"Zoey unfolded into an everyday young woman who everyone can relate to."―Andrea Wicklund

They were in deep shit this time.

Okay, that was an understatement. They had been in deep shit before. This was a bit worse than "deep shit".

Nick felt terrible, despite the fact that he had quite a bit of extra adrenaline in his system. Ellis had given him his remaining shots, despite just having been pounced on by a hunter. Nick would have refused the kid's offer, except a hoard of infected had decided to charge at them at that specific moment. Nick had wondered if the infected had been getting smarter. It wasn't like anything had happened to rile them. Then he saw the tank, accompanied by two chargers. The four had managed to take down the tank and one of the chargers. However, they didn't manage to do so without taking quite a few major hits. Then, when it seemed almost over, three, fucking three hoards began running at them from different sides, the last charger still running around to boot.

Fuck, Nick was tired. He had gotten pummeled by the charger they had taken out, having to have been rescued by Rochelle. He could feel the blood coming from his forehead and right side. He couldn't see the charger anymore, but he could hear it. Blindly, he fired at the direction the sound was coming from, punching away the infected that clawed at him. His vision was getting fuzzy, and he was so lightheaded. He would've given anything to just close his eyes….

He knew he couldn't, though. He needed to push onward, needed to live. There was too much riding on his survival, too many things he needed to do when he pulled himself and the others from the massive depths of the hellhole they currently existed in. A pair of focused, blue eyes met his, and Nick nodded, understanding as the owner of those focused eyes reached for the pipe bomb in his pocket. Nick did the same, and the two men tossed their makeshift bombs in separate places, hoping that they would thin out the hoard a bit. Ellis might have treated the apocalypse as a game when they had first met, but hell, if the guy hadn't grown up a considerable amount since then.

Ellis gave Nick a quick grin, as the bombs went off in unison, his eyes sparkling, but not without a hint of bitterness behind them, one that Nick was sure only he was able to see. That was the first reason why Nick had to get out of that mess. He had to get Ellis out before he became too scarred to be himself anymore. Before the man Nick had found himself falling for over the months of torture and hardship was gone forever.

Nick hated himself for falling in love with anyone. But, falling in love with Ellis made it so much worse.

The fall had been gradual. He could have stopped it. Or, that was what Nick told himself. He really had hated Ellis at first. Nick hated anything stupid, unless that stupid thing was letting him take advantage of it in some way. Ellis never let Nick get the upper hand on any situation, though. The hick could shoot just as well as Nick, and could run faster to boot. He had held strong. Nick had rarely ever seen the kid even flinch. Ellis really could laugh in the face of danger.

It wasn't until after the second helicopter pilot had a heart attack, sending them plummeting back to Earth - back to Hell - that Ellis' laughter became bitter.

That had been the night when all of the little things: the way Ellis always took care of Nick before himself, the positivity - the glue - that had held them together for so long, the way Ellis focused during a hoard attack, so as to protect everyone else, the confident way the kid held himself, even during an insult blast from Nick, the soft, always eager blue eyes, even the stupid fucking accent had just outright grabbed a hold of Nick. And it hadn't let go yet. Because, that night, Ellis did nothing but stare blankly into the flames of the fire Coach had started. There were no positive words, no story to cheer them up, just that stare.

It was then that Nick had understood. Ellis had never thought of the mess they were in as a game. Not ever. If he had, he'd have been his usual positive self, or he'd be hysterical. Crying, laughing, or destroying things at least. But, he just stared. It was with that realization; that most of Ellis' stupid, happy-go-lucky attitude was for their benefit and theirs alone, that he had fallen. That kid had guts that Nick could only dream of having.

Even with the bombs, the hoard was still much too thick for them to take on in their state. Nick felt like the ground was spinning him every which way. An infected man had shoved him to his knees. He couldn't see Rochelle or Coach. He could barely even see Ellis. He tried shouting to him, but the hick was already chin deep in zombie scum and could scarcely move, himself.

"HOLD ON, NICK!" Nick heard the southerner shout, as he smashed a few zombies in the stomach with his shotgun. There wasn't much he could do, his body wouldn't allow him to stand up, no matter how many times he tried.

"RO!" Nick heard another voice. He could have sworn it was Coach's. Then, he saw Ellis go down.

"EL!" Nick screamed, shoving the infected that were clawing at him, as he stumbled and crawled in Ellis' direction, hastily.

"Please be okay, kid. I can't lose you! Not here!"

Then the charger found him.

Nick let out a yelp as the charger scooped him up, and threw him to the ground. Nick heard a sickening crunch that he guessed to be one of his ribs. He was too tired to feel much pain any longer.

"My God…this is the end, isn't it?"

A shot rang through the air.


Several more shots followed in a frenzy after it.

"I'm so, so fucking sorry…"

Nick could hear distant voices. They seemed kind of familiar.

"I love you…. I love you all. I'm sorry I was such a dick."

Suddenly, something heavy was on top of him. It was the charger. Someone had killed it.

"Francis, over here!" a female voice called out. Suddenly, the charger was rolled off of him. The voice was so damn familiar. Nick just couldn't put his finger on it…

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" Nick was staring up at a very familiar, bearded face. He glanced at who was standing beside him.

"I thought you were tougher than that, Nick," the bearded man's female companion jabbed. And then it all came flooding back to him.

"She is so beautiful…she is so beautiful."

"You know what? This got me thinkin'. I should totally marry that girl."

"Man, oh, man, I jumped Jimmy Gibbs's car through a plate glass window, and I just met the purddiest girl I've ever seen. Nick, shoot me now, brother. Day's never gonna get any better than this."

"Hey, Rochelle, now don't spare my feelin's none... You think I got any shot with that Zoey girl?"

Oh, fuck, no.