It had seemed like they had been fighting for years. In actuality, it had only been two months since the helicopters had left them behind in Savanna Georgia. Two months was enough with all the fighting they had done to seem like years. Two months scrounging for food, living in darkness, fighting for survival, watching each other's backs. Time had a descent way of meshing together creating a series of numbers that after a while, made absolutely no sense. The only reason anyone paid tribute to know it had been two months to the day they had been abandoned, was because of Ellis. But even Nick didn't have to heart to snap at the kid to shut up, because as the days grew closer to a certain date, the young Southern mechanic grew hushed.
"How the hell should I know?"
"He seems to like you!"
"That's a lie. Coach, tell her that's a lie"
"Your bullshitting me"
"Why can't you help out a fellow team mate Nick?"
"Because, what if he's infected? What is that's why he's acting so strange, huh?"
"You know, for a man who claims he's so bad-ass, you sure like to wimp out a lot"
"My job is to survive and to help your lame asses survive!"
"If you're so big and bad, why don't you go out by yourself?! Obliviously your still here for a reason!"
"Maybe I will leave!"
The young, female, black accountant and the older, white, conman looked at the much older, male, black coach who now stood in the middle of the fighting couple.
"Rochelle, yelling at Nick will solve nothing,"
"Nick," coach cut over the young female. "I know Ellis annoys you, hell, he annoys me to, but he's a teammate and he needs help. You seem like the only one he's even apt to saying a silent hello to. Give it a try and if you don't get any results, then we won't ask you to do it again. Sound fair?"
Of course it was fair. Nick would absolutely talk to the boy if it were that easy. But, he was growing steadily tired from arguing with his black team mates, so he sighed in defeat.
"God dammit, alright! I'll talk to the idiot. But not right now!"
"Fair enough, Rochelle, go get ready for watch. I'll be out with you in a moment, Nick, you and Ellis better be ready two hours pronto"
"Yeah, yeah, I know how it works. Watch for Hunters" Nick said waving a dismissive hand.
When Nick did find Ellis, he paused to watch him for a moment. He hated to see the usually cheerful man so down. Normally he would have pasted Ellis up with a shrug and said it was his problem, but since the infection, he had slowly learned to be a 'team player' even though long ago, that wouldn't have been in his vocabulary. He sighed inwardly to himself. Normally Ellis was a well to do man with an open, friendly personality that always got on Nick's nerves. Ellis always tried to keep things light, if possible, by telling (usually at the wrong time) a story about him and his 'best friend' Keith; usually told to shut up by Nick or Rochelle. But Nick noticed the closer it got to Christmas, the quieter the young man got. Nick didn't know whether to thank god or to be concerned. He sighed out loud this time and walked over to Ellis nonetheless. Ellis had his back rested against the cold, grey, concrete wall of their 'safe house' with his knees pulled up to his chest and his face buried in his knees. His arm's wrapped around his knees tight; he clutched a small pistol in his right hand. The conman stopped before him and reached down to place a hand on the man's shoulder.
Ellis gave a startled gasp, shrinking back from Nick's touch, jumping up and aiming the gun in Nick's face. Nick took a surprised step back, holding his hands up in defense.
"Cool it kid! It's just me!"
Ellis stared at Nick for a moment as if just meeting him for the first time, before slowly lowering the gun.
He blinked before shaking his head, his cheeks turning a pale pink.
"I-I'ma sorry Nick"
"That's the best you got?"
Nick shoved the man suddenly into the wall, griping the front of his shirt. Ellis gave a startled yelp, dropping his weapon and staring into the eyes of a highly pissed off Nickolas.
"You've been sulking for the past month, Ellis. You're moody, you're jumpy and you're pissing me off! What the hell is wrong with you!"
"Nothing. Nick lemme g-"
"Bullshit! You won't talk to any of us and you don't even tell your stupid Keith stories anymore! Coach is worried, Rochelle is worried, but worst of all, I'm damn worried, so fuckin' spill it!"
Nick shook Ellis a bit to get his point across. But when they came eye to eye again, Ellis's looked changed, causing Nick to actually feel bad for yelling at him. Then the young man's face twisted into something Nick rarely ever saw: Anger. It wasn't a nice look and Nick let go of him taking a small step back.
"You wood like me ta tell ya, wood'n ya?" he growled, taking a slight step forward. "So ya could patronize me some more no doubt'n. Ellis the crybaby. Ellis the kid. Oh yeah," he said laughing bitterly at the surprised look on Nick's face. "Don' think I don' hear ya talkin' 'bout me behind ma back. I ain't stupid, I jus' learned to ignore it, but ya know what? Even I get enough of it! And ya know what really irks me!? You!"
"Shuddup! It's ma turn! You patronize me ta no end, but I fin' id funny how ya think ya's is such a hot shot"
Ellis's southern accent became progressively harder to understand the angrier he became.
"That ten thousand dollar suit of yur's, please; I've seen better suits from the thrift stores around here!" Ellis carried on, taking another step forward as Nick took a step back. Oh, and speaking of crappy things, I finds it funny how ya can spend so much money on a suit, but not good manners or hell, even a thing called humor. That's all right though; let's see what that money's done for you now. Hmmm, Nothing! Surprise, surprise! 'oh, ma names Nick, look at ma, I where a ten thousand dollar suit and think's I'ma real bad ass, but I'ma scared of germs and bein' a team player!" I mean gawd Nick, what more do ya want ma to say!?"
The young man suddenly stopped, shaking his head as he looked away from the older man who had genuine surprise in his eyes at the southerner's outburst. He stared at the wall that held notes of concern and notes of warning in marker from pervious people who took refuge in the concrete prison and shook his head.
"And ya know wha' the worst part is Nick? I don' mean a word of that 'cuz…"
He turned from the man and started for the door.
"….'Cuz I like ya Nick."
He threw the door open, running, literally running, away before the older man could wrap around his head what just happened. Nick tried to pull his head around it too before he spotted the gun he had caused Ellis to drop, his heart dropping as well.
"Oh shit," He groaned, picking it up. "Ellis? Ellis!"
He ran the direction he thought he spotted the young man run off in, chasing him blindly. He realized Ellis only had on him his bat, his secondary weapon, having caused the young man to drop his primary, which was the gun. He also realized that the only place the emotionally distressed man could run was outside. Ellis was a melee person, that much Nick could remember. He used to say: 'Melee weapons are fun, ya know why? There's risk! And where's life without a good risk, huh?' Nick truly marveled at how dense the young man could be sometimes. Sure, a bat was a good weapon for close distance and sure, it was full of risk when you wanted to have some, but it was no good if you were alone. Fighting a horde of zombies with a bat was like fighting them with a pumpkin. Aside from normal infected, there was also the Hunters, The Witches, The Tanks, The Spitters, The Chargers, The Smokers and a whole lot of other things Nick didn't want to think about. Trying to fight them with a bat would be suicide.
'Way to go' he chided himself. 'You just had to make him run away. Now he's probable being torn apart by a Hunter or something like that!'
He sped up with a slightly panicked look on his face. Ellis seemed to be a zombie magnet; he knew how to attract all of them without even trying!
"Dammit, Ellis," He muttered. "You're going to pay for this!"
When Ellis realized that he had walked a good distance from the safe house, he promptly turned around and began to head back. As stupid as the others thought he was, he knew better then to get too far or he was a dead man walking. Besides that, they would be leaving their current safe house for another tomorrow, so he wanted to live long enough to at least see that. He sighed, his grip tight on the slightly dented cricket bat (paddle). He felt bad about snapping at Nick, everything he had said he hadn't meant. He was just upset about the date that was coming up and the fact that he couldn't stop it. He hated Christmas, he truly did. He suddenly tensed when he heard a low growl.
'Shoot,' he thought looking around quickly. 'Either a Hunter or something else.'
He carried on to the safe house with a quick pace, but refused to run. He was afraid that if he did, he would attract attention if he did. He heard the low growl again, closer this time.
'Gawd save me now,'
Ellis looked up seeing Nick running towards him.
'I was hopin' for a chainsaw or maybe a tank, ya know, the ones that shoot bullets and what not, but nice save lord'
"Nick, shhh! Something's out there!"
The growl suddenly became a scream as something suddenly wrapped itself around Ellis.
Ellis screamed and struggled against the slimy tongue of the mutant infected as it pulled him towards it.
"NIIICCCKKK! Ger'it off me!"
He heard Nick's shot gun pumping off rounds as he chased after the smoker, then the smoker squealing as it exploded in thick black smoke dropping Ellis.
Nick ran to the other, kneeling next to him.
"Ellis are you ok!"
"Y-yeah, fine" Ellis nodded, taking Nick's hand when it was extended and offered to him.
"Come on, let's get out of here, I think it the others will follow real quick."
The two ran towards the safe house, low growls following after them.
"You came for me," Ellis said in a slightly surprised tone.
"Well, I wasn't going to leave you here!" Nick said sounding slightly offended. "I mean, I could always leave you here if you want me too!"
"No! Gawd no! I was just sayin', normally you send out Rochelle to get me, but you came instead. Why?"
"Because, I frikin' like you too idiot! Now get in there!"
Nick threw the young man into the safe house before sliding in himself and slamming the door shut, receiving stares from Rochelle and Coach.
"Er, ah, I brought visitors by accident." Ellis mumbled, face red more from what Nick said then running. He slowly stood as Nick watched the zombies swarm around their safe house door.
"Great job kid, there is no way we're getting out of here now. Not unless we have enough ammo to get through this"
He turned to face Rochelle, a hopeful look on his face.
"Do we have enough?"
"Not in our life time," Rochelle said shaking her head. "We'll have to go on a supply run and look for more, there's no way we'll get through that tonight" Nick slid the safety bar in place with a click.
"Looks like we get to get some shut eye then"
The others nodded as they each took a spot they would call their own for the night.