It didn't mean anything.

The sweaty hands sliding along his ribs, the feverish kisses and heated breath on his bared chest. None of it meant anything. One too many rejections and a fuck ton of desperation and fear had simply driven two people together and even as Ellis felt his heart rate increase and his voice escape him in some variation of moan, he knew that not a single thing they did together would change what would happen tomorrow.

Nick was bent over him, the two barricaded somewhat in a secluded corner of the most recent safe house, swirling his tongue over the pink buds on Ellis' chest. The mechanic was thankful that he'd washed a little bit during the brief reprieve they'd had near an absolutely fucking freezing river bed. Nick wouldn't have touched him in this way if he'd been too grimy and Ellis had been holding out for nearly a full week without any physical attention.

With all the military calls over bashed up radios or the lucky ones who had caught boats giving them rides back and forth through the city, they hadn't had much alone time. Even now, Rochelle and Coach were not far away. Rochelle was sleeping soundly in the far corner and Coach had gone out to make sure the area was secure so they didn't wake up early morning to find themselves barricaded with the infected at their door.

"Pants." A low whisper startled Ellis and he looked down to where Nick's hands had relocated to his overalls. He had untied the sleeves from around Ellis' hips and was attacking the buttons as if they had personally wronged him.

"Whoa, whoa, slow down there, cowboy." Ellis whispered in return, reaching down to still Nick's hands. "Let me. If you break my buttons, I won't feel right going out tomorrow."

Nick scowled, but withdrew his hands, placing them on Ellis' shoulders instead as the smaller male carefully slid the buttons from their places and began pushing the jean material down.

Ellis moved his hands up to Nick's blue shirt, which was stained with all number of substances including blood, and slid it off the gamblers shoulders. They'd unbuttoned it earlier and the equally stained white suit jacket had become part of their makeshift barricade to hide from Rochelle.

Normally this was where Nick complained.

Ellis knew this well. Nick found fault with everything. The stains on their clothes, the mud on their skin, the cuts and bruises that, if pressed on, would cause Ellis to wince and push the taller man away. He'd even once complained that Ellis was too skinny and due to that comment, Ellis had taken more than his fair share of food the following day and had been subsequently smacked by Rochelle for doing so.

Even though it must have meant nothing to Nick, Ellis found himself trying to please. He cleaned more often, he'd eaten better, he'd been a little quicker to use bandages and disinfectant so Nick didn't get pissed off and force his own supplies on the mechanic. Ellis had even very nearly stopped speaking of Keith altogether.

During one of their nighttime romps, Nick had acted very possessive and Keith had been brought up. Though Ellis had tried defending him, the mention of Keith had somehow warranted a vicious yank on his hair and a bite mark that had taken days to go away and had very nearly convinced Coach that Ellis was turning into a zombie.

Why he'd worked so hard to please Nick was beyond Ellis, but as those lips that formed all those petty complaints fastened themselves to his own chapped pair, he stopped trying to figure it out. Maybe it was because he liked the attention or maybe even kind of liked Nick, through all the faults. Either way, it didn't matter.

"Mngh." Ellis whined into Nick's mouth, reaching up to slide his calloused fingers through Nick's dark hair and pull him closer against him, keeping him in place.

Nick didn't seem to mind, sucking Ellis' bottom lip in between his teeth and gently giving it a tug before diving in for another heated kiss.

It was more likely because of their obvious time constraints that Nick got like this in the first place, all desperate and pushy, but Ellis sometimes liked to think that it was because he liked this. Liked being close to someone, the chemistry of what was between them right now and how it made him forget about the war raging outside, if only for a little while. Maybe even that he liked Ellis. He'd certainly never taken this up with the other two, though Ellis knew very well that was because Rochelle had adamantly refused any kind of interactions with anyone, speaking only when needed and only letting Coach near her because the heavy set teacher was harmless when he wasn't armed with a chainsaw and surrounded by zombies.

And Nick would just be crazy to ask Coach for this kind of attention. The man was a giant teddy bear one minute and a raging psychopath the next. Ellis often admired how well Coach took charge and led them through the masses, but he certainly didn't blame Nick for keeping his distance.

The elastic waistband of Ellis' once white briefs slid from his hips to his thighs and he rose his lower half to allow Nick to tug off the last piece of clothing the mechanic had on. In return, Ellis reluctantly broke their liplock to reach down and pop loose the button to Nick's trousers and yank the zipper down.

"Slow down, cowboy." Nick breathed into Ellis' neck, his smirk obvious against the sensitive skin as he repeated Ellis' words from earlier.

"I'm surprised all the gunk out here hasn't stopped this up." Ellis mused quietly, fussing unnecessarily with the zipper and gently pushing his palm against the hardened bit of flesh under the boxers Nick wore in the process.

Nick hissed at the contact and gave an awkward sort of shrug as he shifted his hips in what would definitely have been a seductive manner had this scenario taken place at a club and not on the floor of what used to be a storage shed in a camp ground. The shifting made it easier to slide the trousers off and Ellis knew that was why Nick had done so, tossing the pants just underneath the barricade wall so it didn't look too suspicious should someone look over.

As if anyone would.

Despite being what he would call 'no good at book learning', Ellis' prized his skills of observation. He knew exactly at what level their voices would wake Rochelle or alert Coach and exactly how long they'd have to work with. He knew the steady rise and fall of Rochelle's chest to signify she was fast asleep which, in genuine honesty, had been discovered out of necessity and not for the sake of watching breasts.

Without quite realizing it, Ellis was brought back to the situation at hand with a sudden lurch as he felt Nick press his body flat against his own and noticed that the gambler had taken his own boxers off without much hesitation or warning.

"Lay down." Nick instructed in that calculated whisper, though his breathing was still unsteady and his body trembling with the effort to reign himself in to respectful measures.

Ellis obeyed and watched Nick stick a couple of his fingers into his own mouth. They weren't very good at this part, since there was nothing to use for decent lubrication, but Ellis had come to the conclusion that Nick had more saliva than he did normally and that the gambler was very concerned about germs.

He had refused to let Ellis do the work more than once and eventually Ellis had just stopped asking. Nick had once said that they were filthy enough without adding to it, and Ellis had agreed with the logic. Lucky for him tonight was one of the rare nights when they'd both been near water, so while Ellis had been washing up, Nick had been doing the same out of sight.

The first finger entered him and Ellis seized up, trying to adjust to Nick's invasion. He'd argue that Nick's fingers got larger every time they did this, but it was only because of the constant wear and tear that they seemed to be more calloused and work worn than they no doubt looked before the infection in his cushy lifestyle. But Ellis did have practice with this; more practice than he'd ever confess to having to anyone other than Nick and maybe Keith, if he was still alive.

As Nick pushed deeper, blatantly ignoring Ellis' rigidness, Ellis tried to relax. He knew if he could get his body to be calm and pliable, this would hurt less. He took a few slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, and it worked until Nick added a second finger and he had to start all over again.

In his normal lifestyle, pain might have discouraged Ellis from engaging in such acts, but it happened so often now that even being ensnared by a Smoker's tongue or violently meeting the concrete when a Hunter pounced on him brought a whirlwind of feelings to Ellis' gut and he'd began worrying that he'd encourage such dangerous scenarios just to get a little aroused. Luckily Nick usually fulfilled his desires when it came to this so he'd remained cautious and clear headed when carrying around his new favorite rifle.

Ellis opened his mouth as a third finger pushed its way in and Nick stretched him uncomfortably, but no sound came out. He would have shouted, if he could, but that was out of the question. Nick seemed to sense this because he came back down on Ellis to plant kisses to his chest and bite down on his shoulders. The bites relocated the epicenter of pain to his torso and Nick managed to finish preparing Ellis' rear without much more trouble.

A new problem arose when Nick positioned himself for the main course and pushed the head of his member past the ring of muscles he'd been working on a second ago. Ellis audibly squeaked with the effort to keep his voice in check and clapped a hand to his mouth and the other to Nick's shoulder. His grip was tight and Nick winced, hooking his arms under Ellis' legs and pushing further in as he leaned down to once again try to distract Ellis with his lips and teeth.

It didn't work very well.

Ellis could feel pain from two different locations now and he struggled to maintain his arousal, promising himself with thoughts of how good this would feel in a moments time, how good this had felt in the past and if he could just stick this through, Nick would make it worth the pain.

He'd never imagined himself in this position before Nick had suggested it to him, always fancying himself somewhat of a ladies' man. Sure, they often just flirted with him because he fixed their cars or was the youngest of the mechanics around town, but it left him with no shortage of women to talk to at least. However, with Nick inside of him, thrusting at a shallow pace until Ellis gave the word to go again, Ellis somehow couldn't even picture the women he'd once wished he could ask out to dinner.

The fact that he'd gotten so used to Nick's abusive loving and being filled instead of filling should have bothered him, but the sobering knowledge that half the world was already dead or dying and no one could judge him for who he chose to seek company with was enough to erase those thoughts every time they crept up.

When the pain had dulled to a tolerable sting, Ellis choked out a hushed "Go on then". The thrusts became longer and drawn out, reaching deeper within him and bringing back the full on burn until Nick found that spot inside of him that sent white dots dancing across Ellis' view of the ceiling and Nick's dark hair.

"Oh." Ellis gasped out, always surprised at how easily Nick found his sweet spot and often thinking up jokes he'd never dare voice about Nick's sexuality and previous experience with men. Nick would kill him for joking about such things and what was the point? Even if he had been with other men, the thought of them being zombies Ellis could shoot in the face was a pleasant one.

Nick grunted with the effort to keep himself moving, unlatching his arms and guiding Ellis' raised legs to lock around his waist as he repositioned his arms to support him as he pushed into the smaller male.

The dirt on the floor from months or maybe even years of disuse scratched at Ellis' back as his body rocked with Nick's movements and he tried to use this momentum to meet Nick's hips. He tightened the grip his legs had on Nick, pushing a heel into the small of the gambler's back in a poor attempt to pull him deeper.

Muffled gasps and huffs escaped the two of them, mingling in the limited space between them and falling nearly silent each time Nick would use one hand to force Ellis up into a kiss. Nick's tongue poked and prodded Ellis' lips, which he hadn't realized he'd been mashing together in an attempt to keep quiet, and the mechanic opened his mouth. They breathed into each other, kissing messily without much regard for skill, any cares of such things lost in the now erratic motion of their hips.

"Mmphs." Nick mumbled something into Ellis' mouth and the smaller of the two pulled away to whisper, "What?"

"I just said 'Ellis'." Nick hissed, pulling Ellis back to him almost angrily, parting once more just to add, "Don't ask stupid questions."

A fluttery feeling of flattery woke up somewhere in Ellis' chest, very much without his permission, as he heard Nick confess to saying his name. It made what they were doing something personal and though he'd convinced himself this meant nothing to either of them, Ellis had his moments like everyone else where he just wanted to be loved on for a bit.

Kissing became nearly impossible as Nick's hips jerked forward unsteadily and the two ended up gasping in breaths and stifling moans in the small space allowed to them until Nick gave a sharp noise, somewhat comprised of a whine and a moan, and muttered more quiet words against Ellis' parted lips.

"Almost." Nick huffed. His lips met Ellis', but just barely, as he spoke. "Ellis."

Ellis both adored and hated the sound of his name on Nick's tongue. That fluttery feeling had joined the wonderful throbbing in his lower regions and was causing merry havoc with his brain, but he so desperately wanted to make noise or show audible appreciation for such pleasantries and he couldn't. He settled for a breathless call of Nick's name in return and bit down hard on his bottom lip to keep any other sounds from escaping him.

"Don't." Nick murmured, shaking his head feverishly and slowing his pace with what looked like obvious pain to pepper Ellis' cheekbones and abused lips with kisses. "You'll bleed."

Ellis let out an involuntary breath, long and occasionally breaking with a nearly illegal vocal level of moan, praying to god that Rochelle was still out. He hadn't bothered to check on her in the last few minutes, but even as he turned his head to peek through the tiny holes in their barricade, Nick forced his gaze back and reassured him.

"She's out."

How Nick knew exactly what Ellis was thinking was beyond the mechanic at this point and he almost immediately refocused on the task at hand. It was hard not to once his concerns were set to rest, because the coiled spring of pleasure in his stomach and groin was unfurling and fast.

Nick gave a few more unsteady thrusts, reaching that accursed sweet spot again and again until Ellis let out a strangled sort of moan with his release, pressing his lips back together tightly about midway through to silence himself. A whine still escaped his attempts, but no one shouted in surprise and the rest of the room aside from Nick was silent, so Ellis began counting his lucky stars until Nick roughly swore and pulled out from Ellis to reach his climax over the floor.

Nick never came inside of Ellis and the mechanic was thankful for that. It was rare enough that they got to wash away dirt and he hated the idea of having to find someplace to clean the insides of him as well as the outsides. It took Nick longer to relax than Ellis, having to find something in their immediate area to wipe away the evidence from the floor and Ellis' stomach. Ellis lounged back on the floor, catching his breath and smiling when the ripped up tablecloth Nick had found tickled his sides.

"What are you grinning about?" Nick asked, the lusty tone gone from his voice though he was still catching his breath as evidence of what they had just done.

"I'm ticklish." Ellis answered, taking the cloth from Nick's hands and wiping the rest of the grime from his stomach before folding it over and using a clean patch to wipe up the traces left on Nick's own skin.

"Wouldn't have pegged a hick to be ticklish." Nick muttered.

"If you'd listened to my damn stories when we met, you'd know a lot more about us hicks than you do now." Ellis was too calm to be mad at Nick's mild stab at his country background, looking the gambler in the eye and twisting one corner of his mouth up into a lopsided grin. To Ellis' surprise, Nick chuckled quietly and shook his head.

"All I ever heard was 'Keith this' and 'Keith that'. I'm fairly certain the only thing I could have learned is your best friend was a fucking idiot."

Ellis shrugged.

"Keith was a good guy. Is. I don't know." His eyes fell to the floor, unintentionally focusing on Nick's bare legs and adding, "We should get dressed."

"Yeah." Nick agreed, the first to locate his underwear and begin redressing.

Ellis didn't bother tying the sleeves to his overalls around his hips just yet; it was more comfortable sleeping on them laying flat then all bunched up at his middle. They redressed in silence, Nick disassembling their barricade and folding up his suit jacket like a grimy pillow. They put a safe distance between themselves to avoid suspicion and Ellis lay down on his side, trying to avoid any direct pressure to his rear for the time being.

"See you in the morning, Ellis." Nick whispered.

That was the only goodnight or thank you Ellis ever got for their heated interactions, but the tone alone conveyed all that Ellis needed to hear and when he peeked over, he saw that Nick had also arranged himself onto his side, propping his head up with his pillow and watching Ellis with a serious look in his shaded green eyes.

They fell asleep while watching for signs that the other was conking out before them.

0000000

"Augh! All these goddamned zombies!" Ellis shook his rifle, a combat shotgun he'd found stashed in a lake house manor, watching more zombies creep up on them in a hurried sort of shuffle.

"They're kind of everywhere. Get used to it." Rochelle snapped humorlessly, unloading half the magazine of her submachine gun into the immediate area in front of them. All but three of the zombies took one to a vital spot and nearly everywhere else and fell like sacks of potatoes to the ground.

"I'll never get used to how good you are with that gun." Ellis teased with a laugh and shot the last three with decidedly less precision and five bullets lost from the barrel.

Rochelle shoved him playfully as the last one crumpled in a heap and took off for the boat that had been left at the docks and was finally clear of infected. Coach and Nick had gone into the interior of the boat to zombie proof it and as Ellis turned, he saw Coach waving at them in the previously agreed upon All Clear signal.

Ellis' feet moved without hesitation while his mind lagged on what exactly he was doing. The day had been so full of murder and running already that he was tired. So tired that as he went to leap from the dock to the boat, his foot caught the lip of the railing running all along the sides of the boat and he crashed onto the deck hard. He'd have been more embarrassed had he not know mistakes like this to happen all the time.

That didn't stop it from hurting though.

"Fuck!" Ellis cussed and immediately mumbled out an apology as Rochelle giggled at him and stepped inside to talk with Coach. Ellis sat up, glad that the shotgun in his hands hadn't gone off and accidentally shot him, but he could feel a wet something on his forehead and that didn't bode well.

He reached up to touch two fingers to where he felt the moisture and pulled away to see his fingers lightly coated in his own blood. He'd managed to cut himself on their safety vessel. Well done. Ellis sarcastically congratulated himself on making such a blunder as Coach manipulated the controls to take the boat away from the dock and towards wherever he'd decided to set a heading, but Ellis' thoughts didn't last long as footsteps signified someone coming back up to the deck.

"Idiot."

Ellis smiled sheepishly at the familiar voice and Nick lowered himself onto the deck to sit next to Ellis with an open first aid kit.

"Rochelle told me you got yourself hurt." Nick said, though it was unnecessary. Ellis already knew that'd be why he was here with medical supplies.

"Tripped on the deck." Ellis admitted and let Nick raise a dampened cloth to his forehead to clear away the blood.

For a moment, no one spoke, until Nick broke the silence with a mumble.

"I tell you 'don't' and you go and bleed anyways."

Ellis laughed nervously and shrugged.

"It's a zombie apocalypse, Nick. Blood ain't so strange nowadays."

Nick ripped a bandage free of its paper casing and peeled back the protectors to stick the pad over Ellis' cut. It wasn't a deep one, but it would keep bleeding for a bit, so it was safer to just bandage it up. Nick brushed Ellis' brown hair out of the way to avoid it getting stuck under the bandage and pressed his palm to it in order to flatten it out over the abused flesh.

"Be careful, next time I might need one of these and you're using a lot of them." Nick warned coolly, but Ellis could tell the venom wasn't aimed at him.

"I'm sorry." He said genuinely, casting a cautious glance to the staircase before reaching out to grip Nick's arm in what he hoped was a comforting manner.

It seemed to work because the hardened stare disappeared and Nick ran a hand through his hair with a sigh.

"I'll only say this once," Nick said, his voice so low that Ellis almost couldn't hear him. "You die out here and I'll kill you."

Ellis raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth to tell Nick just how little sense that statement made, but no sound escaped him because Nick had replaced the words with a kiss. Their tongues briefly met and Ellis' eyes fluttered shut but just as he pressed forward to deepen the kiss, Nick was pulling away and standing up.

A hand was extended to him and Ellis took it without thinking. Nick tugged the mechanic to his feet and gave a small smirk.

"Guess we're headed to the next fucking idiot to send us on another damn errand, huh?" Nick asked, his voice normal again as if nothing had just happened between the two men on deck.

"I'm thinking I should have been a delivery boy, I'm fucking excellent at that by now." Ellis teased, rolling his eyes and grinning widely, his hand still stuck fast in Nick's grip.

It didn't mean anything.

The look in Nick's eyes, the way he laughed at Ellis' joke, the tight squeeze he gave just before letting go of the mechanic's hand. None of it would change what would happen tomorrow. But Ellis had said this before. And again and again almost every night since they had started this dangerous dance with each other. He'd gone so far in convincing himself this was all just because they were on their death beds, fighting the doctors who wanted to pull the plugs, but he guessed now was as good a time as any to confess.

It definitely meant something.