense and forcing him into a ready stance. Ready for what? He wasn't sure just yet.

On the other hand, his partner looked as if his feathers had barely been ruffled. Nick's hands were still loosely shoved in his pockets, posture slack and relaxed, unlike everyone else in the facility. He reacted to the intruders' presence almost like they were just another group of customers, until the glocks came into view. The gambler's sharp eyes studied their unexpected guests carefully, absorbing every feature of their plain attire and abrupt movements.

The three men had a thin pair of gloves on each hand, no doubt to eliminate any potential fingerprints, and the soles of their shoes had been rubbed raw to where any design or brand name that used to be there was now completely gone; yet another way of narrowing down a person's identity. The sweaters they all wore were made of the standard thick cotton fabric, which was the wiser choice if one didn't want to leave too many fibers lying around after a heist. It was hard to tell whether the ski masks were of the same material, or fleece, but it didn't really matter either way.

According to Nick's quick analysis of the robbers, they had probably done this before, maybe two or three times. But, judging by the voices, they were younger, at least more so than the conman himself, which wasn't a very good combination in his opinion. Young and inexperienced was dangerous enough, because that meant they might be prone to making hasty decisions or mistakes that could ultimately get innocent people killed. Being young and experienced, though, would mean they've had time to learn from their screw ups and harden their hearts against whatever crazy stunts they pull. For instance, killing innocent people may feel like nothing to them by now; as easy or as common as brushing their teeth when they wake up in the morning.

This assumption was soon confirmed once he saw the smallest robber shoot a security guard that had appeared in one of the doorways on the adjacent side of the counters. The balding man was jerked backwards by the bullet's impact, and he slid down against the wall with a fresh hole marking the breast of his white uniform shirt. The shot was most assuredly fatal.

"Anyone else? Huh?" The first robber held out his arms as if asking for a challenge to present themselves if they dared. No one made a move, of course, albeit those who were trembling with fear. "If any one of you try something funny with us, you'll end up like that guy, got it?"

The third robber, who had done little more than help threaten everyone with his pistol at this point in time, spotted the two men who were still standing as opposed to the rest of the hostages who were at their mercy. He came up to Nick and Ellis in a few long strides with the intent to harm if necessary. "Hey! Are you guys deaf? We said GET ON YOUR KNEES." He raised his gun and aimed it at the chest closest to him.

Ellis' hand latched onto Nick's arm, dread shooting into his system like liquid adrenaline at the deadly weapon targeting his lover. He didn't want to make any other sudden movements though, afraid that the felon would automatically pull the trigger if provoked.

In this case, the mechanic may or may not have been correct. Now that Nick got a better look at this particular robber, he saw the faint quaking in his gloved hand as he held the gun. His voice sounded younger, too, maybe mid-twenties or so, like Ellis. The brave front he put up when approaching the two survivors was pretty convincing to anyone else, but for a card shark like Nick, that ski mask didn't make for a good enough poker face.

The conman's eyes went from the glock and back to his captor's face before speaking to him in a low, flat tone that wouldn't make the robber any more jittery than he already was. "You're new at this, aren'tcha? I can tell."

The kid didn't respond, but tried being more assertive by tightening the hold he had on his weapon and rocking from foot to foot, like a baseball player who was getting ready for a hit.

"You ever shot a man before? Ooh, it's something..."

Ellis dug his fingers into the gambler's arm and whispered his name in a warning tone, but was promptly ignored. Nick knew how to break down barriers, and if he could do that with at least one of these goons, then maybe he and everyone else could have a better chance at obtaining the upper hand.

"Having the power to wipe out a life in the two seconds it takes for you to wipe your own nose; it's no wonder everyone went all trigger-happy after the whole zombie fiasco. I'm guessing guys like you didn't wanna give up that control, huh? I know how ya feel. But kid, this ain't the way to do it, and I think you know that."

"Shut up, man, before I blow your fuckin' face in!" Something was getting through to the young criminal, but it didn't warrant any promise of sticking since the glock was still positioned at Nick's chest.

"Take it from someone who's been on both sides of that gun, kid. You're not gonna shoot me, or anyone else in here. Trust me, you don't want to." The persuasive cop routine wasn't something anyone could pull off, but Nick did a surprisingly good job of it.

"If he won't, then I will."

A second gun trained itself on Nick's head by the first robber who had been barking orders. In suppressed hysteria, Ellis took a step in front of his partner with a yell before the man could even think of firing off his glock. It was different when a mindless zombie was coming after them; the boy didn't have to worry as often about his friends being mortally wounded or killed. But an uninfected, able bodied human being with a one-hit-wonder weapon was by far scarier than all the Specials put together, at least for the mechanic.

"Ellis…" It was Nick's turn to issue the warning tone. He quickly moved to be side by side with his companion once more, his heart skipping a beat at the younger man's rash decision to shield him from possible fire. All three criminals simply stared at the men like they were crazy.

Robber #1 let out a condescending laugh. "What are you, a faggot? Get on your fucking knees, now, before I plant a bullet in both of your sorry skulls."

A lot of the customers were watching the scene play out before them, half expecting there to be more blood shed, and half not caring either way as long as they weren't the ones dead by the end of the day. Now that Nick's one-on-one time with the youngest criminal had expired and the head honcho had gotten involved, it'd be too risky to keep pushing their buttons like he'd been doing. With quiet resolve, Nick laid a hand on his partner's shoulder, lowered both of them to their knees, and put his hands behind his head, following suit like the rest of the hostages.

"That's more like it. Another word outta you, Mr. Big Shot, and next time I won't be so forgiving." Robber #1 went back to the smallest accomplice who had shot the security guard on the other side of the room and relayed some orders to him as if it was business as usual. The younger member of their trio backed up a few paces, but kept his weapon on the two survivors, still mulling over what the smartly dressed hostage had said to him.

Since these guys' time was limited, because there was no way some kind of silent alarm hadn't been triggered by now, they quickly got to work by making demands of the employees behind the counter, their glocks posing as effective incentives during their hustling. One of the workers, a distressed African-American woman with frizzy hair and fake pink nails, wasn't going fast enough for their liking, and who could blame her when she had the barrel of a gun staring her down the entire time? This problem was remedied by even more shouting on robber #1's part.

"C'mon, people, we ain't got all day obviously! I know one of you tripped an alarm, and if I find out who did it…"

That was all the encouragement they needed to get a move on.

The second robber's eyes twitched as he scrutinized the situation with gun at the ready, and although he didn't come off as nervous like the younger one, his restless demeanor suggested that he was rather anxious in a sinister sort of way. He might've been a druggie for all anyone knew, since the symptoms he was displaying weren't far from that of a hardcore coke user. Nick figured this guy would be the one they should really be wary of besides their leader.

The conman's eyes followed the smaller criminal and watched as he started speaking in Spanish to one of the hostages who had tried reaching into her purse, most likely for a cellphone or something of value. The chubby hispanic woman immediately retrieved her hand and began mumbling a panicked apology as he threatened her. Ellis leaned back to peer over his lover's shoulder and see what the commotion was. While the shooting of the bank's security guard had rattled him, he really hoped these men wouldn't hurt the women or children. Who knew what kind of charges they had on their criminal records besides being thieves and murderers?

The mechanic swallowed and made certain that the robbers' attention were directed elsewhere before speaking to his companion in a hushed voice. "This don't look good, Nick."

The older man kept himself relatively still while answering Ellis' concern. "They've done this before."

"What? How can ya tell?"

"Because I've been in their shoes, El. I have my own impressive rap sheet, remember? Didn't exactly rob a bank, but I've done my fair share of taking things that don't belong to me."

Ellis knew about most of his lover's past… actions, but all wrong doings had pretty much been forgiven after the apocalypse happened. Sure, he still conned people at the gambling tables, but it wasn't like he went around illegally toting a weapon and getting involved with the crowds he used to finagle with in the underground.

"Hey! I said, hands on your head!" Robber #1 waved his glock at one of the elderly hostages whose arms had gotten tired from being held up for so long.

Ellis was briefly distracted by this event before continuing his dialogue with Nick. "What d'ya think their gonna do after they get their money?" He figured the ex-criminal might know a thing or two about the felons' general plan since he was so perceptive in everything he said and did.

"My guess? They're gonna take the doe n' go before any cops show up, probably out the emergency exit in the back…" Nick glanced at the dead security guard slumped over against the wall. "I wouldn't put it past these guys to take out a couple more hostages, though, especially 'Twitchy' over there." He jerked his head in the direction of the smaller robber, whose fingers danced over the handle of his gun.

"Think we could take'em?" Ellis wasn't really planning on fighting these guys off, but it was a harmless question nonetheless.

"Oh, hell yeah, if they weren't armed and trigger-happy. These guys don't even make my list compared to all the Tanks we fought..."

"Yo! You want us to tell you again, old man?" "Twitchy" had caught them whispering and started making his way over. Ellis seized up and gave his partner a pleading look that said not to talk back, but since when did Nick ever take crap from scumbags like them?

"I don't remember you saying I had the right to remain silent," the conman shot back like the cocky bastard he was.

"How 'bout I silence you myself?" The masked man growled in a heavy Spanish accent.

"Hey!" The lead Robber addressed his cohort in a stern tone. "Not now. We gotta get this shit together and blow outta here."

"You heard the man." Nick couldn't help but let a smirk creep it's way onto his features.

"Twitchy" was seething on the inside, but his pent up anger would just have to be put on hold for now. He left to go assist his team, but not before spitting at the ground in front of Nick's knees. It was a lucky thing that the wad of saliva hadn't landed on the gambler's pant leg, for "Twitchy's" sake.

Instead of verbally chiding the older man like he'd normally do, Ellis sent a glare his way, which was as good a warning message as any. Nick had often been told by people he knew back in the day that his smart mouth was going to be the death of him rather than a enemy's bullet. Truthfully, he didn't much care as long as he got the last word in edgewise.

The two survivors didn't say anything for a while and simply listened to the sounds of fresh dollar bills being stuffed into the large backpacks the criminals had brought with them that were normally meant for hiking or camping. They must've forced one of the employees to open their vault in the back, because the clinking of jewelry and other valuables could be heard as well. During the heavy silence, Nick and Ellis could hear other noises emanating from all the hostages around them. The elderly woman from before was whimpering in fear despite her husband's efforts in trying to calm her, but he didn't look so hopeful either. A little girl who was being held close to her mother's abdomen with one arm tried asking questions about who the men were and what they were doing, in which she was quickly shushed by her parent while being stroked along her light blonde hair.

Nick spotted a conservatively dressed woman on his left who was praying over a set of rosary beads hanging around her neck. A lot of good that would do her now, is what he thought. If they should be asking God anything, it'd be why the hell this had to happen on the one rare occasion he and Ellis came to the local bank?

"Seriously. What the fuck, God?" he muttered.

To be continued...