A.N.: New to fan fiction, testing the waters with my first story from Left 4 Dead 2. I hope you guys enjoy the beginning chapter and want to see more. As a newbie, please be gentle in your reviews, though definitely honest.
I do not own any Left 4 Dead 2 characters or their universe, they belong to Valve.

Day 0

"Ooh.. yes, right there." Nick moaned. "You're actually really good at this."

Strong hands moved across Nick's bared shoulders, kneading into the tightened muscles. Slowly, the hands moved in small circles as they worked. A lot of attention and care was paid to the wound created only a day ago. It would probably leave a scar, a reminder of the dark days behind them.

"I've had a lot of practice." The thick southern accented voice of his companion replied. "Keith used to make me give him back massages all the time when we worked in the auto shop. He'd always complain about how his girlfriend wouldn't do it, saying It was the man's job to give massages. So here I am, at least one night a week…"

"Ellis," Nick cut him off, "I don't want to hear another damned story about Keith, I just want you to keep your end of the bet!"

"I was just sayin'…"

"No. No more Keith, especially not while you're rubbing my shoulders."

"Fine…" Ellis let out with a quiet sigh of defeat. He really was pretty exhausted after all the group had been through over the past few weeks. There just wasn't enough energy left to argue with the older man this time. Instead, he set his mind back to the task.

The fingers of his left hand idly moved back down to the wound on Nick's lower back. As his right continued to grip and knead at the flesh of Nick's shoulders, his left hand traced the soft tissue of the scratch.

It was only a day ago that it happened. While awaiting Virgil to return to the shore in Ducatel, the group was attacked. It was inevitable really, since the only means of signaling Virgil was to light up a giant neon sign. Might as well have just rang a dinner bell at the ranch, the way they poured in.

They had just made it, no one was hurt until they ran for the boat. One of the infected rushed out of the thick grass by the dock and managed to rip through Nick's suit before Coach could get the shot in. Rochelle doctored it the best she could as they continued to sail towards New Orleans.

Looking at it now, she did a damn good job considering how bad the conditions were out there. There are no signs of infection. The skin itself is still tender but you can tell it is starting to harden back up as it heals. It will leave a scar though. At least six inches long as it curves down from the back to the waist.

"You.. really are good at this though." Nick, almost a whisper. "Your hands feel really nice."

"Uh, thanks?" Ellis replied with a nervous chuckle. He didn't want to admit to the older man just how good it felt for him too. To finally be doing something normal in a world thrown upside down. Not just that, but the feel of soft, warm skin beneath his hands. It made something stir inside him that he hasn't felt since he was a young teen.

He wouldn't even be in this awkward spot if it hasn't been for that damned bet. It seemed simple enough at the time. More of a joke really, just to tease Nick as much as Nick teased him.

It happened on the helicopter after they were rescued from the carnival grounds in Griffin County. Everyone was sore and aching from the concert they had put on after running through the faire grounds. Nick though, he had to always be the first to complain. The loudest to complain, as well.

Rubbing at his neck and grimacing, Nick went on for a good five minutes about how much he needed a massage right now. The good kind you'd get from those cute little Asian ladies in Chinatown up north. Ellis couldn't take any more, even though Nick was pretty much just acting like Ellis any time he'd break out a story about Keith.

"Look man. We all make it out of this, and I'll give you a damn massage myself. Just shut it already. I need some shut eye! Not even Keith complained this much about his sore back after working in the shop all day. Although this one time, he…"

"Ellis!" all three of his companions yelled in unison.

"Oh, right. Sorry guys."

"Tell you what, Ellis. You're definitely not a hot little masseuse I'd normally use, but you've got yourself a bet!"

It seemed easy enough, Nick thought. They've done pretty good so far. No serious injuries. No one has been bitten. And here they are, on their way to safety by air. What could go wrong? This would be a piece of cake.

"What's the catch though, Ellis?" Nick finally asked after losing himself to the memory of Chinatown massages. "There is always an opposite to a bet. What do you get if we don't all make it?"

"We'll make it Nick. We have to. I like you guys." He replied with a smile. "Yah, even you. Even if you are harsher than a Georgia summer at times."

"Well gee thanks country boy. I could almost 'Yeehaw!' No.. I couldn't. You're still just some guy between me and the biters."

"Smooth Nick, real smooth. Don't let him get to you Ellis." Coach interjected before drifting back to sleep. After a hurt look and smirk were shared between Ellis and Nick, they too drifted to sleep.

The cake was a lie. It was a dirty, fetid, swamp bile filled lie.

The survivors hadn't been asleep for more than a few hours before turbulence woke them up. It turned out to not be rough air as more the fact their pilot was trying to claw his way out of his harness. Nick was the first to reach him to figure out what was wrong. A gunshot was all the others heard.

After crash landing the helicopter, the group found themselves lost in a swamp. Nick knew his easy bet just became a lot harder.

They were a few miles into the swamp before Ellis finally told Nick the condition if he were to lose. It was a hunter. As the group ran to a secure looking shelter, a hunter leapt from the murky waters and pinned Rochelle down. She was ripped up pretty badly by the time they were able to save her.

Coach did what he could to heal her and keep her comfortable. It took three nights before they were able to move on again. The fetid waters of the swamp didn't help matters. On the second night, Ellis sought out Nick in the small house. Nick never did like sleeping with the rest of the group, even if it were safer. Ellis found him on the top floor, cleaning his guns in the light of a lantern.

"Hey Nick?" Ellis cautioned as he poked his head into the room. It always made him nervous when Nick was messing with his guns. Surely Nick wouldn't ever turn on the group, but he did have a pretty rough past, the way he told it. But, after a gruff acknowledgement from Nick, Ellis put on his usual charming smile and headed in.

"So… hey. I was thinkin' about what you said. About a bet always needing an opposite? Well, with as badly as Rochelle got hurt it made me look at the possibility of you not winning."

"Your optimism sliding now, is it?" Nick replied with a snide smirk.

"I'm not sayin' I expect her to die! She's doing great man! Coach fixed her up really good." Ellis quickly defended himself. "But, if she didn't, or if Coach didn't… make it…" He trailed off, not wanting to think about that outcome any more. As well as being nervous to say his condition if he 'wins'. "You have to scrub every bit of this swamp goo off me!", he spit out, a little too fast.

"Excuse me?" Nick answered, a look of disgust on his face.

"Well, this crap is pretty nasty. There is no telling when we're going to find clean water. At least enough to waste on bathing. And, if we lose someone.. if someone dies, Nick…"

"No.. No. You're kind of right. If we lose someone, it'd be the least I could do to…" Nick's voice faltering. After a little bit, he shakes his head of whatever thought was going through his mind and shouted, "You're out of your damned mind, hillbilly! I'm not one of your back water cousins! But, you're on! Because there is no way I'm losing this bet! Every last one of you bastards is going to make it."

"All right, all right." Ellis held up his hands defensively and started to back away. "Don't be such an ass, Nick. Now the bet is complete. I… should go check on Rochelle…"

A smile cracked on Nick's lips as soon as Ellis had left his sight. "Well, this just got a lot more interesting.", he whispered to himself as he quietly went back to cleaning his guns.

True to his word, they had all made it. And now, out to sea on a military occupied cruise ship, Nick was getting one of the best massages he's ever felt. Perhaps, the best. Ellis was definitely putting those little ladies to shame with his strong hands. He was able to get the really tight knots with his strong mechanic's grip while also having the lightest touch after to soothe the nerves back down. Nick was putty in Ellis' hands and the dense hick seemed completely oblivious to the fact.

"Hey Ellis.." Nick almost moaned out, his muscles feeling so relaxed he was finding it hard to talk. "You know, I'm really glad I won."

"We all won Nick, if you think about it. We're still here! We can finally look at the future as something more than fighting zombies every day!"

"Of course. But uh.. I'm really glad I won. This feels.. it feels so.. damn.. good.." the words came out as moans. Letting the moans and the shivers of pleasure running through his body express what his voice was failing to convey.

After another hour of this, Ellis' tired hands told him his debt was paid. He gave a few small traces up and down the spine with his fingernails before finally pulling away.

"My god, man. I've never felt so good. It feels like I have a brand new back again." Nick speaks softly, barely conscious from the immensely pleasurable massage. "I can sleep happily tonight. No zombies, no aches, no worries."

He opens his eyes and looks up at Ellis. Fatigue was apparent in those soft green eyes, but his charming smile still remained. Especially after so much praise and reaction from the guy who has been haggaring him for weeks now. "Damn that smile." Nick thought as he sat there and stared for a little bit.

"But, I'll be damned if I 'm sharing a room with you if you smell like the ass end of a zombie." He gets up and takes the weary boy by the hand, heading for the bathroom. "I know we all made it, but after that exquisite massage just now, I at least owe you a bath." A grin spreading across his face as he looks at his tired friend.

Still oblivious in his worn out condition, Ellis numbly follows Nick towards the bathroom.

A.N.: Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Please review, and thank you!