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Chapter Text

It just happened.

It caught everybody off guard.

And Nick was in the middle of it.

Scanning the casino's lobby and watching as people scrambled to go out of the big doors all while dodging what Nick thought were other people but were those things. 

Nick just stood there absorbing everything and quickly thought of a plan: Find a different exit outside, hot-wire the first car he sees, and drive the hell outta Savannah. 

He thought it was a good plan but first things first he needed to find a way out without bringing attention to himself. 

He walked around the lobby scanning the big room for a stairwell. Right hand on a pistol hidden in his suit. The thought of using it to kill those things made Nick uncomfortable. 

He eventually found the stairwell and saw that it was already opened and also broken.

Great, he thought. He walked cautiously to the door and pushes it aside to make room for himself to get in. He peeked in the stairwell just in case.

Silence, other than a little alarm sound that was above the emergency exit door which was open as well.

"Huh." 

Distant screaming brought his attention to the outside world. Nick mentally prepared him self for what he was going to see outside.

 

However, nothing prepared him for this.

Chapter Text


As Nick stepped outside his nose was met with a metallic smell. He looked around and found more of those monsters walking around. Dead bodies scattered just about everywhere. Blood smeared along the sidewalk and street. People running and screaming atop of their lungs. The sight was horrific and Nick didn't want nothing to do with it. He looked around and saw a black 2014 BMW X5 across the street.

Nick sighed in relief and walked as fast as he could across the street until something pulled on his elbow. Out of instinct he pulled back, only to reveal that one of those monsters got close to him when he wasn't looking. Nick freaked out realizing that thing touched him. He pulled out his hidden pistol and shot the thing clear in the head. It growled in pain and it quickly became silent as it fell to the ground.
Nick sighed, "Poor bastard..."

Nick quickly looked around for more monsters but seen they were too busy attacking a cardboard cut out of what seems to be a magician. Nick finally went to the car and cracked the driver window open causing his knuckles to bleed. He then hopped in only to realize that the car was unlocked the whole time. "Oh, you gotta be fucking kidding me." ,Nick said in irritation.

He shook his head and crouched down to start getting to business.
He pulled the two wires together and stepped on the gas and finally started the car. Shortly after he jumped towards the passenger seat as a women was standing right outside the drivers car door.

At first Nick was confused but then he realized she was asking him to let her in the car. She was pale and had blond hair in a messy bun. She was a little too slim as it looked like she hadn't eaten in days but she didn't look like THEM. She wore a loose fitting grey sweater that had writing on it but it was too faded what it was and had tight jeans that outlined her legs. She pleaded for Nick to let her in. Nick sighed in defeat and unlocked the door and heard her jump in the back seat.

"Th-Thank you...", she said.
"Whatever.", Nick replied and shifted the gear into drive and hauled ass, not until the woman said
"Aren't you gonna let other people in?", she asked almost as if she was offended by the act.

Nick thought for a moment and said
"Nope." She scoffed and Nick chimed in again, "Got a name?"

Flatly she said," Emily, Emily Wilkinson."

Nick just replied with, "Nick, that's all you need to know.", Nick swore he saw Emily roll her eyes through the rear view mirror but didnt think much of it. He started to search through the radio to find a military broadcast or music or just something as background noise until something hit the hood of Nick's "new" car. Emily yelped as Nick kept driving figuring it was another one of those THINGS. But then he saw a man get up on the floor and quickly tried to get Nick's attention and asking if he could get in aswell.
"Ugh... Get ready we have more guests...", Nick said irritated that more people will be coming on this road trip with him outta Savannah. Just then a man and what Nick assumed to be his wife hopped in the back with Emily.
Then he continued to drive until he got on the highway and as the silence feel he could the radio play a song through the static.

"I just want to die, I don't wanna be alive......I just wanna die today, lemm..."

"You said it...", Nick said in agreement.

Chapter Text

Emily exclaimed, "I'm hungry! When are we going to stop and get some food?"

"We're not gonna stop until I know for sure that we're out of this shitty state." Nick replied with a hint of irritation.

Emily groaned as Derrick and Mary Timmons, the married couple, tried to calm her down.

Nick just kept driving hoping that the car has enough gas to get him at least out of Georgia. It didn't, an hour later they were walking along the highway armed with whatever they considered as "weapons." Nick could feel the sweat dripping from his forehead and back. His feet ached in his dress shoes and his legs sticking to his white dress pants. Having his trusty pistol in his hand, hoping that none of those things pop out.

Nick thought, "What should I even call them? Zombies? They aren't dead, they're sick. Infected?"
Distant gun fire pulled him from his thoughts, looking around the vacant city searching. He saw flashes of light being illuminated in what seems to be a fast food place. Nick and his group stopped for a moment and then Emily finally said, "We should help them..."

"No, I can barely stand three of you who knows how many people in there? What if they're infected? Wha-"
Derrick cut him off, "C'mon Nick. We can ask them where are they going and maybe we could team up y'know? Increase out chances of survival."

"And it's a fast food joint, maybe there's some food in there." ,Mary stated.

Nick didn't want to admit but, they were right. He let a small groan and quickly pulled out his gun and went into a quick jog with his group following in tow.

When they eventually arrived, they were greeted with two men standing right outside, one was wearing a black leather jacket and faded ripped black jeans holding a big assault rifle. The other man was wearing a a wrinkly white dress shirt with a red tie and dark khakis all while holding a magnum. They hadn't seen Nick and his group yet so he quickly tried to think of a way to get their attention with out scaring them and shooting them. That is, until Derrick and Mary started striding over to the men.

"God dammit." ,Nick said following them.

Just as Nick suspected, the Timmons had scared the men and had almost died on the spot.

"Whoa, whoa, we're not lookin for trouble. We heard you guys shootin an thought you might needed help."
Derrick said looking intimidated from the two men standing before him.

The man with magnum said in a friendly tone, "Oh, nah man we're alright thanks. We're just looking for food."

Mary said as if she's trying to initiate a conversation, "Us too! Tough times out here especially with those zombies."

Nick got uncomfortable by the way they were talking as if nothing was wrong. It pissed him off. Thankfully, an unfamiliar voice came from inside with a feminine spark too it, "Louis? Who are you talking to?"

The man with the magnum who's presumed Louis replied back, "Just another group of people just trying to survive." The voice replied almost instantly saying, "Really!"

They heard movement coming from inside and out came a girl who had to be in her early 20's. She had a pinkish reddish jacket with some jeans with red blotches on them which was most likely dried blood and had her hair in a ponytail.

Her eyes filled with excitement as she new faces. She greeted them, "Hi, my name is Zoey." She stuck out her hand and shook everybodys except Nick's. She didn't think much of it as she spoke again, "I'm really glad that my group wasn't the only people left behind." Before anybody could respond she says, "C'mon in, I'll let you meet the rest of our group."

Nick stepped in reluctantly, "This is a trap", he thought. Louis took note and said nonchalantly, "Don't worry we're not like one of those crazy people who crack under a disaster."
The man holding the assault rifle whose name is Francis said flatly, "Yet." Louis glared at him and hesitantly looked back at Nick and said, "He's kidding."

Nick went inside holding his pistol hidden back in his suit that he put away when they first met Zoey. He saw 3 new faces. A tall, bald man that had on a purple and yellow shirt, a woman who had a pink shirt with jeans with some designer boots on, and another man, short and muscular that had a trucker hat with a yellow shirt and coveralls, obviously southern.

"Oh brother..." ,Nick thought eyeing them. He didn't like shaking hands considering he's a germaphobe, so he just stuck himself on the corner of the wall. He enjoyed the silence until the southern boy had walked up to him with a grin and said, "Hi, ma names Ellis and that over there is Coach and Rochelle." He pointed to them an stuck out his hand waiting for Nick to shake it.

Nick groaned and rolled his eyes. Trying his best to ignore Ellis. Ellis' grin fell only a little and started to talk again, "Y'know, I had a suit quite like yours heh, back when I was little, I only wore it when I went to church with mah Ma and mah buddy Keith, I remember this one time that me and him snuck out of the church while everybody was prayin and went to the creek on the aside and we starte-"

"Wow, do you ever shut up? Go bug somebody else, overalls." Nick said irritated and turned his body away from Ellis indicating that the conversation was over. Ellis just sighed an left the gambler alone. While Ellis was walking back he mumbled, "Overalls?" He didn't get it.

Chapter Text

"Man, this sucks!" Nick was walking in the heat next to Emily and the Timmons. Along the stretch of a highway. "Where are we even going?"

"Somewhere safe." Was all what Coach said.

"This better be worth it." Nick grunted.

Coach turned around eyeing the gambler distastefully, "Boy jus' keep yo ass walking." Wiping off his forehead from sweat.

Nick conceded and kept a thought in the back of his mind, "He doesn't know where he's going, does he?"

Francis pulled Nick out from that thought, "I hate the sun."

Louis smirked, "You hate everything."

Ellis chimed in, "The sun ain't too bad, well at least if you don't get sun burned, like this one time mah buddy Keith went to the Florida beach and didn't put on any sunscreen cause he thought he was used to the sun, but he wen-"

Rochelle thankfully butted in, as Nick was ready to punch the man, "Ellis, sweetie can this wait?"

"Okay..."

===========================

The sun was starting to go down as the sky was starting to tint orange. Coach turned around,"Aight people listen, the suns goin down, which means we gotta find shelter, we don't wanna be caught outside in tha dark with those zombies around." Coach said, audibly tired.

Zoey then stood by Coach, "Coach is right, keep your eyes out for secure buildings or houses." The large group then went on, searching for shelter.

"How about that one, over there." Mary pointed towards a small sturdy looking house that had all the windows broken in.

"Naw, with all those windows broken, who knows how long it will be to secure them all." Coach replied.

As the group was walking across an alley way, there came a large screeching sound.

"Aw shiieet," Coach muttered, "everybody, get ready!" The new groupies held up their firearms as Nick's group held up their makeshift weapons. Down the alley way they saw zombies running towards them, some peeking out of the cracks.

"There has to be hundreds of em!" Rochelle screamed.

Coach started shooting down the way and the other survivors took initiative and shot also.

Coach looked at the rest, "Y'all cover behind us," while shooting. Nick didn't want to waste ammo, fortunately, he grabbed a hefty crowbar. Through the shooting, Nick heard a loud coughing sound coming from one of the buildings rooftops. He looked up and met face to face to a horrible creature. It's face was horrid, bubbly like tumors growing out of them. Multiple tongues seeping from multiple holes from the zombie's head. It let out a growl before shooting it's tongue at Nick, who was too petrified to move. Nick screamed in pain as the zombie dragged Nick across the street. Derrick and Emily tried to pull Nick however the saliva coming from the tongue made it slippery. Nick, almost at the other side of the street, started to gasp for air as the tongue started to construct across Nick's ribs and neck. Luckily, Ellis took notice and turned around.

"Smoker," running while shooting at the "smoker," eventually killing it and coming to Nick's aid. "Shit, ok umm..." stammered, Ellis was looking around immediately found that he was surrounded by zombies that heard the commotion. He quickly pulled out his gun while Emily, Derrick, and Mary whacking the rest. In a flash, guns stopped shooting while Ellis carrying Nick army style across the street.

"We need to find som shelter now!" Ellis looked around and pointed at a two story house that looked very old. Everybody agreed for the time being and quickly sprinted towards the house. Derrick came to other side of Nick helping Ellis as they ran to the house.

===========================


Rochelle made a groan, worryingly, "He still hasn't woken up yet!"

"He did take a beating from that smoker." Francis said.

"That was a smoker?" Mary said implying the zombie that pulled Nick.

"Yeah, I'm suprised other crazy infected didn't come." Louis said.

Emily groaned, "ugh, there's more?" Everybody chuckled at that, forgetting that there's a zombie apocalypse. Then it got dark.

Coach stood on a small box, "Okay y'all, this house should hold for about at least a day or 2. After that, we should start heading west." Everybody agreed and went to bed. The 2 story and 2 bedroom house was surprisingly roomy. Mary, Derrick, and Emily took one bedroom and Nick and Ellis took the other bedroom while everybody else slept downstairs keeping watch. Ellis volunteered to watch over Nick, everybody feared what could only happen once the gambler figures out what happened.

Ellis was laying on the floor thinking and Nick on the bed. Ellis was just laying there, thinking what he would exactly to the gambler. There first meet at the fast food restaurant wasn't exactly friendly. Pulled from his thoughts he heard shuffling between the sheets from the bed beside him. Ellis got up ready to talk to Nick however, Nick was just squirming in the bed. Ellis started to realize that Nick was having a nightmare an quickly tried to wake him up.

He pushed Nick and gently slapped his face a few times, "hey...Nick...wake up you're having a bad dream..."

Nick shot up and out of impulse started to point his magnum at Ellis. Ellis put his hands up, and softly, "h-hey! It's ok it was just a bad dream." Nick looked around and finally put his gun down and sighed heavily. He never had nightmares like that.

Obviously shooked, Ellis reassuringly put a hand on Nick's shoulder, "Hey it's ok, you're here, safe a'least."

Nick looked up and met Ellis eyes. All what Ellis saw in them was pain and regret. He sighed and cautiously pulled Nick into a hug. Nick was shocked by the action. He, almost instantly, wrapped his arm around Ellis, choking back tears. Ellis was the first to pull away. Nick just sat there on the bed. He didn't mean to be emotional, it just happened.

Then Ellis spoke, "I won't tell anyone about this, but jus' to letcha know, you could always talk to me," putting emphasis on always. Nick nodded and agreement. Ellis laid down back down on the floor, "let's go to bed."

Nick laid back down on the bad and quietly, "good night." And went to asleep. Ellis was starting to drift off to sleep when a thought came into mind. He never seen this vulnerable side to Nick, even when he'd act so coldly towards him. Now he's left with a choice, would he keep his word by keeping it to himself or would he tell his team for help.

Chapter Text

Nick woke to distant gun shots. He looked at the boarded window in the bedroom and seen no sunlight peeking through. He told himself that it was the early early morning and went back to bed.

A few hours later, Nick awoke again, by the same gunfire only this time it was loud. Then Nick thought, not only is it loud, it's also close. So close that it was right outside. Ellis stirred when the third gunshot went off outside. Nick heard loud conversations downstairs and quickly went down to get to the bottom of it, while walking to the bedroom door, he paid no attention to Ellis or the night before. Ellis knew Nick didn't want anybody to know about his vulnerable side, so he kept it to himself an slowly went down the stairs.

Rochelle was peeking through a small window on the makeshift door they made. "I don't see anyone..."

"Look harder!" Louis said.

Derrick gasped and then pointed to the left of the house from the window he was peeking from, "Look! Over there."

They saw a young boy, probably about 18. He wore a black solid shirt, with a red and black flannel unbottoned shirt over it. With dark navy blue pants and black shoes. He was armed with two knives and 2 pistols. He was attacking a horde, but he did it ever so gracefully. Stabbing a zombie one side then shooting a zombie on the other. Then switched to his other knife an other pistol.

"Wow... that kid is amazing." Ellis said. "It look like he was born for this."

Emily chimed in, "I don't think that's a good thing..."

Nick pushed Ellis over to see. Then the gunfire stopped. The boy was standing there in the middle of the street surrounded by dead zombies on the ground. He huffed out of breath an held his arm like it was injured.

Suddenly Mary blurted out, "He's hurt!" She looked at Coach. "Somebody needs to go out and see if he needs help." Coach nodded and cautiously opened the makeshift door and walked out slowly. The boy took notice and quickly drawed both his pistols out, pointing at Coach's stomach. Injured arm shaking.

The boy asked, "Who are you?"

"It's okay boy, I'm here to help." Coach said with his hands in the air making sure the boy won't shoot at him.

The boy put both his arms down, "I don't need help. I can do things on my own." He said with an attitude.

Coach didn't pay no mind to it and chuckled a little, "Well shit, I saw you take out that horde pretty easy."

The boy smirked, "Whatever." He stood there for a moment staring at Coach and rolled his eyes, "are you gonna help me patch this up or what?" Pointing at his arm.

Coach made a gesture with his hand, inviting the boy into the house.

The boy stopped and stared at the windows, "Ummm, I'm not an idiot, who else is with you?"

Coach smiled, "Just summore folk, who just want to survive."

The boy groaned and walked inside. The other survivors quickly tried to act as if they weren't looking outside as soon as the boy walked in. The boy looked around the room at the other survivors with an annoyed look and scoffed and rolled his eyes.

Francis eyes him giving him a little dirty look, "Well hello to you too."

Zoey and Emily silently laughed, as Coach came back inside an closed the makeshift door.

He looked at the boy who was sitting on a small stool at the corner of the room. "What's your name son?"

"It's Eric."

"Last name?"

Eric scoffed again, "You don't need to know my last name..." Nick actually smirked at that comment. He liked that kids style.

Coach sighed, "Well, Eric, I'll fix your arm right now and I'll let you rest and by tomorrow we'll be on our way." Eric was going to say something hut Coach cut him off, "Before you start sayin some bullshit like 'you're better off by yourself' or some shit, get to know these people." Eric rolled his eyes, he never intended to leave. He's been looking for a group who was actually sane. So he asked around the room who exactly are these people. He found out that Rochelle worked for a news channel that took an interest to the new "disease" spreading around. Francis was actually in a biker gang that went around the world to help elderly people, who knew. Zoey and Emily were both college student with dead end jobs at fast food joints. Derrick was a high school teacher. Mary was a dentist. Louis was an entrepreneur of sorts, not specifying. Ellis was a mechanic. When Nick was asked what did he do for a living he just smirked.

"I don't really have a job, I gamble and live off my winning money. Sometimes steal it too.."

Eric rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, "Oh, am I supposed to find you cool now?" Nick looked at him offensively. "I didn't need to steal to where I was going, I had my future ahead of me." Eric looked down for a while.

Rochelle asked, "What did you do before this?"

Eric looked back up, "I'm a high school student. I got a scholarship from UCLA for mechanical engineering. My family and I came down here to celebrate. I'm from California."

Zoey started to frown, "Where is your family?"

Eric just sat there and sighed, "Alive maybe...I stayed at the hotel we were staying at while the rest of my family want out for drinks. That's the last I saw them."

Ellis took his hat off , "Shit, I'm sorry." He knew what it was like to lose his parents. He never knew his dad and his mom died few years ago. The pain was overwhelming.

Eric replied, "It's ok..."

Nick eyed the mechanic trying to look at his hair. The brown curls that were uncovered by his hat. He couldn't stop staring at his hair. Then he stared at his face, looking at his facial features. The soft plump lips, the beautiful blue eyes. Nick closed his eyes and started to imagine.

"Hey suit!"

Nick shook up and opened his eyes. Trying to hide his embarrassment. Francis pointed at large refrigerator.

"Give me a hand with this, will ya?"

===========================

The day has passed and everybody was getting ready for bed. Eric's arm got patched up and fell alseep on a chair while holding both his guns. Nick and Ellis went up the stairs to the bedroom. Nick went in first and Ellis closed the door behind them.

Nick looked at the bed then at Ellis, "You take the bed tonight, I'll sleep down here."

Ellis shook his head, "Naw, you can take it, you need the better sleep than me."

Nick nodded, smirking a little, "Thanks overalls."

Nick quickly got under the covers. While Ellis got on top of the sleeping bag next to the bed. He stared at the elevated bed for a moment, worrying about Nick and what happened yesterday. Nick made no sign that he wanted to talk about it.

Ellis whispered, "Hey, Nick?"

Nick made a low grunt.

"I was wondering if you wanted to talk about what happened yesterday." Nick didn't want to

Nick started to be irritated and let a sharp, "No" but then eased his voice, "just go to bed." Ellis nodded even though Nick couldn't see it and turned on his side and closed his eyes. Even though Nick said no, he did want to talk about it, he fears the recurring nightmare will happen again and then Ellis will really be on his ass. Nick couldn't do anything but just hope for the best and shit his eyes hoping it wouldn't happen

But it did, even worse from last time.

Nick wasn't ready when it happened. It hit him twice as hard. The screaming and crying and just that nightmare. He woke up with tears in his eyes while looking at the ceiling. He tried to get up but his body couldn't move, paralyzed by the dream. He tried to call for Ellis but his face was paralyzed from shock too. Nick started to panic, he used every muscle to get himself up or even talk but he couldn't. He wanted to scream for help. Luckily, the shuffling of the bed sheets awoke Ellis. He opened his eyes and saw the sheets moving frantically. He sat up then stood up slowly figuring it was the early morning and that they were gonna head out soon. But that's when he saw Nick, wiggling around in the sheets, tears in his eyes. Ellis went to fill panic mode and tried to push Nick out of his paralysis. He pushed until he physically had to carry Nick bridal-style off the bed. He placed him on top of the nightstand. Nick looked at his arms and moved them, trying to shake off what happened. Nick wanted to thank Ellis but was out of breath so he just leaned against him. His forehead on Ellis' chest. Ellis put his hand on Nick's back as a sign of comfort.

Then Ellis spoke, "Y'know, I was gonna wait for you to talk about yesterday night, but now... We are gonna talk about it."

Nick still out of breath, "Fine, but let's do it when we don't have to share a house with 7 other people."

Ellis smiled, "Okay.." He pulled away and started to get back on the sleeping bag, "We should get back to bed, we move out in the morning." Nick nodded and went back on the bed. He was still shaken up but felt safe when he knew Ellis was there. He appreciated Ellis when he doesn't push about Nick's problems. He liked that.

Chapter Text

6:46 AM

Everybody is getting up and getting Ready to go. The sky was a dark blue and Nick and Ellis are putting on their shoes.

Ellis sighed, "Next location, we'll talk, right?"

Nick nodded, "Yeah."

Just then Rochelle put her head in the room, "Hey, we're getting ready to leave in 10 minutes, come down when you're ready." Ellis nodded while Nick payed no attention. Ellis finished tying up his shoes and got up and waited by the doorway for Nick, leaning against it. Nick just got up and went out the doorway and down the stairs and into the main room. He looked around the room and saw everybody hefting weapons and stretching, pulling out and aiming guns at nothing. Ellis came out behind him and nudged Nick a little to get through. Eric was practice fighting, stopping when he pulled out his knives.

Coach took note and asked, "Where'd you learn to fight like that?"

Eric smirked and chuckled a little, "I kinda always knew how to fight, finally I can put it into good use." Coach nodded in agreement and faced toward everybody else.

"Aight listen people, it's time to head out, bring anything you want with you, and try to be careful out there..." Coach then walked towards the makeshift door and opened it, "Everybody with a gun stays up front while people with melee weapons stay in the back, cover our end." Everybody nodded and headed out.

===========================


The group was walking along the highway walking who knows where. All they knew was that they had to go West. Coach, Francis, and Louis were in the front, while everybody else was in the back. Except Eric, who would stray from the pack from time to time.

Emily asked, "So, what happens after we get to West?"

Coach didn't answer, just shrugged and said, "Who knows?" A few zombies came out of cars and the side of the highway from Coach's booming voice. They ran at the survivors but got shot down quick, Eric then jumped in front and started to pick pocket the dead bodies.

Rochelle groaned, "Is that really necessary?"

Eric scoffed and raised his eyebrows, "What? They sometimes have useful stuff on them."

Ellis shook his head, "I don't know man... they were once people..." Eric rolled his eyes and continued to search the bodies and pulled out a small ammo box and held it up

"Look, I told ya." He tossed it to Coach. Coach examined the box and felt that there were still bullets in there.

Coach turned his head to Eric, "Good find boy." Coach tossed the box to Louis figuring the ammo was for his gun.

Louis smiled, "Thanks Coach." Coach simply nodded. Eric searched more bodies and found nothing else. Nick was straggling behind the group and Ellis took note and slowed down his pace. They walked side by side for about 10 minutes, stopping whenever infected came by.

Nick finally broke the ice and whispered for only Ellis to hear, "I appreciate you, not on my ass about the nightmares I've been having."

Ellis nodded, "Y'know, my Ma had that same problem, I know that it's tough to share about those dreams, but I know you'll talk to me when you're ready."

Nick looked at Ellis, "Where is your Mom? Is she?.."

Ellis shook his head, "Oh.. no, she uhh died of uh a heart attack. Doctor said somethin about old age but I didn't believe him." Ellis then looked down not wanting to make eye contact figuring he might cry.

Nick frowned, "Sorry to hear that sport."

Ellis smiled a little, "It's alright, I'm just glad she didn't have to stick around to see this." He put his arms out referencing the zombie apocalypse. Nick made a small laugh and continued down the long stretch of highway, with Ellis by his side.

===========================

The group had even walking for at least 6 hours and found a sign that read, "MONTGOMERY NEXT EXIT."
Derrick smiled and said slightly out of breath, "Welcome to Alabama."

Zoey went wide eyed, "Whoa, we went from Atlanta to Montgomery in less than a day. That's a lot of walking. No wonder I'm sweating."

Eric snorted, "Please, it took us like 4 days to get here, while it takes like 2 days to walk."

Francis chimed in, "You weren't even with us for 4 days, you've only been here for a day."

Eric replied, "Well yeah but, I'm going off when the world went to shit, which is about 4 days ag-"

Nick interrupted Eric, "Actually it's been 3 days."

Eric just groaned, not wanting to start an argument and conceded, putting his hands out in defeat.

Coach then announced, steering the conversation back on to their journey, "Montgomery is a very residential city, I'm sure that we can find a better house to hold up for the night." Everyone nodded in agreement and quickly walked to the nearest neighborhood and scouted for a house to stay in for the evening, even though it was only 3:00 PM. They must have stumbled on the nicer part of town because the whole block was filled with enormous 2 story houses with almost a freshly cut lawn. They were walking down the street eyeing for the right house. Nick looked down the street for any infected that could be lurking nearby while looking for a house. Then he saw it, the perfect house. He knew it as soon as he laid his eyes on it. He nudged Coach to get his attention and pointed to a very big almost mansion-like house. It had a very big fence and big metal doors.

Coach smiled and yelled, "Aw shit. That's the one, c'mon folks!" And pointed directly to the house. Everybody started to walk but Nick stood there waiting for everybody to pass him so he could be in the back. Just then he felt a hand clamp on his shoulder and heard a whisper, "Good find." He knew exactly who it was just by the tone of his voice. Ellis. Ellis started to walk forward but Nick caught his forearm and forced him to stop.

Nick looked into Ellis' eyes, "Ey, Ellis... I think I'm ready." Ellis smiled knowing exactly what he meant and pulled him into a quick hug before anybody could see and then continued down the road towards the house. Nick just smiled looking at Ellis walking. He was getting ready to start walking until he heard a small 'hmm' that sounded a little intrigued. He turned around quickly to find Eric with a raised eyebrow and crossed arms looking at Nick. Nick just groaned loudly, knowing exactly where this conversation is gonna go.

Eric just simply asked, "Are you two a thing?"

Nick, audibly irritated, let out a straight forward "No." Not making eye contact certain that he was blushing a little.

Eric rolled his eyes, "Well, you should be." Smirking a little then laughing while walking towards the house nudging Nick playfully in the process. Nick rolled his eyes and then sighed, looking down. Then he slowly started to walk towards the house. In his mind he kept asking himself, "Am I ready?"

Chapter Text


Nick was the last one to enter the house. He eyed everybody running around the house screaming in star struck.

Emily gasped, "This house is amazing!" As she ran across the oddly clean living room floor. The house was nice on the outside and on the inside. It was like there wasn't even a zombie apocalypse.

Nick eyed the couch in the living room and sat on it stretching out while the rest of his group is freaking out about the big, nice house.

Then suddenly, Francis shouted, "I got this room!" Silence for only a moment until everybody scrambled to get first picks of the rooms. Nick was thinking about getting up but figured Ellis would get him a room where they both would bunk for the night talking about Nick's problem. What he didn't know was that Ellis wasn't even looking for rooms, he was in the kitchen eating canned peaches.

Nick took note then realized what happened, "Why aren't you getting is a room?" A little agitated that Ellis was eating.

Ellis shrugged, spoonful of peaches in his mouth, he chewed then swallowed than said, "M'sorry Nick, I was just so hungry and this place has tons of food. Nick didn't believe him for a second until he looked in the pantry and found loads of canned beans, peaches, pretty much anything that could be canned.

Nick smirked a little underestimating the mechanic, "Nice find, overalls."
Ellis nodded and let out a small 'mmhm' and smiled. Nick turned around and starting going up the stairs and looked back at Ellis and made a short head movement to make sure he was following. When Nick went up the stairs to the bedrooms, the house was a very large mansion you could say, there were at least 9 bedrooms so almost everybody would get a room if somebody had to share. Fortunately, it was Ellis and Nick that had to share a room. Nick and Ellis walked down the hall at the open door to their room. They looked in and found a king size bed and pillows and a room on the side that was a bathroom. The room was easily a guest bedroom, but, could've easily been middle-class master bedroom also. Nick sighed in relief and fell on the big bed. He knew that both him and Ellis could sleep on a bed big enough for the both of them, there was no way Nick was letting Ellis on the floor, neither himself. Ellis just laughed eyeing the gambler all while closing the door. He took of his hat and put on the nightstand and laid on the bed. The two men turned their heads and faced each other, looking into each other's eyes.

Ellis broke the ice, with out breaking eye contact, "Remember what we agreed on?"

Nick rolled his eyes playfully, "Yes... But after dinner though, we don't have a lot of time right now." Ellis nodded in agreement and they both stayed in the room til dinner time.

=========================

"DINNER TIME!" Derrick shouted. It was his and Mary's turn to make the group dinner. From Nick's and Ellis' room they could hear a few doors open and close. Nick finally got up and opened the door and looked back at Ellis and did a jerk with his head for Ellis to follow him to the kitchen. Ellis obediently followed. Nick went into the kitchen to find Derrick, Emily, Eric, Francis, and Mary eating at the table. Mary noticed Nick and Ellis and gave them two bowls and pointed to the giant steaming pot on top of the stove, the power was still on luckily.

Nick looked at the pot with a weird look, "What is it?"

"It's just soup, it has chicken, noodles, kale, and potatoes." Mary replied. Nick shrugged and took a scope putting it in his bowl and went to the table. Ellis copying. Nick took a seat next to Emily, and Ellis took a seat next to Nick. The table was fairly big, and it has just enough seats to sit everybody. Everybody silently ate. Only looking up from their bowls to see the next person to get a bowl and serve themselves some soup.

Suddenly Eric stood up and put his bowl in the sink and sighed, "Thanks for the meal I gotta call it a night."

Ellis looks confused, "It's barely 7."

Eric nodded, "I know but I'm gonna brush up on my studies, Rochelle found some high school textbooks in her room and gave them to me. She figures I could use this time to get smarter since there's no school."

Derrick smiled, "Nice plan."

Eric smiled, a little tired, "Thank you." And silently went out of the kitchen and slowly went into his room and locked the door.

Mary sighed out of delight, "He's a great kid.. I bet his parents were proud."

Emily snorted quietly, "I don't know, what if he just says that just to get us off of his ass? Who knows if he'll turn on us." Emily then leaned over the table to dramatize her effect, "I bet Rochelle didn't even have textbooks in her room." Right on time Rochelle walks in and silently grabs a bow and serves herself some soup and sat on the edge of the table closer to Francis. Emily looked at her suspiciously.

Rochelle looks back at her, "What? Do I got something on my face?" She wipes her face with her hand.

Emily asks, "Did you find textbooks in your room?"

Rochelle replied with weirded out face, "Yeah... I gave them too Eric so he could still learn something though this."

Emily squinted her eyes and let out a small 'hmm' and continued eating her soup. Rochelle raised her eyebrow not knowing what just happened. She didn't think much of it and started to eat her soup. Ellis was pretty much done with his soup at the time, practically slurping all the juice leaving the bowl empty.

Nick smirked, "Whoa, slow down there... It's not going anywhere." And let a small huff of breath in humor. Everybody around table smiled.

Francis let out a small growl, "Man, I don't how you can eat this. This sucks!"

Mary looked at Francis with anger the softened her face and happily replied, "Welp, it's what we got. Get over it." Smiling after.

Francis laughed at that comment, and put his hands up signaling he lost the argument. Ellis got up and put his bowl in the sink and so did Nick, soon after. Ellis went back to the table and Nick went to the living room just across the kitchen, still in sight by everybody.

Everybody was still talking at the table, and went louder for a while when Zoey, Louis, and Coach eventually, went in the kitchen. Nick looked around the room at the paintings and TV. He looked under the TV and found an old DVD player and small pile of movies next to it.

He called everybody from the table, "Hey guys! You think this still works?" He pointed at the player and everybody looked to see a DVD player and almost jumped in glee.

Louis smiled, "Dinner and a show." Everybody laughed at that.

Coach winded up his shoulder, "We can try, if it does I say we all relax and watch a god damn movie!" Putting his fist up. Everybody let out little cheers of joy.

=========================

The DVD played did in fact work. And everybody was sitting on the couch watching The Lion King. The only movie the group could tolerate. Nick had his arms stretched along the back of the couch, Ellis on his right and Mary on his left. Mary leaning on Derrick, sitting next her.
Throughout the movie somewhere, Ellis drifted to sleep and eventually started to lean on Nick. Rochelle snorted, eyeing the mechanic sleepily cuddling against the gambler. Nick just sighed and rolled his eyes and patted Ellis' shoulder. Did Nick want to move? Yes, but Nick really liked how Ellis' warm body was up against his, even warming Nick's body during the process. Warming his body so much he actually drifted to sleep.

===========================

Nick woke up to something lightly pushing on his left shoulder. He woke up, groggy, seeing Emily gently nudging him. Nick lifted his head from where it was resting at, turns out it was Ellis' head. And shifted back a little not realizing he was sleeping on him.

Emily giggled, and jokingly said "You two are adorable together." Nick rolled his eyes, he didn't even fight it. They were going to find out eventually he liked guys. Emily stretched as she was walking up the steps and turned back to Nick, "You guys should get to bed." She walked up the steps and opened her door slowly and closed it lightly. Nick sighed as he looked around the living room. Everybody gone up to bed and it was only him and Ellis on the couch. Nick became irritated, knowing he has to wake Ellis up to get him to go up to the room, but didn't want to end the warmness being produced by his body on his. Fortunately, Ellis shifted up and looked up at Nick, eyes squinting.

Nick smirked, "Get up, we have to go to the room." Ellis groaned and slowly started to get up. And slowly started to walk up the stairs, Nick trailing behind him just in case he fell backwards. The walked into the bedroom, Nick locking the door behind them. Ellis immediately plopped down onto the mattress knocking out. Nick rolled his eyes, smiling and pushed Ellis over to let himself have room on the bed. Then Nick plopped onto the bed and quickly fell to sleep.

Chapter Text

Nick woke up and found he was snuggling with Ellis. Again. This time he didn't stop it. He loved the feeling of warmth cuddling, he lived for it. He remembered he locked the door before falling alseep so he knew they wouldn't be disturbed. Ellis shifted in his sleep, face snuggling deeply into Nick's chest. And Nick clung onto him more. Drunk with the warmth of Ellis' body, Nick dozed off.

==========================

Nick slowly opened his eyes. Blinded by the sunlight being shined through the window, he looked down finding Ellis still in his chest, only this time, he was awake. He seen his eyes open and slowly being closed. Nick laughed, the movement startling Ellis to sit up, blushing a pinkish red. Putting his head down so his hat could let him avoid eye contact.

"I didn't know you were awake..." Ellis finally said.

Nick was still laughing a little, "Well, I was..." Ellis sill had his head down, his face barely reverting back to its normal color.

Ellis still embarrassed, "Please, don't tell anyone."

Nick started to laugh again, "Don't worry Overalls, I won't." He got up and went to unlock the door and looked back at Ellis before opening it, "C'mon I think Zoey and Louis are making breakfast already."

Ellis snorted and got up, "Uh, did you forget?" Ellis locked the door and pushed Nick back playfully.

"Forget what?"

Ellis shook his head, "We were gonna talk about those dreams you've been havin."

Shit

It totally slipped through Nick's mind. He tried to not look really jumpy about his problems. He casually stepped away from Ellis and sat on the edge of the bed. He patted an open space next to him with his hand and Ellis sat down.

"You really wanna know what I've been dreaming about?"

Ellis nodded.

"Okay, but first we gotta go back to where it started. It was 10 years ago, I was at a casino, can't remember the name, playing blackjack. I just won at least a bag full of money and was ready to cash in. And then I saw her, at the bar. She was sitting there alone and I felt drawn towards her. Soon as I knew it, I was talking to her, turns out her name is Lisa. We talked some more and then we went back to my hotel room. We had sex..." Ellis kept nodding letting Nick know he was still listening.

Nick sighed before starting again, "The next day, I felt different. I remember I woke up next to her, I wanted to kick her out but, I couldn't. It was supposed to be one stupid night stand. I got attached, so did she. We kept talking after that night, we actually started dating. Fast forward a few years, I proposed to her, she said yes. At that moment, I felt something, I felt like I was gonna ruin my life if I married her. But I pushed that feeling aside and we got married. That's when it started going downhill. She wanted me to stop gambling, I didn't, she wasn't the boss of me. She also wanted kids, which is something I don't want..." Ellis giggled quietly.

Nick continued, "We started getting into arguments about...everything. When we fought, I was the one to leave. I went off and gambled some more, not thinking. Then one day I cheated at a casino. I got caught. Turns out the people who owned the casino were big time mafia people. They beat the shit outta me..." Nick started to tear up a bit, Ellis put his hand on Nick's shoulder.

Nick sniffed then spoke, "I thought that was it. I thought that was the end, but I was wrong. They came after Lisa. They took her, and they brought her. They beat her, they made me watch..." Nick rubbed his eyes, shuddering a bit. "I begged them to stop, but I just got a another punch to the face, I just kept hearing her, begging for them to stop. Then they stopped hitting her. I thought it was over, then they punched me. Left me for dead and took Lisa as a trophy. They pulled her by the hair and dragged her to the car. And sped off." Nick paused.

Ellis let out a small, "It's ok."

Nick spoke again, audibly trying to hold in his emotions, "I never saw her again after that." Nick put his head in his hands. Ellis pulled him in a sideways hug. "I always looked back at that day, always wondered if Lisa is still alive." Nick sighed, "So there kid, that's what I've been dreaming about. My actions on why Lisa was kidnapped and most likely dead, fuck it's all my fault." Nick started to quietly sob. Ellis embraced him harder in the sideways hug. Ellis let Nick's head lay on his lap and Nick kicked up his feet, putting them on his pillow. They sat there for the next 10 minutes. Quietly.

Ellis broke the ice, "I'm glad you told me, I understand. Don't beat yourself over it. That's in the past."

Nick smirked a little still having small tears streaming down. "Thanks." Nick looked up and met Ellis eyes. Green with blue. Ellis gave Nick a half smile and brought both of their heads together, and say there. Both foreheads grazing against each other.

Ellis broke the ice and let out a soft whisper, "I'm here for you." He pulled his head away and looked at Nick looking unsure what he was gonna do next.

Nick started to look confused, and that's when Ellis quickly gave Nick a peck on his forehead. Ellis quickly hugged Nick again to hide his blush from him. Nick rolled his eyes and returned his hug. They sat hugging each other for a few more minutes.

Nick unfortunately, broke the hug and got up, unlocking the door smiling, "C'mon, I think breakfast is ready." Ellis nodded and followed Nick out the door. Keeping whatever happened in the room, to stay in the room.

Chapter Text

Nick and Ellis went downstairs and into the kitchen, the smell of yesterday's soup in the air. They were met with Coach, Rochelle, Zoey, Louis, and Emily, silently chatting away, eating yesterday's soup.

Nick grumbled, "Why are we eating this shit again?" Pointing at the giant pot above the stove.

Coach smirked almost devilishly, "Cause we ain't gonna waste food, if we have enough to feed the whole group again, we're gonna eat it again."

Nick sighed and poured himself a bowl. He passed the spoon to Ellis and went to go sit on the living room couch, away from everybody. Nick wasn't a morning person. Ellis casually poured himself a bowl and sat down between Coach and Louis.

Rochelle looked at Ellis, "So, how did you sleep? I had the best sleep I ever had in my life."

Ellis smiled, "It was good, besides Nick being a grump and all, I say it was ok." Rochelle nodded and continued to eat her soup. A few moments later, Francis walks down the steps and into the kitchen and drowsily pours himself some soup. He then walks over to the table and mumbles a quiet 'good morning' and starts to eat his soup. Emily eyed him, confused.

Louis let out a small chuckle and said to Emily, "Sorry, he's not a morning person."

Emily smiled and replied back, "Ha, neither is he." She points to Nick across the room. Nick overheard and quickly glared at Emily. Emily quickly put her hand down and silently continued to eating her soup. Just then everybody could hear to be what seems to be Eric screaming from his room, he didn't sound terrified, it sounded more monotone. Everybody was silent until they heard a door open and close and fast footsteps being produced.

Eric walks into the kitchen with a huge grin on his face, "Guys! I think I have some great news!"

Nick smirked, and said sarcastically, "Oh, you're leaving?"

Eric rolled his eyes in response all while keeping his grin, "No, but I think we aren't the last people on Earth."

Everybody around the table looked baffled. Rochelle finally spoke, "What do you mean?"

"Well, in my room, I was lucky enough to find a working phone, which thank god that it was unlocked. Anyways, I checked on social media and other news websites and it seems that the West coast is still standing!" Eric replied. Everybody at the table looked visibly relieved at that. Eric spoke again, "How would guys like to live in California? Also, is it okay if I can keep the phone?"

Coach gave Eric a little chuckle, and clapped him on the shoulder, "That sounds nice boy, at least we know where we're headed, and yes."

Eric served himself a small bowl of soup and started to walk up the stairs, "Well, ima be studying in my room if ya need me." And with that Eric went back into his room.

The attention reverted back to Francis who occasionally missed his mouth with the spoon and leaving big spots of soup juice on the table. Rochelle laughed at the sight. Francis' eyes shifted towards to Rochelle in a sleepy motion and smiled, charmed.

Louis cleared his throat, "So Coach, how long do you think we'll stay here?"

Coach simply shrugged, "Figured we'd stay put til we start to run out of supplies."

Zoey then stated, "Wouldn't it be better if we used this house's supplies instead of ours. Then when we run out, we could leave and still have our supplies that we didn't use."

Coach raised his eyebrows an pointed at Zoey, while looking around the table, "That could work too, what do y'all say."

Ellis wiped his face with his hand and muffled, "I go with Zoey's plan." He looked back at Zoey and both made eye contact. Zoey returned the smile back to Ellis.

Rochelle added, "I second that."

Louis mumbled a quiet, "Me too."

Coach, looked at Emily then to Francis, "What about you guys?"

Emily stopped slurping her soup and cleared her throat, "I'm with you." Francis groggily put one of his fingers up signaling he was with Coach.

Coach nodded his head a little, "Well that's 3 for 3, we need a tiebreaker." Coach looked at the table thinking then turned his head to the living room, "Ay Nick! Who you with me or Zoey?"

Nick didn't much move a muscle nor did he even acknowledged Coach, he simply said, "Zoey."

Coach turned his head back to his team around the table, "That's settled. I have looked around the house and I we have have enough for at least two days." Coach was interrupted by a few zombies growling almost too loudly to be outside of the fence. Everybody exchanged looks before Coach, Rochelle, and Louis grabbed their guns they left on a table close to the front door. Ellis, Emily, and Zoey grabbed some crowbars that were hidden behind one of the closet doors that were in one of the rooms.

Coach peeked between the curtains, as all he saw were zombies that were partially impaled by the large sharp-tipped fence. Bending the fence while it looked like it would give out with a few more pushes. Coach sighed and cautiously opened the front door looking around for any special infected. Everybody followed suit, Ellis stopped between the threshold and looked back at Nick.

He walked to Nick, while asking, "You comin'?"

Nick was slouched on the couch with his eyes closed. He opened one of his eye and stared at Nick and shrugged, "Nah." He then looked over to Francis who pretty much passed out on the table. He produced a small laugh and turned back to Nick.

He let out a small, "Aight." And went outside with the rest of his team.

Ellis walked outside to the front of the house and looked around, he saw all his group gathered around the front gate that's connected with the fence. He looked over a Rochelle's head and seen a zombie's head severely impaled in the fence gate, it was very lodged in it as the went down to almost Coach's waist.

Before Ellis could react Louis spoke, "That wasn't there when we got here.."

Emily looked at Coach, "Who do you think did this?"

Coach kept his gaze locked on the zombie, "Or what?" He didn't really have an answer. He then opened the gate door carefully trying not to touch the body in the process. He went out in the middle of the street and peeked his head right and left. His team joined in and instinctively made a small circle almost back to back. Their shuffling caused a disturbance, which made a few zombies hidden between the cracks of the broken city to peek and attack. They quickly shot them down.

Meanwhile, at the house.

Nick heard the gunshots being produced outside, he lifted his head a little and looked around. The shots must have awoken Francis as he quickly went up, grabbed a weapon, and sprinted out the door, leaving his soup bowl on the table. Nick shrugged it off and continued to veg out on the couch.

A few moments later, two doors opened and closed. A cluster of footsteps came down the steps. Derrick, Eric, and Mary entered the living room.

Mary turned to Nick, "Is everything okay?"

Nick looked back at her, nodding while saying, "Yeah, they're just checking the perimeter."

Mary sighed in relief. Eric stretched and pulled out his two knives and pulled out his two guns from the small pile of weaponry on the small table. He stopped and turned at the small group, "Ima head out and catch up with them, I'm getting tired of reading boring textbooks."

Derrick and Mary nodded to give Eric assurance, as if Eric was their child. Derrick's stomach growled loudly, he sighed, "What's for breakfast?"

Before opening the door, Eric pointed to the kitchen, "Yesterday's soup is still on the stove."

Derrick nodded, "Okay, be careful." Eric let out a small, "Hmph." Before opening the door slowly and closing it quietly.

The group outside were just a few houses down the street, Eric caught up to them quickly. They stopped a minute so he could catch up.

"Thanks."

They then, continued on. Looking down the street eyeing the big houses on both sides. Eric spoke again, "So what are we doing, searching houses?" Coach let out a low grunt and Eric nodded understandingly. Coached stopped the group a handful of times and searched some houses for most of the day. They found very little stuff that could be useful and it was starting to get dark, so they called it a day and started walking back. That is, until they heard soft sobbing coming from the direction they were walking.

Almost everybody looked more confused than terrified.

"Is that crying? Did we miss someone hidden in one of the houses? There's no way." Zoey muttered. Ellis looked at his groups faces and all they had was confusion, except Eric who had a very traumatic face.

Ellis glued his gaze to him, he put his hand on Eric's shoulder, "What's wrong?"

Eric gulped, "We have to find what's crying, like Now." His face was serious, stonelike.

Coach clocked his pistol. "What's wrong with you boy? It's just a zombie that cries."

Eric glared at him and scoffed, "No, you don't get it, it's not just any zombie. Their witches." Emily was gonna say something but Eric cut her off almost immediately. "When I was running away from the hotel when it all went to hell, I saw one of them. Crying right in the middle of the lobby, a man and his wife stopped and as soon as the guy put his hand on her shoulder, she lunged at him with her big razor sharp claws. Killed him almost instantly, those things are strong too, the wife tried to pull the thing off but couldn't. She died to it too, ugly sight to see. Those witches are a force to be reckon with."

Rochelle looked down the street to see if she could find the source of the crying, she spoke warily, "I don't know, it sounds almost Too real."

Eric quickly put his gaze to Rochelle, "That's how they get you! They're crying is so human like that any normal person would stop and help. That's how they feed. It's a setup. Can we please just ignore it, please? I'm pretty sure we won't hear it by the house."

Everybody reluctantly nodded and slowly walked down the street, weapons at the ready just in case.

=======================

Luckily, the group had no problems coming back to the house. As soon as Eric stepped in, he announced that he was going to be in his room to take a nap and to call him for dinner.

Francis eyes Eric's slumped figure as he walked up towards his room. Eric's door closed slowly and Francis turned to his group, "He looks off."

Emily nodded, "Yeah, did you guys seen the way he talked about that witch? It sounded like it he was very personal about it."

Derrick asked, with his eyebrows bunched, "What's a witch?"

Emily flatly said, "Tell you later." She didn't have the energy to tell them.

Coach looked in the kitchen to see Nick and Mary cooking a hefty amount of ground beef, which didn't go bad yet surprisingly, on two wide pans. On the other two were hamburger buns being toasted. Coach looked at Nick, raising an eyebrow, "You're making dinner?"

Nick rolled his eyes, while smirking "Sure am, grandpa. I'll make sure you'll get a double stack."

Coach let out a loud "Ha." And left the kitchen towards the living room. Nick and Mary managed to cook food for the whole group and even had some left over. And for the first time, everybody sat at the kitchen table, even though it only had 8 chairs. 3 people got extras and it was ok. Shortly after dinner, everybody moved to the living room and just talked. Almost pretending like nothing ever happened outside.

A few hours later, everybody was slowly going to their rooms for the night. Everybody said goodnight and Ellis and Nick went into their room. Nick locked the door behind them. Ellis plopped onto the bed. Nick huffed at the sight and lazily took Ellis' boots off.

"Were you raised in a barnyard? How dare you try to get your dirty boots on the bed."

"Awh Nick, quit being a grump."

"Sorry Overalls, it's part of being an asshole."

Ellis rolled his eyes, "Man, I know you're a big softy, you ain't gotta hide it."

Nick then rolled his eyes, "Whatever." And with that, Nick took off his suit jacket and laid down and quickly fell to sleep.

Chapter Text

Nick awoke, sadly not to cuddling with Ellis on "accident." In fact, Ellis wasn't even in the bed, it was empty. Nick sat up and saw no sign of Ellis and figured he just woke up earlier than him.

But that's when he heard it, a scream. Which sounded similarly to Ellis but also sounded different.

Nick quickly bursted through the door and was soon to be walking down the stairs however, where the stairs would be, sat a door. Nick reluctantly opened it and walked in.

It was pitch black and Nick was walking aimlessly in the dark. Then a light sparked on. Revealing Nick's worst nightmare. He saw the mafia, the same mafia that took Lisa, he knew where this was going. However he never prepared himself to see that they had Ellis. Not only that, they had Ellis AND Lisa, guns pointed directly at their heads.

Then one of the mobsters flatly said, "Choose."

Nick simply stared at him in disbelief, "I can't..."

"You have too."

Nick could feel the tears threatening to stream down his face, "No, I ca-"

The mobster had enough, he shot the gun upwards as a warning while screaming, "CHOOSE NOW! OR THEYLL BOTH DIE." And with that sentence, dream Ellis and Lisa started to panic, flailing and screaming at Nick to pick them over the other. Nick, just trading glances at them fat tears streaming down his face, "I can't.."

The mobster didn't let Nick have enough time to react before he gave the signal to his goons to shoot both Ellis and Lisa. Kicking their dead bodies to the ground.

All Nick could do was scream, "NO!" Before he was pulled out of his nightmare.

He shot up and quickly looked to his left and saw Ellis still sleeping soundly, chest going up and down with a low breath. He sighed in relief, and thought to himself, 'he never had dream like that before.' Ellis never been in his nightmares, and the mobster never let him choose also. Lisa would always either die or kidnapped. He quickly shrugged it off for now and tried to get sleep. As best as he can...

=========================

Nick awoke again and was confused whether if this was also a dream or not. He instinctively looked to his left and seen Ellis still asleep, but this time he had one of his arms draped over Nick's stomach, desperate to stretch. Nick rolled his eyes at the sight, and grabbed Ellis' wrist and put it beside him. Nick rubbed his eyes and uncovered the thin sheets as blankets. He shifted his legs so he could sit at the edge of the bed. He sat there for a moment and eventually walked out of the room softly and walked down the hall and stairs. He looked around the vacant living room and then the kitchen. He didn't know what time it was but knew it had to be the early morning as the sky was colored a dark sky blue. He grabbed one of the extra hamburgers that were left on the table and sat in the living room eating.

Nick must've dozed off because as soon as he knew it, the living room was brighter and the sun was shining through the windows. He heard something cooking in the kitchen and got up to see. He walked in only to see Eric cooking oddly shaped pancakes.

Eric turned away from the stove to look at Nick, smiling, "Oh great, you're awake." He pointed to a big mixing bowl with some cheap knockoff brand pancake mix and water. "Help me make more mix."

Nick growled lowly but did mixed everything in the mixing bowl. He silently worked before Eric broke the ice, "So what were you doing on the couch? Did Ellis kick you out of the room?" He let out a small chuckle at that before looking at Nick.

Nick set down the bowl, sighing and rolling his eyes, "No." He said it flatly and then moved to sit down on the kitchen table with the mixing bowl.

Eric huffed, "What, did you guys argue?" He said it sarcastically.

"Shut up."

Eric laughed, then conceded, "Okay I'll stop. When I came down an hour go to start mixing, you scared the shit out of me, thought you were a zombie." And continued to flip some pancakes. He then turned to Nick again, "You want first picks?"

Nick looked over to the golden brown pancakes that were cooling off on a paper plate next to the stove. He shook his head and continued to mix the blend. Eric shrugged and continued to take off finished pancakes and then waited for Nick to be done.

When Nick was finished he gave the bowl to Eric and asked, "Do you want me to wake everyone up?"

Eric poured some mix on the pan and nodded, "Yeah."

Nick was ready to go up the stairs, but thought of a better idea an went back to the kitchen. He have Eric a smug face, "Where's your guns at?"

Eric looked startled at the question but answered sternly, "On the table over there. "He pointed towards the front door. And Nick left the room. "What do you need them for?"

Nick peeked his head back in, smirking, "You'll see." He motioned Eric to follow him and Eric quickly flipped some pancakes and reluctantly followed.

Knowing he has a short window of time before heading back to the kitchen Eric asked, "Could you speed this up, whatever your doing. I can't leave kitchen with a bunch I pancakes cooking.

Nick took one of Eric's guns off the table and walked up the stairs. He stopped at the front of the hall and turned around, "Watch this."

Eric groaned, "Ugh I immediately regret giving you my gun."

Nick then started running up and down the hall shooting the gun up 3 to 4 time while screaming, "GET UP MOTHER FUCKERS!" Eric just watched in awe and shock before snatching the gun from Nick and doing the same thing.

"RISE AND SHINE SLEEPING BEAUTIES, I MADE BREAKFAST, GET THE FUCK UP!" Nick laughed audibly over the gun shots.

Almost in sync, everybody quickly rushed out of their rooms very groggy and scared. They all look at Nick and Eric who were both on the ground wheezing of laughter. They gave them hard glares before Emily muttered, "Dicks." Before walking down to the kitchen. Everybody followed suit except Ellis who looked at both of them.

Nick and Eric finally stopped laughing. Ellis finally spoke, "I hope both of y'all know that everybody hates you guys now."

Eric got up, "Whatever, I thought it was funny." He said while lending a had to Nick. "We'll make it up to them." Nick nodded in agreement and all 3 walked down the stairs where everybody was already up and about, talking.

During breakfast, everybody seemed to give Eric and Nick the cold shoulder all except Ellis who would casually make conversations with them.

Zoey called Ellis to the living room, "Hey Ellis, could you give me a hand?" Ellis obediently got upend walked to Zoey.

"What do you need help with?"

Zoey sighed, "Why do you put up with them?"

Ellis groaned internally, knowing who she was referring to. "Cause they're my friends, and in our group. We can't get rid if them, I just let em slide."

Zoey nodded, "I understand I just wish they took this zombie apocalypse thing more serious."

Ellis crackled his knuckles as a distraction, "Me too." Ellis walked back to the kitchen table, in front of everybody. He cleared his throat and all the talking stopped. "Y'all I have something to say." He stepped towards where Eric and Nick are sitting. "I know you guys are mad at these two for what happened 20 minutes ago, I understand but guys, we're a family, and with being in a family, comes fights and arguments. But that makes us stronger and better. We become stronger wen we learn from our mistakes and our flaws. What do y'all say?"

Silence. Everybody exchanged glances at each other and waited for somebody to say something.

Eventually Coach cleared his throat. "We expect an apology." Eric and Nick nodded.

Eric spoke first. "I understand that you guys are mad. And from the bottom of my heart. I'm sorry."

Nick nodded and pointed at Eric, "Ditto." Nick could feel everybody roll his eyes at him but accepted the apology none the less.

A few 10 minutes passed by and everything was back to normal.

That is until everybody heard a loud thud coming from the back of the house and a knock at the front door.

Chapter Text

Everybody froze in place. Exchanging looks at each other, in confusion. Coach eventually grabbed the guns on the table and passed them to their rightful owners. Out of instinct, half of the group went to the back. While the rest stayed at the front door. The group investigating the back consisted of: Ellis, Emily, Eric, Francis, Nick, and Rochelle. Francis opened the back door cautiously, pointing his gun ready to shoot, for safety. Everyone else then poured outside, the back yard had an oddly clean pool, and an old rusted gazebo next to it with a built in grill. They walked towards where the sound came from, but they found nothing. That is, when they walked back they heard a familiar growl coming from the roof of the house. Everybody stopped and aimed up.

Nick was chilled at the growl, "What the hell..."

Francis flatly said, "Hunter."

Ellis groaned, "Man, I hate those things."

Eric stopped aiming upwards and looked to Francis, "What is it?"

Rochelle answered, "It's a hooded zombie that pounces on people, clawing them to death. They're usually easy to kill on the ground but on the roof? That's a whole different story."

The growls continued. The group was growing antic, waiting for the hunter to just pounce already.

Eric aimed upwards, with his sight upwards as well, without making eye contact he asked, "When is it gon-" And with that the hunter shrieked loudly as it began to jump off the roof aiming directly at Eric. Eric looked at the zombie with terror and astonishment. He jumped out of the way before it did any damage to him. As it landed they group immediately opened fire, killing the hunter instantly. They also heard distant gunshots from the front of the house. After making sure there was no more zombies they quickly ran in the house and outside to the front.

==========================

Coach turned away from the back door as soon as the group shuffled outside. He silently ordered Derrick to peek through a window to see what was on the other side of the metal door.

Derrick shook his head, indicating that he didn't see anybody. Coach had a confused look and slowly opened the door. He peeked out and saw nothing. He gave a sigh of relief, while walking out of the door. He then looked around to see what made the noise and also found nothing.

In Coach's head, the only explanation of what could make the knocking sound was from another person, which startled him at the thought.

Him being startled didn't go unnoticed, Zoey eyed him empathetically, "What's wrong."

Coach stared at nothing for a moment, still thinking, then shook his head, "Nothing." He sighed.

Louis, aiming from his gun at nothingness, asked, "What do you think made th-"

He was interrupted by a growl which slowly morphed into a hacking cough. Everybody stiffened up a bit, knowing exactly what produce that sound.

Mary muttered, "Shit." The smoker coughed again, louder.

Everybody looked around to pinpoint where the smoker was before they all heard a faint growl coming from the otherside of the house and then some gunshots. All of them let their guard down, letting the smoker have it's tongue constrict Louis.

Before Louis started to grunt out of pain, he let out an, "Oh shi-" Pulled to the ground Louis was now dragged to the otherside of the yard. Mary and Derrick were instantly on him pulling him forcing a tug of war between the smoker and the two survivors.

Coach pointed to where the other end of the tongue was, ordering Zoey to follow it while he would shoot the tongue. Zoey zipped across the yard following the tongue. When she reached the end of the yard, Coach had shot the tongue and was trying to unwrap Louis. Zoey looked over the designed fence and was met with the smoker fleeing away down the street. She took aim and shot it down. It's cough before it was slain echoed through the vacant street.

She turned around and went back to her group. They quickly helped Louis up and quietly went back inside. As they entered, the other group had just closed the door leading to the backyard.

Everybody took note on Louis, Rochelle was the first one to run towards him, "What happened?"

Coach flatly, "Smoker, he'll be fine."

Rochelle nodded reluctantly and walked up the stairs, "I'll be in my room."

Coach yelled back at her, just in case if she couldn't hear "Wait, all of us need to make a plan. We have to head out tomorrow."

Almost everybody groaned and made their way to the kitchen table. Everybody sat down and waited quietly for Coach to speak.

"So, now we know where to go. The only problem is, how we gonna get there?" Coach turned to Eric, "Back in California, do you remember any interstates right next to your town?"

Eric shrugged, "Mmm... I think it's called the 101, however I do know that it connects to interstate 10 East."

Coach nodded, "Aight y'all, if we find interstate 10 we will be on our way."

Eric cleared his throat, "Um, interstate 10 doesn't cut through Alabama, I went down to Texas for a family trip and we've been on the 10, but as soon we hit El Paso, we went North. We're gonna have to find a map."

Coach nodded, a little intimidated at how far they're gonna have to travel, "Aight you heard em. Tomorrow we head out, find a map, and we'll get to safety. So rest up and take a load off, we have a big day tomorrow." And with that, Coach got up. Everybody else got up after, most went in their rooms even though it was the early afternoon.

The only people left in the kitchen were: Ellis, Emily, Francis, Louis, Nick, Rochelle, and Zoey.

Francis brought up the topic of how Thanksgiving was the worst holiday ever, and the conversation started.

Francis stated, "Look, I'm just saying that it blows being the cook every fucking year, and what if you don't have any family?"

Rochelle replied, practically gleaming at Francis, "That's why you have your friends."

Francis nodded, "Well yeah..."

Emily looked up with her eyebrows furrowed, "I wonder what my friends are doing? Probably losing their shit." She huffed at the sight.

Ellis smiled, "Yeah, I bet my buddy Keith probably got evacuated already. Man he is gonna be so jealous that I got to fight zombies n shit."

Nick huffed out sarcastically, "From the stories you been telling us, Keith sounds unstable."

Everybody around the table laughed

Ellis retorted, "Well what about you Mr. Gamblin Man? What do you think your friends doing?"

Nick tsked, "Don't have any." He got up and walked towards the fridge to look for water, door blocking his face, the only disguise he could provide himself so nobody could see his eyes slightly water.

Ellis pushed on, "What, you sayin you don't have any friends?"

Rochelle interrupted, "Considering your life style Nick, I'd be surprised if you did have friends."

Everybody around the table let out small chuckles. Nick shrugged even though nobody saw it, "Whatever, say what you want." He knew he's been in the fridge for a while, he knew they would notice. His eyes were noticeably watery. He then shut the fridge door and quickly went into an over exaggerated yawn, so everybody would figure the yawn caused his eyes to water.

Ellis noticed the yawn, "Tired?"

Nick still yawning put his hand out and shook it, implying 'a little.'

Zoey groaned, "Ugh, I'm tired of this. I honestly can't wait til we get to California." Nick sat down.

Louis asked, "What do you think is over there?"

"Freedom."

Everybody turned their heads from where they were seated. It was Eric, his flannel was a little undone, like he just woke up from a nap. He walked towards the kitchen and opened the fridge door. "From the zombies and judgement." He pulled out a water. "In California, you can be whatever the hell you want, and nobody would care. It's amazing."

Louis raised an eyebrow, then cleared his throat, "Same thing over here. Now we have zombies to deal with." Eric raised his bottled water as if he was saying 'true' and quietly walked back up the stairs and in his room.

Zoey watched Eric go into his room and put her attention back to the conversation and smiled, "You wanna know what I think?" Everybody put their attention on her. "I think that when we get their, we will be forced to rebuild the country and will be free to do anything. And mostly, the beach. You know, if it's not totally stained by zombies." Everybody laughed at that.

======================

As the conversation progressed on, so did the evening. Before they knew it, it was dark. Everybody got up and went into their rooms and wished everyone a goodnight.

Nick walked through the door first, Ellis right behind him. "I just can't get how you don't have any friends." Ellis closed the door.

Nick had his shoes and suit jacket already off and on the bed. He shrugged, "I just don't, where I grew up, you didn't have friends. You just had people who knew more stuff about than others, and that could a problem."

Ellis walked to his side of the bed and laid down, smiling. "Least you have me, and everybody else." His cheeks started to heat up. He didn't know if Nick could see his blush.

He did, but didn't call Ellis out on it. Nick put his hand on Ellis' shoulder. "Whatever you say Overalls."

They laid there in silence, til Ellis broke the ice, "Can I ask one thing?" Nick lifted his chin up. "If you had any friends, what happened to them?" Ellis said it in a sincere tone.

Nick was visibly surprised by that.

Ellis noticed. "Hey." He sighed. "Sorry I shouldn't have pushed you."

Nick reluctantly said back, "It's ok, I just rather not say."

Ellis nodded, "If you ever wanted to talk about them, you'll tell me right?" He gave Nick a weak smile.

Nick returned the smile with an eye roll and a smirk. "Will do kiddo. Now, let's get some sleep. I'm pooched."

Chapter Text

Nick jolted awake, quickly sitting up. He was fearing he was gonna have a panic attack, yet however, his heart rate was calm. He wasn't panting out of breath nor tears streaming down his face. He also noticed a warmth feeling around his lower body. It was Ellis, practically hugging his waist, face snuggled in Nick's ribs. He rolled his eyes at the sight, thinking if Ellis does it on purpose or he moves around his sleep that much. He lifted Ellis' arm to his side and shifted away from Ellis, trying to get to the coldest part of the bed.

Nick looked at the windows, a dark blue was seeping through the curtains. Figuring it was almost time to get up, he sighed and silently got up and out into the hallway. He eyed the other doors as he passed by. Silence. He went down the stairs and into the kitchen and sat down at the table. He sighed again, alone with his thoughts. Putting his head in his hands, slouching.

He didn't hear Emily enter the kitchen, "Can't sleep?" Nick looked up from where his head was at, he shrugged and flattened his hands down on the kitchen table. She sighed and sat down at the table, across from Nick, "Well, we have only like 3 hours before we have to get up." Nick made no response. Looking down at the table zoning out. Emily noticed, she stretched her hand across the table and shook it in front of Nick's vision, "Hey, can I ask you something? Promise you won't get... you know, mad?"

Nick looked up. He let out flatly, "What?"

Emily averted her eyes from Nick, "Do you..." She smiled lightly and huffed, "have feelings for... Ellis?"

Nick's eyes grew bigger at the question, then tried to casually look down back at the kitchen table. He mumbled, "What makes you think that?"

Emily raised an eyebrow, smiled mischievously, "Well, first, I've seen the way you were looking at him back at the house in Atlanta..." Nick turned slightly red. "And here." Emily points down. "And let's not forget that both of you shared the same room ever since we'v-"

Nick interrupted, "Okay, I get it. But, so what if it was?"

Emily smiled again this time almost motherly, "So is it true?"

Nick rolled his eyes, and sighed. "Maybe."

Emily suddenly squealed, clapping her hands once and pointed to the ceiling, "Yes! Whoo! I won 30 bucks!"

Nick furrowed his brows, "What? Who?"

Emily laughed, "Oh, I forgot to tell you. Me, Eric, Francis, and Rochelle had a hunch you had a crush on Ellis and we made a bet to see who could get you to admit it first." She put her hand on Nick's hand, "Sorry."

Nick sighed, "Whatever."

Nick stood up, "I'm going back to bed, you're welcome by the way."

Emily rolled her eyes, "Okay..." She then stood up and followed Nick upstairs. Emily stopped in front of her door as Nick continued down the hall. She called him, "Hey Nick?"

Nick stopped and looked over his shoulders.

She met Nick's eyes, "I meant it when I said you guys look cute together." She started smiling.

Nick smirked back, "Thanks." Nick couldn't be happier to find somebody that was ok of what Nick was.

Emily continued, "Besides, Rochelle has been telling me that Zoey had been hitting on Ellis ever since they met, and Ellis would just ignore her. She finally got the hint."

Nick walked back to his room, speaking lazily, "Okay."

Nick entered his room. Ellis was still asleep, he silently walked in and closed the door quietly. He slowly made his way on the bed and softly laid down to not disturb Ellis. He fell alseep thinking if Ellis could like a guy like him.

==========================

Ellis was the first to awake. Bright early sunshine peeking through the window. He sat up and looked to his right. Nick was snoozing quietly, only the small slow breaths being produced. Ellis couldn't stop staring at him. Nick's face was stone cold, and Ellis found it, quite adorable. He smiled at the sight, thinking in his head he knew he had a 'small' crush on Nick, however knew, he should act out on them. Nobody should know Ellis' secret of being bisexual.

Ellis herd faint chatter coming from down stairs, so he walked out of the room and down the stairs. Pushing his thoughts down.

He smelled pancakes and heard something sizzle in the kitchen as he went in. Zoey and Louis were making pancakes while everybody else sat idly.

Louis first saw Ellis, "Morning Ellis, we're making pancakes, they're almost done just have a seat at the table." Ellis nodded and and sat down at the table.

He quickly joined the conversation about how they're going to find a map.

Eric groaned, "Honestly, a map just seems hard to find, especially in a zombie apocalypse."

Rochelle was next to speak, "What if we just look for a gas station?"

Coach replied, shaking his head, "Maybe... some gas stations don't usually sell maps."

Rochelle shrugged, "We could try."

Zoey interrupted, "Pancakes are ready! Ellis, could you call Nick down for breakfast?"

Ellis smiled, "Sure."

He casually walked back up the stairs and entered his room. He found Nick sitting up staring at the window from the bed.

Ellis cleared his throat, "Breakfast is ready."

Nick broke his gaze with the window to look at Ellis for a split second before gazing out the window. Nick nodded.

Ellis pursed his eyebrows, "What's wrong?"

Nick shook his head, "Nothin'"

Ellis sat down at the edge of the bed, "Obviously it ain't nothin, you're acting weird."

Nick sighed, getting up from his spot on the bed, "Seriously Ellis, I'm fine."

Ellis shot Nick a 'really?' look. Before saying, "Alright.."

Nick quickly changed the subject, "What's for breakfast?" He opened the door.

Ellis got up and followed him, "Pancakes." Ellis closed the room door and followed Nick down the hall and stairs.

Nick groaned, "Again?"

Ellis chuckled as Nick stepped into the kitchen.

They casually sat next to each other waiting for breakfast.

Zoey and Louis started placing down the plates of food to everybody. Wen they were finished, everybody savored every bite. They knew that this meal would most probably be their best meal in the next weeks.

While eating, conversations were being passed around. They were about as pointless as Ellis' stories about Keith.

As everybody finished eating, Coach announced, "Aight y'all, I think it's time to head out, anything you want, might as well take it now." He turned to the front metal door and grabbed his gun. "And get ready."

Everybody silently stood up an went up to their rooms, taking anything that could deem useful, before waiting at the door, grabbing their rightful weapons.

Before opening the door Coach turned around to face his team. "Ready?" Everybody nodded and Coach opened the door.

Everybody slowly walked out, aiming their guns at the ready, and melee weapons at an attack stance. As they walked down the street, Nick looked back to the old house. He smiled almost deviously.

"Good riddance."

Chapter Text

Nick groaned, irritated, "Gahh, looking for a map is a bust."

Ellis smiled, "Don't worry Nick, I'm sure we'll find one."

Nick growled, as they stood outside the gas station. Firearms out. Eric walked out of the gas station and sighed.

Ellis turned around, "No luck?"

Eric shook his head, "Finding a damn map is like finding a needle in a haystack."

Nick looked around the vacant shopping center, he spotted a small stand across the street with a small label: "...tours..."

Nick cleared his throat, "What about over there?" He pointed with his head.

Eric and Ellis looked in his direction, Eric shrugged, "Worth a shot." He started walking towards the stand. He stopped before stepping on the road, "Ay Nick, come give me back up."

Nick sighed, "Whatever." He started to follow Eric.

Eric fixed his eyes to Ellis, "If they ask, just tell them we went over there." He pointed towards the stand. Ellis nodded in response and Nick and Eric were crossing the street.

The silence between the two was incredibly awkward. Eric broke the ice, "So, heard you liked Ellis..."

Nick rolled his eyes, "Is this why you asked me to come with you?"

Eric nodded giving Nick a cheesy grin. Nick gave Eric a smirk, "You lose 10 bucks?" Eric's face immediately turned into a scowl, before nodding.

Eric continued the conversation, "You know, it was hard to guess whether if you were bi or not, guess I was right." They made their way across the street.

Nick, who was looking at the ground, looked up at Eric, "How'd you know I was bi?"

As soon as they reached the stand Eric hopped over the desk began to dig around. Nick didn't see Eric roll his eyes, but he knew he rolled them. Just by the way of the tone of his voice, "Please, I saw the ring on your finger, I kinda figured."

Suddenly Eric gasped, cutting the conversation short, "I found one!" He held up a small pamphlet that could be transformed to a small national map.

Nick looked back across the street to find his whole group waiting for them, "Great, cool, now hurry up we need to go." Eric nodded and hopped back over the desk. He put the map in the inside of his flannel.

As they were about to cross the street, they heard a loud growl, almost strained, as if it had been making the sound until it's voice would crack.

Eric and Nick put their guns up defensively, Eric muttered, "Shit, I think that's one of the big arm creeps." He put the map between the waist part of his pants and underwear.

Nick asked without looking at Eric, "What's their deal?"

"They charge you, could break your back in an instant."

Nick had an annoyed look on his face, "Awesome."

They heard Coach yell across the street, "What's the 'old up y'all?"

Before Eric was gonna answer, the growl became more louder and filled with rage. Eric whispered to Nick , still aiming his guns, "Shit, if it doesn't wanna come out, let's get outta here." He then yelled to the other survivors across the street, "One of those charging things are around here, hold on!"

Nick nodded and grunted, and backed away slowly. Eric followed suit.

Coach yelled back again, "We got eyes on you don't worry." Hearing that, Eric broke his defensive stance and casually walked across the street. As Nick was ready to ease up his defensive stance, they heard loud footsteps pounding fast, and a ferocious growl.

Eric didn't have enough time to dodge the charging zombie, which seemingly came outta nowhere. He was then pushed out of the survivor's view, who were crossed the street. Fortunately, not Nick's. Nick shot down the charger in a flash, aiming for the head for he was running out of bullets. The charger got 2 slams into Eric.

The charger grew limp as Nick shot. With it's arm still clinging on to Eric, it fell down slamming Eric down also. Nick quickly ran to aid Eric. He picked up the charger's big arm and unlatched it's small chubby fingers from Eric and pulled him out.

Eric was on his hands and knees, shaking, he coughed. "Fuck, that shit... that shit hurt." Nick put his hand on Eric's back, gently patting down.

Nick waited for Eric to stop coughing, he asked, "You still have the map, right?" At that moment the rest of the group came, while Eric slowly pulled out the map out of his flannel. Hissing every time it hurt to move his arm. Nick smiled and clapped his shoulder softly, "Nice job sport."

Eric laughed and gave Nick a smirk, "Ew, don't call me that."

Their conversation was put to an end when everybody surrounded Eric, panicking. Looking for cuts and broken bones. Nick laughed at the sight, while Eric glared back at him.

Eric pushed everybody back, "It's okay guys, I'm fine."

Coach replied back, in a fatherly tone, "The hell you are, boy, you just got slammed by a charger."

Rochelle snuck behind Eric and quickly lifted up his flannel, exposing his skin, to check for cuts. She saw small cuts and bruises that are starting to form. Eric leaned away from Rochelle, "Seriously, I'm fine."

Rochelle huffed, "He has some minor injuries but I'm not sure if you broke anything." She poked Eric's ribs, "Does it hurt when I do this?"

Eric quickly screamed out of stinging pain and retracted, "Yes it does, now stop!" He swatted away Rochelle's hand.

Rochelle nodded back at Coach, "Broken ribs. Next place we stop at, we should let him rest." Coach nodded back.

He turned to Eric, "You say you got the map son?" Eric didn't say anything. He pulled out the map and passed it over to Coach weakly. Coach then pulled Eric over his shoulders military style. "Let's get you back inside the gas station, we could figure out where to go next."

Everybody headed back to the other side of the street.

Coach hauled Eric inside the store. He dropped him lightly, and came back outside. "Aight y'all, I'ma talk to Eric inside, you guys keep a look out." Everyone nodded.

Only a few were keeping a look out. Derrick, Emily, Ellis, and Nick were casually hanging out behind the gas station building.

Nick sprung up the question, "Do you guys think that those zombies are getting smarter?"

Derrick looked up from where he was laying, "What makes you say that?"

Nick shrugged, Emily flatly said, "I know what you mean." Everybody focused on her. "Like remember the hunter and smoker? As soon as the hunter heard the gun shot it tried to pounce on Eric. Almost like a signal." Nick and Ellis nodded, all but Derrick.

He looked confused, then wet his lips before he spoke, "That doesn't make sense, on the other side of the house, we heard the hunter screech before the smoker latched into Louis. We didn't hear any gun shots nor shoot anything."

Ellis eyes grew big, "What?"

Everybody looked visibly alarmed, Nick shook his head, "That can't be, does that mean-"

Emily interrupted, "Somebody was watching us, maybe even tried to use the zombies for an advantage."

The conversation was cut short, before Mary peeked her head from the edge of the wall, "Hey honey, we need your help with something. Emily we might need your help to." She then disappeared behind the wall, Derrick and Emily got up.

Emily turned around to face Nick and Ellis, "This conversation isn't over." And with that Derrick and Emily went to the other side of the building, leaving Ellis and Nick to stew in their thoughts.

Ellis spoke, not making eye contact with Nick, "Do you think someone is actually followin us?"

Nick shrugged, "Don't know Ellis."

Ellis sighed, he turned to face Nick, "How are you holdin up?"

Nick met Ellis' eyes, "Been better."

Ellis stuck out his arm and clapped Nick on the shoulder, "You could always talk to me."

Nick smirked back, "Thanks kiddo, means a lot." He looked deep into Ellis' eyes. It's weird to think that Ellis is ok with the fucked up way Nick is. He could feel something in his chest, butterflys maybe. And he kinda hoped Ellis was feeling it too.

Before Nick was gonna say something, Coach's voice boomed, "Aight y'all! I know where to go!"

Chapter Text

Soon as they heard Coach, Ellis got up, "Let's go." And made his way to the otherside of the gas station. Nick sighed, and got up, following Ellis. As Ellis made his way to the front of the building, his conversation with Derrick, Emily, and Nick stuck with him. What if there was somebody following the group? Are they just overthinking it? But then who shot off the gun? Should he tell the group? Or keep it to himself and the others? His head was spinning.

When both men came around the corner, Coach was already speaking, holding Eric by his shoulder, "We head west on the interstate, and keep fighting til we hit California." Everyone nodded in agreement. "Aight, I think it's..." Coach looked around then down at the map, "Over there." He pointed to a distant highway. Probably about a mile away. He tuned to Eric, "Think you can walk son?" Eric made grunts of pain, but nodded his head none the less. The pain didn't kick in until after they were walking. Making low grunts. Ellis was kinda glad for that, using the grunts as white noise, so he could be in his thoughts, and not in pure silence.

=========================

As they walked through the almost empty streets, with just a few infected crossing their paths, Ellis was walking thinking of a logical reason of what could have shot off back at the mansion. Emily nudged him, and gave him a sincere look, "Still thinking about it, huh?" She said it low enough so only they could hear. Ellis looked at her, and nodded not saying anything. Emily sighed, "Should we tell Coach?"

Ellis shrugged looking at the ground, "What if were overthinking it." The conversation was cut short, as Rochelle and Francis shot at distant infected, casually having conversation. Nick budged into Ellis and Emily's conversation, he spoke with irritation, "Can you guys stop talking about that shit? Somebody's gonna hear and you're gonna freak them out."

The last person they feared that would hear their conversation turned his back towards them. Coach. "Hear what Nick?"

Nick closed his eyes and groaned internally. 'fuck' Ellis tried hard not to laugh, while Emily smiled at Nick deviously. "Uhh, nothing."

Coach fully turned around, forcing Eric to turn with him, wincing out quietly. Coach looked at Eric sympathetically, then gave a stern look to Nick, "What is it?"

Nick put his head down in defeat, and sighed, "Me, Ellis, Emily, and Derrick think we're being followed."

Coach's eyes looked alarm, but his posture was calm. He raised an eyebrow, "Are you sure, not tryin to scare us are ya?"

Nick shook his head then proceeded to tell the rest of the group what happened back at the mansion. Everybody around them look puzzled, and mostly frightened.

Francis sighed loudly, "If somebody was followin us? Who would it be?"

Rochelle scrunched up her eyebrows, "C'mon Francis, it could be anybody."

"No."

Everybody turned to look at Eric, he pointed to Francis, "He's right, if somebody's following us, they have to know one of us."

Everybody exchanged confused looks around, Eric rolled his eyes, knowing nobody was getting it, "Look, if you think about it, we're a pretty big group, nobody wouldn't want to mess with us, unless they know somebody and wants in our group."

Nick huffed, "Or to kill us." Everybody gave Nick a dirty look but deep down all of them knew, he could be right.

Coach closed his eyes, thinking that they need to get back on track. He opened his eyes and yelled out, "Aight y'all, we need to get on the interstate, we can talk later, maybe even lose who's ever followin us."

Everybody nodded and continued down the street.

Chapter Text

A large sign stood high against the greyish blue sky.

'US-80 W"

That was all the sign said. Coach, who still had a firm hold on Eric, turned his head down, "Is this the son you're talkin about son?"

Eric sighed, as Coach ignored for the tenth time that he is fine and could walk on his own. He answered none the less, "No, but I've seen this freeway on the map, it should lead is to Interstate 20 West then to Interstate 10 West. If we keep following it we should get to California."

Mary, spoke worriedly, "Do you know how long it will take it for is to get there?"

Eric looked down at the ground, then back to Mary, "About like a month." He said flatly.

Nick and Francis groaned identically in the back. It brought smiles from some of the group.

Rochelle sighed, "Some shit we got our selves into.."

Coach cleared his throat. "It's aight y'all, a month is not that bad considering where we are. Let's think positive." Everybody gave a nod but all had troubled faces.

Coach let out a small grunt and continued to walk down the freeway, while clinging to Eric.

The rest of the group followed.

==========================

Emily whined from tiredness. "My legs are killing me. Where are we at?"

Louis, wiped his face with sweat then turned to Emily. "Saw a sign back there saying 'Lownesboro'."

Eric, who is now walking by himself, licked his lips before speaking. "That means we're going the right way. Lawnesboro was the next town over West from Montgomery."

Derrick focused his eyes to the distant sign that was coming up to the group. "I think that road sign up ahead says Benton."

Coach opened up the map, Eric quickly stood next to Coach to take a glance. He had a bewildered look on his face however, Eric's eyes flashed at the map before he turned to the group. "Okay... If were at Benton, coming from Montgomery, we're making great progress." He sneaked a peek back at the map before Coach started to fold it back into his pocket. "I say, we continue down the freeway and stop to rest at Bellamy. It's just a few ways until we hit Mississippi. Is that good?" He raised an eyebrow while scanning the group. Everyone nodded. Eric smiled and made a small 'mmhm' noise and turned to Coach who was standing behind him and nodded. Coach nodded back and then continued down the street, signaling everybody to follow.

=========================

Nick groaned dramatically, "How long til we hit Bellamy?"

Francis shrugged. "I think we're in the middle of Uniontown." He spoke toward Eric. "How far?"

Eric continued down the freeway. "About 3 more towns to crossover."

Nick flung his arms in the air an slammed them down onto a broken car. "God dammit!"

And as soon as he thought what he hit, he immediately wanted to take it back. His group turned around to him with large eyes and stone mouths. They knew what happened.

The "broken" car's battery somehow still worked. The car produced a high screech of its horn. And soon after, the wailing sounds of an incoming horde.

Coach screamed, trying to drown out the car alarm. "EVERYBODY RUN!"

And with that, everybody scurried down the freeway. Casually shooting zombies that broke out of already broken cars, and simply just got in their way.

They didn't stop shooting until they got to Faunsdale.

=========================

Everybody doubled over, panting.

Mary huffed. "Ugh, never again.."

Zoey let out a quick pant and smiled. "You can say that again."

Eric quickly arched his back in order to crack it. "Phew, let's take it slow. I've noticed were in Faunsdale so which means we're getting closer to Bellamy."

Ellis, who was still doubled over raised his fist weakly and gave a sarcastic 'whoo.'

Rochelle wiped her forehead. "This heat is gonna kill me faster than the zombies."

Louis nodded in agreement. "You said it."

Everyone all caught their breath and slowly started to keep a steady pace on the freeway. Causally striking straggling zombies that blocked their way.

Nick and Ellis were in the back of the group.

Ellis whispered to Nick. "Hey."

Nick threw his chin up, looking to Ellis.

Ellis leaned closed to Nick. While Nick tried hard not to lose his cool. "Wanna help me see if any of these cars work?"

Nick shrugged keeping a blank expression. "Sure."

Ellis nodded and scanned the freeway for any cars that could be salvageable. He locked his eyes on a big silver 4 door truck. He nudged Nick's shoulder and pointed to the truck. Nick raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything.

Ellis arched his eyebrows. "What? You don't like it?"

Nick shrugged. "I don't know..."

Ellis let out a quick snort. "Y'know, if it works, you'll be thanking me."

Nick's face quickly changed to looking somewhat offended. "In your dreams."

Ellis' laughs caused the rest of the group to turn around.

Ellis took notice and stop laughing. His cheeks started to become red. "Sorry, me and Nick figured considerin' I'm a mechanic, I could probably fix a car and we could drive to Bellamy."

Nobody said anything, but all looked to Coach.

Coach tried not to let it get to him. The fact everybody put him as the leader, and all are looking up to him. He nodded. "Aight, everybody let's stop here and make sure nobody gets Ellis."

Ellis cleared his throat before anybody sat down. "Actually, the car we've been lookin at is over there." He pointed a little ways down the freeway. Everybody groaned. They quickly got up and scurried down to the distant truck.

Once everybody was there, almost everybody sat down, other than Ellis and Nick. To closer inspection, the truck appeared to be a 2018 GMC Sierra 1500. Ellis was going nuts. And lucky for him, the driver window was rolled down all the way. He sneaked a peek into the car before going back to the front, opening the hood of the truck. He peered in the engine and almost literally, diving into it.

Nick noticed and quickly pulled Ellis' legs down to the bumper of the truck. "Geez, calm down overalls."

Ellis sounded as if he was fat away from Nick. "i...think..everything....is good."

Nick sarcastically spoke back in a louder tone. "Yeah, that sounds good, let's hurry up and hotwire this thing."

Ellis yelled out an 'ok' and crawled out of the truck. He brushed past Nick into the bottom of the driver seat and forcefully took off the plastic covering all the wires.

A few minutes passed by.

Nick leaned himself on the car.

Coach happen to walk by. "You know how longer it is until we get movin?"

Nick cleared his throat. "Just give it a few minutes."

And, almost on cue, the truck springs to life.

Everybody cheered as they all gathered around.

Ellis peeked out of the car. "Alright y'all! Hop in!"

Eric yelled out. "I call shotgun!"

Nick stopped Eric right in his tracks and have him a menacing look. "Who said your getting shotgun? I'm getting shotgun, me and Ellis found it."

Eric snickered back at Nick, trying to annoy him. "Uhh, I said. Whose been leading us the whole way?"

Nick rolled his eyes. "I'm shotgun that's final." He then looked at Coach who was just soaking in the argument. "Ellis is driving, you could use a rest." Coach nodded.

Eric groaned. "Fine, but I'm sitting in the back."

Nick shrugged. "Fine with me."

With that, Coach announced, "Let's file in."

Before they all got into motion, all of them heard distant shouting, and shortly after gunshots.

Everybody looked around visibly on edge. More gunshots sprung out from what felt like everywhere. With all the trees in the way nobody could pinpoint where it was coming from.

Then all of a sudden, there was silence. For a short while.

That is, until they heard the ground thundering. And big stomps were being produced and severely loud growls.

One of the trees started to shake furiously, a tree which was on the other side of the freeway that is headed East.

Coach wanted none of it. He ordered everybody to jump on the truck.

Everybody managed to fit in the truck just fine. Ellis started to drive off until the tree was ripped clean off the Earth to reveal a large muscle masses zombie. It's skin stretched out to thin slivers. Revealing muscle tissue underneath.

Nick managed to scream out, "HOLY SHIT BIG FREAKING ZOMBIE!" While Ellis stepped on it.

Everybody on the truck bed were trying to slow it down by shooting at it. Zoey started to panic, she forced to break the back window to pass her and Ellis' guns to the truck bed.

Coach shouted, "GO FOR THE LEGS!" And everyone obeyed.

Eric and Nick were forced to sit back and listen. Eric noticed there was an auxiliary tape. And he quickly hopped up to get it all without tryin to fall over. He had a mischievous grin that Nick knew to well.

Nick started to smile aswell. "What are you doing?"

Eric pulled out the phone he scavenged from the mansion. "Watch this." He plugged in the phone as tapped away. "Turn up the volume."

Nick had a confused look but turned it up on max anyway.

Shortly after a song came on. "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper started to play.

Nick and Eric exchanged smug grins as ten turned around to begin the truck.

For some reason. The situation and the song manage to fit well. And Nick was losing it.

Meanwhile at the truck bed, everyone was shooting away. Francis managed to hit a lucky shot at the zombies leg and it toppled itself over.

They managed to escape safely. They also didn't notice Cyndi Lauper was playing. They all laughed.

========================

They haven't heard or seen that zombie after that. They've been on the road for at least 10 minutes after the zombie incident. And Eric was playing "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B signing the whole song, while pointing to the zombies that walked past. Everybody laughing at the sight.

==========================

A little after a half hour. Eric stopped his music so everybody could enjoy the silent car ride.

It was about 5 in the afternoon and Ellis called to Eric. "Hey Eric, is this the city?" He pointed to a small road sign labeled "BELLAMY."

Eric sat up, and got a closer look. He smiled. "Yup, that's it. We're here." He poked his head out from the back window. "Hey everybody, we made it." Mostly everybody let out a few noises of relief.

Eric sat back to his seat and looked back to Ellis. "Exit right here, we need to find shelter fast."

Ellis quickly got off the freeway and slowly made his way around the vacant streets. Eric pointed to a distant 2 story house with a purple roof. "What about that house?"

Ellis looked at the house then to his other teammates. They all shrugged. Ellis shrugged also. "I guess." Ellis pulled into the gravel driveway. The truck stopped and everybody got off. Nobody questioned why they picked this house but they quickly wanted to lay down and go to sleep. Even though it was about 6 in the afternoon.

Once Coach made sure it was safe, everybody quickly tried to find the softest place to rest on however, Coach stopped them before they did so. "Since we're going to bed early. We need people to take watch, since this place is in the middle of no where anything could get in. 2 people for 2 hours. Okay?" Everybody groaned but agreed.

Before anybody volunteered Ellis piped up. "Me and Nick will take lat watch, we're going to bed. C'mon." He pulled on Nick's dress jacket sleeve up the stairs giving everybody confused yet intrigued looks.

Nick cleared his throat. "So were roomies again?"

Ellis nodded. He searched the rooms for the biggest room and quickly laid on the bed. Nick huffed at Ellis before closing the door and locking it. He too was tired but tried not to show it. Nick quickly jumped on the bed. Backs facing each other. Shifting on the bed they managed to accidentally tangle their legs together. Nick tried not to think about it, he heard Ellis breath slowly. He knew he fell asleep. Nick didn't want to move so he just laid like that.

Falling asleep with their legs tangled.

Chapter Text

Nick woke up faster than he went to sleep. He instinctively looked to his right looking for Ellis but he was nowhere to be seen. Then he noticed it wasn't even the same house they were sleeping in. It was a very sleazy hotel that Nick knew to well. It chilled him to the bone to see how well detailed everything was. The places Nick has done here, the room was burned into his mind.

 

Flashbacks of his previous life was simultaneously being envisioned in his head. He had to get out of here. He ran.

 

As he stepped out the door the scene changed. He is now in a forest. He stands looking around confused. He then feels the rumbling on his feet and hears loud aggravated growls coming from behind the trees. Panicking, Nick flees. He somehow trips and falls on his knees. He turns around waiting for his inevitable end. The trees rustled vigorously and before the Tank manages to break through them.

 

Nick wakes up.

 

He sits up on the bed. Ellis is nowhere to be seen. He takes time to make sure that this isn't also a nightmare. He sighs and put his hand on his forehead as a husky voice boomed through the floorboards that only Coach’s voice could do. Nick assumed Coach was giving someone an earful, and forced himself out of bed and quickly walked down the stairs.

 

“Why did you do that! Y’know it aint safe to watch the whole night!”

 

Nick walked in and saw everybody gathered around Eric, who had his head down and sitting on a small stool. And Coach who stood sternly, hands on his hips.

 

Eric didn't move his head and sighed. “I didn't think it was a bad idea. I figured everybody could use a goodnight sleep, I'm fine.”

 

Coach sighed back putting one of his hands on his forehead shaking it. Then walked over to put his hand on Eric's shoulder, forcing him to look at Coach. “Son, I get that you were trying to be thoughtful but… you can't skip on of your basic needs of life for the team. Everybody needs to sleep.” Eric understandingly nodded. Not saying anything else. Instead, he stood up and arched his back in order to crack it.

 

He sighed under his breath. “Lets go.” He grabbed his stuff and walked out.

 

Everyone followed. They all had planned to skip breakfast in order to cross the state lines faster. Nobody dared to say anything when walking down the roads and onto the interstate.

 

At some point, their path was blocked from a giant moving truck tipped over. Ellis took this as an opportunity to talk to Nick.

 

He strolled to Nick.

 

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Nick was straggling behind the group when they stopped. He was deep in his thoughts, thinking.

 

Ellis pulled him out of it when he playfully nudged his elbow with his. Nick gave Ellis a warm-hearted smirk and flicked his cap up.

 

Ellis snorted at the contact and fixed his hat. He spoke lowly so only him and Nick could hear. “So, how'd you sleep last night? Forgot to ask.” He gave Nick a sincere look.

 

Nick sighed deeply and shrugged. There was a short silence before he answered. “Been better, it's been getting easier, ‘specially with you Overalls. And i mean it.” He smiled back to the Southerner.

 

Ellis cheerfully smiled back, and blushed a little. He put a hand on Nick’s shoulder. “That's good to hear.” They stayed like that for a few seconds. Ellis looked deep into Nick’s eyes. Blue clashed with Green. Ellis felt like the ground disappeared, it was only him and Nick, staring at each other. It gave Ellis chills and butterflies in his stomach. He hoped in his head that Nick was feeling it too.

 

And Nick was, but the emotions were twice as intense. Nick felt like he could of had a panic attack if he looked away from Ellis’ eyes.

 

Unfortunately, Francis had to speak up. “I think i can see the Mississippi state line from here!” He was perched on top of the truck. Ellis was the first to break their gaze, blushing and casually walked back to the rest of the group. Leaving Nick astonished.

 

what was that? ” He thought.

 

=====================================

 

Zoey pointed and squealed in excitement. “I see it! We're almost there!”

 

Coach pulled out the map and unfolded it. Eric scanned over. “Okay, so that means were…around here.” He pointed to a small dot on the map. “Huh, we just passed a town called Cuba.” He huffed. Smiles were passed around the group for a quick second.

 

Louis arched his brow. “So does that mean we can tell people we went through Cuba?” Everybody chuckled and continued down the highway.

 

Shortly after that had made it to the state borderline. Everybody cheered and gave everybody a hug silently, so they wouldn't disturb any zombies.

 

Throughout everybody cheering, Derrick and Mary caught a glimpse of 3 figures standing far away from the group, in front of some thick clutter of trees that were littered along the interstate. 2 of the figures were silhouettes standing, while the 3rd one looked hunched over, almost on its knees. It also looked very unproportional.

 

They must have noticed that Derrick and Mary were looking at them, because they took off in between the trees. Leaving the married couple to exchange looks and thoughts of speculation. They were sure going to tell the group. But for now, they would let them celebrate a bit.