Authors Note: This is a one shot slash fic. There will be no follow-up chapters.

DESPERATION

He'd been desperate, the gambler told himself. He repeated this mantra over and over in his head, as if saying it enough times made the truth of the words more potent.

Desperation does strange things to a guy. That's all it was. Just desperation.

The hick, luckily, hadn't broached the subject with him since the encounter, though Nick had noticed that the younger man found it difficult to keep eye-contact with him for most of the day. He would either quickly preoccupy himself with some other task, such as checking over his shotgun, or become very flushed in the face, to the point where Rochelle once asked if the young man was feeling okay, fearing he had a fever.

They'd been on the road for almost two weeks. They'd battled their way through the hotel, swamp, mall, hospital. They'd almost lost their lives crossing that damn bridge, only to make it too late, and have the chopper at the other end take off before they could make it, no doubt assuming them to be dead. The abandonment had threatened to quash what little hope the four had managed to maintain throughout their journey, but somehow they continued on together, staying on the move with no real plan other than to survive.

It was a lot of stress to put a guy under, not that Nick was unused to stress. He'd had a high-maintenance wife for just over three years, plus a two year prison sentence. Of the two, he wasn't entirely sure which situation he'd count as the more stressful. Probably the former, he concluded. It was hell to be that close to something beautiful, knowing that her damn chastity belt would only come off with regular payments in one hundred dollar bills. He hadn't been made of money, and what he did have was quickly squandered by his bitch of an ex. It was part of the reason he'd ended up behind bars, but that was another story entirely.

True, neither of these circumstances quite equated to the strain of being thrown into a zombie apocalypse, but they served to illustrate the fact that Nick wasn't some hopeless city boy who had no idea how to act under pressure. He vented his emotions and frustration in harsh, quick-witted words, in violence, and in jumping the hick.

The last one had come as a surprise even to him, in all honesty. He'd been self-servicing since all the shit began, and toyed with the idea of trying it on with Rochelle more than once, but every flirtacious comment had been so swiftly thrown back in his face without so much as an eyelid bat, that Nick knew she was immune to his charms. Be that as it may, he'd never really planned to go after Ellis as an alternative. It just... happened. He was, after all, a desperate man.

The encounter itself was something of a blur, ingrained in the gamblers memory as a mass of pleasure and confusion, with no real recall of every moment of his assault on the Georgian, but a very strong memory of how good it had all felt. Well, it had been Ellis' damn fault anyway, Nick argued with himself, remembering how the four of them had split into the two rooms, with Rochelle and Coach taking the master suite, leaving hick and slick to take what had to be the children's room of the house they'd taken refuge in, the small room containing two single beds on opposite walls.

They would have got to bed just fine if Ellis hadn't called dibs on the lukewarm shower across the hall. Hadn't come back in with his clothes slung over his forearm, and nothing but a towel hanging low around his hips as water glistened upon his skin and dripped from his hair. What the fuck did he expect? Nick wasn't gay by a long shot, but he was not adverse to getting his kicks from unorthodox sources if the situation called for it. And damn, the situation had called for it right then.

The hick had struggled at first, but Nick had expected that as he'd all but leapt up from his seated position on the bed he'd claimed as his own, pushed the young man backwards against the wardrobe, and forced him into a rough kiss. Ellis had been confused, fighting the older man at first, but a quick utter of "Shut up. They'll hear you," from the gambler had been all that was needed to silence his frantic questioning, and had the added bonus of stilling his struggling arms, too. It was pretty dark, not counting the dim streetlight that filtered through the window, the bulb in the room having blown before their arrived, and both agreeing that it wasn't really necessary to try and replace it. They could see well enough with the street lamp outside giving the room a faint glow, and the room was so small that they'd notice immediately if they weren't alone.

Yes, the half-light made everything much easier, for the hick at least. Nick couldn't care less right then and there whether they'd been in pitch black or searing sunlight. He'd had a taste of intimacy again, and he had to see it through, no matter what. It took some coaxing (neck kisses, primarily) before Ellis would finally let the man pull away the towel that still protected his decency from waist down, and he probably could have stopped Nick from forcing him backwards onto the bed if he really tried.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that the hick had never been intimate with a guy before, but what did that matter? It was for Nick's benefit that he was doing this, and he didn't care much if the pleasure was mutual. He didn't go out of his way to make it unpleasant for the young man, but didn't make much effort to ensure it was as painless as possible for him, either. Considering his resources, he told himself that there wasn't much he could have done, even if he wanted to. Spit was far from the best lubricant, but it was a damn sight better than riding dry.

It was quick, and it was sloppy, but goddamnit it, it had been exactly what Nick needed. For a man that often prided himself on how long he could fuck for, he didn't give the slightest ounce of care at how quickly he'd climaxed with the hick. He'd lasted longer than the younger male, at least, who seemed to handle the pain much easier than Nick had expected. What Ellis clearly hadn't expected was that, once Nick had taken several panting moments to regain his breath, he swiftly removed himself from the hick without warning, eliciting a yelp of surprise from the young man. That was that. Nick hadn't said a word as he climbed back into his boxer shorts and slacks, pulling back on his stained blue shirt and doing up a few of the buttons before wordlessly collapsing onto his own bed, facing the wall. Ellis didn't move for some time, but eventually Nick could hear him quietly shuffling around behind him, the slow, soft movements betraying him as getting dressed in the most ginger of manners possible, the after-pain probably having settled in quite truly by now. Perhaps Nick should have felt a little guilty for that.

He didn't.

He'd been desperate, and Overalls had waltzed in half-naked and covered in water. The kid was asking for it, really. This was what Nick told himself, at least. I was desperate. He was the easy way to fix that.

Desperation. That's all it was.

This was the mantra that finally sent Nick to sleep, leaving a very confused Ellis only a few feet away from him , laid awake throughout the night as he tried to make sense of what just happened, and why he'd allowed it.