New dawns 2/3

author: Azzy
title: New dawns
rating: PG/T
warnings: language, angst. H/C
fandom: L4D 2
summary: Whoa i forgot one of these didn’t i? This whole Z-day thing changes Nick’s reasoning for getting up in the morning.
AN: I know i said it would be 2 chapters, it ended up as 3. Thanks for the cc and fb people, it’s really super appreciated. Again i repeat, slang is not my strong side, and as pointed out Nick is prolly a little ooc too, i didn’t mean for him to be, but yeah, it’s a narrow path – Canon i mean. I am a little torn up between having a good ending or a sad ending, you’re more than welcome to let me know what you’d like, but i will just have to see where the muse takes me. This is not betaed. And thanks for reading. ^^ (btw, sorry for not catching the limb/limp thing in the first chapter.) want music? – clicky clicky

I went away to meet my love
I saw things that I can’t have
It makes me mad
To think of you with someone else

You know the reason I can’t hurt
I got a heart of stone.

– The Raveonettes.

Ellis stared at Nick to the point of cross-eyed, “What was that for?” He asked in a near whisper.

Nick rose a brow and shrugged, “Some people refer to it as a kiss.” He said.

“I know that!” Ellis said hotly, “But..”

Nick smirked, “But why did I kiss you?” He stood up and straighten his white jacket, “The answer is quite simple.” He brushed his hair back with a smooth move, “Because I fucking wanted to.”

Ellis just sat wide eyed and stared at Nick, still trying to process what just happened.

Nick winked at the kid, amused that he for once rendered mister motor-mouth speechless, actually that was something of an achievement in itself. It had been true though, he ‘had’ kissed Ellis because he wanted to, not that he would ever ‘really’ admit to that, old habits die hard.

“Asshole.” Ellis finally hissed and swiftly got up from his chair, and aimed straight for the little kitchen area.

Now Nick had expected a lot of reactions, but not this. He couldn’t even imagine Ellis annoyed, let alone angry. But the kids body language was radiating anger like heatwaves. Not that he cared.. Jesus, if the kid wanted to get this upset over a kiss, it was on him. Not Nick’s problem. Nick stood and went back to his gun on the table where he left it, and resumed cleaning it methodically.

-*-

Now Coach was not a stupid man, and he might be a little preoccupied with this whole surviving the apocalypse thing, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t notice the mood of his friends. At first he had thought that Ellis maybe just had a bad day or something, but as the days went on, and they got closer to New Orleans, Ellis’ mood didn’t really improve, quite contrary.

They stood in a little house in the middle of a swamp. Ellis was outside looking out for zombies, while Coach and Nick quickly swept the house for anything they could use. “Nick.” Coach said opening a kitchen drawer, smiling to himself as he pulled out a box of Oreos. “What is the deal with you and Ellis?”

“Deal?” Nick huffed from the living room, “Are you asking me if I know why he is sulking about like a little bitch?”

“Nick.” Coach sighed, closing the drawer with a hard slam, “Yeah something like that.”

“Nope.” Nick said smoothly, sauntering to the door frame, observing Coach searching the kitchen. “Not a fucking clue,” He leaned against the frame casually, “Maybe it’s that time of the month?”

Coach frowned, “Cut the bullshit Nick.”

Nick smiled knowingly, “Seriously Coach, buddy. I have no idea what crawled up the hillbilly’s ass.” His eyes lit up at the sight of Coach’s treasure he held in his hand. “Oh man, is that Oreos?”

“It is.” Coach stated. “Want some?”

“Are you crazy?” Nick didn’t move a muscle, “I would eat a kilo of raisins right around now, and I hate raisins.”

“Very well.” Coach said, crossing his arms over his chest. looking out the window at Ellis who sat on the bannister of the porch with his rifle in his lap. “If you tell me what is going on, I will give you some.”

Nick considered the pros and cons for a moment. And with a casual smile he said “Might have said something that pissed him off, maybe you should ask him, because as I said; I have no fucking clue.”

Coach narrowed his eyes, “Not good enough, Nick.”

Nick threw his hands up in the air, surrendering, he really, ‘really’ wanted some Oreos. “I kissed him, okay? Now hand over the cookies.” He held out his hand to receive the treat.

Coach couldn’t have looked more surprised even if he tried. “What?”

“I snogged him, so what?” Nick repeated. “Oreos, now!” All is fair in war and.. yeah war.

Coach still tried to process it in his head, but opened the box, and pulled out two cookies and placed them in Nick’s grimy hand. “You’re crazy.” He mumbled.

“Might be,” Nick said, smiling at the cookies in his hand. “I don’t know why the fuck he makes it into such a big deal though.”

Coach resisted the urge to roll his eyes, “Everything is a big deal to that kid, don’t tell me didn’t notice that.” Coach put an cookie in his mouth, and let out a long satisfied sigh at the taste.

Nick said nothing, he just took a bite of his cookie and looked out the window at Ellis in the sunset.

“Look.” Coach said seriously, “You broke it, you fix it.”

Nick frowned.

“We have to be a team to survive this, and right now, we ain’t. So I strongly suggest you apologize to him, doesn’t matter if you mean it or not, but he needs to get back into the game, if you know what I mean. Pep talk him, sweet talk him, I don’t care, just do it.” Coach said hushed so Ellis wouldn’t hear.

Nick understood the logic in Coach’s words, still.. apologising was not his strongest side, and it was not like he was about to tell Coach the truth, that the kid confused him. He was not like this. Maybe it was like in prison where people who are straight going in, come out gay? Nick gnawed his lip, thinking. Nah, Ellis wasn’t really the first guy he had known in the biblical sense, he had just never gotten involved, like ‘really’ involved in someone like Ellis, or without at least some sort of gain, financially or otherwise. “Yeah, you’re right.” Nick said, surprising Coach again.

-*-

Ellis sat on the bannister overlooking the small swamp village in the setting sun, wondering if they should risk sleeping here or if they should press on for somewhere safer, but if Nick and Coach didn’t get hurry up, it might become a very real possibility they had to sleep over here.

“Ellis?” Nick said, taking five long strides from the door to the kid on the railing.

Ellis looked up at Nick, his smile strained and controlled, “Are you done in there?” he asked politely.

“Yeah.” Nick mumbled, looking at those impossibly blue eyes, all the smart dialogue he had planned on, disappeared. “Here.” He handed his other Oreo to Ellis. “Coach found them.”

“Oh man!” Ellis lit up in a genuine smile. “You’re he best!” he snatched the cookie from Nick.

“Look.” Nick sighed, seating himself on the bannister too. “I properly shouldn’t have done that. It was on a whim, what can I say? It was a strange day for all of us.” He flashed a smile at Ellis who munched on his cookie, “We cool?”

“Is that an apology?” Ellis asked gently, sucking his fingers from crumbs.

“Yeah.” Nick nodded slowly.

Ellis squinted his eyes, “Don’t ever do that again.”

“Do what?” Nick couldn’t hide the amusement in his voice, over Ellis ‘clever’ look. “Apologize?”

“No.” Ellis stated, looking up at Coach who had joined them on the porch. “Kissing me.” Ellis nearly whispered.

“Okay.” Nick agreed, nodding.

Ellis jumped off the bannister, and started to walk out of the dirt road, followed by Coach. “Not unless you mean it.” He yelled over his shoulder.

Nick was puzzled, mean what? Mean the apology or the kiss? For a simple kid, who Nick doubted had ever finished 5’th grade, then he sure was complex.

-*-

Nick had heard the witch, but he hadn’t seen her before it was too late, he heard her agitated growl and spun around himself in panic, “Where is she?” He squeaked, his body hurt all over, cuts and bruises, and that long slash he had on his underarm looked like it was really deep. It all faded in comparison to what the witch would do to him. “Where the fuck is she?” Nick asked louder, panic in his voice.

Ellis came running and without giving it second thought aimed somewhere behind Nick.

Nick turned in that direction and finally he saw her, that ugly mother of.. And then she stood up, waving her talons blindly in front of her, as where she trying to catch Nick’s shadow. Nick paled, “Oh crap.” He whispered.

A shot ran through the air, loudly.

“Ellis!” Nick screamed angrily, realising that the witch now turned her attention to Ellis. He turned in time to see Ellis sprint as fast as he could out between the trees, screaming ‘kill it! kill it Nick!’ Nick furrowed his brows, wondering for a moment where the hell Coach was, before he half limped, half ran, after Ellis. Nick tried to load the shotgun with shaking hands, while running, no easy feat if you asked him. He could hear Ellis screaming in raw fear, calling his name. “I’m coming overalls, I’m coming!” Nick panted.

Ellis vaguely thought to himself that this must have been the stupidest thing he ever did, but also how much it reminded him of some bad horror flick. Even more so when he stumbled over a stub, falling face down in the swamp mud. “Oh God.” He mumbled, scrambling to get to his feet in a hurry. Too bad for Ellis the witch was faster, just about the fastest thing ever, if you don’t count a bullet. He felt her claws rip through his skin on his back, tearing him apart with ferocious anger. “NIIIIICK!” He screamed once more, not hearing his friend over the insane, loud screeching of the witch.

Nick aimed and missed. “Fuck.” He hissed, quickly running closer, his mind raced seeing the clawed bitch tear into his friend. “Play dead!” He yelled, feeling a insane laugh bubble up inside him, that was for bears wasn’t it? he wasn’t sure it worked for mutated super zombies, with an appetite for flesh. Then again there probably didn’t exist too many safety precautions in situations like this, other than run and shoot. This, this is why I hate the outdoors, he sourly told himself. Nick aimed again, and this time he hit the witch point blank in the head, forcing her off Ellis, he aimed once more, and hit the confused witch again, watching her fall to the ground, dead. “Ellis!” He gasped, kneeling next to the young man. “Ellis, can you hear me?”

Ellis tried to speak but blood pooling in his mouth kept muddling his words.

“That was a fucking stupid stunt you pulled there.” Nick ranted, pulling off his jacket, laying it gently on Ellis’ back. “I ‘will’ kick your ass for it, but we need to get you healed up first.” He said gently, his tone in stark contrast to his words. “Shit Ellis.” He whispered, picking up Ellis in his arms, cradling him against his chest. “You’re heavy, man.” Nick started to walk towards some man made construction he saw in the horizon, “Coach!” He called, but got no answer, “Coach dammit!” He called again. He looked down at Ellis’ pale face against his shoulder. “Don’t fucking leave me behind everyone.” He groaned, making his way over a grassy hill, carrying his precious cargo.

-*-

“Ellis?” Nick said softly, as he finished clumsily to wrap bandages across the younger man’s torso. “Wake up man.” He heard his own voice carry a slight, very unbecoming whiny tone. But something about the very real possibility of being left alone scared the shit out of him, even if he had told them all he would be better off alone, he now knew the dangers that lurked out there, and knew he stood a very slim chance of getting to any sort of safety on his own, not to mention how slim his chance of even surviving a trip out of the swamp would suddenly become. “Ellis!” He slapped the pale kid across the face, hard, desperate.

Ellis opened his eyes trying to focus on the face hovering over him. “wha..” He groaned. God he was aching all over.

“I hate you.” Nick laughed relieved that Ellis even opened his eyes.

Ellis smiled vaguely, loosing the battle of keeping his eyes open. “Ni.” he breathed.

“Oh no you don’t!” Nick pulled Ellis up to a sitting position, “Stay awake.” Ellis winched from the pain, being moved around. Nick didn’t mind at all, winching equalled reaction, which in turn equalled alive. “Tell me one of them stupid Keith stories.” Nick said, his voice strained, seeing blood seep slowly through the bandages, how he wished that Coach was here, he was much better at this than him.

Ellis smiled again, “The one about the,” He rattled as he took a deep breath. “Microwave.”

“Sure.” Nick said, with a little smile.

-*-

Eventually Ellis had fainted, Nick tried desperately to tell himself that Ellis was just tired of talking and had nodded off. He had gotten up and tried to go about whatever it was they normally would do in a safe house, he made coffee and cleaned his gun making sure it wouldn’t jam in a crisis situation, because that would be just neat, and the story of his life. He listened to the zombies outside sniffling, searching. And as he sat there in the dim light, with the gun parts in front of him, and a steaming hot cup of coffee, he realised he missed normal sounds. Not just normal life, but how granted he had taken normal sounds, stuff like cars, buses and someone walking past talking on the phone. It slowly got to him that there was no safe sounds left, there was only that of predators.

And just where the hell was Coach? he hoped to dear God that he had just been forced to hide out somewhere and figured it would be dangerous to go look for them at night. Tomorrow if Ellis was up, Nick thought they should go look for their third team member.

Nick eventually went over to Ellis who was sleeping, he sat down next to the younger man, and carefully placed a hand on his forehead, it was burning up. Nick was unsettled, what if he screwed up playing nurse, and Ellis’ wounds had gotten infected? God how he missed TV, anything to take his mind off the shallow sound of Ellis’ rapid breathing, and the snarling outside. This was enough to make a sane man crack.

“Thirsty.” Ellis groaned. waking Nick from his uneasy slumber.

Nick sat up alarmed, and then realised that it had just been Ellis who had spoken. He silently got out of bed to fetch Ellis some water, and once he came back, the vague light of dawn lit up the room somewhat, and he could see how sullen Ellis looked, “Here’s your water.” He said sitting down, handing Ellis the glass.

Ellis smiled thankfully and took the glass with a trembling hand, “Coach?” He slurred.

“I don’t know.” Nick said honestly, “Maybe we should.. should go fetch his stupid ass.”

Ellis laughed, it was a rattling, heaving sound. “Boy scout.”

“Does this mean I will get patches?” Nick asked with a grin, inwardly just happy that Ellis was awake and spoke. “I didn’t know they had like a ‘survive the apocalypse’ patch.” Nick ran a hand through his greasy hair, “Of course with the free time I have on my hands these days, I could cross stitch one my fucking self.” He winked at Ellis, “You want one?”

Ellis just chuckled and sipped his water. More awake he stretched his aching body. “Let’s go then.”

“Hell no!” Nick stated, “You ain’t going no where, not in the state you are in.”

Ellis tilted his head and observed the older man, “It’s suicide to go outside alone, Nick.”

“Well it’s also suicide to go outside with a 104.” Nick stated sourly, staring at Ellis, trying to make him understand he meant it with his stern expression alone. “Not to mention, it’s suicide to go outside with someone, with a 104.”

Ellis frowned, “What about Coach?”

“I will find him, don’t worry.” Nick said a little forced, “You just wait here.”

“I ‘told’ you we should have gotten those walkie talkies.” Ellis mumbled, pulling the blanket higher, looking terribly fatigued.

“You were right.” Nick admitted, “Ten, four, fucking rubber duck.”

“Nick?” Ellis said, sleepily. “You promise you’ll be back, right?”

“I do.” Nick said, lightly placing his hand on Ellis’ forehead again, testing the fever. “Even if I have to outrun a freaking swarm of those things, I’ll come back. I won’t go far, I promise.”

Ellis blinked, and then smiled, “You ‘did’ mean it.” He closed his eyes.

“Bollocks.” Nick said in childish defence, “You just stay alive you stupid redneck.”

Ellis clumsily scratched his nose, “Will do.”

-*-

Nick closed the huge iron door behind him. And he had to admit it had been over a decade since he prayed for anything, and his relationship with the maker was rusty to say the least, but in this moment, he found himself praying, or wishing real hard, that they would all be okay. And he promised himself that if he survived this, and Ellis was still alive when he returned, he would dance the fucking peacock on a table and sing.

TBC

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