It had to have been over a hundred degrees. The four survivors were doing their best to keep cool, though it seemed the Louisiana heat wouldn't allow it. They couldn't avoid it, walking on the highway, the black cement only made it worse.
Rochelle had pulled the bottom of her shirt up her stomach and used a hair tie to hold it in place by a handful of the shirt that she used to keep it taut. She'd even rolled up her pants legs awhile back.
Coach had taken his purple and yellow school uniform shirt off, leaving him in a white wife beater, which by this point had gotten completely soaked with sweat. He used the uniform shirt to dab at his forehead every now and then.
Ellis, unafraid, took his yellow bull shifters shirt off, exposing his muscled torso for the whole world. Rochelle had to admit, it took a lot of strength to stop herself from glancing back whenever the urge struck.
Nick had only taken his white coat off, curling his blue dress shirts sleeves to the elbow. It showed in his squinting eyes that he desperately wanted to take off his blue dress shirt.
When they stopped for a moment for all of them to take a breather, have a snack, and drink some water, Rochelle made it a point to find out why.
"God, I'm sweating more than a whore in church…" he complained, dragging his wrist across his forehead as he took another swallow from his water bottle.
Rochelle cocked her hip, "Nick, honey, if you're burnin up, take off your shirt." She suggested. Despite having focusing problems with Ellis walking around half naked and dripping like a playgirl model, she could find the strength to ignore the both of them topless… She'd just need a lot of strength.
Nick squinted a bit, his lips going taut, "Actually, it's not that bad…" he responded, evasively, turning away from her to take another sip.
Ellis chuckled, fixing his shirt that hung from his back coveralls pocket, "Oh, c'mon, Nick. Take'ya shirt off. Ain't gonna offend none'a us."
Nick's eyes suddenly squinted, a brow rising in the process, "No, I'm good…" he slowly answered.
The way he'd looked at Ellis was a bit odd, like it was supposed to be silently sending a message to him.
A message of which the hick didn't receive.
"Don't be so chicken, Nick. You shy, or somethin?" he began to chuckle, leaning against the road railing as his shoulders shook with the lazy laughter. It seemed Ellis' eyes stayed rapt on Nick, as if expectant of him to take his shirt off.
All of this Rochelle hadn't neglected to notice. She wondered just what was going on here besides cooling off…
Very slowly, an almost malicious Cheshire grin spread across the gambler's thin lips.
"Alright, then." He spoke lowly, turning his back to the others as he started to unbutton his blue dress shirt, agonizingly slow like.
Rochelle crossed her arms, unable to comprehend why it was that Nick listened to Ellis more than he did to her. All Ellis had to do was word it differently, and Nick was practically putty in his calloused mechanic hands.
When Nick started slipping his shirt passed his shoulders though, Rochelle saw the beginnings of some very serious looking claw marks.
"Oh my God, Nick! What happened to you?" Rochelle quickly came up to Nick, her hands automatically flying up to lightly brush the skin that hadn't been scratched or clawed.
It was the same four to three stripe pattern, in three distinct paths all along his back. One path looked extremely fresh, while others looked scabbed over and healing.
The only person who saw Ellis tense up and go completely red was Coach, though of course, he could never guess as to why.
"Did a Hunter do this to you? Why didn't you tell anyone!?" Rochelle was too busy taking the med-kit off her back to notice how quickly Ellis came over to Nick and was pulling at his shirt, trying to fit it back over his arms.
Nick chuckled, "I thought you wanted me to take my shirt off, Sport…" he weakly tried pulling the shirt back off as Ellis pulled it over his shoulders with a mechanical swiftness.
"It ain't that hot." Ellis spoke in a dull tone, and after a moment's pause pulled his own shirt from his coveralls and slipped it on. "See?" he gave Nick a threatening look only the gambler could see, which only gained another laugh from him.
Rochelle looked from Nick to Ellis, very confused… until something clicked.
A hand rose to cover her lips, blushing at the realization, "Oh…" she whispered to herself. It made since after that, why the two agreed to take watch together so often and why they'd rather eat dinner alone in the other room instead with the others, and why sometimes she saw Ellis walking funny in the morning…
Ellis heard Rochelle's little confirmation of her thoughts and glanced over, then regretting it when he saw a small smile on her face.
"Sh-Shut up!" he yelled, picking up his bag and starting to run-walk in the direction of the next safe house, completely red and flustered.
"Don't be embarrassed, Sweetie." She tried to soothe him, though her slight giggles were making it difficult.
Nick just smirked, picking up his bag and ran after Ellis to catch up with him, shirt still unbuttoned and flapping slightly as he went.
Rochelle covered her mouth completely as she tried standing straight as loud laughter erupted from her, for some reason highly amused.
Coach, on the other hand was left behind the four, confused and silently cursing as he packed up the food they hadn't finished and quickly ran after them.